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The Force Engine  "XL Engine Lives Again"

User is offline   Lunick 

  • Snazzy Ex Tazzy

#1

Lucius is back with reverse engineering Dark Forces but this time is sticking to Jedi Engine games only.

https://theforceengine.github.io/

About:
The Force Engine is a project to reverse engineer and rebuild the Jedi Engine for modern systems and the games that used that engine - Dark Forces and Outlaws. The project includes modern, built-in tools, such as a level editor and makes it easy to play Dark Forces and Outlaws on modern systems as well as the many community mods designed to work with the original games.

Playing Dark Forces or Outlaws using the Force Engine adds ease of use and modern features such as higher resolutions and modern control schemes such as mouse-look. Using the built-in tools allows for easier modding with more modern UI, greater flexibility and the ability to use enhancements made to the Jedi Engine for Outlaws in custom Dark Forces levels - such as slopes, stacked sectors, per-sector color maps and more.
10

User is offline   NightFright 

  • The Truth is in here

#2

Phew! I was afraid we would never see anything of that guy ever again. Hopefully this means we may get a proper DF port after all!
0

User is online   MusicallyInspired 

  • The Sarien Encounter

#3

Excellent! Dark Forces (and Outlaws) is in dire need of a good source port!
2

User is offline   luciusDXL 

#4

Thanks, Lunick, for posting about this. ;)

The project is still in a pre-release state but there is a build available on the website - though it is limited to Win64 at the moment. Currently, all of the base levels are completable, even though the AI is still not functioning - outside of standing around waiting to be shot and dropping needed items to complete the level. But even in this early stage, the project is already more accurate and complete than DarkXL in a few ways - such as much more accurate INF and rendering. That said the engine is still incomplete and missing some elements, such as iMuse and AI and the player control/collision is not yet DOS accurate. And finally, only Dark Forces can be played at the moment.

The Roadmap talks about when full releases are planned and roughly when features are expected to become available, such as Outlaws support, game completion, multiplayer, etc.
10

User is online   Ninety-Six 

#5

I was worried we'd never see a proper source port for DF. Glad to see that the project, even if reborn, is ongoing.
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User is online   Phredreeke 

#6

Please don't get sidetracked by adding more games ;)
Featurewise, how does Jedi Engine compare to Build? I know it supported 3D models which were only added to Build in the hardware renderers.
1

User is offline   luciusDXL 

#7

View PostPhredreeke, on 20 May 2020 - 04:33 PM, said:

Please don't get sidetracked by adding more games ;)
Featurewise, how does Jedi Engine compare to Build? I know it supported 3D models which were only added to Build in the hardware renderers.

They are pretty similar in some ways. The core concept - each sector is self-contained and connected to other sectors through portals ("adjoin" in Jedi). In some ways it was more flexible - using a simple scripting system - "INF" - you can get a lot of custom behaviors. In some ways it was less flexible, per-sector colormaps weren't added until Outlaws, for example. Similar to build sectors can rotate and move horizontally. In addition, there is a 'second height' for sectors that acted as a ceiling if below and floor if above (unless it is below the floor, in which case it acts like water). Anyway, 3D models + second height allows for 3D bridges to be used with collision. And with INF you can even move the bridge/second height independently of the floor and ceiling, allowing for your 3D bridges to become elevators. Anyway, there are more differences, of course, but Jedi is much more similar to Build than to Doom in terms of engine capabilities.

The biggest missing element from Jedi for Dark Forces was slopes and rotatable floor textures but these features (and many others) were added to the engine for Outlaws. Interestingly Outlaws added dual adjoins (1 adjoin links to two sectors instead of 1) and vertical adjoins (which link sectors through the floor/ceiling) among several other interesting features.
3

User is online   Ninety-Six 

#8

I never knew the Jedi engine was that advanced. Though granted, I only ever played DF. Outlaws was always hard for me to get a hold of so I never saw its advancements.
0

User is online   MusicallyInspired 

  • The Sarien Encounter

#9

I used to love playing the Outlaws demo when I was a kid. However, by the time I finally found the game in a jewel case bargain rack, I never did play through it! I started it but never finished. I'll have to rectify that now!

