Author Topic: In a perfect world...  (Read 2190 times)

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Offline eicca

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In a perfect world...
1) An independent development team like Descendent Studios or something would get licensing to use the Freespace name

2) They'd be granted permission to finish Blue Planet, tidy up any bugs, and hire out the remaining voice acting.

3) Replace all of Age of Aquarius with just a game-opening cutscene recounting the epic struggle and massive losses during both Shivan incursions. This would serve to properly set the desperation to return to earth after decades of blood so that when the fleet jumps through the Knossos device to make first contact with Earth, it's still enough of a shattering plot twist when they attack the Earth ship that's sent to investigate. Personally, I thought Age of Aquarius just didn't fit in. The whole alternate-universe thing really ruined the Freespace feel for me.

4) Release War in Heaven, fully voice-acted, including the plot with the supposed return of the Shivans that I read about in Morrigan in Shadow (which is a killer idea, by the way), and call this Freespace III. An official sequel wouldn't be complete without Shivans.

5) Revised soundtrack may be needed, I heard a few tracks in there that might cause some copyright questions.

Honestly, playing the original Freespace campaigns after Blue Planet just feels a little lacking. War in Heaven was so incredibly well done, and I mean I enjoyed it far more than many big-studio commercial video games I've played. Dare I say, including Halo. I'd happily accept it as canon Freespace III.

Sadly I realize the chances of this happening are slim to none. But, let's get the idea out there just for kicks.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: In a perfect world...
Age of Aquarius owns and is super fun, though. It's the necessary hero's journey story for BP2 to deconstruct, plus it's full of fast-paced, high-agency gameplay (which BP2 deconstructs as well). Then BP3 provides the synthesis.

 

Offline An4ximandros

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Re: In a perfect world...
Blue > Red > Green a new DNA

I disagree about the studio, part of the reason BP owns is that it is made by the community, is released for free and is not afraid to add things to canon (like AoA) in order to use it later (Like WiH and Vasudanissimo BP3)
It is a labor of love, when a need to recover money gets in, things get messy.

And AoA was fun, (maybe except Forced Entry, it being more frustrating than anything from the version I remember playing)

 

Offline eicca

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Re: In a perfect world...
You bring up a fair point.

Where do you balance quick delivery of a finished product (read: I WANT TO PLAY THE REST WITH VOICE ACTING!) and keeping it open to everybody to contribute and getting that open-source fan-built quality?

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: In a perfect world...
There's, like, zero chance you could get anything resembling what the current BP team would make if you went through a studio team. We have a lot of stupid design habits due to playing FS2 for years (we make everything WAY HARDER than retail FS2!) We also have a lot of stupid storytelling habits, in that we are wiling to predicate major story beats on tiny trivial facts about the FS2 canon.

The BP you guys get is...really the product of a pretty unique process, which I've seen at very small indie teams but never really in a big studio. (Back when dev teams were smaller I'm sure this was a lot more common). I've never really been on another HLP team that works the same way either, with the exception of JAD/Wings of Dawn (in that they're basically the same awesome dev team).

Most other teams I've been on (Bungie included) were basically 'everybody go make a mission/asset/whatever, come back when it's done,' and good luck if you want to have a lengthy conversation about the storyline or lore without somebody saying 'go ask so and so, I don't really know that stuff.' Obviously there were checkins and design briefs and feedback, but it was all — quite bureaucratic, y'know? It wasn't a constant organic bath. Testing also tends to happen in a separate bloc from design: the mission/asset gets made and goes to test, then the designer gets a pile of feedback to fix.

BP development is ludicrously iterative and kind of relies on having a team that's soaked to the gills in BP lore. You make the beginnings of a model while chatting on IRC, you p3d it, everybody talks about its tactical niche and what kind of economic conditions it was built in, you do some more work on the model, people post concept art and ideas they love, people fight about what weapons it'll have.

You make the first three minutes of a mission, you SVN it, you say 'hey play this' on IRC. You get people back asking you how you justify this mechanic fictionally, or whether it's really fun to have that ship bathe you in flak, or whether this wing could really jump in that precisely. The mission gets played probably hundreds of times before it's even done: everybody's on IRC hitting it back and forth, you try to smoothe out the rough spikes, make sure it's not self-playing, tweak all the AI behavior to fit the fiction, rework the mission loadout to fit the theater logistics, add some interesting new mechanics, cut the stupid cruft mechanics Battuta added, make sure the dialogue isn't too far up Battuta's ass, put in more Seraphims for Hades, etc. People will get in (friendly) fights over when a ship's beams should be ready to fire, or how a certain missile decoy should work fictionally. There's a lot of detail obsession. The most fun part is trying to find cool easter eggs to add, like a Kentauroi having a primary lockup, or a ship in mission 13 getting really mad if you killed her brother in mission 2.

