Time to Claim Party Prizes

It's time for people who won prizes at the Birthday Party on Saturday to claim their gifts. If you won an item below, send us your IRC name, real name and address. If the item has a choice involved (which game, book, size of shirt, etc), be sure to let us know that as well. This is also the time to tell us if you won something in a prior year and didn't claim it originally. Lastly, most prizes for last year were sent early, so a couple items that we got addresses for late didn't make the cut. We'll include those with the packages below. Congrats again to the winners! If you couldn't make the party this year, we'll have the log up soon.
  • GOG Wing Commander game - Doppler, capi3101, TCSTigersClaw (x2), Sylvester
  • Academy on DVD - Music_guru, DaveO
  • TCS Eisen shirt - Sylvester, Death
  • TCS Eisen hat - powell99
  • Wing Commander on BluRay - Vinman
  • Wing Commander on iTunes - PopsiclePete
  • Wing Commander novel - FekLeyrTarg, Shere
  • WCCCG Starter Deck box - capi3101
  • Confed replica patch - FekLeyrTarg, capi3101

HP Software Shows Terran Allegiance

Klavs was setting up a new computer recently and was surprised to see a familiar logo in the center of the screen! Hewlett Packard didn't just read his mind and select an appropriate Wing Commanderific avatar - the "compass" logo is the icon HP associates with new computer installations and their "Getting Started with Windows 8" app. Klavs superimposed a traditional Confederation star over the symbol and they're a very close match!
Setting up a new machine today and- What the heck?! What's worse is that a TOBI interface is nowhere to be found! :)

New Wing Commander Proposal Drives IMDB Listing

Last Tuesday a new IMDB page appeared for a Wing Commander film reboot slated for 2015. Fans have been understandably surprised and curious about this new development!


The project description sounds similar to that of the original movie with the added addition of the 'reboot' aspect that's popular today. "The film follows the TCS Tiger's Claw and the crew as fight a war for survival against a vicious alien race known as the Kilrathi. Reboot of the Wing Commander franchise." Several cast members have also been listed: Robert Rusler (Seether from WC4) as Colonel Halcyon, Asim Ahmad as Grunt from the Academy TV show, Scarlett Laurent as Angel and Jay Montalvo as the voice of Prince Thrakhath. The actors above also happen to be listed as producers of the project, and this would be Ahmad's first writing credit. Its budget is listed as a $32 million estimate. Chris Roberts and Electronic Arts are also named, but formal agreements haven't been established yet.


As the project is in pre-production, the details above would still need to be refined for the venture to move forward. And just to clarify, this is not the same director's cut of the 1999 film that Chris Roberts occasionally mentions as a potential future possibility. Many of the details remain fluid, so we look forward to clarifying more in the near future!

Happy 16th Belated Birthday, CIC!

Happy 16th Birthday everyone! We've had another exciting year. On top of the full DOS game lineup finally being added to GOG, Electronic Arts got back into the game with several Wing Commander additions to their Origin service - they're even heavily promoting WC3 as their August 'On the House' freebie! Everyone also pulled together to Kickstart a live recording of orchestra Wing Commander music that should come to fruition in the months ahead. What we've heard so far is absolutely fantastic, and this should wow Wingnuts everywhere when it's finally ready. Due to illness, weddings and other events out of our control, not all of the items we had planned for today are quite ready to show off. Despite being slightly short staffed, the team has pulled together to put together some neat stuff for you today, and the net effect is just that we'll have even more cool features to share in the near future! We hope you enjoy what we've got here - Happy Birthday all!

Listen to Wing Commander in Concert!

Since the conclusion of George Oldziey's successful Kickstarter earlier this year, he's been working to prepare Wing Commander tracks for live recording with a full orchestra. Austinites got a special preview of this album last month when a medley was performed live by the Austin Symphony in front of a huge Fourth of July audience. Shocked (and lucky!) Wing Commander fans lit up twitter with positive reviews, and some were even able to record it. And now we're excited to share this wonderful compilation with you! Download it here (25 meg m4a AAC format).

