Author Topic: New life for Freespace?  (Read 12697 times)

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Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
[quote ]. A mission that teaches you aspect seeking missiles while shooting down ships with said technique is going to be very hard because they're teaching it to you right now!
The difficulty level is going to ramp up because you've been thrown into a mission to use something you haven't used before. This is exactly what you've asked for. [/quote]
You don't need a significant length of time to figure out aspect seeking missiles. All you need to know is that you keep the target in view and wait for the flashing circle and lock tone, then fire. The player would have learned to aim ahead in the very first mission so a new player should be using aspect seeking missiles correctly within 30 seconds of seeing the tutorial box.

Players gain skill with continued playing and the difficulty should rise slowly but constantly as the game progresses.
Except when you introduce a new feature midgame. If the missions get harder as time goes on, any new feature you bring in will be taught on the hardest mission they've played.[/quote]
FreeSpace is not a very complicated games. Learning a new feature like aspect-seeking missiles is not hard unless the player has some severe learning disability. A single wing of enemy fighters or similar challenge would be all the practice a player needs before throwing him back into the fire, and the less obvious it is to the player that it's "practice", the better.

Quote
Who plays the training missions on medium or hard?
The whole point is that the campaign would have no training missions, and if you're playing on Hard, the game will treat you as if you already know what you're doing and the missions will be hard from the word go. The higher the difficulty level, the tighter the difficulty curve gets, to increase replay value.


Emphasis mine. You've just described a tutorial mission as they stand now. Your only concern is they flat out tell you it's a tutorial mission. After the 10th time playing Half Life 2, I don't need to do the little tutorial missions no matter how fun you think they are.
Except that in many cases it's a hell of a lot more than a tutorial mission. The New Little Odessa has Odessa briefly explain the RPG and its function and then you have to fight a full-on boss battle with it. And even the DOG minigame is tied into the main story and feels like a natural part of the game.

A new player should be able to start FreeSpace 3's first mission, and fight his first enemies in two minutes. I think it can be done without severely compromising the gameplay or dragging him off to a separate training mission with no actual combat (combat essentially being the whole point of the game), and be playing "for keeps" from the start of the first mission to the end of the last mission.
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 

Offline The E

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Re: New life for Freespace?
No, I don't think so. Thrusting the player right into the middle of things, while it has its place as a story-telling device, is not that great a tool to teach people a relatively complex control setup like FreeSpace's.
Skippable tutorial missions are the best solution for this. That way, you can give people the option of going right to the action part, without having to do overly complicated missions that have training elements in them.
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Offline Thaeris

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Re: New life for Freespace?
I for one don't think the controls for FS are hard at all. Of course, I love flight sims. Anything involving a powerful, expensive space ship should have a fair amount of control functions to make "flight ops" more realistic. I actually wouldn't mind more controls, but that would not fit in so well with the distances/speeds/time space presented in the FS universe. It worked better for X-Wing (which was FAR more primitive) to an extent, as a Star Destroyer might be some 40km distant (which in reality, is a very short distance). And if I remember correctly, X-Wing had less controls than FS ever did. However, you did get a cockpit, which made flying around for 30 minutes more entertaining.

I wish there were more games on the market like Il-2, Hornet, and Falcon (well... I never played Falcon, but do know it's a good deal more complicated than Hornet). As far as training missions go, most conventional fighter flight sims were a lot tougher than FS due to a lack of interaction. For instance, with the old F/A-18 and A-10 simulators, you'd get a text bit on what the idea of the simulation was as well as what systems you'd need to use. It was up to you to read the manual OR look up the keystrokes to find the functions to operate the virtual aircraft. In a way, that's actually a great deal more realistic than FS's presentation of a training environment. Later iterations of Hornet actually gave an interactive "ready room" where you could watch training videos and review tactics. And THAT could take a while... What FS did was make you feel like a junior officer being put through his/her paces - most sims don't do that. What it also did was make sure to a degree that the impression of "dumbards in the cockpit" was avoided. You're supposed to be an officer in a military organization. As such, you are a professional combatant who is highly trained, can take orders, but... just like a real officer, makes serious decisions and has to be able to spit out orders when appropriate. To that end, I think FS does a pretty darn good job while still being fun.

-Thaeris
"trolls are clearly social rejects and therefore should be isolated from society, or perhaps impaled."

-Nuke



"Look on the bright side, how many release dates have been given for Doomsday, and it still isn't out yet.

It's the Duke Nukem Forever of prophecies..."


