Waterloos Back In Fashion

There has been a sudden resurgence in the popularity of Waterloo class cruisers with both Bob McDob and Marc working on 3D models. Bob is working on a complete model of the cruiser. The blue parts are where windows will go further on in the development. Obviously the ship still lacks textures, since Bob is still working on playing with the actual dimensions of the design.

Meanwhile Marc is working on creating a model of an internal hangar and is slightly nearer completion. Bob may now integrate Marc's work in to his own model. These shots show the outer hangars, elevators and catapults that open up to the short runways on the Waterloo's flight deck.

It's all looking good. You can get a few more screenshots of both designs and leave comments by clicking the discuss link below. Feedback is always appreciated.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everybody! We hope you all have a great time tonight. Try not to get too scared, particularly if you happen to meet Chris wearing his Kilrathi masks in a dark alley.

Gemini Gold's New Galaxy Shaping Up

The Gemini Gold team is currently working with Lathan Stanley to texture BradMick's Galaxy. The goal was to bring the ship's textures more in line with the original Privateer's style. You can check out a video clip of the current design here. They've added some nice details and are anxious to release the upgraded ship with the pending Gemini Gold 1.01. Comments and welcome.

We would appreciate some feedback and suggestions to improve the final look for the upcoming Privateer Gemini Gold 1.01 patch.

Striker Draws The #Wingnut Crew

Major Striker has created a very creepy and extremely cool drawing of Wing Commander fans. It was inspired by a group shot taken during DragonCon 2004. From left to right, the fans depicted are Blonde, Hades, Frosty, ChrisReid, ace, LOAF and Death.

Here's a little doodle of the WC fan crew at Dragoncon... I had used reference pictures from 2004 so you'll excuse some of the people who are missing. It was fun to do. Anyways, there's our all star cast!

Pick Your Upgrade Path

Our new poll asks what sort of system you expect to need for the next Wing Commander game. Wing Commander fans have a long history of making major upgrades for each primary chapter in the series. The first option is a minimum spec that some current games already require. And it's only a matter of time before those same games' recommended specifications will become the future's minimums. The third option pushes the technological envelope another step further, and you have the choice to select a theoretical higher bar if you wish. If you think the next Wing Commander game will only be released for consoles or handhelds (like Prophecy Advance), then the last two choices are for you.

We don't run very many repeat polls, but this one was originally conducted back in the fall of 1999. Less attention was paid to RAM and video card requirements, so we simply gave fans the option of a Pentium 200, Pentium II 350, Pentium III 450 and Pentium III 600. The P2/350 won with almost half the vote. The 200 MHz system received almost a third. It seems that the 6% who expected to need a system faster than a P3/600 turned out to be right (or very wrong, since the GBA has just a 17 MHz processor).

Our old poll tried to gauge what non-Wing Commander titles by Origin were the most popular. Strike Commander took the lead, with Crusader in second place. The Ultima and System Shock franchises jockeyed back and forth throughout the poll. Cybermage was apparently one of our worst voting options ever.

Wing Commander Mods for Space Empires IV Available

Bob found another Wing Commander shipset for Space Empires IV at SpaceEmpires.net. It incorporates designs from Wing Commander 3 through Prophecy and tries to assign Wing Commander ships more accurate roles than previous SEIV WC mods. Space Empires is a classic strategy 4X series that will get receive its fifth iteration some time next year. You can grab the old WC2 Confed and Kilrathi packs here and here. The new WC3-P pack is available here.

Wing Commander Confederation by Shapeshifter
The Confederation was made by the so called Human race. They have a pronounced history of killing each other that stretches back to the beginning of their race. As a result, they have become extremely proficient in the art of war. Humans are a peacefully aggressive species interested in expansion and exploration of the unknown.
Have fun with your so called peacefully aggressive ship pack!

Get Close To Mars

It's time to dig out your telescopes. Tomorrow will bring Mars much closer to Earth than usual - only 43.1 million miles. That might sound like a lot, but Mars usually sits about 140 million miles away. The planet made a similar pass in 2003, but its position on the horizon should make it more viewable this time. This will be the closest it gets before 2018. Mars will reach its nearest point at 11:25 pm US Eastern Daylight Time, and will appear as a tiny, brilliant ball unless you have binoculars or another magnification device.

Flight Commander 1.3 To Implement Advanced Scripting

eddieb has released information on one of the exciting new features that will be available with the upcoming release of Flight Commander version 1.3. The project has come a long way since version 1.0 was released a year ago last week. Soon programmers will be able to create complex mission structures in this fan made game. A brand new campaign has already been announced that will take advantage of the more powerful engine. FC1.3 is still in testing, but potential modders can start reading up on the dozens of useful Lua scripting language function calls here.

Flight Commander 1.3 will definitely feature advanced scripting capabilities. Advanced users of Flight Commander 1.3 will be able to write missions with the same complexity and sophistication of most Prophecy missions. I've already implemented the scripting features needed for missions, and have integrated this support into the Flight Commander engine. Now, I'll be writing a short series of interesting mission scripts to exercise and demonstrate how to use the new mission scripting features.

For example, this feature will allow missions with time constraints, as well as cargo inspection runs, and multiple waves of ships launching from carriers. Mission designers can spawn any number of new ships in the middle of a mission. Also, a more detailed debriefing screen has been implemented, which is fully controllable from scripts.

