Saga Shuttle Assaulting A Target Near You

The WC Saga team has finalized the assault shuttle that will be used in their upcoming fan project. It was modeled and textured by the group's newest artist, Scooby Doo. Screenshots below demonstrate a typical mission where the shuttle is escorted by Hellcats to capture a Kilrathi transport. You can help provide feedback at Crius.net here.

Regarding the model, WC Saga aims to provide a wide variety of mission types. Among the sorties that the player will fly will be escort and close support missions for Confederation Marines operating out of this sturdy combat transport.

Apply For Darkstar Beta Beginning This Week

Wing Commander fans who'd like an early look at one of 2006's new space sims have an opportunity to apply as a beta tester for Darkstar One. The game's German developers are looking for dedicated players to spend a couple weeks playing the hell out of the game shortly before it goes gold. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, live within a country in the European Union, have a good handle on English grammar and meet the necessary technical requirements. If this sounds like you, apply now, because testing begins this week! A detailed list of submission requirements and information on how to apply can be found here. I definitely believe that the space sim market would be better off if Wing Commander fans had more input, so good luck!

Justice Prevails In The Standoff Tournament

The winners of PopsiclePete's Birthday Contest in the Standoff Simulator have been officially announced. Justice succeeded by capturing two first place titles from Grand Champion Sternenwind! He managed this feat while flying a Ferret in the Kilrathi Gauntlet and a Sabre in the Confed Gauntlet. Cardinal came in second place by winning the Kilrathi Gauntlet in a Hornet light fighter. Justice has earned $20 in CIC merchandise, and Cardinal will be receiving a pack of custom CIC playing cards. Many people played to win, but only these two managed to retain a top score throughout the duration of the contest period. Even though some players were daunted by the challenge, there's still plenty of opportunities for everyone else to improve their scores. You can learn how to join in on the fun here.

Impress Your Friends With CIC Gear

For those of you who didn't win Pete's birthday presents, we have an assortment of items in stock in the CIC Merchandise Store. We don't sell these products to make a profit, but it is a place where you can pick up some of the neat CIC things that we've produced for ourselves over the years. CIC Polo Shirts, TCS Eisen T-Shirts, CIC Glasses, CIC Playing Cards and TCS Eisen Hats are available. We get a lot of questions about the full flight suits, and we hope to be able to produce another batch this summer. For more details or to order something, visit the store here.

Ghost Recon: Advanced Starfighter

Chris, ace and I came across something fun while exploring the junkyard map in Ghost Recon: Advance Warfighter -- some CF-117b Rapiers! The two pictures on the left are from Ghost Recon... and the picture on the right is the first ever from the set of the Wing Commander movie, the arrival of the Rapier canopies. The scrapped cockpits in Ghost Recon actually belong to a pair of MiG-21 Fishbeds. Because of the extreme similarities, rumor has persisted that the Rapiers were also modified from MiG cockpits. In fact, the Rapier sets were built from a pair of British Electric Lightning jets.

History Lesson: Electronic Arts Buys Origin

Many people incorrectly believe that Electronic Arts' ownership of Origin and its franchises (Wing Commander, Ultima, Cybermage, etc.) is a recent development; in fact, the sale occured on September 10th, 1992. It was Electronic Arts' money that made most of the classic Wing Commander games possible - including Privateer, Academy, Armada, Super Wing Commander, Wing Commander III, IV, Prophecy and Secret Ops. Here's the original press release, which expands upon the specific financial details of the sale:
Electronic Arts to Buy Origin Systems

SAN MATEO, Calif. (UPI) -- Electronic Arts said Thursday it has agreed to buy interactive video game producer Origin Systems Inc. in a stock-swap deal for $35 million.

Electronic Arts said it will exchange 1.3 million shares for all outstanding securities of Origin, of Austin, Texas.

Origin was founded in 1983 by Robert and Richard Garriott to capitalize on the popularity of Richard Garriott's Ultima series of fantasy role-playing games. It currently has 160 employees and has published more than 30 titles for home computers and compact discs.

Origin posted pre-tax profits of $3.2 million on sales of $13 million in its fiscal year ended Feb. 28. Its ``Ultima VII: The Black Gate'' is currently on best-seller lists of software retailers.

Origin will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary and Robert Garriott, president and chief executive officer of Origin, will continue in this role and become a vice president of Electronic Arts. Richard Garriott, senior vice president/creative director of Origin, will continue in this role and become an executive producer of Electronic Arts.

Correction: Googly Eyed Sea Monsters

It has come to our attention that an article posted on October 12th, 2005 inadvertantly referred to the unusual creatures in Wing Commander Academy's Word of Honor as "googly eyed sea monsters". The proper term for the creatures, per the series press kit's glossary, is in fact "Piscean Arthrosquids". We regret this error and promise that it will never happen again.

On the subject of the creatures, the glossary says: "the size of small car, these creatures resemble a disgusting cross of a crab, a squid and a sea slug". To make amends for our mistake, here is another Academy creature: a stealthy egg-chomping space weirdo.

Eldred Scrolls

Here's one we missed from a few weeks back: Anime New World Order has conducted a lengthy audio interview with Tim Eldred, whose credits include character designs and storyboards for Wing Commander Academy. Daryl Surat, who runs the site and forwarded us the interview, notes that the interview is primarily about Japanese animation and comics, so Academy is not a key point of discussion... but they do link to the CIC! The Tim Eldred show is #14, which is available through links here.

For Pete's Sake: Last Chance to Enter!

The clock is about to strike midnight, Standoff fans: April 28th is the last day to submit a score for PopsiclePete's gauntlet contest. Here's the man himself:
April 28th is coming, Cardinal's the only one who managed to get an high score from Sternenwind: the Hornet score for the Kilrathi gauntlet.

No one else is up to the challenge? Some ships didn't see much scoreboard action and show scores that should be relatively easy to beat: the Ferret for mission 1, for example.

Now's your last chance!

Next Year, in the TCS Jerusalem

Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum has sent us some exciting pictures of rare foreign Wing Commanders! Specificially, an Israeli copy of Wing Commander 2 and Chinese versions of WC1, SM1, SO1 and SO2! These Chinese releases are fascinating just in how they work: they're jewel cases designed to hold 5.25" disks (picture below)! The most exciting part, though, is the disk artwork (final image). Is that something from a slush pile... or is it original Chinese Wing Commander art? If so, what is it? Post your theories to the forums! Thanks, Joe! The covers:

... and then a sample of the contents:

Standoff Bursts At The Seams

The Wing Commander: Standoff fan project website has been updated with a status report. Freespace may still have the largest capital ships, but it sounds like the Standoff guys are trying to work out how to have just plain more of them. I don't think it's any small exaggeration to say that Standoff Episode 4 is one of the most exciting things that will happen in the next year. Here's the word:
With most of the graphics done and most of the cutscene voiceovers still missing, I've only had to fix a few graphical glitches (like on the Arrow's HUD) and work on the occasional new ship. Everyone else's been working hard as usual, though, and you can check the progress page to learn more about that. We already have a few missions underway, and Tango is once again able to help Pierre with the coding, which should help us progress faster specially in the debugging stage later on. We've also done a few tests to see how many capships we could put in the same battle without killing the framerate, and it seems like it might take a bit of creative coding to allow big battles to take place without making the game unplayable. We're still trying to figure out what the critical factor is here, though, so that we can keep the game playable without sacrifing the original plans we had for these battles. Apart from that, a few of the voiceovers have been delivered already, so I've already been able to start working on some of the pre-rendered cutscenes. Unfortunately, I still don't have a whole set of voiceovers for any one scene, so right now what I have is mostly a few monologues that make no sense. :-P

Sean Murphy For The Win!

