View Full Version : ICARUS vs. COG (anticipating ICARUS2)

02-22-2002, 09:42 AM
I'm a pretty experienced JK modder, and I feel I will have a great desire to mod for JO as well, so recently I have been looking into the ICARUS scripting system of Elite Force, knowing that JK2 will feature ICARUS2. I must say that on the whole I was very disappointed.

While ICARUS does include several nifty features that were sorely lacked in JK, like #includes and camera functions, the ammount of control over the game through scripts is minimal. Scripts can be used only as event handlers within levels - primarily playing cutscenes or modifying NPC actions. Weapons, items and user input, on the other hand, were not handled by the scripts and hence were unmodifiable. The result is that there is very little one can do as far as mods are concerned - the only way to change anything is to add a script to a level. COGScript, on the other hand, was very versatile, and included libraries for controlling all weapon, item, Force power, NPC, player, architecture, cutscene, and even game mode aspects of the game. COG wins hands down on this one.

On to syntax and format. ICARUS has very primitive syntax: few operators (functions are used instead - even for declaring variables!), no end of line operator, rem-style comments, and other stuff I can't remember. These really impair script readability, even though they are not all that important. COG, on the other, sported C-style syntax, complete with //comments. Much easier to read. Score another one for COG.

Now to the real limitations of ICARUS. I'll start with format issues: no function declaration. No 'for' or 'while' loops. No array support. No switch statements. And general issues: No way to directly control entities other than the one running the script. No way to pass parameters from script to script, and very primitive methods of communicating between scripts. No control over weapons, items, etc. (already mentioned). No control over menus and HUDs. No control over user input and player actions. I can go on and on.

To conclude, the ICARUS script system might have been all the developers needed to make Elite Force, but it leaves no room for modifications, modifications that can greatly increase a game's replayability. As an experienced cogger, I can definately say that it is far from enough to make even one playable weapon pack. COG script could've been better, had it included more control over menus HUDs and game physics, but it is definately a much more efficient scripting language than ICARUS. All I can do is hope that ICARUS2 will resemble COG a lot more, and leave an opportunity for people like myself to contribute to the community.

02-22-2002, 11:40 AM
That is why we will be building our single player with the co-op mod : complete freedom. But the icarus language is still pretty powerful.

02-22-2002, 09:09 PM
that means you cant modify the weopons?

02-23-2002, 05:22 AM
Nice to see you posting on here Fardreamer :)

02-23-2002, 10:56 AM
Well, that's dissapointing. I'm having a hard enough time convincing myself to learn a new way of editing and now I find out that it's not even as versatile as the old JK cog script. :(

02-24-2002, 02:41 AM
Originally posted by MikeC
Well, that's dissapointing. I'm having a hard enough time convincing myself to learn a new way of editing and now I find out that it's not even as versatile as the old JK cog script. :(

well thats ICARUS
raven is smart and will probably make ICARUS2 much more versatile than the original
(if not.... i know where they live......) ;)

lol, re learning a scripting system wont be too terribly hard as long its based on c/c++ or basic

i hope the weaps and items will be as editable in jk2 as they r in jk

02-24-2002, 02:44 AM
That's what I'm worried about. Judging by Elite Force, the weapons will be editable only if they release the SDK, which I seriously doubt will happen.

02-25-2002, 07:10 PM
Raven developed a new scripting language (ICARUS2) for Outcast. No real details have been made available yet. Presumably it is a more advanced version of the original ICARUS.

Kenn Hoekstra has said that unsupported 'mod tools' will be released after Outcast is published. He did not specifically say that source code would be released.

02-26-2002, 02:27 AM
That's what I said. They'll probably (hopefully) release a GDK with a level editor, a few plugins for exporting models from 3DSMAX or some other 3D application, and the decompiled ICARUS 2 scripts. Chances are they won't release an SDK with the source code.

02-26-2002, 04:29 AM
why do you think that?

02-26-2002, 05:48 AM
Let me clarify how Raven normally releases their editing tools.

There are actually two things they release : The GDK and the multiplayer SDK. They won't be releasing the single player SDK since that would be too much, but to let people create new multiplayer mods they need to release the multiplayer SDK.

03-05-2002, 08:29 AM
I for one will be a little disappointed that Raven is likely *not* to release an SDK for SP. One of the greatest things about the JK modding community was the huge amount of add-ons you could get. Half-life and Quake 2 also didn't suffer from having a single player SDK released. (For that matter, nor did Deus Ex although the sheer complexity and planning needed to make a decent DX single player level, let alone mod, was, IMO, the reason it never took off.)

If Raven don't release an SDK for single player then that will mean the following:

* No new weapons (no Blastech pistol, double bladed lightsaber, carbonite gun or anything else)
* No new Force Powers (well actually, that all depends on ICARUS2, but I'm being pessimistic here!)
* No gameplay changes (so no drivable AT-ST <plug>like the one I'm building in Q3:TA </plug>)
* No new enemies with custom AI unless they're based on existing enemies
* No new entities of any sort.

