Q's anger management thread (chock-full of spoilers!)

mustanger

Rear Admiral
This is not a full response to what you wrote, I just wanted to add one thing - in my previous post, when talking about the misguided wingman, I added the word "intentionally" in brackets. By accident, I left out the question mark - so what had been supposed to be a question ended up being an accusation. Sorry about that.

No problem, I didn't take it personally :)
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
So, I just played and finished Loki 3. That's the end of the Loki system, and I fear hard times and lots of anger in the days to come - as it seems the infamous Kinney mission is on the horizon.

But how about Loki 3? Well, it's an "all right" mission - there was no problems in it, which is great, but it's also not a hugely exciting mission, something of a downgrade after the previous two Loki missions. I enjoyed the dogfighting at the first two navpoints - with just me and one wingman, suddenly it turned out that four Dralthi are in fact a challenge (or at least, they can actually hit you with a missile). The convoy battle at nav 3 wasn't exciting - and neither was assisting the destroyer at the second navpoint. In both cases, I guess the challenge lies in somehow getting a transport kill before your friends do all the work for you. Ok, fair enough - Saga is all about realism and showing the player his place in the universe, so at least this is reasonable and consistent as far as game design goes. Although I do wonder why there was so few transports out there - I would have expected bigger numbers, given that the engine can handle them, and you're given the assistence of a destroyer in one case, and a Longbow wing in the other.

Next came the courier rescue. Talk about high-speed combat - the courier charging along at the speed of Very Quickly, the Darkets chasing him on afterburners, and me chasing the Darkets. I'd saved more than half of my missiles for an unexpected navpoint on the way home, so I didn't have any trouble here.

But that courier brings me back to what I wrote about in the previous post. That's another ship design, which again is not a new light or medium Kilrathi fighter. You couldn't bring in more Kilrathi fighters because there just wasn't enough manpower - but the manpower was spent on a courier ship? I sure hope I end up seeing the Artemis in another half-dozen missions, to justify the work that went into making it. Somehow, though, I get the feeling that this was both the first and the last time I see an Artemis - and 'tis a pity. You know, I should be excited to see the Artemis - after all, it's not just the realisation of an unused concept art from Privateer, it's a big nod to Standoff, since you chose to use our backstory for it. But at this point in the game, I'm simply more concerned with the repetitious combat, where I spend far too much time on Darkets and Dralthi.

My face is pretty red right now, because the same thing happened to me when I played the mission after the release. Gives a new meaning to unreliable Wingman! An easy fix, but I am sure in testing I missed it because it got so routine to get in their and blast the things before they escaped that I didn't really listen to the guy. Actually, in testing I COULDN'T listen to him because the voices weren't recorded yet, so I would have had to read the subtitle as it played.

You probably mentioned it earlier, but what difficulty are you on? I did find it becomes quite a bit more difficult on the higher levels, mostly because of the missile spamming.
I think I'm playing on normal.

Testing without voiceovers is always a huge pain. Countless times in the past, in my professional work, I've had to deal with people who should know better, whining about not knowing what to do at a given moment in the game. The same people would also complain about boring dialogues sometimes, for the exact same reason.
"Look, the voices ain't recorded yet, but there are subtitles," I would respond.
"Oh, well, I don't read subtitles."
Great. You'd think people running a game development company would have enough imagination to understand a work in progress. Guess not :).
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I managed to find the time to play another mission tonight, Nifelheim 1. The Kinney mission is right around the corner, it seems...

Anyway, Nifelheim 1 is a pretty memorable mission. It's the first time we see a K'ha''haf (at last, something new to shoot at!), and the first time we see a Kilrathi asteroid base. Also, it's the first time I experienced a significant framerate drop in Saga, but I guess with all those asteroids, something finally had to give. It wasn't too problematic, anyway.

I like the basic concept of this mission. Finding a hidden asteroid base and a carrier along with it, it's a fun thing to do. To some degree, I also appreciate the fact that the carrier doesn't shoot at you from the get-go - if you ignore the fighters for a while, and concentrate on the turrets, you can actually de-claw the carrier before it powers up. And the mission even takes this into account, there's a dialogue that plays or doesn't play depending on whether there are turrets around. That's fun, because it gives you a strategic choice. At the same time, however, the whole thing felt much too easy.

Funny I should say this about it being easy, actually - I mean, I did die during this mission, and that's how I know about that dialogue that can play or not. So, the mission clearly isn't a walk in the park, and certainly if you don't think of taking out those turrets (and hey, there's an opportunity in front of you to fly into the bowels of a Kilrathi carrier and asteroid base - who'd wanna miss that?), the difficulty is very might appropriate. It's just that I find in the early part of the mission, things are too easy. The choice of fighters-or-turrets is not a choice, it's a non-brainer (unless you let yourself get distracted by the pretty sights), because the fighters just don't pose a threat. On my second attempt, I spent most of the time standing still and blasting turrets away - and only once did anyone try to attack me.

