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The backstory
So i got into Freespace again and wanted to spice things up with some of those good looking mods.
I also wanted to keep the installation as portable and easy to launch/use as possible.
Unfortunately getting into FS modding isn't half as easy as i thought... there is so much (partly outdated) information out there.

After a lot of digging and (much) more trial&error i think i figured out a good way to go about this.
So here's my way to install Freespace 1 (HD) & Freespace 2 (Any res you like) with amazing visuals while keeping it portable and (semi) purist compatible.

1. What you need:
- An installed copy of Freespace 2
- The FreeSpace Open installer
- Oracle Java (Only needed for the FSO installer)
- Havner's Yet Another Launcher

Notes:
For the YAL launcher you wanna download the lates main file (yal-0.3-rc2.zip right now) and the dll pack qt-4.6.2-redist.zip.
From the main file you only need the fs2_launcher.exe.

You do not need to buy a copy of Freespace 1 at this point. The full conversion is installed through the FSO installer.
But i hereby encourage you to buy it anyway to support a timeless classic and a great site!

2. Preparation

> Install a fresh copy of Freespace 2
> Ideally the path to the game should be as short as possible and not contain any special characters.
> Install Java and restart your PC whem prompted

3. Install FSO

> Launch the FreeSpaceOpenInstaller.exe
> Click Browse and point it at your Freespace 2 installation directory
> Click next and wait until the launcher is finished configuring (this takes a while)

During configuration the launcher will prompt you to install OpenAL (unless detected). You do not need to install this!
The FSO Installer will put the required OpenAL32.dll right into your Freespace 2 directory anyway.

> Choose basic installation mode
> Make your choice of mods to be installed

Do not install the offered version of YAL launcher.
You do not need the wxlauncher. (This would require a seperate installation and i wanna keep this portable)
I also choose not to install the multiplayer missions
Here is my selection of mods to be installed:

- FreeSpace Open 19.0.0 Win32 Standard

- 4.0.x FSU MediaVPs
- MV_Assets
- MV_Effects
- MV_Music
- MV_CB_ANIs
- MV_Advanced (Optional - see description)
- MV_Compatibility
- MV_AnimGlows

- 2014 FSU MediaVPs
- MV_Assets
- MV_Effects
- MV_Music
- MV_CB_ANIs
- MV_Advanced (Optional - see description)
- MV_Compatibility
- MV_AnimGlows

- FreeSpace Port
- Command Briefing Animations
- 1024x768 Command Briefing Animations
- Music
- Voice Files
- FreeSpace 1 Cutscenes
- FreeSpace Port Media VPs 2014
- HD Main Halls by MjnMixael
- Silent Threat: Reborn
- Silent Threat: Reborn Voice Pack
- Silent Threat: Reborn Cutscene Pack (720p)

> Now click Install and wait for the download to finish

Notes:
Media VPs are milestone releases of the mods/improvements created over at hard-light.net.
These where made to give mod creators a baseline to work with. This is why there are so many of them.

As long as you wanna play the Freespace 2 base game, you can always use the most recent one (4.0 as of now).
But for mods you will often need the specific version of the Media VPs the mod was created for.
In this case we need the 2014 files aswell.

If you choose to install the aditional FS Port Campaigns you may need to install the 3.6.12 files. The installer will notice you.
The HD Main Halls will only show when running the Media-VP-improved version of the Freespace 1 Port.
Don't be surprised to see the standard halls when running the aditional campaign mods.

On the topic of Media VPs, the 4.0.x version comes with a scaling HUD. That is why you can use any Resolution you want.
The 2014 version does not. This means your HUD in FreeSpace 1 will become tiny at 1080p and barely readable at 2k/4k.
This is why i stated Freespace as HD initiallly.. or rather the resolution i use is 1366x768 since 1280x720 has issues.
This is also the reason why i selected the 720p Silent Threat videos.

Aditionally i did not select any version of the HD Cutscenes by MjnMixael, being a semi purist.
They do look great, but they don't include the intro. So it's kind of a mixed bag. Make your own choice.

