file Thoughts on making I-War 2 more newbie-friendly

10 years 1 month ago #19122 by aceattacker
It has come to my attention that many space sim players tried Independence War 2, but became ultimately frustrated on several of the issues with the game. The embittered critic might say 'Those who criticize the game for its flaws are attention-deficient action happy idiots who are too dumb for a real space game', but this line of thought is dangerous and will ultimately result in an unpleasant seclusion and embitterment. Between insults, some of the gameplay critics have made valid points, especially since I experienced some issues mentioned myself. Many of the frustrated would-be players come from Wing Commander style fluid-space sims, a genre I enjoy just as much as closer-to-reality Newtonian. They like the flying, and if only some problems were fixed, they would be willing to go for I-War 2. REAL is one part of my efforts to make the game more exciting, but it'll take a bit more than just one mod to improve upon all the sources of frustrations.
I've got an example of the effects of initial frustrations here. The poster plays X3, which is a very high-maintenance space sim, so he can hardly be considered impatient:

I-War 2 is so nearly there: however, I really want to find whichever member of the dev team decided it would be a good idea to marry murderous difficulty with an inability to save mid-mission and do *very* unpleasant things to them. I still remember the moment where, after something like eight attempts, I managed to destroy all three of the bases you had to destroy in one mission, then got jumped by the biggest fleet I'd seen in the game to date on the way home. Died in about 3 seconds, spent much longer staring at the screen in disbelief, removed the game CD from the tray and threw it in the bin. Never played it since.

Generally speaking, the flight model is a big plus, but several things have turned them off:
-Difficulty too high. I feel this aspect mostly comes from lack of information. There's a fine line between encouraging alternative thinking and frustrating the player to death.
-Bugs. This issue has been mostly resolved thanks to the patches at Maybe some extra assistant like 'Your PC appear to have multiple CPU cores, you need to run I-War 2 at one core only' to streamline the debugging efforts.
-Not enough explanation for controls (docking/undocking on stations and cargo pods).
-Some campaign mission orders are too vague (Example A: After the strike against the Marauder base, you're told to 'dock and collect your reward'. I got that part right and docked with the corvette that hailed me, but players may errenously decide to dock with the station. Example B: The turret fighter heist mission, capital offender in vague orders. Even a thinking player struggles figuring out (spoiler) you're supposed to swap the pods with the remote controlled tug. Not everyone likes to resort to walkthroughs, and as a thinking player I didn't expect a trick like that to work against their sensors.)
-Too many bad guys at once. This could be resolved by teaching the player how to take them on.
-Too reliant on override controls (and the LDS drive trick, but that's another story). Again, a tutorial would help, since that feature is never explained explicitly in this game.

This is what I propose to do to resolve the issues:

-Replace the quasi-autodidactic approach to tutorial with a proper set of comprehensive tutorial missions that tell you exactly how to steer your ship, which keys/buttons to press. Have some basic sections that tell you how to use your LDS drive and capsule drive or how to use REM link and some more advanced stuff like handing your ship in unassisted flight and fighting a large number of enemies in a running battle. That way, an experienced player starting out again can skip the boring stuff, too.
-Provide a detailed keymap for the default control sets.
-Remove the more frustrating aspects from the starting game: Your first combat engagement seems to always auto-disrupt your ship, that's something they should show you in a tutorial instead. The Trouble With Gunstars is too frustrating for most players, maybe ease up a little there and give more generous margins.
-Implement an "ignore port speed limit" toggle for assisted flight.
-Less reliance on trial-and-error to generate challenge. Trial-and-error gameplay is equivalent to a three-door-monty, hardly the experience the Wing Commander-esque space simmers look for. Most space lovers find it frustrating to retry over and over again.
-Give them a better ship early on. Let them suffer the tug for a while, it's like with the Tarsus in Privateer, only ten times bigger. But when the battle gets rough, we have to give them something decent, especially after teasing them with the Storm Petrel. I have something in mind for REAL...
-More instant action missions. Even if they are generic ones like 'defend convoy' or 'attack base', quick wave-based action is a fun way to practice.
-Make an easily-available mod pack of essentials. Essentials would be manual countermeasures, location finder, custom Jafs, walkthrough add-on, maybe even the freeform mod.

I apperciate all input by the community, and respect, even admire the current fanbase for their efforts to master all the challenges. But I plead to all to always be wary of the difference between challenge and frustrating obstacle. I have no intention intending to 'dumb down' EoC, the flying and micromanagement will be the same quasi-realistic model as ever. All I seek to do is to remove the turn-off factors that give the game an unpolished impression.

If you have any recommendations or suggestions, please let me know.

In between life and death, there is only one dream to care for.

In between life and death, there is only one dream to care for.

I'm sorry for being so inactive lately. I haven't given up on REAL, but I've just applied for college successfully. I'm very busy with studying.

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10 years 1 month ago #16956 by tombombodil
Big Thanks aceattacker,

I love this type of game and want to find more like it, or get whatever patches needed to correct mine. I will be visiting this post more. THANKS

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