Q's anger management thread (chock-full of spoilers!)

Sphynx

Commodore
Quarto,

As one of Saga’s writers, I thought I would share a few thoughts. Writing Saga was a very interesting experience. Saga’s story was originally the brain child of one author. He had a specific vision for all the characters and for the story as a whole, and he has a style which is fairly distinctive. He was heavily involved in all issues related to the script for a long time. Over time, several other writers were brought in to help (myself included), and at the end of the project I was the one doing most of the writing. The process has been much less like having an author write a story, and a lot more like having different authors write different chapters to the same story, then crossing over and adding and subtracting content from each other’s chapters. Then, the project leads also provided objectives, outlines, and ideas about how the story should go and would ask the writers to follow those objectives and come up with ways to make things work.

Part of what has made this complicated is that the various authors did not always see eye to eye. For example, I was never a fan of any of the “Hey, look at me, I’m stupid. So, I’m going to do something stupid and die and then everyone will say, ‘Look at that idiot burn! He deserved it!’” (such as the Lightspeed and Dawn examples that you gave). I originally tried to have all of them removed (for quite some time, in fact). As they stand, each of them is actually quite a toned down, subtle version of the way they were originally written (except for the Pothead dialogue and death scene, which remained pretty much as it did originally, and which I thought had all the delicacy and subtlety of a jackhammer to the thumb). However, to the original author, these moments were very, very important. So, in the end, we compromised, taking a toned down version of most of these events but leaving them in. They will appeal to some people, and to others they won’t (myself included). To me, it felt like the message is, “You only die if you do something stupid,” which felt like an unfair message to a lot of soldiers who don’t make it home.

(Interestingly enough, Quarto, I actually know the author’s original intent behind that Lightspeed line, and it’s not what you stated. I probably shouldn’t get in to it, but it wasn’t meant as a dig against non-career officers. I could get in to exactly what it is intended to, but it’s just better to let that all go right now. That was a spirited conversation between me and the original author at the time. As it is, the original line has been so greatly altered in its present form that there is hardly a way to trace it back to its originally intended target, unless you know the story, which I don’t feel inclined to share. I’ll let that particular sleeping dog lie.)

A visible example of the compromise can be seen by looking at the old prologue and comparing it to the new one. In the old prologue, Champ and his wing leader both act like idiots (“Hey, look at us, just the two of us can take on a swarm of fighters and a capital ship and everything is just cool,”) and then they die. With discussion, the compromise was to keep the event for the revamped prologue, but to change the situation. Now, it is a jealous Champ who just saw Sandman score some real kills and wants to prove he is better than Sandman (and possibly edge out Sandman for the attention of Panzer). So, Champ goes rogue, endangers his trainer and two fellow trainees, and ultimately gets himself and his wingleader killed in a tragic act of hubris. His trainer is the victim of Champ’s pride, and he dies trying to protect his fledgling pilots, not due to any fault of his own. That, to me, still stuck with the theme of Champ’s pride being his downfall, but of his wingleader dying as many brave soldiers do, trying to make the best of a bad situation.

I had originally added more dialogue in the Prologue to flesh out the triangle relationship of Sandman, Champ, and Panzer. But, it just got to be too much and was cut.

The same sort of thing applied to characters. I was a little surprised by how some of the characters changed just based off of what the voice actors brought to the table. For example, I never liked Greywolf on paper. But, the actor who did his voice brought something to him that actually got my liking him, in spite of his gruff exterior and constant picking on Sandman. Which leads me to another thing that changed over time; Sandman, in the original script, was treated as the perpetual newbie by absolutely everyone (with the possible exception of Phalanx). We left some of that in (with Greywolf, Psychopath, and Avatarr refusing to give Sandman any credit or respect), but let him gain respect in the site of other characters.

So, getting back to the point from my little tangent, some of these scenes (FortCrocket, the Kinney) have been around nearly from the beginning, and were very important to the original author and the story he wanted to tell. So, through all of the revisions and the compromises, these remained largely how he originally wrote them (with one exception. Originally there was a traitor involved in the death of the carrier eventually known as the Kinney. I thought that the traitor thing had been done enough in the Wing Commander universe, and I wanted the carrier to be lost because the Kilrathi genuinely overpowered it, not because some traitor allowed them to). I would agree with you that they way they transformed into gameplay probably results in the clunkiest parts of Saga, but because of their importance to the original author to his vision of the story, they remain.