Sean Murphy is home from his bike ride! Here's what he has to say:
The ride went great; we got in yesterday [Sunday] afternoon/evening. My son did an awesome job - he rode every inch of the 173 miles without walking his bike or riding the support van once.

I'm working on a blog with some photos from the ride and I'll send you the link once that's up. I'll also get you a total on the donations from CIC. I hope to start on the wallpapers this week, so I should start sending stuff to you guys soon!

Great job! And thanks to all Wing Commander fans who donated money, it sounds like you did some good -- and that you've earned us some wallpapers! There's no rush on that, though - I get tired walking across the street in Austin, I can't imagine how tired someone would be after biking 173 miles. The good news is that even though the ride is over, we can still donate money to the cause! For more details on the program, read our original article here... or you can donate money through this link (remember to add an extra cent to the total so he knows it's from a Wing Commander fan!)

From Achilles to Zarkowsky

So, you love lists of ships but you don't like having to load a MS Word document? Well, fret no longer: the all new, version 2.0 annotated Ships List is now available in easy-to-view HTML format! You now no longer have any excuse for using the wrong class names for obscure Kilrathi battleships in your elaborate fan fiction chapters. The list includes a complete appendix of ship classes, citations for every single ship and over 50 footnotes -- it's as close to a professional history paper on Wing Commander starships as you're likely to ever see! You can read the new list here.

Shining Movie On A Hill

Silent Hill, a new movie based on a popular video game and universally panned by the critics, premiered on Friday. Sounds like the same setup as the Wing Commander movie? Well, this one was a success: CNN reports that it was the weekend's #1 movie with $20.2 million in tickets sold. That's good news for the game-to-movie genre as a whole, to which we are tangentially connected. The video game connection invariably leads to comparisons to our movie by the professional critics... here's one from The Mirror:
Resident Evil, Wing Commander, Doom, Alone In The Dark, Super Mario Brothers - five reasons why Silent Hill was never going to be any good. It's a proven fact that great computer games always make rubbish films and this tragic horror movie is, alas, no exception.
Zing indeed. ZFGokuSSJ1 reports that the IMDb is honoring the release with a 'favorite video game movie' poll today... so go vote for Wing Commander here. Wing Commander is currently in 12th place, well behind Tomb Raider... but significantly ahead of Alone in the Dark!

Angel Victrix

Why do people pay extra for premium channels? Because in any given month they'd like to see the Wing Commander movie as many times as possible. That's right: HBO and its affiliates will be running Wing Commander not once, not twice but twenty six times through May 22nd! You can find the schedule online here, or refer to the handy list below. Watch every single one of them and win a prize.
Tue 4/25 12:35 PM
Wed 4/26 04:45 AM
Wed 4/26 12:30 PM
Wed 4/26 03:30 PM
Fri 4/28 07:00 PM
Sun 4/30 04:35 PM
Tue 5/2 01:45 PM
Tue 5/2 04:45 PM
Mon 5/8 04:20 AM
Mon 5/8 07:20 AM
Fri 5/12 07:50 AM
Fri 5/12 10:50 AM
Fri 5/12 06:15 PM
Fri 5/12 09:15 PM
Mon 5/15 08:00 AM
Mon 5/15 08:00 AM
Mon 5/15 11:00 AM
Mon 5/15 11:00 AM
Mon 5/22 03:45 PM
Mon 5/22 06:45 PM
Wed 5/24 07:30 AM
Wed 5/24 07:30 AM
Wed 5/24 10:30 AM
Wed 5/24 10:30 AM
Sat 5/27 05:40 PM
Sat 5/27 08:40 PM
OUTERMAX - EAST
OUTERMAX - EAST
MORE MAX - EAST
MORE MAX - WEST
OUTERMAX - EAST
OUTERMAX - EAST
HBO ZONE - EAST
HBO ZONE - WEST
HBO ZONE - EAST
HBO ZONE - WEST
HBO ZONE - EAST
HBO ZONE - WEST
HBO ZONE - EAST
HBO ZONE - WEST
HBO LATINO - EAST
HBO - EAST
HBO - WEST
HBO LATINO - WEST
HBO ZONE - EAST
HBO ZONE - WEST
HBO LATINO - EAST
HBO - EAST
HBO - WEST
HBO LATINO - WEST
HBO ZONE - EAST
HBO ZONE - WEST

Famous Gemini Hangar Rebuilt

A while back Marc conducted some research in order to remodel the interior of the Perry Naval Base landing structure. To help get a better feel about the area he was building, he looked at where ships entered and exited on the Privateer box art. 6and7eighths also provided some suggestions and reminded everyone about the concept art for the area. This helped identify the protruding beam in the bay as some sort of maintenance and repair structure. The final textured results looks pretty sharp, and someday Marc might go back to the image and detail the interior of flight control. Landing areas in Privateer have always been some of the most fantastic and imaginative windows into exotic areas of the Wing Commander universe, and I've always been excited to examine them more closely. You can find an original shot of the Perry hangar here.

It Pays To Run EA

GamaSutra recently analyzed a report on CEO compensation and found just one game company CEO that made the list. Forbes Magazine recently documented the payouts that America's 500 largest companies received in 2005. Electronic Arts was the only company that met Forbes' criteria, and EA CEO Larry Probst ranked 114th on the list. Mr. Probst's overall 2005 compensation came in at $12.59 million, and that would bring his total for the last five years to almost $82 million. That's small change for a company that managed to grow from $1.3 billion in annual revenues in 2001 to $3.0 billion by 2004 (for almost $12 billion cumulative hauls since 2001 for those keeping track). He joined EA in the early 1980s when the company was just a few years old and has been CEO for the last fifteen years, since around the same time that the company acquired Origin. He had this to say about the series in 1996.
Adds Electronic Arts Chairman and CEO Larry Probst, "We have long believed the best-selling Wing Commander franchise was the perfect vehicle to move our compelling interactive content to a broader entertainment medium."

Arrows Sail The Sky

Kilrah Moreira continues to put his Arrow model to good use. He's sent us a new wallpaper for your desktop, available in three resolutions. Is this flight of Arrows cruising through low clouds over a water planet? Or are they sailing through the thick atmosphere of a gas giant instead? The answer's up to artistic interpretation, but it's a fun image either way. You can find a lot of Kilrah's earlier work in the news archives.

More Updates For Space Sim Fans

There haven't been a whole lot of new space sims announced recently, but a couple of in-production ones are nearing completion. Today's pair of games are developed in Germany and Russia, which still seem to have relatively robust markets for space sims. Both titles also borrow heavily from Digital Anvil's Freelancer.

Star Rush has been renamed since we initally reported on it. The title has been changed to Tomorrow War to tie in with the novel trilogy it is based on. Action takes place both in space and above ground with a seamless transition between the two environments. Intense battles will include more than a dozen warships and some sixty escort fighters in a single event. Players have the option to control their ships like in Wing Commander or simulate gravity and inertial effects. The proportions of space are also realistically modeled. Without the use of teleporters to jump between nav points, it would require days of travel to reach new locations. One of the images below shows off an example of the character models and environments that exists for portions of the story that take place outside the cockpit. The Official Site has more information for Russian readers.


