F-110 Wasp...experimental fighter?

-danr-

Vice Admiral
A curious ship, this one. Somehow her shape always reminds me of a light bomber, or Thunderbolt-style convoy killer. She's tagged an interceptor...and that's basically all we use her for in Prophecy and Secret Ops.

WASP.png


I just don't get this ship.

She's super fast with the booster pack, surprisingly nimble, great payload and gun lineup (that swarmer pack really is welcome against a Devil Ray.) So yeah, interceptor would make sense, very competent against lots of incoming fighters and light support ships.

So why is she so much different to everything else in the series? Her design is something of an oddball, there's hints of Longbow there, but having a bastard child with a Wraith.

Any ideas on whether or not this ship was intended to do something else in game? Any early sketches or notes about her designation?
 
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Oggy

Rear Admiral
The impression I got from game was that Confed was moving away from Multi-Role craft and into dedicated roles for fighters. (I think it mentions this in the manual)

My thoughts were that the Wasp would be the front line interceptor (as its name suggests) so that the Midway would detect incoming enemy vessels and would immediately launch the Wasp Interceptors which use the solid fuel booster to get out to the enemy as soon as possible. You've then got your heavier ships & bombers launched afterwards bringing up the rear so perhaps telemetry from the Wasps would be fed back to the Midway to allow them to vector in bombers onto heavier ships etc.

The Wasp is armed to the teeth with missiles for knocking out heavy fighters and Bombers which it excels at. It is also good for kbnocking out Corvettes with the Swarmers and DF missiles

I don't think that the Wasp would be any use against heavier ships in this time period as it lacks phase shield piercing weapons, I would imagine that the Wasp is purpose built for its interceptor role and wouldn't be compatible with torpedoes etc. but thats merely my own conjecture.

If it was around in WCIII & IV or if its swarmers could penetrate phase shielding I could see it being a good Convoy attack ship, but I think Phrophecy nailed its intended role well.

There might be other reasons why its not suited as a patrol fighter that we don't see, like a lack of fuel, lack of oxygen tanks or something because it dedicates so much space to missile storage.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
I think you've pretty much nailed the intention, it's true the loadout isn't suited to take on phase shields - but try using wcpedit to arm the Wasp with a couple of torps, then switch it with the Devastator for strike missions - man this thing is great! I guess the oddball design might be to accomodate the booster pack and Swarmers, perhaps its more functional than dynamic (at least, aesthetically...)
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I believe the initial design plan was for all the fighters to have notable 'special features'--and the Wasp feels out of place because it's the only one that survived in full to the finished game. You can see a lot of the 'cut' stuff left in the 3D models, though:

- The Vampire and Wasp have visible nose-mounted 'auto turrets'. These were supposed to shoot down incoming missiles.
- The front half of the Shrike is actually an escape pod which was to separate from the ship when it was destroyed, allowing you to continue flying a mission in a more limited fashion (you'd have one laser left or somesuch).
- The Shrike's, ah, genetalia that seemed to fire torpedoes in the finished game was actually a radar jammer.

A lot of this was cut for time but also because it was gameplay stuff that would have been mostly useful in multiplayer rather than in single player (a radar jammer isn't *fun* when you're jamming an AI--same deal with a cloaking device). The Wasp Interceptor, however, had entire single-player missions designed around it already.
 

Wojo

Rear Admiral
I always wondered about those extra little cannon-looking things at the front of the vampire... Wonder if the ship(s) can be hacked to add that feature - would be interesting to see how the gameplay changes...
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
The impression I got from game was that Confed was moving away from Multi-Role craft and into dedicated roles for fighters. (I think it mentions this in the manual)
Yes, Hawk goes through this philosophy in his Tactical Operations section.

...and the Wasp feels out of place because it's the only one that survived in full to the finished game.
I actually hadn't thought of it from this perspective before. Personally, I didn't think the Wasp stood out that badly, but this idea definitely makes sense.
 

Farlander

Rear Admiral
- The Vampire and Wasp have visible nose-mounted 'auto turrets'. These were supposed to shoot down incoming missiles.

That sounds pretty good. I wish I'd had that in Wing Commander IV...

A lot of this was cut for time but also because it was gameplay stuff that would have been mostly useful in multiplayer rather than in single player (a radar jammer isn't *fun* when you're jamming an AI--same deal with a cloaking device). The Wasp Interceptor, however, had entire single-player missions designed around it already.