(By the way, with the Kinney mission, go to afterburners, activate glide (alt+g), and then you will still have all your afterburner fuel for the battle when you arrive together with your whole squadron.)

I also have to give some props, though. When I read in the script about the whole Valkyries squadron deal, it just didn’t seem to work for me on paper. However, when I saw it implemented, I actually liked it (due partially to the voice actors who really sold it for me and just the way it turned out to be a really fun mission). So, I am not going to try to say that my view on how the script should have been finalized is always right. I was wrong on that one, and was pleasantly surprised.

I have a distinctive style, and for those who know me well, they will easily pick out which missions and pieces of dialogue were written primarily by me (you will find my influence particularly in the last series of missions). I also did quite a few revisions on mission flow and dialogue written primarily by other authors, while still having to stick close to what they originally wrote. And sometimes my ideas were entirely shot down or gutted. An English major doing a manuscript analysis (or a psychologist doing an evaluation of the script) could probably go through this with no foreknowledge about how many authors have worked on it and pick out the various styles of each of the authors without too much difficulty. I am not a perfect writer, none of the writers are. In fact, none of the criticisms I have heard brought up about the script are anything new beyond what the writers pointed out in each other’s ideas while we were developing the script.

So, what am I saying by all this? I am saying that I think Quarto’s critiques are valid. I think there are some parts of the script I love, and some parts I am not in love with. The final is what it is as a result of years of both conflict and compromise, which has admittedly left it imperfect. It is just my hope that in the end, the gist of what we are trying to portray, of what I was personally trying to say in my portions, gets across and connects with some of the people who play.

I do want to be clear. Even though the primary author and I have not seen eye to eye on many things over the last decade, I have a lot of respect for him and the sheer amount of work he put in to this project. Without him, there would not be a Saga, so even though I have some points of disagreement with him, I am very thankful for his contribution and for letting me have mine. We have both learned a lot about compromise through the whole process.

I just want to let you know that if you have criticism for parts of the script or dialogue that I wrote, I am very open to it and want to learn from the reactions you guys have to it.
 

Iceblade

Admiral
Yeah, that Valkyrie thing seems plain juvenile and out of place on paper, but was pulled off masterfully. It didn't seem weird or out of place, and while you knew what was coming, it was pure fun all the same. (Except for those missiles, but that is gripe with the AI and the missile design.
 

Iceman16

Vice Admiral
One thing I find weird about Saga is how for the first 1/3rd of the game Confed is in rough shape, systems are falling to the Kilrathi, carriers move from one defense mission to another, everyone is complaining and then suddenly there's no more mention of that and Confed actually starts advancing right up to outside Kilrah like magic. I know it's probably because the build up of the last Kilrathi armada around Kilrah didn't leave many ships to hold the line and it could have been part of Thrakhaths plan, but I don't think that was handled very well overall. The first 1/3rd of the game was masterful in it's vice grip of your emotions as it really felt like you were fighting a losing war, there were a few missions where I thought I was on the losing branch (if branching was allowed, damned technical limitations!).

Also, to be honest the game got a little boring after you start flying Excaliburs, didn't take as much skill to shoot down fighters and it seemed like there were a whole lot more in the Excal missions too. I do like the ending mission though, my heart started pumping a little faster after the Hermes showed up and I had to defend her while trying to take out the Wroughtghars (sp?) anti-matter guns. I still feel sorry for the first wave of Confed fighters to go up against him, they were so close to making it to the end of the war!
 

Lorien

Rear Admiral
So, who's responsible for Colonel M.D? I just quit the game because I couldn't deal with another mission involving that particular reference again tonight.
 

mustanger

Rear Admiral
One thing I find weird about Saga is how for the first 1/3rd of the game Confed is in rough shape, systems are falling to the Kilrathi, carriers move from one defense mission to another, everyone is complaining and then suddenly there's no more mention of that and Confed actually starts advancing right up to outside Kilrah like magic. I know it's probably because the build up of the last Kilrathi armada around Kilrah didn't leave many ships to hold the line and it could have been part of Thrakhaths plan, but I don't think that was handled very well overall. The first 1/3rd of the game was masterful in it's vice grip of your emotions as it really felt like you were fighting a losing war, there were a few missions where I thought I was on the losing branch (if branching was allowed, damned technical limitations!).

