Wing Commander characters you wished you got to see more of...

Jdawg

Commodore
long time no post I will be starting my yearly play of all four wing commander games again soon. although I might have to skip the expansions only bc of time constraints, but in honor of that what are some characters yall would have liked to see more of, or have more of their backstory filled in here is my list and why. Im going to count them down backwards.

5. Cobra- I felt like she had a really interesting back story that we never really get to see developed much, she was kind of a one note character, which is a shame bc the actress that played her did an excellent job.

4. Radio Rollins- I always wished we got to hear more of his conspiracy theories and see which ones are true. plus the actor is in one my favorite movies of all time The Burbs

3. Melek- I always thought it was strange that chris went and got tim curry for only a couple of lines of dialogue in the third episode, of course he did not reprise the role in the 4th game. Anyways I just always thought this character was cool, and mysterious, would have loved to see more of him.

2. Captain Paulsen- I love this character especially if you stay with confed a while longer before defecting, he was cruel, menacing and weaselly lol. The actor was great would have loved to have seen a scene with him and Mcdowell. I loved the way the character went out, just wish I could have had a couple of more scenes with him.

1. Vagabond- This will always be one of my favorite characters in the game, the actor was great and the character had a mysterious background. In fact you could do so much with his character. I would have loved to see a prequel of vagabond in his black ops days. some of you game modders get on it lol.

anyways that is my list what is yours
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
Bacon Boy

I knew somebody was going to say that :)

As for the OP: Colonel Halcyon. His backstory and his fate. Also Major Edmond.

I think we see quite a lot of Vagabond already really, he's quite key in WC IV and has quite the story in III.

As for the Paulsen, I like the way he's an unknown. I think that's part of the intention: Mysterious, shady captain turns up and usurps command of carrier just before all kinds of darkness happens.
 

Jdawg

Commodore
I knew somebody was going to say that :)

As for the OP: Colonel Halcyon. His backstory and his fate. Also Major Edmond.

I think we see quite a lot of Vagabond already really, he's quite key in WC IV and has quite the story in III.

As for the Paulsen, I like the way he's an unknown. I think that's part of the intention: Mysterious, shady captain turns up and usurps command of carrier just before all kinds of darkness happens.


I disagree we see a little of vagabond but you can tell there is a whole bunch more there
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
I disagree we see a little of vagabond but you can tell there is a whole bunch more there

We'll have to beg to differ on that :)

Thing is, most of the characters throughout the series appear only once, and are lucky to return for a second game (with the exceptions of Maniac, Paladin and Blair of course who appear in or are referenced in all of the main series).

Now Vagabond gets two games, and unlike many we learn a little of his past. Take Flint for example. We known her homeworld, we know she's always lived to be a pilot and a little about her family; but her service history is more of a mystery to us than Chang's (and his allegedly shady past) because unlike many of the others we meet throughout the games, the story goes out of it's way to give him a sub-plot. He even gets his own cutscene landing on Alcor V and punching out Dr. Severin.

Then in IV he's one of the few returnees, is an ally of Blair's to the end (unless you don't defect right away) - and is given a hero's death.

The likes of Rollins or Vaquero on the other hand don't get the same attention, not in the games at least. With the latter we get the odd conversation about his background and dreams, but unlike Vagabond we don't know anything about where he's been in the war.

I'd say they got the balance of backstory just right with Vagabond, we know he has a dark history but we learn just enough about him to see he's a generally noble person with a conscience. Likeable too. He's one of my favourite characters in the whole series.
 
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Jdawg

Commodore
We'll have to beg to differ on that :)

Thing is, most of the characters throughout the series appear only once, and are lucky to return for a second game (with the exceptions of Maniac, Paladin and Blair of course who appear in or are referenced in all of the main series).

Now Vagabond gets two games, and unlike many we learn a little of his past. Take Flint for example. We known her homeworld, we know she's always lived to be a pilot and a little about her family; but her service history is more of a mystery to us than Chang's (and his allegedly shady past) because unlike many of the others we meet throughout the games, the story goes out of it's way to give him a sub-plot. He even gets his own cutscene landing on Alcor V and punching out Dr. Severin.

