Hellcat cockpit in the WC2 style

Discussion in 'Fan Projects & Editing' started by Howard Day, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Well, the trouble with this is that there's no indication that the Drakhri and Sartha are considered crappy by the Kilrathi - as far as we can tell, they are simply mainline Kilrathi fighters in this particular timeframe. It would be great if there was some reference to them being inferior, because they really are pretty awful - I mean, they're a step backwards in almost every way compared to WC1. However, we simply have no reason to assume anything like this. I don't recall if we see Drakhri flown by the Imperial Guard, but we do certainly see Sartha. They're used by the elite...

    Unfortunately, it seems reasonable to guess that something happened to the Kilrathi fighter doctrine in the intervening ten years, which led them to design a bunch of terrible spacecraft. Was it an attempt to swarm Confed by mass producing simple light/medium fighters and sending them out with poorly-trained pilots? Who knows. Whatever the case may be, the simple fact is that even elite pilots fly this junk, which means there's really nothing better.

    To address the missiles directly - thing is, as far as we know, there's really no major limitation on missile loadouts. In every game that we get to pick our own loadout, DF, IR, FF and HS missiles can be used interchangeably from the same hardpoints. So, again, the DF-heavy loadouts in WC2 are not caused by any technological restriction, but by choice. If we're going to transpose the Dralthi IV back to 2667, I think it's a choice we have to respect.

    An interesting thought in this regard is that, while we don't know when chaff pods were first introduced, we do first see them in WC2. Maybe Confed simply had better chaff pods, and the Kilrathi found that loading out their fighters with DFs was more effective? Presumably, later on they would have managed to improve their own guidance systems to reduce the spoof ratio, and went back to using guided missiles more, around 2669. Or perhaps this change was tied to the transition from chaff pods to decoys (are decoys less effective? They certainly don't last as long once they are dropped). In either case, however, we can assume that when this happens, even the Sartha and the Dralthi could potentially be loaded out with guided missiles.

    I did originally consider alternatives. I thought about a 4 HS loadout - similar to WC1. I thought about a 2 HS / 2 IR and a 2 HS / 2 DF variant - mixes of the WC1 Dralthi with its WC2 and WC3 equivalents. In the end, as much as I would prefer it to have a more effective loadout, it simply seems more appropriate to stay true to the time period. However, bear in mind that in WC2, something weird is done with enemy missiles. Notice how you often get the "lock" warning in those first Ferret missions in WC2? Well, what's locking on you, when both the Sartha and the Drakhri use DFs only? And they most definitely do only carry these missiles in-game. It's possible that the game simply treats DFs as FFs with no manoeuvrability - a good thing to do, actually, precisely because you are able to warn the player (and DFs without a warning are a very dangerous thing to the player, you can see this a lot in Standoff). It may however also be that DFs, when used against the player, are given a little bit of guidance to make them more dangerous.

    I agree that with these textures, the Armada stats would be inappropriate. I'd actually love to see both Dralthi side by side - though that would really be pretty weird, so many pancakes in one game :).

    Yeah, it's pretty crazy that way. I suppose... well, you know, obviously when they started working on WC2, they would have been thinking ahead to imagine that if the game is successful, they'll make a sequel. But what they might not have yet imagined at that point is that they will be able to do so much else. If you think about it, without Academy, Armada and Privateer, the 2667-2669 timeframe would really be pretty reasonable - the false armistice is, of course, simply a necessary leadup to establish the downbeat situation in WC3. It's only when those remaining products drop into place that things start going off the way.

    In fact, even when they were done with WC2, they may have taken it for granted that the game would be more closely connected to WC3, that there wouldn't be such a total break. Armada, while it doesn't tell us whether they actually wanted to do this or not, demonstrates beyond all doubt that WC3's polygon graphics could easily handle WC2 ships. The Wraith and the Jrathek look great in Armada, and there would have been no problem at all had these ships been taken into WC3 to establish a link, the same way that the Rapier from WC1 is still around in WC3. Unfortunately, for all the great decisions that Chris Roberts made about WC3, he's also responsible for the game's one bad decision: the total change to an awful new art style, which meant that no WC2 ship could be reused any more, and the only connection became the Arrow and the Dralthi (which, as I understand, were actually taken from WC3 into Armada, not the other way).