Wing Commander Doomed To Be Mentioned

More articles about game-based movies have continued to surface with the announcement that Doom was last weekend's number one box office hit in the US. CSU Chico's Orion newspaper has another such article. It's always nice to see Wing Commander hanging out in society's collective conscience, but writers tend to give it an awkward slant. Potential authors are welcome to hit the "Discuss" link below and ask for any clarifications on the movie.
"Wing Commander" was next in the lineup. This time, executives actually managed to persuade known actors to star in the film. Freddie Prinze Jr. and buddy Matthew Lillard joined up for some space fighter action.

But the movie sequences in the game were better than the disjointed garbage put together for the film. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) starred as the main character in two of the games and did a much better job than any of the film version's actors.

Prinze and Lillard might be well-known names now, but they were far from it prior to Wing Commander. Hamill did indeed do an excellent job, but I can't quite tell if the author doesn't know about Prophecy or if he knows Prophecy well enough to be aware of its new main character.

+2 Helm of Fighterpiloting

HoustonDragon is taking the lead in a project to replicate Wing Commander III/IV/Prophecy style fighter helmets - and he'd like to know whether you're interested in someday buying one. The original props are actual motorcycle helmets with an artificial front molded and glued onto them to appear futuristic -- the goal would be to replicate this based on the original props currently in the hands of Wing Commander fans. You can express interest, offer further information and just generally help out here on the forums.
Since I ordered one of the flight suits, I was wondering how much of an interest there was for a Wing Commander Confed-style helmet for people?

Examples of the style I'm talking about can be seen here:

I've contacted a local vendor here in Atlanta who is willing to create the necessary mold (currently, we're pricing this around $500 for the inital mold, which would be good for the production of around 50 helmets), and then create individual custom fiberglass helmets. They would be wearable (using the base interior materials from a generic motorcycle helmet), though certainly would not be certified for use as anything other than strictly a novelty item.

My thought was to leave the basic helmet painted the white primer, and then either someone could stick a decal logo on it, or have it custom painted themselves. We could go ahead and have the two basic red stripes painted on them, though. There's also the idea of having Diamondback, Black Widow, and Wolfpack emblems printed as decals, but that's still up in the air until we can gauge some sort of demand for these.

With the base materials, labor, shipping, and whatever else will go into producing one of these, the current estimate price for one would be between $125-175 per helmet (subject to change, based on material costs), and would likely be finished in time for Dragon*Con 2006. Let me hear your feedback about this.

This Really Puts Us On The Map!

Frosty, Halman and I were bored on a sleepy Tuesday afternoon, so we decided to plot Wing Commander characters' home towns on a Google "Frappr!" map. You can find our little map here. All the cool kids are, no doubt, using this tool to plot their MySpace box socials... but like all technology, it is most pure when adapted for uses Wing Commander in nature. It seems to be half tool and half Wikipedia... so if you come across any other characters from Earth, be sure and add them.

The map currently consists mostly of Wing Commander I and Wing Commander Prophecy wingmen... since they're the ones who have bios that list their home cities. It actually has two birthplaces for Knight, as the editors responsible for the SNES port decided that Angola was a more appropriate home than South Africa. It's kind of fun to see characters laid out like this... for instance, Captain Johnny's Prophecy counterpart, Majestic, is from the heart of Africa. Who knew?

Bringing Up The Big Guns

David Plunkett, designer of the Plunkett-class Heavy Artillery Cruiser seen several days ago, was kind enough to post the story behind the ship and its FMV-quality counterpart to the forums:
Origin of Plunkett
For the origin of Plunkett Class, I was hired on to do WC Online which I thought would be the coolest thing ever until it was cancelled. While I was waiting for WC Online to start up I was put on Secret Ops and asked to a do a cruiser. It was my first WC ship and I was really intimidated. The ship designs for WC are fantastic.

So I concepted a ship based on WWII Destroyers and after a couple of revisions with Mark Vearrier came up with this final design. I have always been a big Battle of the Planets fan and so I though a Space Cruiser needed big triple gun turrets with lots of little "AA" Turrets, to give it the WWII Yamato feel (I think the Plunkett has more turrets than any other ship in the game).

Anyway I went way way over budget on the polygons putting those turrets on. Originally the Plunkett had more Point Defense Turrets on it, but I had to trim them off to get it down to only way over budget. But when the Designers saw the ship they wouldn't let me take any more turrets off, so it shipped considerably over budget.

The designers loved it so much that they named it the Plunkett, and then put two or three of them in almost every mission that they could, which at the time was really pushing the hardware.

-------------------------------
The story behind the renders is sadder

When Origin/EA cancelled the Wing Commander series there was a period of about two months where I had no work, so I worked on my Demo Reel and made the screenshots and AVI's that you found on my website. When the layoffs came I was the only person left out of the entire team and was sitting in my office in a dark hallway working on the screenshots that you see. Later that week I was moved upstairs to work on A-10 with Andy Hollis which was another failed title that offered a lot of promise.

I may or may not have the source art for the ship since it was done in a period of transition from Unix on SGI's to Windows on PC's. But I think they are all in Power Animator and so are essentially lost.

This is exactly the kind of story Wing Commander fans find fascinating -- anyone with a similar 'behind the screens' experience should let us know!

I Sanger, That Is To Say I Songed Her

St3lt3k reports that Music4Games conducted a new interview with George "The Fatman" Sanger, the man responsible for the original two Wing Commander soundtracks. The entire interview can be found here.
Music4Games: What was the project which caused you to "break through" into a career in game music?

George Sanger: 1983: Thin Ice for Intellivision, then Wing Commander, and then The 7th Guest. Each was a breakthrough to a new level.