Then in IV he's one of the few returnees, is an ally of Blair's to the end (unless you don't defect right away) - and is given a hero's death.

The likes of Rollins or Vaquero on the other hand don't get the same attention, not in the games at least. With the latter we get the odd conversation about his background and dreams, but unlike Vagabond we don't know anything about where he's been in the war.

I'd say they got the balance of backstory just right with Vagabond, we know he has a dark history but we learn just enough about him to see he's a generally noble person with a conscience. Likeable too. He's one of my favourite characters in the whole series.
We will have to disagree his only role in 4 is to die he is a mcguffin. Maniac is in all 4 hawk is in two games, so is rachel. A lot of characters got more than one game
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
We will have to disagree his only role in 4 is to die he is a mcguffin. Maniac is in all 4 hawk is in two games, so is rachel. A lot of characters got more than one game

Yes, like I said there are a few characters who appear in more than one game, but they're the exception rather than the rule. Most of the protagonists you meet along the way appear only once.

...and whoa! "His only role in 4 is to die, he is a McGuffin" -- !?! Hold your horses there man, this isn't fair on Vagabond at all. McGuffin had but a 20 second scene in WC2, prior to which he had never been seen or spoken of. Vagabond is significant in IV. The last time Blair saw him was en-route to Kilrah during the endgame of the Kilrathi war. They'd literally been together to the toughest place any Confed pilot can go, and Blair spent the last part of the mission mourning what he thought had been Chang's death (Vagabond ejected and was later recovered alive).

The point I'm making is, as far as WCIV is concerned - Vagabond was a trusted face to the player, and along with Eisen was clearly influential in swaying Blair to defecting to the UBW. He is in some senses the voice of reason in favour of the Border Worlders before even abandoning Confed, during a conversation with Blair and Maniac, says something along the lines of the Border Worlds being "dumped on" and are "Confed's godson". I'm certain he was put there for that very reason, an old friend of Blair's with a wise outlook and and influential opinion. Also, his death wasn't a straight murder like McGuffin at all - he went down fighting during what was a daring and dangerous mission. You can see the tears in Blair's eyes during Chang's funeral scene. There's no doubt to me he had a big part to play in the story, if not on a personal level.
 

Jdawg

Commodore
Yes, like I said there are a few characters who appear in more than one game, but they're the exception rather than the rule. Most of the protagonists you meet along the way appear only once.

...and whoa! "His only role in 4 is to die, he is a McGuffin" -- !?! Hold your horses there man, this isn't fair on Vagabond at all. McGuffin had but a 20 second scene in WC2, prior to which he had never been seen or spoken of. Vagabond is significant in IV. The last time Blair saw him was en-route to Kilrah during the endgame of the Kilrathi war. They'd literally been together to the toughest place any Confed pilot can go, and Blair spent the last part of the mission mourning what he thought had been Chang's death (Vagabond ejected and was later recovered alive).

The point I'm making is, as far as WCIV is concerned - Vagabond was a trusted face to the player, and along with Eisen was clearly influential in swaying Blair to defecting to the UBW. He is in some senses the voice of reason in favour of the Border Worlders before even abandoning Confed, during a conversation with Blair and Maniac, says something along the lines of the Border Worlds being "dumped on" and are "Confed's godson". I'm certain he was put there for that very reason, an old friend of Blair's with a wise outlook and and influential opinion. Also, his death wasn't a straight murder like McGuffin at all - he went down fighting during what was a daring and dangerous mission. You can see the tears in Blair's eyes during Chang's funeral scene. There's no doubt to me he had a big part to play in the story, if not on a personal level.
Mcguffin Is a name given to a plot device.
Here is the exact definition

  1. an object or device in a movie or a book that serves merely as a trigger for the plot.
And to me that's what vagabonds only role in number 4. he was used as a plot device to elicit a response from the player. He had very few scenes in 4. And they all pretty much foreshadow his death like him losing a hand of poker to maniac.
 