    One of these days, I'd love to see someone "reimagine" all those WC3 ships to make them fit in more with WC2...
     
  2. Howard Day

    Howard Day Random art guy.

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    Huh. What's this?
    dralthicockpit_02.png
    Just gotta add all the little tape bits with the human writing on them. Hope you guys like it!

    :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
    ChrisReid and Dyret like this.
  3. Howard Day

    Howard Day Random art guy.

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    Slight update!
    dralthicockpit_02.png
     
  4. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Wow, that is impressive... it's obvious you've been looking a lot at the WC1 Dralthi, that's for sure :).

    But I'm not sure about it. Ironically, while it's such a good resemblence to the WC1 Dralthi (but obviously adapted to the WC3 geometry), it's just so radically different to most of the other Kilrathi cockpits we see. And we do see a lot of them, you know, starting with the Jrathek in Academy.

    However - let's start with the smallest bit of feedback first. I find it a little weird how cramped this cockpit looks - I mean, did the human pilot have trouble squeezing his legs in there? It looks like it - but those should be Kilrathi-sized leg holes :). You get a similar impression in WC1, but it's not quite as severe.

    In regards to other stuff - I guess I can't complain about all those exposed cables. They look awesome, and they're straight out of the WC1 cockpit - none of the other Kilrathi ships (including the Armada Dralthi) have anything like that, but it has to be said, all those Armada ships seemed to mainly operate on colour scheme - basically, they made cockpits near-identical to the human cockpits, sometimes made them a little bit more oppressive... but mainly they just differentiated them by making them yellow :). So, exposed stuff = good. But - it actually would help quite a bit if you brought the colour scheme more in line with the other sources. I mean, if the big difference between Confed and Kilrathi ships is the greater use of yellow-brown - so be it! If you just yellowed up all those cockpit surfaces hiding behind the exposed cables, the result would be pretty appropriate. The Jrathek cockpit in Academy is actually kind of like that, except that the exposed cables there are... not exactly very big :).

    A smaller point of objection is the targetting reticle. It looks great (though maybe a bit too dark? It might not always be visible), but it will be odd to see the Jrathek with a normal reticle, and the Dralthi with a unique reticle in the same game. Unless of course you plan on modifying the Jrathek cockpit :).

    Oh, and don't worry about adding the labels - one of the fun things about the Jrathek is that it doesn't give you the slightest hint about what the various displays mean. There's so few of them, that learning their meaning is enjoyable rather than bothersome.
     
  5. HCl

    HCl WC EXE archaeologist

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    (quick reply for now)

    Great work Howie, very impressive :D I like the SM2 Dralthi look a lot. Just a quick note, I may not be able to use the new targetting reticle due to engine limitations. The WC2 engine just uses the generic green reticle on all ships, i'm afraid. For the Hellcat cockpit this was a problem as well, so I ended up masking out the green reticle during cockpit conversion and let the engine do its thing and add its own reticle as usual.

    Great discussion on the stats too, thanks! Quarto makes a great argument for a DF-only loadout, which makes a lot of sense. I feel tempted to go with that! As an aside, since the WC2 engine supports alternate stats, we can eventually have alternate missile loadouts for the Dralthi at various points. Between the two Dralthis (III and IV), i'll go ahead with the IV for now, although i'll probably still be adding the III at a later date. I like the idea of a fast, lightly armed scout :) Besides, importing the cockpit art, targetting VDUs and such tends to be the most time-consuming tasks (encoding coordinates for the various parts, launching the game, adjusting a bit more, etc), and with a bit of luck i'll be able to reuse Howie's Dralthi art between both versions.

