Command-Line Reference

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The following command-line options can be chosen from the launcher.

Contents

Graphics

-spec

Enables specular mapping. Only polygons mapped with textures for which a shinemap exists will receive specular mapping; no attempt is made to generate spec maps where they do not exist. Specular maps are specified with the base map name plus "-shine" (i.e. TCov3A-shine.pcx).

-env

Enables environment mapping. It only works if -spec is also set. Environment mapping intensity will be determined from the shine map too (see Texturing for more info). At the time of this writing (build 3.6.9 RC7), environment mapping only works when the video mode is OpenGL. See Video setup.

-glow

Enables glowmapping. Only polygons mapped with textures for which a glowmap exists will be glowmapped. Glow maps are specified with the base map name plus "-glow" (i.e. TCov4A-glow.pcx)

-jpgtga

Note: This option is not present in builds after 3.6.9 and is now always on.

Enables the use of TGA and JPG file formats for image files. If a ship is showing up partially invisible, select this option.

-pcx32

Note: This option is not present in builds post version 3.6.7 (2007/03/22).

Warning: This will not improve the rendering of any ships in-game, and is usually more of a burden on performance than is worthwhile. Use at your own risk.

Enables PCX files to be loaded into 32-bit memory.

-mipmap

Enables mipmapping generation within GPU on certain kind of texture formats, (IIRC, DDS formatted textures with a power of 2 size in both width and height).
Since the use of previously mipmapped DDS textures has become common, it has become depreciated. The quality of the generated mipmaps depends on each GPU and used driver. It is normally used with -img2dds flag.

-nomotiondebris

Disables motion debris.

-2d_poof

Note: This option is not present in builds post version 3.6.9.

Applies nebula poofs in 2d, effectively preventing them from forming intersections with ships.

-noscalevid

Disables fullscreen scaling of video clips.

-missile_lighting

Applies lighting to missiles.

-normal

Enables normal maps. It needs GLSL rendering, (see OpenGL Shaders (GLSL) for further info). It needs auxiliary normal maps (the same name of the base map plus "-normal"). DXT5_NM DDS format is needed.

-3dshockwave

Enables 3D Shockwaves. This only has any effect when both a 2d and 3d shockwave effect are present, otherwise the only available effect is used.

-rlm

Note: This option is not present in builds after 2005/09/30 and is now always on.

Enables more accurate lighting model for OpenGL mode.


Game Speed

-img2dds

Converts all images to DDS (compressed) format. Decreases memory usage but potentially reduces image quality.

-no_vsync

Disables vertical sync.

-cache_bitmaps

Caches bitmaps between missions, which will ideally reduce the load-time from one mission to another.

HUD

-dualscanlines

Adds a second pair of scanning lines to the target window when scanning an object.

-targetinfo

Displays target info, such as name and class, beside the targeted object.

-orbradar

Enables 3D radar (the Orb). 3D radar will replace the standard 2D version.

-ballistic_gauge

Adds an ammo gauge to the HUD when armed with a ballistic weapon.

-rearm_timer

Displays time remaining until rearm and repair from a support ship is complete.

Gameplay

-smart_shields

Note: This option has been moved to Ai_profiles.tbl table since 3.6.9. builds. It doesn't exist as a flag anymore.

Enables "smart" shield recharging. Shield recharge is distributed to the most damaged shield quadrant instead of being distributed equally across the entire shield and be wasted when a quadrant is full.

-ship_choice_3d

Uses ship models in ship selection window. It completely disables the standard ANI interface in this screen.
Some mods need a compulsory use of this flag because they don't have available animations for their ships. In this situation, and if it is not used, the game will probably crash to desktop in the ship selection window.

-weapon_choice_3d

Uses weapon models in weapon loadout window for secondary weapons (missiles and bombs). It completely disables the standard ANI interface in this screen.
Some mods need a compulsory use of this flag because they don't have available animations for their secondary weapons. In this situation, and if it is not used, the game will probably crash to desktop in the weapon loadout window.

-3dwarp

Use full geometry for the subspace warp effect.

-warp_flash

Enable a flash at warp in and warp out.

-no_ap_interrupt

Tells the game to not allow players to interrupt an autopilot already-in-progress.

