Ghostbusters: Trick or Terror 2 Released!

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Happy Halloween one and all!  I’m just BARELY getting this one in under the wire, but I am proud to release the second episode in the Halloween adventures of everyone’s favorite spirit chasers, the Ghostbusters!  Join them for another mysterious case as they are called to a foreboding locale and face strange events that just might be connected to their previous Halloween misadventure.

As before, this is a simple, one mission story, but I had a blast making it, and I hope you will have a good time with it as well.  So come on, celebrate Halloween in style, with the kings of creep, the Ghostbusters!

This release includes the original mod as well as the new mission and foes.  You can download the whole thing here:

Download it here!

Challenge the restless dead and make New York safe for her citizens!

Strap on a proton pack and make use of the Ghostbusters’ arsenal of gadgets!

Help Pete, Egon, Ray, and Winston fight back an incursion from the spirit world, and save Halloween once more!

Custom Loading and Menu Screens

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Howdy folks!  Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to create custom loading and menu screens in Freedom Force vs The Third Reich.  There probably were tutorials once-upon-a-time, yet while there are some good threads about this on Freedom Reborn, there isn’t, to my knowledge, a good, clear, set of instructions on how to do this.

So, you want to give your mod a little extra bit of personality, replace the main menu with a picture of the Thundercats, the Teen Titans, or whatever your mod is about, right?  Well, the process is really quite simple.  Like most things with FF, these interface screens are really easy to customize.  It’s just a matter of replacing files in the right directory.  With the following instructions, you can replace the main menu screen, the Rumble Room screen, the loading screen, and every other game menu and loading screen.

  1. Make sure your mod has the right directory.  You’ll need Art\Library\Interface_Scenes, and at least some of the subfolders.  Which ones you need depends on what all you want to replace.  If you’ve begun your mod by copying FFX, you probably won’t have these files.  You can copy them out of the main FF Data folder, or you can grab them out of one of my mods (which all have at least some of these images replaced).  Now, the folders corresponding to the various loading screens are mostly intuitively named:
    1. mg_ff_team_main is the main menu screen, mg_rumble_room is the rumble room screen, and so on.Screenshot (24).png
  2. Each interface scene in the game consists of two parts, a texture, the actual image that is displayed, and a nif, or mesh file, which is the canvas upon which the texture is displayed.Screenshot (25)
    1. The texture will have a specific name that the nif tells the game to look for.
    2. Some of the scenes have animated or otherwise unusual nifs that can be hard to fit with a texture.  You’ll notice that the default main menu is like this, scrolling through a whole host of characters.
    3. You can replace these with simpler nifs from other portions of the game.  I’ve done this with the main menu in all of my mods, simply substituting a flat nif from one of the loading screens for the default nif.
      1. Of course, if you change nifs, you need to make sure the you rename the texture that goes with it appropriately so the game can find it.
      2. For example, the texture that goes with my chosen main menu nif is load_skyking.dds, while the default texture is made up of a number of different pieces each with a specific name.Screenshot (26).png
  3. To change the image displayed by your chosen interface screen, simply replace its texture with one of your choice.  It must be named exactly the same thing!
    1. All textures used in FF have to be square, with even dimensions.
    2. Interface scenes must be 1024 x 1024, .dds format.
  4. If you’re not sure how to save an image in .dds format, I recommend using GIMP, a free image editing program that can take a .dds plug-in.
    1. After installing GIMP, open your image with it, crop or scale to approriate dimensions, and then Export As a .dds file, named whatever your base texture is, i.e., load_skyking.dds.
  5. That’s it, you’re done!  Enjoy your cool new custom screens!

Well, that was easy, but what if you want to create custom loading screens for your mod’s campaign missions?  Well, this is also pretty simple, but it does require a few more steps.