... Usually the composer just falls back on copying the style of somebody whose music the client likes. If that's exciting to the musician (as it was to Team Fat when we were the first to imitate John Williams for the game Wing Commander) then that's kind of cool. But that's not enough, you have to do something noble, something elevating, something beautiful, within that context.

Classic Murphy Art For Your Wall

With all the Origin quality renders in the news lately, we thought we'd take a closer look at some of the older work by Sean Murphy. Mr. Murphy began working at Origin in 1993 with Strike Commander and continued through 1999 after Secret Ops. The images featured below were based on his work done for Wing Commander IV, though some were retouches of models from previous games. An obvious exception is the Shrike/Midway shot from Prophecy. The Thunderbolt image was a special release made as a high res 1280x1024 wallpaper.

From Roger Wilco To Zach Colson

Sean Murphy also has the distinction of portraying space janitor/hero Roger Wilco in the documentation included with Space Quest V. The game included a mock "making of" section with a couple neat shots. His likeness was also used as the basis for Jazz Colson in Super Wing Commander a short time later. How cool is that?

Lost Vale Partially Uncovered

A great eBay auction has concluded, surely to rank among the great eBay auctions of all time. A prototype box for the The Lost Vale has been sold for the whopping sum of $1,923. You can view the auction details here.

Origin developed The Lost Vale as an add-in for Ultima VIII: Pagan. In the tradition of The Forge of Virtue (Ultima VII) and Silver Seed (Ultima VII Part 2), Lost Vale would have added a new adventure complete with extra monsters, artwork, land area and story to the game. Citing low sales for Ultima VIII, Origin opted to cancel the project near the end of its development cycle. Many believe that a functional version of the game still exists - it is considered perhaps the Holy Grail of Ultima fans.

There is a very similar story for Wing Commander fans: in 1995, Origin developed Wing Commander 2 for the SNES. The port featured a different style of more action oriented gameplay and a series of fascinating changes (including Ferrets with two VDUs and full color comm images). Unfortunately, business sense prevailed - in 1995, the SNES was on its way out, and the especially large game would have used a particularly expensive to produce type of cartridge. Wing Commander 2 was completed, shipped to Pony Canyon in Japan and never seen again.

Congratulations to the new owner of an empty box! Here's to hoping we all find our missing games someday.

Beyond Chromart

Plywood Fiend has posted a watercolor painting of Col. Blair's Excalibur 300 escaping the destruction of Kilrah. The scene was originally featured on the covers of the WC3 Playguide and Authorized Combat Guide. Plywood's painting is well done, and a pretty neat concept -- for all the credit the community gives to 3D rendering and other high tech art forms, it's refreshing to see something a little bit more esoteric. If you've got a unique skill, try applying it to Wing Commander and then let us know!

DooM to Death

This weekend marks an event that gaming veterans of the 1990s all assumed would never happen: the release of the DooM movie. CIC DooM Spinoff correspondant Asher Frosty Lawson says the movie is a must see... and pretty much every movie reviewer in the world says it is not. We've all heard that before, though! More importantly, however, DooM brings 1999's Wing Commander movie to the minds of many reporters assigned to cover it. Here's three recent DooM articles that discuss our film:

Tacoma News Tribune - Big-screen 'Doom'

Wing Commander (1999) Two words: Matthew Lillard. That should be enough to keep you away from this bomb about a team of space flying aces. No? Then how about Freddie Prinze Jr.? I always thought female lead Saffron Burrows would have made a good Lara Croft, though, given the same upper-body digital enhancement Angelina Jolie received.
MTV - Rewind: What Happens When Movies Get Game?
Any attempt at giving Maniac from "Wing Commander" a fully fleshed-out personality in a movie seems almost as silly as sticking a car chase in "The Hours." But leaving the characters without any personality or depth makes for a bland, nonstop-action pic — and that's no good, either.
Eye Weekly - A Shoot-'Em-Up Swan Song
But whereas the dire movie versions of Super Mario Brothers, Wing Commander and Resident Evil all represented some attempt to force the game universe to conform to cinema's rules, filmmakers are increasingly willing to let the dynamics and imagery of gaming dominate.
We'll keep you updated as the DooM movie inspires more people to think about Wing Commander... whether it's in a good way or not!

What a Difference a Day Makes

Following yesterdays update (and today's DooM-theme), AD has posted two new pictures from his TCS Victory Half Life 2 level. The level now features more detailed textures and lighting... and it's beginning to look a lot like a Light Carrier.

New 'Murphy' Class Destroyers

Yesterday's update about the high resolution Plunkett-class Heavy Artillery Cruiser model was only half the story! Her celebrated sister class, the Murphy Destroyer, also has a FMV-quality model.

Veteran Wing Commander artist Sean Murphy developed the model on his own... and it happened to fit right in with the plan for Secret Ops, which was originally going to re-use the Coventry-type Destroyer seen in Wing Commander III and IV. His online portfolio includes these impressive shots of the full scale model:

Even In Deathmatch There Can Be Victory!

AD is working on a Half Life 2 map of a Victory-type Light Carrier flight deck:
I've been tinkering with the Hammer world editor for source as a diversion between bouts of video editing. So far my efforts have resulted in this really lame deathmatch map. Obviously it needs a lot of work and will include flight control rooms and stuff. They're there already... I just need to make doors. The scale is screwed up as I was guestimating but I now have a better sense of the scale the editor creates. The textures need help and the geometry need to be made more interesting. Also the space needs populating with scale fighter models and ordinance.
You can follow the progress in this thread... and, as you can see from these screenshots, he's already gone on to add a pretty impressive staircase!

