Bare Bones Script Updates

Well, it’s been a while since I even looked at this project, but the tiny glimpse of Mass Effect Andromeda from E3 got me somewhat remotivated.

So I’ve started going through my proposed race changes, and updated all references in the ROM for each. Everything it, and in some cases has given me a few characters to play with when I redo the scripting. The only real problem was with the Elowan… Their name being somewhat shorter than “Salarians”, has had me refer to them as the “Salari”. I will try and take another look at this and see if I can extend some of the references. Luckily, in much of the conversational text I can reword things to buy myself the few extra characters needed, hopefully it’ll only be a minor canon-quibble in the end.

So now I have NPCs in the game claiming to be Mass Effect races! The script still needs changing – no self respecting Volus would meet you without calling you “Earth-Clan” – and the graphics definitely need changing, but baby steps!

Whilst hunting through the ROM for race names to change, I stumbled upon a piece of text test from the original development:-

THIS STRING TESTS IF THE NEW WRITEMESSAGE FUNCTION WORKS PROPERLY OR NOT. THIS MESSAGE SHOULD APPEAR CORRECTLY IN A WINDOW WHEN THE START BUTTON IS PRESSED PLANETSIDE. WHEN THE WINDOW IS FULL, THE USER PRESSES THE A BUTTON AND MORE OF THE MESSAGE SHOULD APPEAR. THIS IS TO BE USED FOR ANYWHERE THAT A MESSAGE COULD RUN LONGER THAN A WINDOW, FOR EXAMPLE IN THE ALIEN COMMUNICATIONS SECTION, WHERE ALIEN MESSAGES COULD BE SEVERAL WINDOWS LONG. SPECIAL CHARACTERS THAT ARE ALLOWED ARE: LOWER CASE R STANDS FOR RETURN, SO YOU CAN BREAK A LINE IN THE MIDDLErSMALL C IS c, SMALL T IS t, SMALL I IS i.rPUNCTUATION STANDARD ASCII: !+=-:?%#.,rANY ILLEGAL VALUE SHOWS UP AS A

In my previous meddling with the initial briefing text, I had already worked out that “r” would insert a line break. Now I also know that “c” and “t” do something! The “c” diplays as ©, and “t” displays as an up & down arrow in the same character – generally used in game as a “press to continue text” notifier. I can’t see either of these bindings being of particular use in game, but the list of supported punctuation characters definitely will be. No semi-colons for this game!

Also, I may hijack this part of the ROM for a hidden message of my own. The kids go crazy for hidden messages these days.

After doing the race names successfully, I moved onto the mineral elements. Starting out with the fuel source “ENDURIUM+”, I decided tochange this to Element 0, or Eezo. In official environments (briefings, trade centre, etc.) would become “ELEMENT0” (to fit into the character space of “ENDURIUM”), and in more conversational/informal settings (convos, discovered logs and the like) it would be replaced with “EEZO”, in keeping with Mass Effect usage. So I searched the ROM and updated as necessary, and loaded it up to see the change.

I’d forgotten about the “+”, which seems to have persisted. On the upside, this means I can replace “ENDURIUM” with “ELEMENT-“, and if I can replace the “+” with a “0”, it will eventually read as “ELEMENT-0”. However it was only ever showing as “ENDURIUM” in the ROM. Tracking down where the “+” comes from will be a greater challenge, as that lone character appears a lot in the code.

That’s slowed me down somewhat, so I’m going on a trial & error fishing expedition for this elusive punctuation mark!

The Crab Claw Cluster – Summary of Systems

As I have been playing a game of Classic Traveller solo, the adventure has been heating up! In advance of my first (lengthy) post on this, I am preparing a few bits of background around the “Coalition Of Systems” setting that I have devised. In the coming days/weeks, I’ll go into more detail, but here is summary of the subsector I’ve started with. In most cases, this is as much as I know about the worlds, but more is becoming clear with each play session.

S, N, or GG after the UPP indicates presence of scout bases, naval bases, and gas giants respectively. I haven’t included the trade categories in this, as my setting doesn’t stick to them as religiously as it perhaps should. Apologies, Traveller purists!

Hit the jump below for a breakdown of the sector

 
 
Crab Claw Cluster Subsector Map

Continue reading “The Crab Claw Cluster – Summary of Systems”

If it bleeds, we can kill it

Finished up my predators the other day (one in stealth mode). I went too heavy with too dark a wash, took forever to bring  any life back to this mini.
My 15mm AvP skirmish set is nearing completion though! The Marines are well underway, including an APC converted from a 99p shop toy firetruck. I just wish I’d taken some in progress pics, ah well.

Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

So I painted up some Xenos this week. I apologize for the photo, that much black doesn’t play well with my potato cam skills.
But these are some Khurusan “space demon” minis, with a judicious bit of greenstuff to round out their heads. Now to get some good marines for a nice Aliens set. Also going to make some greenstuff eggs as objective markers… But my sculpting needs more practice first!
***UPDATE***
I recently got a phone with a much better camera, so enjoy some nicer pictures. There are details now!

Space Lizards!

