Installing fs2 open

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Revision as of 13:33, 7 April 2007 by Jr2 (talk | contribs) (Updated Launcher 5.5a -> 5.5b :D)
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This guide assumes you already have a working copy of Freespace 2 installed. If not, see Installing Freespace 2. Also, this build assumes you do not use an installer. If you do, skip down to the part where it talks about configuring fs2_open.

Step One: Understanding what you need

There are three main components that you need to get the most out of fs2_open.

  • First, the Launcher. This lets you configure the fs2_open executable for your particular system, in much the same way the original Freespace 2 launcher is used to configure it.

  • Next, the fs2_open build. This is the core game engine, a single executable file.

  • Finally, the MediaVPs. These contain all sorts of graphical improvements and are highly recommended. Version numbers of mediaVPs generally agree with the fs2_open build that they're supposed to be used with.

Step Two: Getting the Launcher

Unless you are using an extremely old build, you will want to get Launcher 5.5 which is bundled with the FreeSpace Open 3.6.9 release but download link to is provided below.

Launcher 5.5b download

Step Three: Choosing a build

There are two main types of fs2_open builds, at the time of this writing. A "build" is any executable built from source code. Any build may also be a debug build. (Debug builds usually have names that end with "_d" or "_dbg" or somesuch) If you don't know why you'd want to use a debug build, you're almost certainly better off not using one.

All builds should be extracted to your main Freespace 2 folder.

Official Releases

The first type is the "stable" release build. Additionally, some official release builds are available with installers. It's a good idea to get the most recent official release, even if you end up deciding to get a recent build anyway. Current official release is FreeSpace Open 3.6.9.

FreeSpace Open 3.6.9 release thread

Official 3.6.9 release download

Recent Builds

Recent Builds are ones that individual coders release. Most of the time they're released to either test or showcase some particular new feature. If you're curious about how reliable a build is, your best bet is to check the original thread it was posted in and see what people's responses were.

Recent builds forum

Step Four: Choosing your MediaVPs

There are a variety of different MediaVPs available for download. No matter what system you have, it should be able to support mv_core with no degradation in performance. This will enable a few interface improvements that require extra art.

Basic installation usually includes:

Effects 710 patch
Models 710 patch

Other recommended downloads include:

Advanced Effects
Advanced Effects 710 patch

Mediavps should be installed in a new 'mediavps' directory under the main FreeSpace directory (\freespace2\mediavps) This preserves both possibility to play with either with retail FreeSpace 2 vp files if this is desired (for example in multiplayer) or using the retail FreeSpace 2 executive files and requires minimal extra time to set up. (See step six for further details).

MediaVP download page

Step Five: Configuring Everything

Basic setup

At this point, you have one final stage remaining before fs2_open is ready to go. Open up the Launcher. (It should be in your main Freespace 2 folder). Select the EXE you'd like to use by clicking the "Browse..." button at the top of the Launcher.

Next, ensure that the "Audio/Joystick" and "Network" tabs have the proper settings. (If you have trouble with your joystick not working properly in fs2_open, you may try the "Force 0" or "Force 1" options, which will force fs2_open to use the first or second joysticks, respectively.

Speech setup

If you are using Windows XP, or have the Speech API installed, fs2_open will be able to read briefings, techroom descriptions, and even ingame messages to you using computer-generated voices. Although no match for real voice acting, it is convenient when valid plot points are mentioned in the middle of combat. Speech in the various locations can be turned on and off by checking and unchecking the check boxes; you can choose which of the installed voices to use in fs2_open by changing the drop-down menu. As of this writing, fs2_open will only use the voice you choose for everything.

Video setup

On the "Video" tab, you can choose which API to use (OpenGL or Direct3D), what resolution to run in, and whether to use anti-aliasing (Multisampling) or not. With FreeSpace Open 3.6.9 OpenGL is strongly recommended over the Direct3D

"Allow non standard modes" will let you choose resolutions other than 1024x768 and 640x480. There may be some small graphics alignment errors, but these are generally small and virtually unnoticeable.

Features setup

This tab is where most of fs2_open's options can be toggled on and off. At the top is a readout of your current command line; you should include this in any debugging reports you make.

The next box, with the buttons "Select mod" and "No mod" allow you to choose a mod directory to use; files in the mod directory will be given precedence over other files, so you can easily switch between mods by installing them to different directories.

"Custom flags" allows you to add any command line flags that don't show up in the Launcher. This may be because they require additional arguments, as is the case with the "-fov" command line argument. For more information, see the Command-Line Reference page.

Finally, the two boxes below this let you toggle the various new features in fs2_open, many of which are graphical improvements. Recommended options for midrange systems are "Enable specular", "Enable glowmaps", "Enable jpg,tga textures", "Enable more realistic lighting", and "Load only used weapons". (You may have to choose a different section in the drop-down box to get to some of these days). There are many, many more options, but these should get you started.

Command line Flags

Step Six: (Optional) Preserving Freespace 2

At this point, if you try to start the original Freespace 2 executables, they'll likely crash at some point or other. To prevent this, do the following:

Move the mediaVPs to a mod dir

You can take advantage of the SCP's -mod feature and move the mediaVPs to a folder inside your main Freespace 2 folder; this folder can be named anything you like, such as "mediavps". However, whenever you run Freespace 2, you must remember to select that folder as the current mod. If you want to play another mod, you must make use of the SCP's multiple mod feature.

Save any existing pilot files

Fs2_open upgraded the pilot files to allow for better mod handling in version 3.6.5. To prevent double entries from showing up, a new, upgraded version of the pilot file is created, and then the old one is deleted. To save your progress, copy all *.plr, *.csg, and *.css files that start with your pilot name. Then, rename the copies so that they're in the form of <your name>_scp. For example, my player file would be called "WMCoolmon_scp.plr". Then, only use the "_scp" versions when running fs2_open.

It's recommended you back up the originals as well, in case you accidentally click on the non-SCP version while in the SCP. (It should warn you that it's going to destructively convert them, however.)