Strike's Lightning Twice (August 11, 2012)

Discussion in 'News Discussion' started by Bandit LOAF, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. Bandit LOAF

    Bandit LOAF Long Live the Confederation!

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    It's no secret that Chris Roberts' Strike Commander had something of a pained development cycle. Advertising promoting a Christmas 1991 release date (below) was so inaccurate that the final game's manual included a parody promising it would finally be out in 2011. One interesting fact is that Strike actually had a much more diverse selection of vehicles in the original proposal, including an attack helicopter and a P-38 Lightning which mercenaries of the future were somehow going to use as a ground attack aircraft!

    As evidence of that, we've archived both versions of Origin's press release for the game. They're very interesting not only because of the changes (and the original line art!) but also because of all the detail they go into about the team and Chris Roberts' vision for the game. I can't really imagine a company today sending out bios of everyone working on a new title.

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    Original update published on August 11, 2012
     
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  2. Wedge009

    Wedge009 Rogue Leader

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    Nice movie-style poster... Was it Dana Glover who composed the music? For some reason, I thought it was Nenad Vugrinec (I know he mainly does sound, but as far as I know he did Jazz's piano pieces for WC2 as well).
     
  3. Dondragmer

    Dondragmer Commodore

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    Not when your competitors might make them a better offer. In the particular case of Strike Commander they probably could be safely named, but only because Origin employees were pretty loyal back in 1992.

    In 1984, the first Macintosh was released containing the signatures of everyone who worked on it. Today, good luck identifying anyone who isn't Jonathan Ive. You could try headhunting him I suppose, but you'd better have a whole briefcase full of Benjamins, and make sure it's an elegant briefcase.

    When Strike Commander finally shipped, how well did it run on that hardware?

    In the grim future of 2007, has even the Shuttleworth Collection been reduced to hiring out as mercenaries to cover their costs? At least your P-38 won't be the most ancient thing in the air.

    It's interesting to compare the flamboyant color poster with the final box cover. (Thank you for scanning that back in 2000, Pix.) I wonder if the in-game models were ever covered in flames like that F-16 on the poster.
     
  4. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    That's never really an issue. If anything, keeping the names of your employees secret poses the bigger risk (Activision: founded by Atari employees who wanted to actually get credit for the games they make). Even back then, you could easily find most of these people by looking at the credits of the previous game and then getting out the phone book. These days, of course, it would be even easier, what with most people having LinkedIn profiles.

    Well... while of course using a vintage P-38 doesn't make much sense due to the difficulties involved in buying one, there is good sense generally in having a prop plane for strike missions. For mercenaries, a small counter-insurgency aircraft would be crucial: if you're going to be hitting a bunch of rebels who barely have an air force, you would definitely prefer to fly in with a small prop aircraft (like the Brazilian Tucano, for example) than burn very expensive jet fuel with your F-16.

    It is a pity about all these other aircraft getting cut - I find that flying F-16s all the time is a major turnoff for Strike Commander.
     
  5. Wedge009

    Wedge009 Rogue Leader

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    Granted, it was only for a few missions, but didn't we fly the F-22 as well? And maintenance cost was the reason for ultimately dropping it, if I recall correctly.
     
  6. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    That was in the expansion pack - I think. I never finished the game (gasp!), so I might be wrong.
     
  7. Bandit LOAF

    Bandit LOAF Long Live the Confederation!

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    You are, indeed, wrong. :) At the end of Strike Commander you steal the prototype F-22 and fly the last couple of missions using it. The game's "Jazz" mission is a dogfight between the F-22 and F-23 prototypes.
    As Wedge mentioned, the expansion immediately Steltek gun's the F-22 (which was the game's 'super fighter' in the tradition of the Rapier and Morningstar) by explaining that you have to sell it because it's too expensive to keep flying. I think you might get to fly one more mission in it before that happens? (Even more of a tease: the F-22 appears on the box to the expansion...)
     
  8. Wedge009

    Wedge009 Rogue Leader

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    Yeah, I was pretty sure I remember Ja- urk, I mean, yeah, Jazz (cough) trying to cross you on the F-22 heist. And I'm pretty sure you fly the F-22 one last time before Virgil the accountant (I think) recommends you selling the expensive bird. Or was that Miguel, the wise, experienced pilot who advises you to sell? I really ought to give Strike Commander a dialogue script treatment... it'd certainly help refresh my memory!
     
