Leader / Designer : STARLORD
Tests / Advices : ACE / FELIX GEDEON
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This is the hosting page of the XWing Alliance Solo Campaign turned into multiplayer, meaning that you ought to linked this page whenever you want to propose the file on your website, or to any third person.
Anyway, there is a lot to say about this project. You should know that XWing Alliance has always suffered for its lack of advanced simulator, even if the default one was already a novelty and permitted to considerably extend the life of the game.
After a while though, some of the most involved players decided to look for a new multiplayer experience, including complete missions and hyperspace jumps with friends. They already had AlliED, and, as it is quite easy to acess the XWA files, they began their tests.
The first important name is the Draconious one. Apart from his craft packs, he created weird skirmish files, that allow players to jump into hyperspace together. Nobody knows what he really did with them, but the NJO Project and particularly Christopher Walker, discovered some of the reasons explaining how these skirmish files could work, and even began to seek ways to play entire missions created with AlliED using the ability to jump in multiplayer.
The fact is that the NJO project lost its motivation, and they could not achieved their work, even if they succeeded to put online a few "multiregion" missions, that are still useful nowadays.
Then come the improvements of the french speaking community. Following a couple of tests during the ManyWays project, this is the canadian player StarLord who understood how to match the temp.tie substitution with the special .skm file launch (see the "complete guide" for more informations).
Two main projects were born then. The first one is a multiplayer squadron called "Crystal Squadron", which uses original missions created with AlliED in a totally new campaign, including role play and fan-fictions. The second one is the purpose of this page, and was planed by Starlord. He decided to modify the missions of the XWA solo campaign to make them playable in mutliplayer.
You have to your disposal both the Quick Play menu and the Complete Guide. The Quick Play is an explaination by Starlord showing you how to play the mission, whereas the Complete Guide also explains the technical aspects of the procedure.
Well, this isn't really complicated, but here's the step by step thing you have to do to play the solo campaign of X-Wing Alliance in Multiplayer. All of the missions are put in a folder. In each folder you should find 2 files :
So let's say you are four friends who wanna play a mission, you will have to make sure your mission has at least the designation (4P) or more. The .skm file is just there to tell the mission where which player is and to activate an hidden XWA config that allow Hyperspace travel in multiplayer.
You can as well copy all of them in your XWA Skirmish folder so you won't have to do it for future uses.
Okay, here starts the special part. You will be in a very empty mission with only you, your friends and two hyperspace buoys. That's the basic skirmish that allows hyperspace travel. If you see the 2 hyperspace buoys, that means that it's all good for now. But if you see a Rendez-Vous Buoy, that means the XWA config that allows Hyperspace in multiplayer is not activated. You have to leave the mission and reload the B*M*(*P).skm from the main skirmish screen.
!Important! You cannot stay on the desktop for more than 30 seconds while in a multiplayer game or you get disconnected, so that's why I recommended to open the folder you need before starting XWA at the beginning, this will faster the operation. If someone get disconnected because he stayed too long on the desktop, you have to start over, and reload the B*M*(*P).skm (or the hyperspace config of XWA won't be activated).
If there is a bug at the start of the mission (blue boxes), this can mean that someone copied the wrong temp.tie file (or didnt do it at all). If you get a white screen after the jump in Hyperspace, that means you didnt loaded the B*M*(*P).skm correctly.
Most of the modifications that I made to the original missions of XWA are that I removed the fourth region on those that had 4 zones, (Because the 4th is not accessible with our multiregion skirmish models). I also reworked fighter emplacements to make sure everybody could have a fighter ;)
You will notice that 2 missions are not available.
This mission wouldn't have worth the time to modify it so I didnt touch it.
The folder Appendix leads to MR_2P_StarchaserDuel. It contains a mission that I found on the New Jedi Order Project website (http://www.njoproject.com/ns/index.shtml) This mission was made by Draconious and it's the .skm that allowed me to convert the XWA solo campaign to multiplayer. I still don't know how he made that .skm, but if someone knows, I would be happy to know it :) It also contains some text files that help understand how multiregion and allied mission can work in multiplayer. I encourage you to read those.
If you have any questions or problems to make those missions work, contact me
Video Games designers often create functional files encoded into an extension (three letters) quite particular, among others more usual. Thus, missions of the X-wing serie for instance are written under .tie designation, which become therefore requisite : the executable (.exe) is at last there only to coordinate external fils and decipher them at the right time.
If anyone knows what is the meaning of an executable, fewer know which purposes it has. Nowadays, no software is publicly known to read independently the .tie files. There are however unofficial programs (or said so) such as AlliED that can interpret informations of these files to edit or create missions. We can bet on a certainty that Troy Dangerfield, the author, was able to decipher in some way the .tie, but nowadays, only the result of his work is left. Perhpas analysing AlliED would offer a way to understand the .tie's operating.
