|News. Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time...
||evilbobthebob - June 17, 2014
Hello Phoenix Rising fans.
First off, I'd like to apologise for the extremely long time between news posts. If this was the only way you kept up with the mod, I can forgive you for thinking we'd ceased development. Those of you who read more of the forums see the team members making comments from time to time, and we made a call for alpha and beta testers for the latest version over the past year. Still, this doesn't make up for the silence we've sustained up to now.
I'd like to change that myself, primarily because I finally have some free time and partly because our team leader and the prime driver of the mod, Phoenix Rising, is without a computer capable of doing modding right now. This isn't particular cause for alarm, because the current build of the mod is very feature-complete. However, there still remain areas that need polish and improvement.
So what have we been doing for the past two years? Our initial plan for the next version of the mod was primarily based on integrating the information provided by the release of The Essential Atlas. As software project tend to do, we experienced some rather strong feature creep, and as one thing led to another, we realised we had a version of the mod that is no longer a mere incremental update. In fact, we have:
- Made numerous changes to improve performance
- Remade and rebalanced the hero system
- Rebalanced tech trees
- Galactic Mode
- Brought our galactic maps in line with The Essential Atlas
- Added new planets
- Entirely rebalanced and remade our core sandbox campaigns (still a work-in-progress)
- Created a new planetary bonus system
- Created a new hyperspace system
- Rebalanced freighters, including the addition of light transports
- Improved the display of research
- Improved land combat
- Begun the process of adding infantry weapon models
- New units
- Improved weather system
- Added many new maps in land and space
- Entirely revamped space combat to be in line with land combat:
- New armour, health and shield system
- New weapon balancing and types
- Better display of unit statistics
- New units
- Increase in map size to accommodate the changes
Many of these changes, especially those based around planets and maps, have already been mentioned in prior news posts. Check those for more information on those specific topics. As for the rest, I hope I can bring you more news posts in the near future providing examples and details. In the mean time, I'm happy to answer questions you may have here on the forums.
|"Commenor must be some major-league trading planet"
||evilbobthebob - December 10, 2012
|Sited in the Colonies, Commenor is a bustling, arid trade world. Its surface is covered with starports and landing strips for the tonnes of cargo that arrives and leaves, bound for the Core and the Rim. The planet swiftly became independent after the Battle of Endor, but its strategic location means that it's unlikely to stay that way for long.|
From an initially defensible landing zone, attackers must choose if they want to push up a ramp onto the upper landing strip, or move out onto the open ground below the small clusters of mismatched city buildings.
Commenor's varied architecture is the result of its trading heritage; a melting pot of many different races and influences. Of course, both the Empire and New Republic would like to make their mark on the planet...
Whoever takes control of this world, it will certainly assure them dominance across the Trellen Trade Route and easy access to the Slice.
|The Road To Coruscant
||Phoenix Rising - December 10, 2012
|Two-and-a-half years after the Empire was sundered and beaten at Endor, the war against its successors has stagnated. The New Republic has failed to gain more than a foothold in the Core and member worlds are beginning to doubt its legitimacy as a galactic government. The risk of this fragile coalition unraveling is too great, thus Supreme Commander Ackbar has drafted a campaign to thrust into the fortified Core and seize the galactic capital. This is the Road to Coruscant.|
Director Isard acquired the throne a little more than a year ago; however, it took the sacrifice of Brentaal to the New Republic in a complicated coup to put her there. From Brentaal, there are two paths to Coruscant: through Anaxes, or through Borleias. With Admiral Ragab locked in a standoff with Commandant Wermis on the Brentaal-Anaxes front, any movement on Borleias would require reinforcements. The answer came in the form of resurrecting the all-hero Rogue Squadron.
A secret training base was established on Folor, with General Salm in command. There, six new starfighter squadrons will be forged, including Commander Antilles' Rogue Squadron. The reformed Rogues are made up of seasoned pilots with a variety of leadership skills that, in most cases, also happen to hail from key worlds. They are equal parts elite unit and poster subject.
