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Making Cradle 3+ fully compatible with the Apolyton Edition

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  • #16
    At this stage of it's existence, CtP2 is a 20 year old game with a limited following, but even to this day, you can read posts around the Internet (reddit, GoG forums, etc) from folks who are still nostalgic about the game. In particular, they recall the interesting way in which CtP1 portrayed future units like the "TV-Head" evangelist or BureauBert and his traveling corporate desk. The craziest looking units were those from CtP1, but because most of those sprites don't have the Idle Animation (as I discuss in this thread), their motion is truncated, and even when brought into CtP2 (as many mods have done), they are just shadows of their formerly interesting selves.

    It's paradoxical I suppose, that while working on the Cradle mod - heavily focused on the Ancient World - I began to miss those fascinating old units. And so, one-by-one, I've been deconstructing and rebuilding many of those sprites in order to restore their full animation. And they WILL have a place in Cradle. Remember, Cradle still has most of the CtP future techs, and thus there's plenty of room to fit them into the late game, even though - realistically - many games won't make it that far into the future.

    But who knows, maybe some of these reinvigorated future sprites might find their way into other mods and regardless it's gratifying to see them functioning as they once did. For example, the "Subneural Ad" is a blimp-like unit that carries full-motion advertising panels on it's sides. Those panels were condemned to a dark, unchanging appearance, but not any more (Edit: Gah! That's a small gif showing the SubNeural Ad unit in motion, but apparently the motion part doesn't work for embedded files): Click image for larger version  Name:	SubNeural Ad.gif Views:	1 Size:	41.0 KB ID:	9439696
    Last edited by Kull; June 3, 2022, 12:05.
    To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

    From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

    Comment


    • #17
      By today's graphical standards, it's almost laughable to rave about the "interesting animation" of CtP1 sprites, but they had motion and a 3D appearance and were a vast improvement over the comparable units in their closest gaming competitor, Civ2. So don't laugh (too hard, anyway), as this next attachment shows one of several "advertising displays" that rotate across the panel as the subNeural Ad moves from place to place: Click image for larger version

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      To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

      From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

      Comment


      • #18
        Natural Wonders: Speaking of "eye candy", there's an old mod which adds seven "Natural Wonders" to the map, and - as with the slic code that deploys "Visible Wonders" - there can never be more than one of each anywhere on the map. These include the Urgup Cones (Turkey), Guillin Hills (China), Lake Baikal (Russia), Ayers Rock (Australia), Great Barrier Reef (Australia) and a generic Waterfall and Canyon.

        I studied the way in which this mini-mod was incorporated into the "Modern Times" mod and was able to get it working in Cradle 3+. However, it was disappointing to find that not all of them would necessarily appear on the map, and some didn't look so great even when they did. So I played around with the slic code and made the following fixes:

        - Lake Baikal: It was appearing in plains hexes, but the reality is that Baikal is noteworthy for it's high altitude and mountainous surroundings. So now it appears in the middle of a mountain range, and the effect is much more dramatic (see attachment).

        - Great Barrier Reef: These are generated on existing Reef tiles, but - for whatever reason - the map generation code does a poor job of adding Reef tiles to the map (by contrast kelp is everywhere), so this Wonder was rather rare. I altered the code by adding a conversion of some Kelp tiles to Reef, so not only does this wonder always appear, but there's now a lot more reef tiles on the map, many of which add visual diversity to the ubiquitous "kelp gardens".

        - Ayers Rock: It wasn't uncommon for the code to deploy this graphic on a shoreline tile, which was an ugly look since the "Rock" would hang out into the neighboring beach tile. And besides, it's an inland Wonder anyway. The code has been fixed to eliminate shoreline appearances.

        - The Falls: The code ensured they could only be built on hill tiles at the beginning of a river system, which made their appearance very rare. But the fact is that most waterfalls appear somewhere along the course of a waterway, so I added code to that effect and now this Wonder is much more common.

