A short foreword...
A lot to read...
Now this issue makes seven we have sent out to mailboxes all over the world.
Your calls for more information and pictures have been heard and we are happy to present an interesting interview with Markus Pohl, the graphics artist at Egosoft and answers to many of your questions.
You get an exclusive look behind the scenes of Pirate's Gambit and finally a video from the X-Con event 2001 at the Egosoft HQ is online!
So what more is left to say than:
Have fun with X-News VII !
Interview with Markus Pohl
From household aplliances to starships
Having interrogated Bernd Lehahn quite a few times now, we found another "victim" for our next interview: Markus Pohl is working as 2D/3D graphics artist at Egosoft and now was the lucky dude to answer our questions.
As if he wouldn't be busy enough, Bernd did not hesitate to supply us with some extra information where applicable, thank you!
Hi Markus, a big thanks to you for taking the time to answer our questions! We know you are very busy, so let's get started:
How long does it take from a first drawing to the finished 3D model?
|That depends on the size and sort of the model, to another (and very important) part this depends on whether new textures have to be drawn. In general you could say 2 days are average if you don't have to paint new textures. Moreover the models are made in 3 - 5 levels of detail what - of course - increases the required time.|
What program do you use to do the 3D models?
|We use 3D Studio MAX in the always latest version.|
What inspires you to the sometimes very unusual ship models? Is it space games, sci-fi films or books?
|Well, my predecessor Alex made most of the ships. What inspires us is actually everything from films, books, games and even household appliances. The problem however is to have the models look exceptional and new, but still recognisable as spaceships.|
Will installed upgrades be visible on the outside of a ship?
|No. If you tune your cars' engine you won't put the turbo charger on top of the bonnet but under it.|
In general the idea to have upgrades "recognisable" is fascinating though. After all in an "offline" game this can't be realised as required for a game as complex as X². There is simply not enough memory. Potentially each of the thousands of ships in the Universe is unique. The game as being an offline version would not benefit much from showing these accordingly but the required memory would be enormous.
With online-universe.net it's different though. As the properties of every single object in the Universe are stored on central servers, it will be possible in this game.
Will it be possible to distinguish between the different parts of a ship, like bridge, engineering...?
|Yes it will. Bridge (on bigger ships) or Cockpit can nearly be seen always, but there are also ships where this is not that easy because of their design. Generally ships divide into different sections. That's why I would say that you could see the drive section separately than engineering. You can also see the different turrets and lasers of the ships.|
Will the ship models be more open for tactical manoeuvres; such as navigating between turrets exploiting their Arc of Fire?
|Naturally. Many ships have different weapons fitted to the different sides and therefore might be easier to attack from below (for example) than from left/right. There will also be ships that are armed aft only to fight off attackers, but don't have any front mounted lasers.|
Will fans be able to customize the colour/logo of their ships when buying them?
That is not fully decided yet.
Will there be external docking bays (for bigger ships) on stations?
|Yes, especially stations like shipyards and certain docks will have external docking bays.|
Can we fly inside a carrier?
|Yes; of course only in friendly carriers that will let you dock. It will be possible to fly into the hangar of these ships and land there.|
Thanks Markus and Bernd!
Ok folks, if you're trying to do your own ship model and have no idea what it should look like, go into the kitchen or living room and have a look around, perhaps you'll find something inspiring!
Questions, Questions (and Answers!)
Finally the answers you have been waiting for!
We asked on the THQ Forums to post questions about X² that we would give an answer to in this issue. With an overwhelming number of nearly 300 questions it is of course impossible to answer all of them, but we did our best to pick out the most frequent and most interesting ones.
As most of you certainly can't stand to wait any longer, here we go!
How much time has past from when X-tension was set and when X² is set? What's happened in that time?
|About 25 years has passed since the events of XBTF. Many things have happened as detailed in the fiction. However, probably one of the main events was the attempt by the Pirates to bring an end to the high and low price thresholds of the Foundation and Profit Guilds. This created conflict. Also many new technologies have been developed over this time period and are available in the game.|
Will you again be flying around as Captain Brennan from Earth?
|As also with X-Tension it has never been clearly stated who the player is in the game. While in X-Tension the asumption that the player flys around as the stranded testpilot from earth is logical, this is not necessarily the case in X². Everyone is free to play as the person he/she wants to be.|
In X² will we get the option to convert existing XT saved games with all the accumulated wealth and factories?
|No. X² is a completely new game using many different techniques. The two are not compatible. We are still looking at different start games and what we can offer the player who does not want to start with a single ship and 100 credits!|
At what stage of the game will a demo be released (rolling or interactive)?
|Rolling, soon. Interactive will be closer to release date.|
Does Egosoft have a publisher signed up as yet?
|Well publishers operate in different locations. As X² will ship in many languages, destined for many different countries there will be various publishers to suit. As some of these deals in some locations are still not finalised, it would be unfair to comment.|
Will it be released in the US?
