Nowhere To Go Tonight?

Although we know most Wing Commander fans are among the social elite and probably have hot parties to go to tonight, a few of us will be skipping the crowds to hang out in #Wingnut instead. Rather than celebrate just at midnight, it's a party every hour, on the hour, for us. Stop on by if you plan to stay home and stay up.

Space Sim First Look: Anthelion

Half way between the portable game systems and regular space sims, PDA space sims have typically been pretty basic in the past. As they grow in power, space sims on PDAs are able to produce games such as Anthelion. The game features all sorts of graphical engine effects and a variety of missions and ships. There is a detailed storyline and the controls can be manipulated in multiple ways. The pictures look pretty fun.

It's only $9.95 too. You can find out more about the game here.

WC Saga Delivers Composition Sample

All mods need music, an aspect which often gets overlooked with so much effort going in to the visual effects. Tolwyn from WC Saga sent us this little note to let us know that they haven't forgotten.
As you may know, we have released a concept track some time ago. Now, one and a half year after, I have decided to uploaded only a short clip of the demo which our composer has been working on to give you an indication as to the quality of sound and so on . It is based on a theme from WC4, (which you can hear starting at the end of the WC4 intro music btw). Its not note for note "exactly" the same (if you want to be picky), but then its wasnt supposed to be. Our composer is working on the big opening tune, this is just a teaser and it will also sound better than this as this is a rough recording with his current gear.
Have a listen to the sample, and then let them know what you think.

Void War Wins Game Tunnel Multiplayer Award

In the past a lot of sites used to hand out Simulation of the Year awards about this time. Unfortunately many have dropped that category or merged it in with action games or something along those lines. GameTunnel, a site that highlights independently developed games, still has a Sim category, and they've announced their winners for 2004. There only seems to be one space sim there, but Void War won in the Multiplayer category. Congratulations! You can find more on the game here. Even players with the demo version of the game can play online.

Russian Wing Commander History Article Gets Translated

Almost a year ago we mentioned how major Russian magazine Game World Navigator had published a huge article about the history of Wing Commander. It also had a lot of pretty pictures, which is all that you'd be able to understand since those Russians decided to publish the article entirely in Russian. But that's no longer a problem as Stewart Todd Morgan has taken the time to translate the article in to English! Here's a small section:

(Page 124)

Columns 1 (bottom of the page), By the Way...: Insofar as the Kilrathi race was cat-like, the developers decided that their language would also resemble the snarls and rumblings issued by earthly cats. The word "Kilrathi" itself was taken as a basis - the basic sounds of Kilrathi became "k", "h", "r" and "t". Just listen to these splendid names: Rha'hri, Ralghra nar Hhallas, Prince Thrakhath...
Or here, for example, are several quotes from Kilrathi:
"Ek'rah skabak erg Thrak'Kilrah maks Rag'nith!" - "In the name of the glory of Kilra, the Emperor, and the Imperium!"
"H'as aiy'hra n'hakh ri'kahri krikajj, nai korekh sha'yi," - "Behind my enemies back, I have prepared the ground for his destruction" (supposedly, a proverb)
"Kir'kha n'ikh rakh k'har, Sharhi nar Hhallas," - "I, Sharhi nar Hhallas, vow to avenge my honor."

You can find the entire translation, as well as the original article in PDF format in our new article.

Infoburst Leaves Internet Stone Age

Way back in 1998 and 1999 staff member Hadrian conducted a series of interviews over the telephone. These were posted in .rm format, which was pretty much all we had at the time. RealMedia went out of fashion many years ago, so we've converted the files to MP3 format. Now you can enjoy the Infoburst shows without having to install RealPlayer.
  • Show #1 (2.5 MB)
    An interview with CIC founders Christopher Reid and Ben Lesnick.

  • Show #2 (3.2 MB)
    The CIC talks to Wing Commander author Chris McCubbin and Dan Finkelstein from Dan's Wing Commander Movie Site.

  • Show #3 (7.6 MB)
    An interview with Wing Commander composer George Oldziey.

  • Show #4 (8.9 MB)
    Chris Roberts talks to the CIC about the Wing Commander series and gaming business in general, the movie and his upcoming games, including the Star/Freelancer series.

Last Chance to Vote

On Friday or Saturday we'll be annoucing which sites and fan projects that won this year's annual contests. If you haven't indicated which have helped you the most this year, now is your last chance. You can vote for one from the website category and one from the fan project category. Voting beyond this in any way will disqualify the voter completely. All it takes is an email to vote. Here are the combined nominees again.
    Site of the Year
  • Cyberion Systems - A relative newcomer, Cyberion opened his site in January and has created lots of models and interesting things for Wing Commander fans.
  • Fleet Tactics - Psych and Jibbo have put together one of the most serious in-universe reference sites in many years.
  • HCl's Wing Commander Editing Site - HCl was the master at hacking into WC games long before we ran site of the year contests. He continues to come up with innovative patches and fixes for our beloved series.
  • Origin Museum - Joe and Paula have had a busy year offline, but their site serves as a tremendous monument to Origin. They now archive many of the last artifacts to leave Origin's Austin compound.
  • Wedge009's Wing Commander - Wedge has assembled some of the most comprehensive data and files on the Wing Commander universe. His in-depth research of the various games provides a great resource and orientation for the series.
  • Wing Commander 3D - Tolwyn's repository of 3D models and resources got a big update this year.
  • Wing Commander in Russia - Black Joker's complete Wing Commander site serves as a major community pillar for Russian Wing Commander fans.
  • Wing Commander Revival - Andreas Schmitt and HCl have been busy this year, but their site is one of the few older Wing Commander News sites out there that still updates with original content periodically.
    Fan Project of the Year
  • Flight Commander was made almost entirely from scratch by Eddie Benowitz. It is easily modifiable and comes complete with most of the features of the later Wing Commander games.
  • Holding the Line endures as the longest running fan fiction series. At more than five years old, regular chapters continue to flesh out the story as it nears its ultimate conclusion.
  • Privateer Remake expands on the original Vega Strike project to update and expand the original Wing Commander Privateer. They are now in the final open beta stages.
  • Reckoning is the Privateer themed mod to the popular Freelancer game. Numerous Wing Commander additions give you the best of both games in one experience.
  • Standoff has taken the Secret Ops engine to new heights with the release of their mod. They are working to combine the best of early nineties Wing Commander designs with the latest Wing Commander engine to create an episodic release.
  • WC Saga has utilized Freespace 2's powerful editing tools to create a sharp new experience. Their numerous updates should culminate in an exciting package soon.
If any of these projects have entertained you this year, you can help recognize them here. Thanks!