    Good stuff! Thanks for all the comments :)
     
  6. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Well, actually, that might not work out too well, because the Armada Dralthi differs in some of the external details - and amongst other things, the cockpit struts are more ordinary (symmetrical) than the WC3 Dralthi. For this reason, probably the best way to go about importing the Armada Dralthi would be to find a simple way to transpose its cockpit art to WC2. The graphics are the same resolution anyway, so theoretically it may be even possible to directly convert all the coordinates and stuff. Of course, that particular cockpit could use some visual improvements, because it's too human-like (no Kilrathi writing or anything like that).
     
  7. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    I should add - creating a tool that could semi-automatically (I assume a little bit of graphics tweaking would still be needed - for one thing, because the palette is different) convert an Armada cockpit to WC2 format would have the obvious advantage of allowing all the other Armada ships to be ported into Academy ;).
     
  8. Howard Day

    Howard Day Random art guy.

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    True - However, the Jrathrek Cockpit in WCA was only ever a Confed "Simulation" of what the fighter's cockpit would look like, from captured plans from a defector. :D Especially since the Jrathrek cockpit in Armada was completely different.

    I'll see what I can do about the legs. :D

    It's pretty obvious that a lot of the Armada Cockpits don't match their external artwork, and the Dralthi is a good example of that. I get the feeling the Armada cockpits were put together very, very quickly. (I don't blame them, they had 10 of them to do, and were probably in a total crunch mode what with WC3 also in the pipeline)
    A fair point, and the change doesn't look worse. :p Here's a be-yellowed version!
    dralthicockpit_02.png
    Well, I don't see why we couldn't change the Jrathrek reticule too - I know HCl says he can't do it... but I think he can. :D On that note, it might be awesome to have all the human ships with slightly different reticules. It takes next to no time to draw them out.
    Oh, I'm doing that for HCl - it's a request he had.

    Thanks! So the solution to using the new reticule is to make the one that the engine uses by default completely transparent, and then encode the reticules into the cockpit art. Then every ship could have a different one, with no need for a code change.
    I'm almost certain this will work.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
  9. Dyret

    Dyret Super Carrot!

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    I'm pretty sure one of the manuals or novels mentioned exposed machinery as a staple of Kilrathi design (them being either too cool or too cheap to panel it up,) so that's all good in any event. Only thing is the radar kinda looks like it's hanging by a couple of wires, which seems like a terrible idea, even for Kilrathi. Maybe if you have the lower rim overlap slightly with the monitor underneath, so they look more connected?
     
  10. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    The yellow version definitely goes a long way to better integrating with the other cockpits! But... it's a little bit too golden now, brighter than even the Jrathek cockpit. Maybe add a bit of a red tinge?

    Oh, definitely. I actually always had the impression that the hand-drawn cockpits in WC were always... not too close to the external geometry of the ship, even in cases where there was plenty of time to work on them. It's just a hard thing to do correctly. I'm not sure to what degree the 3d model rendered-to-bitmap cockpits (Privateer and WC3) were matched with the ship's exterior, but at least they didn't have to deal with perspective and such. Ironically, probably the worst likeness of the exterior to the interior is WCP, where the fancy 3d cockpit struts were, at best, "inspired by" the ship exteriors.
     
  11. Mekt-Hakkikt

    Mekt-Hakkikt Mpanty's bane

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    Well, we see the Sartha in WCATV (or at least something that looks really close to a Sartha) and the mechanic calls it "crummy furball technology" - of course, that's the human perspective. In one of the novels (ER?FA?) I think we also read about Thrakhath musing about how they never achieved the quality of the humans equipment- and pilot-wise.

    Of course that all does not tell us that the Sartha and Drakhri are considered crappy by Kilrathi standard (honestly, starting with WC2, almost every Kilrathi ship is extremely crappy when compared to the Terran counterpart. The Grikath (and later Gothri and Jrathek) is the only WC2 Kilrathi ship I do not consider to be crappy...but only because it sports afterburner as a bomber.)

    Yeah, the Drakhai fly Sarthas (and Khajja the Fang apparently a Drakhri)...but maybe they use crappy ships to show what good pilots they are ;-). Also, aren't Drakhai Sarthas tougher than usual Sarthas?

