The Wing Commander Saga mod team has announced some interesting details about how their 'fiction viewer' works and how it will expand the game. The idea has an interesting lineage, which was never perfected in the Wing Commander series itself. Wing Commander Prophecy Gold was ready to ship with a fiction viewer to show the previously web-specific news stories and emails... but a strange request from the localization group at EA Germany cancelled the feature. Here's Saga's update:
One of thing that's always difficult for game designers is to figure out how to convey the story yet not interfere with the game play. This is difficult because not all gamers are the same. You might classify gamers into two camps: first, you have the gamers that LOVE story and want to know everything about every character, location, and event, and then you have the gamers that just want to blast Kilrathi out of the sky. We didn't want either of these camps to be dissapointed. So, we came up with a system that we believe lets us have the best of both worlds.
During missions the player will encounter in-game dialogue and scripted cutscenes which contain aspects of the story that are "mission critical," which means that without them the story just doesn't hold together and the characters are meaningless. The story told through the fiction viewer, though, is completely optional, but adds a tremendous amount of depth. It covers action that occurs in between missions, fleshes out characters' relationships and motivations, deals with human dilemmas, joys, triumphs, and downfalls, and provides background information, all while expanding the overall narrative. In this way, the fiction viewer allows players that are interested in the deeper aspects of the story to dig in a little further. However, it doesn't force this extra content on players who just want to jump back in the cockpit for the next mission.
So, if you are content just focusing on dodging missiles and icing Kilrathi, nothing will get in your way, and you'll still be able to enjoy the Wing Commander Saga story. If you would like to dig deeper into our representation of life in the Wing Commander universe, give the fiction viewer a try!