Wing Commander 3 Video Index Revamped

Last year the Holovids section was revamped so that the inline videos would work without third-party plugins in any up to date browser, on desktop or mobile. This involved re-encoding the bulk of our videos to formats that can be played by HTML5-capable browsers. Notably, the massive Wing Commander 3 movie index was still using the old Flash technology.

We're happy to report that all the Wing Commander 3 videos (including many "lost" scenes that were dropped from the PC version!) have been converted fresh from the highest quality source currently available: the Playstation port. While the videos are still relatively low resolution, the improved compression techniques and higher color depth of the Playstation version means a very noticeable improvement in quality. The comprehensive movie index includes every video you might encounter during a complete playthrough of Wing Commander 3 on PC. The lost scenes section has additional videos that only appear in the Playstation or 3DO versions.

HCl's Online Ship Viewer

HCl has created a viewer that allows you to see various Wing Commander ships in 3D right in your browser. Check it out here. The viewer is still a work in progress but supports a variety of 3D formats including the ship files used by the games themselves. currently the viewable objects included are from the Wing Commander games that use the realspace engine (WC3,4, Armada). These are the Wing Commander ships ripped straight from the game and viewable right in your browser! HCl is still busy tweaking the code so don't panic if some of the objects don't display properly. Please allow a few seconds for the object to appear when you've made a selection.

Known issues:
  • Realspace supports one-sided and double-sided textures. If an object is facing away from the user it will sometimes look like there's nothing in the viewer. Some of the simpler objects default facing away from the camera. Try rotating the object to view the image.
  • Some realspace geometry doesn't display yet, which includes all the Proving Grounds pick-up items.
  • Some objects display distorted textures and missing geometry.
  • The viewer supports displaying sub-meshes. This is needed for showing the Lance (Dragon) from WC4 properly with it's wings. Carrier hangar bays are also separate meshes. With the way Level-of-Detail works in the Realspace engine that means on most capital ships you can zoom into the hangar but you will not see it until you are inside the ship.
  • Not all ships are currently configured to display the sub-meshes properly
  • Some ships are listed more than once in the list but don't look significantly different because the different LOD models are separate meshes.
  • There were many left over and unused WC3 ship meshes and objects in the WC4 object file. They are included with the WC4 ships but don't currently point to the WC3 palette file and will display incorrect coloring.
  • Wing Commander 3 has a Super Wing Commander raptor (Armada Gladius) hidden in it's object file, though the texture displays psychedelically.

You can look forward to this feature being updated and upgraded in the future. Other 3D formats are supported as well, so HCl plans to add the Prophecy, Secret Ops, Privateer 2, and Arena ships. There's also plans to include the source models for the WC2 and Privateer ships.

Ultima Forever's Kilrathi Island is Real!

When Ultima Forever launched last year, there were rumors of a quest that involved a downed Kilrathi ship. The game's untimely cancellation was announced without the easter egg ever having been found, but thanks to a little birdie, the mysterious relic has been revealed! Here's the screenshots! So cool!

Cake Time!

LOAF's amazing wife, Alexis Lesnick, baked us an amazing cake this year! The frosting looks great and I love the bright candles. Really wish I was down in Santa Monica to try it!

Product Primers For New Players

Through the CIC's Mediawiki, staff and fans have been collecting a massive amount of background information on all the Wing Commander products in existence. If you're a new player who's just (re-)discovered the series through Good Old Games or Origin, those wiki pages can be a little overwhelming. Our series background section aims to provide more of a primer for people who need the basic history of a core product, or some quick links to a piece of documentation or walkthrough. Parts of the section will be extended with better imagery and additional information in the near future, but for now, the background section will hopefully help many new players on their way.

Taped Radio Interview With Mark Hamill Resurfaces

LeHah went through some extra effort to bring us a lost gem from 1996. While going through some of his stuff he recently came across a relic of his youth. I'll let him pick up the tale from there:
I happened to wake up around midnight the night before this interview in 1996. The DJ said how excited he was that MARK HAMILL ... Luke Skywalker! ... was going to be in the studio for the morning show. Expecting some Star Wars news, I dug out an old cassette and recorded this.

