Issue 40 - June 2010
|A Few Words from the Editor...
|X3TC 2.7 Update
|The People's Update
|X3: Terran Conflict Bonus Pack
|X3: Terran Conflict
|A New Home
|X-verse Fleet Fest
|TC Player vs Player is a reality!
|Credits & Contacts:
|The Uninteresting Bit at the End
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A Few Words from the Editor...
Welcome to the 40th edition of the X-Universe News. You'd be forgiven for seeing this and wondering if it's a mistake. Game updates can be like buses; you wait for ages for one and then two come along at once! Yes, hot on the heels of Update 2.6, there's another bundle of features and fixes to make your enjoyment of the world's best space game even greater! More on that later. We've also got news of an update to the recently-released Terran Conflict Bonus Pack. We also bring you news of a further game update and features yet to come. In this edition we introduce you to a recent development on the EGOSOFT forums and bring you some reflections of the development of 'A New Home' from some of the guys involved.
The People's Update
Update 2.6 of X3: Terran Conflict brought us the long-awaited community mission, A New Home. The important aspect of that was the many months of hard work that went into it by dedicated members of our community. Further examples of our community's dedication to increasing the enjoyment of the game for fellow players are encapsulated in this Update.
Update 2.7 introduces a large number of new features, improvements and fixes, some of which have been developed by members of the DevNet community. Among the features and improvements is the extension of the Hack Station mission to race stations, the reappearance of M7 and M8-class ships in missions and an improvement in M6, M8 and TM behaviour when using jumpgates. Also featured is the removal of Argon One's invincibility and more differentiation between Tanker and Superfreighter variants. Update 2.7 also includes improvements to the engine, benefitting systems with more than 2GB of RAM.
Among the large amount of bug fixes are large number of graphics, texture and camera position fixes. Killjaeden's FLAK volume fix has been enhanced and incorporated, as has his fix for the front weapon of the Xenon Q. Thanks to Saetan, capital ships should no longer explode while undocking from the Xenon Hub. Docking clamps have been repositioned on a number of stations, while the complex node orientations have been changed in a number of scenes. Issues with some ships' behaviour on boarding have been addressed. Universe Traders' blacklists have also been fixed to avoid them entering enemy sectors. There are many many more fixes included, many of which have been tirelessly tracked down for inclusion in the patch by one of EGOSOFT's newest staffers, Enenra. We'd like to extend our thanks to all of the modders and scripters (especially draffutt) who have developed fixes for the game and it gives us great pleasure in making them part of it.
Concurrently with the release of Update 2.7 of Terran Conflict, EGOSOFT would like to announce an updated version of the recently-released Bonus Pack. The plug-ins included in the Bonus Pack are as follows:
One key feature of this update is the addition of Polish language support for the Bonus Pack. A number of other minor tweaks have been made to address user feedback.
In X-Universe News Edition 39, we told you that a forthcoming Update of Terran Conflict would feature a 'Dead-is-dead' game mode. We're pleased to reveal that testing is already underway on that feature, which will be released with Update 3.0 of X3: Terran Conflict. You may remember that we said that this feature takes advantage of Steam technology, so we stress that it will only be available to those players who have registered their game with Steam.
With the release of Update 2.6 of Terran Conflict, we saw the release of another EGOSOFT-approved community-developed quest in an official update. Now the dust has begun to settle on that event, I asked some of the members of A New Home's (ANH) development team to share some of their reflections on the development process. Here's what they had to say:
I'm an old-school X-addict and this whole thing started in early 2008 with the release of the Mission Director (MD). It didn't take me long to get addicted to that too, particularly with the improvements that were made for it for Terran Conflict. Becoming for familiar with it over time, I started to daydream about all the possibilities that were available for changing or adding content to the game and even now it still feels like I've only just scratched the surface. Combine all that potential with some nostalgia about past X games and soon ideas start popping out like crazy.
One of those ideas led to the Treasure Hunt mission, a mission based exclusively on THINK, where you are challenged to solve some puzzles and riddles, some of which were hard, but most based again on nostalgic times from X Beyond the Frontier, which for the sake of something a little different, will provide a challenge.
The second mission, A New Home, was based on the simple premise of giving the player his or her own sector. We all know that this is the ultimate statement of wealth and prestige, having a place in the X Universe called 'home'. This dream came true for many players of X3: Reunion with the sector auction and we didn't want to miss such an opportunity in Terran Conflict. So we put our heads together and came up with a few ideas and what could have been a simple sector auction soon morphed into a respectable plot. We also added a few gimmicks to make things interesting and fun, but still challenging. We also decided to give players the option to choose the layout of the sector, with 5 different layouts to choose from... it's your home, so it's only fair you should have one you like. For my part, I'd like to thank all that were involved in this endeavour and also EGOSOFT for the great game and its boundless modding possibilities.
I was actually added to a group Skype chat without being asked. I was a bit shocked because Ketraar, MADxHAWK and Belisarius were already there and as all of them are forum moderators, my first thought was 'What have I done?'. I really couldn't think of anything I'd done (good or bad) which would explain my presence among this group of moderators, other than working with the MD. It became immediately apparent when the question was asked, 'How do we reward the player with his own sector?'
