Then X-Wing vs Tie Fighter came out, it was the first to use a 3D accelerator so the graphics were better, but it wasn't that good compared with the previous one. The series kind of recovered a bit with X-Wing Alliance (back to a mission- and story-driven campaign, and with much better art). And then it stopped.
TLDR: I miss X-Wing and Tie Fighter and wish there were new games like that with 2018 technology :(
It features a prologue of 5 missions and a full 50 mission campaign. That's on par with regular WC games, I would say.
(None of which is to say that the X-Wing games weren't innovative and great, of course. Just that Origin gave them spirited and worthy competition.)
Both series were consistent, huge sellers for their respective publishers, so it's not like one drove the other into the ground. If anything, they both fell at the same hurdle, never really making the jump into the 3D-game marketplace that the newly emerging GPUs of the late '90s made possible.
I was very pleased to see Microsoft redo the license so the community could put it up on Steam.
One thing that did bug me about WCII was the lack of feelies; I still have the ship identification posters from WC I, and making the manual in the format of an on-ship magazine worked great.
I got the WC II special edition, which had roughly 15 3.5" floppies in it, and until I opened the box, I assumed much of the weight was from feelies, but instead it was a single cardboard keyboard reference card / install instructions.
WC4 was really the blow out engine .. so much smoother and they removed the cockpit view entirely for a much more functional HUD. The story was also much more complex.
Prophecy was the first game with actual 3D acceleration, with extra effects if you used Glide/3Dfx. The story wasn't as good, but the graphics were nice, even though the actual flying/shooting felt a little more arcade like (you could ram and bounce off of ships).
I think I still have some of the old CDs .. might need to fire them up in Doxbox or wine.
Shooting at enemies was more fun in X-Wing and TIE Fighter because everything seemed to move faster (except the laser bolts, see next point) and you had to aim with much greater lead, one of the most important skill elements. The production values of X-Wing and TIE Fighter were incredible, whereas the style of Wing Commander felt generic (I and II) or like Starship Troopers (III).
I think they mostly flew by each other and then went into separate directions and ended up not competing all that directly. X-Wing came out between the releases of WC2 and WC3. X-Wing continued down the 'space combat simulator in the Star Wars universe' path, Wing Commander became 'movie/adventure game with some space flying stuff'. WC3 had two hours of video, Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell and only got crazier from there.
X wing vs tie fighter was much later (1997 to tie fighters 94). It was both inferior gameplay IMO and a bit graphically behind, being not really much better than tie fighter while other things had gotten much better (descent and quake and mechwarrior 2 all better imo while half life and unreal werent released much after XWvTF)
There's good news though. Hopefully none of them will force me to change CDs every few minutes.
Wing Commander was great because it was one of the first of its kind and it worked on very modest hardware, it didn't have extravagant system demands.
I've played recent games that follow the Wing Commander template almost exactly but they feel dull and repetitive because the original was dull and repetitive.
One adaptation that actually adds on the original is the new X-Com series. They took out a lot of the fussy useless work, like allocating ammunition per soldier (even per pocket!) and refocused the game on the good elements from the original, like the turn-based combat system.
I'm sure you could do the same with Wing Commander but you'd have to throw out a lot of garbage and work hard to polish, refine, and improve on the original flight mechanics.
Client download here (Win/Mac/Linux!):
Maybe it'll feel dated. But it was really a wonderful online multiplayer game. I thought I was done with gaming as I was bored of single player. This game turned me on to online.
There is also ET: Legacy, an open source implementation of the game: https://www.etlegacy.com/
But I don't really know if it's any good.
Edit: looking at it I now realise that the game already was released as open source, the ET Legacy project is based on it and fixes bugs and stuff :)
We're really getting spoilt for choice between Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen and the likes.
I should add that I got to meet Chris Roberts when he was in Melbourne a few years ago. I thought that was pretty cool, as I absolutely loved WC and Freelancer way back; very nice guy also. So after that and my backing level I'm not really capable of being objective on SC. :)
Elite Dangerous is miles ahead of it in overall completeness though.
Sure, it's not the complete experience, and there's no real single player story yet, and the vision has evolved and changed and the scope has gotten somewhat ridiculous..
But so far everything I've seen has convinced me that it's ok to keep waiting, and I'm excited to see what it eventually/hopefully becomes.
In the meantime, I've got plenty of other things to keep me busy.. :-)
There was an indie Starfox type game I saw a few years back on Kickstarter but it never got the funding it needed. All the other stuff out there is really MMO which I'm not really into. Give me a single player set of campaigns with a beginning and an end.
tbh, there is a bit of a steep learning curve / bafflingly bad interface thing going on with them but theyre the best of those kind of games imo.
