To relieve the problems some people have with installing D2X-XL, I have taken a few measures to make that process easier.
D2X-XL will now check whether it finds all files it needs at the proper locations and report any it cannot find to the user. If deployed in a standard Descent installation, D2X-XL will automatically create all necessary folders and copy files to the proper locations.
Linux and Windows users can now have D2X-XL check for program updates, and if it finds one it will download and install it.... read more
After months of development, testing, improving and polishing a new version of D2X-XL has finally arrived, offering major improvements in the areas of memory management, stability, UI accessibility and above that full modding support for Descent 1 and 2 two missions, allowing to mod every aspect of a level, be it textures, sounds, music, models, briefings or AI. You can find out more about what efforts went into this release and what they achieved in my worklog.
After weeks of coding and testing per pixel lighting in D2X-XL has finally arrived!
Per pixel lighting mostly improves the game's visual rather subtly by producing more naturally looking lighting.
Due to the requirements of Descent with its many light sources (and my not being a graphics programming guru) you will need some pretty good hardware to be able to enjoy it. My recommendation is at least an Athlon 3500+ or an Intel Core CPU and a Radeon X1900 or NVidia 7900 graphics card.
D2X-XL now supports 3DS Max' ASE format. That means that model editing for D2X-XL has just become a whole lot easier than before. :) Together with the high resolution texture and sound projects this brings us a big leap closer to having a fully free Descent game data set.
D2X-XL has received massive improvements of its renderer. Rendering speed has been increased by utilizing multi-threading and vertex buffer objects and hardware supported lighting for objects. Transparency is now handled correctly for all kinds of transparent objects, be it wall faces, smoke particles, lightnings, light trails or explosions. Light emitting transparent objects are now rendered additively to the scene, giving the proper glowing effect to them. Light coronas have been improved and look more natural than before. A new headlight using per pixel lighting for a nice light cone rounds this off.... read more
Thanks to Zombie999, a man of many talents, D2X-XL finally has its own full-blown forum. Find it at http://www.descent2.de/forum.
Since we're having such a great place to meet and discuss now, the D2X-XL forum on Sourceforge.net has been disabled.
D2X-XL v1.10 now offers lightning effects in various flavors: You can place lightning emitters in levels, enable static discharges on damaged robots and player ships, have certain robots emit lightnings, see lightning effects when the player's energy or shields are replenished, and use a cool new lightning effect for the Omega cannon.
As if that wasn't already more than you can shake a Mega missile at, the rendering engine has been improved to handle transparency way better. Smoke rendering has been vastly improved again. And finally are the light trails for energy shots looking better than ever before! :D
D2X-XL now allows players to control the ship with NaturalPoint TrackIR head tracking gear. It's pretty easy to get the hang of it, and once you have you can finally achieve what we all tried in heated battles: Steering the ship by moving our upper bodies to dodge missiles and avoid obstacles. :D
D2X-XL now supports slow motion and bullet time effects. The further slows everything down, the latter everything except the player. These features are tied to having certain powerups and are only available in single player campaigns.
The triple fusion is another neat enhancement: Enable it in the gameplay options menu, and if you pick up a second Fusion Gun, your fusion shots will consist of three instead of the usual two purple blobs of sudden death. ;-)
D2X-XL now has a new, completely text based configuration file format. Game settings are identified by unique names. That means that both expanding and verifying the configuration files is easier, more robust and flexible than before. Older configuration files will still be accepted by D2X-XL, and D2X-XL will create new format configuration files using their contents.
In the course of making this change to D2X-XL it has also become very easy and straightforward to have D2X-XL set all game parameters to useful values when creating a new player profile.
The automap can now be displayed fully textured. You can turn it bright for easier viewing, and also have powerups and robots be displayed. No more staring at a mess of wireframe lines, trying to figure one's way through a complex mine. ;)
D2X-XL can now render coronas around light sources, which looks pretty neat. ;D
D2X-XL now offers the use of hit boxes instead of hit spheres for object collision testing. As hit boxes fit much closer around objects, they are significantly increasing the accuracy of hit detection. Together with the newly added weapon efficiency statistics, this should make D2X-XL the first choice for competitive Descent multiplayer gaming, separating the good from the great players, and will also bring a new challenge to playing single player missions. Check it out - you will be amazed how many shots you are wasting. ;)
After quite some experimentation, investigation and measurements I have managed to significantly decrease D2X-XL's memory footprint, particularly when using high resolution textures. In that process, new functions have been added to give the user more control over D2X-XL's memory consumption and to vastly increase texture loading speeds by caching down-sized hires textures on disk.
After having been hinted to subtle problems D2X-XL was having and causing during IPX (KALI) hosted multiplayer games with other Descent 2 versions, I finally managed to nail the bugs behind these down and remove them once and for all.
Basically, some game messages from D2X-XL users never were processed by non D2X-XL clients, making people think there was increased packet loss if D2X-XL clients were taking part in KALI hosted multiplayer games.... read more
D2X-XL now supports user supplied music (mp3 or ogg/vorbis). You can specify a song to be played in the menus and a playlist giving the level songs. D2X-XL will cycle through the level songs, playing one song per level and repeating it if necessary until the level is finished.
Currently this only works on Windows, but Linux and (hopefully) OS X will follow soon.
D2X-XL now finally supports real time shadowing!
Well, that was the good news, but unfortunately there is a little spoiler: The original Descent 2 ship and robot models are flawed which is breaking the shadowing.
To help around this I have added support for replacement models. They will be provided in the standard custom model format (hxm) and need to be put into a custom model file named d2x-xl.hxm.... read more
Smoke has been massively improved both in appearance and performance and finally looks like real smoke.
Playing Descent has never been this cool! :D
Target and damage indicators
D2X-XL v1.8.13 and up now offers target and damage indicators in various flavors. You can have rectangular brackets around an object, or a red arrow above it, that points down to it.
Target and damage indicators can be enabled separately. The triangular target indicator has the damage indicator integrated.
Of course this is all server controlled in multiplayer games and not available if the server does not use D2X-XL.
D2X-XL now offers a 'darkness' mode for multiplayer games giving the old game modes a new twist. In darkness mode all static lights (lamps) are turned off, requiring the players to rely on headlights, flares, weapon lights, markers and their hearing.
Please note that this only works with the new real-time lighting enabled.
D2X-XL v1.8 now offers improved real time lighting using the same algorithms OpenGL uses. The lighting is entirely software driven. This was forced by the great number of static lights that are typically around in Descent levels, not to speak of dynamic lights (weapons etc.).
Other benefits of the new lighting method are improved object lighting and a decent headlight that now acts like a spotlight. It has a pretty wide cone, but still only lights the area ahead of the ship.... read more
D2X-XL now offers a "Monsterball" game mode similar to the one found in Descent 3: Two teams have to push a giant ball into their goal area by shooting and ramming it. You bet that this is fun! ;)