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

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
For me it is the other way round. Missile launchers are invisible ships in the engine that have only one weapon ( a capmiss launcher). They are spawned somewhere, assigned a target, and despawned after a period of time (normally after the time it takes to shoot one or two missiles).
If the missile launchers were placed further away the missiles wouldn't be invincible that often and you could shoot them down much more easily. So easy missile missions are not more scripted than the others, just a bit differently. Placing the launchers further away.
(Actually I'm not sure whether Keldor and Tolwyn did balance it that way, but it is the easiest way to to it.)
Actually, in this case the scripting was done not by distance, but by self-destruction. I saw a massive wave of missiles incoming, I saw that they all had time to impact under 30 seconds; I went after them, trying to destroy as many as I could, but it seemed pretty hopeless - there was more than ten, so some would get through either way.

...Only, none of them did, because they started exploding. For an instant, I wondered if the other pilots were doing such a great job. Then I wondered if maybe the transport turrets did it. Then I realised that no: the missiles just aren't allowed to make impact. Later in the mission, your convoy is attacked by a pair of destroyers. I thought my job was to shoot down the missiles fired by the destroyers until someone could put them out of commission. I started doing this, but then I noticed the same thing again: when a missile got past me, it still didn't get anywhere. So I decided not to bother with missiles any more, and got on with dogfighting the Kilrathi fighters.

What can I say, concealing a script is the toughest problem a designer can encounter.
 

Dondragmer

Rear Admiral
(I do wonder sometimes - are these things so obvious to most people, or is it just because I make games for a living? At work, I usually obssess about trying to conceal the scripting as much as possible, but then people show me some big title like Gears of War, show me how painfully obvious the scripting there is, and I'm forced to conclude that for most people, scripting is either unimportant, or invisible)
Yes, I often notice scripting, and it bugs me no end. My biggest peeve is the RPGs where you see a crowd of uniquely named / dressed characters standing around with weapons drawn. You know when you get too close there's going to be a cutscene, and then they'll all attack, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Oddly, I'm not troubled by WC1 and WC2, with their 'waves' of enemies that appear out of nowhere. It's obvious scripting, but I ignore it because I'm too busy dodging lasers. The trend from Starlancer onwards is to have someone say "Oh no! There's another wave coming in!" This usually means the new wave starts in the distance, to give time for the conversation to finish. So, I'm no longer dodging lasers. I'm no longer playing a game at all. All I can do is wait. While I wait, I realise that I just triggered a script.

The only other thing that struck me about this mission is again the credibility gaps in the dialogues. Either the pilots would have been told before takeoff about the importance of the convoy (probably along the lines of: this convoy is crucial, but you won't find out why), or they wouldn't have been told at all (i.e., they certainly wouldn't have heard about it in flight from the convoy leader). The pilots' reaction was a bit weird as well.
Yes, after all the moments where people must follow orders to the letter or die, this was bizarre. It also made me want to find a way to shoot down my own fighter if it would just shut Sandman up. What would the fighters even do with the information they ask for? Would they decide that the Kilrathi are too strongly motivated and run away? Would they give the Governor's transport less protection? More protection? Would they open negotiations with the Kilrathi to trade the Governor (dead or alive) for letting everyone else run away?

On the plus side, Saga is only the second time I've seen a spacecraft painted with giant red crosses which doesn't instantly explode to inform us how evil the bad guys are. (Yes, it is evil, but as plot devices go it's overused. It also only makes sense if multiple factions in the Universe respect the emblem.)
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
@Quarto:
Ah ok, I didn't notice that to be honest, I guess I was too busy fighting something else. :D
What can I say, concealing a script is the toughest problem a designer can encounter.
QFT!

@Dondragmer
Yes, I often notice scripting, and it bugs me no end. My biggest peeve is the RPGs where you see a crowd of uniquely named / dressed characters standing around with weapons drawn. You know when you get too close there's going to be a cutscene, and then they'll all attack, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Oh man, that is SO true. I hate it when that happens, especially since I am a fan of playing ranged classes or casters. And then my dumb player character gives up all his tactical advantage by just walking into that trap, going into melee.... It is not easy to piss me off, but stuff like that drives me mad.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Ok. Unusually enough, I got through two missions today. And I didn't even get especially angry. It's nice to be able to fly the Arrows for a change (though I've been warned I'll get fed up with Arrows before the game is through...). I'm always addicted to speed, and naturally, I almost got killed in the first Arrow mission by afterburning through Pegasus base. You know how it is, the end of the mission, heavy damage... but you just gotta do it. Back in WC3 & 4, I also died a few times while doing that. Fly-through hangars are just so much fun.

