People just don't make games like WC anymore

t.c.cgi

Vice Admiral
Nowadays things seem bleak because instead of games targeting the small portion of the overall players, they try to target everyone who may be at all interested. It's how I feel with most games now.

There's no special award for making a game that's mass-market unfriendly and only going to sell to the developer's friends. There was nothing exclusive about the Wing Commander games. The market was still on the high of the space programs that also fed Star Trek movies and TV series (which have funnily enough suffered the same limbo as WC). People wanted to buy a joystick and an expensive rig so they could ride that high. We had X-Wings and Tie Fighters up to our eyeballs.

Today the high has faded into a sense of "oh, yeah that." Fantasy and modern military replaces science fiction and demon/pig-cop shooters. In another 10-20 years we may see the tastes shift again and be up to our eyeballs in games set in the Romantic and Victorian eras.



Anyway...I look at games now and see people trying to build these giant sprawling epics. These games that are not measured by the weight of their storylines, but of the content of your hourly commitment to them. Most of us who work full-time can probably say that most of our free time isn't spent trying to get that next level in Fallout 3, or traveling across Ferelden to enlist some Elves for some asskicking in Dragon age.

Fallout 3 reminds me a lot of the Privateer games, namely having this story thing over here but having all this other stuff you can explore and do over there. And under it all there are means to get better guns and ships... err... power armor, although you can do the whole game in your Tarsus... err... vault jumpsuit.

The shortness of games in the early 90's was entirely technical. They didn't have terrabyte harddrives, gigabytes of ram, or blue-ray discs. Remember how it took five minutes to load a mission in WC3? Or that your harddrive held less data than a single CD? As technical limitations are withdrawn developers can realize new objectives. Just imagine what kind of sprawling epics the Privateer games would have been if made with today's technology.

But to be optimistic. Maybe if current game devs put down the pen and put it into the hands of real writers. Maybe we could see some decent stories come out of the industry that don't have the words "FOXDIE" "Force" "Mana" or "Mako" or even "Zanarkand" as key McGuffins.

Development teams have plenty of dedicated, professional writers. But just like movies, writers don't top the list of credits. If not for the CIC staffers pointing out who really wrote some of the Wing Commander games we'd just be mindlessly swooning over Mr. Roberts.

And I'm not sure how to respond to a complaint that games try to have an objective in their story. Even Luke Skywalker and Frodo Baggins had their McGuffins to see to.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
The shortness of games in the early 90's was entirely technical. They didn't have terrabyte harddrives, gigabytes of ram, or blue-ray discs. Remember how it took five minutes to load a mission in WC3? Or that your harddrive held less data than a single CD? As technical limitations are withdrawn developers can realize new objectives. Just imagine what kind of sprawling epics the Privateer games would have been if made with today's technology.
You're both wrong - you and the post you were responding to :). Games are not longer than they were back in the 1990s - the technical limitations you mention have actually forced developers to make smaller games as time goes by. Of course, there are sprawling epics out there - but they've always been there, and they tend to be shorter today than they had once been. Privateer was longer than Freelancer. Doom was longer than Modern Warfare 2. Arena was longer than Oblivion. Fallout 1 was longer than Fallout 3.

You may be surprised about what I said in regards to technical limitations. Here's the thing - today, making another level in an FPS game takes infinitely more resources than it did back in the days of Doom. Similarly, nobody minded that Privateer was filled with dozens upon dozens of identical bases - but to make Freelancer, they had to spend infinitely more resources to make a whole bunch of different-looking bases (...and still got hammered in reviews for having a dull universe). So, most developers cannot afford anything that would come even close to the games of the early 1990s in terms of gameplay span. The result, though, is that when a sprawling epic is made today, it seems far bigger than its predecessors. Freelancer, for all its limitations, in spite of its terribly lousy gameplay and ship balancing, has a far more interesting universe to explore than Privateer did. Fallout 3 undoubtedly has more interesting places to visit than Fallout 1 did. So, even though these games actually have less to explore, you're willing to spend more time in them.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I don't know... as I recall, it took me about 12 hours to finish Freelancer. And given that the second half of its story was awful, awful, awful stuff - I'd say it was actually six hours too long :).
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
For what it's worth, I liked Freelancer, despite it feeling too short and the 'awful, awful, awful stuff' later on. But then, I'm fairly easy to please.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I wanted to like it. It was really close to being a good game. The main two things that disappointed me were a) the storyline (I loved it right up to the point where it turns out there's some weird alien ghosts involved), and b) the ship balancing (it made no sense for each country to have progressively better ships; and on top of that, you'd wind up with the best ship by going through the story, so what's there to do afterwards?). But there's a lot of depth to the game, a lot of stuff that the "hurry, hurry, keep moving!" storyline just doesn't let you appreciate.