Theres also elite dangerous, but I could'nt rally get into that. Because the galaxy is real sized with billions of stars everything is necessarily samey and bland. Also its sorta like an MMO you need to be checking out forums and engaging with the community to actually find out what to do. I do not want that from my privateer-likes. I want to just be able to completely immmerse myself in the game and explore on my own and find cool things and possibilities and implement my own schemes.
Disclaimer: Ages ago I coded the GPL Vega Strike http://vegastrike.sourceforge.net/ engine on which the privateer remake operates -- you might need to run in xp compat mode unless you checkout the data dir
But McDowell played it well as written and if you put John Rhys Davies in something, I will like it.
It was still good though but, combined with some clunky characterization issues (continuity of that is hard moving to real actors), just turned me off the game.
For me the peak was WC2, and Privateer, but WC3 signaled where it lost... something important about the series.
I then played through the game with such "anal" tenacity. I had to have EVERY kill for the killboard that was possible. If my wing man ever got any.... I'd dump out and try again!
Then WC2 came out... holy moley! Yes I had to have it all, and as the article pointed out... I also promptly saved my pennies until I could afford my first sound blaster card and picked up the Voice pack too!
Played and loved and enjoyed EVERY WC game in the series. The sense of wonder that I got... I wonder if kids have anything even close to those experiences today.
I have 3 kids, and I can honestly say yes, they do. Minecraft. It has simple mechanics, but can be pretty deep too if you want it to be. You can also build anything your mind can imagine. Add on all the fan created stuff, mods, etc. and it definitely provides the same stuff for the new generation.
I did the same thing! Would sometimes play the losing-then-winning route, that was my favorite.
The article surprised me by saying the branching wasn’t popular. I LOVED that about WC1 and was disappointed it wasn’t like that in 2.
I need to see if it's on an abandonware site somewhere!
In 1990, Richard Garriott's company Origin, released a space-themed combat flight simulator called Wing Commander, which became a favorite around the id lake house. Carmack figured he could do better. Flight sims, he thought, were painfully slow, bogged down by their heavy graphics and leaving the player to snail through the game play. What he and others preferred was the fast action of arcade games such as Defender, Asteroids and Gauntlet. Carmack tried to see how he might do something that hadn't been done before: create a fast-action game in 3D
I loved WC 1-4 (hated Prophecy), but Privateer was the best.
I will not speak of Privateer 2.
I also remember being deeply moved by the story of Spirit and her captured husband, and her suicide run on the Kilrathi starbase at the end of WCII.
The article has some valid critiques of the merits of the story and the gameplay, but I've always had extremely fond memories of the game.
I think they got the graphics just right in that game (lol, "Gouraud shading"!).
It was minimal yet expressive, and felt immersive & real.
* note - I wish development had been completed on 0x10c - I think that would've been a good spiritual successor to TIE Fighter, aesthetic-wise
A fascinating snapshot!
If you know your classic Elite, it’s basically roll and up/down. WC had (as basic controls) left/right up/down. Easier to control but felt very artificial. X-wing was the best of the three, where we had up/down and then left-roll-move and right-roll-move. Not only did it look much like in the movies, it was also excellent for actually dodging people on your tail.
" Like so much else about Wing Commander II, the speech, voiced by members of the development team, is terminally cheesy today, but in its day the Speech Pack drove the purchase of the latest Sound Blaster cards, which were adept at handling such samples, just as the core game drove the purchase of the hottest new 80386-based computers."
I am pretty sure they got some deals for that too. I got Wing Commander as part of a "Multimedia Kit" from Creative (CD Drive, Sound Blaster 16, Speakers), which bundled Wing Commander, Strike Commander, Syndicate Plus and Ultima VIII. All excellent games.
Its sequel upped the ante even further with a budget of $12M which made headlines beyond the gaming magazines and actually into the newspapers.
Both good games incidentally and well worth a play.
I think that movie would be better received if it was released today instead of 19 years ago. We’ve had close to 20 years of comic book movies that are mostly divorced from their source to make such a source-material-disjointed movie more palatable.
Even the whole "broadside" missile launch like old war ships with cannons.
Despite the departures from the game information, I didn't hate it like so many others did.
That said, your point is fair. Most book to movies, I though, typically strip out a lot, but don't fundamentally change the story. Do they?
Of course, as this article points out, the story for this game wasn't nearly as good as my rosy glasses give it credit for.
Wing Commander felt different because it was basically keeping a few of the names, but a completely different story. Not even the same mechanics, since there was no magic to the main character in maneuvering through space in the games. That just came out of nowhere.
Like World War Z. The screenwriter perhaps looked at the title of the book for inspiration, but that much could be coincidental based on the movie.
The problem is that a movie's fundamentally different as a storytelling method. You can't give the same insight into a person's mind. You can't reveal things about a character or situation that are intrinsically visual by describing them later on. Film is visual, it needs to show, but it's also not engaging in the same way a game is.