What isn't fun - and I'm surprised I only caught on to why this bothers me after ten missions - is that Freespace shake you get every time you hit the burners. I had previously noticed that combat distances in Saga tend to be a bit bigger than is usual in Wing Commander. You just don't sit close on the enemy's tail that often, unless it's a Pakhtahn or a corvette... why is that? For me, the answer lies in that afterburner shake. I always used afterburners a lot. I was constantly trying to get as close to the enemy's tail as possible - often, I would reduce my speed to match the enemy, and then I'd use burners to nudge myself in closer for the kill. This doesn't work in Saga, because afterburners are uncontrollable, if you try to use it in short bursts, your screen is shaking all the time. You just can't aim that way.

That's probably another reason why Saga's fighter-to-fighter combat is just less fun than classic Wing Commander. The Kilrathi are harder to hit (what with the lack of collision spheres) and the player can't use afterburners in short bursts to compensate. I suppose you guys must have gotten used to it, after working on Saga for all those years - and I suppose I would enjoy myself more if I didn't carry all my WCP/Standoff habits along with me. But that's not possible :p.

Capship combat, on the other hand, is often more enjoyable in Saga than in Standoff. Using the WCP engine, you don't get to have destroyable engines or anything else like that. And while you get to destroy turrets on most capships, you don't ever get to destroy that annoying rear turret on a Kamrani corvette (and I distinctly recall doing that a lot in WC3).

However. That second Proxima mission - gah, more capship missiles, and more scripting! This time round, the scripting fooled me into losing the primary objective (which, thankfully, didn't result in having to replay the mission - a fact that actually kinda surprised me). Just as I got used to the capship missiles blowing up harmlessly, the last two missiles of the second wave actually didn't blow up harmlessly - instead, they knocked out a transport. I didn't much appreciate this, it felt like I'd been lied to.

Also, did I mention shooting at capship missiles is the least enjoyable thing you can do in Saga? Oh, I did? Oh, repeatedly, even? Well, I'll say it again, because it's true :p. The game would be far better without capship missiles. Or if you could at least hit them. Oh, well.

There was more anger-inducement during the first Kamrani attack on the convoy. I was a good boy. I took out the bombers first, along with the capship missiles (in spite of the fact that they were blowing up all by themselves - better to be sure, right?), then I went after the corvette. And just before it was about to die - bam! It launches a capship missile and takes out a second transport, failing the primary objective. I was able to avoid a repeat situation at the next navpoint by going after the corvette first - it still fired a couple more capship missiles, but at a big enough distance where I could still manage to intercept them.

Well, all right, I guess I'm willing to chalk that one up to my personal incompetence. A good pilot would have managed to destroy all the corvettes before they could hit the transports. But I still don't like it :p. It's not nice to punish the player for doing things in the most logical order.

I didn't much like the structure of this mission, either. Too many navpoints, too many intercepts. I would have compressed it more, into maybe three encounters - first you just get missiles, then you get the corvette, and then you get the destroyer group. That would make for a nice escalation, which I felt was spoiled a bit by having two identical corvette encounters.

On a final note, I was a little disappointed to see a Zakhari-class frigate. I mean, I loved seeing it - and I got a personal kill, too (with an Arrow - nice). But just because the Arena manual didn't confirm (or deny) the existence of a Targu II class doesn't mean you couldn't have used the name ;). I admit, adding a II to a capship name wasn't the most creative thing we could do in Standoff, but it seemed to make sense (after all, the Fralthi II cruiser came from the same time period).
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
The afterburner thing is also something that bothers me, although I like the fact that using afterburners is not only an advantage. I think I will try and make the shaking effect a bit weaker in my mod if that is possible (I don't know if it is hardcoded or not) The good news is that you get used to it. I'm able to shoot much more precisely while afterburning now that I have played so many FS2 missions. It is possible, it is just harder.

About the corvettes: You don't actually have to kill them to prevent them from firing missiles. Just cycle through its weapons with the 'k' key until you see the launcher, then you can destroy it by firing directly at it. You will need some practice to do that quickly but then it is the number one thing to do when fighting capships. Kamranis aren't much of a threat to capships when you destroy their launchers.

