Flight Commander 1.1 Released

The full 1.1 update of Flight Commander has been released. New features include dynamic lighting, comm videos, a target cam, asteroids, weapon tweaks, decoys, new cutscenes, in-game fiction viewing, turrets, new capships, better damage models and graphical improvements. There is also a nifty mission editor. You can get it at SolSector here (under 30 megs!).
Flight Commander is a space combat engine programmed from the ground up that's easy to mod using standard graphic, movie, and sound file formats. Additionally, Flight Commander comes with a drag and drop graphical mission editor. Flight Commander can take advantage of modern video cards, and supports accelerated 3d sound and force feedback joysticks.

Warren Spector Explains Origin's Origins

BootStrike has archived a neat Warren Spector interview from GameBytes magazine. It was conducted in 1993 when he was executive producer of Ultima VII, Part II: Serpent Isle. Although that game is the focus on the interview, a few neat Wing Commander answers slipped by. Some of his answers provide a good look into Origin game design in the early 1990s. You can check out the full interview here or here. This one was spotted by AD.
GB: Will you ever write Windows versions of these games?

WS: Almost certainly not. The problem is speed. Doing a Windows version of an Ultima or Wing Commander game would just be bog-slow. So what we're talking about now is doing games that are designed to run under windows from the start, the stuff that doesn't need high-speed animation.

GB: When is an enhanced CD version of this game going to come out?

WS: Ultima 7 does not lend itself to CD's as they exist right now. That's because we hit the hard drive ALL the time. The engine hits the hard drive constantly. It would just be painfully slow playing off a CD. We prefer doing Wing Commander games, for example, because you can play them from the CD. When are we going to go CD-happy? It can't happen too soon. I would kill to be able to ship the 21 Mb intro to SI that some people saw at the trade shows. I would love to a whole game that does that.

GB: The screenshots of the intro reminded me of the KQ6 intro. Is the 3D modelled animation done at Origin?

WS: That's in house. Our entire art department is the best in the business. I'm absolutely convinced of that, and no one is going to sway me. Our senior artist, Denis Loubet, is brilliant. He can do things on a PC that the guys at SIGGRAPH with their Suns and SGI's say can't be done. He does it routinely. He's immensely talented. We do storyboards. He routinely trashes them and makes them better. In Wing Commander, I did the original shot breakdowns. Chris Roberts, Jeff George, Denis Loubet, and I sat on that balcony right there and went over the storyboard stuff, and I might as well have just thrown mine away. Denis just started sketching and I'm going, "Oh yeah. Oh yeah."

These answers pertain to Origin in general. It's interesting to note that the SVGA and multiplayer Wing Commander games arrived the next year.
GB: When will we see SVGA games?

WS: There are proposals on the table now for 640x480x256 colors. Frankly, games that don't use SVGA in the years to come aren't going to make it.

GB: What about multiplayer games?

WS: Doubt it for the near future, but some proposals on the desk have to have it. I'd say next year at the earliest.

GB: Has EA had any involvement in the planning, development, or approval of Origin games?

WS: Not so far. They've left us pretty much to our own devices.

Famous last words.

Wing Commander Had Quite A Run

Today we have a couple more scans from Jonathan Stone that illustrate just how long the original Wing Commander enjoyed retail success. GamePro reviewed the Sega CD WC1 almost four years after the original PC version was released. Super Wing Commander and Armada had just been completed and Wing Commander 3 was only months away. Sega CD was far from the only special edition of WC1 that made it out however (though one of the very few with full speech!). From Amiga early on to Kilrathi Saga several years later, the original Wing Commander 1 was a hot seller for most of the 1990s. We also have a nifty advertisement from GamePro's February 1993 issue that promotes the Super Nintendo edition.

Nothing else will have prepared you for the look and feel of Wing Commander on your Super NES. Here's Why! Wing Commander has incredible 3-D action, full screen explosions, 33 super stereo soundtracks and CD game quality. But it plays on your Super Nintendo.

Wing Commander is the most extremely cool, 3-D Space Combat Simulator with more than 40 separate deep space missions that progress to near suicide dogfighting with the tiger-like Kilrathi. It's like an action-adventure movie - and you're the star!

Are you up for the challenge? This award-winning megahit is now available for the Super NES. Kick some Kilrathi butt with Wing Commander.

EA Wraps E3 2005

Electronic Arts has concluded their announcements for the E3 Expo a week ago. They have a wrap-up page with show floor impressions of each new game. The EA Games site is also running a poll that asks which of the new systems you're most anticipating. Since it's a nonscientific web poll, the results have been skewed quite a bit. Yesterday the Nintendo Revolution had about 10%, the Playstation 3 nearly 60% and XBox 360 just over 30%. The current results look like this:

Based on what you know, which Next Gen Console will you buy?
Nintendo Revolution 51%
Sony PlayStation 3 30%
Microsoft Xbox 360 19%
Total votes: 48397

The earlier results before various fan sites and forums got wind of the poll are probably a lot more accurate.

Standoff Episode Two Progress Made

More people have been wondering lately about the second episode for the Standoff Secret Ops mod. The team has been hard at work building content that will provide structure for the rest of the game. Since the environment will transition quite a bit from Episode 1 to 2, there is quite a bit of work to be done. These efforts should help future episodes come more quickly however.
Basically, we are two cutscenes, a few voiceovers, and some bug-fixing short of a release, but due to the unpredictable rate at which voiceovers usually come in, I'm not going to announce a release date just yet. Rest assured that we will be releasing this episode *soon*, and that the following episodes will have shorter development cycles. We still had to fix a lot of ship models for Ep 2, and get all the Sim missions and the Sim music in, apart from the usual voiceover and cutscene trouble. For Episodes 3 to 5, all of those problems will be reduced (some of our great voiceover people have already completed all of their Episode 3 lines, for example).

