You may have seen the new “Star Trek Online Demo Launcher”, a tool, that allows you to handle demo files without touching the command line. There have been a lot of changes, since i first presented it here three weeks ago.

This weekend, I had some time to further tweek the demo launcher. Thanks to the input form the guys from STOked and the knowledgeable comments from JohoCrol, I’ve managed to include some exciting new features. Currently, the StoDemoLauncher is at version 2.2, and evolving rapidly.

The tool has a shiny new home at sourceforge, thanks to CaptNeo, who copied over the project from the one-click filehoster and setup a proper open source project there. In this article, I’ll talk a bit about the new features in the “Star Trek Online Demo Launcher”, give a short tutorial how to manage your demo files, and talk a bit about the next baby steps.

The Old

At it’s core the launcher is a GUI for the GameClient.exe command line. If you have recorded a demo using

/demorecord myDemoFile
/demorecordstop

you had to run

GameClient.exe -demo_play myDemoFile.demo

on the commandline in the Live or Playtest directory of your STO installation (depending on the demo being recorded on Holodeck or Tribble). A “comfort solution” to this command line mess for a long time was a file shortcut on my desktop. But regularly, I would produce typos, resulting in the crash of the game client.

The New

When you download and run StoDemoLauncher, the program will parse the contents of your demo directories from Holodeck and Tribble. If you have installed STO using the setup, this will happen automatically, otherwise you need to specify the location of the “Star Trek Online.exe” (the little launcher app) once at start-up.

Running Demos

All demos are listed in a sortable table. Click the column headers to sort the list by that column. You can also drag the columns around and resize, if you prefer a different order (this is not yet saved to a config file and will reset on each start-up). If you are looking for a file, you know by name, simply start typing in the list and it will become selected by pure magic.

To run a demo, double-click it or press enter. If you are recording new demos while the launcher is running, they will not automatically added to the list, but you can manually refresh the list using F5 or the toolbar button.

Backup

When you edit a demo file, you always run the risk of ruining it. That is why the launcher has a simple, yet efficient backup feature. Pres Ctrl+K to create a backup for the currently selected file and Crtl+Shift+K to restore a backup, when all hope for the edited copy is lost.

Cleaning Up and Editing Demos

I have begun to implement a simple editor for demo files, that is about to grow in size and functionality over the next couple of months. Right now, it is a simple interface to edit an individual file. Either select “Edit Demo…” or press Ctrl+E to start the editor.

Before you start editing, make sure you have a backup! If the “Restore Backup” button is grayed out, you don’t have one and should press “Backup Demo” before modifying anything.

Right now, you can remove pop-up messages from the demo that show up as marque text in the HUD. To get rid of them, select “Filters”, “Remove Notifications…”.

The filter window will allow you to select the messages you want to remove. By default, all are selected. If you want to test the filter result before modifying your demo file, you can do so by clicking “Preview”.

Whatever you do in the game client player while running the preview will not affect your original file (“Preview” copies you original demo to “StoDemoLauncherPreview.demo” before applying the filter, and play that file instead you your original demo). After you are satisfied, that the filter is working as intended, click OK, to apply the filter to your actual demo file. Cancel leaves the dialog without consequence, e.g. if the preview revealed the modified demo to be broken.

Rendering Demos

You want to record “ultra-high-res” “max-detail” “full-HD” videos, but only got an three year old graphics card to show for? Don’t worry, the Star Trek Online Demo Launcher can help you. When you choose “Render Demo…” you’ll be asked to provide a filename prefix and a image type. When you click “OK”, the Demo Player will start, but playback the demo file at 33ms intervals, after each of which a screen shot is recorded to the screenshots folder. Using a tool like VirtualDub, you can reassemble the image sequence to a video.

You can use this trick to record videos at insane detail levels and resolutions. Simply start STO once to crank up the visuals and select the right resolution, then close the game and render the demo using the launcher.

Attention: It has been my experience, that the game client offers you no option to quit demo rendering, other than forcing a quit. So better use this method in windowed mode, not full screen.

Other Shortcuts

  • F11: Open your demos folder for holodeck (hold Shift for tribble)
  • F12: Open your screen shots folder for holodeck (hold Shift for tribble)

Next up

The tool is screaming for additional filters and editing tools. An interesting challenge would be the replacement of characters (Admiral Quinn is an Undine infiltrator!), or the extraction of popup-dialog for mission transcripts on stowiki.org. Also, batch processing of files is on my todo-list, but this requires a lot of deep thinking and a challenge wrt to the software architecture.

I’d be interested in any suggestions, recommendations, and bugs you encounter. The primary resource for the tool is this thread, where I post change logs and offer (limited) support. If someone could tell me, in what folder the Redshirt gameclient.exe resides, I could add support for the internal test shard as well. And if you are bold, check out the source code :-).

Regards,
Rachel

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