Standoff Team Releases Single Package Install (August 14, 2016)

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!



The Standoff team is happy to release the single package install (462 MB) for the CIC's 18th birthday. This file will install the complete game without the need to download multiple packages.

It's been an amazing journey for Standoff. Work on the game started in spring 2001. Wingnuts got their first taste of Standoff when Episode One was released on December 23, 2004. Episode Two came out on the CIC's 7th birthday in 2005. Episode Three followed on January 8, 2006 and the penultimate Episode Four was in Wingnut hands on September 27, 2007. The grand finale, Episode Five, came out on the CIC's 11th birthday in 2009.

As a team, we'd like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to the Wing Commander community for all the support over the years...and patience. Now get out there and save the Confederation...again!

--
Original update published on August 14, 2016
 
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Farbourne

Rear Admiral
Thanks so much for finishing this! I've been hoping for it for a while.

I hope that this is more than just something for archival purposes...I hope that it encourages more people to play the game. I've made no secret that I'm a big fan.

Reasons to play Standoff:

1). If you never read the novels and only play the games, it fills in an important hole in the saga of the Kilrathi war. Novels like Action Stations and Freedom Flight are nice additions to the canon, but are just that...additions, that a person can be unaware of and still get the major arc from playing the games. But Fleet Action is really a crucial piece of the story--it bridges WC2 to WC3 and explains just how things went from going pretty well in Vega and Enigma to a near disaster in WC3, and if you don't read it, WC3 seems awfully dark and jarring. Yes, the WC3 manual touches on how things got that way, but there's nothing like playing through it. I'm surprised that Origin never made an actual game to do what Standoff does.

2). It's super fun. The mission design, especially on the losing path, is some of the best of the entire Wing Commander series, not just among fan games. Yes, it's a little difficult, but that makes it more rewarding. You have to actually practice and get good in order to be able to save the world. This somehow makes it feel more real.

3). It's closer to a "modern game" and therefore is more playable (to some) than the early Wing Commander games. In other words, it looks pretty, plays well, and has a great soundtrack.

All in all, if you are a fan of any WC game, and you haven't played Standoff, get to it. Don't let the game's difficulty scare you off...practice till you get better. And if you have played Standoff but only the winning path, go back and play it again on the losing paths of Episodes 3, 4, and 5. Trust me...you'll enjoy it.

Thanks again to the Standoff team!
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Thanks for your kind words, @Farbourne!

1). If you never read the novels and only play the games, it fills in an important hole in the saga of the Kilrathi war. Novels like Action Stations and Freedom Flight are nice additions to the canon, but are just that...additions, that a person can be unaware of and still get the major arc from playing the games. But Fleet Action is really a crucial piece of the story--it bridges WC2 to WC3 and explains just how things went from going pretty well in Vega and Enigma to a near disaster in WC3, and if you don't read it, WC3 seems awfully dark and jarring. Yes, the WC3 manual touches on how things got that way, but there's nothing like playing through it. I'm surprised that Origin never made an actual game to do what Standoff does.
Ironically, in retrospective I would point to this exact aspect as Standoff's biggest failure. Because the game revolves around Fleet Action, depicting the same events from a different perspective, it never occurred to us to actually explain what is going on. Consequently, you actually cannot make heads or tails of the game's story without knowing the book. Some time early in development, when we started seeking out additional testers (I think this would have been prior to Episode 2), one of them actually asked this question: hey, I haven't read Fleet Action, what is going on? There's a truce, and then there is no truce, and...