You can give people a taste of surviving in the wilderness, on a far-flung planet, at the bottom of the ocean in a film, but these films are at best a few hours long.
A game can take forty or more hours to complete and you're that much more immersed in the world. To replicate that experience in a two hour movie is impossible.
Not to say that some of that time can't be immersive, but it isn't as extreme as the time would have you believe.
Oddly, the closest direct competitor to the two hour movie, is the multiseason show. And even those have trouble making the jump to larger formats.
I think the truth is just that story telling is hard. Crossing mediums of any kind is far from easy. (Though, I have grown rather fond of audiobooks.)
The still images alone captured my imagination for weeks.
Even from the very beginning it has looked like an unmitigated clusterfuck. (I decided to hold off funding it, I'm so happy I did) For the initial demo videos it looked like Roberts used his own money to hire artists to make lots of assets for the demo videos in Cry-engine.. Which is grand, makes sense + it worked, they got funded.
But then they continued developing that demo-video project into the full game!!! Which is baffling. The main thing is that Cry-engine is one of the worst engines I could imagine for this type of game, I imagined they'd be fighting it every step of the way and they have been. Another practice theyve had from the start is building the game backwards, Creating (extremely labour intensive) final AAA polished art assets before they've even decided what the mechanics are let alone built and tried them, god only knows how may assets they've had to scrap.
I could go on and on, eg. completely retooling cry-engine to use 64 bit floats. Which must have been a gargantuan task + also completely unnecessary if you plan out your game right. (eg. look at Kerbal space program)
Star citizen has been in development hell for years. It looks like theyve reached the Sisyphusian point where X amount of work creates bugs that will take > X amount of time to fix.
Still I would love to be proved wrong and it comes out and is the best game ever of my fantasies. (Elite dangerous is too MMOey for my tastes)
What E:D does have is an amazing flight model, great visuals and a genuinely well-made physics engine that offers a surprising amount of realism. It's the most "you are a real pilot in a real spaceship" feeling game I've ever played. It just needs more depth to the actual game beyond that.
Edit: I played on a 34" ultrawide with TrackIR and the Warthog HOTAS. The immersion is staggering. Sadly my throttle has died so it's on hold until I can get a new set.
But see, the shear ridiculousness of Star Citizen's scope is the only reason I backed it. ...I've always dreamed of a hyper-realistic space simm that allowed you to do whatever you wanted. (Even in the alphas that have been released so far, I can do so many things that simply isn't possible in any other space game, ever made. In Elite: Dangerous you can't even get out of your seat.)
Of course, knowing that scope when I backed it, I understand the risk. I won't be shocked if it fails. And I won't really feel like I was slighted, or cheated. I put the money towards a thing I hope can be a thing, and maybe it will be. Maybe it won't.
That being said, the current lawsuit with Crytek is a super good reason to withhold funding them until it's resolved. There's so much shiftiness in there, and it's probably the first thing I've seen that could prematurely abort SC. It boggles the mind that they went the way they did to dodge licensing.
Yes, the development has been full of fits and starts, but they've also solved some amazing technical challenges. The 64-bit map size aspect was critical for having solar-system-sized maps with proper precision for multiplayer. The independent physics grids per ship implementation was a big deal. Also, they were able to pick up many of the core CryTek engine developers who had built the engine in the first place, and that's paid off with the rapid development of their procedural planet generation technology.
Sure, the development has been repeatedly behind schedule, and we've learned to pretty much ignore any projected deadlines they announce. But, they've got several hundred people working full-time on a pair of AAA-class games and the current alpha versions _are_ playable, so it's not just vaporware. They also have been posting the current project task planning info on the website for about the last year, with info drawn directly from their internal JIRA, and the community is watching that eagerly to calculate weekly progress update diffs. Supposedly CIG is aiming for quarterly patch releases this year based on what's ready at the time rather than a specific feature list target, with 3.1 due out this month. We'll see how that pans out, and if they can actually manage more consistent releases.
I pitched in for them to make the game of Chris Roberts' dreams, and I'm enjoying watching the development process. As long as they continue to make progress, I'm quite happy to sit back and wait for them to get it "right".
No. When something is very far away from you, it will probably not even be visible, if it does appear it will be very small. You will not be able to interact with it. From your perspective its position does not need to be precise.
With a sane game architecture for this kind of game you dont need higher precision floats. This has been done in loads of games. I mentioned KSP because a tiny team did this in Unity (not even their own engine)
Considering how it will instantly double all the payloads, this is something you'd particularly want to avoid for a multiplayer game.
I can only guess that they did this because they used cryengines built-in physics, and every ship in an instance is in the same phsyics 'world' (which is insane)
"The independent physics grids per ship implementation was a big deal"
Thats not a big deal. Its relatively trivial to do imo. You just have multiple physics 'worlds' and any bodies which protrude into another system are represented by kinematics in the other system.