After the plot was nearly through the concept phase, I started working on the MD code. After a few days the idea was floated to get this quest signed by EGOSOFT. Everyone was happy with that idea, apart from me, because at the time I was a DevNet Level 3 user and I was worried that that I could not be involved further in the development process. Just as I was convinced this wouldn't be a problem, the next problem arose. In order to get the mission signed we had to provide Owen at EGOSOFT with a working Alpha build within nine days! Only 10% of the code had been written at that point and I started coding 12-14 hours per day. It was a really hard time, but it's a time I won't forget.
What do I like about this mission? Well, from the coder's point of view the implementation of the CPU ship hack brought some interesting variety to the code. From the player's point of view, it's the fact that it's based on the THINK element of the game and doesn't need too much fighting.
I was part of the ANH team right from the start when Ketraar had his wild idea. Since I can neither write a script nor use the MD, and the mapping tasks hadn't been assigned at that point, I grasped the opportunity and started with creating the different sectors.
Every race in the X-Universe has its own requirements for a suitable sector: the Boron like water, the Teladi - mud, the Split - barren planets with load of dangerous places and species, the Argon - average worlds, and the Paranid - hot and arid worlds. According to these preferences, I started designing the sectors and stuffed them with suns, planets and moons. The sectors, however, shouldn’t be just empty shells; hence I also placed some rocks and asteroids in them, nothing special and with more or less average values. The sun value is also higher than in common sectors to facilitate the sector for Solar Power Plants. Special contents are the Nividium-Asteroids in some versions and the moons. Normally, the Moons in the X-Universe are barren and lifeless balls of rock or ice, but to be honest, I’m not too keen on that, which is why the moons in the player sectors are either small planets or ringed disasters. I especially like the Paranid sector, because you are in the orbit of a moon and you can fly behind it easily, which is a nice gimmick and offers some good locations for stations if you want to hide them.
Another of my roles was the development of the Character Alexmanckvanbilt, the Paranid in the Imperial Cartography Agency, to whom you must pay the horrendous 333 million Credits. Unfortunately, there was some resistance from other team members and especially EGOSOFT to my suggestion to squeeze 666 Million Credits out of the player. What a pity! ;)
One day Ketraar came up with the idea to write a plot that rewards the player with his own sector, but not like it was in X3: Reunion, with an auction, but with a nice storyline behind it. There we faced our problem of having no idea what this plot should look like. We shared hundreds of ideas, but all of them were more unconnectable parts of a possible plotline than a real concept for it. MADxHAWK, also part of the dev team, then came up with following statement that made me laugh the first time I read it: "I want a CPU ship in that plot!"
As funny as it sounds, this was the birth of our plotline. Of course, the plot wasn't done at this time, so we proceeded sharing ideas and quite soon we had a base where we could build a story around the CPU ship. Since MADxHAWK is a real coffee-addict we called the CPU ship #cafe. Ogerboss and Iifrit Tambuur-san wrote a nice little script that ensured #cafe had self-defence. That script was really sadistic and therefore didn't made it into the final version, but let me at least tell you what this nice little script did to the player and to NPC ships that came too close. These ships were taken over and then used to protect the CPU ship. For the player this resulted a long spacesuit ride, a little sadistic, you'll probably agree, hence it didn't make it into the final, released version, although I really liked it.
I wrote a list of 29 plot steps that contained the entire plotline, then Ketraar and Jens Ka, our two Mission Director professionals, started coding the plot. Due to my list I got the plot writer position and ensured that everything remained of a certain quality and logic level. We also put ourselves in certain positions in the plot, so I choose to be the Teladi on the Trading Station in Freedom's Reach. You'll have to play it to find out where all the others can be found.
Once the green light had been given for it to be a signed mission for the game a few things had to be changed, but in the end it made into the patch 2.6 and I was quite happy about the final outcome and also proud being part of the developer team. I hope everyone enjoys that mission and is happy with the reward. :-)
TC Player vs Player is a reality!
There are many players of X games who have dreamt of bringing their fleet up against a fellow gamer's in an online battle. While that possibility has been talked about for some time now, there's no sign of that becoming a reality. That didn't stop Mutiny, a forum user, from bringing the dream of player fleet against player fleet to reality in the form of the X-Verse Fleet Fest competition, which has its origins right here.
The basic concept is that players are allowed a 250 million Credit budget to build a fleet. The details of the fleets are then posted in the competition's forum thread. The competing fleets are then assembled and scheduled for battle against one another. The actual battle takes place on the PC of Technojerk36, who kindly volunteered to host it on his high-end rig, and both sides are controlled by the game's AI. Technojerk36 then uses the Fraps application to record the battle and provides the video footage and links to uploaded savegames as evidence of the battle and its outcome.
In the first competition (XFF I) 33 fleets were entered. After one teaser match and a qualifying 'placement' match to even out the numbers, the competition got underway with one round taking place every weekend. You can check out the competition thread here and see how it's progressing.
You can watch the battles unfold by following the links on that page and also download the savegame and watch the battle unfold right inside your own game of Terran Conflict!
The Uninteresting Bit at the End
If you would like to get in contact with us, then feel free. E-mail: X-Universe-News@egosoft.com
With Thanks To
Translation and Proofreading
Belisarius - DE
Alex Vanderbilt - DE
Confucio - IT
Xfrench - FR
SBlade - ES
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