Holding The Line Chapter 197

Raptor has sent through the last HTL chapter of 2004. Not to worry though, the story will continue well in to 2005!
Hey all, Raptor here

HTL continues with the second half of the great "Aftershocks" two-parter, which is written by Joe "Wraith" Guida. As you saw in the last story, pilots from the TCS Yorktown had located the wreckage of the light carrier TCS Endeavour, only for their rescue efforts to be interrupted by the Nephilim. This story picks up from there. Please send any and all comments to Joe at captpowell1@earthlink.net, not to me.

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

The HTL writing team would like to wish our fellow Wingnuts a happy and prosperous new year. We have a lot of big events coming up in 2005, not the least of which will be the big finish to the storyline. We'll also be passing some major milestones on the way, including HTL's six anniversary, its 200th chapter, and one million published words. Last but not least, Holding The Line Dot Net will be going online, so stay tuned.

Best, Raptor

SFX Visits Set of Wing Commander Movie

Today we have an article that SFX published in August of 1999. In Issue #54 they visited the set of the Wing Commander Movie in Luxembourg. It explores all aspects of the movie from costume design to its roots in gaming. There are also quotes and interviews with most of the main cast. A little bit of British humor makes its way in too. The shots are a bit high res and low compression to maintain the captions on the photographs. Individual scans are between 600 and 750 kilobytes. I'm still not quite sure why the title of the article is "Game Boys."
"I did my own stunts, being dragged around and sucked out of airlocks five hundred times in one day... it gets a little painful." But that said, (Prinze) is ready to come back, should a Wing Commander II be the order of the day. "I'm already signed on to do it, that's how much faith I had in the project. There are certain movies you want to see another one of, and this is one of them."
If you missed it earlier, back in March we ran an update on the technique for creating the flight deck. Only one side was actually built/used at once. You can find this companion piece here.

HCl Still Churning Out Patches

Editing god HCl is still hacking apart bits and pieces of Wing Commander code to help fans and modders get a closer look at what makes the games tick. In just the last month he has released updated patches and tools to work with Prophecy audio, tweak a Scatter Gun effect and integrate video into Secret Ops mods. Although these small files are difficult for casual fans to utilize, many of the prominent fan projects today are making great use of them. Not so difficult to use are the high resolution patches for WCP and SO, a key generator for SO and a video clip player he has created. You can find all these and more at HCL's Editing Site.

Saga Releases Final Destroyer Shots

Starman and the Saga Team have finalized the design for their WC3 era Kilrathi Destroyer.

This one is Starman's favorite ship, so head down to Crius where you can find additional descriptions and pictures.

Revival For German Wing Commander Hub

A little over a year ago the Wingcenter website went offline due to various technical issues. They've now made a comeback for the new year, with some notable changes. Their forum has been renamed to CommCenter, the website is now exclusively in German and my street sources inform me that they will begin covering other space sim games in the near future. It looks like Talent For War and Joystick Required may be in for some competition! The Lancers Reactor however will probably remain the premier source for Dungeon Siege news. (warning: website may take several days to load for dial-up users)

Happy Holidays!

Joe, Paula and Hobbes from the Origin Museum would like to join us in wishing everyone a happy holidays! We're all taking a short breather today. Hopefully most of you don't have to work and do get a chance to hang out with people you like. If it doesn't look like that will happen, at least check out Standoff and stop by Crius or #Wingnut.

Tracking Unidentified Signal

Confederation intelligence has been tracking an object rapidly approaching the Sol system. While attempts at communication with the object have been met with silence on all channels, a long distance drone has managed to obtain images which appear to show a Sleigh class transport. Intel believes the transport may have lost all drive power since the craft is being towed by nine ships of a design similar to reindeer, the first of which is emitting a bright red glow. Our limited intelligence indicates that the transport may be loaded with Christmas presents destined for Sol III. Until we know more, we have released this radar image showing the craft's current position and flight path.

Brighten Up Your Desktop

I'm not sure how we missed this at the time, but Raylight have up a wallpaper based on the Prophecy Advance box art. That jump trail would make a neat Christmas decoration too. You can find the wallpapers for the three main resolutions on this page.

Edit: You can find this and other wallpapers in our wallpaper section here.

Get Standoff Now

The big day has arrived - the Standoff prologue episode has been released! Before going on with the details, here is the important bit: DOWNLOAD LINK.

Still with us? Good. Once you have downloaded the 67MB file, simply run it and the installer will hunt down your Secret Ops installation and install everything you need. If you run in to any problems, I'm sure people are standing by to answer questions in the Standoff forums. It's also a good place to send your praise to the team behind the mod. Other than that, enjoy!

