Author Topic: RELEASE: Exposition  (Read 26720 times)

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Offline General Battuta

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But it wasn't fun.  :(

 

Offline Krackers87

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Now its just amusing (in a bad way)
'Angel' "Blargh i'm dead!" (not a single shot has been fired yet  :lol:)

I cheated my way through mission 3, then ended up in 4(!!!) BOE's in a row. Where my presence didn't make a bit of difference, AT ALL. And then followed by a terrrrible designed escort mission where you spend 10 horrendous boring minutes of intercepting 4 planes at the time. Coming in timed waves.
The skybox on earth is nice though. The mission in the daylight skybox felt a bit like the 360 game, project slypheed. Except here you are stuck in a pityful fighter with pew pew pea shooters with command telling you "An other carrier down! Good job pilots" while I was just laughing out loud in my chair.

I respect your opinion, but I disagree. Here's why: With this kind of combat, a single pilot's contributions actually don't make much of a difference. Did you notice how in almost every mission, the full 158th is flying with you? Flying slow aircraft without shields like this demands superiority in numbers. Without that, there's not much chance of you being successful. That was the big tactical error commit by the CC in the nighttime escort mission. They didn't want to send large swathes of fighters in because when the succeeded, they would all die because of the explosion. This made them send in waves of ships, causing what happened in the mission: essentially a massacre. If they had really wanted to take out those cargo ships, they would've sent in everyone at once, or tried to engage at long range with capships. But they valued their pilots too much for the first, which is ironic because they ended up losing more pilots than they would've otherwise, and they were to close to the station for the latter to be a viable option.

If you look at every mission from the sole standpoint that it's a game and merely that, of course you're going to be dissatisfied. It's just like when you'd read books in a high school literature class and you ask yourself "Why did I even bother reading that?" but when you get into higher level lit courses, you develop a better understanding of literary theory. But alas, it is still up to the authors to make the message clear.

To shed some additional light on thesizzler's point, which i agree with aswell:
Part of the original idea behind this campaign was to forgo the Alpha 1 Vanquishes all theme (which is why you're not even designated alpha 1 until the last mission)  that is persistent in the FS2 universe, a departure from the usual placement of the player. Here its portrayed more as one of the soldiers in a squad, where yes, the game does not force you to turn the tide of the battle, nor does it rest the weight of the mission on your shoulders, it simply makes you part of the team responsible for the success of all goals. If you're playing FS2 vanilla, and you lose a wing man, or he jumps out, it doesn't usually make much of a difference does it? But if he takes out that pesky enemy on your tail, that makes your job a little easier. Well, here in 158th you are that wingman.

Now this basicaly allows the player to choose his level of involvement, bug off and dip out on your friends? No prob, they'll still succeed without too much more effort on their part, but if you want to be balsy and take the lead, you can make a big impact on the battle, if you so choose.

To reiterate, if you want the accomplishment of taking out several wings, earning that ace badge, gaining your promotion to lieutenant, or scoring that cap ship kill, you're going to have to fly on the seat of your pants and pull out some tricky maneuvers (and who wants to be known as the pansy who fled in the heat of the battle?). 158th makes you work much harder to gain kill recognition.

A big part of the original campaign was to work on making the player care about his other wing man, therefore enticing, him to get involved, instead of that reliance i mentioned earlier, where if the player runs off, everything falls apart. However a lot of this effect has obviously been lost, partially due to the voice acting, and how in the atmospherics its much more apparent how your wing men are invincible.

This was an attempt at a significant departure, trying to give a new flavor of combat, and how missions normally play out, and coupled with trying something new, and losing much that was created, has dampered this of course.

Also if my memory serves me right, this idea was mainly just for exposition, where further episodes would blend in more so with FS2 style (ocuring during FS1-FS2 timeline but chronicling unexplored events), albeit with still a focus on the wing man aspect.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 04:26:13 pm by Krackers87 »
Put this in your profile if you know someone who is fighting, has survived, or has died from an awp no scope.