Ijuin

Admiral
Yeah, but wasn't the comm tech whom Jazz shot in WC2 named "McGuffin"? That's where the "20 second scene and then never mentioned again" bit comes from.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Yeah, but wasn't the comm tech whom Jazz shot in WC2 named "McGuffin"? That's where the "20 second scene and then never mentioned again" bit comes from.
Yes, correct. Specialist McGuffin was named after the plot device, presumably because he served the function of such a plot device.

As for Vagabond, though, I do think his role is more significant than a McGuffin - and frankly, I think applying the term "McGuffin" too broadly tends to generate exactly this kind of confusion around its meaning. In this case, it's very clear that Vagabond is exactly the opposite of a McGuffin. His death is not a plot device intended to advance the plot. Quite the contrary, his death, from a plot perspective, is virtually meaningless. It's very easy to imagine WC4 having just one or two extra scenes that allow for Vagabond's alternative survival (like Catscratch), without any need to alter the rest of the game at all (again, just like Catscratch). No impact whatsoever on plot.

Yes, one reason for Vagabond's death is to elicit a response from the player. But it's not the same as advancing the plot.

Now, let's see what else Vagabond actually achieves in the game:
- All through the first part, he plays the "voice of reason". He signals a couple of times that the Border Worlders have legitimate grievances. He's also consistently level-headed. In short, he is the anti-Maniac.
- Then Maniac defects with Eisen. Now, granted, it is Eisen - but also, it is Maniac, who is crazy and at times gullible. You can rationalise that Eisen really was a spy, while Maniac was just the chump that he persuaded to help him out. You might then want to keep going with Confed. What the creators wanted, though, was for players to take that first opportunity to defect. Yes, you've got an alternative defection option later on, but it involves a lot more arm-twisting - the ideal is to have the player feel like he can make his own decision, and yet still make it the decision that the writers wanted. This is where Vagabond comes in. The moment Vagabond announces he's going with Eisen, you are given a major additional reason to assume that defection is the right path. If it was just Maniac... well, some people might actually appreciate a chance to shoot down Maniac. But if it's Vagabond... that's a different story entirely.
- Importantly, Vagabond's death happens even if you don't defect. You don't see him die, instead you simply find out later that he didn't make it - and it very much is implicit that somehow, you are to blame for it, even though you didn't shoot him down. That your delayed defection has had a real impact and cost the life of someone you cared about.

Ironically, the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that Vagabond's death on the early-defection path was actually a huge wasted opportunity in this regard. It achieves nothing in terms of advancing the plot. It doesn't make the player feel guilty in the way it did on the late-defection path. The drama, slow motion and everything else doesn't work well. If anything, it feels badly contrived, particularly with the stupid card game thing beforehand. Now, granted, the cutscene with Maniac afterwards makes it seem like the death has had a big impact, making Maniac more reflexive, pensive, and serious. But the trouble is that the writers just couldn't manage to keep Maniac consistent, and so shortly afterwards, he's back to being like he was before, giving out bad advice and making an ass of himself. All it does is help to make the real McGuffin (a bunch of messages to decode) seem a little more hard-won.
 

Jdawg

Commodore
Yes, correct. Specialist McGuffin was named after the plot device, presumably because he served the function of such a plot device.

As for Vagabond, though, I do think his role is more significant than a McGuffin - and frankly, I think applying the term "McGuffin" too broadly tends to generate exactly this kind of confusion around its meaning. In this case, it's very clear that Vagabond is exactly the opposite of a McGuffin. His death is not a plot device intended to advance the plot. Quite the contrary, his death, from a plot perspective, is virtually meaningless. It's very easy to imagine WC4 having just one or two extra scenes that allow for Vagabond's alternative survival (like Catscratch), without any need to alter the rest of the game at all (again, just like Catscratch). No impact whatsoever on plot.

