Tribes: Ascend/SDK

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The Tribes: Ascend SDK, or TA SDK, is a community released Software Development Kit based on a leaked developer build from September 23, 2012. A member of the Tribes community, Altimor, was able to download a developer build by changing some of the parameters of the Tribes: Ascend launcher. [1] This dev build allowed users to play on unreleased maps and access an unlocked developer console. Hi-Rez soon thereafter moved the developer build to a new location so that it could not be downloaded, but it was too late.

On July 12, 2013, Todd, the COO of Hi-Rez, announced that they had stopped development of Tribes: Ascend, for the next six months, and that it would be more likely that they would begin development of Tribes: Ascend 2 than release a major update for Ascend.[2] Later that very day, Altimor created a github repository with the leaked dev build and some sample modifications, calling on programmers to help with the project. [3] On July 16, 2013 in an interview with Todd he announced that Hi-Rez was looking into releasing mod tools and map tools, but no date was confirmed.[4]Todd stated that they would not necessarily object to the release of an unofficial SDK, as long as it did not bypass their monetization scheme. The community believed that Todd's comments were more damage control than honest promises. PC Gamer ran an article on their website with a short interview with Todd about why they were stopping development of Ascend and their plans for mod and map tools. [5]

Two months later on September 12, 2013, Erez, the CEO of Hi-Rez, made a post on the Smite Reddit addressing the concerns of Smite players who saw how the Tribes community was treated and feared the same would happen to them. [6] In this post, he addressed the situation with Tribes and the release of the mod tools.

Some people have asked for us to provide more tools for community content creation, but our infrastructure and development platform does not support that ability well and the cost and time to develop those features is extremely high.

This response essentially killed any hope for any kind of official modding or mapping tools.

Three months later on December 10, 2013, an update to the TA SDK was released by Altimor. [7] The update changed the code's language from C++ to D, and included instructions on how to set up a D compiler and IDE (integrated development environment). A day later gaming sites began posting articles about the community developed SDK. The first to be released was on MMOBomb, which made comparisons to how other games have had great success with mods. [8] On the 12th, an article was published on FPS-Z by Fixious, a member of the Tribes community. [9] On the 13th, PC Gamer released another article about the SDK, and reached out to Hi-Rez for comment. [10] The next day IGN posted an article as well. [11] On the 19th, MMOBomb released two videos on YouTube discussing the SDK. [12][13]

Contents

Private Servers

Hosting a Dedicated Server

Create a shortcut to the TribesAscend.exe file in the SDK\Binaries\Win32 folder and add the following to the end of the Target field.

server MapName -seekfreeloading -port=PortNumber

Example:

C:\Users\Username\Downloads\TA_Dev\Binaries\Win32\TribesAscend.exe server TrCTF-Crossfire -seekfreeloading -port=28001


Joining a Server

Create a shortcut to the TribesAscend.exe file in the SDK\Binaries\Win32 folder and add the following to the end of the Target field.

-seekfreeloading

Example:

C:\Users\Username\Downloads\TA_Dev\Binaries\Win32\TribesAscend.exe -seekfreeloading

Double click on the shortcut, and Tribes: Ascend will start normally, and will take you to the login screen. Do NOT log in.

  1. Press ~ to bring up the console
  2. Type open IP:Port
    • The IP is the IP of the server you are trying to join and Port is the port the server is using
    • Example: open 192.168.1.2:28001
  3. Press ~ to close the console
  4. A screen will come up saying Lost Connection, that's fine, just wait.
  5. Now you should see the screen prompting you to choose a team, go into Spectator!
    • It is very important that you go into Spectator first, otherwise you will not be able to spawn when the match starts!
  6. Once you join spectator, press P to bring up the team selection screen.
  7. Now you can join the team you want.
  8. Enjoy

Two console commands you should know:

/changeteam - lets you switch teams
/exit - exits the game

IMPORTANT

Do not press any key on the number pad to try to switch loadouts while on a dedicated server, it will break the game. Try not to hit Esc too much, it can break the game too.


Hosting a Listening Server (local play testing)

Create a shortcut to the TribesAscend.exe file in the SDK\Binaries\Win32 folder and add the following to the end of the Target field.

MapName -seekfreeloading

Example:

C:\Users\Username\Downloads\TA_Dev\Binaries\Win32\TribesAscend.exe TrCTF-Crossfire -seekfreeloading

Double click on the shortcut, and Tribes: Ascend will launch and go straight to the Crossfire map.


Modding with the SDK

The primary purpose of the SDK is for making modifications to the game, either for the purpose of fixing bugs or creating mods to the game. Detailed instructions for setting up the SDK can be found in the link below.

An Easy Guide to Setting up the Dev Client and SDK by AvianIsTheTerm


Mapping for the SDK

Now that we know what version of the UDK to use, we can begin to create custom maps for the SDK. Currently the Ascend assets are not available, but they are being ported, and should be available soon. Detailed instructions for setting up the UDK to work with the SDK can be found in the links below.

SDK Guide to Mapping by dMidgard

SDK Mapping for the Lazy by Khorrin

Mapping for the Tribes: Ascend SDK by Krogoth

Working with Packages by Krogoth

Tribes 1 Heightmaps by Krogoth


SDK Questions and Concerns

Can we add "X" feature?

Probably.

What about the Havoc? They had it flying in the trailer.

The leaked dev build still has the Havoc model, art, and code for it, so it shouldn't be too hard to add it back in.

Can we host servers?

Yes

Can Hi-Rez do anything to stop the SDK?

Hi-Rez owns the Intelectual Property for Ascend, so they can send a Cease & Desist letter to the people involved with the project or hosting the files for it. They can technically sue the people involved as well, citing a loss of revenue due to the SDK. However, either of those options will be massive PR hits.

Will the SDK development continue even if Hi-Rez sends out C&D's?

Most likely.

Will Hi-Rez support the SDK?

They said that they would not object to an unofficial SDK that does not allow players to unlock items without buying them. However, it is unlikely that Hi-Rez would see a penny if the SDK takes off.

Can I be banned for using the SDK?

If you use the injection tools and forget to disable them when you play Ascend, they can ban you for that, but for just using the SDK, no.

Does demo recording work?

Yes, look here.


References

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