Talk:Battle of Endor Syndrome

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"Scheme" isn't really an appropriate wording for this subject - Black Wolf

What about "Disease"? Figuratively, I mean - TopAce

It's traditionally been called "Battle of Endor Syndrome" AFAIK. - Black Wolf

I did not want to use that title, I wanted a new one. - TopAce

Why? - Black Wolf

Only to differenciate the two articles. - TopAce

Article moved. - TopAce

I question the validity of this article in this day and age; most of the anti-BOE resources cite FS1 limitations. I can cite several campaigns that have had well-executed Endor-esque situations off the top of my head. If the mission fell apart it was for other reasons. I'll agree it's not for the novice FREDder, but unless and until you can properly execute a large mission, you haven't really earned your spurs.-ngtm1r

In my opinion, the modern-day objections about BOE missions can be boiled down to two points:

  • The complexity of a BOE mission requires a very skilled FREDder to pull off effectively
  • Because of scale, it is difficult or impossible for the player to affect the outcome of a BOE mission in any way, something that is usually desirable from a gameplay standpoint

I think these points adequately justify the continuing prejudice against these kinds of missions. This, of course, does not imply that it cannot be done, only that it is very difficult. I can cite the penultimate mission of Inferno as an excellent example of a BOE mission done right, IMHO. --Goober500000:43, 1 January 2007 (CST)

Altered the article, and considering further alterations, considering that we're basically agreed upon that A: such missions are possible and B: it isn't technical limitations holding the game back from them anymore. --ngtm1r 10:21, 2 October 2007 (PST)

Whether you consider it possible or not there have been many, many user-made campaigns featuring decent BoEs. The main reason for prejudice against them is that someone who didn't know how to use FRED tried to make one, then wrote a VolitionWatch article a long time ago about it. 'Bout time, nghtm1r, and thank you. Mustang19 13:39, 2 October 2007 (CDT)

As the person who wrote the Volition Watch article and had 2 missions on the Game of the Year edition, I disagree and removed the uninformed slur. Back at the creation of FS1, there were significant technical constraints and Volition programmers put limits into place to restrain their mission editors. The initial FRED discussion list (FDL) was concerned with how poorly designed missions were impacting user reaction to FreeSpace, and making the community difficult to gain respectability among all the trash missions that were released. That's why I worked with Peter Drake on explaining the initial FRED docs and pioneered a community peer-review system. While technology has advanced even in FreeSpace 2, such missions are not just difficult to appropriately test and balance (as those at Volition Watch who worked on Inferno were well aware). A well-crafted battle and story relies on specific set pieces, rather than just letting the AI simulation cover up the lack of design. It's not prejudice, it's a recognition of good design. - Zarathud 6/13/08 10:00 CT

Beg differ. It is extremely difficult for what you say to take place. A mission where it does will have bigger problems then this; indeed, a campaign where it does will have problems even in non-Endorish missions. As observed before as well, a well-crafted battle relies on suspension of disbelief just to get there; capitals moving and attacking in groups helps establish this. And more to the point, you are speaking from an FS1 sensablity in regards to not only mission design and technology, but also storytelling. In FreeSpace 1 it was much more acceptable for such things to occur. The Shivans were overpowering the PVE and GTA. You fought without support, without reinforcements, because all available assets were commited already. Things were stretched beyond the breaking point. As for the Shivans, they didn't need more than one or perhaps two capitals to wreak all the havoc they wanted. FreeSpace 1's missions are also designed to reflect a degree of desperation; a fight for absolute survival.

These things aren't true in FreeSpace 2 for the most part, and that fact made the game's sins as mentioned in the article much more grevious. It placed opposing sides on much more equal footings, where both sides had more than single capital ships available to commit and could have made good use of those extra ships. Also, though things certainly got desperate, they never deterioriated to the point they did in FS1; there was always a plan, and it was always feasible. These points also hold true for the vast majority of user-made campaigns and missions as well.

It is a prejudice. It is a prejudice against the recognition that letting the AI work for you can be good design (Clash of the Titans, the first one, called). It is a prejudice that conveniently forgets missions like Evangelist and the one that followed it, or Clash of the Titans, all the way back in FreeSpace 1. It is a prejudice against expanding the scope of your story so that it is clear Alpha 1 is not the sole savior of the universe and the Terran and Vasudan races, but part of a team; it could not have been done without him/her, but they could not have done it alone...or even that perhaps it could have been done without them, but at greater cost. It is a prejudice, in short, from telling a different story or telling the same story differently. And that in the end will be far more deadly to the community then bad design. To be blunt, Transcend's missions particularly as originally released were, from quite a few standpoints, not all that great in design. But Transcend is regarded as a must-play campaign, and it did truly transcend the boundaries of what most of us thought were the kind of stories that could be told through the medium of FreeSpace.