It could probably have helped to have turrets on the asteroid base itself, so that at the carrier is at least partially covered. Alternatively, it would have been good enough (and possibly better and more interesting then merely turretising the base) to have someone actually say out loud how unusually easy this is. I mean, come on - you're attacking a heavy carrier with six fighters! Saga has put a lot of work into establishing the fact that a carrier is something you taken on with three or four wings, but here you are, taking it out with ease with just a wing and a half. You do get congratulated at the end of the mission, but it's all surprisingly low-key. You'd expect a lot more excitement than that.

Two other things stood out for me in this mission.

The first one is Fade. Again, this is one of those situations where Saga just does a terrible job with the script. The guy dies, and how does the player character react? "Oh, looks like Sweeney won't have to turn him down any more". Who could have possibly thought that was a good line? It's totally out of character, as well - I'd have expected something like that from one of Saga's many callous vets, but it's just totally wrong for Sandman.

The second thing is the sequence where the K'ha'haf are introduced. It's great to give them an introduction - the concept is so different to every other Kilrathi fighter, they definitely deserved it in WC3 (and didn't get it). But the introduction falls flat, because you hear dialogue about something going on, but you can't see it. The dialogue claims that there's asteroids around you moving like fighters - but if you try looking around, you don't see a thing. I don't know what the possibilities with this were, there's undoubtedly technical limitations involved, but there really should have been asteroids flying right across the player's bow while he's talking.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Ok, so I went and got the Kinney mission out of the way. I'd already heard that the mission is a no-win, so at least I had no illusions about that.

But yeah, I agree with everything I'd heard about it: it is definitely one of the worst missions I've seen so far. After playing through the Loki system, I was getting quite impressed with the game - I thought that after a poor start, things were really picking up. The Kinney mission blew that. I hope the missions ahead prove to be way better, but right now, I have a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

Where to begin? You know, knowing as I did that the mission was going to involve the destruction of the TCS Kinney, I was already thinking ahead to writing a post about it, and how I would start the post with the incredibly obvious pun: you killed Kinney, you bastards!

...But then the game went and did it for me. "They killed the Kinney! You monsters!"

Seriously, that's just such a horribly bad idea, it's absolutely unique. A pun like that might be funny in a forum post, but it's utterly unfunny in the game. I just can't fathom the thoughts that led someone to write these lines. I mean, the mission is all about huge, inevitable losses - it's about the drama, the fact that sometimes, no matter how you try, you just can't win. Why ruin all that drama by making a South Park reference? You just don't crack jokes in the middle of a battle - especially jokes that are between the writer and the audience.

You know, I don't have an especially high opinion about the quality of the writing in Standoff, but what I do know is this - there's a few scenes in there that I do think are good, scenes that I'm proud to have written. And each and every one of those scenes started off at twice the length, often with some dramatically bad writing, which Eder and I then proceeded to eviscerate and destroy until something good came out of it. This mission would feel like a hundred times better if only Tolwyn had looked at that line and simply told the writer: no, you're cutting this.

Keep in mind, this one reference is most definitely the worst thing about the mission. It's something that sticks with you and leaves a bad taste in your mouth - and it's especially sad because otherwise, it's really an ok mission. Without that reference, had the initial flight been shorter by half, and the Kilrathi attacks made a little more interesting, it could have jumped up to being a "good" mission.

It goes without saying, I obediently used glide (incidentally, it's the first time I've used it in the game - but I never used it in WC3 either, it's just a feature I don't like), so I didn't have to worry about fuel. The trouble with that long flight is that there's like a 40 second gap when nothing at all is happening. Almost immediately after you start flying, you see all but one of the escorts get wasted (incidentally: a waste at that distance! Had this happened at 100,000 metres closer, the explosions would have been much prettier), and the Kinney drops down to 13%. At that point, most people understand what's gonna happen. It's hard to have any illusions when you see that the ship lost more than it has in a single hit. But rather than seeing the drama continue, what we get is silence for quite a while. It's not until we're much closer that the Kinney suddenly decides to start the evacuation. The mission would have been much better had the distance been cut sufficiently to allow those 40 seconds of silence to be removed.

The battle itself is a disappointment. You arrive and find yourself wondering, how did half a dozen cats manage to destroy the carrier. The player doesn't get many kills in this mission - or at least, he doesn't need to in order to win. The next couple of encounters - well, it's Darkets and Dralthi all over again, nothing special, except for the Skippers (which I didn't seriously try to gun down, I used missiles instead).

Now, of course, this mission had to be easy to survive and win, for the simple reason that most players would have felt very angry if forced to replay that initial afterburner run. But that's exactly why that afterburner run should have been shorter, so that the mission's difficulty could be more appropriate.