Really Quick Standoff Troubleshooting Update

Here's a quick list of known problems and fixes for the Standoff prologue -

  • Game performs an illegal operation upon launching - This is a Windows 2000/XP problem. The game won't run in Windows 2000, but in Windows XP, right click standoff.exe in your Secret Ops folder and select properties, then from the Compatibility tab, set the file to Windows 95 compatibility mode.
  • Game gives the error "gl_d3d_5::createzbuffer attach failed 87" - Go in to the Standoff launcher options, and select "16 bit". 32 bit mode has problems with some graphics cards, mainly Radeons.
  • The game appears to lock up - The Secret Ops engine has a problem where it stalls at certain points. You can just wake it up by moving the mouse.
There are also some additional notes in the Standoff launcher's troubleshooting section. If all else fails, try this thread.

Maj. Striker Builds a Bengal

Just because we haven't seen any new models from Maj. Striker for a few months doesn't mean that he has hung up his modeling tools. He has produced this model of a Bengal class carrier. It's still work in progress, but it still looks pretty damned good.

Get Ready For Standoff

Tomorrow is the big day, Standoff gets released. The best thing you can do now is to make sure that you're ready for it. Make sure you have Secret Ops, downloading it if need be. Then install it and make sure that it runs. Standoff borrows various things from Secret Ops so it's essential that you can run it properly. You don't need the episode files in order to run Standoff. Once that's done, get some practice in and we'll see you tomorrow for the big release, as soon as the team releases it.

Battle of the Dark Screenshots

The Standoff team has shown off a screenshot from their intro that highlights a darkness graphical effect. In the blackness of space, only the hangar lights are visible. It's a cool effect when used appropriately.

Not to be outdone, the Saga team has released a screenshot that's entirely black! Just kidding. The shot below is a lens flare test. But the Hellcat pictured is mainly visible through its engine glow.

Busy Times For Chris Roberts

It seems that demand for Chris Roberts' talents have rocketed. While Chris was producer for just The Punisher this year, he has been named as producer or co-producer for seven movies due for release in 2005, and even one due in 2006. His IMDB record lists the upcoming movies as The Jacket, Edison, Ask the Dust, Lord of War, Lucky Number Slevin, The Big White, The Bird, and Grounded. Strangely, mention of another one of Chris Roberts' projects American Knight has disappeared, but if that is still going ahead, that will be his ninth project in progress.

Standoff Theme Music Now Available

If you can't wait for the release of the first episode of Standoff in just a few days, you can now get a preview of the mod's theme music. The theme was composed by Michael Mahadeen, who also worked on the music for Unknown Enemy. The music has a definite WC2 style to it, which should fit in well with the style of the rest of the mod. The theme is available for download in MP3 format here. There is also a lengthy update on the Standoff site about the state of the mod, and though we have covered much of the news here it's still worth a read.

Ultima Online Opens Origin Shard

The UO team has created a fresh new server under the headline "Origin Lives!"
A new shard is born -- Origin. The Origin shard is now open to all Samurai Empire players. This shard is a place where you can get a fresh start, claim that prime piece of real estate you’ve always had your eye on, or just rediscover the lands of Britannia.

Because we have many demo and free trial programs available, this shard is only available to Ultima Online: Samurai Empire account holders for the first month. By limiting access in this way, we can ensure that our loyal customers have the first opportunity to claim the real estate and goods provided by the launch of the Origin shard. This restriction will be lifted in mid-January.

They are also holding a focus group soon. Check here for details, including a $75 reimbursement. Slashdot has also recently posted a commentary on the long term viability of the game.

EA Taking a Portion of Ubisoft

Electronic Arts has announced that they are in the process of acquiring 20% of the large video game publisher Ubisoft. This would give them the largest individual block of stock in the company and allow them to have an influencial authority within the French-based publisher. Last year the company did over 500 million Euros in sales and currently has a staff of about 2400. They have development studios around the world, including in Austin, Texas. Also in their possession are the rights to such franchises as Myst, Chessmaster, The Settlers, Prince of Persia, Rayman and all the various Tom Clancy variants.
Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS) today announced an investment in international game developer and publisher UbiSoft Entertainment, headquartered in Rennes, France. The investment represents approximately 19.9 percent interest in the company -- shares purchased as a block from Talpa Beheer B.V. to be completed upon obtaining antitrust clearance from the U.S. government. Financial terms were not disclosed.

WC Saga Starts Screenshot Bombardment

There have been a lot of new screenshots from the WC Saga team since we last covered the project little over a few days ago. Of course that's to be expected as the project nears completion and more features are ready to be shown off. Among other things, you can now see the new Venture in action, a large strike force, and an attack on a Kilrathi carrier. The majority of new screenshots can be found here, but here are a few of the prettier pictures.

Neil Young Gets New Job

It has been a few years now since Neil Young worked at Origin as their General Manager. Of course we all know how Origin ended up, but he was supportive of the Wing Commander community when it was part of his jurisdiction. There has since been no shortage of demand for Neil's talents. Following Origin, he became head of Maxis, another major member of EA's vast network. He produced Majestic, the spooky online/real life game that played you, and he has been in charge of the fun Lord of the Rings console games. Neil has now taken on the job of head of EA's Playa Vista studio in California. EALA is responsible for franchises such as Command & Conquer and Medal of Honor. It is also the same studio where ChrisReid got chased from when he was caught sight-seeing in May.

Neil will now be expected to "build improved processes that ensure high quality games are built on workable schedules." Sounds like fun. Here at the CIC we'd like to wish Neil luck in his new role.

Holding The Line Chapter 196

What's the best way to finish off a day of Christmas shopping, as lots of people are doing today? I don't know, but sitting down and reading the latest HTL chapter doesn't sound too bad. Here's Raptor to tell you about it.
Hey all, Raptor here

HTL continues with a great two parter called "Aftershocks", written by Joe "Wraith" Guida. As you've seen in past chapters, the TCS Yorktown has taken a battering in her battles with a Nephilim dreadnaught, and the TCS Endeavour has been lost in her own battle with an enemy carrier group. Now the fates of the two battlegroups intersect. Please send any and all comments to Joe at captpowell1@earthlink.net, not to me.

