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To Kali Skeptics: Why I'm A Believer


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#1
Drakona

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Microtransactions? Lots of ships? What is this crazy mining grinding currency-collecting unlockable-class-based role-based Team vs Team thing? Not Descent, that much is clear. Maybe someone else's cup of tea, but to a Real Descent Pilot? The whole idea stinks on dry ice.

Why aren't we talking about the new weapons? Will the new ships even fly right? Where are the pyros? Where's the anarchy?

Who's even building this thing? These guys say they loved Descent, but I mean, not enough to actually show up on Kali, right? How much can they really get it? Why would I trust guys who don't know about Spaz and Sirian and Uberfest and Minerva and Ugh and IDL and what we built and what we became and who we are and why we love this thing so much?

It's just a bunch of carpetbaggers that got the rights to the name, that don't get us, that really want to build something they're inspired by, something that isn't actually Descent, right?

It's Freespace again. It's another D3. It might be okay in its own way, but it's not gonna be Descent.

Right?

That's what you're thinking. That's what I thought. If you're a Kali pilot who lands on the Kickstarter page, that's what you're going to think.

But you're wrong.

I talked to the guys running the project, and I got answers to all of these questions, and those answers were surprisingly good. And now I'm on board. Not a little, either. A lot. I'm excited. I've put serious money into it. I'm investing serious time in its success. I think they have a decent shot at building a better game than D1! I think there is a very good chance that a year from now, I will no longer be working on Retro because Retro no longer matters.

Let me explain. As one pilot to another, let me tell you what I see.

Why the change of heart?

It's not one big answer. It's a lot of little ones. So go get some popcorn, it's a Drakona post. But I'll bottom-line it for you at the start:

These guys love D1 and D2. They're building something true to the spirit of that. And they're legit developers. I've talked to them. They know what they're doing. If that's their true goal, they know how to get it done, they aren't gonna screw it up. That's your bottom line.

The Crazy TvT Mode we're all so worried about? It's gonna be okay. It's not the main game. Not for us. What it is, is an attempt to fix something D1 and D2 screwed up, something that's been broken for so long in this community that we don't even see it anymore. Something that is a total blind spot for us.

What am I talking about?

I'm talking about the fact that Descent is a brutally difficult game to get into. Even single player only helps so much. But if you throw a new pilot into an anarchy game, they are going to die, badly, horribly, painfully, and there is nothing they can do about it without years of training.

We've all seen that. We've all had that conversation with a friend we're trying to get into Descent, or with someone we're trying to get back into the modern game. They spawn, they die, a lot, and they're depressed. "I suck at this game," they say. And you say, "It's okay, everyone does for the first year or two." And the light goes out of their eyes. Two years until it's fun? I've got better things to do than be target practice for you and your buddies, man!

Of course, if they'd stick with it for a couple years, they'd find out . . . well, the line that was given to me back in the day is, "Descent anarchy on Kali is the most fun you can have with your pants on". Not really an overstatement from where I sit. But they never find that out. It's too hard, and it takes too long, and other things are shinier.

And so the Descent community has always been small. It's always been niche. The people who persevered are the ones who, like me, spawned in the mines the first time, rolled the ship 360, and fell in love so hard that it didn't matter that the whole thing was a ball of thorns dipped in pain. It was worth it. It would always be worth it. We would have done anything to fly that ship.

We're the ones who made it. A lot of pilots . . . didn't.

For all these years, we've been thinking that the Descent community is small because flying is just, well, hard, and so it isn't for everyone. On some level that might be true, and that might always be true. But there's also a practical problem. Something we're so used to that we never even realized it's something that was broken.

There have been many, many gamers who might have fallen in love with our game. Pilots who might have some day learned to see the magic, but who didn't, who fell away after the first few tries, because . . .

Because the training SUCKED.

That's what the Crazy Ships Mode is about. It's about fixing that.

See, you and I, we look at these specialized ships and we see a poorer game. We see a mining ship that's highly maneuverable but which basically slides around and looks for mineral deposits all day, and think, "that's it?" We see an assault ship that fires missiles all day, and we think it's just one piece of the larger tactical puzzle we love. And TvT matchups isn't going to fix that. We look at what they've proposed and we see a simpler game, an easier game, a less interesting game than the one we love.

