Release 3 ReadMe

Last updated on 12.07.2005 (dd.mm.yyyy)


Based on the Babylon 5 universe by:
Joe Michael Straczynski

Built on the game by:
Volition Incorporated


Table of contents

1. Disclaimer
2. System requirements
3. Installation
4. Release policy
5. Multiplayer
6. Launcher settings
7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
8. Troubleshooting
9. Copyright information


1. Disclaimer

The Babylon Project team does not claim to own or have anything to do with Warner Brothers, Babylon 5, or any associated or affiliated production group with regards to this Total Conversion. All materials are copyright of their prospective owners. This total conversion is done by fans of Babylon 5 in the spirit of the series and its spin-offs. We do not expect to receive any benefit from this effort except the satisfaction that we could make such a fantastic project work.

We will not charge any money for our effort and we will receive no special or beneficiary treatment because of the work done. We thank the creators of Babylon 5 for their "storytelling expertise which compelled us to make such a project.

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2. System requirements

The Babylon Project Release 3 uses "fs2_open", an enhanced Freespace 2 engine by the Freespace Source Code Project team. Release 3 is stand-alone and does not require original Freespace 2 to work.

  • Pentium 3 600 MHz or equivalent
  • 256 MB RAM
  • Microsoft Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
  • DirectX 8.1 compatible 3D hardware accelerator card with "Hardware Transformation and Lightning" (HT&L) support
  • DirectX 8.1 compatible 16-bit sound card
  • 750 MB hard drive space
  • Joystick
  • DirectX 8.1 or newer installed

Note: Due to the nature of "fs2_open" which is being developed by the Freespace community, "fs2_open" is a rapidly developing engine and system requirements may change accordingly. Release 3 will also include "fred2_open", an enhanced version of FRED2 for creating your own missions.

Note: Note: You don't need Release 1 or Release 2 or even any prior version of Release 3 to install Release 3.2.

Note: Hard drive space requirements mentioned above is only for the Base. You will need additional space for temporary files extracted during installation process. Also, you will need more space to install missions, campaigns and any additional content included with them.

Note: HT&L stands for Hardware Transformation and Lighting, a feature supported by graphics cards that utilise the instructions found in DirectX and OpenGL. First generation GeForce and Radeon graphics cards were the first to support HT&L.

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3. Installation

  • Before installation, please ensure that you have at least 700 MB free space where your "Temp" folder is located. By default, this is where your Windows is installed to, usually C: drive.
  • Run The Babylon Project Release 3.0 installer.
  • Specify location where you want to install Release 3.
  • Specify location where you want to create Start-menu shortcuts.

Note: Do not install Release 3 to Freespace 2 folder even if you happen to have it installed. Release 3 is designed to work as stand-alone, without original Freespace 2.

  • Install Release 3 to folder you specified.
  • Install any optional packages you might have downloaded. (To the same folder you installed the Base to.)
  • Install any missions and campaigns you might have downloaded. (To the same folder you installed the Base to.)

Note: Release 3 does not come with ANY missions or campaigns. These must be downloaded seperately. Download links are available here

  • Shortcuts are by default created to your Start-menu, under "The Babylon Project" folder.
  • Run "Launcher" first and make sure settings are suitable for your hardware.
  • Play The Babylon Project Release 3.
  • To play campaigns, select "Campaign" menu where you will see all installed campaigns listed. Select the one you want to play and click "Select" button, then click "Continue" button.
  • To play single missions, select "Tech Data" menu, then select "Mission Simulator" and "Single Missions". You can also play campaign missions you have finished by selecting "Campaign Missions" instead of "Single Missions".

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4. Release policy

Highlights of new release policy:
  • No more oppressive release policy which aims to be a professional and a commercial like product. We cannot achieve these goals with unpaid fans of Babylon 5 and FreeSpace without great deal of personal sacrifices.
  • The Babylon Project is thus seperated into two different branches, independent from each other; "base" and "missions".
  • The "base" branch is including but not limited to: ships, visual effects, sound effects and music.
  • And naturally the "missions" branch includes all stand-alone missions and campaigns. Each developed and released independently as their own releases.
With this, we can achieve:
  • The Babylon Project "bases" are released more often, with no delays from unfinished missions, the bases can be released as soon as they are finished.
  • All stand-alone missions and campaigns can be released as soon as they are finished, no need to wait for "official big release".
  • All this means that you will have more releases more often and more to play with!

