Roots mod will get singleplayer missions

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posted on February 25th, 2022, 11:53 am
Last edited by JanB on March 6th, 2022, 10:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
Because GOG recently released Armada II again I started looking into patching my Fleet Ops: Roots mod.

I'm happy to report I was able to fix a lot of issues and bugs from the mod and will make sure it is compatible with the GOG version and that it can be easily installed as a mod within an existing Fleet Ops installation.

I'm now also adding singleplayer missions that I'm creating using Megadroid's Mission Mod. I think I've cracked all the basics of making a mission now, including cinematic sequences, and using text-to-speech software I was even able to record some decent-sounding voiceovers. I'm planning on making 3 campaigns of 4-5 missions each. Megadroid's own tutorial maps and Premonitions (from Armada I) rework will be included as a bonus, I've already reworked them to be fully compatible with my mod.

I've included two screenshots from my first mission which is fully done. It will probably take me a few weeks to finish the others and when it's done the mod over at moddb will be updated.

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posted on March 3rd, 2022, 9:37 pm
Right now 6 missions out of a planned 15 are complete... Now that I've established a process I can pretty much make a new one in about a night's work :D
posted on March 4th, 2022, 2:43 am
Wow, I'm very interested in your process. I'll check the missions out as well once you post a new release :D
posted on March 4th, 2022, 3:20 pm
Thanks!

The process isn't that hard once you know what to do, you have to:

- create voiceovers, I pick voices from Microsoft Azure's Text-To-Speech service, which you can easily (and for free) access using Balabolka (which is also free)

- create an objectives txt file for each mission

- sometimes you have to create a custom techtree and AIP for a mission, but you can skimp on this by only changing stuff for the factions that actually appear in the mission

- add the names of the mission and the map to the mshell.set and label.map files for them to show up in the menus

- RTS_CFG.h has to have: int cfgSINGLE_PLAYER_ENABLED = 1;

- in bitmaps/single a singleplay.png file will let you control the background of the singleplayer menu

- create and populate a map for each mission, you have to add starting positions and camera points using alt-click, note that for singleplayer missions you have to add the faction objects to the map manually (for example fed.effectsS.odf), I just added those to my map editor menu, I also created a "visionbeacons" object to provide line of sight over objective locations, you also have to properly set up the map parameters and factions using ctrl+r, you can just look at my maps to see how to do this

- the hardest part: write .lua mission scripts, for in the missions folder, this is also where you set team relations and AIPs, setting them in the map editor doesn't work, but you can also look at my mission scripts and the ones from Megadroid's Mission Mod to see how to do this


P.S. a tip from one modder to another: the AIPs in your mod start with building something at a location other than location 0. On many maps this will send all construction ships on a long journey to some far-off moon, even if only one station has to be constructed there. If instead you, say, have the first station build command be a shipyard at location 0 then at least one of your construction ships will get to work right away and the build list will then proceed much more quickly. I know because I used to make the same mistake in my old AIPs :sweatdrop:

P.S.2 you need Fleet Ops 4.0 to get save and load menu options during singleplayer missions and to have ships/stations placed on the map editor to have the correct shield values in-game, the flipside is that the playMusic() function from Megadroid's Mission Mod doesn't work with 4.0 (so no custom music, though you can play voiceovers) and level 2 (the lowest) shield upgrades have no effect, also if you use Fleet Ops 4.0 make sure to fix trigger_blocking_sml.odf so it has 1 asteroid, not 0.25, otherwise the game will crash all the time.
posted on March 8th, 2022, 9:31 pm
Update: I now have 6 Federation Alliance, 5 Free Borg and 5 Dominion Alliance missions planned, 11 of these are already complete (the Federation Alliance and Free Borg campaigns). Megadroid's Premonition remake is included as a bonus and some of the other missions offer replayability because you get to play them as different races with different starting positions and starting units (using an avatar system where you can swap bases and units with an AI ally).

I have also done a lot of bugfixing, rebalancing, quality-of-life improvements (like better looking mutara nebulae and better music mixes for the races), FO 4.0 integration and some testing of the missions. Just a handful of missions to go now and then a couple of days of final testing.
posted on March 9th, 2022, 11:22 pm
Wow, that's some serious progress.

Sadly my experience with Fleet Ops Campaigns is effectively nothing: I've never fully run 4.0 or MMM. But I am extremely interested in the prospect of a campaign, so I'll definitely be looking over your code when you release it, and if you're at all interested in collaborating with me on TM that would be an option as well.
posted on March 10th, 2022, 5:53 pm
Looking forward to trying it out
posted on March 10th, 2022, 9:40 pm
Tryptic wrote:Wow, that's some serious progress.

Sadly my experience with Fleet Ops Campaigns is effectively nothing: I've never fully run 4.0 or MMM. But I am extremely interested in the prospect of a campaign, so I'll definitely be looking over your code when you release it, and if you're at all interested in collaborating with me on TM that would be an option as well.


Well, I'm planning to scale back on modding a bit after this is done, get back to real life. But, I'll definitely be available for pointers on mission scripting/design or other Fleet Ops modding stuff. I will check my personal messages and this forum regularly.
posted on March 11th, 2022, 12:55 am
No worries, I've got some experience learning from just reading each other peoples' code XD

The thing that I'm most interested in, is why you say that you needed to use 4.0. Can you explain just which feature(s) couldn't be done with the 3.2.7 engine?
posted on March 11th, 2022, 7:40 am
The direct reason for me to try Fleet Ops 4.0 was that there are no save and load buttons in the escape menu for single player missions in 3.2.7. But I was also generally curious if 4.0 would improve other things. It does fix some bugs, for example shield values now appear correctly for objects placed using the map editor (I had a code workaround for that, but still), as well as for saved games, menus are also less sluggish now. You get more control over some stuff like default autonomy in the RTS_CFG.h, and the AI seems to be a little bit better now (there's now less huge fleets waiting around doing nothing and then all simultaneously racing past each other at the same time, fleets will also actually cloak now, though I've turned that off since they'll often stay cloaked even when they've reached their target).

