Goodbye, Jim Baen

Publisher Jim Baen, a true giant in the literary science fiction field, passed away on Thursday. He was 62. The company he started, Baen Books, has been responsible for publishing the best of the best of modern science fiction (including David Weber's Honor Harrington series) and for significantly advancing the concept of unencrypted electronic publishing. Wing Commander fans know him best, however, for having published seven Wing Commander novels between 1992 and 1999. Freedom Flight, End Run, Fleet Action, Heart of the Tiger, The Price of Freedom, Action Stations and False Colors form the detailed core of what Wing Commander fans consider their own universe today. Rest in peace, Mr. Baen. Our sympathies go out to his family and friends - including the online community that he made his home. He made an important part of Wing Commander possible; he will be missed. Writer David Drake has posted a touching obituary for his friend at his web site.

Bill Forstchen's Been Keeping Busy

On the lighter side, acclaimed author William Forstchen has posted an update to his website. Dr. Forstchen had a hand in writing all of the Baen Wing Commander novels except the first, Freedom Flight. He doesn't do hard science fiction anymore, but we're happy to see his first comprehensive report in a year or so. Some of his story ideas stalled in that time frame, and he's looked to new inspiration to continue his work. His upcoming novel "One Second After" is described below, and details about some of his other active projects available at his site. Dr. Forstchen also recently purchased an airplane. It's ¾ scale replica of a P-51 Mustang that he is currently restoring in his free time. That sure sounds like a fun project!
The other project is one that just kind of burst on me a couple of years back. Actually the genesis is ten years back when I came up with an idea of aliens using EMP to shut down the global power grid, and then just drove away. No invasion, no machines stomping around, just let us stew in our own technological collapse and after twenty years or so, come back to finish us off. It went no where. And then I had a conversation with Newt, about the current real threat of a terrorist or rogue state EMP strike on the continental United States. All it would take is one weapon:

Thus "One Second After" will be published later this year by St. Martin's Press. The story is personal, very personal. Some years back a writer who was a real role model and mentor, Jean Shepherd, (who actually was my neighbor up in Maine) told me to "write what I know, write what I love." So I set the story of a post EMP world in my home town, a sort of alter ego of me, the main character, struggling to keep his family alive, while his small town and college up here in the mountains of western North Carolina, slowly disintegrates after the entire power grid and computer-based world we live in, is shut down. It was a very hard, grim tale to write and my intent is that it is a warning of a very real, and very present danger that needs to be addressed.

The Next Standoff Episode Will Be Big

A new status update has been released for Standoff Episode 4. The next chapter in the famous Secret Ops mod is still a ways from being complete, but work is steadily progressing. Testers are now putting some of the first new missions through their paces, and it sounds like this next episode will be big. It will also include improvements to the Simulator and more missions will be tracked in the Scoreboard. Here's Eder with some specifics.
If you're wondering how long it might take to develop all the missions in this episode, here's something to put things into context - this episode has more missions (including the usual ship selection-based variants, mind you) than Episodes 2 and 3 combined. Don't worry, though, it definitely won't take as long to develop as those two episodes combined. We are still hoping to get both remaining episodes finished this year, after all...

The other thing I should mention is some further simulator changes. When released, Ep 4 will add scoreboard-capabilities to a few more missions (we're not currently sure if that will include all of them, or if some will remain to be done in Ep 5, however)... but that's not all. Pierre has also been working on implementing more DLL hacks to improve the system overall. So, first up - you will never again have to use the 'alswantsmoreships' cheat. All fourteen ships will now be selectable in the sim at all times. The second, and even bigger, change is the addition of further explanatory captions during the battle. Every time you get a special bonus of any kind, the game will explain how many points you got, and why. This will be especially important in the non-gauntlet missions, which will feature a number of special bonuses other than the quick-kill bonus you're already familiar with.

The screenshots below all show off new sim improvements. You can see the game awarding more points for killing a Corvette, noting a quick-kill and displaying information about the current gauntlet wave.

Richard Garriott Talks Video Game Movies Tonight

Goku reports that Richard Garriott will be discussing movies based on video games on G4's Attack of the Show this evening. Mr. Garriott was present at the world premiere of the Wing Commander Movie, so it should come up. This episode premieres on Thursday, June 29 at 7 PM Eastern/Pacific. As of this writing, the East Coast has less than an hour before it airs, so good luck trying to catch it. Fortunately, it appears to be replaying on June 30 at 3 AM & 9 AM and July 3 at 4 AM
Video game king Richard Garriott, film guru Chris Gore, and Tomb Raider movie scribe Gary Whitta will be joining us to discuss if Hollywood can pull their heads out of their trendy butts long enough to capture the magic of video games on the big screen or if we'll be subject to horrible adaptations until the sun swallows the Earth and ends humanity.

Edit: The segment with Garriott has aired. Despite being being an interesting talk with the founder of Origin, Wing Commander did not end up being a specific topic. Better luck next time!

Edit 2: Jetlag captured the interview. You can download the 25 meg xvid encoded clip here. The participants are hopeful about movies based on future games with more intricate plots and storytelling methods, but they seem somewhat oblivious to games that have already achieved that in the past.

Merchant of Venice

In a recent update we theorized that a water world scene removed from the original Wing Commander might be Hurricane, the water planet seen in one of the games winning/losing cutscenes. Now we have another idea: the planet might be Venice... and it might have been removed from the winning endgame! Upon arrival in the Venice System, Shotglass introduces: "So, Maverick, here we are in the Venice system, in the heart of Kilrathi space. Course, the hairballs have their own name for it… Kharak Tar, I think. Its habitable planet is a water world, like Port Hedland’s. We call it Venice ’cause of ancient ruins on it, sinkin’ into the ocean. But the Killie-cats aren’t supposed to like the water, so they put their base in the system in an orbital station. Tactical thinks if we find that station and take it out, we’ll take out the brains of the Kilrathi operations in the whole sector!" This seems unusual for a game that already features a water planet -- and the alien ruins coming out of the sea might well be the white spires seen in the removed background. Perhaps the empty space in the middle of the picture would have originally displayed the fireworks artwork or some similar action sequence? The endgame that was ultimately used had no background: it was done entirely in silhouette (right)... but look closely, the marines seem to be wearing diving suits, complete with breathing tubes and flat round facemasks.

Return Of The Music Video Round-up

Since our last big Music Video Round-up a year ago, fans have put together a whole bunch of new clips. The creators of this latest batch have spent a lot of time trying to infuse different themes and focus the message they were trying to get across. We still have approximately 699 gigaquads remaining this month, so download away!


AD created two fantastic videos since last summer. Both are emotional scenes that take a look at the romance between our characters during war. Get Away is a relatively upbeat piece about the relationship between Maniac and Rosie in the Wing Commander Movie. The second clip, In The Round, is a more somber story about Sosa's loss in Wing Commander 4. Both scenes are very high quality and edited together well.


