Author Topic: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"  (Read 4724 times)

Offline Red.Queen

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[MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« on: May 05, 2015, 06:19:45 PM »

[Title:] Not So Assault Transports
[Date:] 2015/05/17
[Author:] Red.Queen



[Get The Mod:]

(On Mega) Version 20150517

Or scroll to the bottom of this post to the copy hosted here on the Arcen boards.  Zip is small enough to be attached here.


[Problem:] Assault Transports are a little *too* much assault.

[Solution:] There are several choices in this package to try to tame the beast.  All damage-dealing versions include the bugfix for the update issue listed above.


1.Assembly-CSharp.ATUpdateFixed.dll -- No change to damage dealt by the ATs, purely a bugfix for the issue where the AT fails to update its damage once it's been unloaded (thus effectively doubling your fleet).

2.Assembly-CSharp.HalfNumShots.dll -- The number of shots formula divides ContainedStrength by 20 instead of 10, effectively halving the number of shots the AT will fire.

3.Assembly-CSharp.HardCapped.dll -- Each AT is capped at using a maximum of 500 points of ContainedStrength for calculating the number of shots it can fire.

4.Assembly-CSharp.Knockback.dll -- Each AT is capped at using a maximum of 100 points of ContainedStrength for calculating the number of shots it can fire, and each shot has the Knockback effect like the Military Command Stations.  Pew pew!

5.Assembly-CSharp.Gunless.dll -- Assault Transports are now "Stealth" Transports (if you want the name changed, you'll need to update ships.xml).  No guns at all.  Bugfix not included because it's irrelevant.


[Notes On Using:]


Nothing contained in these patches bakes itself into your savegame.  You can swap among them freely in an existing game without causing any trouble (or remove them completely and go back to using the unmodded .dll)!  Just exit out of the game completely before you change which file you want to try out and then follow the Installation instructions below.

By the way, you can use only *one* modded .dll at a time since it has to replace the original .dll.  Trying to jury-rig some kind of a mod loader/modding API is a can of worms I think I will leave unopened.  :)

These patches are compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of AI War.  Portability is nice.


[Installation:]

1. Go to \Arcen\AI War Fleet Command\AIWarGame\
2. If you are on Windows, go to AIWar_Data\Managed.  If you are on a Mac, go to AIWar.app\Managed instead.  If you are on Linux, go to AIWarLinux_Data\Managed.
3. Back up your Assembly-CSharp.dll.  DO NOT SKIP DOING THIS OR YOU CANNOT RECOVER YOUR ORIGINAL GAME BEHAVIOR WITHOUT VERIFYING GAME DATA (Steam) OR REINSTALLING (standalone)!
4. Copy the modded Assembly-CSharp.<name>.dll of your choice from this .zip into this \Managed folder and then rename it to Assembly-CSharp.dll.
5. Play and admire how much better behaved your Assault Transports are now.


Additional Mac and Linux install notes from Chris:

Quote
The respective locations are:

Windows: {AIWarInstallFolder}/AIWar_Data/Managed/
OSX: {AIWarInstallFolder}/AIWar.app/Contents/Data/Managed/
Windows: {AIWarInstallFolder}/AIWarLinux_Data/Managed/

On OSX, to get inside AIWar.app you have to right-click it and choose the option "show app bundle contents" or something along those lines.


[Mod Source Code Availability:]

Still deciding where/how to host that.  TBA.


[Obligatory Disclaimers:]  No warranties express or implied are anywhere within the same galaxy as this mod.  The programming in this mod is probably terrible and not at all of workmanship-like quality.  If your machine catches fire, installs Windows ME, or decides to join the AIs and exterminate humanity, it's not my legal or financial problem.


[Notice Of No Official Support:]

Arcen cannot provide support if you experience a bug while running a modded .DLL -- it's neither possible nor fair to expect them to deal with problems that could be caused by other peoples' code.  If you want official support for a problem, you'll need to be running an unmodified game.


***Chris/Keith -- If at any point you guys object to me hacking at your game, I'll pull anything/everything down immediately.  This is your baby and I don't want to do anything you're not ok with.***
Please don't send Hunter/Killers after me.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 01:03:25 AM by Red.Queen »
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Offline Pumpkin

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2015, 06:49:42 PM »
Wohoo!

Oh, wait... I'm using Linux and I never use transports (even vanilla non-assault ones). I don't care. :P

However, good job, I know it's not something easy. I bet the AT would be better this way, I don't need to test it. It's a question of taste, however.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 06:57:14 PM by Pumpkin »
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Offline x4000

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2015, 07:04:29 PM »
All good!  We don't object to the hacking of it at all.