    I'm still not convinced that you can read a "DF-heavy loadout Kilrathi doctrine" from the Drakhri and Sartha. The Sartha has a single missile that happens to be a DF - just like the Salthi. Also, of the four main Kilrathi fighters of WC 2 (Sartha, Drakhri, Jalkehi and Grikath), only two usw exclusively DF, the Jalkehi mounts four guided missiles and a single DF, the Grikath mounts only guided missiles. And again, the Sartha anyway mounts just a single missile. The Strakha mounts DF and torpedoes and DF sort of make sense on a stealth fighter. The Gothri again mounts a mix of missiles (IIRC) as does the Jrathek. So in the end, the Drakrhi is the only Kilrathi ship that uses a DF-heavy loadout.

    Why I think the Dalthi IV should mount at least 2 IR / 2 DF:

    - The Dralthi is supposed (or at least I suppose so) to be a more modern ship than the Sartha and Drakhri. We (almost) know the Sartha was around since 2654 when the WC1 Dralthi was around. The other stats we want to giove the Dralthi IV are already better than those of the Drakhri, it is a superior ship. So no problem giving it a superior missile loadout.

    - The Dralthi IV we see later (as soon as 2 years later) carries only guided missiles (IR in WC3, HS in WCP...don't remember WC4)

    - Most Dralthis use guided missiles or a mix of guided and unguided missiles (WC1 and SM2, WC3/WCP and probably WC4, WC Arena (2 of the 3 Dralthi variants, whereas the Shank carries DF and mines), only the Dralthi from Armada (where they are light fighters not medium fighters as the rest) and from Priv/RF carry DF-only loadouts.

    Hmm, I thought WC1 also gave you a missile warning when a DF is launched as did Armada. In WC3 and later on, no one fires DF at you anymore.


    I absolutely agree.
     
  12. HCl

    HCl WC EXE archaeologist

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    A good point, definitely worth pursuing :) As I am improving the converter to handle Armada ships, I may sidetrack a bit and do this soon actually. In any case, the targetting VDUs would still have have to be remade to fit the WC2 style, since the targetted ship is presented with different orientations in WC2 and Armada.

    Hmm you know, thinking about it a bit more, there may be a way around it :D The targetting reticle is stored in COCKPIT.VGA, which is common to all ships (has the targetting reticle, missle reticle, nav point cross symbol, and so on). I was hoping the reticle would be part of PCSHIP.Vxx, but no such luck...

    However, with a bit of tweaking, I may be able to make the game switch to alternate files, say COCKPIT.Vxx, based on the ship number you're on. I'll try to go with that :)

    In that case, just one quick note: we'd need, in fact, to have two reticles. The normal one is green, but it turns red once it's inside the ITTS reticle. These are encoded as different sprites, so there's no reason they can't be slightly different ;)

    Anyway, i'm currently improving my first stage encoder, coding a couple new reader plugins so they can handle Armada and WCP ship files as inputs. Right now, i got it to import Armada ships just fine. The Armada Dralthi and Gladius look pretty good in 62-angle renders (already with WC2 palette), so i suspect they will look great in the WC2 engine! Currently working on the WCP mesh / mat reader so I can import the WCP Dralthi geometry and compare it with the current WC4 one, see how both look in-game. I'll try to post some new pics soon!

    As an aside, when I start supporting capships, I may actually pull a few other objects from both Armada and WCP into WC2. For example, if we need a Snakeir carrier into WC2? We can reuse the Shiraak from Armada. And some starbases from WCP / WCSO look pretty neat as well!
     
  13. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    They certainly are. It's a strange shift, really - you look at WC1, where Kilrathi fighters were often superior to Confed equivalents (at least on paper: the in-game stats altered this substantially), and then WC2 where they just... suck. As you say, the Grikath and the Gothri are the only ships we fight against in WC2 that actually seem impressive. It seems odd, given that WC2 also reduced the number of ships that could be used in one mission (from 32 to 16), so the logical step would actually have been to make the Kilrathi more challenging. This is one of those things where it seems easier to figure out the in-universe reason (Confed technological superiority gradually asserting itself) than the development reason. Then again, obviously it worked pretty well, given that WC2 feels very nice in gameplay.

