Freespace 2 is free on GoG right now.

Flashpoint

Rear Admiral
While I'll always love WC, I think Freespace did a lot of good by using a slightly different format.

WC had essentially become - Launch > Auto to nav point > fight > Auto to nav point > Auto to nav point > Fight >Auto to carrier > Land.
Not saying I didn't enjoy this, but with Prophecy and the utter swarms of enemies it became a bit more pronounced and very slightly stale.

Freespace having missions where events tended to unfold suddenly and drastically in one area of space, was a refreshing change.

To be totally honest with you (and myself I guess), whilst I would LOVE a new (and good) WC game to come out, if I had to choose between that and Freespace 3, I'd likely choose Freespace.
 

Panther1.0

Master Chief Petty Officer
I have to agree Flashpoint !

The in-game flight etc is very similar, very close to WC, simulation wise, what I like about Freespace, there plenty mods now and very good complete ones to play like Blue Planet, which I really enjoyed.
 

ShadowArm

2nd Lieutenant
While I'll always love WC, I think Freespace did a lot of good by using a slightly different format.

WC had essentially become - Launch > Auto to nav point > fight > Auto to nav point > Auto to nav point > Fight >Auto to carrier > Land.
Not saying I didn't enjoy this, but with Prophecy and the utter swarms of enemies it became a bit more pronounced and very slightly stale.

Freespace having missions where events tended to unfold suddenly and drastically in one area of space, was a refreshing change.

To be totally honest with you (and myself I guess), whilst I would LOVE a new (and good) WC game to come out, if I had to choose between that and Freespace 3, I'd likely choose Freespace.
Freespace itself is a Horror game thinking that is a Space Sim.
 

Panther1.0

Master Chief Petty Officer
True, but one of the best space sims back in 1999, best looking objects, it felt huge /immersive, only problem space sim's kinda died out back then or shall I say that generation of gaming declined..
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
WC had essentially become - Launch > Auto to nav point > fight > Auto to nav point > Auto to nav point > Fight >Auto to carrier > Land.
Not saying I didn't enjoy this, but with Prophecy and the utter swarms of enemies it became a bit more pronounced and very slightly stale.

Freespace having missions where events tended to unfold suddenly and drastically in one area of space, was a refreshing change.
I think this is more of a critique of Prophecy/Secret Ops than an 'evolution of the series' type of thing. I would say WC2-4 all expanded what they did in terms of unique events that caused missions to unfold in new ways. From WC2 with in-flight refueling and jumping outsystem to WC4's limited scenarios where alternate wings flew concurrent missions, they were clearly trying to be more dynamic. WC3 probably the most of all, but all WC2-4 had their handful of magnum launch-style scrambles and stuff like that. I keep going back to WC3 with missions like the one where the jump point gets cloaked, where the Behemoth gets destroyed and where Thrakhath transmits the Angel death - to me it seemed like there were quite a lot of missions that left you guessing about what was going to happen.
 

gevatter Lars

Vice Admiral
From a pure mission design standpoint I remember StarLancer to have some quite good missions. Still I remember more Wing Commander Missions then any other games missinos because WC managed to tie in more emotions by haveing characters I cared about or events like the Behemoth.

Freespace, the first mission that I would spontanouse remeber is the one where you finaly got shields. Gosh that made fighting much easier.
For StarLancer it the mission where you fly that russian bomber into their fleet and start to wreak havoc from within.

Overall I would say the strongest points of each where
- WC: Character and cinematic story telling.
- Freespace: The overall dread of beeing insignificant and that there is an unstopable force
- StarLancer: I think the missions and that laughable acent that I strangely liked. While overacted I found it good that they showed that people are from different places.
 

Flashpoint

Rear Admiral
I think this is more of a critique of Prophecy/Secret Ops than an 'evolution of the series' type of thing. I would say WC2-4 all expanded what they did in terms of unique events that caused missions to unfold in new ways. From WC2 with in-flight refueling and jumping outsystem to WC4's limited scenarios where alternate wings flew concurrent missions, they were clearly trying to be more dynamic. WC3 probably the most of all, but all WC2-4 had their handful of magnum launch-style scrambles and stuff like that. I keep going back to WC3 with missions like the one where the jump point gets cloaked, where the Behemoth gets destroyed and where Thrakhath transmits the Angel death - to me it seemed like there were quite a lot of missions that left you guessing about what was going to happen.
You may be right.