Yes, one reason for Vagabond's death is to elicit a response from the player. But it's not the same as advancing the plot.

Now, let's see what else Vagabond actually achieves in the game:
- All through the first part, he plays the "voice of reason". He signals a couple of times that the Border Worlders have legitimate grievances. He's also consistently level-headed. In short, he is the anti-Maniac.
- Then Maniac defects with Eisen. Now, granted, it is Eisen - but also, it is Maniac, who is crazy and at times gullible. You can rationalise that Eisen really was a spy, while Maniac was just the chump that he persuaded to help him out. You might then want to keep going with Confed. What the creators wanted, though, was for players to take that first opportunity to defect. Yes, you've got an alternative defection option later on, but it involves a lot more arm-twisting - the ideal is to have the player feel like he can make his own decision, and yet still make it the decision that the writers wanted. This is where Vagabond comes in. The moment Vagabond announces he's going with Eisen, you are given a major additional reason to assume that defection is the right path. If it was just Maniac... well, some people might actually appreciate a chance to shoot down Maniac. But if it's Vagabond... that's a different story entirely.
- Importantly, Vagabond's death happens even if you don't defect. You don't see him die, instead you simply find out later that he didn't make it - and it very much is implicit that somehow, you are to blame for it, even though you didn't shoot him down. That your delayed defection has had a real impact and cost the life of someone you cared about.

Ironically, the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that Vagabond's death on the early-defection path was actually a huge wasted opportunity in this regard. It achieves nothing in terms of advancing the plot. It doesn't make the player feel guilty in the way it did on the late-defection path. The drama, slow motion and everything else doesn't work well. If anything, it feels badly contrived, particularly with the stupid card game thing beforehand. Now, granted, the cutscene with Maniac afterwards makes it seem like the death has had a big impact, making Maniac more reflexive, pensive, and serious. But the trouble is that the writers just couldn't manage to keep Maniac consistent, and so shortly afterwards, he's back to being like he was before, giving out bad advice and making an ass of himself. All it does is help to make the real McGuffin (a bunch of messages to decode) seem a little more hard-won.


to be honest you just proved my pt. vagabonds only pt in wc4 is to die, his character serves no other real purpose. he has only about 4 major scenes in the game and three scenes all revolve around his death or foreshadowing his death. lets see when you first see vagabond again its basically him saying he was a fool to stay on with confed but all those credits seem like easy money, and blair says he never saw vagabond lose a hand when it counts. of course later in the game he loses a hand to maniac and dies literally right after that. he might not straight influence the plot but he is only there to elicit an emotion, he has no character arc. Like you said if you dont defect you are blamed for vagabonds death even though it had nothing to do with you. So to me he is a Mcguffin bc his character is there to serve one purpose and one purpose only.

I think its safe to say Wc3 and Wc4 doesn't have a McGuffin honestly.

I disagree hobbes in 3 is a Mcguffin also to an extent bc of the writing of hobbes in chapter 3, with all of hobbes backstory they went with a very cliched reason for defection.
For the record I have no problems with death or traitors if it serves the story. for instance even though I hate Prophecy I thought hawks death was earned through 4 and 5. Same with Spirit it built up over wing commander 1 and 2. Its just one of my things, I dont like a lot of shock deaths, its one of my few problems with game of thrones. You got producers saying we need somebody to die to keep the audience on the edge of their seats, so they kill them off rather it serves the story or not. A shock death can be effective if done sparingly or for a reason
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
to be honest you just proved my pt. vagabonds only pt in wc4 is to die, his character serves no other real purpose.
So, I guess you didn't read that part where I explained that Vagabond had an important role to play in persuading you to defect in the first place? :)

A couple of other things in relation to what you said. Yes, it's true, Vagabond does not have a character arc in WC4. But that doesn't make him a McGuffin. If it did, then we'd have to conclude that all the characters in WC4, with the sole exception of Blair, are McGuffins. Oh, and the same goes for WC2 and WC3. WC1 would be pretty interesting, because in WC1, none of the characters have a story arc. They're all McGuffins by that definition.