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

On a differant topic: Vote for HTL. Vote, damn you. Vote, I say! ;-)

Best, Raptor

If you haven't voted for your favorite site and project of the year yet, you can find all the details you need right here.

Hats are Here for the Holidays

Our latest CIC Gear, TCS Eisen Hats, has finally arrived. They look great and go well with our flight suits and Eisen shirts. Most of the preorders are packed and going out today. I have contacted several people about address and payment questions, but those should hopefully go out Monday. Because this is the holiday season, unfortunately not everyone will get theirs by Christmas, but most packages going to locations in the US should make it.

In related news, our most recent batch of CIC polo shirts also arrived last week. If you had a pending order for a custom sleeve name, you should have gotten an email about this. Most of those are going out today as well. If you're still waiting on a CIC glass or CCG trading, the current plan is to get those out on Monday. Everyone should get a package or email soon. If you have any sort of pending item you're still waiting on, feel free to email me to check up on the progress, especially if you don't hear anything within a reasonable amount of time from now.

If there is an item you're thinking about picking up, it's still possible to get into this Monday shipment. You'd have to Paypal me this weekend for that. If you're not trying to get something specifically for the holidays, we can once again do orders on all merchandise while our stock lasts. The one exception is the flight suit, as we're currently looking for a new seamstress again. Feel free to send us an email if you have any questions about the different promotional items we have.

Fresh WC1 Art To View

If you fancy a change of background for your desktop, then perhaps this piece of art by SabreAce will suit you. It depicts a scene with a pair of Hornets escorting a Drayman away from an ocean planet.
I've been working on my modeling for awhile now, and finally hit the point where I felt comfortable trying to make some WC models. Although my models are rather low poly, and the textures aren't all that great (compare my stuff with something by the Saga guys, Eder, or Howie Day, and mine's downright horrible ), I'd like to think my Hornet and Drayman came out ok. The planet...well, let's just say it's tough to make something close to that old blue planet from the WC1/WC2 backgrounds.

You can post your comments here.

Results From A Bengal/Ranger Crossing

Marc had an interesting idea for a hybrid ship design.
I got this inspiration last night on the Ranger class carrier of WC3. If its supposed to be really old, then it might have originally been similar to ships of the WC1 era. So I messed with the bridge and the launch bay and - blah blah blah. Now I've come up with something... interesting. I think I like it but, and this is why somebody on the other end is reading this (I hope), I need opinons.

Starting with a ship similar to the TCS Victory, the conning tower, turrets, flight deck, engines and colors were meshed with a ship similar to the TCS Tiger's Claw. The result plays tricks on your eyes and makes you wonder how plausible the slight modifications would be. If the two ships were ever brought together in the future, I'm certain that some aspects would be joined in this manner. Marc is looking for feedback, so feel free to click the "Discuss" link below and post some comments.

Not Quite Trivia

We've gotten a number of requests this week from people participating in some sort of internet trivia contest. This happens from time to time whenever a Wing Commander question pops up somewhere. To be fair to everyone, we'll just answer the question right here. I don't know where it's from, and you all should know this.
'What was the name of the turncoat Kilrathi in Wing Commander 3, who ended up being an implanted enemy agent?'
The answer can be found here (13 megs, that particular file requires an unrar program and the divx codec). Lower res versions of that this file and other interesting videos are available in the Files area.

EA NFL Deal Cost $300+ Million

CNN has run a story EA's Exclusive NFL Bid. Rumors about the cost of the agreement have been all over, but this source puts it slightly over $300 million. While that would wipe out the gross returns on an entire year's Madden sales, the price may make sense when distributed over five years. The article also makes a good point about the 2011 football season.
A bigger question, perhaps, is what happens five years down the road. Will the license be hotly contested – or has EA, in essence, bought a lifelong deal with the NFL? One of the chief expenses in sports games is the cost to render the players' likenesses - in other words, to create lifelike animated facial models, which give in-game players a photo-realistic appearance.

When the EA/NFL/NFL Players deal expires, no company will have renders of the league's 1,400 players, which would cost millions – and could discourage bidding.

You can find the complete article here.

Talking Heads Back In Fashion

Eder from the Standoff team has released screenshots of what could be one of their most impressive features - rendered cutscenes. Interaction with other characters will take place through these scenes which utilize an old favorite style - talking heads! It looks like the team have done an astounding job recreating the style of WC2 right down to the uniforms. Remember, it's just over a week now until the release of the first episode on December 23. The episode 1 download size is currently estimated at around 80-90MB, and you'll also need the Secret Ops starter pack to play.

Saga Ships Take Escort Duty

A new batch of in-game screenshots has been released for WC Saga. They're quite a bit more interesting than static renders. We see Hellcats and Arrows on duty and a flight taking off from the TCS Hermes in these shots.

What they escort is a secret. :)
I expect we'll see more shots such as these as the game nears completion.

Ultima? Oh, No, He's A Rocket Man

Richard Garriott, creator of Ultima and founder of Origin Systems, Inc., is in the news... the space news! CollectSpace reports that Garriott placed a winning bid of $15,540 for a small bronze rocket statue which flew aboard SpaceShipOne's recent commercial launch. I guess we know what happened to all the money we spent on Wing Commander III Premiere Editions! You can find an article detailing the purchase here. The statue now has a pair of historical connections: it was sculpted by Erik Lindbergh, grandson of the famous aviator, and Garriott himself is the son of an astronaut (Owen K. Garriott, one of NASA's Group 4 scientist-astronauts, flew as part of both the Skylab and Shuttle programs).