"Jesus saves.

Everyone else takes normal damage.
"

-Flipside

"pirating software is a lesser evil than stealing but its still evil. but since i pride myself for being evil, almost anything is fair game."


"i never understood why women get the creeps so ****ing easily. i mean most serial killers act perfectly normal, until they kill you."


-Nuke

 

Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Well the "dumbards in cockpit" are the people who are going to be buying your game, so the old school flight sim model of "hey there pilot, hope you read the manual because we can't be bothered to help you" really isn't a viable way to develop games in the era of eight-figure game budgets.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 12:03:20 pm by Woolie Wool »
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 
Re: New life for Freespace?
Well I never was one for catering to the lowest common denominator.
Unskilled and uninvested people make for poor opponents, why I would want more of those I don't know.

FS' gameplay holds up even now, and the training missions are a smooth preamble gateway into both the universe and the gameplay.
If the console generation are so stupid and moronic, and so ADHD inflicted that they can't sit down and be taught the basics immediately before launching off the deepend, it's the own fault.

That isn't to say you can't go ahead and make a campaign with tutorials all the way through it - however I for one don't think I could stomach it, most RTS do it and it's the thing that puts me off the genre the most, I don't want to be hand held for 90% of the campaign for 2 half-decent missions at the end.
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Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Well most games that spread the tutorials out through normal gameplay allow you to turn them off. You won't see footage of experienced Rome: Total War players being hit with popup messages in their YouTube videos.

As for "catering the lowest common denominator", game developers are businesses that exist to make money. Developing AAA titles is so unbelievably expensive nowadays that you need to sell tens if not hundreds of thousands of copies to break even. You're not recoup the cost of developing FS3 by intentionally driving away "unskilled and uninvested" players. Scattering the tutorials throughout the game is the best way to keep these people in the game without watering the game down badly.
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 

Offline Blue Lion

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Re: New life for Freespace?
You don't need a significant length of time to figure out aspect seeking missiles. All you need to know is that you keep the target in view and wait for the flashing circle and lock tone, then fire. The player would have learned to aim ahead in the very first mission so a new player should be using aspect seeking missiles correctly within 30 seconds of seeing the tutorial box.

Yea on the hardest mission they've played you're going to throw a new feature at them and they'll have it in a few seconds. It took me longer than 30 seconds to get used to using aspect seeking missiles when I started playing, and I was in an easy tutorial mission. I think you're mistaking your current skill level for your new player level.

FreeSpace is not a very complicated games. Learning a new feature like aspect-seeking missiles is not hard unless the player has some severe learning disability. A single wing of enemy fighters or similar challenge would be all the practice a player needs before throwing him back into the fire, and the less obvious it is to the player that it's "practice", the better.

Which is exactly what the tutorial mission was. And for some reason you think that's bad. Why is bad to tell them it's practice? The giant popup window in the game telling them how to do it is going to be a big giveaway. The fact that they've never done it before will be another.


The whole point is that the campaign would have no training missions, and if you're playing on Hard, the game will treat you as if you already know what you're doing and the missions will be hard from the word go. The higher the difficulty level, the tighter the difficulty curve gets, to increase replay value.

The mission that teaches you how to use aspect seeking missiles IS a training mission. No matter how tough you make it or how quick you think they learn it. The missions that teach you something new ARE training missions.

As for treating you as if you already know what you're doing, you've stated it should only take them 30 seconds to get it period, so even on easy it should be assumed they know what they're doing.



And even the DOG minigame is tied into the main story and feels like a natural part of the game.

No it didn't. The part in Halo where the guys check your suit by having you run and jump around.... not fooling me either. It's very obvious they're tutorial missions and I wish I could skip them but I can't because they've been tied into the storyline.

A new player should be able to start FreeSpace 3's first mission, and fight his first enemies in two minutes.

Why? Why is this needed? Are players going to quit playing if the game teaches them how to actually play? Every time I play a new game I always play the tutorial.  

I think it can be done without severely compromising the gameplay or dragging him off to a separate training mission with no actual combat (combat essentially being the whole point of the game), and be playing "for keeps" from the start of the first mission to the end of the last mission.

This would only affect brand new players that would actually need those missions, so how does this affect everyone else?

Well most games that spread the tutorials out through normal gameplay allow you to turn them off. You won't see footage of experienced Rome: Total War players being hit with popup messages in their YouTube videos.

Doesn't Rome: Total War force you into a tutorial the first time you play? I just reinstalled it on this computer and the tutorial was my only option.

