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Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

** NO SPOILERS !! **




Published by Sierra in 2000 and developed by Massive Entertainment, Ground Control is a unique RTS and a definite, groundbreaking departure from the genre at the time. It's probably better termed 'real-time tactics', and later received an inferior expansion in Dark Conspiracy, and a roughly equally inferior sequel Ground Control II which was the final game in the series. While there is a moderate and IMO appropriate level of customization available for your fighting force, you cannot build more. You cannot build a base of any kind, you do not gather resources, you do not research technology or evolve advanced abilities during a mission.

You have what you have. It's a squad-based tactical game, and if you lose too many of your squads you restart the mission, there is no getting more. In the sequel as well as the 'spiritual successor' and more popular title by the same developer, World in Conflict (2007) there is a form of the reinforcement points mechanic allowing you more leeway to an extent. Not so in Ground Control.

Why Ground Control?

Once upon a time, a bored middle-aged guy was looking for a larger audience for his written AAR material. He happened upon SA about two and a half years ago, and had one really bad attempt which soon fizzled. Then he started a Master of Orion LP which a number of people didn't think was the worst thing they'd ever read, and some kind souls suggested he should consider doing video content. And so it was that I became a content creator on YouTube. I owe a lot to the community here; giving you what you've requested is the least I can do.

At the end of MOO, a poll was taken regarding retro games I should do next. Ground Control won the vote, with MOO2 (which I did before this) coming in second. So here we are, with a game chosen by the community that is unique and one I enjoy. I'm hopeful that makes for a good experience all the way around.

Is This Game Any Good?

The concept gets high marks from me purely because it really hadn't been done, and I think it works well also. Story/atmosphere varies impressively from quite good to cringingly, eye-rollingly cliche-ridden; voice-acting from passable to excellent with a wide range of talent employed. Sound and graphics are well-done for the time, though the visuals are obviously dated now. Controls, tutorial materials etc. are quality but clunky at times.

So overall not great, but better than most esp. with the concept getting it a bonus.

Spoiler Policy

NONE. There's a thing that happens at a certain point - can't be more specific without giving it away - that I think is quite cool to the point of being one of the better gaming moments from this era. We'll see if others agree with that take when we get there. Despite it being 20 years old, I expect quite a few will probably not have seen this game as it had a loyal, but fairly modest following as RTS go. I'd like them to be able to experience it afresh if they wish.

If what you have to say hasn't been covered and/or shown in a video, DO NOT POST ABOUT IT. Don't use spoiler tags. Don't be coy. Just don't do it. PLEASE.

If you choose to post spoilers, I'll ask you to remove them. If you don't do so within 24 hours, I'll involve a moderator. This is for the good of the thread. I always like discussion/interaction etc., but if this means you can't say anything for the first few episodes, take this as an encouragement to keep your virtual trap shut until we get to the content you wish to discuss.

LP Style

Edited video (similar to my AI War stuff, I'll remove some of the grindy/repetitive maneuvering after we get our teeth into things).

Goon Participation

Squads get promotions, medals, and stats in this game. More details on that will come later. They also have customizable names and loadouts. That's where you come in - if you wish - as my subcommanders. If you wish, you may propose a name for a squad in any video I've posted. I will rename them at the soonest available update, but not before they get their first promotion. That'll create some 'lag time' to keep things going hopefully smoothly. The following broad categories of squads will eventually be available; Infantry, Terradyne (land vehicles), and Aerodyne (flying contraptions).

If you choose, you may also specify what type of gear, 'combat posture', and unit subtype within those categories you would prefer (limited to those unlocked at that point of the game of course). Because of the LP approach, I won't always be able to perfectly follow these, but when possible I will do so.

LP Difficulty

I'm going to do this in a narrative gameplay style, Hard difficulty at least at first. I'm experimenting a bit with this one. By narrative I mean that I'll be playing as I think the character would at that moment, as opposed to a meta-gaming, break the game in half style. I'll also be delving some info on the backstory, characters, VA cast, etc. This may require me to bump the difficulty down one level at some point; Ground Control is a fairly challenging game as is though not oppressively so. A fair number of the handful of existing YouTube LPs have 'God Mode' on which eliminates almost all damage sources, because as one of them put it they don't think they could finish it otherwhise.

No such wimping out here but where the two conflict, narrative/atmosphere above challenge.