All I know is that I was (and still am) a die hard WC fan but by the end if you'd asked me to choose between playing Prophecy or FS2, I's have chosen the latter.

Over the years I've felt that there is a fair bit of disdain towards FS on these boards (which I could be wrong about) that I never really understood.

Maybe after playing the hero in WC for so long (which did change a bit in Prophecy) FS felt more like I was a small part of a war, rather than the focal point and that coloured my feeling at the time. I mean a change can always add to an experience without you really wondering why.

This probably all sounds like I'm really pitching the two against each other. I'm not really, just trying to put my finger on why I ended up prefering FS2 at the time. Both series are great fun and while I do love FS, my one true love will always be WC1.

As an aside, using a forcefeedback stick in FS2 is a real joy. The forces seemed to make the stick heavier when you were in the more sluggish ships and because you could actually feel the lack of agility, it helped a huge amount
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
I never played Free space, but I did read on here and in other places that FS2 contributed to the death of the genre.

Is there any truth to that? Or just hyperbole?
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I don't think there's one simple answer to that. Despite its glowing reviews, the game only sold about 25,000 in its initial year, which was like a tenth of the Prophecy numbers. That freaked out some publishers, which then pivoted from traditional WC or Freespace style games to try new different things such as MMOs which didn't have to sell as many units to recoup investments. Fast forward a year or so down the line and you have Privateer Online being canceled in favor of Westwood/EA's Earth & Beyond, which itself only lasted a couple years after release. (That's a huge damn shame, because Ultima Online is still going after 22 years... had POL won that battle, would we still be playing an active WC MMO today?)

So you can also point to some strategic miscalculations at EA, and there are certainly many other factors such as the decline in joystick-centric hardware and the rise in popularity of other genres/consoles, but it's also possible to draw a downward spiraling line that connects the dots from Freespace 2 to the cancelation of multiple WC games. Maybe more correlation than causation, but that's why the game has taken some heat over the years. Despite a majority of the people who actually played Freespace 2 really liking it, it was unfortunately not a blockbuster that brought in a lot of new fans to the genre.
 

gevatter Lars

Vice Admiral
I am one of the guys that likes FS2 as well as WC.
As for why Prophecy sold better....I think it was carried by the Wing Commander title and certain aspectations that come with that.
IIRC I was more hyped for a new WC title and only found out that there was a new FS because I stumbled upon it.

I also could imagne that since FS1 wasn't that good that not many people where eager to buy the second game, also its been much better then the first title.

Overall I think there are several factors, lots of them mentioned by Chris, that where together the downfall of the genre. Similar to how other genres where on the top at some time and then went the way of the Dodo.
Like Adventures or RTS...I couldn't make out a single game that killed the genre. Its just the progression of time that somethings go and new stuff comes.
 

Panther1.0

Master Chief Petty Officer
I agree, Freespace mostly not so popular, maybe not introduced so well back then,

So what actually happened to Origin after 1996 ? Where they bankrupt, it did not really make sense to me especially after the success of WC4 ? It sort of felt like they picked up the pieces with the release of Prophecy.
 

gevatter Lars

Vice Admiral
Around 1992 Origin Systems was bought by EA. 1999 EA decided that they only should work on Ultima-Online and in 2004 it was practicly dissolved into EA and was keept only in name. Today EA uses the name again for its launcher and distrebution platform.
Dates are from Wikipedia.

Something else that comes to my mind with the shift away from the genre, wasn't that also around the time when online games became more and more popular so everything had to be online and shoorters and MMOs where the easiest type of games to make online games from. So that might also have been quite an influantial factor to the change. Kinda like we see now where physical copies are very rare now and we can allready see that streaming and service games will be the next thing after digital destribution.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Something else that comes to my mind with the shift away from the genre, wasn't that also around the time when online games became more and more popular so everything had to be online and shoorters and MMOs where the easiest type of games to make online games from. So that might also have been quite an influantial factor to the change. Kinda like we see now where physical copies are very rare now and we can allready see that streaming and service games will be the next thing after digital destribution.
FPS games were definitely more popular and there was genre fatique. However, MMOs were still somewhat niche at the point that FS2 came out. EA was one of the publishers insisting that the only way to make money was by replicating the success of Ultima Online. With the rise of the internet, companies were also feeling the pinch of software piracy more and more. MMOs were a guaranteed income stream. Eventually this leads to EA outright saying every game they released had to have an online component (since it's the only part where they can force people to have a paid account to play) but that point is still many years away at that point.