About the Zakhari: I don't know whether it is supposed to be the same ship class actually. And I think it is less well armed and slower than the Standoff Targu II. But I don't know so maybe someone else can clarify that.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
About the corvettes: You don't actually have to kill them to prevent them from firing missiles. Just cycle through its weapons with the 'k' key until you see the launcher, then you can destroy it by firing directly at it. You will need some practice to do that quickly but then it is the number one thing to do when fighting capships. Kamranis aren't much of a threat to capships when you destroy their launchers.
Yeah, I know about that. In my experience so far, it hasn't been very useful - because the launcher is fairly small, it takes a lot of shooting. I tried to destroy the launcher during the second encounter today, but the corvette went down first.

About the Zakhari: I don't know whether it is supposed to be the same ship class actually. And I think it is less well armed and slower than the Standoff Targu II. But I don't know so maybe someone else can clarify that.
Yeah, its description gives it a somewhat different profile. Standoff's Targu II is a classic WWII frigate - i.e., an escort ship bigger than a corvette but smaller than a destroyer, armed primarily against fighters (all those flak cannons - though it did also use torpedoes). The Zakhari is defined more as a scout/recon ship, with lots of advanced electronics and such. I guess it might not be impossible to have two different frigates based on the same design - but I don't know if that's what was actually intended.

By the way, does the actual Jakhari transport also put in an appearance in the game?
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
My tactic against corvette launchers is to attack them from directly ahead. I do either use glide (Arrow or Excalibur) to fly a bit faster than it and overtake it on the side where the launcher is. or (in a Hellcat or Thunderbolt) just afterburn in front of it, then slow down os I have more time and blast it.

Btw: You can easily train that tactics against capships (and fighters) using the simulator mission I created. You can get the installer/uninstaller here (thanks again to Luke from WingCenter for creating the installer)
http://www.wingcenter.net/commcenter/download.html?id=1064


The Jakhari transport is not in the game unfortunately, but I like its design. Maybe I should go get a modeler to create it, it would fit into my mod nicely along with the Sha'kar and the Dukara. Or maybe I'll try modeling it myself, I haven't created any 3D models in a long time...
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I just played one more mission. This was almost the first non-defensive mission in the game, which made for a nice change. And of course, Sorthaks are a nice addition to the enemy roster - I'd actually managed to forget all about their existence, and the fact that they were new in WC3, so when we first encountered the 'unknowns', I was genuinely curious what these ships were.

I think dogfighting these guys could have been more fun if there had been less of us, mind you - it felt as though most of the time, we had the enemy outnumbered and outgunned, and this weakened the impact of encountering tough new fighters.

The final navpoint requires you to shut down your logic circuits to enjoy the mission ;). Jump points are always tempting things to use in a mission, especially in the form of a surprise twist - there's enemies at the jump point, more enemies jump in, and then - once more, something is jumping in. We think it's another enemy to add to our trouble, but it's a friendly out to kick butt. One problem with twists of this kind is that they eventually become predictable, but that's not the issue here. The issue I had is as follows: we have been searching for the Kilrathi strike force in this system for days. The first thing you would do is set up pickets at every jump point, and only then would you start searching through the system itself. And yet, it is at one of the jump points that we encounter enemy forces (yes, I know, it's not the main Kilrathi force - still...). You would assume that Confed would at least have been aware that the enemy had seized control of the jump point. Anyway... we're told that these ships (or maybe just the big cruiser?) are probably reinforcements... but there was a Confed battle group right on the other side of the jump point! So, how did the Kilrathi reinforcements get through? Did the TCS Armageddon not notice the cruiser sailing past them? Of course, the logical explanation is simple enough, the Armageddon had chased these ships all through Krieger, finally forcing them to jump into Proxima at the time when you happened to be on the other side of the jump point. Fair enough. But then we're thanked by the Armageddon for locating these cruisers, as if they hadn't known about their existence - so I guess it wasn't a chase after all. The whole thing feels contrived, and it didn't need to be. It only would have taken a few small changes to the dialogues to make it all make sense.

Whatever the case may be, the fact remains: I got past three missions today, so clearly - for the time being at least - I'm out of anger management territory. If only I could count on never seeing another capship missile again... :p
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Another day, another mission - and I'm done with Proxima. This last mission in Proxima (the fighter transfer) highlighted another thing that I've previously often felt, occasionally skirted around the edges of, but never really quite put my finger on: most missions in Saga are just long enough to overstay their welcome. In this case, there was about a dozen waves of fighters incoming - each wave being virtually identical to the last, both in the types of fighters used, and their numbers. I didn't really feel that things are escalating towards a grand finale - instead, the enemy just seemed to dribble in. Only at one point, halfway through the mission, did the Kilrathi waves spawn quickly enough that some of the Kilrathi got through and hit the fighters we were covering. I'm not sure whether the spawn rate dropped back down afterwards, or if I'd simply gotten good enough at killing the cats to keep up with the waves. Either way, afterwards I never felt there was a threat to the remaining fighters, and I started getting bored.

