Wing Commander Comeback

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
Interesting debate. Just a couple of thoughts.

1). It is utterly perplexing to me that Sony dropped PS1 and PS2 support from the PS3. I am one of the (rare) owners of an early release PS3 that can play PS1 and PS2 games, and I would not have gotten it if it didn't have that capability (I actually only own two PS3 games...everything else I use it for is playing older games or BlueRay discs). I understand they did it to make it (slightly) cheaper, to better compete with XBox and the Wii? But that doesn't make marketing sense to me...since it's STILL more expensive than those two (and it seems like the PS3 games are also more expensive then their Microsoft and Nintendo counterparts, but maybe that's just my imagination) even after they dropped backwards support, I now see no reason whatsoever for most gamers to buy one, unless they plan on buying a new state of the art system AND a Blue Ray player at the same time, and realize it's slightly cheaper to get just one PS3 than a normal BlueRay player and, say, an X-box.

2). My biggest beef with EA recently, and Arena, is that it was only released for XBox. LOAF is right...Wing Commander has always been a multi-platform franchise. I was very annoyed when the first new wing commander game to come along in a while, and a game that was trying some relatively new and exciting looking things, would be released only for a single platform. I understand that porting is expensive and will only be done if it is profitable, but I would suspect part of the reason why Arena didn't do better was that it was only available on a single platform. Not PC, fine, I understand that releasing a console game for a PC is very expensive and unfortunately not very profitable these days, but couldn't they at least have released it on one of the other consoles as well?

If you recall when WC4 came out, the PC reviews of it were fantastic, while the console reviews were dismal. If it had only come out on console, it would have been one of the biggest gaming flops of all time.

3). Totally off topic, but I've formed the idea recently that a new Wing Commander game would be fantastic on the Wii. Just an opinion.
 

ELTEE

Rear Admiral
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3). Totally off topic, but I've formed the idea recently that a new Wing Commander game would be fantastic on the Wii. Just an opinion.

Talk about an opportunity for joysticks with the newly released motion sensitivity device for the Wii! :D
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I would suspect part of the reason why Arena didn't do better was that it was only available on a single platform. Not PC, fine, I understand that releasing a console game for a PC is very expensive and unfortunately not very profitable these days, but couldn't they at least have released it on one of the other consoles as well?

Like you said, porting games is not cheap and Arena did not have a big budget. Both Playstation 3 and Wii's downloadable game stores are much less popular than XBox Live Arcade. Arena was designed primarily as a multiplayer game, and the number of people playing PS3/Wii games online compared to the 360 is very low. I wish they made Arena for everything, but I don't think PS3 or Wii ports would have been profitable.

If you recall when WC4 came out, the PC reviews of it were fantastic, while the console reviews were dismal. If it had only come out on console, it would have been one of the biggest gaming flops of all time.

That specific example doesn't really apply today. The PC version of WC4 is better than the PS1 version in almost every way (the Playstation version even cut the PC's 6 discs down to 4. the graphics/resolution are noticeably lower. some missions/branching/systems/story are cut out). Today games are often designed for something like the 360 first and the console version is equal or superior to its PC counterpart.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Like you said, porting games is not cheap and Arena did not have a big budget. Both Playstation 3 and Wii's downloadable game stores are much less popular than XBox Live Arcade. Arena was designed primarily as a multiplayer game, and the number of people playing PS3/Wii games online compared to the 360 is very low. I wish they made Arena for everything, but I don't think PS3 or Wii ports would have been profitable.

I have quite a few friends in the Game Design industry and they've basically told me this:

You can design games for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 OR the Wii, but you can't do both.

Apparently porting the game from either of the serious gaming platforms to the Wii is virtually impossible. They've said they've had to - on more then one occassin and from more then one source now - re-write from the ground up to make the same game on the Wii. And then you have the Networking issues. Games designed - not just to work WITH or work ON - but to fully integrate the LIVE Arcade system into their programming are not going to adapt to another systems system very well.

If you've ever looked at the XNA Framework (And let's be serious now, who hasn't?) you'd understand the difficulties behind porting a game based on the 360's network code to another system. It just ain't that easy.

