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Battlezone II: Combat Commander

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Pandemic

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'Battlezone II: Combat Commander' - Unofficial v1.3 beta 2 Patch

by Rainier on March 1, 2006 @ 5:44 a.m. PST

Jump in and take command in a fight that spans six exotic worlds with diverse environments - from steaming, swampy jungles crawling with deadly creatures to rocky wastelands strewn with boiling lava pits to ruined cities half-buried in nuclear snow. Players start by building a base from which they command a force of armored vehicles, infantry, and aircraft through a series of exploratory, offensive and defensive missions. Gamers will drive a variety of tanks and walkers, pilot the scout ships, and even jump out and fight an evil and challenging alien enemy on foot. Each side will choose from an arsenal of powerful weapons including guided missiles, mortars, mines and bazookas.

Get the Battlezone 2 v1.3 Beta 2 Patch off WP (30mb)

The 1.3 patch has been in development since September/October 2001, headed by two programmers from the Battlezone II team: Ken Miller, Nathan Mates.

A number of tweaks and enhancements are planned for v1.3:

* Much greater MOD (game modification) support, allowing up to 26 total races to be active at once. Many MODders have been among 1.3 beta testers, and have been working to take advantage of the new features. [Their participation or nonparticipation is their own business; no support for 1.3 is implied or MODs promised by us.]
* Developed/Tested on Windows 2000/XP, DirectX 8.0-9.0b for much better compatability out of the box. Some testers are testing it on WinME.
* Many crashes/freezes fixed. Please note that not all bugs have enough details to figure out how they happened, and so it probably will be impossible to get all crashes fixed.
* Redone audio system that supports far more channels (up to 64) and DirectSound3D for a far more immersive experience. [Old Aureal code is gone; good riddance.] Note: not all sound cards on the market support that many channels; if the driver on your system notes a limit under 64, BZ2 will use that instead.
* Support for Ogg Vorbis compressed sounds - similar to mp3 files, but with higher quality.
* Some graphics tweaks: Maximum ingame resolution can be set much higher than 1280x1024 if your hardware supports it. Gamma (brightness) adjustment works on ATI cards.
* Enhancements to many parts of the game, including AI, craft handling, etc.
* Many more pregame options for IA, DM, Strat & MPI games (feature available to MODs to define custom options pages on a per-map basis)
* Bots in DM, and some additional DM gameplay modes.
* Strategy-CTF game mode -- capture a goal, tug it back to your recycler to win, on 6 classic maps. Finally a good use for tugs in MP!
* Over 50 additional Instant Action & Multiplayer maps by several mappakers within the BZ2 community, and tweaks to some existing maps to reduce bugs. As of 1.3PB2, there are 16 classic & additional IA maps, 98 classic & additional MP maps installed.
* Several additional security measures to make cheating in multiplayer much more difficult; deliberate remote crashing of games should be fixed.
* New BZ2 editor screen layout files contributed by testers to expose more functionality that was already there.
* Ability to rotate buildings (on 90-degree increments) for even more base-building fun
* Updates to the manual (located in the Extras folder where BZ2 is installed to) to give updated and more accurate information
* Includes an over 450Kb text file listing changes made since 1.2. This changelog contains our (minimalist) notes as to what changed for each version, and isn't guaranteed to be easily understood. But, it may be useful reading.

For now, this patch will be pretty much English-only. If you have a foreign (French or German) version of BZ2, this patch will replace a lot (but not all) of the files used to display text ingame with English. Voiceovers and other sound effects will remain in the installed language. A translated version of these text items may happen at a later time.

A special note: one of the bugs fixed is the infinite flying bug present in BZ2 1.0 - 1.2. This was removed because it is considered to be a bug by those of us who worked on BZ2 from the beginning. It is not due to complaints from "newbies" or the like. Certain people certainly feel strongly about this. Fine. Please realize that feelings are not an argument. Whining about this will not change anything-- we've heard such complaints for years, and your comments will only serve to harden our resolve in this.

