Ascilotriptostolene Discovered

Scientists working in the Brazilian rainforest have discovered ascilotriptostolene, a material proven to reverse cancer growth cycles. At least, that should have happened in 1998, according to the Victory Streak. Ah, missed chances.

Magazine-netic

The ever-usefull Borders online store has added the official Wing Commander Movie magazine to its stock list. The full title is 'Starlog Movie Hits Wing Commander', and it's edited by David McDonnell. Borders lists a February release date. ISBN: 0934551685.

Owen Echoes

Kris informs us that..
Tonight on BBC 1 at 9pm GMT: part 2 of the tv-thriller "The Echo". Clive Owen (Lev Arris in Privateer 2) is the main character.

What happened in part 1:
6 months after the body of a homeless man was found in the garage of the luxurious apartment of Amanda Powell, journalist Mike Deacon (Clive Owen) is given the job of writing an article on the story. He finds out that the rich Amanda paid for the bum's cremation and he starts to suspect he didn't die of natural causes. His suspicions grow after photographer Barry Glover informs him that Amanda's husband mysteriously disappeared 8 years ago when suspected of fraud.

BBC 1 is a British channel, so it is only available in some parts of the world.

AVault Continues Tradition!

Yep, after almost ten years AVault has posted their review of Wing Commander: Secret Missions. Proving once again their incompetance (remember when they decided that the WC Movie had awful SFX before a SFX team had even been assembled?) AVault posted this review of Prophecy Gold, which just goes to show you that all you have to do to review a product is learn the first word of the title.

Shocking Cover Conspiracy

After seeing the picture of the German Heart of the Tiger novel cover, alert reader Swordman mailed me this... it gets stranger and stranger!
I've seen this cover art on another novel that is in no way related to Wing Commander. The story that the cover is from is rather interesting as a human colony is take over by a lizard like race, there forces shoot down a third alien races ship. The survivors are helped by human resistance members and The race is Catlike and some are telepathic. The Cover is of the Human Female main charater and the Alien telepath male main charater. Both are TP bonded to the other. (Closer in mind than Lovers).

Wizard Commander

Well, almost all of the information in the following article is out of date or incorrect... but it sure was cool finding the WC Movie mentioned in the February Wizard. Plus, it had a pretty cool picture... (Oh, thanks to my bro Bee_Czar who actually bought the magazine...)
Winged Wonder

Casting has been completed for the "Wing Commander" movie based on the Wing Commander CD-ROM games series created by Chris Roberts. Roberts' company Digital Anvil has begun shooting the $27 million film in Luxembourg and Germany. It features Freddie Prinze Jr. as Blair, Matthew Lillard as Maniac and Jurgen Prochnow as Commander Gerald. The film also co-stars Saffron Burrows and Elise Neal. The movie's plot is rumored to feature a scenario in which the fighter pilots must save the entire galaxy from a nucelar armageddon - and the evil race the Kilrathi. No release date has been set.

Caption: CD Commandant - Actor Jurgen Prochnow fuels up to battle the evil aliens Kilrathi in "Wing Commander".

Cinescape Dates & Pictures

Cinescape posted a rather cool little article about the Wing Commander Movie's release date. Check out the article or just read it below -- things are really looking good. I don't really plan on purchasing any prequels merchandise (well, unless it features that wacky Admiral Ackbar...), but already have my WC stuff reserved. There are some cool pics too... and the caption promises more to come! (Oh, lets all thank Ron for finding this for us...).
'Wing Commander' Release?

Even as the dreaded (at least to competitors) release date looms in late spring for Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace, there are those enterprising types out there hoping to take advantage of the momentum beforehand. Such appears to be the case with the Wing Commander movie. Rand Marlis, president of Creative Licensing Corporation, which is handling licensing of the Wing Commander movie property, revealed that he is confident that the film could have a theatrical release in February to March 1999, according to The Licensing Book trade magazine. Marlis also contends that the Wing Commander could do quite well if it hits theaters before the Star Wars juggernaut arrives. "I think it makes perfect sense to counter-program Star Wars in '99," says Marlis. "People will want to see other movies and purchase non-Star Wars licensed products."

If You Haven't Played Before, Now's Your Chance

The new Trivia Weeks 5 & 6 are oue to phone line problems I was unable to put up Week 5 last weekend. Also, if you haven't played before, now is a great time to start. Not only do this week's questions have simple answers, there are twice as many points available. As always, be sure to get your answers in before next Sunday (January 3, 1999). Check out the Trivia here.

The Results Are In

Jumpstart has closed his Privateer poll over at the Killer Bees site and the results are in..
What type of Privateer do you prefer?

A Privateer Online type game *ONLY* (as described by Origin) (46) 17%

A Single Player Privateer type game *ONLY* (with regards to the single player aspects only as described in the CGS article) (93) 34%

A mix of the two type, however, some sacrafises on each will be made.(a combo between Origin's PO plans and Priv. as described in the CGS article) (133) 48%

I simply don't care for Privateer at all. (5) 2%

That's HOTT!?

Wow, that was a lot of updates... here's ONE more. Karl Frank was kind enough to scan me a pretty high res copy of the German WC3 Novel cover... check it out below.

SO Magazine CDs

Oh, and Boomer posted this about Secret Ops being released on magazine over at agwc. Its worth nothing that Boomer isn't saying that there's going to be a Privateer Online, but rather defending the idea of massive online games from recent attacks -- as I understand it Boomer has had a lot of experience with such games in the past.
The 'problem' is, how could you look a magazine editor in the face and say 'you can't do that' when they could turn around and point to many online sites making SO available. Doing so would be shooting ourselves in the foot (e.g. risking the relationships with magazines).

And it seems regarding SO, if we were to shut one online site down from offering it another would pop up somewhere else.

Still the One

Quick note: Veebs reports that Privateer 2 has been rated best space sim by the British PC Zone magazine. Thanks!

More Wise Words from Boomer

Boomer posted a bit more stuff over at the 'zone about massively multiplayer games.... check it out. (Hopefully Boomer won't mind... it's very interesting information, after all!)
Online worlds just cannot provide unique storylines and single player quests like standalone games can.

I don't agree with that. Sure, the story is much more open ended but to me that's a *strength*, not a weakness. Personally single user games do not hold my interest because I'm always trying to second guess the *designer* (what was he thinking, what does *he* want me to be doing here). OTOH, I create my own plot in a MMPOG. Take UO.. some want to be the biggest/baddest muther on the block. I content myself with being the 'Kings groundskeeper'.. a poor ranger that's imminently knowledgable about the woods. My 'conditions for success' are completely different than any other player in the game. And *I* determined those conditions. Play any single user game and you're forced down a particular path (to win).

Why cant Privateer 3 be designed as a proper sequal?

Assuming there *IS* to be a Privateer 3 (and I'm not suggesting there is), I suspect the answer to your question would be one of time & resources.

Again, it's purely a personal decision and while I'd hope that you wouldn't make that decision, remember there are probably lot's of others that would play such a game that would never purchase a single user version. But unfortunately you're right: you win some/lose some.

Again, I'm not alluding to ANY Privateer product, whether single user or Online. I just saw some concerns & false assumptions about MMPOG's and having lots of experience with the genre thought I'd share that experience. Besides, that decision is clearly not in my hands ;)

Please understand I wasn't downplaying 'fantasy D&D'. Just that IMHO online roleplaying is distinctly different. For example, in 'Fantasy D&D' there are specific rules (of character generation, results, etc). In online roleplaying *you* decide how you play your character (with the design of course). Will a squadron be 'strict' and 'official' (3rd Marines brigade, 135th Fighter Squadron) ? Or informal and 'playful' (The Flying Pigs). Will they meet religiously every Wed nite at 9PM EST? Or just show up. Will someone play an honorable character? Or a untrustworthy pirate? It's their choice (and not that of the dungeon master ;)

Open ended games add a different degree of a story but I have never seen one which has had as good a story as a single player game.