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Offline Mongoose

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There's two reasons for this. First of all, everything that's been said here is completely reasonable. I don't want to tell people "No, you actually liked the way it ended" and I don't want to tell people things that I'm not altogether qualified to. Second of all, Krackers87 hinted upon how much was done with Exposition such a long time ago. This was a big issue for the team. We had two main goals for Exposition: 1) To stay true to what the original team wanted and 2) To clean everything. Do you see why getting a project that was made a few years back is problematic? It's difficult to tell what the original team was going for when the most we got to converse was the rare moment when we concurrently had free time.

I will start commenting on people's posts, provided that you understand what I just said. (Yes, I know that there's no way for me to verify that :p)
I completely understand, and I am grateful that you guys did respond. :) This was honestly a campaign that I wanted to enjoy, based on the setting and the awesome aerospace-craft-with-big-fans, so when I wound up running into the issues that it had, I wanted to get a handle on how it had been developed.  I know from years of observation how these big community projects often gain lives of their own, sometimes to the point where the project dictates the decisions of its team, instead of the other way around.  So yeah, anything that you guys feel like commenting on would be awesome.

Aaaand I totally got beat by leaving this post sitting in a tab for an hour, but I'm putting it down anyway. :p

Edit: Now that I went back and read what I just missed, thanks for responding to that post point-by-point, thesizzler.  It does sound like the campaign was going for a somewhat different style of overall combat philosophy than in the main FS campaigns themselves, but I'll agree with your observation that the point of said style wasn't conveyed all that well to the player in the campaign itself, which is where the majority of my comments arose from.  Also, while I do appreciate the points that you and Krackers87 raised about the pilot in this campaign being more akin to your wingmen in the retail campaigns, I do feel like, from a gameplay standpoint, there does have to be a bit of compromise made.  It's one thing to make the player feel like they're not all that important to the outcome of a particular mission, but when you extend that to the point where the player can literally sit still and watch the mission play itself, it's almost to the point where you're allowing that philosophy to run roughshod over the fundamental gameplay, if you follow me.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 04:37:58 pm by Mongoose »

 

Offline The E

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All well and good, but to repeat General Battuta: It's not fun.

If, as you say, the player doesn't have to involve himself in combat, what's the point? I could just add cutscene sexps to the missions and watch a piece of machinima. FS2 managed to give the player the impression that he was only a part of a big machine called the GTVA, while at the same time making it clear that your actions did matter. Knowing that my contribution to the battle will be effectively zero, no matter what I do, certainly doesn't inspire me to pick up where I left it.
As someone who is more interested in story and novel gameplay features than scores and promotions, this feels very, very grating.

I would also point out that, in those areas, Exposition failed miserably. The Story, if there was any, went right past me. My wingmen didn't feel personalized at all, just generic fighter pilot, male and generic fighter pilot female in several iterations. And I would submit to you that while voice acting can convey characterization quicker and smoother than just plain text, it all starts off with a good script, which I felt was lacking here.
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Offline Krackers87

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All well and good, but to repeat General Battuta: It's not fun.

If, as you say, the player doesn't have to involve himself in combat, what's the point? I could just add cutscene sexps to the missions and watch a piece of machinima. FS2 managed to give the player the impression that he was only a part of a big machine called the GTVA, while at the same time making it clear that your actions did matter. Knowing that my contribution to the battle will be effectively zero, no matter what I do, certainly doesn't inspire me to pick up where I left it.
As someone who is more interested in story and novel gameplay features than scores and promotions, this feels very, very grating.

I would also point out that, in those areas, Exposition failed miserably. The Story, if there was any, went right past me. My wingmen didn't feel personalized at all, just generic fighter pilot, male and generic fighter pilot female in several iterations. And I would submit to you that while voice acting can convey characterization quicker and smoother than just plain text, it all starts off with a good script, which I felt was lacking here.

Towards your first point, it follows the line of thinking that no one made you put in the free space disc to play the game, yet you did and chose to involve yourself in it for the fun, if you do decide to get in the fray, the battles themselves can be incredibly hair raising, just don't get lost or chase an enemy away from your group or your screwed (wing man mentality concept here)

And again, i merely come to convey the original idea, being one of the few lurking original devs. Not to convince you to like the mod.