 

Offline Thaeris

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Ever consider that producing titles which caused you to sit down and think might help counteract the short attention spans and supposed incompetance of the new generation?  :drevil:

I mean seriously, though, my favorite shows as a kid were the technical shows on PBS... you know, where you learn about wildlife and math... I'm probably not the usual company.

I wouldn't change the training environment in FS for the world, though. It makes the universe feel real in a way, and gives a taste of the "regular" flight operations which you as a player are not forced to deal with. Regular sims did this by making it so you had to work to get a grasp on things... just like real pilots. FS does this in a way that it feels serious but still plays like a game.

And don't dare knock the training missions. If you've never played the game before, they're vital. I remember I first got into FS because of BtRL. When I found a better control scheme and changed a few things... but forgot precisely what I did, all I needed to do was jump back to the training mission. Due to the setup of the said training mission (as well as retail FS and FS2), whatever keystroke-function setup was in place at the time was displayed on the message bar. And that is VERY useful.

Lastly, no-one here wants a "dumbards in the cockpit" scenario for FS. You know why? It's because that was what SW Battlefront was for flight operations... to the letter. I need not say any more...

-Thaeris
"trolls are clearly social rejects and therefore should be isolated from society, or perhaps impaled."

-Nuke



"Look on the bright side, how many release dates have been given for Doomsday, and it still isn't out yet.

It's the Duke Nukem Forever of prophecies..."


"Jesus saves.

Everyone else takes normal damage.
"

-Flipside

"pirating software is a lesser evil than stealing but its still evil. but since i pride myself for being evil, almost anything is fair game."


"i never understood why women get the creeps so ****ing easily. i mean most serial killers act perfectly normal, until they kill you."


-Nuke

 

Offline Blue Lion

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Re: New life for Freespace?
I'm just flabbergasted that a game with completely skippable tutorial missions for new players is somehow WORSE than a mission that needs to shoehorn the tutorials into real game play, while not making it too easy for experienced players but not too hard for new players, all why telling a good story.




 

Offline Thaeris

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Re: New life for Freespace?
To non-hillbillify the old adage: "If it's not broken, do not bother fixing it."

-Thaeris
"trolls are clearly social rejects and therefore should be isolated from society, or perhaps impaled."

-Nuke



"Look on the bright side, how many release dates have been given for Doomsday, and it still isn't out yet.

It's the Duke Nukem Forever of prophecies..."


"Jesus saves.

Everyone else takes normal damage.
"

-Flipside

"pirating software is a lesser evil than stealing but its still evil. but since i pride myself for being evil, almost anything is fair game."


"i never understood why women get the creeps so ****ing easily. i mean most serial killers act perfectly normal, until they kill you."


-Nuke

 

Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Which is exactly what the tutorial mission was. And for some reason you think that's bad. Why is bad to tell them it's practice? The giant popup window in the game telling them how to do it is going to be a big giveaway. The fact that they've never done it before will be another.
I don't think that is acceptable because there are no real stakes involved. Nobody gets killed if you screw up. You're not under any pressure.

Quote
The mission that teaches you how to use aspect seeking missiles IS a training mission. No matter how tough you make it or how quick you think they learn it. The missions that teach you something new ARE training missions.
But it's certainly different from a proper training mission in that it's a real battle with enemies out to kill you and/or vital mission objectives, and if you switch off the tutorials there would be almost no evidence of any "training" other than perhaps a suspiciously weak wing of fighters showing up.

As for treating you as if you already know what you're doing, you've stated it should only take them 30 seconds to get it period, so even on easy it should be assumed they know what they're doing.



No it didn't. The part in Halo where the guys check your suit by having you run and jump around.... not fooling me either. It's very obvious they're tutorial missions and I wish I could skip them but I can't because they've been tied into the storyline.
Maybe you didn't notice the character moments for Eli, Alyx, and DOG, story exposition, and advance of the plot at Black Mesa East. The story of the game never stops from the moment the G-Man wakes you up until the moment Breen dies.

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Why? Why is this needed? Are players going to quit playing if the game teaches them how to actually play? Every time I play a new game I always play the tutorial.
Because I think the average modern gamer will quit. They want to be in the game doing their thing in minutes. My concept allows them to indulge this wish without severely simplifying the game. And since the average modern gamer are the people to whom :v: and THQ will need to sell a lot of copies of the game to to make money and ensure the continued existence of the franchise, it's rather important that the "console generation" sticks around to play the whole game.

