BREAKING NEWS: Is Wing Commander Poised To Make a Comeback? (September 28, 2010)

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Finder of things, Doer of stuff



Gaming news site Kotaku is reporting on some interesting posts made to Paul Barnett's twitter account. If you need a refresher, Paul is creative director of Bioware-Mythic (formerly just EA-Mythic) where Ultima Online is currently housed.

In those Posts, acknowledges Wing Commander's 20th birthday and mentions that he's been hard at work attempting to convince EA to put out a release of Wing Commander packaged up with DOSBox. Presumably such a release would be purchasable either on EA's own download service or another third-party service like Valve's Steam marketplace.

Talking to the dosbox people, so far they have been awesome, gives me hope for releasing old old origin product to the faithful!

Wing commander Turns 20, I am hard at work seeing if we can dosbox and release it! Come on ea legal... Now is the time to shine!

Wing commander in dos box and re~released , retweet it for the win!

now have a dosbox'ed version of Wing Commander plus secret missions.
Tech guys removed the copy protection question from the Wing commander build!
Now having the Wing commander game data compared to our original source code, we need a clean bill of health at this stage!


Sounds promising! A rerelease of Wing Commander would certainly be welcome given the franchise's recent milestone! Wing Commander fans should watch these developments closely. Ultima Aiera, a fan site for Origin's other major property, is reporting that Mythic is also looking to rerelease classic Ultima titles, including the more obscure 'Worlds of' games. Can Wing Commander Armada and Cybermage be far behind?

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Original update published on September 28, 2010
 
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Madman

Vice Admiral
Cracking news, but remember that things that edit the exe file (notably wcsav) may not work with a modded exe (i.e. one without the copy protection)
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Speaking as someone who is apparently "tech guys", removing the copy protection ended up needing only two altered characters in a hex editor.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
That is great news, some movement at EA :) and we didn't even have to write letters.

My only concern - why not simply rerelease a stripped-down KS version of WC1, similar to the one offered on this site from PC Gamer? I've tried that app on four systems, three of them on XP, one of them on Win7 and had no compatibility issues at all.

Dosbox on the other hand, well it usually needs tweaking to the PC's own specs, so I don't know if it'll work for everybody without lots of technical tinkering.

Overall though, this is one of the best news stories in months :)
 

Marc

Commodore
Speaking as someone who is apparently "tech guys", removing the copy protection ended up needing only two altered characters in a hex editor.

...well then good job tech guy!

that right there is more productive than anything I've done in a while.
I would like to spend money on this EA.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
The current DOSBox does a pretty good job of setting itself up... and it will only get better as the emulation improves.

Kilrathi Saga is much more finnicky. It's great that it runs on a swath of current Windows, but it may not in a year... and I don't think we're close to having a reasonable Windows 95/DirectX2 emulator.

This is also a proof of concept for a project that would archive all of Origin's back-catalog... the majority of which is DOS (... and Apple ][). We could do WC1 and WC3 (and even WC2, although it's kind of gross) from the Kilrathi Saga versions... but that'd be that, no Academy or Armada or Privateer or CyberMage.
 

Evan

Rear Admiral
Besides... KS is not 20 years old. If you want a simple solution, emulate the SNES-Version. But that wouldn't be the same. This is the original one.

LOAF: Do I get this right? WC2 KS is a mess? Is there a reason/thread behind that?

On another note: I can't believe, that the new WingCenter-guys missed the birthday....what a shame :/.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
LOAF: Do I get this right? WC2 KS is a mess? Is there a reason/thread behind that?

It's a pig of a port--uses far too many system resources and has lots of glaring bugs (graphics that don't line up correctly, missing music, etc.)

It got far less love than Wing Commander I Kilrathi Saga.

On another note: I can't believe, that the new WingCenter-guys missed the birthday....what a shame :/.

No shame in being out-Wing Commander'd by WCNews.com... but I guess it's kind of embarrassing when EA remembers and you don't. :)
 

Evan

Rear Admiral
Ah well. I don't have anything to do with the new staff anymore. Perhaps I will revisit the site one day. Don't know...

