What is FRED?
I want to try FREDding. What
should I do first?
What is the FRED Academy?
I want my mission to have a new
ship/weapon. How do I do that?
I've got a question about a
specific SEXP or a specific thing I want to do.
I've got a question that this
FAQ couldn't answer.
What is FRED?
FRED is the FReespace EDitor.
This is the program that Volition used to create the original missions
in FreeSpace. The inclusion of FRED with the release of FreeSpace 1
sometimes appears to have been more of an afterthought than anything.
The installer doesn't even create an icon for it in the start menu and
the help file (although very useful) comes in the form of a large text
document. Despite this by the time Volition released the Silent Threat
add-on there many user created missions available and many of these
were added to CD to give players something to do once they got bored of
the official Silent Threat missions.
The release of FreeSpace 2 saw much greater official support for FRED2.
Not only did they give it an icon, it had full HTML help featuring a
mission walkthrough so in-depth that to this day it is still considered
the essential first step that any aspiring mission designer should
A newer version of FRED called FRED2_Open is frequently updated by The
Source Code Project. FRED2_Open is designed to support the
modifications the SCP have made to FS2. As such FRED2_Open is vastly
more powerful than FRED2. This doesn't make it much more complicated
though. Although new buttons and options have been added, any guide to
using FRED2 will be equally applicable to FRED2_Open.
I want to try FREDding. What should I do first?
I recommend getting started with FRED2 at the bare
minimum. Although there are people still writing missions for FreeSpace
1 there aren't many of them these days (especially with The
FS1 to FS2 port making it possible to play FS1 missions on
FS2. FRED2 is easier on the newcomer because of the fantastic help file
that comes with it. Go to the help menu and click on help topics. This
should open up the FRED2 documentation. If it doesn't download this file and unRAR it to your
FreeSpace2\Data\ folder. (There is a copy available online
from here too
but you should get your own copy).
The quick start option will teach you the basics of writing a mission
but it is the extended walkthrough which is the real star.
The walkthrough will teach you many of the important basics about how
to build a mission. In fact you can go straight from the walkthrough to
building your own missions without any further training. I can not
stress enough how important it is to actually DO
the walkthrough. Reading it through isn't enough. If you are serious
about making missions the walkthrough will teach you almost everything
you need to know. With a resource that good you'd be a fool not to do
it before asking questions that it answers. Furthermore many people
will simply point you back at the walkthrough anyway if you ask a
question that it answered.
What is the FRED Academy?
In August 2004 I started up a new project on HLP. Within
a few weeks it became what is now known as the FRED Academy. The idea
of the Academy was to take people who feel that their FREDding could
use improvement and to teach them the next steps in a slightly more
controlled environment. The only requirements of the Academy are that
the FREDder has done the FRED walkthrough and that they want to learn.
The Academy runs several campaigns. New FREDders pick a mission from
those campaigns and do their best to FRED it using the skills they
learned doing the walkthrough. The mission is then posted up for
download and is tested by the HLP regulars and other members of the
Academy who point out flaws and mistakes in the mission and ways to
improve them. The FREDder then goes away and improves the mission
according to the suggestions they were given before posting it up for
another test. Once the mission is deemed complete the FREDder is free
to pick another mission and may continue to make missions for the
Academy as long as they feel that they are still learning.
Since the Academy does all this out in the open anyone who shows a real
flair for FREDding could easily find themselves being recruited by one
of the big campaigns if they manage to impress the right people.
The FRED Academy sign up thread can be found here.
The page also contains a more detailed explanation of how the Academy
I want my mission to have a new ship/weapon. How do I
While making new missions for FS2 is relatively easy,
adding ships is a slightly more difficult task. Adding ships or weapons etc. to
FS2 is known as Modding. There are many different types of modding and
many people specialise in one field e.g. a ship designer might not have
a clue how to make new weapons. The Modding section gives details on
how to get started in the modding process.
Some people however prefer to stick to FRED and use other peoples mods.
If you want to do that you will still need to understand a little about
how FreeSpace organises it's files. So you should still take a look at
the modding section.
Advanced FRED Help
The advanced FRED help section serves as a repository for more detailed
help in how to use SEXPs. It also includes tricks on how to solve
certain common problems. With the release of FS2_Open it became
possible to do a lot of things that previously were impossible or very
hard to do in FRED. So as to avoid making the rest of this section a
hopeless jumble the remainder of the FRED section has been split up
into five sections.
If you only use FRED2 Retail (or FRED 1 for that matter) the FS2_Open
section will not concern you. The reverse is not true. I've only
included solutions in the FRED2_Open section that are more flexible or
easier to implement. If the solution to a problem is the same in FRED2
Retail and FRED2_Open you'll find the solution in the retail section.
Everybody should read the common mistakes section though as pretty much
all of the errors are applicable to both versions of FRED. The FRED
cookbook contains some of the more innovative solutions I've heard (or
occasionally come up with) for problems that faced a FREDder. The idea
of the section is to inspire intermeditate and advanced FREDders and
give examples of how you can beat problems that may have initially
I've got a question that this FAQ couldn't answer.
If the question is about beams you might also like to have a look at ZylonBane's Beam FAQ
I recommend all aspiring mission designers have a look at The FreeSpace Reference Guide (alt link in case the first
one is down). As this file contains the answers to many
mission designers questions (Command Briefing Animation lists, a node
map, a listing of all the wingman messages and animations and a list of
wing names are all included in this valuable file).
Cetanu has written two of the best advanced FREDding tutorials I've
ever seen. Although a bit intimidating for beginners they are a very
valuable read for anyone who's written a couple of missions already and
is starting to think about doing more difficult things with FRED. You
can find them here, (Tutorial 1, Tutorial 2). I wrote my own advanced FREDding tutorial in a similar style which can be found here.
If all that fails, there are several forums where you
can ask questions (try HLP, FreeSpace
2 Sector or Game Warden.
Before posting on one of these forums it might be worth doing a search.
The search button is usually quite small but it's well worth looking
for as searching will often get you an answer much more quickly than
posting since it means that you don't have to wait for someone to read
your topic who knows the answer. Sometimes it can take hours or even
days for someone to read your post who knows the answer. A search can
sometimes find you a better written answer in minutes.
Although there is an issue of bias here (since it was originally my
idea) I recommend that aspiring FREDders join the FRED Academy once
they have done the walkthrough. Although I'll help anyone who posts a
problem I'll go the extra mile for people who are in the Academy.
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