At a point when I was already a bit bored and wondering when the mission would finally end, the Kilrathi carrier arrived. That livened things up, of course, but it was positively anti-climactic. The carrier didn't arrive with a huge swarm of fighters and bombers. Our fighters actually had the cats outnumbered - something that, at least so far, seems to happen a lot in Saga (the total number of cats you meet in a given mission is always huge - but the number you meet at any one time is all too frequently similar to the number of friendlies). I shot a Paktahn or two, and then I parked myself behind the Kilrathi carrier and blasted away. Soon, all the other Confed fighters had joined me, and between the lot of us, the carrier never had a chance. I guess if enough of my wingmen got shot down during the mission (none did), there would have been a possibility of the carrier hitting its target, but as it happened, I suppose I could have sat the whole thing out.

All in all, had this mission been shortened by 1/3rd, with a couple of Kilrathi waves removed, and all added into the final carrier wave, this mission could have gone from being kinda-boring to being utterly bloody exciting. I did love the concept of the mission, by the way - any time we see things like this, fighter or shuttle transfers, refuelling, and so on, it makes you feel like you really are a part of a bigger fleet. That's always great.

By the way, one small thing (worth adding in a patch, if you guys are planning a patch) that could have made this mission a lot more interesting is if the Langley had more external damage. Its flight deck was damaged nicely, but on the outside, you could barely see any damage - so from a distance, you could hardly even tell the Langley from your own carrier.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
So, it seems Aginor has gotten tired of responding to my posts here ;). Meanwhile, I've gotten into the habit of posting feedback after every mission, which I misleadingly always post in this "anger management thread". So...

Loki 1. And... whoa! Usually, I have a few complaints to make. I'll be honest, I haven't played any mission in Saga so far that would be excellent in my view. Any time there had been a fun mission, it had some faulty element inside spoil the fun - a slew of capship missiles, two navpoints too many, some bit of pilot banter stupid enough to make me angry, or whatever else - you get the picture.

Well, the first Loki mission fits the bill. Loki 1 *is* excellent. It's a fun, exciting mission with interesting events, and just enough (not too little, not too much) variety in its objectives. You get to destroy weird turret things, a pair of transports, and kill a few fighters. Most importantly, the mission had just the right amount of gameplay. Ok, right at the very end, when we started blasting at asteroids (which was actually kinda weird, in that I didn't get to do it - it seemed just when I was about to blast a rock, someone else would), I thought - this mission has gone into overtime. There's gonna be another encounter or some other task will come up, and the mission will overstay its welcome. But it didn't - that's exactly where it ended. It was a great experience, and if this is how things are going to look in the Loki system, I very much look forward to playing the next one (and I hope it won't disappoint :p).
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Hehe :) Actually I am going to respond to some of the points you are talking about. I just didn't have much time lately. I'm reading the forums on my phone since I am not at home, and it is a bit harder to write longer answers that way.
Mind that I am not a missions guy for Saga, so I can't explain everything, but I find your posts highly interesting because there are surely other people who see the msiions similarly, and of course I am now in the process of polishing the missions of my own campaign :)
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Ok, some remarks to what you posted:
You mention missions dragging on a bit, and that's something I thought about since there are some guys on the HLP board that get really angry when a mission is more than 5-10 minutes long. Their reasons may differ from your ones, but I think I'll start with that topic:
Being a simulator gamer (Lock-On FC2, DCS:A10, IL-2, Rise of Flight, FSX and some more) I don't mind long, "boring" missions because I am used to them. Also in the space sim genre it is not common to have save points. So yeah, if you fail and you have to do it again it sucks big time. Also WCS tells the story during the missions, so that also slows down the game a bit. Overall the missions are quite a bit slower than those of WC3. I don't mind the dialogue parts although I sometimes wish I could skip them or timewarp when I play the mission the fourth or fifth time. I wonder if I should disable timewarp in my campaign or not. It has obvious advantages, but it may break the sound system (until rebooting the game) and also cause strange AI- and script behaviour.

