Well shit.

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
milo said:
As a secondary point, it is my opinion that this evidence strongly suggests that the space sim market contraction was not caused by the poor sales or negative public opinion of the Freespace series.
I don't think you quite understand LOAF's point, though. As I understand it, what he is saying is that FS2 killed the space-sim genre because it knocked LucasArts and Origin out of the picture. Both of these companies considered FS2 to be the next big space sim (since it was a sequel to a pretty popular space sim). That Privateer Online design documentation where they list all the ways how the game will be better than *FS2* serves as good proof of this. In this situation, unsurprisingly, both companies got really scared when FS2 bombed.

So, whether FS2 sold very poorly or just poorly (80,000 is a lot more than 20,000, but it's still nothing), and whether the game itself was bad or not - these are irrelevant issues. What matters is that it was the game that EA and LucasArts executives were using to measure a market for their own space-sims, and... you know the story.

...As for the market contraction, personally I'd go out on a thin limb and claim that there was no contraction whatsoever. The market is still there, and just as big as ever. Reason why I believe this - there are still many space sims on consoles (especially Star Wars sims), and they sell very well. The problem, I believe, is related specifically to those games that sold poorly, not to the space sim market in general.
 

milo

Spaceman
Cpl Hades said:
If those Freespace figures include copies that were sold to Creative Labs to bundle with the 6x DXR3 kits, then that'd explain it.
Definitely not. I used to work for Interplay's OEM division, and our sales were completely separate from anything else. I left before Freespace 1 came out, but we used to bundle the snot out of Descent 2 - several million units.

Quarto said:
I don't think you quite understand LOAF's point, though. As I understand it, what he is saying is that FS2 killed the space-sim genre because it knocked LucasArts and Origin out of the picture. Both of these companies considered FS2 to be the next big space sim (since it was a sequel to a pretty popular space sim). That Privateer Online design documentation where they list all the ways how the game will be better than *FS2* serves as good proof of this. In this situation, unsurprisingly, both companies got really scared when FS2 bombed.
Freespace 2 may well have been the "canary in the coalmine" that convinced EA to shelve the Wing Commander series, although you may as well blame Ultima Online for that decision. But how is the canary at fault if the coalmine is filling up with poison gas? Put another way, if the Freespace series had never existed, EA would still have canceled Privateer Online once they saw the sales numbers for every other game in the genre.

Quarto said:
As for the market contraction, personally I'd go out on a thin limb and claim that there was no contraction whatsoever. The market is still there, and just as big as ever. Reason why I believe this - there are still many space sims on consoles (especially Star Wars sims), and they sell very well. The problem, I believe, is related specifically to those games that sold poorly, not to the space sim market in general.
Well that's the point, isn't it? Every game that doesn't have "Star Wars" in the title has sold poorly. And the latest games have sold really, really poorly by Wing Commander standards.

You do raise an interesting point - would a Wing Commander game in the grand style with FMV or CGI epic storyline be successful on XBox or PS2?
 

Cpl Hades

Mr. Kat
milo said:
Definitely not. I used to work for Interplay's OEM division, and our sales were completely separate from anything else. I left before Freespace 1 came out, but we used to bundle the snot out of Descent 2 - several million units.

Hehe, yeah. I think copies came bundled with just about every 3Dfx card at one point.


milo said:
Freespace 2 may well have been the "canary in the coalmine" that convinced EA to shelve the Wing Commander series, although you may as well blame Ultima Online for that decision.

Ultima Online was EA's motivation to do Privateer Online. Their theory was that if UO can make them so much money (over $1 million per month at the time I think), then they should make dozens of online games. And so they did! And they all failed miserably. Even Sims Online.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Freespace 2 may well have been the "canary in the coalmine" that convinced EA to shelve the Wing Commander series, although you may as well blame Ultima Online for that decision. But how is the canary at fault if the coalmine is filling up with poison gas? Put another way, if the Freespace series had never existed, EA would still have canceled Privateer Online once they saw the sales numbers for every other game in the genre.