        More generically, I added code to keep all the land wonders (except the Waterfall) from appearing on River tiles (an ugly look), nor do they share tiles with Goods (another ugly look) plus they can no longer be pillaged and you can't build other tile improvements on top of them (which effectively wiped them off the map). Click image for larger version  Name:	Lake Baikal.JPG Views:	1 Size:	45.0 KB ID:	9439701
        To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

        From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

        Comment


        • #19
          "Belfroi" unit: The Great Library, the Sprite, and the 2D unit pix portray this as an early form of catapult, but the name actually is that of a siege tower. And even if the graphics were correct, "city siege" isn't a feature in CtP2, so there's no point in having a "Belfroi" unit. Hex undoubtedly recognized the problem, since Cradle4 changed the graphics to show a Ballista (a device which hurls a giant arrow-like weapon at walls and men), but the unit name and text descriptions were not updated to match. However, a complete shift from Belfroi to Ballista (name, GL, pix, and sprite) is included with Cradle 3+
          To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

          From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

          Comment


          • #20
            Tile Improvement Sounds: Another nice addition from the source code team was giving tileimp.txt the ability to associate sound directly with tile improvements (the 5th line of text for every entry). Previously sounds were completely omitted from this aspect of the game, but Martin G√ľhmann added slic code (soundfix.slc) which worked around the issue. However, the Cradle3+ conversion moves all those sound links directly into tileimp.txt, so the slic file is no longer required.

            As part of that effort, I also added a lot of new sound files, primarily for Goods. So you get alligator grunts, camel snorts, a less-ear piercing elephant screech, and actual recordings of sea creature sounds from lobsters, whales, and mollusks. I also made a few changes to the mineral and vegetable Goods, but there's not a lot one can do with those (what DOES a potato sound like?) Along the way, I noticed that construction sounds were absent from Watch Towers and Stone Roads, so those were added as well.
            To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

            From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

            Comment


            • #21
              City Sprites: The source code project increased the number of city sprite slots to 255 (from 200), so let's see how they are being used in Cradle. First of all, Cradle still uses the "original" set of CtP2 sprites, not that one has many choices. There is a sub-mod which created new ones from Civ3 - which theoretically gives more stylistic variation - but to me they are a bit "muddy" in appearance and not as clearly distinctive from one civ to another. That said, there's a pretty limited number of original-style sprite groups in CtP2: Roman, Asian, Mayan, Arabian, Egyptian, and Castle. There's a seventh group called "Palace", but it has garish green roofs and the architecture begins in late Middle Ages (thus not usable in Cradle). On the plus side, BureauBert created a full set of sub-saharan African city sprites which fit this stylistic look, and so I'll be adding those for Kush and Zulu in Cradle 3+ (see attached example).

              Which brings us back to the original point - availability of Sprite slots. The 8 City Styles mentioned above use 19 sprites each, plus there's quite a few reserved for Computer, Genetic, Diamond, and Future ages, along with another three groups for underwater and space cities. Accounting for duplicates and the 19 assigned to the new "African" group, that leaves 39 open slots (even without using those assigned to things like CtP1 "space cities"), which is enough for two more City styles (at 19 slots each). That's important, because 8 of 33 Cradle civs are "ancient Near Eastern" in culture, and there isn't a single city style which is even remotely appropriate for them. "Arabian" Babylonians or "Mayan" Sumerians is something I tolerated over time because the mod is so much fun, but it's definitely a problem (The good news: I'll preview a solution in an upcoming post).

              Related to all this is the conversion of "civilisation.txt" over to the new AE format. It offers a number of benefits, to include assigning the city styles discussed above, adds the ability to link a female emissary photo (or use national flags in the diplomatic window), and even allows for assigning a flag to the "on-map" unit sprite stacks. The latter is not implemented in Cradle (IMO, flags aren't appropriate for the era), but I've left the text in place. Here's one example: # NationUnitFlag MAPICON_GREEK_FLAG. For those who may want nation flags, simply delete the "#" at the start of the line and they'll appear in game. Click image for larger version

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              To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

              From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

              Comment


              • #22
                Civilian Unit Groups: While working on the new Unit Upgrade system (as described in Post #9) - and remembering some of my previous Cradle games that lasted well into the modern era - I decided to take a comprehensive look at the various Civilian units in Cradle. The biggest issue being the prolongation of Ancient-appearance units well into future ages, and some questionable upgrade paths. Let's take a look at each group, by category:

                Abolitionist: There's only one unit for this function, but given the timing and history of the abolition movement (and lack of ancient era equivalents), along with the "same period" end of Slavery as a CtP2 institution, well, no change is needed.