And for those on non-windows platforms, you can use this as well!  Those dlls are not windows dlls, they are mono dlls, so they are literally identical on every platform.  Mono is embedded inside the unity 3D engine runtime, so these dlls are loaded in that virtualized space, which runs inside the platform-native executable program that is on each OS.  The cool thing is that _literally_ all our game code is in Assembly-CSharp.dll, so it's super portable.

The respective locations are:

Windows: {AIWarInstallFolder}/AIWar_Data/Managed/
OSX: {AIWarInstallFolder}/AIWar.app/Contents/Data/Managed/
Windows: {AIWarInstallFolder}/AIWarLinux_Data/Managed/

On OSX, to get inside AIWar.app you have to right-click it and choose the option "show app bundle contents" or something along those lines.

Anyway, the same modded Assembly-CSharp.dll can be used in that same folder in all cases.  Unless you do something super-platform specific, which is highly unlikely, then it will work on all platforms equally.  If you're adjusting game logic and data and whatnot, you're in the clear in terms of not accidentally borking one platform or something.
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Offline Aklyon

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2015, 07:22:12 PM »
I still think they'd be better with guns, but stealth transports could be neat.

Offline Red.Queen

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2015, 09:06:14 PM »
Chris -- Thanks very, very, very much for the greenlight, you just made my day.  :D  I was uneasy about stepping on your toes, which was the last thing I wanted to do, you gents are splendid as is your game, and there is such a lovely relationship between you and the fanbase.  The last thing I wanted to do was risk putting a dent in that in any way.

And thank you also for the extra info on the cross-platform compatibility, that's a huge help and I'll be rolling that into future readmes so the non-Windows gang knows they can join the party.  I'll just be careful to avoid stepping on anything that looks like it'd be a compatibility problem.

It's official then everyone -- tinkering with AI War is now officially my primary modding project. 8)  I've been looking for a long-term home in that regards for a couple years, and it looks like it's going to be here.  Given my idea of a short-term project is 6 months, and have spent up to 6 years working on stuff before... expect me to be here for a long, long time.  :)

Pumpkin -- Haha true, but now if you *do* decide to give them a shot, you can do so with a clear conscience and no temptation to exploit their attack power. :)

Aklyon -- I'm sure quite a few people have a similar preference.  So....

Everyone who would prefer ATs to still shoot, speak up and tell me what percentage of the existing max damage you think they should be doing is!  :D If I get a few votes clustered around a similar range, I will make it.

I actually posted a call for that in the other AT thread but either people are shy, or they didn't pick up on the hint that I was fishing for data to use in game tweaking.  Note to self -- don't be subtle now that I know that I'm not going to have H/Ks sent after me.  Mod like it's a "What memo?" game. ;)

It'll be affected by the shot count bug I'm trying to trace until I can find it and squash it, but eh.  It's not really a huge issue unless you deliberately take advantage of it, IMO.

Huh that's a lot of smileys.  I better go eat dinner before I use any more.
Infiltrating hostile AI networks to rewrite reality.

[[Hacks available from this unit found on the AI War Modding subforum.]]

Offline Cyborg

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 09:59:21 PM »
How did you do it?
Kahuna strategy guide:
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13369.0.html

Suggestions, bugs? Don't be lazy, give back:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/

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Offline Aklyon

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 10:23:59 PM »
How did you do it?
Look at the FTL and ship design thread, Red Queen did some big posts exploring/being entertained by decompiled arcen code.

Offline Red.Queen

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2015, 03:41:33 AM »
Cyborg -- If you want the detailed info on my overall workflow (and to chuckle at me waxing poetic about Assembly language and some stream of consciousness mumbling as I do some initial code-diving), the thread Aklyon pointed out has the goods.

If you want to know what I messed with for this particular mod and some of my reasoning/a bit about C# and MSIL, keep reading.

So there is a giant, huge class that handles all the stat assigning for all ships at the start of the game.  60,000 lines of C# code huge (to put it in perspective, that's about 25x the size of the largest class in the last Unity game I modded).  I opened it up in my decompiler, tracked down the Transports in this mass of code, and then specifically the chunk that handled the stats that are unique to the Assault Transports.  Namely, I targeted the lines that populate its base damage, how many shots it gets, damage type, and reload rate.  I wanted to get everything that touched on attack because I had no idea how the game might react to a unit that had a reload time of 4 seconds, yet no apparent attack.  I assumed "bad" and opted to skip worrying about the details.

