Special Issue 23 - August 2006
|The slightly bigger short note...
|X³ 2.0: Bala Gi Research Missions:
|A very special X³ update
|X² & X³: Steaming ahead:
|X² + X³ = Success
|The Deadly Ships Mod:
|An interview with modders DeadlyDa and Red Spot
|X³: Reunion - The Bonus Pack::
|It is finally here!
|This edition's Egosoft FAQ - X: The History
|Credits & Contact::
|The 'move along' nothing to see here bit!
This Newsletter has been optimised for 800x600 viewing.
The slightly bigger short note...
Welcome to a 'Special' edition of X-News
There are few game companies like Egosoft, that not only provide quality support, that also rapidly produce not only patches, but go further by adding new features with those updates, and can also boast about a well respected and highly thought of community of helpers and dedicated fans.
Never happy to just excel beyond the norm, Egosoft continues in its tradition of delivering bonus content for the fans of the games, so in Q4 Egosoft will be releasing a free, yes free bonus update for X³: Reunion called 'X³: 2.0 Bala Gi research missions'.
On a further great note, the news is that the guys at Steam are so pleased with the success of the X² & X³ release, that they want to build on this by releasing other versions of both games in localised languages.
As promised in the last edition, we have another Egosoft FAQ, detailing the history of Egosoft.
Read and enjoy!
A very special X³ update
In the tradition of the X Games, a bonus for fans old and new, a 'very special' X³ update from Egosoft.
In Q4 2006 EGOSOFT is going to release the final X³ update called "X³: 2.0 Bala Gi research missions"
Some of the main features of this update will include:
There will also be a number of little extras like a new weapon type, sectors and various other additions. The update will also no longer require the game media to be present, so you can put your CD or DVD back in its box.
X² + X³ = Success
In an update from Steam the guys said that the launch of X²: The Threat and X³: Reunion was considered such a success, that they were very eager to extend the range to cover other localised versions for both games.
We extend our thanks and appreciation to all those who have purchased their X games from Steam and made it such a great success.
Newly available languages are:
If you already have an English version from Steam you can switch to one of these languages free of charge by adjusting the language in your Steam configuration. New customers will automatically receive the game in their selected language.
Download X²: The Threat and X³: Reunion
An interview with DeadlyDa and Red Spot - Why Mod a ship when you can make a fleet of them
The X series has evolved not only to deliver a game that new and veteran fans can enjoy and play as it was meant to be, but its ever growing ability to become what the players want it to be, through mods, can take it to new heights.
Some mods add a feature, a ship or a new aspect to the game-play, but here are not many that deliver all of these, let alone many times over. One of these that succeeds in doing all of these things with style, while keeping the game balanced, is the outstanding Deadly Ship & Station mod by the very talented team of DeadlyDa and Red Spot.
Deciding to ask the guys to tell their story about this enormous mod with so many ships and player stations that it breaks all the moulds, I have ended up with what DeadlyDa already admitted was a lengthy response, that is as extensive as their mod, but with nearly all of it having something to convey, I've left it more or less intact. Enjoy!
Terrabyte: Before we start some questions on the Mod, can both of you tell us a little about yourselves? And how did you get started in modding?
DeadlyDa (DD): The short answer is that I was born in the USA, immigrated to New Zealand in 1990, and am currently back in the US on a temporary basis (work related). I have been involved in most aspects of the computer industry at one time or another. I currently manage a global Professional Services business unit for a large communications services company...and the only way I get to play with "real" technology is to mod X3.
Red Spot (RS): I'm Dutch, still pretty young at the age of 26. Since childhood I've had an interest in mechanical things, technology, logic, and sports. All of which means that I just can't sit still and have a driving need to "understand" how things work. The old "Battlezone II" is the game that got me started modding, since like the "X" series of games it was "highly-moddable", with a very committed fan-base.
Terrabyte: Considering this joint effort, how did you get together for the mod or had you worked together before? How do you achieve this living at opposite sides of the big pond?
DD: I first got together with Red Spot back in the X2 days, when he asked me to include a new class of ship into my old X2 Ship, Station, and Galaxy mod (SSG). Since I was already running a number of Red Spot's scripts in my personal game, I was thrilled when he came to me and suggested we combine our efforts to create a "special" mod for X3. We did a fair bit of "brain-storming" up front on what the mod should look like, and given we had very similar objectives in mind, it wasn't hard for us to quickly agree on the core concepts of what became DDRS.