Compatability w/ previous BZ2 versions

Some notes on compatability w/ previous versions:

* Like all other BZ2 patches, the 1.3 patch is not network compatible with any other version-- all players in the game must be running the exact same version (1.3)
* Maps & DLLs for BZ2 1.2 should load fine. However, any map/dll that depends on certain behavior in the AI, etc for scripting may need tweaking.
* Progress in Singleplayer missions, preferences should be read fine; where more options than 1.2 exist (especially the sound setup), users may need to adjust those new options if they don't like the defaults. 1.3 uses a new file format for pilots/prefs, and upgrades 1.2's files on reading them. Those new preferences files can not be read by 1.2.
* Mid-mission savegames from BZ2 1.0-1.2 can not be read, as the file formats changed too much. But, as noted above, progress in SP missions is left untouched.
* Missions created with the editor in 1.3 will not be readable in previous versions, same with savegames, etc.
* Many MODs for BZ2 will be uninstalled as part of the install of 1.3. Some broken MODs that installed themselves into the Data folder (which should *never* have happened, but some people refused to do things right and install to addon) may have to be manually deleted.
* MODs that replaced out large chunks of the BZ2 shell (aka FE) may need extensive tweaks before they can work with 1.3.

Requirements for this patch:

The 1.3 patch is currently about a 30MB download, with the bulk of that coming from additional maps. The 1.3 download is designed to upgrade any previous version of BZ2 (1.0-1.2) to 1.3. Approximately 67MB free HD space is required to install this patch over and above the disk usage of your existing BZ2 install. So, at least 100MB free HD space is required to install, 200-250MB really recommended.

If you're under 100MB free HD space, it is highly recommended that you get another HD. BZ2, like all Windows apps, uses your HD as swap (pagefile) space if your physical RAM is exhausted. You should have at least 50MB free (250MB recommended) on your HD before starting BZ2. The 1.3 installer can be deleted (or archived to another system, CD backup, etc) before running 1.3 to get a bit more space.

Battlezone II v1.3 requires DirectX 8.0 or higher (tested w/ 8.0-9.0b), Windows 98/ME/2000/XP. A x86-compatible processor with MMX is required (i.e. original Pentium, Pentium Pro are out, as is the AMD K5). At least 128MB of RAM is required-- 192MB may be a better value-- for 2000/XP (see below). Note: I don't believe any testing has been done with Windows95, and as MS has long-since discontinued support for it, it may not be the best choice of OSs anymore. If 1.3 works on Win95, great. If not, you may be out of luck.

Please note that some video boards originally supported by BZ2 may not have proper DirectX 8.x/9.x drivers for Windows 2000/XP. If this is the case, you may not be able to use them. Please ensure that your video board has DirectX 8.x/9.x drivers for Windows 2000/XP.

BZ2 also requires a audio output device (sound card, motherboard audio, etc) that supports DirectX 8.x. 3D positional audio is supported, but not required.

Recommendations for this patch

With Windows 2000/XP requiring much more memory and CPU than 98, BZ2's box specs must be adjusted. Win98 box specs say 16MB required, BZ2's box specs (as only Win98/98SE was released) is 64MB. Thus, BZ2 requires at least 48MB over and above Windows minimum. MS says that Windows XP Home requires 64MB (but would be crippled), 128MB recommended. Adding 48MB to XP's usage translates to 112-176MB required to run BZ2 on Windows XP. If you have 3D video integrated onto your motherboard, additional RAM is required-- at least 192MB is probably going to be a usable minimum, as motherboard 3D video can use up to 64MB. [See manual for your motherboard for exact usage, and do the math yourself.]

Most testing and development of 1.3 has taken place on machines with at least a 500Mhz processor, 256MB ram, and a GeForce or better video card. This may be a good baseline.

What uninstalling 1.3?

Sorry, there is no uninstaller for 1.3 specifically. For this reason, it is recommended that you reinstall BZ2 into a separate directory specifically for 1.3, and apply the 1.3 patch to that directory. There is no need to install any other patches (e.g. 1.2) before installing 1.3 -- there is only a cumulative patch able to upgrade any 1.x release of BZ2 to 1.3.

A sepatate 1.3 directory is the preferred method of installing 1.3, as it helps get rid of any debris left over from broken MODs that installed themselves into the data directory, doesn't have any compatability issues with MODs not yet updated for 1.3, and gives you a clean slate to begin with.

If you take this route, probably 500-600MB of free HD space before starting the separate install is required.

Will I get a bajillion FPS with 1.3 like I do with game XYZ

Almost certainly not. The way BZ2 was programmed, it handles most of the Transformation & Lighting (commonly abbreviated 'T&L') code on the CPU. Shortly after BZ2 came out, graphics cards progressed well enough that they could handle the T&L on them. However, rewriting BZ2's graphics code would be a massive undertaking, not least of which doing an extensive round of compatability testing with all of the various combinations of graphics cards and drivers. Thus, 1.3 will still use the same basic graphics code, mainly on your CPU.