And yes the story-line was a primary victim of the whole transition of devs, lost material, and vast time in between.
Put this in your profile if you know someone who is fighting, has survived, or has died from an awp no scope.

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Offline TopAce

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A further note on characters:

I mentioned in my review that you simply wanted all my wingmen to have personalities. Now that I think of it, in retrospect, it could have helped immersion if there had been fewer - 2 or 3 - characters throughout. Make these characters well-developed, give them characteristics that make them memorable and distinguishable from each other. Say, make one of them an old, disillusioned pilot who complains all the time, but does so in a humorous, self-ironic and sarcastic manner. Make him confront his younger opposite, the overambitious rookie who barely knows anything about the origins of the conflict.

This is what I suggest for a potential future release.
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Offline The E

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Towards your first point, it follows the line of thinking that no one made you put in the free space disc to play the game, yet you did and chose to involve yourself in it for the fun, if you do decide to get in the fray, the battles themselves can be incredibly hair raising, just don't get lost or chase an enemy away from your group or your screwed (wing man mentality concept here)

I think there's a difference there. When playing FS2, you always have a clear sense of what you need to do to make the story go forward. Giving the player the option of saying "Screw it, I'm gonna sit this one out" undercuts any sense of dramatic urgency your story creates. In FS2, the player wants to do everything he can to win a mission, either because there's something awesome to be had in the next one, some new Weapon or ship to play with, or a cutscene, or even just a new chapter of the story.
Choosing my level of involvement is a part of the whole tactical thinking process you go through when playing a mission (Can I really take out that Cruiser? Or should I stick to hunting fighters? Can I call in support?). Point is, Sitting it out is never an option if you want to win the mission or survive it.
Here, on the other hand, I can do just that and still get rewarded for my efforts by seeing the next chapter. That, to me, is just wrong. As I said before, I might as well be watching a piece of machinima.
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Offline Mongoose

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That's a really good way of putting it.  The reason I play through FS campaigns at this point, or really just about any sort of game that I play, is to see the story progress and get to partake in the new and exciting experiences that it enables.  It's why I'm willing to skyrocket my blood pressure and bash my head repeatedly against the wall in the process of repeatedly trying to beat a particularly difficult mission...I want the payoff of finally beating it and seeing what happens next.  But when you eliminate that requirement of having to complete certain tasks by your own two hands in order to move that story along, the whole exercise seems kind of pointless.

 

Offline Akalabeth Angel

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One small thing to add, I understand the whole idea about launching the entire squadron for each mission but I think that would have been better to have a little more diversity and have more missions where the whole squadron isn't necessarily involved. A lot of people decry the escort mission as not very fun but I actually liked it because it was different, and had a nice skybox. Maybe the combat itself wasn't as interesting but it wasn't horrible either.

As a campaign designer myself, the problem I've found with giving wingmen personality is that ultimately those craft have be invulnerable. And because they're invulnerable, the missions tend to become easier, or the player maybe actually cares less about his wingmen because he knows that nothing he does will affect whether they live or die? Not that I tend to help out my wingmen anyway. If the player can give orders often he might say "okay invulnerable wingmen, go attack this cruiser, you won't die but I might so better than you than me".

Also I understand the team's desire to stick the original vision, but if the information isn't there I'd suggest you simply run with it and create your own stories. I don't think there's any real debt that needs to be fulfilled with regards to the original designers.

 

Offline TopAce

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Quote
I've found with giving wingmen personality is that ultimately those craft have be invulnerable.

What I did for ITHOV is to add a SEXP that regenerates X amount of health for a given wingman every Y seconds. That ensures that they *will* die if you send them on a suicide mission, but they'll very likely survive most dogfights in which you're helping them.
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Offline Akalabeth Angel

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I've found with giving wingmen personality is that ultimately those craft have be invulnerable.

