Blast From the Past, Part 6

This one goes way back to February 1993. In Issue 45 Nintendo Power presented a nice four page basic Combat Tactical Briefing. All the information is simple instruction manual stuff, but it's quite cool to see it presented like this.

As a rookie star fighter pilot, you'll take on the Kilrathi - humanity's most violent foe - in deep space. The mothership, Tiger's Claw, has all the comforts of home, plus hardened vets who know all the tricks of the Kilrathi. This month's review should put you in the battle of your life. - Suggested Retail Price $69.95

Prophecy Music Video Remix Released

Let the prerelease excitement continue! lt.Brovar has made a movie using HCl's Movie Player. Using some video editing skills and some crazy techno music, Brovar has mixed together about four minutes of Prophecy's fmv to create a music video highlighting major points throughout the game. At a hefty 30 megs, it might not be for everyone. You can download the file here. You'll probably need the latest divx codec to run the file.

Destination Awakens

At last, Destination speaks after months of silence. This update on their site reports that we should expect to see Prophecy Advance on shelves in 30 days. In reality it will probably be less than 30 days, particularly since the European release date is 25 April and both EB and KB are reporting dates of 16 April. Hopefully the actual date will be made clear soon, but at least the wait is almost over! Stay tuned for details on our launch party soon.

MechWarrior 5 Put on Indefinite Hold

Various sites such as GameSpot have reported that MechWarrior 5 has been put on indefinite hold. I always thought it was a little odd when games like MechWarrior were ranked next to Wing Commander which were in turn ranked next to Janes' Combat Games and other flight sims. All have been grouped into the simulation category, and all have seen a significant decrease in popularity of late. The MW5 announcement came in the form of a forum post.
Over the past few months there has been plenty of speculation, email, and pleas for information regarding the future of the PC MechWarrior franchise, namely MechWarrior 5. Although an exceptional effort was made by an extremely creative and talented development team, we have decided not to continue the development of the project at this time. There were several factors in this decision, but most prevalent was our concern that we were not advancing the genre enough to meet and exceed our customer's expectations. Please know that this was a very difficult decision, but one we felt was in the best interests of our customers. We deeply love the Mechwarrior franchise, and are committed to keeping it alive. Our plan is to re-invent Mechwarrior in a way that brings a fresh experience to our devoted customers and new fans alike.
The solution has been to reinvent each series with a streamlined vision and simpler interface. Freelancer is much more mouse driven, and the latest MechWarrior games have been the real-time strategy MechCommander and modified third-person shooter MechAssault. Although it's good to see the simulation genre get a shot in the arm through creative reinvention, I wonder if by doing so they're losing what made them a simulation to begin with.

Blast From the Past, Part 5

This is a direct continuation from Part 4. We go from PC Gamer's WC4 review to their Prophecy review. This one's from March 1998. Similar to last time, the review is glowing and one of the highest in the magazine. There's also a very cool fighter rundown on the second page, and the pictures are much clearer.

Wing Commander Prophecy is a worthy addition to any Wing Commander fan's collection. It has the gamplay the last two lacked, and all the action that made the first two great. While the movies may not live up to previous games, all self-respecting fans of space combat should definitely check this one out. -89%
Makes me want Prophecy Advance even more.

Captain Johnny's New Line of Work

Hadrian was cruising around the New York System and ran across Captain Johnny in his new role as ALG Waste Disposal Representative.

We don't own this base, but we have an understanding with the people who do. You're new here, aren't you?
Uh-huh..

Blast From the Past, Part 4

Continuing the Wing Commander 4 trend, today we have the old PC Gamer article from May 1996. The pictures printed in the magazine itself are rather dark, so the scan didn't come out too clearly for that. Otherwise, WC4 is about the highest rated game in the magazine and won the Editor's Choice Award for the month.

Wing Commander IV is an excellent game wrapped in an impressive package, no matter how you approach it. If you liked WCIII, you'll flip for the sequel. - 90%
If you approach Wing Commander 4 from the top or bottom, you can tell it's got a nice sleeve cover around the actual packaging.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

So.. when I said, "Boy, it'd be funny if someone photoshopped a Game Boy playing Prophecy into his hands here.." it wasn't actually a request. But Heart of the Tiger decided to meet the challenge.