  1. These files also go in your interface_scenes directory, but instead of replacing them, you actually need to create your own.
  2. Copy one of the comic_blank (comic_timemaster, comic_blitzkreig, etc) folders out of the vanilla Data folder and past it into the Art/Library/Interface_Scenes directory in your mod.
  3. You’ll see that it is a similar animal as the other interface scenes we already discussed, except instead of a nif and ONE texture, it is a nif and THREE textures.  This is what makes those cool fake comic covers for the game’s mission loading screens.
    1. The comic cover itself is broken into two pieces, and then there is a ‘back’ image which provides the background.  You need to replace the two textures with your own cover image chopped up into pieces of exactly the same dimensions.
    2. OR, you can do just like we did with the main loading screen, and simply replace the comic cover nif with a plain nif and only have to make one texture.
    3. Name your folder something fitting for your mission, avengers1, for example.
  4. Now comes the slightly more complex bit.  You’ll need to create entries in FFEdit for your brand new loading screens.
    1. Open up FFEdit, and make sure the Primary Data path points to your mod folder.  Now, click on the ‘Res’ (resources) tab, and scroll down until you see the ls_blank (NOT is_blank!) entries.
    2. Select one of these, like ls_01_begin, and click ‘copy.’
    3. Rename your new entry to be ls_yourmissionname.  Note, it must match exactly what the mission name is in the Campaign tab, so it is a good idea to switch over there, copy the mission name, and just paste it after ls_.
    4. Point the source of the entry to your newly created mission loading screen.  Make sure to trim the data path to start at ‘library’!
    5. Save, rinse, repeat for other missions.Screenshot (28)
  5. You’re done!  These should now display whenever you load one of the appropriate missions.

Lost DCUG Campaign

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Howdy guys, I discovered something today while I was cleaning out some files that made me a bit wistful and nostalgic, so I thought I would share it.  Years ago I was working on my sprawling DC Universe mod, the DC Universe According to Grey, and I created the beginnings of two extra campaigns.  At some point in time, I had a computer crash and lost all of that material…except this.  I discovered a few, a very few, screenshots of one of those ill-fated missions.  This one in particular was the first mission in a Green Arrow campaign, and it featured Green Arrow, Speedy, and guest starred Black Canary.

The mission involved taking Ollie and Roy on a patrol of Star City where they would encounter various low-level thugs, meet up with the lovely Dinah Lance, and then confront Count Vertigo for the first time in the finale.  I had a short campaign plotted out, but this was the only thing done.

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I thought I might share these images with anyone interested, so we can all look at what might have been.  Perhaps one day I will get a chance to revisit this material, but I know at least one of the maps I used no longer exists.  Anyway, I’ve asked this before, but on the off chance I might hit the jackpot, I’ll ask again.  If you had an early version of the DCUG, please check your folder and see if you happen to have any of this material.  I think some of it got out into the public, but I was never able to recover it.  Well, that’s all for now.  Thanks for taking this little stroll down memory lane with me!

Modding with EZScript: An Outline

Howdy folks!  Some time back, in the process of trying to help a new modder in the FF community, I wrote a rather lengthy post on Freedom Reborn about the step by step process of creating a mod.  It occurred to me that this information, all gathered in one place, might prove helpful to other newcomers and folks who want to try their hands at modding.  So, I’m adapting that gargantuan post to a how-to-outline that I’ll share here.  So, without further ado, I give you a crash course in modding!

Let’s start at the beginning.  Make sure you have all of the necessary tools.  To mod successfully and without undue headache, one needs the following:

  • FF2 Mod Tools (FFEdit, Character Tool)
  • M25’s Mod Tools (EZScript Editor, Language File Generator, and more)
  • FFX (an amazing expansion to the core game mechanics that adds tons of new attributes and functionality)

So, install all of the various tools, and if you’re running a version of Windows newer than XP, as I imagine most folks are these days, it is probably a good idea to run all of these things in compatibility mode for XP SP3.  I’d also run them as an Administrator, just to be on the safe side.

Now, on to business!  Here is a rough, step-by-step outline that can give you a sense about what all goes into modding.

1) First, decide what you want to call your mod.  Then, copy the newest version of FFX (3.3 I think), and rename it to whatever you want your mod to be called.  The title should be simple, because you’ll have to use it a few different times, and you don’t want to be having to type out a forever-long name dozens of times.  Also, and this is something you’ll see me say a few times, make sure you don’t have any unusual characters in the name.  Limit it to letters and numbers, as FF has a tendency to freak out over anything else.  Next, make sure FFEdit is pointing in the right direction.  Do so by opening it up and directing the primary data path towards your newly created mod folder.  Make sure you leave the secondary data path alone.

2) Now, decide which characters you want/need in your mission.  Create herofiles for them.  Give them simple, lower case names without any special characters and punctuation marks.  Test and balance in the Rumble Room until satisfied.

3) Quit, rename your FFX3 folder to something different, FFX3a is what I use.  Now, rename your mod folder to FFX3. (This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but FFX Edit2 sometimes has something of a hard time with mods other than FFX.)

4) Run FFX Edit2.  Save.  This “Brands” all of the characters in that mod, giving each a unique “Complex” number, which helps FFX and EZScript tell them apart.  This is necessary to get stuff to run smoothly.  Once you’re done, don’t forget to change both folder names back.