Fabulous Art By Plunkett Revealed

Fatcat just stumbled upon the website of David Plunkett, an artist who worked on Secret Ops. We remeber him best for creating the famous Plunkett Class Heavy Artillery Cruiser. Fans have drooled over the gun-heavy design since our sixth update was posted way back in August 1998. Mr. Plunkett has a privately made a beautifully rendered version of the ship which is pictured to the right. Apparently he also had a hand in positioning a little-known teaser shot created prior to Secret Ops. This nice collage features the TCS Cerberus, Ella Superbase, TCS Midway and a Plunkett huddling together. There is also a video compilation of a wide range of his work, but only a small portion relates to his Wing Commander art. You can grab that section of the clip in divx form here.

Wing Commander Spotted In The Daily Poll

ZFGokuSSJ1 found our favorite series in today's IMDB Poll. They're jumping on the same bandwagon that Hades referred to yesterday. Numerous high profile game-movies are pitted against eachother, and the winner receives the loser title. Fortunately Wing Commander is far from the lead with just a few percentage points, next to half a dozen other movies based on games that were actually pretty good. "Super Mario Bros" is currently getting the most votes. You can cast your ballot here.

Meet The Man Beyond The Mask

Joe from the Origin Museum recently came across some photos of John Schuck and wanted to share them with everyone. Wing Commander fans can spot many familiar actors and actresses in a variety of movies and television shows, but Mr. Schuck isn't quite as recognizable. He played the voice of Hobbes in Wing Commander 3. Almost every visitor to this site can quickly imagine his growling raspy voice, but relatively few can picture how he looks. If you need a Hobbes refresher, AD has extracted an 11 meg divx sample clip from Wing Commander 3 for the Playstation.

In addition to his role in WC3, he's had a recurring part in two Star Trek movies, several Trek series, Babylon 5 and many other series.

Games Do Make Good Movies

With the pending release of the movie adaptation of Doom this weekend, the tired old video game based movies subject has once again bubbled to the surface. This article found by Fatcat is the latest to scrutinize Wing Commander's financial numbers, but manages to only scratch the surface. It carefully avoids mentioning the income from non-US box office totals, DVD sales and other factors that determine the success of a movie.
Plot: Freddie Prinze Jr. battles giant cats in a space dogfight.

Budget: $30 million.

U.S. gross: $11.5 million.

---

In fact, every movie that has been made from a video game has been an exercise in cultural lobotomization.

The problem rests in its very premise. It's trying to assign a story line to something that has none. It's choosing something popular that has a built-in audience - a coveted demographic, teenage boys - and giving it a narrative form.

While it can be said that many movies based on games don't have much of an existing plot to work from, that certainly can't be said for Wing Commander. Sadly this article probably won't be the last one to jump on the "video games based movies suck" bandwagon, particularly with Uwe Boll still hard at work.

Holding The Line Chapter 206

Raptor has sent us the latest chapter of HTL, along with a progress report on the new HTL website's progress. It sounds like there's going to be a whole lot of content there. I'm not sure why it's necessary to make a site for specific resolutions, but hey, here's Raptor with the info:
Hey all, Raptor here

HTL continues with the third part of Check And Mate, a four parter jointly written by myself and Joe "Wraith" Guida. As you saw in the past two chapters, Battlegroups Valkyrie and Rapier had begun co-operating to stop a pair of enemy carriers that had broken through the defensive line. A strike launched by the Yorktown had just made contact with the enemy. This story picks up from there. Please send any and all comments to me or to Joe at captpowell1@earthlink.net

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

The Holding The Line Dot Net Site is coming along well. Redoing the site in two resolutions has put us behind schedule at little, but we're taking the opportunity to add new features like a search facility and site map. We're also adding over a hundred non HTL stories to the Aces Lounge section.

Best, Raptor

Put A Victory On Your Desktop

Now that work on Lorddarthvik's Victory model is complete he has been working on a jump point effect. What better way to show off his work than with a new wallpaper? Lorddarthvik admits to doing some post-rendering work on this image, but we don't care as long as it looks good.

Saga Turns The Flashlight On

After a few months of tweaking the brightness settings, updated shots from the WC Saga mod have been released in more viewable lighting conditions. Nebulas and backgrounds also help to differentiate the ships from space. These images feature a variety of common Saga ships such as the Confed Light Carrier and Kilrathi Light Destroyer.

Thanks for your continued interest in WC Saga. We are building this mod to make it as enjoyable as possible for the fans. I have been a part of the play-testing team, and in my opinion you will think that the wait has been well worth it. We haven't forgotten you, our encouraging fans. Keep the faith, good things are coming soon!

Freddie Sitcom Premieres On ABC

Freddie Prinze Jr's own television show premiered on ABC last week, a bit later than planned, having been pushed back by Lost reruns. Beverly Hills, 90210 star Brian Austin Green is Freddie's wingman as he tries to balance his love and family life while also managing a successful restaurant in an upscale area. Tune in for episode 2 this Wednesday and watch Freddie go head to head with a food critic.

Four women to every man are great odds when you're a single guy out on the town, but not ideal when it comes to your living situation. Freddie is a young, successful chef with his own restaurant and a stylish bachelor pad. The world should be his oyster at this stage in life, but bachelorhood isn't working out exactly as he envisioned.