Once I found what I needed, I flipped over into Notepad++ (the makeshift IDE of champions) and opened the 1M line Assembly code dump of the game and found the stuff I had identified earlier in the decompiled C#.  As I had noticed earlier in my initial explorations, Arcen makes use of the "nop" operation ("no operation") -- it's a command that basically says "do nothing for this tick of the processor".  There are a couple ways to interpret that -- either as an artifact of the disassembly process relating to something that doesn't readily show up in the decompiled C# (possible, disassembly will reveal more to you than decompiling does), or...

They can be deliberately used by the original programmer for various reasons.  One of those reasons can be to do very specific tweaks of timing in how certain code runs.

Given how the last C#-based Unity game I hacked had absolutely no uses of nop, and how I remember seeing posts from Chris and Keith mentioning having done lots and lots of optimization by hand, I decided it was likely case #2, and the nops were deliberate.  This tells me I am probably touching code that is sensitive to at least some degree, and has had some tweaking for performance.  I.e., I assume it's there for a reason, and I should be especially careful lest I break something in an annoying and subtle way.

Granted, I got away with adding a few lines in the "Teleporting Fighters" proof of concept, but I see no reason to be careless here where I can avoid changing the line count and keep my footprints light.  Besides, I don't know if something 30,000 lines up jumps to one of these positions for some reason, and Arcen uses the equivalent of GOTO to skip directly to different positions in the code.  It's going to take me a while before I get this game's codebase mapped out and fully loaded in my mind so that I can predict possible interactions and problems with touching various things -- it's a beast.  Serious respect to the gang for building something this complex with such a small team, it's beautifully nuts.

Anyway, rather than simply deleting the lines of code that I don't want, since that can change the timing of things ever so slightly and who knows what might want to GOTO it, I replaced each line I no longer needed with my own nop, leaving the total number of lines to process identical.  So it should theoretically take about the same amount of time to process, or at least closer than if I merely removed it wholesale.

Then I ran it through ILASM to reassemble into a .dll that Unity can run, glanced at it in ILSpy to look for obvious stupidity, and tested it out.  And that's basically it.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 03:43:16 AM by Red.Queen »
Infiltrating hostile AI networks to rewrite reality.

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Offline x4000

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2015, 09:10:58 AM »
Cheers. :)

Honestly if you want to have the easiest time hacking at this, I'd suggest using a decompiler that puts this into C# rather than MSIL.  I used to be a romhacker for NES games for years, and I know precisely how hard that can be, and that was not nearly the complexity or line count there is here.  Adding or expanding stuff was a paaaaain.

There are various products from companies like Redgate and whatnot that used to be free but are now paid-only (grr), but there are others that I think are open source and free.  I haven't looked in a while.  You'll still be missing all local variable names, so you'd have a lot of "variable a" and "variable b," which is not how our actual code is.  But it's way better than MSIL!

The other thing is that if you come up with changes in a C# environment that people like and that folks would generally like us to merge into the main codebase, that's something that we could then look at pretty easily, versus if you have changes in MSIL instructions that would be extraordinarily time consuming to translate across.

My best suggestion is to use something like SVN to keep track of your changes once you disassemble it to C#.  We like SVN, which you can host locally on your own machine, or you can use something else.  If you later have some changes you want to suggest to us, then you can easily just hand us the diffs exported from SVN and we can take a look at them.

Anyway, some thoughts on things that might make your life easier. :)
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Offline Traveller

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2015, 03:02:11 PM »
Romhacking background, awesome!  I've done a little.  Huge respect for having success with that, it takes a lot of work and dedication.

C# is definitely my favorite language to work in, even though I use other things professionally.  I'm looking forwards to taking a crack at AI War modding myself.  Not sure how much I'll get into it with limited time, but I (or others) might try to come up with requests for an API if modding becomes a real thing here...a way that we could drop multiple additional DLLs in, instead of merging decompiled changes into a single file.  Like registering new ship types and callbacks for them, registering new UI buttons, etc.

x4000, I think I saw you talk about this in another thread but I wanted to be 100% clear.  How sandboxed is this dll, and how sandboxed could you make additional files if modders add them?  A nice goal would be to download arbitrary mods from the internet, but if they could access the filesystem and network and stuff then that would be much too dangerous.

Can't think of any features I want to add yet.  Hm.

