Hornet Evades Determined Attacker

NinjaLA has another nice starry nighttime sketch. This one features a Hornet light fighter evading laser blasts. It looks like the shadowy figure in hot pursuit could be the very same Dralthi that Ninja shared last month, which would be great continuity. I'm sure the nimble Hornet will be able to turn the tables and regain the upper hand though!
Fast and dirty. A Hornet gets a little more action than expected.

Secret Ops Ship Swap Project Looks Very Promising

DefianceIndustries has kicked off a fantastic project to swap out the ships in Secret Ops. While there are some great fan patches out there that upgrade the engine resolution, graphical effects and even add DVD quality video, the ship models remain limited by their 1997-1998 vintage constraints. Defiance has recently been able to figure out how to trick the game engine into accepting higher poly count fighters by treating them as subdividable units. The difference is stunning! There are still some lingering hurdles, but other talented Vision Engine modders have been lending a hand to help make this a reality. Anything is possible when these Wingnuts team up! Check out some original and upgraded model samples below.
I decided that while sitting idle and making snarky comments on forums is appealing, I decided to try making higher-poly models for Secret ops! I was playing through it the other night and thought to myself "the game is still fun and has good replay value, why not try and give it a facelift?" Thus my current bit of madness is born.

There are a number of challenges in doing this, largely that there seems to be an arbitrary limit of around 1,200 triangles (not faces) per model or the engine crashes. The idea to work around it is to treat the fighter like a hybrid corvette/fighter model and slice it up into 1,200 tri chunks and then reassemble it in the pascal code in the .iff files using hard points. The advantage is that I can use a single 1024x1024 texture for it (I tried higher resolutions but it crashed the engine) rather than a bunch of 256x256 textures so you can pack more detail in. (The openGL patch doesn't currently support normal or emit maps so those are excluded for now).

Amazingly it actually seems to work - at least from a geometry perspective. There are probably a number of hidden gotchas that will need to worked out like some hidden upper limit of polys per mission or screwed up briefing models (I know this one's coming). Kudos for the work thus far aren't solely mine: Quarto and Pedro have been great resources along with Kevin's excellent Blender Commander scripts. As well as everyone who worked on UE and SO (as I've been trolling their tutorials extensively).

At any rate I'll keep tinkering with it. If it gets legs I'd like to do a model replacement pack for WCSO. Because let's face it, wouldn't you rather fly a mission with this [low poly model shown above] rather than this? [high quality model shown above] :D

Roberts Space Industries Moves To New Home

Chris Roberts and team at the Los Angeles-based headquarters of Cloud Imperium Games are in the process of relocating this weekend. They've closed up shop at the historic 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica now that they've run out of room to expand in that location. Here's some pictures of the Wing Commander decorations that they used to decorate (until yesterday). The good news is that the new location should allow for display of even more cool artifacts! Check out the movie models for the Concordia, Tiger's Claw and Diligent in the first row of shots below. There's also a Wingnuts' dream shelf containing a wide variety of WC products - many of which are still in their original shrink wrap. Not to be outdone, Chris himself sat in front of the giant star map from the WC Movie opening as well as a Snakeir model. Other misc concept art and promotional posters can be found throughout. Here's everything in the process of being packed up: And the new office space, ready to unpack!

3D Prophecy Possible With Special Wrapper & Glasses

Alien Grey recorded an interesting video showing off how he got Wing Commander Prophecy running in helifax's 3D Vision Wrapper. This also takes advantage of the OpenGL upgrade to make the game compatible with the software (and also look great!). Users with these nVidia glasses and a similar setup would then be able to play the game in virtual three dimensions. We've come a very long way since the original 3DFX Glide wrappers!
Wing Commander - Prophecy running in stereo 3D with the 3D Vision Wrapper. Recorded with NVIDIA ShadowPlay.

