December 06, 2022, 02:49:03

Author Topic: NEXUS Skirmisher rewrite  (Read 55490 times)

Offline Arparso

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NEXUS Skirmisher rewrite
« on: March 09, 2009, 23:08:35 »
I've been wanting to rewrite the NEXUS Skirmisher tool from scratch for the past couple years, but never came to finish anything worth showing to the public. I'm annoyed by the horrible UI and myriad of bugs, missing features and missed opportunities... even after all these years. However, I'll need to know, if a serious attempt at rewriting this tool is even worth the amount of time, sweat and blood this'll cost.

It's your call: is there still any viable interest in Nexus, the NEXUS Skirmisher or modding Nexus, that could convince me to finally go ahead with this endeavor or is this community already and finally dead? Talk to me, contact me via forum  or email. Share your opinion!

Offline Scorpion_SK

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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2009, 22:58:44 »
I use your tool long time and possible update is great news for me. I hope you can add possibility of adding fighters to ships and possibility of setting positions of ships and maybe some other features.
I like your program very much.  :thumbsup:

Sorry for my bad english.

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2009, 00:08:27 »
At first I'd need to scrap a few features. I'm thinking about multiplayer support here, because that is being hardly used anyway. But yeah, fighter support and a way to change your ship positioning would be pretty high up on the priority list. Though I'm a bit puzzled with the last one... having a graphical UI to move your ships around on a representation of the battlefield would be best, but is pretty hard or at least work-intensive to implement considering the 3d aspect. Maybe just offer some different formations? I'm reluctant to let the user enter coordinates manually seeing as that would be hardly intuitive or user-friendly...

Offline Hardscript

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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2009, 08:37:32 »
Personally i think it would be a great idea to make a new version.

there are 2 things i would suggest.
Firstly adding EVERY ship that is in the campaign into the skirmisher.
and if this is possible make the option to use ships from diff mods together.

For example i want to put a ship from the stargate mod up against  a mp_heavy battlship.

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2009, 11:55:46 »
The first function is already there ;) ... just choose "Nexus Skirmisher SP" as mod and you should have access to all singleplayer ships and equipment.

The second requested feature will never make it to the Skirmisher, I'm afraid. It would require merging mods, which isn't a trivial task at all. Although theoretically possible, hundreds of things could break, when attempting that and the Skirmisher is simply not meant to be a mod manager or merger ... it's just there to create skirmish battles against the AI for a given mod.

Offline SoulAssassino

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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2009, 09:07:06 »
I think it would be a good idea if you continued your work with the skirmisher.

Just the stargate mod alone has about 200 regular day-to-day players, not to mention the people who drop by are around 1000 when we release something.
There is a Halo mod in production, altough it didn't go public just yet, but the author has quite many ships modeled.
OldDragon is making is Nexus: The Aurora Affair mod, which is great so far, and many of the community will love it.
So there is still community out there, and there are still a lot of people who would appreciate a new,  improved skirmisher to play their mods/nexus battles.
And the skirmisher is a very powerful tool for the players, makes our mods 100x playable, taking into account that a good mission takes a long time to script.

My ideas for it:
-The ship positioning ui would be a good idea, although i don't know if it's doable, maybe you could salvage parts of the mission editor.
-A bit more self-explanatory UI, as many people don't take the time to read the FAQ you post, or the one i write to the readme of our releases.
-The mission numbering is the thing that most people tend to frak up, and not just because the lack of reading the FAQ, i too make mistakes with that sometimes as i always forget what number i gave to my last mission. Maybe turning that into automatic would be a huge leap. (It detects what mission numbers are taken, and assigns a non-taken one automatically to the new mission)

I'll keep thinking about other useful (and sometimes crazy) things, and i'll add them to this post later, as these are the only ones that come to mind right now. I know that merging mods is unfortunately impossible as that needs a lot of copypasting of models and textures not to mention extensive edits of the tactictypes.ini

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2009, 20:44:45 »
Hi, glad to see someone from the mod community step by :)

Ship positioning: As already said, that probably won't be that easy to do, although I'm currently experimenting with .NET framework 3.5, Windows Presentation Foundation and any 3D capabilities it might have.

