Gaming Spaceway: September 20th update

Artlav

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into_gate.jpg


Location: Spaceway project
Previous thread and project description: http://www.orbiter-forum.com/showthread.php?t=33101
Latest: 140923

Another update of Spaceway is out.
This time i tried something a little bit different.
A gameplay mode, that have a short story to keep the player occupied, as well as easing him into the game's controls and ideas.

As for everything else - it's still the same game, give or take a few space bugs and interface improvements.

I hope you'll like it.
Feedback is welcome, as always. Bug reports especially.

sw_140920-2.jpg
 
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jedidia

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What, I can die now? why didn't anybody warn me?? :lol:

Haven't progressed too far in the story yet (playing on nothing but a laptop keyboard, ergo the reason I died) so I can't comment on that too much, but it looks promising. I actually thought something like this might work in Spaceway after taking a look at Rodina.

Anyways, here's what I can say so far:

1. Graphics presets are very appropriate. After being forced to throw out my desktop, I had to contend with "good laptop". Game ran fluently and without a hitch, even without overheating the bloody thing, so these seem to be very appropriate.

2. Nightside's a killer. Needs some ambient lighting. Thought for a moment the game had buged out on me after emerging from a stargate at the nightside and seeing nothing but pitch black outside the window.

3. A few things in the text: I started on Oddball on the second start, and the text went "I wonder about the chemistry of that pink ice is" or something like that.
Of course I immediately jumped the rover off the cliff to see if anything would happen when I get to the pink ice, and nothing did. While nice flavour text, in something that bears a strong semblance to a tutorial it can be a bit misleading.

4. Text for planting fuel generator is a bit ambiguous. It does not explicitly state that you need to be out of the rover to plant the fuel generator. Spent a minute searching the controls menu to see if I accidently borked up the assignement.

5. Controls... controls, controls, controls. Tough one. The problem is that there is currently some ambiguity about what spaceway wants to be. You want it to be controlable completely newtonian, and that's great, and one day when I relearn TransX that'll be great fun. But the majority of the players will use the warp drive for practically anything. This brings up the first point:
If there's no limitation to where the warp drive can be used, most players will use it for anything, including landing. This more or less puts the flightmodel on the arcade level. That's not neccessarily a bad thing... but they don't make much sense in combination with the newtonian rotation controls, which require you to hit kilrot every other second (especially when used in conjunction with the warp drive, and especially tedious on a laptop keyboard where stuff isn't as nicely grouped together).
possible solutions:
-Make the rotation controls inertialess too when in warp mode, as the linear thrust.
-Define a maximum turn rate, and kick in killrot automatically when button is depressed (Pioneer). That way you could just hit the key, and hold it down until you want the rotation to stop. RCS will never accelerate above maximum turn rate. Would also be easily deactivatable to switch back to more realistic controls.
-Mouse control! Might sound weird at first, but would something speak against a point-and-click interface? You click on the screen, and the atitude autopilot will use the RCS to establish that attitude. Length of click could indicate how fast you want it to rotate (autopilot will fire RCS as long as you keep the mouse button down).

This problem shows mostly when navigating on planets.

6. Throttle controls do not seem to be reassignable in controls, unless I missed them three times. Thruster impulse is (PGUP and PGDWN), but actual throttle control isn't. This can be a problem on various non-english keyboard layouts.

7. When trying to fly without Warp on planets, and especially when entering a stargate, LvlHorizon and AltHold autopilot functions are indespensable (maybe they're there and I didn't find them?). This basically loops back to point 5: How should spaceway be controled, more arcady or die hard realistic? Pick one and make it good, leave both unoptimised, or do double work... I'm afraid there's no fourth option here.

8. Controls the last: Rover... well, it can be extremely confusing to drive the thing in low G because you're hopping around all the time and keep on rotating in that direction. I can't propose a solution to this currently... I can totally see why that is (drive slower in zero-G DUH!), but it will be extremely confusing for players not quite so at home with the newtonian vacuum.
Tilting rover to terrain might really help here to get a better feeling for what you're doing.

