[Apologies for the long post, but I figure if anyone is interested in pontificating about this game's design, it's you guys] Well I finally finished WC1, 2 and all the add-ons. Career total: 110 missions, 778 kills. Despite coming to these games about 30 years late, it's safe to say I became obsessed. So I'm wondering, why? I'm particularly thinking of WC1, but a lot of the same things applies to WC2. It's not the cinematics, the graphics or nostalgia. I'm playing these games for the first time in 2017, and I don't mind saying that early on I almost demanded my money back because I found it almost unplayable. But then...it suddenly worked. And I got hooked. Why? This is what I'm thinking: * The game feels unfair for the longest time because you can only take a few hits, but it consistently models the entire battlefield and the enemies without making any compromises for cheap deaths. That means that until you learn how the AI works, every now and again multiple ships out of your field of vision will target you at the same time and it's goodnight. But because you don't see where the shots came from you don't learn anything from your mistake - it feels like you died from something beyond your control. * When you get better at the game two things happen - First, you get better at shooting. So the battles don't take as long (and so you're less likely to die). Second, you learn what's risky behaviour and when not to take risks (e.g. I learned not to screw around with Jalthi). Third, you learn to use the jets so that you actually have a variety of tools and strategies for the different ships - I felt like a genius when I stumbled across the "jet slide and shoot" technique. The three combine so that you start feeling that (mostly) when you die there WAS something you could have done about it, so it's not as frustrating. * Once you realise the game is modelled consistently you can start to use that against the game. Go to the Nav points out of order - kill the "ambush" before you pick up your escort. Suddenly you feel like you've outwitted the game. * Having fairly fragile ships, armour that doesn't regenerate and systems that get damaged means that the stakes can become very high very quickly. There were a few times when I had no shields, one gun and limping back to the Tigers Claw while praying that I didn't run into that one opponent that got away or bump into my wingman. My hands were shaking after I finally touched down. * Despite the age of the graphics, the games are really good at getting you invested in your wingmen and the world. I replayed a lot of missions in WC1 because I didn't want Spirit to die - that's really clever considering the writers had to make me care about her using only visuals and a handful of lines of dialogue. So because you care about the world, your victories feel like achievements. On a throwaway note, it seemed to me that WC1 was going for a "battle of Britain" feel and WC2 for a "life on an aircraft carrier" feel. I think the difference was that you spent all of WC1 in the officer's mess, which felt like being at Bomber Command during the blitz (the scoreboard and the bucket with dripping water helped with this - my brain immediately associated it with rain and a leaky roof). WC2 places you definitely on a larger vessel, which gives it a "Navy" feel. Anyway. Hope someone found this interesting, and interested in anyone's thoughts? Why do you think this game can be so frustrating and yet be so addictive?