Kristi Marks' Namesake Found

AD came across a pretty interesting connection between Wing Commander and Jem! and the Holograms. In the archives of the Jem mailing list, someone asked series creator Christy Marx if she had her likeness used elsewhere. Sound familiar? Major Kristi Marks played an important role in securing the KIS Ras Nik'hra in the Firekka System in 2655. Ellen Guon was a writer for Jem who was heavily involved in the creation of Secret Missions 2 and Freedom Flight.

Privateer Remake Looking For Testers

The Privateer Remake team is looking for a few testers to polish up their 1.1 release. They've been working for the last three months to come up with solutions to a number of problems that people have had with the game. A few awkward additions will be removed and some more original content will be included. This is a call for people with the time to provide constructive feedback, not those interested in a sneak peak of the improvements. You can find details on applying for the test slots at Crius.net here.
We are entering the beta testing period for the 1.1 privateer remake beta. We need volunteers who are interested in giving us detailed feedback about what is better, worse, and broken since the 1.0 release.

EA Discusses The Future

GameDaily Biz has conducted an interview with EA Marketing SVP Frank Gibeau. The topic focuses on Electronic Art's dominance in the video game market place and what that means going into the next hardware cycle. With a quarter of the market under its belt, the decisions EA makes in the next few months can shape the video game industry for years to come.
BIZ: You mentioned transition as a friend, but I'm sure there are dozens of companies in the industry that don't have the level of annual revenue that EA has that would prefer not to see the next generation come so soon.

FG: That's right, that's right. Hey, you know we were once their size. [laughs] And you know why we're bigger now? It's because we hit a couple of transitions in a row right. And once you get that base built, in terms of the business, then you can spend money on things like Spore and things like Black. And you can actually build more games on the next-gen earlier. So it starts to become something that builds on itself. Yeah, midsize publishers, small publishers are going to find this transition brutal. The cost of development is going up, and we have strategies like Renderware and other things that are allowing us to offset that a bit. Other companies can't.

BIZ: Looking at EA's overall business, there's been some talk that EA might try to become like the next Disney and branch out into other mediums, like music or movies. Are you setting your sights beyond games?

FG: No, we're a game company. That's all there is. We have not drank the Kool-Aid and think we're Hollywood. Our destiny does not lie in Hollywood. We're not a movie company; we're a gaming company. Interactive entertainment is what we do and there are going to be opportunities for us to dabble in things, try new things, and we're going to do that, but we do not have movie-itis.

You can check out the full article here.

GamePro Reviews A Lost Wing Commander Game

Jonathan Stone sent in a review of one the very cool "lost" Wing Commander games that occasionally comes up in the lore. Wing Commander 2 for the Super Nintendo tops the list of ultra rare games that we'd love to get our hands on. Much like Prophecy DVD, it was fully developed back in the mid nineties but held up before release. It had nifty color comm vids and a streamlined "action" interface. The following scan is a full preview that GamePro conducted way back in May 1995.

Unlike previous Wing Commander games, lasers and shield recharge quickly so intermediate pilots should have no problem filling space with kitty litter. The nicely crafted controls also help pile up the feline fatalities. You can spin your ship 360 degrees on a dime.

Check out the full color Kilrathi on the VDU and the special turrent interface on the Broadsword.

Battlecruiser Millennium Released For Free

Derek Smart's BattleCruiser Millennium has been officially released as freeware. This game had it all, from fleet actions, to fighter combat, ground assaults and strategic modes. Unfortunately it was somewhat universally hailed as incredibly mediocre. It was somewhat clunky and difficult to learn how to play. The game had numerous patches to fix a variety of bugs. The official 3000AD website now lists a variety of mirrors from which you can download the full 230 meg game. Last year it looked like Smart wanted the Freespace license, but it appears that he's now working on an entirely new BattleCruiser game. Woohoo.

Plot A Course For The Reid System

Forums member Zal is using his Flash skills to create an interactive map of the Wing Commander universe:
It's externally fed, which means all its system information (name, position, system type, jump lines, each jump line type, description) is loaded from external files. The program generates all systems on stage at each runtime. All for making updating more efficient. It's interactive, it has many scroll, zoom options like scroll-click, scroll-drag, zoom-select and many more (you can see descriptions in 'help').

You need to have Macromedia Flash MX installed for this to work. The WC Universe team is working on adding more systems and more background information.

Bringing You News Non-Stop

We hit something of a CIC milestone today, two years of bringing you news every single day. Previously we had taken breaks on some days, but since May 26, 2003 we haven't missed a single day. By comparison even quite a few subscription sites take breaks on public holidays. This day two years ago we were all eagerly awaiting the release of Prophecy Advance, an event which came two days later. It isn't always easy coordinating our efforts and finding the opportunity to update when the staff is out and about, but the mobile CIC headquarters helps a great deal.

Going And Going To The Wing Commander Movie

AD recently found the website of the Pixel Bunny digital effects artist. The Pixel Monger company was responsible for various wire removal, roto-compositing & roto-matte in the Wing Commander movie. We previously reported on the company that was responsible for the scenes done on wires. The Pixel Bunny has a video compilation, but AD has trimmed down the clip to Wing Commander items to save their bandwidth. You can grab that six meg video here. Some of the bridge and flight deck work is pictured below.


