Electronic Arts is entering another video game frontier: X-Box Live Arcade development. Live Arcade is a game download service available to X-Box 360 users. A variety of developers routinely release both classic and original games to the service for a minimal cost -- it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Wing Commander make an appearance in some form in the future. Their first title, however, is Boom Boom Rocket, a popular arcade game. Here's what they say:
Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) today announced its launch onto Microsoft’s Xbox Live® Arcade with Boom Boom Rocket™. The game is a hypnotic rhythm music game conceived by EA’s Pogo.com™ casual games design team and developed by Bizarre Creations, the developer who brought Project Gotham Racing® 3 to the Xbox 360™, and fan-favorite Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved to Xbox Live Arcade. The game is scheduled to go live Spring 2007 and is EA’s first title on Xbox Live Arcade.
You can read the rest of the press release here. EA's online marketing vice president, Chip Lange, has been making the rounds and answering questions about their downloadable game strategy. Here are some interesting comments from GameDaily and GameSpot.
GameDaily BIZ spoke with Chip Lange, EA's Vice President of Online Commerce, who when asked why it took this long for EA to get on XBLA, simply responded, "Now feels like the right time. Across EA there's been a lot of internal excitement about Arcade and we're at a point where we can dedicate resources to building Arcade games. We're very excited to be entering this space.
Indeed, now that EA's on board XBLA, it seems that the company is quite excited about it. Other XBLA games (yet to be announced) are currently being developed, and they're not all from Pogo. "While Pogo, with their expertise in the casual game segment, were quick out of the gate with some great concepts, they certainly won't be the only studio involved," Lange explained. "We'd like to use Xbox Live Arcade as a new place for EA and our studios to innovate and surprise gamers, and that's a challenge that we're opening up throughout EA."
GS: Can we expect EA games to be appearing on the Wii's Virtual Console service and the PS3 PlayStation Store in the future?
CL: I think it's safe to assume that any platform that has a good, solid business center and a community around it will be supported. I think we develop products on more platforms than any other publisher in the world. I'm not announcing anything on the Virtual Console or the PS3, but certainly we evaluate all of that, and we've got the development capacity to get our content to any platform where it matters.
GS: On these platforms, are the plans just for new titles like Boom Boom Rocket, or will we start to see catalog titles from the SNES and Genesis era, maybe a mix?
CL: What you can assume is that we're looking at the whole landscape. One of the nice things about EA is we've got such a wonderful library of classic IP...
Voodoo Extreme 3D is running a feature about the video game sequels they'd most love to see. It should come as no surprise that a new title in the Wing Commander franchise is high on their list. The site is also running a poll that asks which games their readers want the most. Games like Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 and a new Tie Fighter are in the lead, but Wing Commander is in a strong fifth place among such lofty competition. It's even got more votes than a new Half Life sequel or Ultima X. You can add your own vote here.
Wing Commander is another fabulous series left to rot in EA's house of gutted developers it's purchased over the years. Space-combat sims aren't in favor these days, but maybe they'll make a comeback someday.
Electronic Arts surprised Wing Commander fans with renewed support in 2006, so a comeback could come sooner than many expect.
Deacon has announced that his team has completed integrating all the ships from Privateer 2 into his spinoff card game. After a smattering of Chirichan, Papogod and Kindred craft were added, the final design was the massive Krono. Planets and stations are up next on the schedule, and then the focus will turn to smaller planet-side establishments.
The Krono was the flagship of the Kindred. She was one of the largest and most heavily armored capital ships in the Tri-System. The Krono had a flight deck capable of carrying a complement of fighters and transports. She was commissioned - and named - specifically for The Kindred's crazed leader, Sar Ricaud (aka "Kronos"). Only one Krono-class ship was built. She was destroyed by the CIS in 2790, during a failed operation to assassinate Shiela Nabakov. Many have observed that the Krono-class bears a striking resemblance to the Nephilim Tiamat-class dreadnaughts which terrorized human space a hundred odd years earlier.