Quote
Doesn't Rome: Total War force you into a tutorial the first time you play? I just reinstalled it on this computer and the tutorial was my only option.
Maybe, I don't remember that being so (although the tutorial was a single mission instead of several), but it could have been. However, the people who buy Total War games are not the kind of people who buy action games.

Maybe I should clarify a bit. I personally wouldn't mind a training segment provided the instructor was more like, say, MechWarrior 2's (especially the part where he compares you to his dog, that was loaded with incredible personality) and less like the droning TSM guy. However, I'm looking at it through the eyes of the average person who I think this game will be marketed at. He'll see the pretty explosions on the packaging and want to go blow up some spaceships. He'll get annoyed if he has to sit through something like the TSM modules from FS2 (especially if there are three of the things in a row) and tell his friends not to buy the game. Multiply this by several thousand times and it's a massive financial loss for :v:. So the trick is to introduce all the gameplay elements as you go along so as to have most or all of FS2's features without overtaxing the Console Kid's Ritalin-addled brain.
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 

Offline Blue Lion

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Re: New life for Freespace?
I don't think that is acceptable because there are no real stakes involved. Nobody gets killed if you screw up. You're not under any pressure.

It's a training mission. It's not supposed to have pressure!

But it's certainly different from a proper training mission in that it's a real battle with enemies out to kill you and/or vital mission objectives, and if you switch off the tutorials there would be almost no evidence of any "training" other than perhaps a suspiciously weak wing of fighters showing up.

You're right, it's a mission where you're supposed to be worried about incoming enemies and objectives, not how this new fangled thingy works.

Maybe you didn't notice the character moments for Eli, Alyx, and DOG, story exposition, and advance of the plot at Black Mesa East. The story of the game never stops from the moment the G-Man wakes you up until the moment Breen dies.

Oh I got the story. I knew about her and DOG before we had to play fetch for a time. The second time I played I knew even faster but I still had to sit there and play fetch. I know DOG is her pet and I know how to use the damn gun, I'd like to move on please.

Command and Conquer is another one that does that. Those first few missions make you do the same things.

"This is how you make soldiers" "I know"

"This is how you get Tiberium" "I know"

"This is how you make vehicles" "I know"

"This is how you sell stuff" "I know"

I can hardly play C&C games anymore because I can't stand sitting through 4-5 missions that teach me stuff I learned over a decade ago.

Because I think the average modern gamer will quit. They want to be in the game doing their thing in minutes. My concept allows them to indulge this wish without severely simplifying the game. And since the average modern gamer are the people to whom :v: and THQ will need to sell a lot of copies of the game to to make money and ensure the continued existence of the franchise, it's rather important that the "console generation" sticks around to play the whole game.


If a modern gamer has such a short attention span, then they can just turn off the completely skippable tutorials. In your preferred method, the player has to sit through all the tutorials again. Which is more likely to bore them?

Maybe, I don't remember that being so (although the tutorial was a single mission instead of several), but it could have been. However, the people who buy Total War games are not the kind of people who buy action games.

I'm not sure what this means? Action gamers have the attention span of a goldfish and need constant stimulation?

Maybe I should clarify a bit. I personally wouldn't mind a training segment provided the instructor was more like, say, MechWarrior 2's (especially the part where he compares you to his dog, that was loaded with incredible personality) and less like the droning TSM guy. However, I'm looking at it through the eyes of the average person who I think this game will be marketed at. He'll see the pretty explosions on the packaging and want to go blow up some spaceships. He'll get annoyed if he has to sit through something like the TSM modules from FS2 (especially if there are three of the things in a row) and tell his friends not to buy the game. Multiply this by several thousand times and it's a massive financial loss for :v:. So the trick is to introduce all the gameplay elements as you go along so as to have most or all of FS2's features without overtaxing the Console Kid's Ritalin-addled brain.

If he doesn't like the TSMs, there is a big ol skip button right there. You've already said the things it teaches are super easy and only take a few seconds, so it shouldn't matter, right? Why not just leave them be and let the gibbering mental patients who demand immediate action jump right in but people who want to learn how to play first do so without shoving it into the story?

 

Offline SypheDMar

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Re: New life for Freespace?
I think what Woolie Wool prefers (and me, if I understand correctly) is something like this example:

FreeSpace 2 Mission 1

The mission starts with you doing NOTHING for a brief period. This is where a training message should appear and say [PRESS X TO MOVE IN N DIRECTION. PRESS Y TO TARGET. PRESS Z TO ACCELERATE/DECELERATE.]. When the first wing appears, a message then should appear and say [PRESS A TO TARGET HOSTILE. PRESS B TO SHOOT PRIMARY. PRESS C TO SHOOT SECONDARY.] Some other important training message can appear when the next wing comes and so on. You get the idea.