The Darkstar One official site is available in both English and German. Germany has always been a huge market for Wing Commander, and a number of the folks at Ascaron Entertainment are big WC fans. Darkstar has also recently teamed up with the Lancers Reactor to leverage all the similarities with Freelancer. The story has been beefed up, and although some aspects of the game are free form across over 300 different star systems, there is a strong linear component as well. The "Darkstar One" refers to the ship that the main character inherits at the beginning of the game. Although it is the only ship that players will fly, it is heavily configurable with some 200 upgrades that drastically alter the ship's characteristics. It's due for release in Germany in May, in June in the UK and in September for the US.

Centuries have passed since the great galactic war. Since then, the numerous races within the universe have attempted to live peacefully next to each other. The Great Council is watching over the peace and the powers of the empires. However, recently, a small and reclusive race from the edge of the universe called "Thul" has begun to repeatedly violate the peace.

The galactic peace has been in grave danger ever-since as the races grew increasingly suspicious and began to blame each other for these attacks. The Great Council seems to be on the verge of falling apart. A new war seems inevitable.

In all this turmoil, the hero of the game - the young escort pilot Kayron Jarvis - discovers clues about a secret that his murdered father was apparently hiding. An unknown technology that is hidden within the Darkstar One appears to be the key - but then an unforeseen twist changes the course of events dramatically ...

Time For More Bible Study

Here's an exciting update from Joe Garrity: the The Origin Museum has gotten its hands on three Wing Commander Academy production documents! The collection includes the original series bible, a story outline for Recreation and the first draft script for Chain of Command. The series bible is especially interesting because it's very different from the finished series - apparently the original idea was to include all of the Wing Commander III cast (including Rachel, Cobra, Hobbes and others!) and set the show during the events of The Secret Missions 2: Crusade. The document includes lots of neat trivia... and since the museum has made the documents available electronically, you'll have to read through them to find out things like Thrakhath's sister's callsign! You can access all three of the documents and some background information here.

Ships List Again

Thought we'd ferreted out even the most obscure ships in our last update? Well, even rocket surgeons can't split the atom every time: it turns out that the TCS Potemkin was missing from the last version of the list. Referenced in the Wing Commander IV novelization, she's an unclassified warship. Hugh Paulson served aboard as a junior lieutenant... his last combat assignment before taking over the Lexington from Captain Eisen! The newly updated ships list can be found here in .doc format -- suitable for printing (until we find another ship).

TCS Behemoth Enters Cyber Space

Cyberion has returned to the internet after a couple months of down time to recuperate from a car crash. We're glad that he's getting better, and to get things rolling again, here's a sample shot of his most recent project. The Behemoth model sounds like it'd be pretty easy to create at first, but getting the proportions right can be a daunting task alone. When he last left off, Cyberion was still tweaking the basic geometry and adjusting the length of the barrel section. Eventually there is a lot or close detail work that will be done to texture the hull. And in case you forgot how big this thing is, check out the image with her side by side with the Victory.

EA Announces Command & Conquer 3

After months of heightened speculation, Electronic Arts has announced the next title in the Command & Conquer series. It will arrive some time in 2007, four years after C&C Generals and Zero Hour were released. Although C&C First Decade's arrival this year implied that future titles were imminent, many fans have wondered whether or not too much time has passed since 1999's Command & Conquer 2. The switch to licensed RTS titles based on franchises such as The Lord of the Rings suggested to some that EA was moving away from its classic franchises. These question were put to rest this morning, and the answer is that EA is clearly willing to follow up with proper sequels to its major games from the 1990s. Tiberium Wars is being developed by EALA under the supervision of Westwood Studios' co-founder, Louis Castle, and Origin's former general manager, Neil Young. New features will include built-in voice chat and spectator modes for online matches. The single player campaign will once again follow the battle between the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod as alien Tiberium warps planet Earth. More specifics will be announced at next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo.

It is 2047 and the stakes could not be higher. Kane's secret society turned superpower is bent on using Tiberium to take control and transform humanity into his twisted vision of the future. All-out war rages over Tiberium and the fate of the planet rests in the balance.

"Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars combines fast-paced gameplay with new ways to tell a story in an RTS game," said Mike Verdu, Executive Producer at EA Los Angeles (EALA). "We're building a next generation Command & Conquer game that is true to the spirit of this classic franchise, but is updated with state-of-the-art visuals, added strategic depth, and gameplay innovations that will move the genre forward. I am very excited to be working on this amazing game."

Experience a revolution in RTS gaming with a breakthrough single player campaign that rewards you for your gameplay style. Add layers of strategy to your gaming experience by building mobile bases, wielding the power of terrifying Ion Storms on the battlefield, or customizing your armies by combining units.

New Ship Shots Day After Day

The Hydra cockpit to be featured in WC Pioneer has just been detailed and polished up. The plain white opaque walls and struts have been replaced with a more distinctive green, and many of the displays, gauges and indicators have had representative filler data added. Howard Day has also generated another fancy 3D VR mock-up of the area for people with QuickTime to check out. Once this ship gets wrapped up, it looks like a more detailed version of Pioneer's Kilrathi Krant medium fighter will be up next.

This ship's role is that of a gunboat/armored transport. As some of you have noted, the cockpit beams are a bit thick. However, I don't believe that will be much of an issue, given how much overall visibility you have. I've done a rough pass on coloration and the controls. The lighting is temporary, and the controls will change based on the feedback I get from you guys. Enjoy, and as always, feedback is welcomed!

Happy Birthday LOAF!

Today LOAF turns 25! Although the world's most knowledgable Wing Commander expert is perfectly content to dream about novel timelines or Zartoth fighters all night, your birthday wishes will help to make this quarter-century event all the more memorable. If you don't see him playing Tomb Raider on YBox Live, he's busy planning elaborate Wing Commander updates to share with you throughout the summer. And if you thought you've seen LOAF before, you haven't seen him advancing on Petersburg!

Important: Wing Commander for Charity

Origin veteran Sean Murphy will be riding in a charity bicycle event, and he has an offer you shouldn't refuse: Wing Commander renderings for charity! Here's the deal:
I don't know if you're familiar with the MS150, a charity fundraising bike ride that's taking place next weekend; it's an organized fundraiser in which about 12,000 riders pedal from Houston to Austin over two days. I've ridden it before in 2003, and my wife has ridden it pretty much every year since 2001.

This year I'm riding it again with my wife, and this year our nine-year old son is going to be joining us. He's excited, but of course we'll see how it goes - 180 miles is a long way!

I know it's not specifically WC related, so here's my offer: for every donation I receive over $20, I'll create a custom wallpaper-quality render of one of the ships I've still got files for - the Shrike, Devastator, Midway, Murphy Destroyer, Vindicator, and Stingray. I'll send them to you guys to post on the site for public download, to use as you want.

http://ms150.org/ms150/donate/donate.cfm?id=185739

You can also learn more about the MS150 and Multiple Sclerosis at their home site: http://www.ms150.org/ms150/

Last year riders raised about nine and a half million dollars for MS research and for assistance for those with MS. This year they're shooting for 10 million in donations.

Thanks!

Sean Murphy is a former Origin artist who worked on Wing Commander IV, Prophecy and Secret Ops; you can find his online portfolio here. More importantly is that he's always been there for us - he's been keeping up with Wing Commander fandom, sending us artwork and answering our obscure questions about Wing Commander development for many years now.

Sean is a great guy and this is an excellent opportunity to show your support for both a good cause and for the Wing Commander community! We'll match his awesome rendering offer in so much as we can: anyone who donates $20 may have an avatar at the forums -- $20 is easier to come up with than the 2,000 posts ordinarily required!