                Slaver: Again, a single specialized unit for this role, but the CtP2 sprite is appropriately garbed for the early era periods. Theoretically the CtP1 "red-shirted fat guy" could be added as an Industrial-era upgrade, but it would only exist for a short period. So *maybe* that might be done at some point, but definitely not on the priority list.

                Nomad: The unit which creates new Ctp2 cities. Four units in Cradle (Nomad, Settler, Urban Planner on land & Sea Engineer for water cities). The "Settler" sprite has been repurposed as "Plunder", with the Nomad sprite doing double duty (there isn't really a good alternative), but otherwise fine. However, I will knit the three land units together using the Unit Upgrade system.

                Assassin: A Cradle unit which repurposes some of the CtP legal attacks in order to target Wonder Units, City Governors and various other civilian units. Ingenious, really, but the sprite is the CtP1 Hypaspist, and it never upgrades (although unbuildable after the discovery of Communism). So it lingers on, well into the modern and future eras. A candidate for improvement, which I'll discuss in a separate post.

                Emissary: An interesting Cradle unit which repurposes some of the CtP commercial attacks in an Ancient-era fashion. First available under City State, it is eternally buildable (so you have an ancient Greek wandering around carrying a scroll, into the modern Era and beyond), but fortunately there's a clear upgrade path to the Commercial line of civilian units. Another unit series to be examined in detail.

                Clerics: Cradle has four units of this type (Prophet, Cleric, Patriarch, and Televangelist), so there's a lot we can do. To be examined later.

                Spy: The first unit arrives with Republic, and the upgrade path moves from there to Communism (Revolutionary) and eventually to Neural Interface (Cyber Ninja). There are some issues (and opportunities) with that, also to be discussed in an upcoming post.

                Lawyer: One modern-era unit. Never expires. More can be done.

                Diplomat: The toga-clad diplomat arrives with the Dynasty advance, and lasts all the way until his replacement (Empathic Diplomat) becomes available with Gene Therapy. There's a big gap in the middle which needs to be addressed.

                So that's the group, and it isn't small!
                To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                Comment


                • #23
                  Diplomats: As indicated above, there's a long period of time between the appearance of the diplomat and his replacement in the "Genetic Age". As a solution, we'll use the blue-suited CtP1 Lawyer, name it the Ambassador, and make him available with the "Age of Reason". That's a tad bit early for his clothing, but it's far better than a toga-clad scroll bearer! The sprite did not have the Idle animation, but I was able to deconstruct the sprite (212 images) and added a custom animation in which he appears to be looking at his watch (see attached). In addition, the Diplomat, Ambassador, and Empathic Diplomat are all linked together in the Unit Upgrade system. Click image for larger version  Name:	Ambassador checks watch.JPG Views:	1 Size:	12.4 KB ID:	9440005
                  Last edited by Kull; June 10, 2022, 20:32.
                  To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                  From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Clerics: The existing Cradle system remains, but it's been tweaked just a bit. You start with the Prophet (Polytheism) who upgrades to the Cleric (Christianity) and ultimately to the Televangelist (Mass Media). There's an additional unit, the Patriarch, which uses the CtP2 Televangelist sprite and cannot be built, but is granted via Slic as a reward for building certain wonders. All of that is fine, but there are two problems:

                    1) The Televangelist and Patriarch shared the same sprite.

                    2) The Televangelist was defined as a "GovernmentType" unit, meaning that it could only be built if you had the "Democracy" government, AND it would disband if the government changed.

                    The second issue is the big problem, since it effectively eliminates religious units from the late game, so Cradle3+ has removed the gov-type linkage. In addition, I used my "sprite-fu" to disassemble the CtP1 Televangelist ("TV-head guy") and gave it a token Idle animation, so the unit now leans forward as intended when it zooms around the map (see attachment). Click image for larger version

Name:	Flying Televangelist.JPG
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ID:	9440011 And yes, that sprite and all the associated 2D unit pix have now been added to the game.
                    To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                    From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Lawyers: The first purely legal unit, the Lawyer appears with "Criminal Code" which is a very late arrival indeed, since lawyers certainly existed all the way back to Ancient times. However, even in a modern context, it's a late advance since it has the "Mass Media" pre-req, which puts it on the verge of the Computer Age. My solution was to make some small adjustments to the Tech Tree and to add a pair of new units:

                      1) Add a new advance between Age of Reason and Democracy (after all, most of the modern democratic systems of government were started by lawyers!), but continue to call it "Criminal Code". This allows you to build the black-suited CtP2 Lawyer unit at the beginning - not the end - of the modern era.