TIE Fighter had something like both of those, and they were quite fun, though the fun there was based heavily on the kind of energy management you don't really do in Wing Commander. I thought the cloaking device was kind of fun in Wing Commander IV, too. I think this would depend heavily on how well you design your missions and make the player employ what he has to win.
 

Prometheus

Spaceman
However, programming the AI so that it works convincingly in combination with cloaking devices seems to be hard...

Often you see that either the AI just "ignores the cloak", meaning it can see and shoot you perfectly while you are cloaked... or, the other extreme being, the AI completely forgets about you as soon as you cloak...

I've seen other things as well, like an AI that still follows and aims at you, but is prevented from actually firing.


That's not to say that it's impossible to program it convincingly, but it seems to be extra effort many developers aren't willing to take...
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
That sounds pretty good. I wish I'd had that in Wing Commander IV...

I bet that's exactly where it came from, too--some Wing Commander IV post-mortem.

I thought the cloaking device was kind of fun in Wing Commander IV, too. I think this would depend heavily on how well you design your missions and make the player employ what he has to win.

I agree that you can probably build a mission around a cloaking device--variations on 'sneak past these enemies undetected to get to the real target'. A way to introduce steath-based missions, like FPSes have added to their canon over the years.

But as it was used in Wing Commander IV was just sort of dull. There was no practical difference between cloaking your ship and hitting the pause button... it was a way to *stop* the action for a period and that was it.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Stealth works better in an FPS where you can give the AI people a certain percentage chance of detecting you based on how stealthy you are.

What kills it in a space sim is that you have ships going completely invisible and then mechanical sensors telling you instantly where they are the moment they wink back into existence. There's no personal element where you can have a security guard sleeping, light shining in certain areas, etc. The lack of physical environment makes sneaking around hard to even craft a mission for in a space sim. It's hard to picture stealth (versus 100% cloak) making it much different. Basically a mission you craft means you need to stay X distance away from whatever has the sensors that will detect you... in which case, why even cloak? You can just have that be the mission.

Maybe the cloak could be a good way to stop and recharge your shields in the middle of a battle.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Stealth works better in an FPS where you can give the AI people a certain percentage chance of detecting you based on how stealthy you are.

What kills it in a space sim is that you have ships going completely invisible and then mechanical sensors telling you instantly where they are the moment they wink back into existence. There's no personal element where you can have a security guard sleeping, light shining in certain areas, etc. The lack of physical environment makes sneaking around hard to even craft a mission for in a space sim. It's hard to picture stealth (versus 100% cloak) making it much different. Basically a mission you craft means you need to stay X distance away from whatever has the sensors that will detect you... in which case, why even cloak? You can just have that be the mission.

Maybe the cloak could be a good way to stop and recharge your shields in the middle of a battle.

I dunno, you could set it up so it was a mechanical cloak (IE sensors) but not a visual cloak. I believe that's how TIE fighter set it up. Then you could have the AI only engage craft that were logically in a cone within visual range.

But like you said the 'hide and recharge' strategy makes longer missions somewhat more interesting.
 

Farlander

Rear Admiral
You kind of had to make your own fun with the cloaking device in Wing Commander IV. Tailing ships for a while and then decloaking and taking them out, flying at them head on and then decloaking, etc.

The way this has worked successfully in games hasn't been like stealth in an FPS; it's been more of a way to increase excitement and challenge for short periods. TIE Fighter had the jamming beam, which wasn't a cloak, but was a directed beam that could stop ships from firing their guns. It also had the decoy beam which hid you from enemy sensors and prevented them from locking onto you. Both of these lead to situations where you turned them on, attacked something that would surely kill you otherwise, and then got out before the power ran out. This was pretty fun, because it added an additional thing you had to keep an eye on, made managing your overall power levels more challenging, and made individual engagements more fast and exciting because of the constraints you were under.

It was similar in Starlancer. In a couple of missions there was a giant gun that would lock onto you and take you out with one shot. Your only real hope of avoiding it was to get out of range or cloak. But you had to get close to complete your objectives. The last mission in particular I remember being quite fun, because you had use your cloak effectively to stay alive, while accomplishing a number of other things.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
But as it was used in Wing Commander IV was just sort of dull. There was no practical difference between cloaking your ship and hitting the pause button... it was a way to *stop* the action for a period and that was it.

