Privateer Mission Series Gap Explained! Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Did you ever wonder why Privateer's missions go from series 5 to 7 in the game's internal numerical sequencing? Series 6 was cut pretty late in the process... but now we've found an earlier version of the game's script that includes them! After finding the derelict, you take the gun to the ship dealer on New Detroit... There a man named WILMER tells you that he can't install the gun because you need to talk to Roman Lynch again. Roman Lynch is the mob boss you last saw earlier in the game after he sent his henchman Miggs to murder you and steal your artifact. Incidentally, this finally explains why there is a never used closeup background stored in the game for a conversation with the ship dealer! Lynch runs this town and you can only get the gun installed if you fly a series of missions for him. The missions are especially immoral, attacking business rivals and civilians... ... and one of them is an attack on a luxury liner! I am better that this is what the final Drayman asset was initially designed to be (since we know there was a WC1-style Drayman in earlier concept art). The series ends with you pulling one over on Lynch: he forces you to give up the artifact... but this time you give it away willingly, revealing in the process that it's only half a map and that you already looted the treasure. Now you've got your Steltek gun! The final series is also longer in this version! You go to help Reismann but his fleet is wiped out by the drone. You jump out and find... Kuhl (art reused in RF) with a Kilrathi fleet, which is also wiped out! One more jump and you meet the scout and dogfight the drone 1v1.
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Confederation Project Adds Expanded Flight Deck & First Peek at Hobbes Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

AllTinker has a variety of updates to the Confederation project that we shared last month. First up, there are more shockingly good graphical test assets to share. His extended take on the flight deck looks incredibly natural - it's surprising to check out the animated version that compares his take to the original. There's also a great interpretation of what a young Ralgha looked like. He was a pretty buff guy in his youth! This version was partially inspired by EmuMusicFan's sketches. There's also a handful of technical enhancements that have been made that you can read about in more detail at the CIC Forums. This includes some in-depth discussion about how visuals like the landing sequence below were made!
A quick update on the project: I've recently started work on splitting out the code for reading the original data formats into a separate C++ base library which will be open sourced as soon as it's stable API-wise.

The idea is that it will be shared between Confederation and WC4 Remake; thus we can more easily pool our efforts - and those of anyone else who'd like to contribute. The library will be usable by any projects wanting to read (and perhaps write) formats used by the Wing Commander & Privateer series, and perhaps some other Origin games too (e.g. I've done some reverse engineering of BioForge previously, and Strike Commander has been mostly(?) reverse engineered already).

'Wing Commander' Beer Spotted in the UK Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

AD found a neat beer being served at The Quakerhouse in Darlington, UK. Apparently they have an in-house microbrewery dubbed Mad Scientist, operated by Brian (The Scientist) Dourish and Rob (Egor) Brunton. Wing Commander is one of their creations. It's listed as a "spiced/herbed beer" and the little table card pictured below says it's a 4% ABV made with ginger. If anyone's nearby and able to check this out, definitely let us know how it is! And if anyone knows how to get ahold of the Beer Tree Brew Super Soaker IPA, let me know!

Explosion Comparison: Origin FX Versus Privateer Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Sprite sheets for explosions in Origin FX’s Armageddon mode (Left) versus Privateer (Right). I had not realized FX shipped nine months before Priv! You can see a few frames were cut in that time:
Armageddon is an Origin FX movie which displays a variety of explosions and damage effects on the desktop. There are six types of explosions, two of which are taken from Wing Commander Privateer. Three sound effects can play. The movie is named after the armageddon spell from the Ultima series.

"Be careful — if you stop typing for long, there could be trouble brewing. It’s a terrorist attack of the software kind . . . explosions everywhere, blowing away your application and clearing the screen with the violent beauty of detonation after detonation. Whether they leave pitch black craters, smoke or no trace at all is your own decision to make from the safety of your console."