More self-explanatory UI: Yeah, I know... the current UI is pretty horrible and I'll propably create a completely new design from scratch. I hate it... it's ugly, unintuitive and... well, ugly ;)

Mission numbering: Yep, a pain in the ass. I'm not even sure anymore, if missions really had to have numbers at all ... did anyone test this? If I'll ever release a new version I'll make sure to handle mission numbering automatically...

Offline graviton

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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2009, 08:02:17 »
Firstly I would like to thank you for all your work, Arparso, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE TOOL!
I've being using the skirmisher to extend the fun for years. But I still have trouble using it. There are some ideas in my mind, hope they are helpful for your re-write.
1) There must be an easy way to save/load/modify a skirmish.
In the current tool, it is impossible to load a already existed mission. Although a ship configuration save/load is very helpful, it still need improvement. Like to add some ready-to-load configurations as template. Create a fun mission requires many passes modification and calibration, lack of save/load means much more work force on creating a mission playable.
2) There should be at least some description for everything selectable.
It have took me restless hours to find out which is what... And to remember which slot can be configured as what is terrifying for most users.
3) Why the in-game configuration is not available?
I guess there must be some reason, but it will significantly increase the fun to begin with a lot of resource points. And it makes a created mission looks more like a mission.
4) Better UI would be good but not of critical necessity.

And there are more, but mostly things I think does not matter much.

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2009, 11:58:02 »
Thanks for your suggestions :)

Save/load missions: Indeed a feature, that has been requested quite a few times already. I'll see, if I can come up with a reliable solution to do that.

Item descriptions: I actually got this already working in an experimental tool I never released to the public. However it depends on the mod authors to correctly name their ship classes and devices and supply the game (and the Skirmisher) with all this information. Not even the original game does this for every piece of equipment, so I don't know right now, if every mod cares about these details. Some classes or devices would be left without description or a proper name, I guess.

Ingame fleet configuration: As far as I know, the fleet configuration screen isn't available in single missions. It's only being used in campaign mode (and multiplayer), which isn't really available to your average mod out of the box. Even if it was - the Skirmisher just isn't meant to create campaign missions, so it wouldn't even work that way. I could try emulating this behaviour (or even the interface), though.

Offline graviton

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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2009, 15:19:55 »
Well... I guess no in-game configuration is not so terrible ;)
Another thing occurred me was the ability to modify AI, which would be good news for movie makers.
In the cinema mode, All ships AI are common, they would only fight with regular ways. But most times I would like to have a group of ghosts fight in stealth, or a ship loaded with missiles bombard its opponents. Something not useful in default mode, but of great use in cinema mode.
Oh, function to modify ship's fighters configuration is also needed.

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2009, 17:50:56 »
You can already do that, actually (changing the AI behaviour, I mean). It'll require you to know your way around in Nexus's mission scripting, but it's very much doable. Go to the following folder:

modsNEXUS Skirmisher_templates

There you'll find seven files. barebone.mission_ is the template for all missions created with the Skirmisher. The remaining six files belong to the three default mission types. They come in pairs for each type, one containing the AI script and the other containing a simple script monitoring the objectives or winning conditions of this type. If you want different AI behaviour in the cinema mode, you could modify the cinema_mode_ai.mach_ (or new_cinema_mode_ai.mach_, if you prefer that one) or you can actually create your own mission type with your own AI script.

For example: make a copy of cinema_mode_ai.mach_ and cinema_mode_obj.mach_ and rename them to custom_cinema_ai.mach_ and custom_cinema_obj.mach_. The Skirmisher will detect these new files and lets you select this new mission type "custom_cinema". You can now safely edit these scripts and create new missions using them. You WILL need some good understanding of Nexus's scripting language and how you're going to achieve your desired combat behavior, however.

Offline Kahuna

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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2009, 09:29:55 »
Great tool!!I am enjoying it alot.How about a "stand alone" description oof the componenets?It could be added here on the boards to look over and copy and paste to a personal computer to use when they make thier own ship configurations? thank you!!