TomGaines also put together a serious video, although this one is about the difficulties facing Admiral Tolwyn in Wing Commander 4. In contrast to the pop songs in AD's scenes, Tom uses the "Babylon 5 Season Three Theme."


Wing Commander 4's amazing FMV has made it a common source for music video material. Kilrah Moreira has also borrowed elements from it to create a tribute to the explosive nature of Wing Commander. He used a techno Rammstein background track and combined it with nonstop action to make this one.


Plywood Fiend is last, but not least, with three unique compositions. In The End of the World, both outcomes of Wing Commander 3 are mixed and matched to explore an armageddon theme, and End of All Hope is an action oriented clip with scenes from the Academy TV show, Wing Commander 3 and Super Wing Commander all in one! His final cut isn't exactly a music video, but Lord of the Wings carefully synchronizes the Return of the King trailer with highlights from WC3. It's pretty neat!

Relive Fall 1996 All Over Again

Kris tells me that we have 700 gigaquads of unused bandwidth this month, so now's a great time to grab a file or two. The Wing Commander Academy television show is our single most popular download, and each month we hear about new people who are discovering the series for the first time. Newcomers might want to study the viewers' guide to determine what order they want to watch the episodes in. We have also collected a large amount of background material for the show, which you can check out here. When you're done going through all that, visit the Origin Museum to read the printed series bible and analyze the draft scripts that have been made available.

Multimedia Entertaintment Conference Highlights Wing Commander

The Hollywood and Games Summit is taking place today at the Beverley Hills hotel in Los Angeles. The event "celebrates the collaboration between the two most compelling modern art forms" and includes presentations from various industry professionals. Neil Young, vice president and general manager of EA in Los Angeles co-hosted a discussion with the vice president of 20th Century Fox about how to identify decision makers in the industry, what they are looking for, and the best way to express a project. However it was during the keynote speech from Paul Anderson "How to Successfully Blend Game and Film" that Wing Commander received some air time. Anderson, director of such classics as Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil, displayed a video presentation of the history of films based on games in the form of a montage of clips from various movies. A representative from GameSpot covered the speech in full.
The first scene was from 1993's Super Mario Bros., starring Bob Hoskins as the titular jumping plumber. Then it was onto the Scott Wolf epic Double Dragon and then the 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme opus Street Fighter. A clip of Anderson's own 1995 project, Mortal Kombat, was next, followed by its sequel. Next up was Wing Commander (1999), featuring Matthew Lillard in a stark-blond dye job.

Dry Land is a Myth

Alkarion has found something very interesting: an April 1991 Computer Gaming World article about professional artists working on video games -- which, it's hard to believe, was a fairly new concept at the time. The exciting aspect for Wing Commander fans, however, is the picture seen below (left): a landscape which was designed for but not used in the original Wing Commander. The caption reads: "'Water World' (Glen Johnson) Landscape removed from Wing Commander." Where could it have appeared? It's anyone's guess -- but a water planet, Hurricane, does appear in one of Wing Commander's winning/losing cutscenes -- it's pictured below (right). If you're interested in this sort of behind-the-screens minutae, be sure to check out our document archives.

Interestingly enough, Origin hired Denis without knowing for sure whether they had enough work for a full-time artist. A couple of weeks later, however, they noticed that he seemed to be booked up until the year 2000. Now, the company boasts seven full-time artists and might need more...

Asked what technology would most change the way computer game artists did their work, Loubet had two observations. He would like to be able to do sketches on the computer via graphics tablets and wishes Disney's Animation Studio software was available for the IBM.

Check out the full article here (high resolution).

Edit: Check out this later update for more theories on the water world.

GamePro Analyzes Ultima & Multima

Here are a few other classic magazine scans donated by Stone48420. These come from GamePro in 1993 and 1996. The earlier article is a review of the Super Nintendo port of Origin's Ultima VI by FCI. Although the game gets points for being huge and immersive, the author feels like it might have been too complex. It's described as a more tedious alternative to Zelda and Final Fantasy. The second article is a preview of Ultima Online. A small blurb calls the upcoming game revolutionary, but little did they know at the time how accurate that would be. In the ten years since this issue was printed, Origin's preeminent multiplayer title has helped shape the online gaming world as we know it.

Capships Go Out With A Bang In Homeworld Mod

Aaron Thomas popped in this weekend to show off what happens when a capital ship explodes in his WC4 mod for Homeworld 2. Textures in the game have been slightly tweaked and now highlight separate subsystems and components on ships accurately. When a carrier's conning tower is destroyed, weapons go offline and its engines become erratic. Engine nacelles can be further damaged to disable all ship movement. The final shot also delivers a sneak peak at the Dralthi fighters that will be featured in the project. Aaron is still trying to determine what sort of role the Kilrathi will play.

The third picture is for effect. It shows the blast from the destruction of a Concordia class at the hands of 5 wings of Thunderbolts and my Concordia.

Space Sim First Look: Star Trek Legacy

Since the cancellation of Enterprise last year, Star Trek fans have wondered what would be next for the franchise. Even the publication schedule for printed books seems to have been cut back. There's good news on the horizon however. Along with rumors of the next movie and animated series on DVD, several months ago Bethesda announced that it would be publishing a pair of Star Trek games this fall. The Nintendo DS and Sony PSP will be receiving a strategy game called Tactical Assault. Slightly closer to home, the PC and XBox 360 owners have Star Trek Legacy to look forward to. The game will combine elements from all five major television series. Players will naturally progress from one era to the next to continue the large overarching story. Gameplay will be from the perspective of individual ships and coordinated task forces on the move. Throughout the single player campaign, players will accumulate "command points" that they can use to upgrade their ships and commission newer models. The developers have compared some of the game's epic battles to the Dominion War engagements seen in Deep Space 9, but there will also be more objective-based missions and goals as well. Some sixty ship classes will be available, and multiplayer support will exist on the internet and XBox Live. A recent GameSpot preview said the game's physics will be representative of the larger ships under your command, but a recent GameBiz article also compared aspects of the combat engine to Wing Commander. It sounds like this one is coming together well, and it should be a game to watch out for this fall.

GS: Will you be able to target certain systems on enemy ships, such as shields or engines? Can you cripple targets this way, or is combat more general in terms of damage? In other words, pummel their shields down to nothing and then unload on their hulls?

GC: You'll be paying attention to the strengths of your enemy's specific systems. It may be wise to knock out the engines of that pesky destroyer that is harassing your scouts. With their engines out, they'll easily fall prey to the big guns of your battleship.

