|2009.228 (August 7th, 2009) - 3 days remaining|
All blue on the progress chart
Three days to go. On monday night, it will at last be all over.
The project is indeed coming to an end - everywhere I look, things are getting into position. Yesterday, Michael delivered the absolute last pieces of music for us. Look at the progress chart - we may still have various bugs to fix, but the chart is now all blue. All the non-bug-related tasks are now complete. Incidentally, I never kept track of how much music we have in the game, but Michael informs me that the total count is 223 (bearing in mind that each mission set has multiple pieces, as do most cutscenes). Wow. When and how did that happen?
Today is a big day for another reason, too - at long, long last, we are finally ready to show off some screenshots from how the game looks now. And... well, it's a long way from where we started. These latest changes (all of them functional only in OpenGL) include an enhanced lighting system allowing for specular maps (yes, that's right, specular maps - we've joined the 21st century :-P ), and... HDR. High dynamic range lighting: bloom, bright, shiny explosions, and really, really great looking engine flames. That's not all, there are various other improvements all over the place. Head on over to the screenshots page, see for yourself... and compare these latest four shots with the really old stuff from page 1 :-).
All these enhancements required a huge amount of work for most of us. I reworked just about all of the ship meshes in the game, correcting various smoothing errors and so on, created new specular maps for every single object in the game (not just our ships, but any original WCP mesh still in use in Standoff), new engine flames... and more than a few other things I'm forgetting :-P. Alex and Pierre, of course, put in tons of programming work - Alex on the OpenGL library, while Pierre has been working on various related issues (rescaling the room graphics, etc.). And of course, everyone had to keep on testing new versions of the DLLs.
It was a tough job, because it's one big hack. Normally, to do this kind of thing, you'd edit the original source code and build the improvements directly into the engine. Had that been the case, Alex, would have been able to give the engine pretty much all the graphical capabilities seen in modern titles. But... no source code to edit, so all this is really one big, hugely complicated hack :-P.
Anyway the big question - are we now ready for monday? Not yet. We still have... issues. And just to make things more interesting, half the team is unable to work during the weekend for one unavoidable reason or another. It's going to be a really, really interesting monday :-P.
|2009.221 (July 31st, 2009) - 10 days remaining|
Ten days. Really not much time left now. This is the end run now, the part we all hate :-P. Right before every release, there comes that point where we run around in circles yelling "we're not gonna make it!". Then, everything slides into place, and... we make it. But it's always a tense few days right until the release :-P.
The great news (and this is the kind of news I've been wanting to announce for years), is that this week, Tempest has delivered the very last remaining Standoff voiceovers. Quarto threw them into the game right away, and... well, we're done with voiceovers. The final grand total ended up being a little bigger than I mentioned before - we've got 751 lines in Episode 5, and a grand, grand final total of 3,015 lines. It is so damned great to be done with that stuff... and just check out that progress chart.
Meanwhile, music is also progressing - in fact, we should be receiving the last major pieces in a few hours. After that, there will still be a few sequences left, but nothing Michael can't handle. I hope :-). And the rest of us? We've still got a bit left to do as well... :-P
|2009.214 (July 24th, 2009) - 17 days remaining|
This week has been much quieter than the last - the only major landmark to note is that Tempest's finally delivered the last two lines of voiceovers from our last external actor. Now he just needs to deliver the last remaining lines (49 of them) for the character he's playing himself, and we'll finally be done :-P.
As for the rest of our progress, I could probably copy & paste from last week's update - I'm working on graphics, Alex and Pierre are working on programming graphics improvements and bugfixes, and Quarto's squishing bugs left, right and center. His job is made easier this week by Dundradal still being out of action, and therefore no new bugs flowing in. We'll see how it goes next week.
|2009.207 (July 17th, 2009) - 24 days remaining|
The countdown continues
Quite a bit of progress this week, most of it related to cutscenes. First up, I'm done rendering videos for the new Episode 1 & 2 cutscenes. All that's needed now is music for them.
Music is also still missing from several Episode 5 scenes, but we're not especially worried about that at this stage. Michael is working hard, he's just delivered the tracks for a few of those scenes. Mainly, he's working on the endgame scenes. He says, when he made the Episode 5 intro as grand as he did (and grand it is), he forgot he'd have to make the endgames even grander :-P. So yeah, we may end up waiting on some of the music until the very last minute, but it's ok. The other scenes are simple stuff, most of Michael's time will be spent on those endgames.
Other than that... I'm pushing on with the graphics stuff, Alex and Pierre are pushing on with... well, the graphics stuff as well, only on the code end ;-). And Quarto continues to go mad seeing all the new bug reports flowing in. Fortunately for him, Dundradal will be unable to test this next week. Wait... did I say 'fortunately'? Dund, we got a release to clean up, get back here! :-P
Oh, and Tempest is still doing nothing. Looks like he's planning to keep us waiting for those last remaining voiceovers until the last minute. He'll make the deadline, he always does - but he sure loves to keep us on the edge, the bastard. No wonder he plays Trigger in the game...
|2009.200 (July 10th, 2009) - 31 days remaining|
One month to go
Crap, one month left :-P. We're definitely gonna be cutting things close. But what the hell, I mean, it is the last episode, so it's allowed to be a race to the finish ;-).