I actually have my Freelancer save archived somewhere, and I keep meaning to re-install the game and search for that darned Hispania.
 

Delance

Victory, you say?
I wanted to like it. It was really close to being a good game. The main two things that disappointed me were a) the storyline (I loved it right up to the point where it turns out there's some weird alien ghosts involved),

Yes, that was terrible. The story was very good until that point. It’s somewhat incredible the way the simple existence of the Nomads completely ruined the story. However, it’s easily demonstrable, and it goes the other way around.

Did you ever saw the terrible unused intro? They did a terrific job editing it and turning it into the great intro we saw on the final product. What did they remove from the intro? The Nomads.

and b) the ship balancing (it made no sense for each country to have progressively better ships; and on top of that, you'd wind up with the best ship by going through the story, so what's there to do afterwards?). But there's a lot of depth to the game, a lot of stuff that the "hurry, hurry, keep moving!" storyline just doesn't let you appreciate.

And also Liberty is the superpower and has the weaker ships. They should have used that old trick in which everyone in the universe levels up to match the player.

Also, you were supposed to explore the universe in detail on the after-story SP or MP. There's lots of interesting places to go and explore that are not covered on the campaign.

I actually have my Freelancer save archived somewhere, and I keep meaning to re-install the game and search for that darned Hispania.

It's not difficult at all, for as long as you make friends with the Outcasts.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Also, you were supposed to explore the universe in detail on the after-story SP or MP. There's lots of interesting places to go and explore that are not covered on the campaign.
Yep. The trouble with that, though, was that after you'd ended the story, about all you could do was explore and sightsee. There's no ship upgrading to speak of, it would be pretty hard to end the game without that special super-duper ship. And, even though some ships were in various ways better than that one, nobody would ever trade it in for a different ship - it goes against our collector's instinct to give up a ship that you can never get your hands on again. So, as fun as it might be to explore the universe - you just don't have anything else to do.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Also, you were supposed to explore the universe in detail on the after-story SP or MP. There's lots of interesting places to go and explore that are not covered on the campaign.

That's actually why I played the campaign, I was under the mis-taken impression that it would take me all over the place. But since there's only like ten missions you actually have to do, it only ends up covering a very small part of what was made into a very large universe.

My much bigger complaint about the game - specifically the multi player servers - is the lack of persistence. You can make the same cargo run for the same amount of profits over...and over...and over. And the prices never change. I never played Privateer (something I will have to fix one day) but I played Privateer 2, and one of the most fun parts of the game was desperately racing to get to the site of a civil war so you could sell all the weapons you had up in your cargo holds.

I didn't really like how you could never have any affect on the territory or the trade routes for the NPC's, either. No matter how many times I took a mission to kill the leader of the Liberty Rogues they always stayed the same amount of strength. It would have been much better to have some give and take there.

I do have to say though, I actually liked the original intro video BETTER because it set up the plot better. The removal of the nomads from the intro video should have gone on to include the removal of the nomads from the game, otherwise they should have been left in the original video.

And yeah, the ship progression really sucked. There really was no point in playing anymore after you got done with the main campaign.
 

t.c.cgi

Vice Admiral
For me it was less the nomads specifically and more the disjointed feel I got when they put a world bigger and more interesting than Privateer's on strict rails.