High Res Joans Supplement Available

Dave has scanned in a high res version of the Joans Supplement and Secret Missions feature article from CGW back in 1991. You can grab the large PDF here (25 megs). LOAF also did some nice quality scans of the most important diagrams a while back.

Origin Explains The Real 3DO Story

LOAF has unearthed a ten year old log that the Wing Commander 3 3DO development team conducted on AOL in July 1995. The 3DO version of WC3 didn't just feature higher quality video and deleted scenes. Entirely new missions and features were added for this special edition. There were also easter eggs that let players choose any mission, cutscene or communications video to play. There were also viewers for in game objects and sprites. Some features from the PC version were curiously missing however. The log helped clarify the reasons why. We've updated with partial bits of the log in the past. You can now find the full log here.

LKoski: I have not bought WCIII but have seen and played it on my friends computer, exactly what changes were made for the 3DO version?
OSI: recompressed movies, faster load times, Higher color of the movies (64K colors instead.... 256), The audio is 16 bit stereo and it is in dolby surround, because we were able to .... use the larger 74 minute CD capacity of the 3do format we could add footage that was not.... included in the PC version....

Asum: there was talk of a 'movie' movie deal, how would you guys feel bout that? do you think it would defeat the purpose of an interactive film??
OSI: Its something that we will always want to do, however we haven't figured out how to finance it yet.... Don't forget that a movie of this type would cost big big bucks...

ErinFritz2: Why were the ground levels left out? Was it because many thought those were weak levels in the PC version? Or was it due to technical problems?
OSI: The biggest thing was the time constraint. We though it was bettter to work on the space.. engine instead....And we think that they turned out pretty good.... :)

Italian Group Role Playing Wing Commander Hybrid

TC recently stumbled across an italian virtual Wing Commander community that engages in various role plays. The Wing Wars game takes elements from Star Wars, Wing Commander, Dune and others to create a fantasy setting. The Wing Commander series has always been very popular throughout Europe, and so it's nice to see things like this in operation from time to time. Italian speakers might be able to shed a bit more light on this, but it seems like you can email the group for more information. There are links at their site for some backstory.
Wing Commander Wars is a virtual community in the universe of Wing Commander. In the year the 2670 humans in the Confederation travel in space and meet up with the expansionist Kilrathi empire. The virtual community allows you to join with one of the two powers or to remain a civilian trader.
Not sure about the translation as it pertains to that date, but they seem to only be making light use of the established universe. I'm also a bit confused with how all the Star Wars stuff fits in.

Print Your Own Portraits

Over the years we've noticed some people trying to make a shady profit off various Wing Commander things. People selling CDs with Wing Commander Academy episodes is always annoying. They can sell for quite a bit too. The latest attempt has been the sale of Wing Commander art prints. Genuine Wing Commander art does exist, but some online auctions appear to be selling color copies of freely available Wing Commander pictures. A common scene is the high quality art that Mark Vearrier shared with us last year. The following three images were used in the promotional campaign for Prophecy. With these images, you can print out your own high quality art and frame it for $20 less than some people are charging you elsewhere.

We have other great images in our Wallpapers section as well.

CNN's In The Know

Jibbo found a pretty neat article on Origin founder Richard Garriott's exploits with NCSoft. After Richard's departure from Origin, the Garriott brothers formed Destination Games in 2001. The company was soon acquired by NCSoft which grew surprisingly fast into a major force in the mmo market. His primary game now is Tabula Rasa. Today's CNN Article also goes a bit more into Origin's history and mentions the famous Wing Commander brand.
Richard and Robert's roots in the industry go back to the early 1980s, when the two formed Origin Systems, Inc. At that point in the nascent games industry, the Internet as we know it didn't even exist, and online multiplayer games were still unheard of.

Origin's best-known games, the space shooter "Wing Commander" and the fantasy worlds of the "Ultima" games, likewise, were solitary experiences enjoyed alone in front of a computer screen. It wasn't until five years after Origin was acquired by Electronic Arts, Inc., in 1992, that "Ultima's" detailed world of Britannia was brought to the online masses with "Ultima online."

Tabula Rasa does look pretty weird though.

These Are More Than Small Wooden Ships

CmdrPanda has a great arts & crafts item for us today. He has created a number of small scale miniatures for a tabletop game called Starmada X. His Wing Commander fleet has bested its Star Wars rivals in two major battles so far.
All four of these are made of balsa wood, with the guns made from steel wire, the engines from plastic tubing, and the armor plating from cardboard. I'll get the Confederation photographed as soon as I can. The different pictures are various views and some closeup shots of the Waterloo. Eventually I plan to get to Kilrathi ships too. The largest of these, the Bengal, is about 7 cm long and they're all to scale (1 cm to 100 meters).

He's looking for some shots at different angles in order to design more ships in the future. You can help provide feedback at Crius.net here.

Home Sweet CIC

Last up today is an older GameGal review of Freelancer. "Not exactly free of the Wing Commander legacy." I was kind of disappointed to see Microsoft passed on announcing a potential Freelancer sequel at this year's E3. At one point Freelancer 2 looked like a good bet, but space sims still appear to be battling for a presence in the market. Sometimes I talk about how magazines don't even hand out awards for "Best Simulation" anymore. I used to look forward to Wing Commander or Janes Combat Simulations competing with Mech Warrior or the latest Microsoft Flight Sim. This year Nintendogs won 1up.com's official Best Simulation of E3 2005 award. On one hand that's kind of sad, and on the other, Nintendogs looks great and I'll probably get it the first day it comes out. The hotel's internet was down during the whole show, and we were too busy to get on from the convention center, so I had to resort to logging into #Wingnut via my cellphone while driving or waiting in lines. I would have gone crazy without it. It's great to finally be home.

