In Praise of Prophecy


Rear Admiral
The unwanted stepchild of the mainline series. But there were some good things about "Wing Commander 5".

  • You got the simulator back
  • you had an actual Interceptor fighter that made sense (but ugly as sin)
  • with the Wasp, Panther, and Vampire you had unique characteristics to make them feel unique
  • you could target different sections of the enemy ships and lock onto them with missiles
Well guys and gals, what do you like about Prophecy? You don't have to mention the theme song of course. We all liked that! ;)

@Bandit LOAF Uh..can you move this thread to the general wing commander chat?
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  • The combat is fun.
  • I finally got my wish of playing with a gratha's loadout by virtue of the tigershark.
  • It has amazing mods.
  • The Kilrathi are fun to see.
  • Maestro tries so hard with the lines he's given.
  • The capship coms are really good.
  • the collision detection was much much better than any previous wing commander
  • Capship combat was interesting
  • The missions were well balanced, never felt unfair, never felt like I wasn't contributing.
I don't actually dislike Prophecy at all. I think gameplay-wise it's the funnest and easily the most polished game in the series and though the Nephilim are kind of generic that's mostly the fault of never having time to develop like the Kilrathi did. That's really the biggest problem with Prophecy. It's not that it was a bad game but that there's just too little of it. It's the first part in a multi-part story that we never got the other parts to, making it a frustrating teaser of what might have been.

I also don't think the FMV production felt like that big of a step back from Wing Commander IV. They did pretty well with the few sets they had. The story could have been better but it's not awful and like I said, it suffers from being a part 1 without a real part 2 aside from Secret Ops.

Also the GBA version is so much better than it has any right to be. Such a technically impressive port. I played it to death when it came out.

The Iceman's boy deserved more adventures.
- Fighters were back to their unique roles. Too bad not enough missions in the Piranha.
- Continuation of the story, with a fresh start and a clean killroster for you.
- Excellent cast, with "Casey" actually being the worst actor
- Probably a lot better pilot accomadations, no more bunks?
- Arguably the first game where I could completely wreck the engine sections of a capship and the ship was NOT capable of jumping out anymore.
- And ofcourse the foresight of Blair when he designed the Midway, he left the exact spacings between the dual hulls to mount a captured superweapon from an alien race they never heard of yet.
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I had the bizarre privilege of playing Prophecy before WC3 and WC4, so I wasn't 'spoiled' by the latters' emphasis on FMV productions. Going from WC1/2/Privateer to Prophecy was a huge leap in terms of graphics, but the game-play was still fun. And the fan projects based on is Vision engine have been astounding - I think people tend to find fault in Prophecy where it falls short of expectations after the expensive movie productions of WC3/4, and perhaps the under-developed aspects of game-play, such as the lack of detail in capital ship destruction.
The Vision engine is actually quite a good one, its culling algorithm is really pretty advanced. And now that we have the ability to hack in larger memory limits, we can do some really neat things with it. Vision probably has the most full some toolset for modding (with the possible exception of the awesome wctoolbox).

Maybe to reinvigorate interest in Vision, I might host a modding tutorial series on the discord. Depending on level of interest and my personal schedule.
Prophecy was a game I didn't appreciate at the time but grew to love, now it's one of my favrouites.

I'd fallen in love with Wing IV; that was my first positive exposure really to such a character based game. The casting and production quality both took a massive dive. To be honest I haven't come to re-evaluate this side of the game, it really suffered from CRs absence.

And then, at the time, I didn't appreciate the engine as much as I should have. I didn't have a 3DFX card; I wanted those visuals but my dad, whose PC I used at that age, had no reason to have such a card. I eventually talked him into getting the matrox millenium... it was awful. Firstly the D3D support in WCP was nowhere near as good as 3DFX (obviously at the time glide was more sophisticated but D3D had all those texel alignment issues etc). Even worse the performance was so bad I had to turn to software rendering for the final mission.
Freespace looked better.

But now, decades later, Prophecy and Secret Ops are the only games I can come back to. The flight mechanics are smooth, really smooth. Infact to this day I don't think I've played better. Indeed if I had to opportunity to remaster the whole series; WCP/SO are the only games where I'd even want the original engine. Everything else I'd do what we are doing with WC4, just support the file formats. The vision engine could have, *should* have, been home to many more WC titles, cutting development costs.

There's variety in guns, missiles, gimmicks like the wasp booster. Little things like an in-game menu rather than short cut keys make it feel substantially more modern too.

Add to that they were a modders dream; filenames in place rather than just CRCs, no weird mix of multiple compression algorithms for no real reason, the graphics library inside a completely seperate dll. I believe Prophecy really helped keep the franchise alive with the fans for decades.
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It's been so long ago now, but I remember going from software rendering to D3D - even with its flaws it was a big step up and I was excited to have it working. But yeah, I remember those alignment issues now - in particular on the lens flares as well as the ship analysis in the HUD. And nowadays I'm spoiled by the OpenGL enhancements you and the others have worked on, it's all surprisingly lovely even while running via Wine.
I played the game back in 1998 and I liked the gameplay and new feel of the cockpit and appreciated the guns and missile options, the cut schenes were not the best, not the best acting/roles like in WC4 but overall I like Prophecy and also Secret Ops especially after the mods, I replayed the hole game and I did appreciate it more. The space flight and combat is actually fun also very challenging on ace or hard difficulty settings.
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