We're right! How could we not be? What we're missing is that that's the POINT.

That game is not for US. It's for someone who has never, ever touched a pyro. What's that new player going to see? A game too simple to be interesting? No, they are going to see a game mode that teaches you how to fly your ship. Nothing fancy. Just getting from point A to point B.

They have to unlock the ship that lets them fire missiles because they don't know how to fire missiles yet.

Remember back when flying alone was enough to get you to fall in love with Descent? That's what that mode is about. That's what they're capturing. They're taking those little things and making serious flight styles out of them, making them friendly, making them fun, making it so you can just do that without constantly dying.

The Crazy Ships Mode is not a replacement for anarchy. It's a replacement for single player! It's a replacement for co-op! It's more than that, it's better than that, it's the pilot training simulater we never had!

And sure, in designing it, they haven't forgotten about us hardcore pyro jockeys. They're making it so we can get good at that game, too. We might even like it. They're going to make it so that good pilots find fighting in those ships interesting, so that I will enjoy taking the crappiest ship on my team against the strongest one on the opposing team and showing just what a badass pilot I am because I can take it down. That's being designed in. I've heard 'em talk about it, it's interesting stuff, that's the goal, and believe me, they're smart enough to do it right. But that mining game, ultimately? For me? For us? Is not the point.

The dream is that a new pilot has learned to move from point A to point B, once they've learned to fire missiles and dodge missiles, once they've spent some time hiding and they've spent some time stalking and they've spent some time in some basic dogfights . . .

. . . they're going to look at anarchy and think, "Hey. Let's see what I got."

Anarchy will be there. Anarchy will rock. Anarchy is what they're building, what they remember loving so much on LAN that they wanted to build THIS game. How could they NOT make it rock? They're guiding pilots to anarchy. And maybe from anarchy a new pilot will graduate to 1v1. Or true teams. Or flag. Or whatever the heck the modders cook up and by the way I'm so TOTALLY going to BE one.

The devs? Weren't on Kali. But they love Descent. Not D3. They love D2. They love D1. They played anarchy a lot, a lot, on local LANs, and loved it. They love that game. They're building that game. They're bringing 20 years of the games industry's advances in knowledge into improving that game, and I don't mean just the graphics. This team didn't go looking for an opportunity to make money, they went looking for what they wanted to build, given that they could build anything they wanted, and the answer they came up with was Descent. They wanted to build that. They loved that.

Wingman said to me, "I want to be working on this for the next 10 years." He's going to try to engineer this thing so that that's possible. Consider what kind of statement that is! This isn't a quick buck! If he gets his way, this will be what he has chosen to do with a good chunk of his career, out of all the possible options he might have picked, given total freedom to work on anything.

People. This is a man who loves Descent, and who has no illusions about what it is.

Yeah, these guys weren't on Kali with us. But they are right there with us in what they care about, in what sort of a game they want to build.

And here's the thing, here's the real thing we Kali people should sit up and take note of:

We are welcome here. We're more than welcome. We were invited. We are being courted. These guys want our input.

I wrote a letter to Wingman on day 1, and I said, "There is a hardcore Descent community out there, but it's like 30 extremely opinionated people. We can help you build Descent if that's what you want, and if that isn't what you want, we'll stay out of your hair." He could have said "no thanks, you people sound crazy". He could have said, "we'll make you happy if it means you'll give us money". He could have said, "Go back to D1".

What he SAID is, "you are my community, come get involved".

I wrote a huge forum post about what Descent is and isn't. They could have said, "Thanks for your input, we'll take it under advisement." What they did is highlight it in the most visible possible way, cheer, think about it carefully, take the best suggestions seriously, and in a couple of places change course in order to account for them. They didn't address everything I said, but that's design stuff, and it's early yet. That's okay. What you should pay attention to is that they clearly care. I said as loudly and as clearly as I could, "This is the game I love, are you building this?" And they didn't say yes or no to every point, but what they did say very loudly is, "That is so darn COOL." They share the vision. They think pilots are cool, pilots are worth listening to.

