Game Development Reference
Debriefings are the bookend to the mission and serve to answer the question, “How
did I do?” They should provide a recap of what the mission was about, what the
player has achieved, and how it all fits into the greater campaign. They can also be
used to foreshadow the following mission(s).
TIE Fighter had separate debriefing screens depending on whether the mission
was won or lost. If you failed the mission, then the debriefing would provide a more
detailed breakdown of what you were supposed to have done, and you could restart
the mission. If you needed it, you could click through to an additional page that
would provide tactical advice on how to beat the mission.
This (and the fact that we added difficulty settings plus cheats for invulnerability
and unlimited ammo) had the unforeseen consequence of eliminating the need for
the official strategy guide. The X-Wing strategy guide had been very successful, and
based on that a large number of TIE Fighter books were ordered by retailers. When
they didn't sell as expected, the publisher demanded the return of some of the money
they had paid us for writing the topic!
In X-Wing Alliance , we introduced yet another method of story delivery that
was unusual for a combat simulator: email. The player character, Ace Azzameen,
would receive messages periodically that would provide deeper looks into his personal
relationships and expand on his background.
Gosh, There Are an Awful Lot of Controls to Memorize!
Tutorials and training missions present a special case requiring variations on all of
the previously described sections (briefing/debriefing and mid-mission communica-
tions). The main difference is that you should assume that the player has never
played one of these games before and that you're going to have to do a lot of hand-
holding. There's nothing more discouraging than firing up some cool new simulator
that you've heard so much about and find that you can't figure out how to do any-
thing! The writer's responsibility here is to work especially closely with the designers
to write step-by-step instructions that teach the player how to operate the controls.
When it comes to tactics, a good AI wingman/flight instructor is invaluable be-
cause the NPC cannot only tell the player what to do, but he can be scripted to show
the player by example.
Note that some games forego any training missions and rely instead on providing
a basic overview of the controls and how they work in the game manual. Needless to
say, it is absolutely essential that the information presented in this case is completely
Once again, we are reminded that simulator fans are fascinated by the hardware.
They are gearheads, and they love to know all the technical details and performance
characteristics of their chosen vehicle. Hardcore fans will have already memorized