I won’t elaborate on Stealth Card Game yet, because I stumbled upon an interesting problem: How to avoid giving out meta-knowledge to other players about elements on a single game board. An interesting design dilemma.
One of the first games I have ever played was X-wing. A Star Wars space combat simulator by the old Lucasarts, or rather Lucasfilm Games. I was about five when I first gripped a joystick and shot down TIE fighters. I imgaine it has been a great impact in my personality. Recently I have played Tie Fighter a lot, which is the second installment in the series. It is one of the best games I have recently played, and it is nearly twenty years old. X-wing Alliances, the last installment in the series, is 13 years old. After that, the only Star Wars flight games have been the Rogue Squadron series, Starfighter and Jedi Starfighter, none of which rose to the same grandeur as the X-wing series.
Tie Fighter is good. It has personality, the missions are good and the gameplay is slick. But age has started to gnaw on it. You can make better graphics with LEGOs and the amount of craft present is small. An imperial attack fleet usually consists of one capital ship, one cruiser and about eight starfighters. This can be explained away with the story, but come on. Wookieepedia states that the Imperial Navy consists of millions of warships. I remember reading that it has ove 20 000 Star Destroyers. The very intro to the game shows dozens upon dozens of TIEs flying alongside a single Star Destroyer in an attack against one Rebel space station. In Alliances, the battle of Endor had an incredible amount of TIE fighters and Star Destroyers present. This is what needs to be fixed.
In the New X-wing, we shall keep the flight gameplay. WWII dogfighting it is, because that’s Star Wars. The game shall follow the career of a rookiee pilot, who begins his career as an Imperial TIE pilot, but joins the Rebel Alliance after participating in a terror mission for the Empire. We can flesh out the characters with dialogue and voice actors in radio chatter. There are several wingmen, some of who will die and some of who the player will face as enemies in the future.
The missions will be important. Every mission starts with the low-tech 2d map of the flight area, and a general briefing will be held. As the mission starts, new objectives and shifting situations will arise. The first missions will be quite straightforward, with the missions going as planned. Then, one mission will start to go wrong from the start, and the player must show initiative and adaptation. Most of the mission objectives will be about identifying key craft and either scanning them or destroying them. These wild missions will be scarse, so that when things go wrong, it will have greater impact.
The scale of the game will steadily rise. The first missions will be simple patrol, escort and intercept duties in some backwater system in the outer rim. There are just a few flight groups of TIEs and enemies. As the player performs admirably, he is assigned to greater incursions, until finally he is assigned to an Imperial attack force consisting of several Star Destroyers and dozens of starfighters, attacking the planetary defence fleet of a neutral world. In a battle of over a hundred craft, the player must keep focused on the task at hand and follow his objectives to succeed. As a single, unshielded TIE the player must stick to larger flight groups to avoid being a tempting target. Lasers shooting everywhere, the massive surface of a planet looming nearby and great warships gliding slowly through space and breaking apart under intense turbolaser batteries. That’s the modern image of a Star Wars space combat. To keep these battles impressive, small-scale recon missions and guerilla attacks will keep the pace shifting.
After jumping ship and joining the Rebel Alliance, the player’s skills will be put into a test. With the introduction of hyperspacing, the player is given intricate, multi-part missions. An example would be striking an imperial outpost to lure nearby patrol cruisers away from a convoy and join the main attack later to secure the evacuation of captured cargo ships. On a routine patrol, an astrogation mishap sends the player to an Imperial target practice field, filled with Star Destroyers. And the climax of the game would be the liberation of Coruscant, where the action goes from orbit to the atmosphere above the Imperial City.
I will gladly pay the extravagant 50-60 euros to play a new Star Wars space combat simulat0r. And so would many others. Making a new and improved game with love and adherence to what made X-wing so great would surely bring Lucasarts into a new light. One can hope. And by the way, Men fly with TIE/ln. Shields are for wusses.