Author Topic: Who wrote FS1?  (Read 884 times)

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Offline rubixcube

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We all know Jason Scott was the lead writer on FS2, my question is, who wrote FS1?

I'm 90% sure Jason had no involvement in the first game (maybe I'm wrong).

Did the game developers (Mike and Matt) just write it themselves?
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Offline AdmiralRalwood

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From the FS1 Credits:
Quote
Story & Writing

Adam Pletcher
Mike Kulas
Sandeep Shekar
Michael Comet
Duncan McPherson
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Codethulhu GitHub wgah'nagl fhtagn.

schrödinbug (noun) - a bug that manifests itself in running software after a programmer notices that the code should never have worked in the first place.

When you gaze long into BMPMAN, BMPMAN also gazes into you.

"I am one of the best FREDders on Earth" -General Battuta

<Aesaar> literary criticism is vladimir putin

<MageKing17> "There's probably a reason the code is the way it is" is a very dangerous line of thought. :P
<MageKing17> Because the "reason" often turns out to be "nobody noticed it was wrong".
(the very next day)
<MageKing17> this ****ing code did it to me again
<MageKing17> "That doesn't really make sense to me, but I'll assume it was being done for a reason."
<MageKing17> **** ME
<MageKing17> THE REASON IS PEOPLE ARE STUPID
<MageKing17> ESPECIALLY ME

<MageKing17> God damn, I do not understand how this is breaking.
<MageKing17> Everything points to "this should work fine", and yet it's clearly not working.
<MjnMixael> 2 hours later... "God damn, how did this ever work at all?!"
(...)
<MageKing17> so
<MageKing17> more than two hours
<MageKing17> but once again we have reached the inevitable conclusion
<MageKing17> How did this code ever work in the first place!?

<@The_E> Welcome to OpenGL, where standards compliance is optional, and error reporting inconsistent

<MageKing17> It was all working perfectly until I actually tried it on an actual mission.

<IronWorks> I am useful for FSO stuff again. This is a red-letter day!
* z64555 erases "Thursday" and rewrites it in red ink

<MageKing17> TIL the entire homing code is held up by shoestrings and duct tape, basically.

  

Offline rubixcube

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From the FS1 Credits:
Quote
Story & Writing

Adam Pletcher
Mike Kulas
Sandeep Shekar
Michael Comet
Duncan McPherson

Ah, so it was basically the devs cobbling together a story between them, that makes sense
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Offline Goober5000

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It was primarily Adam Pletcher.  IIRC one of the SpaceGameJunkie interviews mentioned that it was his idea to make a space game in the first place, and he wrote the story outline.  He's also listed as Lead Game Designer.

Jason Scott must have been involved with Silent Threat though, because he voices his namesake Admiral Scott in the briefings.

 

Offline rubixcube

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Jason Scott must have been involved with Silent Threat though, because he voices his namesake Admiral Scott in the briefings.

With the writing though? If so he must've been in a rush or off his game, cuz the writing in that was terrible.
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Offline Goober5000

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I have two conjectures about that:

1) He used Silent Threat as a "proving ground" and improved from ST to FS2.
2) He may not have been involved in the copyediting/wordsmithing of the mission text.  Someone else might have polished up the text in FS2, but because ST was done in a short amount of time, the same service was not performed for that campaign.  In other words, ST was more like a rough draft but FS2 went through several drafts and rewrites.

The "tactics, technologies, activities, and strategic objectives" overview is almost identical between the initial ST briefing and the SOC mission loop.

 

Offline rubixcube

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I have two conjectures about that:

1) He used Silent Threat as a "proving ground" and improved from ST to FS2.
2) He may not have been involved in the copyediting/wordsmithing of the mission text.  Someone else might have polished up the text in FS2, but because ST was done in a short amount of time, the same service was not performed for that campaign.  In other words, ST was more like a rough draft but FS2 went through several drafts and rewrites.

The "tactics, technologies, activities, and strategic objectives" overview is almost identical between the initial ST briefing and the SOC mission loop.

Never actually noticed that, but damn your right, then again I haven't played the original ST in a while.

I was never a huge fan of FS1's story; the invincibly shielded Lucy always struck me as a cheap plot device. Something an inexperienced writing team needed to move the story along.
It's fortunate Jason Scott went with something more creative. It's also probably why we never see the Lucy again.
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Offline Goober5000

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Play Deneb III.  You might be pretty pleased at how it addresses that part of canon. :)

Volition has stated that the Lucifer wasn't invulnerable per se, just that the Terrans and Vasudans didn't really have weapons powerful enough to damage it.

 

Offline rubixcube

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Play Deneb III.  You might be pretty pleased at how it addresses that part of canon. :)

Volition has stated that the Lucifer wasn't invulnerable per se, just that the Terrans and Vasudans didn't really have weapons powerful enough to damage it.

I shall...