1.3 has a few speed optimizations in place, most of them not in the graphics code-- AI overbuild can cripple your FPS, but isn't graphics code related. At the same time, 1.3 also has a lot more sanity checks in the code to reduce crashes. Those sanity checks aren't free, but may not be noticeable. Some testers have noted 1.3 runs a little better for them than 1.2 did, some say a little slower.

What about my overclocked system?

As noted above BZ2 puts much more work on your CPU than some other games. That amount of stress may expose faults in your overclocked setup far earlier than other games may do. If you are experiencing problems, then please try temporarily undoing your overclocking, and rerun BZ2. If the problem goes away, then the problem has been isolated to the overclocking, and not BZ2. No two applications use the same parts of the CPU, memory, etc, and "stability" in one application does not guarantee it being in all applications.

Installing Battlezone II from CD on Windows 2000/XP

The Battlezone II CD does not contain the best installer, as many have noticed. Under Windows 2000/XP, it will put up a dialog box saying that Windows NT is not supported. For some, click 'ok' to dismiss that message, and the installer works perfectly well after that. If the installer crashes, the following steps may help:

(Installing BZ2)
1. Open the BZ2 CD
2. Go to the Setup directory
3. Right-click on Setup.exe, and drag it onto the desktop.
4. Right-click on the shortcut, and select Properties.
5. Select the "Compatibility" tab.
6. Check the "Run in compatibility mode" box.
7. Select "Windows 95 Compatibility Layer" in the popup.
8. Click "OK" to close the Properties dialog box.
9. Double-click on the shortcut to install BZ2.


Known Issues:

The following are some issues/quirks/bugs/whatever that are known, but

* Sound is off in the editor executable for some sound effects, especially machineguns.
* Installer can leave readme in Windows tempdir if you view it from the installer. Don't care.
* Editor switches to windowed mode while entering path editing mode (Shift-F9), this avoids AVs on some boxes
* MODs should distribute .MSH files for all their models. A console-warning will appear if BZ2 has to rebuild a .MSH file-- if end users have to do this, it can lead to bad assets

Helpful Commandline switches:

The following are presented for reference only; be careful in how you use them-- they may seriously compromise your ability to enjoy BZ2 if misued. To add parameters to a commandline, you need to find (or make) a shortcut to the executable in question, then edit properties on the shortcut. At the end of the target edit box, put a space, then the command(s) and their arguments, separated by spaces. [If you don't know what this means, editing commandlines probably isn't for you.] For each of these commands, the '-', '/' or '+' (minus-sign, forward slash, or plus-sign) can be used to start them; the descriptions below start with - because I don't like the forward-slash convention started back in MS-DOS 1.0.

Commandline flags in both executables

* -win Starts BZ2 in windowed mode
* -nointro Skips the opening movie
* -trackfps Shows the framerate ingame in the upper left corner of the screen
* -resolution Width Height Sets ingame width/height of BZ2. Make sure that this is a size your video card supports
* -depth BPP Sets ingame bits-per-pixel (BPP) used; this should be 16 or 32
* -zdepth BPP Sets ingame bits-per-pixel (BPP) used for the zbuffer; this should be 16 or 32
* -poweruser Sets a number of ingame preferences the way I'd prefer
* -nointerface Starts BZ2 w/o ingame interface. Use Shift-F5 to toggle,
* -nolights Turns off lights ingame. Should be same as graphics preferences
* -noparticles Turns off particle effects ingame completely
* -noxmm Disables use of Pentium-3 (and higher) 'SSE' graphics code
* -nods3d Turns off 3D sound effects, forcing everything to use 2D pan
* -nods Should turn off sound effects completely. [Not tested recently]
* -slowaudio When present, uses an slower but more compatible audio play code. Use if your machine stutters when sfx are played, especially machineguns
* -multiworld Starts with 'multiworld' (smoothing/prediction for network play) on, even if not playing multiplayer
* -resave Forces a mission to be resaved immediately after loading. Used mainly to ensure .bzns are at the latest versions
* -shellmap PixelSize Saves a bmp preview of the map, with the specified pixel size. Use a power-of-2 for the size, like 128 or 256
* -noscript Disables loading of a mission DLL. [Mostly for mapmakers]
* -login "ProfileName" Sets the initial login name
* -aipLogging Turns on logging of AIPs (AI Plans, used by computer teams in IA/MPI/etc) to disk. Useful for mapmakers or AIP designers