I understand your observation. As I mentioned, a single user game *has* to have its plot/story 'expertly' laid out (and finished, with opening, mid & end game completely programmed). It's the talent of the designer in doing this that makes a game compelling (from a plot/story point of view). And as you point out, the environment in a MMPOG is made by the players (And that's why not all single user games are good candidates as a MMPOG). But that doesn't mean there can't be a compelling 'backstory' with gameplay designed around that. I'm purely 'fantasizing' as a 'designer' here, but what if you could pop into a 'WC/Privateer universe', choose to be either the confed or a civvie. If you were confed, you would have access to specific fighters, etc. call a specific cap ship 'home', be a part of a squadron (not get paid much but have security in numbers, etc.). If you were a Civvie you would have to build your ship, avoid Kilrathi/bugs/pirates (but make lots of money if you succeeded, thereby enabling you to pugrade your ship). Or pay for escort by the military (or maybe there's civvie 'police' squadrons that serve as bodyguards... for a price of course ;)

I wasn't downplaying 'dating services'. They clearly have their place. Just pointing out that you cannot compare the richness or depth possible in a MMPOG with multiplayer games designed for a 'dating service' (or more specifically the 'technical' aspect of why such games are limited to 4 or so players). Ever wonder why most multiplayer (vs MMPOG) games are designed primarily as 'deathmatches'? IMHO a Privateer multiplayer game (ala 'dating service') would be nothing more than an incessant dogfight ala XWvT. BOOooring....

But I'll say it again: I am (personally) definately biased *toward* MMOG's in general. I think they provide the potential for a gaming universe/environment far far richer and more immersive, much more 'human' than any single user game. That is, *IF* designed and delivered properly (e.g. I can also give examples of poorly designed/executed MMPOG's).

Sure, but whatever evolution, riches, fame, skill you achieved during a Diablo multiplayer game (whatever your class) is lost as soon as you leave the game. What's the fun in that? It's a very 'temporary' success.

Regarding the recent poll and 'what 80% the majority wants': At the risk of being blunt, unfortunately the 'poll' recently offered is *not* good market research. Not just because only few voted (if done correctly even 300 could serve as a 'statistically relevant' sample). But such web based polls are inherently biased (or more correctly, cannot be proven unbiased). They're not blind, there are no controls (can you prove/state unequivocably only 'objective' people voted?). So I'm sorry, but my (personal) reaction is all it tells me is that 80% of whoever (?) voted is 'for' a single user game. Other than that the methodology just doesn't scientifically support the assertion that 'the majority of the potential market for a privateer type game wants a single user game'.

But I can pretty much guarantee you this: If it does come to light the potential for success of a single user game exceeds that of a MMPOG (knowing the MMPOG business) I doubt any sane businessman would make the decision to go down the less successful path ;)

Finally, I'm really not trying to 'spin', mislead/misinform anyone. What was it I said that make you think "some of the things you said I think are far from accurate".

p.s. sorry if this post is 'chopped up', out of order. It's hard to 'view' the format and I'm just trying not to let the dialogue degrade into massive 'tomes' and cutting/snipping to keep topics 'new & fresh' ;) [LOAF: Uhm, same, I've been cutting out Boomer's comments and a few important questions, but a lot of what he's responding to isn't here... so it'll seem disjointed...]

While you can do these such things, they still don't create as good an atmosphere or story that a single player game produces.

Oh I dunno.. I've been involved in some large scale scenarios recreating specific historical events that made you feel like 'You Are There'. Of course a fictional environment is a bit different. Then it's only limited to your imagination ;)

There are infinite possibilities.

Exactly...

Couple 'good design' points bear mentioning:

1. limit the visible players to the closest 32 (they're the only ones that present a 'threat' anyway). That way you aren't subject to *everyones* connect.
2. In my experience, only the players with a poor connect appear 'laggy'. e.g. if one person has a poor connect they don't affect the other players. Point being, you don't send/receive *everyones* data in one big packet since if one person is lagging that packet is detained creating lag for everyone. You individually 'ID' each of the closest 32 players and send an individual packet for each player (this happens many many times a second for each player). If the smoothing code is well designed, you can have "large" ping times (since you don't need to positional updates in real time). For example, the last company I worked allowed for almost 2000 ms lag (that's 2 seconds). Further, regarding (predictive smoothing) distances between players matter. The closer the distance, the less 'forgiving' predictive smoothing is (that's why you don't see successful MMPOG auto racing games ;). Distances of a 'real life' hundred yards can be very forgiving.

So no, individuals shouldn't have to 'wait' for an update, even from other individuals (since *your* computer is 'predicting' where that laggy player is/was heading). Those players with good connects will be updated regularily (thereby providing a smooth appearance) while those with less optimal connects will 'lag' (generally from dropped packets) and only they will appear to 'warp'. Most often, other players will inform the 'warpy' player of the situation and ask the player to 'relog' (hoping they will achieve a better route next time they connect).

2 dimensions (land), 3 dimensions (air/space), what's the difference? Only one addditional geometric plane to contend with (X, Y & Z), right? It's all Linear Algebra (matrix, integer math) anyway. It's really just as fast.

And positional (attitude, heading, velocity, etc.) have nothing to do with the *online* performance (ping time). The graphics (e.g. the # of poly's, shades, textures, etc.) are being processed locally (on the client, or YOUR computer). Thus, the performance of the 'client' computer determines *frame rate* (just like a single user game). In any good online design frame rate should NOT be tied to the communications code. However, I've noticed some developers have limited frame rate to that of the fastest host computer (in a peer to peer games). This is, IMHO unfair (and bad design ;). Bottom line is, graphics are NOT sent over the net (and thus, should have nothing to do with the quality of your connect, ping times, etc)

Not sure I understand your question (so allow me to offer 2 answers). MMPOG's require a different overall design approach than single user games. For example, a single user game has the plot/story/path/ending all defined and 'hard coded' even before you start the game (you must go down a certain path to 'win'). Online games are best when left 'open ended' (players decide how to play the game). So 'good gameplay' is not a function of ping time. If you're asking whether you can have awesome graphics, a good game play design, and still remain enjoyable for 100's of simultaneous players I can give you an unqualified 'Yes!'. That is, assuming a) the predictive smoothing code is well designed (e.g. 'ping tolerant'), players positional info is sent independently, the burden of displaying the graphics is local (a no brainer.. no developer worth his salt would try to feed graphical info/files over the Internet fo a real time game).

Can it be done 'good for everyone'? TBH, no. There will always be those that simply don't understand what they're purchasing from their ISP, have no idea/desire to optimize their computer/connect, etc. For those it will always be 'this sucks'.

But Online gaming has come a LONG way from when I first started. You wouldn't believe the hoops I had to jump thru, the (literal) price I had to pay, to get 'hooked up' 10 years ago (You almost had to be a TCP/IP network engineer to even get into the arena ;). So for the majority, I'll still say yes...

Like what? Names of companies/games that offer real time MMPOG flight sims? Off the top of my head:

Kesmai Airwarrior (WW2, $9.95/mo), Microsoft Fighter Aces (WW2, $9.95/mo), Imagiconline WarBirds (WW2, $2/hr), Sierra Red Baron 2 (WWI, free last I heard), Novalogic 'Novaworld' (jets, free). Not sure about how well the last two are 'technically' (never flown either online)

Or try Planetary Raiders (a ummm... not so well designed/implimented MMPOG 'ripoff' of Privateer. On the plus side, I think it's still free. Not much fun but it'll certainly demo the current state of the TCP/IP communications technology.)

(do a search on the above for specific URL's)

Hope that helped.

CGW Exudes Wing Commander in February

After my long hard mission to reserve Wing Commander Movie action figures and buy a copy of Das Boot DVD I returned to my secret lair to find the February Computer Gaming World in my mail box. This month had an article with reviews of three 'minor' space sims: the Descent Freespace addon, Hardwar and Prophecy Gold. Our boy outranked both of the others, scoring 4 stars (out of 5)... although the article (see below) kept calling Secret Ops 'Strike Ops' or something... CGW also had an interview with JMS (B5 creator), who said he played 'all' of the WC games.
Wing Commander: Prophecy Gold Edition

Publisher: Origin
Price: $39.99
www.origin.com

For all of its visual grandeur, Wing Commander Prophecy followed the same well-worn path as its ancestors. The enemies were different, but little else changed. Missions remained simple affairs, the movie interludes provided most of the interest. Wing Commander Prophecy Gold Edition (WC:P) is more of the same.

