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Author Topic: Back in the DCUG!  (Read 111 times)

Offline BentonGrey

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Back in the DCUG!
« on: November 11, 2018, 05:08:48 AM »
Howdy folks!  So, as some of y'all may know, I've finally returned to the DCUG after many, many years letting it lie fallow. 


What is the DCUG?
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I've always wanted to return to my first and favorite project and tell more stories, fix it up, and polish the whole mod.  That's what I'm up to.  I've got a TON of work to do and almost certainly unrealistic plans for its development, but I am plugging away at it.  Time is a very rare commodity for me at the moment, as I'm finishing my PhD, dealing with a fair amount of general craziness, and searching for jobs, but I still manage to put a bit of work into this monster from time to time.  There's not even a tentative release date yet, but I will say that I've already written and designed a major expansion for the JLA/JSA campaign, including a conclusion to the unfinished JSA crossover.  I'm in the midst of testing that at the moment, and after that...well, I've got a lot of ideas and made extensive notes while traveling this summer.

This thread is an announcement and a new home-base for the project, but I'm also going to use it to keep anyone interested apprised of my progress.  I'll post 'developer's journals' from time to time, talking about what I'm doing, offering general commentary on the project, and probably mostly just griping about bugs.  ;)  Feel free to ask questions and offer suggestions.  Interest from the community is one of the things that keeps me going!
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 05:34:45 AM by BentonGrey »
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline BentonGrey

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Developer Journal #1
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2018, 05:26:44 AM »
Developer Journal #1:
Okay, let's try this out.  There will be some spoilers for the campaign stories, so read at your own peril.

So, while traveling this summer, I had a really helpful email correspondence with Unkoman, who helped me plot several new campaigns and expansions for existing ones.  The centerpiece of my DCUG 2.0 update/expansion is a finished/polished JLA campaign that also provides a significant expansion in the form of half a dozen new missions featuring Green Arrow's recruitment to the team, the first encounters with the Injustice Gang, and the first battles with the Key.  I created a really fun but, of course, overly ambitious outline.  I wrote it all up, added new materials to the mod, set up the maps, and got it all ready to test weeks ago.  Since then I've been very busy, and of course, only able to test and troubleshoot occasionally.  Of course, my attempts to get fancy have led to tons of bugs and lots of frustration.  I had a little time recently and got back to it.

I've been working on level 14 of the JLA campaign, where Green Arrow is jumping from pocket universe to pocket universe to rescue the JLA who have been scattered through the multiverse by the Key.  I'm using the 'disk worlds' maps from the finale of  :ff:, which makes for a really cool level.  Unfortunately, the maps have some issues.  More unfortunately, my scripts had issues!  I think every single encounter had bugs, and I eventually had to create workarounds for certain parts of it.

The mission was designed with GA encountering four heroes, Batman, Flash, Aquaman, and Superman, each imprisoned on their own diskworld, which was a threat specifically for them.  GA could teleport between them, recruiting each hero as he rescued them.  First I discovered that the individual encounters were not ending properly, meaning the mission never progressed past the first one.  This seems to be a result of using custom encounters that had an ally join your team. 


I fixed that by just starting all the encounters at once.  Then, inexplicably, the Flash would somehow join your team twice, meaning there was no room for poor Aquaman....again.  I had to split that up into two encounters, one where you rescue Flash, one where that Flash is destroyed and a different one joins the team.  After I finally solved that I discovered that the diskworld he is on has pathing issues. 


I've got an idea about that, but I haven't tried it yet.  Finally, Aquaman's wasn't properly rescueable in his custom encounter, so I had to change it up too.  I've finally got this mission mostly sorted out...and now I face another one in mission 15, where you save the rest of the team.  I honestly don't know that I've ever had a mission with so many problems per-capita!


Let this be a lesson to you, future modders: don't get fancy!  :D

The good news is I'm still making progress, and the campaign is coming together well.  I'm also really happy with a lot of how I've designed these missions and the base scenes.  I know SO much more about modding these days than I did when I made the DCUG in the first place, and it's nice to be able to bring a little higher production value to the stories I'm telling.  I'm still often limited by EZScript and the available maps, but I've been able to find some fun ways to change things up.  I hope y'all will agree with me when you get a chance to play these missions!

