Privateers in Confed

Discussion in 'General Wing Commander Chat' started by Blaster, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. Blaster

    Blaster Rear Admiral

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    I've been thinking about Privateers in the Terran-Kilrathi war and how they were organized and operated. Unfortunately I can't remember any mention of them anywhere except the game Privateer, and i think only the player character gets called that. Since the game is so free-form it doesn't give us much information of how these people actually acted, just a little on how they could have done things. Is there any mention of how Confederation Privateers actually operated (or Kilrathi ones for that matter).
     
  2. Dyret

    Dyret Super Carrot!

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    The implication in Privateer seemed to be local goverments would pay civilians to get rid of raiders and such, Kilrathi or otherwise. I doubt they'd have much real involvement with the war itself beyond that.
     
  3. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    I think you have to infer from what you see in the game. A privateer is simply someone who owns their own spaceship, operates independently, possibly but not necessarily engaging in small-time trade, and at least occasionally accepts official bounty missions.

    In Privateer, time and again you run into bounty hunters. Although they are named differently - perhaps because the name is evocative of Boba Fett and his ilk - it really doesn't seem like there is any difference between what the player does and what they do. So, bounty hunters are privateers as well - and for all we know, when not busy shooting at the player, they may take jobs hunting Kilrathi marauders and the like. The only noticeable difference is that they have the Demon available to them, and the player does not - a somewhat-scandalous fact from the perspective of what the game's universe "should" offer to the player character, though undoubtedly good from a gameplay perspective of having few, but strongly differentiated ships.
     
  4. DefianceIndustries

    DefianceIndustries Commodore

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    It's interesting because in the game you really aren't a privateer in the traditional sense of the word. You're basically a mercenary/free trader taking whatever jobs for cash. A true privateer would hold something like a commission or letter of marque from Confed (ostensibly even the Kilrathi ones...which doesn't really work) to raid and harass enemy shipping and the like. However since the Mechwarrior franchise already had a hold on "mercenary" it was probably a marketing decision. ;)
     
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  5. AD

    AD Finder of things, Doer of stuff

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    Other than that he's running a secret ops group, the idea in WC2 is that Paladin is pretending to be basically what you are in Privateer. The merchantman isn't really that different that flying a Galaxy. The main WC story games (WCs 1-5) have a bit of a narrow perspective though, so you don't see a lot beyond military life.
     
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  6. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    The other thing worth keeping in mind is that being a privateer in the traditional sense would be an entirely different challenge than what the player actually faced in the game. Privateers traditionally were not paid at all, instead their reward was the loot they captured. Well, we do sometimes see a bit of salvageable cargo after a freighter is destroyed, but presumably most of the cargo is destroyed with the ship. So, for a privateer to function well, it wouldn't do to just fly a Centurion around and blow up enemy ships - you'd have to operate a ship big enough to be able to deploy a boarding party on an enemy freighter. So, it's actually a bigger scale of operations, with different kinds of complications. I'm sure this is something that nobody at Origin ever really considered seriously - shipboard combat would have made Privateer an excessively complicated project. The game solves this with the elegant solution of simply having Confed hand out money for the destruction of enemy ships, but if you think about the scale of the war, this is probably exactly what went on anyway - from Confed's perspective, it would be far more productive for a privateer to blow up one ship after another after another for as long as possible, than to have him fly back to a friendly port to drop off loot after every major encounter.
     
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  7. Bandit LOAF

    Bandit LOAF Long Live the Confederation!

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    Worth remembering that the Privateer name came pretty late; the game was originally marketed as "Trade Commander!"
     
  8. Blaster

    Blaster Rear Admiral

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    That is something that always seemed strange to me. It probably was the right thing to do as far gameplay is concerned, but if Talons and Demons are so easy to obtain in Gemini Sector you would expect the player to be able to get them somehow. At least the ship dealers tell you that draymans are extremely expensive to explain why you can't buy them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
  9. ChrisReid

    ChrisReid Super Soaker Collector / Administrator

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    Was there Mechwarrior Mercenaries stuff before 1996?

    It may seem a little strange from today's point of view, but it shouldn't have been too odd from a 1993 perspective. When games still shipped on floppy disk, every single cockpit took up precious kilobytes and suspension of disbelief on things like that was in high gear. There was always lots outside the realm of what the player character could reach - from being able to see the "true" detail in gameplay vs cutscenes to having each world type be basically identical. Just having multiple (virtually identical) planets to go visit was magical.
     
  10. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    This is true, but - it does raise an interesting question about the Righteous Fire expansion. The WC1/2 expansions released up until that point - and heck, even Academy could be counted as a sort of standalone expansion - typically included a new player ship. I think the only exception was SM1. Righteous Fire does not introduce a new player ship. Well… was this something anyone considered along the way? It certainly doesn't feel like a new ship is missing, in the sense that you feel like it's something that may have been cut. Probably it was a very early decision to not have a new ship. But was there ever a point, even early in the design process, where they did seriously consider it? If yes, why not? I can think of a couple very good reasons to not have a new ship, but I'd sure love to know what Origin thought at the time.
     
  11. Bandit LOAF

    Bandit LOAF Long Live the Confederation!

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    It's an interesting question. I've never seen any hint of a desire to add a new ship in design documents or from speaking to folks involved... and while I can't answer it definitively, I would guess that if it was ever considered it was discarded pretty quickly. Several reasons:

    - Pure resource consideration: the hero ships in Privateer take up a lot more disk space and development time than the ones in Wing Commander II. They have more animations and more gameflow appearances to fill out... and they're 100% 3D rendered at a time when render stations were at a premium. Origin had PLENTY of talented 2D artists who could turn out a WC2-style cockpit for a mission disk... but 3D talent and render time were both precious in 1994. (Similarly, everything else was bigger, too... the mission disks are about reliable revenue and there was no chance they were going to add a third disk.)

    - Dependencies. A new ship in Privateer needs to slot into some existing systems that aren't designed to support it... even moreso than the Dralthi in The Secret Missions. You could incorporate it in the story somehow to perhaps avoid the problem of redoing the 'store' interface... but you'd still need to make sure all the existing visible components fit in the repair bay and that its animation fits in every type of base launch/landing.

    - Three years makes a BIG difference. Wing Commander I 'invented' the mission disk, Wing Commander II made it a factory process and used it to train the next generation of talented developers... Righteous Fire (and Tactical Operations, which also didn't have a new aircraft) were developed knowing that they were the very end of the line, a chance to turn a profit before CD-ROM took over completely. Just look at the Righteous Fire credits compared to the other mission disks... it's not veterans of the first game (they've moved on to WC3) and it's not up and comers who we'll recognize later on.
     

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