Let me quote them, because I'd like to follow up on something that should get its own thread.
Ringu wrote:I started working as a developer in 1985, fresh out of the UK's A-level colleges. As a school boy, I'd played all of the first computer games, including Elite and my favourite, Starship Command, and even contributed some code to a few of them.
I built some of the first PC compatible machines in the UK, and because of that, was hooked on MS' Flight Simulator for months.
But when Wing Commander came out... I was knocked on the floor. It was like nothing I'd ever imagined, and the whole series captured my attention for years.
I'm an SC backer purely because seeing the Salthi always bank to the left gave me such a sense of immersion and secret knowledge, it directly fed into my somewhat OCD need to complete games
I also had the pleasure of being a gamer when Wing Commander was originally released. I've told the story elsewhere here, I think, of how I cleverly managed to snag for myself an enormous (for the day) 20-inch NEC 5D monitor. It weighed a ton, but it was worth it because compared to the tiny screens of the day, playing Wing Commander on the NEC 5D was like looking through a window. It was like being there, to the point that one night while driving home after an extended WC session, I caught myself almost turning the wheel of my car into oncoming traffic to line up a better shot at them.Victor Tombs wrote:I doubt if I would have backed SC as fervently and extensively as I have if it hadn't been for the Wing Commander/ Privateer/ Strike Commander games. And although Freelancer was taken out of CR's hands at the end I still give him the credit for it as it was his idea. There are several pioneers who deserve my thanks for giving me a real taste for space.
This game really was that compelling for its time.
But what I wanted to mention here -- and it has a connection to Limit Theory -- is that maybe the most satisfying aspect of Wing Commander for me was the implementation of enemy "ace" pilots.
Most pilots were nameless cannon fodder. Each type of ship in the game had its own characteristic flight dynamics, and each enemy pilot type had a preferred way of flying those ships. For the most part, fighters piloted by nameless enemies were a relatively easy challenge once you got to understand their ships and their flight styles. They could be dangerous in numbers, or if they had a new and more powerful enemy ship type with them. A lone ship, though, was no problem once you had grokked their pattern (after splashing enough of them).
But every now and then, and with perfect pacing for the game's story and gameplay, you would find yourself looking down the gunsights of an enemy ace. They often flew the same kinds of enemy ship types you'd already seen... but these pilots were much more dangerous.
In combat, they rolled and turned faster; they shot more accurately; they used missiles more effectively; and their evasive tactics made them harder to hit. In short, these enemy ace pilots felt not just faster, but smarter. They flew so much better than the usual variety that encountering one was always a shock. It made me sit up in my seat, flex my fingers, and grin as I prepared for the challenge I knew I was about to face.
The behavior of Wing Commander's ace pilots was programmed; there was never any misunderstanding about that. But their behaviors seemed so much more advanced than the cannon fodder pilots -- even though they weren't, really -- that anticipating those encounters became, for me, an important component of why Wing Commander was so much fun to play.
It wasn't just the pure gameplay challenge of figuring out their patterns and mechanically defeating them -- it's that they had names. And a fight with them started with them contacting you to taunt you. They personalized the gameplay to an extent not achieved by many other games since.
I find that surprising... and an opportunity.
Which brings me to Limit Theory. I think it has a similar opportunity to provide that kind of "wake-up call" fun, where on well-spaced occasions you encounter an ace opponent who seems to have it in for you. ( I know we've talked about enemy AI in LT before, but it's been a while and I thought it might be interesting to return to the Wing Commander perspective.)
How much visible variation will there be in the perceived competence of opponent fighter pilots in Limit Theory? Can there even be anything like perceptibly "ace" pilots? Will anything like that visible spike in fighter pilot competence also exist for larger, multi-crew ships? If this idea of "ace" opponents seems like fun, is it enough fun that we should hope that Josh has implemented it already? Or should it be left to modders?
I don't normally suggest that a new game should copy some feature from a previous game. I think new games ought to strive to be their own games, with their own features. But there are the occasional cases where something from a great game of the past hasn't been fully exploited in a long time, and would make sense in a modern game.
I think named, chatty, and unusually competent (but still pattern-based) opponents might be a feature from Wing Commander that would be a good fit for Limit Theory, and make it even more fun to play than we already think it will be.
Comments are welcome.