Transmit New Poll Votes Here (January 25, 2020)

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
We've got a new poll up today that asks about your favorite communications options to send while in flight. There's a few tried and true ones that have been around since WC1, and some of the later games introduce a couple more that are less well known. The Comm VDU isn't generally considered a central element of Wing Commander, but I would argue it's a critical aspect to the immersion that we all feel in the game. So now we're giving you a chance to think about what comm selection you rely on or enjoy the most - vote below!







Our annual new year's poll has been running neck-and-neck over the past week, so we decided to call it today with a tie. Overall, the optimistic responses got more votes than the pessimistic ones, and the results were generally typical for the last few years' results. Although there's a fair number of fans who have doubts about what 2020 holds, there's some tremendous potential out there. We'll just have to make it a great year through all of our combined efforts!

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Original update published on January 25, 2020
 

wiese.hano

Petty Officer
I can't vote because I wouldn't know which of the radios to give preference to. All radiograms are useful, sometimes necessary and sometimes funny. There is nothing in them that I would give preference to. Nevertheless it is an interesting survey and I am curious about the result.
 

Pedro

Admiral
I can't vote because I wouldn't know which of the radios to give preference to. All radiograms are useful, sometimes necessary and sometimes funny. There is nothing in them that I would give preference to. Nevertheless it is an interesting survey and I am curious about the result.
I never used form on my wing or radio silence; maybe I’m missing something but they didn’t seem very important.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I can't vote because I wouldn't know which of the radios to give preference to. All radiograms are useful, sometimes necessary and sometimes funny. There is nothing in them that I would give preference to.
All of the options are the options because potentially anyone could find any of them useful, but I think most people could probably gravitate to one or two that they use most often. "Attack my target" is pretty useful to coordinate with your wingman. "Break and attack" is a classic that some people use every mission, and maybe only ever that command. Still others might pragmatically argue that being able to request clearance to land is the only one that's truly critical. While all of those could be valid arguments, I think one or another will tend to resonate most with each player.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Hmm. It is an interesting topic to consider. I'm not sure I feel strongly enough about one particular option to vote, but let me throw a few arguments in favour of three different comms. These arguments revolve mainly around three factors - utility, emotion, and satisfaction. What makes this whole topic interesting, though, is that the comm function is in general rather extraneous - many, many similar games never bother implementing such a feature. Discussing how particular comm commands affect the gameplay and our emotions shows just how valuable in fact this feature was, and what a huge impact it has.

"Break and attack / form on my wing" - obviously, these two commands have the same utilitarian aspect, allowing the player to control whether his wingmen will also fight, or if they will be prevented from joining in. This gives you a feeling of control, of power, which is very satisfying, especially early on in WC1, when this is all new to you. But then time and again, the game subverts this by giving you pilots that completely ignore your commands - and this is great, because it reinforces the idea that pilots have their own personality. All this is gained from commands that many designers would consider unimportant, and mark it as the first thing to cut from the game if time starts running short. These arguments extend also to other, less important (because usually less effective) combat commands, like "attack my target" and "help me out", and to the "radio silence" command, which gives the player a feeling of control, and allowing players to disable pilot verbosity in an in-game manner without resorting to the options menu.

"Request landing clearance" - this is the point where many games simply automatically end the mission and start the landing sequence. Having an comm for this effect may seem again relatively useless, but it achieves two things. Firstly, it gives the player more freedom and control. You don't have to immediately end the mission because the designers have arbitrarily decided you've run out of things to do. This is the point where the player is given some "time off" so to speak, a sandbox. Want to fly around or through your carrier? This is your chance. Want to admire your own fighter, or see how close you can get to one of your wingmen's aircraft - or to that other ship you were escorting? This is your chance. But this comm also gives the player a very significant emotional impact, and never more so than in WC1 - this impact was later reduced by decisions to streamline some of the game features. There is an emotional satisfaction of being the one who initiates the mission ending. You get the satisfaction of saying, in a way, "I have done my job". In WC1, this is sometimes also an incredibly nail-biting moment, because your comm system can be damaged or almost completely destroyed. And suddenly, you find yourself uncertain if you'll even be able to get permission to land. Desperately pressing the "c" button again and again hoping this time it will finally work. It's great.

"Taunt" - it is ironic that of all the different comm options, this is the one that would be considered most important by game designers, because it's the most frequently used… and yet it's the most problematic. Taunting works wonderfully in Wing Commander... and hardly anywhere else. Already in WC4, we see that taunts feel odd and silly against humans, because it just feels like an unprofessional, unsoldier-like thing to do. That said, taunting even when it feels silly, is something most WC players probably do very frequently. They don't always work as advertised, diverting the opponent's attention towards you - but that's a part of the charm and of the function's utility. In the same way that wingman disobedience towards "break and attack" highlights differences in pilot personality, so the enemy reactions to taunts highlight the same differences. Some opponents turn towards you after just a few words, others ignore you and stay focused on their mission. It's great, and in that sense, the game would feel poorer without it. Yet, if I were making an air combat game today, taunts would be the first option I'd mark for cutting, because however often we seem to use them, they are actually far less important than any of the commands we issue to friendly pilots.
 
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