    In regards to the Drakhai Sarthas - I don't know, because I've never really looked into the alternative loadouts too much. I vaguely remember one of HCl's tools that allowed these to be viewed, but it was so long ago... anyway, it certainly is possible they were better.

    Well now - let's keep in mind a couple of things here. Firstly, when I talk about doctrine, I don't necessarily mean it applies to all Kilrathi ships. We sure can see quite a few DF missiles in WC2, a lot more than in WC3, but as you say, many of the heavier ships have guided missiles. All we know is that the Kilrathi made a conscious decision to use DFs more in this period, and in the case of their only two light & medium fighters - DFs are used exclusively. Secondly, we must always remember that at the heart of all such issues likes Origin. While it is immersion-breaking to put it in such terms, there are clear and logical reasons why WC2 Kilrathi would use more DFs and less guided missiles: because it's simply desireable in a game where not all Confed ships have afterburners, a game where afterburner fuel is rather limited, and where anti-missile chaff pods are implemented for the first time, but are given to the player in low quantities. Granted, the difference between WC1 and WC2 is relatively small, which begs the question of why WC1 Kilrathi *did* use guided missiles. I don't know. It may be that WC2 was already the first attempt to make the game more accessible to a greater group of users by reducing the difficulty? Either way, in WC3, the Kilrathi went back to guided missiles with a vengeance, because the gameplay is totally changed in this aspect - where previously, the player only had his ship's agility to rely on, now he has a large number of decoys to drop, and spoofing guided missiles has thus simply become more interactive.

    But, whatever reasons Origin had on its end, we have to deal with the in-universe situation, and try to come up with reasonable arguments for an in-universe explanation - and the idea that the Kilrathi themselves started shifting towards greater DF usage, and then departed away from it in the WC3 era can actually be supported with a number of other details:

    Evidence of a drop in DF usage in the WC3 era, which to me suggests that the greater DF usage in WC2 was definitely intentional:
    - The Strakha, as you say, has DFs in WC2 - like all other ships, the Strakha in WC3 ended up using guided missiles. In addition, the Shok'lar in Armada also uses guided missiles - so, being a stealth fighter is no real limitation in this regard.
    - As previously mentioned, both light and medium fighters have only DFs in WC2, and only non-DFs in WC3.
    - The Jrathek has 2 FFs and 2 DFs in Academy, but in Armada, the DFs are replaced with IRs.
    - The Bloodfang in WC2 has a mixed loadout of IRs and DFs. In WC3, the DFs are dumped in favour of HSes and FFs. Even in WC2, the Bloodfang had a substantial amount of guided missiles (5!)... nonetheless, Prince Thrakhath himself armed himself with 3 DFs. If there's anyone who could snap his fingers to replace the DFs with something else, it would be him.

    Important side-note: the Bloodfang, clearly, is designed for dogfighting. It's not a bomber (no torps), and I cannot imagine Prince Thrakhath stooping to personally attacking transports, given the low opinion the Kilrathi have for such tactics. What this means is that DFs are seen as useful in dogfighting. This is important, because in WC2, it is the Sartha and the Drakhri that are the dogfighters, and they use DFs extensively. The Jalkehi is an important exception, because (even though it's a heavy), it also seems to be designed for dogfighting (especially escorts) more than anti-capship strikes, and yet it does have other missiles (and just one DF - too little to be relevant).

    A few more bits of circumstantial evidence (aka, stretching reality to make it mean what I want it to mean :) ):
    - The original Dralthi in WC1 carries HS missiles and a space mine. The Dralthi Mk. II drops the mine, and swaps one of its HSes for 2 DFs. So, the trend towards DFs seems to have begun in WC1 :). But, of course, this is also actually an argument in favour of the 2 HS/2 DF loadout you proposed, as it would mean the Dralthi IV has a similar loadout to the Dralthi II.
    - The Dralthi III in Armada, and the Dralthi VII in Privateer both have DF-only loadouts. But this should be no argument, right? After all, in both cases, we're talking about 2669, when guided missiles were the norm. But I figured I'd throw that out there, to show that all-DF loadouts on a Dralthi are not unheard of :). Interestingly enough, the Dralthi VII goes from all-DF to all-IR between Privateer and Righteous Fire. I'd like to pretend that this is the point where the new-fangled fashion of dropping the DF, which had already happened on the main front, finally reached the distant Kilrathi outposts in Gemini :).