Finally, there's a small issue of inconsistency between the tech room info, and what we see in the cutscene. The cutscene shows a memorial plaque that tells us the Kinney is the fourth ship to bear that name, and that the ship was commissioned in 2669. Well, the tech room description of the Kinney tells us that the ship was named after one of the heroes of the first decade of the Kilrathi war, and that it was brought back into service in 2669. Now, maybe I'm wrong about this, but I don't think that a ship being returned from reserves to active duty would be considered newly commissioned - I think the original commission date would still have been used. But like I said, I may be wrong about that. The more important question is: if the Kinney is named after a hero of the Kilrathi war, why is it the fourth ship to bear the name? Does Confed, like South Park, find that in every episode, the Kinney is blown away only to be rebuilt again immediately afterwards? Or were the three previous TCS Kinneys named after some other Kinney in centuries past? :) It just seems there's a mistake here.

Having written so much in negatives, I want to balance things out a bit by pointing out a few positives. First up - while I don't think I'll ever truly enjoy the increased difficulty of fighters with no collision sphere, it does seem like I'm getting used to it. I had a very satisfying moment today when I destroyed a Darket in a single head-to-head attack run - that was fun.

Another thing. I don't think I've ever mentioned it before, but it definitely bears saying - the detail inside the capships is awesome. Just like in WC3 and WC4, I could spend quite a bit of time in Saga just flying through the hangar decks and admiring the scenery.

Third - I do enjoy a lot the little militaristic details that Saga throws at you. You know, the alert fives, magnum launches and other such seemingly unimportant details. The only time I've previously seen Wing Commander try this level of detail was in False Colors, where the author went far out of his way to provide details of Confed carrier operations. Of course, False Colors was much more detailed than Saga ever could be, because it's a book - but Saga does feel more military than WC3, for instance, and that's great. I just wish the game wouldn't spoil it so often with those frat-boy dialogues.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Again, this is one of those situations where Saga just does a terrible job with the script. The guy dies, and how does the player character react? "Oh, looks like Sweeney won't have to turn him down any more". Who could have possibly thought that was a good line? It's totally out of character, as well - I'd have expected something like that from one of Saga's many callous vets, but it's just totally wrong for Sandman.
I forgot about this line, but now that you mention it, I remember thinking that was a really, really insensitive for anyone to say, let alone a still-relatively-new pilot like Sandman. Another cringe moment for me...

I was already thinking ahead to writing a post about it, and how I would start the post with the incredibly obvious pun: you killed Kinney, you bastards!

...But then the game went and did it for me. "They killed the Kinney! You monsters!"
I feel pretty silly now, but I blame it on not watching that show: I completely missed the Kenny reference. So all I took from this exclamation was a fellow pilot being exasperated at the loss of the Kinney.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
So... what should I say...

I'll begin with what I felt during that mission and what I did. I hadn't played it until release so I had basically the same previous knowledge about it as you guys had.

I knew the Kinney was going to be lost. Still I'm a person that gets much immersed in games so I felt quite a bit of the despair the player is supposed to feel during the mission. The Kinney reference totally cracked up my brother and I think it IS actually funny for people who not tend to get that much immersed. On the Saga forums you find quite some people who hate the mission but find the reference funny. So yeah, just like you I didn't find it very funny (for the same reason like you posted, Quarto) . So I just ignored it. Fun fact: People who don't get the joke tend to find it a bit exaggerated (because ships die all the time) but overall they don't mind it.
I didn't know about afterburner glide (somehow slipped past me) and so I lost the TCS Battleaxe to the Skippers. Which sucked big time. I knew there was some trick but I thought I would beat the mission so I proceeded.
I even shot down some stuff in the mission but when the Skipper came I knew that was it. And yes, it was not fun. Not a bit. Because I had to do it again.
The second time I figured out the AB-Glide and died because I saved the capships by flying right into a torpedo or capship missile. Yay for Kamikazes! BANZAI!
I knew it was my own dumb self who caused it, but I rage quit anyway.
The next day I did the mission again and succeeded. Overall the mission is not bad but it certainly isn't my favourite one. Not because it is bad but because it is hard. I hate Skippers. When replaying the long flight towards the Kinney sucks, but not too much IMO.
Fun fact about the Skipper: It is actually a kamikaze fighter, not a missile. You can collide with it and live through the experience. I think I will change that in my mod via scripting, though.

As for the hitbox/precision thing Quarto mentioned: I think you experienced one cool thing about it: When you manage to score such kills, flying full speed through the debris cloud of a fighter that attacked you head on and you just could blow up before colliding with it, you feel great. That's because it is actually hard to do that and it shows you are a good shot.
The second thing is the Darkets and the Dralthis: The Darket IS small. It is fast, nimble, and hard to hit. In WC3 the only ships that ever had problems with Darkets was the Longbows. The hit boxes made them too easy to hit IMO. The Dralthi is easy to hit from above and below, but not from the front or rear. Especially when flying fighters that don't have their weapons in the nose. I liked that because it felt very WC1-ish.