What he doesn't like is that the training missions, while necessary, aren't at all engaging. Even if you want to learn how to play, it's frustrating listening to the lifeless simulation teach you basics when you feel that you should've known them. What's more annoying is that it doesn't take a few seconds to finish. It might even last for long minutes, which isn't all that interesting if you've never played a space sim before. The example above has a mission that, although may last a while longer than a training mission (but shorter than three), is much more enjoyable because you don't have wait for the instructor to give you orders about the basics while doing nothing. If the HOW TO PLAY was a bit more engaging, then the number of players playing FreeSpace would probably be more than it is now might be the moral of the story.

 

Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Yes, I think the majority of console action gamers have the attention span of a goldfish and need constant stimulation, even if it is Alyx Vance's skinny jeans clad ass in the case of the fetch game, and that :v: will need to get a lot of these people hooked on the game to make it a success.

Also I did mention the tutorials can be turned off entirely and you'll be left to perform the mission objectives on your own. So instead of getting a popup telling you how to bomb capships, you're just asked to bomb the capship before it wipes out the GTD Whatchamacallit.
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 

Offline Blue Lion

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Re: New life for Freespace?

What he doesn't like is that the training missions, while necessary, aren't at all engaging. Even if you want to learn how to play, it's frustrating listening to the lifeless simulation teach you basics when you feel that you should've known them. What's more annoying is that it doesn't take a few seconds to finish. It might even last for long minutes, which isn't all that interesting if you've never played a space sim before.

Then I guess I'm just baffled that people are so sick of training missions that takes a few minutes total, that you only really have to do once or twice EVER and are completely skippable but think they should be pushed into the main storyline and made permanent.

I did the tutorial mission for FS1 and FS2 like twice each, ever, in a decade. I don't want them in the main campaign, I don't need them.

Yes, I think the majority of console action gamers have the attention span of a goldfish and need constant stimulation, even if it is Alyx Vance's skinny jeans clad ass in the case of the fetch game, and that :v: will need to get a lot of these people hooked on the game to make it a success.

Also I did mention the tutorials can be turned off entirely and you'll be left to perform the mission objectives on your own. So instead of getting a popup telling you how to bomb capships, you're just asked to bomb the capship before it wipes out the GTD Whatchamacallit.

Yes but a mission that is a tutorial mission with no tutorials is just a plain easy mission. Which totally screws over your gradual increase in difficulty. It's just a tutorial mission with no text.

 

Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Well, after the first mission, many missions would mix tutorials with long sections of straight combat. You might have only one or two info boxes per mission after the first mission (which is typically very easy anyway), and the rest being normal gameplay.
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 

Offline SypheDMar

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Re: New life for Freespace?
[Yes but a mission that is a tutorial mission with no tutorials is just a plain easy mission. Which totally screws over your gradual increase in difficulty. It's just a tutorial mission with no text.
Like the first mission of both FreeSpace and FreeSpace 2. ;7

 

Offline Blue Lion

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Well, after the first mission, many missions would mix tutorials with long sections of straight combat. You might have only one or two info boxes per mission after the first mission (which is typically very easy anyway), and the rest being normal gameplay.

It just seems like such a pain to try to fit them into the game without making it too easy or hard when all you have to do is give the option to learn it once on its own and then never deal with it again.

If most people are going to turn them off after the first go around no matter what, why does it matter if they're in their own missions or not?

Like the first mission of both FreeSpace and FreeSpace 2. ;7

As the first mission in a game, it totally should be. Tutorials or not. Halfway through the game? Not so much.

 

Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
By halfway through the game, you'd encounter at least one infoscreen popup, perhaps explaining some really obscure targeting function for very specific situations or exotic weapon like TAG missiles to reveal stealth fighters, and said stealth fighters will fight back. The basic flight controls could be explained in one mission with most of the game's features fully explained by mission 5 or so.
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 

Offline SypheDMar

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Well, I don't think that there needs to be a tutorial mission half way through the game for FreeSpace. Once you learn how to target with an aspect seeker, firing a bomb should be pretty obvious. If not, the secondary trigger failing to launch and an explanation telling you that you need to acquire lock should be enough.