Author Topic: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx  (Read 17112 times)

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RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
As one of the top-notch pilots of the NTF, you take part in an operation that will change the future of mankind. Little do you know of the burden that rests on your shoulders...

Contains an NTF interface (thanks to GalEmp and Flaming_Sword)
Thanks also to ShadowGorrath and Droid803 for testing.

EDIT: A great thanks to 0rph3u5 for bringing this old mod into 2019! All information in this post.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 12:17:33 pm by FreeSpaceFreak »

 

Offline eliex

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
This sounds interesting. DL'ing now.

 

Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Review after work. :P
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Offline Echelon9

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Loved it FSF!

A polished campaign, with some beautiful in mission cutscenes, and clean interface art to boot.

Spoiler:
- I love the optionality around the exact end of the campaign!
- Great use of some of the locations from the FS2 campaign, shown from another perspective. You've done justice to the ETAK backstory, which was always going to be a big ask.
- My one criticism is that you are mysteriously re-armed and re-countermeasured during the set of missions as you race back to Terran space. Hrmm, I can understand why that might have been decided from the "let's-not-make-this-insanely-hard-department", but I finished the campaign only dying once; and thus making some later missions harder with that change wouldn't be to the campaign's detriment.
- Wow, the GTC Aeolus is my new favourite capital ship. Very nice in that up close cutscene.
It's already taking place for me as one of the most enjoyable fan made campaigns IMHO.

 

Offline Macfie

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Outstanding campaign.  It recaptures that sense of fighting on the edge of hoplessness that the Original FS1 campaign had.  I couldn't stop playing once I started I had to see it to the end.
Normal people believe that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it isn't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.
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Mechanical Engineers build weapons.  Civil Engineers build targets
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Offline Mongoose

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Just got through playing this, or at least one pathway of it, since I get the impression that there's more than one way to reach a conclusion.  At least at the moment, right after finishing, I'm left with somewhat of a mixed impression.  I'll put this all in one big ol' spoiler box, since it's early in the thread.

Spoiler:
Concept-wise, I think you pulled off some really brilliant stuff.  I was incredibly surprised to see an honest-to-goodness opening cutscene.  Starting things off with a simulator version of the actual operation was a nifty idea that really added to the atmosphere.  (Nice Easter egg, too, though I failed at defense and only came across it when poking around in FRED. :p On a related note, that bonus mission you threw in seems like a cool concept, although I haven't played it yet.)  The cutscene at the Knossos portal had some of the best camera work I've ever seen, and its implications were rather creepy.  The entire atmosphere of the campaign gave a great sense of desperation and loneliness, particularly during the internal monologue sequences.  I really like how you played with the uncertainties of the player character when he realized the implications of his actions, though that was somewhat tempered on my end by the unavoidable foreknowledge of what was "supposed to happen" in the future.  The eventual duplicity on the Trinity's part was a nice touch too, though I thought it was a bit of a shame that I jumped out without any sort of further elaboration on its motivations.

From a gameplay standpoint...that's where things broke down a bit for me personally.  Maybe it's just me, but being faced repeatedly with seemingly never-ending waves of Shivan fighters got really old really fast.  I know it's probably a function of having played this game for so long, but I find the most tiring missions to be those where you're set alone against an endless stream of enemy fighters, which happened in nearly every mission.  In most of these instances, I think limiting the enemy wings to a few waves would have achieved the same effect without crossing the line into frustration.  This was most problematic at the end of a few of the missions, when I found myself having to afterburn at full engine power thousands of meters away from the node, then back again, just to open up enough distance from the multiple Shivan fighters on my tail.  The infiltration into the binary system was particularly trying, as I managed to die in it twice after the full fifteen minutes had elapsed; the real killer was when I was left at 1% hull integrity after scanning the Rakshasa, managed to survive until the rest of the convoy jumped out, and then got tagged by a random Astaroth shot.  I never did find a way to scan that cruiser without taking a significant amount of damage.

