VOGONS


First post, by Stiletto

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The Force Engine is a project to reverse engineer and rebuild the Jedi Engine for modern systems and the games that used that engine - Dark Forces and Outlaws. The project includes modern, built-in tools, such as a level editor and makes it easy to play Dark Forces and Outlaws on modern systems as well as the many community mods designed to work with the original games.

Playing Dark Forces or Outlaws using the Force Engine adds ease of use and modern features such as higher resolutions and modern control schemes such as mouse-look. Using the built-in tools allows for easier modding with more modern UI, greater flexibility and the ability to use enhancements made to the Jedi Engine for Outlaws in custom Dark Forces levels - such as slopes, stacked sectors, per-sector color maps and more.

From Lucius, the guy who originally created DarkXL.

Web Site: https://theforceengine.github.io/

Forum: https://the-force-engine.freeforums.net/

Discord: https://discord.gg/hpsJnY9

Github Project: https://github.com/luciusDXL/TheForceEngine

Downloads: https://theforceengine.github.io/downloads.html

There's a pre-release download already, but it's just for testing and nowhere near complete.

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 1 of 14, by xjas

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Neat, I was just messing with DarkXL and was wondering what happened to it. It looked good, but the lack of real perspective look up/down still irritated me and the "final" release from 2016ish was littered with bugs. I wonder which one prompted him to do a complete re-write? Hopefully this one doesn't fall into development hell and get abandoned again.

Dark Forces had a really impressive engine for its time.

twitch.tv/oldskooljay - playing the obscure, forgotten & weird - most Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6:30 PM PDT. Bonus streams elsewhen!

Reply 2 of 14, by piatd

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I was impressed and excited by the work he was doing on DarkXL.

This time around, his approach seems even better suited to preserving the actual experience of this DOS game on modern systems:

The project is focused on accuracy - by using reverse engineering techniques to reconstruct the original code and algorithms - the Force Engine is designed to be extremely accurate, a complete replacement for the original executables.

That said, I must consider myself cautious about a full release. Far be it from me to demand anything from something freely given, DarkXL still had two problems:
1) Feature creep, as Dark Forces / Outlaws were eventually joined by Blood and Daggerfall
2) To the best of my knowledge, he never announced that he was actually canceling the project. He just kind of stopped. We were all left to wonder for years if he was finished, or if he was even okay.

I'll be rooting for him, but--and I say this with the utmost respect for someone who labors freely for others--I'll believe it when I see it in completed form.

Reply 3 of 14, by xjas

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I tried it out. Not much there yet: software renderer only, no AI, no redefinable controls, only two weapons work, no fancy lighting effects or eye candy implemented yet (DarkXL had those), but it looked good at 1600x1200 and ran at a smooth 60FPS on my modest machine. Moving & looking around the maps was fun and responsive. For some reason I absolutely couldn't get a screenshot out of it, even using external tools like Irfanview - they only grabbed the menu 'underneath' the game window. The editor doesn't do much yet either, but it looks pretty good so far. I'd say it's a promising (re)start & really hope this gets fleshed out. I would love to see mods & user maps start appearing based on a GZDoom-ish version of this engine.

twitch.tv/oldskooljay - playing the obscure, forgotten & weird - most Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6:30 PM PDT. Bonus streams elsewhen!

Reply 4 of 14, by Stiletto

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piatd wrote on 2020-05-20, 05:11:
That said, I must consider myself cautious about a full release. Far be it from me to demand anything from something freely giv […]
Show full quote

That said, I must consider myself cautious about a full release. Far be it from me to demand anything from something freely given, DarkXL still had two problems:
1) Feature creep, as Dark Forces / Outlaws were eventually joined by Blood and Daggerfall
2) To the best of my knowledge, he never announced that he was actually canceling the project. He just kind of stopped. We were all left to wonder for years if he was finished, or if he was even okay.

I'll be rooting for him, but--and I say this with the utmost respect for someone who labors freely for others--I'll believe it when I see it in completed form.

Couldn't have said it better myself! I remember that it just kinda stalled, and he announced the project stop years later.

Fingers crossed he can keep progress moving forward this time 😀

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 5 of 14, by leileilol

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Not liking the settings-stored-in-the-documents thing already... but apart from that there's some levels faithfully enough rendered at least. Still got a loong ways to go, and I can only hope that hard lessons from DarkXL were very learned this time around.

apsosig.png

Reply 6 of 14, by Garrett W

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Looking good, wish them all the best on their endeavors. I remember getting excited back in ~2003-2004 when someone was porting Dark Forces levels to Jedi Academy, remember daydreaming just how awesome it would be. Then, after a couple of levels or so, they stopped and that was the end of that. Funny, I'd never find anything like this of any personal value nowadays, I'd much rather have something like this that preserves and adds QoL features.

Did the DarkXL Daggerfall work also halt?