Unusual Wing Commander Shirt Surfaces

Recently we obtained a peculiar bit of Wing Commander Movie merchandise. The t-shirt pictured below features a CF-117 Rapier Medium Fighter from above. There are a variety of funky light sources that wash out the scene a bit, and the image is not very crisp. Around the edges, well-known WCM logos, fonts and styles are used to frame everything. The collar tag and "Wing Commander ©" fine print seem out of place though. This is the first time we've seen one of these before, and it looks like a non-licensed product. Someone appears to have spent some time having this professionally made though, and it's just fashionable enough to wear to your local Wing Commander fan gatherings. Also pictured are the Cinema Secrets Kilrathi Halloween mask and the Wing Commander Movie aerial unit crew cap.

New Flight Commander Coming Soon

The next edition of Flight Commander is coming soon, and creator eddieb is looking for any last minute additions that should be included. Some of the more active FC modders will be contributing graphical enhancements and sim missions to add to the overall package. The main version will still only include Prophecy-era items to make it more mangeable, but eddie is open to certain things that fans might have to chip in. Reply quick, because there's not much left to do before the version 1.4 beta is released. You can discuss development of fan campaigns and mods for Flight Commander in the FC Forum at Crius.net.

NCSoft Austin Conducts Heavy Layoffs

GameSpot is reporting that the Austin, Texas branch of NCSoft has just laid off 70 employees, approximately one quarter of its local work force. Although the company announces that none of its in-production games lost people, it also says that a slowdown in future releases forced the reduction. This means that Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa seems unaffected for the time being. The company currently supports Lineage (1&2), City of Heroes, Guild Wars and Auto Assault. It seems likely that the layoffs related to these games as well as support and administrative staff for US operations of the company as a whole. The Austin game development market has been in flux for the last couple years since the formal move of Origin to EA LA in 2004. Since then, developers such as Digital Anvil and Ion Storm have collapsed while new studios such as Bioware Austin and Junction Point have opened up. Spacetime Studios, a team recently founded by a number of former Wing Commander designers, entered into a publishing deal with NCSoft earlier this year.
The company's prepared comment sought to cast the layoffs as a response to vagaries all publishers in the online space are subject to. "The online games industry is one that is continually changing with the scaling up and down of business based on product launches and product development schedules," the statement read in part.

But it also points to a more localized reason behind the layoffs--a slowdown in upcoming NCsoft launches: "As the company continues to grow its live products and prepares its next set of major online game releases for later in 2006 and 2007, the company sees a slowdown in its launch pattern and the need to streamline its business."

EA Purchasing Mythic Entertainment

In other news, Electronic Artas has recently aquired Mythic Entertainment. The MMO studio is well known for developing Dark Age of Camelot and is currently working on Warhammer Online. EA Mythic and its 175 employees will remain in Fairfax, Virgina for the time being. Ars Technica's article on the subject goes into some detail about EA's history with massively multiplayer games and Wing Commander. After practically inventing the genre with Ultima Online, Origin's efforts were directed solely at recreating UO's success. Several single player franchises took a back seat to these efforts, and many of EA's MMO games since have either been shut down or met with mixed results.
"The addition of Mythic to the EA family reflects our deep commitment to the online gaming market worldwide. Mythic will bring one of the industry's most talented MMORPG teams to EA. Together, we will create games that will introduce MMO players to a whole new level of game play and excitement," said Paul Lee, President, EA Studios.

Summer Showtimes For The WC Movie

Now that the HD-DVD and Blu-ray movie formats have kicked off, we've been scouting around for high definition broadcasts of the Wing Commander movie on tv. There doesn't appear to be anything coming up soon, but Cinemax has filled the month of July with standard showings. As usual, these occur on a variety of related channels spread pretty evenly throughout the month.
Sat 7/1 06:00 AM @MAX - EAST
Wed 7/5 04:20 PM ACTION MAX - EAST
Wed 7/5 07:20 PM ACTION MAX - WEST
Thu 7/6 08:10 AM @MAX - EAST
Sat 7/8 12:45 PM CINEMAX - EAST
Sat 7/8 03:45 PM CINEMAX - WEST
Mon 7/10 11:50 AM @MAX - EAST
Sat 7/15 04:20 PM ACTION MAX - EAST
Sat 7/15 07:20 PM ACTION MAX - WEST
Mon 7/17 08:00 PM ACTION MAX - EAST
Mon 7/17 11:00 PM ACTION MAX - WEST
Thu 7/20 02:15 PM ACTION MAX - EAST
Thu 7/20 05:15 PM ACTION MAX - WEST
Mon 7/24 07:30 PM @MAX - EAST
Fri 7/28 02:45 PM ACTION MAX - EAST
Fri 7/28 05:45 PM ACTION MAX - WEST
I can't believe it's been ten years since we were first talking about WC Movie rumors. The first version of the script was written in October 1995, and small mentions of it leaked to various magazines in the months that followed. We currently host three major drafts that help explain how the story developed into the final product. You can grab the 15-30 meg PDF scans below.

Wing Commander Vet Gets Divine Treatment

Jason Hill, a games writer for the Australian newspaper The Age, recently wrote an article about Game Gods that mentions Wing Commander veteran Warren Spector. WC is mentioned first, but his name is more closely attached to some of his other titles such as Deus Ex. The list also includes big developers such as Will Wright, John Carmack and Sid Meier.
9. Warren Spector: Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock, Thief, Deus Ex. Produces consistently original and thoughtful games that blend genres into refreshing new creations.
A famous issue of PC Gamer in 1999 also referred to Chris Roberts as a "Gaming God" for his contributions with the Wing Commander franchise. This might be a good time for a quote from the WC Movie.
Paladin: Some say they believed they were gods.
Blair: Do you believe they were gods?
Paladin: No. But I do believe they were touched by God.

Bring Back Full Motion Video

An article on GameDaily today reminisces about a better time - a time when FMV was a key part of story telling in games. The article begins by noting how many games based on movies tend to disappoint, and conversely how many movies based on games fare badly. The rest of the article goes in depth in to how FMV became such an essential story telling device and why it is now a rarity. Wing Commander and Privateer 2 are of course mentioned as key users of FMV.
For the most part, I can understand why FMV games have pretty much gone extinct. It must save tons of money and effort to simply animate a character instead of trying to actually direct a real person. Maybe it costs less to have an actor's voice in comparison to having the whole actor. Budgets soured for games like the Wing Commander series, which brought in talents like Mark Hammill (Star Wars) and Thomas Wilson (Back to the Future) to play the main roles. Still, I would prefer to watch those cut-scenes and play those games again than sit through ten minutes of the feature-length movie that was shot on a shoestring budget.
You can read the full story here.

Rate Your Favorite Space Movies

Dundradal noticed that Space.com is running a Hot or Not style poll to find out what people think is the best space movie of all time. I spent quite a bit of time clicking through the movies and so far Wing Commander hasn't shown up but it may still be there. The current top four movies with an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 are Star Wars: A New Hope, Apollo 13, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I'm not sure which movies are doing badly, but Disney's "The Cat from Outer Space" is doing fairly badly. You can make a difference by placing your votes here.