RS: Well I liked Deadly's work from the X2 days, and when I was looking over his initial X3 efforts I began to see ways we could combine his ships and stations with some interesting script ideas I was working on. In fact, this was the "launch-point" for the PHQ ship building scripts in DDRS, since without a HQ there was no use for the script. I got in touch with Deadly and suggested a cooperative effort, and once we started "spinning" ideas back and forth, I had him hooked!
Terrabyte: This is quite a sizeable mod; greeted by the community with words like 'OMG', 'Insane', 'Fantastic', 'Wow', can you give everyone a short description about it.?
DD: Well, I can probably answer this one for both of us. In very simple terms, the current release of DDRS offers 41 custom ships, a custom shipyard, and a custom Player HQ (PHQ) which is located in a hollowed-out asteroid...and of course, Red Spot provides the "magic" with a custom script set that introduces the shipyards, HQ, and ships in a gradual fashion. In the interest of maintaining balanced game-play, the introduction of the custom ships and stations requires the players to actively participate in the process. You can't simply put it on "auto-pilot", turn on SETA, and expect to have the ships and stations "given" to you for free. Nothing in life is really "free", and DDRS ships and stations are no exception!
Terrabyte: There was obliviously a monumental amount of work in ship modding and scripting, what inspired such a commitment and how did it start?
DD: Well, to be honest I sort of stumbled into it. I'm certainly not an "artist" in any sense of the word, and it was really the challenge that motivated me. Back in the early days of X2, Egosoft released the X2 Modding Kit which really got the ball rolling. In the kit was a pretty rough document on GFX modding. It appeared to have lots of interesting information...but no real "instructions" about how to actually modify ships. Initially, I started playing with ship modding more as a "puzzle" that needed to be "solved". In late 2004, people started asking to have their favourite ship(s) included in my mods, and...well things just "mushroomed" from there.
RS: Well the commitment part was pretty easy, I really liked this game from the beginning, actually I liked X2 from the first time I played it. It wasn't long before I wanted a few "extra" commands that were not available in the game, or in one of the user-developed scripts on the old X2 Scripts and Modding forum. To my good fortune, there were a number of very good scripters (and scripts) back then that I could learn from, like Deadly always "wanting to solve the puzzle", I set out to explore the Script Editor. With time and effort I got familiar with the SE-commands and learned more about the "do's and don'ts", up to where I was able to build a complex script-set like you see in DDRS.
Terrabyte: The original showcase for the mod was based on X2, was there an aspect of X3 that made/helped you take it so much further?
DD: Absolutely! The new graphics capabilities of X3 really expanded the opportunities for all modders. Where you had to be very careful to keep the polygon count low for X2, the new rendering engine was able to support much more complex (and detailed) models. But even better, by implementing DDS textures and shaders, Egosoft made it possible to create the "appearance" of highly-detailed graphics even when placed on a completely flat mesh! This was a real "win-win" for modders, since we could employ highly-detailed models with larger polygon counts when necessary...but you also had access to DDS textures you could use to quickly and easily create the appearance of complexity using a simple low-polygon mesh.
RS: With X3 we've gotten a number of new SE-commands that made certain features I had been thinking about possible. After playing around with some of the new SE-commands, I began to work on what eventually became the PHQ ship-building commands in DDRS. Without those new commands, certain features in DDRS (like PHQ) would not have been possible.
Terrabyte: You seem to have not only involved the community in your work but also had extensive feedback from them, how much was changed in response to the feedback?
DD: Once I started releasing my custom ships, it wasn't long before the X2 (and now X3) community started making their preferences known! Today, it's fair to say that the current mix of ships has been almost entirely driven by what people tell me they want to fly. In fact, as you recall from an earlier question of yours, taking suggestions from the players is how I initially hooked-up with Red Spot! Since then much of what has gone into DDRS has come from the X2/X3 community.
Terrabyte: There is a high quantity of quality ships, how much effort went into each one and can you say how much time it took get it all done?
DD: Since we're talking about the ships, I'll take this one. While from the player's perspective, the end result is always seen as a ship flying around in the X-Universe, there are a number of different ways that ship can come about. In DDRS, some are original creations, while others are provided to me by artists and modellers as a fairly simple "raw" mesh which (with their permission) I can alter and texture to work with X3. And then there a few very highly detailed models which take a huge amount of time to "scale" down to X3 proportions. There is no simple metric for how much effort is required for a given ship. Some of the ones that look simple and easy to do will in fact have taken several hundred hours (given the "trial and error" that I often go through to "get it right").