Also, to be honest the game got a little boring after you start flying Excaliburs, didn't take as much skill to shoot down fighters and it seemed like there were a whole lot more in the Excal missions too. I do like the ending mission though, my heart started pumping a little faster after the Hermes showed up and I had to defend her while trying to take out the Wroughtghars (sp?) anti-matter guns. I still feel sorry for the first wave of Confed fighters to go up against him, they were so close to making it to the end of the war!
Kinda like WC3 in that respect, though!

Are you flying on the highest difficulty? You may have to adjust your difficulty up a notch or two to get the challenge you want.

As far as the story with Confed on the ropes and all, that really isn't Saga's story, that is WC3's story. You have to realize that pushing up to Kilrah's door was never really the problem, it was surviving the attempt. Ultimately, if Blair fails to nuke Kilrah, Confed gets hammered in Freya, and the Kilrathi storm Earth in a week or two. You are simply part of the remainder of Confed that can rally to engage the Kilrathi in a diversionary mission.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Indeed, if you look at the star map you see that there are several jump points into Kilrah, and from Freya or Hyperion you can even reach Kilrah with only two jumps:
http://download.wcnews.com/files/wcp/wcum.jpg

As mustanger said, it is the same way in WC3: Confed is retreating almost everywhere, the war looks really bad for the terrans. So they put all their strength in this two attacks (Behemoth, which fails horribly, and the Temblor bomb run).The problem is not to get into Kilrah, but the problem is to survive tha attack. :)
So while it may look strange if you haven't played WC3 (this i generally a problem of Saga, I think people who haven't played WC3 don't get parts of the story) it is the way things are described in the canonical sources.

@Lorien: I don't know, but most people like it, so I'm sorry you don't. But I can assure you that this character does not appear in too many missions (IIRC 2 or 3 maximum, and he has just a few lines)
 

Dondragmer

Rear Admiral
For the good of future mods, and original new games for that matter, can we please see an end to this game design anti-pattern?
  1. Briefing.
  2. Interaction. Do the tasks described in the briefing.
  3. Surprise! Surprise delivered by unskippable conversation.
  4. Interaction. React to the surprise.
  5. On failure, go back to 2. On success, end mission.
WC3 was an early user, and Starlancer had it in practically every mission. However, it's not unique to the Roberts, or to space sims. Crimson Skies was a competent game that nearly ruined itself with in-mission surprises. It mostly affects sims, because they often have long missions. It's surprisingly common in "open world" games, like the later entries in the Grand Theft Auto series. Games with quicksave are immune, and games with checkpoints are fine as long as the checkpoints are placed between the conversation and the interaction, without placing the player in an unrecoverable state.

It must be very tempting. It feels like you're really integrating the plot with the game, and that's supposed to be a good thing. Except, you often break the game to deliver that plot. Characters become invincible during the conversation, or explode for no reason - breaking the immersion instead of increasing it.

Also, no matter how good your writing is, I'll only pay attention to the conversation the first time. On the second I'll ignore it. On the third, I'll fly around shooting at cutscene-invincible ships and giggling. On the fifth, I will hunt down your scriptwriter and voice actor, and duel them with cabbages until only one remains standing.

I am not suggesting that the Saga team re-write to suit some random person on the Internet. This is a plea for mods currently in development. Separate your plot delivery from your interaction - and never force us to repeat the former because we "failed" the latter. If your engine doesn't support this any other way, make separate "missions" out of each event, like this:
  1. Launch and first autopilot
  2. First enemy encounter to end of briefed mission.
  3. Surprise! Drama! Talking heads!
  4. First enemy encounter of surprise
  5. End of mission conversations and landing.
Yes, in most engines the player's ship and wingmen will be magically repaired between the interactions in 2 and 4. Won't we complain that this ruins our suspension of disbelief? No, we'll be too busy dodging lasers, because you dropped us in at the next point of interaction - didn't you?

Your mod may still contain hammy dialog, cheating scripted events, or unbalanced missions. However, damage from those will be localized. We'll only see the dialog and events once, and we'll have more patience for difficult missions if we can instantly drop back into the action.

