Title: Nat's Game Modifications
nattherat - May 16, 2009 02:11 PM (GMT)
As you may or may not know, I enjoy tinkering around with the Ace Lightning game's innards, primarily to see how it works, and secondarily to modify it. I've only had limited success so far, only being able to modify minor things like in-game text and music.
today, I had a marvelous break-though. After discovering that application yesterday, I got pretty determined to have another shot at trying something more adventurous with the game, and I've succeeded :D
Allow me to represent, the Ace Lightning Debug Mode. Debug, for anyone who doesn't know (which, I'm sure you all do know, but just in case) is something developers use whilst test-driving the game in order to find what is working and what isn't.
After lots and lots of trial and error, I've now been able to get the debug menu into the game. In addition to that, I've edited the debug menu itself to include the menus for the boxing sub-game, in an attempt to access it. The boxing sub-game is something I've mentioned I'm confused about before - there are references all over the game data, pointing to another mini-game that should exist within the game.
Debug Menu options:
Debug Camera - havent tried
Show Camera Co-ord - havent tried
Show Framerate - as it says
Show Stats - pretty interesting this one, displays the file names for things like the animation you're doing (walking/running/etc)
Show Interface - hides the health/lives/etc display
Collision Normals - not sure yet
Wire Frame - removes textures and the like from the level. Character and enemy models are left intact
AI Disabled - makes LF and all his minions freeze
PVS Information - doesn't seem to do anything right now, excect crash the game lol
Invincable Ace - enemies just run straight through you with this.
Infinite Ammo - this is a nice option lol
Hide Targets - as it says, gets rid of the coloured triangles above enemies
Here's a video of me testing it out in the Haunted House. This really only shows off the disable AI option, but I had great fun with it, just running around Lord Fear's place to my hearts content :lol:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuJxgnoOuL4
If you're interested, I can film more of this debug menu in action?
Also, feel free to use this thread to suggest things for me to find out about the video game :)
Staffhead - May 16, 2009 03:07 PM (GMT)
Wow, the graphics/visuals are a lot more impressive than I thought they would be.
nattherat - May 16, 2009 08:27 PM (GMT)
They are indeed, but I think that's something which lets the game down. You've seen the level of detail applied to the characters through my video, but when you're actually in-game, you really don't get to appreciate that. Everyone runs around so fast, you don't get to see them properly, and unfortunately, it's really only the characters that have that level of detail.
I'm back with another video - I stumbled upon this next thing quite by accident. I'd been editing which menu options come up in the pause menu again, and I'd forgotten to link it all properly - which means I found my way to a new menu with the option of selecting which level (or 'map') I wanted to go to. In addition to that, I demonstrate wireframe mode, turning the HUD and targets off, and disabling A.I. Plus I check out Lady Illusion's model, which was rather hard to capture at the right moment lol. She rarely comes anywhere near ground level in game, so it's not possible to view her model easily.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwzYDD_qlmQ
Rotgut - May 16, 2009 08:51 PM (GMT)
Nice work Natty. I'd love to see if you could somehow get Googler and Dirty Rat into there and have a boss fight against all the main six villains.
nattherat - May 16, 2009 09:35 PM (GMT)
Nigh-on impossible for me I'm afraid :D Not that I won't keep trying mind you!
To swap models, put models in, or take models out, would require me to be able to access the games actual map data, which is stored in these impossible .fbi, .pct, and .pak files, and even then, I'd have to hope I had the right 3D software and programming knowledge to do so. But hey, doing this is a big (and welcome) change from scribbling on paper all day.
I'll keep it in mind though :) If I ever manage to -really- open this game up, I'd love to stage a fight with all of them. Even better if I could get Random to help Ace beat up the bad guys!
