I just wanted to show my support and extend my sincere thanks to Azrapse and all his collaborators, wishing you all god speed and good luck!
I have just finished Tour III of X-Wing CD Edition (1994) and I do believe one of the game's weakness is how poorly the difficulty factor was implemented throughout the game. There are some extremely difficult, very frustrating missions and some that are a walk in the park.
Once the state of the project is advanced enough to allow for discussing this matter, I'd love to give you my opinion and provide feedback.
Hi, thanks for the good wishes. :)
Definitely, the difficulty in X-Wing is very very uneven. You have walk-in-the-park missions next to truly hairpulling ones.
I don't think it is a bad thing to have hard missions that require more tries to complete than other. Just like if they were a story with high action/low action moments, I believe you need peaks of high difficulty alternating with valleys with low difficulty, both to keep the player interested but at the same time, to avoid overwhelming him or her too much.
However, one big problem of X-Wing is that all its Tour of Duty missions are served sequentially, even when they often jump between different story arcs.
Sometimes there is a mission in a story arc that represents a climatic moment, and the mission itself is harder to represent this. But then if the player gets stuck in this mission, he is stuck in the whole Tour of Duty, even when there would be other story arcs that are awaiting with simpler missions, locked behind that roadblock.
Please, let me explain myself with TOD 1 as an example:
1. Destroy Imperial Convoy
2. ID Reconnaissance Mission
3. Fly Point During Evacuation
4. Protect Medical Frigate
5. Ambush Imperial Supply Convoy
6. Raid for R2 Units
7. Recover Stolen X-wings
8. Rescue Sullustan Tech Staff
9. Diplomatic Summit at Sullust
10. Rescue Sullustan Leader
11. Capture Staff from Cygnus
12. Recover Explosive Warhead
This TOD is called "A New Ally", and one of the story arcs in indeed the search for new allies for the Alliance. However it is also about the efforts to evacuate of the Rebel base in Brigia, "steal" war material from the Empire to supply the rebel cause, as well as the planning for sabotaging of a star destroyer.
If the player gets stuck in one of these missions, he gets stuck in all 4 story arcs. Instead we could reorganize the missions in 4 parallel arcs with the player being able to jump to whatever arc at any moment if he has got stuck in one of them.
"The War Effort"
1. Destroy Imperial Convoy
2. Raid for R2 Units
3. Recover Stolen X-wings
"The Battle for Brigia"
1. ID Reconnaissance Mission
2. Fly Point During Evacuation
3. Protect Medical Frigate
"A New Ally"
1. Rescue Sullustan Tech Staff
2. Diplomatic Summit at Sullust
3. Rescue Sullustan Leader
"Attack on the Invincible"
1. Ambush Imperial Supply Convoy
2. Capture Staff from Cygnus
3. Recover Explosive Warhead
Completing the 4 arcs completes the Tour of Duty 1, but the player is free to complete them in any order, with the only strict order to be the one of missions in the same arc.
While this doesn't deal with the difficulty within missions, it does at least solve the problems with roadblocks, that were one of the main causes that led players to drop a particular TOD or the whole game.
I remember being stuck in TOD 1 Rescue Sullustan Leader for months, completing TOD2 and TOD3, before going back to TOD1 months later to be able to complete it.
TIE Fighter learned from this and made its "Battles" much shorter (having from 4 to 6 missions each), and quite independent from each other (although some battles would unlock first after you completed a particular previous battle).