Here are the other four explosions in case anyone else can ID them. Sergorn says the third one is from Ultima… if the mushroom clouds are reused they’re probably from Strike Commander.
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Listen to the Armada Music for the Roland SC-55! Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

It's well established that some of the earliest Wing Commander games had music that was built around specialty sound cards. People with the right Roland hardware could listen to the background tracks exactly as the composers imagined them. George Sanger recently capitalized on this by releasing a special MT-32 Archival Edition of his WC1 soundtrack, and even the SC-55 tracks for Privateer have gotten some renewed interest of late. But there is another! Wing Commander Armada was also composed using an SC-55, and it has absolutely glorious music locked behind this card as well. Nerdly Pleasures recently took the time to record it, and here it is for your audio enjoyment! I just listened to the whole thing straight through. Thanks to Anatoly Shashkin for the tip.
Wing Commander: Armada is a spinoff of the Wing Commander series with music composed by "Midian" (Marc Schaefgen, Dana Glover). Recorded from two Roland SC-55mkII units in a split-channel configuration. If anyone can help us identify the two unknown tracks, we'd greatly appreciate it.

00:00 - Introduction, Main Menu
01:24 - Gauntlet Mode
03:52 - Confederation: Cruising
05:19 - Confederation: Regular Combat
06:09 - Confederation: Intense Combat
07:04 - Confederation: Target Destroyed
07:08 - Confederation: Victory
07:41 - Confederation: Death
08:14 - Confederation: Unknown
09:11 - Kilrathi: Cruising
10:55 - Kilrathi: Regular Combat
11:30 - Kilrathi: Intense Combat
12:01 - Kilrathi: Target Destroyed
12:06 - Kilrathi: Victory
12:37 - Kilrathi: Death
13:28 - Kilrathi: Unknown
14:52 - Multiplayer Setup
16:06 - Armada/Campaign Mode
18:29 - Your Carrier Destroyed
18:59 - Opponent's Carrier Destroyed
19:30 - Credits

Last Day for Vinyl Album Campaign Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

We’ve come down to the last day of the crowdfunding campaign to create a Deluxe vinyl pressing of the WING COMMANDER score. The tally at this point is around $6000, which is a fair bit under the stated goal, but we’re still very hopeful that everything will continue to progress and we’ll see the finished album. The current estimated completion is March 2024, and we’ll continue to follow the project closely and share any updates along the way. If you’d like to stake your claim on one of these records, you can still do so here through tonight!

System Shock Remake Released: The WC Connection Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Like most people, I can't walk down the street without someone stopping me and demanding to know: is System Shock set in the Wing Commander universe? Buddy, I tell them, no it isn't. But there's a lot of fun backstory getting there... (System) Shocking but true: the game DID begin development as a game set in the Wing Commander universe! Here's a pitch by Warren Spector for 'Alien Commander' that might seem pretty familiar (and in other ways... pretty... alien). That's right, System Shock could've taken place in the wreckage of the Tiger's Claw! This was a popular idea at Origin at the time. When the Baen package was first announced the third book was also scheduled to be about the end of the 'Claw! With an outline by Jerry Pournelle. It was even the focus of the Wing Commander II team's shirt... which artist Paul Steed famously decided was so ugly that he volunteered to design the following shirts starting with an awesome school seal he drew for Academy. Here are some very early brainstorming pages from Warren Spector's archive (available to researchers at the University of Texas!). You've all been in this meeting. You can see they'd already moved past 'Alien Commander' and are getting closer to what System Shock became... So it's not about the Tiger's Claw... but is it still in the Wing Commander universe? No, but there's a Wing Commander game in System Shock and a System Shock game in Wing Commander! And some other even more confusing stuff. Let's take a look at some lore... You probably know that the CD version of System Shock adds an amazing minigame: "Wing 0", a hilarious parody of WC that even uses voice clips from WC2 for the wingmen. It was designed by Sean Barrett and has all the hallmarks of WC: briefings, traitors, pirates, aliens, etc.
You can find it in Cyberspace on the Reactor level. It has 13 missions, 4 bitmapped ships and 12 wingmen (one of whom is a literal clown). Mission layouts and a saved game are available here: Meanwhile, Wing Commander III's manual includes a review of a holovid (movie) called Hail SHODAN which it says is based on a game! So people are playing some future System Shock redux in 2669, too. (Is the hacker named James Finn anywhere else? SS fans help me out here.) The 3DO version of the manual even adds a screenshot from System Shock! It's one of the batch created for marketing the game. (And for some reason it's blue in the EA digital catalog. What's that about?) So it's a game in both worlds (and popular enough to be a movie). Cute! But now to add to the confusion according to the Topline newsletter that came with Crusader, SHODAN is real and under construction in that world! ... and then Wing Commander Secret Ops has several nods to Crusader by mentioning the WEC (Crusader's evil government) as part of the WC universe's distant pasts. Which would then seemingly imply that SHODAN (and System Shock) must have also existed! But Secret Ops designer John Guentzel pointed out at the time that it doesn't quite work: Crusader and System Shock's worlds both have teleporters and Wing Commander does not. So it's just a nod and not to indicate that the other Origin games happened in the same timeline. (Of course, you know who wrote extensively about the impact of teleporters on their future setting... Larry Niven! And we all know Wing Commander would NEVER steal from Larry Niven...) Teleporters aside, someone unspeakably handsome got to dot the last i in Wing Commander Arena, though, by introducing NO MERCY, a movie based on Crusader in Wing Commander. And huh, it's based on a true story... Of course, fictional movies based on Crusader aren't unique to Wing Commander... both of the Crusader newsletters reference ones that already exist in Crusader! But yes, no teleporters in Wing Commander so System Shock can't be part of its history. Whew, this is a long post, let me just grab a soda... That's it for me, folks! The System Shock remake is out today from NightdiveStudio and everyone says it's GREAT! Will it have something along the lines of Wing 0? I hope to find out soon! Until them, keep Wing Commandering, Crusadering and System Shocking. (The teleporting soda is from the first episode of Wing Commander Academy, Red and Blue. It made nerds VERY angry at the time.)
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Artists' Sketches Offer Dramatic Take on Familiar WC Designs Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

