People just don't make games like WC anymore

Falcon988

Commodore
They really don't and I can't fathom why. I just played through the first mission of WC1 for the first time in a few years now. Had some fun blowing up the Dralthi at nav 1, then purposefully threw myself into an asteroid at nav 2 so I could watch my funeral.

The action in WC1 is great, yes. By modern standards it's pretty basic though isn't it? I mean has been imitated and emulated many times, and later games in the series (along with other 1990s space-sims) arguably did the space combat better and refined it more.

BUT, while the mechanics of flying around are simple, the immersion of the game is brilliant. The narrative, the writing of the game is what sets it apart for me. Why don't games have characters like this? Briefing rooms? Branched missions, winning awards and promotions. DYING AND WATCHING YOUR OWN FUNERAL (this was always one of my favorite parts). Your friends dying and seeing their funerals. Other games have done some of this stuff, but I can't think of anything that has done all of it since WC1. Twenty years old this game is. I can spend the last three, four years playing modern games, then pop this in for 10 minutes and be blown away by what a masterpiece of design and creativity it is.

There's a lot of games that have storylines. Some have pretty brilliant ones, and a lot of those are great (even masterful) games in their own right.

WC1, unlike most other games (including later games in the series)... it really doesn't have a set narrative. You the player make your story. You could end the game victoriously but have to watch your best friend in the squadron die for example. Or end the game with everyone alive and happy. Or be the only survivor. It's quite an experience. Wish there were other games like it.
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
They really don't and I can't fathom why.

Its the same way that movies today are the way they are. The movie-going public is much smarter to things like narrative device, explanation, ways to get the story across - but as time goes on, stories become less and less interesting as the creators seem more intent on superficial details instead of the whole.

This isn't to say that there aren't a lot of great movies or a lot of great games coming out these days - simply that the playing field has been skewed as time goes on, particularly in the last decade. (I still refuse to accept I live in a world where Star Wars prequels and Speed Racer are looked down on but The Dark Knight and Juno were critically acclaimed movies.)
 

Highball

Spaceman
I love Speed Racer, but hate the Star Wars prequels. Go figure. I always skipped my own funeral in WC1, because it bugged me. Any time a wingman was killed, I replayed the mission. It's funny you should bring this up, because I am actually writing several pages worth of stuff to document my re-visiting the Wing Commander franchise over fifteen years after I was first acquainted with it.

You can read what I have so far here, but it's incomplete still.

www.angelfire.com/cantina/tuck/wing.html
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
WC1, unlike most other games (including later games in the series)... it really doesn't have a set narrative. You the player make your story. You could end the game victoriously but have to watch your best friend in the squadron die for example. Or end the game with everyone alive and happy. Or be the only survivor. It's quite an experience. Wish there were other games like it.
Actually, that's why I did enjoy Mass Effect a LOT recently. Of course, it's nothing close to a space combat game in the sense of Wing Commander, but at least it's a new sci fi IP, and a very successful one at that. You never know, it might pave the way for others to come...
 

Falcon988

Commodore
I love Speed Racer, but hate the Star Wars prequels. Go figure. I always skipped my own funeral in WC1, because it bugged me. Any time a wingman was killed, I replayed the mission. It's funny you should bring this up, because I am actually writing several pages worth of stuff to document my re-visiting the Wing Commander franchise over fifteen years after I was first acquainted with it.

You can read what I have so far here, but it's incomplete still.

www.angelfire.com/cantina/tuck/wing.html



That was a great read. Summarized my thoughts upon replaying WC1. By all means continue writing it :)
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I love Speed Racer, but hate the Star Wars prequels. Go figure. I always skipped my own funeral in WC1, because it bugged me. Any time a wingman was killed, I replayed the mission. It's funny you should bring this up, because I am actually writing several pages worth of stuff to document my re-visiting the Wing Commander franchise over fifteen years after I was first acquainted with it.

You can read what I have so far here, but it's incomplete still.

www.angelfire.com/cantina/tuck/wing.html

Wow, an angelfire page! You don't see those too often anymore.

Here's a tip for the earlier WC games - they're only in 256 colors, so you can grab more authentic screenshots with smaller file sizes as gifs. Just make sure to do something like a 2x pixel resize to maintain the detail.