That explanation is plausible when referring to Terrans and Vasudans during FS1.
However, I find it difficult to believe a multi-galaxy spanning empire could not bring enough firepower to bear on one ship to outstrip its shielding system. (especially if they have something like the Akrotiri  ;)). Unless the Shivans have multiple Lucifers.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2018, 02:02:34 am by rubixcube »
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Offline Nightmare

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Volition has stated that the Lucifer wasn't invulnerable per se, just that the Terrans and Vasudans didn't really have weapons powerful enough to damage it.

Interesting. But the Colossus had enough firepower to damage it directly (or atleast, I'd guess that).

One of the problems you have with these superships is that the writers sometimes forget something. For example you could have some bombers enter Lucys fighterbay and blow up. Vasudans actually did Kamikaze, so why not in a meaningful way?

 

Offline Goober5000

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However, I find it difficult to believe a multi-galaxy spanning empire could not bring enough firepower to bear on one ship to outstrip its shielding system. (especially if they have something like the Akrotiri  ;)).

Well, if we take the quote from the cutscene at face value...

Quote
Only these were not like the others.  They did not die.

...then the Ancients never figured out how to beat even the standard fighter shields.  They were fighting the entire FS1 campaign with the ML-16.

 

Offline Nightmare

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But on the wiki I read that the huge flag wasn't implemented properly in FS1, so the Ancients could've killed even the Lucy with ML-16s only. Too bad they didn't knew that...

 

Offline General Battuta

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If you take it as a given that the Ancients despite their massive (apparently multigalactic) reach couldn't defeat the Shivans, a few things fall into place. Actually paying attention to the FS1 Ancient anis paints a picture I doubt that Volition ever intended. The Ancients filled up their galaxy without subspace, which means they probably used a combination of von Neumann colonists and good ol relativistic rocketry. Even once they had subspace their tech base was probably pretty heterogeneous. If you take it as a given that projectiles are **** against shields, the Lucifer makes a lot of sense as a ship that can withstand relativistic kinetic bombardment.

 

Offline Nightmare

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That's why I prefer writers that know the difference between galaxy and solar systems.

 

Offline Goober5000

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If you take it as a given that the Ancients despite their massive (apparently multigalactic) reach couldn't defeat the Shivans, a few things fall into place. Actually paying attention to the FS1 Ancient anis paints a picture I doubt that Volition ever intended. The Ancients filled up their galaxy without subspace, which means they probably used a combination of von Neumann colonists and good ol relativistic rocketry. Even once they had subspace their tech base was probably pretty heterogeneous. If you take it as a given that projectiles are **** against shields, the Lucifer makes a lot of sense as a ship that can withstand relativistic kinetic bombardment.

I'll nitpick this by saying that the Ancients only conquered their "reachable systems" without subspace.  The galaxy came later.

But otherwise, this is good thinking.  Sesq and I did similar speculating while fleshing out some of the details of Scroll.  Here is a command briefing stage that we decided to cut because it solidified some things we wanted to leave vague...

Quote
$Stage Text:
 XSTR("Paradigm Shift

The discovery of this new portal has forced us to reconsider a great deal of our historical understanding of the Ancient Empire, particularly the common assumption that the Ancients' territory was essentially limited to what is now Vasudan-Terran space. Our research team has proposed that the Ancients first built the Marnakh portal to reach Beta Cygni, then spent the next several thousand seasons colonizing the systems in the local subspace node network before building the portal to the nebula. The fact that the Marnakh portal is very similar in design to the portal discovered in Gamma Draconis, despite their significant difference in ages, suggests that the Ancients had already reached their technological peak by that time.

The implications of this theory are profound. Both Vasudan and Terran historians had believed that the Ancients' expansion throughout Vasudan-Terran space was indicative of a vibrant and growing civilization. But if the Ancients had been expanding long enough for their civilization to become mature and stable, then their territory must have spanned hundreds of additional systems beyond what we now know. Perhaps the Ancients were not exaggerating when they boasted that their empire spanned the galaxy.", -1)
$end_multi_text
$Ani Filename: Intel_Ancients.ani or cb_sm1-05_d.ani
+Wave Filename: none

 

Offline rubixcube

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If you take it as a given that the Ancients despite their massive (apparently multigalactic) reach couldn't defeat the Shivans, a few things fall into place. Actually paying attention to the FS1 Ancient anis paints a picture I doubt that Volition ever intended. The Ancients filled up their galaxy without subspace, which means they probably used a combination of von Neumann colonists and good ol relativistic rocketry. Even once they had subspace their tech base was probably pretty heterogeneous. If you take it as a given that projectiles are **** against shields, the Lucifer makes a lot of sense as a ship that can withstand relativistic kinetic bombardment.

Calling projectile weapons S****y vs shields is a little harsh:
The Avenger is 68% effective
Most missiles are 50% effective
The THT is the worst at 40%
The ML-16 is only 10% effective, but this is technically not a projectile weapon
Bombs are almost entirely useless, but I think this is an anti-frustration feature and should not be taken at face value

Granted we don't know how Ancient Projectile weapons performed, but assuming they point several dozen destroyers worth of them at the Lucifer, plus thousands of bombers, its difficult to believe the Lucy's shields would hold.