My point is that words have specific meanings, and you're not using the word "McGuffin" correctly - you really do not seem to have any understanding of the word, in fact. You're using it to mean "any character who is not a major character with a story arc". That's not it at all. A McGuffin is not even necessarily (or even usually) a character, it's simply a device that's used to keep the story going by providing a motivation for further events, while being unimportant for its own sake, and can fade away without necessarily being explained. Furthermore, it's completely wrong to use "McGuffin" as a pejorative term, in the sense that "oh, it's not important, it's a McGuffin". A McGuffin is important to the story by its very definition, because it keeps the story going. It's just that it's not important for its own sake, but rather for what it does for the story.

The Wing Commander series is filled with many diverse McGuffins. For instance, every time we hear about how this system is really important for the Confederation, blah, blah, blah - that's a McGuffin, because it could be easily replaced by something else that serves the same purpose. But that doesn't mean that we don't care about where we fight in WC. We all want to save the people of Locanda from the missiles that will wipe them out, for example - it's just that we know very well that if it wasn't Locanda, it would be something else.

The one thing that is clear, above all, is that a character whose death does not serve the plot cannot be a McGuffin. Meaningless death is the exact opposite of what a McGuffin is supposed to do, namely provide an excuse to advance the plot.

I disagree hobbes in 3 is a Mcguffin also to an extent bc of the writing of hobbes in chapter 3, with all of hobbes backstory they went with a very cliched reason for defection.
For the record I have no problems with death or traitors if it serves the story. for instance even though I hate Prophecy I thought hawks death was earned through 4 and 5. Same with Spirit it built up over wing commander 1 and 2.
Hmm. At this point, I have to ask whether we are even speaking the same language, because it seems like we're using many words to mean the exact opposite. For instance, the very last word I would ever use for Hobbes' defection is "clichéd" - a sleeper agent who for more than a decade has been completely unaware of being an agent is pretty much the opposite of clichéd, because it's an extremely rare device. On the other hand, a Japanese pilot ramming her aircraft into a target in order to resolve an irresolvable personal dilemma - goodness, that's trite indeed. I love WC2 greatly, but the moment you pause to apply logic to that particular part of the plot, it crumbles. Hobbes is unpleasant and indeed unsatisfying, but logically coherent. Spirit is emotionally impactful and in some ways satisfying, but logically insane.
 

Jdawg

Commodore
So, I guess you didn't read that part where I explained that Vagabond had an important role to play in persuading you to defect in the first place? :)

A couple of other things in relation to what you said. Yes, it's true, Vagabond does not have a character arc in WC4. But that doesn't make him a McGuffin. If it did, then we'd have to conclude that all the characters in WC4, with the sole exception of Blair, are McGuffins. Oh, and the same goes for WC2 and WC3. WC1 would be pretty interesting, because in WC1, none of the characters have a story arc. They're all McGuffins by that definition.

My point is that words have specific meanings, and you're not using the word "McGuffin" correctly - you really do not seem to have any understanding of the word, in fact. You're using it to mean "any character who is not a major character with a story arc". That's not it at all. A McGuffin is not even necessarily (or even usually) a character, it's simply a device that's used to keep the story going by providing a motivation for further events, while being unimportant for its own sake, and can fade away without necessarily being explained. Furthermore, it's completely wrong to use "McGuffin" as a pejorative term, in the sense that "oh, it's not important, it's a McGuffin". A McGuffin is important to the story by its very definition, because it keeps the story going. It's just that it's not important for its own sake, but rather for what it does for the story.

The Wing Commander series is filled with many diverse McGuffins. For instance, every time we hear about how this system is really important for the Confederation, blah, blah, blah - that's a McGuffin, because it could be easily replaced by something else that serves the same purpose. But that doesn't mean that we don't care about where we fight in WC. We all want to save the people of Locanda from the missiles that will wipe them out, for example - it's just that we know very well that if it wasn't Locanda, it would be something else.

