Author Topic: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2  (Read 1694 times)

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Offline cmap38

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A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
I've been lurking on this forum for about seven years - a time framed by cycles of Freespace obsession followed by months or years of disinterest. Curiosity has always brought me back to check on the goings-on of this awesome community and download the latest and greatest updates to the game, but it was the recent release of WiH R2 that finally convinced me to actually register on these forums. Now I can finally give this mod the great praise it deserves (and some constructive criticism) - before I slink back into the darkness.

I've given much thought to the following, and don't mean it to be hyperbolic: BP: WiH is one of the best games I've ever played. I'd probably put it somewhere in my top ten, in the company of Metal Gear Solid, Mario 64, the Gabriel Knight Series, Half Life 2, etc. A very qualitative (and pointless) list, to be sure, but it illustrates just how compelling of a mod the Blue Planet team has created - at least for one individual. Considering the amount of people who continue to post about the game so long after its first release, I doubt I'm alone.

Why do I like WiH so much? Because it syncs so well with many of my personal gaming sensibilities: I value good stories, a rational universe with logical rules (that aren't constantly broken or plausibility-straining), creative pushing of boundaries, and thoughtful execution. WiH is lacking in some ways, but not in those. (Most) everything just... makes sense, and I can't emphasize enough how important that is. Even when you don't understand what is going on, just knowing that there is a hidden baseline logic beneath the storyline makes the whole thing more enjoyable. By contrast, plausibility never seemed to be the rule in retail FS2 (as much as Volition tried, in the end you were still the nameless super-pilot, somehow laying waste to Shivan capitals all by yourself), and for that I found the original games lacking.

As far as R2 goes, I think it is a worthy sequel. It has state of the art production values (relative to this community), and continues to push the Freespace story in a fitting and compelling way (I find it harder and harder to separate Blue Planet from Freespace canon as time goes on, honestly; it's filling the void left by Freespace 3). As far as the missions go, I've been reading some of the praise and criticism they've been getting, and wanted to give my two cents. This is where the constructive criticism comes in.

I think the new emphasis on open-ended tactical mission control options should be continued into the next release to some extent. However, future releases would be better served by providing a more gradual learning curve for players learning these mechanics. Many of the R2 missions required an hour or two of trial runs to beat. This was seldom because the missions themselves were overly difficult - I found most of them fairly easy after the practice. Rather, they took many replays because I was forced to learn complex new gameplay mechanics for the first time in almost every mission. This is not optimal design. If these new mechanics were instead ramped up over the course of precursor missions players would feel more at ease when tackling the complex missions the BP team so obviously wants us to have. One example: now that I understand what you guys were getting at I'm *craving* more missions like Her Finest Hour - it's super-fun assigning targets for the Narayanas -, but trying to beat that one for the first time was a real *****!

It might also be a good reminder to beware of excess. Goodness does not always increase linearly as content increases. In this case I'm referring to the amount of exposition. Yes, I love the story and read every single line in briefings, missions, and the dreamscape. But is the sheer volume of dialogue slowing down the pace of the game too much? Probably. A little. I'd love to have that same amount of total dialogue but spread it out over a few more missions. They don't even need to be incredibly innovative, time-consuming FRED masterpieces. Sometimes we just want to go in and blow stuff up, after all.

But all this criticism is really secondary to the main point of this post: letting you guys know that you have made an awesome game, and people - many who you'll never even know - appreciate it. Like I said... one of my favorite games ever. And I'm just one lurker out of hundreds or thousands.

Back to the shadows.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
Thanks for the post! The feedback is really useful, and of course it's great to know people are really weighing the campaigns and what they say. People thinking about BP is what keeps us making BP.

 

Offline Luis Dias

  • 211
Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
I completely agree with the learning curve criticism btw. Having played only three missions so far I've had to repeat those same missions several times before I could (1) understand the playing field correctly and what I had to do, (2) what kind of tools I had on my disposal, (3) what kind of different tactics I could deploy. For example, driving the Custos is amazingly fun, but I cringed with fear and despair the first time I was trying to fly it (and still trying to figure out what I could and couldn't do with it) and facing a goddamned Destroyer spamming me dozens of nuclear missiles (or whatever) while so. "What, hey what you want me to destroy a ****ing Destroyer when I can't even know how to pilot this thing at all? Who's the crazy in charge here? Wait what I have only 7 minutes to do this ****? WHAT?"