The package includes the original Prophecy and an additional CD containing the Secret Ops missions (available free on the Internet for a time in 1998)/ The documentation includes the background fiction that was on the Secret Ops Web site.

WC:P Gold is still a solid blast-fest with gorgeous graphics, especially on PCs equipped with 3D cards. The missions are the only downside. You fly the assigned waypoints and kill all the bad guys at each, then rinse and repeat. The Strike Ops missions take this to unimaginative extremes. They are stuffed to overflowing with multiple waves of enemies, turning an amusing game into a monotonous shooting gallery.

There is some added value in the Secret Ops package. Instead of sandwiching in video, the package uses the game's graphic engine to provide new storyline vignettes. Your ships are fitted with new, rapid-firing weapons - you'll need them in the packed arenas in Strike Ops. Earlier Wing Commander spaceships make encores, but you can't piloted them.

Strike Ops adds little that Prophecy didn't already beat into the ground. I'd recommend WC:P Gold if you missed the original release, but Prophecy owners won't find much added value.

A Hard Act to Follow

SXGlory sent me extracts from the last (December) issue of Previews. They're about the WC Movie novelization and the Confederation Handbook... the coolest thing has to be the fact that there's going to be a hard cover version of Peter Telep's first WC novel! I never thought I'd live to see the day... check out the descriptiosn below, but be warned, they contain spoilers!
Wing Commander Confederation Handbook by Chris McCubbin

The official authorized Confederation Handbook adds stunning background and authentic detail to the most powerful and popular CD-ROM game series. Illustrated with drawings, diagrams, and full-color photographs, this book gives you the ultimate insider's understanding of the technical expertise, military precision, and awesome courage demanded of the thin red line of heroes that stands between Earth and annihilation. $17.00

Wing Commander Novelization by Peter Telep

Look for the movie in theaters March 1999! Chris Blair is a young cadet fresh from the Academy. His first ship has an awesome mission: Recover the NAVCOM device from the savage, egomaniacal alien Kilrathi before the NAVCOM leads the Kilrathi to Earth. But somewhere among Blair's fighting wing - Earth's last hope - a traitor lurks. HC: $24.00 SC: $5.99

Attractive Models

While at the comic book store I chanced to come across a British Magazine, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Models, which features a huge interview with the people who created the Kilrathi for the Wing Commander Movie! I've omitted a bunch of it (that had nothing to do with WC), but check out this large article below... with some great pictures too! Be warned, contains uber spoilers...
Creating Prosthetics/Animatronics/Makeup FX for Wing Commander - The Movie

An interview with Nick Williams and Pauline Fowler of Animated Extras.

Animated Extras is renowned for being one of the U.K's premier Prosthetics/Makeup FX Houses, with each project taking the facility from strength to strength. One of their most recent projects has been the creating of an alien race, the Kilrathi, for the film adaptation of the popular CD-ROM game Wing Commander. I visited Shepperton Studios recently to speak to Nick Williams and Pauline Fowler about their involvement on Wing Commander, which was recently filmed in Luxembourg, and about other projects they have worked on over the previous year.

SF&F: How did Animated Extras become involved with the Wing Commander production?
Nik: We started off by meeting the director, Chris and the producer, Todd Mayer, in a hotel in London. They asked us to become involved in the production. We then met up with Chris and Peter Lamong (of Titanic fame), who was the head of the art dept.

SF&F: Animated Extras' main contribution to the film was the construction of the cat-like alien race, the Kilrathi. Were you also involved with the design of these creatures?
Nik: Yes, we were. Chris had worked on the motion sequences on one of the Wing Commander games, where they had had feline-like Kilrathi. However, this time Chris wanted something that had never been seen before, and asked us not to look at the CD-ROM game for reference. Dave masters produced several designs and then it went quiet! We assumed by this that we didn't have the project, then around Christmas it came up again. Our original designs for the Kilrathi utilized a combination of African and Japanese samurai warrior influences. Chris, however, wanted them to be more feline, but still wanted to keep the samurai aspect.

SF&F: How did you go about creating the Kilrathi?
Nik: Firstly, one/third scale maquettes of various designs were sculpted by Pauline and Julian Murray. We only had six weeks to build eight full size Kilrathi. Two of them had a huge amount of facial expression; another two were "backgrounds" that had slight mouth movements while the remainders were just static faces but were still full suites. Our sculpting department split the work up, with someone working on the head, someone on the hands, etc. When this was done, we put it together on a full zied person. One of the people who worked on it - Mark - ended up as one of the Kilrathi. It looked a bit like him as well! (Laughs) This was great as we could try things out. For example, we could see if you could run around in the costume, and it also meant that we could see if anything needed altering. There were quite a few discussion about the Kilrathi teeth, as to whether they should be lion-like or several rows of sharp teeth. In the end, Chris decided that they should be a mix, which was great, as we didn't want them to look too wild. We were aiming for a mean appearance but they still had to look intelligent and capable of conversation! The Kilrathi are dressed in armor, and the trouble with this in the time was that once the design was okayed, there was no chance to go back and alter things. It was very much a case of choosing upon a design and deciding upon the rout that we were going to take in constructing it. We thought that we would alter the proportions of the Kilrathi legs and that we would give them a third joint and an exo-skeletal appearance. Our plan was that the third joins would flex and disguise where the knees of the operator were located.

SF&F: Were the suits individually tailored for the operators?
Nik: To a point. We didn't know who we were going to get in Luxembourg, so they had to be fairly standardized. Chunks of the belly were soft so you could get flexibility out of them. The suit was primarily based on a backpack, from which the legs were suspended. The legs actually had mechanical joints on the knees and the ankles so they moved where we wanted them to, as opposed to where humans move. You have the problem of when a human operator is in a costume the legs twist slightly inside, so the joins had to be more flexible than we originally made them.: Another problem was that Chris had originally wanted to make them eight feet tall, but Peter Lamont wanted them smaller due to the size constructions on set. But Chris was very keen on this idea of the Kilrathi towering over people, so we ended up with them standing on eight-inch stacks, but their feet are at an angle. This gives the impression of a second joint in the position of the operator's heel. The only problem with this is that it is much more difficult ot balance yourself. In the end, we had to redesign the shoes around five times to get things to work properly. We started about working through Chris, but we did a lot of initial design with Peter. We e-mailed the designs off to Chris, but I think there is a big difference between a drawing and seeing the design in the flesh, so it was great when he came over after Christmas.

SF&F: What materials did you utilize in the construction?
Nik: They were constructed mostly out of glass fiber on the armor areas, with metal fabric lined with polyurethane foam for the flexible areas. The glass fiber areas were given a burnished bronze finish. The finished effect is a kind of bronze armor with a flexible chain mail underneath. For the face and the hand gloves we used foam latex. We looked into using silicone, but the trouble with silicones is that they are heavy. The head on the Kilrathi was mounted so the actor saw through the throat, and if we had made it out of silicone, it would have lolled around, so we wanted to keep the weight down.

SF&F: Did any problems occur in the construction stage?
Nik: The temptation when you do freehand designs is that they look great, but trying to make them work can sometimes be a practical impossibility. We try to base them over a figure, because then you are guaranteed proportions between the shoulders, the length of the arms, etc. Basically, everything is how it should be. Not that it gets rid of all of the problems, but it enables you tog et closer to what the designer has envisioned. Even when we were out in Luxembourg, we were still changing things. The Admiral, the Captain and the Office Kilrathi animatronic heads had to be distinctly different from the others, as they would not be wearing helmets like the others. They also had high collars. Another thing we added was retractable claws to the gloves for the fighting sequences. Other things that hadn't been discussed in the U.K were the fact that they wanted to shoot the Kilrathi in the head, the chest and even wanted to blow some of them up. So there was a lot of stuff we had to work out while we were there. In the climax of the film, the Kilrathi ship's bridge is blown up. The Floor FX team sent a fireball from the bridge down a corridor on the ship. In this scene you see several Kilrathi, who are running towards the bridge, getting blown apart. So, the stunt personnel were wearing the costumes, which presented another problem, as the glass fiber bodysuits would not have been soft to land on! So, we had to chop bits of the suits away so that they could wear them and land safely. Some of the Kilrathi stunts had to be rigged with bullet hits. As with a lot of things in the film industry they didn't shoot the Kilrathi looking brilliant at the beginning and being blown apart at the end of the shoot - it was done when they could schedule it in on set. Inevitably, the firs suits we made were virtually destroyed by the third day, and we had another four weeks to go, so we were frantically repairing them. There weren't really any other surprises, but it was a challenge working things out in Luxembourg.