...To us, it just didn't occur that someone might be playing this without having read Fleet Action. I guess we really meant it when we said we were doing this just for the fans, and not for potential new players :). And of course, the problem was partially caused by the way we decided to extend the timeline of the game backwards - initially, we did not intend to do the first episode, the story was meant to be pretty much just the Fleet Action campaign. It was when we realised that we have a bunch of human ships already waiting, while Kilrathi ships will take ages still to make, that we decided to add the prologue with pirates. But that all of a sudden meant that where before, the start of the story was just a very standard and easy to understand "the cats are attacking!!", now it was "the cats are nowhere to be seen, there's apparently some kind of truce on, and people are stealing ships or something"... which then, at the start of Episode 2, almost inexplicably goes back to "the cats are attacking, but we're still not going to explain why they weren't attacking before". The cutscene with the discovery of the Hakagas, while it certainly is a beautiful and dramatic reveal, does not actually explain what's being revealed, how it's being revealed, and why is it significant. If you've read Fleet Action, you'll understand - if you haven't, whatever :). Things like this happen all throughout the game. I suppose a simple text panel at the start of every new episode would have done the trick, but... err, whatever :D.

Oh, and yeah, given how fun the losing path is (it really was a blast to design those missions - so much more room for quirkiness than the winning path), I suppose our second-biggest failure is the final mission of Episode 2. It's just so bloody hard to fail that one! It wasn't meant to be that way. The initial design called for the possibility of the Kamekhs from the previous mission surviving to make the final strike much harder. But of course, since Kamekhs are corvettes, they're too easy to kill, and too hard to run away from, so very quickly we realised that actually, the Ralatah will always stand alone. We did our best to make your wingmen mess up their torpedo strikes, but hey - in the end, you still have enough torps by yourself to blast the Ralatha, so you inevitably do. When we were looking back on the early episodes in the lead-up to the Episode 5 release (this was when we added talking head cutscenes to the prologue), I did actually consider the possibility of re-working this mission to add an unexpected Targu II (which we could not have put in the first time round, because it just didn't exist, and wasn't even planned to exist), which would have been absolutely awesome. But I think by this point we had lost contact with the actor who did Reismann (almost certainly the best performance of the game?), so we couldn't re-do the cutscene where he chews you out for failing to take care of the lone Ralatha. And I suppose the scene itself would have no longer made sense, because hey, if it's two capships, then a partial failure becomes more excusable. So in the end, things stayed the way they were, and consequently only the most determined players got to experience the losing path in Episode 3. Oh, well.
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
Ironically, in retrospective I would point to this exact aspect as Standoff's biggest failure. Because the game revolves around Fleet Action, depicting the same events from a different perspective, it never occurred to us to actually explain what is going on. Consequently, you actually cannot make heads or tails of the game's story without knowing the book. ...

...To us, it just didn't occur that someone might be playing this without having read Fleet Action. I guess we really meant it when we said we were doing this just for the fans, and not for potential new players :).
...
The cutscene with the discovery of the Hakagas, while it certainly is a beautiful and dramatic reveal, does not actually explain what's being revealed, how it's being revealed, and why is it significant. If you've read Fleet Action, you'll understand - if you haven't, whatever :).

I don't disagree with your point. I just don't think it's as bad as all that. Interestingly, I was just one such player. I had never read Fleet Action (or any of the WC novels) prior to playing Standoff. (In fact, playing Standoff is what inspired me to pick up Fleet Action, my first WC novel). But I think you overestimate the confusion level. Granted, I had played (and more importantly, read the manual for) WC3, so I had a little bit of background; it wasn't like I was approaching Standoff with knowledge of WC1 and WC2 only, but even without that, I think the game actually would hold up OK.

I mean, Episode 1 makes it pretty darned clear that (1) there was a war with the Kilrathi going on, (2) that there is now an armistice, (3) that all of Confed is disarming and mothballing ships as a result, and (4) that the military isn't happy about it and guys like Reissman are still preparing for treachery.

Then, Episode 2 makes it clear that the Kilrathi broke the armistice and are invading Terran space with a huge fleet, headed for Earth, And that, thanks to the disarmament talked about in Episode 1, Confed has almost nothing to stop them. All this is clear before the first mission of Episode 2, just from the intro and the initial conversation with Reissman. And that's all you really need to know. Knowing about the suicide attack that took out the Joint Chiefs, the covert mission of the Tarawa, etc., are nice extras, but aren't really necessary for enjoying Standoff.