Also look for ways to communicate through the environment, so you don't hold up the action at all. Does a transport crew really need 30 seconds to say how damaged they are, or can you add dents and leaks to their ship? Does the suicidally overconfident pilot need a long script, or can you give them a ship texture spray-painted with insults? Must we hear them die screaming, or can we find the tumbling wreckage of their fighter afterwards? Some engines may not permit this, but it would be neat to see it done...
 

Lorien

Rear Admiral
@Lorien: I don't know, but most people like it, so I'm sorry you don't. But I can assure you that this character does not appear in too many missions (IIRC 2 or 3 maximum, and he has just a few lines)
Yeah, I've progressed past that point and he's stopped irritating me as much. A big part of the frustration is covered by Dondragmer above. It's a lot of chatting in a mission with a rather difficult secondary objective. FS2's targeting keys don't help in that regard, either, with the B key seemingly ignoring close by bombers on torpedo runs in favour of someone on the far side of the system. I'll go back and try the secondary objective again later when I'm in a better mood :)
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Sphynx, thanks for the reply. It's interesting to hear how you guys interacted - on Standoff, I didn't really have such issues, I virtually wrote it alone (Eder only ever intervened to cut, cut, cut... :)), so I get to take responsibility for the whole thing, and any suckage is purely my doing.

And yes, you're right - some very magical things happen between the written and the recorded script. In fact, if you look up on the internet the script to whatever your favourite movie is, there's a pretty good chance that you'll be disappointed when you read it. Unless you know it well enough that you'll hear the actors' voices in your head, you'll find that the dialogues are often kinda wooden, sometimes you'll destroy a line by interpreting the punctuation differently than the actor did in the end, and in other cases, the magic is made by the way one actor's lines are intercut with another's.

(One of the guys here, Ilanin, had recorded a series of "Let's play" videos for Standoff, a whole bunch of missions and cutscenes. I watched a couple of them last week, and I was blown away by how horrid one of the cutscenes in Episode One felt (and the Ep One cutscenes are stuff we added retroactively in Episode Five, so technically - that should be us at our absolute finest). On paper, it was great. In practice, because our talking heads just don't look so great when not talking, we try to avoid long pauses - and this scene desperately needed them, otherwise it made no sense. That's how much of a difference you can make, not by acting, not by writing, but by merely adding or subtracting half a second's worth of silence between two lines.)

In Saga's case, I didn't have any problems with Greywolf when he speaks. I did have a problem when I read his dialogues in the fiction, but in the game, he's definitely much better than on paper. I'm disappointed to hear though, that he will never develop to change his attitude towards the player - that's a very weird creative decision, it's as if at the end of WC2, Blair destroyed K'tithrak Mang, shot down Prince Thrakhath, and then came home to find that in spite of everything, Tolwyn actually still thinks he's the traitor. Still, if at least some of the characters change, that may turn out ok - I'll have to wait and see.

About Champ's death - I must admit, I didn't even notice the changes in the Prologue, because I couldn't remember the original release any more. So, I cannot judge if you made an improvement to this scene or not, I can only judge the way the current version works. And it really almost does... it falls flat on some details and winds up a bit ham-handed because of it. I like the general idea - jealousy makes good sense, and it's very hubrisy and all. His wing commander's death becomes a tragedy (what is a pity, is that you didn't give the player some situation in a subsequent mission to reinforce this point - a situation where he could directly influence the life or death of a wingman depending on his own actions). There are two problems with Champ's death. The first is that you get a lecture about it right in the middle of a dogfight. That's just very unnatural. If you're trying to stay alive, maneouvring, shooting, dodging gunfire, you'd push all such considerations out of your head, you'd save the lecture for a more convenient time. I don't know how the reality of war looks - who knows, maybe soldiers actually do lecture each other in foxholes? - but even if that were realistic (though I doubt it :))... it's not authentic. Something can be realistic and feel fake (inauthentic) because it defies the audience's expectations of a situation. The other thing that went wrong with Champ is that the fiction drives us too hard to dislike the guy. He's the obnoxious rich kid all the way. It's a waste, it turns him into a stereotype. In the space of three missions, you couldn't have possibly have made the player actually like Champ, but he could at least have been likeable. What if he had actually been the opposite - a poor kid who barely even got into the academy thanks to a scholarship that required him to keep his grades top-level all the way, so he's very hard-working, everyone likes him, but tends to be very competitive (because he can't get out of that mindset that unless he's number one, he'll lose his chance)? Or... well, there's so many things that could have been done, but instead, all we have is the same obnoxious rich kid we see in most teen-angst movies. And it seems to me that with everyone always putting the player down, Saga already has a little too much of that teen-angst feel ;).