4. Install & configure the YAL launcher:

> Copy the YAL Launcher files to your FreeSpace 2 base directory:
- fs2_launcher.exe
- libgcc_s_dw2-1.dll
- mingwm10.dll
- QtCore4.dll
- QtGui4.dll

> Adjust compatibility options of fs2_launcher.exe and enable admin rights.
> Start the fs2_launcher.exe to configure your game
> At the top of the main window click browse and point the launcher to the fs2_open_19_0_0_SSE2.exe file in your FreeSpace 2 directory

> Go to "Features" tab to configure your FSO Options
> In the "easy setup" dropdown menu choose "All features on"
> Under List type "Gameplay" enable "Use 3D models for ship selection"
> Under List type "Gameplay" enable "Enable 3D warp"
> Under List type "Gameplay" enable "Enable flash upon warp"
> Click Apply

> Go to "MOD" tab to select your active modification
> Click on "Select Mod"
Mods are installed in seperate subfolders of your FreeSpace 2 installation. You are supposed to choose one here.
If you followed my recommendations these are the available options:
> Select "MediaVPs_2014" to play FreeSpace 2 with the 2014 assets
> Select "MediaVPs_40X" to play FreeSpace 2 with the 4.0.x assets (recommended)
> Select "fsport" to play FreeSpace 1 with the base FreeSpace 2 assets
> Select "fsport-mediavps_2014" to play FreeSpace 1 with the 2014 assets (recommended)
> Select "fsport-str" to play the Silent Threat:Reborn campaign
> Click Apply

> Go to "Video" tab and select video options. Here are my recommendations:
> Graphics: OpenGL
> Resolution: 1366x768 (FS1) or 1920x1080 (FS2)
> Color Depth: 32-bit
> Texture Filter: Trilinear
> Anisotropic Filtering: 16x
> Anti-Aliasing: 2x or 4x
> General Settings: High
> Click Apply

> Go to "Audio/Joy" tab
> Configure your Joystick and Force Feedback options

5. Troubleshooting
Weird behaviour can occur if your installation goes wrong. For example the FSO installer may start showing things as installed wich you haven't. Or your launcher settings stop having an effect. The game starts without sound .. etc.
Odds are you will experiment and mess things up (like me .. a lot.. )
If that happens and you wanna start from scratch there are a few things you can do:

Compatibility Options:
The fs2_launcher.exe file should have the "run as admin" compatibility option enabled.
The fs2_open_19_0_0_SSE2.exe file should have the high dpi scaling set to "application" option.

Reset the FSO Installer:
FSO Installer creates a settings file named fsoinstaller.properties in the root of your user folders.
Delete this file to reset the installer. Shortcut to this folder: Enter %homepath% in the adress of your file explorer.

Remove the YAL/FS2 Registry Entries
Bugs can occur with wrong or doubled registry entries messing up your launcher's behaviour.
To solve this, do as follows:
> Run Regedit from the start menu (just search/type it in)
> Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE and check if there is a registry key (folder) for Volition
> If yes, enter it and delete the Freespace 2 key
> Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > WOW6432Node > Volition
> Delete the Freespace 2 key with all it's entries
> Now run fs2_launcher.exe again to recreate settings.

No Sound in low resolutions
If your FreeSpace 1 mod does not produce any sound at all you may have to increase resolution to 1080p.
I realize how unintuitive this seems but i could reproduce this issue on a mini PC (with iGPU) hooked up to my 4k living room TV.
It refuses to produce any sound at all unless i set the resolution to (at least) 1920x1080.
In this case you may wanna consider a High Res HUD mod to add (only) to your MediaVPs_2014 files

6. Play the game
The game will always remember your last launcher settings.
You don't need to use it to launch an already configured mod.

> To start the game run fs2_open_19_0_0_SSE2.exe
> Always create a new Pilot for each mod you play.
> To switch to another mod - configure fs2_launcher again & play
> After moving game to a new PC - configure fs2_launcher again & play

Please leave a comment if this guide helped you and share any ideas for improving it.
(While keeping it portable semi-pure ;) )
Post edited February 05, 2020 by Hatman
Why not just use Knossos? Seems like a simpler way to get everything up to speed.
Post edited February 05, 2020 by Al3xand3r
avatar
Al3xand3r: Why not just use Knossos? Seems like a simpler way to get everything up to speed.
Well, same reason i didn't use wxlauncher. It's not portable.
My goal was an installation i can easily move between systems, integrate into my launchbox collection and don't have to worry about should i reinstall windows.
This is exactly what I needed. Followed your guide to the letter and everything's working, portable, zipped up and saved as a backup just like I wanted it. Thanks :)