It's kind of like reading Lord of the Rings without reading all the appendices and the Silmarillion. Knowing all the extra back story about Merry's barrow-sword used to kill the Witch King, the history between Sauron and the Numenoreans, the early career tensions between Aragorn in disguise and young Denethor, etc., makes the story richer and more nuanced, but even without that it's a heck of a story. Same thing with Standoff.

It's true that I completely missed the point of the Hakaga discovery cutscene at the start of Ep 2 until I had read Fleet Action and I went back to play the game...it seemed a fairly odd way to start the Episode. At the time I figured it was some random transport that was the first casualty to the invading Kilrathi fleet, and thought that it might have been better to actually show a "big event" of Kilrathi treachery (didn't realize at the time that it did). So the drama of Episode 2 kicking off would definitely have been improved by having some kind of crawl or voiceover explaining that Terrans had just discovered a fleet of Kilrathi supercarriers built in secret. And there were other things I appreciated more after reading Fleet Action...like when the Landreich ships show up (before reading Fleet Action, you just assume they're some other random reinforcements), or the enormity of Sirius Prime burning.

So yes it could have been improved with more thought given to the general audience, but in my experience, it wasn't a train wreck. It told enough of the story that the events made sense and the player knew what he/she needed to do, and that if he/she failed, bad things would happen to Earth.

And of course, the problem was partially caused by the way we decided to extend the timeline of the game backwards - initially, we did not intend to do the first episode, the story was meant to be pretty much just the Fleet Action campaign. It was when we realised that we have a bunch of human ships already waiting, while Kilrathi ships will take ages still to make, that we decided to add the prologue with pirates.

Didn't know that. That's interesting. I had thought you did Episode 1 as an experiment to try out all the scripting and graphics tricks you intended to use later in the game. That's certainly how it feels.

Oh, and yeah, given how fun the losing path is (it really was a blast to design those missions - so much more room for quirkiness than the winning path), I suppose our second-biggest failure is the final mission of Episode 2. It's just so bloody hard to fail that one! It wasn't meant to be that way. The initial design called for the possibility of the Kamekhs from the previous mission surviving to make the final strike much harder. But of course, since Kamekhs are corvettes, they're too easy to kill, and too hard to run away from, so very quickly we realised that actually, the Ralatah will always stand alone. We did our best to make your wingmen mess up their torpedo strikes, but hey - in the end, you still have enough torps by yourself to blast the Ralatha, so you inevitably do. When we were looking back on the early episodes in the lead-up to the Episode 5 release (this was when we added talking head cutscenes to the prologue), I did actually consider the possibility of re-working this mission to add an unexpected Targu II (which we could not have put in the first time round, because it just didn't exist, and wasn't even planned to exist), which would have been absolutely awesome. But I think by this point we had lost contact with the actor who did Reismann (almost certainly the best performance of the game?), so we couldn't re-do the cutscene where he chews you out for failing to take care of the lone Ralatha. And I suppose the scene itself would have no longer made sense, because hey, if it's two capships, then a partial failure becomes more excusable. So in the end, things stayed the way they were, and consequently only the most determined players got to experience the losing path in Episode 3. Oh, well.

Yes, when I was making the mission tree for the game, I spent untold hours trying (and failing) to get to the "losing" version of the final Ep 2 mission (which, according to Dundradal's game guide, I was quite positive existed), and concluded the same thing. It was impossible NOT to not destroy the corvettes or allow your Rapier-flying wingmen to destroy them (short of shooting down your wingmen). And to get to the losing path of Ep 3 on higher difficulties, I had to not only not destroy the destroyer, but actually fly "escort" for it by shooting down my wingmen's torpedoes. Which is kind of difficult when the ship you're trying to escort has hostile fighter cover and keeps shooting at you! Luckily by then I was a Standoff veteran. But yeah, that mission should have been a lot harder. The easiest way I could think of would have been to give you only one wingman, and have that wingman carry no torpedoes (maybe explain it as he had a mechanical failure and his torpedoes wouldn't arm?), so the player would have to do everything himself...and being the first anti-capship missile in the game, some players would have trouble with that. Still, the problem was it was a Ralatha, and those things are just too easy to kill (the bridge can be taken out from any approach angle from the front, and the engines from any angle behind).

