Strike Carrier Escorts & Move Air Masks

Dean478

Rear Admiral
Hello,

I've got two quick questions that I couldn't find answers for.

First one is regarding Strike Carriers. When WC was first released, I just assumed that we never saw any close escorts with the Tiger's Claw because of technical limitations of PCs at the time. Later on however in both the cartoon series Academy and the film, we never see the Claw being escorted by anything. During the game we know destroyers operated nearby but a lot of the time they were jumping to other systems.

All of a sudden we see the TCS Victory and the film's TCS Concordia (which differs to the WC2 carrier) with escorts.

What is the (hopefully) logical reason for this? The Confed Handbook mentions bengal class carriers are the fleet's utility carrier. To me that screams of a modern day carrier that usually relies on a few destroyers and a cruiser or two.

My second question is regarding the masks for pilots in the film. Simply, where are the tubes delivering the air into the mask for them? The only thing plugged into their helmets were the radios.

Thanks for your help and I do apologise if my search wasn't thorough enough to find these answered previously.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
While there are a few cases where carriers (or cruisers for that matter) traveled alone without escorts in visible range in WC history there is a strong indication by both books and games that it isn't meant to be that way. With enough of its fighter and bomber escorts a carrier can do that, much the same way a modern aircraft carrier could do it. It just isn't very wise when in war. The escort ships provide a lot of firepower, sensors, and supplies the carrier and its fighters don't have.

The logical reason why you see the Tiger's Claw alone is just what you mentioned. WC1+2 couldn't display fleets (2 or 3 capships is the maximum we see at one time IIRC), which is also one reason it is always flights of just two fighters flying around.
In the animated series it has different reasons: The Tiger's Claw exterior scenes are short, and it isn't necessary to spend that much time (which means money) in drawing all her escorts if they don't matter for the story anyway.

...also flying that close doesn't make sense in space anyway in most cases, so I think it is safe to assume that they were there the whole time but we didn't see them. They would only fly as close as sometimes seen in WC3 if the group wanted to jump, concentrate firepower, or when in an extremely dangerous environment to give each other cover.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Hello,

I've got two quick questions that I couldn't find answers for.

First one is regarding Strike Carriers. When WC was first released, I just assumed that we never saw any close escorts with the Tiger's Claw because of technical limitations of PCs at the time. Later on however in both the cartoon series Academy and the film, we never see the Claw being escorted by anything. During the game we know destroyers operated nearby but a lot of the time they were jumping to other systems.

All of a sudden we see the TCS Victory and the film's TCS Concordia (which differs to the WC2 carrier) with escorts.

In the game, I'm pretty sure there are a few times that we get at lease one exeter as escort in formation with the claw. In wing2 the first thing you hear from the Concordia is that their escorts are destroyed, later in the game you get escorts(again). Also, a lone ship attracts less attention. and the claw planned the strike on 'Mang solo.

In the cartoon, we actually do see several ships surrounding the claw(episode Invisible Fighter), but it appears the claw is more escorting them then vice-versa. In the movie the Concordia is leading the fleet to sol.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
First one is regarding Strike Carriers. When WC was first released, I just assumed that we never saw any close escorts with the Tiger's Claw because of technical limitations of PCs at the time. Later on however in both the cartoon series Academy and the film, we never see the Claw being escorted by anything. During the game we know destroyers operated nearby but a lot of the time they were jumping to other systems.

I believe the idea was that a 'Strike Carrier' is a special ship capable of operating on its own; the Tiger's Claw has the offensive weaponry to go toe-to-toe with a ship of the line... and it's self-sufficient enough to operate without a supply chain for extended periods (as in The Secret Missions.)

There are instances where the 'Claw had escorts, though. It has a destroyer escort in the Peter Telep movie tie-in novels... and it's part of a 'strike force' that includes other ships for a time in Super Wing Commander. Probably most telling is Wing Commander Academy, where it travels alone (other than when escorting those transports as you mention)... while the Tralfagar, of the same class, has a host of escorts. So it's never that anyone /forgot/ to include escort ships, it was a conscious decision to have the 'Claw operate alone.

My second question is regarding the masks for pilots in the film. Simply, where are the tubes delivering the air into the mask for them? The only thing plugged into their helmets were the radios.

I don't think the prop has an air tube like the Wing Commander III/IV ones did. It's hard to say exactly what the helmet is for -- it does have an eyepiece which may mean it's more for the "virtual cockpit" than anything else.

WC1+2 couldn't display fleets (2 or 3 capships is the maximum we see at one time IIRC), which is also one reason it is always flights of just two fighters flying around.

In the animated series it has different reasons: The Tiger's Claw exterior scenes are short, and it isn't necessary to spend that much time (which means money) in drawing all her escorts if they don't matter for the story anyway.

