FXEXE PATCHES   2-13-2020
Written by the creator of the FXEXE: VonBeerhofen (3DZ Master/Campaign Designer/Coder)
Edited by: MarkEAW

Download Link:
-(EAWPRO  Download!) - EAWPRO1.0_Basic.zip core package is the latest download to try out. (see the install instructions below) This EAWPRO Download will be updated from time to time, so check back. Note: The full 'The Final Cut' archive is not available, its a WIP mod.

Web Links:
-VBH's LaunchPad Site - Home of EAWPRO. Many, Many screenshots of effect examples. See them in full size!
-CombatACE EAWPRO Discussion Club - Where VBH posts about his build of his game, and others ask questions.
-Chatzy Launchpad Warroom - Where you can contact VBH and talk about FXEXE. It goes without saying that you should be courteous and responsive when contacting VBH.

[ GOTO THE MAIN EAWHS PAGE ]


FXEXE: EAW PRO EDITION
An Unofficial Upgrade for EAWv1.x

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

FORWARD

DESCRIPTION

SPECIFICATIONS
Installing
Compatibility
Flight/Damage Model | Loadout | Particle | Graphics | Views | Difficulty/Settings | Sound | A.I.
Ground | Controls | Missions | Multiplayer | INI Entries | Modders Information

NOTES
Try Outs | Flying The Bombers | How EAWPRO is different from anything else!
Weekly ScreenShot

 

INTRODUCTION

This document came about to help players to understand and know about some of the aspects of the FXEXE game. The FXEXE is a a disassemble at machine language level of EAW and its game data. Everything available for v1.2 can be up converted to be compatible. Its a FX-effects and EAW PRO Edition released version of the old game. Dozens and Dozens of special effects added.  (Note: All Flyable Bombers is now called, EAWPRO!)

This document also is a self contained help document for these mods. In other places on my web site, there may at times be info that addresses the FXEXE, however, this page will have the information better defined in detail.

 

FORWARD

Some people may not fully grasp the idea behind FXEXE / EAWPRO so here's an explanation.

FXEXE started life as a pure hack into the EXE's hexadecimal code before the release of any source code in 2005 and early versions were meant to work with the OAW file manager (a manager that contained many community add-ons and skins). At some point an assembly listing was created, which just happens to be my preferred programming language and with the Source Code in my possession things really began to take off.

During the Launchpad's (A gather location for pilots) existence many pilots came by to fly with us and for years I tried to help them with installing and running the game, but due to issues with the newer Windows OS, limited computer knowledge and/or know how more and more pilots gave up in spite of my step by step guidance, which developed over a period of at least 5 years. We're talking dozens and possibly close to 100 pilots who gave up back then.

So a different approach was needed to allow those pilots an easy way to come on board, which is where the idea behind the improved FXEXE was borne. A simple means to upgrade to a better version of EAW and compatible with both older and newer operating systems and an unchanged user interface to allow a seamless transition from one to the other. Nothing was changed in the selections or anywhere else which needed further explanations, pictures or manuals as it's all still the same as in v1.2.

In spite of the many enhancements which were incorporated they are still controlled through the standard user interface. The second uses I gave in some of the EAW.INI functions did not effected the game when not changed, thus they have no real influence on the game's performance. These are like the hidden features which had been present in v1.2 until they were discovered round 2000. Their default setting descriptions is probably best explanations to these alterations.

Install instructions do not differ from a v1.2 install other then that the EAWPRO upgrade needs to be added to a clean copy of EAW (any official version) and you just start the game as you always have. No additional software, choices, registering Visual Basic components or anything else. You don't have to learn anything extra in order to get the improvements EAWPRO provides. Hence there's no further directions needed other then those which relate to getting the game to work with various operating systems and/or hardware which is the same as for any version of EAW.

EAWPRO is tested to work with computers dating back to the year 2000 and the minimum requirements are the same as described in the original EAW manual but a PIV @ 1Ghz, 256MB memory and a 32MB video card will result in very acceptable frame rates due to the newly optimized assembly code.

 

DESCRIPTION

The FXEXE has come a long way in 10 years (from 2005) and it's old description is no longer very accurate (so here is a 2015 update)....

A description for the FXEXE isn't really easy, it's gone way beyond it's first versions. It's a 'scrubbed' or 'cleaned' version of v1.2 NoCD, created with the original C++ code as information source, which will give much higher frame rates whilst retaining full backward compatibility.

100'ds of graphics heavy routines were manually reassembled and obsolete parameters/variables and useless bytes were removed, resulting in a much shorter game loop, without sacrificing the game's original programming, something that's near impossible to do with a C++ compiler. I also found several routines in the original v1.2 release, possibly from earlier tries or later, which were not doing anything and used them for my own purposes, after adaptation.

 
Some of the freed up space was used to design a whole new animation system that allows many more actions, in a much greater variety. All new animations in 4 times higher resolution each 16 frames long (64 x 64 pixels/frame). The old ones were upgraded without the need for extra texture memory. Each animation is now using it's own dedicated texture so it's easy to swap em around and experiment with various smoke, explosion and fire files. The original game only uses 8 frames per animation in one single texture for these animations (32 x 32 pixels/frame), so all effects are way more realistic.
 
New animation codes for airplanes and ground objects have been introduced, moving ships, street lights and searchlights that only switch on by night, rotating windmills and watermills or other objects, doors which can open and close, etc. New polygon types were incorporated in the 3D models and some hardly used types were given new functions, allowing runway lights and transparent (glass) objects.
 
Extra sounds were incorporated, AI were given more intelligence and their reaction speeds improved dramatically because of the optimized and adapted routines. The sky layers were enhanced, 3D clouds were added, in short, the whole EAW world was redesigned and populated with realistic looking people (taken from Microprose's game Gunship) and many more ground objects. The overhauled terrain is much more diverse and each year now has it's own frontlines. Several frontline sets have been created and tested (Dunkirk, D-Day, Overlord, Remagen) to allow a wide choice of mission types.
 
Maximum Flack and AAA capability can be assigned freely to any object in the game, making missions much more dangerous and unpredictable. You won't know which object will start firing next and some defenses can be too tough to take out with bullets only.
 
Up to 16 planes in a group can be selected, the extra squads entry in the EAW.INI can multiply that. Free roaming trainings mode (no enemies) has been incorporated to allow Online Air Races. Enemy and friendly objectives are now unpredictable and aiming routines have been significantly improved.
 
All new flight models have been created from scratch by Theo Eichorn, using his engineering knowledge to develop a totally new method after finding important correlations on the workings of the .FLT's in a 5 year research of the Source Code and doing hundreds of experiments. G-force stress warning and extra zoom were also activated. The result is a fast well balanced game where each plane's parameters was thoroughly researched and incorporated.
 
Care was taken to not change anything important as the original code is a rough pearl in it's design, it's almost like a standalone flight sim language. No 24 bit 512 textures were used or multi-texturing, as this would only significantly slow down frame rates. Every drawing is still 8 bit in 256 x 256 pixels, with the option to use custom 256 color palettes in 512 x 512 pixels for each 3D object independently. This does however require a faster computer with more memory and a better video card, as well as all textures to be converted throughout the game. As my life expectancy would probably be too short it remains an option.
 
All previously made screens for v1.2 can be used and that goes for all planes and ground objects too, provided video cards and memory are capable of dealing with them. There's no 7217 error fix, but the game can be used with Glide and D3D wrappers as a workaround. Best results are with D3D cards capable of running 640*480 desktop resolutions in 8 bit mode, it was tested by Launchpad members on various operating systems, starting with Windows 98 on a PIV 800Mhz with a 32MB video card up to Windows Vista on a Quad Core 1.88Ghz.
 
Backward compatibility has been kept, so older campaigns can easily be updated with the Core Package of the add-on (43.2MB) by simply adding it. The same goes for installing it, just paste it into a working v1.2 full clean install and away you go. Only terrain tile names need to be converted to the naming convention used in the FXEXE, which is using the Hex value of each tile as it's name. This can easily be done with a simple conversion batch file and will hardly take time.

Current (6-23-2019) status compared to EAWv1.2:
reprogrammed bytes: 42,833
removed bytes: 9,511 (were removed from the game loop, optimized to maintain FPS).
and the work is still in progress!

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Most of this information came from forum posts by VBH about his FXEXE. However more FXEXE game features have been listed based on player observation and new description information directly from VBH.
Some features may not be available unless you have WIP The Final Cut (the largest mod which is only given to a few people). If you find something in the FXEXE game that is not listed here, please let me know so I can add it to these specifications.

 

INSTALLING

For the FXEXE Basic: PRO Edition Core Files

1) Start with a clean full 'install' of the official v1.0 CD (or v1.1 or 1.2) EAW game. See my Install Help Document to get the stock game on your computer.
2) Unzip the EAWPRO1.0_Basic.zip archive and copy the contents into your stock EAW main folder, overwriting some of the files.
3) Read the included text for further steps if applicable.

