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Freedom Force FAQ

 AFFFFFAQ
Alex's Fantastically Fabulous Freedom Force FAQ

New to the Freedom Force Universe? Or maybe you're a veteran and are too embarrassed to admit you don't really the difference between a mesh from a skin? Luckily for you, the World's Mightiest FF FAQ is here! Read on!

General Q&A
1. What's Freedom Force?
2. What's Freedom Force vs The Third Reich?
3. Sequel? But wasn't Freedom Force supposed to be a trilogy, and wasn't the next game supposed to be set in the 70's?
4. I heard Freedom Force doesn't work with Windows XP (Service Pack 2). Is this true?
5. Can I play multiplayer FF online?
6. How do I take screenshots?

Customizing FF and Hero Files
7. How customizable is Freedom Force?
8. What's a Hero File?
9. Hey, I looked at your hero files and I think <insert favorite character> should be a lot stronger (faster, smarter, etc.)!
10. Well, how did you decide on the stats anyway?
11. What do I need to do to use a custom character in Freedom Force?
12. How do I get my custom character into the FF campaign game?
13. I downloaded a hero file, but all I see is a big white block, what happened?
14. What if I want to change the mesh the Hero File is set to?
15. How do I change the way my hero's uniform looks?

Skins and Meshes
16. What are Skins? What are Meshes?
17. Where can I get Skins and Meshes?
18. How do you install Skins and Meshes?
19. How can I make my own Skins?
20. How can I make my own Meshes?
21. Can I get the meshes for the FF characters?
22. I managed to make a cool new skin and want to show it off, where should I send it to?

Add-Ons and Mods
23. What Add-Ons are available for FF?
24. What's an FX?
25. FFEDIT? Sounds scary! Isn't there an easier way to install FX?
26. So what's FFEDIT anyway? Where do I get it? What does it do?
27. I installed FFEDIT, and it's messed up my FF game!
28. What's a Mod?
29. How do I make a Mod?
30. I'm trying to make a mod, but I keep getting an error saying "DAT files" not found!
31. Where can I find good Mods? Do I need FFEDIT if I just want to play them?
32. Will installing Mods mess up my original FF game?
33. I have the Mac version of FF, can I play Mods?
34. What's FFX-Squared?
35. Hmm, is there a special order I should be installing all this stuff in?


General Q&A

1. What's Freedom Force?
Freedom Force is a PC game (a Mac version is also available), developed by Irrational Games and originally released in early 2002. It allows you to take control of a team of superheroes on missions, as they travel through a great storyline, inspired by the Silver-Age of comic books. It is a hybrid game: part RPG (you can augment your heroes' powers as the game progresses) and part tactical combat. It is fully 3D, has destructible environments, and a built-in character creator. Most importantly, it's 100% FUN!

Freedom Force (FF) is notable not just because it's an extremely well-designed game, but because it also broke the so-called "superhero curse". Until FF was released, the prevailing wisdom was that good superhero computer games could never be released. This thinking was fueled by a few high-profile superhero projects which were cancelled - Champions, Guardians-Agents of Justice, and The Indestructibles.

But the "curse" is dead now! If you are a comic book super heroes fan (or just a fan of well-designed games), RUN don't walk and get your copy of Freedom Force!

Learn more about the game by visiting the official site: www.FreedomFans.com


2. What's Freedom Force vs The Third Reich?
Since Freedom Force was so warmly received (and yeah, it made a few bucks too), Irrational Games decided to grace us with a sequel with the comic-booky title of Freedom Force vs The Third Reich (FFv3R). In it, our heroes end up time-traveling back to WWII (aka The Golden Age of Comics) for some all-new derring-do. The game was released in March 2005!

And yes, you guessed it,  to learn more about the game, visit the official site at www.FreedomFans.com


3. Sequel? But wasn't Freedom Force supposed to be a trilogy, and wasn't the next game supposed to be set in the 70's?
Yeah, well, sometimes plans change. (And if you know so much, why are you reading a FAQ? :) )

It's true that someone at Irrational at one point mentioned this plan to keep moving forward in time with the series. However, in recent interviews Irrational stated that they felt traveling to the Golden Age opened up some interesting story possibilities. Anyway, there's always the chance of more sequels!