Oh, Iceblade mentioned the Valkiries. I can't judge that mission yet - I haven't had time to play it again, so I haven't finished it, and I won't play it again at least until next monday. When I did play it... well, at the start of the mission, I thought: "no, no, no. They're gonna rip off Apocalypse Now." When I reached the point where the music started, it was actually ok - I mean, hey, it's Wagner, what could possibly be better for air combat? I was slightly bothered by the idea of 27th century pilots drawing inspiration from a 20th century movie (seriously - how often do you hear someone quoting Chaucer? :)), but that's not Saga's problem, that's Wing Commander in general - I mean, does it make sense that Zero listens to Queen? :)

So ultimately, just one small thing bothers me about the Valkiries. Did Confed seriously put a pilot named Wagner in command of the Valkiries? And Wagner, naturally, thought of using Wagner's music? Really? And all those other pilots just happened to have appropriate, matching callsigns, or is it a squadron requirement that every new pilot changes his callsign to fit the squadron? Cultural references are always difficult, and dreadfully easy to overdo...
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Concerning Champ: outside the missions (in the fiction viewer) I didn't get the impression that he was too stereotypic. Maybe you mean the same as I do but I git the impression he was more of a ....Stiffler (loud but somewhat still nice rich guy, that is usually a bit anoying but a good guy at heart) than a Draco Malfoy (spoiled brat).

To the Valkyries and their names:
I think it is a squadron thing. Colonel Wagner founded that elite squadron and somebody recalled the Valkyries because of Wagner's name and attitude. And they thought it would be cool if they all had such callsigns, they feel even more elite that way.
When I first saw that part of story I thought it would be totally over the top and very clicheed and strange. And it was! But the beauty in that is that it is still cool. My brother, my parents, myself and at least 4 other people I showed this mission were thrilled and found it absolutely cool. I personally think this mission is one of the highligths in the campaign, even though you fly a Hellcat and have to shoot at missiles, which I both dislike.

Greywolf... I think he is a remnant of something old, and I also think he comes across very strange. He was supposed to be an unfriendly guy that never changes I think (in contrast to Psychopath for example). The fiction viewer entry (the only one in Darkest Dawn I might add, which I personally think is sad but fans seem to like it) makes it clear that he dislikes Sandman how he dislikes every new pilot, period.
...but then it changed. During the missions he is actually a rather cool guy, which is why people think he is described a bit strangely in that text.
I "blame" that mainly on two things:
1. He is one of the older characters in the story, that was created a loong time before the story was finished. And the story changed a lot since it was first written. Some parts are ten years old while others are rather new.
2. The voice actor. I think he didn't know he is playing an asshole, he comes across far too cool. So yeah, while this is one of the best voice actors in my opinion he may actually not fit to originally intended role. But he did his job so well that I personally would have changed the fiction text to suit the "new" Greywolf more. That wasn't done and I think it isn't too bad, I just feel the need to explain why Greywolf is strange.
 

Tolwyn

Vice Admiral
2. The voice actor. I think he didn't know he is playing an asshole, he comes across far too cool. So yeah, while this is one of the best voice actors in my opinion he may actually not fit to originally intended role. But he did his job so well that I personally would have changed the fiction text to suit the "new" Greywolf more. That wasn't done and I think it isn't too bad, I just feel the need to explain why Greywolf is strange.
Actually he knew exactly what he was doing. As it usually is, we had a couple of sessions before voice recording kicked in.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Ah, good. I just thought Greywolf sounded too nice. I like that voice. (also thanks for explaining that, so I see that my argumentation earlier is obviously wrong)
 

GBOOM

Petty Officer
About Champ's death - I must admit, I didn't even notice the changes in the Prologue, because I couldn't remember the original release any more. So, I cannot judge if you made an improvement to this scene or not, I can only judge the way the current version works. And it really almost does... it falls flat on some details and winds up a bit ham-handed because of it. I like the general idea - jealousy makes good sense, and it's very hubrisy and all.
Having just played the original Prologue, let me assure you, the new one is MUCH improved. In the old version, Baws gives Champ and his wing commander the order to withdraw, which he disobeys, and both him and Champ end up dead. THEN you get the lecture about how the wing leader (McCoy, I think) was a dumb S.O.B. and now it finally caught up to him. I found this much less plausible than the new version; I couldn't believe someone that had made it to Captain would so casually disobey such a direct, explicit order. Buuuuuuuuuut, if he was killed trying to bail out his dumbass newbie charge, that's much more plausible.