By the way, since I mentioned last week that we finished all the additional voiceovers for the new cutscenes, this is a good opportunity to throw some pointless numbers at you :-P. So... following all the additions, Episode 1 now has a grand total of 710 lines of voiceovers. Episode 2 has gone up slightly as well, to 541 lines. While we're at it, Episode 3 had 460 lines, Episode 4 had 553, and Episode 5 will (if Tempest moves his ass... or at least his vocal chords) have a total of 747 lines.
So, that means Standoff as a whole will have 3,011 lines of voiceovers. Now, I know quantity isn't quality, but I hope this goes a little bit towards explaining why Standoff's taken so long to complete. It's a huge damn cow of a mod that has, over the years, gotten way bigger than we had originally planned.
Anyway, what's been going on this week? Pretty much the same things as last week - ship improvements, music, and a huge bug testing & fixing effort. Our automated patching system turned out to be really useful for this. Getting new versions to the testers is easier than ever.
|2009.193 (July 3rd, 2009) - 38 days remaining|
This week, the last remaining voiceovers for the new Episode 1 cutscenes were delivered - so I can now get started rendering the cutscenes themselves. It really went much smoother than I thought, which is great. Now if only they don't cause any trouble in rendering, it shouldn't take too long. Our schedule is starting to look a little tight - after all, Michael will need to add some music to these, too.
Not much other progress to report this week. I mean, I'm still working on the new ships, but I'm not gonna waste my time reporting on each of those ;-). Other than that, Pierre is working on fixing up support for some of the new graphical updates, and bughunting.
The testers, meanwhile, are busy reporting new bugs for Quarto to fix. Apparently, Dundradal wasn't too impressed when it turned out he can't reach the newly-completed final mission because something got broken in the previous one ;-).
|2009.186 (June 26th, 2009) - 45 days remaining|
Soon, Earth itself shall be in our grasp!
"So, are you done yet?" - I asked Quarto about two hours ago.
"Not yet, I'm still launching missiles at Earth" - was the reply. Uh... did we just give away too much information? ;-)
Seriously - we're done. As I write this, Quarto's still running the mission time and again, checking if all the events fire off and such, but the mission is finished. Standoff's final mission has been completed. Now, at last, our testers will be able to go through the entire episode on both paths. And they'll undoubtedly report dozens more bugs all over the place - I'm sure Quarto can't wait.
I'm sorry, I just have to say that again. This bears repetition :-). Standoff's very final, absolutely final mission has been completed. Just check out our progress page :-).
Meanwhile, yes, I am still working away on the graphics improvements. Honestly, I'll probably still be finishing them up a week before release, there's quite a lot still to be done. Sorry about the lack of screenshots, but right now, every screen would contain a mix of improved and unimproved stuff, and that would spoil the effect. We won't keep you waiting until everything is 100% done, though - I'm going over the ships one by one, so when we get to the point where we can put together a few combat screens with no unimproved stuff on screen, you'll get to see it too.
So how about the rest of the team? Well, having finished another year at university, Michael is working hard on getting the last music pieces done. And finally, the cutscene voiceovers continue flowing in. Only two characters still need to deliver anything for the cutscenes - you know who you are, so hurry up :-P.
|2009.179 (June 19th, 2009) - 52 days remaining|
It's been a fairly quiet week. With Quarto away last weekend and then busy most of the week, there's literally no mission progress to speak of. He's promising, though, to put in a major effort this coming weekend. Sure would be nice if he could finally get that last mission finished. You know, the one he was supposed to finish two months ago (...or something like that).
But, just because Quarto's being lazy doesn't mean the rest of the team has been standing still. I've been continuing on the graphics improvement work, and making good progress. Though, you know, with all the additional possibilities that Alex has provided us over the recent months, and the things he says he could do if we wanted, I get the feeling that by the time our release rolls around, we'll still have half a dozen unused ideas for graphics improvements. That's really pretty damned great. It may well be that the Vision engine is still good for another few years... of course, if there is someone out there willing to use it (hey, we've given a decade of our lives to WC modding already! :-P ).
|2009.163 (June 12th, 2009) - 59 days remaining|
That sure is a heck of a lot of bugs we saw squished this past week. More importantly, just days after completing the scripts for the new cutscenes, we've already received most of the voiceovers. That's one thing we've learned over the years - modders, take note! Get *all* the writing done *first*. Don't even think about looking for actors until you've written every single line. There's always this urge to assign roles as soon as you can, just to see some progress. Resist that urge. Send an actor all his lines all at once, and he'll get back to you after a few days with everything you wanted. But if you send him a few lines, write some more, contact him half a year later with another few scenes... well, he might have time, or he might not. He might not even be around any more. We've been lucky enough not to have this problem with these extra scenes, but over the years we could have avoided a lot of trouble had we stuck to that rule. Of course, that might have also made episodic releases more difficult... :-P
The graphical upgrades are continuing too. Most of our efforts have been devoted to spaceflight, but some other things have also been getting improved. In particular, we've completely redone the ready room screen on the Lionheart - the old one never really looked too great :-P. You can check out the new one on the screenshots page.
|2009.156 (June 5th, 2009) - 66 days remaining|
Quite a solid chunk of bugfixing done this week. And Quarto's actually sitting and fixing more bugs as we speak, so we're clearly not done yet ;-). He's also inched a little forward with his last mission, but honestly, I don't think he spent more than half an hour on it this week :-P. Meanwhile, I'm still going with the ship overhaul operation, and Pierre's working on some improvements to the online simulator scoreboard, together with the CIC's Kris Vanhecke.