Slovakian Novel Follow-up

There were quite a few responses to our request for information about the Slovakian novels posted earlier this week. Apparently they were also released in the Czech Republic. AD was able to name them all. They are, in order: End Run, Fleet Action, Heart of the Tiger, The Price of Freedom, and Action Stations. The novel which at the time we had no cover art for is False Colors. xwing.wz.cz managed to find that sixth piece of cover art which we've posted below.

Nanostray Appears At E3

The photo of Nanostray was missing from yesterday's update so here it is. It's a new game for the Nintendo DS that we previously hadn't heard of. Chris got a chance to play it and says that it's a "scroller arcade shooter". When I saw the picture with the planet view up top and a map down the bottom, I was half expecting an Armada-style turn based strategy game.

Calling In A Mission Report

Four years ago we reported on a weird Wing Commander song by a group named The Theta Project. Forums member PeteyG liked it a lot:
Back in the day, the CIC ran something on an mp3.com artist's WC-inspired tune. It is a telephone answering machine message describing the last mission of Wing Commander... set to techno music. The music is fun, and the extreme nerdish enthusiasm of the speaker really appeals to my inner geek. It's been sitting in the root of my Wing Commander music directory, lonely but occaisionally listened to, for these past four years.

I unfortunately haven't been able to find this on the Internet anywhere, or any contact information for The Theta Project. But I am certain that WC fans will appreciate hearing this again after a good 4 years.

It's pretty catchy. We've put a copy of the file on our server for you to download (3.6MB). Hit the discuss link if you have more information on the band.

ChrisReid Reports From E3

Here's the first bit of news from ChrisReid down at the E3 Expo. Expect a lot more coverage when he gets back.
The expo here is going very well. Everyone is tired and bruised from running around all day, but it's a lot of fun. The Electronic Arts booth, at the front and center of the grand south hall, is impressive as usual. The central portion is a giant arena with next-generation games. There is a 360 degree projection of all their upcoming XBox 360 and advanced PC titles. and the oter areas highlight the new EA Sports and EA Games titles coming to current systems later this year.

There is a large collage of old EA titles outside the booth, though it's a small percentage of the games they've made over the last twenty years. There are noticeably fewer space sims on display this year. That's disappointing, but there have been a couple interesting ones. I've included one picture of Nanostray for the Nintendo DS. It's a scroller arcade shooter, but the graphics are presentation are very slick.

The internet access has been down at the hotel until now, so I'll be very anxious to get back to #Wingnut and the rest of the site when I get home. Hope all is well with you.

Alternate Origin Logo Extracted

While searching through files for his WCIV movie project, AD came across an alternate version of the Origin logo that plays at the beginning of WCIV. Here we give you both for comparison purposes. One is fiery, the other is less so. It's possible that one was used in different regions.

Super Wing Commander On The Big Screen

AD is doing well for noticing strange things. Apparently a film called Synthetic Pleasure was released in 1995. The strange part comes from the complete film credits listed on this site. Super Wing Commander was apparently featured in the film. We haven't seen the film so we're not sure how it came to be included. If you know anything about SWC's appearance, click the discuss link below and let us know!

Flight Commander Gets Engine Upgrade

Following on from the news about progressing Linux support, eddieb has released news of what upgrades Flight Commander with receive in its upcoming 1.1 patch. There are a lot of changes to the game and the engine which will make things look a lot prettier. Here are some of my favorite additions:
  • Dynamic lighting
  • Comm videos, including new status comms, and a reworked comm menu.
  • Asteroids
  • Cool new cutscenes for takeoff, landing, and eject
  • Turrets (no AI just yet)
  • Cockpit improvements (ITTS, More transparency, New color scheme)
  • Missile exhaust and more missile sounds
  • Can import more graphic files, include jpegs and transparent pngs.
  • Many more capships available.
You can view the complete list of changes as well as comment in this thread.

Happy Birthday Kris!

The CIC's lead graphics person/programmer/procrastinator Kris Vanhecke turns 24 years old today! That's very nearly old age. You can wish him a happy birthday by emailing him. There is one other big anniversary today - the tenth birthday of alt.games.wing-commander. We can't really pinpoint when a.g.w-c was born, but this date was chosen because it was when the group began to get used.

That New Movie

Star Wars Episode III gets a global launch tomorrow, and early indications are that it is going to be great. Lots of WC fans are waiting for this one. In fact LOAF is already waiting in line along with Frosty and his brother. Internet access in Star Wars queues is limited, but here's a cellphone picture of the queueing action.

Cloaking For All

HCl is working on a patch for the Secret Ops engine that many mod makers would love to get their hands on. A patch to allow cloaking ships! The screenshot below is the result of tweaking some translucency parameters in the game. Unfortunately the effect currently only works in Glide mode, but work is continuing. The only remaining question is why did he choose a lousy Epee?

Anyone From Slovakia?

TC stumbled across these latest strange examples of Wing Commander going international - Slovakian WC novels. There are six of them in all, though the sixth novel doesn't have cover art online. The rest have some really pretty cover art, completely different from the US releases. They clearly say Wing Commander on them and all are written or co-written by William Forstchen which makes me think somebody bought the rights to all of his novels. You can apparently buy these novels from this site. Is there anyone reading who can shed some light on these?

Flight Commander Reaches Linux

After a few days of tinkering by Flight Commander programmer eddieb, there has been some success in getting the game to run in Linux. Flight Commander is a complete Prophecy-style game with an open source engine, all created by eddieb. The engine itself has an impressive list of features. While the Linux version hasn't yet been released, cross-platform compatibility will no doubt make the engine more attractive to mod makers. In other news, the project now has its own forum.

