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News: Celebrating 30 years of Star Control 2 - The Ur-Quan Masters

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16  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Famous Ur-Quan Battles Volume IV on: May 08, 2005, 10:49:43 am

Does anyone else feel compelled to try and punch this guy through their computer like I do? Star Control 1 was a cute spin-off of Archon. THAT'S IT. It was not all that significant on its own, and I think we may have found the only person on the planet who feels otherwise.

I am old enough to have bought and played Star Control 1 and 2 when they came out. I'm also old enough to have played Archon 1 and 2 and even Mail Order Monsters when they were new (I imagine many people here weren't even born when Archon 1 first appeared).

You guys ought to show SC 1 more respect. I probably put more hours on that game then I did SC 2 (because SC 1 focused more on multiplayer). The graphics and even changing the controls were aggrevating to me at first, but SC 1 literally turned your machine into an arcade machine, it had such sweet arcade like gameplay.

Even if SC 2 never came out, SC 1 would still be on the top list of 'greatest games ever made' (and it is!) just because of how playable the game was. It's obvious that without SC1 that Urquan Masters would never be made. What was SC 2 but SC 1 with an adventure game slapped on (which is like starflight)? I love SC 2 but I'm trying to point out that SC 1 did all the hard work. It created the core mechanics of Star Control Gameplay.

I prefer SC 1's battles over SC 2's hyper melee because SC 1 forced you to be Hierarchy or Alliance. You had to be good on the ships on that side. It forced you to use weak ships well. SC 2 is a free-for-all buffet where people have teams with urquan, chmmr, mmfrmm, all on one side with rarely using the shofixti, umgah, or even the earthling cruiser.  SC 1 forced you to take sides. In SC 2 there are no sides in melee, just open season.

SC 2 is far superior melee mode I agree, but SC 1 was more tactical (and I'm NOT just talking about the starmap mode). Having players use only alliance ships or only hierarchy ships takes more thought and skill than 'all teams can get any ship'. SC 1 at its heart is a multiplayer game (while SC 2 at its heart is a single player game).

Anyone comparing Star Control 1 to Archon obviously has no clear idea what Archon is. The action (combat) mode in Archon was a joke and a bit messed up. It worked best on the C 64 version where it was fast. The thrill of Archon was in the board game part, the strategies you could use. I fondly remember Archon tournaments and they exceed FPS and RTS tournaments, because Archon was harder.

Star Control 1 had great arcade combat (starmap mode gave it some scope). But Archon was about the strategy (not about the combat. Only noob players focused on the combat). Archon has been explained like combat chess (which of course it is more). But Archon 2 resembles nothing like chess and is one of those games that can only be done on a computer, it was that *different*.

And you need to change your name. The Zoq-Fot-Pik weren't even in Star Control 1! Taking your inept Warcraft analogy, it would be like naming yourself "Night Elf" or "Illidan" and then posting how Warcraft 3 was a crappy disappointment.

I like SC 2. But I also like SC 1 as well. Where does it say that we all must like SC 2 more than SC 1? And no, I am not alone. Remember, SC 1 sold as many copies as SC 2 did if not more.

SC 2 is a GREAT game. But it is not a loyal sequel. To use the Warcraft analogy, it is like WoW is a fine game but it is a poor sequel to Warcraft as it isn't a RTS.

I have tried the Genesis version and it is too slow and looks funny. Many people look at SC 1 and see only the 'tactical campaign'. Those who played it A LOT see it as turning our pcs into arcade machines. Slow versions of SC 1 or 'odd speeds' of SC 1 (like you get on dos emulators) is like playing SC 2 without the music. Just as SC 2 is all about the adventure, SC 1 is all about the arcade.

