Descent Retro Mod

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karx11erx
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Descent Retro Mod

Postby karx11erx » Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:56 am

Recently, I have learned that there is a Descent Retro Mod based on DXX-Rebirth which is used by competitive Descent players.

So apparently DXX-Rebirth isn't true enough to the original Descent, eh?

This is pretty hilarious, to say the least.

D2X-XL: Progressive party
DXX-Rebirth: Conservative party
Retro Mod: Fundamentalists

:lolol:


One comment about this mod in the related forum made me wonder a bit though:
Retro homers: Homing missiles restored to original Descent behavior capped at 30 FPS (25 in D1).

Huh? I am pretty sure homer frame rate was not capped in the original games: The higher your frame rate, the faster the homers turned. I checked this in a very old D2X-W32 code version I still have, which has only very few code changes. Actually this was a disadvantage for players with high frame rates. I know this very very well because I still remember having worked on that to limit homing missile turn rate to 30 or 40 fps (need to look up the exact value I used).

Another comment instigated my curiosity:
Improved collision detection (consistent close performance, particularly with homers and fast small-blast weapons like gauss)

That sounds interesting if it is true. Can anybody explain the details to me?
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby darklord42 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:23 am

Wow could anything be more pointless? Have they heard of dosbox?
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby Sirius » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:00 am

Yes, but DOSBox isn't very easy to configure for pick-up network games, doesn't support high screen resolutions, doesn't support joysticks as well, is harder to control framerate on, and a few things like that.

Regarding homing missiles: it's not very clearly stated there. What it really means is that it mimics what the original behavior would be like if it were running consistently at 30 FPS. Which is probably fairly similar to what D2X-XL does.

The collision detection I'm not 100% sure on. I do know there was a modification to the network code to send accurate origin and direction for every shot fired, as opposed to the original code which uses the firing ship's current (often interpolated) position to determine that - which in practice can mean e.g. snap-shot smart missiles down a tunnel might hit a wall for one player and run right down to the end of the tunnel for another.
That probably isn't what collision detection is referring to, though - I'd have to ask the mod's programmer (I can do that if you would like more details).
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby darklord42 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:02 am

I don't know what you are talking about, Dosbox supports joysticks just fine and has built in scalers/shaders. Besides, a fundamentalist wouldn't want graphical improvements anyway. Set cycles to max equals stable framerate. As to network, it's not that hard once you know how, and only a couple commands. They will still have to input an ip address manually. unless they have some sort of tracking/metaserver system. (highly doubtful) There will always be the hassle of forwarding ports properly. And so I can't really speak to pick-up-and-play networking. :roll:
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby Sirius » Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:52 am

These people are not strict purists... what they want is a game that plays like the original (with some tweaks to make it fairer), but is less of a hassle to run on modern systems (DosBox isn't that hard but this mod is a lot better). Graphical fidelity isn't as much of an issue - some people run without texture filtering, some with, but they usually want as many pixels as possible because it makes it easier to see what you're shooting at. There is also a tracker - inherited from Rebirth - but unlike standard Rebirth it uses hybrid peer-peer networking to reduce ping times.

Basically, everything is optimized towards competition - performance, predictability, fairness, that sort of thing. It doesn't always strictly adhere to the original where they had sufficient consensus in a different direction, e.g. the habit of vanilla D2 to proliferate Gauss ammunition over the course of the match was also fixed, and there is a game option to spawn with afterburners, since they felt it improved the quality of the games that would be played.

This is a community that, as far as I can tell, it's not "cost-effective" for D2X-XL to try to appeal to. They are going to be far too nit-picky and don't really care for much that XL has to offer for the games they play. Casual anarchy/teams and especially co-op are much better "markets" :)
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby Alter-Fox » Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:57 pm

They are some of the guys beta testing the muliplayer release of Sol if I'm not mistaken. Which I could be, I haven't got the chance to join in many of the beta tests yet. Timing in a small yet multicontinental group, lol.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby karx11erx » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:52 pm

I don't want to cater to these people. Some of the stuff posted there made me wonder whether that might be issues in d2x-xl, too, so I would like to investgate if I can get enough information.

Btw, I really wonder how they want to reduce packet travel times (ping) with client side measures.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby pokeman7452 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:26 pm

From my time dipping into Rebirth, Retro Mod (a poor name in my opinion) is a rebirth mod by a single person in an attempt to optimize the netcode and provide more consistent weapon results in netgames. Specifically, I believe she improved the accuracy of weapon firing angles between players. Retro mod is used by Descent Rangers for official games. At last I heard, Zico was working to integrate Retro into Rebirth. I wish Blarget could tell you all about it, but he is out of town for a while.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby Sirius » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:35 am

Zico had interest in back-porting some changes but I'm not expecting him to port them all because some don't fit with his plans for Rebirth.

I will see if I can get more specific info on this mod... in case it is useful.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby karx11erx » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:41 am

I have been talking about those changes with Drakona, the author of the Retro mod. Most of the bugs she has addressed do not seem to be present in D2X-XL. One of them is present there. It stems from the original Descent code that would return an impact point inside an object instead of on its hull under certain circumstances. That bug is easy to fix and will be removed in the next D2X-XL update.

The changes Drakona has made to the netcode currently seem pointless to me (particular the so-called "sniper packets"), but I need to learn more about them before I can make a final judgement.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby pokeman7452 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:22 pm

karx11erx wrote:The changes Drakona has made to the netcode currently seem pointless to me (particular the so-called "sniper packets"), but I need to learn more about them before I can make a final judgement.


If I remember what they do correctly, they may be for the super hardcore players (again, the Rangers) who rely on every bit of visual feedback having immediate visibility and a perfectly accurate position and orientation. Like, as soon as an opponent fires a laser, the others know exactly where it is going.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby Sirius » Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:54 pm

The most salient example that comes to mind was that it helps avoid cases where players appear to "eat" things like smart missiles, which were actually caused by a combination of lag and desynchronization of where that missile was fired at. If you thought you nose-planted a smart missile but your target saw it fly 10 degrees to the left, they don't need to do much to dodge it on their screen, which is the one that counts. Meanwhile, on your end, they seemingly didn't dodge it at all.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby karx11erx » Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:18 pm

The sniper packets transmit the firing player's forward vector with a shot; but shots always come in a package with the complete player position and heading anyway, so I don't quite understand how they should make a difference.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby pokeman7452 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:11 pm

Are the sniper packets sent at the usual rate? Aren't they sent immediately upon firing? When they "come in a package with the complete player position anyway", isn't that when the packet update occurs, not when the shot is fired? If the update rate is 10pps, and someone fires a shot 15ms after the update packet is sent, the next update will contain the player position 85ms after the shot was fired, which I heard affects the perceived angle of the bullet. The sniper packet makes sure every client knows exactly when and where the shot was fired, no interpolation.
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Re: Descent Retro Mod

Postby karx11erx » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:44 am

The retro mod seems to have significant differences to XL: It sends shots in MDATA packets. XL doesn't have these. It sends all shots in PDATA packets together with the precise player position and heading (actually with the complete orientation matrix). Shots are sent immediately. So XL never had the problems the retro mod is addressing. Its creators and users could have saved themselves a lot of hassle if they had used XL and asked me for features they would have liked to have. I have added those in the past already; see XL's competition mode.

Now they are trying to fix the bugs and inadequacies instead zico has introduced inRebirth. How ironic.

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