Two New Comic Character Bios Exposed

Kenshi and team have released biographies on two more characters for their upcoming Wing Commander Comic Project.
Captain Sarah Molynieux - For the past 5 years Sarah has carried the callsign "Widowmaker." This was a title she has earned rather than necessarily claimed. Aggressive to the point of stubborness, Sarah has never backed down from any fight. Always ready for action, adventure and often the life of any party (including the illegal ones), Sarah is a poster child of optimism and courage. She would have been promoted further had it not been for her repeated instances of disobeying direct orders and disciplinary lapses. Despite these frequent marks on her record, her knack for resolving matters quickly and effectively have kept her on the flight roster.

Major Jack Bradley - His wingmen have called him "Stoneman" since his first sortie, Jack inspires respect and awe with his cold, efficient and deadly pilotting skills. Orphaned at a young age and filled with a desire for revenge, Jack applied for the Academy when he was still a full two years below their required age. They rejected his application and so he joined with the marines (it was later determined that he "incorrectly" submitted his age on the Marine application). After his two years with the Marines were finished, Jack requested transfer to the Academy to become a pilot. His request was granted and finally, Jack was admitted to the Academy to train. Jack sailed through the Academy with high marks and glowing recommendations, he was assigned to the TCS Tiger Claw upon his graduation in 2644. Jack served during the Claw's participation at Custer's Carnival and flew with distinction that earned him a Silver Star. He continued to serve aboard the Claw until 2651 when he reassigned to the TCS Falcon.

The search for Thomas Halcyon's callsign has ended as well. The winning selection is "Tomcat."

Get Your Votes In Soon

Just a reminder that voting for our annual Site/Fan Project of the Year awards is in progress now. Your favorite project needs your support and there are only a few votes between the leaders, so your vote counts. Send your vote in via email. You can find a complete list of the candidates here. Oh, and please only vote once.

Electronic Arts Signs Exclusive NFL Rights

EA has just announced that it has secured exclusive rights to the National Football League teams, players and stadiums. This contract covers virtually all types of video games on all significant platforms for the next five years. This is a huge bonus for the EA's Madden series and investors (stock price is up about 12% in the last day), but it's a crippling setback to various competitors such as Sega or Midway. The last couple Madden titles have exceeded five million copies sold. Most recently, Sega's ESPN NFL 2K5 has gained market share by undercutting Madden's price by 60%. EA's response now eliminates the possibility of ESPN NFL 2K6 being produced.
"We are excited about the opportunity to further enhance our relationship with the NFL and PLAYERS INC," said Larry Probst, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Arts. "The five-year agreements will usher NFL fans through the console technology transition with new ideas and innovative game play experiences."

Both agreements are exclusive for action simulation, arcade-style and manager games on the PC, handheld game devices and consoles -- including console online features. The agreements do not include exclusive rights to other types of games or games accessible from the Internet or wireless devices, including cellular phones.

GameSpot and Slashdot have some additional commentary on the issue as well.

Venture In To WC Saga

The latest joint effort between Eder, Starman and Lynx has had its grand unveiling: the Venture class corvette. The ship will join WC Saga's fleet as an electronic warfare craft, a role the craft has previously been known to perform in False Colors. It has some dark textures which may not translate well in to Freespace's even darker engine, but at the very least out of the game the ship looks great.

You can post your comments in this thread.

Standoff HUDs Get Overhaul

Eder has posted screenshots of one of the last things to change before Standoff's release just before Christmas: the HUDs. The new graphics are a lot smoother than the previous versions.

You can post your thoughts here.

TCS Wellington On Patrol

Tolwyn has released some shots of WC Saga's TCS Wellington in space (or perhaps floating on clouds of delicious cotton candy). As usual, you can get some tiny peeks at the story dialogue by checking out the comm subtitles in each screenshot.

Privateer Remake Gets 0.1 Better

Hellcat has brought the Privateer Remake project one step closer to the big 1.0 release with the release of version 0.9b. This release contains mainly bug fixes and additions to the campaign. Unfortunately there isn't a patch for version 0.8 so if you want to take advantage of the changes, you'll need the entire 180MB file which you can get here. Note that version 1.0 is fast approaching, so this beta release is just to catch bugs.

Hellcat especially needs feedback on the mac version as well.

Post Your Desktop

The Wallpapers section has been updated, adding another nine pieces to choose from. The section has dozens of backgrounds for your desktop. Some are from official sources, but most are fan-made. Don't hesitate to send in your own creation!

Encyclopedia Expands Some

Over the last few months people from the community have given us a hand with the Encyclopedia, adding some much searched after records to the database. We'd like to thank Wedge009, Shades, Raptor and TC for their contributions. With close to 600,000 page views so far, the Encyclopedia is one of our most popular sections.

Happy Birthday Wing Commander 3!

It has been exactly ten years since the third major Wing Commander installment was released by Origin Systems Inc. Yesterday and today in 1994 eager fans received preordered copies of the premiere edition. Retail standard issue copies arrived a couple days later. The launch of Wing Commander was a huge step up for the entertainment industry. WC3 pioneered 3d graphics, live actor video, games on CD and more. It was one of the first games to take advantage of a multimillion dollar budget and went on to sell over a million copies, numbers that were quite substantial even to parent Electronic Arts back in the day.

I remember picking up my copy of Wing Commander Armada in the summer of 1994 and receiving a little card telling me to get my computer ready. Much like Wing Commander 2 with the sound card and Wing Commander Prophecy with the 3d accelerator, Wing Commander 3 encouraged a legion of PC gamers to go out and buy a CD-ROM drive for hundreds of dollars. In little over four years we went from a handful of floppy disks to a stack of CDs. Once computers had their CD-ROM installed, systems with only 8 megabytes of RAM sufferred 5+ minute load times before the missions. Still, we happily waited for one of the most incredible gaming experiences ever.

I've put together a little bit of Wing Commander 3 related memorabilia below. I've been told that this might make a neat wallpaper, so a high res version is available here.