4. I heard Freedom Force doesn't work with Windows XP (Service Pack 2). Is this true?
Not anymore! Irrational Games released FF Patch v1.3 which fixes the problem with FF running with Windows XP Service Pack 2.

Get the patch at the official site: www.FreedomFans.com

And by the way, FFv3R has no problem running with Windows XP SP2 right out of the box.


5. Can I play multiplayer FF online?
FF does have a multiplayer mode, but even Irrational will admit it's not as good as it could have been. Basically, it's death-matches against 1-3 other players, each controlling 1-4 characters. You can put a limit on how many Prestige Points each player can use and choose from a handful of different maps.

Playing online requires you install Gamespy software (it's on the FF disk) or share IP addresses with whoever you're playing with. I'd recommend visiting the forums at www.FreedomFans.com where a section of the forum is set aside for folks trying to set up a multiplayer session.

FFv3R has a much improved multiplayer mode including additional game types and a built-in game browser.


6. How do I take screenshots?
Just hit Print Scrn on your keyboard to copy the screen to the clipboard. Then switch out of Freedom Force to any paint program (MS Paint comes with Windows and works fine for this) and click Edit-Paste. Save your picture!

When FF first came out, you couldn't do this. There was a workaround involving modifying the system file named INIT.PY, but it's not worth the effort since later patches made the above method work. Remember, always use the latest patch! (version 1.3 as of this writing).


Customizing FF and Hero Files

7. How customizable is Freedom Force?
Very.
What, you want more details? Well, why didn't you ask?

Freedom Force was designed from the ground up to be an extremely customizable game. You can easily add your own custom-made heroes and they will participate in the game's storyline. You can  change their powers and attributes with the built-in character editor. You can change the way they look by changing their skin or mesh. If you get a hold of the free editor, FFEDIT, you can even change sounds, add voices, add maps to the FF campaign, or best of all, create your own Mods (see the Mods section for more).


8. What's a Hero file?
A hero file is a data file ending with the ".hero" extension (for example: "hyperguy.hero") These files are where Freedom Force stores the information about custom characters you create. You can think of it as the "blueprint" for your hero and his/her powers.

As you design your hero, FF calculates a Prestige Point value for them. This is basically an indicator of how "expensive" your hero will be to add to the FF campaign. It can also roughly indicate how powerful the hero is (although this is often not true). The built-in Freedom Force heroes are all around 10,000 points or less.

If you installed Freedom Force in the default directory, hero files are in a folder called:
C:\Program Files\Irrational Games\Freedom Force\Data\Heroes

In the "Recipes" section on this site, I have placed some hero files I've worked on for you to download. All my hero files are designed to be balanced with each other. (and oh yeah, I call them "recipes" sometimes, because I was watching a lot of Iron Chef when I built this site).


9. Hey, I looked at your hero files and I think <insert favorite character> should be a lot stronger (faster, smarter, etc.)!
I like to design my heroes to "fit in" with the rest of the Freedom Force characters. IMO, matches where no heroes are more than 10,000 points (or so) are more interesting and challenging to play in.

Yeah, I do know that "in HyperGuy #77, HyperGuy juggled a planet, blah blah blah." However, I am trying to keep these characters at a total Prestige Point level comparable to the other FF heroes and their world. It forces you to use your whole squad and think of strategies.

In the end, my hero files let you quickly and easily get a hero in the game, with their basic powers ready to go. After that, feel free to change them as you wish! I always welcome feedback on any recipe and while I may not agree with you, I do sometimes update a recipe based on input.


10. Well, how did you decide on the stats anyway?
Well, first I played Freedom Force endlessly for days and got a good feel for how the powers work and what the different levels do! And the nearly 30 yrs of comics reading experience helped also :)

Actually, one good way to design heroes is to compare them to the built-in Freedom Force characters, who are all great archetypes for many types of heroes. My speedster heroes, for example, are similar to Freedom Force's Bullet. By copying and making some adjustments to Bullet's abilities, I was able to get a nice, balanced speedster. I also like to compare them to other heroes I've created and spend a lot of time play-testing them against each other.


11. What do I need to do to use my custom character in Freedom Force?
Well, first you need to create him or her by using Freedom Force's built-in Character Editor (makes sens, right?) Just click the "Characters" button on the main Freedom Force screen and select "New". Then just fill in fields and select options to define your hero and their powers. The Freedom Force manual that comes with the game has a lot more detail on the choices you can make. Believe me, there' s a lot you can do!