What I did for ITHOV is to add a SEXP that regenerates X amount of health for a given wingman every Y seconds. That ensures that they *will* die if you send them on a suicide mission, but they'll very likely survive most dogfights in which you're helping them.

The problem with that though, is that if the wingmen have names and characters and they DO die then what happens in the next mission? If the campaign is very scripted they're alive again and then there's a big disconnect with reality. That problem happened to me with the BWO demo. There's some mission where one of the wingmen dies and it's supposed to be a big deal but that guy already died in one or two earlier missions so when it was actually scripted I didn't care at all.

 

Offline Mongoose

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At a certain point, if you want your wingmen to be actual characters, I think you have to eat the lack of realism that making them invulnerable implies and just run with it.  Like I said in my Exposition comments, while the player may notice a wingman hovering at 17% hull integrity, he's far more likely to notice a capital ship in his escort list doing the same thing.  One interesting variant on the concept might be to automatically disarm (or maybe even disable) your wingmen when they reach that protected hull percentage; that way, while they still survive, the player can't use them as a shield by sending them on suicidal orders.

 

Offline Akalabeth Angel

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At a certain point, if you want your wingmen to be actual characters, I think you have to eat the lack of realism that making them invulnerable implies and just run with it.  Like I said in my Exposition comments, while the player may notice a wingman hovering at 17% hull integrity, he's far more likely to notice a capital ship in his escort list doing the same thing.  One interesting variant on the concept might be to automatically disarm (or maybe even disable) your wingmen when they reach that protected hull percentage; that way, while they still survive, the player can't use them as a shield by sending them on suicidal orders.

In one of my missions I had my wingmen withdraw from battle when they reached a certain threshold. May not work depending on the dialogue.

 

Offline Thaeris

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Perhaps you might ensure the "character" survives if you add a conveniant piece of current technology to the environment... ejection seats.

...if only in the story-telling/SEXP-text aspect, not an actual ejected pilot...
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Offline General Battuta

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It doesn't work, because the character probably still has dialogue that would seem silly if they'd ejected.

The best solution is probably the guardian-at-random-threshold with a brief disable or (best yet) disarm at the threshold.

 

Offline Krackers87

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Towards your first point, it follows the line of thinking that no one made you put in the free space disc to play the game, yet you did and chose to involve yourself in it for the fun, if you do decide to get in the fray, the battles themselves can be incredibly hair raising, just don't get lost or chase an enemy away from your group or your screwed (wing man mentality concept here)

I think there's a difference there. When playing FS2, you always have a clear sense of what you need to do to make the story go forward. Giving the player the option of saying "Screw it, I'm gonna sit this one out" undercuts any sense of dramatic urgency your story creates. In FS2, the player wants to do everything he can to win a mission, either because there's something awesome to be had in the next one, some new Weapon or ship to play with, or a cutscene, or even just a new chapter of the story.
Choosing my level of involvement is a part of the whole tactical thinking process you go through when playing a mission (Can I really take out that Cruiser? Or should I stick to hunting fighters? Can I call in support?). Point is, Sitting it out is never an option if you want to win the mission or survive it.
Here, on the other hand, I can do just that and still get rewarded for my efforts by seeing the next chapter. That, to me, is just wrong. As I said before, I might as well be watching a piece of machinima.

If the goal is to progress and the idea is to only involve yourself as much as necessary, what stops you from cheating your way through the game in FS2 using the codes? Is that not the same premise? One game you cheat by typing the words in, the other you find a safe place to sit away from enemys?

Just trying to understand your point of view is all, as i find it difficult to understand myself, as i seek enjoyment in getting in the fray/watching havoc envelop me/killing EVERYTHING (or trying to):p
Put this in your profile if you know someone who is fighting, has survived, or has died from an awp no scope.

just like seventies goofballs
he's waiting on last calls
well listen method man
'cause if you leave on the last line
don't leave on the ground kind
born just a little too slow

 

Offline General Battuta

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The approach used here was less fun. Without directed activity it was impossible to enter a flow state.