Mastered in brilliant mono from a 25 year old cassette tape from a boom box with bad reception circa 1996 and transferred with IPhone's Voice Recorder, you too can enjoy this only sort-of interesting interview with Mark Hamill the day before his WC4 signing event at the New York Virgin Megastore.

You can download the interview here (mp3) or here (ogg) format. The interview runs about 9 minutes and the Wing Commander bits begin about 1 minute and 40 seconds in.

Happy Birthday from the Flat Universe Team

The guys at the excellent looking Flat Universe project have put together a special video for today's anniversary celebrations! Check it out below.
Hi guys, This is a small present for the coming WC CIC party! (and a chance to show off the hangar we prepare for the game along with some in-game models by Klavs ;))

Enjoy and Happy Birthday WC CIC...

Tales of the Claw Teased

Klavs has been slowly teasing his video animation project 'Tales of the Claw' since it was announced a year ago. Today, he's gifted us the first look at his gorgeous ships in motion. Klavs describes 'Tales of the Claw' as a "series of short animated films retelling some events aboard the TCS Tiger's Claw."

Poll: Still With Us?

As many of you know, at the start of each Wing Commander year we ask our visitors how long they've been following the website. Are you a new fan, perhaps drawn in by the GOG/Origin re-releases, or have you been with us since the Wing Commander Home Sector days? As you can see from previous polls, the majority of our visitors are dedicated, long-time fans, but we continue to draw in fresh blood each year!
Our previous poll asked about your favorite gun loadout in Privateer. Wing Commander fans proved to be a predictable bunch, with an absolute majority (55%) preferring the Tachyon over all other types. The slow but hard-hitting Plasma Gun ranked second with just 9% of the vote. The trusty Laser received the fewest votes, just behind the mediocre (but fairly expensive) Particle Cannon.

Thank YOU!

And that's a wrap! Or is it? Like we mentioned up top, a few items didn't quite make it in time for today's celebrations, so look forward to some more nifty Wing Commander goodness in the days ahead. We can't say enough how much we appreciate everyone's devotion to the Wing Commander community. It's not just the hundreds of people modding games, creating art, leading RPGs and so forth - all of those people are motivated to do so by the thousands of fans that stay in the loop and encourage this activity. Meanwhile, all this excitement is showing everyone that there are still Wingnuts out there craving more. The powers that be are taking notice, and the best is yet to come!

You are Cordially Invited...

To the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's 16th birthday celebration! TONIGHT at 7:00 PM Eastern US (4:00 PM Pacific and 11:00 PM GMT) in #WingNut!

Featuring...

  • The thoroughly engaging company of your fellow Wing Commander fans!
  • A multimedia extravaganza!
  • Long lost relics from another time and place!
  • Trivia - from A-17 Broadswords to Zartoth Electronic Warfare Craft!
  • Exciting Wing Commander prizes!
  • CAKE!
So point your IRC client to irc.wcnews.com, channel #WingNut! If you need help with IRC check our #Wingnut section, or just use the web interface (even works on mobile devices!).

'90s Hits Fill Escapist Sim List

Escapist has followed up its recent Wing Commander reviews with a profile of history's top space sims. Wing Commander and Star Wars games dominate the list with Privateer in 13th and WC 1&2 in the 6th & 4th slots. Tie Fighter just barely edges out WC3 in the battle for 1st place. There's nothing new to see here really, but it's interesting that their "best of all time" angle seems to have actually meant it. A lot of review sites disproportionately skew these kinds of lists towards newer releases.
Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi

Liz Harper says: Why mess with a winning strategy? Wing Commander II took the original Wing Commander and improved the graphics, the sound -- featuring full voices for characters in certain sequences -- and the story in an all-new chapter of the Wing Commander saga. As WCII opens you learn that the Tiger's Claw has been destroyed by new Kilrathi stealth technology... and without any other survivors, you've taken the blame and demoted to serve on an out of the way space station for the rest of your days.

Fortunately, the game skips over the ten (no doubt tedious) years your character served and you jump back into the story when there are new Kilrathi attacks in the system. Though the combat is much the same, the story has a lot more depth as it follows your rise from disgrace... and, of course, uncovering the traitor who really doomed the Tiger's Claw and clearing your own name. While in hindsight, story seems to string together a heck of a lot of tropes, it did so better than anyone had before it.