Finally, fun stuff:

-Driving over a steep cliff on a low-G world with the rover... GERONIMOOOOO!!!

-Going EVA while jumping over a cliff in the rover: As soon as you touch ground, you stand still, but the rover of course keeps on destroying its momentum. Cue long walk, especially if there's another cliff. Not a problem due to time acceleration.

-look at that 30 meters tall fuel generator I just happened to have in my pocket! :lol:

I would kind of love to give it another go to see what other new stuff this release has to offer, but I need to get into the vicinity of a Joystick first. Non-joystick control is really tedious currently, especially on a laptop. And that can be a problem for the player base nowadays, because only a very specific demographic still has joysticks around. And while I'm part of that demographic, I usually don't carry it around with me when I'm out...

I'll post some more when I complete the short storyline. So far, I'm liking it!
 
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Artlav

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2. Nightside's a killer. Needs some ambient lighting. Thought for a moment the game had buged out on me after emerging from a stargate at the nightside and seeing nothing but pitch black outside the window.
Press 1 to turn on the headlights. :)

While nice flavour text, in something that bears a strong semblance to a tutorial it can be a bit misleading.
Hm, haven't considered that.

6. Throttle controls do not seem to be reassignable in controls, unless I missed them three times. Thruster impulse is (PGUP and PGDWN), but actual throttle control isn't. This can be a problem on various non-english keyboard layouts.
You mean, ctrl+pgup does not work?
What exactly is wrong there?
 

jedidia

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Press 1 to turn on the headlights.

This works when close to the surface, but nightside on a higher altitude is still very, very black...

You mean, ctrl+pgup does not work?
What exactly is wrong there?

Ah, oh... nothing wrong with it, only confusion on my end. The thruster levels in the GUI have (+), (-) and (ins) noted on them. I thought those denoted the keys cotroling their thrust level.
Where would be the throttle for the hovers, then?
 

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Very cool but I can't read what transx is displaying, looks like the writing is upside down. I think some MFD's are not working as the the relativity MFD, the target select is not working, but I have not read the manual.

It's like orbiter but only 1-2 megs, good the controls are preset similar to orbiter.
 

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Wow the performance has increased considerably. I get 70-100 fps on terra planets now. :) The story line is a very nice addition and my favorite part was chasing down the warp ship in orbit. I did notice an odd bug however.
The rocks and trees don't seem to be placed consistently. For example I land and exit the game with a tree next to me and then i load it back up and the tree and all other props have moved to different locations.
 

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Some major weirdness, so far unable to reproduce.

I chekced all three planets for the intergalactic vessel. I didn't receive a note at any of them. So I figured I probably have to start scanning all planets in the two systems, and started to do so.

When arriving at Twinary Dua, I still didn't get a message, but I a had a red "Sayo" marker on the map (never visible in the F9 markers, though). So I started to fly there. Once in the vicinity, I couldn't find it. I noticed that the thing is moving over the map, though. "Why", thinks me, "the bloody thing must be in Orbit". So I tried to target it in Orbit MFD to synch, but it didn't show up in the menu. I tried to catch it, but without any information whatsoever on the orbital altitude, that proved to be futile. I quite for a break, afterwards reloaded, and the red marker wasn't anywhere on the map anymore.

I thought I had found a bug, like the thing not being placed if it had already been found in a savegame. Still, I reloaded the last save from the base camp, went back to Twinary Dua and the thing still didn't reapear. "Well," I think, "maybe the placement is random as to provide a bit of replay value". So I visit the other locations. On emerging from the Stargate at SpoilerLocation, I get a note that there's a vessel in Orbit.

There's a white marker on the Map labeled "warp ship", with altitude and all, and I can target it in Orbit MFD. "Well," I think, "that was one hell of a weird bug. Wonder if anyone will ever see the likes of it again, but let's report it anyways".