I put up a video of what Descent flying looks like, what it really looks like at a top level. They could've said, "That's that game, this is this game." They could've said, "Your showing off isn't relevant here." They could have said, "Don't expect to do so well in the new game." What they said is, "That's awesome! I love watching this! But we really need to get you out of that graphical ghetto."

Nor is it just WM. It's everyone on their team I've interacted with. Kali guys! Hardcore modern guys! They want us here. We are not their whole target audience, not even close, that would be foolish. But they want to make a game we will love. They want to make a game that captures the D1/D2 anarchy crowd and brings them into the elite part of this experience.

This game . . . is for us.

I want you to understand what a tremendous opportunity this represents. We have never had a professional game studio that loved Descent, that wanted to make Descent itself, that wanted to make a game that hardcore pilots would like. I mean, past Descents, D2, D3, they did want us, but they were doing other things too, right? There were corporate entanglements that forced some sucking. We are Descenters. We never liked or trusted the PTMC, and two decades of getting screwed by them has left us skeptical and cynical about everyone.

But there is no PTMC here! This thing is kickstarted. It's paid for up front. These guys are professionals, solid game developers, and they want to build a Descent that is awesome in the way Descent is, that is better than it ever has been, that will give another generation of gamers a chance to feel the freedom and the mastery and the magic of the mines, and there IS NO CORPORATE CRAP to distract them from that goal.

That has never happened before.

This is new.

This is different.

These guys are the real deal.

That is why I am so excited about this project. We've never had a team with this level of talent and expertise that truly wanted to remake the magic of D1. These guys are it. I think they might just be smart enough and passionate enough and humble enough to get it done! Sure it's a hard job, but if these guys want to do it and can't, I don't know who could. And they want to. These guys know how to build a game, and they want to bring back old pilots. They want to train up new pilots. They want an entire new generation to experience the magic they remember from endless local LANs.

What I see is an amazing possibility. This team has a good shot of doing what they set out to do, and if they succeed?

Kali won't be the golden age of Descent! THIS WILL!!

That's possibility here. That's what they're trying to achieve.

Yeah, it's ambitious. It might not succeed. It's a freakin' Kickstarter, people. But this team? They are talented. And they have help. And if you're still wondering if they've got the expert pilot input angle covered -- Lotharbot and I are in for as much early access as we can get, and we intend to USE it. They will likely have more Descenter input than they can use.

I'm rooting for these guys. What they're trying to do is crazy hard, if you could just go out and MAKE a good game, you'd already be rich, but I think they can do it. I have every confidence in their abilities and in their expertise. I love what they're trying to do, I believe we want the same game, and I think they have every chance of success, and I really, really want this thing to fly.

I've never said this before. I didn't say it about Talon. I didn't say it about Sol Contingency. I'm saying it now.

Guys.

I think this is the one.
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#2
dunkelza

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Wow.

 

That was really nice and I thank you for writing it.  Is this something you put up on one of the Descent forums?

 

Thank you for bringing your passion over to D:U.

 

This game is going to ROCK!


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#3
Designopotamus

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I do believe that you're going to make me cry, Drakona!

 

That's a beautiful post, and it's the truth from our standpoint.

 

Just keep in mind that that's the same feeling we developers got when we figured out that we could actually reach out to the community to make a game instead of waiting and hoping that someone else would think that it was a good idea.

 

Rob

 


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#4
Jaxley

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Very nice :D


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Everything I post is as a fan of Descent: Underground except for official statements - which will be written in Moderator Blue.

#5
Wingman

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Awesome and I was on Kali, but I went by Dakota I think......

WM


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#6
Strife

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I  just want them to come in for a few games when they aren't busy putting this masterpiece together! 

 

I do have one complaint about this entire project as a whole....

 

The fact that I have to wait for them to get through the kickstarter and THEN I have to wait for Alpha!  I hate being an adult where patience is a requirement...

 

Keep up the great work guys. 