Throwback Thursday#

This week we're taking you all the way back to August 7, 2014. Last Thursday, Electronic Arts Instagramtweeted this screenshot of Wing Commander 3 to promote their latest On The House giveaway. WC3 is available free for a limited time through the Origin digital service. Be sure to grab it by September 2!
#TBT with this classic from the early 90s! Wing Commander III is free right now with Origin On the House! Which old school game would you want On the House next?

Behind the Screens of WC3 with Origin

Origin has also posted a second, more in-depth, Heart of the Tiger tie-in. The video below is referred to as "found footage" from the making of WC3, but videos such as this one have been archived at the CIC since the late '90s - not to mention your collections - so the footage wasn't ever lost, but we appreciate their effort to bring some classic Wing Commander history to the masses.
Go Behind the Scenes with Wing Commander III and Relive the '90s

In honor of Wing Commander III On the House – currently free to own, download and play on Origin – we give you found footage of the game in production from the official “The Making of Wing Commander III” video.

The games industry was in a very different place 20 years ago. On the PC, games were still shipping on floppy discs. The more intense the game experience, the more discs were required to install. The adoption of CD-ROM technology meant that game makers could access hundreds of megabytes of data for their projects.

In the early 1990s, that space usually was allocated to video introductions, cutscenes and endings, giving developers an opportunity to flex their storytelling muscles in brand new ways. Chris Roberts, the creator of the Wing Commander series, eventually took this experience to Hollywood to direct the theatrical Wing Commander movie starring Freddy Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard in 1999. From game programmer to film director in just a few short years.

In this “making of” video you’ll see what it took to bring the deck of the Tiger Claw and the Kilrathi race to life using the finest technology the 1990s had to offer.

This was pioneering stuff two decades ago. Prior to CD technology you’d be lucky to get cutscenes with still frame talking heads and text-based dialogue. The developers of Wing Commander III were leading the charge towards something that, admittedly, would mostly be abandoned thanks to more powerful and better integrated in-game storytelling tools developed over the years.

But Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davis, Thomas Wilson and other recognizable actors all on the same set for a video game is still pretty cool, more than a dozen years later.

Wing Commander III is still available On the House on Origin. Grab your copy now and experience the space epic for yourself.

Wing Commander Ships Engineered for Steam Sim Game

The Rocketeer dropped in to share the Wing Commander ships he's currently building for Space Engineers, a game available on Steam Early Access. He's already got the classic Wing Commander basics down: a Tiger's Claw and a Venture square off against a Fralthi in the pics below. The carrier has a wing of Hornets, Scimitars, Raptors and Rapiers ready to go, plus a handful of Kilrathi ships have also been built. See how they move up and down on the hangar bay service elevator below. This can all be found in the Steam Workshop under the name "Wing Commander 1:1'. You can also let The Rocketeer know what you think over at the CIC Forums.
I used the sketches from Joan's Fighting Spacecraft in Claw Marks from WC1 and basically measured everything out (large blocks are 2.5m^2, small blocks are 0.5m^2, so they're actually full size in-game. I did hit a slight problem with the relative size of the fighters though, as I think has been discussed in the past. To fit a Raptor out of the launch tubes, I had to make some modifications to the mid-ship wings compared with the original drawing, and with the best will in the world this 'Claw with these fighters is only ever going to have 2 launch tubes. I think I could just about squeeze in 104 fighters, but at these scales the ship would be basically unworkable and all other ship functions would be relegated to the aft wings, super- and sub-structures.

The same problem also applies to the Kilrathi ships, as the canon Fralthi is supposed to house 20 fighters - I managed to squeeze them in (just - 6 Krant, 6 Gratha and 8 Salthi) but only by using some creative thinking. I am considering rescaling the fighters but they'll lose a lot of detail in the process :-(

If anyone has alternative / better scaled statistics for the size of the WC1 fighters (Kilrathi and Terran) I'd be very interested in those. I've already applied the 19:24 resize of the Rapier from WC2 to all the fighter craft and the size is still pretty bonkers.