The plan is to temper the Rogues with a series of active duty exercises against Imperial forces in the relatively quiet Rachuk sector before commencing the main offensive. Rear Admiral Devlia coordinates the sector's Force Escort from the capital of Vladet.
When the time comes, the Rogues will rendezvous with the New Republic Special Forces units staging on Noquivzor, along with whatever Fleet elements Ragab can spare. This group will move on Borleias under General Kre'fey. A word of warning: Borleias may look mundane, but the name has been linked to General Derricote, the eccentric bioweapons engineer.
In addition, Isard has a noted obsession with Rogue Squadron, who had previously helped foil several of her schemes. If the Rogues were ever annihilated to the last pilot, not only would it be a personal victory for her, but also an insurmountable propaganda nightmare for the New Republic.
A more conventional victory for the Empire would occur if loyalist forces were able to reconnect the Perlemian, pushing the New Republic from Brentaal, Ralltiir, and, finally, into the Colonies. Such a position would all but spell an end to the New Republic presence in the Core - and any hope of claiming the capital - for the foreseeable future.
Coruscant, of course, is the only prize for the New Republic. Controlling the Palace would secure the Provisional Council's authority, while the Rotunda would allow a senate to convene for the first time in years. The expected battle will be anything but easy: some of the best units in the Empire are garrisoned here. That's why Rogue Squadron will lead the way.
|Traveling Through Hyperspace Ain't Like Dusting Crops
||Phoenix Rising - November 29, 2012
|Research has always been an integral part of our development process. No demand has been more of a challenge in that regard than our need to place each planet at a definite galactic location for strategy mode.|
When I began the process in the alpha phase of v1.0, there were maybe four official maps available that held any degree of accuracy; all were clearly related by the reference angle. Beyond that were hundreds of raw sources netting thousands of remarks about regional or relative location. Had that been the end of it, my task would have been nearly impossible.
Fortunately, an adolescent Wookieepedia was available to help cut through much of the clutter. And then I found this fellow called Modi, who had translated the askew maps onto a Cartesian plane, allowing me to derive coordinates that could be fed to the engine. It was the Internet equivalent of striking gold - a starting point. Later, JustinGann expanded on Modi's work to include speculative placements, which afforded me a second opinion. The end result was an independent interpretation of the galaxy unique to Phoenix Rising.
It took the single most important update to the canon to void all that effort - for the better. Midway through v1.2, The Essential Atlas hit bookshelves. Every star system that had ever been mentioned was now bound to a region of space 1/576th the area of the galaxy. A great many were placed with certainty. The unprecedented accuracy of the atlas created a dilemma though, as several campaigns had already been finalized for the release. Rather than scrapping them and starting over, we chose to forge on knowing that v1.2's astrography would be flawed. I am pleased to report that the next version will be anything but.
TEA contains dozens of maps, each with its own scale and set of planets. My first step in replotting the galaxy was to composite them at a scale of 1 pixel = 10 lightyears to create a supermap. The digital Mid Rim sector map served as the foundation, since it had no loss of precision from scanning and little artifacting.
With that done, the actual measuring was trivial. The results were better than I ever could have expected: the first planetary coordinates for Abregado-rae came in identical to those already in use. They were not alone. Although I had corrected our most glaring differences - generally those with no frame of reference or cases where TEA chose to reject Rebellion placements while I did not - when prudent in v1.2, our interpretation really held up to intense scrutiny. Only Spuma, which Children of the Jedi had confused with Protazk, and Orinackra were completely off.
The present and final representation of the galaxy is 20% larger than v1.2 and approximately 92 times the area of vanilla. That should be enough space to prevent planetary overlap in all future cases. Several worlds always have to be manually relocated regardless of scale, but not so much as to be a distraction.
As profound as it is to finally have set astrography, a different facet of TEA had an even greater impact on strategic gameplay. The once-sporadic and eclectic collection of hyperlanes was replaced with a vibrant trade network.