Other than that, we're done writing the new cutscenes, and Tempest is already sending them out to people. Hopefully, we'll get a quick response from the actors involved.
|2009.149 (May 29th, 2009) - 73 days remaining|
Once again, not much progress on missions this week. Quite a bit of other progress, though. First up, Quarto's been busy writing new cutscenes. New cutscenes? Yep, new cutscenes - for Episode 1 :-). One of the things that has bothered us quite a bit is how Episode 1 stands apart from the rest of the game. The first talking heads scenes appeared right at the end of the episode, because... well, because that was when we figured out how to do them. The subsequent episodes have been full of talking heads, but the first episode remained empty. Now, still having some time to spare before the final release, we've decided to add a few scenes to the first episode. It's going to be quite an improvement, I think.
In other news, Tempest has delivered another chunk of voiceovers. Just 44 lines left to go... well, and another 20-30 new lines for the new scenes ;-). As for me, I'm just about done retouching the Kilrathi fighters, and starting on the human ships. Definitely a lot still left to do, but just wait till you see the end result :-).
|2009.142 (May 22nd, 2009) - 80 days remaining|
Another quiet week. Still clearing up mission bugs, and Quarto's still working on that final mission... assuming he's doing anything at all :-P. Still, a few more bugs did get fixed this week, and I imagine we'll soon be getting a whole new batch of bug reports, after the testers receive a new game build.
Meanwhile, Pierre is taking time off from fixing the sim missions, in order to implement semi-automatic game patching from the launcher (i.e,. an option to check our website for updates, and then download and install them if you so choose). Now, why would we need that, given that we keep on saying there's not going to be any patches after the final release? :-P Well, I hope this is something that never, ever actually needs to be used. But, given the amount of changes involved in the graphics upgrades, we have to be prepared for compatibility issues.
|2009.135 (May 15th, 2009) - 87 days remaining|
Again, a fairly quiet - but certainly not progress-less - week. Quarto is working away on that final mission, though he doesn't seem to be working too quickly. Hopefully he'll finally get it done in a week or two - we're less than three months from release, so it's high time.
The bugfixing process is also moving forward - especially the bug-reporting part of the process :-P. Dundradal's been very busy indeed this week, there's at least ten or fifteen new bugs filed. Fortunately, the bugs are getting fixed pretty quickly too, so the overall number of open bug reports is growing at a slower rate.
Meantime, Pedro reports that his next graphical upgrade is progressing nicely. Naturally, we won't mention what this one is - you'll have to wait until we're ready to reveal them :-).
|2009.128 (May 8th, 2009) - 94 days remaining|
After last week's announcement, this week's news update may seem a bit anti-climactic :-). Not much progress to report this week. Mind you, as long as I'm keeping the new ship improvements under wrap, there really isn't going to be much to talk about, except for getting that final mission done, and bugfixing.
Speaking of bugfixing, our main tester, Dundradal, is finally back in action this week. He's been out of it for several weeks after his testing machine died - but now the bug reports are pouring in once more. Hmm, pouring? Well, at least dribbling in :-P.
And that's about it for this week. No significant progress on missions or voiceovers, but hopefully this weekend will change that. It had better, I don't like posting updates with nothing to say :-P.
|2009.121 (May 1st, 2009) - 101 days remaining|
Let the final countdown begin
August 10th, 2009.
That's 14 weeks and 3 days from today - or 101 days, if you prefer. Standoff will come to an end on 2009.222 - and not a day too early :-P.
August 10th also happens to be the Wing Commander CIC's 11th birthday - so, no Standoff-related birthday gifts from us this year. Sorry ;-). No, but seriously - the CIC has been hugely supportive over the years, in more ways than I can even describe. Come to think of it, without the CIC, the various members of our team probably wouldn't have even heard of each other. All in all, it seems really appropriate that our final release will be a birthday gift for the CIC and its - our - entire community.
Meanwhile - how's about some progress? Well, Tempest reports that he's received the last voiceovers from the final remaining external actor this week. Now, apart from cleaning & filtering those, he still has one final role to record by himself - and then we're done with voiceovers.
...Or maybe not. We've spent quite a bit of time discussing what additional improvements might be made to the game during the extra time before release, and it may well be we'll record a few more voiceovers before we're done.
What about the rest of the team? I'm working away on improving the ship graphics, Pedro is working away on further graphical upgrades, Pierre is polishing up sim missions, and Quarto's... ok, Quarto really hasn't done anything since the last update. But he's still working on that final mission, supposedly ;-). Only the testers seem to be goofing around. No computer? Come on, Dundradal, when has that ever stopped anyone? ;-)
|2009.114 (April 24th, 2009)|
On a mission
Another week, and another little bit of progress. Little bit? Well, yeah... but how significant! Quarto has now finished the second-last mission, and moved onto the very final mission of the game. In an odd bit of coincidence, that second-last mission was literally the second-last mission in the winning path series, and this final mission happens to be the final mission on the losing path series :-).