OH BEFORE I FORGET;
If you've seen the credits of this game, or even just the intro cut-scene, you'll probably have noticed they bothered to create a 3D model for Sparx, even though she wasn't in the game. If the references to her just ended there, I would've assumed they weren't putting her in, but now I've found evidence to suggest that she WAS going to be in the game originally. In the game data, there's an A.I. file listing all the enemies in game, along with a large number of unused ones - and Sparx has an entry in the A.I. file, which is this;
'Sparx_Trainer # Name
100 # Hit Points
1 # Player Damage Per Shot
0 # Number of Power Ups
0 # Move Speed
0.3 # World Light Percentage
1.1 # Hand to Hand reach
1 # Min shots on fire
1 # Max shots on fire
0 # Shot Accuracy
2 # Back Off Time
0 # Walk Wibblyness Factor
0.5 # Shot Velocity'
Since she's labelled as 'trainer', and has one of the highest counts of HP (Lord Fear only has 40, and that's the highest out of things that appear in-game), I suspect she was going to be a tutorial character, probably teaching you combat.
However, I've not yet found any other references to her, so best not get your hopes up that somehow a fully playable Sparx will appear :lol:
Rotgut - May 16, 2009 09:50 PM (GMT)
ZOMG!!! :blink: Sparx was to be playable!
There's a list of enemies, used AND unused! Please put this list down! :nuts:
If they have official names, I'd love to have them - they'd be of great use to the Wiki.
nattherat - May 16, 2009 11:35 PM (GMT)
:D I thought you might like the Sparx news! If any more references to her pop up, I'll be sure to keep you posted!
One of the things that most intrigues me about the A.I. list, is that there appears to be a gang of eight ferrets. Yes, I kid you not. Eight ferrets, named after their most prominent feature. All-Fours Ferret, Upright Ferret, Sword Ferret, Mace Ferret, Axe Ferret, Armour Ferret, Glove Ferret, and Clown Ferret.
Doesn't that just sound fantastic lol, somewhere in the carnival, there's eight little ferrets, each specialising in something.
Easier said than done Rotgut! There are 1650 A.I. entries! I'm sure only about 100 enemies are used in-game. From what I can tell, pretty much all of your names for the enemies are correct. Which, to be honest, I'd thought originally that you had looked in the game files to find this too, your names were so accurate.
I'll compile a condensed list, that just has the names for you, and post it here :)
Staffhead - May 17, 2009 05:06 AM (GMT)
I'd just like to see all of the main characters/villians if possible. Not all on the same stage- perhaps the boss fights will do. And Random if he's in the game (it seems he is).
Rotgut - May 17, 2009 08:36 AM (GMT)
Random is in the game although he's only a boss character and more crazier than he is in the show.
Thank you, Natty!
nattherat - May 17, 2009 09:24 AM (GMT)
Haha, disregard my previous count of A.I. entries, I obviously seriously misread the count. After erasing everything except for the names, we're left with 126 entries. I've left them in the order they appear in the list.
There's some really interesting things in here, it seems there was meant to be a whole sub-game that was either a tutorial section, a sparring section, or perhaps even a 2-player section. This 'Boxing Game' has references to it all over the game data. All the A.I. data for it is complete and in here, along with free slots (perhaps for custom characters?), unlockable content is hinted at in the codes part of the data and it has working menus for it's title screens and pause screens. Unfortunately, the thing this game seems to be missing, is of course the most important thing, an actual map/level file to play it in.
In fact, the more I dig around in this game, the more I come to realise there's something really good hiding inside such an average game. I'm beginning to suspect that there were some really good ideas getting put in this game by the studio, and then either deadlines/BBC/whatever forced them to pretty much rush it to completion. There's loads of unfinished, but lovely ideas popping up, and I think it's such a shame they've all went to waste. If they'd seen it through, this game might have stood a chance at reaching the mainstream gamer.