Offline Kahuna

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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2009, 12:41:18 »
No comments? I still think my idea has merit.I would like a stand alone description made that explains the components,their effectiveness and uses along with some descriptions.This would greatly enhance the ability to set up a skirmish duel scenerio instead of blindly setting one up and hope for the best when the scenerio starts.How about it? :?:

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2009, 12:57:34 »
There is one problem, though: you'd need to have a description for every device for each mod you want to play skirmishes with. That would need some effort, because you'd need to keep them up-to-date as well. The next version of the Skirmisher will probably display all the information you'll ever need, including the ingame-name of the device and some information about their effectiveness (weapon damage, energy consumption, stuff like that).

I don't have any release date, though, so I'll see what I can come up with until then.

Offline Kahuna

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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2009, 13:45:19 »
I understand it would take some effort..I am playing the skirmisher without ever playing the game part and  the duels appeal to me but it is frustrating to try every type of weapon and ship combo without information on what the components do.When you put your skirmisher together I imagine you had some sort of list to go by in order to set things up properly to work.Maybe a spreadsheet,or some sort of paperwork that tells you what each component does,the ship sizes and configurations etc...unless you did this all out of memory or your head and in that case "I salute You!" and hold you in awe!! :D

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2009, 15:10:05 »
Actually I read all the available devices directly from the mod's files. That ensures full compatibility with new mods, that I knew nothing about while developing the Skirmisher. There are no pre-configured lists of devices for each mod being included in the Skirmisher.

Offline Kahuna

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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2009, 15:44:39 »
Thank you for your prompt replies Arparso. I guess my idea just isn't happening.I will still enjoy things as they are tho..is a great mod and I thank you for the work you put into it already! :thumbup:

Offline Zer

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« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2009, 19:52:52 »
Well to be frank no self respecting mod wouldn't refer to the Nexus Skirmisher. The tool is quite simply THE tool to use to play modded Nexus games on your own. I'm saying this to further support descriptions for each system or ship in the Skirmisher. You are right though it is the modder who is responsible for properly describing each ship/system within the associated script files. That shouldn't stop you from adding the feature in, since the Nexus Skirmisher is so widely used by the entire community. I can almost guarantee if the feature is added that many of the currently active mod teams out there will begin adding proper descriptions to be readable by the skirmisher.

As for being able to state the location of each vessel I can't see how this would be too difficult. I assume Nexus uses a grid based system to set starting locations for each object in the game to begin with. A small 3D representation of the battlefield would be easy to do. My suggestion would be not to render the grid completely, but have it rendered similar to this:

y

|_
|_
|_
|_|_|_|_|     x

So basically you would have 3 lines representing the X, Y, and Z axis and each of these lines have small notches representing the grid (axis line for further reference). When a ship is selected in the 3D view 3 knobs will appear on each axis line. The user will be able to define the position of the ship along an axis by draging the small knob on the axis line with the mouse. Adding the option for more precise numerical input for each axis would be a nice feature for some of the more patient or advanced users.

The ships could be represented by small color coded cubes. The cubes can be color coded by race or team. The ship's type could be coded with simple alphanumeric designations (A1,A2,A3, etc...) that is visible (possibly skinned onto) the cubes. The user will be able to see the ship type by looking at the "SHIPTYPE" pull-down menu and looking at each vessel's alphanumeric designation (meaning that each ship or object listed will need to be assigned a designation).

I guess what I'm saying is to stick to the absolute basics for the early release(s) and then later on think about adding ship icons for the Skirmisher. The Skirmisher doesn't need to be pleasing to the eye as long as it is functional. Sometimes, though aesthetics and functionality go hand in hand.

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2009, 14:13:06 »
Good suggestions, actually, though it's still not that easy for me. Remember: I'm not a professional programmer by any means and creating a fully functional 3d view of the battlefield and enabling some sort of drag-and-drop is a pretty hefty task. I'm still learning WPF / .NET 3.5 and I already know, it has some neat 3d capabilities... but I've not yet come to the point, where I can definitely say, how this feature is going to look or work like until I've got a better understanding of how this could be achieved.