I'm half on board here, but I think it also has a lot to do with things that *were* under Interplay/Volition's control - money spent, amount of advertising/hype generated, etc - and you *can* blame them for all of that. Electronic Arts wouldn't have (and didn't) paid much attention to X or I-War (or even Tachyon) because they weren't set up to be 'big name' titles. Freespace was. (What I agree with you is that had Freespace not existed, the blame would fall on StarLancer - *assuming* StarLancer's sales were a result of its poor quality over any fallout from Freespace.)

Well that's the point, isn't it? Every game that doesn't have "Star Wars" in the title has sold poorly. And the latest games have sold really, really poorly by Wing Commander standards.

But ya know, there was a time when similarity to Wing Commander could sell you a whole mess of Star Crusaders... :)

You do raise an interesting point - would a Wing Commander game in the grand style with FMV or CGI epic storyline be successful on XBox or PS2?

I would bet yes - and it's been discussed fairly recently.

(Heck, you can test the waters for less money than another massive epic pretty easily. Do 'Starfleet Academy' with Wing Commander - stick Tom Wilson in a flight suit and a green screen and have him give the camera orders. Call it 'Wing Commander Academy' or 'Maniac Missions' or something.)
 

Edfilho

Cry some more!
I'd like to add that there aren't many "true" big market space sims out nowadays, the console ones are pretty much 3D versions of R-Type and Tyrian.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
milo said:
Put another way, if the Freespace series had never existed, EA would still have canceled Privateer Online once they saw the sales numbers for every other game in the genre.
Like LOAF, I half-agree - yes, had FS2 not existed, EA would have looked at StarLancer's sales as indication, and the same thing would still have been done had SL failed (which I think it would have - I don't think its sales were that badly affected by FS2). But at the same time, FS2 did exist, and it did fail, so it does deserve the blame (or rather, Volition and Interplay do - blaming an inanimate object is, of course, pointless).

Well that's the point, isn't it? Every game that doesn't have "Star Wars" in the title has sold poorly. And the latest games have sold really, really poorly by Wing Commander standards.
You do raise an interesting point - would a Wing Commander game in the grand style with FMV or CGI epic storyline be successful on XBox or PS2?
I'm very much convinced that it would. IMHO, space-sims work best when they have either an excellent storyline (WC) or an excellent backstory & setting (any Star Wars game, since they all revolve around the movies somehow). Consider how important the environment is in an FPS - the quality of the landscapes, the player's (and enemy's) limitations and abilities that result from the presence of this landscape, and so on... now consider that the space-sim has no landscape whatsoever. Sure, you get some asteroids, sometimes a short planetside mission - but most of the time, you're playing in the most boring environment known to mankind. A storyline allows you to fill this vacuum to a certain degree. It makes the player feel like his actions actually have some weight (ha, that makes two stupid space-related puns!). Thus, the whole thing ends up a lot more interesting. And, needless to say, interesting games sell a lot better than dull games.
 

Moonsword

Spaceman
Attempt at peace-making (doomed, most likely)

Actaully, I think Interplay had more to do with it than Volition. Hard Light's proof that the developers did a good job, if the game's good enough that we're still messing with it actively five years later. Interplay just didn't promote it correctly and supposedly 'restrained' it slightly to keep it from interfereing with a Star Trek release. There've been complaints in that regard over at HLP, too.

I guess I come at this from a slightly different perspective, since I wasn't part of either community during the times when both Prophecy and FS were actively on the market, but I'm now a member of both. I'd played WC for years, but never really played FS until the last 18 months or so. They're both very good game series that probably both deserve better treatment than they've gotten.

I've invested a lot of my personal time into both communities as of late, so I find it a little... disconcerting to see this much hostility, since I try to stay neutral.