I would actually say that this is the biggest failure of the game, because Ep3 losing is awesome. (Well, this or the fact that the difficulty ramps up frikkin fast, and turns a lot of potential players off. Especially when you're suddenly expected to start shooting down torpedoes!) Let me just say that, compared to Episode 3, finding yourself on the losing paths of Episodes 4 and 5 is not hard at all! :)
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Reinstalled it to have a go at it again this weekend...

Maybe there's some graphical glitch I'm missing.
When running standoff for the first time, it appeared on my second screen, with about 2/3th of the game screen on it, and the last bit offscreen(not on my primary)
I tried to solve it by switching off my second monitor, did not help. What did help was re-initilaze the video card driver(most people would just reboot and that would have thesame effect).
(Videocard setup is 2 MSI 270x gaming cards in crossfire)

Standoff will go up to 1080p on my system, but my native resolution is 1440p, 1080p makes the objects look descent, but the subtitles are well, blocky and vague.. is there a way to tweak the font to be less "low-res"?
 

wcnut

Rear Admiral
Out of curiosity were there any additional minor patches in this full release? I remember Durandal Dundradal (Sorry, your avatar always makes me see your name wrong :)) mentioning some sort of history bug?
 

PopsiclePete

Mission programmer
Out of curiosity were there any additional minor patches in this full release? I remember Durandal Dundradal (Sorry, your avatar always makes me see your name wrong :)) mentioning some sort of history bug?
We might still release a few patches, but they would be minor fixes (ex: an object that appears on the radar for a split second while it should be invisible), not worth holding off playing or archiving.
 

PopsiclePete

Mission programmer
I would actually say that this is the biggest failure of the game, because Ep3 losing is awesome. (Well, this or the fact that the difficulty ramps up frikkin fast, and turns a lot of potential players off. Especially when you're suddenly expected to start shooting down torpedoes!) Let me just say that, compared to Episode 3, finding yourself on the losing paths of Episodes 4 and 5 is not hard at all! :)
Hehe I did most of the Ep3 loosing branch. I recall that back then everytime I suggested a crazy mission design/gimmick Quarto would say "Ok, I'll have it fit in the loosing path" as a way to get rid of me :p I loved it !
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I don't disagree with your point. I just don't think it's as bad as all that. Interestingly, I was just one such player. I had never read Fleet Action (or any of the WC novels) prior to playing Standoff. (In fact, playing Standoff is what inspired me to pick up Fleet Action, my first WC novel). But I think you overestimate the confusion level. Granted, I had played (and more importantly, read the manual for) WC3, so I had a little bit of background; it wasn't like I was approaching Standoff with knowledge of WC1 and WC2 only, but even without that, I think the game actually would hold up OK.
Hey, I said it was our biggest failure, I didn't say it was an unmitigated disaster :). It was ok for WC fans, because most of us kind of understood what had happened even without reading the novels. It's impossible to be a part of this community without eventually picking up the missing bits of the story. But I certainly do think it would have been a very challenging story to grasp for people who are new to WC. But then again, people who are new to WC would be missing such a boatload of references to earlier works that the story would probably be the least of their concerns. Especially given the difficulty curve ;).