Classic Ad Mentions Never-Released WC Port

Stone48420 scanned a couple of old Wing Commander 3 advertisements that he had around, and they're both pretty neat. The first is a full spread that talks about WC3's imminent arrival for Macintosh, Playstation and Sega Saturn. These were released in late 1995 and early 1996, except for the Saturn port which never made it to stores. Nevertheless, "The Universe Keeps Expanding" was a very accurate title for the state of the franchise in 1995. Pictured second is a one-page ad specifically for the 3DO version of Wing Commander 3. More people probably played the Mac and PSX ports, but the 3DO edition was quite a treat. It featured high quality video, full color comms, reworked missions and new weapons/ships. Although the ground missions were omitted, they were replaced with fancy prerendered videos that demonstrated what occurred on the planets below. WC3 3DO was also where fans got their first look at missing videos such as the Hobbes explanation clip.

I found a few more things you guys may be interested in. Got a couple of Wing Commander 3 scans: a one page and a two page ad. The origin muesum fellows have the master copy, but I figured people may want to see these.

Only Tolwyn Could Go To China

Pacific Epoch, a Chinese news site, has posted commentary on EVE Online's apparent failure in the Chinese market. Naturally, the problem is the same one we face today - a lack of Wing Commander.
Western kids grew up on flight and space sim games - Microsoft Flight Simulator, Wing Commander, Star Wars series (X-Wing, Tie Fighter, etc). Chinese gamers started their gaming experience a little late. As I said in our game report, that doesn't mean Chinese gamers aren't as good - the average Chinese gamer is probably superior in RTS and FPS games to his Western counterpart. But one area where Chinese gamers are less mature is that they haven't experience as many genres of games, and space sim is one of them.
They could have fooled us, though. As we recently reported, Wing Commander games have been available in China since the start of the series!

WC4 Homeworld Mod Finishes Up Confed Ships

czacen has released another batch of screenshots for his Wing Commander 4 mod for Homeworld 2. All Confederation capital ships and fighters (circa WC4) are now modeled in the engine, and work on other factions has been under way for some time. Arrows, Thunderbolts, Dragon Lances, Avengers and Longbows are visible below. The big short term hurdles will be implementing proper Wing Commander weapon systems and eliminating any bugs that crop up. czacen is getting some help from the Homeworld modding community, and he hopes to work through these issues in due time. So far everything looks great. You can leave feedback at Crius.net here.

Rest assured that all weapons are just as they are in WC. Fighters use Pilum IFFs, Spiculum IRs and Javelin HSs, and the Longbows and Avengers are built for one thing and one thing only - torpedo delivery.

She's A Kuiper

Antman has continued work on his Kuiper engine, first reported here, and now has some screenshots to show for it. Kuiper is a 3D engine based on Microsoft's Allegiance space sim game. Antman says: "The past few months have brought huge overhauls and updates to Kuiper and it's flight engine. Joysticks now work flawlessly in Kuiper, with full dead zone and sensitivity support. The explosion and particle systems have also been overhauled, with explosions no longer causing a drastic loss of FPS due to fill rate issues." Cool beans.

Foxtrot Sports Snappy Fan Fashion

Foxtrot realized he didn't have enough Wing Commander clothing in his wardrobe and has set out to fix that. He spent a few hours mocking up his own image and then printed it out on iron-on paper. The results are below. I think it looks pretty neat, and it's always great to see people take the time to do stuff like this. That's a great poster on the wall there too!

The third image is the art template used for CIC Glasses. If it's any use to anyone for similar projects, you can find it in a vectorized pdf here.

Space Sim First Look: Eve Online: Path To Kali

Last week we mentioned the steady growth that Eve Online has enjoyed over the last few years. In addition to launching the game in new markets, the developers behind Eve will also be releasing a new expansion pack soon. The Path To Kali will build on previous expansions by giving players the power to dramatically alter the politics of known space. Their reactions to events will reshape the universe and cause long lasting repercussions. Larger battleships, new options for technological research and additional environments to explore will round out the experience. Fans should expect Kali to roll out within the next few months, although a related factional warfare component will be held off until 2007. Eve's graphics will also receive an update, and this will serve as the test bed for an all new DirectX 10 engine upgrade to be implemented around the time of the Windows Vista launch.

"Games either provide active content, in which the player reacts to artificial changes in the game universe, or they provide reactive content, in which the entire game universe reacts to the actions that players decide for themselves," said Magnus Bergsson, CMO of CCP Games. "CCP believes strongly that the players should be the center focus of the storyline and control the evolution of the game universe. The Path to Kali will lead EVE Online to great heights in reactive content and further establish EVE Online as the premium free-form MMOG on the market today."

Get Insurance For Your Fighter

Maj. Striker has created a video which is a parody of a series of commercials for an American insurance company. Perhaps insuring yourself against pirate attacks could be a feature in a future Privateer game. Striker had this to say about the idea.
I've been working on a WC type animation and last night a thought came to me to do a quick commercial. I work for Nationwide Insurance and if you've seen some of their recent commercials they have that tag line, "Life comes at you fast." I had the inspiration to make a quick commercial off of that. I went and quickly rendered this scene and threw some things together. I thought it was quite funny and since it is quasi WC related, I thought I would pass it along to you guys.

You can download the video here. I didn't see the pilot in the video eject so I'm not sure he'll be claiming on his policy. Hopefully he had life insurance at least.

Read The Original WC Fan Fiction Novel

Veterans of the alt.games.wing-commander newsgroup will remember Gary Hladik's fan fiction known as Wing Commander 4.123106: The Price of Entertainment. The thirty four instalments were posted to the newsgroup between the dates of August 18, 1996 and August 29, 1997 and parodied the story from the WC4 game whilst adding some of its own twists. If you have never read the story before, it is well worth a look.
If Wing Commander IV were approached from a somewhat less reverent point of view, I wondered, what kind of humor could be extracted from it? My own answer to that question is found in the fanfic story "Wing Commander 4.123106: The Price of Entertainment," which debuts next week on alt.games.wing-commander.

While not exactly a comedy, this rewrite of the Wing Commander IV story tries to be considerably more lighthearted and uninhibited than the original. It follows the same general storyline, but I've rewritten every existing cut-scene and added many new ones. I've kept the same Wing 4 characters (although Pliers has a new job), added many new ones, and brought back a few more of the Wing 3 cast (guess who!). The story is told in the first person by none other than the Heart of the Tiger himself, which means of course that the story omits all cutscenes in which Blair is not present, e.g. the opening sequence of the attack on the transport Amadeus.

New Driver's A Great Excuse To Play Armada

akula65 was digging around the Gravis FTP and found an old file from 1994 that originally bounced between the Origin and Gravis BBSes. Gusgm.drv is designed to work with Gravis UltraSound cards. Adding the -mu switch when loading Armada enables the "Miles Driver." It's neat how files like this are still in circulation, and it's not every day that we add a (semi)official Wing Commander patch to our Files section. The very tiny driver probably has equally small practical use today. DOSBox simulates both the SoundBlasters and Gravis UltraSound boards, so I can see a couple DOS junkies playing around with the alternate music routines. If anything, it'd be great just to see more people playing Armada. The Wing Commander series' original multiplayer game can be played online against other fans, and its strategic mode is a unique WC experience. While fans eagerly await multiplayer in Prophecy, Armada is a great game to practice with.

