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[RELEASE] First Contact War Demo

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Be confident, this is a proving ground that helps boosting the quality and stability of the final release.  ;)

Really good so far, very enjoyable! Looking forward to the full release!

I say to much, I'm overly critical, I make bad assumptions, I'm scared to share, I enjoyed the Demo. Please take everything I say with a grain of salt. Okay, satisfied my anxiety, let's go.

It had a good concept and enjoyable elements, but it needs a lot of refinement. I'm hopeful for a great final product, but there's a lot of work before FCW gets there.

The media vps poke through in a lot of places, and it'd be worth the time to drop them as a dependency and include the subset you need in its own package. There's also a lot of low-effort options as a modder that you haven't leveraged to keep FS2 from poking through. Using FS2 briefing icons until you make in-setting icons, using MVPs weapon effects (even going forward!), and the like are entirely understandable. The FS2 elements in the splash screen, the loading screen, that FS2 is both still selectable and the mod's default campaign, and Admiral Petrarch informing me of my promotion at the end of mission 3 are an unwelcome intrusion as a player.

The models look great, and I appreciate the simplicity of textures and the future retro space navy feeling of the fleets. I appreciate the central placement of firepoints on the Remora, and your fleets so far have pretty clear profiles. Easy to spot and identify.

There's some messiness that doesn't look intentional: the Remora's dock path for support is borked, so the AI Remoras and support will spend a lot of time circling each other before docking. What appear to be multipart turrets on the Centurion don't really aim like multipart turrets, instead they just fire directly at their targets at a weird angle from the barrel. I didn't really understand what angles I could hit the Glisean carrier's engines from, so I spent a whole rack of subsystem missiles because I thought the shields were down and I had LOS.

Balance is pretty whack, and the niches for each weapon aren't very well conveyed through the tech displays (not that FS1 or FS2 did any better). It wasn't clear to me when I should one gun versus another, or the roles of many of the missiles. I also found myself sinking a lot of rounds into Arbalests, like ten seconds worth of crossbow bolts into the shield and the hull, to destroy it. I also felt the Remora was a lot harder to die in than I expected.

The variety of weapons is appreciated. I like having the variants of the crossbow, though the burst fire doesn't hit often enough the way I fly and the proton seems like the best choice for everything.

Mission design is enjoyable. The first mission was a good introduction to movement options and how FCW is like and unlike FreeSpace. It was a good idea of what to expect, if a little rough around the edges: the directives to destroy Thrasher and Hammer wings both check the same wing, the USB Piranha isn't tabled as a bomber so it can't be targetted with the same key as bombs. I liked the feeling of mystery and danger at the start of the second mission, though I still have no idea who the Gliseans are, why they had a carrier in the system, or what the war was about. I felt like the aggressor the whole time, and I wasn't sure if I should feel like I was in the right for attacking. They were fun to shoot. Nobody cares if you ignore your orders to check the trap fighter and burn off towards where enemies will jump in, maybe they should.

As a player, I was frustrated with mission 3. Spoiler:Mission 2 forcefully ends with a red alert without warning the player to rearm and repair. I had ordered a rearm, but support and Beta 1 were too busy dancing. I had no missiles going into a capship assault mission. I immediately activated cheats at mission start. A lot of the missiles I shot at the carrier's engines didn't land despite seeing the line of sight indicator on the hud and in the target box. I don't think it was the shields regenerating, because more of my missiles landed when I attacked from a wider angle. Because I was confident in my abilities to survive while disabling the carrier, and the Arbalests are tanky monsters, I did not try for space superiority before disabling the carrier.

Idk if the carrier keeps launching fighters after it's disabled, which would make trying for space superiority pointless, but I was annoyed when the transports immediately jumped into a battlefield full of gunships. I don't know if they ever actually came under enemy fire; I managed to pass the mission without keeping track of them until they escaped. I don't even remember what they look like, I was too busy with murking threats. I'm not sure if you intended that, because I don't think I got any directives on the HUD after completing "Disable the Seychelles." When the Midway jumped in, I was terrified. She wasn't on the escort list, and she didn't have a fighter screen--isn't she a carrier? Did she commit all her assets to this one strike and leave herself wide open?--I think I was still supposed to still be escorting the transports, but I forgot about them entirely and burned over alone as fast as I could and killed all the bombers alone. I'm not sure whose bombers they were, but they were all clustered at the Midway's ass--still not in the escort list, since I rebound that key somewhere and didn't feel like finding it. The frigate/battlecruiser that jumped in...I killed her beam and forgot about her because there were bombers and the AI could deal with her, and she also wasn't in the escort list. The AI did not deal with her, I'm sure they saved my ass when I wasn't looking but IDK what they were doing, I disabled the Centurion ended up being disabled as it collided harmlessly with the Midway--it looked funny bouncing, I started wondering if the ships were made of Styrofoam--so I shot its turrets off as something else, idk what, eventually killed it. Yay.

Area clear. Mission successful, I fly into the hangar. Sad music plays. Robert Loggia tells me I've been promoted. I'm afraid I failed the mission, but the text is overflowing with praise from Faceless Command Entity, which tells me I'm transferring to a new unit of good guys who fly well to capture more faceless aliens on the front lines. Uh. Okay. I guess I don't get to say goodbye to Snow Fox.
Snow Fox was the character in the demo with a personality. I couldn't tell if the Midway's comms officer (or whatever that is outside Star Trek) was speaking, or if it was the gestalt of unseen anime people, or if the carrier had a crew of one. I don't recall any notable USDF chatter from anyone except Snow Fox or the Midway. I already talked about how I didn't understand who or what the enemies were, and I couldn't say if pirates attack the Midway only in the first mission, or once in every mission. A command briefing before mission 1 could have gone a long way towards setting the scene.

The demo was enjoyable, and I look forward to the finished product.

I appreciate extensive and well detailed criticism and I'm happy that you overall enjoyed the demo, however I also have one hell of a bone to pick with some of what you wrote.

Please don't take this the wrong way. As much as taking criticism is difficult, giving it (constructively/helpfully) is just as difficult, and I appreciate that you still went through the effort.

However, during the first couple of paragraphs where you mentioned how unrefined the mod seemed because a lot of the MVP/FS2 assets are still in and weren't already replaced, have you perhaps considered that maybe, for the sake of delivering an early experience on what the overall gameplay and such is like, I decided to forgo work on these elements? Briefing icons, personae and all that other interface work is still a gigantic workload, and since I planned for making this a full standalone, I know I need to replace these elements sooner or later.

The line "There's a lot of work before FCW gets there" is very much just restating the obvious. I know there's a lot of work left to do, and I unfortunately don't have the time to just "do" all of that.

I kind of get where the expectation for refinenement may have come from, since "Demo" is often used as a shorthand for "A small bit of the game for early playing", but in my case the "Demo" is quite literally just gameplay demonstration. I should have probably specified it a bit more but I figured the disclaimers I gave were enough.

The plot, likewise, is a bit slapdash to give context to the missions you're flying in. That one's more on me for not planning this out so well though...

Your notes on the overall mission design (and the dockpath I somehow messed up for the Remora-F) are very helpful though, so thank you for compiling those as well.

Thank you. That's very helpful to me, though I apologize for giving you cause to say it. I'm glad I could be of some use.


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