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Aragon Speed

XTC - The Beginning

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
Most of you will have been following the development of XTC since we first announced publicly that we were creating the mod. Waiting for the news posts, or reading the small teaser stories we released, you have slowly gained a few ideas about the mod and what you can hope to see in it.

But what happened before the first news announcement? How did it all start? Was it really a foregone conclusion that XTC would appear?

I shall answer the third question first. No, XTC almost didn't happen.

The cause dates all the way back to XTM 0.7.3. About 2 days after the release of 0.7.3 a rather enigmatic post appeared in the XTM dev forum from Mox.
Quote Originally Posted by -Mox-
If you want to gain a higher level access on TXU you have to be NDA approved by Egosoft first. In order to get an Egosoft NDA check your Egosoft forum profile and read some more on various topics across the Egosoft boards. Once you have a NDA (you'll become level 5 on Egosoft) please contact me to find out more.

This is a mandatory requirement.
Should we discover there have been track-able breaches in the team regarding any NDA related content either on Egosoft forums or on TXU forums you will be removed from the team immediately.

Current Egosoft NDA approved XTM team status:
*List removed for privacy reasons.*

NOTE : This is NOT to be perceived as something along the lines of the Elite vs the commons. It's simply following Egosoft's rules and protecting our interests. If you don't feel like participating for whatever reason that's fine and we won't think anything less of you.
As you can imagine this caused a lot of confusion and private speculation, but like the power hungry megalomaniacs we are, we all dutifully printed off and signed the ES NDA for LVL5 Dev access.

While waiting for our NDA's to be approved by ES and sent back fully signed and stamped, XTM 0.7.3 appeared on the ES forums - hosted on their servers. This was a first for any major mod and only the second time ever a mod had been hosted by ES themselves. We thought this explained the need for the LVL5 NDA. In hindsight, we probably could not have been more wrong.

Our LVL5 access was granted, and promptly got bumped to LVL6. LVL6? I didn't even know at the time that there was a LVL6. Then Mox dropped the bombshell in a private MSN chat to each of us as we became LVL6 on ES - They wanted to work with us on a new expansion for X3: Reunion.

Looking back, I am not sure either side knew exactly what they had let themselves in for...

I can't really say what ES wanted from the partnership, but at a guess I think they wanted us to help create an expansion that would really top the X series off with a bang.

Meanwhile on our side there was a lot of "Wayhey!! All those ideas we had but could not do because of engine limitations are now within sight!".

I'm not going to go into details here due to the NDA I am bound by, but lets just say that the reality was somewhere in between the two extremes. We were not going to be allowed free range to do exactly what we wanted, but on the other hand we managed to get enough changes added that ES changed their mind about creating an expansion for X3R, and thought what we were all creating warranted a whole new game in it's own right. And so Terran Conflict was born.

I had to leave the development of TC fairly early due to RL constraints on my time. I even had to leave TXU for a time because of this, but finally I returned and started looking to the future. I didn't feel like jumping back into developing TC as I still had too much going on in RL to devote the time needed, so I thought about starting a mod of my own that had nothing to do with XTM. The rest of the XTM team were still busy on TC, so I was pretty much on my own and couldn't continue working on XTM, but I like to mod.

I looked around the forum and contacted some people who had been modding on their own, or had small parts in another mod so had time to work on another project as well. Quite a few of them said yes they would be interested in working on a large mod. It was easier than I expected to get people interested in working on a mod with me, I can't speak for them, but I suspect it was my association with XTM that helped a lot in recruiting them.

So work on E-COM started, and for about a month we worked away on a new mod behind the scenes.

Meanwhile the main TC dev work had entered the beta testing stage, and finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, Mokonzi contacted me and asked if I would be interested in creating a new X-Tended for TC. I was interested, but I already had a mod on the go. I could drop it and let the rest of the people working on it carry on, or I could continue on my own mod and not work on a new X-Tended mod. I thought about it for a while and decided that I would rather work on an X-Tended for TC.

Moko and I contacted the current XTM team and asked if they would be interested in creating a new X-Tended mod for TC once the TC development was over and the game was out, and the response was not what we expected at all. Most of them were not interested. Some felt that creating XTM, and then working with ES was as far as they could go, they could not think of being able to top this achievement. Some simply felt like they did not want to mod any more once TC was finished, and the rest wished to continue to work with ES.

This was a major blow, with one or two of the old team members missing we could still continue with a new X-Tended mod, but with nearly all of them not wanting to continue modding for various reasons, there really wasn't a team left. Apart from myself and Moko only Mishra was interested in creating a new mod.

The biggest stumbling block (and blow) was the fact that Mox did not want to continue modding. Without Mox there really wasn't an X-Tended mod, the ships were his, the name was his, the mod was his.