So yeah... here it is. No Idea if you can make heads or tails of it.

---------- Post added at 04:10 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:21 PM ----------

A few notes on catching the warp ship, so far the toughest part.

1. I don't know if it's possible without a solid grounding in orbital mechanics. Then again, I might just be so confused by the warp drive that I'm not using it correctly yet. Either way, this is fair enough, depending on the aimed for demographic.

2. Relative MFD doesn't seem to work (can't target). Without any kind of information on relative velocity, approach becomes pretty tough.

3. Saved by the approach autopilot, but the autopilots will need a more intuitive interface, again depending on target group (I know we get used to it, but "normal" people do not expect to start the program at page 3 and then work backwards. They expect it to go the other way around!)

4. Dock Autopilot... either doesn't work or I'm too dumb. Made the final approach manually, which wasn't that much trouble since the approach autopilot did a great job. Still, knowing relative velocities would be nice.

5. Sense of achievement: great! Not quite a first orbiter docking, but definitely my first orbit synch using a warp drive... :lol:
Still, I would have been completely lost without my orbiter expierience, which must be kept in mind. More casual players will throw the towel in frustration on this one.

6. Final note: "Go to another galaxy. Any Galaxy will do..." Fair enough, but again, the player is a bit lost on how to do this. Now, I'll just hit the warp to ludicrous speed, leave the galaxy and then look around if I find anything out there, but these are still first stages in gameplay. New concepts are still introduced.

In the beginning, there was an excellent dual delivery of plot notes and tutorial notes side by side. I think you stoped this too soon. There should be a tutorial note for every new gameplay element introduced, if you want to draw in people who don't play orbiter already. This means that orbital interception, autopilot usage and intergalactic travel should get a bit of a treatment too in tutorial notes.

Encouraging notes: The overall concept seems sound. I haven't ever done so many different things in Spaceway before... Sure I could have practiced orbital interception using a warp drive, but frankly the thought never occured to me.
There will have to be more gameplay elements to exploit, only flying places will not be enough in the long run.
I think an object type that can be picked up and an object type that can be interacted with will be helpful in the future. For example, there would already be more sense of engagement if I had to interact with a computer terminal at the Base camp in order to get the data instead of just getting it on coming close enough.
The beginning would be cool (and educational) if the first task would be to drive to the nearby wreck mentioned in the plot notes and pick up the data core. Stuff like that. But overall, this could work if you get a few good Stories together. I'd suggest asking around among amateur writers (I think we have some on the board here) if they'd like to contribute a short story or two to get a good pool to draw people in.

Anyways, I'm off to another Galaxy. Will report back when I have something interesting.
 
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Artlav

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Where would be the throttle for the hovers, then?
Ins and Del, but on the main part of the keyboard?
The interface notes should really be tracking the assignments, or just simply not exist.

Very cool but I can't read what transx is displaying, looks like the writing is upside down.
Known issue, no idea what to do about it...

The rocks and trees don't seem to be placed consistently. For example I land and exit the game with a tree next to me and then i load it back up and the tree and all other props have moved to different locations.
That is, to some extent, a correct behaviour.
The decorations are non-persistent. Making them appear in the same place every time is tricky, to say the least.

When arriving at Twinary Dua, I still didn't get a message, but I a had a red "Sayo" marker on the map (never visible in the F9 markers, though).
Weird.
Was there anything in the log file?
Any errors?

Then again, I might just be so confused by the warp drive that I'm not using it correctly yet. Either way, this is fair enough, depending on the aimed for demographic.
It's pretty much impossible with the warp drive.
Warp is absolute velocity and direction, it would be like docking two cars on the road, both going at the Russian speed limit - needs hair-splitting control precision.

So, real orbital mechanics is a must.
Or, making some special magical mechanic for the space-impaired.