 

Compatibility:

  • In this game everything was hex edited and machine coded into the 1.2 executable (based on 1.26e). A very laborious task really that has taken 10+ years of my life invested in this, fulltime, no breaks, 10 hours per day at least. Some Game data was altered and added to take advantage of the power behind the FXEXE. Comes with improved graphical and FX-effects which have to be seen to be believed. The sprites (game data) are not yet fully developed and need a bit of work still to get the fullest effect...
  • Intended for online play and offline single missions only, campaign mode wasn't adapted.
  • FXEXE still works with all community made add-ons created for the 1.2 version with minor adjustments to some maybe required. The FXEXE has some Filename changes in order to get the best out of the graphics. Such changes need to be applied to the add-ons too. For instance terrain tiles were given hexadecimal names of only two bytes instead of their full names. This allowed me to create more tiles in the same array. Something similar was done to the effects to make them 4 times higher in resolution.
  • This EXE uses a sprite table with nearly every sprite rearranged and increased in size so you can't use it's sprites in a default EAW setup because they simply don't fit, nor will any previous effects fit the FXEXE as previous sprites are too small!!!! To assure proper working you always have to load the FXEXE archive last, so incompatible files will be overwritten, and the proper files installed without touching anything else of other mods. Campaigns containing their own EAW.EXE will not be-able to be used with the FXEXE as filenames could have been altered and the FXEXE doesn't support these altered filenames.
  • NoOS fix (skips WinNT check) , NoCD and NoCDDevice fix. (original MicroProse code).
  • A true slot free system is incorporated; which means there are no more slot specific entries for any particular plane. Instead these entries, which were mainly related to twins, have been adapted to a new planetype, the Fighter Bomber which are controlled by a switch in the PLANES.DAT.
  • Menu Parameter Selection Loop Fix - I fixed the fast changing speed of the inline menu selections, such as on mission making screens. The Loop was disabled, so now you will have to repeat mouse clicks to change the selections (holding down the mouse button will no longer incite the next successive selection). It applies to all keyboard input as well which uses this routine, keyboard throttle and rudder too, etc.


 

FEATURES/Fixes/Enhancement/Improvements/Changes



 

Flight/Damage Model:

  • FMs where created - by Theo Eichorn (?He may have used rp2.6 as a base?), using his engineering knowledge to develop a totally new method after finding important correlations on the workings of the .FLT's in a 5 year research of the Source Code and doing hundreds of experiments. These were tweaked over app. 3 years of test flying with offline and online games.
  • FM balanced - My goal was to provide less of the existing differences between planes to get well balanced fights, to elevate cheating, but without changing fixed known data about aircraft. To also maintain high agility to make air battles fast and furious, requiring quick response from the pilots. Really the FM's are probably the 'easiest' of all, even a bit arcade-ish, but it's balanced by the fast action the player will experience.
  • Exploding Planes cause damage - All planes set to suffer damage when too close to an exploding aircraft. 4 explosion types are incorporated with various radius's, their sizes dependant on the exploding airplane type. The bigger the plane, the bigger the explosion. (The largest is from a V1, which hasn't changed from ?stock?).
  • All explosion types - were given the ability to damage or destroy aircraft when they're too close.
  • Added damage models...
  • Destructible trees - and forests with damage models based on size.
  • All flyable Bombers (see Controls specifications for how to use them).
  • Further integration of previously Non Flyable Aircraft...
  • All plane slots have become/are flyable.
  • All Planes are now truly Slot Free. (see Slot Free System in modder notes)
  • New bailout routine...
  • Accumulated blackouts equals loss of control under heavy gforce, beware! Control input is lost or greatly reduced. That is until the plane and player pilot recovers enough for player to regain normal control.
  • Gliding - you feel the plane glide and it doesn't make a sudden move when you throttle down, it just glides and lands. Of course when your airspeed drops below stall speed that's when it drops like a brick.
  • Landing Gear Damage - The Gear will drop (unfold) about halfway down when damaged. The damage causes extra drag, slowing planes down and making them harder to fly. Emergency landings are in between a belly landing and a normal landing, resulting a slightly higher survival chance then a belly landing. The damage is obviously irreversible as opposed to some control surfaces.
  • A new routine also gives the water splash destructive capability - when planes are directly over it and within 100 feet. Because of this effect belly landing on water has become much more dangerous as the splash is generated multiple times each time the plane hits the water.
  • Exploding ground objects - were given a similar but slightly different capability as water splash. Such as exploding planes can destroy your plane when you're within it's explosion radius, so it's prudent to stay at a respectful distance when shooting up stuff. The explosion radius is linked to the exploding object's size, the larger the object the larger the blast radius. Planes in tight formation may actually cause a chain reaction with other planes and cause damage to an entire group. They will not immediately explode but damage points are given as with bullet impacts.
  • New Bullet Impact Routine - Since stock v1.2's gunvalues don't allow the gun's full ranges to be used and the weapon names don't work when values are in between two calibers, I rewritten the routine and optimized it to run much faster. The new routine will allow deviations from the standard hitpower without loosing the weapon names and adds the possibility of a 50mm weapon or higher.
    The stock values are 2, 4, 12, 24, however any single byte value can be used, so the maximum hitpower value can be 255. That would probably be a caliber the size of a medieval cannonball or so. I've chosen a value of 36 for the 50mm (since the value is the same when the hitpower of a 20 and 30 mm are added up) which I think will be a reasonable representation of the weapon.
    Of course the ME262's nose mounted .88 is also a feasible option and I should have it's value somewhere when we test it.
    It principally means that there's more room to precisely modify the PLANES.DAT's weapon's values to more historical accurate hitpower of weapons, which by default are not incorporated. Another advantage is that in combination with the plane's armor values planes can be better balanced against each other in terms of matching the planes advantages / disadvantages vs the other planes.
  • Gear Switch Fix - Some planes just don't have landing gear, like float planes and the Reichenberg, or fixed gear like the Stuka. EAWv1.2 had no provisions for these, hence the gearswitch was always active. The gearsound would play and a gear message would display on screen. That problem is now solved and the keys for this action are no longer active for such planes. (JU87 (Stuka) new FIXED GEAR entry in PLANES.DAT, The change is compatible with other versions of EAW).
  • New Invader, Attack-Bomber, Fighter-Bomber capability...
  • New Tri-Engined planetypes - this new planetype is now fully activated and working. The plane is programmed with one nose engine and one engine on each wing. This is NOT just a modified Quad or Twin plane, which would have just one less/extra engine nacelle in the 3D model but would behave like a Twin or Quad with perhaps an optional flightmodel for 3 engines. It's an entirely new planetype with it's own (damage) characteristics and flightmodel.
    It's AI behaviour is a hybrid of multiple plane AI and all possible AI choices can be used, i.e. Fighter, Bomber, Fighterbomber, Strikefighter, Divebomber, Waterplane etc.
    It is available for all sides and all available old PLANES.DAT switches can be activated on it, like multi crewed, slats, armour, defensive guns and gear type. There the new specific AI behavior and appropriate damage routines, which are different in comparison with other versions of this plane. It has a true 3 engine specific controls and engine damage locations!



 

Loadout:

  • none?



 

Particle:

  • Lake tiles (blue/green) - given sea like properties to act as a real watery lake tile.
  • Enhanced water splash - When you fly through it, it can fill your entire screen, doing so without any signs of pixilation.
  • Bullet - ground impact "splash" improved.
  • Bullet - water impact/splash effect added from bullets hitting.
  • Highly realistic smoke, fire, flak, rockets and explosions with enhanced user control...
  • An extra fire explosion - to bomb land and water impacts added.
  • Explosion sizes doubled - default animations increased in size due to the available larger graphics (also offset for a more realistic look).
  • Contrails - Enhanced, Large and Bluish in color with new HiRes detail.
  • Smoke with crashed planes - smoke spewed is shorter and grey in color.
  • Smoking Engines - smoke is brown for oil leak.
  • Smoke - Exhaust present on all ground vehicles.
  • Flak - High Detailed and a lot of it: A flash, then smoke and orange particles.
  • New 4 additional smoke algorithms (on top of the old smoke and fire); Start (engine) smoke, Overheat smoke, Runway dust "smoke", Spare smoke. (These algorithms can be used for many other animations, see MODDERS SECTION Below).
  • More plane debris - when plane is destroyed (props, tailpiece, cockpit parts etc.)
  • Dust/Water "clouds" - if the plane is over ground or water.
  • Ground wheel impact markers / indication.
  • A completely redesigned startup routine with more sounds and animations; A small smoke puff will be produced when engine start fails due to whatever reason, engine fire, fuel pressure, engine off etc. When the engine is repeatedly turned on and off (human players only) the engine will backfire and produced the smoke puff, even when out of fuel. Of course engines will not start again when out of fuel but it tries to, hence the puffs. Bombers get an additional puff. (AI are not given this function because they don't try to restart engines ever.)
  • New Impact Animation - Introduced 4 new animations when bullet hits objects with reorganization of the sprite table. The animation takes caliber and object armor into account for the animation selection, plus other animations are also used to mix randomly with the impact with any other effect in the game to portray dozens of impact variations per caliber. (These animations may also be randomly used elsewhere, for instance in explosions or as debris flying off planes or objects.)
  • Many new (particle) animations were added - and most animations are now twice as long (16 frames) in 4 times higher resolution (4096 pixels) and played at twice the speed as in stock v1.2 (most routines dealing with animations were highly optimized to run much faster). Besides that effects are randomly combined to allow hundreds of different mixes instead of just the same repetitive animations from v1.2.