Not exactly what I pictured in my head. Just so people know, it's not actually that large relative to a human being. Cradling it like a baby is optional.

DragonCon Airfare & Hotel Discounts

DragonCon is only five months away now, and many of the official functions of the DC website are coming together. Of particular note are airfare and hotel rates for DC attendees. Detailed travel information can be found here. Delta's main hub is in Atlanta so it is the official carrier. DC guests receive 10% off fares, plus an additional 5% if you book early. Hotel information in available here. Send us an email if you're coordinating hotel rooms with us.
For those of you planning on spending some time in Atlanta sight-seeing, we strongly encourage you to get a map of the city prior to arriving. Atlanta is well-known for its confusing layout, and its fondness for naming streets either "Peachtree" or "Piedmont." :)
Yeah, I can personally vouch for that. Every other street, building and lamp post was named Peachtree Something-or-other when we were there.

Prophecy Release Date Goodness

While news on the Prophecy release in America has gone quieter than Saddam, there have been a couple of updates. Both EB Games and KB Toys agree on a release date of April 16, though there has been no official confirmation that this is accurate. Whispers say that it could be accurate though.

On the other hand, things are looking up in Europe. UK sites GAME and Amazon UK have placed Prophecy in their catalogues with a release date of April 25. The European publisher Take 2 has confirmed to us that they plan to release on this date in the UK, however it is unclear if the date applies to the rest of Europe too. We hope to get more details on Monday.

X-Wing Alliance WC TC Beta Released

Joining the ranks of the complete or nearly-complete fan projects, Dreddnott let us know that a beta-style version of The X-Wing Alliance Wing Commander Total Conversion is available for download. He'd like people to try it out and respond with some feedback. You can download the program here.

GameBoy Advance SP Released

For those gearing up for Prophecy in the US, limited numbers of GBA SP units have started to make it out into retail. The official street date is Sunday, but many retailers are starting to leak these out early. They came out in Japan a month ago and can still be hard to find (they release in Europe around March 28). If you're interested in getting one of these right now, you might want to call around. I've got mine and they're great! You can read our original hardware announcement here.

WCPolaroids: Maestro (6/12)

Boy, it'd be funny if someone photoshopped a Game Boy playing Prophecy into his hands here..

Blast From the Past, Part 3

Up today we have the magazine PC Format from Brittain. This is a review of Wing Commander 4 from Issue 55 in April 1996.

The planetary expeditions are another new feature of Wing 4, and build upon the Kilrah suicide mission of Wing Commander 3. But while the texture-mapped land-scapes are initially impressive, in SVGA mode they slow the game to such a jerky chug that it becomes almost impossible to dogfight with any real success. Even on a fairly nippy machine, like our 100MHz Pentium with 16Mb of RAM and a quad-speed CD-ROM, the action isn't exactly smooth... Still, if you're a Wing fan, Wing Commander 4 delivers another atmospheric dose of movie-style space combat.
As one of many people who happily played through WC4 on a 486, I'm not sure how they found the game quite so choppy, and load times were rather reduced from WC3. I played through Prophecy on a Pentium 100/16..

Prophecy Gets a Gamespace

One of the larger gaming websites out there, Gamespot, finally got a Gamespace for Prophecy. They've converted the original trailer to mpg and made it available for download here. You can find the actual Gamespace here. It's about time. In slightly related news, IGN has put up an enhanced photo gallery with (pretty much not new) screenshots here.

World at War

It's a relatively historic day. Things might get turned upside down in the world this week, so hopefully our troops can get their mission done quickly with minimal casualties on both sides.

Jumpgate Episode 2: Attack of the Conflux Released

A number of sites are reporting that Jumpgate Episode 2 has been released. You might recall that there were some Jumpgate ties to Wing Commander. It's the Privateer style massively multiplayer game with a much more newtonian flight style than WC. You can find out more about the game and sign up for a free trial here. Episode 2 details are available here.
Extensive additions to be introduced in Jumpgate(TM) Episode 2: Attack of the Conflux will include player-owned space stations, new alien territory and more.