Anyway, just try to imagine the significance of this. The absolute final mission of the project. Yes, it's really going to end...
However, there is a bit of bad news for you guys, as well. We will soon be announcing a release date - but the date will not be as imminent as we hoped. Michael checked in the other day, reporting that with his current workload, he won't be able to even start working on the remaining music pieces until the summer holidays. Disappointing? Yes - but for some reason, Quarto's happy about it. Actually, I am too. This is the final episode, and we've said many times in the past that we'll be trying to fix as many known bugs in the previous episodes in time for this release. Those graphical upgrades that are now possible thanks to Pedro, they take time too. And maybe we'll find one or two other things to improve along the way.
In conclusion - we will have to ask you to be patient for a few more months. The final episode will be released this year, but you may be a bit disappointed when we announce the release date (unless you expect it to be Christmas - in that case, you'll be very pleasantly surprised :-P ). All I can say to sweeten the news is this - we most definitely will put the extra time to good use, and the final release will be all the better for it.
|2009.107 (April 17th, 2009)|
This week, once again, biggest progress is in voiceovers. Although we're still waiting for those last 70 voiceovers to be recorded, Tempest has finished processing all the remaining voiceovers we already had. We're now down to just two characters still absent. Hopefully, they'll be recorded in another week or two. You know, so far in all five episodes of Standoff we've had a grand total of 2883 voiceover lines recorded and implemented - looking at it from that perspective, the remaining 70 lines of voiceovers really aren't much.
The bad news is that there's still no progress in music. Or at least, no reports of progress. Our musician, Michael, doesn't really have much time these days to keep in touch with the team on a daily basis - to be honest, sometimes we don't hear from him for months, and then, just when we start worrying if he's still alive, we receive a huge chunk of music :-). I hope that's how it's gonna be this time too. In the meantime, though, I'm afraid that even though the rest of the project is so close to finished, we're still not going to announce any kind of release dates. Not until we have some idea of where Michael's at with the remaining cutscenes.
Meanwhile, missions haven't moved much this week either - we take breaks for Easter too, you know :-). Quarto is still working on the Marine mission. And whining. I'm not sure what he's complaining about - he planned all the missions, so if there's anything difficult to implement in there, he's only got himself to blame ;-).
|2009.100 (April 10th, 2009)|
The main progress this week, for a change, is not missions, but voiceovers. Tempest put in a lot of work this last weekend, processing most of our backlog of voiceovers. There's still another 47 voiceovers waiting to be processed, and another 70 still to be recorded (though all the remaining roles have been assigned), but we're very close to being done with voices. Only three characters are still voiceless in this episode :-).
Missions were a bit less progressful this week. Pierre's still cleaning up sim missions, and Quarto's still working on the Marine mission - and both are fixing various bugs in other missions as well. Definitely moving forward, though...
Meanwhile, remember how I wrote that I personally no longer have anything to do on Standoff? I was wrong :-). Thanks to Pedro's further improvements to the game's renderer, all of a sudden I've got to go over the textures for every single ship in the game :-). I've put in a bit of research myself as well, coming up with a new, far better model converter for WCP. Before, converting models was a multi-stage process, with lots of potential bugs at every step of the way - now, it's essentially just one click (well, except for capships, they're as troublesome as ever). So, I'm taking this opportunity to tweak some of the fighter meshes - stuff I normally wouldn't have bothered with because of the annoying conversion process.
We're not going to show any screenshots of these improvements just yet. Until I'm 100% finished, we'll only be posting screenshots without any of these new changes. I think you'll be impressed, though :-). Looking at those earliest screenshots from our website, I find it hard to believe how much we've been able to improve the graphics since 2001. The game still doesn't look anything like modern titles (or even the fan-improved version of FS2, for that matter)... but it's way beyond what we started with as well :-).
|2009.093 (April 3rd, 2009)|
More mission progress
Having received this week another new version of the two missions Pierre was working on, it's safe to say these are finished, apart maybe from a bug or two :-). That leaves two campaign missions still left to complete - one of which Quarto is currently working on. It's a pretty complex mission - I can say without revealing too much that it involves a bunch of Marine shuttles - so for once, the extra time taken is actually understandable. Anyway, hopefully he'll have that done before Easter, and then get onto the last mission. Pierre, in the meantime, has gone back into the simulator, making final adjustments in preparation for the scoreboard-enabling of the last remaining sim missions.
We've also made some small progress with voiceovers this week. There's still just under two hundred lines to be added (most of which are already recorded, and merely need to be cleaned up and filtered), but there's well over five hundred lines already accounted for. Tempest doesn't have much spare time lately, so we can expect the remaining voices to take a while yet. Still, I'm sure they'll be ready by the time the missions have all been debugged ;-).
|2009.086 (March 27th, 2009)|
No more briefings
Disappointingly, there are no new fully-completed missions this week, though there is progress being made. However, we did hit a small, but rather symbollic milestone: we've finished Standoff's very last mission briefing ever. Mission briefings generally don't take more than an hour or two to code, but for some reason, they're hated by every single one of our mission coders. So yeah, nice to see the last of them :-).