Didn't know that. That's interesting. I had thought you did Episode 1 as an experiment to try out all the scripting and graphics tricks you intended to use later in the game. That's certainly how it feels.
No, no, you're giving us much more credit for pre-planning than we deserve :). Episode 1 was highly experimental indeed, but it was never a case of "let's try this out, because we'll need something like this later". I think the best way to put it is that Episode 1 was us flexing our muscles after UE - we now had a pretty good idea of the potential tricks that could be pulled in the game engine, and an appetite to see more. That appetite for pushing the scripting to its extremes, I think, is something that stuck with us all throughout Standoff, and... well, there's no way to say this without sounding arrogant, so I'll sound arrogant: it is because of our willingness to experiment that Standoff has far more interesting mission design to something like Secret Ops. It's impossible to compare Standoff to Prophecy, where the mission design was constrained by on-going development, and the things we took for granted were brand new and innovative. But when comparing Standoff to Secret Ops, which was developed with a ready-made engine and a design team who already had ample experience not only in general, but with this engine in particular, then yeah, I do think we were better in terms of innovation. But we were also worse in other ways, because our innovations were often done for innovation's sake - hey, wouldn't it be cool if...? Let's try it! This meant that often, those innovations were not carried through for later use, because we were busy going after the next shiny thing. So, you pick up an ejected pilot in Episode 1, but then you never use the tractor beam again, because we've already shown that it can be done, so we'd be bored using the same trick again :).

The one thing we did really benefit from trying out in Episode 1, though, was the fighter-counting system. We quickly realised that the system has the potential to fall apart due to the wild divergences in fighter survival rates, so that by the end of the episode, we found ourselves bringing in Militia reinforcements out of nowhere just to get some less fortunate players out of a hole. Because of this, we were later very careful in designing the mission tree to allow for a range of excuses to re-stock on fighters, even on the losing path. I like the end result. The player gets a sense of greater depth by understanding that this time, there really are no little elves "back there" making new fighters for him, but at the same time, the system generally doesn't feel unfair, because it's rare for you to get in really deep trouble just because some stupid wingman crashed your last Rapier into an asteroid.


Still, the problem was it was a Ralatha, and those things are just too easy to kill (the bridge can be taken out from any approach angle from the front, and the engines from any angle behind).
Yeah, unfortunately we never could replicate WC2 flak well enough to convey the idea that if you fire a torp too early, it actually won't get in. Torpedoes in Standoff are far more effective than in WC2, where two torps for one Ralatha actually felt desperate.

Hehe I did most of the Ep3 loosing branch. I recall that back then everytime I suggested a crazy mission design/gimmick Quarto would say "Ok, I'll have it fit in the loosing path" as a way to get rid of me :p I loved it !
Hehe, yeah. Ok, Pierre, I'll add it into a mission design - but only if you're the one who implements it! :) I think you're the one on the team who most embodied that appetite for experimentation I describe above. I kind of lost that appetite around Episode 2, and only really recovered it towards the end of the project when the end was actually in sight. I utterly loved experimenting with implementation in Episode 5 (oh, that mission without any combat - my favouritest thing ever! :) ), but prior to that, the overwhelming sense of the scope of the project and the amount that always still needs to be done completely sapped any joy I felt in coding. I just wanted to write down all the mission designs so that they'd be done and out of the way. At that time, my main source of satisfaction was in sadistically dissecting other people's code and tweaking the heck out of it - the fun of seeing a good thing get just slightly better (...or worse, depending on your point of view ;) ).

The moment I did finish writing the very last mission outline was... a game-changer. There was an end to be reached. Standoff would be finished, and I knew I wouldn't be able to do any more large-scale mods, so I needed to enjoy it while it lasted. Although I do recall that along the way, there was a couple of earlier missions that I would reserve for myself because I wanted to code them personally. So, I suppose the lack of joy in coding in the middle of the project wasn't as complete as I make it out to be :).
 

Vidmaster

Rear Admiral
Yeah, unfortunately we never could replicate WC2 flak well enough...

Hoping that I am not putting salt into any wounds here but...

....that flak is by far the weakest part of the game. It just looks incredibly silly and is pretty ineffective too. Its basically lines of similarly looking explosions which fade in and out, just terrible in this player's humble opinion. In WC2 and SWC, flak is basically similar to how Freespace 2 / Diaspora (Battlestar Galactica Mod) handle it, a projectile flying out and then exploding in an AOE effect. Kind of like real WW2 flak was working...