Did Jedi support sector over sector like Build does? (ie- not visible to eachother, impossible hallways, etc)
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User is offline   luciusDXL 

#10

View PostMusicallyInspired, on 20 May 2020 - 07:54 PM, said:

I used to love playing the Outlaws demo when I was a kid. However, by the time I finally found the game in a jewel case bargain rack, I never did play through it! I started it but never finished. I'll have to rectify that now!

Did Jedi support sector over sector like Build does? (ie- not visible to eachother, impossible hallways, etc)

Yes. With INF you can even dynamically change which sector a wall is adjoined to, so you can have an elevator that travels between levels, changing the connecting sector on the way and opening up on new floors.

You can do spiral staircases, travel into one room just to have a different room going back, etc. - all the fun stuff you can do with Build. Then you can hit a switch and change which sectors are connected, etc.. ;) With Outlaws you get room-over-room built into the engine - it's used everywhere to make furniture like tables, shelves, 3d railings, etc. out of sectors. Vertical adjoins are an easy way of getting swimmable water without teleports (which is transparent in the hardware version of the Outlaws renderer).

Sorry, one more edit - because sectors were routinely layered on top of each other in Dark Forces, sectors were assigned to layers and only the current layer was shown on the automap. These same layers are used by The Force Engine level editor to make editing layered sectors easier. So sectors on top of sectors was used quite a bit in some levels.

It is a shame the Jedi Engine wasn't used in more games, it was very advanced for the time.

This post has been edited by luciusDXL: 20 May 2020 - 08:24 PM

2

User is offline   luciusDXL 

#11

For example, here is the Detention Center. You can see the sectors in the current layer in white and lower layers in darker and darker shades of cyan. There are 5 floors total stacked on top of each other and two elevators. These elevators change the door adjoins as they travel between floors, allowing you to ride between the various floors (only one is accessible directly on this floor, but you get the idea). You can see why multiple layers are used when showing this information to the player, otherwise, it would just be a mess of overlapping lines.

https://github.com/TheForceEngine/TheForceEngine.github.io/blob/master/screenshots/LevelEditor_DetentionCenter.jpg?raw=true

This post has been edited by luciusDXL: 20 May 2020 - 08:34 PM

4

User is online   Ninety-Six 

#12

Man it's starting to look almost criminal how little this powerful engine actually got used...
1

User is online   MusicallyInspired 

  • The Sarien Encounter

#13

I'm really interested to try mapping for this thing!
0

User is online   Phredreeke 

#14

Lucius, do you plan to implement palette emulation for the hardware shader?
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User is offline   luciusDXL 

#15

View PostPhredreeke, on 23 May 2020 - 04:20 PM, said:

Lucius, do you plan to implement palette emulation for the hardware shader?

For hardware there will be several options, based on how "modern" you want to be:

* 8-bit mode - this will act like 8-bit in software using shaders (palette emulation that you mentioned) and should look exactly like software rendering by default.
* 8-bit mode will also support bilinear/trilinear using manual filtering (at a performance cost).
* True color rendering (exactly what you expect) with or without color map emulation.
* Point sampling (i.e. crisp texels), bilinear/trilinear/anisotropic filtering, or "sharp bilinear" + anisotropic - this is basically "anti-aliased" point sampling up close and proper mipmapping at a distance.
* By default the hardware renderers will not use depth buffering except for 3D model rendering (to avoid having to sort arbitrary meshes), meaning you won't have sprite clipping issues that are normal for hardware renderers of sector engines like this.

There will also be a "Classic" software/hardware renderer and "Perspective" software/hardware renderer (proper perspective rendering without shearing when looking up and down).

All that said, right now only the "Classic" software renderer works in the current test builds.


And while I'm posting anyway, I put up an update last night:
=============================================================
Pre-Release Build Version 0.01.005; Win64 has been released.
Downloads

Changes:

  • PrintScreen will now take screenshots that will be saved in the /Documents/Screenshots/ folder.
  • The “Configure” menu option now opens up configuration menus.
  • Game paths can now be set in the application in the “Game” configuration menu.
  • A few graphics settings such as resolution, Fullscreen/windowed can be set in the Graphics menu. “Custom” is available as a resolution choice, which provides additional UI to manually set the desired resolution.
  • About tells you the Build version and provides useful links.