Offline x4000

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2015, 03:26:01 PM »
Romhacking was a lot of fun, I was one of the earlier ones in that scene.

The DLL is not sandboxed in the slightest, it has full access to the extent that your user account does (basically like any other program).  That said, depending on your OS, if it requires rights elevation for you to do certain activities, then those would also apply to the game.  So for instance in windows, even if you are an administrator on your computer, certain things require that you run a program in "Run As Administrator" mode to do, otherwise they give access denied messages.

THAT said, there's a lot of stuff that's completely unprotected.  There's not a thing in the world from one of our games, or anybody else's game for that matter, from going in and deleting every one of the files in your documents folder (on your respective OS), for instance.  We can't delete your OS, because that requires rights elevation, and trying to upload documents would probably fail because of your firewall unless you gave it permission (which actually you usually do because of the updater checks), but there's nothing to stop rampant deletions of actual data.

Scary?  Sure, I suppose so.  But in that same light, there is absolutely nothing in the world stopping the people you invite into your home from stabbing you to death as soon as you look away.  They could steal from under your nose, hold you at gunpoint, whatever.  I mean, if we're talking sandboxing and permissions, they are not sandboxed away from doing any of those things.

The reason you trust game devs and other software vendors not to do that sort of malware is pretty much the same reason you trust the guys from a cleaning service or an insurance service or whatever to come into your home.  There's a professional relationship there, and if the guy who installs your gutters starts stabbing his clients, well, that's the end of the line for him in his business, as well as hopefully jail.  Same deal with people who make software for your computer: if we're malicious about it, we'll be found out, and that leads both to the end of the business and probably to criminal charges of some sort.

Personally, I like to think that people make the right choices not because they are afraid of getting caught, but because they have an inherent moral compass that is pointed the right way.  I've had people do a lot of terrible things to me and people I know in my life, so I know that's not always the case, but in 99% of people I think it's probably true.

When it comes to anonymous mod authors, or romhackers for that matter, there's less of a risk of them getting caught, and less to lose.  But I think it's fairly straightforward to tell the ones who are super excited about making a mod or a romhack for its own sake, and those who might be... questionable.  Let's be honest: if someone wants to have some serious mischief with your computer, there are a lot easier ways than making an elaborate mod for a niche game. ;)  That said, there's also nothing stopping some third party from hosting the mod, injecting it with malware, and then passing it on as if nothing was changed.  THAT's one of the easier ways to get onto your computer.  I again think it's really unlikely, but basically it's a good argument for only downloading from the modder's original links, and not mirrors that someone else has put up.  Not that people who make mirrors are bad, either -- they are also often some of the most passionate, helpful people.  So, as with all things in life, it's a judgement call.

Wow I'm rambling.  It's doing me good to think about something else other than my main work right at the moment.  I've been sitting here having panic attacks for the last couple of hours (I'm not entirely sure why), and this took my mind off things in a good way.  I like extrapolating all the possibilities that exist in a situation like this, and security was always an area that I found very interesting and take very seriously.  Anyhow, now that that's done, back to work for me...
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Offline Traveller

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2015, 03:44:56 PM »
Yeah, it's not "scary" scary...Cities Skylines has exactly the same issue, but it makes me cringe slightly when I grab random mods off the Steam mod collection.  I've got a lot of trust in people overall though.  More faith in things I get off a forum from "real people" than I do in things I get off an uncurated assortment of ten thousand minimods on Steam :)

Someday I hope I stumble across a C# tool that can impose extra restrictions on a loaded dll.  A naive approach doesn't seem too bad (enumerate allowed commands, use reflection to scan all the code in the dll, throw an error if it finds something it doesn't like) but I can already think of ways to get around it, and ways to stop those, etc.  Sounds like a fun cat and mouse game!  I bet someone's already written it.  In any case it's not a real concern of mine, more of a passing thought, but if I trip over something I'll mention it.

Offline x4000

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2015, 03:45:51 PM »
All makes sense!
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Offline Red.Queen

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2015, 06:41:21 AM »
 :o  Well this certainly blew up a bit while I was occupied!  I do believe I have started something here.  <steeples fingers>  Excellent.

Cheers. :)

Honestly if you want to have the easiest time hacking at this, I'd suggest using a decompiler that puts this into C# rather than MSIL.  I used to be a romhacker for NES games for years, and I know precisely how hard that can be, and that was not nearly the complexity or line count there is here.  Adding or expanding stuff was a paaaaain.