It'd be a joy to play the original again on modern machines with correct speed.
17  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: TW-ligt plot on: May 07, 2005, 04:30:19 am
Don't take me wrong, I believe a lot of time was spent on the plot and there are many nice things in it. I was only referring to the things that struck me the wrong way. All the things that did strike me the wrong way were things that seemed to be 'tacked on' to the design, things that don't really matter to the game's core mechanics (like the dating sim). If you can remove a part of the game or any plot that doesn't matter with the game's core, then do it. All serious writers know they have to chop off dangling parts, scratch out 5 words if it can be said with 2, and so on.

Now I'm curious as to what is the core design to Timewarp-Light? I gather that the combat will be like in Timewarp (and some of the new races will use the new ships). This is all fine and dandy. But what is the core design of the adventure part? I thought it would identical to Star Control 2 but now I'm not sure. Some parts of the plot read like the game turns into Final Fantasy for a few parts, others parts feel tacked on like the Dating Sim (Why stop there? Why not put a full emulation of The Sims aboard the Mark II where you can manage the Captain's bladder, his social arrangements, and, in general, throw parties with Fwiffo and Umbah blobbies?)

From my perspective, it feels like the plot is forcing the round design core into square holes. Final Fantasy is a fine game, but would its influence work with SC2's design core? Now, you could completely use a different core design and make a Final Fantasy like game with the battles being Star Controlish, that would work. But putting Final Fantasy elements with StarControl2's core mechanics is a mismatch. (It'd be like putting X-Com elements into Star Control. Now, a Star Control X-Comish game WOULD ROCK but it could rock only by using a different game design core than SC2.)

Even though this is a fan based project, it is in a way a fabulous way to gain real game making experience. If a starting playwright was doing all these things with the actors and sets and lights and the audience doesn't watch, well, it doesn't matter how 'great' the play is because the audience is always, always right. When a writer makes a book and wonders why it doesn't sell, he ought to be reminded that there is a New York Times Best Seller list but there is no New York Times Best Written list. Professional writers write well because that a sure way how it will sell well. Charles Dickens took his audience in account as he publicly released chapter by chapter of Great Expectations, even changing the ending. Even Shakespeare fitted his plays to be audience driven and whose purpose wasn't to be 'art' but to make money (which he invested in London's Real Estate and retired).

My point is that I think the greatest advice to a budding writer or game designer is to be a salesman. What does sales have to do with books and games? Well, everything. And things like games require millions of dollars nowadays. You're going to have to sell ideas to companies and to your employees. You're going to have to raise money and sell for additional time.

"This is not a profit based project, it is a fan based project." I don't know if you intend to pursue a career in the gaming industry. However, a successful project like this IS something you can put on a resume and it will exceed any "education" as it shows 1) You can put out a finished project. 2) You can put out a popular project. Those two things alone exceed practically everything else. The people involved in this project can really use it to their personal future if they have such goals.

I believe everyone here has the capacity to create a better game superior to that of even Toys for Bob. I have a hunch that Toys for Bob would love to play such a game. Everyone here wants Timewarp Light to be as cool as it can be, because we all love Star Control.

You desired constructive feedback. Here it is:

-Stay as close as possible to the game's core mechanics and remove everything that doesn't fit (You wouldn't put Sim City in the middle of Star Control, would you? Even though Sim City is a fun game, it doesn't match Star control's core mechanics. I don't like the Dating Sim not because I have something against Dating Sims but because it doesn't fit into Star Control's core mechanics.)

-"What can the player do?" is more important than "Where does the plot go?" Keep the game design driven rather than plot driven. (The problem with including Final Fantasy elements is that Final Fantasy is set up like most rpgs with a static world where plot is moved by the player alone. This makes the game as the Player vs. Developers. Star Control 2's most annoying feature was its greatest: the time limit. It was not Player vs. Developers but rather Player vs. Environment. You were participating in the game world rather than it revolving all around you. If you didn't act, Kohr Ah would win and other events would occur.)