Grow Your Own Tiger's Claw

Budding horticulturist Death was browsing the USDA's plants list when he came across the Tiger's Claw.. in plant form! Apparently it's a tree that produces beans. Personally I fail to see the resemblence, but it's a neat find nonetheless.

God Speed, Chris Reid

Right now Chris is in the middle of the 18 hour long road trip to E3. All being well he'll be able to report the best bits of the event and post the best of his photos. If he's lucky he'll also be able to meet with some of the more special guests in attendance. Just last year he was able to meet Warren Spector, Destination Software, and almost walked in to Electronic Arts CEO Larry Probst.

Watch Out For The Bang Bang

Kilrah Moreira created today's music video. It's a tribute to the destructive side of Wing Commander 4. Rammstein provides the explosive soundtrack. You can grab the 40 meg clip here. The music videos we've reported on lately have been neat, but now I'm looking forward to more people creating original animations with some of the great 3d modeling tools which have come out recently. There are quite a few different creative outlets that I think Wing Commander fans will be exploring in the near future.

How Crazy Are You?

As I was afraid, the more obscure choices in our last poll were mostly ignored this time around. And it's no surprise that Spirit's Death and Hobbes' Defection performed so well. We got a significant write-in response in the form of Angel's Death however. Quite a few people found that to be the most emotional scene in the Wing Commander series.

Our new poll asks about the monetary investment you've made in the Wing Commander franchise over the last fifteen years. We had to just pick one form of currency to represent the options, so feel free to convert your figures if you live outside the US. We thought about asking the value of your Wing Commander collections, but that can be a tricky business. Some games have declined significantly from their original price while others have gone up, and all Wing Commander merchandise changes in value over time. So to make it simpler, this week we're asking how much you've spent on the series as a whole. If you have the main set of games and a few novels, you might be in the first couple brackets. Other people might also have a complete ccg collection and some especially rare Wing Commander stuff from eBay, which has pushed them into a higher range. And still others make annual trips around the world to dress up as Confed pilots and party with other Wing Commander fans. What category are you in?

Howie's Drayman Nearly Finished

Fresh from finishing up his Salthi earlier in the week, Howie Day has sent us pictures from his latest work-in-progress. This Drayman is amazingly detailed with just little details such as running lights yet to be added. I'm glad to see the Drayman being modeled as transports are often passed up by modelers in favor of more exciting ships such as fighters and capital ships.

Two Videos By Two Authors Today

We've got two more videos today thanks to TomGaines. The first is a sad look at the romantic crossroads that Colonel Blair faces in Wing Commander 3. It's made to the tune of "You Went Away" by Tegan & Sara. You can grab the 8 meg clip here.

The second video was actually made by Challenge from WingCenter. It's taken from the German Prophecy, so the beginning has some interesting German dubbed audio. The music is the English "I Did My Time" by KoRn, which might as well be in German anyways. This one comes in at 16 megs.

Tom is also very curious to find out which style of video people liked best. You can vote here. The other two choices are his previously mentioned Babylon 5 Theme and Song 2.

EA Getting A Jump On The Future

With the official announcement of the XBox 360 last night, EA posted an addendum to yesterday's games announcement. They now have twenty-five next generation games in development, and six of them will be on display next week. They also have a special E3 page located here.

For the past two years, EA has been concentrating on next generation development, deploying experienced EA designers and engineers onto projects that use proprietary EA technology to experiment with next generation visuals, physics, animation and gameplay possibilities. EA is invested in the development of a wide breadth of next generation products, a handful of which will be unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo on May 18-20, 2005.

Final Star Trek Tonight

Last, but not least, tonight is the series finale of Star Trek Enterprise. This will be the first time in eighteen years that new Star Trek shows won't be on the air. I know some Wing Commander fans have been parallel Star Trek fans for quite a few years and are taking this just like a game cancellation. We'll be watching in #Wingnut beginning at 8:00 pm if you'd like to join in.

Holding The Line Chapter 201

The partying over at the WC Aces Club seem to be winding down after celebrating both their tenth anniversary and the release of chapter 200 last month. Now that the dust has settled, here's Raptor with the latest chapter of HTL.
Hey all, Raptor here

My sincere apologies for being so late with this update, real life has been running me into the ground lately. On much more pleasant topic though, the Border Worlders are about to hit the Nephilim right where it hurts, as HTL continues with the second part of Nick Deane's story, Death Of A Thousand Cuts. Please send any and all comments to Nick at Chaerone@bigpond.net.au.

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

Best, Raptor

Electronic Arts' E3 Lineup Announced

EA has announced their extensive lineup of new games being unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo next week. The Need For Speed, Sims, Medal of Honor, Battlefield, James Bond, Harry Potter and Burnout series will get sequels. Most of the annual EA Sports titles, The Godfather, Batman Begins and Marvel Nemesis will also be on display. Will Wright's Spore and a game called Black will be behind closed doors. Although this week's release did not specifically name them, I expect other recently announced titles such as SSX4 to be shown off in some form. EA will also have a special partition devoted to next-generation (XBox 360) titles. The official unveiling of the new XBox takes place tonight on mtv. Feel free to stop by #Wingnut to catch it with us.

DragonCon Prices Rising & New Guests Announced

DragonCon membership prices will be rising this Friday, so order now if you want to get them for $60. Four day passes will be $85 at the door. New guests have also been announced this week. Claw Marks author Aaron Allston will once again be making an appearance. Margaret Weis and Bill Fawcett were added to the guest list earlier this year. Here's a picture we took with Mr. Allston last year after he autographed our stack of WC1 documentation.

