Academy Gauntlet

Kaunisto

Rear Admiral
Who has finished WC Academy gauntlet and on Broadsword or any other ship?

You see, I've been trying 15 years and never have. 7 or 8 times I've died in 15-3, dozens more in 15-1 or 15-2 - always with Broadsword, of the other ships my best result is to 14-1 with Sabre.

What I really want to know is, is easier to finish with some other ship than Broadsword? While it seems clearly the best on getting to level 15, would something with afterburner have better chance surviving the last fights?
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I recall somebody saying that they could get the furthest when flying the Ferret. Not sure if that meant completing the gauntlet or simply getting further than usual. I would also assume that the Wraith would be a very strong contestant, although some may consider that to be kind of cheating, since it's basically a super-ship.

Personally, I don't think I ever really gave the gauntlet more than a few tries. Of all the different WC experiences, this one felt the most... sterile. The Armada gauntlet at least incorporated some semblance of a story, while this one was just more and more ships. I suppose had I been able to play Academy at the time when it was released, I would have loved it. As it happens, by the time I finally got to play it (around 2000, I think), I could get a fix of WC combat in WCP, so it just didn't seem worthwhile.
 

Stinger

Vice Admiral
Boy, that brings me back...

For me, the best ship I could use was the Ferret. Unfortunately, I seem to recall that at some point you go up against something that requires torpedoes, so the Ferret couldn't actually win.
 

Kaunisto

Rear Admiral
No, there's nothing that needs torpedoes. I've actually been thinking of editing the gauntlet to a version where you'd have big ships and bases to torpedo. I could do it, if I can find my old notes from years back...

Ferret isn't very good for me as I tend to collide enemies with it.
I don't think Wraith is a real "supership", seems it can take less hits than Sabre?

Furthest I've gotten on each ship (I've played Broadsword much more than others):

Broadsword 15-3
Sabre 14-1
Crossbow and Morningstar 13-1
Wraith 11-3
Ferret 10-3
Jrathek 10-2
Epee and Rapier 8-3
 

Kaunisto

Rear Admiral
I've looked into this further and here's some information for anyone interested.


List of the Academy gauntlet enemies:

Number of enemies/type/difficulty

Level 1
Wave 1 1/Sartha/1
Wave 2 1/Drakhri/1
Wave 3 1/Jrathek/1
Level 2
Wave 1 2/Sartha/1
Wave 2 2/Drakhri/1
Wave 3 2/Jalkehi/1
Level 3
Wave 1 2/Grikath/1
Wave 2 2/Strakha/1
Wave 3 3/Ferret/1
Level 4
Wave 1 1/Wraith/1
Wave 2 2/Epee/1
Wave 3 3/Sabre/1
Level 5
Wave 1 3/Epee/1
Wave 2 1/Sabre/1
Wave 3 3/Broadsword/1
Level 6
Wave 1 1/Dorkathi/1
Wave 2 2/Crossbow/1
Wave 3 1/Morningstar/1
Level 7
Wave 1 1/Wraith/1
Wave 2 2/Jrathek/1
Wave 3 3/Drakhri/2
Level 8
Wave 1 3/Jalkehi/2
Wave 2 2/Morningstar/2
Wave 3 3/Sabre/2
Level 9
Wave 1 4/Grikath/3
Wave 2 4/Strakha/3
Wave 3 3/Crossbow/3
Level 10
Wave 1 4/Rapier/2
Wave 2 5/Epee/2
Wave 3 7/Ferret/2
Level 11
Wave 1 5/Grikath/3
Wave 2 4/Wraith/2
Wave 3 4/Rapier/3
Level 12
Wave 1 6/Jrathek/2
Wave 2 2/Dorkathi/2
Wave 3 9/Drakhri/3
Level 13
Wave 1 5/Crossbow/2
Wave 2 4/Morningstar/4
Wave 3 6/Epee/2
Level 14
Wave 1 6/Jrathek/4
Wave 2 7/Ferret/4
Wave 3 10/Sartha/4
Level 15
Wave 1 7/Morningstar/4
Wave 2 8/Wraith/3
Wave 3 8/Jrathek/4

This data is in file WAVEINFO.DAT which can be easily modified with a hex editor; the ship/number/difficulty are in obvious order wave by wave.

The hex for each ship:
00=Ferret
01=Rapier
02=Broardsword
03=Epee
04=Sabre
05=Sartha
06=Drakhri
07=Jalkehi
08=Grikath
09=Strakha
0D=Dorkathi
0F=Crossbow
14=Ralatha
17=Space Station*
29=Morningstar
32=Wraith
33=Jrathek

*since Space Station isn't enemy, the game continues to next wave in couple seconds, so it's impossible to fight it
 

Kaunisto

Rear Admiral
To answer my original question:

I edited the game to have level 15 as level 1 and tried few times with all ships with and without wingman how they'd do. It still seems Broardsword with a wingman is the best option, but Sabre without did pretty well too. For some reason Rapier also works well against Morningstars, but has no chance against Wraiths. For me it's better to not have wingman with all fighters, but to have one with bombers.
(I have tendency to collide with other ships, which makes light fighters and having wingman dangerous for me. You might have different flying styles and results.)