Sean asks that anyone donating through the CIC please add one cent to the total -- ie, $25.01 instead of $25. That way he'll be able to track how many wallpapers he needs to make! Feel free to contact us with any questions. Let's earn some awesome graphics and do some good at the same time. Here's some of Sean's past work:

Time Running Out To Win Pete's Presents

There are only ten days left until PopsiclePete's birthday on April 28. On that date, you could well be the person receiving the gifts as Pete is hoping to give away prizes. To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is play Standoff's gauntlet missions in the simulator where your score will be automatically submitted to the Scoreboard.

The challenge is to steal one of Sternenwind's #1 ranks away from him and hold the top spot until April 28. If more than one person does this, the player with the most number of new high scores wins. There will only be one winner, unless there is a tie. The winner will receive $20 worth of CIC Merchandise of the winner's choosing. As things currently stand, Cardinal has managed to beat Sternenwind's top score for the Hornet in the Kilrathi gauntlet. Sternenwind still holds the top spots for the Kilrathi Gauntlet with the Wraith, Morningstar, Rapier, Arrow, Crossbow, Epee, Stiletto, Broadsword, Sabre, Gladius, Talon, and Ferret. He also holds the top Confed Gauntlet places with the Epee, Ferret and Sabre.

If you don't fancy that challenge, there's also an instant win prize for the first person to score over 10,000 with Pete's favorite ship, the Epee, in either of the two gauntlets. Good luck! If you need instructions on how to play Standoff and participate in the Simulator Scoreboard, you can find directions here.

If Brooks Could Kill

Following yesterday's poll results showing "Chain of Command" to be fandom's favorite Wing Commander Academy episode, LeHah has posted an article in which he corresponds with the episode's writer, Brooks Wachtel! The e-mails cover his work on Exosquad and Academy and include lots of interesting trivia and information about the process behind writing an episode of our favorite show.
I had worked with Ralph Sanchez and the Mark & Michael Edens on "ExoSquad." They liked my work (did 4 episodes). WCA was in the same arena as ExoSquad, so they asked me to write one. Mark Edens came up with most of the story lines (as he did on ExoSquad). My father was career navy, so ships, aircraft and the military atmosphere were part of my childhood. I tried to put that ambiance into my scripts.

There was one big difference between ExoSquad and WCA. On ExoSquad we wrote as we liked and only got notes from the story editors and studio. On WCA there was another layer - the network. If you compare my first draft to the aired episode (and forgive me, it's been a decade since I've seen it) you'll note the military atmosphere (jargan, etc.) is more prevalent on the page than screen. I got the impression that the network exec (and I don't know who it was) was uncomfortable with things military and those aspects were toned down. At least that was my impression.

Happy CIC Easter

If you missed out on all the after-Easter candy clearance sales, at least there's still CIC eggs to come home to. Clockwise from top left: wcnews.com, a Kilrathi, a Firekkan, an EA logo, the Steltek drone and LOAF! I tried to be creative, but somehow a few of these look exactly the same as last year's.

Action Picks Up In Comic Story

Fongsaunder's Wing Commander comic story has been updated with several new pages. In the latest installment, pilots from the TCS Enterprise discover that the system they've jumped into is crawling with Kilrathi when their routine recon patrol turns hairy. Check out the images below to see if Viper and Wise Guy will be able to alert their carrier and avert a surprise attack. Vermin has colorized the first page, and the results look pretty sharp. Also, if you help provide feedback at Crius.net, Fongsaunder may use your callsign in a future frame!

Poll: Deathstroke Takes A Holiday

Nobody knows made up holidays like WingNuts know made up holidays... and now you have to pick from seven of our favorites. Which Wing Commander-created holiday do you take off work for? Did all that time in a Dralthi II turn you on to the Cult of Sivar... or do you set off fireworks every August 23rd to celebrate the founding of the Confederation? Here's the low-down on each:

V-K Day (September 24th) is the anniversary of the Terran Confederation's victory over the Empire of Kilrah. The events of the day, Col. Blair's famous raid, took place in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger... but the holiday itself was not named until False Colors. V-K Day is patterned after the Allied victories in World War II: VE Day and VJ Day (for Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan respectively).

The Ritual of Pukcal is a Kilrathi religions ceremony of atonement. Kilrathi attend the ceremony at the Temple of Sivar. The royal family attend the ceremony together at the temple on Kilrah's moon, Largkza. The Ritual of Pukcal was introduced in Fleet Action, as part of Baron Jukaga's scheme to assassinate Thrakhath and the Emperor.

The Sivar-Eshrad Ceremony (October 20th) is the most sacred Kilrathi religious ceremony, in which all Sons of Kilrah who are able must report to the site of Holy Dedication chosen by the Priestess' of Sivar to sing the praises of Lord Sivar by offering sacrifices in battle. If the ceremony is performed properly the War God will favor the Warriors of Kilrah in battle for the next year. If not, they are doomed to be defeated by their enemies until they can atone for their failure. The Way of Lord Sivar may not be observed by non-believers. The Sivar-Eshrad Ceremony was introduced in Secret Missions 2: Crusade and has played a major part in Kilrathi mythos in many other stories.

Barbie is a holiday in Privateer 2's Tri-System where... well, the in-game news report says it best: "Hot Digger-ty Dog! Antipodean authority Professor Norm Packer reports. G'day folks, it's beaut here on Hephaestus as we celebrate the mythical annual festival of Barbie, the roots of which are lost in the mists of time. All the members of the Crian University Oztralian research group are here, following the Barbie ritual to the letter, as laid down in the legendary vid-flick Gone Walkabout and Back. We've been knocking back plenty of the amber nectar all day long, which the Sheilas have been busy putting the meat to the heat; so far they're torched a good hundred tonnes of tucker, and all that's been edible so far are three measly shrimps. So, we've blown all the Livestock, and we're down to our last few tinnies - how much can a Koala bear!"

Confederation Day (August 23rd) celebrates the anniversary of the birth of the Terran Confederation in 2416, similar to the United States of America's July 4th Independence Day holiday. Confederation Day Eve is traditionally marked by drinking and general celebration. Confederation Day was introduced in Action Stations, where the Kilrathi use the holiday in their plans to begin a full scale war against the Confederation.

The Holy Day of Acclivity (March 23rd) is the Pilgrim holiday commemorating the ascension of Ivar Chu McDaniel into a higher form of being in 2311. For the seven days following, the current Protur goes into hiding on McDaniel's World, where he prays and fasts to seek communion with Ivar Chu McDaniel. The Holy Day of Acclivity was introduced in Pilgrim Stars, where Captain Aristee uses the holiday as an excuse to replace the current Protur with someone who will support her radical war plan.

Tuhaga is the anniversary of the founding of the Empire of Kilrah. It is mentioned briefly in Action Stations.

... and here are the results from the last poll, which asked for a favorite Wing Commander Academy episode. Chain of Command, which added backstory to both Tolwyn and the Confederation fleet, won hands down with 170 votes. The series finale, Glory of Sivar, came in a close second with 151. The loser was the odd crossover story Recreation, which ended with only 9. Who loves you, Warrior King?

New 3D Models Ready For Action

Zohrath has over overhauled his modeling website for the first time in a couple years. He has made available a variety of WC3/4 era designs in several popular 3d software formats. Since he's continued to work while the site sat dormant, this particular update is pretty big. New or reworked downloads include the Confed cruiser, Kilrathi dreadnought, Arrow, Vaktoth, Fralthi II, Confed destroyer and Excalibur. Some of Zohrath's ships have been evolving for almost five years, and his skill in manipulating the look and feel of each craft has gotten better and better. Impressive results like these make me excited for the level of detail we can expect in future Wing Commander games. You can download his completed files and find more pictures of them in action at Zohrath's 3D here.

