1990s Chris Roberts Talks Wing Commander, Star Citizen

YouTuber RetroMantic has dug up an old interview with Chris Roberts from 1996, sometime between the releases of Wing Commander IV and the Darkening. He talks briefly about getting into game development and his first commercial projects before moving on to Wing Commander and Privateer. The interview closes with Roberts stating his views on the future of videogames, which he sees moving in two distinct directions: scripted, solo games with a focus on story-telling, and massively online multiplayer, where players set out to achieve some goal of their choosing within a living universe. Twenty years later, the Darkening's Erin Roberts is overseeing development of Squadron 42, a story-driven solo game set in the Star Citizen universe.
Chris Roberts (born May 27, 1968) is an American video game designer, programmer, film producer and film director. He is best known for creating the popular Wing Commander series while employed at Origin Systems. Currently, he is working on the crowd-funded space simulator Star Citizen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's every Wingnut's favorite Pilgrim-themed holiday today, and so we're here to remind you about an important Wing Commander product. The Wing Commander Movie novelization and its sequel, Pilgrim Stars, were released as timely tie-ins in 1999. But the third novel never got a proper release... until just a few years ago when author Peter Telep graciously made the book available digitally. Fans can now find the rest of the story online here or as a mobi (Kindle) / epub (iBooks or other). And hey, if you happen to be in the USA today, we hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving too!
When I was first hired to adapt the Wing Commander screenplay into a novel, I was thrilled and frightened out of my mind. I knew there was a huge fan base, and I knew that some well-respected novels had already been written and published. I also realized after reading the screenplay that Chris Roberts was making changes to his own universe, and I was wary of how fans might react to those... so what did I do? I went straight to those same fans and asked for help. The guys at WCNews and others provided me lots of great research, insight, and suggestions for what I could do with the book, and between them, the screenplay, and my own imagination, I think we created something that bridged the gap between the film universe and the known and beloved WC universe of the games and previous novels. It was no easy task, trust me. Despite the film's reception, I was quite proud of how the books were received and am still getting fan mail to this day asking for that unpublished final novel, Pilgrim Truth. That it's been ten years and fans are still hungry for more WC is a testament to the quality of the work that's been produced over the years, and I can only tip my hat to every other artisan who came before me and helped pave the way. I'm very proud to be associated with Wing Commander and truly loved the experience! ...

-Peter Telep (August, 2009)

Blue Origin Rocket Nails Vertical Descent

Fans create awesome Wing Commander content every day, but sometimes it's nice to see the real thing! Blue Origin successfully landed their New Shepard rocket for the first time earlier this week after the vehicle briefly reached the boundaries of space. There's been some debate over how this accomplishment compares to SpaceX's attempts to land their orbital vehicle on a floating platform, but that's just noise. If competition between the two companies spurs faster future development of space craft, then we all win! For now, check out this awesome video:
Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas.

Hornet Evades Determined Attacker

NinjaLA has another nice starry nighttime sketch. This one features a Hornet light fighter evading laser blasts. It looks like the shadowy figure in hot pursuit could be the very same Dralthi that Ninja shared last month, which would be great continuity. I'm sure the nimble Hornet will be able to turn the tables and regain the upper hand though!
Fast and dirty. A Hornet gets a little more action than expected.

Secret Ops Ship Swap Project Looks Very Promising

DefianceIndustries has kicked off a fantastic project to swap out the ships in Secret Ops. While there are some great fan patches out there that upgrade the engine resolution, graphical effects and even add DVD quality video, the ship models remain limited by their 1997-1998 vintage constraints. Defiance has recently been able to figure out how to trick the game engine into accepting higher poly count fighters by treating them as subdividable units. The difference is stunning! There are still some lingering hurdles, but other talented Vision Engine modders have been lending a hand to help make this a reality. Anything is possible when these Wingnuts team up! Check out some original and upgraded model samples below.
I decided that while sitting idle and making snarky comments on forums is appealing, I decided to try making higher-poly models for Secret ops! I was playing through it the other night and thought to myself "the game is still fun and has good replay value, why not try and give it a facelift?" Thus my current bit of madness is born.

There are a number of challenges in doing this, largely that there seems to be an arbitrary limit of around 1,200 triangles (not faces) per model or the engine crashes. The idea to work around it is to treat the fighter like a hybrid corvette/fighter model and slice it up into 1,200 tri chunks and then reassemble it in the pascal code in the .iff files using hard points. The advantage is that I can use a single 1024x1024 texture for it (I tried higher resolutions but it crashed the engine) rather than a bunch of 256x256 textures so you can pack more detail in. (The openGL patch doesn't currently support normal or emit maps so those are excluded for now).

Amazingly it actually seems to work - at least from a geometry perspective. There are probably a number of hidden gotchas that will need to worked out like some hidden upper limit of polys per mission or screwed up briefing models (I know this one's coming). Kudos for the work thus far aren't solely mine: Quarto and Pedro have been great resources along with Kevin's excellent Blender Commander scripts. As well as everyone who worked on UE and SO (as I've been trolling their tutorials extensively).

At any rate I'll keep tinkering with it. If it gets legs I'd like to do a model replacement pack for WCSO. Because let's face it, wouldn't you rather fly a mission with this [low poly model shown above] rather than this? [high quality model shown above] :D

Roberts Space Industries Moves To New Home

Chris Roberts and team at the Los Angeles-based headquarters of Cloud Imperium Games are in the process of relocating this weekend. They've closed up shop at the historic 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica now that they've run out of room to expand in that location. Here's some pictures of the Wing Commander decorations that they used to decorate (until yesterday). The good news is that the new location should allow for display of even more cool artifacts! Check out the movie models for the Concordia, Tiger's Claw and Diligent in the first row of shots below. There's also a Wingnuts' dream shelf containing a wide variety of WC products - many of which are still in their original shrink wrap. Not to be outdone, Chris himself sat in front of the giant star map from the WC Movie opening as well as a Snakeir model. Other misc concept art and promotional posters can be found throughout. Here's everything in the process of being packed up: And the new office space, ready to unpack!

3D Prophecy Possible With Special Wrapper & Glasses

Alien Grey recorded an interesting video showing off how he got Wing Commander Prophecy running in helifax's 3D Vision Wrapper. This also takes advantage of the OpenGL upgrade to make the game compatible with the software (and also look great!). Users with these nVidia glasses and a similar setup would then be able to play the game in virtual three dimensions. We've come a very long way since the original 3DFX Glide wrappers!
Wing Commander - Prophecy running in stereo 3D with the 3D Vision Wrapper. Recorded with NVIDIA ShadowPlay.

EA's CFO Talks Funding, Digital Downloads & More

Gamespot and and a number of other media outlets have picked up on a portion of a speech from Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen that was made at the recent Global Technology Conference in San Fransisco. In typical click bait fashion, many sites are latching on to a single comment about acquiring companies in a larger presentation that touches on everything from DLC, digital distribution, mobile strategy and micro transactions. What things like the Star Wars IP allow them to do, how to reach new markets and what to do with their over-a-billion-dollars profit this year are also discussed. While no one forgives the company for dithering away the Wing Commander games, it's also true that EA's money helped make blockbusters like WC3&4 possible. It's interesting to see their perspective on it. Have a listen to get the full story.
"[We're also] always looking at potential acquisitions. Our history obviously with acquisitions has been spotty at best, so I would say there is an extra level of caution around that," he said. "We also believe we have the ability to do it ourselves in many cases, or hire people to do it. So we're careful about acquisitions. But we're going to continue to look for those opportunities and having a strong base globally allows us to be able to do that."

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