Today I was able to win the level 15 battles on Broadsword/Hobbes in about tenth attempt, so it is doable. But there's a difference between doing it trying again and again and doing it after playing the first 14 levels for an hour and then having one shot at it...
As I said in beginning, I've been to 15-1 about 50 times (with or without wingman), but haven't made it to end yet. Good to see I do have chance for it. But it's really nasty that level 15 is as hard as the 14 first combined.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I recall somebody saying that they could get the furthest when flying the Ferret.

Personally, I don't think I ever really gave the gauntlet more than a few tries. Of all the different WC experiences, this one felt the most... sterile. The Armada gauntlet at least incorporated some semblance of a story, while this one was just more and more ships. I suppose had I been able to play Academy at the time when it was released, I would have loved it. As it happens, by the time I finally got to play it (around 2000, I think), I could get a fix of WC combat in WCP, so it just didn't seem worthwhile.
I doubt the Ferret lets most players get the farthest, but it's certainly a good ship to get potentially their best scores. You get a lot of points for kills with that tiny fighter, and the Mass Driver is quite potent! I used it quite a bit.

Academy is a product of its era. Even in 2000 I think people struggled to see the point, but in 1993 people were absolutely clamoring for the ability to do something like this. A mission editor was well worth full boxed retail price, and the gauntlet was a challenging and engaging extension of the TrainSim in WC1 with a lot more length and customizability available. I recall spending many, many hours in 1994 playing the gauntlet (just before Armada arrived and became my new time sink!).
 

Mekt-Hakkikt

Mpanty's bane
Yeah, I spent lots of hours with Academy. At the time of its release, I didn't know the englisch word "Wraith" and assumed it was a second Kilrathi ship to fly. I loved the idea of flying a Kilrathi ship and the manual was great. I was a bit disappointed by the small number of capships (but then have data pods and ejected pilots as objects) but all in all, it was (still is) a great fun for me. But I never really bothered with the gauntlet...
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I doubt the Ferret lets most players get the farthest, but it's certainly a good ship to get potentially their best scores. You get a lot of points for kills with that tiny fighter, and the Mass Driver is quite potent! I used it quite a bit.
Yeah, I don't think it would be my best ship either, but I was simply repeating what I remember somebody (who? No idea) saying years back. Clearly, for some people the Ferret worked.

Academy is a product of its era. Even in 2000 I think people struggled to see the point, but in 1993 people were absolutely clamoring for the ability to do something like this. A mission editor was well worth full boxed retail price, and the gauntlet was a challenging and engaging extension of the TrainSim in WC1 with a lot more length and customizability available. I recall spending many, many hours in 1994 playing the gauntlet (just before Armada arrived and became my new time sink!).
One thing I keep on wondering about Academy is... why was it so limited? Now, it is granted that at this time, the very possibility of giving players a mission editor with a GUI was highly uncommon. I can think of one game that offered a really solid level editor (and it was a racing game - Stunts), and I can think of a couple of different air combat games that allowed quick-configure missions (where you'd define the location, the player's plane and the presence of friendlies and hostiles, sometimes also additional things like who had the height advantage, who had the sun behind them, who noticed whom first, and so on), but that's about it. So, Academy was certainly a remarkable thing at the time.

...But why did it come so close to greatness, and not take the final steps? Had the game allowed the player to define a mission description and even very simple victory conditions, we would undoubtedly have seen a significant amount of WCA missions being shared, even with the limited internet connectivity of the period. As it is, my main feeling when playing WCA has always been: this could have been amazing.

Alternatively, they could also have gone a completely different path, and instead of having a mission builder, have a mission generation system. Something like what existed in Microprose's flight sims of the period, where you create a pilot profile, select a campaign theatre, and then play endless randomly generated missions where your pilot is given medals and promotions for successful missions, but may also die (permanently) or be forced to retire (due to excessive ejections). That, of course, would be completely different to Academy, so much so that it wouldn't even be called Academy. But again, it would have given us a game that people would be playing to this day.
 

WingOver

Spaceman
Here is an altered file to allow you to begin the Gauntlet at Level 15 instead of Level 1. This was done following Kaunisto's information on the breakdown of the WAVEINFO.DAT file in post #5 above.

PLEASE ... backup your original WAVEINFO.DAT file in the academy/gamedat sub-folder!!!

Level 15
Wave 1 .... 7 - Morningstar /difficulty 4
Wave 2 ... 8 - Wraith /difficulty 3
Wave 3 ... 8 - Jrathek /difficulty 4
 

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Whistler

Commodore
Here is an altered file to allow you to begin the Gauntlet at Level 15 instead of Level 1. This was done following Kaunisto's information on the breakdown of the WAVEINFO.DAT file in post #5 above.
PLEASE ... backup your original WAVEINFO.DAT file in the academy/gamedat sub-folder!!!
Ha, this is probably the only way I'll ever actually get to fly that wave. :D

Thanks for this.
 