And while we are talking about hard to hit: Dammit Quarto, do you remember the frickin' Hornets? You know which Hornets I'm talking about!!!!111oneoneeleven
Ok. I just had to say it because I didn't back then. :D

Back to Saga: I want to talk about Nifelheim a bit because I haven't done that yet:
The carrier in the hidden base mission is supposed to be deactivated. It still felt a bit strange that there were not that many fighters. But the cool thing about the mission is that you call it flat-footed and you can destroy a carrier with just two wings of fighters, a thing that won't happen in Saga normally.
The bad frame rate comes from the huge asteroid that hides the base, it has a large texture that is meant to look good from far away and when flying very close. Asteroids are a problem there anyway. More than a few hundred asteroids are really bad for performance, which is a pity because it is hard to do big asteroid fields that way. So in that mission you have the detailed base, a carrier, the big asteroid AND an asteroid field. The performance is not very good. But it depends on your PC. It ran smoothly on mine but my brother had some problems. I think the patch solved most of them though.

btw: since you are flying with a mouse, which mouse control do you use, the WC-ish one or the FS2-ish one?
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
The second thing is the Darkets and the Dralthis: The Darket IS small. It is fast, nimble, and hard to hit. In WC3 the only ships that ever had problems with Darkets was the Longbows. The hit boxes made them too easy to hit IMO. The Dralthi is easy to hit from above and below, but not from the front or rear. Especially when flying fighters that don't have their weapons in the nose. I liked that because it felt very WC1-ish.
But you know, in WC1 it was even easier to hit a target than in WC3 - the 2d sprites were square, and even when you hit the transparent (empty) part of a sprite, it still counted as a hit. That's what bothers me most about this aspect of Saga - it marks a huge departure from normal Wing Commander gameplay. What Saga did had never been done in a WC product (unless in Arena, which I haven't played).

And while we are talking about hard to hit: Dammit Quarto, do you remember the frickin' Hornets? You know which Hornets I'm talking about!!!!111oneoneeleven
Hehe, yeah. Oh, but... uh, that's different, because it's hard to hit with a Hornet, not hard to hit a Hornet at all. Ahem. Yes, it's totally different...

Seriously, we should have simply rescaled the fighters until it worked, or come up with some excuse to move the guns closer to the centerline (which would have been easy enough, given that these were different variants of the WC1 ships). We thought sticking to the manual stats would be the best way to stay respectful to the source, but we should have known better.

The carrier in the hidden base mission is supposed to be deactivated. It still felt a bit strange that there were not that many fighters. But the cool thing about the mission is that you call it flat-footed and you can destroy a carrier with just two wings of fighters, a thing that won't happen in Saga normally.
Yeah, that's why I think it would have been good to have people actually speak about this during the mission.

btw: since you are flying with a mouse, which mouse control do you use, the WC-ish one or the FS2-ish one?
WC controls, of course. Why would I play a WC game with non-WC controls? :)
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Most people prefer the FS2-ish controls because they are more precise I think. The WC ones are better for dogfighting though IIRC.

As for the Hornet: The same can happen in the Saga engine, but not with WC3 ships since except the Excalibur they all have their guns under the nose. And the Excalibur has auto-aim.

The problem is present with some Kilrathi ships, but I decided to do nothing about it for my mod because it fits. The Paktahn and Gothri are bombers, so they are mainly supposed to shoot big things. You can hit fighters if you do it correctly but it is harder. The Vaktoth has some slight convergence issues but a good pilot can avoid them. Against light fighters it is harder when flying a Vaktoth because of this, but the 'toth totally rules against heavy fighters and bombers, which the Dralthi and the Darket don't.
The Dralthi has its guns close to the center, which makes it a pretty darn good dogfighter if the player is skilled. The Darket has slight convergence issues (if you fly very close you have to aim a bit left of your target to hit it because the guns are on the right side of the ship) but it is incredibly fun to fly it and shoot stuff. Except when stuff fires back. You have to like dodging when flying the Darket. :D
The Bloodfang is like the Excalibur. Without auto-aim its gun placement would suck I think.
The Sorthak.... I did an assymetric HUD with three reticles for it because otherwise you won't hit a thing. But when you hit something hell breaks lose. Hard to fly but fun when you get used to it.

Ok, enough about convergence and stuff. You're right, WC1 was a poor example. But those were completely different times. I like it that you hit when you hit. Personal taste I guess.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
So, another day and another two missions. I certainly am playing more frequently than initially - both because I am able to find more time, and because the missions are more enjoyable now than they had been at the start of the game. I'm definitely very far from loving the dialogues, though.

