Privateer 1.5, A Proposal

This is a general discussion.

For specifics, Privateer 1.5, A Proposal Part Two

I. Introduction

Every game in the Wing Commander sequence has always had the game (e.g. Wing Commander) and then two supplements.

Privateer had only one supplement (Righteous Fire) and that seemed almost like the second half of the story, rather than a supplement.

These comments are dated, but were current when Righteous Fire was in initial release.

II. Considerations

Privateer works well on "legacy" systems. That is, it runs on only 4 meg of ram and on 486sx machines. Such systems are flying off the shelves at under $150.00 each.

Privateer supports an impressive amount of built in hooks for missions. All that is missing is stories for the missions -- and more challenge for good pilots.

Because of the flexibility of the engine, it is possible to spin off "Privateer Comic Books" (mission series) without significant resource allocation from a design standpoint.

III. Changes

Considering a Privateer 1.5 (one that uses the same engine, with simple patches)....

The goal of changes would be to make the game play a little more "airplane" like -- and to change the play style some in order to make it more of a challenge, rather than more work.

First, for all:

Reduce the maneuver, acceleration, etc. of all the fighters by 10% so that everything is just a little slower.  This actually makes the game harder (since the character's ship is slower too).  The game engine files allow tweaks of this sort to be implemented.  Even PREasy was able to implement these types of changes.

Second, for the character:

Change the ship they fly to a light fighter or medium fighter to allow for an increased challenge to come from difficulties other than large numbers of opponents.

Three ships would be available for characters.

First, replace the Centurion with a Medium Fighter (call it the Dragon). Faster, quicker, with one level lower shields.

Second, the character could still buy an Orion.

Third, replace the Galaxy with a Demon (so the character could fly the Demon).

For the illustrations, just use cheap Styrofoam models, scan them, and import the various scans for views.

For the exterior views, use a "virtual" HUD on the Demon and Dragon (i.e. don't paint a cockpit for the front, use the Centurion side view calls, and just use a painted view for the rear -- no rear window. That simplifies the view calls a great deal). Virtual HUDs would also speed up the frame rate some on the engine used for Privateer.

For the exterior graphic calls, use a demon derived graphic. Redefine the Centurion code as medium instead of heavy. Improve its relative acceleration and maneuverability (so, the players aren't stuck with wallowing tanks after all <g>).

Other Changes


Laser replaced by Gatling Laser

4760m 2.0cm .1 sec (1/3 refire delay) 3.9 GJ low abuse limit.

Cost 60,000 credits

(This is the laser with the refire delay variable reset so it fires three times as fast and the energy drain is slightly lower)

Mass Driver replaced by Pom Pom Driver

3740m 2.6cm .16 sec 5.2GJ medium

Cost 60,000 credits

(This is the mass driver firing twice as fast, slightly less energy used).

Plasma gun calls Plasma Torch

3856m 7.2cm .5 sec 10 GJ high

Cost 60,000 credits

(This really reduces the energy drain to off-set the shortish range. Shorter refire delay. Try this modification on the typical bounty hunter Orion and think about it).

Ionic Pulse Cannon calls Ionic Blaster

4080m 5.4cm .5 sec 12GJ low

(These changes make the Ionic Pulse Cannon not such a good deal. Not a bad deal, but not a compelling alternative to a fusion cannon except for price).

Meson Blaster calls Meson Cannon

4420m 3.2cm .4 sec 6GJ medium

(The Meson Cannon continues as the workhorse weapon).

Particle Cannon calls Particle Blaster

3400m 8.6 cm .5 sec 20 GJ low

(Double the damage, almost double the energy cost, same refire delay. This makes for a weapon to add to lasers for real and dangerous punch).


Most characters will not use most of these.

But, all the Bounty Hunters NPC Orions use the Plasma Gun (Torch). Gladius have Meson Cannon, as do Demon flying Bounty Hunters. Retros all fly Talons with lasers as do Dralthi. Gothri can be defined to have Particle Blasters in their rear turrets.

Other NPC ships need some minor tweaking.

Note impact of laser change on Galaxy.

Redefine Drayman so that it has "endless power" gatling lasers and ten FF missiles. That way a Drayman will have the teeth one might reasonably expect in a combat oriented zone.

Have some Kamekh piloted by pros rather than novices, same for all Paradigms. Killing capital ships becomes a real task again.