I finished a squad of Saurians from 15mm.co.uk, and I’m happy with how they came out. The white and yellow spacesuit colours contrast nicely with the green skin. And my highlighting blends nice and naturally, although its not very prominent. I’ve kept the same basing technique as well, so they match my previous squad nicely.
The only thing I need to change is how I do weapons, as I don’t think they look as good as the rest of the model.
Now I have 2 squads, its time to make some nice terrain, and play some 5 parsecs!
Apologies for the crappy pics, I’m working on a ghetto lightbox at the moment!

The Crab Claw Cluster

I have finished rolling up a subsector for the solo Traveller game I’m going to be playing. So I introduce the Crab Claw Cluster, a group of systems on the coreward & spinward edge of Coalition space.

Along with this map (made using the excellent free version of Hexographer), I have also rolled up all the solar systems, and written a short paragraph on each of them – which I’ll likely be sharing in the future.

This sector is a springboard for my Traveller AU – which is very similar in structure to the Third Imperium setting, just with Alien races being a little rarer. Again, I’ll likely explain my setting in more detail later.

As for mapping, does anybody know of any good software for making a solar system map? For the heavily visited worlds I’ll likely use the advanced system generation rules from Book 6 Scouts, but would like a good way to present it… Feel free to comment if you have any ideas!

Complete Squad and more

Happy with how my 5 test models from the SMAT Battle Squad came out, I sat down and painted the rest the same way. I’m more than happy with how the basin came out… Its supposed to be a lunar/asteroid type surface which I sculpted in green stuff, and I think it came our just right. These 12 guys will make wonderful generic goons for vacuum/thin atmosphere scenarios. Or just as general armour!
I also made a bit of terrain – a little fence made from green stuff and coffee stirrers, and some ISO shipping containers. These were some papercraft designs I printed on photo paper, then folded up. Although originally for 28mm, a little resize before printing did wonders. I found them at TopoSolitario – he has a few more designs there, I may try and adapt more for 15mm.

Tabletop has grabbed me again

Hello, I’m Category, and I recently started getting back into tabletop gaming after many years away. I’ll mostly be posting my 15mm minis I’ve painted, terrain I’ve made, and reports from my solo RPG sessions. Expect almost all of it to be in a sci-fi vein!
The systems I am currently using are Five Core/Five Parsecs From Home for tabletop skirmish battles, Classic Traveller for my RPGs, and Mythic GME running them.
So to kick things off, here are the first 15mm minis I’ve ever painted. They are from “SMAT Battle Armour” from 15mm.co.uk. I think I did well for a first try… I hope to improve though.

Suited and Booted N7-style

After finally getting all my notes tied together and indexed, I decided it was time for a bit more graphical tweaking. Tonight. I have attempted to recreate the N7 armour in the starbase.

I booted up RegenD, and went to the starbase, to be greeted by this happy little astronaut:-

Using RegenD’s VDP debugger, I was able to find out that this guy is actually 2 different sprites (legs and body), both using palette 1. Luckily, these are the only 2 sprites on-screen that use this palette. The first thing I noticed is that this palette has all the colours I need:-

A black, a nice deep red, and plenty of extra greys for shading. In theory, I could just recolour and tweak the original guy, and not risk breaking any other colours elsewhere!

So I knocked up a TLP palette file, loaded the ROM up, and tried to find the actual tiles that made this man… And I couldn’t. I couldn’t see a single one of them. This could be either

  • The tiles are stored at a strange offset. I tried offsetting the ROM in TileLayerPro, but I still couldn’t find them – although I didn’t try every possible offset. Or it could be
  • The tiles that make this guy up are compressed.

I fear it may be the latter. I dumped the VRAM during this scene, located one of the tiles (I think, not 100% on how VRAM is laid out), and searched for the hex in the main ROM – no results found. With the games title, font, and doorway graphics, they were quite visible in TileLayerPro when I had the right palette assigned, even if they were offset. As I could see nothing similar to this guy, but lots of “junk” tiles, I get the feeling he is compressed.

So I went for the second option to make him look like an N7 agent – hacking the palette directly. I pulled the palette from CRAM, reversed the endian-ness (sp? word?), and searched for it in the main game ROM. I got a single exact match on the first attempt – that must be the palette data. I made a little change to one of the colours, loaded it up, and one of the colours was now different! Success!

I started tweaking some of the palette, and it started looking pretty good – here is what the palette changed to:-

Changed the greys, made one of them red, tweaked a black to make the visor stand out. Lots of little changes took quite a while, as I was changing the hex by hand, and reloading the ROM each time to see what it looked like. After almost an hour, I got this little guy:-

I personally think he looks pretty badass! He definitely wouldn’t look out of place on the SSV Normandy. I’d still like to track down the tile data, to alter a few little things (the colour of the backpack, the fact he now has a grey outline, and a few embellishments), but for now he looks good enough.

At this point, I kind of freaked out though. “Oh no!” I said to myself, “what if that palette is used elsewhere in the game?!?!?!” – that could be a mighty problem. But I had a little play around, and for the starbase, external ship flight, and landing on planets, that palette never seems to get reused, so I may be in the clear.

So in the end, I’m 80% happy – the remaining 20% just gives me more motivation to get GensTracer working, so I can find the damn tiles…

Looking good, hanging in the space-hood:-