Here are a bunch of screengrabs from the premiere for all you Freddie fans: 01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17.

Armada Online Patch Updated

HCl has updated his Armada Online procedure to incorporate the improvements made in Origin's Armada Patch. In addition the joystick and internet functionality that he has included, the patched Armada adds passwords for each gauntlet level (in single player), more stability and darkening/lightening of the HUD crosshairs. You can download the new update here.

Detailed instructions on running Armada online are available here.
I've been getting more interested on the pre-Vision WC games lately, so I'll be revisiting a few ideas on my ever-growing "to do" list involving one of these games. This means that I will probably be halting Armada-related modding in the near future. I'll keep you up-to-date regarding any developments.
One final update being considered is adding the ability for both players in an Armada/Campaign battle to choose the Confed or Kilrathi faction at the same time.

Help Texture A Classic

John Cordell is looking for help to retexture BradMick's classic Galaxy model. The goal is to make the ship's skin more closely resemble the original art in Privateer for Gemini Gold. You can find his Centurion and Tarsus here.
A while ago BradMick created a wonderful galaxy mesh but it still does not have an appropriate texture. Look at this beauty, she needs your help!


Examine The Evolution Of Space Sims

Worf found an interesting article on the evolution of space combat simulations over at Arstechnica. It begins with the basic Space War concept pioneered in the 1960s, hits Elite in 1984 and ends with the fallout surrounding Freespace 2 in 1999. The Wing Commander series is credited for providing major steps in the maturation of the genre throughout the 1990s. I do have to admit a few details seem to be exaggerated. Most primary Wing Commander games sold a bit more than a million copies, not five. His stats for Wing Commander 3 instead mainly pertain to Prophecy. The game also didn't use the same engine as Strike Commander (Armada was the testbed for the WC3 engine). The article explores a number of other genres as well. On the subsequent pages, Ultima Online and Strike Commander take their place in the history of massively multiplayer and flight sim games. You can find the full article here.

Check Out More CICs

We're really happy that record numbers of people are visiting the CIC on a daily basis, and we'd like to take this opportunity to point out a few other space sim news sites and hubs that you might want to add to your bookmark list. Years ago there were quite a few such sites, but as the space sim market cooled off, these have been consolidated. A Talent For War should have the broadest appeal to our visitors. It coveres all space sims in a blog-style format. We've worked together on a number of stories dating all the way back to 1998, and it's great that they're still in business. Joystick Required is a relative newcomer that follows flight sims and space sims that require classic hands-on control schemes. Freelancer fans can get daily updates from The Lancers Reactor, and Freespace fans should visit Hard Light Productions. Back to Wing Commander centric hubs, WingCenter.de and WCRevival.de cater to German speaking Wing Commander fans. There are many other active Wing Commander sites listed in our Links section. It's hard to keep that page updated however, so if you have a site that's still maintained, feel free to hit the Discuss link and let everyone know.

Wing Commander Fan Project Heads To The Nintendo DS

SirJorj has been working on a project to create a fan made Wing Commander scroller shooter for the Nintendo DS. He began working on the project as a fun learning experience, but he hopes to have some sort of release preview in a few weeks. So far the Hornet moves and shoots, and he is working on integrating both screens, adding a dynamic starfield and implementing enemy ships. Some specialized hardware would be necessary to get the game into an actual DS, but the finished project will also be playable on regular computers via emulation. In the mean time, SirJorj would appreciate suggestions or help accumulating the necessary ship and weapon art. You can follow the progress of his Vega Project here.

Steven Spielberg Teams Up With EA

Electronic Arts announced today that they have entered into a partnership with director Steven Spielberg to collaborate on three upcoming original projects. He will be consulting with development teams based out of EA Los Angeles, which has been responsible for parts of the Command & Conquer, Lord of the Rings and Medal of Honor series. The studio is also where any new Ultima or Wing Commander properties would probably be developed. One of Spielberg's primary contacts will be EALA lead and former Origin general manager Neil Young. Quarto found a BBC article that expands on the news a bit more.
"It's incredibly exciting to be collaborating with Steven Spielberg," noted Neil Young, VP and Studio Head at EALA. "He shares our vision for the potential of the medium and has the passion and creativity to help us finally deliver on the promise that a game can not only engage and compel you with its interactivity, but can also move you emotionally."
GameSpot has also just posted a special Q&A session with Neil Young over this development.

Gemini Gold Upgrade Hits Beta

The patch that will bring Privateer Gemini Gold to version 1.01 is nearly ready for release. It just needs the final pass for bugs. Project coordinator John Cordell sent us a note and a couple of screenshots inviting anyone who would like to participate in the testing to apply.
Privateer Gemini Gold 1.01 is ready for a beta test. Due to the rebalancing we've done, extensive testing is needed. The Oxford and Palan missions need the most checking. They should still be hard, but it is possible to complete them.

If you want to test Gemini Gold 1.01, please write an email to priv@solsector.net and we will consider your application.
Note: The Beta will only be available for Windows users who need to download and install a ~16MB patch. We will launch the Beta in a couple of days.

These screenshots show you the new Tarsus textured by Mamiyaotaru and the illuminated New Constantinople created by Klauss.

If you'd like to test the patch, or even if you just want to play the original release, you'll still need the version 1.0 package.

