Escort and Patrol

Radar array
Radar array in the asteroid belt

For this article we will take a look at Mission 2 (Hellespont: Escort and Patrol). The first five missions or so all have some unique additions and will be getting their own update – hopefully once they’re done things should move very quickly.

First a warning about the screenshots we will be showing for a while – due to selecting the wrong swap buffer format we realised that we had been presenting in linear color space, not sRGB. What this means is dark colors were darker than they ought to have been and lighting was hard to balance. We are still in the process of re-tuning visuals. Long term the lighting will be improved as a result however and we did take the opportunity to start work on HDR monitor support.

Take-off comm
Lieutenant Naismith introducing himself

I’m waking up now, sir

Over Christmas and the early part of this year progress has been excellent, not only have we added all the missing UI menus but two more missions are now fully playable. Unfortunately it’s now ODVS’ turn to be overwhelmed with work so we will hold off showing those menus until he can replace my programmer art with his usual high standard.

Mission 2 now starts with a missing comm giving you permission to takeoff. This will probably stay as a single isolated test of our ability to modify mission scripts for now as we don’t want a potential source of bugs, but it’s nice to know we have the option to make changes if we want to.

Game over screen
Heart of the chicken: choose

Since we are in the game proper we needed ending conditions, it’s now possible to trigger a traitor game over by shooting friendlies, and the appropriate news comm brief plays over the death camera. Mission success/ failure and ejection are all also now handled correctly and credits have been implemented.
The one piece of UI we can show you (as it doesn’t need any new artwork) is the game over screen, as a nod to the PlayStation version it uses the hi-res artwork from the PSX main menu.

We’re still breaking the back of the mission commands, for example this was the first escort mission, so we added the ability to autopilot with other ships and to obey commands like go to location, but each mission takes less time than the last to implement; we already are seeing far fewer unknown commands per mission.

Trailing the pirate to his base
Passing an asteroid

Watch out for flying rocks

Some of you may be thinking “but there’s no asteroids in mission 2”; well that was a source of confusion for me too. It seems they are a victim of a bug in the GoG release (joined by others like disappearing music) – but they were there in the DOS version, in the briefing FMV and they’re there in data so we’re happy to return them to life.

As there are hundreds in view at a time I finally got around to implementing model instancing which will act on any model without dynamic materials – I also sped up spawning of objects and internally we have done tests with asteroid counts 100 times higher than in the original. For now we are using the original numbers but we have the option to try and create a modern interpretation of the deadly and densely packed WC1 asteroid fields. Let us know if that’s something you’d like to see.

Load bearing clarkson
Rendering of the Clarkson with cargo pods

The big new model for mission 2 was the radar array, but Defiance industries has also added a number of variants on the Clarkson, including one with cargo pods designed for this mission. For now we’re keeping everything true to the original but at a later date we hope to start to have per mission overrides for some of the ships to allow for this variety.

Finally we’re aware of a number of bugs in the demo and atleast one person couldn’t launch; we have fixes for these but are waiting on completing the visual tuning pass. We aim to put out a new version sometime this year however.