-Keep the Ur-Quan scary. (Both SC 1 and SC 2 had a core enemy of the ur-quan which made you feel a bit weak and every victory you had was A Great Accomplishment (tm). If you make the Ur-Quan [or any threat] weak and not scary, the adventure game loses its heroicness similiar to as what happened with Legend's SC 3.)

-If it doesn't play a role, get rid of it. (Like if a race doesn't play a part in the main plot, get rid of it. It becomes an unneccessary actor on stage, drawing eyes which removes the punch from the actors that matter. Even in Star Control 2, every race had a part in the plot. Reiche removed items from the game that had no point like Data Pods and the Cloaking Device. This is smart game design.)

What would be interesting is write a "What can the player do?" to compliment the plot. At each part of the game, what can the player do? If you find that the player is merely getting items and doing an ABCD order of plot triggers, being corralled in one way due to plot triggers (plot controlling the player rather than the player controlling the plot), or if the player finds himself stuck in worthless mini-games that are not relevant to the core mechanics of the game, then take a humility pill and go redo that part. Prototype parts and play, redo, play, redo until its something that is truly fun for everyone.

Or as it was said in Gladiator, "doesn't matter about your technique. Win the mob and win your freedom."
18  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Toys for Bob sold to Activision on: May 07, 2005, 02:45:04 am
I find it funny that the games Toys for Bob are known for is the Star Control series (about 13 years old) and Archon (which is as old as Pac Man). I suppose it would be like investing in company to make a new gaming console today and put that money in Atari because "they were well known for their 2600 decades ago". I wonder why Toys For Bob's games never caught on like Star Control did. (Some do have minor cults around and a couple of Toys for Bob games are at Underdogs website.)

Maybe there was past problems with Crystal Dynamics (of them saying release when the game wasn't fully done)? I hope Activision gives Toys for Bob the time and room to make good games.
19  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Famous Ur-Quan Battles Volume IV on: May 07, 2005, 02:38:14 am
I have the original discs. They are not your smaller floppy discs but the bigger ones, ones that will not fit into any computer older than fifteen years.

If Star Control 2 can be ported to modern operating systems, why not Star Control 1? Yes, the big obstacle is the source code being lost. However, it can be reverse made using Star Control 2's basic code.

Star Control 1 > Star Control 2

Star Control 1 = More multiplayer oriented

Star Control 2 = More single player oriented

Remember guys, most of the backstory, the star control atmosphere, and the combat system were all pioneered with Star Control 1. Star Control 2 just added a few more ships and a single player adventure game mode on top of that. I appreciate Star Control 2's adventure game but as a sequel to Star Control 1, well the game sucked. It was like waiting for the sequel to a game like Warcraft only for it to end up like Monkey Island. A great game but not a loyal sequel.
20  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Famous Ur-Quan Battles Volume IV on: May 06, 2005, 04:58:35 pm
I did not say Tactical Campaign. I said Star Control 1. If it was just the Tactical Campaign, then bleh.

Star Control 1 played a bit differently then Star Control 2 did. Star Control 1 felt my computer had turned into an arcade game. Star Control 2 felt like a never ending mystery of a game.

Sorry, just tacking on the tactical campaign IS NOT Star Control 1. It would like playing Star Control 2 without any of the alien portraits or music. The plot and gameplay may still be there, but the soul is gone.
21  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: TW-ligt plot on: May 06, 2005, 04:52:32 pm
My thoughts:

When I read the main plot, I thought I was reading a leftover script for Star Trek Voyager even though the Dating Sim sounds Deep Space Nineish. The Niko and AI seem little more than space gangsters. My feedback:

-Drop the Dating Sim. PLEASE.
-Drop the 'Zelnick gets framed' part. Reads like someone played too much Final Fantasy.
-Drop the Pkunk Queen 'vision' thing, also sounds Final Fantasyish. As with all good drama, start with the conflict. Even shakespeare had to obey this rule.
-Give the original SC2 races more action on the stage.
-Anything that makes you do linear actions (like the 'framed Zelnick' part) ought to be removed, as it goes against the 'openness' of the game. This is Star Control where you can go anywhere, not gay scripted Final Fantasy that makes you play on rails because of a 'plot'.