Same even goes for weapon design. You'll have a bunch of people all co-editing a spreadsheet and trying out new variants via rapid SVN updates.

It's a super fun development cycle and when we're in fun crunch it goes 24-7 all around the world. But I just can't imagine the chemistry scaling up. We've been really, really lucky in that everyone we've added to the team has also been a great IRC player and a good fiction contributor.

BP works because the mission designers, the writers, the gameplay designers, and even the artists are all (mostly) the same people. That means you can integrate all the disciplines to tell a story. Bigger studios, man...it's almost impossible to keep everyone excited and on the same page about a complicated story.

I think two of BP's biggest flaws are an abundance of single-mission mechanics (Starcraft 2 style) and a story that can be hard as heck to follow if you're not a massive lorehead. Those probably would've been fixed if this was a larger production (although Assassin's Creed sure did get a ways with an incomprehensible story!)

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: In a perfect world...
BP is also mission-driven, not asset-driven, so there's never any 'we have to stop designing until the asset is done'. That's a big deal. I don't know if it's really relevant but I like repeating it because going asset-first kills projects.

 

Offline Spoon

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Re: In a perfect world...
Great Battuta postings
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline AdmiralRalwood

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Re: In a perfect world...
BP is also mission-driven, not asset-driven, so there's never any 'we have to stop designing until the asset is done'. That's a big deal. I don't know if it's really relevant but I like repeating it because going asset-first kills projects.
This is always worth repeating. It's sometimes hard to remember, when you're playing with voice-acting and a fleet of ships modeled and textured with the specific intent that they'd be Blue Planet warships, that the original Age of Aquarius release was a one-man project using already-made community assets.

It can be tempting to imagine "what if" somebody was able to throw money at the problem by hiring a AAA studio to do nothing but Blue Planet so that we could play a finish product sooner, but you don't get Blue Planet without it being a labour of love by nerds far too invested in silly spaceship shooty games for their own good.

...Mind you, with that said, if I were to somehow spontaneously become independently wealthy, you can bet "offer to pay the BP team to work on it full-time" would be on the to-do list (under "wrest FreeSpace IP from Interplay" and possibly "build own spaceship").
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schrödinbug (noun) - a bug that manifests itself in running software after a programmer notices that the code should never have worked in the first place.

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<MageKing17> "There's probably a reason the code is the way it is" is a very dangerous line of thought. :P
<MageKing17> Because the "reason" often turns out to be "nobody noticed it was wrong".
(the very next day)
<MageKing17> this ****ing code did it to me again
<MageKing17> "That doesn't really make sense to me, but I'll assume it was being done for a reason."
<MageKing17> **** ME
<MageKing17> THE REASON IS PEOPLE ARE STUPID
<MageKing17> ESPECIALLY ME

<MageKing17> God damn, I do not understand how this is breaking.
<MageKing17> Everything points to "this should work fine", and yet it's clearly not working.
<MjnMixael> 2 hours later... "God damn, how did this ever work at all?!"
(...)
<MageKing17> so
<MageKing17> more than two hours
<MageKing17> but once again we have reached the inevitable conclusion
<MageKing17> How did this code ever work in the first place!?

<@The_E> Welcome to OpenGL, where standards compliance is optional, and error reporting inconsistent

<MageKing17> It was all working perfectly until I actually tried it on an actual mission.

<IronWorks> I am useful for FSO stuff again. This is a red-letter day!
* z64555 erases "Thursday" and rewrites it in red ink

<MageKing17> TIL the entire homing code is held up by shoestrings and duct tape, basically.

 

Offline jr2

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Re: In a perfect world...
...Mind you, with that said, if I were to somehow spontaneously become independently wealthy, you can bet "offer to pay the BP team to work on it full-time" would be on the to-do list (under "wrest FreeSpace IP from Interplay" and possibly "build own spaceship").

First make investments.  Then do all of that on the return from those investments, so you'll always have more money to throw at things.  Problem is finding the correct investments to make (the next Intel or whatever would be nice, but you could always settle for a nice slow return on investment).



Anyways, on the topic of paying someone to do this, why couldn't you hire :v: to be the BP-team commercial muscle ? Crowd-fund it, then hire Volition.

(In case it wasn't clear, basically, have :v: be the BP-team's extra workload handler, and,j of course, if they want to be more invested I'm sure that would have awesome results.)

Problem is, you would need something to suck in the masses that aren't already FreeSpace freaks.

You're going to want the hard-core fans pleased as well as the yet-unconverted heathens masses.  So, perhaps, have a dual-prong release:  One to suck people in, and further (DLC?) if they want more than the casual overview that got them to back in the first place.