Amazon has posted the title for the second book in Wing Commander alumni Peter Telep's "The Mercenaries" series: Thunderkill. The book, written under the pen name P.W. Storm, will be released on August 1st, 2007. These series tells the story of a group of mercenaries who become involved in modern day conflicts around the world. The first novel, Blood Diamonds, came out last November to positive reviews. You can read more about Mr. Telep's recent novels here.
Last week we reported on a 16-color, text-based version of Privateer, Ascii Sector. Now Chris Knudsen has recorded a few gameplay movies for us. These were made by pointing a video camera at the computer screen, so the quality suffers a bit, but they give you a good idea of what this unusual game engine is like. What do you think of the jump effect in the third clip? Let us know on the Forums!
Here I encounter another ship (a Talon, but that's pretty hard to see) and shoot at it until it explodes. As I haven't programmed the AI yet, the Talon doesn't move or anything.
Download (1.2 MB)
Here I pass by a planet. I can't land on it yet, as I haven't finished programming the bases (planets, asteroids and space stations).
Download (0.9 MB)
Here I jump to another system. The jump point at the other system is surrounded by asteroids, so I shoot at them a bit. Then finally fly into one too many and explode.
Download (1.4 MB)
akula65 noticed that 1C and Crioland have announced a sequel to Tomorrow War called Factor K. The story picks up shortly after the original left off and follows the popular science fiction novel series by Alexander Zoric. Interface enhancements and gameplay tweaks will be implemented along with various graphical improvements. New ships, locations and characters will be present, and a ship viewer will be included this time. One of the features that makes this series noteworthy is its seamless transitions from space to atmospheric flight. You can see some of the flying "fluggers" capable of this here.
No release date has been announced, but an English version of the original is being prepared for a North American release this spring.
Released two weeks ago, the WC Saga prologue demo has been downloaded almost a thousand times from the CIC server alone. Wing Commander Saga joins Unknown Enemy, Standoff and Flight Commander as a major fan project to be released to the public. The standalone mod uses an updated version of the Freespace 2 engine and is available for Windows and Mac.
Games Asylum has posted a review of the UK release of EA Replay. The word is overall negative, with the specific exceptions of Road Rash and (somehow) Haunting Featuring Polterguy. As did many British magazines in the 1990s, the reviewer seems to have a special scorn for Wing Commander:
Wing Commander and the Secret Mission expansion are okay for a while. A while being about ten minutes... As a package things don’t really stick together. The games load up quickly, but generally the presentation is poor; it’s like EA gave the project to a group of new graduates to knock out on the cheap. Fourteen games - or thirteen, if you remove the pointless Wing Commander expansion pack - is a paltry number...
These guys also managed to pan Prophecy Advance, back in 2003. In that light, it seems important to note that Secret Missions isn't actually an expansion pack -- it's the full-fledged SNES release of the game, and it features quite a bit of added material (including an introductory cutscene, new takeoff segments and two different endings). You can read the full review here.
Remember the preliminary renders made by Space Pirate last week? Well now he has made a few more based on his Centurion and Talon models - and this time they're wallpaper sized! Each image has been altered slightly, but the contrasting whites and blacks have returned and should bring a touch of class to any desktop.
Goku has created a useful information database for his Crusader website, Echo Sector. He's been scrubbing documents and building entries since September, and the first batch of entries went online yesterday. The data is arranged on the left menu bar under the Articles heading. It's a great resource for Crusader (and Origin) fans who would like to learn more about equipment, factions, characters and more in the game's universe. The site's first fan fiction has also been posted, and their new logo is below. You can reach Echo Sector here.
Back in September, I went through every official document included with both Crusader games -- including strategy guides & those cool fiction documents (the Topline newsletters, Resistance handbook, etc.) to combine them all to make a perfect composite of all the information about things in the game, such as the weaponry, WEC forces, and Resistance members. There is still some stuff that needs to be added, but the Echo Sector info database has some great stuff in it.