Flight Commander Gets Smarter

Flight Commander creator eddieb is currently hard at work on improvements for a future version of his game. One such improvement will be in the AI of the computer controlled ships, and apparently this involves white lines, green lines, and a sphere. Since I'm out of my depth here, I'll let eddieb explain.
I've got a first cut going of path following. A path is just a series of points in 3d, and right now ships can follow that path. Eventually paths will be generated for enemies to do loops and other dogfighting maneuvers. Anyway, below is a shot of a ship successfully following the path (lines drawn in white). The little sphere is the predicted ship position in the future. The green line shows the target position the ship is aiming for.

It's Fun To Remember Academy

Early on the morning of October 12, 1996 Wing Commander Academy Episode 4 premiered on the USA Network. The cartoon was made with delicate care to ensure that various elements of the Wing Commander universe were brought together in a cohesive way. Many exciting elements of the series were also highlighted for the first time during Academy's run. This included our first visual shots of the fighting at Repleetah. Some of you are familiar with the nasty trench warfare that occurred on that planet, but do you remember the crazy underground tanks? These machines bored under the snow and through the ground's surface to attack unsuspecting Confed troops. A double-barreled laser turret popped up beneath the drill to attack. They also caused a bit of controversy among Wing Commander fans online who were stunned to see such devices for the first time.

Hector Paz was paralyzed after successfully placing a satchel charge on one such tank. Although the paralysis was recurring, he was able to hide the disability and join the space forces to become a pilot.

A new alien creature was also added to the universe on this day in 1996, googly eyed sea monsters with a taste for humans and Kilrathi. If you encounter one of these in person, keep your laser rifle handy and head for high rocky ground.

You can download Word of Honor and the other episodes of WCA here.

Origin History Examined In Detail

Baphomet_irl was among a number of Wing Commander fans who noticed the new Origin article at Escapist Magazine. The Conquest Of Origin covers quite a bit of history from the company's founding to how it came to be influenced by Electronic Arts. This is one of the few articles that goes into details surrounding Wing Commander Online versus Privateer Online and how they related to Ultima Online 2 and Earth & Beyond. The author has a collection of quotes from a diverse lineup of former Origin veterans as well. It's a good read if you haven't followed some of the general history behind Origin, but readers should be careful to draw their own conclusions about certain events.
Founded in 1983, Origin was a creature of the dawn. Garriott had already gotten rich in high school, from a game he coded in BASIC in his bedroom and sold in a ziplock bag. Founding Origin with $70,000 in family money, he and his brother Robert created a culture that prized creative vision and expansive, thoroughly developed game settings. The company later took the slogan "We create worlds."

Origin project director Stephen Beeman recalls, "Origin's cardinal virtue was its commitment to do whatever it took to ship the director's vision. We had a motto for it: 'A game's only late until it ships, but it sucks forever.' If the game's creative vision demanded a megabyte of graphics, and the only way to load that into memory was to write our own operating system - " (the dubious "voodoo memory" scheme Origin created in 1992 for Ultima VII: The Black Gate) " - well, that's what we did, and damn the risk to the schedule or the consequences to the budget, not to mention the programmers' lives."

You can find the full article here. They also interviewed Warren Spector back in August. Users running in 1024x768 and lower resolutions might have to play with the site to get it to format properly on their screens. Thanks to LeechMachine and Tim Peel.

WC Tactics Adds Original Designs

The WC Tactics mod has released a pair of new spaceframes to fill roles in the Terran and Kilrathi fleets. The first ship is a Kilrathi frigate with a small launch deck and a variety of munitions. The second design is a Confed shuttle with a nose-mounted hatch to facilitate the way Nexus docks small craft. A variety of Tactics discussion is going on over in our Fan Projects & Editing forum. That's also a good place for new projects and potential ideas to get tossed around.

Arrows From Start To Finish

We've also got a pair of newly modeled Arrows today. The untextured model and wireframe are works in progress by Kilrah Moreira. They were done in 3DSMax over the last few months. He's taking a few cues from lorddarthvik, who created the the variant pictured in the third image below. That shot features a low poly design with about 3100 triangles. A thread for combined comments and suggestions is set up over at Crius.net.

Score A Victory

Lorddarthvik has been tweaking the design of the Light Carrier class carrier for a project that he is working on. Based on a model originally created by Steele and available from WC3D, lorddarthvik has added some details of his own. Among these are a top indent, and a rebuild of the hangar, engines, and window lights. There is also a version in Border Worlds colors. Apparently next up for the model is a desktop wallpaper featuring the model, so look forward to that one.

Striker Mad For Some Razin'

Major Striker has posted a pair of sketches from the (now cancelled) comic book project to the Forums. The project could get picked up where they left off, if someone out there is good at inking or coloring sketches. Let Striker know if you're interested.

Standoff Episode 3 Under Way

The Standoff team has released a progress update on the status of Episode 3. Work is proceeding at a better pace than with previous chapters, and the load is being uniformly distributed across the team. The progress meter shows that some cutscene and music work is nearly complete, and all other necessary aspects of the episode are in production. More information on the branching mission tree has been released as well.
Episodes 2-4 can end in just two ways - either you win the episode and go to the winning path of the next episode or you lose and go to the losing path of the next episode. But inside each episode, there can be a bit of branching depending on the player's performance. This branching doesn't, strictly speaking, affect the ending - it does, however, affect how hard it is to win.

In other words - lose episode 2, you go into episode 3 on the losing path. Lose a few missions on the losing path of episode 3, and you go on the losing path of the losing path of episode 3. From there, you still have a chance to win the episode... but the chance is pretty darn miniscule. On the other hand, if you win all the missions on the losing path of episode 3, you'll be able to get back onto the winning path for episode 4, though it's still not gonna be easy.