 

Graphics:

  • A graphical enhanced executable - which re-orders all sprites and re-divides them to increase the number of animations, their length and their resolution.
  • 5 extra debris animations, 8 frames 32 pixel each, also active in ground explosions.
  • 5 extra (more than default) terrain tiles (64 total), 2 with water properties have been added
  • Terrain table - was organized to properly read all water tiles.
  • TERRAIN.FXE included -which adds 6 new terrain tiles (the eaw.tm hasn't been adapted for them yet).
  • 200+ new effect drawings/pictures re-divided over 12+ animations(256x256), all 16 pictures (frames) long in 4 times higher resolution(64x64), each using it's own 256 color palette and separate transparency files. (stock EAW only uses around 100 with 8 frames and 32*32 pictures).
  • Hires airfields - New from Scratch, with reduced file sizes for faster rendering. The airfields are seamless: runways use a single drawing rather than tiles like in the stock game. They also now work properly with hilly surfaces: They no longer clip. 
  • Improved lens flare - and a new set of suns with better transparency.
  • New animation codes - for airplanes and ground objects have been introduced...
  • 3D plane shadows.
  • Fighter planes can now use add-on hard pointed .3DZ models which were only available to bombers till now, without the need to recreate the plane. For instance movable flaps and or nose insignia can simply be pasted on.
  • A new improved custom skyset - (one of 250+ available.) The sky is NOT compatible with other versions of EAW.
  • The sky layers were enhanced - Improved sky sets in much higher resolution and without the nasty seams on the horizon.
  • Preliminary 3D clouds - were added. (CTRL C switches them on or off) ...new models are being tested and experimented with...
  • Double Wide Horizon Tiles - (512*256), backwards compatible
  • Street lights and searchlights - that only switch on by night time.
  • Navigational Lights on planes.
  • Rotating windmills and watermills - or other objects, doors which can open and close, etc.
  • Enhanced Horizon and other Fog - slightly denser in the middle, which is more visible when you break through the cloud layer.
  • New polygon types - were incorporated in the 3D models and some hardly used types were given new functions, allowing runway lights and transparent (glass) objects.
  • Extended Plane Line Model View ability - A small engine render change was incorporated ...In higher resolutions the plane line models can remain visible longer, before switching to a single pixel (or dot). The original game uses a fixed offset value for the furthest distance view for higher screen resolutions. I have linked this calculation with the screen resolution setting, so it automatically changes.
  • Line models will randomly switch from black to white - giving the effect of sun reflections in the distance so they're easier to spot in a no icon game (not to mention more life like). The change makes the routine shorter and therefore faster but is more versatile then a render mod which tries to do the same thing by changing the planes.dat distance values.
  • Sprites are 4 times higher in resolution - than stock EAW.
  • Sprites use many more colors for each drawing.
  • Sprites quadruple amount - Nearly all effects of sprites have this amount.
  • The effects were further enhanced with 4 additional animations for bullet impacts. These animations are in the old EAWv1.2 format of 32 x 32 pixels and only 8 frames long (as opposed to EAWPRO's 16 frames of 64 x 64 pixels standard animation). It was done this way to fill up the unused space in the EXTRA.SPT and some actions (like the bullethits and tracers) just don't need the very detailed animations anyway, so these 'standard' but enhanced animations will improve framerates a bit.
  • View Objects - horizon fix with closer zoom.



 

Views:

  • Computed Gunsight - It's effect is visible as the reticule can be seen contracting and expanding (changing size and position up and down) significantly under the gForce effect.
  • Gun sight Improved - Transparent High Resolution gun sights are provided now.
  • Tracers - Better visible tracers.
  • Tracers- Two types of tracers (red & white).
  • Tracers - Multicolor tracers; With the newly added 5 gun calibers, came the need to display tracers differently for each size. The tracer itself is white, blends to yellow and then tracer color all in one "line", so each shot is three colors.
  • HUD - Target Lock now extended to greater distance, range increased.
  • HUD - The text displayed is above the target plane now, making it easier to view the actual planes maneuvers.
  • HUD - Text was spaced out more for better readability on high resolution monitors.
  • Radio Menu Text - made Bold Font.
  • The Target Selection Map and Pilot Map - are changed and contains the target names on the map.
  • Pilot Map Target Colors - Since the pilotmap selection screen can become garbled up with various videocards, the target colors were adapted to at least be visible, so a selection can still be made.
  • Pilot Map Routines - where completely rewritten. Previously some plane types weren't even visible on the map, but now are.
  • The Pilot Map now has Rocket and Jet icons - for the Allies and Quad and Triplane icons for the Germans. A new Fighter bomber icon also. (The last one can also double for Water planes.) 
    Also a new Icon was created for the human player, so it stands out in color and shape. (The icon will always display on top of everything else). With more human flown planes in online battles the icon is displayed on the players's machine only, i.e. all other human planes are displayed the same as AI.
  • Cockpit panels - are graphically fixed with fonts enhanced to be readable with higher resolutions.
  • Default install screen resolution - is set at 1024 x 768 to make it easier to setup the game. The old resolutions 640 x 480 and 800 x 600 are not always supported anymore.
  • New cockpit gunflash was activated (programmed with the original remmed code)



 

Difficulty/Settings:

  • No overheat reset for re-spawned planes...
  • Mission Selection screens - have added choices like for instance the added night selection, or 16 plane selection (rather than the default stock of 12),
  • Mission Selection screens - the no enemy selection
  • Mission Selection screens - and the added cloud selections.
  • Two Campaign values added - that where only used in campaign mode are now implemented for single and quick missions and incorporated in the added weather selection (stormy and inclement). On top of this 3D clouds are generated when the selection is not clear weather. Increased resolution, added/changed cloud layers, colors, transparencies and 3D clouds all interact with each other, the horizon and the skybox take full advantage of the FXEXE's improvements.
  • Radio communication and speech - responses only available with in the cockpit view/position.



 

Sound:

  • Revised sound system...
  • Extra in-game sounds were incorporated...
  • A completely redesigned startup routine with more sounds...
  • Player Pilot Scream on impact.
  • Stall warning electric alarm sound played.
  • Ground Collision electric alarm sound played.
  • Structural and Over speed electric alarm sound played.
  • Bullets zipping by sound.
  • Engine splutter sounds were added when plane is low on fuel.
  • Fixed a bug from the original v1.2 game which wouldn't shut down engine sound when propellers had stopped after the engine blows up.
  • When plane is critically damaged, remaining ammo explodes.
  • Radio is no longer audible in external views - so no indications of imminent threats to the player when not in cockpit.
  • Quad Engine Start Up - possibly add these in...



 

A.I.:

  • Aggressive Behavior - Even more aggressive AI (hence the new name, EAWPRO); Current AI now rival human players in terms of behavior.
  • More Intelligence - Were given more intelligence and their reaction speeds improved dramatically because of the optimized and adapted routines.
  • More agile and aggressive AI...
  • Highly responsive - to gun fire from behind.
  • Improved AI - emergency landings.
  • Improved AI - survival in mountainous terrain.
  • Proper take-off - AI will not roll if plane in front isn't rolling.
  • Runway line up - spacing based on plane sizes.
  • Collision - AI can now collide with runway objects.
  • Improved bomber AI - More visible AI changes in that the AI Bombers will now fight back using maneuvers.
  • the AI was the ability to go back into attack mode when flying defensive and use offensive maneuvers.
  • Unpredictable AI objectives. AI behavior was changed in assigning their role in missions, you just don't
    know what their objective is anymore.
  • Plane Filter Added - The filter allows a better use of the current PLANES.DAT switches which control AI behavior and I now have additional fighter-bombers, strike-fighters, attack-bombers and invaders... (see Plane Filter under modding section below)
  • Kamikaze Attacker - A new suicide routine was built which allows any plane to be set in the planes.dat file parameters to become a kamikaze attacker. The new routine additionally frees the V1 slot to be used for any flyable plane type since it's behavior is now under control of the new planes.dat entry. (It was flyable already but this is just a more elegant solution as it can retain it's original behavior if required.)
    Since all plane slots have become flyable, a specific entry parameter in the planes.dat has become more or less obsolete, so this has become the new trigger for A.I. Kamikaze Attacker behavior. When the parameter is set, it allows the A.I. planes to retain their original behavior, i.e. they will still fight, bomb or destroy when dictated by the game or when they're told to do something by the human player. However when they arrive over the target area they'll dive towards the target and crash themselves. Their aim isn't very precise, since it uses the same behavior taken from the V1. (possibly this can be improved in the near future) The suicide parameter flag can be set active in all mission types and years, if the planes.dat allows that year selection. Also to note, this new routine leaves the original V1 intercept intact, which is important for 1945 campaign mode to keep working properly.
  • More realistic crash behavior - The plane crash routine was altered to give less predictable maneuver algorithms. The original game was doing every crash the same way.
  • 'ACE' skill level (a fourth option) - has been added on the 'single mission parameter screen'. The three stock skill levels receive a 12.5% skill improvement. This new routine effects the standard Pilot Skill level in the Config menu as well. It will effectively use one level of skill higher but will use the randomness of a lower skill level.
  • ACE skill level - Further expansion...
  • Line Ahead Formation introduced - In 1940 Battle of Britain there is a 1 in 256 random probability of EAW using the line ahead formation. This less organized and inexperienced type of 'formation' (more like a rag tag group of planes all flying the same altitude at various distances) was only used at the start of the war since there wasn't much experience in forming defensive or offensive formations (no real tactical positioning) at that time.
  • AAA and flack capability on ANY groundobject - target or none target, static or moving. When a target location has a single AAA or Flack position, the maximum number of flack and AAA will be divided between all the objects which were given attack/defense capability. When one of the positions gets destroyed another one will take it's place untill there are no more objects available which were assigned this capability. In other words, the destroyed position simply moves to a new location and becomes active again.
  • AI can now send similar messages as the human player, based on the situation it's in. It's still a bit rudimentary but could lend itself to a complete subset of AI commands where there were none. This will lead to cooperative AI working together. For now some 24 commands are chosen randomly when an AI is attacked.