What I don't really like are those parts of missions that have that gauntlet feeling. A wave of Kilrathi appears. We fight them, the next wave appears, and then the next. After three waves the point has come across. There are Kilrathi here. You don't need five or six waves. I know it is supposed to feel like in 300 where endless eaves of enemies roll towards you, a desperate fight and so on. It just doesn't feel that way to me. Especially if there is not much variety in enemy shipclasses or behaviour. And maybe one nav point less would have made some of the missions more awesome. Still I think the missions are great, because you never know what will happen next because you don't know ow many nav points there are.

About the fighter transfer mission:
I also like that one. I am a big fan of variety as you know, and that mission (although it is really a normal fleet defense when you think about it) _feels_ different. The Kilrathi don't act too dumb either, going right for the vulnerable ships. So the fighters that ignore the player make sense here, in other missions I often dislike them.

I'll come back later and post some more things I think. Have to work now. :)
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Ok, some remarks to what you posted:
You mention missions dragging on a bit, and that's something I thought about since there are some guys on the HLP board that get really angry when a mission is more than 5-10 minutes long. Their reasons may differ from your ones, but I think I'll start with that topic:
Being a simulator gamer (Lock-On FC2, DCS:A10, IL-2, Rise of Flight, FSX and some more) I don't mind long, "boring" missions because I am used to them. Also in the space sim genre it is not common to have save points. So yeah, if you fail and you have to do it again it sucks big time. Also WCS tells the story during the missions, so that also slows down the game a bit. Overall the missions are quite a bit slower than those of WC3. I don't mind the dialogue parts although I sometimes wish I could skip them or timewarp when I play the mission the fourth or fifth time.
Well, there are two issues here. Repetition of dialogues is of course irritating - but it's only a problem when you actually die. A bigger problem is that when you have story-based missions, players automatically - subconsciously, even - expect the story to conform to a certain structure. Things are supposed to build up at a given pace, lead to a climax, and then relax at the end of the mission. If the pace drops suddenly prematurely, that's a problem. If the pressure is not building but just kinda staying constant (that gauntlet feeling), that's also a problem. You start feeling bored, because you are expecting something more, and it's just not materialising.

What I don't really like are those parts of missions that have that gauntlet feeling. A wave of Kilrathi appears. We fight them, the next wave appears, and then the next. After three waves the point has come across. There are Kilrathi here. You don't need five or six waves. I know it is supposed to feel like in 300 where endless eaves of enemies roll towards you, a desperate fight and so on. It just doesn't feel that way to me. Especially if there is not much variety in enemy shipclasses or behaviour.
Exactly. There is firstly an inherent lack of variety because using WC3's ships doesn't give Saga that much to play with (it feels like we're fighting Dralthi and Darkets 70% of the time), which is just underlined by the fact that we keep seeing the same encounters repeated. Secondly, the waves don't make things more epic - they have the opposite effect. I don't know what things would be like if I were playing on hard difficulty, but while playing on normal, I rarely get the impression that I'm genuinely needed to win. Most of the time it seems like my wingmen are doing just fine without me. Having fewer, but bigger, waves would go a long way to solve that.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
ARGH! I was almost done typing a long answer and my browser crashed...
So here's the short version:

it feels like we're fighting Dralthi and Darkets 70% of the time
That will change dramatically later in the campaign.

About the gauntlet feeling: I don't like it that much, but from what I heard from other people almost nobody complains about that. People like to have lots of enemies to shoot at, so maybe that's just my wish for "realism" that prevents me from liking that. I'm looking forward to people's reactions when my mod is released. I guess most people who like Saga's epic missions will consider it a bit lame (Target audience fail? Maybe...).

Concerning wingmen: They are invulnerable because of the story of course. But it is also a problem of balancing: If you had less wingmen you could neither do such epic waves of enemies nor would you feel so much as a part of the battle. The downside is that you have to do mission goals that the wingmen can't achieve alone. I guess that may be one reason why there are so many "defend xyz" missions in Saga. Wingmen suck at those.
If you change that (not protecting wingmen) they will constantly die when there are more enemies than friendlies. I do that in my Kilrathi mod, but the downside is that often you don't get to shoot much targets. Either you have too many targets, a 4 vs. 8 ends with only you alive, dying in the next wave, or you have a too small number of targets and a 4 vs. 4 ends with you having one kill and one assist if you are lucky. That is extremely hard to balance and still be fun. I think Saga did a good job with that in almost all cases. You don't feel useless or like you could do everything alone, it is somewhere in the middle. You notice you are better than the others, which is important, but it is not like in WC1+2 where people either constantly had to replay missions becasue wingmen died or snet them away to get some kills yourself (I still remember my first WC1 mission where Spirit killed all enemies and I got none because I sucked at the game...)