                      2) The advance previously called "Criminal Code" remains in place, and is renamed "Legal System". This provides you with a new, slightly improved unit called Legal Team, which is the repurposed 3-person Corporate Branch (more on that replacement later), meaning that the sprite and all the 2D unit pix already exist.

                      3) Lastly a third unit - the Cyber Attorney - appears with the discovery of "Digital Encryption", and carries on through the end of the game. The backstory here is the female CtP1 Cyber Ninja was replaced in CtP2 by a robot. Both sprites have fantastic animations (especially for the era), and it seemed a shame that only one could remain. The old sprite did not have the Idle animation, with all the negatives that entails, plus it used an electronic sword in all the animations, thus limiting it's utility as a civilian unit. When deconstructed, there were 740 individual images, far more than any unit I'd worked on previously. The unit had both an "Attack" animation (250 images) and a "Work" animation (380 images), the latter - fortunately - involving non-violent cyber interactions. There was still the matter of the electronic sword, so I individually edited the blade out of 490 files (the old "Attack animation has been removed), and what remains is a unit wielding a boom-box-like device which projects 3D animations of a revolving head. In fact, I took a subset of the Work animation and wove an interesting Idle from it (see attached). Truth be told, Cradle does not NEED this unit, but it was a real challenge to re-invent Click image for larger version  Name:	Cyber Attorney.JPG Views:	1 Size:	9.8 KB ID:	9440015 , and I think Cradle 3+ is just a little bit better because its there.
                      To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                      From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Emissary (Commercial): The Trade Emissary (renamed to help clarify its true function) uses CtP commercial mechanisms (Advertise & Franchise) in an Ancient-era fashion, but the unit never upgrades or becomes obsolete. And really it should, because its capabilities are identical to those of the existing Corporate Branch and the newly added SubNeural Ad (see post #16 above). So I've done a few things to clean this up:

                        1) The Trade Emissary uses the former CtP1 Diplomat sprite, which is perfect for the era, but like so many CtP1 sprites, did not display any movement due to the missing Idle animation. I deconstructed the sprite (170 images) and added a custom Idle animation in which the emissary fiddles around with his scroll.

                        2) Since the 3-person Corporate Branch sprite is now used by the new Legal Team unit, that opened the door for the return of "Bureau Bert" and his traveling desk. Yet another CtP1 sprite that needed an Idle animation. Which it now has, allowing him to relax with his feet up on that desk (see attached), as in days of old!

                        3) Lastly, all three commercial units are now linked together in the Unit Upgrade system. Click image for larger version

Name:	Bureau Bert.JPG
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                        To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                        From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Missing "Concept" text: While fiddling around with the various types of entries in the Great Library, I noticed there wasn't a "Concept" text entry for ANY of the ten "Ages". The entries existed in the GL, as well as the other affiliated text files: Concepts.txt, Gl_str.txt and Uniticons.txt. All of them looked correct, and a cursory comparison with the base files in the Apolyton Edition didn't identify any differences. Yet the AE entries DID have text in the base game....so why not in Cradle? I stared at those for hours before it finally hit me:

                          - Every "Concept" entry in the Great Library has only two parts, first a CONCEPT_*_GAMEPLAY and second a CONCEPT_*_HISTORICAL
                          - All the other entries put their descriptive text in the "Gameplay" section, and in Cradle (but not AE) that was true for the "AGE" entries as well.
                          - The problem is the game (for whatever reason) wants to see all the text in the "Historical" section - but ONLY for this one type of concept!

                          So I moved all ten text entries from one section to the other, and...voila...problem solved. This is the kind of thing that makes you want to scream, lol.
                          To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                          From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Assassins: Cradle has re-purposed the CtP1 Hypaspist as an Ancient-era Assassin, available with the discovery of "City State". It uses CtP legal attacks in order to target Wonder Units, City Governors and a number of civilian units, but it never upgrades or becomes obsolete, so the mid-to-late game appearance is anachronistic. The artist who worked on this unit did a great job (it's much more detailed and active than the CtP2 Hypaspist), but - as usual for CtP1 units - it had no Idle and thus no movement. That has been fixed!