I disagree, I can't remember offhand if cloaking prevented shields from recharging in WCIV, but from a tactical point of view, it's a useful tool for when one is taking a real pasting!
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
I think there are ways to make cloaking more fun in a WC-type game; you just have to be clever about it. Some ideas:

1). Limited cloaking time (maybe because of a power draw)...you can cloak for, say, 3-10 seconds depending on your power reserves, but then you're visible and have to let your reserves recharge, or your cloaking device "cool down" for a while before you can use it again.

2). Speed/maneuverability restrictions...if you fly faster than 100 kps, or turn too hard, there is a chance that you become either temporarily or permanently visible. Make the probability go up the faster you try to run.

3). You can cloak only n times per mission (perhaps only once), without overloading and cracking your cloaking crystal. Or maybe, to make it interesting, the first time you hit the cload button, there's a 95% chance it works. If you de-cloak and try it again, there is a 60% chance, and a 40% chance you crack your crystal and lose cloaking from there on. If you try it again, the probabilty is more like 30-70%. And so forth. Combine this one with limited cloaking duration, and you have one more "trick" in your toolbox that doesn't become the all encompassing panacea that cloaking in a Dragon was.

4). Cloaking completely drains your guns and shields, so that when you de-cloak you have to evade for a while before you're useful for anything.

5). Have some missiles be cloak defeating, like the modified torpedo in Star Trek VI. Maybe the HS...it would make HS's actually useful for something. And it would kind of make sense...maybe cloaking masks your radar signature and hides the visible light range, but not your IR signature...

6). Let you fire while cloaked, but firing makes you visible for a second (or three), and while in this state your shields are weak, or non-functional, or slow to recharge...

7). Have detector ships that can see you (and allow other fighters to see you) even when you're cloaked. That would make you want to go after them first, so you can cloak with impunity...but then design the mission so there are higher priority targets (incoming bombers, enemy SAR's picking up your pilots, capship missiles) or dangerous ships escorting the detector (powerful anti-fighter missile ships?) that would force you to make strategic decisions.

8). Have a finite number of cloaking crystals availalbe for *the entire game*, so you can choose to take and use one in a particularly tough mission, but then you won't have the option to cloak as often later in the game.

9). Cload and countercloak technology...have some ships carry EMP generators that disable all cloaks in the area for a while, and fire them randomly, or when you don't expect it. Especially consider making them not affect cloaking devices on uncloaked ships, but to temporarily or permanently disable cloaking devices on ships using their cloak at the time of the pulse.

I think you could make some very fun gameplay by mixing two or three of these ideas. And in any case, it wouldn't unbalance the game, or feel as artificial and cheatingish, as the Autoslide in WC3, which always felt to me like a debugging feature the programmers decided to leave available to the user.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
It was similar in Starlancer. In a couple of missions there was a giant gun that would lock onto you and take you out with one shot. Your only real hope of avoiding it was to get out of range or cloak. But you had to get close to complete your objectives. The last mission in particular I remember being quite fun, because you had use your cloak effectively to stay alive, while accomplishing a number of other things.

This is entirely optional - I dislike the ridiculously lightly armed cloaking craft in Starlancer, and so I always flew the heaviest meatiest fighter I could and I did just fine running out of range (it's worth noting too that on the last mission you could hide behind parts of the station, and if the gun did not have Line of Site to you it would not hit you).
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
When I first played Starlancer, I tried avoiding being in the gun's line-of-sight too. But it just got too difficult telling which areas were safe and which weren't. In the end, I switched to the cloaked fighter and finished it easily, even though my personal preference is for heavier ships.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I think there are ways to make cloaking more fun in a WC-type game; you just have to be clever about it. Some ideas:

These are all very good ideas to improve cloaking, but I still feel like the problem is more primal. The enjoyment in multi-player cloaking is that you're genuinely frustrating the other player and you *know* it... I can't figure out how to replicate that with an AI.
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
These are all very good ideas to improve cloaking, but I still feel like the problem is more primal. The enjoyment in multi-player cloaking is that you're genuinely frustrating the other player and you *know* it... I can't figure out how to replicate that with an AI.

This is true...cloaking is really maximally fun in multiplayer games. However, it was really fun at the end of WC3 to be taunting Thrakhath while cloaked and finally hear his frustrated "Where are you, Heart of the Tiger?!!"