From left to right (top third): Wing Commander playing cards, Wing Commander customizable card game booster pack and card, Wing Commander 3 "blue box" classic edition (one of many different rereleases), Wing Commander Armada WC3 preparation advertisement, WC3 for the Playstation, WC3 for the 3DO, Terran Confederation patch, Wing Commander card game advertisement, WC3 premiere edition poster, WC3 development team shirt, WC3 3DO dev team shirt, (middle third): color Warbirds poster, WC3 ultimate unauthorized strategy guide, WC3 PC standard edition, WC3 official guide advertisement, WC3 premiere edition box, Making of WC3 VHS tape, the Victory Streak manual, WC3 premiere film reel tin and discs, WC3 playguide and Kilrathi Saga manual, WC3 premiere edition t-shirt, (bottom third) WC3 demo, WC3 official guide, WC3 authorized combat guide, Wing Commander Kilrathi Saga, Wing Commander card game booster box and starter pack, and Wing Commander 3 novelization: The Heart of the Tiger.

Each and every Wing Commander game was at the forefront of technology and innovative gameplay when they were released. Games today still rarely exceed the polish and production values associated with installments in the series. Wing Commander fans around the world share a special bond. We'd like to wish this gaming classic a Happy Tenth Birthday!

An Early Christmas Present, Standoff Releasing December 23!

Now would be a good time to hook up your flightsticks and get some flying practice as Eder has announced that you're getting a present you can open early. Standoff, one of the most promising Wing Commander fan projects right now, will be releasing its first chapter to the world on Thursday December 23rd, 2004!

Starkey has been lucky enough to get a sneak preview, and here are some of his first impressions.

I found it GREAT so far. It is really not only a step up from UE, but a whole ladder up, IMHO. I am very pleased with the ships models, in-game fiction, backgrounds, characters and, specially, the gameplay and the dynamics of the game.

Few times in WC I have seen such intense dogfights, and not in a SO-kind of way, where you and your 2 wingmen could beat up a whole Nephilim fleet. Now, a squadron of light fighters really have to sweat to beat 2 or 3 heavy fighters, and every missile counts a lot. You can´t waste a second chasing the enemies, and, unlike other WC games, you can´t just let your wingmen eject and finish the mission Rambo-like. In post-truce times, resources are very limited. If you don´t watch your buddies´ backs, next mission up they might not have a fighter to fly.

You can read the rest of his impressions here, but for now mark December 23rd on your calendar.

Vote for the Sites of the Year!

Somehow 2004 has come and nearly gone, and it's time to vote for the Wing Commander fans that have made your year better. Some older projects have gone quiet this year, but there are always new ones to take their place. And let's get to it.
    Site of the Year
  • Cyberion Systems - A relative newcomer, Cyberion opened his site in January and has created lots of models and interesting things for Wing Commander fans.
  • Fleet Tactics - Psych and Jibbo have put together one of the most serious in-universe reference sites in many years.
  • HCl's Wing Commander Editing Site - HCl was the master at hacking into WC games long before we ran site of the year contests. He continues to come up with innovative patches and fixes for our beloved series.
  • Origin Museum - Joe and Paula have had a busy year offline, but their site serves as a tremendous monument to Origin. They now archive many of the last artifacts to leave Origin's Austin compound.
  • Wedge009's Wing Commander - Wedge has assembled some of the most comprehensive data and files on the Wing Commander universe. His in-depth research of the various games provides a great resource and orientation for the series.
  • Wing Commander 3D - Tolwyn's repository of 3D models and resources got a big update this year.
  • Wing Commander in Russia - Black Joker's complete Wing Commander site serves as a major community pillar for Russian Wing Commander fans.
  • Wing Commander Revival - Andreas Schmitt and HCl have been busy this year, but their site is one of the few older Wing Commander News sites out there that still updates with original content periodically.
    Fan Project of the Year
  • Flight Commander was made almost entirely from scratch by Eddie Benowitz. It is easily modifiable and comes complete with most of the features of the later Wing Commander games.
  • Holding the Line endures as the longest running fan fiction series. At more than five years old, regular chapters continue to flesh out the story as it nears its ultimate conclusion.
  • Privateer Remake expands on the original Vega Strike project to update and expand the original Wing Commander Privateer. They are now in the final open beta stages.
  • Reckoning is the Privateer themed mod to the popular Freelancer game. Numerous Wing Commander additions give you the best of both games in one experience.
  • Standoff has taken the Secret Ops engine to new heights. They are working to combine the best of early nineties Wing Commander designs with the latest Wing Commander engine to create an episodic release soon.
  • WC Saga has utilized Freespace 2's powerful editing tools to create a sharp new experience. Their numerous updates should culminate in an exciting package soon.
If any of these projects have entertained you this year, you can help recognize them here. Include one vote for your favorite site and one vote for project. No duplicate voting is allowed. Thanks!

PA Appreciates the Basics in Game Based Movies

The latest Penny Arcade article discusses how the Doom movie apparently won't feature the central location or enemies from the Doom game, Mars and Demons from Hell. The article mentions the WC movie at least got these two points correct (set in space with space cats). That's about where the compliments end however.

Last year we had the opportunity to hold the article's author hostage while forcing him to play Prophecy Advance. Tycho's a pretty nice guy, and it turns out he used to be a big WC fan too.

Another Look At Saga Thunderbolt

A few changes have been made since the last time we reported on the Thunderbolt model for Wing Commander Saga:
Since with the model geometry as it was I could not get the shading right, especially with shinemaps applied; the vertex lighting showed it's ugly face everwhere on the main body when smoothed, and making the model faceted didn't help either, so I've decided to add another odd 100 polies or so to smooth things out; if you look at the picture below, you'll notice that the wings and main body's hard edges are gone. Now the shading is correct.