I also just got a small pile of new and updated skins/skopes from Deanjo2000, and they look fantastic!

Finally, I posted an add for a map maker on ModDB.  Since it's just an unpaid position working on a decade old game, chances are nothing will come of it, but it would be really fantastic if I could get some help with map creation.  That could open up so many possibilities and free up an incredible amount of time for me.  So, cross your fingers, gang!
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 05:54:01 AM by BentonGrey »
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline Deaths Jester

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2018, 06:05:32 AM »
Oh great...that means BG harranguing me for obscure...DC...ugh...characters...fun...
Avatar picture originally a Brom painting entitled Marionette.

Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2018, 03:12:15 PM »
Haha, that's very true, DJ.  It's just a matter of time!  :D  How do you feel about Hawkman villains?  :P
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline spydermann93

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2018, 05:00:51 PM »
Very cool, Benton! I love reading Dev Diaries and I would love to see more!

The mission sounds really cool. I really like the idea you have going there. Did you modify the map at all to fit the homes of Aquaman, Superman, etc., or did you try and pick heroes that best matched the locations already on the map?

Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2018, 05:09:11 PM »
Thanks Spyder!  I appreciate your interest and enthusiasm, man! 

Because of the massive scope of what I'm doing, I decided to try to do as little map editing as possible.  I just don't have the time, temperament, or inclination to be as awesome as Cmdrkoening, sadly.  So, I tried to pick characters that fit the various locations, and luckily for me, it actually worked out reasonably well.  I am stretching things a bit for Hal in the next mission, but I'll talk about that in the next entry. 

However, interestingly enough, my Hail Mary job post on ModDB somehow already got a bite, so I might just have a map maker working with me in the future, which would be really, really fantastic.
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline Deaths Jester

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2018, 05:13:23 PM »
Wait, Hawkman has villians?!? O_o
Avatar picture originally a Brom painting entitled Marionette.

Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2018, 05:30:29 PM »
 :roll:

Haha, yep, they're almost as famous as the Atom's villains!  Quick, name any two characters in this group shot!
https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/b/b0/Atom_Villains_001.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20091206145309
It's sad but funny, in this group shot of Atom-foes, literally half of them are one-shot villains that never appeared again after showing up just once in the original Atom book.  Nonetheless, most of them are in the DCUG!  :P

Ha, this is why a lot of second string characters ARE second string.  A hero is only as good as their villains.  :lol:
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline Deaths Jester

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2018, 05:36:17 PM »
Hey, at least Atom has Chronos, Dwarfstar, and Florio (I think). What does Hawkman have? Fadeaway Man...
Avatar picture originally a Brom painting entitled Marionette.

Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2018, 05:50:06 PM »
And Gentleman Ghost and Shadow Thief!  :D  And...uhh...well...there's also....Lionmane?  :P
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline Deaths Jester

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2018, 01:47:21 AM »
...Atom also has IQ and the Bug-Eyed Bandit...

In truth, Atom is a bit like the FF. They don't really need many villians because most of their story lines revolve around them exploring new places and playing with new experiments. When both comics got away from that idea - explorers over heroes - is when both started seeing their readership slip because of the tiny amount of good villians.

Hawkman, though, is a warrior and NEEDS a plethora of good villians to stay relevant. Problem is - aside from himself at times - Hawkman's villians stink. It's why he does better in a team like JLA or JSA that has a well stocked rouges gallery than in his own comic.

So still, Hawkman has villians?!? ; P
Avatar picture originally a Brom painting entitled Marionette.

Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2018, 03:23:11 AM »
Hey, IQ is Hawkman's!   :P

Fair point, though FF has way more good villains than the Atom.  He works best in a comic about ideas rather than a comic about villains.  That's one of the things that made the Ryan Choi series so fantastic, lost of big, crazy ideas, and the Atom as the eye of the hurricane.

Yeah, Hawkman has some cool villains, or rather, like most Silver Age characters, he had at least a few that had potential, but a lot of them never really got a good shot.
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2018, 04:29:28 AM »
Ooookay....I've hit a major snag.  I've come across a really weird problem, and I need some help.  I’m using the converted FF1 map of the final Timemaster battle, the giant, spinning purple Cosmic Clock level (24d), with all the little disk worlds around it.  The trouble is, the map surface is inaccessible.  It shows up perfectly fine, visually, but characters can’t move on it, and if I teleport them around, they just slowly slide back to where they started.  I’ve got no clue what’s going on or how to fix it.  Any ideas?  This is the big setpiece finale of the Key arc, and this map is perfect for it...it's rather integral.