-tbp

Enable feature set for The Babylon Project. This option also forces the Enable 3d Shockwave and Use 3d Models for Weapon Selection options as of 3.6.10 testing builds r4983 or higher.

-wcsaga

Enable feature set for The Wing Commander Saga.
It does the following changes to the normal FS2 engine behavior:

  • It removes -class name in the briefing ship render window, (the window that appears when ship icons are clicked).
  • It removes enemy names ingame for wings of ships.
  • Enemies can scream when dying. (Without the flag only friendlies scream).

Audio

-snd_preload

Preload mission sounds. Useful in preventing game stuttering when sounds are played for the first time.

-nosound

Disables all sounds.

-nomusic

Disables music only.

Multiplayer

-standalone

Creates a standalone server.

-startgame

Once you launch and choose a pilot within the game, you will immediately have begun to host a game. This can be used in conjunction with several options to customize the game you create: -closed, -restricted, -password, -gamename, -allowabove, and -allowbelow. -startgame has no effect when -standalone is used.

See related: -closed -restricted -password -gamename -allowabove -allowbelow

-closed

Hosts a new game in a closed state, where no one can join until the in-game "Close" button is cleared. This only works when used in conjunction with -startgame. Cannot be used in conjunction with -restricted or -password.

See related: -startgame -restricted -password

-restricted

Hosts a new game in a restricted state. The host is presented with option to accept or deny each client's request to join the game. This only works when used in conjunction with -startgame. Cannot be used in conjunction with -closed or -password.

See related: -startgame -closed -password

-multilog

Creates a log file with a summary of packets sent and received in multiplayer games. The file is saved as \data\multi.log within the active mod folder—or with main data folder if no mod is active.

-clientdamage

This feature is not available in current builds.

-mpnoreturn

Disables return to the flight deck screen after a mission completes.

Troubleshooting

-fixbugs

Note: This option is not present in builds post version 3.6.7 (2007/03/22).

Originally used to disable certain crashing behavior as a stop-gap measure.

-nocrash

Note: This option is not present in builds post version 3.6.7 (2007/03/22).

Originally used to disable certain crashing behavior as a stop-gap measure.

-oldfire

This feature is not available in current builds.

-nohtl

Warning: Enabling this will significantly reduce performance.

Reverts to software rendering mode.

-no_set_gamma

Disables the gamma settings in the options screen.

-nomovies

Disables all video playback.

-noparseerrors

Disables some parsing warnings and makes other parse errors non-fatal. Do not rely on this when creating new tables. The errors are there for a reason.

-safeloading

Loads missions the old way. Typically safer, but slower.

-query_speech

Determines if the current build includes text-to-speech.

-d3d_bad_tsys

Enable inefficient texture system.

-novbo

Disables OpenGL VBO.

-noibx

Disables IBX caching of model geometry data. This will dramatically increase load times, but will help troubleshoot a model if one is working incorrectly.

-loadallweps

Load all weapons, even those not used.

-no_glsl

Disables the use of GLSL rendering (OpenGL shaders). The game will revert to legacy fixed render pipeline. Please note that Normal and Height map effects will be unavailable.

Experimental

-ingame_join

Enables ingame joining in multiplayer. FIXME: Host option?

-voicer

Windows-only. Enables voice-recognition for wingmen commands. Must be specifically compiled into a build in order for it to be available; 3.6.10 final includes the feature.

-alpha_env

Note: This option is not present in builds post version 3.6.9. In current builds this effect is always on

Enables alpha environment mapping. OpenGL only. Environment mapping intensity will be determined from the alpha channel of specular maps.

-decals

Enables damage decals.
(Decals have been disabled in builds after May 4, 2006)

-tga16

Note: This option is not present in builds post version 3.6.7 (2006/04/05).

Originally used to converts TGA images to 16-bits in order to reduce memory footprint (at the expense of image quality), superseded by -img2dds.


Development Tools

-fps

Displays current frames per second.

-pos

Displays current position coordinates of camera.

-window

Runs the game in a window. No check to make sure that resolution is no higher than your desktop resolution, so be careful.

-timerbar

Displays a timing bar across the top of the screen. Timebar format varies by build.

-stats

Shows total and free physical memory, virtual memory and system pagefile.

-coords

Shows coordinates of the mouse cursor.

-show_mem_usage

Shows detailed RAM usage in HUD.