 

Ground:

  • Vehicle Guns - All ground vehicles have more guns added to them.
  • Convoys and trains - were given more defensive capabilities.
  • Convoys - with added tank protection.
  • Chance for longer - trains & larger convoys (ships, tanks, trucks) all moving and firing
  • The original birdseed routine was modified to spawn more people in the game...
  • Soldier animation activated for most objects (uses a modified birdseed spawn routine).
  • Moving ships.
  • Sinkable Ships.
  • Moving Convoys.
  • Initial impact of a single bomb and the simultaneous explosion of an entire truck convoy (whatever they were carrying). The smoke, fires and sand comes in the seconds following this explosion. By now there are dozens of complete sets which are fully or partially interchangeable, depending on what people like best...
  • People - The whole EAW world was redesigned and populated with realistic looking people (taken from Microprose's game Gunship)
  • People - More dead bodies
  • Terrain Tiles - Less repetitious terrain making better use of available tiles...
  • Objects - Many more ground objects.
  • Objects - New ground object slots
  • Objects - Hundreds of bridges added to the terrain (700+)
  • Objects - Barrage balloons, "floating" , tethered to a building.
  • Terrain - Less cluttered EAW_TTD with object separation (optimized) for better FPS averages...
  • Terrain - Hilly additions.
  • Airfield Tiles - Airfields with semi transparent tiles, backwards compatible
  • Airfield Lights - Runway lights in Airfld.3DZ, active by night only, backwards compatible
  • Object - new little house from Gunship with the trees around it. (I freed up space for that one extra object)
  • Object - A new 3D B26 shadow, 3DZ model.
  • Object - Seaweed / Ocean floor simulated with 3DZ model lowered below the water level. (brownish).
  • Planes placed on the runway with sufficient space for the B17's



 

Controls:

  • Pilot Seat Moveable - One step back away from dash. (usually resulting in a wider view per resolution). Wider than Stock EAW forward views at the same resolution. For an example Using 1024x768 would normally leave the pilots view face directly into the dash, resulting in a much smaller FOV than 800x600. In FXEXE you can zoom back and increase your FOV. So set the eaw.ini resolution for 1024x768 and zoom back the one step when you get in the game and its amazing how much you can see. (currently you have to zoom back every time). Note: Zooming back more than once or using other resolutions currently cause rendering issues.
  • All flyable Bombers - (Offline and Multiplayer capable) Bombers can be flown offline in air starts by selecting 'LOAD' in the mission parameter screen and selecting one of the prefab .MSN files. The mission will automatically select new random targets but can be edited normally. Quick missions are fully supported. Only twin engine Bombers can do ground starts.
  • Offline game Autopilot 4 engine start is enabled - (start 1 and 2 then hit autopilot to start 3 & 4, optional switch autopilot off when all running)
  • 4 engine Full Control - start/stop keys implemented for the B17 and quad engined , for engines 3 & 4 , use of the + and - keys was added. The rewritten routines do NOT interfere with keyboard throttle up/down (+/-) movement elsewhere. As long as planes don't have engines 3 & 4 it will still work on single and twin engined planes. The EAW/INI still allows remapping of these keys and I will probably adapt their text entries to show the duality of these keys.



 

Missions:

  • A Built-in Custom Campaign for online use - and made to work for offline aswell. Battle over the Reich, Dunkirk (It has nothing to do with the original v1.2 campaign) It's 1944'ish and the Allies are about to enter Germany en route to the Rhine and eventually Berlin. France has been freed right from the first mission, so it's only a target for the Gerries al the way to the end....all Allied destruct targets are in Germany only. You can't attack a friendly area but only fly intercepts, such as over France.
  • Each year now has it's own frontlines - Several frontline sets have been created and tested (Dunkirk, D-Day, Overlord, Remagen) to allow a wide choice of mission types.



 

Multiplayer:

  • Autopilot/wingleveler added in multiplayer.
  • 308 Mayhem locations in multiplayer randomly selected.



 

INI Entries:

  • Graphics - Bpp. Bits per pixel, the game uses 16 Bpp by default, 32 is optional but requires 32 bit textures.
  • Eaw - Birdseed 120. is a value that controls the number of birds or the countdown timer until spawned, the game will set it's own value if it's not within the correct limits. Birdseed is a percentage taken from a random value in seconds, used in the spawn birds timer with a minimum of 30. So 120 translates to 120 x (value between 0 - 255) but if lower then 30, 30 is set. It's why we don't see em too often, they're usually spawned behind the plane, hardly ever in front. There are actually two different routines in effect, each with a slightly different way to use the birdseed value...
  • Netoption - Warpspeed is the speed with which the game moves a plane back into it's position if an online connection is temporarily lost. This was moved from hardcoded into the ini.
  • Netoption - AutoRespawn an on or off function, getting a new plane when killed.
    (the AA selection has a dual purpose, it doubles for the amount of objects in Interdiction Missions.)
  • Netoption - The FXEXE is now using the networking entries in the EAW.INI so users can switch to anything they like for Quick Missions by making the selections directly in the networking screen, without the need to fly or by editing the .INI directly before launching the game.
    You select Multi-play Setup option, select TCP/IP direct play, modify the parameters, exit the screen and then launch the Quick Mission from the games Main Screen. (Note: The TCP/IP protocol has to be installed in Windows networking and detected by EAW to be visible on the list).
  • Quick missions will use TimeOfDay setting under [NETOPTION] now, rather than a 'random' time. to set , go into Single Mission Parameters and set the time or in the eaw.ini file.
  • DisplayInfoSetting=0 setting -  is now under control of the EAW.INI, When set to zero, It will now also switch off all the pilot map's info for a true no icon game, only the target locations are visible. (All navigation has to happen by recognizing landmarks and through radio info now).
  • FlightModel=x setting - A new FM multiplier feature was added which changes the flight model's behavior to allow for a wider range of aircraft without the need to modify any .FLT's. The feature was added to the EAW.INI and can now use 4 values:
    0 = off
    1 = pre WWII planes
    2 = WWII planes (default)
    3 = post WWII planes
    There's a bit more to do but the switches are working...
  • Added Skill Level Selection - SkillLevel selection in the EAW.INI ranges from 0 to 3 (instead of stock 0 to 2).
  • Tracer Frequency Control - Programmed tracer frequency under control of the EAW.INI entry LimitedAmmo= 1-15 max. The value 0 still is unlimited ammo.
    Since it's a bitwise logical operand the sensible values are 1 3 7 or 15, the values in between will work too but makes the behavior more irregular. Changing to a higher value will slightly improve framerate as well, because there will be more illuminated dots then tracers.
    The default value of 1 (stock EAW) will probably be the best choice for most people and will allow backward compatibility, the higher values are mainly meant to improve FPS when necessary since the EAW.INI EffectsDetail setting was replaced with this option which simply is faster then the stock routine. The higher the value the fewer tracers.
  • ExtraSquad setting=1 in EAWPRO actually produces twice the amount of planes with the same setting in v1.2.
  • EffectsDetail=1 setting in EAWPRO will now very likely produce more sprites then v1.2 at it's highest setting.



 

MODDERS INFORMATION

  • The effects in the FXEXE can easily be swapped between every other effect by renaming the two files to be swapped. Smoke can be turned into fire and vice versa, there's even a partial fire turning into smoke animation. This just happens to be one of the dozens possible configurations as its modular.
  • Maximum Flak and AA capability can be assigned freely to any object in the game, such as buildings.
  • Accurate pilotmap to within 100 feet of portrayed landmarks (WYSIWYA)
  • A GLIDER feature incorporated and the bombers are split into various subtypes, which the game can now recognize. The V1's are now also recognized irrespective of what role they've been given, it can even be a bomber.
  • TriEngined were added but Pro doesn't have these planes yet. Recently more additions were done to get them to work right, in that positional damage will destroy the appropriate engines (if any).
  • Skys; The skies in EAW are all about atmosphere which is why I spend boatloads of time to enhance them; 15 years after my first creation I can say that the sky files were amongst the toughest things I've done with graphics...techniques were developed and steadily improved over the years; I experimented with colors, transparency depths, tiling, removing seams, layering and used every Photoshop technique I could think of to create 1000+ skysets...all skysets are under revision...