One of the newest members at the CIC Forums, Kiyara, has posted some neat pictures of his cool Wing Commander project. He has been working on creating 3D representations of Wing Commander and Starlancer ships that can be input into a Japanese hobby shop device for casting resin models. His first physical production is the Bengal Class Strike Carrier. The cost was around $45 to create the prototype. Kiyara would like to create additional designs and is entertaining the idea of taking a batch order. You can find some of the other ships under consideration at his website here or provide feedback at Crius.net.
Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa is now accepting applications for a closed beta test. Fans who signed up for game information long ago were sent direct invitations early this week, and all players can sign up at the TR website now to be considered on the standby list. Although the game has gone through several painful metamorphoses since it was begun, in recent months Destination Games seems to have pulled things together and created a more cohesive game. It'll be interesting to see if they can recover from these development issues to create a competitive MMO title. You can apply for the beta test here. A 2.5 GHz processor and 128 meg video card are required. NCSoft recommends a 3.5 GHz processor and 2 gigs of RAM.
Tabula Rasa is a massively multiplayer online action game that takes you into the heat of battle at the frontlines of an epic war between a xenophobic alien race bent on galactic conquest and the coalition of rebel soldiers who’ve traveled across the galaxy to stop them.
Combining fast-paced action with the immersion of a role-playing game, Tabula Rasa takes the player on an intergalactic adventure where the individual has an opportunity to significantly impact the pace of battle on a global scale. Players enter the game as rebel soldiers wielding a variety of futuristic weapons, potent demolitions and the mystical power of “Logos.” It is up to each individual to use their stealth, ingenuity and skill to assist a ragtag coalition of rebels in their efforts to stop an enemy known for its intelligence and unyielding determination to enslave the Universe.
Here's a story that seems unbelievable: Chris Knudsen has been developing a fan project called " Privateer: Ascii Sector"... a sixteen color, text-based take on Privateer! Here's what he says:
For the past 4 or 5 months I've been working in my spare time on an ascii game based on the classic Privateer (my absolute most favorite game!). I've got most parts of the actual flight engine worked out and am currently working on the bases and interaction with the characters in the game. Anyway, I'd like to post a few screenshots and get some feedback. As the entire game will be made up of ascii characters in 16 different colors (such as Adom, if anybody is familiar with that game), this game will mostly be for the retro-gamers out there.
Absolutely amazing! Here's what it looks like:
Rumors of EA Replay 2 are making the rounds with the legitimate gaming press -- here's GameSpot and PSXExtreme articles on the rumor. There aren't any new details, but it's good to see that the rest of the world is as interested in what could be included in such a game. Is Replay 2 a real project? Well, here's an online resume for an Electronic Arts employee who lists the game as one of their credits. Only the big question remains -- will it include more Wing Commander?
Marc, the creator of our wonderful 2006 Christmas Tree, got an awesome gift of his own over the holidays. Ironduke wanted to show his appreciation for all the beautiful retextured ships that Marc's made available lately, so he used one of the designs to personalize a shirt. I love creative stuff like that. Duke (and his fiance) did a great job!
The FFmpeg project is an open source system being produced to play and record various video formats. Among other game related video formats such as those used by Westwood games, the program will also play back movie files as used by WC3, and possibly also WC4. It is a function performed very well already by HCl's movie player, but it's nice to see this kind of support from outside the WC community. If you'd like to try FFmpeg, the program will run on both Windows and Linux, you can download the source code from here. Unfortunately you'll need to compile it yourself.
The cybernetic Chirichan Pirate Clan got a beefier arsenal today as Jacob Hudson completed fighter cards for his customizable card game. Two variants each of the yellow-accented Demon, Heron and Testmos are visible below. All of the Chirichan craft are pretty unique designs, so it's great to see some of the lesser known ships get more face time in a project like this.
NAME: Chirichan Pirate Clan
BACKGROUND: Colder than 10 minutes in a vacuum, faster than a Bex Monk when last orders are called, more terminal than a Taxi fare on Janis IV, this highly organised and calculating band of Cyborgs have one and only one purpose in life: find humans, kill them and steal their ship and/or possessions. After becoming rather irritated at having to do all the dirty work for humans, they opted to take the old Cyborg cliche of bloody revolt, and haven't looked back since. As one of them was heard to say recently over the sub-vacuum frequency, "We've never had it so good." Would you argue the point? Don't even think about messing with them.