Aaron Allston is the author of multiple novels including Terminator Dreams and Terminator Hunt; his next will be Legacy of the Force #1: Betrayal, the start of a nine-book Star Wars series. In addition, he has recently shot the low-budget horror movie Deadbacks.
He will also be at StellarCon in North Carolina in February 2006.

New Life For Viva La Resolution

PeteyG came across an interesting story involving The Fatman, the famous game soundtrack composer who pioneered the music for the original Wing Commanders. At one point there was talk about announcing the high definition XBox at this year's Game Developers Conference. The announcement eventually got cancelled, but Fat was originally responsibile for making music that would spice up the otherwise boring slideshow for the event. Viva La Resolution was the result.
I _really_ wanted this song to get heard, and if I sold it, there wasn't anybody at MS who was hot to use it, modified or not. But just in case, it had to be modified.. After much deliberation, and after listening over and over to the line, "Did we do it for the dollar bills? NO!!!" I decided to buy the song back and just cancel the contract.
Fatman's cool like that. His servers have been Slashdotted, so we've mirrored the 8 meg mp3 here. Also, don't miss his Wing Commander Surf Theme which was done for a CES several years back.

Get Your Salthi Here

Howard Day finished up his Salthi model this morning, so it's now ready for aspiring modelers and animators to play around with. The artists don't have to be the only ones to have fun though, since we've also got an updated movie of the Salthi punching in afterburners. The camera takes a nice jolt as the burners kick in. The model file itself requires MAX 6 and the f-edge plugin which available for free 15 day trail here. The model files for his Dralthi and Hornet are also available here.

Mr. Day also wanted to thank BradMick for helping with the original low-poly starter mesh.

Heather Stephens In The Spotlight

Justin Egan caught Heather Stephens in last Sunday's episode of Desperate Housewives. It's her second time on the show. Although she has been away from games and movies for some years, Stephens has had several other television appearances on shows such as Without a Trace, Angel and Las Vegas. In the earlier episode of Desperate Housewives, she was also featuring a designer Belle Gray outfit. It appears her next project might be the US adaptation of 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 in the fall.

Check Out Howie's Incredible Salthi

Howard Day has recreated another fabolous ship from Wing Commander 1. The Salthi now joins his Hornet and Dralthi in the high quality realm. He is still tightening it up, but we expect the completed model to be released soon.

You can grab a three megabyte clip of the ship in motion here. You can also see his Hornet chasing his Dralthi here.

IGN Has Cool Sim Reviewers

Back in the day, Wing Commander fans used to find comparisons to their favorite series in virtually all space and flight simulator reviews. Although it's not quite as common these days, it's still nice to see references to "Maverick and Bossman" tossed around in brand new sim reviews. LeHah caught this mention at IGN's Ace Combat 5 review.
Kindly, Ace 5 makes up for Captain Snow and Captain Chopper's idiocy by at least recognizing the accomplishments of the player and his or her squadron. It's not like Wing Commander where Maverick and Bossman would single-handedly slaughter an entire Kilrathi armada only to have admiral Tolwyn warn them that the Confederation is losing the war and the next time they fly out could be their last. It's as if Ace Combat 5 was thinking the same thing we always have been: "Why doesn't command just unleash us because we kill everything?"
Just last week Colonel Halcyon yelled at me quite a bit for taking down a convoy of three Fralthi in the Firekka System. To be fair, he chewed me out for disobeying orders to return to base and report such contact. And he was right.

Report from the Swedish Convention

David Bohlin is back from the scifi convention in Sweden, and he has pictures to prove it!
We came in the afternoon, and there were still many people. The fee for getting in was 80 kr, about 11 dollars. The first thing we noticed when we came in was that Star Wars dominated. Everything from props to toys, they sold lightsabers, storm trooper and Darth Vader suits.

In one corner they had ancient weapons and clothes and another with Star Trek. Walking past that there were props from various movies such as "V," "Battlestar Galactica," "Alien" and Terminator 3. To our dissapointment there was no Wing Commander corner or things whatsoever.

We have come to the highlight of the convention. I stood there for a while thinking if I should get an autgraph or not due to the 21 dollar ticket. To get an autograph from John Rhys-Davies was 28 dollars. Even though it's a chance in a lifetime, my economy spoke against. But seems I couldn't resist, and before I came to him some LOTR fans pushed their way in the queue and Mr. Davies' first comment was "Bad Hobbits." :) When it came to my turn, I gave his assistant my camera, Mr. Davies signed the pic and looked at the other fans standing in line and said, "I know I'm the slowest writer in the world, but my photographer is even slower."

I must say maybe I demand too much, but it wasn't much impressive, but at least I got photo and autograph from "Paladin." ;)

The lack of Wing Commander merchandise is understandable. We usually have to bring that party. But meeting Paladin is worthwhile on its own! Conventions are difficult things to implement. Half of the fun is hanging out in such an environment with your friends.

Happy Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day today in the US and a handful of other countries, so if you have a mother and forgot to buy her a present you might be in trouble. Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and mother hens out there! We hope you get to sit back and relax today.

Commemorating VE Day

Today we'd also like to recognize the 60th anniversary of VE day. Victory in Europe was recognized May 8, 1945 concluding World War 2. This is an especially big holiday cross Europe.