Miles driver for GUS for use in Wing Armada. Use -mu option when running armada. Be sure to have the ULTRAMID.EXE loaded.

Famous Sci-Fi Publisher Suffers Stroke

Death noticed a post at the Baen Bar Forum that reported an unfortunate story from earlier this week. Jim Baen, the founder of famous science fiction/fantasy publishing company Baen Books, had a stroke on Monday. He is famous for his interaction with readers online and was a strong proponent of innovative technologies such as the Baen Free Library. The first seven Wing Commander novels were published by Baen Books, and many WC fans should be familiar with quite a few other items from the publisher. Hopefully Mr. Baen has a successful recovery.
I'm sorry to have to announce that Jim Baen suffered a stroke on Monday, and has been in the hospital ever since. His condition is serious, but it's too early for any prognosis as to how he'll fare from here on in.

His family has arrived in NC, and are with him in the hospital. I've been to see him, as have other members of Baen's staff and his friend David Drake. In the meantime, so far as Baen Books is concerned, our plans continue on schedule.

The business is fine, we're all simply very concerned about Jim.

Toni Weisskopf
Chief editor, Baen Books

Modders Experiment With Flight Commander Cockpits

Venom has been playing around with Flight Commander and has started to implement alternate cockpits in flight. The first two shots below are some of his preliminary designs, and they are based on Ferret and Epee dashboards. The third shot features an alternate HUD designed by FC creator eddieb. Additions such as these add great atmosphere to the game and can really enhance the experience when they're well done. Fans who are actively involved in Flight Commander modding might also want to pick up the minor 1.3.3b patch. It all sounds quite complicated to me, but the Flight Commander Forum is the place for aspiring modders to find help and start experimenting. Several promising fan campaigns are currently in the works.

Time For Tamayoan Fire Wine

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Tired of the usual thing at your favorite watering hole? Maybe it's time to start experimenting with Wing Commander Drinks. LOAF's famous beverage collection features everything from theWater in the Freedom Flight novel to Uncle Kashumai's Bowel Loosener from Privateer 2. If you think you can come up with a neat recipe for a Rostov Hairball (WC1), Kumquat Opi-Ola (P2) or Arakh Tea (VS), let us know, and we might try to reproduce it at our annual fan gathering this summer. I've always wanted to see what a Cobalt Blue would be like.

Standoff Episode 4 Back On Track

The Standoff team reports that they're now picking up the pace on Episode 4: The Battle of Sirius. Progress was going fairly slowly around the time of their last update, but things appear to be in higher gear these days. New missions, in-game cutscenes and music have been coming together well over the last few weeks. Prerendered cutscenes and in-game fiction have not advanced as much, but there's somewhat less work remaining in those areas to begin with. A teaser image was also released along with the general project status update. As we get closer to the game's chapter, additional news posts should happen more regularly.

We've put up the news update. Only one new screenshot this time, and the progress page doesn't seem to have changed too much, but believe me, the past two weeks things have been going much faster than the previous three-four months, and we intend to keep it that way. So, the gaps between news updates are going to be much smaller from now on.

Eve Online Continues Strong Growth

GameSpot reports that the Chinese debut of Eve Online has set new records for the massively multiplayer space sim. The Chinese game world is separate from the universe that's existed for the last three years, but in two days it managed to recruit 200,000 beta sign-ups and tally 30,000 simultaneous players. It'll be interesting to see how many of those ultimately convert into paid subscribers. The regular game has approximately 130,000 active members. Eve is currently the second most popular sci-fi MMO game behind Star Wars Galaxies. SWG actually has a very small lead considering the popularity of the Star Wars brand. EO seems to have quite a few more subscribers than Earth & Beyond, Jumpgate or Vendetta Online have had.

Five For Fighting With

Remember the last time we reported on the Wing Commander IV mod for Homeworld 2? It seems like it was only a few days ago... but a lot of progress has been made! Czacen has added a grand total of five new ships to the project, and screenshots are available en masse! The first two pictures are the game's smaller assault shuttle (which carried Decker in Wing Commander IV). Quote the project: "these guys are going to play a important role for the BW side".

The following four are the shared transport model, which will appear in your choice of either Confederation Blue or Union Red.
Then comes four pictures of the Coventry-type Destroyers first introduced in Wing Commander III. This version is bares the Confederation's livery - a Union variant is in the works.
Next comes four pictures of the Confederation shuttle, which will be used as that faction's assault transport in the game.
Finally comes the biggest ship of the bunch, the Confederation starbase complex. These bases were seen at Jupiter in Wing Commander Prophecy, L5 in Wing Commander IV and Torgo in Wing Commander III... and now they're back! Viewers should be cautioned that this model is, at present, only half completed -- but it's still pretty neat.
That's the kind of momentum we like to see!

MegaTraveller? I Just Met Her

IGN PC has posted a preview of DarkStar One. The reviewer compares the game very favorably to Privateer, Freelancer and X... as well as "MegaTraveller 2", which may or may not be a real thing. Regardless, DarkStar One sounds pretty nice! You can find the preview here, or just read the carefully cropped Wing-relevant portions quoted below:
I suppose my affection for space-based action adventure games started with Wing Commander, but WC was, at its core, a flight simulator. Being based in space allowed for some unique tactical options, but it wasn't reinventing any wheels. Then came the spinoff, Privateer. Now this was a cool game; a galaxy so big that you actually had to hunt down the beginning of the storyline. While not as ambitious as MegaTraveller 2, it had its own charms. You could be a mercenary, trader, or bounty hunter, or a combination thereof. Unfortunately, this type of action adventure game never really took off. Another Privateer came out, but it was an FMV adventure, and not particularly good... Then DarkStar One arrived in my mailbox...

Privateer had some tedious trade routes and some vicious spikes in difficulty. Freelancer felt repetitive and arcadey. MegaTraveller 2 was perhaps too big of a game for its own good. X2: The Threat too often devolved into being an energy cell merchant, and its story wasn't particularly well told, or its characters very interesting. While DS1 has its problems, it manages a balance between guiding the player through a complex story and giving them freedom to wander around.