SF&F: Did you have to build any special suits or panels specifically for pyrotechnicians to utilise, which would produce the desired effect - say - in a shoot-out?
Nik: We took the moulds with us to Luxembourg, so we could produce pieces that we could cut-pre-arranged holes in, which would then be rigged with pyros, blood bags and bits of guts. Green blood, of course! Finally, they would be covered with a thin layer of plaster and painted to blend in with the rest of the armor.

SF&F: Were there many re-takes with the pyrotechnics?
Nik: No, it went pretty well. There would have been no chance for a re-take with the fireball sequence, as it destroyed the set! (Laughs)

SF&F: Oh!
Nik: It was intentional. (Laughs)

SF&F: How did you go about the process of designing and dressing an animatronic head?
Nik: They all utilized the same basic head, so we would change the visual appearance by changing the foam or changing the paintwork. With regards to the mechanics, one problem was that we didn't even have a skullcap to fit the actors inside the suits, because we didn't know who they were going to be. So we had to make a universal skull cap, which means it takes up more space in the head. Once it was made, we knew how much space we had left inside, which was then jam-filled with servos to operate the fake eyes. With the Kilrathi eyes, I didn't want a boring blind; I wanted them to have nictating membranes. Personally, I think it looks meaner than a normal blink. Another thing we tried to do was not make them look to human when they spoke. We wanted them to sound as if they could never speak human words, emphasizing the point that they were from another race, and keeping it more feline, like a lion roaring, rather than a human speaking words.

SF&F: Did you spend hours punching hairs into the heads?
Nik: They all had goatee beards except the Admiral, who had a few extra odd white hairs people can get when they're old. Chris wanted them to be quite sleek, so they're completely smooth skinned as if they had evolved and stood up on two legs, and in the process of evolution they've lost their facial hair.

SF&F: Something like that must be a tremendous challenge for you. {Referring to The Alchemist}
Nik: To be honest, things like the Kilrathi are much more so. There is so much of it, part costume, part animatronics, part rigid, etc.

Caption: The spread: The animatronic heads and body suits created by Animated Extras for the Kilrathi, a feline like alien race featured in Wing Commander.

Quest for the Holy Grail

Well, I headed down to the local comics store today in search of information on Wing Commander stuff. I picked up the January issue of Previews, and you can check out the little articles on the movie toys below. The owner of the store said he had been planning to order a case of Wing Commander figures anyway, but would order more & the vehicles if I wanted to reserve them. Naturally I did, and they'll call when they're in. I'm on the edge of my seat... oh, the magazine had a little tiny picture of the figures (the picture we've already seen, except tiny), and a little tiny diagram of the Rapier. It's pretty messy, but I scanned it so you can see that the Rapier does indeed have wings...
Wing Commander Action Figures
First came the mega-popular computer and video game series. Next up in 1999 is Wing Commander the movie! And these all-new 4" tall action figures bring the characters from the sci-fi epic to 3D life! this series may include: Blair in Flight Suit, Marine Blair, Maniac Marshall, Devereaux, Commodore Taggart, Pilgrim Traitor, Kilrathi General, and Kilrathi Pilot. Each figure comes with accessories and weaponry. Blister card packaging. (10010) (CAUT:4) Note: This item is sold to retailers in case lots- please check with your retailer for availability. This item may be available in other outlets before comic stores.

Wing Commander Spaceships
Blast into intergalactic battle with these miniature starfighters, based on the upcoming Wing Commander movie! This wave may include: rapier Fighter or Dralthi Fighter. Boxed. (10110) (CAUT:4) Note: This item is sold to retailers in case lots - please check with your retailer for availability. This item may be available in other outlets before comic stores.

To Quell the Rumors

Boomer took the time out of his holiday vacation to post this long clarification letter on the so-called "Privateer Online" rumors. Remember "Privateer Online" has *not* been announced as a potential project by Origin.
Posted by Boomer on December 26, 1998 at 10:22:32:

I've been reading some of the comments about 'Privateer Online' and thought I'd jump in here and clear up a couple things or more correctly, massively multiplayer persistent online gaming (or MMPOG, to keep from spelling that out all the time) in general.

First, despite whatever youy see/read in the articles it's all speculation. Origin has NOT announced 'Privateer Online'. So take what you read with a grain of salt.

Also note I really can't debate the merits of single user vs online only type games. Since that's a personal choice whatever your position, you're right. Thus 'arguing' about single user vs online is asnake pit and I just don't want to go there ;)

Nor can I provide any response/resolution to the current telecom environment that International players are under (e.g. paying for phone services by the minute, etc.). All I can say is I feel for you because it clearly creates a barrier to enjoying a fascinating gaming genre (e.g. online persistentworlds).

However, I would like to clear up some false assumptions about massively multiplayer persistent online gaming, namely:

1. The technology is not ready. Balderdash... I've been playing massively multiplayer persistent online flight sims for close to 10 years now. Virtually lag free too I might add. And this at the 9600/14.4 connect. In fact, higher speeds are NOT recommended since as in all things Internet, theless data sent/required for online gaming the better (and the communications technology used in the games I play do not NEED massive amounts of data to be smooth & precise).

You cannot compare persistent gaming to the first person shooter multiplayer gaming (e.g. 'Quake', etc.) or even something like 'X-wing vs Tie Fighter'. Those are 'peer to peer' games (e.g. a player must also act as the host). Fundamentially those games are 'Internet enabled' LAN communicationstechnology (ala 'Kali'). The performance is dependent (among other things) upon the hosts connect (reliability/stability), his CPU 'bandwidth' (to accomodate the other players), etc. It's why you see such games limited to the more common 4 player games. Massively multiplayer persistent onlinegames (hundreds/thousands of simultaneous players) require a 'client/server' architecture. That is, the client (you) are processing all the graphic display requirements while the server (the main host) is serving only the data needed for the client to play the game against all the other players.

And you cannot compare a 'flight sim' type of game to that of UO. UO requires *massive* amounts of information (all inventories, etc.) to be passed back/forth between the server (dedicated host) and you (the client). There isn't nearly the data (bandwidth) required for 'flight sim' type of games. Why? because fortunately, real time flight sims can be 'modeled' using predictive smoothing technologies. That is, you (the client) doesn't have to be kept informed in 'real time'. Instead, the client can simplyreceive 'updates' and between those updates, your computer is 'predicting' what the opponent is doing.

I will add it takes some 'tweeking' to get optimal performance. And understanding how the Internet works. No matter how good the communications technology used, what you tweek, if you're ISP is not 'Fat' you will have a poor experience (and a good gaming ISP doesn't necessarily have to be awell known 'big shot' either)

Bottom line is the bandwidth/technology is not a barrier. For those that doubt me, email me and I'll point you to some MMPOG's that will prove my assertion beyond a doubt.

2. I can't affort it or It isn't worth the (insert the monthly fee here). Fair enough. Each of us makes such decisions about our entertainment dollar every time we look for a game (whether it's single user or online service). I could make the argument that 'I can't afford it' doesn't fly with me (personally) since subscription fees are less than what most of us pay for a single movie or a couple 6-packs of beer ;) But, to each his/her own.

A 'corollary' to the argument is 'I won't pay for online gaming because I can get it free at (insert a dating service like diablo, etc. here). Again, those services do not require a server (other than to provide a chat room, easily done with any PC). Persistent gaming using client/server architecturemust be 'mission critical' since they store all you're player info (don't want to show up and find all your hard work gone). Thus, the servers, 'pipes' (connections to the internet) and other infrastrucureneeds are completely different than 'peer to peer' gaming.