Video Game Movies in a Nutshell

In anticipation of the upcoming Silent Hill movie, MoviesOnline.ca has published A Brief History of Video Game Movies. The article hits the genre's important points, from 1993's Super Mario Brothers through to the recent Blood Rayne. Of course, Wing Commander gets a fairly kind paragraph (the film is a "near-miss")! To clear up any confusion though: the plural of Kilrathi is Kilrathi.
"Wing Commander" : In the 27th century Earth is at war with the feline-like Kilrathi Empire. When the Kilrathis manage to steal the coordinates to Earth, a brave fighter pilot and his squad must find a way to stall the Kilrathi fleet long enough for reinforcements to arrive. I guess Freddy Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lilliard [sic] needed a break from their romantic comedies team-ups so they worked together on this Sci-Fi flick. A near-miss in my opinion. It lacked the budget and dialogue to really make it memorable. I almost completely forgot about this one when I was making this list. But granted it could have been worse.

Historic Erin Roberts Interview Available Again

The classic article we're posting today was one of the very first interviews with a Wing Commander developer to be featured on the internet. It was a discussion with Erin Roberts that was conducted in mid 1996. Wing Commander fans at the time were just eagerly awaiting news and information on Privateer 2 being developed in England by Chris Roberts' brother. At the time, LOAF, ace and I worked on the Wing Commander Home Sector website, which conducted this exclusive interview. After finishing Starlancer in 2000, Erin went on to produce Brute Force for Microsoft, and his latest project was the Richard Burns Rally racing game. You can read the full text of our original interview here.
WCHS: Now, before we get into your current project, What other computer entertainment projects have you worked on? Did you ever work on any of your brother, Chris Roberts's, projects?

Erin Roberts: I worked with my brother pretty much all my life until I came back to England two and a half years ago. I worked on all the projects that Chris worked on while we still lived in England back in the early eighties. When Chris started working at Origin I used to work there part time during holidays while I was in College, and then after I graduated I became a full time employee at Origin. While there I worked on Times Of Lore, Wing Commander 1 & 2, Stike Commander, Privateer and then I spent a period of time working with Richard Garriott and his projects before I moved back to England.

Celebrate Easter With The Movie

... if you're Canadian, that is. Canada's SPACE channel will be showing the Wing Commander movie at 11:30 PM EST on Easter Sunday. It's no less Christian than bunny rabbits and chocolate eggs -- it even features an important cross! Americans can catch the movie next weekend on More Max.
Wing Commander (14+)
Blair, a fighter pilot, joins an interstellar war to fight against the evil Kilrathi who are trying to destroy the universe.
Goodbye, universe!

Gemini Gold Adds Authentic Mission Computer

The Gemini Gold team has made a little movie of their mission computer interface in action. It's the first full interface in the game that almost completely mimics the style, function and appearance of the original. This is big news, because game remakes of all sorts typically cut corners by implementing generic or modified menus. The game's navigation computer is another aspect that's similar, but that one still needs a little work to sync up. The team is still a ways off from a new release, but you can see John browse available missions here (350 k divx avi).


Just a little movie flick of how the new mission computer interface for Privateer Gemini Gold works.

Tomb Raider is Now Legend, Nothing Else Changes

Eidos' attempt to relaunch the famous Tomb Raider series premiered yesterday with the release of Tomb Raider: Legend. This is an important game for Wing Commander fans to watch: it represents another major attempt at revitalizing a formerly huge mid-1990s franchise. Like Wing Commander, Tomb Raider was an incredibly succesful game series that spawned a great amout of crossover - the series lead to mass media spinoffs that included novels, comics and a pair of motion pictures. If Legend is a financial success it can only help convince Electronic Arts that there's an audience interested in seeing succesful 1990s series' -- like Wing Commander! -- continued! Reviews so far are very positive and the game has already become the number one seller in the UK. There's also another vague connection to Wing Commander. Howard Day, who is in charge of the fan game Wing Commander: Pioneer, worked on the yet-to-be-released PlayStation Portable version of Legend. Tomb Raider is available for the PC, PS2, X-Box and X-Box 360.

Peek Inside Pioneer's Editor

Joel_VanEenwyk has posted a few shots of the internal ship editor for WC Pioneer. The team is using this application to configure many different aspects of the upcoming project tech demo. Eventually an evolved form of this program will allow fans to tweak various things in the game on their own. It already allows team members to do a lot more than just change stats. Different textures, graphical effects, sounds and so on are available for editing within.

Want to start off by again thanking everyone for their patience! Work has still been progressing, but there have been delays on my end because of classes/exams. I'm really happy with how things have been going, however. The editor is now working quite nicely for handling all importing, tweaking properties, creating shaders, and much more.

Yes, we fully intend on releasing the editor so that people can build onto it and create expansions in the form of custom missions, models, new games modes, etc. Scripting will be available to aid in that. I may also release an SDK, but that will be much further down the road.

Hydra Comes Together Inside

Howard Day has been hard at work on Pioneer too. He's settled on the basic configuration for the cockpit of their Hydra gunship. It's a fairly large area that almost seems like a small capship's bridge. If you're having trouble envisioning the layout from the pictures provided, Howard has created a helpful Quicktime VR 3D mock up here. Like many similar sized ships, there's room for a pilot and copilot. Pioneer will allow you to fill the second seat with an AI character that can plot courses, monitor things like jump fuel and handle the controls when the pilot mans a turret.

It took a bit of fiddling before I got it into a layout I liked - there were numerous versions that sucked. Anyhow, you can see the basic controls, and general size reference thanks to the biped dummies. The back wall and it's doors are not yet designed and placed. All that's left on the modelling side beside the doors are bits and pieces of tech-widgets. It's currently at 4500 polies (without the bipeds) and the goal is 8000-9000.

Watch Latest WC Saga Build In Action

The WC Saga team has created several small video clips of their Freespace/WC mod. Advanced effects such as the shock wave and lit environments are clearly visible in this new batch of clips. Each scene is fairly short, but the video quality and file size are pretty good. The atmosphere of the game seems to have been improved over previous iterations, and more Wing Commander (and less Freespace) shine through than ever before. Specifics about each clip are broken down below. The divx videos range from 1 to 3 megs.

GameSpy Gives Tabula Rasa A Tough Look

Hurleybird tipped us off about a recent GameSpy article on Tabula Rasa. We've covered a variety of recent Richard Garriott interviews and revealed the logo last week, and this new piece attempts to really dig down and look at what is really going on these days. It points out that the game has had many talented and distinguished developers involved with it, but the focus has changed and now Tabula Rasa is struggling to find itself. A fifth of the dev team has been laid off and three quarters of the initial game has been scrapped and reworked. On a positive note, the game's lead designer and publishers continue to have a lot of faith in the product, and sooner or later they'll hammer out something. We'll just have to wait to see how that something turns out.
The team was comprised of numerous game development veterans, including, among others, Garriott himself and NCSoft's star programmer Jake Song. Collectively, the team had hundreds of years of development experience under its belt, not to mention some very distinguished titles: Ultima Online, Lineage, Wing Commander, and others.

It was a recipe for disaster.

Not quite what anyone was expecting, but to hear Garriott tell it, it sounds like the most logical thing in the world. The famed game designer gave a very candid lecture on the MMO's turbulent development history...