Yes, Freespace's poor sales may have had something to do with the decision not to continue with the WC series. That's not really a proven fact, as far as I'm concerned, but there's certainly the possibility. It also killed any chance for a timely sequel, so you can consider that as you may. Yes, the engine is probably better in some ways, but there are some areas where the FS2 engine can be a real pain in the ass, too. FS has FRED, which makes mission-writing considerably easier, but the amount of coding that goes into both the missions and what the FS:SCP team has done for Saga is still pretty impressive. But, UE's done a hell of a lot of hard work of their own, and I would never want to detract from that, sicne I know it's more than I've ever done for this community.

On the other hand, WC, while being significantly less moddable in most cases, has a storyline that's certainly much better and a far richer backstory to draw on. That's one of the real strengths of the series, probably it's greatest strength. Freespace's flashy and admittedly impressive graphics can't change that. FS doesn't have a Privateer equivalent, and that's been one of the most enjoyable parts of Wing Commander for me. It's a lot harder to build relatively simple missions in FRED than it is in Academy, and though you can get much higer-quality results from the former, the latter is much, much less of a pain to work with, and much nicer when you just want a quick, custom dogfight. FS has it's roots in the FPS genre, whereas WC's roots are pure space sim. Story is more important there. FS tells one, but it's all too easy to ignore, and your wingman aren't exactly the greatest of personalities. Some of the mods are trying to address these issues, but it's hard work. I know, I'm one of staff members on a couple of them.

The two series complement each other in some ways. There's an interesting symmetry to Saga as well, bringing a lot of the best from both sides. It draws on the expansions to the WC universe made by dedicated fans like Loaf and Psych, and uses the FS engine to good effect, telling a real story, and bringing some new options to the FS universe, thanks to the work of Kazan in particular, as much as his presence is an unfortunate detriment to the peace around here. We're trying to build 'real' multiplayer into the game, and it looks like we will be sccessful, but that's not really the point, is it? For most of the team, it's not that the FS engine will get there first. It's about having easily useable Internet-capable multiplyer options for the Wing Commander universe.

Let's all take a deep breath over this, agree to disagree, and step back from the plate for a moment. Yes, we all have our favorites. Mine's probably Privateer, even after all these years. Kazan's would be FS2 Open. Loaf will have his, so will Tolwyn, and a lot of others. At least we're all united on one point: space sims are fun, and we enjoy playing them. I genuinely enjoy playing both series, and I'm glad that I've gotten the chance to do so, and most of the time, the chance to participate in these communities. Yes, we can all be a little rough around the edges, but that's life. Both are vibrant, thriving places that I'm glad I've gotten the chance to visit.

I know this post certainly won't stop the flames, but maybe, just maybe, it will help a little bit. And if it does, maybe I'll have contributed something really wothwhile to both games. But that's not why. I'd just like to see us all get along a little better.

This is not an invitation to flame me. I know there are people who will disagree with some or perhaps even all of the points in here, on both sides of the aisle. But this isn't a debate post. It's a reasoned and considered attempt to do just a bit of peace-making, and I hope this post is taken in that spirit. The individual points I raised were made for the purpose of illuminating the debate, not fueling it. I'm not trying to continue it. I'm just trying to settle things down a bit in a reasonable manner. I do not have the authority to demand anything. But I can ask for a return to reasonable debate rather than disharmonious, spite-filled discord. Let's all get along, okay?
 

Andropolos

Spaceman
I think that in Saga we are getting the best of Both worlds...

1)SCPed Freespace to be used as a foundation
2) A new MUCHO-Improved Wing Commander game that will be used as a base for everything else to come!
 

Tolwyn

Vice Admiral
Andropolos said:
I think that in Saga we are getting the best of Both worlds...