 

General Modding

  • Modding the FXEXE isn't any different then modding the 1.2 version. You convert 8 bit .TPC's or .TER's to a .PCX change the drawing, convert it back and replace the old drawing with a new one.
  • No changes were made to the 3DZ format except for the Airfld**.3DZ's which were changed to use the same polygon types as the normal .3DZ files and now include luminous and semi-transparent but are still under revision.
  • All other files are still fully 1.2 compatible.
  • No changes have yet been made to the Campaign format other then activating 3 career years for US planes. The lack of this campaign year limit's many add-ons which rely on the US presence in a certain time period, even when the US slot is occupied by Russian, Fin, Japanese or other planes.
  • The use of file managers like OAW or Skins 'n More, ECA panel etc. are still supported but without appropriate knowledge it's not advised to mix old and new version files, only what's been created thus far for the 1.2 version is fully supported. Care should be taken with Airfld.3DZ's because of their changed formats, adding the FXEXE specific set last will cure any issues by overwriting the old versions. Use of my empty Airfield.3DZ is allowed without restrictions. In spite of this the FXEXE was hardcoded to give priority to the .FXE files, which are just renamed .CDF's with a reorganized structure which I felt might make things a bit easier when swapping campaigns or add-ons.
  • Skinning FXEXE planes in UHR (UltraHighRes) can be a piece of cake. You just take an existing skin and resize it's textures to 512 * 512. This obviously won't give the best result but it's a good start, a good image program can resample decently. You can draw the skins in UHR too. UHR skins can have 4 times more information in them and therefore take up approximately 4 times more memory but since it's just a TEX and a TRA therefore uses less memory then other source code modification methods, Less means higher FPS, less loading time, etc. etc. Another advantage is that the total file size of the (default) 3DZ models remains the same, unless a free 3DZ is used to add some more detail as opposed to 'unclean' planes which copy the 3DZ several times over and keep useless information in the model which again slows down FPS.

    The FXEXE allows the use of all 3DZ's as used in the B17 model. Noseart and turret slots can be conveniently used on all aircraft if one desires. (I won't enter into detail about the added action codes for movable surfaces and improvements for illuminated surfaces until it can be properly tested in what would be the a prototype of such a plane.)

    As a 3D modeler I believe this to be the easiest and cheapest method to improve plane graphics, it's also universally applicable, both for multiskin versions or just singleskin as with the FXEXE, it takes skinning back to it's origin. A no nonsense approach, clean and simple (for those who know how to do it).
    Whatever method is used, they can be used side by side at the same time during the same game.

 

Hi-Res Airfields

  • Airfields; They can break or curve at each corner, because of it's 4 nodes plus a centre node. The airfields have more then that but often the runway also just has 4 or sometimes 8. These nodes are never in the same location where the tile curves and causes them to sometimes remain hoovering over the edge, untill you get close.

    You'll then see the field flip down all of a sudden when it comes within the range of the programmed distance to glue the nodes to the elevationmap. It's nodes are usually not in the right spot to follow the curvature of the tile but the nodes will find a point underneath to glue on too. Between two adjacent nodes can be quite a distance and it will always do a straight line between these. That straight line never corresponds to the curvature of the tile, so it either hovers above the tile or goes through it, from one side of a hill to the other side, where the next node found a spot to glue itself to.

    Another thing is a possible solution to runways and grass separating on hilly surfaces and showing the terrain in the open seam. This is caused by airfield.3DZ nodes being attached to the terrain only when present but the original models use very few nodes so this behavior doesn't work too well. These fields will use a different way based on the object's rendering sequence, which is the order in which each part is drawn.
    The airfield where given a polygon choice for each section, as opposed to the original game which only allows one polygon type to be used. This allows me to build airfields with solid, semi-transparent or luminescent sections. It's the same as in the object .3DZ files, giving more choices for texturing the fields. Transparent/luminescent and none transparent/luminescent parts can be layered or sit besides one another. They use 8 times higher resolution drawings for all sections with added markings/details and runway lights at night. The texture naming wasn't altered and I stuck to the original names for backward compatibility reasons but more textures can be used in any resolution up to 512*512.

 

.MSN Built-in Editor

  • A huge problem with the original game and custom campaigns has always been that they never had appropriate .MSN files with them, but these files need to be set right for a campaign/mission to work. I've added a routine which sets the. MSN file to the Campaign's parameters, i.e. frontlines, airfields and targets in use. This should effectively make an external .MSN editor redundant as the game can now query the files and come up with a logical mission, similar to when the original game generates these files for the stock campaigns when they are not present.

    Once the FXEXE's new routine calculates and sets the new files. All that is required is to select a .MSN file from the mission parameter LOAD selection and the parameters should be OK from then on. Changes can still be made to all parameters afterwards, the game will follow these new campaign parameters from then on. It may be necessary to do this for all aircraft in the game since each plane has it's own .MSN file, but sometimes the parameters are accidentally correct, it just depends.

    When an add-on campaign crashes, this feature can help by fixing the problem, thus far it's worked for me 100%. I've noticed that when a .MSN file is corrupt relating to their campaign, you sometimes just can't enter a certain plane's hangar anymore. Obviously you also can't select LOAD from the mission parameter screen.  However ALL .MSN files are accessible from ANY plane's hangar, so as long as you can get into one of the hangers you can modify all files from there. When you can't get in at all anymore then this feature will not help and the FXEXE .MSN editor is the only thing that still can. However using .MSN files from other campaigns may still make one or two planes available but sadly not many knew these files were essential, so they're hard to find.

 

Computed Gunsight

  • I already had the computed gunsight incorporated, but it's effect wasn't very visible, probably because the calculation had a flaw. The offset only worked with FXEXE gunsights (which were not centered in the drawing because of bullet calibration purposes.) On centered drawings the gunsight resizes too but the kill point's position remains unchanged. I did some more work on that routine to see how things really work, and I changed the routine accordingly.

    It's effect is more visible now as the reticule can be seen contracting and expanding significantly under gForce effect. This expansion and contraction effectively moves the kill point slightly higher or lower when gforces kick in. (Sadly the game doesn't have sideforces for roll so this is all that can be achieve).

    Through .LDR files the effect can be increased, decreased or bypassed and the overall reticle size can be manipulated too. The maximum allowed values but can be higher if the drawing is smaller, this essentially mimics matching the ring to a planes outer wingtips at a certain distance.

 

New Sound system

  • The routines where changed in that they can now use the unused sounds, delays were added to all sounds to thicken the sound. (The routine which does this itself wasn't changed in how it sets the delays). Pitch shifting was also applied to most sounds which are moving on the screen relating to the camera position. Basically it was completely rewritten to get these features in, also because the bomber sounds weren't behaving as other planes did because they originally had no cockpits, but they do now.

    The rewrite does things much smarter and deals with each engine sound individually instead of a group for the multi engined planes. It allows for planes without engines and 1, 2, 3, or 4 engines but I didn't change to 16 bit samples or higher samplerates. It just won't make much difference for most sounds, especially not for explosions and low frequency sounds, but it will cost memory and time to play them. However EAWPRO has no limitation in what can be used, neither has v1.2. Any sounds I've created stayed with the original sound format of a slot but I do have them in 16 bit stereo in 48Khz samplerate.

    I can't really explain the changed sound system further, it's a total rewrite to take better advantage of certain things without loosing backward compatibility but with the more options. Perhaps you understand that when I add sound to the geese, EAWPRO needs a change to some routine as well as a changed soundfile, because there's no such sound file or action for that file programmed. For now all the extra sounds use the original soundfiles but they're triggered in many more occasions using different parameters then originally programmed. Of course these routines have been highly optimized to save on the time needed for selection and streaming and are now significantly smaller, thus freeing CPU use for other things.

 

New View System

  • View System....a new view system was incorporated, allowing visibility of objects up to app. 25000 feet, under or above the clouds. View distance is set for each object individually in the hitbubble table (nothing new with that), but TMOD_L was freed up for other purposes so the game only displays the more detailed and hires TMOD_H at all set ranges. This basically frees up memory from [73] TMOD_L's and their S.TPC's. The resulting difference in FPS is negligible as long as stock objects are used, freed memory becomes more significant with more detailed objects and textures. Downside is more shimmering on distant objects...

 

Four "Smoke" Algorithms

  • There are 4 new ones, and they are currently being used for additional Smoke effects. (However they are not limited to smoke animations.) The 4 Smokes where given names to help identify the separate used algorithms.

    For testing purposes engines were changed for multistage damage levels and tests were successful. There are many animations in the FXEXE so it'll take a while before they're all programmed optimally but it'll be a lot of fun playing around with them. I may program a random choice somewhere which can switch between multiple animations, so the effects won't look the same for all planes.

    Currently there are black smoke puffs to represent the engine hasn't blown up yet and is still rotating. White smoke is used to represent engines that are totally destroyed. My previous work I have done allow the engines to have exhaust smoke or flames, I added that long ago. The 4 new algorithms are on top of the older effect.

 

Extended Rendering of Plane Line Model

  • The model I changed uses the smallest possible texture with two black and two white squares and is universally used for all planes. I just can't say if that texture isn't reloaded for each plane individually, as goes for all the other textures which aren't using a universal name. Backward compatibility remains in important aspect in this.

    The distance change can be controlled by a .LDR which can change the calculation factor by 1, 2, 4, 8 etc. For the moment I've used 2 as default, tests show which setting gives the most realistic effect and allows optimal FPS. Findings conclude that FPS in battle remains unaffected by this change.

    In test examples, the furthest visible distance (from planes.dat) the the dot drawing hasn't even kicked in yet. (The planes.dat could be modified for a further maximum view distance for the dot to remain visible.)

    My change makes the rendering routine for the lines shorter and therefore faster but is more versatile then a rendermod which tries to do the same thing by just changing the planes.dat distance values alone, with out taking in various screen resolutions into account....Those types of mods are however still fully compatible with the FXEXE.

