What's Next for Wing Commander?

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Hey, how's everybody doing? I'm wondering what people think is up for the next Wing Commander game.

It's been a while since we've had a discussion on this topic. There was lots of speculation when Star Citizen was announced, but now we've got 18 months of that behind us. We got the WC Blu-ray recently, Chris Roberts gets the rights back to the film soon, and George Oldziey's music album is coming, but those are a different topic. We will undoubtedly continue to be surprised by more awesome things like these in the future.

The landscape has evolved quite a bit over just the last few years. PC space sims have made a bit of a comeback, but there are also the new generation consoles. Even iPads and other mobile devices are so powerful now, and can stream to TVs, that every platform is graphically amazing. Ultima made a comeback on the iPad with a free to play game, which combines two hot markets. EA's Origin recently stopped selling discs, and the new consoles can also deliver everything digitally, so how much life do boxed copies of games have? Even Arena, which is now seven years old, was only available digitally. When the next game shows up, how do you think it'll arrive?

And where do you think it'll take place? Is it a foregone conclusion that the Kilrathi are the go-to Wing Commander enemies? Does anyone think the Nephilim will actually return? Something entirely different? Will it be a first person space sim?
 

Dyret

Super Carrot!
I hope it won't be a soulless money-sink like the new dungeon keeper. Other than that I'm really hoping for a return to basics, as in 'this is a generic WW2-drama in space and you are the hero, let's make everything a cinematic as humanly possible.' Wing Commander is always remembered for the epic stories and such, but I think what truly spoke to me was the 'fuck yeah' feeling of limping home, screens all static after taking down the enemy ace and his squadron with a broken radar and then getting a medal for being awesome (or not, if you happened to let the transport you were guarding die anyway!). I'm not even sure you could sell a game like that these days with the Wing Commander title without people being disappointed, but it'd be kind of amazing to see something like that done again.

As for what I think actually will happen, unless Star Citizen changes something is a Privateer-style game since those are the only space games being sold right now, possibly drawing from the same sources as Arena in terms of setting. Possibly for iOS and possibly unplayable without sinking money into micro-transactions.
 

capi3101

Admiral
A great deal of discussion about this topic has come up on the RSI forums, most of it largely negative and involving EA "jumping on the bandwagon" as it were after Star Citizen's assumed inevitable success (sounds negative even to put it that way, one of the reasons why I haven't gotten into the discussion).

I see it being delivered digitally. Why not? Secret Ops was delivered digitally if you think about...besides, boxed PC games are pretty much kaput as it is. I mean, I walked into my local Best Buy the other day (I needed the exercise - get off it) and lamented to myself the fact that fifteen years ago PC games took up three full aisles running about 2/3rd the length of the store, and now are relegated to a single vertical unit right by the door to the restrooms.

I could only pray that a new WC game would available for PC. I mean, I would dearly love to play Arena with some of y'all; alas that I don't own an XBox and can't justify buying one to the missus (hell, I couldn't convince her to let me buy a damn Roku, and I've payed more for video games in my lifetime than one of those damn things cost). I'm not optimistic about it though.

Look at me being the pessimist here......okay, different part of the question.

It's hard to say what kind of setting I'd like to see a new WC game. I do think there a great number of stories that could be told with any version of the canon, though I think if whoever built it really wanted to appeal to the fans, they'd stick to the pre-Movie canon (before anybody starts, I have no problem with the Movie - I just think that most fans of the original game are more comfortable with story as it was told in the games; there should probably be a poll about that, quite frankly). Something in the post-Action Stations time period (early war) might be interesting. Something in the Nephilim War era might be interesting; it's really hard for me to say - I mean, this is one of the reasons why I built WCRPG, so that some of these stories might be told however people might like to tell them.

Damn thing had better be a first person space sim. And I don't give a flying crap how good it looks - I want a game that is a game, not an art-piece.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I'm not really sure what to expect... With CR actively doing Star Citizen, I just can't see EA trying to go toe to toe or to go all out on the level that SC and SQ42 promises. But that's in the short term. I wouldn't expect a full WC title for at least 2 years...

What I would like to see would be for EA To focus on making a single player campaign WC with a handful of multiplayer modes (co-op plus arena/deathmatch/etc) and for them to work on making it fun and polished. It doesn't need the level of engineering going into Star Citizen, but heavily focus on Story. If we're being honest, Wing Commander was kind of the Call of Duty of the space sim golden days.... EA should focus (not on that playstyle) on that event style blockbuster with strong multiplayer. Do I see it happening? Not any time soon with EA sitting on an exclusive deal with Disney to pump out Star Wars games. Should it happen? Yes. Will it happen? I don't see it in the short term. My fear is that EA will just farm out a WC title to whoever is the lowest bidder, and will take a hands off approach leading to a browser based social game where you're forced to get your friends to sign up and have to buy special afterburner fuel every few hours to keep playing and make any kind of progress.

No matter who does the next WC title, it is almost guaranteed that it will go back to the beginning of the Kilrathi war, whether or not Blair is the main character.