5) Next, launch your mod, open the Rumble Room, and choose M25’s Add to Dat as your gametype.  Put your newly created herofiles into the roster, use the “———–” blank entry if you need to, and then run it.  It should only take a moment.  Now, quit, open FFEdit, check on the characters and make sure everything was added nicely.

6) Now, open up your EZScript Editor.  Go to “Panels,” “Config,” and set the Dat directory to your mods folder.  You can set the other directories or not, it won’t be super important for a simple project.  Now, I recommend working on top of an existing EZScript mission.  One of the example missions or one of mine would serve as a fine base.  Either way, compose your mission.  I STRONGLY recommend using:

#————————————–

to differentiate your encounters, to make it easier for you to read and for folks who help you with troubleshooting.  Avoid capitalization in composing your missions, except when writing encounter names, which are okay to capitalize, just make sure you are being consistent.  One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is, keep it simple.  Keep your naming schemes simple, keep your layouts simple, keep your plans simple.  The more complex you get, the more chances you’ll mess something up, and the less chance you’ll be able to find it easily.

7) Next, click “Tools,” “Analyze,” and look at the report it gives you.  This should catch MANY of the careless errors and plain ‘ol mistakes that tend to creep in to this type of work.

8) After that (or really before if you want), you can create your map, adding in any encounter markers you need.  Make sure all encounter names match what your mission calls for EXACTLY.  You can point your EZScript Editor to this newly edited map to double check that.  Unless you are designing the FIRST mission of a campaign, do NOT put any heroes on a map you create if you are using EZScript.  The first mission needs for the heroes to be placed already, otherwise check out my tutorials on what markers are necessary to get everything to play nicely.

9)
 Open your mod folder and copy your mission’s .txt file into the mod’s Story directory.  If it doesn’t have one, just create a folder named Stories in your mod’s main directory.  If you have multiple missions, you can put them all in there, but make sure to rename the copies so you don’t just overwrite them in the Stories folder.  Now, run your mod again.  Go to the RR again, for game type, select M25 Generate Language Files (or something like that).  Just use the ———- character, that will work fine.  Run it, then quit.  You’ve just added all of your missions dialog to your mod’s caption.txt.  However, the game itself can’t read txt files, so we need to get this into your captions.dat.  Now, open M25’s Language File Generator that you downloaded before we got started, and run it, pointing it at your mod director.  This updates your Lang files.  Also, before you start this process, make sure you’ve got CLEAN language files.  If you’ve already been poking around in them, I strongly recommend you get your language files from a clean install or clean version of FFX3.

11) Open up FFEdit and click on the “Campaign” tab.  Now, you’ll see the default FF missions there, and I recommend you leave them be for the moment.  You can delete them all, but in general things work better when you just leave them alone.  They won’t affect anything.  Add your own missions in, set the required characters and and unavailable characters, and move your missions to the top of the order.  Save and exit.

11a) For your first mission ONLY, you’ll need to place your starting heroes on your map through the editor.  Don’t forget to do this, as otherwise your mission won’t start.  The game spawns no heroes for the first mission.

12) Now your mod should be ready to play!  Open up FF and click “New Campaign” and give it a test.  Chances are you’ll run into some troubles, but stay patient and try to eliminate factors.  Always double check the obvious!  I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent troubleshooting missions with inexplicable problems, only to realize that I misspelled “encounter” or forgot to do something equally basic.  Also, when in doubt, feel free to ask for help!  I’m always happy to help new modders, and the FF community is amazing!

 

DC Defenders

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Hello Freedom Forcers!  This is my first post in quite some time, but I assure you I have not been idle in the intervening months…and months…and months….*ahem*  Well, I haven’t been too idle.  I have been hard at work on more than a few projects, and I am just now finishing up my Pulp Adventures mod, featuring the likes of The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Green Hornet, plus many more!  Be on the lookout for the release of this love letter to the classic pulp heroes in the next few months.  Once I finish that project, I’ll be revisiting a few previous undertakings, including the DC Universe According to Grey!  What follows are some ruminations and some little bits of fun on the subject of my sprawling version of the DC Universe.

I have recently been reading through a number of DC books, including classic issues of Detective Comics, Adventures Comics, The Brave and the Bold, and others.  All of this four-color goodness has really set my mind on fire to get back to my DC Universe mod and start telling stories set in my all-time favorite comic setting.  To that end, I’ve been toying with the hundreds of story ideas and half-finished plots that are lying around my hard drive in various stages of completion, and after hearing something interesting on The Who’s Who Podcast, of Aquaman Shrine and Firestorm Fan fame (say that three times fast!), I decided to play around with an old concept that didn’t make it into the first release of the DCUG.