Someone saying you are "inexperienced" is hardly a slur, particularly as since compared to now, or even a year ago from this date, when that article was written FREDding was in its infancy. However because you seem to have taken personal offense, I did add a comment to this effect...though I would point out taking personal offense at that is frankly a sign that you shouldn't be editing this stuff because it is supposed to be unemotional. And as a statement of fact, as I already said, it's almost undoubtedly true.

Reverted.- Ngtm1r 01:44, 14 June 2008 (PST)

Battle of Endor syndrome has always referred to the tendency (mainly amongst novice FREDders) to make missions so large that they either crash the machine they are on or (usually due to the inexperience of the FREDder) are boring/unplayable. It does not refer to any mission which has a lot of ships in it. That is a big misuse of the term. Zarathud made it pretty clear in his original article what he was referring to. If you actually look at the missions that were being released at that time you'll see that the quality of the BoE missions was very low. The article served it's purpose of warning people of the dangers of trying to recreate Star Wars by simply sticking a few ships and events into a mission and hoping for the best.

Secondly, claiming that Zarathud was "inexperienced" is basically the same as saying STFU N00b rather than actually addressing his argument. That sort of thing has no place in a discussion (It's an ad hominem) let alone set in stone in a wiki article. Furthermore it's foolish to claim that the article was written that way simply because Zarathud was inexperienced because if I were to write an article on the subject I doubt it would be very different. I assume no one is dumb enough to try to claim I'm an inexperienced FREDder. :p

Furthermore FS2_Open has made it harder to make a good BoE mission in many ways. You can't get away with blaming flaws in your mission on things the engine won't let you do half as often because the engine allows you to do more. The bar is higher these days. So bad newbie missions that suffer from BoE look even worse.

BoE Syndrome is not a prejudice. It's nothing more than "No AWOL debrief syndrome" or any other syndrome you could make up from a common newbie mistake. - Karajorma 18/06/08

I think that the article is pretty balanced as it is. It warns of the difficulties of making these missions yet doesn't reject the BoE concept entirely, as the original version did.

The point is that Zarathud warned people not to make a BoE under any circumstances, inexperienced or not. That's why this article has been changed from its original form. As for the personal drama, all of the ad homimem seems to be going on in this talk page, not the article. So I don't see a need for any changes to the article, if that's what either of you are suggesting. Mustang19 14:56, 20 June 2008 (CDT)

Yes he did warn them not to make BoE missions. However he also defined exactly what a Battle of Endor mission was. The missions you've picked as examples of good BoE missions have little resemblance to the one he gave. Instead of realising what the article is actually on about you've chosen to ignore that definition, assign your own strawman definition and then label him a n00b for believing it. As for ad hominem you haven't refuted Zarathud's article, you've simply said "Don't listen to him, he didn't know better when he said it." That is by definition an ad hominem since even if he was inexperienced that doesn't make a jot of difference as to whether he is right or not.

And he is right. As I said earlier I pretty much agree with every single thing he said in that article now (for retail) and most of it still applies to SCP. So either remove the flame on an active HLP member and argue on merit or I'll write my own article and dare you to say that I'm saying it cause I'm inexperienced as a FREDder. :p Karajorma

It's not ad hominem by definition since I happen to be looking at the definition right here. It's calling into question his arguments as being argument from ignorance, which is perfectly sound and something you do to TrashMan all the time. Also, his article was very much imprecise on what constituted a "Battle of Endor" mission, and before you start talking about our cited examples of mission done right, he didn't cite ANY example missions. When he starts citing common failures of the missions he's failed to provide specific examples for, it gets downright silly. These are either not problems that exist solely with this type of mission but rather with any ill-designed mission, things I've never seen in practice (no missiles available? I guess FRED1 had them off by default. This isn't the case in FRED2 and you of all people should know that Kara.), things we've warned against (difficulty!), or things that FS2 has eliminated (caps will now engage each other, because capital ship beams don't shoot at fighters). If you're agreeing with it you either haven't actually read it closely, and I have too much respect for your intelligence and reasonableness to consider other options.

The VolitionWatch article contains almost no specific admonitions to mission designers of any real use, and saying things like "Volition Inc. never created any mission like the Battle of Endor. Why? For many reasons, surely. One Volition employee (Jason Hoffoss) commented on FDL that the key to successful mission design was "Zen and the Art of FreeSpace Design."" doesn't tell anyone anything at all. It's pointless, nebulous. Vague does not mean deep. Vague does not belong on a wiki. There's also a rather blantant insertion of the author's own sense of aesthetics towards the end. After rereading the VWatch article it has seriously crossed my mind to petition for its deletion as it is either redundant, incorrect, or doesn't see the forest for the trees. Any possible value it has left in this day and age is historical and not practical.