The Conflict To Date

Boot Camp (48:00)
Communications Relay (20:26)
The Defector (12:42)
At The Source (24:44)
Iron Shield (17:21)
Aquisition (13:35)
Neighbors At The Door (30:51)
The Satellite (23:13)
No Win Situation (21:16)
Jungle Purification (37:49)
Anti Air Raid (59:41)
Simple Escort Duty (1:00:30)
Take & Control (57:07)
Under The Field (1:06:05)
Behind Enemy Lines (1:07:25)
Show of Force (1:01:58)

Order Campaign

Liberation Day (19:35)
Clear The Way (13:02)
Nobody Home (18:15)
Activation Equipment (25:48)
Into The Dark (24:24)
Early Warning System (56:40)
Important Cargo (45:34)
Heretic Manna (56:43)
Have Gun, Will Travel (48:04)
Four Bridges Too Far (32:24)
Source of Power (1:37:14)
Covert Beginning(42:10)
Winter Wonderland (24:21)
Desperation Attack (38:50)
The Last Dance (1:45:02)

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 15:21 on Oct 12, 2020

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Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...


Boot Camp (48:00)


This is mostly the tutorial missions, all in one video to get them out of the way. They're pretty good as such things go, but if you want to skip them that's totally understandable. The game's intro cinematic starts things off, and I recommend that as well as a plot synopsis I did starting at around 41:15 to get a little more flavor for what we're in for here.

Up Next

The campaign starts, and we meet a couple of characters, delve into some more backstory, and generally start getting a feel for the game proper.

Available Squads

None yet. That will change with our first real mission.

Jobbo_Fett
Mar 7, 2014

It would be a sad error in judgement to mistake me for a corpse.


Clapping Larry

I was wondering who would eventually LP this...

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Oh man, this game was great.

It came out when? Man I feel old.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Not sure I ever made it to the twist, looking forward to this.

Velius
Feb 27, 2001


Ground Control is a really good game. It has its flaws but for the era it was beautiful, the tactics actually kind of tactical, and no base building made it a lot less tedious. It also has the most badass (possible spoiler removed at OP's request) ever in a game. Thanks for lping it Sage!

Somebody fucked around with this message at 14:27 on Mar 27, 2020

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Velius posted:

Thanks for lping it Sage!

My pleasure!

Velius posted:

It also has *removed*

The what? We know not what this *removed* thing is of which you speak. Thus far we have only made the acquaintance of light and main battle terradynes, a couple of aerodyne types, APCs, and marine infantry. Which is still quite a selection for boot camp, but please do the necessary.

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 19:00 on Mar 27, 2020

JLaw
Feb 9, 2008

- harmless -


I remember anticipating this back in the day, as the only upcoming game that seemed to do the sorts of things that Myth did. In the end the theming didn't grab me though. It's nice to take a look back at it now.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Jobbo Fett posted:

I was wondering who would eventually LP this...

It would be a sad error in judgement Jobbo, to mistake this series for a corpse.

megane posted:

It came out when? Man I feel old.

Old we are, yet younger than we will be. Or something.

sebmojo posted:

Not sure I ever made it to the twist, looking forward to this.

Thanks for joining the ride!

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Heck yeah, looking forward to this.

I honestly have mixed feelings on Ground Control, I love the concept and enjoy the game... until about the halfway mark every time, then it just kind of peters out for me. So I look forward to this LP.

Jobbo_Fett
Mar 7, 2014

It would be a sad error in judgement to mistake me for a corpse.


Clapping Larry

Strategic Sage posted:

It would be a sad error in judgement Jobbo, to mistake this series for a corpse.

I was going to LP it after C&C

Deadmeat5150
Nov 21, 2005

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLAN


I really liked this game when I played it... apparently back when Betty White was in diapers. Jesus I feel old now.

Anyway I'll sign up to eventually die horribly to lead troops into battle!

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

PurpleXVI posted:

I honestly have mixed feelings on Ground Control, I love the concept and enjoy the game... until about the halfway mark every time, then it just kind of peters out for me. So I look forward to this LP.

Glad you popped back in for this one. You're not alone in this sentiment; I'll get into the why later for spoiler reasons but as the game scales up gameplay does get tedious for some people. It's been years since I completed it myself so I'm kind of curious how it holds up to my memory of it personally.

Deadmeat5150 posted:

really liked this game when I played it... apparently back when Betty White was in diapers. Jesus I feel old now.

Lol. I said 20 years ago not 200 :P

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

Love to see this being played and massive props for trying it on Hard, the game is difficult enough on its own. Or I was just that bad it. Whatever.
Anyway, this is a great piece of gaming history; if nothing else it should be remembered as the originator of World in Conflict which loving owns.

anilEhilated fucked around with this message at 14:27 on Mar 27, 2020

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Strategic Sage posted:

Glad you popped back in for this one.

I probably would've popped in faster if I'd recognized you had a name change.

Dreadwroth2
Feb 28, 2019

by Cyrano4747


I love Ground Control, the sequel is pretty good too.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom. But now, tea!