Key Features will include:
Player-Owned Space Stations
A new Alien Galaxy
A new Squad vs. Squad Warfare System
An improved Chat Interface
New Pirating Technology
Several new ships and equipment upgrades

WCPolaroids: Maestro (5/12)

With so many other faces nearby, you can see how really white Maestro is..

Blast From the Past, Part 2

Philip Tanaka let us know that the March 2003 (#113) issue of the Austrlian gaming mag Hyper had a nice article on Wing Commander. It's a nice summary of the history of Wing Commander presented to the masses of modern gamers who might not know some of the basic ins and outs of the series. It rounds out the major games of the series and expresses optimism for the future. There's also a neat little inset with a mini preview of Prophecy Advance.

Although there haven't been any further releases since then, many consider it only a matter of time before Origin looks at the still-popular series and does something further with it.
There is a forum thread about this topic here.

HCl Importing Ships to Freelancer

HCl's latest project is an import of famous WC ships to Freelancer. You can find some background info on the project and more screenshots of the Tigershark in action at the Lancers Reactor thread here.

Blast From the Past, Part 1

Wildfire dug up an ancient e-zine that has some interesting pre-release info on Wing Commander 3. The cover story on this gem is a review of Doom 2, if that helps you to date it (and we all know a few WC fans that need help dating). I've actually had some trouble getting this file to work, but it seems to run okay for others in #Wingnut right now. The following 4 meg file is Volume 1, Number 21 of "Game Bytes." After you unzip and run the executable, you'll get a splash screen and progress to a contents menu. The WC3 preview is available under "First Looks." Hit F10 to view some pretty scary screenshots. You can download the mag here.

Official DC Guest List Page Up

They've gone ahead and put together a full Wing Commander/DragonCon guest list page. As of this writing, there are 52 confirmed guest, with lots more to come. Some of the more famous guests confirmed so far include Bruce Boxleitner (Captain Sheridan), Brad Dourif, Walter Koenig, & George Takei. We'll have to get some Freelancers autographed. You can see the current guest list here.
Bob Burden: Creator, writer, and artist of the cult favorite The Flaming Carrot, Bob was also involved with the feature film The Mystery Men and is a bona-fide Atlanta-area comics legend.

We're Giving Away Game Boys!

Because actual firm release date information for Prophecy Advance is rather hard to come by, we haven't been able to cement plans for our Launch Party. But shortly before or after Prophecy's release, we'll all be getting together in #Wingnut to celebrate and do the usual CIC party thing. Door prizes for this event include a couple Game Boy Advances and copies of the game for those out there who can't afford to pick them up right now. Keep your eyes on the main page here for details about this upcoming event, and stop on by #Wingnut to get yourself oriented. Feel free to contact any of us or visit crius.net to figure out how.

WCPolaroids: Maestro (3/12)

Apparently this is some sort of reaction to the creature walking in the background.

Official William Forstchen Website Up

Delance noticed that noted Wing Commander author Bill Forstchen now has an official website. Among other things, the site focuses on his books, current events and personal background. False Colors gets a nice front page billing and link to Amazon.com. There is even a forum too, which he appears to post at. Head on over and spread a little Wing Commander cheer.
Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours Only 2 left in stock--order soon (more on the way).
I doubt that means there's a reprinting coming soon.. But if anyone gets a copy without the "Wing Commander Movie!" advert or "William Keith" on the cover, let us know.

Holding The Line Chapter 154

You could probably read War & Peace several times in the time it would take you to read Holding the Line from the beginning. But then War & Peace isn't Wing Commander. Here's Raptor:
Hey all, Raptor here

HTL continues with the second half of "Calculated Risk", as the TCS Yorktown fights a Nephilim dreadnaught battlegroup. As you saw in the last chapter, the Yorktown's alpha strike had taken out the dreadnaught and its cruiser escort. On the way back to the ship though, part of the strike group stumbles on a Nephilim attack wing set to ambush the Yorktown. This chapter picks up from there. It's written by Joe "Wraith" Guida, so please send any and all comments to him at captpowell1@screaminet.com, not to me. The story is at:

http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~theraj/...