Transitioning from one system to another could look very weird, simply because the fantasy of the game does not cog with consistent physics, but they have not overcome this problem either.
I imagine implementing it whilst using cryengines built-in physics system may have been the truly colossal task. But why in gods name are they using cryengine (an engine strongly geared towards making crytek fps games) to make space game?
- 64-bit map sizes: https://www.gamersnexus.net/gg/2622-star-citizen-sean-tracy-...
- Multi-crew ships and physics grids: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/15...
Eg. For the 64bit precision one they have a decent amount of detail explaining what it is. But not why they are doing it when its not necessary. (I assume the only reason one could possibly do this is cus every ship in a game instance exists in the same phsyics world (which is a crazy bad implementation))
For example, one reason they might want higher precision is for editing and processing persistent data: a need that doesn't apparently have anything to do with the physics simulation, but subsequently ripples down into "well, if we want to allow editing in real-time, then..."
It is interesting work, but nothing that you would want to emulate as a best practice for making a Better Game. It's just a result of the software aspects being scoped and executed in such an uncompromising way. A good majority of the work to date has been on the organization-building work of teams and processes that can execute at this scale.
I don't have a very deep knowledge of game development, but my understanding is that they moved to Amazon's Lumberyard and just went through a lawsuit with Crytek over it.
One of the things that people seem to miss is that Star Citizen development functions a lot more like a SaaS, with recurring revenue, than a traditional game project, with a big-bang release. CIG (the company behind Star Citizen) averages about $90K PER DAY in backer revenue. This has been consistent for years.  The money comes from ship sales which, at the time of nearly all the sales, are nothing but polished art assets in various stages of development.
Given this context, their decision to produce polished art assets and prioritize playable releases over rewrites not only makes sense, it's smart.
Edit: I've read your other replies in this thread and your dismissive attitude towards software development challenges looks a lot like inexperience. Since you offered your credentials as a "game-maker," I have to ask: is your game development experience as a professional software developer, working in a large team on commercial AAA products? Or is it smaller scale? I ask because decisions that are obvious and trivial for a hobbyist solving small problems look a lot different at scale.
Theres no excuse for that imo, if its the result of bad project management or whatever then so be it, its still a mess.
"decisions that are obvious and trivial for a hobbyist solving small problems look a lot different at scale."
What scale? Users? team size? Also, I dont see how either makes it ok to write crummy software. Give me an example.
Also in what way are the hobbyist problems small? Tiny teams (eg. the Dwarf fortress guys) have done some of the most groundbreaking plain old technically difficult work Ive seen.
I'm not saying Star Citizen development is perfect. They're doing a lot less automated testing than I prefer, the code they show in Bugsmashers isn't particularly well designed, and they would have benefited from adopting feature teams and timeboxed releases much sooner than they did.
But software development always looks easier from a distance than it is in reality. The problems are fractal, and don't make themselves known until you're deep in the middle of implementation. (This is why so many projects are under-estimated.) Your criticisms lack that nuance. You say they're writing crummy software, but you offer no evidence other than 50,000-feet hand-waving assertions. It comes across as either inexperience, or an axe to grind.
I think the project was just fundamentally flawed at the beginning because of the choice to use cryengine, and they never corrected it. They doubled down and poured huge amounts of great work after bad. At the very inception of any software project you need a very small handful of experts to decide some fundamental things eg. What language / framework / engine to use. What platforms it will be on, what networking model it will use.
In the case of star citizen, Chris Roberts picked cryengine himself (probably just cus cryengine games tend to look nice), even though he hadn't produced a game in years. It did make sense for the demo-video. As I said, it worked, he got funded, but after getting funded he should have scrapped that visual demo and hired a few experts to draw up a plan for how to realise the actual game. I would have been looking to headhunt people who were architects for battlefield or planetside.
Instead it seems like CIG just started hiring everyone like crazy and dogpiling work ontop of the visual-demo.
It seems from their dev updates that the team is putting in a heroic effort trying to work through the issues, though it also looks like a perfect realization of the sunken cost fallacy.
"An unmitigated clusterfuck." "A mess." "Crummy software."
And now you're saying they chose the wrong engine? That's a Far Cry from being the Crysis you described, which makes it sound like choosing CryEngine makes a game Prey to any Monster Hunter Online. Sure, Crytek's in a State of Decay, but the CryEngine Kingdom's Come: Deliverance in the form of Amazon. The engine is still maintained, and still used for major games.
Okay, I'm resorting to bad wordplay now. I guess that means I'm done. I'll let you have the last word.
Edit: Maybe minus the space tigers...
For the Wing Commander community, they're inseparable despite the licensing.