SC2's plot was based on your actions, not on the aliens' reactions. The area was open and you could go anywhere, speak to anyone. The goal was to find new races and make a new alliance. What is the goal in this game? I never quite figured it out except to fulfill A-B-C triggers in a plot. BORING...... *snooze*

For a plot I would have gone with something like...

The Ur-Quan are not defeated, merely driven back and summon thralls from other parts of the galaxy to aid them (Green Ur-Quan made thralls in other systems before SC 1 of course). [This could also be the Famous Urquan Battles Volume V edition). Now regrouped with thralls (including old ones such as the Vux, Mycons, Umgah, and the recently joined Druuge [who realized they would never profit in a NAFS dominated galaxy due to their 'strange' anti-slavery rules), the war is deadlocked.

Just as the Ur-Quan ended the last war with a Precursor ship tipping the balance, the NAFS hope that they can discover a Precursor ship to be used to end the damn war, and to defeat the Ur-quan finally. However, a Precursor ship must be found quickly as though things are deadlocked, the Hierarchy and Kohr-Ah keep gathering strength as more thralls are added. Only a few years to achieve this.

Unzervalt drained its resources just to make the skeleton ship of the Vindicator. Besides, the factory doesn't *want* to make more. So a precursor ship must be found and Zelnick, explorer and precursor expert, is elected for the job. You have your own 'unique' cruiser but in general you lead a small fleet of ships with you (but not too many since they are needed for the war). You have access to the original SC 2 area but much more than that. You must explore, gather clues, to hunt down a new precursor ship but also gather more allies for NAFS and, perhaps, convert current battle thralls.

Among the mysteries looked into...

-The survivors or descendants of the Sentient Mileiu, this includes the Taalo, as they may have interest in the current Ur-Quan conflict and clues on precursor artifacts.
-What happened to the Androsynth?
-Why do the Utwig butter their bread upside down?
-The new thralls. Some may be persuaded to leave the Hierarchy but some, like the Syreen did, will have found the Urqaun to have *helped* them.
-Other new races who may remain neutral, join NAFS, or the Heirarchy.
-Why is it galaxy standard for all hotdogs to come in packs of 10 but hotdog buns come in packs of 8?
-Why did the Precursors leave?

You find the Mark II early on but, alas, since every race nearby could not figure out how to fly the darn thing, they just ripped pieces of it off, creating a deformed limited precursor cruiser. You must acquire all the precursor parts back (which are being used as alien temples, lavatories, worshipped etc. by aliens to slowly rebuild the Mark II the way how it ought to be. When you are done, the last part of the game makes you use your cruiser and/or fleet to smash the defensive line of the Hierarchy.

Even more interesting, allow this 'final part' of the game to be available from the beginning. It is just that the more upgraded your Mark II becomes, the better chances for your success. This plays well for a game embracing non-linearity and openness in gameplay.

As for what to do with the races? Hmm, let's see...


Chmmr- They are the leaders of the alliance (and they do have the nastiest ship). They inform you and give you helpful pointers similiar as Hayes role was in SC2.

Orz- The Orz are not happy that the arilou reached Earth first long ago. But when other races decide to investigate the Androsynth matter, it is too much *frumple* and they quickly leave NAFS.

Spathi- Spathi are still in their slave shield, hoping they won't get hurt! However, the slave shield went down and came back up, long enough for a Spathi group to leave. This group was the Black Spathi which are very opposite of all Spathi, as they are very courageous. They want to prove to the scared Spathi and to everyone else what Spathi are truly capable of (insert heroic music).

Yehat- These warriors now have the spirituality of the Pkunk. So they are now spiritual warriors. They are secondary leaders in NAFS. Perhaps new Yehat/Pkunk combo ship?