Anyway, anyone may be led thanks to AllieD to edit or create .ties when he wants to develop other abilities than the ones given by the simulator.
In order to masterize AlliED you will need several hours, and this guide in not an AlliED manual. But, after that, you still have to put your mission in the right folder and edit the right campaign file. AlliED offers a useful editor, but it is quite as fast to edit yourself the .lst file, with the notepad, respecting the code used.
Nevertheless, when the multiplayer is concerned, things are not so easy - even if they are not really complicated -.
The goal of this guide is to tell you the stages for the use of a .tie in multiplayer, assuming you want to jump in hyperspace, and to point the peculiarities (known) of the readings for the AlliED options. This research is not new, and some people like Draconious are important pioneers, and without them, things wouldn't be so easy today. Others, such as Chris (Christopher Walker) and the NJO project, or the ManyWays project, permitted to these ideas to evolve and to be perfected in a way, even if the final step (minimizing xwa on the score page) was accomplished by the french speaking community.
These technical discoveries of "fans" are actually other arguments to say that XWing Alliance is nothing more than an abortive game : the multiplayer jump was expected, as it is shown by the messages "Player X has jumped into hyperspace". Considering its great possibilities and its life-period more than impressive (seven years now), we may wonder, assuming all its potential had been revealed and finished from the start, without marketing pressure, if we would have waited so long-term to find its secret treasures...
There are not several types of .tie. Differences between a mission played in solo and another in cooperation exist because of the reading methods of the executable. When you are in the simulator for instance, launching a mission is the same that changing a .skm file (meaning skirmish, i.e. containing all necessary informations of the mission for the save and the simulator display) into a .tie file. There is only one .tie file (temp.tie) in the Skimirsh folder. It means that whenever a new mission is launched - or whenever a .skm is converted - this file temp.tie must be overwritten.
As the simulator is the unique place from which we can launch multiplayer missions, the only way to play an edited .tie in multiplayer would be to rename the personal mission *.tie created with AlliED into temp.tie, to replace the latter in the Skirmish folder and then, in its properties, to tick off « read only ». The definition of the « read only » is that it avoids a file to be overwritten, that is why this method would prevent XWA from converting the pre-loaded .skm in the simulator into a .tie.
It turns out in reality that this technique - used for the ManyWays project - works only in the case of single zone missions. The XWA executable seems indeed to overwrite the informations of a zone to replace by the ones of the new area when you have jumped out. Our temp.tie being in « read only », it become impossible. Even in solo play, the game suffers of a characteristic bug : at the end of the hyperspace animation, the cockpit is still here, but the rest is totally white, and the game is frozen. Every screenshot of this situation is a black picture.
If, with the method of the read only, many problems are solved, and if there are possibilities to play together missions created with AlliED, a lot of the XWA and AlliED potentials stay undeveloped.
The idea is then to prevent XWA from overwriting the temp.tie when the game is launched, while also preventing the game from overwriting the informations between two areas. Obviously, there would be a need to modify the .exe. However, when a mission is over, all the players can see the score screen, or debriefing, from which we can « replay » a mission. This function is the key of our success ; when the host click to replay a mission, datas are not overwritten. Logically, programmers thought that it would be useless to erase any file at this moment, because no new entry can be added.
The solution is then to replace the temp.tie at this moment, when all the players have left the mission and are in front of the debriefing, before launching the mission again (from the debriefing page). The temp.tie won't be overwritten (you have just actually done it manually) but will be loaded again (or, if you prefer, read by the exe). And, as it is not in « read only », it will be possible to change the zones.
Nevertheless, an issue remains before being able to play your own mission in multiplayer with different areas. There is indeed a narrow link between .skm and .tie, and some of the constituting properties may be seen thanks to a software of Draconious. Some entries can be modified, but most of them remain mysterious. Anyway, a skirmish file has been configured in order to permit the creation of multiple areas when a mission is launched from the simulator. Beware : the multiregion .skm that we have only permit three areas maximum. In an AlliED mission, keep in mind that the players must travel in three zones, not more, a trip in a fourth one would freeze the game. Note that AI can be sent in a fourth area without freezing the game. They will simply disappear from the game (you must therefore watch over not to assign them any trigger once they have reached this fourth area, because it won't work).
But this special .skm doesn't work anyhow. You must start by loading the matching .skm with the multiregion mission. Modifying it won't affect the properties of the areas. The (sixteen) slots of the simulator are the (sixteen) first slots of your AlliED mission (teams doesn't matter). « Human » crafts will have the properties configured in the simulator NOT the ones you wrote in AlliED, except for the ID. AI, however, will be the same as their corresponding slot in your AlliED mission (example : you can put an R2 droid in the simulator in the third slot : if the third AlliED mission slot is a SuperDestroyer, the SDS will appear in the mission). Therefore, the only reason why you have to place AI slots in your simulator is to respect the order of the human pilots. Assuming your first player is the first slot, if the second one want to take the fighter in the fourth one, you'll have to put AI inbetween, otherwise he will have the second AlliED slot. Of course, I said that player crafts overwrite AlliED ones, but in the case of our example, the name will be changed, in addition to the orders of the possible team mates and the orders of the other vessels of the mission will have regarding this FG. Also avoid multigunner play (two player in a corellian transport) : hyperspace jumps are not managed in this case.