You have a completely new game, with the character flying a lighter ship against enemies with harder punching guns. The coding is minimal. Swap a couple graphic files. Change the details on some definitions. Use the same characters for fixers (text dialog only, so you don't need voice actors).

IV. Comments

With these changes, all you need is a plot and you have a great interim release ready for Christmas this year.

This is all tweaking on the level of Wayne Sikes' PREasy except for redrawing the graphics and redoing the graphics calls. And that is a matter of new picture files swapped for the current ones.

But putting the character in a two seater medium fighter really changes the game. Instead of ramming and running over the opposition, you have to fight it. With increased firepower, the character really does have to pick approaches.

And instead of requiring loads of enemies (death by attrition and extended combat), it takes fewer. With reduced maneuver, afterburner slides become reality again (rather than rumors).

(note to mention with just changing the weapon definitions you've added lots of changes without having to add any new items to the game's repetiore -- no new code for new items).

And you have a game release that fits on a 486sx with 4 meg of ram. A huge home market segment.

For a relatively low price in development. Sold as a scenario extension (suitable for stand alone play -- you do not need Privateer to play the box would state) there is a market to justify the release.

And, I've already sent you a plot. Which could be run without even adding any jump points or new systems (though I think they would be nice, they are not necessary).

Steve Marsh

V. Sample Plot Elements
and Encounters

A. Start the Character out with his money stolen (only 2k credits and his mercenary guild membership remain) and with a base level Demon (with his prior maps, targeting, jump drive).  Use the same notification animation that begins Righteous Fire (except, instead of "my gun" it is "The confederation has recalled all heavy fighters for use against the Nephallim threat.  You will receive appropriate compensation.").

Player will have to decide between Orion and Dragon for upgrade later in game.

Appropriate encounters:

1. Two pirates flying stolen Gladius fighters, escorting a Drayman filled with contraband. This is a real fight using a Demon vs. the modified lasers and some FF missiles.

2. Two pirate Talons escorting two pirate Galaxies (with max shields and engines).

3. Four demons blockading a planet.

4. Two Orion gunships blocking a jump point have to be taken out (ECM 3).

5. Two Dralthi (each with five heat seeking missiles) to be intercepted.

6. Defend a Drayman from two waves of two Pirate (Stolen) Stilettos each wave.

7. Three Talon guard a Gothri with criminal boss as passenger.

8. Two stolen Broadswords escorted by Two Dralthi.

9. Four of the Kilrathi "frog" ships (used by the Retros in Righteous Fire), piloted by Kilrathi.

(This is a mix of Kilrathi and Pirate and Hunter hirelings. With the war over, the groups can mix, each trying to steal decommissioned ships for personal use rather than authorized salvage).

All of these missions are a challenge in a Demon. As are many "mission computer" missions!

B. Upon the completion of Mission 9, the character gets news (from the fixer) that if he goes to location xx, he will be able to claim some of his stolen money. (He will have "mission cargo" -- warrant of replevy, and a "mission payoff" of x00,000 credits -- enough to fund a major upgrade).

(This marks the spot where the mission toughness is rated at Dragon level. Remember that a Dragon is basically a faster, lighter Centurion. Smaller, harder to hit, but able to take less damage and not as good in a collision or when used for ramming.).

Appropriate Encounters:

1. Defend Drayman from three waves of two Stilettos each. (Compared to defending in a Demon against two waves).

2. Defend Base from three waves of three Retro talons each (easy, as the base can't die, provided to give the character a comparison point).

3. Defend two Drayman from three waves of Two Dralthi each.

4. Attack jump point blockaded by Two Galaxies supported by Two Orions.

5. Deliver sealed message, intercepted by two waves of one Stiletto and two Gladius per wave.

6. Chase, catch and destroy two stolen Broadswords (with ECM level 3) escorted by four Talons.

7. Defend base against Four Gothri and a Kamekh (Kamekh with pro for pilot).

8. Intercept Two Dralthi, followed by Four Gothri and a Kamekh.

9. Pursue and destroy stolen Paradigm, escorted by two Broadswords and two Dralthi.

10. Attack base (four "robot controlled" Talons followed by four "robot controlled" Orions, all with Green Guns). At the base, obtain two green guns, base blows as you leave, dramatic closing sequence, on to next plot.

Continued at Privateer 1.5, A Proposal Part Two.