At least this is what we are trying to achieve with this new release policy.

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5. Multiplayer

Original PXO-server which was used for Freespace 1 and 2 online gaming has been closed, most likely permanently. There is however an alternative; FS2NetD.

Short instructions how to get multiplayer to work:
  • You need to register, you can do it here.
  • You will then receive a registration confirmation email to email address you specified, follow instructions in this email to complete registration.
  • Set up your network settings. Use "Launcher" and go to "Network" tab, use settings closest to your network connection.
  • You need multiplayer missions, these you can download from here.
  • Start the game, first thing you always see is pilot selection screen. There are two buttons on top right corner of the screen, left one selects singleplayer and right one selects multiplayer.
  • Select multiplayer and create a multiplayer pilot.
  • Then go to "Options" and "Multi".
  • Select "TCP" and "PXO".
  • Type in your username and password you used in your registration.
  • In right, you can see multiplayer options. Select object update best suitable for your network connection speed.
  • By selecting "Voice" settings, you can configure over-net voice quality and test microphone if you use one.
  • If everything is set correctly, close "Options" screen by clicking "Accept" and then select "Continue". You should see list of available games on the server.
  • Now you can join to existing games or create new games.

For more information about multiplayer and different options, please refer to Freespace 2 Instruction Manual.
Development of new multiplayer features can be followed in Source Code Project forums

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6. Launcher settings

There are a few settings worth mentioning in the launcher that are disabled by default, all three settings can be found under "Features"-tab. The first setting is "32bit textures", you can enable this and enjoy better quality interface, the drawback is that it uses more video memory. Usually it is best to also select "compress pcx" setting which is explained a bit further in this paragraph. The second setting is "mipmapping", this improves texture quality by sacrificing performance, you can enable this on high-end computers. The third setting is under "Game speed" category, "Compress pcx". This compresses pcx textures, taking less video memory but degrading quality. If you enable this setting and disable "jpg, tga textures" setting under "Graphics" category, you will save significantly video memory. If you have "jpg, tga textures" setting enabled, then "compress pcx" only affects interface and explosions effects.

There is currently no support for JPG and TGA texture compression, so you might want to use PCX instead if you are low on video card memory. You can turn JPG/TGA textures off by unselecting "enable jpg,tga textures" in the "Features" -tab, "graphics" category.

In "Features" tab you will see "-ambient_factor 60" in custom flags (if you selected to install registry entries as well). This flag controls the default ambient lightning in missions. Lower the value, the darker the lightning is. You may want to modify this value if the default is too dark for your tastes.

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7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General FAQ

Question: What is "The Babylon Project"?
Answer: The Babylon Project" is a group of dedicated individuals who are trying to bring the essence of Babylon 5 space combat to Freespace 2, an award winning space combat simulation from Volition Incorporated.

Question: Does The Babylon Project Release 3 have Freespace 2 included?
Answer: No it does not, Release 3 only includes a minimal set of files from original Freespace 2. These files are necessary to make certain parts of the game to work and to maintain high compatibility with stand-alone Release 3. We hope in later releases there will be no original Freespace 2 files remaining anymore.

Question: Where can I get Freespace 2?
Answer: You will be hard pressed to find it in stores these days, but it is generally considered abandonware and available in Home of the Underdogs.

Question: Can Release 3 be installed even if I have no Freespace 2 installed?
Answer: Yes. In fact, we recommend to install Release 3 to its own folder instead of Freespace 2 folder. Release 3 is designed to work as stand-alone, without Freespace 2.

Question: If The Babylon Project no longer requires Freespace 2, isn't it illegal?
Answer: The source code of Freespace 2 was released to public by Volition. However, Freespace 2 artwork is owned by Interplay, not Volition. The Babylon Project only uses a part of original Freespace 2 interface art, the remaining interface art is slowly being replaced by our own.