 

The FM's

  • These models don't pretend to know how the FM's work or how a plane should/will behave, nobody will ever know as the programmed physics are too complex to make any sense of. No one has ever flown a WWII airplane and therefore any custom FM is just a personal view on how difficult it is to maneuver the planes and keep em flying. Besides that this is only a game and the game physics lack a lot of real world details. There are not many real pilots that recently flown a WWII craft to compare virtual planes. You have to rely on the physics and the stats, then the lack of.
     
    In online games there's no choice for individual pilots as everyone must use the same set, however offline people can use whatever flightmodel has been created and make it as tough as they desire. Personally I like the original stock FM's best, knowing they were created by people who really knew how the EAW game physics works, some of the other custom FM's where unpredictable and sometimes totally ridicules. Fortunately there's plenty of FM choices out there to make everyone happy, I have app. 2000 models I've used in the past but for the online fun I like our FM and I think so do the pilots that fly with me. Occasionally I still compare old and new but it doesn't tell me anything about how WWII planes behaved, only that I can make it harder for myself if I so please.

    WWII planes were NOT structurally unsound machines with a tendency to loose control in a fight, especially in the hands of experienced pilots. They were sophisticated machines, agile and fast and were constructed so pilots could focus on maneuvering instead of dealing with constant stalls. Of course there have been exceptions but EAW planes are the cream of the crop. 

     

New FM Multiplier

  • Effectively up to 255 entries are allowed for future enhancements, but besides allowing a wider range of aircraft these values can also double as extra difficulty setting where 3 is highest for now. The calculation is applied to all aircraft but have less influence on AI, as was programmed in v1.2, unless framerates of 60 or higher allow the AI to use the human flight models. Changing this value may also improve inaccurate or unbalanced flightmodels and influence overall gameplay, which is common to changed flightmodels.

    These values could be added to the .FLT files as well as a future option which would make it harder to control but as an advantage would allow mixed FM's of various aircraft era in a single game. It seems a bit ridiculous to me to incorporate this feature as I feel that, in spite of a certain era spillover, planes belong to a particular era and the .FLT files provide sufficient room to model such spillover without adding the values to the .FLT's.

 

Advanced AI Maneuvering

  • A new filter was programmed which allows more diverse maneuvering for the lower AI skill levels. Expert planes remain unaltered by the new filter. The lower skills now have a 10% chance to do expert moves when the enemy is within 2000 feet. Expert planes are programmed to enter this phase when the enemy is closer then 1000 feet, simply because they react faster then lower skills. Additionally, the lower skills can still optionally follow the original game's maneuvering phases when not selected by the random routine. This essentially separates rookie pilots from the more skilled and assigns them to their own maneuvering phases with a newly added phase for the greenest, which wasn't there previously.

    In short, the lowest skill, which in v1.2 was set the same as medium, now has it's own maneuvering phases and criteria for carrying them out and with the medium skilled they have an additional random option to do expert moves if the enemy is closer then 2000 feet. An additional benefit of this is that planes are less likely to get stuck in a repetitive or endless loop, like endlessly flying circles around each other because the game only allows that one option for a particular skill level under certain circumstances. The random expert moves will make em do something entirely different.

    Another benefit is that these lower skill levels are more likely to react sooner when an enemy gets close, i.e. within 2000 feet. This behavior changes real time and makes it much less predictable as to when the none expert planes will start using expert maneuvering or when they stop doing that. The routine doesn't influence the preprogrammed reaction times for each skill level, so in spite of being able to detect the enemy sooner their moves will remain as sluggish as in v1.2. You can't become an ace pilot in a single battle but you can occasionally do the right thing either by accident or by learning from mistakes.

    Furthermore the criteria calculation now also allows higher skill levels to be introduced (Advanced Criterium Emulation or ACE for short, :D), EAWPRO already has many provisions for this but it's only partially active due to a limitation in the configuration screen to select only 3 skill levels. I hope full implementation will follow.

 

Slot Free System

  • The new plane slot free system has freed plane type slots up so there are no more slot specific programmed entries for any particular plane. Making the slots truly free will allow the planes to work as desired without any influence by the programs other routines when they're put in any specific slot. The old entries, which were mainly related to twin engine mounts, have been adapted to a new planetype, the Fighter Bomber which are controlled by a switch in the PLANES.DAT.

    The modified routines will recognize the switch and make the new routines available when set. They will also recognize the side these planes are on and adapt their behavior accordingly. For an example: There's a slight difference programmed for aggressiveness for German planes since in real life they tend to be more fanatical and brainwashed.

    I've been very careful in retaining the game's original behavior for these planes by setting a random chance to do the new programming hoping it will not kill people's liking for the original 1.2 version. It's a subtle change pending online testing with the group but the randomness can be easily increased or decreased at any given stage in the routine.

    It kind of opens a can of worms as the possibilities are pretty limitless and to be honest I've gone more by calculating probabilities then actual in-game kill ratios. I think balance is essential and in offline tests the kill ratio seemed pretty equal. The changes were mainly induced by the lack of activity with twin engine bombers, like the Mosquito's which are sitting ducks in v1.2, especially in Intercept and Escort missions.



    Another switch in my routine allows the instant switch from defensive to offensive mode but I can't verify(4-29-2019) yet if that's working as the chance for seeing such a change during missions isn't very high and I've done a few hundred by now.

 

New AI Bomber Behavior

  • More visible AI changes; It has always bothered me that several twin engined planes performing in a bomber role were sitting ducks, so some pretty observable changes were made to this behavior. They will now be more evasive and may actually even start fighting back, after all they're heavily armed and why not use this feature for a more challenging fight.

    Of course their main objective is to bomb the target and they're still pretty successful at that, even when under heavy attack. Their behavior was enhanced without compromising the original routines, in other words they will still do as was programmed but with an additional chance to do something new.

    In most situations they will try to regroup but it may not always be possible when for instance these planes are under constant attack or suffer from target fixation, which is not abnormal in the game.

    Planes with extra (dorsal/tail/turret) gunners may try to bring down the enemy or at least try and slow them down so the rest of the group can make it out of the battle area safely, even when they have no primary weapons or these ran out of bullets.

    In EAWv1.2 no planes will offensively attack when performing bomb runs in Escort and Intercept missions, they're not primary airplanes and not under human control. In EAWPRO the Mosquito, P38J, 110G and 410 will attack for now, but any plane can be assigned to do this 'fighting' behavior. It's essentially part of designing EAWPRO's new slotfree system.

    In other bombing missions as primary planes under human control they will start fighting as soon as they spot the enemy but regroup when the command is given by the human pilot. Note that the Attack Groundtargets command doesn't help in this when these planes are under attack, something which these new routines can possibly fix.

    It is as I suspected and with a minor adaptation to the new routines, bombers will no longer engage, irrespective of what mission they fly whether it's a human controlled group or not. However in human controlled missions all tactical commands remain operational, i.e. commands to attack, and they may well follow those orders. When damaged they will release their bombs to lighten the plane and try to maintain sufficient lift.

    Obviously bombers are not meant to fly an escort with other bombers but they still can and will stay in close formation unless ordered otherwise. I think the fun of it is that new strategies have to be developed in order to accomplish the mission and keep the group alive. The AI will follow the leader and as such human pilots need to keep an eye on attacking aircraft and fly evasive when necessary, after all most of the bombers don't have human controlled guns and their strength lies in staying in formation. In short, bombers now behave as bombers should when they have no real fighting capability and it feels realistic to me.

    When bombers are on their own, after for instance the initial attack on ground objects or having been crippled and slowly loosing connection, the human player can try to slow down too to maintain a coherent group and perhaps save the crippled plane from getting destroyed. As far as I can tell from these few missions it's a whole new ball game.

    Bombers can seek the protection of the escorts in human flown missions but that may lead em straight into the turmoil as the escorts will be fighting enemy AI and there's no telling when they'll head back to base. All in all there's no telling how the AI routines will handle this new stuff but I kept all original behavior intact except where I felt this behavior wasn't appropriate and the new routines will only kick in when everything else fails.

    The routines were written for easy adaptations and tweaks when necessary but there's a ton of new possibilities which simply can not all be tested but I'll be keeping an eye on how it behaves during the Launchpad's online sessions and tweak things further when necessary.

    I programmed a distinct difference between Axis and Allied aircraft, in that the Axis planes tend to be more aggressive, which I think is in line with reality and since I think there are more Allied pilots still flying it also serves as a purpose to make it a bit tougher for them, but it will also not be easy when you fly the other side.

    This is not dependent on the AI experience level, its luck of the draw regardless of the AI pilot experience, even green pilots can behave this way.

    Enemy AI bombers in Intercept missions and friendly AI bombers in Escort missions don't care about the Attack plane switch in planes.dat file, not even the twins. They rely on their escorts to protect them, their objective is to drop bombs and get the hell out, You will find that they will fight afterwards now with which ever guns have remaining ammo, unlike how they behaved in stock EAWv1.2 where they would not fight.
     
  • One thing which I was after was to keep the bombers together in human controlled missions but differentiate between bombers and planes carrying bombs. I've flown escorts in heavy bombers but the game doesn't really have mission types for such and it is quite useless when your group of heavies start attacking the enemy fighters only using their defensive guns. You can't aim or shoot yourself as these planes have no offensive guns, except for the B26.

    Now you can fly missions in which you must try and remain with your escorts to enlarge their and your combined defensive fire poser, while controlling your own group and try to keep em out of harm's way. They will follow you where ever you go and if you fly a bit evasive they will do too. Still you need to stay with the escrtees and they fly very slow (app. 100Mph in the approach). The new routine allows AI in your group to get away from harm on their own, AFTER they dropped their load or when they don't cary any.

