Ground missions in WCP

Discussion in 'Fan Projects & Editing' started by Lt.Overload, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. Lt.Overload

    Lt.Overload Rear Admiral

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    Found this bit in the game's code; a piece of land aptly named "terrain.iff". Took a target buoy file and changed the mesh to this terrain.iff file, then put it in a mission. Normally I'd bounce off the hitbox before I could even get close to it but by turing off collisions you can into the hitbox and... here we are. What might've or could've been. However as far as I know, planetside missions were never planned for WCP so...what's the deal? Was it something leftover from Wing 4?

    Vampire for scale so you can see just how big the mesh is.
     
  2. PopsiclePete

    PopsiclePete Mission programmer

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    Most likely a concept test during development.
     
  3. AD

    AD Finder of things, Doer of stuff

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    Most of the WC games were build on top of what came before... There are left over WC3 files in with the WC4 game objects. However Prophecy was a completely new engine, so at the very least I would guess they tested the functionality, but I couldn't tell you if they intended to actually make any ground missions.
     
  4. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Yeah, this would have been just something the programmers experimented with. As far as we know (and we've got a pretty extensive library of WCP dev documents), there weren't any plans to have ground missions in WCP, so this isn't something that got cut halfway through development. By contrast, it is something that conceivably could have been added into the game, if the tests had been satisfactory - while it's always somewhat undesirable to add new features into the game mid-development, you can imagine a programmer showing a ground mission at a weekly meeting, and saying - hey, it will only take X hours to polish off, and we could modify missions Y and Z to include a ground component, whaddaya say? In this case, though, I'd say the test sorta failed. I'm guessing they had a look at what could be quickly and easily hacked together, and concluded that the amount of work needed to bring it up to acceptable standards is too high to justify. It was, after all, a game to be released in 1997 - if we look at flight sims of the era, it's not hard to see that already WC4's ground missions were significantly behind the visual curve (and even further behind the curve when it came to fun - I mean, they really just weren't fun). What with Andy Hollis' team developing the next Longbow game alongside WCP, they would have known all too well what standard they need to reach, and how much work it would involve.
     
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  5. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    I mean it's basically just a model rather than a system - probably it just went in when they were testing early on.
    Whenever programmers have no artists to help them out height maps are their first port of call - we can procedurally generate them without any skills.
     
  6. FekLeyrTarg

    FekLeyrTarg Commodore

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  7. Adm_maverick

    Adm_maverick Rear Admiral

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    hmm actual in-game play value aside how much effort would be needed to create a cut scene of a land based mission? Reason I ask is I've been working with creating a wing commander video series. Right now it's just focused on the WCP story but there have been some idle rumblings of using the WCP/SO engine and some fan-made assets as the technical means to create a machinema series.
     
  8. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Yes, we did mess around a bit with that. We never had any intention to make use of it in UE, it was just something we (which, IIRC, meant @KillerWave and myself) wanted to see. The way we did it was pretty much exactly the same as the way the original WCP test would have been done - i.e., we made a 3D object that looked like a large bit of planetary surface, and plonked it into the game as a capship. It looked pretty terrible, I guess, but I also suppose that this level of visual quality would have been acceptable for a mod like UE, and as long as we're talking about a mostly-gray moon with no atmosphere, it wouldn't be entirely horrid.

    I also suppose, incidentally, that today we could do much better, while employing the same basic solution. We certainly could use much higher texture resolutions for the ground, employing all the additional shaders developed for Standoff, and I assume if someone wanted to, they could create an additional shader that adds a detail texture on top of the ground when you get close enough to it. We could even have a very basic - and probably substandard compared to today's games - atmospheric texture. In that case, the mission would necessarily either be planetary only (starting with a cutscene of entering the atmosphere, ending with a cutscene of leaving), or split across multiple missions (in the way jump missions worked in Standoff) in order to allow for a change of the sector file that controls the background.

    But then you've got the gameplay problems. The AI in particular was lousy at avoiding collisions with the ground, just like it is with any large capship. And the planetary surface mesh would sometimes unexpectedly disappear from view, just as it happens with other large capships. And, most importantly - it would be pointless, because just like in WC3 and WC4, there would be no gravity, so basically the planetary surface would be doing nothing whatsoever for the gameplay.

    The amount of effort needed to make it look good would be more or less the same. You could spruce it up to the point where it would look acceptable, certainly - probably not great, but acceptable. Beyond that, of course, things get easier, because if it's just a cutscene, then you get to cheat in all kinds of ways to avoid highlighting gameplay issues and the like. Certainly, for cutscenes, it would make more sense than for anything else.
     
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  9. Adm_maverick

    Adm_maverick Rear Admiral

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    cut scenes was was what I curious about. At one point I was having a brief discussion of random ideas for a potential series and the idea of a series set between WC4 and WCP came up. The idea being a kind of a cold-war setup where Confed is trying to keep the Kilrathi destabilized by covertly supporting one warlord over another (You know the whole idea of this guy is willing to work with us, or at least not attack us while the other is calling for attacks on us game). So the idea of having like a black ops Excalibur doing a night time supply drop on the planet was the specific image I was having, or conducting a silent strike against a ground target.
     

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