You know, it just occured to me, one of the reasons I'm playing more is because I've gotten into the habit of commenting what I play through. I don't know if any of what I say will be useful to you guys - i.e., will inspire you to make changes in some future patch - but at least it feels like I have an additional purpose besides just playing the game :).

Today, I played through the first two Caliban missions. The first one was pretty exciting and enjoyable, if we pretend that Psychopath doesn't exist. Flying a Thunderbolt was a nice change, and I was actually surprised how much of an adjustment it took - first encounter, I take two missile hits, and spend the rest of the mission flying on 13% damage. Well... except that at some point when I didn't notice, I took more damage. Making that final attack run on the frigate, I suddenly realised that the "1" was gone - I was down to 3% :). That was a thrill, and it's a lot of satisfaction to finish a mission with that amount of health (did I ever mention how I hated the post-flight Rachel scenes in Prophecy? There you were, coming in from some nightmarish mission, proud that you completed the mission objectives and survived in spite of a bunch of Devil Rays ganging up on you, and there's Rachel, being assholish about the fighter!).

I took some satisfaction from the fact that Psychopath turned out to be a pretty shitty pilot, and I took most of the kills. Technically, that's a bug, isn't it? :) I mean, he's supposed to be a badass and all that... given how everything that comes out of Psychopath's mouth is grating on my nerves, it's pretty satisfying that the AI's limitations made him all talk and little action. At the same time, he's clearly in great favour with... ah, the person that wrote the Caliban missions - for the first time ever, we witness the Hermes' captain shove the comm officer aside just to talk to Psychopath. Impressive... ;)

The second mission was that biohazard cruiser. Avatarr's dialogues: awful, just awful. I don't get why Saga so often seems to create the impression that veteran pilots are basically oversexed fratboys. Also, there is a lot of talking here... I died late the mission, and the second time round, I simply took off my headphones and read a book while waiting for the action.

The mission itself was... interesting. I happened to read Wedge's comments the other day, so I knew how the mission would end, but that didn't really spoil the mission - if anything, it helped, because it made me pay more attention to the dialogues, and I was able to follow the logic through.

I was able to follow the logic through - but I do not like this logic :). I did greatly enjoy the situation gameplay-wise. Seeing a huge capship emerge from the thunderbolt-filled fog is just great stuff, and in spite of the dialogue going in spurts and pauses, the whole comm exchange is great to listen to (at least, the first time - the second time round, obviously it's irritating). But the sacrifice of the surviving crew makes no sense. It was a Kilrathi bioweapon in the first place - psychologically, I think it's highly unlikely that the survivors would have had qualms about exposing the Kilrathi to it. Certainly, there was no security risk involved, because it's not like the Kilrathi would be able to lay their hands on some new weapon: all they would get out of it is exposure to a presumably deadly virus (presumably - because nobody said that what kills humans kills the Kilrathi too).

I think this mission could have been fantastic if there was in fact a way to rescue the survivors: for example, by preventing Kilrathi shuttles from docking until your own shuttle arrives and evacuates the crew. Then you would be required to damage all of the ship's subsystems below a certain level, without destroying the ship - so as to render it unsalvageable, but still alive for the Kilrathi to be able to board and get exposed. Or whatever - some trick that would allow the player the satisfaction of rescuing the crew. As it was, this situation seemed like another one of Saga's trademark "sometimes you just can't win" dramas, and that felt contrived.

Alternatively, you could have added a time limit after which your wingman destroys the cruiser for you (with a couple of dialogues along the way to indicate that this might happen). Present the player with a real moral challenge: if you destroy the cruiser, you know you're killing humans, but you're rewarded with a medal for it. If you don't destroy the cruiser yourself, your hands are clean, but you get reamed in the debriefing for disobeying orders. As it was, there's no moral challenge involved at all, because most players just think: "oh, well, this has to be done in order to trigger the next part of the mission, so it's not really a choice". Presently, destroying the cruiser involves contrived drama, and wastes an opportunity for real drama.

One final thing I need to talk about in these two missions: the nebula. I remember back in WC3, I found the nebula thing utterly laughable. I mean, it was an embarrassing flaw in the game's design: there's Eisen telling you only the best pilots can make the adjustment and fly well in the nebula, but when you take off... you find everything is the same as in any other mission, except for the sky being a little pinker (or purplier, or whatever the colour was in WC3). Disappointing? Heck yeah. In Saga, visually this is much, much better - having those layers of fog is just fantastic. Really puts the nebula we had in UE to shame. However, I was still a little disappointed. I wish the nebula would do as promised: i.e., wreak havoc with the player's systems. Make him lose track of his target whenever a lighting strikes nearby, or have the player himself occasionally struck by lighting and lose shields or gun energy whenever this happens. You know, whatever - something to make me appreciate that the nebula is not just a place that looks different, but a place that plays different. Merely limiting the visibility and radar range just didn't cut it, although you still get a of points for making the whole thing look interesting.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Ok, and I played one final mission for the day - Caliban 3.