When you finally hit OK after completing your hero, it is saved as a hero file. Take a look in
C:\Program Files\Irrational Games\Freedom Force\Data\Heroes
and you should see it. You can easily share these hero files with others. To install them, just place them in the Heroes folder on the PC you're moving the hero to.


12. How do I get my custom character into the FF campaign game?
Once your hero is all nice and designed, you have the option of adding him to the FF campaign, so they can battle evil alongside Minute Man and the other FF heroes. This is where the concept of Prestige Points (PP) come in.

As you play FF, your team gains PP by successfully completing missions. Between missions, you get the option of recruiting new team members by spending these points. Once you have enough points to recruit the hero you created, you will see them added to the list of potential future members of Freedom Force!

However, if you created a really high-priced hero (you big cheater), this may be hard to do. One way around this, is to use cheat codes to get more PP. To do this:

Step One - Enable the console.
Look for this file:
C:\Program Files\Irrational Games\Freedom Force\System\INIT.PY
Open it with Notepad and add these 2 lines (exactly as written), if they're not there already:

import ff
ff.CON_ENABLE = 1


Now, you can press the "~" key while in FF to bring up the console where you can type codes/commands.

Step Two - While in a base screen (between missions), hit "~" and type (exactly as written):

Campaign_AddPrestige(100000)

This will give you 100,000 points which you can then use to recruit heroes.
Note that recruiting a mega-point uber-hero will make the campaign too easy and what's the fun in that?


13. I downloaded a hero file, but all I see is a big white block, Help!
Relax, this just means you haven't installed the mesh this hero file was built for or you installed the mesh incorrectly. So just double-check what meshes you have installed (see Skins and Meshes section below) and you should be OK.


14. What if I want to change the mesh the Hero File is set to?
Unfortunately, the built-in FF Character Editor doesn't let you do this. Luckily, various fans have made stand-alone utilities to let you do this (as well as otherwise tweak hero files in ways FF alone doesn't allow). The first of these was my own EZ Hero editor.


15. How do I change the way my hero's uniform looks?
After creating a few heroes with the FF Character Editor, you will realize that the powers are great, but you really want HyperGuy to have a green cape and you want to add his purple logo. Like I said before, FF is very customizable, so this is all possible.

To change the way your character looks, you need to learn about Skins and Meshes.


Skins and Meshes

16. What are Skins? What are Meshes?
A Skin is an image file (sometimes more than one) that wraps around your character to make him look the way he or she should. In Freedom Force, all skin files are TGA format (and thus have .TGA extensions).

A Mesh is a 3D model file (with a .NIF extension) which works like your character's skeleton. That is, it gives your hero a specific shape (tall, short, female, dinosaur, etc). Meshes are located in:
C:\Program Files\Irrational Games\Freedom Force\Data\Art\CUSTOM_CHARACTERS\.
There, you will find a subfolder for each mesh. They have names like "male_basic", etc.

A mesh will also have a corresponding Keyframes file (KEYFRAMES.KF) in the same folder as the mesh. This file contains data on all the animations (running, punching) a specific mesh can do.


17. Where can I get Skins and Meshes?
Talented artists are making these all the time. I happen to host a bunch of them on this site (check my Skins and Meshes section). Also, check my Links page for some of my favorites sites devoted to FF skins and meshes. However, this is far from a complete list as there are plenty of FF skins and meshes all over the net. Do an internet search to find more.


18. How do you install Skins and Meshes?
Skin files you find on sites will usually be in ZIP files. Download them and unzip them and place the contents in a subfolder named for your hero, but under the folder for the Mesh. Most skin zip files contain a readme text file that will tell you what mesh the skin was designed for.

For example: my HyperGuy skin files would go in a folder called:
C:\Program Files\Irrational Games\Freedom Force\Data\Art\ CUSTOM_CHARACTERS\ MALE_BASIC\ SKINS\ HYPERGUY\

In the example above:
- CUSTOM_CHARACTERS is a folder that has a subfolder for every mesh I have installed (more on meshes later)
- MALE_BASIC is the folder that contains the male_basic mesh
- SKINS is a folder inside my male_basic mesh folder
- HYPERGUY is a folder I created for the HyperGuy skin files

Likewise, mesh files are also usually distributed in ZIP files. Download them and unzip them and place the contents in the Custom_Characters subfolder.