                            As to the lack of upgrades, a modder named "Solarius Scorch" created a nice looking, modern-era female assassin sprite with good animations, but, again, no Idle. I killed two birds with one stone by re-building the sprite and providing it a custom Idle animation in which the unit covers herself with a black cloak whenever she stops moving. The result is something of an "Assassin's Creed" appearance (see attachment), and thus it can plausibly appear earlier in the game. As the Poisoner, this new unit now replaces the Assassin with the discovery of "Monarchy", and never upgrades - her mix of modern-medieval works well enough that she can stay active until the end. Click image for larger version

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                            To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                            From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Spies: There are three units filling this role in Cradle, but it does need some tweaking, plus there are opportunities for improvement:

                              1) The Spy is a custom made, purple-caped ancient-era unit unit, first available with the discovery of "Republic". Unfortunately, like most of the Tom Davies (Morgoth) units, this one did not have an Idle animation. But it does now!

                              2) There's a long gap between the Spy and it's modern-era successor, but fortunately Morgoth created a lovely Medieval-era spy, which we can co-opt and insert into Cradle 3+beginning with "Feudalism". The new King's Eye (see attachment) was also lacking an Idle animation, but I've added one here as well.

                              3) The next unit in the upgrade sequence is the "Revolutionary" who becomes available with "Communism". This is the trench-coated CtP2 Spy, and the only concern is with the unit name. "Revolutionary" is fine as a Communist unit, but it's available to all Govs and thus we'll re-name it as the Secret Agent. No animation issues here.

                              4) The final unit is the Cyber Ninja, and no changes are necessary. A good-looking, fully animated CtP2 unit that appears with "Neural Interface".

                              In closing, the Spy, King's Eye, Secret Agent, and Cyber Ninja have all been linked together in the Unit Upgrade system.

                              That completes the civilian unit groups listed in Post #22, so it's time to start looking at the military! Click image for larger version

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                              To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                              From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Mesopotamian City Sprites: Before we get into a discussion on "Military Units" (which is a BIG TOPIC), let's follow up on some comments I made earlier on the subject of City Sprites. Post #21 announced the inclusion of BureauBert's lovely African Cities, and I mentioned the lack of Ancient Near Eastern cities. The "Arabian" style used by Babylon or Assyria isn't remotely accurate as a depiction of their ancient "look", and all the other options are culturally inappropriate. Accordingly, I've been working on a full set of Mesopotamian Cities and let's just say that was a project all by itself (see attached). I'm pretty happy with the result, but am not looking forward to creating another full set...and that got me thinking (always a dangerous proposition, lol).

                                Even with my efforts to improve the look of the "late game", the fact is that Cradle's primary focus is the Ancient Era. And in that regard, there are only 3 of 19 city sprites which are used during the Ancient and Classical eras (i.e. up to the Dark Ages). Another reality is that by the time the game enters the Middle Ages, many of the starting civs have been winnowed down to a much smaller group. So while 6 (now 8) city styles is terribly repetitive in a game with 16-20 starting civs, it's less of a problem when many of those have been wiped out and only half or less remain.

                                So that is going to be the focus of any future city sprite work. For example a style with large palaces instead of ziggurats for Hittites and Phoenicia, or the Palace of Knossos as a central feature for the Minoans, Temple of Solomon for the Hebrews, Cahokia for the Native Americans, maybe even the Parthenon for the Greeks. Again, only three sprites each, after which - come the Middle Ages - they'll merge into another city style such as the Arabs and Romans. For almost as much effort as it took to build a "start-to-finish" style for the Mesopotamians, we could have SIX specialized ancient city styles. Which would look pretty cool. Click image for larger version  Name:	Mesopotamian City Sprites.JPG Views:	2 Size:	109.1 KB ID:	9440433
                                To La Fayette, as fine a gentleman as ever trod the Halls of Apolyton

                                From what I understand of that Civ game of yours, it's all about launching one's own spaceship before the others do. So this is no big news after all: my father just beat you all to the stars once more. - Philippe Baise

                                Comment

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