Was it actually impossible to recreate something like this?
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
Thanks for your kind words, @Farbourne!

...But I think by this point we had lost contact with the actor who did Reismann (almost certainly the best performance of the game?).

Actually, I think Freyers was my favorite voice acting performance. He had just the right touch of sarcasm and pessimism to be entertaining, yet he came across as genuine. Your Bradshaw was pretty good too, although maybe I'm just a fan of the accent. I think Squealer rounds out my top three favorites.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
....that flak is by far the weakest part of the game. It just looks incredibly silly and is pretty ineffective too. Its basically lines of similarly looking explosions which fade in and out, just terrible in this player's humble opinion. In WC2 and SWC, flak is basically similar to how Freespace 2 / Diaspora (Battlestar Galactica Mod) handle it, a projectile flying out and then exploding in an AOE effect. Kind of like real WW2 flak was working... Was it actually impossible to recreate something like this?
Yes, exactly. The flak we had was the nearest possible approximation to WC2 flak. And yes, it was far from great. But at least it was better than mere lasers :).

Actually, I think Freyers was my favorite voice acting performance. He had just the right touch of sarcasm and pessimism to be entertaining, yet he came across as genuine. Your Bradshaw was pretty good too, although maybe I'm just a fan of the accent. I think Squealer rounds out my top three favorites.
Well, different people will have different opinions on who was the best, naturally. I do think Reismann was brilliant, but Freyers, Bradshaw, and Squealer were certainly really good performances as well. I suppose in retrospect I find Bradshaw sometimes a bit raw, but that's understandable - his role was a very challenging one. It's much easier to record dialogue, which is something everybody does every day, than to record a monologue and to make it sound reasonably natural. Especially in the first intro, Bradshaw's job was a nightmare: to do a whole load of unnatural exposition, and make it somehow sound like it's neither unnatural nor exposition.

On a sidenote, the one thing that annoys me about Freyers is that he's a seemingly inevitable cliché. Comms officers in Wing Commander are so commonly annoying pricks. There were really only two exceptions to this, the first being WC1 (where the comms officer was practically non-existent), and WC4 (where Sosa was of course cloyingly sweet because everything's nicer in the Border Worlds). The only variation was in the degree of sarcasm we'd face, and the reasons behind it. So, Freyers was a natural fit, and helped make the whole thing just a bit more Wing Commanderish, but... yeah, what a cliché he was.

I still like Stingray's voiceover the most; he sounds exactly as I would expect him to.
Oh! Yes! His role was so small, I tend to forget about him. But yeah, he absolutely embodied Stingray. And you know what I really loved about Stingray? That he shows up just a couple of times, doesn't draw undue attention to himself, and just gets on with the job. I'm not a fan of those kinds of cameos where the game/film keeps pounding you over the head to make sure you don't forget to be amazed by the cameo.

(of course, in that regard, the absolute best cameo in Standoff is Hawk - his name isn't even mentioned, because... you know, why should it be?)
 
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Pedro

Admiral
Your Bradshaw was pretty good too, although maybe I'm just a fan of the accent.

I'm glad you liked it - frankly I wince every time I hear myself. I keep thinking of calculon.


I'm never adding my voice to anything again without getting a lesson or two, I definitely don't have an innate ability.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I'm never adding my voice to anything again without getting a lesson or two, I definitely don't have an innate ability.
Well, read what I wrote above (we posted pretty much simultaneously :) ). You had a tough job with those monologues. And my writing certainly didn't make it easy for you. Looking over Standoff, I can see a definite improvement in writing quality over time. Granted, there aren't too many lines in Standoff that make me cringe, so I think the writing wasn't bad in general - but in the first episodes especially, it was far from great.
 

wcnut

Rear Admiral
well I've seen and heard much worse as fan projects go. In fact by that metric its actually Oscar worthy. :)
 
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