EA's CFO Talks Funding, Digital Downloads & More

Gamespot and and a number of other media outlets have picked up on a portion of a speech from Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen that was made at the recent Global Technology Conference in San Fransisco. In typical click bait fashion, many sites are latching on to a single comment about acquiring companies in a larger presentation that touches on everything from DLC, digital distribution, mobile strategy and micro transactions. What things like the Star Wars IP allow them to do, how to reach new markets and what to do with their over-a-billion-dollars profit this year are also discussed. While no one forgives the company for dithering away the Wing Commander games, it's also true that EA's money helped make blockbusters like WC3&4 possible. It's interesting to see their perspective on it. Have a listen to get the full story.
"[We're also] always looking at potential acquisitions. Our history obviously with acquisitions has been spotty at best, so I would say there is an extra level of caution around that," he said. "We also believe we have the ability to do it ourselves in many cases, or hire people to do it. So we're careful about acquisitions. But we're going to continue to look for those opportunities and having a strong base globally allows us to be able to do that."

Wing Commander Stars Discuss Return To The Action

To celebrate the third anniversary of the initial livestream that concluded their first crowdfunding campaign, Roberts Space Industries has unleashed a media blitz for Squadron 42. Mark Hamill is front and center in several new videos talking about his return to video games. He's quizzed by both PC Gamer and GameStar magazines about the differences between Star Citizen's motion capture process and Wing Commander's green screen filming. It's great to hear him fondly recall working with Chris Roberts for the first time. GameStar also interviewed John Rhys-Davies, and he talks about his time acting as Paladin. Both actors come across as very kind and tons of fun. Check out the clips below!
Last month Squadron 42's sparkling cast was revealed. Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson, John Rhys-Davies and Mark Hamill all take leading roles in Star Citizen's single player campaign. PC Gamer's Chris Thursten sat down with Hamill for a chat about Star Citizen, Wing Commander, Hamill's fear of getting the Joker part, the joy of sci-fi fandom and, of course, Star Wars.

Battled Hardened Kilrathi Ready For War

Origin artist Denis Loubet has completed a new ink drawing of a Kilrathi warrior. As the creator of the original characters like Thrakhath and Hobbes, seeing his modern perspective on the feline race is very interesting. On top of just looking "right," he's managed to impart a very sage imperial quality to the character. The original pen and paper copy of this design is now on its way to one lucky fan of Mr. Loubet's work. You can help contribute to his future efforts, get a special peek into his creative process and possibly win items like this by following him on Patreon. If you missed it earlier, check out his recent take on Spirit here.
Colin Mueller wins a picture of a Kilrathi! This is very reminiscent of the art I did for The Space Gamer Magazine way back in the 80s: A portrait with a background that suggests backstory.

RPG & CCG Development Steadily Forges Ahead

capi has continued to make great dual path progress on both his Wing Commander RPG and the digital WC CCG. He's expanded the Elegy of Sivar campaign and is now more than half way done translating Kilrathi phrases to help with immersion. Additional WC Aces designs have also been incorporated as capi works to add lots of fan background material to further boost the project's atmosphere. There's also a "plot points" concept that he's playing around with that will allow players to have a greater influence over the story as their play.

Last, but not least, capi will be suspending updates for a couple weeks and he prepares for the imminent arrival of a new baby, but updates will resume after Thanksgiving. In the mean time, he's still looking for fans to playtest his VASSAL engine CCG. You can download the test release of the mod as well as find quick tips to get started at the project webpage here.

I'm still looking for opponents to play the WCCCG mod with me. My six-year old opponent played one more game with me on Thursday - he was in a position to win but didn't realize it, and quit on me a few turns short of his victory. Any win you can get I guess, but these last two sure have been hollow. He did win a game on Saturday - gave me a thorough trouncing, actually - but it took me really crippling my deck to do it. I miss those Hard Brakes and Kickstops, and a deck full of Darkets couldn't defend a wet paper sack...

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