To KS: I always had the impression, that the KS was a quick shot and didn't get the love, it deserved. It's a quick "let's jump on the Windows-trend". But hey...nowadays, we would be more than glad with such a port.

I would love to see a WC-SE as in Monkey-SE. No 3D or such. Just updated 2D-gfx with voice-overs and an audio commentary by warren and chris. A simple rerelease would be great, too ;).
 

elend

Rear Admiral
Is there btw "Wing Commander Arena" sales data available? If there could be one indicator of future Wing Commander games, it might as well be the Arena sales, imho.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
To KS: I always had the impression, that the KS was a quick shot and didn't get the love, it deserved. It's a quick "let's jump on the Windows-trend". But hey...nowadays, we would be more than glad with such a port.

Not at all--you have to remember that it was a huge deal at the time to convert an old game to Windows 95, especially one with as much murk to it as the original Wing Commanders. WC1 and 2 were a hodgepodge of messy source, missing elements and material that EA just outright didn't own because of how Chris contracted it out personally. The fact that it happened at all is fairly amazing!

Kilrathi Saga had a huge budget, too--render time for the intro, all the reorchestrated music, actual programmers to work the code, entirely new layout and content for the manual...

(Remember that all of Origin's other budget and bundle releases were shovelware that, at best, had a DOS boot disk included. Compare Kilrathi Saga to Ultima Collection or the 'EA Classics' lines and you'll see what I mean...

I would love to see a WC-SE as in Monkey-SE. No 3D or such. Just updated 2D-gfx with voice-overs and an audio commentary by warren and chris. A simple rerelease would be great, too .

Despite what Paul Barnett's Twitter indicates, there's no source code out there for the original game. It'd have to be built
 

Bigt028

Rear Admiral
what about going right to the souce..thos old 3.5 floppies or from the version i originally had...5.25...floppies...
 

StarSlayer

Rear Admiral
I think there are a lot of good indicators in this move. Number 1: They're thinking about wing commander. 2. Bioware is a great bunch to be thinking about it. They maks incredible as-good-as-live story sequences. 3. The last time EA released a bunch of old games from an old franchise it was C&C.. we know what happened there. :)
4. They would undoubtedly track the downloads of any re-release to gauge interest in the series.

Things are looking up :)
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
The current DOSBox does a pretty good job of setting itself up... and it will only get better as the emulation improves.

Thanks. To be honest I'm a little unclear on how this concept would work, perhaps you can help; is the idea to simply rerelease WC1 for download along with a copy of DOSBox, or actually integrate it with Wing Commander into a single app?

I think there are a lot of good indicators in this move. Number 1: They're thinking about wing commander. 2. Bioware is a great bunch to be thinking about it. They maks incredible as-good-as-live story sequences. 3. The last time EA released a bunch of old games from an old franchise it was C&C.. we know what happened there. :)
4. They would undoubtedly track the downloads of any re-release to gauge interest in the series.

Things are looking up :)

Great post.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I think there are a lot of good indicators in this move. Number 1: They're thinking about wing commander. 2. Bioware is a great bunch to be thinking about it. They maks incredible as-good-as-live story sequences. 3. The last time EA released a bunch of old games from an old franchise it was C&C.. we know what happened there.
4. They would undoubtedly track the downloads of any re-release to gauge interest in the series.

It's a nice dream, Vaquero... :)

But! This is actually unrelated to any other work that might be being done with the Wing Commander IP. Paul Barnett is excited about getting Origin's back catalog released this way and so that's what he's fighting for this project. Bioware isn't getting Wing Commander (and for reasons that will eventually become clear, couldn't if they wanted it.)

Thanks. To be honest I'm a little unclear on how this concept would work, perhaps you can help; is the idea to simply rerelease WC1 for download along with a copy of DOSBox, or actually integrate it with Wing Commander into a single app?

Yes, the idea is to make it a single-click-to-run experience. You bundle together an installed/configured copy of the game with an instance of DOSBox that's pre-set for the game into a single installer (along with any bonus features you can include... we had some big plans for this but it looks like it may release before a lot of them are ready). In the end you run the installer and then you have a shortcut to Wing Commander that 'just works'.
 
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