Also, touching on the story one more time, the ending I wound up with seemed rather...anti-climactic.  I decided to make my way back to Capella, and then to surrender to GTVA forces when they arrived.  And when I had done so...that was it.  No debriefing, no resolution, just the main hall screen again.  I think some sort of conclusion alluding to the player character undergoing a court-martial, or providing information on NTF activities to the GTVI, would have been a really beneficial inclusion here.  Along the same lines, after poking through the campaign file, I think allowing the campaign to end if the player had chosen to let himself be killed in Gamma Draconis would have been a very chilling and effective option.

Overall, I think you accomplished some really cool things with this, although there were a few areas that didn't exactly do it for me.  Thanks for getting it out to us. :)
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 01:10:50 am by Mongoose »

 

Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Spoiler:
The Good
Third mission/cutscene. The conception you probably had was "this is what happens when you shut down the node in mid transit, everybody gets trapped in subspace for a few thousand years and can't handle it coming out again" but my first thought was actually "have the Shivans been trying to force this node since the end of their war with the Ancients? They send through a strike force every year, or few years, or hundred years, but it just can't take it? And we happened to be here for that."

I counted exactly two grammar errors. Blaise Russel and Darius did comparatively worse in that department.

The Bad
The reproduction FS1 mainhall you start with has some bugs about going to the briefing room.

The nuking of the Trinity immediately at the post-five-minute mark of the training/first mission screams mission designer fiat. From the jump-in location being so close to the Trinity and the salvo of bombs that go off being almost immediate thanks to how they jump in, to the placement so any rational posistion you'd take for escort is going to make it impossible to intercept.

Amateur's misappreciation of the value of blobs for ship defense. The adding of Subaches to the convoy ships actually makes things worse, not better, because of the slowed firerates and shorter range. They don't kill attacking fightercraft any better, and they intercept bombs far worse. Fortunately, this isn't actually an issue beyond the training mission! (What the ****?)

The Repulse does not manuver to bring her broadside to bear in the second mission and as a consequence tends to get rather severely messed-up while waiting for the Pax (which is damn near useless in this, as the particular angling of everything means the Pax's beams have barely got an angle at all on the Tobuk) and the bombers to do their jobs. I don't think Koth's quite that incompetent.

Enemy craft use their default loadouts. This actually helps the Serapiseseses you face, since the SDG's pretty good at nuking shields, but it means a number of enemy bombers come into missions without bombs. This is actually good on the second mission; the Repulse gets ****ed up badly enough already. It's ridiculous on the first.

The third/mission cutscene passes with way too little comment or panic on the fact a Shivan strikeforce just came out of subspace and blew the **** up in front of you. At the very least, there should have been serious discussion about continuing or a communication from Bosch to precede in spite of it.

The fourth mission has an insidious, useless directive (Scan Shivan) that isn't linked to anything it talks about in any way; you can't possibly scan all the devices before being recalled to the convoy; recalling you to the convoy is impractical anyways with a mob of Maras and Astaroths on your tail; the convoy ships get ****ed up severely in your absence and would almost certainly die but for ship-invul and ship-guardian monkey business, which is never the sign of a well-planned mission; the Astaroths are identified as Astaroths which should not happen; most but not all Shivan fighters can be scanned, but doing so serves no purpose; the entire conception of jumping in the whole damn convoy without some kind of recon is stupid.

The music doesn't work until mission five.

Missions six and mission seven are tedious dogfights as easily solved by running the hell away as fighting. Mission eight probably is too, except I'm trying to break it by wiping out the Shivans and becoming the savior of human race.

The Ugly
Bosch is, well, Bosch, and he's not being a very good Bosch this time around in the first CB. There's no charisma or flair to him. It's a wonder the man made Lieutenant, much less Charismatic Rebel Leader.

This ties into the other point: the writing's not very good. At several points in the beginning it verges on No Fourth Wall, the tone is terribly casual and informal, not at all suited to the situation.

The Trinity and Orpheus blow up their only fighter cover in an environment swarming the Shivans. I believe the phrase is "WHAT THE ****". Further, the Orpheus should probably have kept the fighters as extra insurance against exactly what happened, or just presented them with a straight up choice to join up or be stranded. Just to boot, the Orpehus might be able to take the Trinity, and the player is forced to warp out because he could definitely take the Trinity and the Orpehus and save the other two ships, so by mission designer fiat he's not allowed to try. This is Bad Mission Design.