Wing Commander in a Jar

AKAImBatman has taken HCl's old ship viewer tool for Wing Commander 1, ported it to the newer Java platform and added a bunch of features:
  • 3D Ship Viewer allows you to view ships in true 3D space! Turn the ship using the arrow keys to see it from any angle!
  • VR Cockpit Viewer allows you to explore the spaces of your cockpit with the arrow keys
  • Export feature allows for graphics to be reused in fan projects (A remake perhaps?)
  • File types are automatically detected
  • Full transparency support
  • Experimental full screen support

You need to have the Java Runtime Environment installed for this to work. The latest version and detailed information on how to run the program (and it's actually more straightforward than it may seem if you've never run a Java application before) can be found on the project's website. You can download version 0.2 of the program here. The source code is available if you want to make some changes or if you're interested in how these things work.

Space Sim First Look: Evochron

I saw today's space sim over at JoystickRequired. This one goes by the name of Evochron and is made by the creators of Star Wraith. Like many of the most recent space sims, the game follows in the path of Elite and Privateer. Evochron is set entirely in first person with economic transactions and gameplay handled from the cockpit. Players can choose between a Newtonian space flight model or a traditional Wing Commander atmospheric based flight mode. The developers boast about the real time nature of the game, and your ship can even be attacked while docked at a station. The game looks fairly good and packs in at a compact 20 megabytes. You can download the game in trial form and unlock the full version for $24.99. There is even an addition to create your own space systems full of custom objects and places.
Survival in the systems of Evochron requires a mix of wealth, power, skill, loyalty, knowledge, and exploration. Acting as a mercenary gives you the freedom to do what you want, but with greater freedom comes greater responsibility. You can fight, steal, mine, trade, explore, transport, and manage resources in your quest to achieve ultimate wealth and power. Just keep in mind, loyalty runs deep and if you make too many enemies, it's your survival that's affected. Fight wisely, form alliances, and use your wealth carefully as you progress through the numerous systems of Evochron.
The full version has multiplayer seamlessly integrated into the single player world, and a new revision of the game with various improvements was just released this week. The trial is a small download and gives players a good taste of the game, so it's definitely worth a try.

Wing Commander 4 Videos Get Serious

TomGaines latest creation is a more serious music video based on Wing Commander 4. It chronicles a bit of the dramatic events leading up to Tolwyn's trial. The background track is the "Babylon 5 Season Three Theme" by Christopher Franke. There is a 9 meg standard quality avi here and a very high quality 40 meg mpg here. His last WC4 video also got the super high quality treatment. You can grab that 70 meg mpg here.

Join The Black Lance

Another fan role playing game that has been around for a while is the Black Lance HQ. They use both message board and occasional chat style sessions to carry out their stories. In the past the club has also written various bits of fan fiction. Some parts of their web site are out of date, but they have been consistently trying to hold weekend story sessions for some time. They occur on Saturday evenings beginning around 9:30 Eastern US time when members can get together. Information on their backstory and how to join can be found at their website.
The dark past of the original Lance weighs heavily upon veterans that survived the purge and destruction of that original unit and it forever drives them forward to seek the new goal of the lance. Deeper still in the ultimate goals of the Black Lance is redemption...the drive and hunger to rectify and repent the sins of the past and one day again bring the Black Lance out into the open as the true elite warriors of humanity -- the protectors and defenders of the seed of man that spreads ever outward into unknown space.

Proving Grounds Joystick and IPX Patches Released

HCl has perfected his joystick patch for Armada and Proving Grounds and doesn't expect any further breakthroughs right away, so here is his combined patch. It should allow you to properly calibrate joysticks in both Armada and Proving Grounds and let you connect over IPX mode for Proving Grounds battles. Note that this patch is specifically for the floppy disk version of Armada, though some people have been able to use the disk and CD versions interchangeably. A proper CD release should be available shortly.

In order to utilize the patches, follow the instructions on how to get Armada running in DOSBox.

1) Unzip the patch to your Armada directory.
2a) armadadb is your executable file for playing regular Armada with joystick support.
2b) pgdb is your executable file for playing Proving Grounds with joystick support and ipx internet play.
3a) The host of the game must start a second instance of DosBox and type "ipxnet startserver" to start the IPX server. It's not a good idea to use the same instance to play the game in case of crashes. If other players have trouble connecting, you may need to adjust your router or software firewall to forward traffic on port 213 to the host computer. The method for doing this differs depending on the firewall used.
3b) PG players must connect to the host by typing "ipxnet connect" followed by the host's IP address
4) Everyone should launch Proving Grounds and select IPX game. You should be able to view the opposing players in the lobby.

Privateer RPG Conducted Via LiveJournal

Earlier this year we started to list a variety of fan role playing games that were active in the community. We've got a couple more to point out before we do a detailed roundup. Bob recently came across the Gemini Starfarers' Group which conducts its story driven campaigns over LiveJournal. The blog catalogs the adventures of a few adventurous merchants and privateers in the Gemini Sector. Seems like a pretty convenient way to do things.

Watch Blair Eulogize Hobbes

TomGaines has dug up and encoded the Hobbes funeral scene from Wing Commander 3. The video was left on the discs, though the normal course of the game will not reveal the clip. Since Hobbes played such a role in the later story, theoretically Hobbes would have been vulnerable to die if they had designed a more extensive permanent losing track earlier in the game. For many years a hacked savegame has been circulating which allowed access to the video, and there was also an mp3 recording of Blair's speech. You can grab the 2 meg avi and see the scene yourself here.

