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Chapter 1: A Review

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First, let me say to the TVWP team.. Good work! There is obviously a lot of things going into this campaign and it took no small effort.

This will be a spoiler free review.

Let's start with what it looks like. This is not the best looking MOD you'll play. Many of the models look old or have rendering issues (I'm mostly thinking of fighter cockpits here.) The biggest letdown in this category is the lack of use of the latest MediaVPs effects. I know this MOD wants to be standalone, but when you are coming fresh off any of the more popular recent releases that take full advantage of the beautiful effects additions to the MediaVPs, this MOD ends up looking straight up dated. Personally, I think (being a full out war) this campaign would seriously benefit from the newest explosions and lighting effects in 3.6.12.

The interface is interesting, but as a graphic designer.. it really bugs me. It's really way too green with no contrast or compliments. However, the fact that the team went to the trouble create a new interface is commendable. The new HUD is really outstanding. It really feels retro compared to FS1/FS2 era. Very nice work on that!

The story is pretty interesting. There were a few command briefs that were written almost more as a narration rather than a briefing and ended up drawing me out of what was happening a bit. It was simple to follow though with some nice surprises in there. Some of the dialogue needs a proof reading sweep though, not for spelling but for grammar, duplicate words or wrong words altogether (typos like "in" instead of "on"). Those, however are minor issues.

Mission design. The missions were well designed for the most part. Some of them did suffer from "defeat the enemy waves" syndrome, but often it was broken up. My biggest complaint are distances. You don't fly incredibly fast fighters in this one so having to fly 4/5k to really even start the mission is, well, boring. On this same note, I really would have liked to see more of the 'Press L to auto-land" at the ends of the missions. Often I found myself saving my afterburner just for the trip home after the mission. The other thing that wasn't great about the mission design was the lack of escort list or directives list. At the beginning of the campaign it's understandable, but later on it was just frustrating. There were many times where I just didn't know what to do because I either couldn't catch all the dialogue without going into F4 or I was just sorta lost. I also was not happy on escort missions where I had to tap F like 12 times to find the ship I was escorting to see it's hull %. Another thing that contributed to my feeling lost were the constant wing assignment changes. The idea is a good idea and works well for the story, but if I happened to forget my wing assignment (since I'm so used to being Alpha 1).. SOL to know it when the dialogue command various wings to do different things.

Last up, gameplay. This is the most important aspect of the MOD, and let me say that it's just fun. Typos, graphics, and long wait times aside... this one is just fun to play. The ballistic weaponry is very cool, as is how the fighters fly around. The sound effects were great for the immersion as well. It really felt older than the FS1 and FS2 stories we all know. The various weapons were interesting (though I would like more info in weapon select about their power) as were the different fighters/bombers.

TVWP:Chapter 1 has it's ups and downs. There are parts of it that are very fun with a lot of scattered annoyances. In the end I would say that it's definitely worth a play through just because it's enjoyable. It's no WiH, but it's not the worst MOD out there either. In a scale from 1-2, it's a 2!

Thanks for the review. :)  For context, this mod has been active since 2001, and went through a large amount of staff turnover in the various years it's been active.  Sadly, TVWP's best years were probably 2002-2004, and it's been mostly limping feebly along since 2005.  A lot of the primary modders went on to be involved in other things (like me with ST:R) or just faded away (most notably Lightspeed and Blaise Russel).  The lack of mediavps and other features is conspicuous nowadays, but try to picture this mod as a 2002-2004-era mod, and hopefully that will make you appreciate what this mod tries to be.

The thing I'm most proud about is the story.  TVWP is one of the only mods I know of to have an actual "guide to the mod" document complete with descriptions, mission outlines, and tech entries.  (I think I'll release that as a bonus to the campaign, if the staff are okay with it.)

I'm also extremely proud of the attempt we made to do a total conversion before TCs were in vogue.  It isn't perfect, but it does the job.  Our best years were probably when Lightspeed joined and really pumped up the quality of the mod with enthusiasm, energy, and awesome graphics.  These were before the mediavps, mind -- in fact, Lightspeed's nebulas were the graphics that got the mediavps started in the first place!  And I think Lightspeed really deserves most of the credit for this mod; he was the primary developer during the years when it most mattered, and he single-handedly did the entire new main hall interface.  Similarly, Blaise Russel did by far the largest number of missions, and you could justifiably think of this as another one of his campaigns, albeit written according to someone else's story.

Unfortunately, this campaign is Exhibit A when it comes to feature creep.  Unlike ST:R, I was unable to maintain my enthusiasm for TVWP after it lost momentum, and it actually became a chore to shepherd it through release.  (I don't want to claim sole credit though; Admiral Nelson was a big help in pushing to finish everything.)  I would say the single event that crippled the enthusiasm was when we decided that having one fleet shared by every faction wasn't "cool enough", and we brought on a new modeller to help create a ton of new ships.  That, unfortunately, was an unmitigated disaster.  Production on missions, graphics, and future campaigns ground to a halt while we tried to expand our ship set, and the situation was made even worse by the fact that the modeller produced models that didn't even work.  They looked beautiful, but they were complete garbage on the inside and couldn't be converted to POF without essentially rebuilding the entire model.  Even if the models had been perfect, though, I think it would have been hard to sustain momentum while making such a large overhaul.

TVWP's original mission was to produce a massive campaign with a chapter for each major phase of the war, and to this end, the Unification War was only supposed to be a "demo".  This is when we were all in college, high school, or even middle school, and thought we could do anything.  I think it's safe to say that that's not really realistic, but my hope is that the release might inspire future modders to make some missions set in the TV-War era, like Cardinal Spear.  Fortunately we already see signs of that in the internal forum.. there's a lively debate on what should be done for Chapter 2.  I don't think I'll be an active participant in that, especially as I'll be handing off TVWP leadership to whoever wants it, but I look forward to seeing what people come up with.

Awesome! I really hope this release builds some momentum to continuing the story.

Another hearty  :yes: for you guys.

Akalabeth Angel:
It's good to see that there are continual releases for this. Having left the forums for a while and come back twice now, it's been a pleasant surprise to see a TVWP release in each absence. I haven't had the chance to play more than the first act yet, but I'll get around to dying in TVWP just as soon as I'm done dying in WoD. It's always been one of the more appealing mods to me because it has the potential to capture some of the magic of the first FS1 missions. It's good to see that development is continuing even if the team is changing.

Keeping motivated on one of these larger projects is always the biggest challenge. I've failed at that a number of times already. Some parts of modding are inherently fun, and some are not. It's getting through the latter that's the real challenge.

I'm still working my way through it, I seem to be somewhere in act 2 at the moment. One thing I've noticed is there seems to be frequent, massive memory leaks until the program's memory usage got up to 2 GB, at which point it would CTD. I dont think its a 3.6.10 issue since no other mod has had this problem, only this one.


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