Oh, I did play further beyond the storyline to get the corsair(?) ship and all the special guns on it. But given all the open-world games then and now don't have much in the way of allowing the player to actually affect the game world once the story is over, it boils down to a gauntlet shooter. And that wears thin quickly.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
...you'd wind up with the best ship by going through the story, so what's there to do afterwards?
There are quite a few ships arguably better than the Anubis available in unaligned systems - particularly those dominated by the Corsairs and the Outcasts. Although the improvements are perhaps not that appreciably greater, I suppose it's a matter of opinion.

But there's a lot of depth to the game, a lot of stuff that the "hurry, hurry, keep moving!" storyline just doesn't let you appreciate.
There was some freedom in between missions, but once you accumulated enough wealth to trigger the next mission, it's pretty hard to ignore with the navigation constantly showing you your route to the next mission objective, by default.

I actually have my Freelancer save archived somewhere, and I keep meaning to re-install the game and search for that darned Hispania.
As Delance mentioned, it isn't too hard. It's rather close to the Outcasts' home planet. I have three sets of completed save games archived, and I make a habit of exploring each and every system by following the various factions' patrol routes. You'd be surprised how much treasure and other interesting locations are available just by doing that.

And, even though some ships were in various ways better than that one, nobody would ever trade it in for a different ship - it goes against our collector's instinct to give up a ship that you can never get your hands on again.
Oh, so you did know about them after all. Heh, I suppose I have no 'collector's instinct' then, I was happy to trade in the Anubis for the more powerful ships. But, of course, I did make a save game before doing so, so I still had 'access' to the Anubis, in a sense.

No matter how many times I took a mission to kill the leader of the Liberty Rogues they always stayed the same amount of strength. It would have been much better to have some give and take there.
To be fair, I think this amount of flexibility would have been rather difficult to implement for a game that was already way overdue.

I do have to say though, I actually liked the original intro video BETTER because it set up the plot better.
I've heard a bit about the original introduction in the past, but where might I be able to see it?
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
I think this is the one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsWPFUzxgRU

EDIT: I can say though, I did think the single player story was enhanced by the sudden revelation in the middle of the game, more so then if I had seen this original video and been anticipating their reveal at some point in the story. But I also think this intro video was enhanced by their inclusion of the Aliens, which sort of set up the plot that was going to come about in the full game. I would have liked to have seen a balance struck between the two.

I watched a behind the scenes video on you tube (since I was looking for the link anyway) and one of the developers said they wanted a living breathing universe...and they really failed, because the Freelancer universe is pretty static from beginning to end.
 

Dyret

Super Carrot!
I do have to say though, I actually liked the original intro video BETTER because it set up the plot better.

Seriously? The final intro amazing, I mean,

"...but we'll never forget the sacrifice of the brave men and women that gave their lives so we could live to start again"

versus

"...but we'll never forget that generic space aliens exploded the solar system in a long tedious explosion because blowing up planets just isn't cool/scary/whatever enough anymore."

It's not even close.

I absolutely agree that the Nomads should have been cut from the game, though.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Seriously? The final intro amazing, I mean,

"...but we'll never forget the sacrifice of the brave men and women that gave their lives so we could live to start again"

versus

"...but we'll never forget that generic space aliens exploded the solar system in a long tedious explosion because blowing up planets just isn't cool/scary/whatever enough anymore."

I agree, in that context it's not close at all - but you left out the part where in it's final moments the surviving members of earth's humanity were finally united as one people. After playing through the Starlancer plot line it was nice to see that even though both sides lost there was at least something that could connect them at the end.

Besides that, when the Order is finally revealed in Freelancer it was kind of strange. There's been a super secret order for 800 years? The old intro sets that up nicely with the surviving general as the establisher of the Order.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I agree, in that context it's not close at all - but you left out the part where in it's final moments the surviving members of earth's humanity were finally united as one people. After playing through the Starlancer plot line it was nice to see that even though both sides lost there was at least something that could connect them at the end.
They were united? Hmm, so why are all the refugees from just one side of Starlancer's conflict? :)
 

Delance

Victory, you say?
The worst thing of the old intro is that it closes the door to a very interesting question: what happened to the Solar System under coalition control for 800 years?

This isn't explored at all on the story mode for obvious reasons, but it was still much better then "ops, they got blown up".
 
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