Comanche 4 Legacy Project

The History Of Comanche 4 and the C4 Community 

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Comanche 4 Mod And Game Enhancement History
Authored by Reaper.

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Legacy Information
Some of the information presented here is a matter of memory, we all remember
things differently, and as such this is my interpretation of the history of mod
creation in Comanche 4, and the players involved.

Other modderís are welcome to include their own input and information on this page,
If you have anything to add
contact me and I will add your comments on the topic.
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LINKS


Page1 {Modding History}

Page 2 {Event Time Line}


Preface:

The focus of this article is: The history of Comanche 4 Mod Creation. In writing the history I will be crediting the
authors of information released to help mod the game. Listing mods and mod tools released to the community and
who created them, and in general focusing on a mod creation history outline {page 1} and a Events time line {page 2} detailing Comanche 4 mod history. If I leave anyone out, credit the wrong person or get some of the information incorrect it is unintentional and I will be happy to correct any information brought to my attention.

Intro:
Comanche 4 was the first game built using a new game engine created by Novalogic. Nova would update the game engine to release Black Hawk Down, and Joint Operations. While the game engine was more advanced, the game file structure and formats were very similar to Comanche 4. Many of the tools created for those games worked on C4.
Many of us who modded C4 started modding those games first because of the tools and information available to mod them.

As for mod tools for Comanche 4, when Nova released mod tools for BHD and someone from Nova leaked mod tools
for JOTR and we were able to use some of those tools to mod C4, but modding the game would not have been possible with out player created tools. Nova never supplied support for modding Comanche and any request for help or tools 
from Nova fell on deaf eyes. As a result the mods created for C4 were only possible with the work of a number of
members of the C4 community, the help of some players from outside the C4 community and tools created by members of the C4/DF2/BHD and JOTR communities. Many of the names credited in this article will not be familiar to C4 players, that's because they were better known in the communities of other Novalogic games. It should be noted many of the tools were created for other games, but worked for C4.

What is a mod and how they work in Comanche 4:

A mod is a alteration made to the game by players to change it's default operation. Typically created using data,
and files not intended to be used or altered in the game by Novalogic. The mod can include game settings and files hidden in the game by Novalogic, discovered by players who unlocked or enabled aspects of the game Novalogic did
not intend to be used. Or use new content created and added to the game by the players themselves.

The mod may change scoring, weapon effects, visual effects, add new game objects or change existing ones, change the game environment, create new environments and at times dramatically change game play. In some cases a mod could be used as a cheat, if the mod gives a player with the mod an advantage over players that donít have
it {changing the comanche skin bright yellow for example} In other cases the mod may put a player running it at a disadvantage compared to players running stock {the night vision mod for example}.

Some mods require a player have the mod files to join a server hosting the mod, a terrain for example, or the player
can not load the map. Other mods will let a player with out the mod join the map, but with out the mod file they will not see the mod content, a new environment for example.

Running any mod for c4 was problematic at best. With no support from Nova there was no way to identify mod servers  in the game lobby. The only way a player could be informed the server they wanted to join was running a mod, was by word of mouth from the host or playerís in the server if they could load the map and join the mod server. Or by setting a short web domain url as the server name, publishing a web page to the url and posting the mod information on
the webpage. Then hope player's after having their game crash or receiving a error message when they tried to join the server would see the server name url and follow up by checking the web page. Then if they wanted to play the mod, would download it and re-enter the server {this was the way I released the OD mod beta}.

However this also had problems of it's own, Comanche 4 is a world-wide played game and players use different  languages, the server and modder could not be certain all player's would understand the information about the mod
or follow instructions explaining how to install it. Someone had to obtain a web domain, or use an already established domain, create a webpage and publish the mod information. A lot of work if the mod was small and few players would play it. 

Why we mod:
Most modderís create mods for 2 reasons, they are creative, mod work for them is enjoyable, and they like to push
what they can accomplish with the game. The other reason is to raise the fun factor for the game, sometimes for  themselves and sometimes they share what they create so other players can enjoy it to. Players get bored playing  games using the same content over and over. New content adds a fresh feel and new experiences to the game play.

