Not too much flashy to show you: I’ve been fixing some bugs in the particle system, fighting with Milkshape’s annoying eagerness to trash vertex normals, designing the odd ship, and finally (finally!) rewriting the vector font class so that SVG files are no longer used anywhere and the last vestiges of the
old Republic Inkscape legacy code can be swept away. But really, the big issue on my mind is something that was pointed out to me by the same friend who suggested a Wing Commander-style game originally: I really ought to settle on a story concept for this game.
Because, you know. I’m only a half-assed AI away from having actual gameplay, and moving forward a lot of decisions about gameplay systems should be informed by what the game is, you know, about. I’m rapidly reaching the end of the line for stuff which can just be implemented on spec.
I’ve been working through this be thinking about what individual elements I’d like to see in a story about science-fictiony fighter pilots, and have come up with something. Wing Commander and most of its brethren were pretty straight-up war stories — one big fancy organization vs. another big fancy organization, Earth military vs. Kilrathi military, et cetera. Sometimes it’s humans vs. humans but there’s a giant surprise alien enemy out of nowhere, that sort of thing. The example that stands out from the rest for me is Wing Commander IV, which was about a conspiracy within the Earth military. Now, I liked WCIV a lot but I’m generally not a fan of that storyline any more: these days “Gosh, WE’RE the REAL bad guys” is lazy, obvious, and agonizingly overused, not to mention borderline offensive. Still, in the context of space combat, a storyline that’s not necessarily “OMG WE HAEV MET TEH EMENY AND HE IS US” but still has elements such as intelligence failures, conspiracies, black operations, political machinations, cyberpunk atmosphere, mass casualty terrorism? That has not been overdone. Not at all.
And it’s also an excuse to really mix things up, find unique mission types beyond “destroy the thing” and “escort the thing.” That’s the other problem with space combat: it’s very hard to invent original situations. But the black ops angle lets us take it at right angles. I’m picturing strikes against concealed asteroid bases, flying an experimental bomber to attack planetary targets, crazy three-way fleet battles, really big explosions. Hooking up with a small task force trying to get to the truth behind a brutal and increasing wave of terrorism and civil war in a formerly peaceful star colony. Doing crazy stuff that just wouldn’t make sense in the context of a large, well-organized, and publicly operating military force. I think this has distinct possibilities.
Now, I just need a name already…