Goodbye, Robin Williams

There's been an outpouring of grief for actor Robin Williams since his untimely passing yesterday. Many others have written more wonderful tributes than I could craft, but we would like to take a moment to briefly pay respect to our fellow gamer and Wing Commander fan. Mr. Williams and his wife were engrossed in the 8-bit Legend of Zelda in the late '80s, so they named their daughter after the title character. His son was also named after Cody from Final Fight. Articles have even popped up listing out what franchises he was most into, and one of them was Wing Commander.

He was so into the series in the mid '90s that he popped up on the set of Wing Commander 4 during its filming. In fact, Chris Roberts even wanted Williams to play Merlin in the Wing Commander Movie. A couple years back, Chris mentioned that he regretted how Williams' absence zapped some critical humor and narrative sequences in the film. Ultimately the Merlin AI character was largely cut from the movie, although Mark Hamill did voice the uncredited part during computer dialogue sequences between Blair and his Rapier. We can only imagine how memorable it would have been as originally intended! Alas, if an enhanced director's cut is ever made, this particular casting will never be. Goodbye, Mr. Williams.

CHRIS ROBERTS - Losing Merlin was the biggest mistake in my opinion. It didn’t happen until mid-way through post production. We shot everything and the intention was to film a big star (I was wanting Robin Williams) on a green screen for a day or so and then composite in a holo –effect. We were over budget and the producer, Todd Moyer, had persuaded me to try a cut without Merlin as he didn’t think we needed him and we couldn’t afford the VFX shots or the additional green screen shot (let alone a fee for a big actor). When I didn’t get a response back from Robin Williams' camp I gave in to the idea. I really regret it as losing Merlin we lost a lot of the humor plus a lot of exposition that explained the whole Pilgrim backstory – not to mention the fact that the Captain turned out to be a Pilgrim. Between losing Merlin, the bigger opening (when the Pegasus was more like Hawaii of Pearl Harbor) and the Kilrathi not working I feel a lot of what made the script work for me was lost. The final film was too simple without these extra layers. I have often toyed with the idea of taking the original footage, re-doing the Kilrathi with today’s digital VFX, filming Merlin and making a new cut – I even proposed it to Fox a while back but they declined. When I get the rights back in 2015 I may do this as it would all be a lot cheaper now than before. I don’t think it would make WC a great film as there are some basic flaws with it, but I do think it would make it better.

AD - This is interesting... I never really pictured Robin Williams in the role when reading the novelization or the script. I always imagined his lines being delivered in a more dry/ironic kind of way.

CHRIS ROBERTS - I wanted Robin Williams because he liked and played Wing Commander and I thought he could handle Merlin's dry humor (he doesn't always have to be whacky Mork). Funny thing is that I ended up working with him on The Big White.

Sierra Returns for Classic Franchises

Activision has confirmed that it will be resurrecting the Sierra brand so that it can make new games in certain distinguished franchises again. The first games produced under the new label will be a King's Quest remake and Geometry Wars 3. Sierra will apparently function as a type of quasi-publisher that will be primarily partnering with independent developers to bring classic franchises back to life. Sounds like a great business model to us! Come on EA, you're already half way there!
August 12, 2014 – With a renowned history that's served as the origin for many nostalgic video game characters, worlds and experiences, Sierra™ continues on today in a return to form that fans of great games will love. A part of Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI), Sierra's focus is on indie studios developing innovative, edgy and graphically unique games, including new IPs and contemporary reimaginings of beloved Sierra classics. Headlining Sierra's slate of indie games is an all-new King's Quest™ experience in 2015, and a new Geometry Wars™ game planned to launch this holiday season. Additionally, the Sierra team is well underway exploring other indie projects to potentially launch later this year, and in 2015 and beyond.

Today's news about the future of Sierra was met with excitement from its original founder, Ken Williams. "We're very proud of what we created all those years ago with Sierra Online, and today's news about carrying Sierra forward as an indie-specific brand is very encouraging," said Williams. "We look forward to seeing Sierra's independent spirit live on, and are especially excited to see what The Odd Gentlemen will do with King's Quest."

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