Freescape

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Freescape
Engine developer neuromancer
Companies that used it Incentive Software
Games that use it 3D Construction Kit, 3D Construction Kit 2.0,
Castle Master, Castle Master II: The Crypt,
Dark Side, Driller, Total Eclipse,
Total Eclipse II: The Sphinx Jinx
Date added to ScummVM Not Added
First release containing it None

About

The original Freescape was one of the first 3D game engines, developed by Incentive Software for the game Driller in 1987 and following games, culminating in an easy to use game editor called 3D Construction Kit 2.0 in 1992, which was used to make a few amateur games.

ScummVM reimplementation

Our freescape reimplementation aims to emulate the original one, with the following improvements:

  • Two renderers available: TinyGL using software in their original resolution (320x200) and OpenGL in arbitrary resolution and with anti-aliasing support (up to 16X).
Driller in different renderers: OpenGL, TinyGL, and the original game in Dosbox
Driller-opengl.png Driller-tinygl.png Driller-dosbox.png

The new ScummVM renderers remove completely the artifacts of the original freescape engine, since they perform computation on floats instead of integers.

  • Mouse and mouselook support for every game. For instance, the original Driller only had mouse support for Amiga and Atari, the rest of the releases allowed to use only keyboard or joystick.
  • Faster framerate. The original games run at 10fps (or less) while our implementation aims to have around 60fps or more. In theory, this should not affect the gameplay but this is still an area of research.

Optional features:

  • Support for alternative controls (e.g. WASD keys). This is an upcoming feature.
  • Support for high-quality pre-recorded sounds: the DOS releases uses PC speaker sounds, which will not sound exactly the same if they are emulated, so we included pre-recorded version from real hardware. The same will be available for other releases which do not feature sample sounds (C64, ZX Spectrum and AmstradCPC).
  • Restored music from different releases: most of the Freescape game releases do not feature any music at all (e.g. the DOS releases). Our implementation will allow, if the user owns more than one release, to replay the music from one release using other one. It will also allow to include restored music in the future.
  • Extended cheats.

How to switch different renderers

The most prominent feature of the ScummVM reimplementation is the use of different renderers such as TinyGL or OpenGL. These can be selected changing the option in "Game 3D Renderer" either in the "Global Options..." (for all games) or the "Game Options.." for the Freescape games. So far, the available implementations are "OpenGL" or "Software". By default, the game will render in Software mode.

Scummvm-00000.png

Roadmap

The Freescape technology evolved from 1987 to 1992. Our engine will progress supporting the following games/releases:

1. Driller DOS (EGA), Amiga and AtariST releases

2. Additional Driller releases: DOS (CGA, Tandy, Hercules), C64, AmstradCPC and ZX Spectrum

3. Dark Side

4. Total Eclipse / Total Eclipse II

5. Castle Master / Castle Master II: The Crypt

6. 3D Construction Kit demo game and other games

7. 3D Construction Kit 2.0 demo game and other games

Re-implementing the 3D Construction Kit itself (the program used to create games) is outside the scope of this project. ScummVM will only allow to play games already released, not create new ones.

History

The reverse engineering of the original engine and code development took several decades (!) and includes the following people:

  • John Elliott for reverse engineering the file formats for 8-bit games and producing some code for rendering levels (2001)
  • Thomas Harte for reverse engineering part of the file formats for 16-bit games as well as creating the original code of Phantasma, which served as initial code for this engine: https://github.com/TomHarte/Phantasma/ (2013).
  • Jason "Joefish" Railton for providing some example code on decoding of Atari-ST Neochrome (.NEO) format low-resolution 16-colour images (2016).
  • Richard Quirk for providing valuable information of the reverse engineering of Castle Master and other Freescape games.
  • Chris Allen for providing valuable information and code for reproducing sound effects. He also provided high-definition recorded versions of emulated Driller sounds which are used by this engine.

Cheats

The ScummVM reimplementation of Freescape will feature a number of generic cheats that will be implemented for every supported game:

  • Avoid failing: this disable falling in edges. The player will not able to complete a movement if it causes to fall.
  • Disable sensor damage: the player will not take any damage from shooting sensors.
  • Extended timer: the game timer will be set to 99:59:59, which should give plenty of time to finish any game.

External links