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Galactic Command Echo Squad SE Reviews

Supreme Cmdr

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A review by Out Of Eight has been added.

Apart from his general gripes, one thing that sticks in my mind are these statement:

The cockpit is clearly a 2-D skin, rather than a 3-D environment thatÆs been present in the genre for a while now

Which of course is 100% incorrect.

The cockpits in the game are fully 3D models located in the .\assets folder and are rendered in real-time by the game engine just like any other model. e.g. the cockpit for the starlance fighter is .\assets\starlance.3d

If they were not 3D models, then there would be no lighting, HDR etc. You can see this yourselve by simply going to the various in-cockpit views and lookaround. Static images are never - ever - affected by dynamic real-time lighting.

The sound design is functional at best: the tutorial and some radio transmissions are voiced, but they are not accompanied by subtitles so you really have to pay attention when the game is talking to you

Of course, as everyone knows by now, in all our games every single line that is voiced, also has a corresponding text that is displayed. So I have no clue what he's talking about there. In the case of the tutorial, the entire thing is voiced and goes with the in-game (or printed) text.

While the game automatically saves progress, you canÆt completely quit a mission (this includes the tutorial). This became an issue when I wanted to stop the tutorial (for reasons I will explain shortly) and start the campaign; I could not, so I had to create a whole new profile.

The reason for this is simple. It allows you to maintain up to ten game profiles, each one unique and possibly at a different stage. So of course you can play the tutorial with one profile and the full game with another. Plus, with up to ten profiles, you can have up to ten unique profiles, with up to 10 saved game points each

It would be nice to have a dynamic universe to mess around with, like every other contemporary (and even not-so-contemporary) space simulation features. At it stands, Galactic Command û Echo Squad: Second Edition feels very restrictive with none of the freedom featured in many other titles.

It is a combat game and with specific missions. You can't - as a fighter under command from a superior - go gallavanting all over the universe. Apart from the fact that you won't last long, its not allowed. Our previous games all featured a freeform game play mode because they were designed differently. In fact, I can't think of many space combat action games that even let you go buggering off on your own and with miminal resources.

You can read the PDF files in the game, but they are very laggy and essentially unusable.

Considering that they are rendered in fullscreen and at a standard 1024x768 and fully readable, I have no idea if he was running on an 800x600 display laptop or what, but so far nobody has even mentioned anything wrong with the in-game docs.

This is where a skirmish mode would be helpful, as it would allow the player to fly around with no set purpose and try out the controls.

You can do just that using the tutorial. Just don't follow the tutorial. Do your own thing. Then when you are ready to follow it, create a new profile.

For example, to track a missile on radar, you have to enable the VDD with the V key, cycle to the RTM mode, press 7, then press F10.

No you don't. All you're doing is enabling a missile filter. Once enabled (only once), selecting a missile is just like selecting any target. You can track them right there on radar or use the right-mouse context sensitive menu. You only need F10 if you want to view the missile as it flies towards its target. Nothing to do with tracking as thats just an external view of the target.

And the reason that the missile filter is disabled by default is because when you are cycling through targets, if there are many missiles, you could end up cycling through a ton of missiles before ever finding the desired target. And by that time, you could already be dead. This is explained in the manual. Since you have a missile warning klaxxon, there is really no need to track missiles on radar. None whatsoever.

The AI and enemy pilots behave intelligently enough, although most of the NPC actions are heavily scripted

Not true. Just like how he assumed that the cockpit was a 2D bitmap. Sure each NPC actor has a "seeded" instruction (e.g. "attack this") thats the extent of it. From that point on, whatever they do is dynamic and up to their AI to determine. So I have no idea what "heavily scripted" even means. If that were the case, then it would be a pretty short game since it would clearly be easy to "beat" it and be done with it very quickly.

One good point of note:

ItÆs odd, then, that Galactic Command û Echo Squad: Second Edition does not allow you to interact with any of the displays with the left-mouse button: if you click on a display, nothing happens, so you must resort to the use of keyboard controls.

We actually tried to do this. But because - wait for it - the cockpit is a 3D model, locating the extents and mapping them on a 2D plane (so you can click on it), proved to be more trouble than its worth. So we didn't do it. As you all know, you can do this in our previous games because no 3D cockpits were used.

I am however planning on looking into this further and perhaps we'll come up with a solution in a future patch; perhaps with the Episode 2 release.


no skirmish or quick battles, no dynamic universe to explore at your own pace since the campaign is limited to missions only

I actually did think of doing those (just like with our previous games which had Instant Action as well as a freeform ROAM mode), but this is a different game. So I opted not to create scripts for those. However, if enough people cry out loud out about it, I may just add these in future episodes.

UPDATE: After I sent James this thread, I got an email informing me that he had revised his comment about the 3D cockpit. He also touched on a few points that I responded to.

I altered the comment about the 2-D cockpits slightly.
I never saw any in-game text with the tutorial during my play time.
I was running at 1280x1024 with an nVidia Geforce 8800 GTS and it was laggy (with approximately five seconds between switching pages).
In these cases, I can only report what my set up has done and not what's supposed to happen; obviously people with different systems will get different results.
I was quoting the manual when discussing how to track a missile. I consider viewing it outside of the plane tracking.
When I called the AI "heavily scripted" I was referring to how they will follow pre-programmed orders regardless of what the player is doing....I guess this is true of most games.[/code]

NOTE: The delay between pages is because each page is a separately rendered 1024x768 JPEG image (the game commands are PNG due them requiring a lossless format) which resides in the .\DOCS\GAME_DOCS.ZIP archive. So when you get to the end of a page, the game has to unload the current page, then load the next page. In the legacy version of Echo Squad, we actually used PDF files. So the game would pause, spawn the PDF reader registered on the computer, load the page etc. Then when you were done, take you back. The delay then was horrendous *and* it took you out of the game. So I had to come up with something else. The end result was to use JPEG frames and render them in-game. This required the development of completely new document viewer module for the game. And this is what renders all the docs while in-game. Game development is not an exact science and no matter what you do, there will always be compromises beind made.

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