Have the crowd-funding for stage 1, driven by a stage 0.5 playable / multi-capable demo, (although SP should probably be the main focus, multi is always fun) then crowd-fund stage 2 once people have played stage 1 (perhaps have a free 1.5 release to whet their appetite again).

Of course, I'm sure this would all be much more complicated, especially given EvilInterplay's ownership of the IP.  If you made part of the crowd-funding to buy the IP, Interplay would see green and probably ask a higher price.  Need a way to get a (reasonable) price locked in by contract first, on the stipulation that it's void if the crowd-funding fails.



/end ramble

 
Re: In a perfect world...
... Or we could just let the BP team do it how they see best and be thankful.

Just putting it out there.
"Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day to day living that wears you out." – Anton Chekhov

 
Re: In a perfect world...
I highly doubt BP would be "the mod" to draw people into Freespace or that you could ever turn a profit with it, even if you could legally sell it somehow. It's just way too brutal and uncompromising to be any kind of starting point for new players.
Hell, even vanilla FS2 is a hard sell nowadays with its intimidating number of control bindings and minimal handholding. BP is made by and for Freespace freaks, you would have to do a hell of a lot of softening to make it appeal to anyone else.

Hell, it's too much even for some people who love Freespace. It's easy to forget that even AoA, a campaign I'd consider piss easy aside from UT1, can be overwhelming to new players. Most of us Freespace freaks can name the precise positions of turrets on FS capships. You know exactly how to treb those beams and how dangerous they are.

Look at SpaceGameJunkie's AoA Let's Play. That guy is a huge Freespace fan yet he's having genuine difficulty with AoA on easy(or Second Run, however you want to call it). If you ever replay the retail campaign you'll notice that beam disarming was never something you were forced to learn, aside from killing the main beams on a Sath. You never really HAVE to watch for LReds on Ravanas or a Lilith, if those things jump in they're supposed to tear your capships appart.

The retail campaign teaches you how to kill lots of fighters and bombers and... not much else. The few bombing missions are practically self-playing and you never really have to do surgical strikes or meaningfully support your capships aside from blowing up bombers and bombs. Contrast that with BP and especially WiH where you have to constantly keep in mind how the battle scene changes and where you should be and what you need to do. In retail as long as you were killing something constantly and not getting shot you were pretty much golden, with maybe a few exceptions. For some of us that's almost automatic, but for new players it might be a complete information overload. It's not like you get helpful hints or objective markers.

The "general masses" would probably prefer something like Ace Combat where you're killing huge amounts of really dumb enemies with relative ease and being constantly praised for your amazing-ness, main objectives are almost secondary to how much planes you can shoot down.

And I like BP just how it is. In fact, I might even prefer if it was even more brutal, if AI could be made even smarter and the battlespace even more lethal. Obviously if you go down that path too far you just get Tutta's Seraphim Hell™.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 02:22:32 pm by FrikgFeek »
[19:31] <MatthTheGeek> you all high up on your mointain looking down at everyone who doesn't beam everything on insane blindfolded

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: In a perfect world...
Also making money off BP would be a betrayal of the whole HLP community and all the work done for FSO over the years. BP wouldn't be possible without coders, artists, other campaigns that drew people in and got them excited, bloo blah so on.

 

Offline jr2

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Re: In a perfect world...
The "general masses" would probably prefer something like Ace Combat where you're killing huge amounts of really dumb enemies with relative ease and being constantly praised for your amazing-ness, main objectives are almost secondary to how much planes you can shoot down.

You misunderstand.  I'm talking about pulling in fresh meat.  Turning the 'general masses' into FreeSpace freaks.  Not all will want to.  That's fine.

My point is more that I'm about positive that there are plenty of people who actually like learning new things and challenging themselves, but are put off if there isn't a decent learning curve (instead of, either 'here let us hold your hand and stroke your ego' or on the other hand saying, 'here's 43 keybinds, this is how you do everything, good luck, pilot'.

How do we lure new people (who have not played FS, or played retail on release) into what is now possible?


I guess I'm afraid that in 10-20 more years, this place won't be around.  I can live with that.  Doesn't mean I want to.  FreeSpace is an awesome game, supported by an awesome community with amazing talent.  It would be a shame to let that slip under the waves. 

Hmm.  Maybe FS Blue does a good job rectifying this.  I'll have to play that once I get my desktop running (I've had FSO running on my laptop but it puts out so much heat I was afraid to run it too much as it was kind of my only useable computer for a long while).




Also making money off BP would be a betrayal of the whole HLP community and all the work done for FSO over the years. BP wouldn't be possible without coders, artists, other campaigns that drew people in and got them excited, bloo blah so on.


Well, if this community were the ones making a profit, I'm assuming it would be a rather focused deal.  You're not trying to make money for some sharks in suits, all you need is to pay any bills incurred (this includes any full time 'employees' and any outside help hired), and foster the growth of the game & community.