    You can try to regroup them as such will improve your defensive capabilities but they sometimes get hit and slow down. Your option is to also slow down to help them but more often it's a lost case. The AI will NOT engage enemies and for now the attacking command has no influence because of this new bit of programming as far as I can tell. The AI want to get back to base asap but may get drawn into a squirmish where they try every trick in the book to get rid of their attackers. Their defensive guns can still bring the enemy down and when the coast is clear they head back again following the programmed waypoints.

    It just makes more sense to fly the heavies this way, it gives the missions a purpose. For the other bomber types, invaders, divebombers, attack-bombers and fighter-bombers things have changed too, they're more free to engage the enemy since they have offensive weapons but when things quiet down around them they will still head to the target, drop their bombs and try to get back to base, as those are it's main objective. After dropping their bombs they're free to do whatever the game has programmed for them, if necessary fight to the death.

    These are just initial observations with a few planetypes, and I'm sure there are a few surprises in store, perhaps a B17 trying to loop out of trouble and finding out that it can't do it, that's not new behavior when flying heavies in v1.2 and I kept all of that just because it looks awesome when they try and fail. Mind you they're very good at getting back in control after a stall, :)

    Here's a picture of my escort of B17's in a B26, notice that the enemy in twins (410's and 110's) are all over us, but my group remained calm, except me as I was keeping an eye on enemies closing in and lost contact with the B17's. I had to find em again to stay protected but one of my planes got separated and had to go it alone. There's another routine for separated planes and it did what it had to do, try to get back in formation and get them out of there after delivering it's payload.
     

 

Plane Filter

  • I've build a new working Plane Filter; The filter allows better use of the current PLANES.DAT switches (which control AI behavior). This has allowed me to now have additional fighter-bombers, strike-fighters, attack-bombers and invaders which can easily be set by modders of the game. They need understanding how to edit the PLANES.DAT file with a hexeditor, (There is a old tool made by Jel that has a GUI interface which can also be used).

    The new changes to the PLANES.DAT file has become more version specific but remains backwards compatible. The older versions will merely activate this new behavior when switches are set, which I believe will only result in more interesting and definitely different mission types in which bombers play a more intelligent role and stick to what bombers usually do, focus on delivering their payload, once that's done they become more free to make it harder on the players to kill them.

    There's also a possibility for an automatic night-fighter version selection, which is obviously automatically selected when it's dark...

 

New ACE Skill Level

  • In stock EAWv1.2 on the Mission Parameters Screen (“Pilot Skill Level”), there are three settings that are set independently for friend and foe, Green0, Seasoned1, and Expert2. These three settings use the previously set Configuration>Difficulty>Enemy Skill Level setting as a random bit to work from. So there no a guarantee that you won’t encounter airmen of different experience levels. For an example: If you check Seasoned, you might still run into the occasional greenhorn or ace(expert) AI pilot.

    However in FXEXE, there is an added and new Ace setting option on the Mission Parameters Screen (“Pilot Skill Level”). The added 'ACE' Pilot Skill Level in the FXEXE allows squadrons with a definite All AI Veteran pilots. To do this, you have to set the Skill Levels to ACE in Difficulty (“Enemy Skill Level”) AND additionally select ACE in the Single Mission Parameters (“Pilot Skill Level”). Then All expert planes will only be assigned, there is no random selection by the FXEXE EAW program when those two settings are met.

    If you still want random skill levels picked by the FXEXE exe, you can set the Mission Parameters Screen (“Pilot Skill Level”) to less than Ace and it will use the the previously set Configuration>Difficulty>Enemy Skill Level setting as a random bit to work from, just like stock EAWv1.2, except the FXEXE will add an approximately 12.5% skill improvement then it was maximally possible before. So FXEXE is still making it more challenging even though its using the random bit.
     

    Note 1: This choice of (ACE) can be assigned to friend or foe independently, these settings are stored in each plane's .MSN file in the savedata folder so it will be used when that .MSN file is loaded. Since these values are stored in the .MSN file they will be used in Quick Mission Mode as well, after all, a Quick Mission is generated from the last flown aircraft in Single Mission mode. I can't really say whether groupstrength is recalculated, it probably is since the individual plane skill levels are not stored anywhere, only the group levels are.

    Note 2: The Stock Randomness; The INI setting ("Enemy Skill Level") which also allows 3 choices which helps to determine the average skill level which is then used by the in game selection ("Pilot Skill Level") to build up the squadron skill strength. The end result is you get a mixed squad with certain random percentages of each skill. The higher the INI value the more chance of a better skilled squadron but the same goes for the in game selection, both settings influence the squad strength.

    Note 3: With Stock EAWv1.2 you can't go higher then setting all skill levels to the max, but even then there is a slight randomness to the AI pilot skills, with the new FXEXE ACE setting you have one more (4th) level you can assign. The new routines built in the FXEXE effectively widens the gap between the lowest and highest possible selection of skill level. If you set Friendly's to the lowest settings and Foe to the largest setting, you in the weakest squadron and the enemy being all expert, your objectives must be more protective in order to win, you must be personally a better pilot.

 

Added Skill Level Selection

  • Another change was made to the SkillLevel selection in the EAW.INI as the values 0 and 1 (Dumber and Dumb) are totally useless to most players as most players use 2 (Highest setting) all the time. I've introduced 3 as the ultimate skill level and changed routines to recognize the value. There is a bit of a snag though, the configuration screen can't display the value so I can't use that level yet. However because of the programming level 1 was changed to level 2 pilot skill leaving everything else for that setting unchanged. This means that AI aiming is still a bit less good and it also leaves groundfire to be less precise, but in terms of maneuvering they're as quick and good as in level 2. In level 1 enemies will also not immediately attack as opposed to level 2, so essentially level 1 only has gotten better pilots.

 

Formation Randomizer

  • All formations are all subject to randomizing except the original V1. I just replicated the code the V1 formation used and added it to the other planes and added the randomizer bit (without altering the original V1 code. Meaning they all still fly in a straight line formation, as if they been fired from the same location).

    The formation table holds the X, Y and Z spacing's between each group and individual planes in the formation, and since there are 12 planes max hardcoded, a formation uses 3 lines in that table, one line for each set of 4 planes. (I found that you can double the amount of planes in each line, or quadruple them even. However it turned out to get too busy to get decent FPS.)

    When AI engage that stream they will all focus on the first plane in sight. Only when their attention is drawn to another one entering their battle zone/radius will they go for the next plane, but that next plane is 2500 feet behind. So there's a good chance that 12 planes will kill the first entering the zone within minutes, and then the next and the next, etc. So I think that it's not a very realistic situation to have a bomberstream and that it's easy pray for 12 attacking fighters. Of course the table can be edited with shorter distances between the aircraft, but the V1's would also do that, unless you can create an additional formation, which would mean 3 extra lines in the table.

    The new routine is easily adaptable and can be adjusted by scriptfiles to accommodate any year or any nation. That goes for the other formations too, they can be edited by scripts. Still in EAWPRO nothing of the original game was changed in terms of the used formations, there's just a small chance added that this new formation is used. For what its worth: The game can select from some 12 to 15 different formations.

    However using the randomizer to work on the V1 formation (2500 feet distance between planes). It turned out that the routine limits that distance, hence the result was more like a squadron, but a rag tag group of planes all flying the same altitude, which obviously isn't the smartest approach. With that it can fulfill a dual function and can be switched on or off at will, all it needs is to bypass the randomizer and the normal bomberstream will happen.

     

New High Res Effects

  • A small example of the differences between the stock effects and the ones used in EAWPRO.
    There are 9 different animations in the stock drawing in this example, there are three bright colored squares that are used for the tracers, one square for each calibre, and only 4 frames are available for fires. All other animations use 8 frames.

    EAWPRO uses an entire texture tile to have 16 frames per effect. Such as 16 fire frames instead of just the stock 4. That's one example of many.

    Another advantage is that the drawing's color palette is individual to each effect drawing and is therefore much more realistic, whereas the 8 stock effects have to share their colors in a single texture since there all on one tile. EAWPRO also uses 8 caliber colors with the option to use 16, as apposed to just 4, (I just can't think of any weapons to use the remaining 8 colors, at this moment).

    Furthermore EAWPRO uses 16+ of such Hires effects drawings but each effect can also borrow frames from the other effects drawings, which with certain animations allows a selection out of 16 x 16 = 256 frames.

    I hope you understand that this approach allows all effects to be swapped freely with another by simply renaming the texture file or .SPT filename. The same goes for their TRA (transparency) counterparts.

    A Side Note: Swapping Sprite Tables or changing them isn't as useful as one thinks, after all each animation is linked to some action (code) in the game and the routines for these had to be completely rewritten in order to make this work and it's not just a swap in the Sprite Table, that won't work at all since the used animations are defined in their own specific routines which control their actions.

 

Gun Flashes

  • The newly added Muzzles flashes viewed from inside the cockpit are different than what is displayed from outside. The Demo version of EAW used an action code animation on the 3D model of a few planes (the P51D and the P47D) not a sprite animation. That 3DZ flash specific action code was disabled pending the release of the game in favor of the sprite gun flash you see in external view. (In the FXEXE, the external views use three sprite animations and it can use three different drawings simultaneously now).