If someone who knows something about nifs could take a look at the map file, try to suss out what the deal is and how to fix it, I'd really appreciate it.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 04:46:26 AM by BentonGrey »
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline Deaths Jester

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2018, 09:07:03 PM »
:roll:

Haha, yep, they're almost as famous as the Atom's villains!  Quick, name any two characters in this group shot!
https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/b/b0/Atom_Villains_001.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20091206145309


That's easy now that I can see the pic...we got in no particular order Bug-Eyed Bandit, the Panther (the Wildcat lookalike), Wizardo (the Human Bomb lookalike), Ion Mask (on the far right), and is that Mento beside Bug-Eyed?

^ proof DJ knows too much about wasteful second rate villains....even DC ones...<shudders>



As for the map, I know very little about maps but maybe run it through the converter again?  I've seen a lot of stuff lately where things didn't convert completely and there were odd things happening.  Is an idea at least....sorry if not much help there....skins and skopes are my territory....and wasteful comic book villains....
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 09:09:35 PM by Deaths Jester »
Avatar picture originally a Brom painting entitled Marionette.

Offline BentonGrey

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Re: Back in the DCUG!
« Reply #14 on: Today at 04:41:28 AM »
Okay...that's darn impressive DJ!  Even I didn't know the name of the Human Bomb guy!  :P   That's The Thinker instead of Mento, but otherwise, homerun!  Ha, unfortunately for you, you've given me an idea!  Check your PMs!  Muahahaha!  :lol:

On the map front, thanks for taking a stab at it, man!  I was pretty darn lost.  Fortunately, DM gave me a clue in my other thread, and I was able to sort it out.  I'm actually talking about that in my next Developer's Journal. 
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2

Offline BentonGrey

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Developer Journal #2
« Reply #15 on: Today at 05:03:45 AM »
Developer's Journal #2:

Hoo-boy, things have certainly not gone more smoothly since my first journal entry.  This campaign has given me even more troubles.  I encountered a whole set of problems I'd never seen before and just about gave up hope for the finale of the whole darn arc I'm working on.  In the process, I learned a whole lot about maps and objects that I never knew, though I still couldn't solve my problems.  The good news is that this story has a happy ending, even if it was really in doubt there for a while.

So, when last I left you, I had just finished up mission #14 and had it basically working, so I got started on testing #15.  As with the previous mission, I had already written, scripted, and mapped this one, so testing was all that was left.  It proved to be just as temperamental as its predecessor, but the script problems were magnified by a map problem.  In this mission, the gathered heroes from #14, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Flash, and Superman, with Batman as an ally, had to rescue the remaining Leaguers, who were once again scattered across different diskworlds.

Fortunately, I had learned from the previous problems, and I anticipated some of the issues in this mission.  I started all of the encounters off at once to avoid the non-completing encounter bug.  Still, I had problems with the custom encounters for MM and GL.  WW's encounter worked pretty well, but I discovered that I hadn't created a animportrait (talking head) entry for the Amazons that provided her opponents.  Interestingly, sometimes a missing head.nif or entry will crash the game, sometimes it will just show a dialog balloon with a blank space.  I'm not sure what causes the different reactions.


This instance only resulted in the latter, thankfully.  I was able to fix MM's encounter by doing the same thing I had one with Flash, using two different encounters with two different MMs, to get both the rescue and the alliance.  This one provided an extra challenge, though, as with so many more characters in play, it isn't as easy to make the substitution and teleportation as seamless and unnoticeable.  Complicating the matter further, the encounter in question is a 'Rescue Fire,' which means the diskworld is sort of a hot place, and my players aren't going to want to hang around there!  I'll have teleport my new Jonn to the old one and hope for the best.  Here's the pertinent script.