First up, I'll start by mentioning something that came to mind to me before, but which I didn't mention before. Now that, timeline-wise, I'm in WC3 territory, Saga is made much more interesting by the constant reference to WC3 events. It has been many years since I'd last played WC3, and it's fun to be reminded of the various events this way. It's something we were going for in Standoff with regards to Fleet Action (and, to a far lesser degree, with regards to WCP in UE), and I think this is where fan projects are at their best: when they're not making up completely new stuff, but building additional stuff around existing events.

Another thing worth mentioning - I'd already noticed in the previous Caliban missions, that now that I'm flying a Thunderbolt, I seem to be encountering more Vaktoths. My Vaktoth kill score is still ridiculously low (about 15, compared to 69 Darkets and 68 Dralthi), but at least it no longer feels like I'm only fighting Darkets and Dralthi. Though these two types are still very much over-represented in the game.

As for the mission itself, it was fine :). I'm not going to bore you by complaining about Psychopath's dialogues again - let's just establish once and for all that every word he utters spoils the game a little and leave it at that. The Caliban missions at least were fun enough that no Psychopath or Avatarr dialogues were able to significantly spoil my reception of them. This last mission was no exception, combat in a Thunderbolt is just a lot of fun after being stuck in Arrows and Hellcats for so long. The only thing I didn't like was that once again, the real challenge in combat was getting some kills while the pack of AI pilots tore the outnumbered Kilrathi to shreds. This was especially evident at the last navpoint. I would target the nearest bomber, fly towards it, and see it explode long before I could open fire. Select new target, same thing. Clearly, Saga really doesn't want me to feel like a hero :).

That said, Psychopath's jibes about Sandman not even counting for the purpose of working out the odds during this mission made me wonder - with well over 200 kills under my belt, along with close to a hundred assists, is this the point at which "let's make fun of the rookie" starts to feel silly and dated? It just doesn't make sense any more - but I'm told I'll be experiencing this all the way to the end of the game. I guess ultimately, I'm going to be the universe's only rookie with 500 kills... :)
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
It is a bit like working in the company where you did your apprenticeship: For some guys you always stay the apprentice boy, regardless of you being much better in your job than everybody else and despite the fact that you finished your apprenticeship years ago. Some people even go and search for a new job because of that.
Later in the campaign they do less often and in a joking way. The others know Sandman is good by now, some of them just can't stop talking that way.

About the biohazard-cruiser mission: Yeah, it is a story mission. I liked it very much the first time but its replay value is not that high. But that's just normal for a story mission. It is more like a cutscene with a bit of interaction. Console players know that kind of stuff.
And of course the fact that you don't like the wingmen characters makes it more annoying for you than for other players I guess. Most people don't seem to mind them much though.

As for feeling like a hero: You have still a lot of game in front of you. Things will get bigger and you will have a lot to shoot at. :)
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Ugh, accidentally killed the browser and lost the entire post...

I took some satisfaction from the fact that Psychopath turned out to be a pretty shitty pilot, and I took most of the kills.
Hey, me too! I thought it was just me favouring the heavier fighters, though. I remember when flying the Arrows and Hellcats, on the two-fighter missions, my wingman would get more than half of the kills.

Avatarr's dialogues: awful, just awful.
I think it's just Avatarr's defining personality trait, most of the other pilots will try to rein him in and it does set up at least two amusing bits of dialogue later on. I actually don't mind Avatarr - my brother warned me that he would be horrible and I had the impression that he would be another bully like Greywolf. Aside from his lusting for women, he's actually quite a friendly chap, which was nice.

I happened to read Wedge's comments the other day, so I knew how the mission would end, but that didn't really spoil the mission - if anything, it helped, because it made me pay more attention to the dialogues, and I was able to follow the logic through.
Oops, sorry about that. Maybe I need to replay that mission, pay more attention to what they're saying.

I think this mission could have been fantastic if there was in fact a way to rescue the survivors: for example, by preventing Kilrathi shuttles from docking until your own shuttle arrives and evacuates the crew.
I remember thinking something along the lines of 'oh no, this is going to turn into some horrible defend-the-cruiser-while-attempting-rescue sort of mission'. It didn't. While I don't like that sort of mission, I suppose this alternative scenario would at least have been an interesting challenge.

In Saga, visually this is much, much better - having those layers of fog is just fantastic. Really puts the nebula we had in UE to shame.
Yes! I remember being quite impressed with the nebulas, too. Reminded me rather much of Freelancer. And perhaps because of the switch to the Thunderbolt and its different flight characteristics, it gave me the feeling I was 'swimming' in the nebula rather than flying through it.