In v1.2, we had two kinds of routes: "the Big Five" and "other". There are now four classifications, the most I could objectively derive from official maps. These can be thought of colloquially as "super", "major", "minor", and "trace" routes. Their benefits are scaled linearly, so while traces provide only meager income, they are much quicker than using a navicomputer to punch though an unstable course, as is the case with non-route connections. Obviously not every system can be linked via hyperlane, so we have tried to balance between using intersections and minimizing campaign planet counts.
These connections are now critical to military operations in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. In the next release, fleets will not be able to travel from a planet unless there is an explicit line - we have eliminated proximity jumps. No longer can an invasion bypass Anaxes on the way to Coruscant, players need not guess where to attack and defend, and the AI has fewer perceptions to crunch when executing plans. This is arguably the single best change that has ever happened to strategy mode.
When FoC was released, I never imagined we would be able to deduce coordinates for every star system. If our trials and errors played even a miniscule part in affecting that change, then it was all worth it.
|The Revolution Is Here: Phoenix Rising v1.2!
||Phoenix Rising - March 25, 2012
|The culmination of 39 months of work. Hope you enjoy it! We look forward to your feedback.|
If you've previously installed other mods, make sure they haven't put any files in XML or Scripts folders in EaW\GameData\Data and FoC\Data. PR v1.2 is fully compatible with other mods; it just looks like certain mods are incompatible with us!
If you've previously installed the LucasArts 64-bit OS, 2+ GB RAM patch found here, you must apply this compatibility fix after running the PR v1.2 installer. The LA patch alters the original files for FoC v1.1, creating an instability in mods with custom AI. PR v1.2 allows 2+ GB RAM natively.
|Version 1.2 In Numbers
||Phoenix Rising - March 24, 2012
|I had a noble goal when we started work on this version: to keep a record of everything we would change. Somewhere between the advantage revamp and the AI trials, that goal became impractical - nothing was being spared from improvement. So, in lieu of a conventional changelog, here's some analysis on just how different the game is from v1.1.|
Several major code projects were completed in the course of development. The complement formula was overhauled and transports were allowed to be carried (total spawn tags increased from 655 to 1218). Laser color variants were finished (+1641 blue laser hardpoints alone). Heroes were given leadership qualities, greatly expanded, their ships switched to canon variants, and generally don't resemble their former selves (+112 named hero variant net gain). A mechanic was devised for planetary advantages and galactic combat bonuses were standardized (advantage abilities expanded to 372 from 151). Custom AI was realized for the first time, with cunning infrastructure logic (56 novel equations). The land rules were redone from scratch, in essence, making this the Land Mini-Mod (43 new infantry types converted from vanilla assets, 3 droids, 8 vehicles, 15 buildables).
- 532/577 game object XMLs modified or created for this release.
- 3/7 enumeration XMLs changed.
- 82/82 custom AI XMLs implemented.
- 320/320 LUA scripts edited and compiled for v1.2.
Salvaged variants, along with most legacy units, projectiles, damage/armor types, corruption data, cinematic data, and story props were cut for the sake of optimization. It's hard to track every minor change done for performance, so here are some current benchmark comparisons courtesy of Ghostrider:
2.2 GHz dual-core laptop with 2 GB RAM running Windows 7
Logo - 55 s, Menu - 125 s
Core Worlds - 160 s, 2 FPS
Logo - 55 s (-0%), Menu - 110 s (-12%)
Core Worlds - 120 s (-25%), 8-9 FPS (+425%)
3.0 GHz dual-core desktop with 2 GB RAM and a GeForce 7200 running Windows XP
Logo - 30 s, Menu - 80 s
Core Worlds - 100 s, 7 FPS
Logo - 25 s (-17%), Menu - 75 s (-6%)
Core Worlds - 75 s (-25%), 26-30 FPS (+400%)
This will be the first release where we've completely moved away from my time as campaign designer - and so much for the better. Ghostrider brought his vision of the Thrawn Offensive and Operation Shadow Hand to life, redoing every single unit in the process. We added a brand new historical campaign in Operation Skyhook, and the heroes to match. I can't even venture a guess at how many passes were made to update the sandbox set, but assuredly everything has been optimized. Historical campaigns now get free upgrades to start; we fixed the tech slider for Rebels and the credit slider also finally works properly. We assembled a team of testers, led by Reedek, who spent an unfathomable number of hours poring over these campaigns for bugs. Finally, Ghost drafted a 115-page technical manual to explain the intricacies of the mod.