Quote
    #----------------------------------

    Encounter: Burn1
    Type: Rescue Fire
    Allies: martian_man named jonn
    Marker: desert5
    Primary Objective: "Save the Martian Manhunter from his fiery prison" for 1000 prestige
    Next: If All Congregated: Burn4
    Next: If None Congregated: Final2

    Ally Congregates Cutscene:
    Camera on jonn
    jonn says, "Thank you my friends, once again, I owe you my life. I would not have lasted long in this fiery world. these flame creatures seem to be everywhere, and the ground burns constantly."
    flash says, "Don't worry about it, J'onn, that's what we do. Now let's get out of here!"
    green_arrow says, "Right, just one more little lost lamb and we'll have the whole set. Maybe then I can go home!"
    Fade for 1 seconds

    #----------------------------------

    Encounter: Burn4
    Type: Custom
    Actions: allies become controllable, allies fight villains, allies follow heroes, allies remain after encounter ends
    Allies: martian_man named bob
    Marker: bottom2
    Next: None

    Alert Cutscene:
    bob teleports to jonn
    jonn teleports to bottom1
    jonn is killed
    jonn is destroyed
    Unfade for 1 seconds

    #----------------------------------

It was here that I really ran into problems, the first of many in this batch of testing, unfortunately.  The GL encounter was only partially working, but the real problem was that my heroes teleported onto the center of the map...and then couldn't get off of it!  They teleported into the middle of a number of turrets, which were on the edges of the disk, and the team literally could not move to them or reach the Lantern to free him.  There was some type of issue with this particular diskworld that made its edges impassable.  I tried tweaking it in Nifksope, but no luck.  I really don't know enough about meshes OR maps to figure this out.


So, I had to adjust my story, throwing out that entire encounter or reworking it to fit somewhere else.  I chose the latter, moving his encounter to the final disk, a Timemaster-flavored world, and I switched up the plot slightly.  I'm fairly happy with the results, but it gave me a bad moment or two.

Of course, that was nothing compared to what happened when I went on to #16.  You see, that problem I had with the outskirts of that one diskworld, in the final Timemaster map I was using for the grand showdown with the Key, the ENTIRE map was impassable.  My heroes couldn't go anywhere, and if I teleported them around with console commands, they would slowly slide back to where they came from.

Once again, I examined the terrain.nif, but I couldn't make heads or tails of what I was seeing.  I posted on FR, and fortunately, the ever-awesome Detourne_me came to my rescue.  He didn't know how to solve the problem, but he got me looking in the right directions.  He pointed out that the actual play area of the map was a giant game object, not part of the map itself.  I checked the object attributes of the "cog_massive", digging through FFEdit's manual to make sure that it had all the necessary attributes, but no luck.  It's worth mentioning that there are explanations for each of the mysteries (to me at least) template attributes in the manual.  If you're ever tying to figure them out, you can check objattributes for a complete listing.

(One of the stages of my frantic attempts to save the map made the cog disappear entirely!)

I checked the terrain itself, which DM had suggested might be the culprit.  Its bottom surface, far below the giant spinning cog, was composed of two levels, and each had an "AREA_UNPASSABLE" label.  DM posited that this might cause problems to anything over such an area, so I tried renaming them.  Progress!  Unfortunately, this only got me one step closer.  Now my characters could move...on the very bottom level of the map, as they would fall through the cog any time I teleported them up there.  I fought and fought with this thing before I hit on a solution.  I finally just copied the cog object directly onto the terrain.nif.  It took a few tries, but I got it right, and I finally had a workable map!  Now I only had to get the script working!


Fortunately, despite the fact that the big finale encounter only partially functioned, it was a very easy fix.  It features a showdown with the Key, where he is invulnerable until you destroy an object.  The CSes weren't playing, and the object wasn't showing up.  Turns out, I had misspelled the object name (d'oh!0 and mixed my metaphors, so to speak, in naming the Key.  You see, FF doesn't like it when you refer to a character in two different ways.  You can use generic terms (like Villain1) OR specific names, like the_key, but you CANNOT use both, or it will choke.  So, easy fixes, and now the mission is playing quite nicely. 

That wraps up this journal entry.  Please let me know if this is interesting to y'all, and if there is anything you'd like to hear more/less about, or if you'd like me to illustrate other parts of the process.
« Last Edit: Today at 05:05:46 AM by BentonGrey »
God Bless
"If God came down upon me and gave me a wish again, I'd wish to be like Aquaman, 'cause Aquaman can take the pain..." -Ballad of Aquaman
Check out my DC voicepacks at my yahoo group.
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey/
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bentongrey2