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U.E. Admiral

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This is an open inquiry, for Thom or anybody else with the ability to answer comprehensively. I'd appreciate any and all contributions.

I've heard a few times that there are some hardcoded differences that take precedence over the information in the vesselData.xml for some ships. I've also read on this forum that in some places the name for ammunition is not alterable (can't rename Nukes to something more Sci-Fi, for instance).

How much truth is there to this? How many examples of such un-alterables are there? Could we be furnished with all relevant information on the subject?

I want to get the facts out there so the issue stops being nebulous and evasive. Even if I can't make use of it myself, I want things to be known, readily available and searchable for those that can! It's silly to have uncertainty about things which can rather simply be made certain.

Getting all that information 'out there' and in one place will serve to aid and improve the quality of work of the modding community.
U.E. Admiral

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Whoops, wrong forum. >.> Mods, please move to Off-topic.
MarkBell

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Originally Posted by U.E. Admiral
Whoops, wrong forum. >.> Mods, please move to Off-topic.


No worries [smile]

Have you looked here: https://artemis.forumchitchat.com/post/mod-faq-7499583?&trail=15

It doesn't have a comprehensive list of unmoddable items yet, but it's got a start.

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MarkBell

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Reply with quote  #4 
I'm not sure what you mean about "hard coded differences that take precedence over vesselData" - there are some ship attributes that can't be changed through vesselData, like how much damage a node takes to get knocked out, but those also aren't options in vesselData anyways.

Edit: fixed typo

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U.E. Admiral

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Reply with quote  #5 
Being a fan of specificity, I would clarify if I could. Between my poor memory, the amount of time that's passed between occasions, and the varying degrees of vagueness of the commentary I've heard and/or read, I can't remember those specific items that prompted this thread.

The best I can offer right now is that somebody mentioned that there's something different between TSN hulls and Ximni hulls that affect the ship's performance in some hand-wavy non-specific way, and modders can't do anything about it. It was a speculated cause of why a given ship which (according to the programmed vesselData) has a higher count of beam arrays that do the same playerdamage as other vessels with fewer arrays (so, it should have more sustained firepower) nonetheless required more shots at a higher power-setting to destroy wrecks. Once again, I'd be more specific, but I was largely a half-present spectator. The gunner who made the observation has extensive experience, so I am inclined to trust his report (even if not necessarily his idle speculation that perhaps that Ximni Hull has a differing hard-coded playerdamage associated with it).

Yes, I've been to the Mod FAQ, and I thank you very much for bringing it up, because I'd forgotten where I'd read good information after my last read-through! It is an excellent resource, though I've been given the very distinct impression that it's missing some things that folks don't quite know the whole truth about. For all I KNOW, this whole thing about hard-coded attributes is all bunk and folks are passing off their perceptions as reality due to some kind of cognitive bias. I'm new enough that I haven't had much time to form my own just yet, but it's coming soon enough--it always does! In any event, if that's the case then it really just delays the question; it would serve us well to have the facts consolidated and laid bare: what cannot be changed?


And as an aside, I actually don't quite follow what you mean by "there are some ship attributes that can't be changed through vesselData . . . but those also are options in vesselData". That looks self-contradictory, unless I've misread somehow.
MarkBell

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Reply with quote  #6 
Ah, ok, that's interesting. The only difference between TSN and Ximni ships, in general, is the jumpmaster attribute, which is part of the race keys. There is no difference in how playerDamage for beams are calculated, nor is there any difference in how wrecks take damage, or in how ship node damage is calculated.

You've mentioned a few times about having things "laid bare" to stop the information from "being nebulous and evasive." Have you felt there is some resistance to talking about the game mechanics?

In all fairness, defining specifically what can't be adjusted is actually a sort of nebulous task. For example, you can't define new weapon types or behaviours in vesselData, but you could make something like that through a mission script. Is that considered "moddable"? Kind of? You can't make the game do a barrel roll in a starship, unless you make a fighter have a starship mesh. Is that the sort of thing you're looking for? You may be able to think of things that I didn't, but there are others that neither of us thought of. It's the scientific problem of proving a negative - there's nearly an infinite number of things you can't change, so it's easier to list the things you can and infer from that.

If you've got a specific question about whether something can be modded, I can try to help answer (and add to the FAQ!).