It won't stop me playing it and it won't stop me attempting to make levels for it. But I think mod making for JO SP will go the way of EF and DX mod making. And as I don't have a good connection to the net, I don't play MP and have little interest in making mods for it.

Anyone (with more time on their hands than me) fancy starting a petition to Raven? You can put my name down for a start!


(P.S. I really hope I'm wrong, but I ain't getting my hopes up!)

03-05-2002, 08:55 AM
Now, unfortunately, it is likely that source code of any kind will not be released. But we'll have to wait and see what happens.

With EF, we pushed with Raven to get Activision and Paramount to allow the release of quite of a lot of stuff. Maybe the same could be done later on. *shrug*

03-05-2002, 09:49 AM
Someone mentioned somewhere on this forum that SOF2's ICARUS2 can be used to modify weapons, items, and a whole other list of things. Hopefully this is the same version of ICARUS2 that is used in JO. If that's the case, and if ICARUS2 is anywhere near as powerful as CogScript, then an SDK really won't matter as far as mods go.

03-05-2002, 10:52 AM

I took this form a .plan file

03-05-2002, 11:38 AM
That's encouraging anyway. (Must..not...get...hopes...UP!) I think Lucasarts are going to be a little more encouraging about the mod community - after all, they are now holding a competition for creating Galactic Battleground maps!

03-05-2002, 08:12 PM
as long as u download the source code weapons and game modes etc are INSANLY moddable, u just have to know C++ to be able to mod them. its not done with scripts as in JK its all in the code

03-06-2002, 03:44 AM
It might be like that in JK2, no info on that. But it isn't like that in SOF2.

03-06-2002, 04:00 AM
They're using the same scripting language, so it's not necessarily confined to C++.

03-06-2002, 04:18 AM
If ICARUS2 is based on ICARUS then it will be their own bespoke scripting language. The SDK, if any, is likely to be in C, as are the Q3A, RTCW and EF SDKs. (How many acronyms can I get into one sentence?)

I was having a look at the EF ICARUS setup last night and noticed that there are a load of C header files in the src directory (or somewhere!). Anyone have any idea what these are and what they do?

I hope ICARUS2 allows you to change more than ICARUS did in EF. An SDK would be nice because you could have more control over what you can change (and a greater variety of things you can change!) and be able to change the way some of the things work. (Or am I just dreaming?)

Who knows? We'll have to wait and see.

03-06-2002, 06:26 AM
Icarus is a bit c-like. But it is quite easy to use actually. Once you get the hang of it ;)

03-06-2002, 07:04 AM
ICARUS is too simple, as I stated at the beginning of the topic. It includes primitive syntax and constructs, and is useful only for making levels - you can control many dynamics of a level through the scripts; but for modding it is useless since it has no connection to the inventory/weapon systems.

Sure an SDK would be the ultimate coolness. But LucasArts I believe have never released an SDK and I doubt they will allow Raven to.

03-06-2002, 07:37 AM
I don't know if you can say that just because Lucasarts haven't done, doesn't mean they won't! They're learning a lot from fielding out the development to other people (ie. JO and Galactic Battlegrounds!) GB came with scenario editor and they're encouraging that. It's not quite the same thing but it's a step in the right direction.

My feeling on this is that they wouldn't use the Q3 engine for JO if they didn't accept the fact that the games community thrives on editing and modding. And they never shut down the JK modding community so they can't exactly say they don't approve entirely (just the usual EULA stuff about LA property etc.) Raven have already stated that JO will be editable with any Radiant editor, models will be editable with GMax and Milkshape (with appropriate filters) and that ICARUS2 will be considerably more customisable (with the implication that you can edit weapons, NPCs etc from digl's linked .plan), but the question remains how much more customisable is ICARUS2 than ICARUS (will it be more complex - the 3GL of scripting languages?) and will there be an SDK.

I think that it's highly likely that they will release an SDK for the MP side so that people can create JO Fortress, JO Instagib, JO Counterstrike and other highly original and creative mods. They'd be foolish not to.

Then again, what was Force Commander all about?

03-06-2002, 11:41 PM
ICARUS was never meant to be a QuakeC/COG type language, we decided to let the programmers program the weapons and AI and make ICARUS the tool for just scripting special case behaviors and events the AI and world objects shouldn't be hardwired to do. So, no, it's not nearly as powerful as the pseudo-C style COG and QuakeC.

So you can make new maps with all new scripted events, cinematics, storylines, effects, puzzles, etc and sounds and graphics and models, etc, etc, but you are probably not going to be making all new weapon functionality (though you can change the graphics and sounds), new AI routines (though you can do a lot with scripting) or changing how physics work or the HUD or things like that. However, you can, by both scripting with ICARUS and modifying a lot of the external data files, make an impressive amount of changes to the game, it's just not as straightforward (but confusing to non-programmers) as QuakeC/COG...