For example: my Big_Monster mesh files would go in a folder called:
C:\Program Files\Irrational Games\Freedom Force\Data\Art\ CUSTOM_CHARACTERS\ BIG_MONSTER\

Sometimes, you will download a mesh without a keyframe file. If your character just glides around without moving their legs or arms, their mesh is probably missing a keyframes file.

This is done to save space as keyframes are much bigger than the mesh files. The creator of the mesh will usually tell you what keyframes will work with their mesh. Just copy the right keyframes.kf file to the mesh folder and your mesh will be good to go.


19. How can I make my own Skins?
Skins are just image files. To make new ones (or change existing ones), you will need a graphic editing program (such as Paintshop or GIMP) that can edit TGA files. I would also recommend Irrational's free Character Tool, so you can see how your character looks as you work on it.

It may seem hard at first, but even I can do skins now. You may want to check out some of the tutorials out there. Here's a couple of good ones to get you started:
www.tierney.ca/ffskinning/
www.fxforce.com/GRYPHON/tutorial1.html


20. How can I make my own Meshes?
Meshes are not as easy to make as skins. You would need a copy of 3DS Studio Max (version 4 or 5), as well as the Character Studio add-on and NetImmerse exporters. The NetImmerse exporters are downloadable for free from Irrational (at www.FreedomFans.com), but a copy of 3DS Studio Max will cost you in the neighborhood of $5000!

This is basically what the 3D artists at Irrational used to create the characters you see in the game, so, as you can imagine, it's fairly complex and not something I can give you a quick tutorial on. You'll need a book (or school course) and lots of time.

So unless you are already a 3D artist yourself or studying to be one, you probably won't have the time to really get into meshing. Luckily, Irrational provided some generic meshes with the game which are used by hundreds of skins. Also, the FF community has created literally hundreds of additional meshes you can download.


21. Can I get the meshes for the FF characters?
Yes, most of these are available for download at www.FreedomFans.com (go to the Modforce section).

Or you can find the FF game file called ART.FF on your hard drive. This is actually a ZIP file, so just temporarily rename it to ART.ZIP and take a look inside. There, you will find all the game meshes in a folder called DATA\ ART\ LIBRARY. Don't forget to rename this file back to ART.FF when you're done!


22. I managed to make a cool new skin and want to show it off, where should I send it to?
Check the forums at www.FreedomFans.com for a Skins site currently accepting new skins or skin artists. Or do what I did and start your own site!


Add-Ons and Mods

23. What Add-Ons are available for FF?
Since every Skin, Mesh, FX, Map, and Mod is an add-on, there are literally thousands of fan-made add-ons available for FF. I've previously mentioned Skins and Meshes, since these are the most common ones. However, other add-ons include FX, Maps, and Mods. There are also special add-ons like official patches and FFEDIT.


24. What's an FX?
An FX is the visual graphic you see when a character uses a power in the game. With FF's built-in Character Editor, you can assign different FX to different powers when you are creating your custom heroes.

The FF game itself came with plenty of FX, but over time, the FF community has developed hundreds of new ones. The best place to look for them is at www.fxforce.com. This site also has tutorials if you're interested in learning how to make new FX yourself. You will need a hex editor (I use HexEdit) and sometimes a paint program to make new FX (like skins and meshes, FX are made up of TGA and NIF files). FX require FFEDIT to install.


25. FFEDIT? Sounds scary! Isn't there an easier way to install FX?
It's not that hard, but if you aren't an FFEDIT kind of guy, you can download an install EZFX, my easy-to-use collection of over 900 custom FX!


26. So what's FFEDIT anyway? Where do I get it? What does it do?
FFEDIT is the official Freedom Force Editor. Shortly after the release of FF, Irrational released FFEDIT, so fans could change the game as they liked. FFEDIT is the same tool the Irrational developers used to set up the original game (actually it's a cleaned-up version that's a little nicer than what they had to work with), so it's very powerful.

Like anything official from Irrational, you can get FFEDIT at www.FreedomFans.com.

FFEDIT allows you to change pretty much anything in the original game and add new items, characters, FX, maps, etc. One of the most important things FFEDIT does is allow you to make new mods.


27. I installed FFEDIT, and it's messed up my FF game!
After installing FFEDIT, if you get this error message when trying to play the game:

alert: CCampaignIMP: GetNextCampaignMissionDef(), invalid campaign mission index.  