Best, Raptor

Prophecy High Res Fix Released

HCl has released a little alternate installer program for a very rare bug. You can pick it up (and the original high resolution patch) here.
I've uploaded a new installer to fix a very rare problem, which only seems to happen when using certain versions of MFC (this version of MFC doesn't seem to null-terminate strings when using the GetLine method). If you try to make the patch work at 1024x768 and you get an error saying that the game cannot run at 1024x7684x16, this will fix it.

Vega Strike New Ships Forum Open

Hellcat wanted everyone to know they have a bustling new forum devoted to adding new ships to his Vega Strike engine. VS is one of the older and more established fan projects in the WC editing community. As opposed to being a mod, it was built from scratch. I'll let him take it from here.
Dear WC News community, Vega Strike has opened a model forum for ships that were converted to the vega strike format. Already it is a big hit, and I am writing WCnews.com because of the 28 Wing Commander ships that various users have already gotten into the Vega Strike format, weapons, stats and all. There is also a half-done Star Trek ship from the trek modeller that is working there.

I hope you people frequent the model board and try out the new models. You need a Vega Strike forum account to post new models. Feel free to add volumetric glow from the glow tutorial to the new models if you like :-) (check the art and modding forum for details)

Sincerely,
hellcatv

You can find the new model forum here.

DragonCon Coming Together

DragonCon is less than six months away now, and the first few confirmed guests have started to surface. Four-day ticket prices for the event are now at $50 until May 15. Dourif's probably the most recognizable name to me here, but that's quite a diverse list to begin with. Approximately 200 more guests will be announced by this summer.
Confirmed guests for 2003 now include: Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Jody Lynn Nye, Betty Ballentine, Robert Lynn Asprin, Forry Ackerman, Buffy's James Marsters, artist Don Maitz and artist/author Janny Wurts, Babylon 5's Bruce Boxleitner and Bill Mumy, David Cherry, James Leary, Stargate SG-1's Christopher Judge, The Lord of the Rings's Brad Dourif, Tony Amendola, fantasy artist Brom, Angela Cartwright and very special author guest Anne McCaffrey.
We will also be booking hotel suites very soon. Mail us if you're thinking about coming so we can figure out how many rooms to book.

Ascendant Updated

Ad noticed that Ascendant Pictures has revamped their site a bit. Mostly the same information is there, but they do show an upcoming World War I movie directed by Chris Roberts, American Knight. No IMDB link yet, but he did find a little information on the film here. There's a few screenshots (are they still called screenshots for movies?). You can find Ascendant on the web here.

Wing Commander DVD Reprinted

Although the contents are the same, it appears the Wing Commander Movie DVD has been reprinted. We mentioned earlier that Fred Meyer/Kroger appeared to have a stock recently. On further inspection, there is a new sticker applied to the case, and LOAF has discovered a second UPC. It appears Wing Commander is part of Fox DVD's new budget line.

Motor City Online Closing Down

A variety of places are reporting that EA's Motor City Online massively multiplayer racing game is in the process of closing down after less than two years on the market. It's sort of a sad state of affairs, because while it was very unconventional, the game did have quite a following. Subscribers of the service, when it goes down in August, will have the option of migrating to Ultima Online or The Sims Online.
In October of 2001, against many odds, the team delivered MCO just in time for the holiday season. The initial sales data was encouraging. However, we were soon faced with a new challenge only applicable to online games - how to keep the community thriving.

MCO was (and still is) very different from a lot of subscription-based games because of its competitive nature. It was evident that the game was quickly dominated by skilled players. Anyone who can modify cars and race well succeeded while the less-skilled players failed. New players were faced with more defeats than helping hands. Though the overall subscription base was growing, we also experienced a substantial outflow of existing subscribers.

At the end of the day, we had to make the business decision that resulted in today's announcement. Our production resources are valuable, and the EA team that has been supporting MCO needs to go to work on other games.

More valuable resources reallocated at EA. You can read more of the team's comments here.