The one thing that is clear, above all, is that a character whose death does not serve the plot cannot be a McGuffin. Meaningless death is the exact opposite of what a McGuffin is supposed to do, namely provide an excuse to advance the plot.


Hmm. At this point, I have to ask whether we are even speaking the same language, because it seems like we're using many words to mean the exact opposite. For instance, the very last word I would ever use for Hobbes' defection is "clichéd" - a sleeper agent who for more than a decade has been completely unaware of being an agent is pretty much the opposite of clichéd, because it's an extremely rare device. On the other hand, a Japanese pilot ramming her aircraft into a target in order to resolve an irresolvable personal dilemma - goodness, that's trite indeed. I love WC2 greatly, but the moment you pause to apply logic to that particular part of the plot, it crumbles. Hobbes is unpleasant and indeed unsatisfying, but logically coherent. Spirit is emotionally impactful and in some ways satisfying, but logically insane.

lets see right off the bat the Manchurian candidate uses the exact same plot device that is used with hobbes have you ever seen it. it has been done many times in movies tv and books and it is very cliched.


McGuffin
(aka: MacGuffin or maguffin) is a term for a PlotEnablingDevice, i.e., a device or plot element in a movie that is deliberately placed to catch the viewer's attention and/or drive the logic of the plot, but which actually serves no further purpose
that is exactly what vagabond is a plot element that is there deliberately to catch the players attention. he has no purpose other than to die to elicit a reaction from the player either it be sorrow or hatred, it could have been any character from an earlier game they just chose it to be vagabond (bc most players liked him) I will admit its not a Mcguffin in the truest sense of the word but it does fit when you really examine vagabonds role in the 4th game. To me his only role in 4 is to be a one note plot device to get the information from the confeds satellite and then to die. same with hobbes they used the sleeper agent angle as a plot device instead of building off who the character was in wc2 and special operations. that is my point with spirit even though it was crudely done they built her character up over 2 games. you got to know about her and the man in her life, so while I dont agree with ramming into a space station it at least made sense with her character arc of getting more depressed and despondent. meanwhile with hobbes they just hit a reset button on his whole character by using a plot device that has been done a lot (even if you have never heard of it).

my whole pt with vagabond is this in closing. vagabond sole purpose in wc4 is to be a very basic plot device, with very little to no character development or growth. While other characters have at least some growth rather it be successful or not. You bring up Manaic I agree the writers did at least try to develop him from wc3 to wc4 and it works to varying degrees of sucess. Catscratch has a whole arc and even a romantic sub plot for some reason. I bring up Hawk bc its made clear in 4 that he still harbors pure hatred for the cats and so his death in 5 makes sense from who his character was in 4 that is the definition of an arc. The reason 5 ultimately does not work for me is the bad dialogue and poor acting (it seems most actors were just showing up for a pay check by that pt.
 
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Jdawg

Commodore
oh also I want to put this in a different response I know meaningless deaths are not Mcguffins I just went off on a tangent bc it seems to be all the rage nowadays. Where viewers expect somebody to die every 5 seconds and they are seemingly let down if it doesnt happen. I mean there are polls for who is going to die in the force awakens. as I mentioned earlier a producer killed a character on game of thrones simply bc he thought the show needed an extra punch, nevermind in the book he is still alive and plays a pretty important role. even in kid shows like star wars rebels everyone keeps asking when certain characters are going to die. It iss just a trend im tired of seeing. when its done well like in breaking bad its great, bc it served the plot, but a lot of media seems to do it now well just because they can rather it serves the story or not
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
lets see right off the bat the Manchurian candidate uses the exact same plot device that is used with hobbes have you ever seen it. it has been done many times in movies tv and books and it is very cliched.
Oh, that's one example. Very clichéd indeed.

As for the rest - ok, whatever :). If you're going to insist on using your own special definition of "McGuffin", there's no point in discussing the details of one character or another.
 
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