Oh god, yes it is a pain doing anything complex.  I just wrapped up 6 months hacking a different Unity/C# game, "Sir, You Are Being Hunted."  Writing functions extending AI behaviors in pure MSIL is an adventure, especially when you try to do things like make them aware of areas in their vicinity that they do NOT have line of sight to, and prefer them over points *with* LOS in their search behavior.  Still kinda proud of that one, I never saw anyone else have an actor throw a raycast from out in space back to themselves to test for LOS to random points. :)  I don't regret the headache, I learned a lot working that way.  With Notepad in your left hand and ILDASM/ILASM in your right, nothing in the .NET world is truly beyond your reach.

Romhacking NES stuff?  Now I am going to have to see if I can track down some of your work.  :D

Quote
There are various products from companies like Redgate and whatnot that used to be free but are now paid-only (grr), but there are others that I think are open source and free.  I haven't looked in a while.  You'll still be missing all local variable names, so you'd have a lot of "variable a" and "variable b," which is not how our actual code is.  But it's way better than MSIL!

Oh man, what a different response I'm getting here than I've gotten elsewhere -- the dev's not only ok with it, but is actually suggesting different tools to crack and work on their baby.  I never thought I'd see *this* reaction.  This is great. :)

Yup yup, Redgate Reflector extended with the Reflexil plugin I believe. :)  I notice they finally made a demo available and checked it out earlier.  Um... AI War kills it.  It takes 45 minutes to load the ForegroundUnitTypeImmutable class, on a 2600K running at 3.8ghz and pulling from a SSD.  I laughed out loud and then sighed.

Experimented with Reflexil installed in both Reflector and Telerik JustDecompile (is free, loads the class that kills Reflector in ~3 seconds) -- I had toyed with that a bit with Sir last year but had no real luck getting it to cooperate with what I needed to do there.  I was able to sc cuddly hug  together a bit more info this time that let me work around a few problems that I wasn't able to last time.  (I'll document this stuff in another thread later, so anyone else who wants to try this doesn't have to wade through all the misleading and flat out wrong garbage out there that I did.  Seems like most of the guys working this way are the ones building and selling hacks, so they are cagey about their "trade secrets".  That annoys me intensely and I have every intent to blow the doors off that secrecy.)

Mixed results.  I was able to coax C# edits and recompilation out of Telerik on simple stuff, but it gets confused if you need to edit an existing function in-place that also contains calls to other functions in the containing class.  It also hates refs and refuses to compile.

Buuuut...  It may not be useless.  I need to experiment some more, but I may be able to use Reflexil's injection behavior to crowbar in anything complex that I want to do in C# in a separate function, save the updated .dll, and then dump it out into MSIL and either insert the call to the new function or just move the resulting MSIL where I want it and delete the temp function, then reassemble BACK into C#...  Convoluted, but it would still be faster than trying to write anything complex in pure MSIL.  I'll give it a shot later after I grab some sleep, a day spent exploring this stuff and then arm-wrestling the AI in my first 9/9 match fries the brain.  Also it is sunrise, but hey.

Quote
The other thing is that if you come up with changes in a C# environment that people like and that folks would generally like us to merge into the main codebase, that's something that we could then look at pretty easily, versus if you have changes in MSIL instructions that would be extraordinarily time consuming to translate across.

My best suggestion is to use something like SVN to keep track of your changes once you disassemble it to C#.  We like SVN, which you can host locally on your own machine, or you can use something else.  If you later have some changes you want to suggest to us, then you can easily just hand us the diffs exported from SVN and we can take a look at them.

Anyway, some thoughts on things that might make your life easier. :)

'Scuse me, I just had to restart my heart and wipe the drool from my face at this prospect.  (Familiar with the Futurama episode where Fry finds out he's a zillionaire?  That reaction.)

I am... motivated.  Yes.   >D

PS -- Saw your comments about stress, I'm glad getting to take a break and chat about this stuff is helping you unwind a bit Chris.  :)
« Last Edit: May 07, 2015, 06:43:52 AM by Red.Queen »
Infiltrating hostile AI networks to rewrite reality.

[[Hacks available from this unit found on the AI War Modding subforum.]]

Offline x4000

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Re: [MOD] [DLL] Red.Queen's "Not So Assault Transports"
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2015, 08:15:59 AM »
Cheers, I'm glad I could make your day. :)

edit: The fact that redgate's software chokes and dies on that one thing is pretty funny to me.  There used to be another program called... Anakrino, I think?  Anacrino?  Something like that?  I know you've already got several you're looking at, but I'm not sure what other ones are around.
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