Classic Style Ship Viewer Built for WC3 (February 4, 2012)

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Farbourne has put together a neat app that compares the stats of Wing Commander 3 fighters. The numbers themselves are readily available, but the charm comes from the ability to pit two ships against each other. Each attribute is compared, and the fighter with the advantage in each category is highlighted. The program also gives tips on how each craft should take on each other craft, and it goes beyond the perspective of the four Confed fighters. Sure, you can see how a Hellcat compares with a Dralthi, but you can also ask the program what to do if you found yourself in, say, an Ekapshi vs a Bloodfang, an Arrow vs a Sorthak or a Strakha vs an Excalibur.

The tool is in the form of an Excel macro, and a full version of Microsoft Excel may be required (Google Docs and the free Excel Viewer do not work). Hit the Discuss link to let Farbourne know what you think or if you find another software suite that runs this. Grab it here (6 meg xls).


I have a little fan project I've been working on that I wanted to share with the community. Some time back, as you may recall, I was working on a Wing Commander ship comparer built in Microsoft Excel, that hearkens back to the old glory days of combat simulators--the great old game Chuck Yeager's Air Combat. That game included a fighter comparer that allowed you to put two fighters side by side, compare their stats, and get some sage advice from Yeager himself on how to win an encounter. I built something similar to that for WC1, but never finished it due to difficulties in determining exactly what the specific ship stats actually were.

Now, in honor of WC3 being released on GOG, I've built a finished version featuring the ships from WC3. It is much improved over the original. I thought some in the community might get a kick out of playing with it, especially if they're old enough to remember Chuck Yeager's Air Combat. (There's a few little tributes to that old game in this comparer for the sharp-eyed with a good memory). And for rookies trying WC3 for the first time, the engagement advice might actually be useful in some cases.

One important thing...to be used, it must be opened in MS Excel, and macros must be enabled. I built it in a very old version of Excel (Office 1997), but it should be compatible with any version since then. It does NOT work in GoogleDocs (because it makes use of substantial VBA scripting that GoogleDocs does not support).

If folks like this, I might revisit the WC1 version, and maybe make a WC2, WC4, Prophecy, or SecretOps version. Or maybe even a version that compares ships across eras... But that's a lot of work. For now, I'll just offer up the WC3 version.

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Original update published on February 4, 2012
 
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-danr-

Vice Admiral
Nice one Farbourne, a lot of work clearly went into this - a nice addition to the docs folder of my GoG copy. Thanks and great work.
 

capi3101

Admiral
Where did the stats on the Bloodfang and Ekapshi come from? Just curious here...I've been searching for those two specifically for a few months now with no success.
 

Ijuin

Admiral
Wow, the shields and armor on the Longbow in WC3 are thinner than I thought--I had thought they were equal to the WC4 Longbow.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Where did the stats on the Bloodfang and Ekapshi come from? Just curious here...I've been searching for those two specifically for a few months now with no success.

Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander III has the specifications for both (and the Kilrathi Saga manual has just the Ekapshi.)
 

Ilanin

Captain
The best part of this app has to be the advice for Strakha versus Strakha (with Strakha versus Excalibur a close second).
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
Where did the stats on the Bloodfang and Ekapshi come from? Just curious here...I've been searching for those two specifically for a few months now with no success.
LOAF already covered this, but, as mentioned in the spreadsheet readme, the stats (other than the ones observable in-game) all came from four sources...Victory Streak, Warbirds, the Origin Official Guide, and the Authorized Combat Guide. All four come bundled with the GoG version of WC3 (along with a bunch of other goodies, which are themselves enough reason to spend $9.99 on it, even if you already own the game).

Running down the stat lineage was actually an interesting exercise. There are a number of stats where all four source materials disagreed, and at least one case (the armament of a Hellcat V) where all four were demonstrably wrong, compared to the game. Some seemed to be obvious typos or omissions (for instance, Warbirds doesn't mention that Paktahns carry torpedoes!), but some seemed to genuinely disagree. I suspect this was because the four materials were authored at different points during the game development cycle, and some of the ship stats were in flux as they fiddled around in playtesting and tried to optimize game balance. But this is just my theory. Going on that theory, the ACG seemed to be the "latest" or "most correct" of the four source materials (i.e. it was most likely to agree with in-game values when the sources differed), followed by Victory Streak, Warbirds, and then the OOG. So this was the order by which I prioritized the stats when resolving differences. I specified this in the Comparer. I assume all four of these source materials are considered canon?

What I found most interesting is that EVERY source claimed that the Hellcat has the same armament as the Arrow...lasers and ions. And yet in-game the 'Cat obviously sports ions and neutrons. So either this was a mistake that got propagated throughout the fiction, or else it originally did have the same guns, and someone decided late in the development cycle that really no one would ever fly a 'Cat instead of an Arrow unless the gave it some additional advantage.

Wow, the shields and armor on the Longbow in WC3 are thinner than I thought--I had thought they were equal to the WC4 Longbow.

This was one of those areas where the source materials differed most. I'd be willing to be that this was one of those "game balance" issues that they were fiddling with right up until the end. Remember, missiles aren't as powerful in WC3 as in WC4, so if the Longbow was too heavily shielded, it would "break" certain missions where waves appear as long as there is a big capship present. If the first wave didn't realistically have a chance of killing you, no one would ever face subsequent waves.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Yeah, the big problem is that items like Victory Streak and even the Origin's Official Guide needed to go to press months before the game was done... while balancing went on right up to the last minute. The authorized guide came a year later with the 3DO version do is probably more accurate... especially where it wasn't just reprinting already wrong material from VS. Other good sources are the manuals for later ports, especially the PSX one which had updated stats or even the Japanese WC3 PSX hint book! Which us love to see scanned...
 
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