It'll be slightly different in episode 5, though. There, you have three different endings - there's a losing ending, a winning ending, and a middle ending (the middle ending is the book ending - so as you can imagine, we'll be working very hard to make sure that most people never see the winning ending).

Use Ships2 For WC1/2

The original CIC Green Ships Database is more than six years old, and a few parts of it are out of date or incorrect. Some people are aware of our partially upgraded database, but most are not. If you visit Ships 2, you can find more accurate data and information for Wing Commander 1 & 2 craft. We've had some problems getting sections put together for the later games, but hopefully this resource helps out fans who need stats from the earlier ones.

Celebrate Seven Years Of Secret Ops

Today is the seventh anniversary of the final episode of Secret Ops going live. Episode seven concluded the ongoing saga and left the Confederation at an exciting crossroads. The final journal entry by Lance Casey was especially moving.
2681.105: Krieger was a difficult run. I've never taken down that many carriers in a single system before. How many of these things are there? I want Maestro to shut up with that freaking line of his. How many times must someone say something before they know they shouldn't say it anymore? Anyway, the alien presence in Proxima should be a little weaker for the losses and that should make our job easier. I hope.

That's it. Last log for now. Hopefully, it's not the last forever. Well, given my writing that might not be such a bad thing.

I never think about how embarrassing it'll be when these are looked over when I die.

Just in case: To whom it may concern,

If you're reading this, I've died. I failed on my mission and pray to God that you were able to succeed in my place.

If you're looking at this for any strategic reasons you have wasted a bit of scan time, and I apologize for not being thorough. My logs from Midway should have provided all the tactical information I was capable of giving before just needing a way to get some thoughts out of my head.

Do me a favor, if it isn't too much to ask…Tell my Mother I love her. Also tell Jean Talvert that I'm sorry I couldn't buy her that round of drinks at the beach like I promised.

Man, that's dismal…I better go get in my ship and occupy myself with something I'm good at.

You can find the rest of the episodic fiction here. For more on the history, structure and background of Secret Ops, check out Shades' Expanded Secret Ops Guide.

Help Proof Gemini Gold's Instructions

The Gemini Gold team is continuing to streamline their Privateer fan project and make it more in sync with the original game. The next thing they need your help with is picking out things in Gold's manual that might need fixing. John Cordell would appreciate any corrections or suggestions you might have. You can check out the 2 meg PDF here.

Who Wants A Piece Of The Maniac?

Tom Wilson will be releasing a brand new comedy CD in less than a month. The album will feature eight new songs and his critically acclaimed stand-up routine. Each disc is priced at $15. That all sounds great, but it should be worth buying just for the cover art. Click on the picture at his website to order. You can find more funny photos from his guest role on Reba there as well. This weekend he'll be performing at The Comedy And Magic Club (which credits him for his role in Wing Commander) and the Pasadena Icehouse. If you don't live in California, you might be able to catch him on TV during the October 19 episode of George Lopez.

Most people look at me and say “Hey, you look like that dude in Back In The Future! What was his name…Butt?” And I say “Biff,” and they say “Right! Biff!” and I say “I am the guy,” and they say “No, you’re not.”

Aaron Allston Appearing Again

Aaron Allston will be making his first public appearance since his foot healed at the Columbus Game & Hobby Expo. The convention is an annual event held at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center at Columbus State University. Three day passes are on sale now for $10. Allston will be a guest of honor on Saturday, October 29, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, October 30, from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. He'll be signing autographs, so local Wingnuts should have their Claw Marks ready.

WC Saga Unveils New Website And Trailer

WC Saga has burst back onto the scene with a new website and fancy CGI trailer. Any viewers still running below 1024x resolution will need to slide over to see the right menu bar in each section. All the basic information that potential players would want to know is there, and the site features a database that provides quite a bit of information on the game's background and setting. Eventually the portal will serve as a framework to support the release of the prologue and primary chapters. Old screenshots, wallpapers and trailers are online too. The latest addition is a new trailer featuring live actors and elaborate prerendered battle scenes. You can grab the 67 meg mpg here or here. If you don't have the mpeg2 codec or the file doesn't play, a divx version is available here or here.

EA Settles Overtime Lawsuit

Electronic Arts has announced the terms for a settlement in their employee overtime litigation. This appears to be the end of the case that began a year ago with the famous EA Spouse livejournal.
Under the terms of the settlement, the claims of the alleged class will be dismissed, and EA will make a total payment of $15.6 million to cover all claims by the class members, plaintiffs' attorney fees, any incentive payments to the named plaintiffs and all administrative costs of the settlement. Any portion of the settlement fund that is unclaimed by class members will go to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that awards college scholarships to minority students, with a preference toward students interested in studying interactive entertainment.
There are more details at GameSpot or CNN.

Paladin Loses Hair, Eye

Certain releases of the Macintosh Super Wing Commander come with Claw Marks and a playguide manual in electronic format. This version of Claw Marks includes the updated pictures and descriptions of pilots and ships featured in the game. Since SWC covers The Secret Missions and an entirely new campaign, Jazz and Doomsday are among the neat additions. Super Wing Commander had a new art team, and the end result was a unique design style that was partially incorporated into Privateer, Armada and beyond.

Alexco did a great job converting the original E-Doc into a PDF for everyone. You can download them below.