2. Relative MFD doesn't seem to work (can't target). Without any kind of information on relative velocity, approach becomes pretty tough.
Ah.
When i switched from "buttons" to mouse control, some of the API went to hell.
To be fixed soon.

4. Dock Autopilot... either doesn't work or I'm too dumb.
No docking ports in Spaceway, so UAP gets all zeroes and won't work.

6. Final note: "Go to another galaxy. Any Galaxy will do..." Fair enough, but again, the player is a bit lost on how to do this. Now, I'll just hit the warp to ludicrous speed, leave the galaxy and then look around if I find anything out there, but these are still first stages in gameplay. New concepts are still introduced.

In the beginning, there was an excellent dual delivery of plot notes and tutorial notes side by side. I think you stoped this too soon. There should be a tutorial note for every new gameplay element introduced, if you want to draw in people who don't play orbiter already. This means that orbital interception, autopilot usage and intergalactic travel should get a bit of a treatment too in tutorial notes.
Makes sense.
I sort of ran out of things to explain by then.
Not like i can explain the entire orbital mechanics thing in a few notes...

The whole story up to the endgame should be playable with real physics only, and yet easy-mode-able with warp too.
So, i might actually add a warp-docking mechanic here.

Unless you have better ideas?

As for intergalactic travel, i thought the idea of "point away, and put the pedal to the metal" was obvious enough. :)

I think an object type that can be picked up and an object type that can be interacted with will be helpful in the future. For example, there would already be more sense of engagement if I had to interact with a computer terminal at the Base camp in order to get the data instead of just getting it on coming close enough.

The beginning would be cool (and educational) if the first task would be to drive to the nearby wreck mentioned in the plot notes and pick up the data core. Stuff like that. But overall, this could work if you get a few good Stories together. I'd suggest asking around among amateur writers (I think we have some on the board here) if they'd like to contribute a short story or two to get a good pool to draw people in.
All excellent ideas. :)
I'll certainly be expanding on the first draft i got now.
 

jedidia

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Weird.
Was there anything in the log file?
Any errors?

Nope, everything looks dandy in the log. This would be the session it happened in:

Code:
22.09.2014-12:10:05:[SWAY      ]:-----------------Started-----------------------
22.09.2014-12:10:05:[DBG       ]:Spaceway engine v140920 started.
22.09.2014-12:10:05:[DBG       ]:Loading settings
22.09.2014-12:10:05:[DBG       ]:Loading gui colors
22.09.2014-12:10:05:[DBG       ]:Rendering
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Loading language
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Reading vessel cfgs
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Reading bases cfgs
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Reading log
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Initing Sound
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Initing Scripting
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[script    ]:Module for Hello MFD loaded
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[script    ]:Module for Relative MFD loaded
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[script    ]:Module for Surface MFD loaded
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Initing Dynamic meshes
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Initing UAP
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Initing Genericvessel SC3
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Setting MFDs
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Making GUI
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:Syncing log
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:sw_initcore done
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[DBG       ]:System graphics
22.09.2014-12:10:06:[OGLADBG   ]:OGLA 140919 Debug.
22.09.2014-12:10:07:[DBG       ]:Genesis
22.09.2014-12:10:07:[DBG       ]:Loading backdrops/backdrop_4
22.09.2014-12:10:08:[DBG       ]:Running
22.09.2014-12:10:12:[DBG       ]:Genesis
22.09.2014-12:10:12:[DBG       ]:Loading current
22.09.2014-12:10:13:[DBG       ]:Running
22.09.2014-12:16:41:[script    ]:Derrick base module for "Fuel generator"
22.09.2014-12:29:28:[script    ]:Sayo base module for "Sayo"
22.09.2014-12:35:05:[DBG       ]:Genesis
22.09.2014-12:35:05:[DBG       ]:Loading backdrops/backdrop_6
22.09.2014-12:35:07:[DBG       ]:Running
22.09.2014-12:35:12:[DBG       ]:Genesis
22.09.2014-12:35:12:[DBG       ]:Loading current
22.09.2014-12:35:14:[DBG       ]:Running
22.09.2014-12:37:33:[script    ]:Derrick base module for "Fuel generator"
22.09.2014-12:40:33:[script    ]:Sayo base module for "Sayo"

