Hailing Frequencies Open – 5/10/17 – Big Rant Incoming…

Run Starfighter Run!

Hey folks, welcome to Wednesday! Sorry I didn’t post anything yesterday, day totally got away from me, so there is a lot to cover today. Let’s start off with the videos of Starfighter Origins.

In video #2, we get an odd dichotomy of missions. Firstly, there’s a mission where we’re to patrol an asteroid field, only to be called back moments later due to an emergency elsewhere. Said emergency is an all-out slaughter of friendly forces in a nearby system. The enemy still has two frigates on station, and it’s my job to kill them both before they leave. Oddly, my wingmen are no help here at all (and the game has no wingman commands that I could find), so it was totally up to me to destroy both frigates. Even though I was only to get one of them, the mission was still a success? That was weird. Video #3 is a follow-up, and it’s a wacky mission that actually has me running away at the end of it, unsuccessfully, I might add.

The kicker here? None of this was exciting or compelling. By the end of the last mission I played, I was so bored that I decided to stop playing and move onto something else (which was Starsector, a video you’ll see tomorrow). It’s a shame, but Starfighter Origins is a game with many problems. While it claims to be inspired by games like Freespace and TIE Fighter, it seems to ignore, even mechanically, what made those games great. I have two major issues with the game: the controls, and the lacking situational awareness. The controls are an easier problem to narrow down, because they’re super floaty, whether played with a joystick or a gamepad. This, coupled with an insanely small hitbox, means shooting targets becomes just frustrating, seeming to rely more on luck than skill.

The larger problem, in my opinion, is the situational awareness, or lack thereof. In games like Freespace and TIE Fighter, you had a very clear picture of the battlefield around you, thanks to a wide range of targeting options and varied controls, easily-understandable radar, a consistent heads up display across multiple craft and varied tools, such as the escort list or the objectives screen, that gave you a clear sense as to what needed to be done moment to moment. Even with a large battle going on around you, you knew your place in it, and even with the most puzzle-like of missions, you never felt frustrated because of the tools you were given, rather the designs of the missions themselves.

This game eschews nearly all of those tools and lessons from the earlier games in what appears to be the goal of simplicity. The problem is that, in striving to be so simple, the game makes things that much more frustrating. Why, for example, does one fighter have a display showing my distance to target, while another does not? Why are there not consistent HUD elements showing things like distance to a waypoint, or to a target, a target’s important stats such as health or speed? Why is the radar so damned hard to read? It’s maddening that such key elements to any first person space sim seem absent here. Even beyond the long load times and dull mission design, the situational awareness problem, to me, is the game’s biggest failing. I never like speaking ill of a game, but I have to be honest above all else. I hope the developer learns from this one and makes their next game awesome, because the seeds of something great are definitely here.

Anyway, moving onto happier things, last night’s podcast was a lot of fun.

I’m glad I have co-hosts, because they did a great job talking to our awesome guest while I was focused on the technical elements of the show. Last night’s stream did WAY better than last week’s. While we still had some dropped frames, it was about 7-8% total, which is a huge improvement, so again, big thanks to Excalibur for his help. When I was able to focus on the show itself, I had a great time talking to John about his really exciting game, Empyrean Frontier. The game has elements of FTL and Homeworld, with a ton of mission variety and unit customization, Couple all this with a dynamic campaign and you have a game that looks to be pretty epic. We not only talked about the game, but had a great talk on the problems of making a multiplayer game, the indie-friendliness of Steam and Itch.io, and more. Great show all around.

Last night after the show, I only had a little time to kill with gaming, so I tried Strafe (which I didn’t like) and, to try a contrast, TOXIKK (which I very much did). I Kickstarted Strafe two years ago because it looked like a procedural Quake/Doom/Unreal Tournament. Sadly Strafe seems, so far, far inferior to all of those games due to really anemic weapons, lacking enemy variety and boring level design. I’m likely gonna wait a few patches before trying it again. I then saw TOXIKK had a big update (I check my Steam download list daily), so I jumped into a bot match (GOD I wish Titanfall 2 had bots), and had a GREAT time. The underlying Unreal engine helps with this, I’m sure, but TOXIKK is truly a fantastic arena shooter that deserves more love.

Tonight, Nicole has some violin lessons, so I’ve time to game! After making a preview video for Empyrean Frontier, I’ll likely get in some more time with the fantastic LOGistICAL (which I’m liking more the more I play it), as well as some more Titanfall 2 multiplayer (to practice for next week’s Thursday-night melee), and maybe some DOOM campaign as well. Should be great.

Alright, since I missed yesterday, there’s a TON of news to go over, so let’s hit it!

Holy crap, that’s a lot. We’re not done yet though, as we have a couple of sales. First off, the amazing Offworld Trading Company is 75% off right now. You need to own this one, my friends. Finally, vg247 is doing a big giveaway in conjunction with GOG, so there’s stuff like Wing Commander in there. Check it out.

Woooowie zowie. Busy entry today, over 1,300 words! I hope y’all enjoyed it, and I thank you for reading it.

Author: Brian Rubin

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