Delete the file called campdef.dat in your data folder and all should be OK.


28. What's a Mod?
A mod is a set of changes to the internal FF data files. The ability to create mods is one of the things that makes Freedom Force so popular even years after its initial release. Some mods just tweak or alter the original game, while others completely change FF into a brand new game starring all-new characters.


29. How do I make a Mod?
Practice, my friend, practice.
FFEDIT is basically a tool to edit the internal data files (DAT files) that hold FF's information for maps, characters, fx, powers, etc. You can completely change them all or just add a few new ones.

Depending on your mod, You might also want to add new art files such as character skins or meshes. Finally, you can also use the Python scripting language to create new scenes for your mod's storyline (just like the scenes in FF) and the mission objectives your characters need to complete to finish a mission.

FFEDIT comes with documentation on editing the FF DAT files and Python script commands to use when writing mod missions. A word of warning, not everyone can become a modder, a programming background helps (but is not necessary) for the Python scripting. The best way to learn is dive in, follow the tutorial Irrational provides, and ask questions on the forums. If you stick to it, you can do it.


30. I'm trying to make a mod, but I keep getting an error saying "DAT files" not found!
Before using the editor to modify any data, you will have to extract the original FF DAT files from their archive. To do this, find the file called DATA.FF  in your Freedom Force folder. It's actually a ZIP file, so unzip it to get the DAT files inside. Create a new folder for your mod inside the main Freedom Force folder (example: MYMOD\ ) and put the DAT files there. You should then point FFEDIT at this folder.

More details on all this are in the FFEDIT documentation.


31. Where can I find good Mods? Do I need FFEDIT if I just want to play them?
I have mods I've done on my Mods and Goodies page. I of course, think they're pretty darn good (and I did win the Best Modder award). In addition, I've listed a few others I think are good on that same page. For other mods, you may want to check the FF Hub.

You only need FFEDIT to MAKE mods, not to PLAY them.


32. Will installing Mods mess up my original FF game?
Not if you install them right.

That is, mods should install in their own separate subfolders under the main Freedom Force folder. The original Freedom Force game's DAT files are in the folder called DATA. Most mods come with an installer that will place them in their own folder.


33. I have the Mac version of FF, can I play Mods?
Pretty much all the FF fan-built stuff works on Macs. This includes meshes, skins, and even mods. The only thing I know doesn't work on Macs is FFEDIT itself.

To use FF mods on Macs:
- If the mod comes in ZIP format, just extract right to your Mac's Freedom Force folder.

- If the mod comes as an EXE file, you need to run the EXE on a PC and copy the extracted files to your Mac (via CD or network)
OR Use PC emulation software (Virtual PC) on your Mac to run the EXE and get the files
OR Use StuffIt Expander to get the files out of the EXE (I haven't tried this myself, but have heard it should work)


34. What's FFX-Squared?
FFX-Squared (sometimes also just called FFX) is a mod of the original game by the FF fan known as Dr. Mike. It adds tons of new powers and attributes to the original game. Really amazing stuff. Get it at Dr. Mike's site. Unlike most mods, this one actually changes the original DAT files. But that's OK, it's supposed to.


35. Hmm, is there a special order I should be installing all this stuff in?
Good thing you asked, you definitely need to install certain things in a certain order. Skins, meshes, and self-contained mods can be added at any time, but special ones like EZFX and FFX need to be done just right. Here's a recommended order:

For Freedom Force:
- Install FF (duh)
- Install Character Tool (good to have if you're skinning)
- Install FF Editor (needed if you're modding or manually installing FX or voice packs)
- Install FF patch v1.3 (needed to run if you have Windows XP SP2 or Vista)
- Install EZFX 5.1
- Install EZ Danger Room v2.0 (adds a watch mode and some MP maps)
- Install FFX Squared v 2.6 GOLD
- Install EZ Hero v2.6

For Freedom Force vs The Third Reich:
- Install FFv3R (duh)
- Install FFv3R Mod Tools (Includes Character Tool 2)
- Install EZFX 6.0
- Install FFX 3.2
 


Irrational Games (TM ) and Freedom Force (R) are trademarks of Irrational Games LLC and/or its affiliates ("Irrational").
Freedom Force is the copyrighted property of Irrational.