If you filled less than height slots, just put any object in the other simulator team to launch the mission. As the other AI, it will be replaced by the corresponding AlliED ship.
Of course, the first thing to do is to have an AlliED multiplayer mission (cf. below). Select this mission, rename it into temp.tie, then keep it at your disposal somewhere in your desktop. Also prepare the arborescence between the folder of your mission and the XWA Skimirsh folder.
Open XWA, join/host a game.
If the skirmish is ready and well configured as explained previously, load it. To activate the multiregion property, you must load the special .skm each time you return to the main page of the multiplayer simulator, where you can see the different slots.
Otherwise, load a multiregion mission, and place human ships (and possible AI between them if necessary), by respecting the AlliED order. Options of time limit, environnement, distance, etc. below won't matter later, when the mission is launched.
When you are ready, launch the game. As it is the multiregion mission, you will appear in an usual skirmish - players may be in two different areas regarding their simulator team - and, above all, you will see the yellow hyperbuoys. If they're not there, the multiregion mission is not well loaded, you must try again. Otherwise, if everything seems ok, quit by pressing A and SPACE as well as the other players.
You are then in front of the debriefing page. Press ALT and TAB to access the windows desktop (minimizing XWA). It is time to install your mission (mind the version of your mission, otherwise you may have blue boxes at the beginning of your mission, clearly showing that some players do not have the same version as the others). Copy the temp.tie you prepared, and past it in the XWA Skimish folder. Accept to overwrite the previous temp.tie (no need to make any backup, as the future mission, whatever it is, will overwrite the file again, automatically this time). When it is done, return to XWA pressing A and TAB or click over Xwing Alliance in your task bar to make the game reappear.
Beware : you have only thirty seconds before XWA gets you disconnected when you're on the desktop. That's why the arborescence is important (if you're not sure, come back on XWA debriefing from time to time to reset the meter).
When everyone is ready, the host can click on « replay ». Your temp.tie will load, and you will be able to enjoy your mission with several areas in multiplayer.
The creation of a multiplayer mission follows generally speaking the same way as a solo one. There is no option to tick off, like XvTED. There are only some rules to respect in order to make it work properly.
First, make sure you put the playable vessels in the first slots, to match them with the sixteen ones of the simulator. Work as carefully on playable ships as you do for AI ones, because depending on the preferences of the players, some of the playable crafts would be left to the AI control, and then the AlliED properties would be in use, overwriting the skm datas about this ship. No need, by the way, to define players 2, 3, 4, etc. on AlliED, but if you do it, don't care of the error message.
As it is for the teams, there is no limit (actually, there is a limit of sixteen teams containing a player). Regarding the start areas, limit yourself to three for the orders affecting human ships before you can get a multiregion .skm permitting a fourth one. Any AI jumping into a fourth zone will make its forward trigger out of work. Example : For a FG X, you can trigger as arrival order : Arrive when 100% of flight group Y must reach region 4. If the regions 1, 2 and 3 are used by players, your FG Y will disappear there, and your FG X will never arrive.
Prefer in the circumstances arrival buoys regarding players' groups, even if you would make them withdraw after the arrival of the human FG. The behaviour of hyperspatial arrivals is indeed erratic, and even if you combine waypoint datas as « arrive in Region X » with « dep. Hyp » or with the first waypoint coordinates, the accuracy of the entrance point is not assured. Sometimes, and without obvious reason, the craft of a player (and in this case, of one player only) arrives in a region almost ten kilometers away from its configured area entrance (which could have worked for the same mission in a previous test !). These are maybe sequels due to the multiregion .skm, but the fact that it happens occasionally makes the problem hard to understand. Similarly, in the case of some AI, that compells the creator to accommodate the region maps in order to avoid collisions for instance. For the players, entrance buoys will fix the hyperspace exit. Also notice that only players of the team 1 can jump into hyperspace near a buoy.
There are also individual issues. For instance : the option « shields added » for unshielded vessels, even for AI, will add them a default 200% shield power, because of the simulator properties (every ship has a 200% shield in a dogfight), or this : IRD fighters do not have the ability to jump into hyperspace...These exceptions are currently being listed.
Add to this the abilities, the tips and the coercions of a good solo mission, and you will have a multiplayer mission that works properly.
Here is a unexhaustive list of the main rules to follow while the realisation or the installation of an AlliED multiplayer mission. Don't hesitate to help us completing it.
For any question or note, contact me.