EDIT: the drop off of weapon sounds (audio.odf) is also much better in 4.0, in 3.2.7 weapon sounds would be deafening halfway across the map.
posted on March 12th, 2022, 2:22 pm
All missions are done now. I'll take at least a couple of days to do testing, work on the readme, doublecheck the mod package, etc... and wait for some people to get back to me on some of the bugs in Fleet Ops 4.0.
posted on March 16th, 2022, 10:45 pm
New update.

It took some doing but all the missions are now compatible with saving and loading. So all objectives, timers, triggers, etc... persist across a saved game. Custom music for the missions with race avatars now sort of works, but is till somewhat buggy due to FO 4.0's music system. I've had a lot of help from a legendary FO modder, who shall not be named so people won't bug him to come out of retirement for their own pet projects :lol: Bugfixing and balancing is done. I'm looking at further fixing the custom music for those avatar missions and some AI-tweaking. But then it should all be done. Release will probably be some time next week.
posted on March 25th, 2022, 12:27 am
JanB wrote:New update.

It took some doing but all the missions are now compatible with saving and loading. So all objectives, timers, triggers, etc... persist across a saved game. Custom music for the missions with race avatars now sort of works, but is till somewhat buggy due to FO 4.0's music system. I've had a lot of help from a legendary FO modder, who shall not be named so people won't bug him to come out of retirement for their own pet projects :lol: Bugfixing and balancing is done. I'm looking at further fixing the custom music for those avatar missions and some AI-tweaking. But then it should all be done. Release will probably be some time next week.


Update?
posted on March 25th, 2022, 1:50 am
MrXT21 wrote:
JanB wrote:New update.

It took some doing but all the missions are now compatible with saving and loading. So all objectives, timers, triggers, etc... persist across a saved game. Custom music for the missions with race avatars now sort of works, but is till somewhat buggy due to FO 4.0's music system. I've had a lot of help from a legendary FO modder, who shall not be named so people won't bug him to come out of retirement for their own pet projects :lol: Bugfixing and balancing is done. I'm looking at further fixing the custom music for those avatar missions and some AI-tweaking. But then it should all be done. Release will probably be some time next week.


Update?


I reworked a lot of graphical details this week, I also gave all non-stock models bump maps which seems to really help the framerate when groups of high-poly models are on the screen together, but that's done now. I'm also still tuning the AI. But the bugs have been drying up and it's really dotting the i's ath this point. I still have to write a readme though and play for a couple of days to make absolutely sure no bugs or (fixable) issues remain. I'll cut myself off from tuning the AI further in a few days as well, because if I haven't perfected it by then I'd probably just be going in circles and unnecessarily delay the release. But it's coming soon. I guarantee this isn't one of those modding projects that goes on for years and never releases. It's already fully playable, all the assets are done, as well as all the polish (menus, buttons, wireframes, tooltips, etc...), I just don't want to release it with fixable bugs or AI that doesn't work well for some missions.
posted on March 30th, 2022, 7:25 pm
New update.

Things went a bit slow, but I've made a lot of progress. I think I've squeezed everything I can out of the (very limited and poorly documented) AI. Rigorously testing it under multiple scenarios and trying to make sense of it might have been even harder and more time consuming than making the single player missions, let alone all the other parts of the mod. I did make some discoveries that I think were previously unknown, but given how limited the AI ultimately is, those discoveries are of limited use (but I have written notes in the AI files for anyone interested). I've also finished testing the missions and everything else for technical and gameplay issues.

I tried to slow down the animation speed for nebulas in their sod files using 3ds max, but that has no effect in-game (I know I didn't do anything wrong because I was able to change the animation speed of construction ships). Turns out the rotation speed is some hardcoded value and applied even to sod models that don't contain animations, you can have a spinning Galaxy Class if you give it the "nebula_obj: classlabel.

I also added two very nice looking planets and swapped some models for better ones, but no 15k poly stuff, I do keep an eye on performance. On that same front I added (dummy) bump and illumination maps to many models which drastically improves framerates (for example, just having 30 Akiras sitting idly on the screen used to drop the FPS to 40, now it's over 100, without any visual difference to the models or the textures), reworking some effects also helped a little and makes the game look better IMO. The entire Dominion faction's textures have now also been reworked to a color scheme that better matches their look from DS9, so more gray and light pink instead of the oversaturated pink they used to have.

Now all that's left is testing the missions to see if the changes to the AI haven't made them unbeatable, and wrapping up with an installer and a readme.

One thing I still haven't made my mind up about is whether to include my armada2.exe (GOG version). Including it makes the mod pretty much a full game (you don't need a previous install of FO, that wouldn't work anyway since few people have FO 4.0) and just run-install-and-play, where the user doesn't need to know anything about windows folders and doesn't have to shelve out $10 for a GOG copy of Armada 2, but it's also legally dubious and I don't know if multiplayer works if multiple players have the same .exe, I'm pretty sure it would work, but can't guarantee it. If anyone has some thoughts on that I'm happy to hear them.
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