The meaning of the info displayed in the upper right corner is:

DYN = dynamic memory, basically anything that's been allocated by the vm_* memory functions. This does NOT indicate total memory usage but does account for most of it.

POF = model memory, how much memory is being used by models (does not include textures)

C-BMP, BMP = bmpman memory, how much is used by the textures/images that are loaded. C-BMP means that you are using -cache_bitmaps and it will try to keep textures in memory between level loads and as the new level is loading it will keep what it needs and unload what it doesn't. Can greatly increase level loading speed, but does so at the cost of memory between level loads. This does not increase overall memory usage though, only during the loading screen. BMP means that it is not cached and all textures are unloaded from memory at the start of level load and all needed textures are then loaded from the disk again.

S-RAM = sound memory, how much is used by the sounds loaded in memory at the time. This counts static sounds only (from sounds.tbl, etc.) and not streaming sounds (music, voices, briefing stuff, etc).

V-RAM = approximate memory usage of video textures. This does not mean that your card has this much memory, and can report higher numbers that your card actually has memory. For OpenGL it also includes some of the geometry data, but this number does not reflect the total memory that your video card is using. It only reports how much data the game has purposefully loaded into API memory (meaning it could be in system memory, video card memory, or AGP memory).


(It only works with debug builds, not with release builds).

-pofspew

Reads all objects in the pof file of the selected mod, and creates an ibx cache file for each object in the data/cache folder for that mod.
Details for each object are output to a pofspew.txt file created in the data folder.
Otherwise, ibx files are created in game before each mission.

-tablecrcs


-missioncrcs


-dis_collisions

Disables all collisions.

-dis_weapons

Disables weapons rendering.

-output_sexps

Outputs SEXPs to sexps.html.

-output_scripting

Outputs scripting to scripting.html.

-nograb

Unix only. Disables focus grabbing in a window.

Other

The following options are not available as checkboxes in the launcher. Many require parameters, which follow the flag separated by a space. The prototype for use in this case is "-option argument"

Lighting

These factors can dramatically alter the atmosphere of the game. This page has some sample lighting settings with screenshots.

-ambient_factor

This must be entered into the "Custom flags" field. This is a multiplier applied to the intensity of ambient lighting. Ambient light is lighting applied to all parts of a ship. FS2's standard value is 120. Try 75 for a good and realistic looking value. However, that is relative.

-no_emissive_light

By default, all ships in FS2 have a light generated on their own, it is more or less similar to a minimal amount of -ambient_factor. This feature was implemented to help the player seeing the ships over a black background. This flag disables this feature. Use it with a low -ambient_factor value to obtain an ultra-realistic dark looking.

-spec_exp

This must be used with the -spec command line parameter and must be entered into the "Custom flags" field. Adjusts the size of the shiny spot on ships. Higher number mean smaller spots. Default is 16. However, 11 is recommended. This is a relative value.

-spec_point

This must be used with the -spec command line parameter and must be entered into the "Custom flags" field. Adjusts how much laser weapons contribute to specular highlights. Higher number mean greater contributions. Default is 1.0. However, 0.6 is recommended. This is a relative value.

-spec_static

This must be used with the -spec command line parameter and must be entered into the "Custom flags" field. Adjusts how much suns contribute to specular highlights. Higher numbers mean a greater contribution. Default is 1.0. However, is 0.8 recommended. This is a relative value.

-spec_tube

This must be used with the -spec command line parameter and must be entered into the "Custom flags" field. Adjusts how much Beam Weapons contribute to specular highlights. Higher numbers mean a greater contribution. Default is 1.0. However, 0.4 is recommended. This is a relative value.

-ogl_spec

OpenGL Only. Takes a numerical argument. This value changes the basic shininess of the specular light in OpenGL. A lower value reduces the overall intensity of the light making it broader and less powerful. A higher value makes it more focued and brighter. The default value is 80, and the usable range is 0 to 128 (clamped). The original default value was 60, but it was raised to behave more D3D like.

Graphics

-height

Enables height maps (parallax mapping). It only works if -normal is also set. It also needs GLSL rendering, (see OpenGL Shaders (GLSL) for further info). It needs auxiliary height maps (with the same name than base map plus "-height").