AtolmAzel is an artist over on DeviantArt who specializes in sci-fi art. Among their many galleries is a special section with sketches inspired by Wing Commander. Check out some of their slick pieces below! The sampling below shows off the Dralthi, K'ha'haf, Rapier, Longbow and a handful of capships. They incorporate some very distinct familiar themes with some smooth artistic license. You can find all of their sketches here!

Reverse Engineering Project Seeks to Enhance Classic WC Features Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

AllTinker has a brand new exciting fan project to share with fellow fans. For quite a while now, he's been working on reverse engineering some of the original Wing Commander games in a new engine he's dubbed 'Confederation'. There's a lot of ambitious stuff he's got planned, and you can visit the CIC Forums to read up on all the details. One of the most eye-catching is the potential for enabling a proper widescreen mode. He's mocked up some terrific concept art of how that would look aboard the Tiger's Claw. It might only be a handful of pixels on the sides, but I really like what he's done here! Click on each of the thumbnails for an animation that compares the original to his new design:
Confederation is essentially a custom cross-platform engine which reads original data files from the Wing Commander (and Privateer) series - based on some of my own ("clean room") reverse engineering, but also of course the work of various members of the community over the years.

My immediate goal (which may well still take a couple more years) is to fully re-implement Wing Commander 1 & 2, favouring making subtle improvements here and there over perfect accuracy. It's not the only motivating factor, but the main one is honestly the lack of speed limiting in DOS WC1/2... I can't deal with it anymore. I've tried modifying the original machine code in various ways, but without the source code I've given up on achieving what I want with the original engine. I've tried Kilrathi Saga, but that doesn't do it for me either.

In concert with rebuilding WC1/2, I've been working on a mission editor, not only to view/debug existing missions, but to create new ones; and new campaigns, including new cutscenes/dialogue and so on. The whole thing is built around a scripting system, so even before I open source it (which I plan to do), it should be possible to make very complex addons.

Once the technical aspects have been worked out, the only limit that remains is creativity. And Tinker's got that covered too with this nifty Firekkan pilot in a Confed flight jacket!
And I'm not sure if this is going anywhere or worth showing, but speaking of adding new stuff here's a rough sketch of a potential Firekkan Confed pilot (with original art reference on the left). I'm not sure if they'd wear something so similar to regular uniforms though (maybe?).

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