But of course, it's also open to interpretation how large/advanced the ancient fleet was; did it consist of mostly cruisers/corvettes with a few destroyers? Or was it made up of hundreds of destroyers? Did it even include juggernaut sized vessels?

Did they only use kinetic weapons? Did they posses any kind of DEW's?

I guess I wouldn't have as much of a problem if the Lucifer was bigger, like almost Juggernaut size, then its overwhelming shield durability would make more sense.
The in game model is the same size as a standard destroyer, so the fact that it's shields are soooo tough comes off as cheap.

As it is right now, the Lucifer's reactor power to mass ratio must be an order of magnitude greater than any other Shivan vessel.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2018, 05:03:19 am by rubixcube »
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Offline General Battuta

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I hew to the BP fiction explaining the Lucifer and other tech irregularities because I think it's the best fit (and the most interesting take on them as an alien intelligence.

I'll nitpick this by saying that the Ancients only conquered their "reachable systems" without subspace.  The galaxy came later.

The last spatial limit they mention before running out of systems is 'galaxy' and there's not really enough structure in the galaxy to see why you'd possibly strike a barrier before that. If you have the most rudimentary interstellar capability you'll fill up the galaxy in a (by cosmological standards) flash. It's the parsimonious reading.

 

Offline Firesteel

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The Ancients' cutscenes do a lot of work for their brevity. The "They did not die" line makes it pretty clear that they were completely out matched and there is 0 information on their fleet makeup but I'd pin their technology level behind the Terrans and Vasudans at the start of FS1.

I also want to throw out there that the Avenger was specifically tuned to perform better against shields than it would have otherwise after the events of "Out of the Dark, Into the Night".

As far as the quality of writing in FS1, sure if you compare it to things outside of the medium the writing itself is utilitarian as hell, but it's how the rest of the game works that fills in the writing's weaknesses. I also want to point out that FS1 is one of the few games (to my knowledge) that has actually executed on cosmic horror well from the get go and a lot of it is because the Shivans are unique to the FS universe. (basically what I'm devoting most of a YouTube channel to)

Yes FS1's plot complexity pales in comparison to FS2's but FS1 executed on its ideas well, exceptionally well for a game, and has more politics in FS1 than it makes obvious. The underlying politics are what Jason latched onto and ran with in 2. There was stuff heavily implied from the first briefing that gets glossed over a lot and the whole McCarthy Avenger thing is another motion to the direction ST and 2 were going to go in.
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Offline rubixcube

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The Ancients' cutscenes do a lot of work for their brevity. The "They did not die" line makes it pretty clear that they were completely out matched and there is 0 information on their fleet makeup but I'd pin their technology level behind the Terrans and Vasudans at the start of FS1.

I would agree, unfortunately the FS wiki states "comments by Volition developers state that the Ancients were no more than a few decades ahead of the GTA and PVN at the time of FreeSpace 1, except in the area of subspace."

Admittedly I can't actually cite this information, in fact I doubt even V would know.

I also want to throw out there that the Avenger was specifically tuned to perform better against shields than it would have otherwise after the events of "Out of the Dark, Into the Night".

That is true, but we can assume the Ancients would have also adapted their weapons to perform better against shields.
The GTA and PVN managed to advance their weaponry in just a few months, presumably, the Ancients would have had years (depending on how long the ASW lasted).

I by no means think FS1 is a bad game or has bad writing, but the Lucifer felt like a crutch for developers who hadn't quite found their feet yet.
Jason ensured FS2 eliminated this crutch, and was better for it.

The reason the Lucy's shields get questioned so often is because they fall apart under scrutiny. We're behaving like religious scholars; twisting ourselves into pretzels to explain away points that don't quite make sense.
These pretzels are often delicious however e.g. the BP Lucy tech description :D
« Last Edit: June 22, 2018, 06:47:39 am by rubixcube »
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Offline Firesteel

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The "a few decades ahead" thing is vague beyond belief and while yeah I think it's reasonable to say the galaxy spanning imperialists were more advanced than the Terrans and Vasudans, it still doesn't leave me with the impression their weapons would have been more effective. The other thing the cutscenes emphasize, almost more than anything else, was the hubris the ancients had (which is probably why it took them so long to learn anything about the Shivans).

One of the things I'll eventually go into more detail about the Shivans' evolution from 1 to 2. A huge part of why FS2 works is because of the expectations set by the Lucifer in 1. It's a different way of representing the core themes of cosmic horror than the Sathanas fleet so idk if I'd call it a crutch. It's a pretty good example of the whole "inevitable ending" in games.

Yeah the shield stuff is wonky (that said it has an order of magnitude more HP than anything else in FS1 and having the only beam canons in a battle makes a lot of stuff not matter)
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