It's just too bad that Hobbes was so silent on that final mission.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Actually, you might be onto something--if a cloaking device were a limited enough thing then you could include dialog from frustrated enemies that triggers when you engage it. ("Oh shit, where'd he go? He's off my screens!" and so on--it'd just become annoying/unfeasible the more places in the game it lets you cloak...)
 

Oggy

Rear Admiral
I think there are ways to make cloaking more fun in a WC-type game; you just have to be clever about it. Some ideas:

1). Limited cloaking time (maybe because of a power draw)...you can cloak for, say, 3-10 seconds depending on your power reserves, but then you're visible and have to let your reserves recharge, or your cloaking device "cool down" for a while before you can use it again.

2). Speed/maneuverability restrictions...if you fly faster than 100 kps, or turn too hard, there is a chance that you become either temporarily or permanently visible. Make the probability go up the faster you try to run.

3). You can cloak only n times per mission (perhaps only once), without overloading and cracking your cloaking crystal. Or maybe, to make it interesting, the first time you hit the cload button, there's a 95% chance it works. If you de-cloak and try it again, there is a 60% chance, and a 40% chance you crack your crystal and lose cloaking from there on. If you try it again, the probabilty is more like 30-70%. And so forth. Combine this one with limited cloaking duration, and you have one more "trick" in your toolbox that doesn't become the all encompassing panacea that cloaking in a Dragon was.

4). Cloaking completely drains your guns and shields, so that when you de-cloak you have to evade for a while before you're useful for anything.

5). Have some missiles be cloak defeating, like the modified torpedo in Star Trek VI. Maybe the HS...it would make HS's actually useful for something. And it would kind of make sense...maybe cloaking masks your radar signature and hides the visible light range, but not your IR signature...

6). Let you fire while cloaked, but firing makes you visible for a second (or three), and while in this state your shields are weak, or non-functional, or slow to recharge...

7). Have detector ships that can see you (and allow other fighters to see you) even when you're cloaked. That would make you want to go after them first, so you can cloak with impunity...but then design the mission so there are higher priority targets (incoming bombers, enemy SAR's picking up your pilots, capship missiles) or dangerous ships escorting the detector (powerful anti-fighter missile ships?) that would force you to make strategic decisions.

8). Have a finite number of cloaking crystals availalbe for *the entire game*, so you can choose to take and use one in a particularly tough mission, but then you won't have the option to cloak as often later in the game.

9). Cload and countercloak technology...have some ships carry EMP generators that disable all cloaks in the area for a while, and fire them randomly, or when you don't expect it. Especially consider making them not affect cloaking devices on uncloaked ships, but to temporarily or permanently disable cloaking devices on ships using their cloak at the time of the pulse.

I think you could make some very fun gameplay by mixing two or three of these ideas. And in any case, it wouldn't unbalance the game, or feel as artificial and cheatingish, as the Autoslide in WC3, which always felt to me like a debugging feature the programmers decided to leave available to the user.

I like some of your ideas here,the cracking the crystal idea, Pliers mentions that they burn out fast and the mine is on the far side of Kilrathi space, so perhaps it could be arranged so that the time you could cloak for progressively gets less and less as you use it more and more, making it a bit tactical how much you use it

I like the thought that you can't fire your guns or missiles because the power draw is so great, I don't recall if this is specifically stated in game, and its not really elaborated on in the Novels I have read. However, one caveat to this could be the StormFire as its solid munitions but limited Ammo, I like your thoughts that it "scrambles" the cloak making part or all of your ship visible for a split second

I quite liked the way Starlancer handled cloaking, in that it was imperfect, so you could visually still see the Kamov (sp?) bombers if you were close enough but it was easy to lose them if the turned sharp or you overshot and had to come back around.

I did like the way you could see the trail of damage particles in WC if a damaged ship cloaked.

I could see your idea about turning too sharp or moving too fast degrading your cloak as well. Or how about a different Hud Mode, a bit like Predator, i.e you activate "Cloak Vision" or something, but that means you can't see uncloaked ships, asteroids etc. a bit like how he flicks between Infra Red and "Alien mode" and can't see humans in Alien mode. I have played AvP and AvP2 over the net and there has been a few instancers where I have thought "do I got IR mode or Alien Mode" and then got ganked by the other because I couldn't see them till they were in my face with claws/tails or a SADAR
 
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