Rec Room 3D Perspectives

In between recording Wing Commander long play videos, centaurianmudpig has been dabbling in 3D modelling with the open source Blender program. His very early version of the Tiger's Claw rec room is still rough around the edges (and missing its barkeep) but already feels familiar. If you have experience with Blender and have any comments or helpful pointers on recreating the classic look, mudpig would love to hear from you on the CIC forums. This isn't the first time someone has taken a shot at recreating Shotglass' watering hole in 3D. Check out Michelle D's modelling efforts and Marcus' gorgeous Lego model from a few years ago.

Hellcat Gets Some Teeth

Whiplash's Hellcat model needs one more thing before it's ready for battle: guns! He's put together a step-by-step walkthrough of how the side mounts came together, and the results look very much like their in-game equivalent. The forward cannons still need to be built, but the ship is very nearly finished!
So, as promised, the Whiplash guide to putting guns on a Hellcat. :)

The WC4 Hellcat has two particle cannons in the side gunports, and two ion cannons in the underslung gun pod. I started off with the particles, since there are plenty of good in-game shots of them. I considered using the gun pictured in the manual, but eventually decided to stick with the ingame version for consistency. Besides, I find the triple-barrel configuration quite cool and menacing. See comparison below.

So, here's how to build a particle cannon.

1) Added the protrusion behind the gun port (no idea what it is, looks like some kind of exhaust / cooling port )
2) Made a simple rectangular cut-out of the main body of the gun.
3) Both of the above pieces painted.
4) Next came the barrels. I cut some strips of paper to size...
5) Then roll and glue them into shape...
6) Then glue the barrels together.
7) Barrels glued into place on the ship (after being painted of course)
8) Created some raised detail on the gun with thin cardboard (sorry, this one is a bit blurry but I didn't take any other shots)
9) Final shape of the gun complete and painted.
10) The final product: I added some lighter grey to bring out the detail.

All done! Now for the ion cannons, which I'll show you next time.

Wing Commander Tastes Metal

Wing Commander fans are constantly impressing us with their creativity. We love seeing what Wingnuts will come up with next. 'Michael Lochlann' recently debuted a new rock mix of the Wing Commander 1 theme oven on his soundcloud page. In the vein of previous Wing Commander remixes such as LittleVMills' "Epic Rock Cover" or Cerberus Music's Kilrathi Remix, this version mixes the opening theme with a metal inspired sound. The results are - at the very least - interesting, and the low key mid section in the song is a nice contrast. You can check it out below. This is a work in progress though so check back in his thread over at ocremix.org for more details on the track and to leave feedback.
This a straightforward rock mix of the Wing Commander title theme, a request from a friend. Mix name is "No Need For Heroes"

Done on a 7 string Ibanez tuned in standard with 7 string droptuned to A. Tyrant Tube Screamer plugin Poulin Lecto (rectifier) and Legion amp sims with Red Wirez cab sims.

Drums: played on yamaha digital set and ran through Steven Slate Drums. Parallel Compression on drums bus, sent overheads to a bus with Tyrant Tube Screamer on it to liven it up and harmonics.

added 60 cycles to kick to get it to thud and some 8hz i believe for the attack, happy with the snare, added a SSLchannel compressor with high setting for the snap, 9hz boost for snap, 150 hz boost for power and cut 2dbs at 200hz out of the rhythm guitars for added snare power. (cutting other instruments that are masking works better than a boost sometimes by the way! sounds cleaner.)

new mix has more balls as I added a lot of crunch and power to the rhythm guitars, turned down the bass guitar a little bit, balanced the overbearing bass in the kick drum and turned the snare up.

First Space Sim Debuts on Next Gen Platforms

The XBox One and Playstation 4 consoles have received their first space sim, an enhanced release of Strike Suit Zero. Compared to the original PC release, the latest edition includes improved graphics, an expansion pack and extra suits and goes for around $20 depending on the region. The director's cut is also the first indie game for the Xbox One. When Wing Commander Arena hit XBox Live in 2007, the maximum downloadable game size was 50 megabytes. SSZ clocks in today at more than 1.8 gigabytes - the game certainly looks pretty with all those high res textures and fancy effects!
Xbox Wire: Tell us about your game. What do you want gamers to know?

James Brooksby: “Strike Suit Zero” is a space combat game that harkens back to the golden age of space combat games. The team here are huge fans of the genre, and have been influenced by the likes of “Wing Commander,” “X-Wing vs TIE Fighter,” “Elite,” “Homeworld,” “Colony Wars” and “Freelancer” to name a few. The biggest difference between those games and ours (other than a serious next-gen lick of paint) is the fact that we have a mech at the heart of the game. Bringing in our other influences we are also big fans of “Macross,” “Robotech,” “Gundam” and “ZOE.”

Microsoft Talks Backwards Compatibility

Reports from last week's Microsoft Build developers conference note that the company is looking into backwards compatibility for the XBox One. Such prospects still sound like a bit of a long shot, and only about half of original XBox games were compatible with the 360, but this does provide a tiny glimmer of hope for extended Arena longevity.

One of the developers looking into this is none other than Frank Savage, who was the director of game development for Wing Commander 3 and other Origin titles. He currently leads partner development for the gaming platform, which is a natural extension of the XNA toolset that he was involved with almost a decade ago. I wonder if he still keeps his Wing Commander memorabilia up on the office wall...