  9. Dondragmer

    Dondragmer Commodore

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    True, but that doesn't stop many companies in the present from trying to anonymise their development teams.

    I should have remembered that this has already happened. Carl Gustaf von Rosen used these propeller planes to attack an airfield full of MiG-17s. Since it's all about the cost of maintenance, vintage P-38s still make no sense unless your opponents acknowledge your cool plane and refuse to destroy it even while under attack.

    As of 2012, jet fuel is ubiquitous while Avgas is not available at every airport. Many propeller and helicopter pilots prefer turbine-powered aircraft that drink the former for this reason. This will only be the case while the world is full of 737s hauling passengers. If your chaotic balkanized future destroys civilian air travel, mercenary pilots may fly propeller planes converted to run on automobile gas instead.

    Even if jet fuel is easy to find, buying it will mark you as an aviation operator. Side effects may include betrayal, murder and IRS agents. Consult your accountant before purchase. Results not typical.

    It's at least nice to learn that Strike Commander was supposed to have more aircraft types, even if they didn't ship. I had wondered why it included support for different player aircraft, yet didn't use that support for more variety.

    If you don't have time to replay the entire game just to find a conversation, this YouTube channel has a longplay of Strike Commander and Tactical Operations. Here's the segment where Miguel advises you to sell the F-22:

     
  10. Wedge009

    Wedge009 Rogue Leader

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    Ah, so it was indeed Miguel. Thanks.
     
  11. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Yep! That's exactly what I was thinking of, but I couldn't for the life of me remember the names of the people involved (for some reason, I remembered the guy being a former Luftwaffe pilot - which plainly is not case). But it's more than that - back in the 1960s, as prop aircraft gradually disappeared from service (ok, that's not right - sure, the US retired the Skyraider in the late 1960s, but some countries continued to use older prop aircraft well into the 1980s - the Corsairs and Mustangs of the Football War being the extreme example), a lot of attention was spent on coming up with a reasonable alternative. Counter-insurgency aircraft need to be very rugged, and preferably cheap (cheapness is becoming an increasingly crucial trait today - they're competing with UAVs now). There's one or two turbojet aircraft, but most are turboprop or just plain prop (though these are getting rare, I think).

    It's still utterly bizarre to give the player a Lighting, of course. How much more expensive it must be today to get your hands on a combat-ready Lightning than a Tucano!
     
  12. Dondragmer

    Dondragmer Commodore

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    Mercenaries by nature have odd backgrounds (and lie about them), so it's safe to assume there were some former Luftwaffe pilots flying in Africa. However, the only other mercenary pilots I've seen the name of are Jan Zumbach (Poland) and Lynn Garrison (Canada). Jan Zumbach's autobiography, "On Wings of War", is a gripping read, although (unsurprisingly) grim, and I questions its accuracy in places. (This assessment is based off his profession, not his nationality.)

    The P-38 has the advantage of being one of the world's fundamentally cool planes, even when reduced to a low-polygon model. Given the draft box graphic with its flaming F-16, perhaps early plans for the game had a more pulpy, Crimson Skies feel. With the right actors, you could probably make an over-the-top comedy without changing a word of the final script. (Mercenary pilots with diplomatic immunity? Being hired in a smoky bar in Turkey? To fly for the IRS? Which is invading Rhode Island because it seceded from the Union? Really?)
     
  13. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Hehe, oh yeah - you should always be careful when it comes to memoirs... of just about any profession, really :). As far as I can see from my own research, Zumbach's story is pretty accurate, but there are certainly things in there that are a little questionable. Not just because there may be things he would prefer to tiptoe around, but also because when he talks about political context, he's strongly limited by his own experience of the conflicts, without too much analysis of the bigger picture.

    As for the Luftwaffe pilots, I think I must have been confused by Von Rosen's name. I know for a fact there were ground-based German mercenaries in Africa, but I have yet to read of any Luftwaffe mercenaries in Africa. A lot of them went to South America, but over there, they generally served in national air forces rather than as mercenaries.

    Yep. And that's what it comes down to ultimately, I guess - yes, a Tucano may be more sensible. But who'd choose a Tucano over a P-38? :)
     

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