I must say I personally am extremely biased *toward* massively multiplayer persistent online gaming (MMPOG). As I said, I've participated in MMPOG as a player for close to 10 years. I've enjoyed it so much I changed my career to be a part of this business (being an employee of MMPOG companIES since '95). Why?

3. Community: This, to me is the biggest single attraction of massively multiplayer persistent online gaming. Like to talk about stuff on a BBS? Wouldn't it be nicer to chat about things while in-game? Within the 'world' itself? Online gaming allows people with like-minded interests to 'congregate' within the very subject matter they're interested in. This isn't to mention the 'subgrouping' (e.g. squadrons, guilds, etc.) provided by the game environment (allowing those with specific interests togather together for a common purpose).

Point being, my experience/observation about MMPOG's is they simply provide the 'wrapper', a common denominator for people to get together, have fun together. A sort of a 'themed' global village if you will. I could relate stories about how online communities have come together/rallied tohelp others in need, support the ups/downs of individuals, even expanded their online 'clubs' to more real life community efforts to ensure a 'national treaure' wasn't lost to history. Me? I'm just glad I could go virtually anywhere in the world and have someone local to buy me a beer ;)

4. "Role playing": No, I'm not referring only to fantasy medieval 'D&D'. Whatever the 'subject', because it's persistent there is the ability to create a unique online 'personna' (ever wonder how I got the nick 'Boomer'?). Sure you can create an 'identity' on a BBS or chat room. But any purported 'skill' and bravado boils down to how you cut it/act *in-game* ;) Some will become legends, others will simply 'hang-on' ;) In any case, you will come to know and become closer to people like you never could in 'non-real-time'.

5. MMPOG's constantly evolve: In general (at least my experience thus far), like a fine wine, MMPOG's improve with age. That is, the community can feed back point out problems/give suggestions, that are then fixed/incorporated into the game over time. Case in point: most changes to UO have come from the players themselves. This effectively allows the players to create the'ultimate' game. Of course there are 'conditions' but in my experience MMPOG's only get better over time, thanks to player input.

I think I've hit all the high spots. I could go on, but it's hard using this format. Is there anything specific I didn't cover, want me to expound upon?

Boomer

p.s. Please, no questions specifically about something unannounced.

A Very Johnny Christmas

Everyone's favorite Captain Johnny (Origin's Amazing Johnny Guentzel) has created a special Christmas message for Wing Commander fans around the world. The volume might be a bit low, but it should be okay after you play with your controls a little bit. Download the Johnny wav (497 k .wav) here.

The Twelve Days of CIC

The staff here at the CIC have written this "Twelve Days of Christmas" parody for your Wing Commander holiday enjoyment..

On the first day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. rumors of Privateer three..

On the second day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the third day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the fourth day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the fifth day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. five.. Prophecies.., four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the sixth day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. movie merchandise, five.. Prophecies.., four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the seventh day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. seven new episodes, movie merchandise, five.. Prophecies.., four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the eighth day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. eight amazing updates, seven new episodes, movie merchandise, five.. Prophecies.., four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the nineth day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. a brand new poll, eight amazing updates, seven new episodes, movie merchandise, five.. Prophecies.., four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the tenth day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. ten thousand hits, a brand new poll, eight amazing updates, seven new episodes, movie merchandise, five.. Prophecies.., four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. the Wing Commander card game, ten thousand hits, a brand new poll, eight amazing updates, seven new episodes, movie merchandise, five.. Prophecies.., four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Johnny gave to me.. Thrakhath's severed head, the Wing Commander card game, ten thousand hits, a brand new poll, eight amazing updates, seven new episodes, movie merchandise, five.. Prophecies.., four new books, the price freedom, two Dralthi IV's.. and rumors of Privateer three..

Happy Holidays!

From all of us here at the CIC we'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holidays and good tidings for whatever you may celebrate this season. We consider it a gift to be able to bring this site to you. Thanks to all, and to all a good morning, noon, evening or night. Have a great day.

Descent to Novel Publishing

Quick note that I missed last week... Barnes & Nobles near the National Aquarium in Baltimore was selling copies of Peter Telep's Descent novel, due for publication by HarperCollins next month. The point of this is two-fold: the novel was written by the guy who's doing the WC Movie books (four of 'em!), and the fact that it's out a month early means that we may be able to expect the WC books in February rather than March.

More Toys for X-Mas

Grabbed this article on the WC Movie toys from Diamond Comics' web site.
Newcomer X-Toys enters the toy market with licenses for two of the hottest upcoming movies!

Launching this new company will be action figures and accessories to support the release of Wing Commander and Wild Wild West.

Based on the computer and console games from Electronic Arts, Wing Commander is an action adventure, outer space movie set 600 years in the future involving Confederation Marines flying hi-tech space planes to defend Earth's galaxy from invaders.

On the other end of the time continuum is Wild Wild West, the adventure western tale of government agent James West, set in 1869 with incredible gadgets and characters, based on the 1960's TV series of the same name.

According to President Bob LoMonaco (who formerly served as Senior Vice President of McFarlane Toys), X-Toys is "committed to producing superior quality toys that appeal to both the toy user and the collector."

Toys, Wonderful Toys!

SXGlory, proving that he is indeed 'the man', sends us this cool extract from the January issue of Previews Magazine. I guess I'll be over at the local comic book store tommorow trying to find out more. Both the figures and vehicles will ship in cases of four.
-----
WING COMMANDER STARLOG SPECIAL
The hotter-than-hot CD-ROM game becomes a breathtaking new science fiction adventure, and Starlog is on hand to take fans behind the scenes of the state-of-the-art FX extravaganza. This deluxe magazine includes interviews with young stars Freddie Prinze, Jr. (I Know What You Did Last Summer), Matt Lillard (Scream), Saffron Burrows (Deep Blue Sea), Ginny Holder, and Richard Dillane; a fascinating overview from game creator and the film's director Chris Roberts; Oscar winner production designer Peter Lamont (Titanic) unveils the movie's amazing design, and more.
-----
Wing Commander Starlog Special - Price: $5.99
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WC Action Figures - Price $6.70
Listed: Blair in Flight Suit, Marine Blair, Maniac Marshall, Deveraux, Commodore Taggart, Pilgrim Traitor, Kilrathi General, and Kilrathi Pilot
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WC Spaceships - Price $18.95
Listed: Rapier fighter, and Dralthi fighter

All items are available for pre-order from Comic book and hobby shops by January 16th.

End Run for Christmas

There has been incredible demand for copies of End Run, published by Baen Books. Now, CIC has located an online store which actually has this title in stock. Point your browser to the Firebird Arts site, click the "Enter Shop" button, and be quick. There is limited stock.

More Coverage

Marcus Fong has put his talents to work to create a CD cover for people interested in making their own Secret Ops discs. They're pretty cool looking, check 'em out below...

Whew!

Finally! It's seemed like an eternity, but USWest finally got a guy out to repair my phone lines. After being down a week, it only took five minutes to fix. Probably less than that. Anyhow, my sections should be back on track by the weekend (definately by next week), most notably perhaps is Trivia. I'll have twice as many questions this weekend to make up for the lack of new questions this week. It feels so good to be back.. and here's hoping the lines are fixed for good.

Jump Traces Detected

Telemetry from an outsystem jump node detected a mysterious emission into Sol System space earlier tonight. Early scans suggest one large bogie preceded by eight - possibly a ninth (a large red blip on the radar is obscuring current analysis) - smaller inbounds. Although this task force is currently unidentified, the nearest comm relay is picking up friendly IFF codes. We'll see what this convoy brings in the morning.

3D0-rific

Gamecenter is running a retrospective article on the 3D0 gaming system -- adored by truly obsessive WingNuts for featuring both Super Wing Commander and a very different version of Wing Commander III. The article goes through the good and bad 3D0 (or is it 3DO?) games, and as expected Super Wing Commander is on there. Read the little description below. (Naturally, this was brought to our attention by Haesslich.)
Super Wing Commander and Wing Commander 3 were both thoroughly involving, great-looking space-combat epics. But even without Wing Commander 3's FMV cut scenes and flashy 3D graphics, Super Wing Commander was the superior game. Super WC's characters were more fully fleshed out, and therefore more interesting; it had many more missions (followed by impressive debriefing sessions); and it posed much more of a challenge for the player. Both games supported the CH Flight Stick, which delivered precise control.