About ship type variety: There are already more types than in WC3, and there were quite some ideas about some more, but with the high quality standard of Saga in models, textures and balancing it would have taken even more time to implement those, and the missions had to be done. Also I wonder if most people would even notice. That may also be a case where our experience as modders/developers spoils the game a bit for us.

I'm sure I missed some points again. I'll be back when I remember them again. :)
 

GBOOM

Petty Officer
I love coming back to this forum; always interesting to see the creative dialogue flowing!! I take Quarto's point about the length of the missions in Saga. And the in-flight dialogue can be...well, you know, especially if you have to replay it several times. My two cents aren't worth a penny, but you're gettin' 'em anyway:

I think that Saga captured something that none of the other WC games had. Maybe we're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view, but I really enjoyed all the parts of (mostly) all the missions. The banter was great the first time, I think that out in deep space, on missions that last for hours (hey, autopilot's not a time machine) there's gonna be banter, and not all of it is gonna be witty. Some of it will be awkward and uncomfortable.

Without any kind of interaction between missions being possible, Saga does a great job of telling it's overall story, while not sacrificing the story for each individual mission. On the mission with seemingly three or four too many waves of fighters, at some point, the fighting becomes almost automatic: target a Dralthi, blast away at it, target the next ship. Rinse, repeat. A lot. The monotony is the trap, right? It happened to me more than a few times; just start blasting at Darkets and Dralthis, then at some point, I wouldn't be paying attention like I should....

With the missions with one too many nav points or objectives, I gotta say that nearly the same argument applies. I think Saga did a great job of not only capturing the exciting part of combat - blasting enemies, but also captured a lot of other aspects that we didn't really experience in the other WC games: the tedium, the anxiety, the feeling of impending doom (at least in the first part of the game), that is constantly battling with boredom when you're on a mission that never seems to end. I think that Saga captured all this brilliantly, especially since (apparently), the limits in the FSX engine don't allow for typical WC between-mission chats and interactions.

I gotta say that I say all this not as a programmer (although I once got partway through a EV Nova Wing Commander mod, but that was fifteen years ago...), nor even as a gamer (unless that game is Wing Commander), just as someone who enjoys a well-told story, and I think that the Saga team did an exceptional job of telling their story through their game.

Quarto, I can't really argue your points, for two reasons. One, I don't have near the experience as a designer or gamer. Two, I just viewed the things that annoy you about the game completely differently. I played Standoff, and loved it. It was action-packed, and it let me play the one part of the WC story that I always wanted to play, but never got to. It was a great Wing Commander game, and it captured the feeling (for me) of the WC 1 & 2, which were what got me hooked in the first place. Saga is...quite different, but that difference just enhances the game for me. Again, just the opinion of one guy with waaaaaaaaay too much time on his hands tonight...
 

Thunderbolt

Rear Admiral
Spoiler alert****

Since this is the thread where people are debating issues that should be highlighted in case a patch is made, there are two missions that that I think could use less or better scripting. Cairo 1 where you fight the ace Bloodmist. I beat Bloodmist by ordering my wingman back into formation and flying away as I had taken a lot of damage. End result Bloodmist gets killed by my wingmans rear turret. As my wingman is invulnerable there is no possible way to lose as Bloodmist was pursuing me and while being blown away by my invincible wingmans rear turret. Obviously this tactic is cheating but I think in it highlights the problem of having wingmen being invincible unless they die a scripted death. If important characters need to be kept alive that is fine but I think this is overdone. It would be more realistic to be have your wingman die or eject in some circumstances. I think the final mission is another example of that. So the Hermes is sending the last wave against the dreadnought. All the other waves took heavy losses or were wiped out. Our wave I don't recall takes any losses and the bombers seem to be invincible so you don't even need to babysit them.

I think it can be a difficult balance to achieve. I found the Snakier strike mission in Standoff Ep3 has the exact opposite problem. The Broadsword bombers move to slow and have to maneuver all the way around the Snakier before they can launch torpedoes at the engine section of the ship. In this case I found the mission became tedious and unfairly difficult as in my opinion there should be no reason why torpedoes can't be fired against any section of a ship i.e. WC3/4 style. Anyway I digress. My point is that the scripted invincible wingmen could be scaled back a bit in some missions, particuarly these two.