Aside from name strings, all planetary text, all hero text, and all land text was rewritten. The campaigns all have new intro text. Land stats were put on individual lines and all buildable land units were given descriptions. The master text file added 429 kB. 7 GUI dialogs were modified.
8 Conquest land maps were added and the terrain of every GC space map was spread out to better accommodate pathing. A couple map-related exceptions were caught. 2 Skirmish space maps also made it in. Not to worry; evilbobthebob was only promoted from the testing team at the tail end of our beta phase.
28 space unit models added: Acclamator I, Acclamator II, Action VI, B-wing, Cargo Containers B-D, Droid Tri-Fighter, Gozanti, I-7 Howlrunner, IRD, Research Station, Shadow Droid, Space Colony 1-5, TIE Bomber, TIE Drone, TIE Fighter, TIE Interceptor, TIE Targeter, T-wing, Victory I, Victory II, World Devastator, Xiytiar. 7 space unit model spin-offs or significant changes: Im418, Independence MC120, Liberty MC80, Reef Home MC80, Tector I, Tector II, TIE Interceptor RG. 9 space units with new animations: Barloz, BFF-1, BTL Y-wing, Delta-7, DX-9, ATR-6, RZ-1 A-wing, T-65 X-wing, Z-95 Headhunter.
- 326/868 new ALO model exports. +211 model net gain.
- 291/331 new ALA animation exports. +298 animation net gain.
- 958/1402 DDS textures edited. +598 texture net gain.
- 305 TGA icon changes or additions, most hero icons thanks to Invadious.
8 unique Nertea land unit models added: Armored Freerunner, Arrow-23, Heavy Tracker, Overracer, PAS, PX-10, QH-7 Chariot, Talon I. 6 third-party land unit models added: B1 BD, B2 SBD, Greedo, LAAT, Luxury, T-16. Custom single energy bolts sized for damage added. 10 land unit model spin-offs or significant changes: A6 Juggernaut, AT-AP, Digger, Garm Bel Iblis, Guild House, Navy Trooper, Spy Network, Storm IV, T-47, X-34. 21 map props added.
With that said, the release candidate for v1.2 is undergoing a final evaluation by testers at this moment. If nothing goes catastrophically wrong, the release date will be Sunday, March 25th at 00:00 GMT-5.
|But I've learned so much!
||Ghostrider - January 7, 2012
|With the stunning potential of the Freerunner model in full view, combined with the skeletal structure of the land mod in place, Phoenix Rising approached me the end of 2010 with a challenge: resurrect the Training Manual for the mod. |
I had initially tried to write a training manual during 2010, but the idea never had any real structure and the project was put back on the shelf to gather dust.
The need for a manual had been building unseen for months. When we started development of V1.2 all those months ago, the mod was still small enough to be able to play by instinct and a few basic tool tips. As mod development continued, we were able to keep track of the expansion in units through simple documentation. However, as time went on this became more involved, with some fairly complex spreadsheets to keep track of space forces, the expanding number of planets and their advantages.
Then we added heroes. Lots of heroes. The complement system changed and more independent space units were added. Somewhere in the future the sheer scale of the mod would be too great to simply play by instinct alone, and too complex to try and remember everything as a developer.
The decision to redo the land mechanic from scratch became the focus for some form of supporting literature. However, the new land combat system is so totally different in design and depth that it would be hard for even the most experienced players to learn how to fight well on land. Support literature was needed, for players and designers alike.