Trailer in January?

Brain reports that Daily Sci Fi has an article on the Wing Commander Movie. According to the article (below) the trailer should be in theaters next month. As far as I know, however, the article's assertion that the Kilrathi will be seen in the trailer is NOT true. Read on...
Wing Commander Flies into Sight

Those of you who were disappointed by the Wing Commander movie pictures we posted up a few weeks ago will get to see if the actual movie disappoints early next year. Supposedly, Digital Anvil will be releasing a movie trailer in January to theaters. Basically, you'll have a chance to see what the Kilrathi look like in motion and whether $27 million is enough to make a good sci-fi movie if enough digital effects are added in. Otherwise, Chris Roberts might have to go back to games, and wouldn't that be a shame?

Upcoming Article

Kevin Martin of Cinefex magazine reports that the Spring issue of Cinefex will have an article on the making of Wing Commander's 3D effects! Sounds pretty cool, especially since the movie will hopefully be out by then. The magazine should go on sale April 1st.

In the Works?

Fredm posted the following translation of the Gamestar article/blurb on Privateer 3. I've gotten several similar notes in the mail, so I'm guessing it's real... I'm excited.
The next game in the Privateer series will be a online multiplayer game. Currently the Texans are seeking experienced developers to complete the game. In addition to flying through space, players will have the ability to build their own bases. The game is scheduled for a late '99 release.

Ruminations

Heya everybody... sorry I haven't updated in a few days, I've been a bit sick (well, when you haven't played any WC in a few days, you're *really* sick)... anyway, I figured I'd let everybody who's interested know what I'm working on now -- the Encyclopedia and Timeline are coming along well, and let me apologize for not having them done once again. They're gonna be pretty cool, though... it's really what I've always wanted to do for WC. Erm, but before those, look for a newly redone version of our WC Movie page in just a few days... our current one is kinda out-dated and not as informative as I'd like. Erm, in a followup to my visit to Austin last month for the six people who care, it looks like I'll be going back soon... I got an acceptance letter from UT yesterday!

SO Guide Redux

Since he travels at a velocity approaching the speed of light, Karl Frank has already finished an updated PDF version of the SOGuide! Grab your copy here... it's 1701k, which lends itself to lots of bad Star Trek jokes. Thanks Karl!

Privateer Online?

Over at the Chat Board, fredm reports that the January issue of German magazine Gamestar has a short article about Privateer 3, which it reports will be completely online and feature ground missions and the ability to build bases. This, of course, hasn't been confirmed, but I know that a lot of WC fans are in Germany... is there anyone who could transcribe or scan the article for us? It's the January issue. Thanks!

Week Four

Final reminder, if you haven't yet played Week Four Trivia at the CIC, check out the questions and reply here.

The Emperor Speaks!

On this day in 2634 the Kilrathi Empire formally produced a document decreeing the Kilrathi goal to enslave and eliminate the human race. Thirty-five years of war ensued with casualties on both sides of the War numbering in the trillions.

SO Guide Lives!

Did you think that the CIC's Secret Ops strategy guide was completely finished with? Well.. its not.. and we have a few new files for you. First of all, several changes and additions have been made, and there is an upgrade download for those who already have the original release of the MS Word version, or you can download the complete version of the MS Word version which requires the MS Word 97 viewer or full version of MS Word 97. Alternatively, you can download the new PDF version, viewable with utilities such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. This version doesn't yet contain the updates, and was converted from the Word version by Karl Frank

Why He's In A Merry Mode And More

Following up on a report from last month, the CIC has a copy of the actual page from the January issue of YM about Matthew Lillard (who will be playing Maniac in the Wing Commander movie). It's 400 k, but you can still read the text of the "article." Check it out here. Thanks to Celina Tam.

That's Hot

HotGames is holding their first annual FLAMIE awards (it does sound bad, but it's not), and Secret Ops has been nominated for several awards: "Best use of Visuals in a Computer Game", "Best Gameplay in a Computer Game", "Computer Game offering best integration with web-site and/or On-line Support" and "Game Demo representing best value for download"! Head on over there and vote... be sure to thank aster0id for letting us know about this!

More Word of Mouth

Another WC Movie review from over at Dan's Movie Site -- this one quite a bit better!
Last Saturday I also got a chance to see the WC Movie. I have been a long time fan of the WC Saga and I would like to say that I liked it. I thought It was a great start to the WC movies. I mean it did have it's ups and downs but what movie doesn't?

I'm not going to nit pick the parts I didn't like and Tell you guys all about the parts I did mainly because I don't want to ruin the movie for any one unlike the last guy who had seen the movie and posted a message. He might as well given you guys a 300 page detailed description about the hole damn movie. All I want to say is that I thought the movie was great, Chris Roberts did a great job on his first movie and that everyone who loves the wing commander games should go see it a judge for them selves.

Also I was asked too stay after the movie to discus it with about 20 other people. All but 4 people loved it even the non fans.

It's Not Your Old Yellow Pages

The CIC is proud to unveil our new Fan Directory. Do you need to find the email or icq number of someone you met online? Do you only know them by their Callsign or IRC Nick? Check out the Fan Directory. We've also supplied room for a few other nifty bits of information. Hopefully, the Directory also helps fans learn more about each other. Feel free to send us any questions or comments, and we look forward to getting your Directory submissions. Click here for details.

First Look

Some guy by the name of Sean posted a review of the WC Movie over at Dan's Wing Commander Movie Site... he didn't seem to like it much, but I've got to say that a lot of the elements he pointed out as being bad are in my opinion what WC fans want (military stuff, cheap romance, etc)... erm, so, DA, if you wanna get a fan's perspective on the movie, I can be in Austin in a day (shameless plug!).
SPOILER ALERT! Don't read any of this if you want to be completly suprised by the movie. This isn't too much of a spoiler, but everyone's different.

I just saw a private screening of the movie today and I figured I'll throw in my 2 cents. I have been a huge fan of the game series since the first one was released, and I've played and beaten all of them, plus the Privateer games, so naturally I was excited about seeing the movie. Unfortunately I have to say that I was greatly dissapointed in it. My first shock was that it was directed by Chris Roberts, and it shows. The film hardly exceeds the quality of the CD-Rom movies. The first half hour is a complete bore with nothing but a bunch of military/techno babble that only fans like us could understand, let alone enjoy. The names and faces of Blaire, Maniac, Taggart, Angel, and Towlyn are introduced, but almost nothing is told of them except thier military ranks in Confed. There is very little character development in Blaire and Angel. The chemistry is weak and thier romantic involvement comes near the end without anything leading up to it. Freddy Prince and the guy from scream are pretty good actors, but this movie shows very little of their talents. The black girl does a great job, as does French actor who plays Paladin (isn't he supposed to be Scottish?). The English actress who plays Angel (they should have changed her name from Deveraux to Davis) is really cute, but she's not the greatest performer. The producers must have assumed that the average American audience can't tell the difference between any Euro accents. Another weird thing is that Tolwyn is nice and Paladin is an asshole (at first). The sets were TERRIBLE. I think they were trying to get that Das Boot feel with the ship interiors because they looked like submarines (and about as technologicly advanced). The computers and switches looked as bad as a 70's sci-fi flick would today (i.e. Alien, Star Wars). They even used the new flat screen computer moniters and I could almost make out Sony on one of them. I think they would have something more advanced looking in the 27th century. The ships were all pretty good, except for that Rapiers (probobly because it was the only non-CG ships shown. They all have these big gatlin guns on the front, and guess what they fire - bullets! No mass drivers, no ion guns, just bullets. How lame. Aside from that, the Tigers Claw and all of the Kilrathi ships looked great, and they looked the same as they do in the game series. The BIGGEST disapointment in the movie is the Kilrathi. There are maybe two or three scenes where they talk, and they're all less than 10 seconds. Not only that, but they look like hairless cat muppets with very little moving feature in the animatronics. Their mouths just open and close, no lip variation. Worse than Yoda or Kermit. What I thought made the story lines of the first 3 games so interesting was the drama that took place within the Kilrathi empire. There is none of that in the movie, no Prince Trakkath or anything like it. The CG was the only thing that impressed me. The ships, explosions, and planets looked pretty good. Another cool thing about the movie was a little backround info about Confed and Blaire that wasn't in the game. I guess before the Kilrathi War, there were the Pilgram Wars (kinnda sounds like Clone Wars - WC Episode 1 in the future?). The Pilgrams were the first humans to chart the galaxy and as time progressed they evolved differently than humans who stayed on Earth. A war between the two races broke out and the pilgrims lost. Blaire is a half breed pilgram and he gets a lot of shit for it in the film. You must all hate me now if you've read this, sorry, but here's my report card:

Screenplay: C-
Cinematography: F
Special FX (CG): B+
Set Design:a whoping F
Acting: B
Direction: D-

I know the movie wasn't intended for an Oscar or anything, but Fox could have taken this seriously instead of making a low budget space movie in order to hype up people for the new Star Wars. Chris Roberts should stick to video games. BTW, there's no cameos by Mark Hamill or anyone else.