In addition to variety of fancy card designs, Jacob has also created icons for each of the factions in Privateer 2. They feature characteristic colors from each group and may be used to more clearly mark their cards in the future. Additional graphics were made for the different organizations created for Das Erwachen. You can see those here.
We've got a couple of nice Kilrathi designs to get the week going. For starters, Marc's put a new spin on the self-sufficient Shiraak carrier. He's polished up the bronze Kilrathi armor plating and repainted the ship in a WC2-inspired scheme to blend into his favorite era. Marc's other recent project gives the carrier a home starbase too. A preliminary image of the large Kilrathi station is included below to show you a bit of how these things look before they're all decked out.
If I fool around with the Fralthra model and dish out some new engines real fast I can make a WC2 style Shiraak Carrier...
Early last week, the EB Games website started listing a Battlestar Galactica Online game for the Xbox 360 prompting excitement from Battlestar Galactica fans everywhere. The title has never been officially announced, and within a day the listing was removed. An official statement from the listed publisher Vivendi Universal stated that "EBGames has removed the information because it was not accurate. Vivendi Games has not announced a Battlestar Galactica game. We cannot comment any further as it is our policy to not comment on industry rumors." So neither a confirmation nor a denial.
It should be noted that EB Games has a history of listing unannounced titles then removing them - EA Replay 2 is one such title. Such listings are sometimes accurate but can often turn out to be completely made up. Battlestar Galactica was voted the show with the best
WC vibe in our poll just two months ago, and in the following poll the Xbox 360 was voted the preferred non-PC platform for a new WC game, so if the game is real it could have a large following of WC fans.
Clive Owen, star of Privateer 2, is one of the featured actors in Amazon's new Why we love... section. What do they say about him?
There are some actors whose body of work really catches our eye. The name may not ring a bell, but you'll know the face. And after you say, "Oh, I knew he/she looked familiar!" you'll thank us for bringing them to your attention.
Why We Love Clive Owen
Because he fits the definition of a classically trained British actor, but has a dangerous edge. Because he always holds his own in the most crowded of star vehicles. And because he's devilishly handsome besides. Owen was one of the hottest names to take over the role of Bond (ultimately filled by Daniel Craig), but he's become a major star, even without a license to kill. --David Horiuchi
You can stock up on Clive Owen DVDs here.
The Wing Commander Saga team is in need of some extra voice actors. If you own a decent microphone and this sounds like something you'd like to be a part of, then you should get in touch with Tolwyn here.
With the Prologue campaign finished, we're need more voices to round out our voice talent. Previous voice work for another mod is preferred, but not required. Candidates should be serious and be able to sound like someone in their 20s. Openings are for miscellaneous ships and roles, with a strong emphasis on Confed fighter pilots.
We're also auditioning for a few major roles in the campaign, candidates must sound like an older person in their 30s to 50s
To become a candidate for this process, reply to this thread to officially let us know and then
PM or email to Tolwyn@gmxpro.net for more information.
Then try your luck on these 26 lines. Voice recording should be done in 44 khz mono. I shouldn't say this, but you guys need your own microphone. Please make sure to eliminate breathing into microphone sounds.
You are free to say your interpretation of the theme as long as it doesn't deviate too far.
1) "All fighters are destroyed, area is secure"
2) "Enemy fighters have arrived"
( continued here)
The guys with the best "comm voices" gets the fighter pilot roles, but there is a strong chance that the people not selected for this role will be delegated for other roles as well, they are as equally important.
NinjaLA has been practicing his Wing Commander sketches quite a bit lately, and now he's ready to explore a larger project. The image below is the cover for a comic idea that's going around lately. Both original ink and colorized versions are available to reveal a bit about the artistic process. Believe it or not, NinjaLA actually came up with this idea and drew it all out without having ever seen the Kilrathi Saga box before. Very impressive!