-----
That would be because it should have read "...but those aren't options in vesselData" [tongue]

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #7 
Many of the things that are not moddable have to do with the game's AI. For example:

  • Story Captains. If you are playing an Invasion Mode game you can't change the story Captain who get their ships hijacked, etc. You either have them or you don't. Of course in a mission script you can do whatever you want.
  • Mini Missions. If you are playing an Invasion Mode game you can't invent your own mini-missions. Again,in a mission script you can do whatever you want.
  • BioMechs. The BioMech life cycle is part of the Story Captain AI. You cannot change that behavior and you can't get it to work (e.g. eat asteroids) in a mission script.
  • Monsters. In a mission script you can now control a monster's brain stack, but you can't give them new attributes. For example, you can't make sharks with frickin' lasers on them.
  • Taunts. You can changes the wording of the taunts and taunt immunities in vesseldata.xml, but you can never have more than three for any race. In a mission script you can change the wording of the sensor scans that reveal the taunt immunities.

There are also things that are not moddable on the various player consoles. For example:
  • You cannot add dozens of new power/coolant allocations to the Engineering console for new systems like Tractor Beam and Cloaking Device and Wave Motion Gun.
  • You cannot get the Weapons console to lock onto multiple targets at the same time.
  • You cannot create a beam weapon that sometimes misses its target.
  • You cannot give Helm a control that allows Warp Drive to work in reverse.

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U.E. Admiral

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Reply with quote  #8 
No, I haven't felt that there's been resistance to talking about mechanics at all on this forum. It has been very open as far as I've read. I definitely see what you mean about comparing this request to proving a negative, and I appreciate you taking such a diplomatic approach about telling me I've requested something rather monumental. [tongue]

My abilities are severely limited; however, I didn't want my limitations to hinder more advanced modders from getting access to information they'd need, hence the broader phrasing and inquiry.

I now think my inquiry was predicated on untruths and misunderstandings, most or all of which you've already obliterated by denying any inherent differences between TSN & Ximni ships; by indicating the closest thing to an inherent difference actually falls under the category of a racial trait which furthermore is part of vesselData.xml and is entirely moddable (although not on a ship by ship basis, creating a near-identical sub-species could be done to have much the same effect). So, it would seem there is no overriding of the information in vesselData. Misconception utterly destroyed! Thank you. That definitely takes care of my immediate point of concern. <3

I also thank Mike for volunteering some things that came to his mind; that's largely what I'd expected to occur in the first place. Anything more in that vein from anybody would absolutely be welcome!
ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by U.E. Admiral

The best I can offer right now is that somebody mentioned that there's something different between TSN hulls and Ximni hulls that affect the ship's performance in some hand-wavy non-specific way, and modders can't do anything about it. It was a speculated cause of why a given ship which (according to the programmed vesselData) has a higher count of beam arrays that do the same playerdamage as other vessels with fewer arrays (so, it should have more sustained firepower) nonetheless required more shots at a higher power-setting to destroy wrecks.


Well, that's partly right. I have discovered through experimentation and analysis that TSN hulls are more robust, and take more hits from enemy ships to destroy than Ximni ships. This is because TSN hulls overall have more system nodes, because they tend to be square and blocky, while Ximni ships are elongated and slender, and thus the automated node generator Thom uses tends to put more nodes in blocky ships.

However, that IS moddable, as you can go in and redesign the SNT files if you like. Plus, this should not have any effect on wrecks (the battered hulks left behind when you destroy enemy ships) because they take only one hit to destroy. Even when it comes to enemy ships, they all have the same hull strength, 70 points. Higher power settings will destroy enemy ships faster, but more beams with less DPS should equal less beams with more DPS.

I suspect what your friend was talking about is the Ximni Battleship, which does a spectacular amount of damage for its long range and coverage of fire. It outperforms the TSN Battleship by a longshot. However, I will point out that that faster fire rate, which is what gives it so much damage, also costs more energy. You are forced to pay 2 energy per shot, regardless of the damage or power setting.

What your friend was probably arguing is that you should increase power to beams so you get more bang for the amount of power you spend. The Ximni Battleship is still a beast, though. [biggrin]

You could mod that simply by going in and reducing the fire rate to match the TSN Battleship. You'd lose half the firepower, but save some energy.

Quote:

Yes, I've been to the Mod FAQ, and I thank you very much for bringing it up, because I'd forgotten where I'd read good information after my last read-through! It is an excellent resource, though I've been given the very distinct impression that it's missing some things that folks don't quite know the whole truth about.


Modding and scripting are both not nearly as well documented as the main gameplay, and that's one of the things I've been trying to do something about. Mark's taking on modding, I'm taking a shot at scripting, but it's not something that can be covered quickly. I'm sorry I have nothing to point you to yet, although you're welcome to look at this: http://artemiswiki.pbworks.com/w/page/107601084/Introduction
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