BZ2Edit.exe - ONLY - commandline flags

* -nobodyhome Forces a map to not load any objects. Useful when starting a new one or as an emergency when everything is really broken

Bzone.exe - ONLY - commandline flags (network code isn't in bz2edit.exe)

[For more info, please see the nettips.rtf file installed to the same directory as BZ2 by this patch]

* -net Turns on networking code
* -mapname name Sets the intial mapname used [Not tested recently]
* -hostname "Hosted by Me" Sets the initial session name used
* -host Port# Starts hosting a game on the specified port (default of 17770 is used if an invalid value is passed)
* -name "MyGameName" Sets the BZ2 playername of the host
* -password "TopSecret" Sets the initial password used
* -connect aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd:eeeee Tries to connect to a server on the specified IP address, port
* -ip aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd Tells BZ2 to bind to the network adaptor with the specified IP address. [Not tested recently]
* -lanonly Sets the default network behavior to LAN, disabling Gamespy. Can be changed from session search page

Other cool options

BZ2 1.3 adds in a new file in the addonConfig directory, GamePrefs.ini. It has a number of extra tuning values and the like in it. This can be edited in any standard text editor like Notepad. Please back up that file before messing with it-- it may be possible to degrade your game experience if things are edited too much. Most options have comments before them to explain a little of what they do, and what some of the allowable values are.

Special thanks:

What follows is a list of 1.3 testers alphabetized by board handles. Some names might have been inadvertantly lost during a board switchover; apologies if you're caught in this category.

*sinbad*, @4u, aougli, Avatar, Blarbo, blewyn, BS-er, BZ Wardog , BZZERKER, Centerline, CmptrWz, Commando, Condor, Coxxon, DarkFox, Dirty Rooster, DutchBoy, FireFLY, Fishbone, FraKTal, Fried, Grass69er, GreenHeart, LastBoyScout, LoClubberlick, MalevolencE, markshelby, Marzipan, Marzipan2u, Mattroxx, MAUS, Menacer, Montana, MowerMan, Namarrgon, Natty Bumppo, NukeDaddy, OldManGloom, Onyx, OvermindDL1, Pastell, psych0fred, Red Devil, Ryoanji, Scout, SFP Sonic, SilverB1rd, Slaor, Smoke_Jaguar, Smuggler Spacecomber 210 K-town, Tennessee , Speedy, SquareEyes, StrangeFLY, technoid, Tempest Storm, TimeVirus, Tyreal Mathias, zeeder, Zero Angel, ZOEBart, {VnB}Aegeis, ~RIP~Maverick-=F=-

Special recognition (from GSH) should go to the honorary lead tester, Commando, for spending countless hours looking for and reproducing bugs so they can be efficiently squashed. Also, an honorary lead asset manager should go to GreenHeart for dozens of model, asset, map creation & tweaking.

Programming thanks:

Thanks to the following groups who genorously contributed their source code to the world. BZ2 v1.3 uses them, and their contributions are appreciated. All of these are (to the best of our knowledge) freely available, and includable in commercial software without having to redistribute source.
* zlib v1.1.4, from http://www.gzip.org/zlib/
* Independent JPEG Group's JPEG source version 6b, from http://www.ijg.org/
* libpng version 1.2.5 - October 3, 2002, from http://www.libpng.org/
* STLPort 4.5.3, from http://www.stlport.org/

[BLATANT PLUG] Other games you may want to buy:

While 1.3 has been in development, Nathan and Ken have worked on the following games for Pandemic Studios:

* Triple Play 2002 for PS2/XBox. See http://www.easports.com/ for more info
* Star Wars: The Clone Wars for Gamecube, PS2, XBox. See http://www.lucasarts.com/products/starwarstheclonewars/ for more info
* Star Wars: Battlefront for PS2, XBox, PC. See http://www.lucasarts.com/games/battlefront/ for more info

Pandemic Studios also has a number of other games in development, including Full Spectrum Warrior (XBox/PC). See http://www.pandemicstudios.com/ for the current list of announced projects and archive of completed projects. Purchasing games is the best way to show your support for those involved in creating them.

Final words:

This patch was created by Ken Miller & Nathan "GSH" Mates in their spare time working from home.

Nathan would like to dedicate this patch to the victims and heroes of September 11, 2001 and the efforts since then to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings
like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:31

Ken cannot top Nathan's dedication, so he will just let it speak for itself.

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