Roberts Replies!

Grabbed this from Dan's Wing Commander Movie Site -- as the title implies the guy who created the universe (well, a universe) replied to the below movie review by Sean. Chris Roberts posted an ultra-cool response to the negative comments about the WC Movie. Check it out below...
We had a screening this weekend in Westwood in LA.

It went a lot better than this post seems to indicate - Over 80% people rated the film good or above.

A couple of issues. The style and look of the film is deliberate. It is meant to be WWII submarines / fighters / battleships. If someone doesn't dig it or respond to something that stylistic I'm kind of powerless - Personally I like it, but I'm sure some people will hate it. But I must say that if you saw the trailer or any of the set photos you will have seen the sets and lighting / look of the film -- I know a lot of people dig it. Some obviously will not. That's life.

As for the Kilrathi, I do agree that they are disappointing in the film -- They are the area I'm least happy with -- I've never managed to get them to be as cool as they seemed in the first two games before moving to live action. I felt like they were overgrown puppets in the last two games I did (with live action). We tried in the film to make them "scarier" and more alien like, but made the mistake of building them up to be 8 foot tall (which isn't the natural size of a performer) Consequently they didn't move so well (especially in the tight Kilrathi sets). This being a fairly low budget sci-fi film prevented me from doing what usually happens in this case, which is going back and re-shooting the Kilrathi scenes with re-designed creatures or replacing them with CGI. The only option was to reduce their screen time.

I have to disagree over the character development (I am of course biased), as I do feel like this is a strength of this film - It's more than just space ships blowing up, you actually get to know the characters, like them, become involved and so ultimately care about what happens to them and the Tiger Claw. That was a goal of mine when I started on this project, I think it is in the film (I'm too close to be truly objective) and ultimately it is somewhat disheartening that "Sean" didn't think so. I've also heard people that really like the characters and people. Oh well. That's what opinions are for. Hopefully "Sean" is in the minority.

I'm glad that "Sean" liked the CGI, as DA and myself are extremely proud of the work we did for little money on a very tight schedule. I feel like it stands up to the best CGI space stuff out there.

As for my directing -- Go easy it is my first film :-) My next will be better (WC was not the first game I designed) I still feel like I was the best person for the job, and the one that would bring the spirit of the games across the best. The real problem with making something like WC for the big screen is that it will always get compared to Star Wars, Star Trek or other big budget affairs like Starship Troopers. It is tough competing with films that cost four times as much (which means more time to shoot, do reshoots, do the effects etc.) It's kind of like other people competing with WC on the game front, but they only have 500,000 dollars to make the game vs. my 4-12 million. I think that WC actually stands up pretty well given the budget disparity.

Anyway, it would interesting to see if anyone else who saw the film has posted anything, as I ran into quite a few WC players that really dug the movie.

-Chris

Just a Little Bit Longer

Dan put up a little note reminding everybody that the official WC Movie site is coming soon. Apparently he's just waiting for a new version of the trailer, a few pics and the okay from DA before going live. It's gonna be good... (You guessed it, I grabbed this from Dan's Wing Commander Movie Site).

Tribute Article

Fuse was kind enough to type up an article on the Wing Commander Movie he found in the latest issue of Tribute. Nothing really new, and the plot info isn't right, but it sounds nice and positive!
PLAY-ACTION: This one's going to have all the producers of the other video-game movies watching closely as it's being tweaked as you read this. It stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Saffron Burrows and David Warner. [Wing] Commander is the story of a future war between Earth's Terran Confederation and a nasty race of cat-like creatures called the Kilrathi who want to terminate our existence. Pilots from the Confederation discover that the Kilrathi have built an enormous vessel (can you say Death Star?) capable of annihilating all life in a star system. The future rests in the hands of the Confederation pilots who must destroy the vessel before it reaches populated areas. Groundbreaking filmed segments (Malcom McDowell stars in the game version) with fun and interactivity made this shoot-em-up game a real hit.

STATUS: A done deal. Slated to be released in early 1999 by 20th Century Fox.

CHANCES OF BIG SCREEN SUCCESS?
Touch and go. The budget was only $27 million which doesn't get you much in terms of special effects these days. However, rave reviews have been reported from those who've seen early footage of the film.

More Banners

Another three Gold banners have appeared! They're pretty cool, although I have no idea why there's a Bearcat in one of them. Thanks to Foxhound for pointing them out!

Banners on CIC?

Here at CIC, we have tried to operate without those clicky banners that flash at you. But it's different with WC banners.. following up an email from Foxhound, we located this little banner below, advertising Prophecy Gold.

Three's A Charm

Sorry we're a bit late.. but this is a reminder to play Week 3 Trivia. I highly encourage everyone to play ASAP to ensure your response is counted before Week 4 comes out tomorrow.

FC For You And Me

The latest Wing Commander novel, False Colors, is beginning to show up in local stores across the US. Barnes and Noble appears to be the first to get it in most areas. You can order it online from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com. The retail price is $6.99 US or $8.99 Canadian. False Colors is the largest WC novel yet, coming it at 470 pages. Note that the author "William Keith" on the cover should actually be "Andrew Keith."

Tantalizing Taunts

Pierre Dehaies sent the CIC a program he made called SOTaunt along with this message:

Version 0.1

A program I made. Changes the player's comms, both Text and Speech. Only two people [other than me] tested the program but it worked without a glitch on both the downloadable and Prophecy Gold Secret Ops. Feedback requested.

You can download SOTaunt here.

Ultimate Trivia Patch Winners

The following was posted by Boomer on our Secret Ops Chat Zone:

Contest Winners: Patches Sent (Finally)

Sorry it took so long, but they're on their way!

Boomer

Grand prizes and runners up jumpsuits were sent out prior to this announcement.

Notable Quotes

A few interesting tidbits from the Matthew Lillard Official Site. Two magazines this month (Empire and Neon) feature interviews with Lillard -- the following two WC related quotes come from them.
Next year should change things, though, when Lillard turns up in teen drama SLC Punk!, romantic comedy She's All That and testosterone-fest Wing Commander, based on the video game. "That's either going to be great, or it's going to suck shit," he admits, "but at least it's another film I'm in apart from Scream..."

What have you got coming up?
ML: Well, there's SLC Punk!, which isn't mean, then there's (screams) Wing Commander! Where we save the universe. It's a bit dodgy.
Is it?
ML: No. I don't actually know what dodgy means.

Aint It Cool News

AICN posted an article on the Wing Commander movie, which you can see here. While the article's pictures are nothing new, it does mention some interesting facts: namely that the movie should have been delivered to FOX by now. (This is all thanks to my evil brother Bee_Czar, who finds that sort of thing...)

Gold Digging in UK

Today I located a copy of WCP Gold in Southampton, UK, and much to my surprise it contained a copy of the awesome universe map! Why this was left out of the US version is unknown, but the only other difference between Euro and US versions appears to be adverts for WWII Fighters on the back of the CD case and manual in the Euro version.