1)SCPed Freespace to be used as a foundation
2) A new MUCHO-Improved Wing Commander game that will be used as a base for everything else to come!


if you say so :)
 

Maj.Striker

Swabbie
Banned
Ordinarily, I wouldn't even post in this thread about the Freespace vs Wing Commander but it looks like to me this is one great thread of discussion. My encouragement to all those involved. Milo, I always appreciate your posts, they are always informative, relative to the issue and well taken. Loaf, Quarto, I can say the same for both of you but I think Loaf's posts are a bit biased toward WC (not that that's a bad thing :) ). As for the possibility of a Wing Commander X-box title I would say that's the best thing I can think of for the genre. With Wing Commander you have a title that's known to virtually every person in video games, you have a vast market out there people will buy the game simply on the name. If you needed to cut down on the budget you could probably use an in game video renders for the cutscenes (it wouldn't be my preferred method but at this point, I'd take it). I would do my part...I'd buy at least two copies of the game if it came out. :)
 

gevatter Lars

Vice Admiral
Mh I personly hate the X-Box cause it allready toke away some titles I wanted to play on PC and then where never released or very very late like Halo and then it was awfull.
 

Maj.Striker

Swabbie
Banned
Yep and don't have to worry about expensive upgrades and video/sound cards (each of which can cost the same as an x-box). I used to diss consoles and preferred the PC and I still do but I've discovered the fun of an x-box and it's pretty darn good!
 

gevatter Lars

Vice Admiral
Well I prefer not the kind of games (mostly) that are common on the consoles.
Since I am not the fan of these consoles (except for beat'em'up) I prefer games that are not so common on the console...like Generals, Warcarft and Homeworld.
Also has the X-Box a very low modding capability...at least you need a PC to do it.
I say the X-Box is from what it could do a cheaper PC, but till they use the full potential I prefer the PC.
Problem is when the X-Box is at full potential it is a PC ^_^
Means that I can change the hardware to keep it up to date, modify it to what I would like to do with it and other things.
Also the PC can at least be upgraded.

Well...now I am quite off topic and should stop myself.

OK back to topic.
Lets think about how a Wing Commander for the console would look like...and maybe someone else who plays consoles should start thinking about it, cause I might have a little prejudiced view of the console ^_^
 

Spien

Spaceman
PC Gaming is taking a hit thanks to costs, difficulty of use, and lack of originality compared to the consoles. I wouldn't doubt it if PC gaming continues to shrink until gaming is almost completely console dominated again. Now that online play is big on consoles PC's have lost their only advantage over the consoles.

As for Wing Commander on a console, there has been a few. I have Starlancer for the Dreamcast and the controls are a little odd. Nothing can beat a mouse and keyboard for space sims. I also found Prophecy on the GBA to be a little difficult, but I still think it's great for a handheld.
 

Tolwyn

Vice Admiral
Spien said:
PC Gaming is taking a hit thanks to costs, difficulty of use, and lack of originality compared to the consoles. I wouldn't doubt it if PC gaming continues to shrink until gaming is almost completely console dominated again. Now that online play is big on consoles PC's have lost their only advantage over the consoles.

As for Wing Commander on a console, there has been a few. I have Starlancer for the Dreamcast and the controls are a little odd. Nothing can beat a mouse and keyboard for space sims. I also found Prophecy on the GBA to be a little difficult, but I still think it's great for a handheld.

hah, I can hardly agree with you, console games will not reach the complexity and fexibility of pc titles in the near feature.
 

Spien

Spaceman
Simplicity over complexity is part of the reason Consoles are doing better and PC gaming is taking a hit though. PC gaming is starting to shrivel up and only include games that are still too complex for consoles in my opinion.

So PC games reign in strategy, simulation, and first person shooting and consoles do not. Though console titles like Halo are starting to show that FPS isn't a PC exclusive anymore and Full Spectrum Warrior proves that strategy is no longer a PC only genre either.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
hah, I can hardly agree with you, console games will not reach the complexity and fexibility of pc titles in the near feature.

People say this. What they mean is "console games will not reach the complexity and flexibility of PC titles in 1982." PCs and consoles get the same consistent stream of knock-off crap these days.
 
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