I would target the nearest bomber, fly towards it, and see it explode long before I could open fire. Select new target, same thing. Clearly, Saga really doesn't want me to feel like a hero.
Yeah, this tends to happen quite a bit in the first half. Trust me, you'll be wishing this is still the case for some of the later missions...

About Sandman being treated as a veteran/hero vs a rookie: Aginor is right, they definitely ease off the mockery later on. In fact, the last case I remember is the Excalibur squadron commander (Venom) remarking that Sandman is still on 'training wheels', but this felt more like a friendly jab than a harsh insult.

And with the overwhelming cannon fodder you'll encounter later, it'll be more like Sandman being the only rookie with 700+ kills, I think!
 

Dondragmer

Rear Admiral
While Saga has a decent number of fighter models, it often felt to me like I was fighting just two types of fighter behavior:
  1. Nimble ships that were hard to hit, but exploded quickly once you draw a bead on them. (Darket and Dralthi)
  2. Heavy ships that are easy to hit, but take a lot of destroying. (Everything else)
Yes, the Darket is slightly more agile and fragile than the Dralthi, and the Sorthak is larger and has more turrets than the other heavy fighters and bombers - but I didn't find myself changing tactics to deal with different opponents. This problem isn't unique to Saga - I often think that WC1 best diversified its fighters, and no WC game (whether canon or fan-made) has matched it. Makers of future mods, please don't go overboard with adding ships to your game. Just make sure that that every ship you do include (both fighters and capital ships) has a distinct purpose and behavior.

As for the Caliban biohazard mission, I found it easier to take seriously than incidents like the Kinney. Three problems, though:
  1. It's rare enough for a disease that affects humans to also affect other mammals. Just maybe if your knowledge of biochemistry extends to manufacturing diseases from scratch, you could make one that affects humans and Kilrathi. But, it would probably be harder than targeting one species, so who would be stupid enough to target themselves? (Valid objection: Wing Commander takes place in a space opera future, so of course all diseases affect everyone. I expect Kilrathi can gain nourishment from eating humans, too.) The silly thing is that if this were a human-only disease, it would make destroying the cruiser a life-threatening necessity.
  2. Isn't the Jim Bowie seeking appropriate targets for the Temblor Bomb? Even if everyone on the Hermes thinks there are some weapons too dreadful to use to win the war, the Jim Bowie crew apparently don't. This could also have made the scene stronger - the cruiser crew beg to be destroyed, the Jim Bowie orders you to withdraw and let the Kilrathi suffer. I know the FS2 engine doesn't support plot branching, but this scene could have played out without affecting future missions.
  3. Back at the Hermes, the comm officer knows what happened. The crew of the Jim Bowie might like to review their OPSEC before they go near any top secret planet-destroying weapons.
I found Avatarr annoying, and sometimes disturbing. For what it's worth, he gets formally disciplined - once. It doesn't fix his attitude on future missions, though. It would have been nice if just one of the many wiseguys in the Darkest Dawn had been shot down mid-quip.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Isn't the Jim Bowie seeking appropriate targets for the Temblor Bomb?
I don't think so. From my recollection, that was the Hermes group's mission in Loki system and it was for the Behemoth, not the Temblor. They were in Caliban attempting to flee to Confederation space after investigating the fate of the Kinney, which was carrying out the same mission as the Hermes in another system.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
About the biohazard-cruiser mission: Yeah, it is a story mission. I liked it very much the first time but its replay value is not that high. But that's just normal for a story mission. It is more like a cutscene with a bit of interaction. Console players know that kind of stuff.
Yep... but console players get quick-saves :). Designing a mission is an entirely different kettle of fish, when you know that the player will not have to replay the whole thing from scratch if he dies. This is why I usually tried very hard to make sure that long dialogues in Standoff take place at the end of the mission: so that the player doesn't have to go through them twice.

And of course the fact that you don't like the wingmen characters makes it more annoying for you than for other players I guess. Most people don't seem to mind them much though.
Well, to be fair, it's not that I hate the wingmen characters - it just gets boring seeing variants of the same basic personality type over and over again. I get the impression that all the strong, memorable personalities of Saga fall into two options: the ones that abuse everyone else, and the ones that only make bad jokes. Look back to WC1, and see how many different personality types they had there - the old mentors (Paladin and Bossman), the quiet professional (Spirit), the average guy (Knight), the silent vengeance-driven type (Iceman), the by-the-book pilot (Angel), and only on top of that, they had two clown characters (Hunter and Maniac). But even for the two clowns, the differences were significant and noticeable. Now, of course, WC1 had a lot more room for characterisation - some of those characters, ported into Saga, would simply not be memorable (I imagine that a lot of Saga's background pilots are Knights, Spirits and Angels). But some of them would still be. Having at least one mentor character would have helped immensely to soften the impact of everyone always being irritating. As it is, Saga is just a whole bunch of clowns and assholes.