Will the gravidar automatically zoom in as soon as an object approaches you ship?
|This will be configurable, either you have it on mode "auto" acting like it does now or you can set it to a fixed distance.|
Will there be an option to get red (hostile) stations to become friendly again once you made them angry?
|Red stations will become friendly after a certain time again. Maybe you can speed this up by paying a reparation to them.|
Will you be able to see shields, when shooting at them?
|Yes. We are currently experementing with some shield effects.|
Will the races build new stations or replace destroyed ones?
|Yes, the AI will rebuild destroyed stations.|
Are the freely roaming spaceflies and do they really live in hollow asteroids?
|Yes, you will encounter these cute animals all over the game. Spaceflies living in hollow asteroids, however, is just a rumour, but you're free to try to find such an asteroid ;-)|
Will there be equipment to catch spaceflies? Or is it just open cargobay doors and pick'em up?
|There will be a special weapon that is able to stun spaceflies, then you can load them into your ship.|
Will nebulas affect the gravidar, weapons and shields?
|Yes, different nebuals have different effect on the ships' systems. These effects can be everything from distirted scanner readings, weakend shields or physical damage to your ship!|
Are players able to take over the control of other (owned) ships with the help of NavSats?
|Yeah, inside one sector you can use (advanced) Navigation Relay Satllites and the mini-monitors to take over the control of any of your ships remotely.|
Are wares now divided into different weight / volume / slots... or is 1 Lasertower still = 1 Energycell, 1 Hornet Missile still = 1 Mosquito Missile?
|There is a new system for ware magagement.
- Wares now have a volume, a certain size.
- Wares are divided into different classes, not every ship is able to transport every wareclass.
Is there some sort of armor as protection when shields are offline?
|Yes, all ships have a hull strength that works similar to shields. Larger ships have greater strength. Hull damage doesn’t regenerate like shields do, you will have to repair it.|
Will there be countermeasures against missiles?
|You could either use a small and fast missile to aim at approaching missiles and also destroy them, or, as many ships have at least one turret, you can shoot at approaching missiles (either by hand or computer aided). THere's no absolute protection though.|
Will there be an easy money transfer method. In XT it would have been nice to give a factory a default setting, like it will only be able to store a maximum of 40k and all the rest goes into your personal account or have them directly linked to your account without having to transfer. Just think pressing 1 button and all your money sorted in an instant.
|Using scripts it is possible to transfer funds to or from your stations when the factory reaches a certain (positive or negative) limit of available credits. This can be done automatically as well.|
Do Factories have different graphics when you dock again like in X-BTF, not like in X-T where all the docking scenes are the same?
|Yes, docking at stations is now a much more rewarding feature. You can actually navigate your ship to your chosen berth along with other features. (that is, if it is still free ;-).|
Can we target enemy ships from our rear view using the extra view/s that we have?
Is capturing going to be much harder as in XT its simply too easy?
|Old earth traditions are 'in' in the X-Universe, especially the motto "the captain go's down with the ship" has great influence, so yes, it’ll be harder.|
We all know that there are going to be lots of missions, and a plot. Is it going to be possible to take sides and work for the military of one race, perhaps on 'black ops'?
|There are missions along this theme, as well as many others.|
Are jobs going be easier to get? (bulletin boards)
|Yes, there will be bulletin boards in stations where multiple missions can be offered.|
Will there be more data on targeted ships health stats?
|Yes, as already mentioned, hull damage is one such feature.|
Will ships show traces of usage? For example plasma burns on the hull, less power for the engines and so on - simply everything that requires a player to maintain his ship(s) at shipyards (of course this costs some credits - just like it's with cars on earth ;-)
|The state of the hull will give a quite good impression on how much a ship has been used. It is likely that you will see this state not only in the ship info but also on the hull itself, yes.|
Will own ships have 'real' pilots you have to pay for or will they still be flown by the ships' computer?
|In X² other player ships are still flown by the boardcomputer, however in X2OL there will be lots of other (human) pilots you can pay to pilot your ships.|
Last but not least:
Will the Mako fly in circles?
The probably most impulsive discussed topic regarding ships in X²: the Boron Mako.|
This ship had to suffer lots of critic and mockery in the past because it "will only ever fly in circles, unless you are constantly burning a big attitude thruster in the nose pointing away and perpendicular to the axis of the main engines".
After numerous requests from our readers we bothered Egosoft again and indeed, the graphic design of the Mako will most probably be changed! There are currently lots of other (more important) things to do, so it will take some time until there is a "new" Boron Mako.
As soon as there are pictures of the new Mako available we will of course present them.
Making of Pirate's Gambit
Behind the scenes of the famous fan comic
Chapter one of 'Pirate's Gambit' was hard to download on the day it was released as everyone on the English forum decided they would see what near enough to a year of speculation would produce. And it was time well spent waiting, chapter one was a major success, as it followed a character based on the English forum persona, Grimm, as he was on board a pirate base in Priests Pity. The idea of using characters based on people from the forum isn't a new one, but it is the most successful. But Grimm isn't just a character in the graphic novel, he is also part of the team that makes this superb work of art, and after some months of waiting, X-news is proud to have this report showing just what goes into making Pirates Gambit, and i hope to show you a small glimpse of some work that is being put into Chapter Two.