But what form should this documentation take?
The old concept of the Training Manual came back to life and this time it had real purpose – help explain the nuances of ground and space combat and help players to make the most of all the development work that has created Phoenix Rising. The Technical Manual was born.
As a graphic designer by trade with access to some high-end design software, I wanted the manual to be both informative and visually exciting. The design software can output to PDF, making it an ideal package to create an easy to read and near universal distribution format, and in shape I wanted the manual to fill the screen nicely and frame the new 3D renders created by Nertea. In addition, the copious library of screenshots could serve to illustrate units in action and key points of gameplay if required.
Once the basic structure of the manual was underway, a framing device was needed for the top and bottom of the page, and what better than an iconic screenshot of an Imperial-class Star Destroyer underbelly taken during initial testing of Operation Skyhook, deliberately taken to mimic the opening frames of “A New Hope”.
Tinted starscapes of Bespin space battles would initially serve as a background colour for the main text, but were since dropped in favour of another Skyhook screenshot featuring all the classic rebellion era units, including the DEATH STAR.
For the land pages, Phoenix Rising’s epic initial battle of Freerunners vs AT-AT’s on dusty Brentaal were unbeatable as background images and we simply had to include Nertea’s efforts in full detail.
But what of the text itself?
For me, nothing short of a full technical manual would do, as part of the fun of being involved in development is discovering what actually happens if you push the Power to Weapons button mid battle, or wondering exactly how much more firepower you get if you upgrade those Dual Laser cannons to Quads. There have also been a tremendous number of esoteric discussions about almost every aspect of the mod, for example wondering why Dark Empire-era AT-AT’s are so terrifyingly effective. With the manual we can add this information in and fill in all sorts of interesting details and share some of the development buzz.
It also gives us the opportunity to thank in detail the vast number of contributors to the mod, and highlight some of the hidden work that often goes unnoticed by testers and other members of the team.
Although it would be nice to have a full technical readout of every weapon, starship, upgrade, planet, hero and tank in the mod, clearly this would have to wait and to be built up chapter by chapter. For V1.2 an introductory General Overview and a Military Overview would suffice, hopefully giving players enough information to understand the basics of space and land combat, with the shorter space section covering useful updates while the Land section required a a complete breakdown of the new combat mechanic in its entirety, as trying to make the most of the new combat system would be a serious challenge without literature, and most players would miss out on critical tactical information this would make play harder and much less enjoyable.
Little did we know at the time that these two chapters would develop over the last year to over 100 pages, positively crammed with hints, tips, screenshots and enough technical data to keep an R2 unit happy for weeks. The manual also gives us an opportunity to thanks all the huge number of contributors to the mod over this lengthy development cycle, including the efforts of the various campaign testers and the output of our newest addition to the Phoenix Rising Team, evilbobthebob – our lead mapper.
The Space section of Chapter II includes data on all the space-based weapon systems, a detailed review of unit abilities and a look at the underpinning mechanics of space unit classes, covering armor types accuracy, damage control parties and other useful information. A full section describing all the different defensive and offensive abilities and a review of the compliment system rounds off the technical aspects of
A Recent Addition
In the last month a new major section has been added to the manual. A rather innocuous comment on the forums – on a completely unrelated topic naturally – made me realise that there was a gap in the manual. Many players are not aware of the full potential and fleet roles of the huge variety of units in the Rebel and Imperial fleets.
This has now been resolved with a full 20 page review of all player fleet units, together with indications of their upgrade potential in the General Overview section. This and should provide commanders with greater insights into how to improve their combat skills, especially when paired with the technical briefings contained in Chapter II.
Discussion with the testers has since added a couple of pages of tactical notes and some great gameplay tips, together to make the General Overview complete.
The Land Section of the Military Overview provides complete details of the Land combat mechanic, describing the key difference between 5 units classes of Droids, Infantry, Walker, Crawler and Speeder, describing in detail the strengths and weaknesses of each class, how units are produced and full technical readouts of upgrades. Tips and strategy are included, indicating all the facets of gameplay, from bombing runs to infantry garrisons in vehicles.