By this point in Saga, we've heard so much of this fratboy-style dialogue that it's simply tiresome. And the reason I even bother to point it out is that it's in conflict with the high concept of the game: if you're going to show epic military actions in an epic war, you don't want to make it seem like all the most active participants are overgrown teenagers.

It's rare enough for a disease that affects humans to also affect other mammals. Just maybe if your knowledge of biochemistry extends to manufacturing diseases from scratch, you could make one that affects humans and Kilrathi.
Well, wait a minute. Maybe I didn't get something either, but wasn't it a Kilrathi cargo that the Challenger captured? There was even an implied connection between this cargo and the Locanda bioweapons attack - I'd assumed that this was basically the same weapon, except here it got captured in transit. If that's the case, then it's a Kilrathi weapon designed against humans. What this would mean is that whether or not it affects the Kilrathi, it's certainly not news to them. If it does affect them, they would at least probably have antidotes which allow them to render a planet safe again afterwards. Otherwise, why use slow-killing bioweapons instead of just wiping out Locanda with strontium-90?
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
By this point in Saga, we've heard so much of this fratboy-style dialogue that it's simply tiresome. And the reason I even bother to point it out is that it's in conflict with the high concept of the game: if you're going to show epic military actions in an epic war, you don't want to make it seem like all the most active participants are overgrown teenagers.

I do have to say, this is absolutely what ruined Saga for me. I thought the game was much, much more impressive than I expected on a technical level... and if the mission design wasn't quite there, the art direction was professional quality... but the frat boy stuff just drags it down so much. I don't understand the kind of people who thought including all that was a good idea. I guess there's an audience that just wants to blow things up and doesn't care about the story?
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
I would even say it is the majority. In all games. There are quite some AAA PC or console games which have just awful stories and people don't mind because they just want to blow stuff up.
When reading through the Saga forums (where mostly people that are not at the CIC or HLP forums post) I get the impression that players either don't care for story (which is sad of course), don't mind the characters, or even like them. I'm not sure if that is really representative of the overall audience though. But judging by most of the reactions to modern games I get the impression that most people fall in the first category.
I'm also not a huge fan of the clown characters, but I didn't mind them. For me characters that are too much like... Optimus Prime from Transformers or Arnold Schwarzenegger/Vin Diesel/Steven Seagal/Bruce Willis (in almost every movie the play in) are much more annoying.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
What you need to ask yourself is which players you care about. The ones that don't care about the story, don't mind it, or even like the characters are, in all likelihood, gonna be people who don't much care about Wing Commander in the first place. Wing Commander fans, who have played through the previous games, are likely to appreciate better character development, and likely to be bothered by character design as limited as Saga's.

I can't say this with any level of certainty, of course - maybe if we did a poll or something, it would turn out that most people here actually like Saga's characters, I don't know. My gut feeling, though, is that with these characters, Saga went a long way towards appealing to less mature audiences, while turning its back on the Wing Commander fans (who, for the most part, are likely to be close to the age of 30 at this point in time, with many on the far side of 30!). Maybe that's even a good thing, maybe this helps to introduce to Wing Commander people who previously never heard of it. I am curious, though, if that's a conscious choice, or if it just came out that way.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
It's hard to say for me. I know there was some discussion and a lot of story got shifted and changed here and there, I also remember quite some heated discussions over different things, so both is possible I guess.
One of the "problems" with the story was of course that it was worked on the whole time, but after a certain point during the ten years of development you just couldn't go back and change stuff because too much was already based on it. That's one of the risks when working on such a huge project over a long time. Change something and you have to change it everywhere so it still looks like one piece. Standoff had it a bit easier there, with the episodic release.
If the writers had to do it all over again I'm pretty sure they would change something here and there, as you said: the guys that are 30 this year were 20 when they started on the story. That has some impact on how you write stories. :)
I also had the impression that some of the characters that are introduced later in the game are a bit more developed than the early ones, and there are also some changes for the early ones I think, even the "clown trio" as I call them (Avatarr, Ninja and Assassin). I'm curious whether you will see it similarly or if I am alone with that impression.
 

Red Baron

Rear Admiral
Can't speak for the Navy/Airforce/Spaceforce (or anything above enlisted personnel in general), but i wouldn't consider a depiction of a military consisting mainly of dicks insulting each other very far from reality.
In fact, i liked that Saga deviated from the cheesyness of other "military" simulations, showing that heroes of the day don't necessarily have to be knights in shining armour, but can be just a-holes like you and me.
Which may be unrealistic in our time, but i think during war Confed has considerably lower requirements regarding moral integrity of its pilots than we do.
 
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