There's no new screenshots this week. I did, however, add one more ship to the Confed capships page - the Star Base. You've seen it on screenshots a few months ago, and now you can read about it :-).
Still no progress with music and voiceovers, but Tempest reports he might be able to get some more voiceovers processed this weekend. Hopefully :-P.
|2009.079 (March 20th, 2009)|
And another mission...
Excellent. A mission a week, that's good progress. Quarto reports that the mission he started last week is now completely finished, and he's moved onto the next. We really may finally get there :-).
Meanwhile, I've uploaded three new screenshots from the missions Pierre is working on. This mission is a rather interesting one. As we've mentioned a few times along the way, it's been a part of our design philosophy to throw really oddball missions onto the losing path. The winning path more or elss follows the book, so that restricts us quite a bit in mission design. But on the losing path - anything goes :-). So, during Episode 5, we were finally able to answer a question that probably nagged some of you from at least Episode 3. What happens, if the Firekka fights its way to a jump point and jumps out... leaving behind an ejected pilot? Obviously, somebody has to go back and get him. Well, in Episode 5, Captain Bradshaw decides to fly such a mission personally (if there are any ejectees to rescue, that is - this mission is optional). Just you, your Crossbow, and a bunch of cats. Sounds fun to me... :-)
What about progress in the other parts of the project, like music and voiceovers? Unfortunately, there is none this week...
|2009.072 (March 13th, 2009)|
Another mission done
We have had some very good mission progress this week. I like that a lot.
So, after... what, how long has it been, four months? Anyway, Quarto has finally completed the mission he started last year. And he's started another one this week... and says it's nearly finished already! So, one mission takes four months, while another is expected to take little more than a week: what gives? :-P Well, for our mission coders, it's mainly a question of how much time they can spare at a given point. There have been peak periods where we'd receive a mission every three or four days... and then there are cases where a mission takes four months or more. Not because it's really so work-intensive (Quarto estimates it actually only takes about ten hours total to code most missions), but simply because the person working on it suddenly finds himself unable to devote more than a few minutes once every few days for a while.
Anyway, although there are still five missions left to finish (not to mention various bugs to fix in most of the already-completed ones), only two of those are still completely untouched - one each for the winning and losing paths. So, this would be a good time to set missions to green on the progress board :-).
|2009.065 (March 6th, 2009)|
Yes, we do have some progress this week :-P.
Quarto has been working away on his mission, and reports that it's close to finished. Still a bit of work left, but it's getting there. And he's given me some screenshots to prove it! We've added three new screenshots, showing quite a lot of civilian ships getting ready to be slaughtered by the Kilrathi :-). Once this mission is done, we'll only have one mission left on the winning path (and two more on the losing path, besides the ones Pierre is currently working on). Of course, there's still a fair amount of balancing needed, but there's steady progress being made on that front, too.
Unfortunately, still no new progress to report in the voiceovers and music departments this week - maybe next week? Definitely gotta bug Tempest and Michael about that...
|2009.058 (February 27th, 2009)|
Another progress report
So, this is the third update in a row without any significant progress to report :-P.
The good news is, the "shame effect" seems to be starting to work - if you complain enough to the team about having nothing to post, it seems they get the point eventually :-). Quarto reports he's finally ("really, about damn time", he says, and I tend to agree :-P ) gotten back to work on the mission he was doing. Does that mean he'll have something to show us next week? Guess we'll see next friday. Meanwhile, Pierre is also slowly moving forward with his current mission.
In other news, there's been a fair amount of activity in our bugtracking utility this week - a few bugs fixed, a few new ones appearing. So, this is a good time to remind you guys - if, while playing the previous four episodes of Standoff, you have run into anything odd, please report it to us at the forum, and we'll fix it for the Episode 5 release.
|2009.051 (February 20th, 2009)|
Another friday, and another scheduled weekly update - and, once again, just a small amount of progress.
Our voiceovers are now just 197 lines away from completion - we now have more than 500 voiceovers ready for this episode. In terms of voiceovers (well, and in terms of pretty much everything else), this episode is much bigger than the previous ones - even Episode 1, which contained the lion's share of the generic voiceovers for the Confed pilots contained 659 lines. That's quite an impressive chunk of work... and all of it done by volunteers! The folks who have recorded voiceovers for us along the way outnumber the actual core Standoff team by a ratio of at least two to one, maybe even three to one. And they're the people who really make the game what it is - without voiceovers, even the best-designed missions are just plain dull.
Even so, I sure wouldn't mind having some mission progress to report...
|2009.044 (February 13th, 2009)|
So, this is the first of the weekly friday updates. What progress has there been this week?