This is a minor "quality of life" update but a much larger update is coming in the next few weeks that will make the game rendering even more accurate, such as better light falloff in some levels. The coming renderer update will make the renderer functionally identical to the Dos version - including bugs (in 320x200 anyway) and add support for widescreen. There may be additional minor updates beforehand however.
4

User is online   Dzierzan 

#16

Nice. BTW speaking of future mod support. What do you actually have in mind? I mean what is supposed to be moddable? Let's say I'd love to make SmoothDarkForces mod, would weapon animations be configurable? Basically being able to add new frames and adjust their X and Y.
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User is offline   luciusDXL 

#17

View PostDzierzan, on 23 May 2020 - 11:47 PM, said:

Nice. BTW speaking of future mod support. What do you actually have in mind? I mean what is supposed to be moddable? Let's say I'd love to make SmoothDarkForces mod, would weapon animations be configurable? Basically being able to add new frames and adjust their X and Y.

Currently there are built-in tools, such as the level editor and various asset tools. Note that they are mostly just useful as viewers right now (though some minor editing is possible) but will be fully fleshed out in the future (see the roadmap for timeframes). In addition all of the weapons and AI are currently scripted (and will remain scripted, I plan on porting the DOS weapon/AI code to scripts with appropriate engine support of course), so you will be able to modify weapons or add new weapons and script their behaviors. You will also be able to modify or add new enemies or other AI agents. INF if sort of level scripting already, though somewhat limited so I will likely add "level scripts" to augment INF scripts at some point. You will also be able to create new cutscenes, mission briefings, sound effects, music (midi & ogg streaming), and all of the usual stuff as well.

You can see the scripts in the current build under the scripts/weapons and scripts/logics folders.

This post has been edited by luciusDXL: 24 May 2020 - 12:01 AM

4

User is online   MusicallyInspired 

  • The Sarien Encounter

#18

Can I make a ahead-of-time feature request for the observation of metadata loop tags in digital music formats? Currently, my SC-55 music packs for Duke3D, Doom, and others utilize a LOOP_START tag in samples to notate where a song will loop back to and a LOOP_END tag in samples where the song should jump back to LOOP_START.

I know that Dark Forces' music system is far more dynamic than most others (God bless iMUSE), but adding that extra functionality would make it all the sweeter. Perhaps there would even be room for other metadata tags to implement other features of some kind that the iMUSE system could link into somehow....just thinking out loud.
2

User is offline   luciusDXL 

#19

View PostMusicallyInspired, on 24 May 2020 - 06:40 PM, said:

Can I make a ahead-of-time feature request for the observation of metadata loop tags in digital music formats? Currently, my SC-55 music packs for Duke3D, Doom, and others utilize a LOOP_START tag in samples to notate where a song will loop back to and a LOOP_END tag in samples where the song should jump back to LOOP_START.

I know that Dark Forces' music system is far more dynamic than most others (God bless iMUSE), but adding that extra functionality would make it all the sweeter. Perhaps there would even be room for other metadata tags to implement other features of some kind that the iMUSE system could link into somehow....just thinking out loud.

That is a good observation and would fit in well with the midi player functionality already in place (and that needs to be finished for complete iMuse support). I can see something similar to digital iMuse working, though it would require a lot of work on the part of the sound author.
1

User is online   MusicallyInspired 

  • The Sarien Encounter

#20

View PostluciusDXL, on 24 May 2020 - 07:30 PM, said:

I can see something similar to digital iMuse working, though it would require a lot of work on the part of the sound author.


I'm up for it. ;)
0

#21

Thank you for this effort. Dark Forces was one of the very first PC games I've ever played, and it seriously deserves a modern way to be played.

I've also discovered the game Outlaws thanks to this project, so I have another game to check out now. Thanks and good luck with all this. I hope it finds a lot of success.
0

#22

Glad to see that someone's doing Outlaws. I don't particularly care one way or another if the games have mouse support, beat both on keyboard, but I certainly would like to see more maps for Outlaws.
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User is offline   HulkNukem 

#23

When I was around 7-8 years old, I went to Walmart and saw they had Duke 3D for sale. I had played the demo and liked it and when I had enough money from chores, my brother took me to get it. They were out of stock on it, and Shadow Warrior caught my eye as it looked so similar (younger me didn't know they were the same developer) while my brother showed me Outlaws.