This is how nasty 'facts' get started. It's a cart-before-the-horse thing. If Wing Commander I couldn't display fleets it was likely because the game didn't ever NEED to display fleets... not because they must have wanted to and then decided it was impossible. If Chris Roberts was great at one thing it was moving heaven and Earth to make the game he specified, system requirements and previous standards for PC gaming be damned.

Also the Concordia does have an escort ship in Wing Commander II, so...
In the cartoon, we actually do see several ships surrounding the claw(episode Invisible Fighter), but it appears the claw is more escorting them then vice-versa. In the movie the Concordia is leading the fleet to sol.
Yeah, you see line drawings of escorts on one of the screens early on... but the actual fleet shots don't have them. It's just a dozen identical Concordia-class ships.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
I don't say it would have been impossible, probably they just decided that re-writing the whole engine because you realize you can't include secondary featureX is stupid.

I am a software developer myself, I know what I'm talking about because that happens all the time. The problem with hardware-consuming stuff in software is that you can only guess (based on the algorithm) how fast it will run. So you go ahead and try it if it is roughly what you aim for. And if you encounter a feature on the way that is planned but just not possible (at least not possible in a way that runs and looks good) you have to decide what to do. In other cases it is the same thing: you encounter a problem and change it. That's what brings us green Salthis, Ventures instead of Exeters and such things. Such things happen. My programmer's list of "things I wanted to do but couldn't because of hardware/software/library function XYZ" is quite long, and I have been a developer for just some years. My boss could write a book about it and I guess most veteran programmers could.

The Origin guys were good. They didn't design the game around fleet battles because they knew that would neither be fitting for a 1st person space shooter nor possible in the quality they aimed for. But I don't think they would have left out escorting capital ships if it had been easy to implement. Because those rock and everybody loves them.
Space itself is empty and boring. Missions with many ships make the game seem alive.
In WC3 it was possible and they did it. I think I even read a quote from Roberts himself saying something like that about WC3.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I don't say it would have been impossible, probably they just decided that re-writing the whole engine because you realize you can't include secondary featureX is stupid.
The trouble with this line of argument, however, is that they did include additional capships in WC2 - and WC2 actually has more severe ship limits than WC1. A WC1 mission includes up to 32 ships, compared to WC2's 16 ships. WC1 handles memory differently, and as a consequence, it supports less ship types simultaneously in memory (three or four, IIRC), but this is not a significant problem. Note that we do, quite frequently, escort friendly capships back to the 'Claw. Technology-wise, it's not an issue.

I'm actually tempted to dig up Mario's old mission editor and put together a couple of WC1 missions to prove the point, but... I'm sorry, I just have more important things to do :p.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I don't say it would have been impossible, probably they just decided that re-writing the whole engine because you realize you can't include secondary featureX is stupid.

What you're imagining here, though, is that they set out the specifications for Wing Commander I, developed the engine specifically to meet those specifications and then found out it *didn't* do what was expected and for some specific reason couldn't be easily changed. That is a very specific chain of events that has to happen to get here. (And it's ignoring the fact that we don't know that it has that limitation in the first place... in fact, it does not.)

More important, though, is the fact that it's just a complete unknown. The only thing we know is that Wing Commander I doesn't have groups of capital ships (except the dozen or so times it does.) That's not enough to work backwards and decide this kind of information... and that's the danger here, because people start going off and talking about how Origin had this or that limitation when in reality it's just a weird specific guess.

The Origin guys were good. They didn't design the game around fleet battles because they knew that would neither be fitting for a 1st person space shooter nor possible in the quality they aimed for. But I don't think they would have left out escorting capital ships if it had been easy to implement. Because those rock and everybody loves them.

See, this here is a weird specific claim to make without /actually knowing/. And we live in an era where it's not that hard to actually track down these guys and get their oral history...
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
I'm actually tempted to dig up Mario's old mission editor and put together a couple of WC1 missions to prove the point, but... I'm sorry, I just have more important things to do

It isn't really the same nowadays. Most people have more than enough CPU capacity and/or more than 640kB of RAM :D


A WC1 mission includes up to 32 ships, compared to WC2's 16 ships. WC1 handles memory differently, and as a consequence, it supports less ship types simultaneously in memory (three or four, IIRC), but this is not a significant problem.
I can't agree with that. It is the problem why you can't have the player's ship, the Tiger's Claw, a Venture and an Exeter in a strike group and attack it with Salthi and Gratha. WC1 can't handle that simultaneously IIRC.


And I don't remember.... wasn't it some texture thing why WC2 had a smaller limit but could use more different ships? I think I remember a mission in WC2 that has six or seven types. It could be the one where you attack that supply depot and transport, flying Broadswords. (I almost wrote BS for Broadsword but then I realized what BS also means :D )

@LOAF:
What you're imagining here, though, is that they set out the specifications for Wing Commander I, developed the engine specifically to meet those specifications and then found out it *didn't* do what was expected and for some specific reason couldn't be easily changed. That is a very specific chain of events that has to happen to get here.