The first picture is a detailed render of the 3D model. The second image shows the Thunderbolt as it might appear in the Freespace engine.

Battle of The Sidekicks

It's poll time again, and the latest burning question is who is your favorite sidekick? Or perhaps why do their names all begin with M? Ah, where would Thrakhath be without Melek, or Roman Lynch without Miggs? Okay, perhaps those are bad examples. Come to think of it, none of them are particularly helpful. Nevertheless, we want you to choose your favorite!

Our previous poll asked you to choose your favorite mechanic. Rachel won by quite a large margin, followed by Sparks and Pliers. Poor old Nikodaemus didn't get much love. Perhaps you felt that he costs too many muster points.

Bishop? You Can Do Better Than That

Kenshi had made some great progress on his WC comic and already has some character designs created. Here is the art along with character bios written by Maj. Striker.
  • 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Halcyon - The only son of decorated war veteran Colonel Peter Halcyon (commander of the TCS Tiger's Claw), Thomas is looking to carve his own record in Confed history. Recently graduated from the Academy, Thomas was known for his consistently good grades and attention to details. Although anxious to get his first combat assignment, Thomas is wise enough to maintain control, an attribute sadly lacking in his fellow classmate Charles "Suicide" Connor. Though fresh from the Academy, Thomas has been dubbed the nickname of "Bishop," a reference to his strict control but impressive performance in the cockpit.

  • 2nd Lieutenant Charles Connor - Nicknamed "Suicide" and for a good reason, Charles Connor is English born and quite proud of it, although he's even moreso of his black ancestry. Charles has recently graduated along side 2nd Lt. Halcyon and is spoiling for his first run-in with the Kilrathi. Self-confident to a fault, Connor believes he is the best... and everyone else should believe it as well.

  • 1st Lieutenant Jonathan Craft - Jonathan's quiet nature and stealthy manuvors have earned him the callsign, "Shadow." His parents' murder at the hands of Mandarin saboteurs has caused him to become extremely introverted. Even his closest friends rarely have conversations longer than a few minutes with him. Despite his private, and sometimes secretive, lifestyle, Jonathan is an exceptionally skilled pilot with dozens of Kilrathi kills already under his belt.


Whoa, hold on there Mr. Halcyon. You can't have that callsign, Lt. Polanski (WC Movie) is using the callsign Bishop in 2654. As the Prophecy official guide explains, two pilots don't share the same callsign at the same time. Good thing Kenshi has a solution.
We're giving you, the public, a shot at coming up with a callsign for our main character, 2nd Lt. Thomas Halcyon. However, there are a few rules...

1. It must be an original name. No names from any other WC source; ie: Maverick, Maniac, Jazz, etc.

2. Any inappropriate or offensive callsign will not only be ignored but will likely cause you to be ridiculed by other forum members.

We'll pick the best one on the evening of Wednesday, December 8th.

You can post your suggestion here. Please try to think of something appropriate based on his bio above.

Space Sim First Look: Interstellar Flames 2

This one is a bit unusual. Interstellar Flames 2 is under development for the upcoming Gizmondo handheld gaming system. The Gizmondo faces an uphill battle in the handheld market as it tries to carve out a niche like the Nokia N-Gage. At one point we might have overlooked games on a platform such as this, but after seeing Raylight's spectacular results with Prophecy Advance, IF2 is worth a closer look.

The game is running on the Gizmondo's 400 MHz ARM9 processor and displaying to a 320x240 screen, compared to the GBA's 240x160 pixel screen backed by a 16 MHz ARM7. That being said, there's not a whole lot of visual difference between the two. Interstellar Flames would display more at a time due to the higher resolution screen, but its backgrounds seem much more blurry, and this causes the entire presentation to seem less sharp. The screenshots that have been released show decent capital objects, but ones generally comparable to the TCS Midway. The game is also being portrayed as much of a straight shooter than a space combat simulator with story elements.
A vast horde of alien battleships is approaching our solar system. Due to maintenance problems only one fighter craft is ready to defend the planet. Fly dangerous missions against huge battlecruisers, dogfight with enemy fighters in asteroid fields and destroy the alien fleet before it enslaves Earth. Can you face them alone?
The game unfortunately seems to lack any multiplayer mode as well. This is disappointing since the Gizmondo is claiming to be a multiplayer pioneer with wireless play through the cell networks and GPS assisted gameplay. More handheld space sims are definitely welcome, but it seems that IF2 has yet to live up to its full potential. As it seems the game is still in the early stages, there may yet be further developments as the game gets closer.

Observe A Standoff Mission In Progress

Eder and Quarto have posted a series of pictures detailing the events of a standard assault mission in Standoff. It's a Ralatha strike launched from the TCS Firekka. The pilot is in a Gladius. It shows off the great blend of elements from various Wing Commander games. At times you're not sure if you're playing Wing Commander 2 or Secret Ops. The characteristically low flight deck of the escort carrier is a nice touch.

You can find more pictures with captions detailing the mission progression at Crius.net here.

WCU Privateer Finds Steltek Presence

While work on reaching the milestone version 1.0 release continues, the WCU Privateer team are still hard at work on the models for the project, and it's time for the Steltek to get the treatment. First up is the drone, famous for showing up when you want it least. Sadly the pictures aren't very high resolution and these thumbnails are all we have right now.

Next up is the Steltek scout, and it looks like someone decided to let the thing dock at a mining base.

You can post your comments here.

Holding The Line Chapter 195

Busy times for us here at the CIC. what with putting up Christmas decorations and the like. Fortunately Raptor isn't too busy to send in a new HTL chapter.
Hey all, Raptor here

HTL continues with Part Twelve of the "Into The Inferno" series, which is written by yours truly. As you saw in the last chapter, a small Border Worlds strike force had taken out the light escorts of a Nephilim carrier group. In the battle though, the escort carrier BWS Defiance had been crippled, and Nephilim fighters were chasing the attackers as they broke off. This story picks up from there. Your feedback is most welcome, so please send any and all comments back to me.