Also, I gotta give that first Valkyrie mission the Fonz (that's two claps, a double thumbs-up, and a "Hey!"). Probably the best mission...ever? As soon as the music hit (and the explanation; that it messed with the cats? Priceless), I got all inspired and stuff, flew a great mission, wasting kitties left and right. Loved everything about it, except the part where it ended...
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Yeah, that's one of my favourites as well, and most people I talked to share that impression.
When I first played the mission I thought "MAN, people will love it" despite having to shoot at torpedoes earlier which is not my favourite thing to do.

As for the Prologue: Yeah, you can see how the writing improved over the last five years. Even the writers thought that the prologue was over the top and didn't fit into the rest of the game well, and since the voiceovers had to be re-recorded anyway (one reason for that being that the original voice actors weren't available years later) it was decided to change the script as well. I also like it much better as it is now.

Also that is an interesting example what can go wrong with an episodic release, and also one of the reasons Tolwyn decided not to do that, despite everybody in the team knowing that the fans were waiting and some certainly had lost interest during all those years waiting which made us a bit sad of course. I remember more than one discussion in our internal forums about that, and well, it turns out Tolwyn was right. The way it was released now the whole campaign looks more... monolithic, although of course some old pieces remained, especially in the writing becasue you just can't change that all the time. I struggle with that a bit with my campaign because I actually did the mission structure for half of the missions before even beginning to write the whole story. I will have to iterate over it once more, and even though my campaign is quite short it will take months. Now imagine how long every iteration took for Saga's 50 missions!

A good example for an episodic release that turned out well is Standoff. Of course you can see some changes between the episodes, and I would almost bet that the guys also could name some things in their mod they would like to change now, after they did the last episode and had even more experience (and they already did that I think, there were some patches for Standoff). It's like that with almost any product. After release you often think was could have been done differently. But in the end you have to decide to stick with something and finish it, otherwise you'll end up joining the vast hordes of other unfinished fan projects.
 

Thunderbolt

Rear Admiral
The Fort Croquett mission didn't bother me too much. But I agree with Quarto that Lightspeed's comment feels out of place. We're not just talking about an enemy confed had been fighting for 30 years but one that only 6 months earlier had completely radiation sterilised Warsaw and Sirius and then gone on to incinerate multiple cities on Earth including Paris which is one of the cultural capitals of the Western World. Lightspeed's comment in retrospect seems more suitable to a smartarse kid who is having his lunch stolen by the schoolyard bully, threatening to go to the teacher.

As for the rest of the mission, I think it would have been better if you were close enough to the base to actually return in time to at least do something once the Kilrathi fleet appeared. That way you really can make a choice, like Blair did when he was taunted by Thrakkath. The drama was a bit overdone but it didn't bother me too much. As for children being on the base, is it possible they could be refugees passing through? Confed was probably evacuating colonies at this time, maybe they were being dropped there in transit?

What I enjoyed about Saga was how frequently you are thrown into situations that are out of your control. It does create a sobering view of the horrors of war.
 

GBOOM

Petty Officer
Alright, since this is the thread for letting it all out; when you escort the Armageddon to bombard Hyperion 6, you have a secondary goal of keeping ALL the escort ships alive. Damn near impossible (at least for me...). Finally got to a point where I only lost one ship AND didn't die myself (a personal best!). Then, when I get back to the Hermes, everyone's all sad that ONE ship was lost, and the debriefing was all negative and talked about a lack of vigilance. Considering all the waves of bombers, and the number of escorts involved, I thought that was pretty good. Guess not...