Ground Control is just a beautiful game, and it plays well with its simplicity - you really get a feeling that you're a hard-bitten corporate mercenary whose loyalty is to her men first, and the company a long way second.

Brilliantly, it manages this with voice acting and subtle interface design. Such a beautiful game. The expansion pack was okay but the game simply couldn't handle that much plot.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Loxbourne posted:

Ground Control is just a beautiful game, and it plays well with its simplicity - you really get a feeling that you're a hard-bitten corporate mercenary whose loyalty is to her men first, and the company a long way second.

Brilliantly, it manages this with voice acting and subtle interface design. Such a beautiful game. The expansion pack was okay but the game simply couldn't handle that much plot.

nicely put

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Loxbourne posted:

Ground Control is just a beautiful game, and it plays well with its simplicity - you really get a feeling that you're a hard-bitten corporate mercenary whose loyalty is to her men first, and the company a long way second.

Glad you enjoyed it, and hopefully I'll be able to do it justice here.

Please be careful with the spoilers. This can stay as we'll be getting into it in the next episode tomorrow, but those who haven't played the game don't know our protagonist.

Alchenar
Apr 9, 2008

The level of betrayal I felt when Paradox announced their new wallpaper tore something from me that I'll never be able to recover. They tore away my ability to respect anything, and they tore away my ability to feel human.

Also the music. Oh god the music is perfect.

Ground Control sits alongside Mechwarrior 3 and Freespace 2 and having a story written and delivered in a way that perfectly makes the player part of a sci-fi war that feels like a scenario with real and plausible people in it.

e: and all of this stuff about units having armour arcs and being better on high ground and some units being stealthy and being able to spot for others - this was all totally novel as far as I can recall for an RTS.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

Not really, a lot of the stuff you mention (terrain, spotting, elevation...) was featured in stuff like Total Annihilation (and stealth has been part of RTS since the original Command & Conquer). This might have been the first fully 3D RTS to do it, though.

Alchenar
Apr 9, 2008

The level of betrayal I felt when Paradox announced their new wallpaper tore something from me that I'll never be able to recover. They tore away my ability to respect anything, and they tore away my ability to feel human.

anilEhilated posted:

Not really, a lot of the stuff you mention (terrain, spotting, elevation...) was featured in stuff like Total Annihilation (and stealth has been part of RTS since the original Command & Conquer). This might have been the first fully 3D RTS to do it, though.

All the individual stuff had been done here and there, but this was the first one to do it in 3d and throw it all together. And also in a tactics non-base building game.

Myth is the game that really took a first stab, but wasn't fully 3d.

evilmiera
Dec 14, 2009

Status:Perpetually fearful

Yeah, innovation and polish in a lot of areas was novel at the time. Shame about the company's issues in later years, they did good work. I remember the demo of this game selling me on it and I wasn't even that big an rts buff at the time.

Kangra
May 7, 2012



Yeah, this was a really well-done system, but for various reasons the level design got really tedious for me. The lack of in-mission save is a big problem for it.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...


Communications Relay (20:26)


The first real mission, although it's more of a confirmation than you know the basic controls than anything else. We meet our first couple of characters including the previously-mentioned protagonist who is voiced by one of the most (now) well-known VAs in the business. Things will ramp up fairly quickly by RTS standards, but this one does more for plot and character development than it does for the story itself, and I've always thought this campaign-introducing cinematic was an example of particularly clumsy writing. More backstory, the way briefings and force configuration works is discussed before the mission; debriefing and stats including ranks & promotions comes afterwards.

Up Next

The second mission is one that can trip people who aren't strategists up; I've seen people say it's already the point at which they bagged the game.

Available Squads

We have a single Infantry squad now in need of a subcommander. To acquire them, simply post in this thread with whatever (appropriate) name you'd like to change Vanguards to. As noted before, the name change will take place when they get their first promotion.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


The Stormin' Gormans

Kibayasu
Mar 28, 2010



Every time I replay this game I eventually get to one of the late missions, die once, and lose all interest because you can't loving save.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



It is so weird and refreshing to have a female protagonist for a game like this, particularly with a backstory that doesn't focus on her being a woman.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

Hell, I forgot we were fighting for the Craven Corporation... The game really doesn't do subtle.

evilmiera
Dec 14, 2009

Status:Perpetually fearful

There's also various little hints that swedes made the game, such as the name of the one ship being Astrid, and the name of the planet riven by war being Krig.

Fivemarks
Feb 21, 2015


Cythereal posted:

It is so weird and refreshing to have a female protagonist for a game like this, particularly with a backstory that doesn't focus on her being a woman.