Partly nostalgia for my favorite game franchise, and partly due to excitement caused by the new availability of Privateer and Wing Commander 1, I decided it was high time that there was a Wing Commander comic as well. It is my hope that it will aid in convincing EA that there is a very healthy and vibrant community and fanbase still around, patiently waiting for a new Wing Commander title. This is a teaser that will probably be the cover of the first issue. It features three of the characters from Major Striker's comic idea from a few years ago: 2nd Leutenant Thomas Halcyon on the left, Captain Sarah Molynieux in the middle and 1st Lieutenant Jonathan "Shadow" Craft, as well as a very important Kilrathi yet to be disclosed.
Goku tipped us off about a Wing Commander discussion in the latest PC Gamer Webcast. In Episode 65, the PCG editors discuss the continued enthusiasm of the Wing Commander community and recent goings-on such as the WC Saga release. They're off on a couple facts (Saga is not a remake of a WC game) and aren't up on the status of the series (Electronic Arts has owned the franchise since 1992), but they're pretty excited that the fans continue to keep things going. Goku cut out the six minutes on Wing Commander and converted it to mp3 format. You can check it out for yourself here (1.5 megs). The entire audio recording is available at the PCGP site.
"It's fantastic that this kind of stuff is out there and I love the fact that the PC gaming world has these communities that will keep this stuff alive... I'd love to see Wing Commander come back as a multi-billion dollar mega-game... The real hope for these homebrew ports is that they send a message to the publishers that there's still a lot of fan interest in these games."
"I'd be surprised if whoever owns the IP is not aware of this."
Space Pirate was inspired by all the pretty fan art that Wingnuts produce, so he's begun a new animation based around some of his favorite ships. The contrasting whites and blacks of his preliminary renders already look pretty classy. These models are just the first step on the way to a battle scene that he's planned out. My money's on the Centurion.
The founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos, has unveiled the first results from his new company's attempts to reach space. Bezos' company Blue Origin posted a video from a test launch of their development vehicle "Goddard". Starting from a launchpad, the craft managed an altitude of 285 feet before beginning its descent back to the ground. That's a little far away from reaching orbit, but it's a start. The project aims to eventually offer commercial flights to low Earth orbit, no doubt offering the flights for sale on Amazon. The full press release along with more photos and a video of the launch can be found here.
1Up reports that Traveller's Tales, the company responsible for Lego Star Wars, has purchased Embryonic Studios. Embryonic Studios is a UK development house started by several Wing Commander veterans -- including Erin Roberts and Paul Hughes. Here's to hoping this deal is exactly what they were hoping for! You can read the entire article here -- it does mention Wing Commander:
Embryonic is a name that has been around for quite some time now, though they've alternatively been known as Warthog and Digital Anvil over the years. Probably the best known game would be the old-school spacefarin' classics Wing Commander: Privateer and its lesser-know sequel, Freelancer.
Online retailers have posted the back copy description of Wing Commander novelist Dr. William Forstchen's next book, Pearl Harbor. The story, co-written with Newt Gingrich, is the first in a series of alternative history novels of the Second World War -- a subject the authors had previously attempted with the critically panned 1945. It is set for a May 15th release, and will probably be accompanied by a high-profile book signing tour. It's worth noting that one of Forstchen's Wing Commander novels, Action Stations, is an allegory for the real world history of Pearl Harbor -- it will be very interesting to compare the two books.
After their New York Times bestselling series on the American Civil War, Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen now turn to the events leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and examine how different decisions might have profoundly changed the history that was yet to unfold. Pearl Harbor departs from conventional WWII novels—it focuses on the Japanese perceptions and decision-making that led them to seek a conflict with America, and offers an unprecedented look into their war strategy.
Poignant and rich with memorable characters—from the Japanese Naval Academy, to the British garrison at Singapore, and the Americans at Bataan— Pearl Harbor is the account of the day that started it all. Layering the historical fact with fictional characters, political motives, and Western/Eastern theories, Gingrich and Forstchen once again prove their strength as historians and storytellers.