Reply 8 of 14, by luciusDXL

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I found this thread and decided to make an account here to respond to some of the comments. Thanks for your interest in The Force Engine and if you have additional questions or comments, let me know.

xjas wrote on 2020-05-21, 07:42:

I tried it out. Not much there yet: software renderer only, no AI, no redefinable controls, only two weapons work, no fancy lighting effects or eye candy implemented yet (DarkXL had those), but it looked good at 1600x1200 and ran at a smooth 60FPS on my modest machine. Moving & looking around the maps was fun and responsive. For some reason I absolutely couldn't get a screenshot out of it, even using external tools like Irfanview - they only grabbed the menu 'underneath' the game window. The editor doesn't do much yet either, but it looks pretty good so far. I'd say it's a promising (re)start & really hope this gets fleshed out. I would love to see mods & user maps start appearing based on a GZDoom-ish version of this engine.

This engine doesn't support extra bells and whistles yet because I decided to start again with pure software rendering in order to be able to properly reconstruct the original algorithms and validate the results against DOS. That said hardware rendering and additional visual features are on the roadmap but the current focus is the reverse-engineering effort, accuracy, and completeness before most "nice to have" features.

xjas wrote on 2020-05-20, 03:36:

Neat, I was just messing with DarkXL and was wondering what happened to it. It looked good, but the lack of real perspective look up/down still irritated me and the "final" release from 2016ish was littered with bugs. I wonder which one prompted him to do a complete re-write? Hopefully this one doesn't fall into development hell and get abandoned again.

Dark Forces had a really impressive engine for its time.

I bolded the part of your post I will be addressing. There are multiple reasons for the re-write:
1. I did not feel that my original approach would ultimately allow for "source port" accuracy - which I think is required for the project to really be a DosBox/DOS replacement. All of the mods need to work well as well as the original game, so accuracy is extremely important.
2. Move away from some Windows-specific technologies such as DirectX 9. The plan is to support Linux and other platforms, though this hasn't been finished yet.
3. The need to rebuild the INF system from the ground up in order to fix INF issues that plagued DarkXL. The Force Engine is already much more accurate in this regard - all the vanilla levels are completable correctly (even though the AI doesn't do anything but die and spawn items yet).
4. I believe that building up the original software renderer is required to ensure that the algorithms match and rendering are correct. Various rendering glitches that were in DarkXL due to portals are already fixed in this project.
5. Taking lessons from DarkXL and approaching things differently in general.

piatd wrote on 2020-05-20, 05:11:
I was impressed and excited by the work he was doing on DarkXL. […]
Show full quote

I was impressed and excited by the work he was doing on DarkXL.

This time around, his approach seems even better suited to preserving the actual experience of this DOS game on modern systems:

The project is focused on accuracy - by using reverse engineering techniques to reconstruct the original code and algorithms - the Force Engine is designed to be extremely accurate, a complete replacement for the original executables.

That said, I must consider myself cautious about a full release. Far be it from me to demand anything from something freely given, DarkXL still had two problems:
1) Feature creep, as Dark Forces / Outlaws were eventually joined by Blood and Daggerfall
2) To the best of my knowledge, he never announced that he was actually canceling the project. He just kind of stopped. We were all left to wonder for years if he was finished, or if he was even okay.

I'll be rooting for him, but--and I say this with the utmost respect for someone who labors freely for others--I'll believe it when I see it in completed form.

1) Exactly. If you look at the website you will see the short/mid-term roadmap. The focus is on Dark Forces, Outlaws and tools and nothing else until they are complete (including multiplayer).
2) There was no official announcement which was a mistake.

Please read the blog post to get some sense of what happened and what this project is focusing on. Note that the end part is a little out of date since the project has been announced and test builds are available. Also, the latest build has a dedicated screenshot button (print screen) - so you can take screenshots properly now. 😀

Reply 10 of 14, by Stiletto

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luciusDXL wrote on 2020-06-04, 21:04:

Thanks for your interest in The Force Engine and if you have additional questions or comments, let me know.

As a long-time Dark Forces fan, I am excited that we're once again headed towards an open-source reimplementation of the game engine, and I look forward to the future. Keep up the good work 😀

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 11 of 14, by leileilol

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Yeah, It'd be neat to play it natively on a Pi some day, and maybe see some what-if multiplayer mode (but probably should not be a priority (unless it's Outlaws of course))

Maybe a SDL1 GCC4.7 version in the far future would be cool for this forum's systems playing a native win32 Dark 😀 (which oddly, never happened given LucasArts' remaking of the XwingTie games)

apsosig.png

Reply 13 of 14, by xcomcmdr

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This is very, very interesting.

I'm really curious. What is your "dev loop" for reverse engineering this game ?
I read the Scummvm's wiki about RE a thousand times, but I guess I will not truly get the gist of it until I try it myself.
Although my goal is to reverse engineer a much simpler game, it seems so daunting. My first fear would be to lost myself in the dissassembly code instead of seeing the logic of the game in it...