    Anyway - it's a fun thing to talk about, and ultimately, arguments can be made both ways. Your proposed mix of guided and DFs makes sense as well - although I'd definitely prefer HSes over DFs. But let me also bring in a gameplay consideration here. What we have in all this is a kind of vague notion that gee, the Kilrathi really did not seem to like DFs on their dogfighters in the 2665-2667 period. We certainly can push this notion off the table and use a loadout with guided missiles, and the universe won't explode. There is definitely no hard and fast rule against guided missiles on WC2 catships. Alternatively - we can pick this vague notion up and run with it, in the hope of enriching the universe. Isn't it fun to have a wider-reaching explanation for the exclusive use of DFs on Sartha and Drakhri? And isn't it neat to provide the possibility for a story where not only the Dralthi IV, but also the Sartha and Drakhri start receiving guided missile loadouts again, because the Kilrathi finally got over whatever caused them to emphasise DFs? I simply think that we get more mileage, so to speak, from taking the vague indications that WC2 gives us and reinforcing them with additional evidence.

    Possibly, it's been a long time since I played it so I don't recall. One thing's for certain - when we had the Salthi in UE and Sartha & Drakhri in Standoff, DFs suddenly became far more dangerous precisely because there was no warning about them.
     
  14. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Yep. I'm certain we'd find a bunch of other things that would also need fixing, preferaly manually by a graphics artist. I really need to reinstall Armada and see how it really compares to WC2 :).

    Hehe! You know, I don't remember why this ever even occured to me, but I do remember thinking a few months back about how interesting it might be to have Nephilim fighters in the WC2 engine. What a weird notion :).
     
  15. capi3101

    capi3101 Rear Admiral

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    If you guys do start putting Nephilim capships in there, make sure they 'splode, m'kay?
     
  16. -danr-

    -danr- Rear Admiral

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    [​IMG]

    If I recall correctly, Origin regretted the heavies not blowing up in Prophecy - I can't find the quote, but I seem to remember LOAF saying he put to them that the capship explosions were disappointing. I think Origin wanted us to be able to 'explore' the capship hulks after they've died, rather than the WC3/WC4 style 'brief capship skeleton before breaking up' style.

    It would be satisfying to smoke a Nephilim capship with the WC2 rip-roar-BOOM explosion!
     
  17. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Very satisfying indeed - but might take a bit of hacking to make the explosions green :).
     
  18. Mekt-Hakkikt

    Mekt-Hakkikt Mpanty's bane

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    You're right and as you seem to have convinced HCl who is implementing the armament, we might as well end it here and agree to disagree. I just think that it's really a very very vague notion - I never would have thought about it that it is more than a (bad) design choice in the Drakhri alone (even as an in-universe explanation). The Drakhri is the only ship that really uses extensively DFs so deducing from this, that a another Kilrathi medium fighter should also only carry DFs is just...well, too much stretching to me. I mean, it's certainly not a bad idea to carry DFs as part of a healthy missile mix, for small capships and/or bombers (and the way the later Thrakhath is written, I can well imagine how je laughs ín a very evil manner while launching his DF in the unarmed orphan transports). I just see no trend in WC2 about DFs to be generalized. (On the other hand, I'd agree with the theory that from WC3 onwards the Kilrathi followed a doctrine which ditches the DF missiles more or less completely)

    Anyway, thanks for the opportunity for the most in-depth WC discussion I probbaly had since the release of Arena. :)

    I would bet on it that the crappy Kilrathi fighters (and that includes mounting only DF missiles on the crappiest Kilrathi fighters) were a game design choice to make the game easier. The Sartha and Drakhri are just cannon fodder.

    Oh, I didn't mean that being a stealth fighter would be any limitation for carrying DFs, on the contrary: it makes sense to mount DF on a stealth fighter because you can sneak up behind an enemy and get real close and then let loose with the DF so that the chance of evading is pretty diminshed.
     