Do you only have WC1 documented? The SM1 page appears to be blank.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Nice journal.

Many modern browsers will perform super-sampling on upscaled images, so just adjusting the image dimension attributes in the HTML code will provide a good image even with the original, tiny 320x200 screen shots.
 

Highball

Spaceman
Wow, an angelfire page! You don't see those too often anymore.

I've owned the page for years. :D

Do you only have WC1 documented? The SM1 page appears to be blank.

Yes, I have only done WC1 so far. I'd been busy playing all the other games, so I didn't get too much done. ;) However, now that I am done with WC3, I will devote more time to the page. Since it seems as though the general consensus in my poll thread is that I should go for WC4 next, I will do a lot of work on this page before I get it, because I don't have the money to get another game right now. I have done a lot of updating just to the WC1 page today, and will be done very soon. I have added a lot of extra text, pictures, and observations to it as it stands right now. Before I go to bed, I will put the finishing touches on it. Thanks for the compliments, guys! What would be helpful is if someone could tell me a few missions that have "Meanwhile..." cut scenes after them, because I need two shots of those.
 

t.c.cgi

Vice Admiral
The market is larger by several magnitutes. There's far more competition. The customers have the ability to be more vocal. Titles not only have to hit multiple platforms but the PC platform is bloated with so system variations that make proper QA a nightmare. I could go on. The environment has turned on its head in two decades. It's not the budding, fledgling industry it was then. Now that everyone knows they can move lots of units for a big fiscal year figure, being the first and best isn't the chest-thumping achievement it once was... especially if the process ends with you in bankruptcy.
 

Silanda

Rear Admiral
For better or for worse, games aren't made for just us nerds anymore.

They can't afford to be anymore, they have to have mass market appeal. It is claimed that the average cost for a multiplatform game is between 20 and 30 million dollars, greater than WCIV's budget even after adjustments for inflation. Unless they are going for a low tech, low budget niche title, developers cannot afford to develop for small markets. It's a shame too as it has pretty much devastated certain genres of PC games (simulations in particular).
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
They can't afford to be anymore, they have to have mass market appeal. It is claimed that the average cost for a multiplatform game is between 20 and 30 million dollars, greater than WCIV's budget even after adjustments for inflation. Unless they are going for a low tech, low budget niche title, developers cannot afford to develop for small markets. It's a shame too as it has pretty much devastated certain genres of PC games (simulations in particular).

Well, low tech is not the awnser if you just bought a new system and super-high end video card rig, and want something out of it. Most games until the 90's were playable on an XT system with Hercules Graphics, but looked better on CGA/EGA/VGA, and some supported soundcards(better hardware was simply a better experience. The memory/graphics/hdd space hungry games only came along after that(And Wing2 and Wing3 were those, the other were not as "shocking" of a system specs pusher.

People won't upgrade just to play a game, and even if you do, it's never perfect.

Also rarely console users need technical support!
 

Prometheus

Spaceman
better hardware was simply a better experience
Oh yes, some people propably still remember with Wing Commander 1, you had to make sure you'd have enough free memory to finally see the "Full Music will play." message at the startup of the game... And you also needed a 386 to see the moving joystick and pilot portraits (when they communicate with you) in the cockpit. Boy was I excited when I finally could play the "full game" after I got my 386.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
For better or for worse, games aren't made for just us nerds anymore.

And I think it also comes down to what Quarto mentioned in a different thread last week - how much of it is just us? Games of the '90s impacted us more because things they did were revolutionary for their time and also, maybe more importantly, we were younger and more impressionable.

Yeah, it's pretty rare to have big branching missions and plot choices in games today, despite all the Wing Commanders that did it almost 20 years ago. But it's not that all games did that kind of thing back then, we remember Wing Commander because it was the best example of that kind of thing at the time. Most games back then weren't as good. Today there's millions of teenagers playing Mass Effect and are just floored by the branching/options compared to other games. It's not a new thing, and it's not that we don't have it today, it's just what you see in a very well done game. Ten years from now, there'll still be a few games that do great things like this, but the next generation will be starting "They don't make them like they used to..." threads at that point like we are now.
 