Rotgut - May 17, 2009 01:30 PM (GMT)
Wow, thanks Natty - so if I can decipher these names...then we should officially have the following:
Clowns (with ferrets)
Nellie the Elephant
Robo the Clown
Rocky the Elephant
Trampoline Madman (would explain the weird look his face)
Ferret On All Fours
Ferrets Standing Upright
Jousting Male Yokel
Jousting Female Yokel
Gardener with Mower
And by the looks of it there were more fights with Googler and Dirty Rat originally.
nattherat - May 17, 2009 02:56 PM (GMT)
It's a confusing lot isn't it :lol:
Yes, it does look like battles were originally going to pan out for longer. I've started trying to help on the wiki by the way :) I've put up screens of some of the enemies from Googler's Big Top, in case you wanted to add them to a sort of gallery on that page or something.
Rotgut - May 17, 2009 05:23 PM (GMT)
Oh thanks Natty, I appreciate the help. Did you take the photos?
nattherat - May 17, 2009 06:44 PM (GMT)
I did indeed :) Disabling the A.I. makes for some great shots lol!
Rotgut - May 17, 2009 08:13 PM (GMT)
Would it be too much to ask if you could do the same for the other enemies too?
Staffhead - May 18, 2009 03:39 AM (GMT)
A gallery of all the characters?!
That would be great!!!
Shame Ace wasn't so popular it would be cool if they'd release special expansions to the game with new levels, characters and such. And if they expanded them into the show.
Thanks for all your hard work, Nat!
nattherat - May 18, 2009 06:47 AM (GMT)
I shall do my best Rotgut :D Though I can't promise anything just now, I'm right in the middle of final deadlines at college, and I'm procrastinating enough as it is :lol:
@Staffhead: Yeah, I think they were just in too much of a hurry to get as much merchandise out with the show, rather than making sure it could stand on its own well.
I am though, a step closer to getting into the games files. Last night, I managed to get halfway into those tricky .pak and .fbi files, and discovered the textures and animation files. I still can't get to them, but I think I know what programming I need to learn to really crack them open.
If it wasn't obvious by now, I'm aiming towards doing exactly that Staffhead - expanding it. Like I've said, there are some good design ideas hidden in here, and I'd really like to bring them out and add to them.
EDIT: I'd just like to add, I've just discovered a 'flying' animation for Lord Fear. Not his jumping one, that's seperate. Flying. I'm intrigued, and even more determined to get into these files now XD
Rotgut - May 18, 2009 08:46 AM (GMT)
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new Master Programmer.
Good luck with the deadlines.
Staffhead - May 18, 2009 10:49 AM (GMT)
I look forward to all the treats you have in store for us, Nat and all the very best with your deadlines.
nattherat - May 18, 2009 05:25 PM (GMT)
:D Thank you! I've just had a bit of luck today actually, in finding out one of those deadlines has been pushed back by just over a month, which leaves me with a bit of time for hobbies. I'm sure there's a fair few Ace Lightning drawings I'd like to catch up on ;)
I enjoy the title of Master Programmer, let's hope I can live up to that :P
Rotgut - May 18, 2009 05:58 PM (GMT)
We shall see! Mmmhmmmhmm...muahahahahaha! MWAAHAHHAHAHA! :nuts:
Staffhead - May 19, 2009 12:42 AM (GMT)
So when you bring Lord Fear out of the game, Nat, make him join the boards. Be interesting to hear what he and Staffhead have to say.
nattherat - May 22, 2009 11:11 AM (GMT)
I have a question for you Rotgut :D You remember the in-game enemies much better than I do - I've just filmed Climbcrag castle, and I'm confused. I could've sworn there were some great sorceress/witchy type enemies in there, are they PS2 exclusive, or have I just managed to somehow completely miss them?
Rotgut - May 22, 2009 12:39 PM (GMT)
The witches are only exclusive to the PS2 game which has two additional levels.
nattherat - May 22, 2009 09:42 PM (GMT)
Ahh, that explains it. How disappointing, I thought they were great - I would've loved to be able to see their models properly.
Actually I didn't realise there was enemy differences as well, I'd thought it was just the levels and graphics. Are there others that are exclusive to the PS2 version?
Rotgut - May 23, 2009 09:04 AM (GMT)
nattherat - July 15, 2009 08:25 PM (GMT)
These aren't game modifications, but I didn't feel they were worth starting a brand new topic for.