Garriott unabashedly stated that, once upon a time, Tabula Rasa was intended to be the be-all, end-all MMO. It was to be the one that unified the then-disparate Eastern and Western audiences, and it would marry the expansiveness of the MMO with the sense of individual empowerment that the single-player RPG grants to users. The means by which the team hoped to achieve all this seem quaint at this point, because it's all been realized already; Asians and Westerners play together in games like Guild Wars and Final Fantasy XI, and, to varying degrees, it can be said that a multitude of games are approaching single-player RPGs in terms of narrative immersion.

You can check out the full article here.

Galactive Civilizations Mod Builds Its Fleet

ColonelFireball has gotten some big help for his Galactic Civilizations mod. Marc has contributed a number of ship designs and is helping to add ideas from the WC2 era. A sample of the game's fleet is pictured below. They are currently trying to work out how to designate hardpoints in the AC3D modeling program so ships can be fully integrated into the GalCiv shipbuilding engine. Fireball is also currently awaiting the 1.2 patch, which should streamline the modification process significantly. A playable release of the game should be available after the new version makes it out. Hit the Discuss link below if you'd like to help.

WC4 Pair See Action In '24'

Delance is constantly scrutinizing the world around him for Wing Commander 4 parallels, and he seems to have found one in Fox's 24 tv show. Many actors from Wing Commander have been very active on the television circuit lately, including two WC4 vets that have costarred with Kiefer Sutherland in the popular drama. François Chau and Robert Rusler, who played Vagabond and Seether, have had prominent roles in Seasons 4 and 5 respectively. Chau has also been featured in several episodes of ABC's Lost more recently. You can find Delance's comparison theories at Crius.net. And best of all, pictures! Can you believe it's been ten years since the pair filmed their last Wing Commander role?

Robert Rusler plays an assassin for a government faction that engages in terrorist acts with illegally-developed weapons in order to pursue a self-described patriotic agenda. His assignment is to kill the hero, a legendary soldier who has saved the day many times before, but has recently gone renegade.

DOSBox Improves...

Version .65 of DOSBox, the amazing DOS emulator, has been released! This version contains lots of technical updates... but most simply it's been significantly streamlined and now includes a video capture tool! Justice put the new version through its Wing Commander paces at the Chat Zone. He reports that WC2, WC3, Armada and Privateer all run more smoothly than ever before! If you've never used DOSBox, now is a great time to start. We'll post a tutorial walking through setting up each Wing Commander game in the near future... but if you're technically inclined, you can go ahead and emulate all the old games perfectly today! You can find DOSBox .65 here.

... And HCl Ups the Ante

But wait, there's more! Even a spectacular new DOSBox release can be improved upon... and as you may expect, HCl was the man to do it. He has updated his NetBIOS code for the new release of DOSBox and has incorporated a new patch that fixes the timer flaw in Armada... which means you don't have any excuse not to play Armada online! Here are the details:
First of all, the dynamic core is now stable enough so that you can play Armada with it, so even if you don't have a bleeding fast system, you may still want to give DosBox a try. Also, improvements made on 0.65 no longer prevent Armada from loading when IPX is enabled, which makes my old IPX patch for Dosbox unnecessary.

Furthermore, although not part of the 0.65 release, a patch that fixes a timer flaw was released recently (today!) by a DosBox programmer (h-a-l-9000). This means three things for Armada: the game now works at the correct speed (no, lasers don't fire that fast ;-) ) , the joystick now calibrates properly without the help of my armadadb patch and there is increased stability in multiplayer games.

In order to make these improvements available to WC players eager to play Armada online, I combined the DosBox 0.65 codebase with a new version of my NetBIOS code and added hal's timer code into it. The result is available here. Give it a try, it should make online Armada matches a bit more pleasant :-)

If you still encounter joystick calibration issues, try the original joystick/ipx patch on top of HCl's updated DOSBox file linked above.

Base-ic Instinct

Here's one we missed from a few months back: lorddarthvik has created a 30-second CGI animation of a Hellcat taking off from a Terran Confederation base and flying into space. You can download the clip here. The movie is encoded as a 4 meg DivX file. It's reminiscent of one of the first ever Wing Commander "movie" sequences -- the sequences in Wing Commander II where a Ferret takes off from Ghorah Khar and Novaya Kiev.

Fantastic Fic

Want a little more Tri-System in your life? Well, if you speak German then you need look no further than the forums - Deacon is continuing to serialize his fan novel set against the backdrop of Privateer 2: The Darkening. Part 21 was posted last night, or you can start reading from the beginning here. This is the story that was actually vanity published some time ago - you can read about that here. All reports are that it's an excellent piece of work! Jacob Hudson has also done some professional looking header artwork for the story -- one in English and one in German. One, two, three systems!

WC Saga Ramps Up Production

Marc was looking very closely at the last batch of WC Saga screenshots and noticed something weird about their heavy carrier's flight deck geometry. It didn't appear to lay flat, and he theorized it must have a dip or a ramp in it. He mocked up a drawing describing the concept, and the interpretation turned out to be right on. The team confirmed his ideas and posted a picture of the ramp in action. Nothing actually moves on the conveyor/elevator, but the whole raised structure is a creative way to spice up the ordinarily flat slab of deck plate. Good eyes Marc!

Vote or Fred-Die

USA Today is running their annual 'Save Our Shows' poll, an unofficial forum which allows the public to let the TV industry know which shows that are 'on the bubble' should be allowed to return next season. The Wing Commander connection? Wing Commander star Freddie Prinze Jr.'s series, Freddie, is one of the options. You may prefer Mark Hamill's portrayal of Col. Christopher Blair in the Wing Commander games to Prinze's young Blair in the movie... but let's face it, if your TV show needed saving then Freddie Prinze Jr. would be there to help you. Get out the vote!

Margaret Weis Confirmed For '06 DragonCon Appearance

Margaret Weis has been added to the list of guests for the 2006 DragonCon. She routinely speaks and signs autographs each year at the convention because of her famous novels, but Wing Commander fans know her as one of the cocreators of the Wing Commander CCG. Although being recognized for her role might catch her off guard from time to time, she's always happy to meet people who played the card game and talk to them about the series.

Wing Commander Fan and populart artist The Gneech has also been added to the official guest list. He's been been a regular attendee of DragonCon for a number of years, and now he'll be taking a more prominent role in events. The party takes place September 1-4, 2006. You can find pictures from last year's events here.

Status Update On Multiple Projects

A number of major Wing Commander fan projects have seemed a little quiet for the last couple weeks, but work is still steadily progressing across the community. Here's a little status update for several popular projects.

HCl's Prophecy Multiplayer Upgrade should see the light of day soon. Testing and final interface updates remain, but the hardest parts of coding the first release are hopefully in the past.

There was a small delay introduced on my development schedule for MP. Nothing to worry about, though. With most bugs out of the way, the most important tasks left are to optimize and increase the stability of the net code, as well as integrating a small launcher which will link all players with minimal hassle (right now you have to edit a text file with the IP address of the server and with team information).
As an added bonus, HCl and Justice have both been working on enhancing the programs that allow you to play Wing Commander Armada online.

Work continues on WC Pioneer as well. Howard Day provided some insight.

We keep getting closer and closer to having the editor done and ready. Bugs still keep popping up delaying a release. So on the code side - we're getting there. We've got 80% of the assets I've made art-wise in the engine and all the materials built. We've got the engine running with HDR, Antialiasing, Motion-blur, and advanced GLSL shaders. We still have the various Sector, System, Planetary, and Base editors to create, but most of these will be fairly simple (I hope).

I'm currently working on the Hydra cockpit, as well as the Krant fighter. I've got the Krant blocked out - but not textured - and the Hydra cockpit is almost to the point where I'll be posting it on Crius.net. It's still in rough draft form, but I'm looking at doing the same iterative process that I've done with the last couple of cockpits.