Mark Your Calendars For The CIC Birthday Party

It's getting to be that time of year again. We've picked up a lot of new visitors over the last year, so here's all the basics. In less than two months, the Wing Commander CIC turns 8 years old. Every August 10, we hold a big birthday party online in #Wingnut. With dozens and dozens of fans together at once, this is always a fantastic opportunity to network with fans, set up multiplayer games and recharge your enthusiasm in Wing Commander. The CIC also gives away prizes such as WC games, novels, collectibles and other merchandise. And best of all, there are always tons and tons of exciting updates on various fan projects and to the website. The 8th Birthday might be our biggest event yet, and we hope you can join us.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, August 10, 2006. We officially begin gathering in our irc chat room at 7:00 pm Eastern US (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT). Prizes are distributed and the suspense builds for an hour until we unveil the website updates and celebrate the exact anniversary moment. People usually continue to celebrate for several hours afterwards as they play games with other fans and check out the updates posted to the site. #Wingnut is also always open, so feel free to stop by any time between now and the party. Stay tuned for more details as we get closer. Hope to see you there!

Interest Check For Loose Patches

A few people have asked about obtaining some of the Confed patch replicas that we use on our Prophecy-style flight suits. Full suit production is still a bit sketchy, but we'd like to gauge how much interest there would be in just the shoulder patches. The price range would probably be $5-10 plus shipping. Like the rest of the stuff in our merchandise store, we're not looking to sell anything for profit, so there's no need to order one just to "support the site." The potential offer is out there since items such as this are usually too expensive to order in non-bulk quantities.

Don't Fear Upgrading Windows

With the public preview of Windows Vista beta 2 now available, we took the opportunity to test its compatibility with various WC games. The findings are quite positive with Windows XP suffering many of the same problems, and almost all of them have a solution.

  • Kilrathi Saga WC1/WC2 - The games start, but the graphics are distorted making the game unplayable. This is quite likely to be an issue with the PC's graphics card driver being unable to switch to 320x200 resolution since I had much the same issue with XP. I haven't found a solution for this as of yet, but with DosBox now able to run the DOS versions so well, this could be considered a minor problem.
  • Kilrathi Saga WC3 - Running the game straight after installation produces a problem with the wrong colors being displayed, but setting "Run in 256 colors" and "Run in 640x480" in compatibility mode options solves this, making the game perfectly playable.
  • Wing Commander 4 Windows - Installation proved a problem with the DOS mode installer refusing to run in Windows and DosBox crashing, but fortunately I found an old installation on my hard drive. Using that, the game itself ran with no issues.
  • Wing Commander 4 DVD - Tested with Gulilkoza's patch to run the game without a DXR board, and with the game set to Windows 98 compatibility mode. No problems at all.
  • Privateer 2 Deluxe Windows - The installer's colors were mixed up unless it was set to run in Windows 98 compatibility mode. The installer also has the well-known "not enough space" error which is fixed by simply creating a c:\dark directory before running the installer. The game also ran too fast until Jonathan Scobbie's speed patch was applied.
  • Wing Commander Prophecy - Tested with the latest version of HCl's high-res patch which will be released with the multiplayer patch. The game ran flawlessly.
  • Wing Commander Secret Ops - Tested with HCl's high-res patch. The version of the patch available for Secret Ops is older than the one used to test Prophecy. SO worked fine, but it was also necessary to set Windows 98 compatibility mode. This may not be required with a more up-to-date high-res patch.
So there you have it. You can play virtually everything current XP systems allow, which includes almost every Wing Commander game. Unless something major changes between now and release, there is no reason for anyone not to upgrade to the full version of Vista. Other than it not actually offering any major advantages over XP that is.

Holding The Line Chapter 210

Raptor has arrived with the latest chapter of Holding the Line. The latest chapter in the series offers a confrontation with an alien ship killer, complete with its big old gun.
Hey all, Raptor here

HTL continues with the third installment of Battlegroup Auriga's battle against a deadly Kraken Shipkiller. As you saw in previous chapters, the pilots and crews had found the Shipkiller, and begun trying to defang the beast. In spite of their best efforts however, the human capital ships had been forced to close with the Kraken, which in turn had begun charging its lethal plasma weapon.

The story is at:

http://www.holdingtheline.net/ch210.htm

Best, Raptor

Preview WC Saga's Music

In order to demonstrate the musical masterpieces which will feature in WC Saga, Tolwyn and Edx have posted a couple of sample music tracks from the mod. The first track is a compilation of different tracks which will be unused in the finished product and was created to experiment with different ideas. The second track has an in-flight music theme although it may also be cut from the final mod. Composer Edx explained in more detail.
The ‘Unused Ideas’ track is essentially three different tracks stitched together. None of these will feature in either the Prologue or the full campaign. I made them to try and get a feel for how I wanted the music to go. I felt the first section started sounding more Freelancer than Wing Commander, the second section was too ‘happy’ sounding to me, and more like WC4 than WC3 which is what I wanted, and I thought the last section sounded too much like a Star Trek score!

The Prologue originally was going to have original in-flight music, but I decided it was best to wait for the main release as it’s not just a big job to write all those different cues but you also have to make sure they all fit together musically and make sense in the game. The "in-flight" track is another example of me experimenting to see how I would approach this. While the main campaign’s music will likely sound quite different than it, it’s probably the most Wing Commander sounding! Anyway, I thought some of you might find the ‘outtakes’ interesting. So, thanks for listening!

Wing Commander Group Gets Its Marching Orders

New DragonCon attendees continue to be added to the official DC guest list. Matthew Lewis and Katie Leung from Harry Potter join Chewbacca/Peter Mayhew as this week's new additions. There's another month yet before the last price increase for convention passes, but airline and hotel prices will be more expensive this year. The hotel that the CIC staff stays in sold out a couple months earlier than usual, and most airlines out of Atlanta have trimmed capacity this year. DC is always a blast though. Atlanta area residents should at least check out the Sci-Fi & Fantasy Parade on Saturday, September 2. We're registered to march again, and I can't believe there's only about ten weeks left to go!

Aaron Allston Currently On Tour

One of our favorite DragonCon guests, Aaron Allston, is currently on tour to promote his new novel, Star Wars: Betrayal. He's been hopping around the Midwest lately and has a few more stops on his way home (autograph schedule below). Mr. Allston will also be appearing at the San Diego Comic Con from July 20-23 and Gen Con Indy from August 10-13. He's most famous for being the author of Wing Commander's Claw Marks, but he was also a writer and designer for The Secret Missions and Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire.

  • Saturday, June 10, 2:00 p.m.: Borders Books & Music (St. Louis). 10990 Sunset Hills Plaza, Sunset Hills, MO 63127.
  • Saturday, June 17, 2:00 p.m.: Hastings Books Music & Video (Austin area). 2200 S. IH-35, Suite B1, Round Rock, TX 78681.
  • Saturday, June 24, 2:00 p.m.: Borders Books & Music (Dallas). 1601 Preston Road, Suite J, Plano, TX 75093.
  • Saturday, June 24, 7:00 p.m.: Borders Books & Music (Fort Worth). 4601 W. Freeway, Fort Worth, TX 76107.