The Biggest Thing Since alt.games.wc3

Newsgroups are one of the greatest things the online Wing Commander community has to offer. And for approximately four years, WingNuts have had two choices: alt.games.wing-commander and alt.games.wc3, and agwc3 isn't much of a choice. However, there are now two more great reasons to be on usenet. Just days ago alt.games.ea.origin.wing-commander and alt.games.ea.origin.privateer came into being. It might take a little while for your news server to carry them however (as is the case for all new newsgroups). Many thanks to SX Glory.

250,000!

Last night at around 11PM EST, the CIC reached a quarter million hits. It has now been just over four months since the original CIC splash screen went up, and the CIC staff would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your continuing support and encouragement over this time. View the CIC's NedStat statistics here.

Reminder

This is your last chance to participate in Trivia. Get your answers in before Sunday to be counted for Week 2. Also, if you have question or question theme suggestions, send them here.

Accelerate THIS!

TC sends us a copy of this review of Secret Ops, which comes from the December issue of PCXL -- which has like the coolest companion site...
Just when you thought all those pesky space bugs were dead and it was safe to roam the universe again, they return in droves And they're really pissed at you for kicking their asses in Wing Commander Prophecy. Don't you hate it when bugs hold grudges?
Secret Ops is a free (yes, you heard me right) follow-up to Wing Commander: Prophecy, Origin's flashiest Wing Commander game to date. Secret Ops is a stand-alone game, so you don't need Prophecy to play it, but you better hurry if you want to download it, as it won't be available for free forever (it was featured on the PCXL November CD-ROM). Origin plans to combine Secret Ops with Wing Commander: Prophecy, to result in the typical "Gold" version of Prophecy, which should be available when you read this (almost like magic).
Of course, Secret Ops' core 115MB "starter kit" takes some ii hours to download over a 28.8 connection ... but it was featured on the PCXL November CD-ROM After you've got the starter kit, you'll have to download each of the seven game episodes, which Origin posted on a weekly basis.
Is Secret Ops worth going through all the online trouble to get? Well, if you're a die-hard Wing Commander fan who's yearning for more of the same fly--to.the-next.waypoint-and-kill--everything-in-sight Wing Com-mander gameplay, the answer is a resounding yes. The ~6 total mis-sions hold more seat-of-your-pants dog-fighting action than pre-vious Wing Commander games, and the challenge is extreme on the higher difficulty settings.
If you're looking for something new in a Wing Commander game, you'll likely be disappointed. Secret Ops' story is cliché (but one could argue that's in keeping with the Wing Commander tradition -bugs and a mysterious "other" race likely to appear from a tar-flung corner) and the gameplay is repetitious. It's still largely you against the universe, and your wingmen are still largely useless. Plus, for most missions, you really don't even need to read the brief-ing - just hit "fly," go to each nav point, and kill everything you see.
That said, Wing Commander still supplies the visceral benchmark for sci-fi shooters (arguable, when compared to the effects in Free Space, which was a better all-around game, but perhaps not quite as graphically polished). The fighter and capital ship graphics are still amazing, as are the special effects. The gameplay may be repetitive, but it's amazing how it never really gets dull blowin' up the hordes of bugs you encounter. (However, you'll want to turn off the astoundingly lame in-cockpit pilot chatter. The same four or five lines are repeated endlessly by the same pilots and you'll often hear the same pilot announce he's ejecting many times in the same mission.)
Why's Secret Ops available far free? Not because it's rubbish. On the surface, Origin wants to reward Wing Commander fans for their loyalty over the years, but I say the game should have been named Prophecy: The No Multiplayer Apology. Making Secret Ops avail-able for free is a nice gesture.
That said, if you can get Wing Commander: Secret Ops for free, it's a nice follow-up to a decent Wing Commander game. However, because of its been-there, done-that gameplay, only the most die-hard Wing Commander fans should consider shelling out for the Gold edition.

-STEVE KLETT would rather fly secret ops in a P52 Mustang.

Graphics- Awesome alien ships, stellar explosions - all you could want from the visuals.
Sound- Decent tunes, but annoying pilot chatter.
Depth- Too shallow to skip a stone across.
Design- Classic Wing Commander gameplay - find the bugs, fly down, and shoot the bugs.

Rating - 7

Pluses

  • Lots of missions
  • Challenging
  • It's free
Minuses
  • Too many similar missions
  • Lame story
  • No Ginger

Transcribe THIS!

The uber-cool Official Unofficial Freddie Prinze Jr. site had this nifty story, extracted from a log of a recent chat with the Wing Commander actor... (and no, I don't know what's with the 'THIS' thing either).
What is your most embarassing, on-set, moment?
The most embarrassing I ever had was on Wing Commander. I'm getting grilled by the captain of the ship in this scene ... and they wanted me to do a tight salute. So, I make a quick rightface and walk out. They made the ceilings low to have a submarinish feel. And, I turned quick was standing in a different spot, and did a rightface, slammed my head in the corner of this pipe, literally knocked myself out of course. I was flat on the ground! They kept the camera running of course ... it was totally embarrassing!

It's Here

I'm happy to report that there was a package on my doorstep when I got home for a minute today... inside was a copy of Wing Commander: False Colors! I sat down and read it straight through... it was pretty dashed good. I don't want to post any spoilers, but let me just say that it answers a lot of our questions! What happened to Tarawa? Why did Tolwyn build Behemoth? Are those dreadnoughts REALLY 22km long? and much more is finally explained.

Long Live The King

The results from A Talent For War's annual "Space Sim of the Year" Poll are in and Wing Commander Secret Ops is the undisputed winner (like we had any doubt:) receiving more votes than both the second and third place runners up combined. If you haven't visited ATFW yet, check it out, it's a great site for news regarding the overall space sim community.

Here are the final results for space sim of the year:

Total Votes: 196

Secret Ops: 48% (95 votes)
Independence War: 32% (62 votes)
Freespace: 16% (31 votes)
Hardwar: 4% (8 votes)
Ares Rising: 0% (0 votes)

Thanks to all who voted.--Beth

It's Coming

Got home today to find a nice little note in my mailbox... Barnes & Noble has shipped my copy of False Colors! Which means that it should be available everywhere any time now. My copy should arrive tommorow, and I'll update when I have more information...

Action!

Admit it, since the original eight years ago it's been every WingNut's dream to own Wing Commander toys... so when I found out that the latest issue (December) of Tomart's Action Figure Digest had a preview of the WC movie's toys, I sped to the mall as fast as I could... According to Tomart's there are 8 Wing Commander action figures, as well as an indetermined number of bigger toys -- shown in the magazine are the Dralthi (concept art) and Rapier. The eight figures (pictured below, click to enlarge) are: Marine Blair, Blair in Flight Suit, Maniac Marshall, Deveraux, Commodore Taggart, Kilrathi PIlot, Kilrathi General and Pilgrim Traitor. I heartily reccomend you buy a copy of this magazine, so you can see how truly detailed/cool-looking these toys are. They're set to be released next month by X-Toys. I can't wait...

Tech Update

  • The lads over at 3Dfx have released new Win95/98/NT (AGP and PCI) reference drivers for their Banshee board. Now, if you don't have a reference board from 3Dfx, these probably won't work for you (this isn't like the situation with the V2, where just about any driver will work on any card). (Thanks VE)
  • On the same note there is a New version of his Banshee Control Panel. Heres the low-down: Made CoreClock/MemoryClock compatible with RC3, RC4 and 3Dfx official drivers. Disabled MemoryLatency, cannot not find direct implimentation in the RC3, RC4 and 3Dfx official drivers.(Thanks VE)

Jump Out

Matthew Lillard's Official Web Site there's a little reference to Wing Commander in an article about Lillard in the latest issue of Jump Magazine. At least they're starting to promote it...

More to Look Forward To

In continuing his life's mission Cpl Hades got this scoop from the kind people over at LightSpeed Fine Art... looks like everybody's making us wait till January! But I'm excited...
Information specifics are not available at this time. The Wing Commander project is still underway and we have not had a final decision on print content.

We currently have full approval for any limited edition prints or poster we want to do for the movie.

Check back around the end of January and we should have more information.

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