I've just finished filming every last cutscene (I think so anyway, please point out if I've missed one) from the PC game, and they can be found here;
Googler's Big Top cutscenes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqLKzMxrVfE
House of Illusion cutscenes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmwxPgtiOTQ
Cowboy Crossroad cutscenes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1oWnSfy_I8
Climbcrag Castle cutscenes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVn9zT1MknI
Haunted House cutscenes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdGRTV57smw
(music from the beginning of each is from the Gameboy Advance game)
Rotgut - July 15, 2009 09:56 PM (GMT)
Hooray - good work Natty! :nuts:
Staffhead - July 17, 2009 01:07 PM (GMT)
Excellent work, Nat!
Man, the voice acting and dialogue is painful at times. But it's cool to see how some connects to the show.
nattherat - July 19, 2009 08:18 AM (GMT)
"Which voice can I trust? WHICH VOICE???!!!" :lol:
The dialogue is pretty painful, and I was kinda disappointed that the game had barely ten minutes of story in static slideshow cutscenes.
Just yet another reason why I wish I was a good programmer :P
Rotgut - July 19, 2009 10:39 AM (GMT)
Games made by the BBC are very poor, but this perhaps the only 3D video game they've made.
Staffhead - July 19, 2009 12:23 PM (GMT)
So was all the actual game footage from the show actual from the game?
Wonder if it was done comic book style because I heard originally the evils and Ace were meant to come out of a comic book
nattherat - July 19, 2009 03:14 PM (GMT)
You're right Rotgut - can't expect too much from them. However, I wasn't too bothered until I discovered all that hidden stuff in the game files, because that just proves that they -could've- made something good out of it, but then they just didn't.
I'm afraid it's not really, Staffhead - although the studio that produced the game parts for the show did lend a hand in making the game which is probably why they managed to keep a consistent look between the show-game and the actual game.
That's a nice way of looking at the cutscenes Staffhead :) Much less cynical than my thoughts on it - that they didn't have the time/budget/skills to do proper cutscenes.
Rotgut - July 19, 2009 08:20 PM (GMT)
No, the cutscenes in the show were all from the show and not in the game. There is a cool cutscene in the show where Ace is knocked out by Random and then Lord Fear appears in a Game Over screen.
Staffhead - July 20, 2009 04:39 AM (GMT)
Thanks for the low-down, guys.
nattherat - September 13, 2009 11:50 AM (GMT)
Not anything special here, just minor discoveries;
Staffhead is a 3D model independent of LF's model, implying that he was originally going to get to do stuff on his own too.
Staffhead also has a mouth (instead of just a texture for one), implying he might have been able to take part in cutscenes.
Lady Illusion's hands have separate fingers (Most earlier 3D models just have a sort of lump for the hands, most of the models in Ace Lightning do too) which all appear to be correctly jointed - once again implying there might have originally been proper moving cutscenes planned.
Lord Fear's skull bones are separate as they should be, rather than fused to his skull which is what I originally thought they'd done. This means that animating him to have expressions should be possible, and once again hints at there being far greater character interaction planned rather than what they have.
Lastly, his eyes also look like someone bothered to make eyelids. So he could blink.
Oh wait, one more thing; LF's model also has a bit of a glitch, with his collar. I'd never noticed before, though I suppose the camera never gets that close to him during normal play for you to see. If you place the camera at the correct angle, his collar will disappear. :lol:
Rotgut - September 13, 2009 06:05 PM (GMT)
nattherat - January 6, 2010 10:04 PM (GMT)
I'm sorry, I know I'm going on about this point, but guys. Guys, Lord Fear's expressions ARE animated. He pulls faces! :nuts: He's capable of all the movement he has in the show. I was just...blasting him, and decided to have a look at the model when it was in the midst of it's 'pained' animation. Ugh, wwwhhhyyyyy didn't they make proper cut-scenes and stuff?