It would not be profitable, in the least. And that's saying something consider that this game is all DLC - it's not like they had production costs creating, shipping, packaging and programming discs to handle the game. All they had to do was create the code and cash it in.

That specific example doesn't really apply today. The PC version of WC4 is better than the PS1 version in almost every way (the Playstation version even cut the PC's 6 discs down to 4. the graphics/resolution are noticeably lower. some missions/branching/systems/story are cut out). Today games are often designed for something like the 360 first and the console version is equal or superior to its PC counterpart.

I want to expand on this point a little bit too - the reason the games THRIVE on the PC and are somewhat more dismal on the console (And I have both the PC and the PS1 copies of WC4, so I've experianced both) is that Wing Commander is not inherently an arcade game. I mean yes, it is, but really, when you break these games down they are interactive story telling. They go far beyond the move-here-shoot-here story arcs of most games and are without the 'sandbox' mode of other games. They are designed to tell a story from start to finish, and not just one story but dozens of stories, each based on the choices you make during the telling of the story.

To deliver that kind of content on one platform, let alone on two or three, with different hardware requirements different software requirements different space limitations is a HUGE feat. And once you've mapped out that story to be told that you have to cut some of it for one specific port of the game? YES! It's GOING to be dismal!

Something like Arena - on the other hand - which I have finally had the privlidge of playing - is the PERFECT console-only release for Wing Commander. It's short quick quirky unique, spins a new tail about the WC Universe without forcing people to understand everything that has gone on before (much like the new Star Trek, if the things I've heard are true! I go see it tomorrow) and it's arcade style game place is ideal for something called...the Xbox Arcade!
 

Tigerhawk

Captain
"You can design games for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 OR the Wii, but you can't do both."

Ah...which explains the noticeably large variance in PS3/360 vs. Wii versions of The Force Unleashed...
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I have quite a few friends in the Game Design industry and they've basically told me this:

You can design games for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 OR the Wii, but you can't do both.

Apparently porting the game from either of the serious gaming platforms to the Wii is virtually impossible. They've said they've had to - on more then one occassin and from more then one source now - re-write from the ground up to make the same game on the Wii. And then you have the Networking issues. Games designed - not just to work WITH or work ON - but to fully integrate the LIVE Arcade system into their programming are not going to adapt to another systems system very well.

The issue here is one of technology, not one of design... the PS3 and the Xbox 360 have plenty of horsepower while the Wii is basically a "last generation" console with a new interface. You can't build the exact same game for all three systems... and everyone goes into the process knowing this. A smart designer and/or project manager, however, can -and often does- plan cross-platform development around these limitations.

A great example is the new Ghostbusters game. They wanted to do a cross-platform release that would include the Wii... so they split the graphics, giving the Xbox/PS3/PC version high res "realistic" visuals and the Wii a stylized cartoon version. The development could then share things like level design, AI coding, etc. between the three platforms.

(A more common occurance is projects that include mobile or handheld releases that essentially build a smaller game with different gameplay but share things like art and story elements where possible. Force Unleashed is a good example; the version in the iPhone is a totally different game, but it saves money by not needing a new writer or new 3D renderings...)

It's also not a matter of pressing a button and turning an Xbox 360 port into a PS3 release (it's closer to this for Xbox->PC, I guess). The PS3 is notoriously hard to develop for and the low install base keeps a lot of developers away. Even though they're both 'high powered' compared to the Wii, there are differences in the system... a PS3 port has a whole blu-ray of space to play with, whereas the Xbox/PC is limited to a DVD. Expect (in the future) to see PS3 versions with much more or much higher resolution video (my favorite concept so far was The Darkness game, which filled up all the extra space with public domain movies and TV shows which would play on in-game TVs. The Xbox version had to cut most of that.)... similarly, the Xbox has a much smoother online interface and much better integration for things like DLC. Good designers take advantage of these things where they can.

What I'd *really* like to see is a game that you play across platforms, which we're starting to see more of. I'd love to have a big cinematic Wing Commander story on my PS3/Xbox, an Academy style action game on the Wii and some kind of RPG interface game on the iPhone/DS...
 
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