I feel a tablet WC game could work if it's not a space sim.. I hate games that require you to rotate the screen to fly. However I feel tablet gameplay is better suited to top town RTS style gameplay. I'd love a tablet version of Armada, or even just a straight up WC RTS like the Homeworld mod would be awesome on a tablet. Heck I'd be completely ok with a online version of the WC card game. (why hasn't that happened yet?!!).

The only issues I see (we saw it with Arena) is that many fans will just not be satisified with any new release *unless* it's a full blown AAA story based first person space sim in the vein of the main WC release.

If EA does do a WC title sooner than later, I could see it being moddeled after their recent Battlefield series entries. It would probably be marketed to the xbox one or PS4 primarily with a PC version getting quietly released on Origin without much fanfare. There would be several free to play tie in games on the ipad and android services.
 
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Whiplash

Commodore
AD, I think you may be on to something there. A proper RTS, maybe even with a turn-based metagame like Armada, would really pique my interest. I would love to play something similar to Star Wars: Empire at War in the WC universe. Heck, EaW even includes ground combat, something WC never did. Imagine playing the whole Kilrathi war from a strategic perspective.

The other option, I think, would be to craft something similar to XWvsTIE; a multiplayer dogfight sim that allows you to play various scenarios or battle friends online. It could be punted as WC Arena 2 if you like. This allows you to build a proper flight model, with classic WC combat, just to revive some interest in the brand. In the meantime, start working on either a sequel to Prophecy, or a reboot of the original, this time from another character's perspective. You could even add a Kilrathi campaign.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Interesting question!
I may be pessimistic, but I only see a few possibilities, and all of them sound bad.
1. Some mobile crap, think of WCP for GBA, just with prettier graphics, but much worse gameplay. Perhaps a rail shooter.
2. The same thing, just for PC and/or some console or the other.
3. Nothing at all, because nobody cares for the franchise except some weirdly nostalgic people of the 30+ generation. Heck, lots of Star Citizens haven't even heard of WC before joining the RSI forums, and those are people who like the idea of space sims, or they wouldn't be there in the first place!

EA doesn't produce a game that has a target audience of less than half a million people worldwide. SC shows that there aren't that many people interested in a space sim, even with a huge effort.
Ok, so maybe not a space sim, but a FPS or RTS or a RPG? I don't think so. There are much more well-known franchises to built such a game on. Franchises people younger than 20 know and care about. EA has the money to buy them

So yeah, I think the future for WC looks bleak. Perhaps another movie, but if I were Chris Roberts I would make a SC movie instead, more people would be interested in that.
 
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Mekt-Hakkikt

Mpanty's bane
A very good question. Since I haven't expected a single of those things Chris mentioned, I think I am rather bad at guessing what comes next.

I don't think that EA will release a WC game immediately, I think they will wait to see whether Elite: Dangerous and SC/SQ42 really are a commercial success and not just hype. And then I think they'll ask Chris Roberts whether he wants to make a WC game for them (mostly SP with a coop-campaign and some MP, first-person space sim).

Regardless of whether CR will accept or not (and EA launches a WC game without him at the helm), I don't think they'll continue the WCP/SOPS storyline but will set it in the Kilrathi War (maybe a remake but I don't think so). Which I think is sad: even though I don't really liked WCP's story compared to other WC games (SOPS was a bit better), I think it deserves an ending. But we kind of got that through the awesome Arene manual.

Edit: I even think it might be possible that a new WC game would be boxed. I mean, so many WC games had blueprints and so on, I think they'd continue this tradition. At least in form of a "Collector's edition".

If Mr. Roberts gets incredibly rich or SC does really well, I wouldn't rule the possibility of a new WC movie out.

And if SC does not so well, I can still imagine a FPS with the WC franchise.

I hope it won't be a soulless money-sink like the new dungeon keeper. (...)

What, a new Dungeon Keeper? Where? Or do you mean the one for phones?
 

pigsonthewing

Rear Admiral
I don't think that EA will release a WC game immediately, I think they will wait to see whether Elite: Dangerous and SC/SQ42 really are a commercial success and not just hype.

Agreed, it's a copycat world.
But this is EA we are talking about. It'll be a half-assed console port.
 

Ijuin

Admiral
EA doesn't produce a game that has a target audience of less than half a million people worldwide. SC shows that there aren't that many people interested in a space sim, even with a huge effort.

Um, Star Citizen has 424 thousand backers as of today, and it doesn't even have a release date yet. How many will it have by the release date? 600 thousand? 700? And how many post-release sales will it have if it has that many pre-release sales? The current 424 thousand could easily translate to final sales well over a million.
 

Whiplash

Commodore
Um, Star Citizen has 424 thousand backers as of today, and it doesn't even have a release date yet. How many will it have by the release date? 600 thousand? 700? And how many post-release sales will it have if it has that many pre-release sales? The current 424 thousand could easily translate to final sales well over a million.