On the whole though I loved Saga. The story was gripping and some of the missions were so intense I'm thinking the Behemoth ambush here. My only real critique is that we don't see any character development or interaction between the missions. But this is really a compliment because there is an interesting variety of characters in Saga and there could be a lot more stories to tell with them particularly with Avatar and Sandman on Torgo Base. And by the end of the game I still don't feel like I know the characters. Curiously though, even with just the talking heads on Standoff I actually feel like I know the characters more personally. I can remember what they look like, Saga I can't really recall what many of the characters look like. I wonder if other people share this experience.
 

mustanger

Rear Admiral
So, it seems Aginor has gotten tired of responding to my posts here ;). Meanwhile, I've gotten into the habit of posting feedback after every mission, which I misleadingly always post in this "anger management thread". So...

Loki 1. And... whoa! Usually, I have a few complaints to make. I'll be honest, I haven't played any mission in Saga so far that would be excellent in my view. Any time there had been a fun mission, it had some faulty element inside spoil the fun - a slew of capship missiles, two navpoints too many, some bit of pilot banter stupid enough to make me angry, or whatever else - you get the picture.

Well, the first Loki mission fits the bill. Loki 1 *is* excellent. It's a fun, exciting mission with interesting events, and just enough (not too little, not too much) variety in its objectives. You get to destroy weird turret things, a pair of transports, and kill a few fighters. Most importantly, the mission had just the right amount of gameplay. Ok, right at the very end, when we started blasting at asteroids (which was actually kinda weird, in that I didn't get to do it - it seemed just when I was about to blast a rock, someone else would), I thought - this mission has gone into overtime. There's gonna be another encounter or some other task will come up, and the mission will overstay its welcome. But it didn't - that's exactly where it ended. It was a great experience, and if this is how things are going to look in the Loki system, I very much look forward to playing the next one (and I hope it won't disappoint :p).

The asteroid thing was good on paper, but in my view admittedly didn't work out as hoped. The main issue I had in scripting the asteroids was that they simply didn't do enough damage. As I recall, even if an asteroid impacted the Hermes, it would only knock off 2 percent of hull anyway. If I had to do it again, I would have probably made it so that the asteroids were a little more lethal, and create an excuse why the Hermes and destroyer escort couldn't fire their own weapons (fear of detection, perhaps) to defend themselves.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
So, today I played another mission - Loki 2. It's not as memorable as the first Loki mission, but again it's a pretty good design. It's just the right length, and has a nice build-up of targets (corvettes, transports, transports, capships). Having to blast off the engines of the transports at Nav 2 is nice - I mean, it's not innovative, it's been done a thousand times before, but it's always fun. That said, I was pretty put out when the mission (intentionally) lied to me - my wingman says, "I'll take the close one, you take the far one". So, that's what I did - but in fact, my wingman went after the far one, and next thing I see, the close one is jumping out.

This was the first time in Saga that I actually bothered of my own free will to restart a mission. In most missions so far, I would not have done that. I mean, who'd wanna restart a mission with capship missiles in it, for example? Here it was ok, because this happened near to the start of the mission, and there wasn't any annoying long dialogues that I would have needed to listen through again.

That said, this mission has a flaw: most of the time it's just too easy. Again, you have the enemy fighters outnumbered. The player can ignore the fighter cover and just go straight for the capships, every single time. It's too safe out there - I really don't feel like I'm deep behind enemy lines.

Concerning wingmen: They are invulnerable because of the story of course. But it is also a problem of balancing: If you had less wingmen you could neither do such epic waves of enemies nor would you feel so much as a part of the battle. The downside is that you have to do mission goals that the wingmen can't achieve alone. I guess that may be one reason why there are so many "defend xyz" missions in Saga. Wingmen suck at those.
The trouble is that there really aren't epic waves of enemies - at least none that I've seen so far. I guess I may be spoiled, because Standoff was all about filling the player's radar with red dots. Here... well, see what I wrote about Loki 2 above.

By the way, there's no ejections in Freespace? I mean, in Standoff we also had a lot of invulnerable wingmen, but in WCP, an invulnerable pilot just means one that always ejects safely.

About ship type variety: There are already more types than in WC3, [...]. Also I wonder if most people would even notice. That may also be a case where our experience as modders/developers spoils the game a bit for us.
That's not really true. Yes, you have a lot of ships in general - but there is a shortage of fighter types. Most of the ships you have are capships - and while variety is of course welcome there, it's less noticeable than amongst fighters.