So we are making progress... but nothing is probably going to be shown besides that cockpit before we release a demo to everyone. I wish we could do more, but it's very difficult to show programming progress in a meaningful way. I can say - "This is working!" - but that statement is not really solid till you've experienced it.

In addition to Pete's Contest, Standoff Episode 4 is coming along. Stay tuned to their website for specific details on their latest game update soon. Many people have asked about how HCl's multiplayer patch will affect the game. The answer is that it won't right away.

We certainly hope to add multiplayer functionality eventually (...after it's actually ready to be used), but we have no immediate plans as to when this will happen. My personal estimate would be that it won't happen in episode 4, and it may even end up being done in a patch after episode 5 is done. Time and again, we've learned that adding a new feature when you're half-way through an episode leads to very big delays, and at this point, we're not big fans of delays - with an episodic storyline, it's just not fair to leave people hanging for longer than necessary between episodes. This is especially important when you consider that we'll want our multiplayer to be done as well as possible - which means it won't be something we can do overnight.

Gemini Gold's next version is currently awaiting engine upgrades. In the mean time, the team has improved how cutscenes will work, optimized speech and written a new damage system for the game.

Team members from WC Saga have mentioned the updated size estimate for their upcoming package. The current target is between 200 and 250 megabytes.

And last, but not least, a new version of Flight Commander is at least a few months off.

Work on real flight missions takes priority over Flight Commander. Work has been really busy lately, maybe things will cool down in the summer.
Even if you don't see something new each day, many fans around the world are working hard to develop new and interesting ways to appreciate Wing Commander. I'm excited to see what happens next.

Play Standoff & Win Pete's Birthday Presents

The Standoff Scoreboard continues to be a popular pastime for Wing Commander fans, but the first place leaderboard has been dominated by Sternenwind. In order to help spice things up, PopsiclePete has decided to put a bounty on his head. More specifically, Pete's birthday is April 28 and he's celebrating it CIC style. Rather than accepting gifts, he'll be buying a special person $20 in CIC Merchandise this year. This includes full priced items like the CIC Polo Shirt or a combination of cheaper items such as glasses or Eisen shirts.

All you have to do to win is steal a high score away from Sternenwind and hold it until April 28. If more than one person does this, the player with the most number of new high scores wins. There will only be one winner, unless there is a tie. And if nobody can manage to capture any scores (and hold them till the 28th) from Sternenwind, then he wins the contest! Right now he's currently leading the Kilrathi Gauntlet with the Wraith, Morningstar, Rapier, Arrow, Crossbow, Epee, Stiletto, Broadsword, Sabre, Gladius, Talon, Ferret and Hornet. He's also in top spot of the Confed Gauntlet in the Epee, Ferret and Sabre categories.

There's a second way to win as well. Since Pete loves the Epee, the first person who manages to beat the 10,000 score mark in either gauntlet with one wins a separate merchandise prize. This one is also worth $20 and has to be achieved by April 28. So good luck everyone! You're going to need it. New players can find directions on how to play Standoff and participate in the Simulator Scoreboard here.

Show off your skills at our online SCOREBOARDS! Holy Crap! Yes, that's right! Thanks to the combined efforts of our staff member PopsiclePete and the CIC staff's KrisV, Standoff's simulator will now send your score to an online ranking system provided that you have a registered username at the forums and that you turn this option on in the game's launcher. You can check out the Scoreboard link... everything you need to know about our exciting new feature should be explained there! (And if it isn't, just drop by the forums and ask us :-P)

Warren Spector Announcing Next Product Soon

ZFGokuSSJ1 has found a trio of new articles and interviews former Origin producer Warren Spector. News bits about the famous game developer are so prolific that they come in packs now. An article at GameTab links up closely with his previous comments and a collumn at Escapist Magazine where Spector recently guest wrote. He's not saying much new stuff there, but the piece does expand and clarify his previous thoughts. The meat of the matter is Spector's awkward feelings about the state of the gaming genre. He sees great things for the industry but worries about harrowing pitfalls that must be avoided for it to become a more legitimate medium.
Let me be clear. I don't believe we're going to go away - gaming isn't a fad like the hula hoop or Nehru jackets. It's hard to imagine a scenario where gaming just... fades away. We're gonna be OK. It's just that it's relatively easy for me to imagine scenarios where mainstream audiences get sick of us, sick of the product we offer them, sick of repetitive, seemingly-but-not-really interactive, emotion-free, slam-bang, U.S.-centric, urban, hip hop action games and alien invasion scenarios.

In other words, I can see us limiting ourselves to the same subset of adolescent male players we've always reached. And if we do that, it's back to the margins for us.

Firing Squad goes in a different direction. A lot of sites have been focusing on Spector's outspoken beliefs, but he's still a good old video game developer leading a vibrant young studio. This interview talks about game development, the business side of dev studios and what's in store for his next projects. The tone is a lot less philosophical and more fun. Junction Point Studios still hasn't announced its first product, and it'll be interesting to see what comes next.
FiringSquad: What is the significance of the name of the studio?

Warren Spector:The obvious genesis of the name stems from the time I was with LookingGlass, in the mid- to late-90s. We worked on a game whose working title was Junction Point—a small-group, online-only SF game, with an interesting persistent element. It was similar in some ways to Guild Wars, I guess. I always liked the name and, as I thought about what to call the new studio, it occurred to me that “junction point” also described the kind of games I like to make and play. I like games that represent the coming together of a lot of genres and playstyles… and I like games that force players to (conceptually) stand at a crossroads and choose which path to take. Both ideas are encompassed by the idea of a “junction point.” So, the name really fit.

Dekker's Blaster Gets Around

A number of props and costumes from the Wing Commander film shoots were discarded after production wrapped, but a few neat items survived this unfortunate loss and remain in circulation today. The item below was a weapon used by the Border Worlds marines in the latter half of Wing Commander 4. A few variants exist, including a version used at Telamon with a slightly blockier rear end. The lights on the side flicker in a random pattern when the trigger is held, and the entire thing is pretty big. Even with the WC4 novel in the frame, I'm not sure the scale quite comes across. The handles and sights seem to be made out of metal, and the main barrel is some sort of lighter weight pipe. Once something like this is made, it's not uncommon for it to see some use by other studios. The gun was rented out to the crews of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and Men in Black 2 before hitting the collectors' market. Think the gun might look neat in our Wing Commander Parade?

OGame Light Fighter Looks Familiar

One of the recent Chat Zone fads has been OGame, a strategic sci-fi title that plays out in a web browser. It's a relative of the 4X strategy genre in a somewhat massively multiplayer setting. A few sharp eyed fans have noticed a familiar ship in the game's fleet however. The OGame "light fighter" is represented by the Confed Vampire space superiority fighter. This isn't the first time the popular craft was borrowed before. The same shot used by the OGame crew has been printed and sold as a mini-poster on eBay. At least they picked a gorgeous scene.

Raylight Studios Still Shining Bright

It's been more than a year since we've checked in with Raylight, but they've been keeping busy. After R-Type and Wing Commander Prophecy Advance, the team moved on to Ozzy & Drix, Spiderman 2 and Smashing Drive for the Game Boy Advance. More recently, the team developed the GBA version of Street Racing Syndicate and the GBA and DS versions of Big Mutha Truckers. And in just the last few weeks, Raylight became an official Sony PSP developer. Their first title will be based on the Hot Wheels franchise. As the most recent studio to develop a Wing Commander game, they continued Origin's legacy by combining unbelievable graphics with solid space combat action and a sci-fi storyline. Although they only had simple handheld hardware to deal with, their accomplishments would have been unimaginable in 1997 when the original Prophecy was released. Despite the lack of buttons, they managed to retain the style of play and even incorporated a multiplayer mode. Wingnuts who are fans of handheld games and haven't yet played Raylight's GBA port are missing out. Amazon.com still maintains stock at $14.99. We'd like to wish the team good luck on their PSP projects, and we're sure they'll turn out some impressive games to take advantage of the advanced hardware. The first two links below lead to small videos of Prophecy Advance in action.