Progress right now is rather slow, because I'm pretty occupied with a few other personal projects, which need to be done before getting into full gear with a Skirmisher rewrite.

Offline Dark-Zero

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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2009, 20:17:35 »
Hai

i want to start to Say thank you for Keeping this up, My first modding experience attemp Was created by tinkering Around, reading post on the old Forum even thou it was less than actif, and With your Skirmisher, it gave me the kick in the back to go deeper to modifying, thou im not close to a great mod

As for an idea, i have one that may be interesting
- More Ai's selection, i understand its fun for the ships to just charge in and shoot eachother, but i dont know,Make em partrol a path in the look of ships, that woudl work if the starting position are set in a longer distance from each other

-Teams, i miss having a Battle were you have actuall allies controling themselves coming from somewhere else, or while you go and hit somethign else, no need to manually control 8 ships at a time, Let the Allie do his own thing while you do yours

Offline Camtheman

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« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2009, 00:17:07 »
I dont think a 3d view would be nessecary, Mithis already did that for us with the mission editor.

What would be nice

* A way to put squads on the ships.
*Real device names instead of weap_ and supp_

Not sure if you remember me, I was on the original nexus forum since 2006 and was quite active...

Offline Keldane

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« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2009, 04:37:08 »
Several months later, and I'd like to make my opinion heard nevertheless.

I quite enjoy the Skirmisher so far, and I would like to see a new version. I'd only ask for a couple changes, both of which others have mentioned - I would like to be able to put squadrons onto ships, and I would like clearer naming of equipment, if at all possible. In the case of the latter, I believe a two-check system would need to be used: The first check would be the program checking to see if the device's name matched a system from the standard game (example: wep_eshell2) and displaying it as what it would appear as in game (Bubble ES). The second check would require establishing a specific system for identifying the name of a weapon from the files included in a mod. This could be as simple as asking modmakers to include a "weapon_names.xxx" file, in a format you can program the Skirmisher to read, and have that file provide the required information.

I apologize for any incoherence in this post; I typed it while attempting to maintain two online conversations and resolve some administrative issues on another forum.

Offline Arparso

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« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2009, 23:04:43 »
Nay, your post wasn't THAT incoherent ;)

Thanks for your comment, anyway.

As for weapon and/or device names: one of the very very few design principles while initially creating the Skirmisher was to not bother mod creators to write any extra stuff just to make their mod work with my puny little tool. Requiring a special "weapon_names.xxx"-file was pretty much a no-go, because of that. I'd like to stick to that philosophy and luckily the game already supports a similar scheme. The mod developers can create certain text files including perfectly readable names and descriptions for devices and ships, that'll be picked up by the game and displayed during gameplay while hovering with the mouse cursor over a device, for example. So, the names and descriptions are already right there for the main game and also for mods, where the developer(s) actually cared about these text files... I just never went ahead and used this stuff for the Skirmisher.

Rest assured, though - if there'll be a new version of the Skirmisher, it will support these names and descriptions (if available) for sure.

Offline Overlord

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« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2009, 20:21:16 »
Hello
This is my first time I make a post at this site I just registered at it. I was surfing the internet trying to find anything about Nexus skirmish, until I came across this. I downloaded it and it's awsome. So I went to check the forums and found this thread and I wanted you to know that I'd really like if you'd make a new version of Nexus Skirmisher. I just wanted you to know that there are more people that would like this to become true so, thank you for making this tool.

Offline Keldane

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« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2009, 20:50:38 »
My post may not have been incoherent, but it did emphasize my lack of knowledge concerning mod structure. The fact that a file almost identical to the one I was describing already exists theoretically makes it a lot easier; mod makers simply need a bit of encouragement from their communities to make use of it (my opinion, of course).

On a sidenote, combining Skirmisher with the Warfare mod from the board here has allowed me to create my first challenging mission with a little more to it than two fleets charging into one another. Nothing fancy, but it takes a lot more than a simple "shields up and charge!" technique. Many thanks to you for making this possible.