On Friday I decided that I needed some mindless entertainment. Since I was in the mood for space adventure, smuggling and dogfights in asteroid fields I dusted off my copy of Freelancer. I would go with Frontier which is probably the best game ever made in the space sim genre but I didn’t feel like setting up DosBox to play a retro game again…
Freelancer is much less complex game. It was made some time around 2003 and it was already old when I first got it. I never really got far in the game. I guess I was expecting something more like Frontier. Instead I got a space shooter with some trading elements. That kinda killed the game for me. This time around I stopped comparing it to other stuff, and just played the game for fun. And it worked! It’s actually a really decent game if you give it a chance. I actually really like it this time around!
As I was mucking around I noticed that it placed an interestingly looking file in its installation folder: freelancer.ini. I poked around some more, and found dozens of other ini files all over the place. It turns out that this game is as modder friendly as they come. Most of the in game specs (ship specs, comodities, planets, shipping lanes and etc..) are contained in user editable ini files. All you have to do is edit them! There is a thriving modder community for the game that adds crazy amounts of new content to the game – from small tweaks to ship and weapon stats, to complete overhauls of the game – like the user made Free Worlds expansion.
In fact I think the main draw to this game might be its customisability. For example, the freelancer.ini file tells the game which dll’s it should use when loading. This makes applying mods easy – instead of backing up and replacing the game’s resource files, you simply modify the ini file. Similar thing goes for the game intros. When you load the game you are treated to 3 short skippable movies. They are listed in the ini file like so:
movie_file = movies\MGS_Logo_Final.wmv
movie_file = movies\DA_Logo_Final.wmv
movie_file = movies\FL_Intro.wmv
Now if you want to, you can plug your own WMV files in there, or if you are like me and you don’t like to waste time pressing ESC to skip them you can simply comment them out:
;;;movie_file = movies\MGS_Logo_Final.wmv
;;;movie_file = movies\DA_Logo_Final.wmv
;;;movie_file = movies\FL_Intro.wmv
Lo and behold – game loads and goes directly into the main menu. Sigh, I wish other game developers would take a cue from this and use this sort of ini files. I would love to be able to disable the intro movies in some of the other games out there. Seriously having a little config file like this in every game would really make me a happy camper…
Sigh… Or maybe this is a Linux user thing. I like the plain text config files – kill me, but I do.
[tags]freelancer, frontieer, space simulation, space combat, space trader, ini, config, configuration files, modding[/tags]