Syreen- Adding their grace to the fight.

ZoqFotPik- The undisputed scouts of the NAFS. They have all the news of how the warfront is going.

Shofixti- Breeding faster than production of Glory Devices, thank goodness for that!

Utwig- The third 'leader' in the NAFS.

Supox- Mimicking the Utwig.


Umgah- Umgah stay with Hierarchy because being bad is more amusing. For fun, after the First Hierarchy War, the Umgah genetically experimented with other hierarchy races. They made a part of Spathi to be courageous, creating the Black Spathi. They made a Vux absolutely LOVE humans (Zex). Though the Mycon are beyond their understanding.

Vux- Have become more vain and installed mirrors on all their ships. Vux believe they and their ships are SO beautiful that the ships can now create a mirror image of themselves, tricking the enemy but really for the pretty Vux to look at themselves!

Mycon- They respond. They are the first to react when precursors come to the area. [Orz also react but Orz go crazy. They are so *silly*.]

Druuge- Recently joining the Hierarchy, the Druuge will sell to both Hierchy and Alliance, as profit is what matters. They have a new item for sale: Ilwrath cloaks! They will be sold to other Hierarchy races and then sell cloak detectors to alliance and then cloak detector jammers to the Hierarchy then cloak detector jammer jammer to the Alliance, etc.

Ilwrath- A few survivors. Apparently, they reached a badness so high of 446,664,343,235 that it whipped around and made the few survivors all good and pure. The survivors join the NAFS.

Thraddash- Gone. Though their afterburner gets stolen and equipped by a new heirarchy thrall.

Kzer-Za- Identical in attitudes as in SC 1.

Kohr-Ah- Allied with the green Ur-quan, this new Hierarchy is stable. Both Ur-quans agree, all NAFS races must be cleansed (as the Kzer-Za already enslaved them but that didn't work).

Plus the new races, whatever they are.

Now I came up with that in a few minutes and prefer the 'war setting' much more than a 'plot' setting. SC 1 was around the Urqan vs Alliance War, SC 2 was around the Urquan vs Urquan War, so a SC 3 makes sense as a Urquan vs New Alliance setting.

Oh, and you find a message from a Precursor. Though the translation wasn't perfect as it was so old, the Precursor referred to its race as *Bob*.

Makes you wonder what his toys are...
22  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: New ZFP remix on: May 06, 2005, 03:07:09 pm
But... you told me the Pik would have an opera solo!

Other than that, it is great. But really, how about that Pik solo?
23  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Famous Ur-Quan Battles Volume IV on: May 06, 2005, 03:03:39 pm
Since the Urquan Masters was released on the Internet, why not release the game that was Star Control 1? I am actually more of a fan of Star Control 1 than Star Control 2. Star control 1 turned my computer into an arcade machine, Star Control 2 basically was a preview of all future science fiction such as Babylon 5 (is it not also funny how current Battlestar Galactica resembles Wing Commander that was released at the same time?).

ZOT: "Silly Pik, when you finally speak, what do you do? You ask to play Star Control 1 on modern computers!"

FOT: "Didn't you know man, that the Star Control 1 PC source code was lost? Now that you are speaking, let us play Frungy!"

OK, so it was lost. But most of the game was combat which we can use the Star Control 2 melee code for. How hard would it be to program the 'strategy mode' for Star Control 1? You could even have fun and put in the more recent ships.

Reverse remake Star Control 1 (or should I say Famous Ur-Quan Battles Volume IV). Or better yet, add in your own personal touch and call it "Frungy", as how much more ironic could Frungy be if it were not a video game like Star Control 1?

Oh, I am a silly Pik! I have been silent holding my old Star Control 1 disks which are the BIG floppy discs. *cries with his big large eye* Remake Star Control 1 for modern systems or Pik will go silent again!!!

FOT: "See? Told you it was about Frungy."

ZOT: "Why can't you be the one who is silent?"
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