The main thing has been voiceovers. Tempest's delivered another bunch of in-flight voiceovers. Other than that, Pierre has made some progress on his missions, as well as fixing (together with Pedro) some bugs in the OpenGL DLL. Great stuff, but here's hoping that next week, we hear about some progress from Quarto for a change... :-P
Meanwhile, over at the forum, Pierre has posted a short article about the process of making DLL patches - not quite a tutorial, more of a demonstration to give you some insight into how exactly this part of the project works. To me, that's always been something that seems like magic - plugging into the game like that and overriding its own code with your stuff... I'll stick to modelling ships, I think :-). Over the years, HCl's work has given Standoff a huge, huge boost - I don't think we'll ever be able to thank him enough. And having Pierre, Pedro and Tango on the team to carry what HCl started... honestly, I can't even begin to imagine what Standoff would have been like without these three people. So, once again, thanks, guys! :-)
|2009.039 (February 8th, 2009)|
A (much belated) happy new year!
It's now February, but this being the first update of the year, we'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year! For us, this year is going to be an especially happy one - because it is absolutely, definitely, beyond any shadow of a doubt, going to be the very last year of Standoff's development. We'll be releasing Episode 5 (along with fixes to various bugs from previous episodes), and that's it. Of course, if you're sceptical, I can understand that - it just so happens we said almost exactly the same thing at the start of last year. Still, we are close to finishing. Some of us have literally run out of work to do :-).
To make up for the lack of recent updates, this update is going to be quite a lengthy one :-). At this stage, we have completed all the remaing FMV cutscenes for Episode 5. Some of them are still waiting for music, but the videos are done. So, there are three areas of Episode 5 still incomplete - music, voiceovers, and missions. Having finished all my work with cutscenes, I also spent a bit of time improving some elements of the game that had already been completed. We've been going at this for way too many years now, we've all gained quite a bit of skill along the way, and some of the old stuff really jumped out in quality. This includes the cockpits for some of the campaign ships (Rapier, Gladius, Sabre), as well as the hangars for both the Lionheart and the Firekka.
To show you all of this progress, we've put up seven new screenshots. Apart from the stuff mentioned above, there is also a shot from the Episode 5 intro. Finally, there is a shot of the Firekka's recroom, in 1280x960. Ever since we've switched to OpenGL, the rooms were rescaled at higher resolutions from the 640x480 files, which meant a significant loss of quality. This is no longer the case - Pedro has made further improvements to our DLLs, and now the rooms are rescaled from the 1024x768 files instead :-).
What about missions, is there no progress in that area? As a matter of fact, there is progress, though not as much as there should have been - as always, blame Quarto... I mean, getting engaged, what kind of a lame excuse for lack of progress is that? :-) Anyway, Pedro's delivered his last mission, and Pierre's delivered an early version of two other missions - so we're definitely moving forward.
In the meantime, the end of the year - as usual - is the time of the Wing Commander CIC's annual awards. The awards are given out for the best fan project of the year, and the best fan website of the year. Thanks to all of you who voted for us, Standoff was voted runner-up (in a tie with Wing Commander Saga, yet again)... in the fan website of the year category. Now, when your fan project is given an award in the web site category, clearly that means you've got a problem with progress. Yes, Episode 5 is making progress, yes, it is close to release, but the fact remains, we have not released anything at all in 2008, our last release was September 26th 2007. It is high, high time for us to bring this project to a close. Anyway, here's our award graphic for this year:
Thanks again to everyone who voted!
There is one last thing to say in this update. Over at the forum, Chris pointed out that a weekly schedule of updates might help us mobilise to make progress. It surely would - it's something that really worked well towards the end of UE, and the only reason we haven't done it with Standoff is because we were lazy :-P. Well, it's time to speed things up a bit and finally get this project done, so here goes:
From now on, we are going to do a news update every friday evening, all the way until release. Some of these updates will be short, and new screenshots probably won't be too frequent either - but the updates will show up every single week.
|2008.350 (December 15th, 2008)|
Voiceovers of war
Well, the previous update was a few days early - and this one is a few days late, so everything balances out :-).
There's been more than a bit of progress these past two weeks - good, solid progress on every aspect of the project. First up, if you look on the progress page, you'll see that "additional graphics" has at long last gone blue. So, blue is now the dominant color for episode 5. Progress is also very good for in-flight voiceovers, and I've changed them to green. I actually had some doubts about that - although Tempest has processed quite a lot of voiceovers recently, we still only have a little more than half of them ready to use in-game. Still there's very little left to record, so green it is.
Missions have also made solid progress, though not sufficient to affect their status on the progress page. Pedro delivered his mission as planned and is working on another. Quarto expects to get at least one more mission done before Christmas. And Pierre, though as busy as ever, is reporting progress on his missions too.
Finally, cutscenes and music. I'm still finishing up on the last five cutscenes, but I expect cutscenes to go blue in the near future. Music is a little further behind, but Michael reports he will complete the intro music this week. In every episode, the intro is always the most time-consuming (...though something tells me the outro might be even more time-consuming this time round :-) ), so this is definitely good news.
Speaking of cutscenes, we've added more new screenshots on the screenshots page. The first of these is taken from a mission (I never quite realised how big that Starbase is compared to other capships :-) ), but the others are from cutscenes. As you can see from the subtitles, things are definitely not looking up this episode...
By the way, since Episode 5 is going to be the end of Standoff, our testers are now also testing previous episodes in search of bugs that still need to be fixed for the final release. So if you have encountered anything odd while playing Standoff, please report it at the forum.
|2008.332 (November 27th, 2008)|
Dralthi, Salthi and Rigakh
It's been less than a week since the last update so, naturally, there's less progress to report than last time. The important thing, though, is that there is progress at all...