In essence, the VWatch article basically says "Noobs make these missions, so they're bad." Only it does very poorly. That's also an attitude that's downright stupid; just because a lot of inexperienced people try something does not mean every attempt will have the same flaws. I am really left with the belief that Zarathud did not know what the problem he was trying to deal with was. He argues failures that will exist in any mission with poor design as failures of a specific type of mission that happens to be the least forgiving of design failures.

As for arguing your FRED experience, careful now. How much have you released? :p Ngtm1r 23:32, 20 June 2008 (CDT)

  • You seem to have missed the fact that the whole VW article is aimed at inexperienced FREDders, not people who have been FREDding for years. Given that fact, everything said there makes sense. He's pointing out very real mistakes that a newcomer to FREDding is very likely to make. Also note that a BoE mission by his definition is a mission where the many capships are involved in the action around the player, not a background battle as seen in Derelict for example. And it is in such a situation that it is indeed extremely difficult to balance the mission so that the player has an effect on the outcome of the battle instead of just feeling left out. Shade 06:08, 21 June 2008 (CDT)
    • Funny he forgot to mention who the article was directed at, then, hmm? Ngtm1r 23:08, 21 June 2008 (CDT)
  • He did, if not directly: "It seems that everyone's first impulse upon opening up FRED is to fill all that beautiful empty space, without realizing that space is supposed to be empty". That line makes it perfectly clear to me that it is not aimed at veteran FREDders. Shade 07:40, 22 June 2008 (CDT)

Let's put to rest this argument that I was inexperienced or arguing from inexperience. The comments were made based on observations by the FRED community at large in the run-up to FreeSpace 2, and informal input from Volition designers (including Jason) about mission design. The aritcle explains a commonly held viewpoint, and the explanation is somewhat limited by the concerns at the time. But I strongly disagree that the warning applies only to FreeSpace 1 and most especially this statement: "Any possible value it has left in this day and age is historical and not practical."

Let's put this into context -- the BoE article helped lead to the first community-based reviews dedicated to helping experienced and inexperienced FREDers improve their missions. It was the rallying cry for the community to organize itself and build some way to support n00b design, rather than allow the flood of poor design to overwhelm players with bad impressions of Volition's game. The lessons were also cautions against the hubris that could trap experienced FRED designers -- and it was well received by even experienced designers at the time. That caution seems to have been lost over the years.

Practically speaking, the article argues that simpler is often better. Some of the changes from FS_Open involved undoing some of the INTENTIONAL design limitations placed in the engine by Volition to restrain their own designers.

Frankly, the use of Derelict as a counter example amuses me. The design leads on Derelict were people who I worked with at Volition Watch and we had reviewed hundreds of missions by n00bs and experienced designers alike. They were well aware of my viewpoint on the need to carefully design missions to give the impression of a larger space battle without actually throwing all the elements at the player.

"He argues failures that will exist in any mission with poor design as failures of a specific type of mission that happens to be the least forgiving of design failures." Yes, that a mission is fun to play doesn't excuse that it probably has poor design.

Even if its execution works, Battle of Endor missions have inescapable design limitations. Foremost among them is the loss of the story, and its deletion from the wiki misses the mark. I'm not arguing that Alpha 1 must be the "hero," but that Alpha 1's presence means they're experiencing the key turning points in a campaign. If they're too busy to observe that set piece in a critical event, you've lost the ability to focus the players on what events they're supposed to be experiencing. The key part of "show" is directing the player's attention to the right place at the right time, which is impossible to do when you've overwhelmed them with blips. You call it asthetics, but I call it design. What you call design, I call execution.

Design was the watchword then, and it should still be now. That committment to design is why two missions I designed were placed in the Game of the Year edition, and received an informal job offer at the time to join Volition for Silent Threat and FreeSpace 2. My multiplayer mission Shivan Incursion had some execution issues, but the design was compelling. - Zarathud 7/2/08 1 AM (CST)

If you think about it, if you don't want to take the time and effort of programing each and every ship in a BoE style mission, just make a background image of the ships. Won't look as nice, but it'll work, all the same. On top of that, if you do happen to program all the ships on the battlefield, you'll have to contend with frame rate problems and quality issues. Again, making a background of the additional ships should fix that. - NFSRacer callsign "Cypher"