The majority of mod work in C4 was not released to the c4 community as a whole. Some was shared with the modderís squad, Some was shared with players the modder gamed with and some was not shared at all, the modder kept the mod private and played by themselves.

Modding Comanche 4, a basic history outline:

For the first few years after the gameís release 2001-2003 the ability to mod C4 was very limited. With few tools and very little general knowledge about how the game files worked. Most of the players who wanted to mod the game had to settle for creating maps.

In 2002 a number of utilities and map creation tutorials were released for Comanche 4, most of the utilities were
used to build maps/missions for the game, however a few of the utilities gave players access to game files and the
first look at how the game worked.

With the release of Fw0 Raven's PFF utility in Febuary 2002, players were able to access the game's PFF's and extract
all of Comanche 4's stock files. While most of the stock game files required special tools to open or edit them, some could be opened with notepad giving players the first look at how those files worked in the game including: terrain  {.cpt} {.trn} files and enviroment {.evn} files. Other files could be opened in graphics programs like photoshop and players who had access to those programs could see what graphic format files the game was using. 

In March 2002 a C4 BMS2MIS Converter was released by Col. Pappy. Using the utility, player's could convert the game's stock map files {.bms format} into map creation files {.mis format}, then open the files in the MED used to build maps/missions and see how Nova created the maps.   

In Febuary 2003, the first player made terrain was released, the terrain named Scotlandia was released by wildman2.
Terrains used in C4 and later BHD/JOTR required numerous files for each terrain, one being a {.CPT} format file
created using a Nova made tool to compile the file. Mod tools released later for BHD and JOTR would include the CPT  tool in thier mod tools. C4 never had a .cpt tool and the BHD/JOTR versions did not work for C4. The work around was  to use a stock .cpt from a stock terrain and assign it to the player made terrain, while this worked all converted and  player made terrains would suffer from a reduction in visual performance. As a side note the tools required to build a  terrain included: photoshop or similar program and notepad.

In July 2003 with the release of a {.bin} editor released by Co. Pappy players were able to access and edit BIN files.
BIN format files were used for numerous Novalogic game files including: the map/mission .bin files used to list mission
variables and mission name, and varous game BIN files containing game menu information.

In February 2004 mod tools were released from Novalogic for Black Hawk Down with instructions to use the tools and  information on how to create game mods for that game. Using BHD to compare files with C4, data for unfinished game types hidden in the game was discovered. After research and testing it was discovered, King of the Hill game types {KOTH} and {TKOTH} while incomplete had enough programming completed to play the games.

With the creation of a KOTH map pack by Reaper, Game utility coded by Bane and instructions explaining how to build maps and host the game by Reaper, Bane and MasterX, King of the Hill was released to the C4 community giving them a new game to play. Following initial release Reaper created a map pack for TKOTH and released the maps to play team king of the hill also.

In April 2004 Bane released some of the first information regarding .wac script available for C4, over time players  would learn to use it to place text on the game screen, set weather effects and move fog. While not a true mod
wac files worked the same way a mod does, to see the effect player's needed to have the .wac file.

That same year {2004}, a DeSCR tool released by DV gave players access to C4's encrypted game files. The tool could be used to decrypt and encrypt game system files for weapons, objects and game settings and was the last tool  released Comanche 4 needed to create a complete game mod, all we needed was the information to add objects into the game.

Following release of DV's encryption tool, the first game objects were modded into the C4 by Bluetiereign in 2004 using  tools from DV and DevilsClaws to decrypt and encrypt the necessary .bin and .def files. The process he used was to add a game object to BHD, then convert the objects BHD .3di file to C4 using a hex editor. Bane is credited with finding the data in the BHD .3di file that was required to be changed so the file would work in Comanche 4.

In 2006 Bluetiereign released the information in a PDF document explaining how to add objects to Comanche 4, using  his BHD to C4 conversion method. With that information released, anyone who wanted to mod C4 had access to the  tools and information to do so. 

Comanche 4 mods released:

BKCmod-r1 released by MasterX March 2004.
MasterX's mod came out of the work done for KOTH, the mod unlocked: max team lives in the hosting menu and
re-test video in advanced options menu. New death messages were added for multiplayer.