First up, website updates - we've added the Dralthi, Salthi and Rigakh to the ships page. More importantly, we've released a bunch of screenshots (six of them) showing these three ships. The four screenshots of the Rigakh, by the way, come from the first winning path mission in this episode. As the Kilrathi fleet jumps in, someone needs to perform a recon mission, scanning various Kilrathi capships. Needless to say, they don't waste Rapiers on recon flights, so you'll get one last chance to fly the Stiletto :-).
In other news, we've also been hard at work collecting the voiceovers for the last few roles in Episode 5. That's been going rather well. Of course, collecting them ain't everything, and they still need to be cleaned up and filtered - and on that front there's been no progress at all, as Tempest's been rather busy lately. Like, the last four or five months :-P. You may want to drop by the forum and have a word with him about that ;-).
Missions, meanwhile, are progressing steadily. Quarto finished off one mission last week and started on a new one, and Pedro is expected to do so this week. Finally, I've been tying up graphical odds and ends, and working on the remaining cutscenes.
(and no, this doesn't mean we'll be updating every four days now - the speed of this update is kind of a freak accident :-P)
|2008.328 (November 23rd, 2008)|
News in November...
Ok, really, we're making much more progress than the frequency of our news updates would indicate :-P. Although, unfortunately, it no longer seems possible to finish Episode 5 in time for a 2008 release, we're getting close, and you can expect a release date announcement soon.
On the progress page, you can see that the cutscene/briefing voiceovers have turned blue, and "additional videos" has turned green. "Additional graphics" remain green, but they're very, very close to blue - they should be greenish blue, really :-P. I've just finished the very last of the cockpits - every flyable ship now has a cockpit. So, if you've ever wanted to see the inside of a Talon, head on over to the screenshots page. Also, a few more ships have appeared on the progress page, and immediately went blue - these are the very, very final additions to Standoff, though ;-). These new ships include the Salthi, Dralthi and Bloodfang. These ships aren't really slated to appear in the campaign, but the Dralthi and Salthi at least will show up in sim missions. And of course, like any other ship, you'll be able to admire them in the in-game ship database (...and the website's ships page too, when I have a spare moment to update it :-P ).
Missions are making progress too - Pierre has recently been concentrating on scoreboard integration in the remaining six missions, while Quarto and Pedro are currently working on the winning path missions. Altogether, there are still four missions that have not yet been started, but next week that number should drop down to three.
As we gear up for the final offensive to finish this long-overdue episode, we'll be posting updates more frequently, too. I don't know if we'll manage an update every week, but hopefully close to it. In the last few months, there's been hardly any new screenshots. This will change also - today, we have two new screenshots for you, showing off the Morningstar and Talon cockpits. Expect more screenshots next week... :-)
|2008.256 (September 12th, 2008)|
See red no more
Whoa. Who would've thought we'd ever see the day? I've finally removed the last bit of red from the status page - fiction has turned blue.
It's true, there's still a lot of yellow in Episode 5. The missions remain by far the biggest task still to be done. FMV is actually going very well, so perhaps in a few weeks "additional videos" may turn green as well, though this will only happen if the cutscene/briefing voiceovers turn blue. Which, incidentally, they may do in a matter of days, as they've just changed from yellow to green - we've recently received the very last cutscene/briefing voiceovers, and we only need to process them now.
There's lots going on in the music department, too - I've recently received a big chunk of cutscene music from Michael, to integrate into the FMV scenes. All in all, good progress, though missions are still going way too slow for my liking. And probably too slow for yours, too... so, what are you waiting for? :-P Drop by the forum and tell Pierre, Quarto and Pedro what you think about that! :-P
Meanwhile, I hope you excuse me if I take a moment to shamelessly promote a non-Wing Commander achievement from one of our team members... :-)
Andi Kravljaca, whom you all know as Commodore Reismann, has recently released his first music record! You see, when he's not busy playing bloodthirsty hardcore Confed officers, Andi sings in the Swedish metal band Silent Call. Their first record, released on August 22nd, is entitled Creations From A Chosen Path", and you can find some samples of each song on their website. On this record, apart from singing, Andi also occasionally plays the guitar - in particular, he does a solo on the song "Long Comes The Night". You can also hear (and see - which can be kinda scary :-P ) a lot of Andi playing the guitar in his YouTube videos.
So, if you like metal, be sure to check that out. Also, Andi tells me that Commodore Reismann "makes a guest appearance" on some of the songs in this album - which sounds to me like a damn good reason to buy the album! :-)
|2008.223 (August 10th, 2008)|
Wing Commander CIC turns 10!
The most complete Wing Commander website this side of fluid space turns 10 today! The Standoff team would like to wish the CIC a happy birthday, and thank everyone involved for the great resource that the CIC is to Wingnuts everywhere. As usual, we have a little gimmick to go with the CIC's birthday - this time, it's no Rapier or Stiletto, but rather, a piece-of-cake-shaped ship! :-P But not just any piece-of-cake-shaped ship, mind you... concept art for this ship was seen in the design docs for Privateer, but the ship never made it into the game.