Mekt-Hakkikt

Mpanty's bane
(...) I can think of one game that offered a really solid level editor (and it was a racing game - Stunts)(...).
Oh yes, I spent a lot of time in that level editor as well. Though I was a much worse stunt driver than I was a space fighter pilot.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
...But why did it come so close to greatness, and not take the final steps? Had the game allowed the player to define a mission description and even very simple victory conditions, we would undoubtedly have seen a significant amount of WCA missions being shared, even with the limited internet connectivity of the period. As it is, my main feeling when playing WCA has always been: this could have been amazing.
A lot of the limitations in the early games simply came down to disk space. The cost of floppy disks in the early '90s was bankrupting Origin (and could have been the single biggest thing that pushed the company into EA's arms), and the ability to sell a retail game on just a few floppies instead of a dozen was huge for profitability. That was almost certainly why certain ships were selectively cut from the game. As for game flow text and mission objectives, it could simply have been that nobody thought of it. Nobody thought to put a fiction viewer in Secret Ops for people who bought Prophecy Gold offline either. The '90s were the wild west of video games and things we take for granted as obvious common sense features today were so often overlooked back then because what they did create was totally novel.
 

Kaunisto

Rear Admiral
I wish Academy would've at least had all ships of WC2, it would've been fun to put Concordia and other carriers against several fralthras.

Can't say I've played Academy much otherwise, the Gauntlet just haunts me as one great challenge.
 

HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
I wish Academy would've at least had all ships of WC2, it would've been fun to put Concordia and other carriers against several fralthras.
I'm always somewhat hesitant to plug my work in an ongoing thread, as such derailing might not be considered good etiquette... In this particular case however, since i think it's relevant to the topic, I'll just go ahead and go on a quick trip down memory lane :)

I remember being just as frustrated as you with the limitations of Academy, and back in 1997 I ended up doing a few patches for Academy. Most of them relied on basic ship replacing (eg replace the Data Pod with the Fralthra, or the Epee with the Bloodfang), but the most advanced ones went as far as relying on EXE editing and some DOS TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) files to add some interesting functionality. I'll just quickly describe two I ended up revisiting last night while going through old files:

- Drakhai patch: http://hcl.solsector.net/archive/wca-drak.zip

This was basically an attempt of re-incorporating the Drakhai back into WCA. Copy the INTEL.* ships to the GAMEDAT folder, and DRAKHAI.EXE to the main game folder. Launch the game via DRAKHAI.EXE and something very cool happens: you can now select level 5 difficulty, which triggers Drakhai behavior: more resilient ships, the AI taunts you at the beginning of the encounter, and after enough damage, they will actually try to escape. Even the music changes when the encounter begins, which was actually a side effect of the patch and I thought it was pretty amazing :)

- Multiple Friendlies patch: http://hcl.solsector.net/archive/wca-f.zip

Ok, for this one, leave the INTEL.* files in GAMEDAT from the previous patch where they are, you will need them. Also backup WCA.EXE before unzipping the file, since it will be replaced by a patched version. Afterwards, launch IFF.EXE (at least once per Dosbox session), and then run the modified WCA.EXE afterwards. If the game hangs when entering combat, you forgot to run IFF.EXE (made that mistake last night myself when giving this a shot)

This patch is an extension of the previous one. Basically we have levels 1-4, plus level 5 for Drakhai! But.... what about friendlies? This patch allows you to select a "Level 0" skill level, which (from memory) is equivalent to Level 4, but allows you to have human pilots on your side. So you can have more complex scenarios: put a few friendly broadswords making torpedo runs on a few Ralatha cruisers, while you escort them on a lighter ship.

As an aside, this patch removes the default "friendly" setting of the Human Station, so if you have a station as Level 1-4, it will be considered an enemy.

Anyway just thought it might be fun sharing this. These files date back from 1997, so it's very likely no one remembers about them anymore :p
 

Kaunisto

Rear Admiral
Have to try that some time.


Today I did it. It took few days short of 15 years for me, but I finally beat Gauntlet.
On Broadsword, with Hobbes.

And it was once again damn close, too. In the last battle, when there were three or four enemies left, I took two hits on shield generator. Shields, of all the systems, was destroyed (or heavy damage, not sure). And at that point I had no back armor. But somehow the enemies fell one after another and I got to see that little piece of text, which hundreds of hours I've spend on the game made possibly the most gratifying experience of my life.


Now, let's see if I could do it without wingman or on another ship...
(See you in 15 years.)
 

Kaunisto

Rear Admiral
...and today I beat the Gauntlet for second time - now without wingman! :D

My points didn't even make it to my top 5 - about 120k when my record is 133k - so I was very lucky with enemies killing each other or running away more than usual. And didn't have almost any collisions through game, only couple just as they died. I may have been closer to death at Level 13 than at 15, though in the very end I had lost all armor and one side turret and had 3 damaged units (fortunately communic, computer and accel abs).


Now I'll just have to play with the other ships... (on Sabre and Wraith I've made it to 14-1 and on Crossbow and Morningstar to 13-1)
 
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