However, MP is a different story, as it doesn't use ICARUS, it uses Id's VM's and the code will (I'm presuming) be released for that and that is in C and you can do quite a bit with that.

03-07-2002, 12:33 AM
Thanks again Mike :)

03-07-2002, 12:48 AM
Thanks for taking the time to clear that up... though you should know, I'm crushed :( I just hope they release the MP source...

No weapon changes in singleplayer... *sigh*

03-07-2002, 01:04 AM
Don't worry guys :) Wired Lamp Studios will be bringing co-op to JK2 like The Snerd is already doing for Elite Force. WITH Icarus Support. That will allow you to modify anything you want in the game. You can just create a single player game based on the multiplayer code. That is how we plan to change everything in the game. And normally the project will be open-sourced => it will allow you to make additional changes to your weapons etcetera ;) You'll just have to credit WLS ;)

03-07-2002, 03:15 AM
So who/what/how do we do in game cutscenes then??

03-07-2002, 04:08 PM
In-game cinematics are simple - just place some NPCs, script them to do what you want, throw in some ref_tags for cameras and write your camera script... pretty easy to do.

The gist of what I was getting at as far as SP editing vs MP editing is this: In SP, you can easily create new missions, storylines, etc, but you won't (easily) be able to change the basic gameplay elements. In MP, you can do almost anything, as with Quake 3...

03-07-2002, 04:17 PM
That isgreat news (as long as the MP SDK is really released), but I think many JK modders will be disappointed that there's no one universal system controlling everything as there was in JK. That's what made modding so easy for it.

Anyway, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer this question, because it was one of those questions that never gets official answers. :)

03-08-2002, 02:41 AM
"In-Game Cutscenes Will be Easy"

That what you say oh god like developer you!!
What about us poor minion, who have been used to edit JK/Mots all his life and getting into Q3, any pointers you can give?? :) :)

03-08-2002, 04:10 AM

Thanks for clearing some of this up. (Shame to end an interesting and speculative debate though!!! :) ) Just one question though.
In SP, you can easily create new missions, storylines, etc, but you won't (easily) be able to change the basic gameplay elements.
I read that to mean it is possible to change the gameplay elements, but it's going to require some work to do so. Can you give us any hint (:D ) what that might entail?

(Oh, and thanks for taking the time out to answer this!)


Don't know if you've got EF but even if not, get hold of the ICARUS manual in the EF GDK (downloadable on the Raven site I believe). There are quite a few details (and an excellent FAQ) on how to create cut-scenes and get the characters to do stuff. Assuming that ICARUS2 is going to work along the same lines that is...

03-08-2002, 05:39 AM
In single player it is possible to change the characters playing in the game (the way they look and the way they talk), you can change the levels and the way the weapons LOOK (not the way they shoot)

03-08-2002, 06:46 AM
Thx I found the manual- Ill read and print it off once my boss go home! I dont want to get into trouble for using company paper up!! :p

03-11-2002, 11:52 PM
This is extremely disappointing news - singleplayer modding is essentially useless. I realize the multiplayer co-op workaround will work, but it's still disheartening to learn that moving to a much more advanced engine gives even *more* limits.. after 4.5 years we were hoping for unlimited possibilities, but I guess that's too much too ask.

I realize that developing ICARUS2 into a "lean, mean scripting machine" would add time onto a short (but effective) dev. cycle, but I still wish it had happened. It's worth being patient for one more month to enjoy the benefits for the next several years. For now, I'm torn on the decision to edit JK2. With Unreal2 approaching, people will slam even the best of JO mods for their graphics, ignoring things like gameplay (omg!!!11) and implementation. It *always* happens... and besides, UnrealScript 2.0 looks pretty flexible. We'll see what the future brings.

03-18-2002, 01:31 AM
unreal2 is single player only.

03-19-2002, 12:02 AM
I dunno what to think. It would have been nice to create new force powers and gameplay elements and new stories completely for single player, but i guess we'll just have to settle for MP then

03-19-2002, 12:48 AM
What?! No double bladed lightsaber or new force powers?! NOO!
We will want/need new models, new maps, old maps redone(nar shadda and bespin), new weapons, and new sabers like double blades or diff colors. I remember how much fun JK was. I use to play it so much.. I was a cheater though sometimes. I had the cogs that would make you fly and the one that would make you spin up into the air and explode but only used it on people that used instant kill cogs on me..

03-19-2002, 12:56 AM
Originally posted by Saber_Trails
What?! No double bladed lightsaber or new force powers?! NOO!
We will want/need new models, new maps, old maps redone

That's multiplayer, that can be done.

03-19-2002, 04:20 AM
Awesome! I hope someone releases a map pack with all those old school maps inside. Then it would be time for oldschool catwalk duels but maybe the catwalk could be a little bit wider cuz the saber duels are a little bit more advanced and it looks like when you swing you move alot.