The player is forced to jump to the Capella node despite the possible "or not" direction. (Or at least I was!) He is also not given the opportunity to go one-man-squadron on the Rakshasa and everything else in the area. Considering I blasted twenty-odd Manticores, it's clear you don't want the player to (much like in several other situations in this campaign) and have to resort to blatant fiat.

After taking the Rakshasa down to 2% hull (and disabled, and de-weapons-subsystemed) at the Capella node (and killing god knows how many Maras) then getting abruptly beamed at an angle that shouldn't have worked, I gave up. I will make another attempt to go one-man squadron on the Shivans tomorrow and see if the game's capable of acknowledging that.

There are some great concepts here, but the execution is amateurish and the spit-and-polish details (except, amazingly, the proofreading) are lacking.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 01:30:53 am by NGTM-1R »
"Load sabot. Target Zaku, direct front!"

A Feddie Story

 
Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Thanks for all the good comments so far :)

Echelon:
Spoiler:
I noticed that too, I think it's a code issue; the hull integrity is carried fine. The first mission where you're alone is the only one that should recharge everything; that's both for technical and difficulty reasons.

Mongoose:
Spoiler:
There's only one path, it just has multiple end points.

Indeed, the second half gets incredibly repetitive. I tried to find a way to make it more interesting, but I couldn't. It was just the "Transcend Problem" : the player just needs to cross all those nodes, and there's nothing really interesting that could happen.
Initially, all of those missions lasted 15 minutes. Thanks to Droid803 for pointing out that that was really way too long.

Being a very bad pilot, I tested the campaign on Easy level, so I didn't really have big problems with the mission in the Binary or the solo ones. The cruiser didn't beam me while scanning, and I just stayed away from the nodes until my drive recharged, then full-burned towards it.

You're right about the anti-climactic ending. For me, since I made up the story, it seemed obvious enough that he would be extensively debriefed, then thrown into captivity; I just didn't think of adding that. But yes, I should have.

NGTM-1R:
Spoiler:
Bugs in the mainhall? Huh? I didn't notice any.

The training, yeah, I guess it was too challenging. I always fail when the Bakhas start their run. From that point onwards, it was... just a shot in the dark. I probably should have hired an elite tester for it.

The blobs, that was decided over a year ago, when I hadn't learned to appreciate them yet. But you're right, I should have kept them.

The Repulse not maneuvering, the default loadouts, the comments on the strikeforce: Damn, it seems so obvious now that you're pointing at it. *headdesks*

Fourth mission, yeah well. The idea was that you take those data back home to the NTF R&D department. But indeed, it doesn't really make a difference. The convoy jumping in without recon first: *headdesks again*
Now, I initially had quite some troubles with the ships ramming each other instead of jumping out, so I played that mission at least twenty times. (Yes, really.) It was a real pain. I didn't want the player to have to do it even just five times, since it's a full fifteen minutes. That's why the ships survive regardless of anything. Fighters not scannable, class names visible: indeed, that's not supposed to happen.
I never had all those fighters on my tail; I just ignored them while scanning, so they didn't come after me.

Music not working, what the hell? I think that's on your side.

Yes, the second half is dull and repetitive. I tried to keep it somewhat realistic, but that made it a pain to play.


I freely admit that I'm not good at writing. But I wanted to make that campaign anyway :nervous:
The player is briefed by Alpha 1, a veteran pilot who isn't easily impressed - hence the casual, informal tone. I should have worked that out somewhat deeper, yeah.

You definitely have a point with blowing up that fighter cover. Yeah, I should have left them a choice. Again, it's an obvious thing now that someone says it.

And, erm, you're not supposed to one-man-stop the Shivans :nervous: Needs more fighters around the Rakshasa?
Well, I could have the campaign end oon player death, but that would frustrate players who want to continue but die "by accident".

So yeah, overall, I agree with you. On the amateurish execution and the bad details as well. I should have had more people testing and commenting it.

 

Offline shiv

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Good job, FreeSpaceFreak! :yes: :yes:
More of my comments and feedback is on the Game Warden.... :pimp:
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Earth Defense project - Coming soon...