One of the hosts of the show, the Irredeemable Shag, mentioned his ideal superhero team, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was, in large part, note for note the same team that I had created for a campaign in the DCUG.  I’ve got a few missions written, but nothing was finished when I released the mod.  However, it is on my list of campaigns that I want to finish when I return to my sprawling pet project.  You see, years ago I watched the JLU episode “Wake the Dead.”  In it, the Timmverse presented a DC version of the classic Marvel team, the Defenders, who took on a mystical threat.  The team included my personal favorite hero, Aquaman, and I found the idea of a DC team that including the Sea King and dealt with mystical threats to be pretty intriguing.  Now, I know what a few of you mega-DC fans are saying, ‘that team already exists, and it’s called Shadowpact!’  Well, I have to admit that I know next to nothing about them as a team, and even less of them as individual characters.  I’m afraid they don’t interest me much in any event.

On the other hand, given Aquaman’s connection to Atlantis, it makes sense for him to be involved in sword and sorcery type tales occasionally.  So, I created my own version of the team featuring a number of second string character for whom I had a soft spot, and I penned a story arc for them that promises to be great fun.  The team featured:

As I started to think about these stories once again, I got an itch to throw part of the team into the Rumble Room and see how they played together.  I took some screenshots, and I’ll share them with y’all now:

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I began by choosing a subset of my nascent mystical team.  So many choices!  It’s getting hard to find anything among the huge roster of the DCUG these days!  I’m pitting my team against a semi-random assortment of villains on a fantasy-style map.

picture016Heroes assembled!

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Matchstick is undaunted in the face of evil!

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The heroes move out in search of some villains to vanquish.

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And the villains find them!  Yes, that’s obscure Hawkman villain I.Q.!  Will his technological marvels be enough to stop our stalwarts?

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He uses one of his hi-tech devices on Blue Devil…  picture028But it isn’t enough!  Ouch, that’s going to hurt!

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But I.Q. has distracted the heroes while the rest of the villains arrive, led by the powerful sorcerer Wotan!

picture033Zatanna finds herself surrounded!  Which spell to use, which spell to use…

picture037The Mistress of Magic drives them back with a burst of dinw…errr, wind!

picture035Aquaman uses his telepathy on Wotan, hoping to stun him and disable his defenses.

picture039Zatanna prepares to finish off the Trickster, but Wotan prepares another spell!

picture042The Shade enters the scene, stunning the Nuclear Man!

picture045Meanwhile, Aquaman squares off with his half-brother…

picture047And Firestorm is airborne again!  Perhaps a little creative transmutation might be in order…

picture052The Battle rages on!

picture053Aquaman corners The Shade!  Let’s see that nightstick save him now!

picture063And Firestorm provides the coup de grace!

The heroes won the day, though Zatanna fell to the villains.  I think I’ve got the beginning of a good team here, and I am looking forward to completing their campaign over the summer when I return to the DCU!  I hope that y’all enjoyed this little bit of silliness as much as I did!

Marvel Adventures Released!

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It’s done!  Welcome to Adventure in the Marvel Universe!   This is a gigantic mod that encompasses large swaths of the Marvel comics universe.  It attempts to capture the classic feel of a large assortment of characters with new stories set during the heyday of such icons as Captain America, Thor, the X-Men, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four, as well as a bevy of villains and guest stars.

This mod gives you control over some of your favorite superheroes and lets you fight for justice in four color glory!  Included you will find a total of seven campaigns for a wide variety of characters and teams.  You can face the villainous Hellfire Club as the X-Men, or struggle to save all of the nine realms as Thor and his allies.

Check out the Marvel Adventures Album HERE!

Campaigns:

So, what are you waiting for? Join the fight!

Download Marvel Adventures now!

This mod is akin to my massive DC Universe According to Grey, though on a much smaller scale.  I have not tried to capture the entire width and breadth of the Marvel Universe, just my favorite corners thereof.  You’ll still find a very large mod here, with most of the classic heroes and many of the classic villains of the Marvel Universe.  On the other hand, this mod embraces a similar design philosophy to the DCUG, not trying to completely capture any interpretation of the Marvel U., instead trying to create an idealized version, something of the best of all worlds, in my opinion.  It is most closely based on the Bronze Age, but I took liberties to clean up continuity or for the sake of the story I wanted to tell.

Keep in mind, not all of the campaigns tell complete stories, and all of these are intended to be expanded and continued.  In the future I’ll add a Spider-Man campaign, Dr. Strange, perhaps Captain Marvel, and others.