EA's Online Woes

On a somewhat related note, CNN Money is reporting about EA's terrible failures in the online realm. While EA has profits in the billions, its online division is losing money. Origin's Ultima is EA's only real online money-maker.
Next on the hit list could be "Earth & Beyond", an online role-playing game that eschews dwarves and dragons for outer space exploration and combat. Again, EA will not break down how many paying subscribers it has for the game, but The NPD Group, which tracks game sales, reports the game has only sold 53,000 copies since its launch in September 2002 – and sales are barely registering these days despite a significant reduction to the retail price.

About the only thing really firing for the online business is its oldest title; "Ultima Online" boasts between 220,000 and 230,000 subscribers. Still, that's only half the number of subscribers of Sony's (SNE: Research, Estimates) "EverQuest", whose monthly fee is $5 higher.

Good times. You can read the rest of the article here.

WCPolaroids: Hawk (7/7)

The briefing room is much better lit in these photos. Hawk looks particularly bored here though. Anyone ever wonder where Origin got all of those chairs from?

Concept Art Revisited

After reading our update from a couple of days ago about Jan Brockmann's Privateer 2 concept art and my failure to shrink the thing down, people decided to give me a helping hand. First off, Jan got back in touch with us to send a 3MB 150DPI PDF version of the scan and a thumbnail (below). If this is still too big for you or you don't like PDFs, Rick Salemi sent us a copy as a 700k JPEG. If that's still too big, you can look at Karl Frank's 150K JPEG version. Finally if you missed it before, the original 450DPI PDF is still up. Thanks everyone!

WCPolaroids: Hawk (6/7)

If I was the guy holding the camera, I'd be scared about now. His stare scares me.

Privateer 2 Concept Art

It's not very often that we hear from people who worked on Privateer 2 (at least people credited for it), but Jan Brockmann sent us this note:
Hi,

I found something that be may be of interest for you. While working for EA Germany (from 1995-2001), I've spend nearly 3 month (in late '96) in Manchester working on the German localization of Privateer 2 - The Darkening. On my very last day in the office I was able to get my hands on a large page containing 4 pieces of conceptional artwork and every team member signed it for me. I thought I lost this page years ago, but I was wrong. I scanned it yesterday and compiled it in pdf format.

It weights 17 megs, is in full color and has a resolution of 450 dpi.

I wish I could put up a thumbnail but Acrobat Reader has some kind of screenshot protection thing. If I figure out a way around it, I'll put one up later. But for now you can grab the PDF here. You need Acrobat Reader 5 to view the file. It's quite a bulky file, so we'll see if we can shrink it down soon.

Freelancer Being Received Well

All indications are that Freelancer is being received better than its predecessor, Starlancer. It sold out yesterday in the stores in my area, and the reviews so far have been pretty positive. Here's hoping it gets a few more people into the space sim genre. GameSpot gave it an 8.3.
When Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts announced that he was leaving Origin Systems, fans of his games were concerned that he had abandoned the space simulation genre. In 1999, those concerns were replaced with eager anticipation when Roberts announced that his next game, Freelancer, would be one of the most ambitious space simulations yet. But then Roberts left the project, and gradually several of its more innovative features were scaled down or dropped altogether while its target release date was constantly postponed. Freelancer has finally arrived, and while it's not the revolutionary title it initially promised to be, it delivers the exact combination of addictive and accessible gameplay that the genre has needed for a long time.
You can read the rest of the review here.

Announcing Wing Commander Echo War!!

Shaggy over at Crius.net has announced his interest in making a new Secret Ops mod. The only problem is that he sucks at textures, but he's gone ahead and made the story. For all of you interested in Fan Projects, we recommend first reading The CIC Guide To Making Your Very Own Fan Project. Echo War has clearly progressed to Step 3, so if you'd like to join in on the fun, you can find more here. In all seriousness, some fan projects do turn out to be very cool things, so I wish the editing community the best of luck.

Latest Raiders Model Unveiled

Cam has released his latest model for the upcoming animated short: WC Raiders. The Dralthi is complete and he's moving on to the next fighter to be integrated. I can't wait for the final product. Cam really appreciates constructive feedback. A Crius.net thread on the model is open for discussion here.