Highball

Spaceman
The kind of stuff that Wing Commander was doing was just not being done at the time. It took Nintendo several years to catch up with the release of Star Fox, and even that was polygonal 3-D, unlike the realistic looking bitmaps of Wing Commander. I remember having the choice between staying the night at a friend's house who had Star Fox, and having my friend Joe over to my house to play Wing Commander. I picked Wing Commander.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
The kind of stuff that Wing Commander was doing was just not being done at the time. It took Nintendo several years to catch up with the release of Star Fox, and even that was polygonal 3-D, unlike the realistic looking bitmaps of Wing Commander. I remember having the choice between staying the night at a friend's house who had Star Fox, and having my friend Joe over to my house to play Wing Commander. I picked Wing Commander.

Star Fox also felt like it was on rails compared to Wing Commander's freedom of movement.
 

MadDog243

Rear Admiral
Indeed. I think the writing was a huge part of it, and something that stayed consistent throughout the entire series. There was not a bad Wing Commander game IMO, and I know that is true for many others here.

Thats part of what was wrong with the movie, it tried to feel stylized but it didnt have the heart, soul, or compelling writing of the games.
 

Branches

Spaceman
Wow, an angelfire page! You don't see those too often anymore.

I was actually just about to mention that.

I think for me, growing up the burgeoning 90s game industry was cool, because Like most big name, old time game directors who made it through 2d and were opened to the world of 3d, that was the most interesting time in games for the sheer scope of what you could do with it.

Nowadays things seem bleak because instead of games targeting the small portion of the overall players, they try to target everyone who may be at all interested. It's how I feel with most games now. If it's not all about the Multiplayer, it'll get knocked down as a game for most people who like to play Single-player, but for the overwhelming majority it's the best thing ever. If the single-player story suffers in ways that enhances the chance of selling old maps in DLCs for 20 bucks, then so be it.

It's just nostalgia on our parts. A line i can draw is like how I watch new Simpsons episodes with my little brother. For him, it's a different experience than me, it's new, it's fresh and different, but for me It's just watching a less interesting version of a show I grew up with. To which the Nostalgia of some of the older episodes that rarely come on, still have me sit down and laugh at the same jokes. Because Well, sir, there's nothin' on earth like a genuine bona-fide electrified six-car monorail! What'd I say?

Anyway...I look at games now and see people trying to build these giant sprawling epics. These games that are not measured by the weight of their storylines, but of the content of your hourly commitment to them. Most of us who work full-time can probably say that most of our free time isn't spent trying to get that next level in Fallout 3, or traveling across Ferelden to enlist some Elves for some asskicking in Dragon age.

Don't get me wrong, for people who haven't been working on/around/playing games since birth or video game related epiphany (Grand Admiral Thrawn, On board the Grey Wolf, SW:TF; 1994) they don't have the experiences of not hearing the voices behind their characters and doing your damndest to try to make that John Rhys-Davies scotsman accent come out in your head when reading text lines; or spending minutes mulling over decisions that were pretty hard to make when these guys basically make these same life/death decisions on a minutely basis when Nameless, faceless Marine/Ranger #4 with a general name and a rank gets hit by fire from Al-Asad loyalists or Russian Paratroops.

My shining star are some of the Rockstar endeavors. Grand Theft Auto IV being one of them. The entire game was long, it was filled with double standards and decisions on whether or not to be a ruthless murderer, or a merciful angel. But in the end it was long, but narratively rewarding. I hope to see Red Dead Redemption and the next Max Payne installment to follow this.

But to be optimistic. Maybe if current game devs put down the pen and put it into the hands of real writers. Maybe we could see some decent stories come out of the industry that don't have the words "FOXDIE" "Force" "Mana" or "Mako" or even "Zanarkand" as key McGuffins.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Thats part of what was wrong with the movie, it tried to feel stylized but it didnt have the heart, soul, or compelling writing of the games.

That's an interesting opinion and it makes me wonder - who wrote the game stories, was it Chris Roberts or someone else?
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
That's an interesting opinion and it makes me wonder - who wrote the game stories, was it Chris Roberts or someone else?

In some instances Chris Roberts was responsible for some of the general story elements but for the most part the games had teams of writers doing everything from the script for the cinematics (WC1-sm2/wc2 Ellen Guon for example... Privateer 2 Diane Duane) and there were writer who had to do a lot of the in-game menu text, and others that did manuals etc.
 
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