The space shooter part wasn't necessarily a problem for EA with an MMO model though. The problem was that EA didn't want to own two competing space MMOs. Origin pretty much was working on a WC or Privateer mmo pitch of one kind or another from the time Prophecy was released until they closed Origin. The teams responsible during those years mostly left and went to Sony and is where Star Wars Galaxies evolved from as well as it's Jump to Lightspeed expansion.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
The thing with FS2 is that it was up against every possible barrier to success. I don't want to say "doomed to fail", because obviously, a lot of people thought it could be successful, and they must have had their reasons. But there are two big reasons why it was in serious trouble right out the gate.

Firstly, Volition's publisher was Interplay, who at the time was utterly terrible. They had just brushed off bankruptcy, and continued to do badly. I suspect if we could find out what the numbers were for FS2's marketing budget versus Prophecy's marketing budget, we'd be blown away by the disproportion.

Secondly, Freespace was in no way an established franchise. We like to compare the sales of WCP (some 700,000) to FS2 (some… 40,000?), but above all, you'd really want to look at FS1. And FS1, at the time of FS2's release, supposedly had about 100,000 units sold (this may be only US numbers, mind you). For a game with the budget that Freespace had, this was very, very good. But it's not a franchise-building result. The only time a sequel sells better than its predecesor is if it is absolutely, mind-blowingly superior, or if it has amazing marketing. WC2 to WC3 was that kind of transition. FS1 to FS2 was... bigger capships and beam weapons.

On top of all that, there was the absence of Wing Commander. FS1 did well, because it was the game people bought after finishing WCP. "You liked Prophecy? Well, here, try this!" - that's how FS1 sold. By the time FS2 came along, WCP was long forgotten, and even X-Wing Alliance was half a year old. It wasn't able to ride on the hype of similar but better known products. So, its sales slumped. Starlancer, half a year later, had it even worse, for the same reason: no franchise, and no coattails to ride on (although, of course, Starlancer did have Microsoft behind it).
 

Flashpoint

Rear Admiral
I suspect if we could find out what the numbers were for FS2's marketing budget versus Prophecy's marketing budget, we'd be blown away by the disproportion.
If memory serves, this was the biggest problem. As you said, FS was a financial success and though it hadn't come close to WC in terms of sales, it was very well regarded and had sold enough that you'd expect a sequel to do pretty well.

Unfortunately (I have read) there was virtually zero marketing. This is backed up by the fact that I really loved FS (I used to build campaigns in FrED) and I only knew about FS2 when I saw it on the shelf in a small corner of my local Game store.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Unfortunately (I have read) there was virtually zero marketing. This is backed up by the fact that I really loved FS (I used to build campaigns in FrED) and I only knew about FS2 when I saw it on the shelf in a small corner of my local Game store.
Yep. Since my previous post, I read up a little more about FS2, and it seems like it was basically a product Interplay didn't want. They had funded it, obviously, and they were the publisher, but they didn't seem to believe the game would sell well enough to justify any marketing money. They only really started putting any kind of effort into marketing after FS2 won a couple of awards - and by then it was obviously too late.

I also agree that FS was really, really great. I loved it - its gameplay was very enjoyable, and while I never really tried to compare WCP and FS, I can definitely see why some people would argue it was a better game than WCP in terms of gameplay. And yes, FrED. I never got around to building any campaigns, but I loved just the fact that FrED was included, and I had all kinds of plans that ultimately dissipated because the WC community (and later, WC modding) absorbed too much of my time. The catch, and the reason why I guess I didn't stick with it, was the corollary to the "no strong franchise" problem I mentioned before - FS just didn't suck you in story-wise. It had no characters. The Shivans were cooler, gameplay-wise, than WCP's Nephilim. I do remember, at the time, a lot of conversations where WC fans said that the Shivans were what the Nephilim should have been. But that's gameplay - meanwhile, in terms of story and presentation, they just weren't interesting at all, because they didn't do anything WCP hadn't already done. It was a paradoxical situation, which I think goes a long way to explain the success of FS1, and the failure of FS2 - FS1, probably unintentionally, hit all the same marks that WCP did, and at least as far as gameplay goes, it hit them better. "Anything you can do, I can do better" - that was basically FS1. But it just doesn't bode well when people look at the best features your game has, and say: "oh, man, I wish they'd take this feature into that other game." People were impressed by FS1 as a collection of parts and ideas that could be applied elsewhere - but few people genuinely became fans of Freespace as a universe, a place they'd want to revisit.
 
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