You can reach more information on the Wing Commander Raiders project here.

Freelancer's Finally Released!

Depending on what part of the globe you live, the long-awaited Freelancer should begin showing up in stores today. It's come a long way from the CIC's first look almost exactly four years ago. I'm looking forward to flying around with some of you.

If you look closely, the middle image looks like what became a Patriot Light Fighter in the game. Also, fans of Kolokov's news site are getting together for a party. You can read up on his beta impressions and launch announcement here.

WELL ITS COME DOWN TO THE FINALLY HOUR AND FREELANCER IS ABOUT TO BE OUT AFTER YEARDS OF WATING AND ITS TIME TO PAARRTY. PLZ COME TO THE RELEASING PARTY IN KOLOKV'S CHATROOM FOR PUNCH PIE AND CHIPS AND LOTS OF CONVERSING WITH YOURE FELLOWS FREELACNER FANS (AND GIRLS HAHA) WHEN THE GAME IS OUT

Coming Next: Raylight's Air Race

After Prophecy Advance, Raylight may be coming out with a futuristic racer by the name of Air Race. If you saw the old Blue Roses racing game demo last year, you have a bit of an idea what to expect. IGN recently got their hands on an Air Race demo, and it looks pretty impressive. There's a ton of cool pictures and media available at the bottom here.

Holding The Line Chapter 153

How about a new Holding The Line chapter to brighten your day? Here's Raptor to tell you about it.
Hey all, Raptor here

You've been reading about the Valeria and Valley Forge battlegroups' fight against the Nephilim in the last few chapters, but they're not the only ones battling to hold the line. HTL continues with "Calculated Risk", the story of the TCS Yorktown's battle against a Nephilim dreadnaught and its escorts. This story is written Joe "Wraith" Guida, someone who has just joined HTL, and already looks set to be a valuable part of the team. Please send any and all comments to him at captpowell1@screaminet.com, not to me.

The story is at: http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/...

Best, Raptor

Reward Yourself with Crap

Lately there's been an influx of traffic to our new #Wingnut located on irc.craplink.net. We've also noticed there are some people still trying to find us on dal.net. If you haven't heard, we've set up shop on craplink.net until dal.net fixes its server issues. If you missed the big debate on how to cut a sandwich (horizontal rectangular or diagonal triangular), you don't know what you're missing! TC has set up a thread for connection issues and discussion here.

Pessimists Unite?

I've been told everyone is reporting about WingCenter's new poll. Some are taking it as a negative sign that "Never" is winning in their Wing Commander 6 poll. Neither of our polls are scientific however, and it's all a matter of the wording. I think 2003 is rather unrealistic considering a PC WC game has not yet been announced, and they're missing the critical "Unsure" or "Or later" options. But hey, polls are lots of fun. You can vote here.

WCPolaroids: Hawk (3/7)

I guess knives aren't allowed in the briefing room. That doesn't stop Hawk looking angry though.

N-Philes Interview Raylight

In what seems to be an ever increasing amount of pre-release publicity, Raylight has given N-Philes an interview all about Prophecy. Unfortunately there are no new screenshots, but there is a bit of new information. Here's a quick round-up of the new info:

  • The game has battery save instead of passwords for saving game position.
  • The game will have limited in-flight speech, mainly restricted to death screeches.
  • Destruction of capital ship components (turrets, bridge, etc) won't be in the game. Because of this we can assume that Defang the Beast is one of the few missions cut from the game. We can't be certain which others have been cut at this stage.

You can read the full interview here. It's a very nice read into the overall background of the game.

The Color Balance Really is Awesome

Edison Trent, Freelancer from the future, sent out a cover letter to prospective players to let them know that his game will truly be out next week. Not only did the CIC get quoted, it got the best quote of the bunch. You can read it for yourself below.

"...the graphics are stunning and I can't say enough about the color balance... Freelancer is a wonderful game." -Wing Commander News
Care for some context? You can read our Freelancer first impressions from December here. Our friends at Lancers Reactor and Lancers HQ were quoted as well.

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