You get to see the full weapon load-outs of all independent enemy units, and some stunning images of all the new units that have been introduced or converted for the intensity of planetary invasion as seen from a mud-hugging trooper or armoured assault carrier.
And if this was not enough, we have full listings of all land weapon systems with damage tables for the multitude of pistols, rifles, carbines, grenade launchers, flamethrowers, mines, and heavy vehicle-based weaponry that are now in regular use!
These two chapters are just the beginning. As indicated earlier, the aim is to eventually put together a comprehensive technical manual for the mod, and the plan is to slowly release additional chapters as and when they are written!
The next chapter to be written will be Galactic Mode, used as a guide to help players make the most of all the information available to them, and this will also include details on hyperspace travel, trade routes, spying, information gathering and so on – but that won’t be started until after the release.
Following that will be chapters on Economy and Production at the very least – but this will all take months to complete, and as we progress into the development of V1.3, more time will be required to update existing chapters as well as writing new ones.
The V1.2 Manual will be included as a PDF with the release, and as always, we look forward to the ideas and comments this generates on the forums and I am sure V1.3 development will benefit as a result.
|We Would Be Honored If You Would Join Us
||Phoenix Rising - December 28, 2011
|For two years, Nertea has been my Shadow Hand, operating strictly behind the scenes in our effort to transform land combat. While it was great for the suspense of the announcement, admittedly, that was a terrible way to welcome someone to the team. I'd like to use this post, which highlights his remaining vehicles realized under v1.2, to give him a proper show of community appreciation. Without his contributions, the ground revamp would not have been possible.|
Mobquet designed the Overracer Speeder Bike to do one thing: zoom. In terms of raw velocity, it's one of the best bikes on the market that isn't hampered by the control issues shared by swoops. Other than the optional light blaster cannon, there are few amenities of note, which is fine to the racers and scouts that primarily employ the Overracer. It's become a favorite of groups opposed to the New Order, which have been known to strip it even further to maximize stealth potential.
The newfound Empire conscripted Uulshos Manufacturing to build an armored command landspeeder to replace the LAAT in the role of ferrying officers in battle. The result was the QH-7 Chariot Light Assault Vehicle. Despite the bulk associated with tactical computers, encrypted comm units, and active countermeasures, the Chariot boasts impressive speed thanks to five thruster engines. On backwater worlds, the belly laser cannon allows it to double as a combat vehicle.
The Arrow-23 is a utility landspeeder that Aratech markets towards nature enthusiasts on semi-developed planets. It is larger and better armored than the typical family speeder to provide a certain level of comfort in the wild. It's also blazingly fast and highly modifiable, qualities that make it attractive to paramilitary organizations. The Alliance ended up with so many Arrow-23 Landspeeders that it became the default option for tramp shuttle, heavy scout, and battlefield ambulance.
When the Confederacy collapsed, the potential size of the Empire effectively doubled and, despite omnipresent propaganda, its forces were continuously spread thin as it pushed Rimward. Nen-Carvon offered a solution in the form of the PX-10 Compact Assault Vehicle, a self-driving light tank with a singular crew requirement. The tracked chassis is near impervious to pre-industrial technology, although its sensory inputs can be electronically jammed. Still, the PX-10 has been used against unruly Core denizens.
Ubrikkia Transports debuted the Talon I in the interwar period when galactic crime was on the rise. It is a modern example of an older concept: a militarized airspeeder built to engage starfighters in atmosphere. Although lacking the shields and powerplant of a spaceworthy craft, its sleek fuselage allows the Talon I Combat Cloud Car to excel at dogfighting. They are common to metropolitan defense forces and are occasionally fielded by the Empire in favor of noisier TIEs.
||This level is not made, distributed, or supported by LucasArts, a division of Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. All other content copyright Phoenix Rising Team 2006-2012.