According to Xbox partner development lead Frank Savage, Microsoft is working on a solution to get Xbox 360 games on Xbox One, but players at home may never get to experience it themselves.

When asked by an audience member at Microsoft's Build developer conference whether the company had plans for backwards compatibility on Xbox One, Savage responded in the affirmative but with a serious caveat. Getting software made for drastically different hardware to run on another machine is a tricky proposition.

"There are [plans], but we're not done thinking them through yet, unfortunately," said Savage, as reported by Kotaku Australia. "It turns out to be hard to emulate the PowerPC stuff on the X86 stuff. So there's nothing to announce, but I would love to see it myself."

Game Archaeologist Explores Wing Commander Online

Massively has published an article that recaps various attempts to create a massively multiplayer Wing Commander game. As the piece largely pulls from the CIC's archives, there's not really any new information, but it's good to see the material collected and republished for more to see. That's why we put it out there!


The twisted history of online WC games dates back all the way to the '90s, and there were multiple attempts to make it happen. Since some of the work was just conceptual, there are some fuzzy lines between certain projects. Privateer Online and Wing Commander Online both were on the drawing board around the time that Secret Ops was made, but they didn't make it very far. Unfortunately, these edged out Privateer 3, however. An entire second attempt at POL began in earnest in 2000-2001, but it was ultimately canceled in favor of Earth and Beyond. And the rest is history.

It's almost breathtaking to think about what might have been. With Ultima Online's popularity giving Origin's namebrand a boost, the team had permission to build two MMOs out of its space sim franchise. Work began on Wing Commander Online and Privateer Online (Privateer being a freeform spinoff of Wing Commander but set in the same universe). Players who caught wind of these projects couldn't stop salivating at the thought of piloting their own fighter or freighter through the galaxy and making a name for themselves. Even the lack of Chris Roberts (who left the studio in 1996) couldn't dampen spirits.

--------------------

It turns out that EA's eyes were bigger than its stomach as far as MMOs were concerned. It's as if the publisher made a bold decision to stride into online space, then had a severe moment of doubt and buyer's remorse. Quick as a cat, EA yanked the plug on several projects in 2000, including Ultima Worlds Online, Ultima X Odyssey, and Privateer Online. Privateer Online was deemed too similar to another title that EA was making, so Earth and Beyond) lived (for a time) while its brother-in-arms was jettisoned through the corporate airlock.

What's Next for Wing Commander?

Over the weekend, Chris reflected a bit on recent events and kicked off an interesting discussion on the future of the Wing Commander franchise. The last 10 to 15 years haven't been particularly exciting for space sim players, but the incredibly successful Star Citizen funding campaign has shown that genre still has a lot of life left in it. What shape and direction do you think the next Wing Commander release will take? Share your thoughts and hopes here.

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?

RSI Dogfights Into PAX East

This past Thursday Cloud Imperium Games descended on Boston for PAX East and a very special livestream event. Fifteen hundred fans were able to obtain entry to the event, including yours truly, and we were treated to a night of the latest from Star Citizen. After crushing a few last minute bugs, Chris Roberts went into a recap of the game's development accompanied by a short film showing some of the trials and tribulations the team faced in the days before PAX. After the film, Chris Roberts jumped into the game and showed off entering your ship and space. When preparing for launch the player-character flips their helmet, a sequence that sent the crowd wild. The hangar doors opened to show the world outside. To call it gorgeous is an understatement. The flight mechanics were on full display: newtonian physics, destroyable asteroids, and some combat made appearances.

Following the gameplay demonstration, Chris Roberts unveiled more details about the dog fighting module. Instead of being a simple testing setup, the module is part of the in-game fiction. Described as “2944’s Hottest Space Combat Sim...” and brought to you by Original Systems, “Arena Commander” is the in-game simulator that can be run in the hangar. Arena Commander allows players to jump into the sim, connect with other players and battle in five different game modes: Free Flight, Battle Royale, Squadron Battle, Capture the Core, and Vanduul Swarm. Players will be able face off against other players and AI pilots. The sim will feature leaderboards tracking multiple stats as well as daily, weekly, monthly and all-time rankings. These features are just the first wave in the Arena Commander launch.

The second release, Arena Commander II: Revenge of the Vanduul, will add multi-crew ships, variants of the single-seat ships, co-operative AI pilots and in-game communications. The third release, Arena Commander III: Heart of the Empire will add more environments, FPS boarding mechanics, Capture the Idris mode, and double-precision coordinates to handle the massive arenas that players will battle in.

Beyond Arena Commander, the team will focus on fleshing out the rest of Star Citizen and continuing the implementation of new features. Chris Roberts also mentioned Squadron 42 as “if we did a next-gen Wing Commander, Squadron 42 would be that.” Wing Commander fans should certainly be excited by that prospect. Be sure to check out the entire presentation below!

Paladin Appearing at Cincinnati Comic Expo

Veteran actor john Rhys-Davies will be appearing at the Cincinnati Comic Expo on September 19 - 21. While he is most famous for playing James "Paladin" Taggart in Wing Commander III and IV, you may have also seen him in Digital Anvil's Freelancer, the Indiana Jones series or the Lord of the Rings. Rhys-Davis will be appearing alongside actors from other major sci-fi franchises like Firefly, Doctor Who and Star Wars. Media guests will be signing autographs, so be sure to send in a picture of your signed Wing Commander item!
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