Home of the Underdogs Page
What is the Home of the Underdogs and what does it have to do with FreeSpace?
The Home of the Underdogs (or HotU as it is known in FreeSpace circles) is one of the biggest abandonware sites on the net. When a game hasn't been available in the shops for years it tends to get put up on that site. Technically abandonware is illegal but since no one has made any attempts to close HotU down even though it is very well known it basically is assumed that no one in the companies involved cares much about it because the games are so old.
As you may have guessed from all that FreeSpace is indeed old enough to have been placed on the HotU site. However FreeSpace 2 came on 3 CDs which makes it a big game even now so in order to save space the HotU version has been cut down to the bare essentials. The HotU version clocks in at 219MB which makes it possible for a dedicated FS2 fan on a 56k modem to download it.
Obviously this drastic reduction in size comes at a high price. The HotU version is drastically cut down in features. First the in-game voice is reduced and music is gone. Secondly the high-res graphics are also gone (meaning that the game can only be played in 640x480). Finally all the cutscenes bar the final ones were cut out.
You can find the HotU version at The Home of the Underdogs Website.
Why should I download a limited version of FreeSpace? Even the demo has better music speech and music.
FreeSpace 2 is well worth having a copy of. In my opinion it is the best space sim bar none. The default campaign has a great storyline and the missions are great fun to play (and there are many more of them than in the demo). If that doesn't sway you then how about this. Unlike the demo the HotU version registers as a full install as far as mods and user made campaigns are concerned. These campaigns will not run on the demo so once you get bored of it you're stuck. On top of that however it is possible to upgrade the HotU version to a full version by finding and replacing the missing files. Finally HotU is compatible with FS2_Open. FS2_Open is the open source version of FS2. The changes it makes to the game are incredible.
If you have a fast connection you're best off looking at EDonkey or BitTorrent to get hold of FS2 (look in the general section of this FAQ) but the advantage of HotU is that if you're on a slow connection you can play the real game while you upgrade.
How do I install the HotU version?
Installation is a breeze. Unzip the HotU version and click on the exe file. A folder called FS2 will be created. You might as well rename this to FreeSpace2 since that's the name retail uses and it's the name used everywhere else in this FAQ. Move the folder where ever you like.
You now have a copy of the v1.0 of the game. However if you try to upgrade this you will find that it doesn't work because you have a cracked version of the exe file. The best thing to do is to download yourself a copy of this archive. Unpack it with WinRAR and replace all the files in your FreeSpace2 folder with these versions. This will bring you up to a fully functioning copy of FreeSpace 2 v1.20.
What is actually missing in the HotU download?.
These are the files you are missing in the HotU version. I've included the unpacked size so you can see how big a task it would be to have them all hosted on Underdogs.
|sparky_hi_fs2.vp||Contains the Hi -Res info for FS2. You need this to play in 1024x768||254MB|
|stu_fs2.vp||Contains the voice files.||170MB|
|warble_fs2.vp||Contains the music files||116MB|
|tangoX_fs2.vp||3 Files. Where X is 1 to 3. These contain the animations for the command briefings||311MB|
|smarty_fs2.vp||The animations for the tech room. Probably the file you'll miss the least||120MB|
|Movie files||The last 3 cut scenes were included (you'll only see 2 depending on whether you succeed or fail in the final mission) but the rest are missing||539MB|
What can I do about it/Can I turn my version into something identical to the retail version?
Good news. An FTP site has been set up for all the missing files. As you can see from the file sizes above it will probably take you a while to get them all. You can find details of the site on this thread.
The FTP server has everything you need to turn the download into a full copy of FS2 except for the cutscenes. Due to the huge size of these they aren't hosted there. However there are versions of them as avi files available both on the FTP and in this .rar file. You can watch them independently of FS2 in your favourite movie player or if you have FS2_Open installed it will play them at the correct points in the campaign automatically.
Simply downloading a VP file and putting it in your freespace2 folder isn't enough to make the files work though. The HotU version contained a series of dummy files to replace the files that weren't included. The problem is that these dummy files have a higher priority than the ones in the VP file so they get used instead.
The easiest thing to do is to download all the VP files first. You then put them in the Freespace2 folder (overwrite or remove the versions already present). Then clean out all the subfolders in Freespace2\Data\ with the exception of Freddocs and Players. You can remove the TangoA and TangoB folders at this point too.
If you know what you are doing it is possible to add the VP files as you download them. The best method for doing this is to extract the contents of each VP to Freespace2/data as you download them using VPView (thereby wiping out only the dummy files). Once you have all the VP files you could purge the data folder of everything apart from players and Freddocs and the VPs themselves would start being used
Regardless of which manner you do it in the files you need are
You do not need root_fs2.vp as this was included in the v1.0 to v1.2 upgrade pack I linked to earlier on.
The FTP is down/I can't connect to it. What can I do about it?
Well apart from telling you to try again later I can't suggest much.
As a stop gap while you are downloading from the above site or if you find it's down you may be able to replace some of the files using those from the demo. Apparently 14 of the music tracks included with the demo are also ones used by FS2. Simply copy them over to the data\music drawer and they will start to work in game.
Even better than the demo is a copy of FS2 : Colossus. Colossus was an OEM version of FS2 that was shipped with Logitech Force 3D joysticks. Since it includes 10 missions from FreeSpace 2 it has a lot more of the music, CB anims and voice files than the demo does. It also has a (slightly different) copy sparky_hi_fs2.vp which is probably close enough to allow you to play FS2 in hi-res. If it isn't I'll host the files missing from the Colossus vp myself as there weren't many of them.
One other thing that might improve matters is to click on the link to the technical problems section of this FAQ and install the Registry Hacks for FS2. The hacks change the quality of the textures FS2 uses for many of the ships. Okay it isn't 1024x768 mode but it should make things look better. On top of this the simplest way to install the better quality textures involves downloading the FS1 port (which allows you to play FS1 missions on FS2).
The text zooms past too fast in the missions
An unfortunate side effect of the voice files being ripped out. You can press F4 at any time and have a look at the status of your objectives, mission events and most importantly all the messages so far.
Another idea is to download some user made missions. These will either feature voice acting or will have been designed to allow you to read the text.
How do I install mods on HotU?
Due to the way HotU works installing mods on HotU is troublesome. It is best that you download the missing VP files and make HotU into an almost exact copy of retail before installing mods.
If for some reason you don't want to do that then you should follow these rules
- Extract the files that make up the mod you want to install. If the files simply consist of files with the extension .fs2 and .fc2 then you can simply copy these to Freespace2\Data\Missions (It is unlike that you will be prompted to overwrite something. If it does then you should not do this and instead should go to the next point).
- If there are no files with the extension .vp then you should copy your entire FreeSpace 2\Data folder and then install the mod following the instructions that came with the mod. If you are prompted to overwrite a file you may now do so safely.
When you are tired of the mod You can simply rename or delete the Data folder and restore the copy you made.
- If there are any files with the extension .vp you should follow the instructions above but in addition you will need to download VPView and extract the contents of the VP to the corresponding subfolders of Freespace2\Data (I.e anything in the maps folder of the VP must go in the Freespace2\Data\Maps folder). You can find information on how to get and use VPView here.
How can I get hold of the FS2 manual?
Same place you got FS2. On HotU.