What I enjoyed about Saga was how frequently you are thrown into situations that are out of your control. It does create a sobering view of the horrors of war.
I like that part a lot, too. Obviously, as a single fighter pilot, there are going to be occurances that are out of your control in a war. In the other games, that element was never really brought into play. Understandable; it's frustrating when you spent time successfully fighting a battle, only to have everything be lost as soon as you leave. Kudos to all you guys on the Saga team for capturing something different
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Alright, since this is the thread for letting it all out; when you escort the Armageddon to bombard Hyperion 6, you have a secondary goal of keeping ALL the escort ships alive. Damn near impossible (at least for me...). Finally got to a point where I only lost one ship AND didn't die myself (a personal best!). Then, when I get back to the Hermes, everyone's all sad that ONE ship was lost, and the debriefing was all negative and talked about a lack of vigilance. Considering all the waves of bombers, and the number of escorts involved, I thought that was pretty good. Guess not...
That's only to annoy you. The goal is to get you back to earth after you feel like a total god of war in your new Excalibur. :D
It is hard to save them but your new squad leader is supposed to be a hardass guy who frequently expects the impossible from you. I was also quite pissed when I heard it the first time. I was like "WHAT? I saved all those ships except one frikkin' small frigate! That's already more than everybody expected!"
But since it has no negative impact on your career you can ignore it. Go on with the rest of the missions, there are some that are more fun than that one.


The "War is Hell"-thing is a major trope throughout the history of Wing Commander. WC1 has Goddard for example, where the Kilrathi kill everybody off-screen and you can't do anything, and the first retreat from Firekka. In WC3 it is the Behemoth disaster, and the books have quite a number of such situations. The characters are often helpless because something happens and they can't do anything against it. WC2 AND WC3 even start with such situations.
The main difference between Saga and the official games in that regard is that Saga tells the story mostly in the missions instead of cutscenes.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
That's only to annoy you. The goal is to get you back to earth after you feel like a total god of war in your new Excalibur. :D
It is hard to save them but your new squad leader is supposed to be a hardass guy who frequently expects the impossible from you. I was also quite pissed when I heard it the first time. I was like "WHAT? I saved all those ships except one frikkin' small frigate! That's already more than everybody expected!"
Interesting. The same mechanism was used in WC4, in order to encourage the player to happily defect to the Border Worlds... :p

The "War is Hell"-thing is a major trope throughout the history of Wing Commander. WC1 has Goddard for example, where the Kilrathi kill everybody off-screen and you can't do anything, and the first retreat from Firekka. In WC3 it is the Behemoth disaster, and the books have quite a number of such situations. The characters are often helpless because something happens and they can't do anything against it. WC2 AND WC3 even start with such situations.
The main difference between Saga and the official games in that regard is that Saga tells the story mostly in the missions instead of cutscenes.
Sometimes, a small difference can make a world of difference. The thing is, Wing Commander has always presented these situations in the way a film would - the hero gets a kick in the face, the bad guy says "and what are you gonna do about it?", and then the hero spends the rest of the film doing something about it (usually also getting one or two more kicks in the face along the way). So, there's one big defeat, followed by a string of small victories, followed by a bigger defeat, followed by another string of small victories, and so on. You always see that Blair is capable of winning, it's just that the damage dealt by the Kilrathi requires a lot of work.

I cannot yet form a proper opinion about Saga, because I have not yet gotten past the Valkiries mission (I have not had time to play the game in the past month). From what I've seen so far, it seems to me that by putting the defeats in the missions, Saga has changed... something. There is a much darker tone to Saga, which seems at odds with the spirit of Wing Commander. But again, I haven't gotten far along to really have an informed opinion about Saga as a whole.
 

capi3101

Rear Admiral
From what I've seen so far, it seems to me that by putting the defeats in the missions, Saga has changed... something. There is a much darker tone to Saga, which seems at odds with the spirit of Wing Commander.
I'd submit that what's different is the time period in which the game was written. The original games were written in the '90s, which when you think about it was a time of great hope in the States. Saga was written post 2001, when everybody when bat guano. You wound up with stuff on TV like the new BSG: great story, great drama, but awful dark, and not holding anything back when it came to the peril Human society was in.

Besides, a darker tone is appropriate for the story that's being told. Consider the story and timeframe in which Saga was written - Earth is going to lose the war to the Cats and everybody knows it - and you can see how most of the characters might not hold out much hope for survival. WC3 tried to convey this; Saga does a better job of it, IMHO.
 
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