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Mongoose:
Spoiler:
Being a very bad pilot, I tested the campaign on Easy level, so I didn't really have big problems with the mission in the Binary or the solo ones. The cruiser didn't beam me while scanning, and I just stayed away from the nodes until my drive recharged, then full-burned towards it.
Spoiler:
I guess I really am that rusty, then, because I was playing on Easy too. :p The main problem I kept having is that I would be repeatedly drawn into a furball by the newly-arriving wings, which I never managed to drive off enough to get a clear shot at jumping out peacefully; the only strategy I found that worked was, like you said, flying way off and then making a run back at the node.  (It probably doesn't help that the Ulysses isn't exactly my favorite fighter to fly; the hyper-sensitive maneuverability throws off my aiming something fierce.)  Short of capping some of those wing respawns at much lower numbers, I think what really would have helped is giving the player some sort of interval between waves, even if it was only ten seconds or so.  That way, you'd be able to take care of the current fighters and then jump out unmolested.

I am kind of surprised to hear that the cruiser didn't beam you, though.  Maybe there's some optimal way to approach a Rakshasa that I don't know about, but every time I settled in somewhere around the middle of the ship to complete the scan, I got blasted with at least one salvo.  In fact, I'm fairly sure that the damn thing was managing to fire through its own hull in the process. :p

Anyway, I hope these criticisms don't get you down too much.  Like I said, I enjoyed the concept you were going for here.  If you tweaked a few elements of this release, or re-visited the concept at a later date, I think you could have something really special. :)

 

Online Colonol Dekker

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
I'll get it after work today. :yes: nothing wrong with being a zod hater ;)
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Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
A perfect fit!
right for the weekend!

ps. the NTF interface is permanent, isn't it?
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Offline chief1983

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Yeah looks like I've got something to keep me busy this weekend too, from what I've heard.
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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Just finished the campaign. The cut-scenes were really cool and were effective. BUT the second half of the campaign got rather repetitive as others have mentioned. If you could have had more chatter going on for whatever reason, or had more of your(Alpha 2's) own thoughts displayed that might have done more to make things interesting and also reveal a little more about the story/peoples motives. As it was I'm still rather confused as to why anything happened after the midpoint of the campaign. Still cool though, backgrounds were really nice too (I don't know if you made those or what, but cool neway  :D)
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Offline Thaeris

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Someone needs to update the Wiki that this campaign has been released...

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Mongoose:
Spoiler:
I know exacly what you mean about it being too maneuverable. I hate that too, and I would have chosen any other fighter if two of it would fit into a Faustus. Personally, I never really needed extra delay though. Hell, I even managed to outrun Manticores.
I usually approached the cruiser from the side... And yeah, that beam does fire through its own hull sometimes.

0rph3us: What do you mean by permanent? It will stay as is, unless someone notices a bug. I'm just gonna leave the multi screens logo-less, I think.

Falcon: I only did the Capella background and the planet in the last mission, the other backgrounds are from the MediaVPs.

 

Offline MC_Kejml

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Ooh NTF Campaign  :eek:

Dling now!

 

Offline Vidmaster

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
interesting. Trying it out
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Offline Tomo

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Good concepts, but not so great writing.

I'm sorry to say this, but I found the second half of the campaign quite tedious, for the same reasons given above.

Spoiler:
The player choices weren't really choices per se - one-man-squadroning the Rakshasa was in fact what I thought you were supposed to do.
- The moment I got the 'realisation', I turned around and tried to wipe out its engines, nav and weaponry.
(I failed twice by trying that one.)

To my mind, the two logical options at that stage are to die (maybe give the player a 'suicide' option?) or to take out the Rakshasa's engine, nav, and comms.
I'm fairly sure the latter is doable.

The remainder of the missions were actually rather easy.
Spoiler:
I think you can probably pass the whole thing by running away!

Edit: Spoiler tags aren't in the buttons, which is why I didn't have them to start with.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2009, 11:52:00 am by Tomo »

 

Online Colonol Dekker

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Re: RELEASE - Crossing the Styx
Spoiler tags too much to ask?


Good first release overall... Much better than some.
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