Its refreshing that Ground Control: Other G never came out and made her talk about THE BABY.

Alchenar
Apr 9, 2008

The level of betrayal I felt when Paradox announced their new wallpaper tore something from me that I'll never be able to recover. They tore away my ability to respect anything, and they tore away my ability to feel human.

Cythereal posted:

It is so weird and refreshing to have a female protagonist for a game like this, particularly with a backstory that doesn't focus on her being a woman.

Not just that, but her boss is also a woman.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Kangra posted:

for various reasons the level design got really tedious for me. The lack of in-mission save is a big problem for it.

Kibayasu posted:

Every time I replay this game I eventually get to one of the late missions, die once, and lose all interest because you can't loving save.

I've been surprised so far by the relative love-in in this thread - when this was first voted on people who knew the game at that point weren't that enthusiastic about it. The objection raised here is an understandable one, and I'm ambivalent on it. It can get more tedious in the later missions, for reasons I'll skip for now because spoilers. Not having in-mission saves appears on the surface to be a significant flaw, but I'm not sure that it is. With the emphasis squarely on tactical battles, allowing that would really unbalance the difficulty and lead to a lot of cheesy savescumming. In a different genre, you consider the original Splinter Cell, which required you to perform a certain number of maneuvers successfully before reaching the next checkpoint. On the other hand it is really annoying to get a ways into a long mission, do something stupid or make a mistake because of some mechanic that you didn't fully understand or whatever, and then have to start the mission over.

evilmiera posted:

There's also various little hints that swedes made the game, such as the name of the one ship being Astrid, and the name of the planet riven by war being Krig.

Forgot about the Astrid, I need to remember to mention that along with all the other names.

Cythereal posted:

so weird and refreshing to have a female protagonist for a game like this, particularly with a backstory that doesn't focus on her being a woman.

Agree. There's a lot of games that do the whole 'we've evolved to the point of equality' thing and then spend a lot of time talking about the gender of whatever character is involved. Here the silence about that is deafening, and the events in the story carry the character arc forward on their own.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Personally I'm staying quiet about the things I didn't enjoy because, as mentioned, they're later-game things and I would rather not spoil stuff.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

Honestly, the fact it is a pain in the rear end to actually play makes the game perfect LP material. This way, everyone gets the experience but only you get the suffering.

Alchenar
Apr 9, 2008

The level of betrayal I felt when Paradox announced their new wallpaper tore something from me that I'll never be able to recover. They tore away my ability to respect anything, and they tore away my ability to feel human.

Past mission.... 4 I'd say that they get a bit too long for them not to have checkpoint saves.

It's also a bit of a flaw that the game lets you pick your force composition, but this can really screw you over in some missions when something suddenly happens and you cant react.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom. But now, tea!


Alchenar posted:

Past mission.... 4 I'd say that they get a bit too long for them not to have checkpoint saves.

It's also a bit of a flaw that the game lets you pick your force composition, but this can really screw you over in some missions when something suddenly happens and you cant react.

Ground Control is very, VERY much a game where you play every mission twice - the first time to know what surprises the mission will spring, the second time to actually complete it. Crayven as a faction are a bit better about this, having multipurpose units that can stand in for specialists if you didn't think to bring them along. But if you're playing the game alongside the LP, expect more than a few "augh" moments as you realise you just didn't bring the hard counter to an incoming enemy unit type.

This, combined with the lack of mid-mission saves, is what can make Ground Control hard to swallow. When you're an hour into a complex mission, having to restart because the enemy brought Tactical Bunghole Infantry and you didn't think to pack your Anti-Bunghole Squad is deeply frustrating.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Loxbourne posted:

expect more than a few "augh" moments as you realise you just didn't bring the hard counter to an incoming enemy unit type.

As far as I remember it, the game's at least pretty good about the "recommended" troop deployments for each mission fitting the opposition pretty well.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...


The Defector (12:42)


We learn a little more about our enemy, and another squad is added to our command. We get access to a couple pieces of equipment, though we don't actually have any available choices yet until we get more. Also seen is the most obvious way to fail a mission, and what happens when you do and a name that simply must be seen to be believed.

Up Next

The scaling-up of the introductory act continues with an interesting but highly flawed mission, including a new character that spawned a bazillion bad jokes relating to David Bowie.

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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



On the mythological reference of Garm, perhaps more important to naming something Project Garm is that Garm is said to be the signal that Ragnarok has begun: he will be released from his duty guarding the gates of Helheim and his howl will be heard throughout creation. Ultimately, his fate is to die together with Tyr, the god of justice and honor.

If you want to name something spooky and ominous as gently caress after Norse mythology, Garm is an excellent choice.

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