New Paper Model Ship In The Works

Marc from the Sci-Fi Models Annexe recently visited the Forums to tell everyone that his site has moved to a new location. In the transition, he also managed to reveal the first few shots of his next paper model, the TCS Victory model. Its bow is pictured below. If his other designs are any indication, this new ship should turn out really great. Along with the Pepakura Viewer, Marc's detailed templates and instructions provide Wing Commander fans with everything they need to make their own paper models. You can find details here. His site also features kits for Star Wars, Mech Warrior and more!

Wing Commander News Is Good News

While other news sites are reporting on some big antiterrorist business in Iraq today, the CIC has more important things to cover. Space Ghost upgraded the original 'Love Your Dad' poster from Privateer 1 with a slightly more lifelike image. He actually sent this one in a while ago, and LOAF coincidentally came across it again today. Just in time for Father's Day too! You can find the other virtual posters from Privateer here.
Always got a good chuckle out of those posters in the Guild Hall. Here's an attempt at revamping one.

New Warship Cruises Through Homeworld

To maintain some momentum with his recently announced mod, Aaron Thomas (czacen) has posted pictures of his WC4 Cruiser models in the Homeworld engine. Both Confederation and Border Worlds variants are functioning in his latest builds. The differences between the two include new paint schemes, alternate guns and unique engine details. This warship looks very imposing from certain angles, and it sounds like czacen has big plans for it. If you're a big cruiser fan, the prologue to Wing Commander False Colors features a harrowing battle between two such ships and a Kilrathi carrier. You can find this starter chapter online here.

This ship is going to be the major firepower for the Confed so I'd like it to have some presence on the battlefield. Plus does anyone have any idea what that lovely head-light on the front of the cruiser is supposed to be? A sensor array or a weapon? If so I can add it to the in-game ship attributes.
Ports like that on the nose are often launchers for torpedoes or large missiles.

Alternate Xan Decoder Developed

Multimedia Mike has created an extension for the Xine player that will decode Origin's Xanmovie file formats. The movies for Wing Commander 3, Wing Commander 4, Kilrathi Saga and the Crusader games used this method of video compression. This will mainly benefit people who like to dabble in the guts of stuff like this, since HCl's actual Movie Player allows fans an easy way to watch scenes from all of the WC games that featured live-actor FMV. You can find more information on Mike's xine plugin and other codec reverse engineering here. Thanks to AD.

Wing Commander Duo Appearing In Dungeon Siege

There's a new video game movie in the works, and it features not one - but two! - actors from the Wing Commander series. Last year we reported that John Rhys-Davies and Matthew Lillard would be starring in Uwe Boll's follow-up to BloodRayne. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale follows Microsoft's fantasy RPG storyline with Burt Reynolds as the king and Ray Liotta as the evil bad guy. Leelee Sobieski, Ron Perlman, Claire Forlani and Kristanna Loken also have starring roles. At one point the movie was to be split into two parts, but apparently it's being scaled down and merged back into one film. This has put the release date in flux. In the mean time, you can check out the 12 meg trailer here. Paladin seems to deliver a characteristically solid performance, but watch out for Lillard's appearance beginning about two minutes and ten seconds in.

Better Late Than Never

I really enjoy digging up classic reviews and articles on Wing Commander from back in the day. Reading the excitement in the authors' words at the quality of a new WC title brings back some good memories. And then there's articles like we have today. Uzianna.com is a PC gaming website that divides its time between new releases and reviews of classic games. Their articles on Wing Commander 3 and Privateer 2 were just completed in the last few weeks. The reviews are unsurprisingly affected by age, and neither review seems as into the interactive movies as most fans were at the time. When someone remarks that the graphics are apparently "not that great," I'd consider that a complement for a twelve-year-old game. The content descriptions in each piece certainly sound neat though, and I'd definitely be interested in the series if this were my first look at them.

WC4 Mod For Homeworld 2 In The Works

We've got a new fan project to announce for the first time today, and it's already looking pretty sharp. Aaron Thomas has been building a mod for Homeworld 2 that recreates it in Wing Commander 4's image. WC4 is a very popular game among fans (it's in the lead in our current poll), but relatively few mods are based in that specific era. A variety of ships and features have already been implemented. The shots below reveal Banshees, Bearcats, Hellcats, Excaliburs and a Concordia class Fleet Carrier. Ships look very nice and detailed in the Homeworld engine, and the interface should allow for a good mix of fighter and capital ship combat. Right now Aaron is working on the project alone, but there is quite a precedent for solo individuals creating fantastic finished works. In the future, fellow fans will probably be able to help by contributing feedback, minor graphical elements and other material. Visit Crius.net to volunteer your time or let everyone know what you think so far.

I am working on a game MOD for Homeworld 2 that converts it to the Wing Commander 4 universe. Also I would require a small amount of assistance in some of the technical info about certain ships, some data is not available on your site such as the dimensions of the Durango class carriers, etc. I realise this info may not exist anywhere in writing, but for sake of the creation of this mod, it would really really help if I could correspond with someone from your site about info like this. I'll eventually need UI icons and some other material that I'm sure the community can help me out with this. I however would like to stress - NO DEADLINE [release date] - just in the case that people start asking when it will be done and stuff. I am doing it alone, getting it done and it will be great. That's my promise.
You can find Wing Commander themed badge icons for Homeworld 2 here.

Richard Garriot Reflects On TR's Second Wind

To pick up on the momentum and positive press generated from last month's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Origin founder Richard Garriott has issued a statement about Tabula Rasa. Critical impressions improved quite a bit at this year's showing, and the project appears to have finally found where it wants to go.
A special message from Richard Garriott:

Another E3 has come and gone and the Tabula Rasa team comes home satisfied, enthusiastic, determined, energized and exhausted all in one. We spent three days showing the game to colleagues, press, and buyers and we feel that we have a great game on our hands. Those of us who didn’t make it to Los Angeles were in Austin working hard on the game or escorting, in game, the players that were logging on at the E3 floor. Those of us who did make it to Los Angeles participated in one of the best booths at the show. I would like to thank Mutaytor and Chris Vrenna for making our booth experience one of the best at the show.

One of the great things about E3 is watching how people play our game. We were gratified that anyone could get in and play the game without lots of instruction time, and the people that did play said that it felt right. When we made the decision to create an RPG with shooter style controls, we knew that feel was going to be very, very important. So, now we just have to finish polishing the game by making sure it runs well on lots of hardware, getting in the rest of the content and opening up the servers for Friends and Family testing.

So that’s it for this year. My final impression of Tabula Rasa at E3 is this: those that saw the game thought it looked beautiful and intriguing. Those people that played it had lots of fun and often stayed for hours, and that’s all you can ask for.