Question: Is there a manual available?
Answer: Yes there is, please see "Documentation" subfolder in "The Babylon Project" folder in your Start-menu. Please note that this manual is the original manual of Freespace 2, you will see that game interface is different from the pictures in the manual.

Question: What flight style will be used? Newtonian or WWII dogfight?
Answer: The engine does not have the ability to do full newtonian flight models, so we will have to be using the standard physics model. Ships have some slight slide effects just to give them a bit of a different feeling. Source code additions will eventually add several newtonian like maneuvers to the mix, but we'd like to keep the relative feel of the game the same.

Question: Is joystick required or can I use a mouse as well?
Answer: You can use either a joystick or a mouse, the choice is yours. In most cases a mouse is more accurate, but a joystick is better in dogfights.

Question: Why did you not include ship "X"?
Answer: Most likely it will be in later releases. Canon ships has a priority over non-canon ships.

Campaigns, missions & Mission Editor FAQ

Question: Why there are no campaigns selectable in campaigns selection screen or missions in mission simulator?
Answer: You need to download campaigns and stand-alone missions seperately. Download links are located here.

Question: Are there any training missions available?
Answer: At the time of writing this readme, unfortunately no training missions were available. Please check our missions download page to see if there are any available.

Question: Can I play other Freespace 2 mods or original Freespace 2 campaign with Release 3?
Answer: Since Release 3 contains only a minimum set of files from Freespace 2, in almost all cases you cannot play other mods and most certainly not original Freespace 2 campaign.

Question: Can I make my own missions or modify others missions?
Answer: Yes you can. Release 3 comes with "fred2_open", an enhanced Freespace 2 mission editor.

Question: Where should I save my own missions?
Answer: To \data\missions folder. Data-folder is located where you installed The Babylon Project to. You may need to create missions folder if it does not exist.

Question: I am trying to make a briefing to my own mission, but briefing icon ordering it totally illogical.
Answer: It may seem illogical at first, please see "Documentation" subfolder in "The Babylon Project" folder in your Start-menu. There you will find "Briefing icon chart" shortcut which should greatly help you to select correct briefing icons.

Question: Can I use nameplates on ships?
Answer: Yes you can, please refer to "Ship nameplates" document which you can find from "Documentation" subfolder in "The Babylon Project" folder in your Start-menu.

Technical FAQ

Question: What fs2_open and fred2_open builds does Base 3.2 use?
Answer: Fs2_open build is build "20050103" and fred2_open is "20050630". As you can see, fred2_open is actually newer than fs2_open. This means that fred2_open has several features, namely SEXP's that fs2_open does not support. This will result in errors where SEXPS that aren't supported by fs2_open are used. Such an error can be "Unrecognized Operator" for example. We want to provide you with the best possible stability, which in this case meant using slightly older fs2_open build.

Question: I have trouble with fred2_open, strange errors, crashes or something simply isn't working. Why?
Answer: Unfortunately original fred2 source code was bit of a mess and the Source Code Project team have had trouble adding new features while still trying to keep existing code working. There has been plans to rewrite fred2_open completely from scratch.

Question: When I place certain ships in the mission editor, the editor may crash. Why?
Answer: This issue will be fixed in the newer versions of fred2_open, please for now switch to wireframe models. You can do this by unselecting "Show Ship Models" from "View" menu and then selecting "Show Outlines".

Question: Where can I follow development of "fs2_open" and "fred2_open"?
Answer: In Source Code Project homepage.

Question: Why is Whitestar's main beam weapon a turret and not player-controllable?
Answer: This is a limitation in current game engine, support for third primary weapon is coming in later releases.

Question: The game crashes when loading a mission or inside a mission.
Answer: Typically they are limited to a single or a few machines and its usually related to drivers and/or operating system. Crashes may also be because of a bug(s) in fs2_open or fred2_open. You can look for help from The Babylon Project and The Source Code Project forums.