Walks Like A Duck

The WarCry Network reports that Destination Games has released the new logo for their upcoming Tabula Rasa. Tabula Rasa is the post-Origin return to game development for Ultima creator Richard Garriott. The game recently underwent a highly publicized setting shift from traditional fantasy to futuristic science fiction war (here). WarCry notices - and we agree! - that the game's new logo looks very familiar...

Making the logo resemble an upside-down Wing Commander logo is a good thing. Makes me feel good about this game, that no one really has any idea about. What have they done to it? Last year at E3 it was a Planetside clone. The year before that it had fairies that flew around in space or something. Really, just give us Privateer Online already. I don't care who has to be paid what to get it done, just do it.
Indeed!

GameSpot Promotes Wing Commander Like Few Others

A lot of classic Wing Commander previews and features from the 1990s come from print magazines, but there are a handful of major gaming websites that predate the CIC and were around to cover the series. GameSpot, which has existed almost as long as the web itself, reviewed Wing Commander IV and Kilrathi Saga a full ten years ago in 1996. By the time Prophecy was hot stuff in 1997, GameSpot was ready with an exclusive preview of the game. This eight-page whopper summarized the setting, provided detailed biographs and exclusive pictures of each of the fighters, discussed the guns and missiles in great detail (don't miss the fancy renders provided by Origin), biographied the cast and even summarized a few missions. It was a substantially more weighty preview than many "hands-on impressions" done for modern titles today and gave us all a tantalizing look at the amazing new game.

Their editorial staff gave the game a solid 8.6 in the review (and a 7.4 for Prophecy Advance in 2003) and then went on to create an in-depth online strategy guide. This clocked in at almost three times the length of the preview and included specifics on every weapon, enemy and mission in the game, plus tactics and tips for successful pilots. Since the site's format and layout have changed significantly over the years, I'm actually surprised that these pages still live on to today. With the surge in popularity of WCP this year, both this guide and the CIC's original walkthrough can continue to help fans today.

In 1999 GameSpot created a big fancy feature to celebrate the release of the Wing Commander Movie. The development of the film itself was analyzed, a thorough history of all the games was written and the site conducted a huge trivia contest. The game feature was compiled by none other than GameSpot's current editor-in-chief, Greg Kasavin, and the contest's grand prize was a signed copy of each major game in the series!

The sheer number of articles relating to Wing Commander, combined with GameSpot's massive popularity, have helped the franchise to maintain its prominent spot in gamers' minds over the last few years. The overwhelming response to readers' feedback features has provided a glimpse at the huge base of fans the series still has today. Here's a look at a handful of their other updates that have promoted Wing Commander.

So what's the bottom line? To be perfectly honest, after playing Wing Commander: Prophecy, we were more excited about the WC series than we had been in a very long time. The team has really gotten back to the game's roots, designing a product that is more engrossing, playable, and suspenseful than any offering the series has made in quite a while..

There aren't a lot of licenses that have made it as far as Wing Commander has.. Boasting a fresh design team that is dedicated to gameplay above all else.. Wing Commander: Prophecy has been given a fresh new lease on life, one that could take the venerable series well into the next millennium.

It's Only A Paper Fool

Yesterday was April Fools Day. We try to do updates that are outrageously fake and fun... but if you didn't get that, we apologize: Joe Garrity still runs the Origin Museum, no one will ever sell Freespace 2 and Akkbar wasn't right. It's necessary to point this out because, despite everything, we still get regular e-mail from people asking for more information about Freelancer 2 following an April Fools update we ran in 2004.

Rounding out the day in Wing Commander foolishness, eddieb posted a fake Flight Commander update which supposedly "runs on all hardware from macs to linux to gameboy to HP calculators." If you fell for that one, shame on you.

Please note that the 3DO demo update is real. Despite the fact that it was posted on March 31st and contains the actual demo .ISO it somehow made its way to various 'fake news' lists around the internet.

New CIC Themed Wallpaper Available

A lot of people have told us how much they enjoy the look and feel of the CIC front page, but sometimes it's not always practical to leave a copy of your web browser open. Our newest wallpaper solves this problem by permanently setting an image of the CIC as your desktop background. If life starts to get too hectic, just minimize all your programs and relax under the red, white and orange glow. This is the first in an entire series of CIC wallpapers. We plan to snap shots of front page whenever breaking news happens and offer the results to the fans. Each resolution offers a reformatted browser window. They're not just simply resized in Paintshop! The CIC was one of the first news sites to dynamically adjust its layout to your desktop resolutions, and that same level of quality will continue with our special wallpapers. Enjoy!

Origin Museum Sold!

The famous Origin Museum collection has changed hands! Following a brief period of negotiations, the museum has been purchased by gaming media giant IGN Inc. The startling $10 million transaction transferred a plethora of amazing artifacts to IGNs control, including an original Akalabeth, a Mount Drash cassette and over five thousand copies of Ultima 7: The Black Gate.

Former curator turned shipping magnate Joe Garrity, posing below with part of his new fleet of 'Privateer' luxury yachts, said that the sale occured because it was in the best interests of preserving Origin history. For their part, IGN hopes to refocus Joe's incredible work from recording Origin's history towards promoting the future... of McDonalds' new Dollar Menu. $1 Double Cheeseburgers? Space Rogue is lovin' it!

Freespace Returns!

Hot on the heels of Electronic Arts' recent release of Command & Conquer: The First Decade comes exciting news for space sim fans: Volition, Inc. plans to repackage and resell the second most popular Descent spinoff as Freespace: The Only Two Years. Lead developer Mike Kulas, who still feels his exceptionally large capital ships are underappreciated, says the company hopes that the new release will bring in money from freeloading Lunix junkies who became attracted to the series because it was released for free years after its genre-deadening flop rather than because of its actual gameplay. The game will retail for $59.99 and will include a collectable Freespace coaster.

Features will include:
* Nebulas that look like toothpaste (Freespace 1) and nebulas that look slightly less like toothpaste (Freespace 2).
* Much of the gameplay of Wing Commander: Prophecy, without the constant worry of interesting plot or character interactions.
* The Wing Commander Saga mod (coming 2011)
* Precious little else.

Akkbar Was Right!

Today, April 1st, 2006, marks the 8th anniversary of Dan "Akkbar" Hardwicke's fall from grace over a WCHS April Fools update claiming that Origin would release a multiplayer patch to Wing Commander Prophecy. Well, for once, it's time to admit we were wrong: fooling aside, nearly a decade later there actually will be a multiplayer version of Prophecy.

This means big things for the CIC: if Akkbar was right all these years, he must also have been right about everything else. To that end, we will now be selling out for advertising space and promoting terrible MMP games that aren't related to Wing Commander because we're allowed to play them for free. In order to better emulate whatever prescient brilliance that allowed Akkbar to see so far into the future, staff members will be leaving their succesful careers to become vagrants and alcoholics. You may also notice that we won't be covering Wing Commander Academy anymore -- it's just a cartoon!... but you can expect a lot more football commentary, since that's very manly.

Hail, Akkbar!

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