BTR's C4 MOD #1 released by Bluetiereign September 2004

BTR's C4 MOD #2 released Bluetiereign January 2005

Night Vision Mod released by Reaper September 2005.
The night vision mod {infra-red night vision simulation} was part of a new enviroments map pack in dm and tdm.
Reaper created the evns and maps and Rab helped test the pack. Rab would use the evn's on his own maps and run
the maps on his server. As a side note Rab helped numerous players install the mod, so they could play it.

1 hit Mod released by Reaper November 2005.
The 1 hit mod was created using a altered weapons .def file. 1 hit referred to the number of stingers and hydras it
took to kill other players in multiplayer, normal play required 3. The mod included altered flares to cool the heat signature on ground flare spammers so they were easier to kill. The mod was tested and tuned by Reaper and Rab,
and created as a way to alter no-count scoring in game version V1.0.1.15. Originally created for private use, the mod was released to the community by request.

New enviroments pack for Comance 4 Mod by released Reaper November 2006.
The new evn mod was a revamped and re-edited version of the original Night Vision mod. The mod contained more
night vision evn's, some space fantasy evn's and new types of enviroments in general. The mod was included in the Odyssey Mod in 2009 and ZAK's C4ExP mod in 2008.

November 2009 Odyssey Mod beta by Reaper.
OD was a large scale mod designed as a remake of C4 multiplayer. The mod was downloaded and installed as a
stand alone version of C4. Mod content included fly through buildings, fantasy space objects, Lighted objects,  re-skinned Comancheís and many unique objects never before seen in Comanche 4.
Construction was the result of 8 years of game experience with C4, BTRís information on porting objects into the
game, the use of BHD mod tools, Joint Operation mod tools and Allan Stewart aka Dr. Evil~tagís 3di file converter.
General information about OD is posted on the C4Mod website {LINK}. The forum {you have to register) contains
basic modding information explaining how some of the mod was created and tips to mod C4.


C4ExP Mod, the culmination of 8 years of work:
February 2008 C4ExP Mod By ZAK and the C4ExP team. 
There were at least 2 other large Comanche 4 expansions under construction that for one reason or another did
not get released or in one case was released by a player with out permission from the player who created it and it
was recalled. ZAK and the C4ExP team stand out as the only players who completed a true expansion, released it
and followed up with support and updates for the mod. The C4ExP Mod contained mods from other modderís including Bluetiereign and Reaper. Other players also helped get the mod to a completed stage, including Rab, Wildman, DR.EVIL~TAG and Q-dad~TAG, with DR.EVIL~TAG and Q-dad~TAG serving as technical advisors. DR.EVIL~TAG was instrumental in providing help, technical information and coding a 3di converter to complete the mod.

The work ZAK did on the mod included porting objects from BHD and terrains from other Nova games and various updates and support after the mod was released. The 3DI Conversion Tutorial Bluetiereign released to port objects
into C4 also made ZAKís mod possible. Bluetiereign helped ZAK with tech problems and directed ZAK to tools and information ZAK needed for varous conversions in the mod. Reaper edited terrain files and created char maps for many of the terrains for the mod's release.

It should be noted while the mod was under construction, tragedy struck on April 11th 2007 when DR.EVIL~TAG
was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Allen, Doc's real name helped with the mod rite up till the day before he deployed. Doc's death was a severe blow to the DF2 and BHD communities and an incredible loss for Comanche 4.

The following credits are listed for C4ExP:
BTR's MOD (#1 and #2), the Mogadishu and DFBHD Vehicle MODs, by Bluetiereign
The C4 Player Environment Pack (Night sight simulation for C4) by Reaper
The M-3 Bradley Desert , C-130 Desert, M1A2 Desert, Enemy Soldier, BHD/TS Offshore MODs and DF2 Terrains by =ZAK=

For those of us that worked on the C4ExP Mod, Itís release was the culmination of 8 years worth of ideaís, dreams and  pride in being able to give the C4 community something Novalogic never did, an expansion for Comanche 4