 

Offline The E

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The existence of the cheat codes has nothing to do with my point. Yes, I can cheat my way through FS2. No, I don't particularly want to, because the story is engaging enough to give me the impetus I need to go out there and do things, and the basic gameplay entertaining and challenging enough that I want to be able to do it right.

FS2 gives you the impression that, while your overall contribution does nothing much to affect the story's outcome, your actions are still important on a local scale (Save that transport, Protect that cruiser, Gather Intel about big bad space flea from nowhere).
In Exposition, I know that even locally, my actions matter little to nothing.
You are missing a basic challenge/reward feedback loop here. If I do nothing in a mission, I don't want to go on to the next, I want to be reprimanded for my failure.

Now, Gameplay: In Exposition, at no point does it really feel like you are flying in atmosphere, much less a storm, or a gravity well. The only indication I have that I am not in some awful black-and-grey nebula somewhere in space is my wingman's word for it. I realize that, at the time these missions were created, the features necessary to implement gameplay changes like this wasn't implemented, but it added to the feeling of total underwhelmingness here. The point here is that it is not different enough from standard FS2 gameplay to keep me entertained long enough. TBP, for example, had Glide as a new feature. TVWP introduced ships with an awful lot of inertia. Some alteration of the basic physics might have gone a long way here.
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Offline Mongoose

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The existence of the cheat codes has nothing to do with my point. Yes, I can cheat my way through FS2. No, I don't particularly want to, because the story is engaging enough to give me the impetus I need to go out there and do things, and the basic gameplay entertaining and challenging enough that I want to be able to do it right.

FS2 gives you the impression that, while your overall contribution does nothing much to affect the story's outcome, your actions are still important on a local scale (Save that transport, Protect that cruiser, Gather Intel about big bad space flea from nowhere).
In Exposition, I know that even locally, my actions matter little to nothing.
You are missing a basic challenge/reward feedback loop here. If I do nothing in a mission, I don't want to go on to the next, I want to be reprimanded for my failure.
I agree with this sentiment.  A person who's using cheat codes knows full well that they're introducing elements into the gameplay that were never intended to be there in the first place.  I generally only wind up using cheat codes either to fool around or for testing purposes.  When I'm actually playing the game to play it, however, I want to have the satisfaction of knowing that my own skills are making the difference within the context of the mission as it's presented.

But that's entirely different from the situation that Exposition presented.  Deciding to hang back and let my wingmen essentially complete the mission themselves wasn't introducing anything foreign into the mix like a cheat code would; it was a legitimate strategy based on what was present in the mission itself...a rather dull strategy, mind you, but a legitimate strategy nonetheless.  The retail FS campaigns, as well as the best fan-made ones, did an excellent job of conveying the feeling that your own skills as a pilot were the sole tipping point in whatever mission you found yourself in; that knowledge is truly what gives me the motivation to test my skills against the mission and attempt to accomplish its goals.  When that feeling is removed, however, I might as well put my joystick down and watch a cutscene play out.

I just finished a play-through of the wonderfully terrible Second Great War Part II, and one of its biggest mistakes reminded me a whole lot of Exposition.  There are so many missions when, due to the sheer number of fighters and bombers present, the player can just sit back and let things play themselves out, because his wingmen will prevail 99 times out of 100.  Exposition felt the same way to me...why should I risk getting myself killed and having to sit through the whole mission all over again when my presence isn't even required?

 

Offline Polpolion

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Some alteration of the basic physics might have gone a long way here.

Bear in mind that the VAST majority of the resources we were working with were well over two, or possibly even three years old. Simply getting them to function with modern SCP builds were a nightmare, and implementing even somewhat convincing in-atmosphere flight physics, while highly desirable, was less practical than simply re-writing the entire game to take place outside of the atmosphere.

Quote
why should I risk getting myself killed and having to sit through the whole mission all over again when my presence isn't even required?

This is why there are no semi-accurate US Civil War first person shooters, and that is one of the reasons why Exposition seems so dull. It's only stupid in the context of the game, which is saying a lot because this IS a game.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 05:56:07 pm by thesizzler »