The Antagonist was simply amazingly good with this. (e: and that is exceptional considering that even the story did not demand that the pilot could perfectly understand the controls of its own ship. In WiH2 you are *selected* for your skills that haven't even been... taught at all. Which is a breaker of immersion. Those are moments where I get to feel that I am not that pilot at all, I am not "Laporte", I'm just someone failing at impersonating her).

It's not something that wrecks the game. It's very painful to start with, but once you *get it* I agree with cmap too: it's just too ****ing FUN.

I'll probably post random feedbacks like this until I finish the campaign, bear with me.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 09:07:14 am by Luis Dias »

 

Offline Colonol Dekker

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
:welcomered:

And i just want to add that quality campaign releases drawing in lurkers to actually post is well worth a pat on the back too.

 
Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
I have to second the initial post. R2 is amazingly fun, but also pretty overwhelming, in the sense of introducing players to new aspects. I'm currently stuck on Her Finest Hour - after watching MattTheGeek's playthroughs I have a halfway decent idea of how to complete it. It did drive the point home of how vast a gulf there is between a halfway decent player like myself, and someone ridiculously good (or has a heck of a lot of wingman macros set up). It makes me wonder if your playtesters are really representative of the average person that's going to download a mod.




 
Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
There's a tab of wingmate orders in the control config. Learning them will massively improve your performance in missions like HFH.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline MatthTheGeek

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
It did drive the point home of how vast a gulf there is between a halfway decent player like myself, and someone ridiculously good (or has a heck of a lot of wingman macros set up). It makes me wonder if your playtesters are really representative of the average person that's going to download a mod.
I am representative of the top of the skillset, we have other testers who have piloting skills that only let them handle Very Easy. Both ends of the spectrum are present in beta testing.
People are stupid, therefore anything popular is at best suspicious.

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Offline Ravenholme

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
I'm definitely an average player, straddle easy/normal most of the time, and whilst I had to restart a few levels several times (Mostly Her Finest Hour and the first one), it wasn't due to information overload or being unable to grasp what was going on, it was because I screwed up.

Mission spoilers:
Spoiler:
The Assassination I only had to restart once, and that's because the first time I hacked the Mjolnir I got tagged before it went live and I could order it to fire. I wasn't overwhelmed by my options. I knew exactly what I had to do
Full Auto - I've got a bullet here with your name on it, and I'm going to keep firing until I find out which one it is.

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
If anything, the constant time constraints were a real pain in the ass. It's manageable when you know EXACTLY what you need to do, but I've always hated trial and error gameplay.

Overall, I still had fun with part 2. But, echoing the others again, there needed to be a more gradual introduction as to what each new feature DOES and HOW it can benefit you. Hell, even some TSM training sims I wouldn't pass up!

Such as, calling in reinforcements in Her Finest Hour, I can't recall a single part in that 18 section briefing from hell that mentioned you had to be POSITIONED below the Carthage to give your friendlies an optimal shot at the ship's engines. I assumed, logically, the summoned ships would be coming from an optimal angle already, since so much was made of the UEF and GTVA fighting "smart". Instead of following a present plan, again, it is depended on you the player to micromanage every aspect of the engagement.

Simply put, if I call in a bomber wing, they should be smart enough to jump from a good approach angle to the target and not get themselves splattered on a flak screen like idiots.

 

Offline MatthTheGeek

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
Simply put, if I call in a bomber wing, they should be smart enough to jump from a good approach angle to the target and not get themselves splattered on a flak screen like idiots.
And how would they guess that ? They're not on the battlefield. They are not prescient.
People are stupid, therefore anything popular is at best suspicious.

Mod management tools     -     Wiki stuff!     -     Help us help you

666maslo666: Releasing a finished product is not a good thing! It is a modern fad.