-clipdist

Changes the distance from the viewpoint for the near-clipping plane.

Takes one argument decimal specifying the distance to the near-clipping plane.

Gameplay

-mod

Note: Please note that the mod.ini file is a feature exclusive to the Windows Launcher.

Specifies in which folders inside FreeSpace 2 directory, the game looks for all the game data (models, missions, textures, tables, ...). Retail version only looks inside Freespace2/data/ structure and Freespace2/vp archives.

This flag allows installing several different mods that modify retail behavior, and switching between them without needing to erase files or having undesired cross effects. Each mod should be installed in its own folder.

It takes one argument string: the chain of names of the used directories. Comma (,) must be used as separator. In this way, -mod dir1,dir2,dir3,...,dirx causes the game to use the following directory precedence:

  1. Freespace2/dir1/
  2. Freespace2/dir2/
  3. Freespace2/dir3/
  4. ... (the rest of the typed directories) ...
  5. Freespace2/dirx/
  6. Freespace2/

This flag can be indirectly set, (and it is normally set), through Launcher MOD tab and mod.ini file. Within this Launcher tab you can select one directory, (let's call it moddir), so the flag is at least set to -mod moddir. If Freespace2/moddir/mod.ini exists (its format must be plain text), it will be read and, inside it, the following section and lines can be used to modify the -mod flag, too:

[multimod] 
PrimaryList  = Pri1,Pri2,...(the rest of desired directories)...,Prix; 
SecondaryList = Sec1,Sec2,...(the rest of desired directories)...,Secx;

(Please note the ending semicolon (;) in each list line). With these lines the following flag would be built:

-mod Pri1,Pri2,...,Prix,moddir,Sec1,Sec2,...,Secx

If primary or secondary folders aren't used, their respective line can be erased or it can be typed as xxxxxxList = ;.

PLEASE NOTE: Launcher v 5.4, or later, must be used. Earlier versions had some bugs that would cause the previous explanation about mod.ini fail.
The most common use of mod.ini and SecondaryList is sharing resources between mods. And the best example is the enhaced media vps from SCP crew. Most of the people install them in a folder called mediavps inside Freespace2. In this way when running retail FS2 they do not interfere with this original game version that doesn't use this -mod flag feature. When using FS2_Open but without mods, you just need to select mediavps in Launcher MOD tab to use them. And if you want to enjoy those enhacenments while playing any 'real' mod, you just need to put a mod.ini file inside its moddir with at least a SecondaryList = mediavps; line.

Nested directories can be also used. As example imagine that you have all your mods inside a main folder called MyMods and that shared resources like Media VPs are also in another folder called Resources. In this way you could have:

  • /Freespace2/MyMods/ModWhatever1/
  • /Freespace2/MyMods/ModWhatever2/
  • ...
  • /Freespace2/MyMods/ModWhateverx/
  • /Freespace2/Resources/mediavps/

Then imagine that you want to use ModWhatever1 with mediavps enhacenment. Your mod flag should be set to -mod MyMods/ModWhatever1,Resources/mediavps. Like always, you could type this flag as a custom flag or you could select MyMods/ModWhatever1 in Launcher MOD Tab and in its mod.ini file type:

[multimod] 
SecondaryList = Resources/mediavps;
Note: Please note that your path structure will use \ instead of / in a Windows environment.

Data precedence

As already said, within the different directories, the data precedence is set by the specified order in the -mod flag. The lowest priority goes to the Freespace2 installation directory.

Inside each directory, data precedence is the following:

  1. Individual files located in Current_dir/data/ subdir structure. See FS2 Data Structure topic for deeper info about the different folders and contents this structure has.
  2. Files located inside vp archives. (These vp archives are "similar" to zip archives. They just contain other files and folders. Moreover, files have to be stored using the same data/ structure used outside it).
    Vp archives are read in alphabetical order, so aaa.vp files have higher priority than aab.vp files and so on.

The highest priority file overrides the rest of them. In this way, if you have a Mission.fs2 inside Freespace2/Pri1/data/missions/ it doesn't matter how this Mission.fs2 is inside Freespace2/Pri1/aaa.vp, Freespace2/Pri1/aab.vp, ... or Freespace2/data/missions/. This data precedence allows the user to quickly replace old files by corrected or enhaced ones adding them in a higher priority place.