Terrabyte: The scripting seems to alter some of the game play, but you also made a lot of effort to keep it balanced, were you tempted to change the game in other ways?
RS: Ah, scripts! That would be me! Actually the current plug-in doesn't really change game-play so much as it adds to it. There are things like the missions to "unlock" ships, and the ship-building scripts. However, basic game-play of X3 (combat, trading, etc.) is the same. In fact, one of the features of DDRS is that the scripts won't become active until you've finished the plot, or play a non-plot game.
Terrabyte: Do either of you have any favourite ships or scripts that really make the mod for you? What ship is listed as your favourite in the game stats?
DD: To be honest, I don't actually get to "play" x3 that much! However, as for the ships I fly personally, I tend to use the new Hunter (M5), Banshee (M4), YT-2400 (M3), and Ranger (M6). I don't usually fly Capital ships or transports but if I did I'd have to go with the Omega (M2), Sulaco (M1), Cetus (TL), Cotton Tender (TS), and the new Chucker(TP).
RS: As for ships I'd have to say the two Cylon ships (M4 & M3) and Ranger (M6). I usually fly the Cylon M4 as I prefer the speed and handling of an M4 over the firepower of an M3. When it comes to scripts, I really like the PHQ ship-building commands, but to be honest I like all of my scripts; after all, that's why I write them!
Terrabyte: In your experience of playing the mod, if you had to recommend a few features that would sell it to those who do not use mods, what would they be?
DD: It is hard for me to separate the various elements of the mod in terms of "features". The custom stations, and especially the Asteroid Base, are pretty nice. And of course I really like the custom ships (big surprise, there!). But in all honesty, I would find the custom ships and stations much less attractive (at least over the longer term) if they were simply dumped into the various shipyards around the universe...and could be purchased by anyone with enough credits and the appropriate race reputation. So, I guess I'd have to say that the entire concept of unlocking the custom ships via missions is one of the key features. Of course, once you get a bit of an empire built-up, the PHQ ship-building scripts are a great addition.
RS: Well the new ships would be one (of course), but I'd also have to select the PHQ ship-building commands. While they might not be an obvious choice, these commands are in fact very powerful tools for the "power-hungry universe-ruling" sort of player. Think of what you might do with something like the PHQ scripts if you began a game with the Kha'ak start point! Of course the PHQ commands can be just as useful for the player that simply wants a way to produce "special" ships, like the Pirate Nova.
Terrabyte: Some players are a bit cautious of modding their game, can you offer any guidance that would encourage them to take the plunge?
DD: Running a mod is safe and is a great way to extend your enjoyment of X3, but it is important the players have realistic expectations...and take responsibility for their own actions.
RS: Based on my experience and the history of our mod, I can say that there is no real reason to be overly cautious. Whenever someone reports a problem, it is always addressed promptly. Many times more other experienced players can respond in minutes! I would also like to make an important point, complex mods like DDRS can have a number of new and different features, and no matter how experienced a player is, they should always "read" the readme file!
Terrabyte: Even after all this work do you have any plans to take it further? Shall we be seeing more enhanced versions in the future or are you planning to do something else?
DD: One of the reasons people can feel comfortable running DDRS is that it isn't going to go away. There is still plenty of room for "incremental" improvements, and even a few areas where more "radical" ideas might find a home. As the DDRS ship population reaches "critical mass", there will be fewer new ships added, and the pace of releases "just to implement new ships" will no doubt slow down. I have already been getting a few intriguing suggestions from the X3 community regarding where we could take DDRS next. Things like:
RS: Well, as it is now, I am already working on something pretty special. It is a full array of scripts that will radically alter the AI for the NPC-commanded DDRS ships. Once those new scripts are finished, I will be altering the mission plug-in so that it will be able to "link" individual missions (like the ones that are available in the current version), so that they behave more like "mini-plot" elements.
Terrabyte: If you had a wish list item that you would like to see in the X games what would each of you wish for?