Here's a sample of an additional news article that was not featured in the original PC edition of Claw Marks.
A Shaving Off the Old Block
No matter what profession, everyone’s involved in the war ... doctors heal the injured, hydroponic farmers feed the masses, laborers construct new ships and people everywhere lend a hand. Still, the sobering facts remain. Families are wrenched apart as they cross the line from life to death. Wingmen are lost during battle. Friends never come home.

This war isn’t easy on anyone, especially for those who lose loved ones. Still, we’re all finding ways to remember what we’re fighting for.

For example, you may notice a change in some of your comrades’ hairstyles as the war progresses. In memory of family members who have died for our cause, many Confederation pilots are carving ‘memorial shaves’ into their temples. Vowing to keep the bald streaks bare until the war ends, they’re choosing to remember their loved ones by continuing the fight against the Empire.

So next time you see a newly shaven comrade, offer your condolences. And, be sure to count your blessings.

Check Out The Game Controls Section

With the downloadable Playguide in hand, the commands for Super Wing Commander have been updated in the Game Controls section. We often get requests for a list of controls on the forums, so now you know where to look! Even the more obscure ports such as Wing Commander CD32 is there in case your manual has disappeared in the past 13 years. Take a look - you may even discover commands you never knew existed!

Come For The Wingleader, Stay For The Intense Ad

Last week's Wing Commander Anniversary inspired Kilrah Moreira to dig up some old magazines to scan. The first page he sent is part of an article from Advanced Computer Entertainment written in 1990. In it the game is still referred to as Wingleader, which was an intermediate step between Squadron and Wing Commander. It's touted as the "world's first cinematic 3D space simulator." The second image is an advertisement printed once the game received its final title, and the third shot is a neat letterhead that Kilrah received in correspondence with Origin many years ago.
After reading the nostalgically inspiring LOAF’s words about WC’s 15th anniversary and the posts that followed, I decided to search in my old stuff. Can you guess what I’ve found? Part of the article that introduced me to this wonderful game called Wing Commander and an advertisment from that time.

Zohrath Scores Again

This time with a model of the TCS Victory. Zohrath has rendered some different views for us to look at. You can leave feedback on the Forums. More of his work can be found in the news archives, like this 3D model of a Fralthi II Cruiser from Wing Commander III.

Zohrath Finishes Model Vaktoth

Little more than a week after first showing off the in-progress work on his new Vaktoth model, Zohrath has called it finished. The textures have been put in place and all is looking great. One in-progress picture below has just a few textures, and the other is the finished product. Don't forget to click the discuss link below if you wish to give feedback.

Happy Birthday Ser Arris

Privateer 2 star Clive Owen turns 41 today. It's been nine years since his last role in the Wing Commander series, and he certainly looks a little older these days. He has half a dozen projects currently in production, including Sin City 2.

Dragon*Con Gallery Part 7 Online

The last part of our gallery is online and features a sort of good vs. evil theme. Random costumed women vs Halman anyway. There was a point to it all though as we were attempting to recreate a scene from a sketch we had drawn. The sketch features a catgirl casting an angry glance at Halman. Come see the results as we rate the various angry women in our special Halman gallery. Careful, it's not safe for work. If you missed it before, don't forget to check out the rest of the gallery.

Time To Order Flight Suits

A lot of people ask about the flight suits that we wear at events like DragonCon. They've been listed as a future item in our Merchandise area for a while, and we'd like to take a limited number of orders now. They're somewhat time consuming to make, so in the past they've only been available to DragonCon attendees. The good news is that we'll be making a batch for fans to wear during Halloween this year. The core suit is priced at $100, including shipping within the US. You can find your size here. Red TCS Eisen Shirts and TCS Eisen Hats are available for a discounted $10 each when combined with a suit order. We'll only be able to make a small number before the end of the month, so email us right away if you're interested. Suits will be made in the sequence orders are received, and there is a lead time for ordering materials for each set.

It's possible that we could post instructions on making your own suit if there's a big demand for that, but right now it looks like this is the best way to go. Email us or hit the Discuss link below if you have any questions.

Flex Tries A Caernaven

Flex, a newcomer to the 3D modeling scene, has posted a work-in-progress shot of a Caernavon class frigate. It is not identical to what you see in-game as Flex has added his own twist on certain features of the ship. It's already looking good, so we can't wait to see the final product. Flex welcomes constructive criticism so if you have any, click the discuss link below.

CIC News Search Makes Inroads

If you're using Mozilla or a derivative browser, you can now install a search plugin for quicker access to our news archives.
A search plug-in allows you to access a search engine right from your browser, without having to go to the engine's page first. On Mozilla 1.x, you can access plugins via the Sidebar or the Location Bar. On Mozilla Firefox (formerly known as Firebird), you use the search box on the toolbar.

To install the plugin, click the WC CIC hyperlink at mozdev.org.

Pick Your Favorite Sibling

Our new poll takes one step back from the Wing Commander series and asks which other Origin franchise was your favorite. Bioforge, Crusader, Cybermage, Strike Commander, System Shock, Ultima and Wings of Glory are your prime choices. If you're a fan of Bad Blood, Pacific Strike, Jane's F-15 or any other of Origin's games, hit "Discuss" below and tell everyone why.

Our last poll tried to find out what you thought were the worst disasters in Wing Commander. Before Blair's Love Life started to take the lead, the Inner World Strontium Bursts were in first place. Many people indicated that they voted for this option as a representative for the entire false armistice tragedy and Hakaga invasion fleet. Don't know what all this business is about? You've got some Wing Commandering to do!

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