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

Best, Raptor

Electronic Arts Responds To Labor Rumors

The SPOnG gaming news site has posted a memo from EA's human resources vice president that was recently sent to employees. There have been several articles written over the last month or two that have suggested some employees at the company have been subject to unfair working conditions. This is an interesting look at the company's stance on the issue.
As much as I don’t like what’s been said about our company and our industry, I recognize that at the heart of the matter is a core truth: the work is getting harder, the tasks are more complex and the hours needed to accomplish them have become a burden. We haven’t yet cracked the code on how to fully minimize the crunches in the development and production process. Net, there are things we just need to fix. And the solutions don’t apply to just our studios -- the people who market, sell, distribute and support the great games that our Studios create, all share a demanding workload...

We are looking at reclassifying some jobs to overtime eligible in the new Fiscal Year. We have resisted this in the past, not because we don’t want to pay overtime, but because we believe that the wage and hour laws have not kept pace with the kind of work done at technology companies, the kind of employees those companies attract and the kind of compensation packages their employees prefer. We consider our artists to be “creative” people and our engineers to be “skilled” professionals who relish flexibility but others use the outdated wage and hour laws to argue in favor of a workforce that is paid hourly like more traditional industries and conforming to set schedules.

You can find the complete memo here.

Updates On Official Wing Commander Music Reorchestration

LeHah has done some digging and come up with two updates on the various official Wing Commander music projects in the works. The Team Fat Reorchestrated Wing Commander Album is still under production. Here's what Linda Law had to say.
We are working on the orchestrations. We're about a month behind where I thought we'd be by now, but we _are_ making progress.
You can download a tiny sample of what this album will feature here. The Fatman and Team Fat were responsible for the early WC1-2 era Wing Commander tracks. George Oldziey took over during the WC3-Prophecy timeframe, and he is also working on some updates for his website.
I've been swamped working on a new game project, which is described on my web site. When that's done I'll do my best to get some [Wing Commander] reorchestrations up on the site. Thanks for your interest
George Sanger from Team Fat is on the left and George Oldziey is on the right. Both teams are universally hailed as having added a tremendous amount to Wing Commander's atmosphere, so I'm quite excited to see what new stuff they'll bring us.

David Arnold History Updated

LeHah also noticed the upgrade at Wing Commander Movie soundtrack composer David Arnold's website. You'll need Flash to view the menu structure. Some people might have to try a different browser if it doesn't come right up. Click on the History area and scroll over to 1999 to see the blurb on Wing Commander.

Flight Commander Gets Engine Overhaul

EddieB has lifted the lid on some of the features that can be expected from the next version of Flight Commander. If you haven't seen it before, Flight Commander is a game based around its own engine, written from the ground up by EddieB.
Here's an update on the features I've partially completed for Flight Commander

1) Dynamic lighting. As you fire a weapon, the light from the weapon shines on objects around it. Fire a laser, and objects around it are shaded red.

2) Turrets are coming along nicely. I've got rendering down mostly ok, just need to add constraints and some AI.

3) Shadows appear in the takeoff and landing cutscenes.

4) Thrusters look better, and are partially transparent.

While you wait for the update, the current version and more details can be found on the Flight Commander site.

Clive Owen's New Movie Out Today

Clive Owen's latest movie, Closer, comes out in theaters today in North America. This is one of his more high profile projects since Privateer 2, with a similar cast of well known actors. It's sounds like a rather complicated and interesting drama. I've heard a number of Wing Commander fans talk about this one, though this might have been coincidental since the discussion has seemed to focus on Natalie Portman.

The third shot is from the set of Privateer 2 in 1996.

The Big GBA vs DS Match-up

To celebrate the launch of the Nintendo DS in Japan this morning, we've got some exciting comparison shots featuring Wing Commander Prophecy on the Gameboy Advance and the new DS.

The differences are somewhat substantial. The DS improves upon the GBA's 240x160x32,000 color screen with its own pair of 256x192x260,000 color displays. You can choose to have GBA games displayed on the top or bottom screen. The frontlight on the original GBA has been vastly improved with the new lighting coming from the sides and behind. The images look much less washed out now. The space is very clearly black instead of a milky blue.

Sound is also dramatically improved. Many GBA games are programmed with stereo effects that can only be heard through headphones. The DS now has two stereo speakers mounted on the unit itself. Max volume has been increased and the quality of sound is much better.

The buttons on the DS face are slightly smaller, which may put off some people, but the horizontal orientation (like the original GBA moreso than the SP) is a bit more comfortable. It would have been very very nice if you had the ability to map controls to the new X and Y buttons, because Prophecy has somewhat complicated controls. As was the case with the move to the Game Boy Player, using Select to drop decoys is easier now. Before you sell off your original Game Boy though, be aware that the DS does not support system link multiplayer with GBA cartridges. You'll be stuck in single player mode if you only have a DS.

Comparing Sitting Ducks

Here's a fine fleet which any Kilrathi bomber pilot would love to get in his sights. All of those transports show quite well how one of WC Saga's latest models compares with the original WC3 and WC4 models, and also WC Saga's first take on the design. You can find more pictures of the new model here.

Submit Your Privateer Remake Feedback

Over at the forums, HellcatV is asking for your feedback on the Privateer remake project. The burning question is: Which one change does the project really need before reaching version 1.0?
I'm asking for trouble here... but what ONE change from 008 does Privateer Remake 1.0 actually *need*
Please each person post only the most important thing.

There are no guarantees that anything here actually happens...for now assume it'll be exactly like 008.

You can answer here.

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