Had we been in the same room, I think it would be fair to say that Moko and I would have spent a long time just staring at each other in shock. Without Mox we didn't have anything. Sure we could have started another mod, but we would have to start from scratch with nothing, and without the XTM assets to build on it would not be a new X-tended mod, and somehow that just didn't seem right. X-Tended should not just die, there were too many fans, and too much had been done to just let the name die a death.

So in desperation Moko and I tried one last thing - we contacted Mox and Syklon (Who were the joint team leaders of XTM), and the rest of the old XTM team, and asked if they would consent to Moko and I taking over as joint X-Tended team leaders, with a view to creating a X-Tended Mod for TC.

As I said, we were desperate, and I don't think either of us realistically expected them to say yes - But they did, every single one of them.

So we were now team leaders for XTM, cool. Erm, damn! Team leaders of what? We had no team.

Mulling this over I asked a few of the people in my mod if they would be interested in working on a new X-Tended, explaining that it would mean dropping the current mod and moving over. I unfortunately could not ask the whole team because some of them were working on other mods, and that would conflict with the X-Tended NDA.

So if you were an E-COM team member, this was why the mod ended so abruptly without (from your point of view) any explanation. I apologise for that.

As you can probably guess everyone I asked said that they would be interested in creating a new X-Tended mod.

So we had a small starting team. What to do first? Well there was XTM 0.7.3 that had been sitting in limbo for months due to the team having to drop it to work on TC, still bug ridden as hell, and thats not the legacy we wanted to leave behind when we moved onto making a mod for TC. So the first thing we had to do was fix it.

Only problem was at that time the only scripter we had was new to scripting, and most of the bugs in XTM were script based. The main scripter from E-COM was working on another mod, and so she was not able (due to the XTM NDA) to work on the new XTM because of that.

To cut a long story short, someone on the team suggested sartorie as a scripter. To be honest at that time I had not even heard of him, but we needed a scripter, and I trust the teams judgement. So he was asked if he would like to script for X-Tended, he said yes.

And we were off. XTM 0.7.4 arrived, closely followed by 0.7.5 which finally squashed the last of the bugs in XTM, and we were finally free to start to think about creating the new mod for TC.

There were a couple of months of planning and brainstorming ideas, which Moko and I subtly guided as we knew what was to come in TC due to our still active access to the TC dev forums over on ES. We couldn't say anything directly to the team because of the ES NDA, but that didn't stop us pushing certain ideas, and stalling others depending on what was going to be in TC.

Finally TC was released, and the team could begin to mod in earnest, so our first decision was to drop everything to go and play. XD We decided to just play TC for 2 weeks so that the team could see exactly what was in TC already, and what new opportunities were open to us. Well, that was the plan anyway, I think we actually played TC for a sum total of 2 days before we all started to pull it apart and change things from boredom or frustration with the game.

So then the real modding started, and X-Tended - Terran Conflict was finally born. We haven't looked back since and we continue to work on our dream - a mod that will be bigger and better than even XTM was.
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Comments

  1. Mokonzi's Avatar
    Nice synopsis -AS-, had forgotten how a lot of it came about it was so long ago...
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  2. Aragon Speed's Avatar
    I had to think quite a lot to remember all of that as well.
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  3. stemardue's Avatar
    Thank you for giving XTC a clear starting point - Now I know what I'll be telling my nephews to end the tale with the mighty words: "...and I have been part of that!"

    ...Wait... to have nephews I should have some children at some point, right? err...
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  4. Aragon Speed's Avatar
    Nope, your brother or sister needs to have kids if you want nephews. ^^
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  5. Locsley's Avatar
    Interesting. Lv 6 you say, well well.
    It's going to be interesting what XTM-TC will come out as. You know, I am currently running my Q9650 at 4050Mhz, and still I am thinking of upping it a few 100Mhz more to get better flow in TC. I hope XTM-TC has a lighter load in battles? Sure, I am running a few heavy scripts too....
    It was a fun read - thank you -AS-

    Robin
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  6. Aragon Speed's Avatar
    Currently we are getting better FPS in our dev build than vanilla manages. This is due to a lot of work optimising the GFX, SFX, and scriptng work. Not everything is in and working yet, but we are hopeful that the mod will have better performance than vanilla when it is released, and worse case senario is that it will be the same.

    'The same' does not sound like much of an improvement, but when you think we have a lot of custom scripts and effects running, that in itself would be a major performance increase to cope with them at the same FPS level that vanilla has without them. ^^
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  7. Unserene's Avatar
    Interesting read AS. I wondered what happened to the original team.
    Good luck with the new release
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  8. Aragon Speed's Avatar
    Thanks Unserene.
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  9. Sam Redstone's Avatar
    What an exciting story! I didn't realize how much TC was built on top of XTM, because I never got around to playing XTM. I have just installed it and am having my first look at it, finally. I am VERY excited about XTC. Thank you for working so hard to make it a reality!!
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  10. Aragon Speed's Avatar
    Thanks Sam.
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  11. Ikaruga's Avatar
    I never heard of that E-COM mod before. What was it about ?
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