  19. Ijuin

    Ijuin Admiral

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    Even though Kilrathi have the "warrior's honor" thing going, they don't seem to have much of the masochistic "do it the hard way because it's more manly" streak found in say, the Klingons. If they did, then we could say that the use of unguided missiles was meant as a statement of warrior prowess ("a TRUE warrior can hit his target without automated guidance") that waxed and waned in fashionability as the Kilrathi gained or lost the upper hand in the war.
     
  20. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    That was certainly the point :). I think we probably contributed more posts in a couple of days than are normally posted at the whole forum in a month :(.

    Absolutely. It's a part of a bigger trend - I mean, come on, where are the Krants and Hhrisses of WC2? Ironically, the Hhriss itself, if it were present in WC2, would be one of the most powerful Kilrathi fighters of the period.

    But the interesting thing (and we're really going off-topic now, but who cares? :) ) is that the changes are actually pretty subtle - especially the Salthi/Sartha. It's not just a case of the Kilrathi having a good light fighter in WC1 and a crappy one in WC2. The Sartha is slower than the Salthi and less maneouvrable (athough the in-game 80/80/80 is still pretty respectable), but substantially better shielded and armoured (the equivalent of both the Dralthi Mk. I and Mk. II in almost every way, with 0.5 cm less armour in front, and 0.5 more in the back; note that in-game, the Dralthi Mk. II had identical stats as the Mk. I). In weapons, it also can inflict more damage than both the Dralthi Mk. I and Mk. II - with the limitation of having a smaller range and higher energy usage. I wouldn't say it's the crappiest Kilrathi fighter, it's just very strongly oriented towards close quarters combat (where, ironically, its manoeuvrability is most likely to be a problem). And incidentally, at close quarters, scoring a hit with a dumbfire is much easier than with a guided missile. Personally, I am certain I would be able to perform better in a Sartha than a Salthi or Dralthi Mk. I / Mk. II - not because it's a better fighter, but because it suits my personal style better (I'm a poor shot, so I tend to be very aggressive, getting in as close as possible to the enemy ship).

    The Drakhri is a different story. It has more firepower than both the Dralthi Mk. I and Mk. II, but the increase is not as big as in the case of the Sartha, and in any case the ship is oriented more towards long-distance combat. Is it cannon fodder? Again, its weapon loadout is not bad compared to its Kilrathi predecessors (even the Krant), but certainly compared to the human ships it falls far behind. This, however, is about the only really convincingly good thing about the Drakhri. Its shields and armour are no better than the Sartha, and its speed and maoeuvrability are pretty lousy too.

    I think one of the issues involved may have been that with the increased manoeuvrability for Confed in WC2 (a necessity, if you're going to have the Rapier in the game as an old fighter), combat with a very manoeuvrable opponent simply would not be fun. You can get a taste of this in SO1, when you fly Epees against Epees - boy, oh boy, does that suck! The experience isn't really challenging, it's just plain frustrating, because you find yourself crashing into things so much. This is a specific characteristic of a sprite-based engine - an Epee in WCP, with the exact same stats (or rather: their numeric equivalent) is a thing of beauty. An Epee in WC2 is a crash waiting to happen. And if you're flying an Epee in WC2 and chasing after a fast, manoeuvrable foe that requires you to regularly use afterburners... well, not a fun experience.

    Yes, I understood you, but I assumed that you're also referring to the canonical (though, IIRC, not implemented in Armada) difficulties in getting a weapons lock while cloaked - e.g., the way skipper missiles must periodically decloak to get target lock. Hence I pointed out that in fact, there are stealth fighters with guided missiles. But if you only meant the positive benefits of using DFs as a stealth fighter, then no argument there :).

    That would make sense as well, except that in WC3, the Kilrathi have the absolute upper hand, and would logically be expected to use DFs at that point (at least, I'd assume they'd want to make things harder for themselves). Then again, the novels tell us that after the falling for the armistice trick, mankind lost a lot of the respect the Kilrathi had built up.
     

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