You can head on to the downloads section to check out this new ship, which we've dubbed Artemis-class, and which will be present in Standoff's next episode among the many civilian ships that fell to the Kilrathi offensive in orbit around Mars. This patch will replace the Raptor in Standoff's simulator with the Artemis, and will temporarily disable sending your scores to the online scoreboards (for all ships), but it can be uninstalled and reinstalled quite easily at any time - just uninstall through the Windows Add/Remove program control panel.
|2008.195 (July 13th, 2008)|
Episode 5 continues to be something of a struggle, as far as finding the energy and motivation is concerned. We've been working on Standoff for a long, long time, and... well, we are tired. So, about all we can promise, in terms of schedules, is that we won't give up altogether. That said, there isn't any real external obstactle that could prevent us from finishing this episode this year. Just ourselves...
Enough whining. What progress is there to report? First up, the game engine cutscenes are all complete now - check the progress page, see how that bit of red turned blue all of a sudden :-P. Fiction remains red, though, so Quarto is still being a lazy jerk :-P.
Missions have also been making progress. Of the ten missions on the losing path, six are now complete - four of them in the past two weeks! Of the remaining four, Pierre has two of them in the finishing stages at the moment. So, that leaves two missions on the losing path that haven't been started. The winning path is much worse off - one mission is well under way, but it also happens to be the only winning path mission to have been started at all. The important thing, though, is that we are making any progress at all :-P.
|2008.122 (May 1st, 2008)|
It's May now...?
Yet again, we've managed to go several months without an update. Honestly, every time we celebrate the release of another episode, it gets a little harder to get back to work ;-). Still, once more into the breach...
That's not to say we have not made progress, though. Although things have been all too quiet lately, Standoff continues to make small steps towards completion - and this time, we're really talking about completion, since finishing this episode means finishing Standoff entirely. And about time :-P.
So, what have we been up to this year? Well, since most of the other graphics are done (you won't see much in the way of new ships this episode :-P ), I've been concentrating on pre-rendered cutscenes. Episode 5 has quite a few of them - indeed, even the intro this time will be pre-rendered, as there was no way this particular intro could be created as an in-game cutscene in any reasonable amount of time. This one will be particularly interesting, you'll see... :-)
In the meantime, Quarto, Pierre and Pedro have been working on missions. I'm actually rather disappointed in their progress - Quarto keeps promising me that next update, I won't have any red left on the progress chart, but... well, see, it's still there, next to in-game cutscenes and fiction :-P. Still, there is steady progress. Just, you know, not much of it. So, if you want to see Standoff's Episode 5 out this year, feel free to drop by the forum and let those lazy bastards know what you think about that... :-P
Oh, and since we don't at the moment have too much to post in screenshots, we've finally updated the characters page, adding profiles for the last three cutscene characters - Saxman, Popsicle and Henderson. That's gotta count for something. :-P
|2008.001 (January 1st, 2008)|
Happy new year!
Happy New Year to all wingnuts out there! Yes... yet another year has come and gone, and we are still around and working on Standoff. I remember when me and Quarto used to come up with work schedules that would let us be free of Standoff before 2005! And then in 2006! And then in 2007! Indeed, all of those were reasonable schedules... there was a time when the though of working on Standoff during all of 2005 seemed like a worst-case scenario. And here we are now, January 1st, 2008. The good news is that today we can finally assure ourselves and all of the fans out there that this is the last year of Standoff development. The game will finally be completed sometime during the next 365 days, then you'll all be able to play through it as a finished game! And we'll be able to do something else with our spare time, like, get lives! :-P To celebrate our progress, the sucess of Ep 4's release, and the start of the last year of Standoff development, I've rendered yet another of them pretty WC2 ships as a wallpaper. Go to the downloads section and check out our Rapier, available in literally a dozen different resolutions. I've tried to render this one in a different style than the Sabre from two years ago in hopes that we now have different enough a wallpaper selection to please most wingnuts. Huzzah!
The success of Ep 4's release, which I mentioned above, is not something I made up during my delusions of grandeur. No sir! It is evidenced by the fact that we've been voted best fan project of the year at the Wing Commander CIC's annual awards, once again! This year we tied with Wing Commander Saga, like in 2003! That's right, 2003 - this is also a sign that we've been taking too long to finish Standoff, but I'm rambling again already... here's our nifty award graphic:
Thanks to everyone who voted! I should point out that the award for this year means more than ever for us, because Standoff went through a period in which it almost died off in 2006... and also because the number of amazing WC fan projects has been steadily growing over the years! Everyone should definitely head over to the CIC right now and check out all of the other contestants... you really don't want to miss out on the new life fans have been breathing into WC!
In other news...
Now for an actual Ep 5 progress report - I know we haven't updated the website in a long time, but this was one of the good silent periods, not one of the bad ones. We have done a fair amount of work on Episode 5, with more than half of our voiceover lines already processed, about a third of our talking head scenes already rendered and ready to be musicized, and three new scoreboard-enabled sim missions (out of a total of 6 which still weren't score enabled in Ep 4) undergoing testing and balancing. So even though we still have a long way to go for our final episode - specially considering it is our final episode, and we will want to perfect the game as much as possible - progress has been steady and at a good pace!