Not really, as I explained before that happens quite often.

Also engine limitation and system limitation and the combination of those two are not something completely static. You can go far into the inefficient upper specification of an engine if you have big amounts of RAM or CPU power available. On a 286 you didn't have that. So the limitations change based on a variety of factors.

But whatever. We don't know it, as you already said. We don't know whether Chris Roberts just found it very cool to have an empty space with hardly any ships around (and changed his opinion later) or whether there were other reasons for that. We just know it was that way and was changed later.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I can't agree with that. It is the problem why you can't have the player's ship, the Tiger's Claw, a Venture and an Exeter in a strike group and attack it with Salthi and Gratha. WC1 can't handle that simultaneously IIRC.

There's a mission in Secret Missions 2 where you can pit three Hornets against three Fralthi and nine Jalthi at the same time...

Not really, as I explained before that happens quite often.

Sure, but it's like knowing "John is dead" and then insisting from that he must have died from a heart attack because heart attacks happen quite often. :)
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
I was talking about ship types, not ship numbers. It would be pretty boring for a task force to consist of just one type of ship.
I didn't like the mission you mentioned that much because I thought it was boring that it was three Fralthi.

Sure, but it's like knowing "John is dead" and then insisting from that he must have died from a heart attack because heart attacks happen quite often
Almost a good analogy. I almost agree.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I can't agree with that. It is the problem why you can't have the player's ship, the Tiger's Claw, a Venture and an Exeter in a strike group and attack it with Salthi and Gratha. WC1 can't handle that simultaneously IIRC.
This seems slightly artificial. Do you recall any mission in WC2 where you would see the the player's ship, the Concordia, a Gilgamesh, and a Waterloo fighting together against Sartha and Grikaths? It doesn't happen. In WC2, you never fight against more than one enemy fighter type at once, and you never see more than two capship types at once. Since we're holding WC2 up as an example of a game with strike teams, whatever WC2 has should be enough. We cannot require WC1 to show the Tiger's Claw along with two escort types, and we cannot require WC1 to pit two different Kilrathi fighter types against this strike force.

I do not think you ever see more than four ship types at once in WC2. The thing I can't recall is whether this is the case in WC1, or if the limit there is three ship types.

And I don't remember.... wasn't it some texture thing why WC2 had a smaller limit but could use more different ships? I think I remember a mission in WC2 that has six or seven types. It could be the one where you attack that supply depot and transport, flying Broadswords. (I almost wrote BS for Broadsword but then I realized what BS also means :D )
I do not think the limit in either game is related to the mission as a whole - it's per navpoint, since the game can offload graphics and load fresh graphics any time, it just can't keep that many shiptypes in memory at once. So you certainly could have six or seven types of ships in one mission, whether it's WC2 or WC1.
 

Kyle Maverick

Rear Admiral
I believe the idea was that a 'Strike Carrier' is a special ship capable of operating on its own; the Tiger's Claw has the offensive weaponry to go toe-to-toe with a ship of the line... and it's self-sufficient enough to operate without a supply chain for extended periods (as in The Secret Missions.)
I'd agree with that seeing as one occasion in the last mission of WC1 I didn't attack the Fralthi at Nav 1, just hit the afterburners and went and hit the command center, and when I got back to the Claw, the Fralthi was there and as I came out of autopilot, the Claw toasted it.

I see the Strike Carriers as being an early version of the Midway class Standalone Carriers
 

Ijuin

Admiral
...also flying that close doesn't make sense in space anyway in most cases, so I think it is safe to assume that they were there the whole time but we didn't see them. They would only fly as close as sometimes seen in WC3 if the group wanted to jump, concentrate firepower, or when in an extremely dangerous environment to give each other cover.
When you are flying at hundreds of kilometers per second between planets or jump points, a spacing of a hundred kilometers between ships is considered "close".
 

Ilanin

Captain
We can safely assume that fighters are either not travelling at hundreds of kilometres per second (despite what the speed readouts show) or alternatively none of the games display ships to scale, since it generally takes 1-2 seconds to fly the length of a Terran carrier, and they aren't several hundred kilometres long.
 

Nomad Terror

Rear Admiral
We can safely assume that fighters are either not travelling at hundreds of kilometres per second (despite what the speed readouts show) or alternatively none of the games display ships to scale, since it generally takes 1-2 seconds to fly the length of a Terran carrier, and they aren't several hundred kilometres long.

The commonly accepted view is that when traveling long distances, the ships are in fact traveling at klicks per second, only slowing down when engaging in combat or navigational maneuvers.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Yes, the original games actually indicate this: target a fighter and the distance is in meters, target a nav point and it's kilometers.
 

Dean478

Rear Admiral
Sorry I took so long to write back. Thank you very much for the information, pretty much answered all my questions. Not quite sure what else to say! :)
 
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