DD: Well, for me this one is pretty easy! I'd love to see an official X3 Modders Kit released that documented all the numerous flags that can be used in the configuration files. These are the configuration flags that tell the X3 engine how is should act on an object in a given situation (think docking & undocking). Er...and while I'm at it, how about an official release of the 3dMax exporter. Ah...and just in case someone is feeling generous, let's not forget about the shaders, we definitely need some documentation and tools there. Oh... and before I forget (...urgle...sound of muzzle being put on mad dog foaming at mouth).
RS: Good question and I don't suppose you would be surprised if I said I'd love to have some more new SE commands. Of course it is always nice to have new features, but by providing the community with new script commands, Egosoft would have a whole bunch of "willing hands" out creating new features for them. Now if you really wanted to make me happy, give us a way to get better access all of the available galaxy objects (such as wrecks), via scripting the scripting engine.
Terrabyte: On a final and lighter note, when did the X games take over your life?
DD: Good question, my wife frequently asks similar questions... but not necessarily on a "lighter" note! Seriously, as I recall, I was playing through Independence Wars 2 (for the 3rd or 4th time) and looking at getting involved in modding that particular game, when I saw a "preview" notice on X2. I started tracking the planned release of X2, and forgot all about spending any time and/or effort in IW2! Once X2 came out, and the initial bugs were squashed, there was no other "space" I really wanted to play in!
RS: I basically stumbled upon a copy of X2, and as it was rather cheap I simply bought it on "impulse". However, it wasn't long after I started playing that I quickly ended up on the Egosoft forums looking for information and patches. I naturally gravitated over to the Scripts and Modding forum...and the rest, as they say, is history.
Terrabyte: I would like to thank DeadlyDa and Red Spot for a remarkable and highly detailed insight into the world of modding. I hope the XFans are more encouraged to download the mod and install it, as it is a serous addition to every aspect of what makes X3: Reunion a fantastic game.
We were so impressed with this mod that we have decided to make the links for the downloads available outside the Scripting and Modding Forum.
For those who still want to know more about the mod or read other users' comments, go to the Scripting and Modding forum
The direct download links for Version 2.3.8 of DDRS. This version is fully compatible with X3 patch 1.4 or higher:
The straight .RAR archive: http://www.flatrock.org.nz/wolf/images/X2_Pix/DDRS_ShipStation_Mod_V2.3.8.rar
The self-extracting .EXE: http://www.flatrock.org.nz/wolf/images/X2_Pix/DDRS_ShipStation_Mod_V2.3.8.exe
It is finally here!
The long wait was worth it! As there was for X²: The Threat, there is also now a Bonus Pack for X³: Reunion available for Download.
Now, you are probably asking yourself "What is this Bonus Pack? And what does it do for me?"
The Pack provides upgrades (scripts) developed by the forum community and given the seal of approval (signed) by Egosoft. These upgrades have been selected because they fit well with the game and do not destroy the game balance. The Script Editor does not have to be activated for these upgrades to work.
The following items are in this Pack:
General information about the X³ Bonus Pack and the individual upgrades is in the discussion topic for this article.
File format: self-extracting archive
This edition's Egosoft FAQ - X: The History
For a lot of the new players and even some of the veterans of the X Franchise, the history of Egosoft is still a bit of a mystery, so continuing on the with the Egosoft FAQ's. I scoured the available files and pulled together X: The History.
Egosoft was founded in 1988 and turned into a commercial enterprise in 1990. The primary goal was to develop top quality computer and videogames. The team originally worked on the AMIGA system for many years, before the first PC release (Imperium Romanum) in 1995. Several of these projects were developed exclusively by Egosoft and then published mainly through the European publisher "FUNSOFT" and later THQ.
In 1999 with "X-Beyond the Frontier", EGOSOFT has established a universe which since then grew and developed further into a franchise of great space simulation games. X-TENSION and XGOLD continued the growing international success of the series and the book "Farnhams Legend" extended the history of the X-Universe beyond the game community.
Since 1999 EGOSOFT has been working on the ultimate online space simulation game, Online-Universe.
Egosoft has many plans for the near and distant future, so expect this list to get an update :)
The 'move along' nothing to see here bit!
If you would like to get in contact with us, then feel free. E-mail: X-Universe-News@egosoft.com
Editors in Chief
Michael "Terrabyte" Madden - Great Britain
Michael Baumgardt - Germany
Michael "Terrabyte" Madden
Chris "CBJ" Burtt-Jones
With Thanks To
Translation and Proofreading
Confucio - IT
Barron - DE
196062 - DE
Player. - RU
Toastie - RU
V2200 - RU
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