I have to agree yes. SC has shown that almost half a million people are willing to spend money on a space sim that technically doesn't exist yet.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
I have to agree yes. SC has shown that almost half a million people are willing to spend money on a space sim that technically doesn't exist yet.
Well, there's a good chance some of them won't be there anymore once the game is released, since everybody expects his dream game at the moment, and lots of people won't get that, everybody expects something different.
I still hope you are right and space sims become big again, but I seriously doubt it. Those half a million people are the whole community, I fear.
 

Deathsnake

Rear Admiral
Chris still loves his game and the old Company:

Arena Commander, by Original Systems
Arena Commander 2 - Revenge of the Vanduul
Arena Commander 3 - Heart of the Empire

wait???
Origin Systems, Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heart of the Tiger :D :D :D Too bad EA give Chris not the Licence. And I don't think a new WC is coming. EA has now the biggest SF Saga Licence ever - Star Wars. Maybe we see (with a ton of luck) a X-Wing/TIE Fighter. Or they use the Mass Effect Licence. I don't think we see in the next years anything beyond Fanmods of Wing Commander or better - as long EA has the Licence there is no Wing Commander :(
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I don't think we see in the next years anything beyond Fanmods of Wing Commander or better - as long EA has the Licence there is no Wing Commander :(

I wouldn't rule out EA licensing the IP to another developer if they felt the price is right. How likely that is... Well, they weren't against the idea when Chris Roberts approached them with regards to getting the go ahead to use the IP for Star Citizen. There were other terms that meant they couldn't come to an agreement, but that doesn't mean another development house wouldn't jump at the chance and be more willing to play EA's game.
 

SpaceDrake

Rear Admiral
I think it's inevitable that getting a new Wing Commander title of any stripe depends wholly on how well Star Citizen and/or Elite 4 do. If EA sees the potential for profit, they will dive in. If not, they won't.

Though I do think there is one point on which people are being a little overly negative: "console" ports. You have to remember that any Wing game produced at this point would be for the PS4 and/or XBone. Both of those machines are x86-based computers using the same graphics hardware as in a mid-to-upper-range gaming PC. There's very little to actually "port" - the one and only question would be how well joystick controls would be implemented. But getting a PC version, and one that looks good, would be a no-brainer - the modern consoles and PCs are literally the same architecture! This isn't the 90s where hefty porting between platforms is required - Intel has literally won and every major gaming device uses their processors or derivatives thereof. Ports, good ones, will be trivial compared to how they've been in the past.
 

Ijuin

Admiral
Well, there's a good chance some of them won't be there anymore once the game is released, since everybody expects his dream game at the moment, and lots of people won't get that, everybody expects something different.
I still hope you are right and space sims become big again, but I seriously doubt it. Those half a million people are the whole community, I fear.

The pace of new funding also has kept steady at tens of thousands of dollars per day (between 30 and 70 thousand on most days). If this does not suddenly dry up, then the current 42.6 million will definitely be 50 million and possibly near 60 million by release time.

So, the basis for comparison for SC should be at least comparing it to other games that have made more than 42 million in gross revenue, if not higher. Given the typical size of the cut that the game companies actually get out of the MSRP, 42 million in the company's pocket is roughly equivalent to a million and a half copies sold already.
 

Whiplash

Commodore
The pace of new funding also has kept steady at tens of thousands of dollars per day (between 30 and 70 thousand on most days). If this does not suddenly dry up, then the current 42.6 million will definitely be 50 million and possibly near 60 million by release time.

So, the basis for comparison for SC should be at least comparing it to other games that have made more than 42 million in gross revenue, if not higher. Given the typical size of the cut that the game companies actually get out of the MSRP, 42 million in the company's pocket is roughly equivalent to a million and a half copies sold already.

I recall that Chris outlined some figures in an early interview. For a typical $60 sale, with the traditional publisher + marketing + sales channel + boxed copy model, the developer would be lucky to see $20 per copy in the end. With Star Citizen being crowdfunded, no publisher, no manufacturing cost, and word-of-mouth marketing with a few strategic events, they are looking at about $50 per copy of profit. This means they can sell far fewer copies than traditional publisher games, and still be successful.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
That's correct. And the main reason is marketing. IIRC I saw a figure for some AAA game once, and that game had some 60 million dollars of budget, of which 20 were used for actually making the game, and the rest was marketing, marketing, marketing, and distribution. For Call of Duty and so on budgets are in the 50-100 million dollars range, and only a third of that is actually developing the game.
So yeah, SC has a chance there, but I still think the big publishers like EA will be very careful.
 

Deathsnake

Rear Admiral
I recall that Chris outlined some figures in an early interview. For a typical $60 sale, with the traditional publisher + marketing + sales channel + boxed copy model, the developer would be lucky to see $20 per copy in the end. With Star Citizen being crowdfunded, no publisher, no manufacturing cost, and word-of-mouth marketing with a few strategic events, they are looking at about $50 per copy of profit. This means they can sell far fewer copies than traditional publisher games, and still be successful.

This:
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