G4 X-Play Recognizes PC Acting

The G4 X-Play video game television show broadcast a skit last week that looked back at a few famous/infamous PC games that featured live-actor FMV. Their sense of humor is pretty corny and the clip isn't very serious, but a spot on this subject wouldn't be complete without Wing Commander in there somewhere. Command & Conquer also features prominently. Red Alert 2 wins the first award, and the subsequent WC footage is from Wing Commander 3. You can check out "X-Play's PC Acting Awards" under 5/31/06 Recent Videos here. This direct link might work too. If anyone knows how to save something like that, let me know. Thanks for Vance Bennet for spotting this one.
The Best Reuse of a Prop Award goes to... Wing Commander. I'm not actually sure if these are from 'Lion King the Musical', but perhaps the muppets have fallen on harder times than Mark Hamill. Either way, in the world of video games, you can't do much better.

Choose Coolest Cutscenes

The Wing Commander series is often credited for its fantastic use of video, but we can break that down a little more and try to figure out which specific games had our favorite clips. Beyond the impressive results in the live-actor FMV titles, we've opened up the voting options to include their sibling titles. The animated sequences in WC1, WC2 and Privateer were extremely impressive for the early 1990s, and the Other exists for lesser-known, but quite exotic, cutscenes from games such as Super Wing Commander. Vote for your favorite now!

Our last poll asked about your favorite new ships in Secret Ops. We included the option for older ships that were available in the Vision Engine for the first time here, and those old favorites took the majority of the vote. The classic Excalibur fighter came away with almost 50% of the tally itself. I'd have put my bets on the Hades quick-strike cruiser. Nobody was thrown off by the Cerberus' class name, were they?

Relive Origin Day

To celebrate the release of Wing Commander II, a Software Etc store in Texas held an event they called Origin Day. Various members of the game's development team attended to sign copies and show off various Origin demos. Many people either forgot or never knew the event happened, but now Joe from the Origin Museum has scanned these photos from his archive for us. They remind us of a magical time when entire store fronts were made from Wing Commander boxes. The fourth picture below is a special bonus picture of Chris Roberts picking up a copy of WC2 (and a printer stand) from Electronics Boutique on what was quite likely to be the game's launch day.

Read Preview Of New Privateer Novel

While English fans of Deacan's Privateer 2 based fan novel "The Awakening" may be left waiting for more, German fans have something to celebrate. Deacan has posted a short preview of the story for the sequel - "Silence". As with the original novel, the preview is entirely in German.
Das Licht war gleißend hell, es brannte sich regelrecht in die Augen.
Ser Larsen warf sich instinktiv zu Boden, seinen Kollegen riss es mit vom Stuhl. Teile der nur einer Sekunde zuvor explodierten Maine regneten jetzt gegen das Sicherheitsglas der Station, wie ein Bombardement aus scharfkantigen Metallsplittern fraßen sich die Überreste des Transporters in den gigantischen Rumpf der Superstation.
Ser Larsen hob vorsichtig den Kopf, er sah alles nur verschwommen, kleine helle Lichtblitze tanzten vor seinen Augen auf und ab.
„Bericht!“
Sein Kollege, der sich die Hände schützend vors Gesicht gehalten hatte und deshalb bereits wieder seinen Verpflichtungen voll und ganz nachgehen konnte, gab Antwort.
„Wir haben einen Riss, struktureller Kollaps steht bevor, Sektionen Vier und Fünf.“
„Arbeitet da jemand?“
Larsen zog sich an der Stuhllehne nach oben, noch immer nahm er die Umgebung nur schemenhaft wahr.
„Nein, Ser. Das sind Lagerräume. Versiegelung ist bereits aktiv.“
„Machen Sie alle Bereiche dicht. Sofort. Schadenkontrollteams benachrichtigen.“
„Verstanden. Sind Sie in Ordnung?“
„Ich kann nichts sehen, aber das wird langsam wieder besser. Was ist mit dem Schiffsverkehr draußen?“
Einige Sekunden lang herrschte Ruhe, dann aber gab es eine Antwort.
„Ser? Wir haben da ein Problem.“
You can read the entire preview and give any feedback you may have in this thread.

New Database Chronicles Breakthroughs In Gaming

There's a new website online that's dedicated to the history of video games, and it has a specific angle on how to do so in an interesting way. The Game Innovation Database catalogs the first implementation of new ideas in electronic entertainment. By capturing the innovative firsts of the gaming industry, the people who run GIDb hope to create an exciting picture of how the modern landscape came to be. Wing Commander has a number of entries in the database. Particularly noteworthy subjects include First Use of Giving Specific Commands to Allies, First Use of System Specific Damage with In-game Effects and First Discretely Branching Plotline Based on Player Performance.
In Wing Commander as the players ship took damage, specific systems would be damaged or destroyed, such as weapons, engines, communications, radar, etc. Damaged systems would begin to malfunction and destroyed systems could not be used at all. Thus if a weapon was damaged, it would fail to fire sometimes and if it was destroyed it would cease to function all together. If the communications system was damaged, it would malfunction sometimes and instead of the normal menu of command choices, only static would come up. If it was destroyed, commands could not be issued to your wing men at all. The level of damage controlled how often a system malfunctioned. If the engines were damaged, the player's speed and acceleration would begin to decrease. Wing Commander was perhaps the first game to use system specific damage that had real, in game effects.
Because of the project's wiki-nature, it's difficult to automatically confirm whether or not each innovation was actually a first. But it's definitely true that Wing Commander was one of the first to do quite a number of things. Off the top of my head, the site could also use an article about Wing Commander's dynamic music that changed depending on combat status, its variable AI that fought with greater tenacity as the odds became more grim, and its expansion disk - The Secret Missions was a surprising success. You can read more about the GIDb project at the BBC.

Progress Check: Intros, Betas & Boring Stuff

In other news, there's a tiny WC Saga status report. Here's what the team has been working on these last few weeks.
Tolwyn and Lars are finishing the Intro, we have a new beta-test running and besides that we're doing some polishing work on boring stuff like creating a readme, faq, credit stuff, testing the install routine and so on.....

Besides that, some of us started doing work on the main campaign again, so that at least the time is not wasted. We hope to have some more interesting news soon.

Bridge Commander WC Mod Preview Released

BES continues to work on his Wing Commander mod for Bridge Commander. A number of fighters have been implemented, and watching them dogfight from the bridge of your own ship is supposed to be fantastic. Gameplay is from the capital ship perspective, and fighters are launched from larger carriers and warship with hangar bays. A basic 4 meg Beta 1 has been released that allows eager fans to give it a try. BES is still hammering out bugs and improving the flow of the game, so an updated preview is forthcoming. More details are provided at his download site.

Happy ace's Happy Month!

Today is the official beginning of ace's Happy Month. This is an extra special AHM, since it celebrates ten years of ace's Happy Homepage. Bob helped kick off events with a special video. There'll be more to come over the next five happy weeks.
Ten Years have passed since the first ace's Happy Month took the world by storm. Ten long and fulfilling years that have brought us joy and friendship beyond expectation. Although AHH hasn't been meaningfully updated in at least 3 years, ace's Happy Month continues to resonate deeply with all people young and old.

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