EA Announces Fiscal 2005 Results

Electronic Arts has announced their Fiscal 2005 (ending March 31, 2005) results. You can find a recording of their conference call yesterday here. Total revenue reached a record high with a 6% increase while net income suffered a 12% decline. The revenue figure was $3.129 billion and income $504 million. Although results for the overall year were great, their fourth quarter figures were down sharply from the previous year. The company had 31 million-selling titles compared to 27 in Fiscal 2004. The Sims and Need for Speed franchises each sold more than 15 million units, and EA announced that they expect 9-12% growth for the current year.

The Playstation 2 represented more than a third of their business, while XBox and PC sales came in around 15% each. GameCube and combined handheld revenue was about 7% each. Copublishing, distribution, subscription services, licensing and other areas accounted for the remaining 20%. Just over half of their business was generated in North America, with Europe comprising 40% and Asia 8%.

The outlook for growth over the next eighteen months is very positive. The launch of next generation consoles, combined with exclusivity agreements with the NFL, AFL, NCAA, ESPN, FIFA, Nascar and PGA Tour will allow them to charge a premium price and hold a commanding position in the new console cycle. They now employ more than 6100 people, up more than 25% from a year ago.

Taking A Close Look At The Secret Missions

Dave has found a neat old copy of CGW. Back in July 1991 the magazine published a big review of both Secret Missions expansions for the original Wing Commander with a Joans Fighting Spacecraft style stat supplement included. It's pretty neat to see the Snakeir and Sivar done up in Claw Marks style. We've posted these before, but not the full article. The reviewers note Wing Commander's place as the #1 most popular title in their Top 100 Games Chart and give a variety of mission strategies. Back when this was originally published, everyone was eagerly awaiting the release of Wing Commander 2. You can download the review/supplement PDF here.
Here lies one of the greatest virtues of Wing Commander: the music and graphics aside (and they are both cutting-edge), this would be just another space arcade shoot-'em-up were it not for the engrossing cinematic storyline and strong protagonists with whom to empathize.

John Rhys-Davies To Visit Sweden

David Bohlin reports that there is a large science fiction convention being held in Malmö, Sweden this weekend. John Rhys-Davies, David Carradine, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett) will be among various guests. The convetion will also feature a variety of gaming and movie themed events to enjoy with fellow fans. It will be held at MalmoMassan, St. Varvsgatan 15 from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm daily. Looks like another fun opportunity to meet a Wing Commander star! You can find more inforation at the official website.

Online Wing Commander Milestone Reached

Here at the CIC we've looked forward to eventually making a number of significant announcements. One major goal was the ability to run virtually all original Wing Commander games on modern computers. Since the first 486 66 MHz systems were released, this has been a battle that we've fought with great success. With the release of myJEMM and DOSBox, many Wing Commander fans are going back and enjoying games they haven't played since the mid 1990s. Today we're happy to announce that yet another milestone is being reached. The famous HCl has achieved a breakthrough that allows Wing Commander Armada Proving Grounds to be played online. Proving Grounds was the free expansion for Armada owners that added six player battles, exciting ship upgrades, awesome asteroids and improved ipx network code. The program has been tested with four people so far. It's a blast, but Armada's DOSBox joystick support is unstable, and the internet connections must be very low latency for the game to be smooth. HCl has a list of issues he is currently trying to tackle to make the game more playable.

In the shots above you can see the game's lobby and ship select interfaces. Proving Grounds' asteroids are second to none in the Wing Commander universe. The larger ones show up on sensors, and you can duck behind them to hide in their radar shadow. Do you recognize each of the cockpits?

We are very excited about the prospect of hosting formal online Wing Commander matches. HCl's next goal is fixing the way Armada deals with joysticks and seeing if there is a way to reduce lag. We're going to see if some of those issues can be resolved before we publish detailed instructions on how to get the game running online. The core Armada game uses Netbios rather than ipx, so strategic Armada play is a bit further off. One of the coolest things about HCl's advancement is that all that is necessary to play is DOSBox and Armada. No Kali or tunneling intermediary software is required!

Trailer Shows Armada Basics

For people who've never played Wing Commander Armada, we have a small video that was used for retail promotion of the game in the early 1990s. You can grab the 3 meg asf here.
Wing Armada by Origin is a strategy driven game that incorporates head to head combat using split screen, modem or networking on the IBM platform. This war requires real strategy, not just hot shot piloting. You determine where and how to fight, and what ships to get the job done, in your own custom constructed universe. Pit yourself against a friend or the computer. Choose to fly intense dogfights, full blown battles or extended campaigns. Never play the same game twice in Armada.

Note that today's announcement is specifically about the Proving Grounds expansion, not the strategic primary Armada game.

Wing Commander on Sci-Fi Monday Night

The Wing Commander Movie will be showing on the Sci-Fi Channel Monday night at 11:00 pm. It has East and West Coast feeds in the US, so your time might be a few hours off depending on where you can receive the station. It's been almost six months since the last showing, so now is a great time to catch it. The ScheduleBot also indicates that the movie will get a rare morning viewing on the June 4.

Conference Call With EA On Tuesday

Electronic Arts will be hosting a shareholder conference call on Tuesday at 2:00 pm US Pacific time. This will be the announcement of the full fiscal 2004 results. It's always a little interesting to see some of the internal thinking going on behind the largest games publisher. It's possible some pre-E3 games could get mentioned, and we'll definitely hear about the general direction the company is taking in 2005.
Electronic Arts will host a conference call to review its results for the fourth fiscal quarter and full fiscal year and discuss its outlook for the future. Listeners may access the conference call live through a dial-in number or a webcast.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005
2:00 pm Pacific Time (5:00 pm Eastern Time)
Dial-in number: (888) 578-6632, access code 220497
Webcast: http://investor.ea.com

Feel free to drop by and listen with people in #Wingnut.

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