The only thing "out of the ordinary" was that I crashed on approach sayo basecamp (again... note to self: keep eye on altimeter when it's dark) and had to reload (reload was in Orbit around planet where sayo is located).
I then landed at Sayo, started searching the 2 systems and quit the session after being unable to catch the fake Sayo travelling over the surface of Twinary Dua , and upon reloading (reload point on Twinary Dua), the blip was gone. After reloading at basecamp again for another go, the problem didn't show anymore. So the only thing I did different the first time was to reload at a position where sayo was already spawned, but not yet "discovered" (landed at), and not quitting the session in between. I don't know yet if this is reproducable.

So, real orbital mechanics is a must.
Or, making some special magical mechanic for the space-impaired.

I don't think that is neccessary when the tutorials cover proper use of the autopilots neccessary to complete the task (the approach autopilot, by the way, could kill its rotation between burns. I thought it stoped working there for a moment).

No docking ports in Spaceway, so UAP gets all zeroes and won't work.

Might be prudent to take it out for spaceway, then.

Not like i can explain the entire orbital mechanics thing in a few notes...

No, that definitely not :lol:

As for intergalactic travel, i thought the idea of "point away, and put the pedal to the metal" was obvious enough.

It is obvious enough once you know those bright blurs in the "skybox" are other galaxies you can go to. Which is by no means apparent to a new player (I knew they were visible, but I wasn't sure anymore on how to identify them, so I just left my own galaxy behind first to make sure).

Also, interstelar travel in itself could use a bit explaining. I didn't realise at first that a star targeted in the starmap shows up on the HUD as a purple marker (hell, I didn'teven know they were targetable at all. I just tried to align my course in the starmap). And good luck hitting a star without that (well, I made it, but it's darn difficult. And then it had the cheek to be devoid of planets! :lol:).
 
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I've downloaded this and gave it a spin.

First of all: wow! Great work, Artlav. :thumbup:
I tried Spaceway before (2-3 years ago?), but this story-mode addition together with the performance improvements really nails it. The little story-line really helps to guide you into the possibilities.

I can only second most of what jedidia wrote, just some additional notes here:

  • The story-line is a nice quest and entertaining, but I think it is a bit too hard for real newcomers. As an Orbiter user, I quickly felt at home with the current controls setting, but I guess people without Orbiter experience might be lost.
  • Warp engine orbit syncing is possible once you have aligned orbits. I first warped straight up to my desired altitude (a bit above the target so it can catch me up). There I used the warp engine to create a roughly circular orbit. Coasting to alignment node (using map MFD mode), pointing nose to prograde, using warp to carefully skew the orbit to the orbit normal in order to get the trajectory lines matching in the map MFD mode. Then I waited until the warp ship overtook me and was close to the prograde marker. This way I was able to engage the warp engine again without immediately destroying my orbit trajectory (too much). Of course only small adjustments are possible, but it really helps to do a fast sync/dock.
  • I'm a bit lost with the interplanetary stargate dialing. I've flown to another galaxy, landed on a planet and used the stargate there to dial back to "Bob". Horizon appeared, I flew through, but nothing happened. What does "scan for anomalies" mean? I've used F4 several times, but nothing happens. Any hints?
That said, I think this story-mode really has potential. At least for me it was fun to do the quest, search star systems, approach galaxies, and seamlessly land on planets there. I can see how a well-written story (or even stories) could make this into a fun game for many space enthusiasts.
 

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I'm a bit lost with the interplanetary stargate dialing. I've flown to another galaxy, landed on a planet and used the stargate there to dial back to "Bob". Horizon appeared, I flew through, but nothing happened. What does "scan for anomalies" mean? I've used F4 several times, but nothing happens. Any hints?