I just had a quick look at my killboard, and what I see is this: out of some 170 kills, I have about 50 Darket kills, about 50 Dralthi kills... and then there's everything else. Understand the implications: out of every three ships I shoot down in Saga, one is a Darket, a second is a Dralthi, and only the third is something else. Now, that's just my killboard, and maybe if I went out of my way to shoot down Vaktoths (which also show up fairly often), I could maybe change the percentages so that we'd have 25% Darkets, 25% Dralthi, 20% Vaktoths, and then everything else in the remaining 30%. Maybe. But the point is - as nice as it is to have two different transport types, two different cruiser types, etc., this is something you appreciate briefly for a few minutes. How much time in the game do you spend fighting capships, and how much is spent on fighters?

Suppose that Saga did not include a brand new troop transport model, for example, but instead added the Jrathek from Armada and alternated between Dralthi and Jratheks for the medium fighter encounters. What a difference that would have made!

The asteroid thing was good on paper, but in my view admittedly didn't work out as hoped. The main issue I had in scripting the asteroids was that they simply didn't do enough damage. As I recall, even if an asteroid impacted the Hermes, it would only knock off 2 percent of hull anyway. If I had to do it again, I would have probably made it so that the asteroids were a little more lethal, and create an excuse why the Hermes and destroyer escort couldn't fire their own weapons (fear of detection, perhaps) to defend themselves.
The trouble with the asteroid thing, I think, was that it's a mechanic that's really designed for situations where the player doesn't have too many wingmen around, and where he doesn't do too much combat. I never played FS2, so I don't know how asteroid missions looked there, but in FS1, there was a very characteristic asteroid mission, where you spent the entire mission shooting down rocks. There was lots of them. There was few of you. Rocks were constantly getting through, so those 2-3% impacts were adding up. And there was virtually no hostiles. If you consider this, you will understand why rock-shooting didn't work out too well in this mission (and it couldn't have looked good even on paper - sorry :) ). But I'm mighty glad you didn't get the asteroid-blasting right... because if you had ten minutes of it in this mission, you would have improved the asteroid-blasting, but destroyed the mission.
 

mustanger

Rear Admiral
So, today I played another mission - Loki 2. It's not as memorable as the first Loki mission, but again it's a pretty good design. It's just the right length, and has a nice build-up of targets (corvettes, transports, transports, capships). Having to blast off the engines of the transports at Nav 2 is nice - I mean, it's not innovative, it's been done a thousand times before, but it's always fun. That said, I was pretty put out when the mission (intentionally) lied to me - my wingman says, "I'll take the close one, you take the far one". So, that's what I did - but in fact, my wingman went after the far one, and next thing I see, the close one is jumping out.

This was the first time in Saga that I actually bothered of my own free will to restart a mission. In most missions so far, I would not have done that. I mean, who'd wanna restart a mission with capship missiles in it, for example? Here it was ok, because this happened near to the start of the mission, and there wasn't any annoying long dialogues that I would have needed to listen through again.

That said, this mission has a flaw: most of the time it's just too easy. Again, you have the enemy fighters outnumbered. The player can ignore the fighter cover and just go straight for the capships, every single time. It's too safe out there - I really don't feel like I'm deep behind enemy lines.
I am sure I caused that by misdirecting the target. It's been 5 years since I scripted these missions, in fact Loki 1 and 2 were the only ones I was able to be involved in. I regret not being able to put more time in on the project, and I think it can't be said enough about what the core Saga team invested in terms of their time to make this thing. But I digress...

My face is pretty red right now, because the same thing happened to me when I played the mission after the release. Gives a new meaning to unreliable Wingman! An easy fix, but I am sure in testing I missed it because it got so routine to get in their and blast the things before they escaped that I didn't really listen to the guy. Actually, in testing I COULDN'T listen to him because the voices weren't recorded yet, so I would have had to read the subtitle as it played.

You probably mentioned it earlier, but what difficulty are you on? I did find it becomes quite a bit more difficult on the higher levels, mostly because of the missile spamming.


Here's something interesting that just sprang to mind, too, which is kinda funny when I think back on it. Because the game was always being worked on, there were running changes that would change the balance of the missions. It wasn't usually much of an issue, just little things, but I recall at one point when scripting this mission that something changed in the weapons tables. The turrets were then firing at about double speed and were super accurate, and they would absolutely rip you to shreds. It's like the Kilrathi had just invented their modern day MG42.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
This is not a full response to what you wrote, I just wanted to add one thing - in my previous post, when talking about the misguided wingman, I added the word "intentionally" in brackets. By accident, I left out the question mark - so what had been supposed to be a question ended up being an accusation. Sorry about that.
 
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