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"Oh, you've never seen what a drunk duck looks like flying? Wait until Alpha..."

#7
Drakona

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[dev]
Awesome and I was on Kali, but I went by Dakota I think......
WM
[/dev]


My misunderstanding. EVEN BETTER! :)


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#8
Ezekeel

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So you are saying that my thoughtful posts and meticulous argumentation convinced you to change your mind? While I fully agree with you I also want to give a shoutout to WM, Rob and Phil who were a real help for me to bring my great ideas across.


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#9
Drakona

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Is this something you put up on one of the Descent forums?


I put it here because this is where it belongs. But I've linked it from every Descent community DU conversation I'm involved in.
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#10
wangmauler

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I already had 100% faith in this game because of  Eric Peterson and Rob Irving. Now I feel like my next 200 paychecks are going to this team.


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#11
Fallarnon

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Beautiful sentiments, Drakona. I was so pleased the conversation a group of us had with Lothar the other night helped you guys out. :)


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#12
Zor

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Drakona's approval and excitement (and involvement) is ALL the convincing I need.

 

I dared not hope.

 

I trusted in the fact that no matter what they did with this game....I still had Descent Retro-mod to fall back on.

 

I'm now hoping.  I'm cautiously getting excited.....

 

Dear God,

Let this be the coming of the golden age of Descent!!

 

_____________________

I have pledged to the cause financially....and I offer my piloting expertise to the developers.  Drakona can attest to what that offer is worth.


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#13
negatratoron

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I'm a believer now.  I've finally backed DU on Kickstarter.

 

And by the way here's a rhyme:

 

 

There once was a room full of drillers

That hid around corners and pillars.

The missile-filled hulk

And the plasma and vulcan

Were feared as notorious killers.

 

But then came a guy with a ship.

Who said to himself, "Get a grip!"

He wrecked a reactor

As big as a tractor

And feasted on muffins and dip.


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#14
Drakona

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I offer my piloting expertise to the developers.  Drakona can attest to what that offer is worth.


If I were doing this project myself, redesigning all the ships, weapons, modes, and spaces, and wanted an expert pilot balance consultant, Jediluke would be my first choice.
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#15
JazAero

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Drakona That was an amazingly well thought out, well constructed post.  

 

Wingman that post should be hotlinked straight from the kick starter, so that everyone can read it who has any doubts at all about what you guys are doing.


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#16
specialsymbol

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Reassuring :)

 

I am only concerned about two things:
 

balancing and the feel.

 

 

Remember the first time in D1? The demo levels. The slight bobbing. The sounds. The mines that felt homely - until you met the first robot (of course, that's the benefit of Single Player, but the feel never left - even in multiplayer). The joy of finding your first Vulcan, the awesomeness of the Vulcan and that it always ran out of ammo quick. The quad laser idea. The small things like the next fire position indicator, so that you could most efficiently hide behind corners (yes, that worked really good!).

 

The weapons in D2 made it even better. Gauss cannon that throws ships around. (Except for the Omega, I HATED this gun - I never won against it).


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#17
CDN_Merlin

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I just pledged $60.  Here's hoping to great things.


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Beta tested:
Game Stock Car 2012, Diablo 3, Descent 3 1.5 Patch, C&C Generals, Independance War 2, Starfleet Command 2, Settlers IV,Tzar, Allegiance, Starfleet Command, MAX 2, Defiance

 
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#18
skuripanda

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Thank you Drakona for this amazing post. I usually don't have the attention span to read this kind of TL;DR, but I made an exception in your case. Well done. And thank you for being on board. It'll be a wild ride, and I'm glad we'll take it together.


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Unless I post in the official moderator blue, I'm just another fan posting my own thoughts, and my posts should not be taken as official in any capacity.

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#19
karx11erx

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[irrelevant; removed]


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D2X-XL - Descent 1 & 2 source port and "semi-official" Descent level editor DLE


#20
Erio

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Thank you for this amazing post!

 

I played D2 with a feathery friend of mine... But never ever been near his crazy DF level.. Hehe. :)

I will continue to give it my very best!

[/dev]
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