Question: Performance is very poor, I have noticed that the game uses a lot of memory. Why?.
Answer: When Release 3 was released, there was not yet support to compress JPG and TGA effects and textures. Meaning that currently Release 3 will use significantly video and system memory to store visual effects and textures. Please deselect -jpgtga flag in the launcher and you should receive significant performance boost. This will however also reduce visual quality noticeably. We hope support for compressed JPG and TGA will be done soon.

Question: I have a Radeon video card. Why aren't shinemaps working?
Answer: This is an issue with ATI Catalyst drivers starting from version 4.5. Either we need to wait for ATI driver team or Source Code Project developers to fix this issue. For time being, we advise ATI Radeon users to use OpenGL mode instead of Direct3D.

Question: When I use the Launcher, "Registry" tab might generate an error.
Answer: This is normal when you have no Freespace 2 installed. It has no effect on The Babylon Project.

Question: I noticed the charts of ships and weapons are not accurate. Why?
Answer: This is true, the charts became slightly outdated while development progressed quickly and author of the charts did not have much free time. The charts should be updated in later releases.

Question: What charts are you talking about?
Answer: Open Mission Editor (fred2_open) and select "Help" and "Help topics". From there you can find a reference chart as well as a mission editor tutorial made by Lady Rose.

Modding FAQ

Modding is something that cannot be covered to great lenghts in a readme. I suggest you start researching into Freespace 2 modding by reading Karajorma's Freespace FAQ.

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8. Troubleshooting

For best performance and quality, please make sure you have the latest drivers for your hardware.

Problem: I have poor performance in game or I have graphical distortions.
Tip 1: Use "Launcher", go to "Features" tab. There you can see an "Easy setup" drop-down list, try to use "High memory usage features off" setup.
Tip 2: In "Features" tab, try "Default FS2 (All features off)".
Tip 3: In "Video" tab and make sure "Antialiasing is set to "None".
Tip 4: In "Video" tab, select 1024x768 or 640x480 resolutions.
Tip 5: If you have a computer close to minimum system requirements, after you have launched the game, go to options and use lower detail settings.
Tip 6: If even this has no effect, please check our forums, you can receive help there.

Problem: I have blue lines or white blocks everywhere in the game interface.
Tip 1: Use "Launcher", go to "Video" tab. Set antialiasing setting to none.
Tip 2: Use "Launcher", go to "Features" tab. Disable 32bit textures.

Problem: Explosions appear undetailed.
Tip 1: Use "Launcher", go to "Features" tab, select "Game speed" and unselect "Compress pcx". You need more video card memory but undetailed explosions should disappear.
Tip 2: Should game performance drop noticeably, use "Launcher", go to "Features" tab and select "Graphics", unselect "Enable 32bit textures" and "Enable jpg,tga textures".

Problem: I have poor sound quality or it is distorted.
Tip 1: In "Launcher", go to "Audio/Joystick" tab and make sure you have "DirectSound" selected. EAX or Aureal 3D should be selected only when your soundcard supports it.

Problem: My joystick does not work.
Tip 1: In "Launcher", go to "Audio/Joystick" tab and make sure you have correct joystick selected.
Tip 2: If your joystick is not detected in launcher, check if it is detected by Windows by clicking "Calibrate" button.
Tip 3: If it is not detected, check if the joystick is properly plugged in.
Tip 4: If everything seems ok but the joystick does not work, try to select "Force 0" or "Force 1" as your joystick.

Problem: Why I can't use my mouse instead of joystick?
Tip 1: In game, go to "Options", there is an option to turn mouse either off or on. In this case turn it on.

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9. Copyright information

All material distributed with The Babylon Project Release 3 is copyrighted, except where Warner Bros, PTEN, Babylonian Productions, TNT, Sonic Images, Sierra, Volition and Interplay may apply.
All trademarks copyrighted to their specific owners.

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2000 The Babylon Project, except where Babylonian Productions, Interplay, PTEN, Sector 14 Studios, Sierra, Sonic Images, TNT, Volition and Warner Bros may apply. All trademarks are copyrighted to their specific owners.