SpardaSon21: it seems like you exist in a permanent state of half-joking misanthropy

Axem: when you put it like that, i sound like an insane person

bigchunk1: it's not retarded it's american!
bigchunk1: ...

batwota: steele's maneuvering for the coup de gras
MatthTheGeek: you mispelled grâce
Awaesaar: grace
batwota: oh right :P
Darius: ah!
Darius: yes, i like that
MatthTheGeek: the way you just spelled it it means fat
Awaesaar: +accent I forgot how to keyboard
MatthTheGeek: or grease
Darius: the killing fat!
Axem: jabba does the coup de gras
MatthTheGeek: XD
Axem: bring me solo and a cookie

 

Offline Luis Dias

  • 211
Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
Haven't reached that point, but my two cents say that if that gameplay mechanic is explained to the player beforehand there's zero problem. If it's not, then manwiththemachinegun is right in his complaint. Not that Matth is wrong, hell, of course they are not prescient, but it's a novelty to a Freespace pilot player to pay attention to these things.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
The reinforcements anchoring on the player should definitely be explained better.

 

Offline Parias

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
Simply put, if I call in a bomber wing, they should be smart enough to jump from a good approach angle to the target and not get themselves splattered on a flak screen like idiots.
And how would they guess that ? They're not on the battlefield. They are not prescient.

But the player (and his wingmen) are - couldn't they relay jump coordinates or something?

Although personally I do prefer the flexibility of having the wings jump in around me - I like how that gives me more control over how the attack actually goes, noting that the concern about how lack of advance understanding of this can impede attacks against the Carthage has been addressed.

 
Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
Simply put, if I call in a bomber wing, they should be smart enough to jump from a good approach angle to the target and not get themselves splattered on a flak screen like idiots.
And how would they guess that ? They're not on the battlefield. They are not prescient.

Intel? Planning? The enemy does it all the time! Doing shock jumps to flank the enemy. If you are calling for reinforcements, why wouldn't they have preset plan? That's what War in Heaven is really *good* at, not wasting cruisers or destroyers in pointless attacks. Always jumping into combat range with the best possible attack profile. Why do I have to micromanage that? Am I Alpha One again? The only person capable of organizing anything? If I call for a squad of bombers, why would any sane pilot jump his wing into an enemy flak spread because it happens to be where my stealth fighter is?  :doubt:

If you're putting the player in the position of field commander, doesn't it follow you'd have subordinates who would be able to execute their own plans? Shouldn't they already have been briefed on their mission objective and already be in the best position possible to execute it when the order to launch comes down?
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 05:37:21 pm by manwiththemachinegun »

 
Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
Simply put, if I call in a bomber wing, they should be smart enough to jump from a good approach angle to the target and not get themselves splattered on a flak screen like idiots.
And how would they guess that ? They're not on the battlefield. They are not prescient.

Intel? Planning? The enemy does it all the time! Doing shock jumps to flank the enemy. If you are calling for reinforcements, why wouldn't they have preset plan? That's what War in Heaven is really *good* at, not wasting cruisers or destroyers in pointless attacks. Always jumping into combat range with the best possible attack profile. Why do I have to micromanage that? Am I Alpha One again? The only person capable of organizing anything? If I call for a squad of bombers, why would any sane pilot jump his wing into an enemy flak spread because it happens to be where my stealth fighter is?  :doubt:

If you're putting the player in the position of field commander, doesn't it follow you'd have subordinates who would be able to execute their own plans? Shouldn't they already have been briefed on their mission objective and already be in the best position possible to execute it when the order to launch comes down?

Why would whatever preset plan(s) that were made prior to the engagement for the air wing still be valid several minutes into it?

The tevs only do precise shock jumps and stuff when they have a spotter (aurora or awacs) on site giving precise co-ordinates. The times when the tevs don't have a spotter-unit on the field the units that jump in are rarely in optimal position. The player has to provide that function for the T's compliment (though I also think it needs to be made much more prominent in the briefing/**) because everyone else is busy and a good vector for attack changes based on just about anything you can do in the mission (so it would be somewhere close to impossible to make all of the requisite checks for any wingmen-relayed positions to not have them jumping in well out of place or into flak or nyx filled deathzones)



** I wonder if it wouldn't be possible to have some sort of special interface, with time dilation (screen cap script style) or something, with the ability to move around and place a beacon that will be the arrival point of the specified wing.
Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
The reason wings jump in on the player is because it's the easiest way for the player to have control over that important tactical fact, and we wanted the player to have control. This is good design.

The bad design comes in not signaling this well enough.

 
Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
I think all that's needed is something to the effect of "your ship will mount a subspace-technobabble-blah-blah-radio that allows friendly strikecraft to plot jumps to your location, enabling much greater jump precision than is typically possible."

 
Re: A Lurker's Take on WiH R2
"use this to your advantage when attacking subsystems."