Additional notes

  1. As derived from the explanation, the exact names for directories or vp archives are actually irrelevant. It only matters the directory order inside -mod flag argument and the alphabetical order for vp archives inside each used directory.
  2. This flag is also used by FRED. So if there is special mod info, (like backgrounds maps, ship models or whatever), it must be typed, (Fred2_Open_r.exe -MOD whatever), or FRED won't be able to use it. No Launcher MOD tab is available for this use.
  3. Be careful while typing the directory names in the flag argument or inside mod.ini files. The program doesn't check if the typed directories exist. If they do not exist, they are just ignored. No warnings, no errors, no messages at all.


Warning: Priority and Texture Formats

Obsolete behavior - Until FS2_open v3.6.9.:

FS2_Open can use several file formats in textures: PCX, DDS, JPG and TGA. Make sure you keep the format when you update your texture. For example if you update the old TextureOfMyFighter.tga, do not save it as TextureOfMyFighter.dds in a higher priority place, because there is a chance of the game loading the old one despite of all.

The reason to do this is that, loading process (including priorities) is applied firstly for a kind of textures (TGAs), then for another kind (JPGs), and so on. This behavior can lead to situation where your new, updated and higher priority placed texture is not read because the format of the older one.


New behavior - From FS2_open v3.6.10. (including previous beta testing releases):

The former issue has been fixed. Now texture format priority is only applied within the same location. In this strange situation it goes DDS -> TGA -> JPG -> PCX. Examples:

  • /Freespace2/MyVp.vp>>>data/maps/MyTexture.dds is loaded instead of /Freespace2/MyVp.vp>>>data/maps/MyTexture.tga.
  • But your improved /Freespace2/data/maps/MyTexture.xxx will override them both despite of its format.

In this way, when you update any texture, you don't have to pay attention to its original format. Just place it in a higher priority place.

Nevertheless, global priority is kept between animated and static textures. Because of their management, animated textures (ANIs and EFFs) are looked for BEFORE static ones. In this way there's no way to update an animated texture with a static one (an obsolete ANI is always going to be loaded before the newer DDS version). The solution: use an updated EFF with just one frame.

-fov

Specifies the Field of View for the player eyepoint.

Takes one argument decimal specifying the angle of the viewing cone in radians, from 0 to 2*pi

You can set the cone of view making things look bigger/smaller. The problem with this is that if you choose a small FOV, you will have a squashed look on the edges of your screen - stretched edges with a too high FOV. It is recommended to change the FOV as FS2 normally has some perspective distortion at the screen edges (FOV too high). Set the FOV to something like 0.39 - it will fix the distortion problem, and (as a nice side-effect) will make everything look bigger and more realistic scale-wise. On the other hand, it also stretches the backgrounds - this is usually not a big issue, but it does get annoying if using a skybox. The default is 0.75, if you go higher, you'll get the fish-eye effect. Feel free to experiment. This must be entered into the "Custom flags" field

Multiplayer

-gamename

Specifies the name of the game to be created by the host. This only works when used in conjunction with -startgame.

Takes one argument string, the name to be assigned to the game being created.

This argument does nothing when used with -standalone. To set the name for a standalone server, see Standalone Servers.

See related:   -startgame   Standalone Servers

-password

Specifies the password for a standalone server. This only works when used in conjunction with -startgame. Cannot be used in conjunction with -closed or -restricted.

Takes one argument string, the required password for the game being created.

See related: -startgame -closed -restricted

-allowabove

Specifies a player's minimum rank for joining a game. This only works when used in conjunction with -startgame.

Takes one argument integer, the points ranking above which a player must be to enter the game.

See related: -startgame

-allowbelow

Specifies a player's maximum rank for joining a game on a standalone server. This only works when used in conjunction with -startgame.

Takes one argument integer, the points ranking below which a player must be to enter the game.

See related: -startgame

-port

Specifies the port on which to host a game or serve a standalone game.

Takes one argument integer, the port on which the host will listen for clients.

-connect


-timeout


-cap_object_update

Caps the maximum object update the server will respond to regardless of what the client has set. If the client is set to request high object updates but the server is capped to low, then that's all the client will get.

Takes one argument integer (0 to 3) which corresponds to the object update cap (With 0 being low and 3 being LAN).