How it is made
A lot of work goes into this, the main reason for why the chapters probably take some time to release, but try to think of how many stages the novel goes through before it is released. Before today I thought it only had two stages, write it up then make the images. Oh how wrong I was.
Stage one; well it is the write up, Acid, another member of the graphic novel team, writes up the chapter into novel form. Of course by now the story has already been discussed and planned. After Acid is done he sends the novelised version of the chapter to the rest of the team who reads through it, if okay he gets the go-ahead to carry on and re-write the chapter into the next stage.
Stage Two is nothing more than rewriting the novelised version into what is known as GN script format, these means each frame has its descriptions and dialogue written, which I can guess isn't particularly easy, especially as there can be many frames to write, but the descriptions from the novelised version should no doubt help.
Stage Three; using the GN script, Grimm then gets to work rendering the scenes one by one, these don't include the characters, so basically Grimm is using the framework supplied by Acid, to do those special images that Grimm is famous for.
Stage Four, well now its time to cue Avis, who then goes though each slide, and adds the characters and special effects, again going though each frame one by one.
Then finally, Stage Five; Avis then compiles each image into a flash slide show, which was written especially for this project. And all that is for one chapter. I haven't been told just how many chapters there are going to be, but as you can probably gather, this does take some time. (Editors note: we have recently been told that 20 chapters are planned)
Chapter One - A Grimm Day
So where did we leave the story? Well let me remind you, there is some talk from a Teladi about designing a new ship, to Grimm of course. A complement of Paranid fighters accompanied by the Zeus, arrived to help destroy the station, of course Grimm got out after a fire fight and used some of his own models in the scenes to do with his two own ship designs. Of course he got out. Then it ended with those immortal words, To Be Continued... Before we go on, here are some of the previous chapter to whet your appetite.
Chapter Two - A Pirate Conversation
Well, will it begin with a couple of shots saying 'Last Time'? I can say that chapter two is already well underway, and I feel privileged to be allowed to show you the following images of the chapter.
Now the moment you have all been waiting for, the preview of chapter two. Of course, it takes a long time because Grimm needed to get the decorators team in.
Avis shows some previews of the Characters we will see.
And for the life of me I can't figure out what this ship is!
Well personally I can't wait for the next chapter, as these images show that a tremendous amount of work has been put in. But when will it be released? Well, it should be released at the same time you read this, and I'm sure it will be a success.
How to get an english version of X-Gold
Run the german version in english
The english version of X-Gold is sold out; that's a sad fact nearly everyone knows. But still there are so many people willing to purchase it.
There will be no more english versions available, but we can offer you another solution:
You can order the german version of X-Gold and run it with a parameter so all text is in english.
Note: there is no english voice output! If you want to have also english voice output please read below.
Here's how it works:
You need a shortcut to the exe file and open it's properties. Next click in the field labeled "Target:" and add the following to the path of your exe: -language 44
Example: "C:\Program Files\Egosoft\X-Gold\X-Tension.exe" -language 44
This way all ingame text appears in english.
(this also works for X-Beyond the Frontier!)
How to get english voice output
If you want to have english voice files you can download them as unsupported download from Egosoft.
You will need a special patch to enable english voices in a german version of X-Gold running in english. This patch and the voice files can be downloaded here:
X-Tension Voice Patch
WARNING this is a huge file of 114 MB so it can take a while to download!
Note: This patch works for X-Tension ONLY, X-Beyond the Frontier will not be patched!
Get more info on the Egosoft download page
Using the paramter, the patch and the voicefiles you can turn a german version of X-Gold into a full english version!
To buy the german version of X-Gold visit the Egosoft Online Shop.
Again you should hurry if you want to purchase it, stocks are limited!
Unofficial X² FanVideo
The Universe is the only entity that suffers no end...
It's done! New visual impressions from X² can be seen in this video!
This video is very special, as it not only shows astonishing pictures of X² but also that Egosoft really cares about their fans and shows them their respect. This video is NOT an official X² video but a fan production! Still the fans who made it are allowed to publish the video!
The soundtrack is from from Russian fan-musician sVGA (see last edition) and Omniscient is responsible for video composition – many thanks to him. Doing the final compression, Omniscient is also the guy who makes the high quality video as small as possible.
Enough babbling, here it is:
X² FAN VIDEO (offline) (15,6 MB)
EGOSOFT / Deutschland - firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris F. / Great Britain - email@example.com (cc)
Michael B., Nürnberg / Germany - firstname.lastname@example.org (mb)
Contact the editorship:
Darren Astles - email@example.com (da)
Florian Bircher - firstname.lastname@example.org (fb)
Jonathan Handby - email@example.com (jh)
Florian Ortner - firstname.lastname@example.org (ort)
Translations and proofreading:
Herbert Hohenburger - email@example.com (hrh)
Peter Biner W. - firstname.lastname@example.org (pbw)
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Former issues in the archive!