    However the Demo game gun flashes never made it back into the retail game. The released game also had them, but with the action code switched off so it no longer worked. The gunflashes are still in the drawing of the plane too, so about back in the year 2000 when 3DZ modeling started, it wasn't hard to tell what those lonely polygons were really for. but no one understood why they were no longer functional. It was because of these new hidden flashes which also were switched off for some reason. I guess it must have been a matter of either this or that, as both simultaneously proofed to be problematic, which was my experience too.

    Trying to enable them by using 3DZ modeling will not make them active. The action code can easily be reprogrammed but I don't think there's any new planes which have them in their 3DZ model. A sprite effect makes the action code totally obsolete, as I can't think of an alternative use for it, It's just not the same.

    The gun flash sprites are not plane specific but bullet specific, it reads their velocity and sets a muzzle flash length and positions it according to data in the flight model .FLT. The action code 'gunflash' from the Demo is plane specific in that the 3DZ model needs to have polygons which use that code and their placement has nothing to do with the flight models but with the plane 3DZ. They were similar to the V1 exhaust, which is also an actioncode on the 3DZ polygons of the rocket, perhaps a repurposed use of the first gun flashes from the Demo.

    It'll take some time before I can show more, with 500 drawings available and all....All 30 flightmodels have to be changed for the flashes as of yet...(5-01-2019)

 

Optimization, Added Effects and Frame Rates

  • With every new optimization the game increases in speed so I can add more routines, etc without loosing overall frame rates in the end. This is one of the easier advantages of programming in Assembly language vs using a compiler. So basically there's a framerate trade off for all these new goodies. EAWPRO can match comparably to stock EAW regarding framerates, achieving my goal and satisfaction with the optimization results. Even the lowest effects setting in EAWPRO will out do (in amount of effects) the highest setting in stock v1.2 while retaining playable frame rates.....EAWPRO is doing a lot more then v1.2 and a lot more just comes at the cost of frame rates too.

    Nearly all effects use a quadruple amount of sprites during rendering. Besides that the new sprites are 4 times higher in resolution and use many more colors for each drawing.  

    Obviously making the AI smarter also comes at the cost of framerates, using hires terrain and showing ground objects at further distances then v1.2 is also pretty costly. You can't tell the game to check AI or the terrain more often without taking away frames from something else, nor can you implement twice as many polygons and nodes without paying the price, as they need more rendering times.

    As such EAWPRO stands up admirably well against v1.2 and with the Launchpad's pilot's ancient computers it performs even better in comparison with everything else I've tried. For comparison I've not been able to fly an ExtraSquad=3 setting ever on my WinME machine with it's 256MB internal memory and it's 32MB gForce2 but I can now and in HDMI too and it's running VERY smooth. However when I throw in my full polycount 3D supertrees II, things change dramatically and the game becomes choppy and unplayable. It's just a comparison on how framerates work, so in your v1.2 comparison EAWPRO is holding up brilliantly and confirms the results I've been trying to achieve.

 

 

NOTES

This section of the document has some additional suggestions.

 

Try outs

  • Try some night missions near Munich (don't start at low ALT) or somewhere in the south, that's a cool area to fly in. Attack convoys, airfields and ground targets and you'll soon get a better feel of the changes, you won't find it all after one flight and that's exactly the purpose of it. Rediscover a new EAW which you can still recognize for what it was.

 

Flying The Bombers

  • Selecting the Heavies in EAWPRO
    It's come to my attention that some people do not understand how to select the previously none flyable planes which are not directly accessible through the plane selection screen. They can be selected and edited from from within any hangar by selecting the MISSION PARAMETER editor that sits on each desk in any hangar. When in the Parameter Selection Screen you then select the LOAD option at the bottom of the screen and a list of MISSION (.MSN) files will be displayed. You can select any of them, no matter which hangar you're in. The Default** ones contain your last flown mission for each plane, sadly they don't give much information about which number corresponds to which plane but they're sequentially American, British, German.

    The ones which display their name were SAVED from within the parameter screen, very usefull to setup plane combinations and targets that you like but can still edit after it's loaded. I could give you a list of the default numbers but I think you can also write each number down after selecting each and note the plane you've selected. If you want to fly Mosquitos you select Mosquito vs ******. You can also save the Default missions with a name yourself. To do this you start with loading Default00 and you save it under the name P38J vs WHATEVER. Having all planes there you can quickly navigate between planes and load any on the fly without having to go back to the plane selection screens.

    When a mission is SAVED it'll store all your selections and you can store up to 256 mission files yourself, either before or after the mission is flown. It's more convenient to do things this way and has become a real time saver when testing all possible combinations. The saved missions remain unchanged untill they're overwritten with a new one but every time you load one it will randomize the target location as part of a new airfield and target check to prevent CTD's when .MSN files are corrupt, don't work, or aren't at all present (which is the case in nearly all old addons). When a certain plane's selection has become corrupt you can still get to it's Mission file via any other Hangar and set it right again by editing the corrupt plane's mission parameters, provided you understand which one to select. Flying the mission will overwrite the old Default**.MSN file and things will work normal from there on.

    Note that when you reselect the same target and/or airfield already present in a corrupt .MSN file, the selection can't be set since either of the two is an illegal choice. Just select another one which displays the target number on mouse over and the file should be fine from then on as the editor only allows legal targets to be selected. Illegal target locations are grayed out in the editor, an indication of a corrupt .MSN file. Sometimes they can still be flown and will allow take off from enemy bases or attacks on friendly ones, but being corrupt you may not be able to enter these plane's hangars on startup directly, except with this method.

 

How EAWPRO is different from anything else!

  • Just to clarify, not much created in the past for EAW is likely to work in EAWPRO. The sprite files for instance have been totally reorganized to get the effects you see in the pictures, using stock sprites or sprites from any other version will only totally mess up the add-on. Aircraft models stayed reasonably close to the stock models but EAWPRO was modified to take advantage of anything thus far created but in many situations may make a conversion necessary.

    People may have noticed how line elements in the props may show up on aircraft which were imported from other Microprose games or planes which left these lines in place since they weren't showing on certain video cards. Even the old colored polygons were given an alternative use, but when properly adapted to EAW standards they will do the job without restrictions. In fact the additional features of EAWPRO allow these polygons to light up the cockpits at night in any palette color and can be used in the virtual cockpits and all other .3DZ objects as well.

    EAWPRO's tileset was modified to use more tiles then the stock game, which was also done to other versions but in a different way, hence tilesets will only work when properly converted to EAWPRO standards.

    The airfield.3dz formats were altered to allow runway lights in any palette color, other airfields then the ones I created will NOT work in EAWPRO unless properly converted.

    EAWPRO uses more groundobjects then the stock version of EAW and less objects then some other versions, most 3DZ objects will work without restrictions in EAWPRO, however when the altered TMOD slots can't find appropriate 3DZ files the resulting game may either crash with the error message 'file not found' or will have objects visible which will look out of place or right-out ridiculous. Future plans will use certain values in these files which, when not set correctly, will cause CTD's.

    Many .STR files were forcefully modified to allow the newly programmed action/selection texts to be displayed, they're NOT compatible with the files from ANY other version of EAW and when used may invoke a CTD or weird text displayed during games.

    The PLANES.DAT entries were modified extensively and future changes are already in the works. This file when imported from ANY other version may invoke a CTD or when lucky will merely display weird plane or weapon behaviour.

    EAWPRO was programmed to use a different .CDF format in the form of .FXE archives which use reorganized filetypes. When these archives aren't correct or present the game will CTD.

    The pilotmap was extensively modified to allow it's enhanced spriteset to work. The old maps will still work though when it's accompanying pilotmap.pal and maptrans.dat are also imported, however the pilotmap sprites are hardcoded and ANY other sets are no longer compatible, not even the older ones created for EAWPRO.

    EAWPRO's soundsystem is also not comparable to ANY other version of the game, however the sound format was NOT altered and is v1.2 compatible. Importing soundsets from other versions will merely produce the wrong sounds during gameplay but aren't likely to cause a CTD. Soundsets from v1.2 addon will probably work fine but isn't guaranteed.

    Target and campaign files remained unaltered and can be freely copied into the addon, at your own risk of course. Alternative planes may or may not work, their 24 bit .BMP files will NOT work, terrains need to be converted and for this a CONVERT.BAT was added to the upgrade .ZIP. EAWPRO still uses the old way of accepting files into it's main directory where the EAW.EXE resides.

    From all this it may be clear that not many tools created for EAW will properly do the job anymore, although many retained functionality other tools may only work partially. It also stands to reason that future changes will make EAWPRO less and less compatible with anything out there, as more and more improvements are programmed.

    Ofcourse other versions of this game come with their own changes which aren't dealt with in this document and I may have forgotten a few things, but I hope it's clear that modifications to EAWPRO come at the user's own risk. Without the mentioned alterations progress with the addon would simply not have been possible and made this addon completely different from anything else ever created.

    I hope this information allows users of EAWPRO to have more fun with the addon and I wish you all success when you decide to go the difficult path of modding it. Last but not least, EAWPRO works best as is, however due to the increased number off effects and simultaneous display of thousands of sprites it may be necessary to turn down your EffectsDetail setting in the EAW.INI to 1 if you experience problems with the addon.

    Have fun! - VBH


A weekly Screen shot of some of the effects to expect in the FXEXE Edition of the game.
(Image reduced in size)

 

 


[END]