Yup, just checked in to report the same problem. I assume a new note should appear when getting back to the original galaxy, but nothing happened. I even tried to take the whole warpship through instead of leaving it in orbit around a planet in another galaxy, but that didn't change things either.
Again, nothing in the log.

That said, it's kinda cool to come back through a star gate and see the marker of the ship you left behind displayed over some faint blob in the background. "oh, that's where I've been!"
 
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I even tried to take the whole warpship through instead of leaving it in orbit around a planet in another galaxy, but that didn't change things either.

:lol: Tried that too. Two clumsy orbinauts, one thought, so to say. :lol:
 

Artlav

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I'm a bit lost with the interplanetary stargate dialing.
Yup, just checked in to report the same problem.
Oops, that might actually be a bug.
I've changed some related code AFTER i last checked the story, and that trigger broke.

Being fixed, will post a bugfix update soon.

---------- Post added at 01:40 ---------- Previous post was at 00:36 ----------

Can you check if it works now? (so i won't release an update with more bugs in it :) )
http://www.thespaceway.org/files/sw-test-140922.zip
Should be a short way from there to the end.

Also, Relative MFD should now work, and there is now an option to start the game in low graphics mode (menus only launchpad, as it was in older versions), so you would get a chance to set up options without lag on slower systems).
 

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I'm going to wait for the next full version to test more but i cannot use advanced graphics as it turns everything black as such.(meant to mention earlier.. oops)
picture.php

Then there is a bug with solid planets with rings near the surface.
picture.php
 

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Face

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Can you check if it works now? (so i won't release an update with more bugs in it :) )
http://www.thespaceway.org/files/sw-test-140922.zip
Should be a short way from there to the end.

Also, Relative MFD should now work, and there is now an option to start the game in low graphics mode (menus only launchpad, as it was in older versions), so you would get a chance to set up options without lag on slower systems).

Yep, that gave me notes right after jumping to Bob. The address of the gate ship was there, and after jumping to it, another note gave me the address of the home world. A jump there triggered the final note saying that sandbox mode is now active again. No anomalies (no pun intended) found, so I think you fixed the bug there.

The Relative MFD mode seems to work now, as it is possible to use Shift-T to select a target from a pop-up list.

Looking forward to the story scripting features you mentioned on your site. :tiphat:
 

jedidia

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Can you check if it works now? (so i won't release an update with more bugs in it )

Confirmed working.
The story ending will need a bit of work, of course... :lol:
 

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Nice, then the full bugfix update 140923 is out:
http://thespaceway.org/files/dw.php?id=16

Thanks all for feedback so far!

Changes:
-Fixed the non-appearance of a gateship after intergalactic travel
-Fixed Relative MFD target select (MFD API was out of date)
-Fixed quicksaves being in the wrong directory

-lowgraph_start.bat will start the game with a simple launchpad menu, giving you an opportunity to tweak the options if the FPS was too low (--lowgraph from command line)
-Various tweaks to the story texts
-Moved star map to the infopad
-Made the fuel generator a bit smaller

The story ending will need a bit of work, of course... :lol:
Yeah, i thought a tada! sound was missing. :)
 

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Turning off normal mapping only made things worse. Especially on airless worlds and turning off atmospheric ambient didn't do anything either.

I fear it may be graphics card incompatibility since I'm running on my newish laptop which has (I think) an integrated graphics card. (Intel (R) HD Graphics) I will test this on my home PC when I get the chance this evening.
 
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Very cool but I can't read what transx is displaying, looks like the writing is upside down...
That reminds me of the same problem I once had in Grand Prix Legends...
Solution was to install an already upside-down font, and tell the add-on (Pribluda, in that case) to use that font.

Here's the ENG install guide I wrote in 2009, maybe it's kinda useful, there are some links to upside fonts.
http://www.tuttovola.org/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=1085
 
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