Confessions of a WC fanatic.. What's your story??


Confessions of a WC Fanatic:

My WC story begins around July of 1990 when I was the assistant manager of a Babbage’s (long before the chain became GameStop) and we received a demo from Origin on 5.25” disks labeled “Squadron” which was done on a dot matrix printer. The “Squadron” title had been crossed out, and the title “Wing Commander” had been written in sharpie underneath. I noticed also on the label “386 recommended, 640k minimum”. I recently built a 386 – 25 desktop (this was a fairly strong machine for the time), and I decided I’d try this demo out.

After my initial disappointment of discovering this was a non-playable demo, I was AMAZED. This was actually a copy of the demo that Chris Roberts brought to the summer CES @ Chicago in June of 1990, and I heard some rumors about the incredible “space combat simulator” that Origin (the “Ultima” company) was working on. I still have this demo some place, I’ll have to take a picture to post it on the CIC.

Some of my favorite games of this era were Lucas’ Battlehawks 1942 (1988), Dynamix’ Red Baron (1990), and Microprose’ F-19 (1988). Of course, I enjoyed Elite (Firebird – David Braben 1984), but there were no graphic space combat sims the likes of Wing Commander before it was released.

Everything about the WC demo had me ecstatic! The idea that there was a story, where your performance could change the course of the war, having to command a wingman, the ships, the graphics, the sound, and the environment was like nothing anyone ever saw.

I remember this being the first PC game where we took reservations, and Wing Commander caused more people to upgrade their computer than you can ever imagine. I remember many customers being upset. They were saying “I just spent $$ on this computer; it’s less than 1 year old, and it’s not good enough?!”

My saying was “This is state of the art software for a state of the art machine.” I made sure that the customers were well aware of the requirements before reserving or buying WC. I was really amazed by how many people were buying big time hardware JUST so they could play Wing Commander. WC was driving high-end muscle processors, memory, and sound card sales more than any other software EVER did.

I remember the release day in September of 1990. We had a line waiting at our gate before we opened (for a PC game!) and sold out of every extra copy (48) by 11:00. We had reserved over 60, and they were picked up very quickly.

This is very easy to understand when you consider how good WC was at the time. It also makes you realize how good WC still is today. This is especially true when you compared it to other PC games from the 1990 era.

I spent countless hours playing WC 1. I also spent a ton of time educating customers on what hardware to buy, and how to configure it properly. I remember going over “EMMS 386” settings over the phone at least 5 times a day.

I remember playing so much WC through that fall. When Origin announced SM1, I couldn’t wait – the anticipation was almost as great as when WC1 was released. We also did many reservations for SM1 and SM2.

I remember when WC2 was released, many were saying “it can’t live up to the hype, or be as good as WC1”. It was even better.

My attachment to WC1 and 2 was so great, that I really did not get deep into WC 3 and 4, though I did become a Privateer and Righteous Fire enthusiast.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t want or really like WC3, WC4 or Prophecy. They are all awesome. I guess I was “saving” them for when I felt I was totally done with WC1 and WC2. I suppose I will get really into the other games when this happens, but it hasn’t happened yet.

More recently, I developed a strong desire to play Super Wing Commander. In December of 2015, I got a 3DO Fz10 and an NOS flightstick pro primarily for SWC. I enjoy SWC on 3DO. I have yet to crack open the NOS copy I have of WC3 for 3DO. Perhaps when I’m done playing SWC…..........

In early January, I tried the Mac version of SWC on a friends’ 7100 / 100. WOW, how this is awesome on a properly set up system!! So, I’ve recently been restoring Macs so I can properly play the Mac versions of the WC games. I have a 7300/200, as well as a Bondi G3. I’m still working on getting the perfect setup. I’m getting closer, but I’m not 100% there yet. I will report how my Mac adventure with WC goes, just in case any other PC WC fanatics want to pursue this Mac WC path. I would like to correspond with other WC fanatics who have chosen to take the plunge and acquire an older Mac just for the WC experience.

I recently found my old EB flyer in my original WC2 box. I got it from a friend back in 1991 who worked at EB. There is some really cool Chris Roberts / Origin stuff in there. Is there a way I can upload the entire thing to the CIC? The CIC tells me the file is too large, so I'm just doing 2 pages ...

Thanks for your great website. At least I know there are many others who enjoy WC as much as myself.

-Michael Kelley


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Welcome to the CIC!! Great story. Now play Wing Commander 3 and 4 already! :p
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I'm late but yeah, welcome and thanks for the great story! I too favour WC1, WC2 and Privateer above all else.

Edit: And I dream of the day when I get to play SWC...for many years now I have the MAC version but no good means to play it.
Pfft. That cheeky Chris Roberts buying his own game to increase sales. :rolleyes:

I would have said welcome, perhaps welcome back since you registered back in 2007. :p

You can check out this post to find out more about our rag tag fugitive fle-, err, fellow Wing Nuts.
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I believe Hades' theory in that last post about the Chris Roberts photo being on 'Origin Day' is incorrect. The 'developer' photos were taken at three different stores specifically for the advertising insert mentioned earlier in this thread. Origin's sales team put together several different versions, one for each retailer: Richard Garriott at Software Etc., Warren Spector at Egghead and Chris Roberts at Electronics Boutique. The pamphlets are otherwise the same, they just have different dev photos on the cover!