I had to choose between the two, and my brother convinced me to get Outlaws instead of my original pick of Shadow Warrior (because thats how older brothers work). I remember not liking one of the screenshots on the box because how big and ugly the hand was holding the pistol (similar to this screenshot). He told me it only appears when fanning. I had no clue what the fuck that even meant.

While I really wanted Duke3D and Shadow Warrior was my second choice, I'm glad I ended up with Outlaws because its a legitimately underrated and obscure game that I may not have ever given the proper respect to give it a full playthrough had I not done it as a child; meanwhile I would definitely end up playing Duke and SW eventually anyways, so looking back, it was the best outcome. Plus, they probably weren't going to sell me Duke or SW anyways.

A sourceport to play it with an up to date engine is a dream come true.

This post has been edited by HulkNukem: 26 May 2020 - 03:56 PM

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User is offline   luciusDXL 

#24

View PostMorpheus Kitami, on 26 May 2020 - 03:40 PM, said:

Glad to see that someone's doing Outlaws. I don't particularly care one way or another if the games have mouse support, beat both on keyboard, but I certainly would like to see more maps for Outlaws.

The test build already has mouselook support (though keyboard controls also still work) - so no problem there. ;)

View PostHulkNukem, on 26 May 2020 - 03:52 PM, said:

When I was around 7-8 years old, I went to Walmart and saw they had Duke 3D for sale. I had played the demo and liked it and when I had enough money from chores, my brother took me to get it. They were out of stock on it, and Shadow Warrior caught my eye as it looked so similar (younger me didn't know they were the same developer) while my brother showed me Outlaws.

I had to choose between the two, and my brother convinced me to get Outlaws instead of my original pick of Shadow Warrior (because thats how older brothers work). I remember not liking one of the screenshots on the box because how big and ugly the hand was holding the pistol (similar to this screenshot). He told me it only appears when fanning. I had no clue what the fuck that even meant.

While I really wanted Duke3D and Shadow Warrior was my second choice, I'm glad I ended up with Outlaws because its a legitimately underrated and obscure game that I may not have ever given the proper respect to give it a full playthrough had I not done it as a child; meanwhile I would definitely end up playing Duke and SW eventually anyways, so looking back, it was the best outcome. Plus, they probably weren't going to sell me Duke or SW anyways.

A sourceport to play it with an up to date engine is a dream come true.

That was an interesting story, thanks for sharing. I can definitely see why Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior would seem more appealing than a Western-themed shooter, so it's good your older brother pushed you a bit there. :)
0

User is offline   axl 

#25

Just wanted to say thank you for doing this.

Outlaws is an amazing game and now that Shadow Warrior has been covered by VoidSW, Outlaws remains, in my opinion, the last excellent 2.5D FPS game that is in dire need of a proper source port. So many thanks !
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User is online   Phredreeke 

#26

Saturn Powerslave? - except it's kind of a reverse 2.5D in that the world is 3D but the enemies and objects are sprites.
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User is offline   axl 

#27

View PostPhredreeke, on 27 May 2020 - 01:31 AM, said:

Saturn Powerslave? - except it's kind of a reverse 2.5D in that the world is 3D but the enemies and objects are sprites.


True. Never played the saturn version, only PSX version back in the day. Great game : waiting on NDS for a proper remaster.
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User is offline   Radar 

#28

View Postaxl, on 26 May 2020 - 11:59 PM, said:

Outlaws is an amazing game and now that Shadow Warrior has been covered by VoidSW, Outlaws remains, in my opinion, the last excellent 2.5D FPS game that is in dire need of a proper source port.


Extreme Paintbrawl?
2

#29

View Postaxl, on 26 May 2020 - 11:59 PM, said:

Outlaws remains, in my opinion, the last excellent 2.5D FPS game that is in dire need of a proper source port. So many thanks !

I don't necessarily disagree, but Alien Trilogy, Damage Inc. and ZPC still exist, and still don't have modern day implementations. More a problem for ZPC, since you can't just run that through DOSbox.

This post has been edited by Morpheus Kitami: 27 May 2020 - 07:04 PM

0

User is online   Jimmy 

  • Let's go Brandon!

#30

View PostR A D A Я, on 27 May 2020 - 03:52 AM, said:

Extreme Paintbrawl?

I would think that Painbrawl wouldn't be far from 1.4/5 or Redneck Rampage, tech wise. Maybe Rednukem could support it in the future?
1

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