Meet Me Midway

The new battlecruisers aren't the only capital ships in Wing Commander Arena. Here's the game's take on the Midway-class Heavy Carrier, also courtesy of Sean Penney. The Midway appears in Arena's single player "Gauntlet" map. Looks like they've done the old girl justice...

That's a Capital Idea

Electronic Arts is watching you... but in a good way! Wing Commander Arena lead Sean Penney has been following the talk on the forums, and noticed that fans were curious about how the capital ships in Arena came to be. Here's his explanation, with a number of the fan images they actually used to work on the design! He also promises that we're going to learn some more background about these ships very soon...
Ben - reading through the forums there are a lot of questions about the battlecruisers - Attached are some of the inspirations for the cap ships.

The battlecruisers are modeled after the destroyer, but were modified a bit to accommodate game play.

We tried to take characteristics from other popular ships and work them into the designs since we couldn't model all of them.

We discussed frankensteining ships together, two halves of different ships, maybe with bombers "Welded" to the hull as additional engines and navigational thrusters - this was intended as a reflection of the way technology has been knocked back out on the frontier, but in the end went with an "inspired vision" that was more traditionally Wing Commander.

That's Just How I Rollins

Skyfox has found something of interest for Wing Commander fans in the UK: actor Courtney Gains, who played Lieutenant Ted Rollins in Wing Commander III, will be appearing at a Memorabilia Convention in Birmingham on March 31st and April 1st. Some lucky locals can celebrate April Fool's Day by meeting Radio Rollins!

But Is It Ours?

The professional opinion seems to be that Wing Commander Arena is a fun game... but many hardcore Wing Commander fans are worried that it won't make proper use of the classic series' extensive continuity. Producer Sean Penney was kind enough to answer a few questions, giving us a glimpse at the kind of work and research Electronic Arts has put into making this a true 'Wing Commander' game. Watch for references to everything from Secret Missions 2 to Chris Roberts' Wing movie!
Q. Have you had previous experience with Wing Commander, either as a developer or as a gamer?
A. My previous experiences with Wing Commander were as a player and fan. Being part of the Star Wars generation (aren't we all, really?) I couldn't get enough sci-fi and the WC franchise was a long time companion. I played them and went through more than a few joysticks.

Q. How will Arena appeal to existing Wing Commander fans?
A. This was a question we asked ourselves a lot during development as we wanted to ensure we did the IP justice. We balanced that with a desire to introduce the WC universe to new players. We were careful in our selection of ships and queried the WC community on our choices. The ships we used are favorites from across the series, and they are true to the IP in more than just form - function and balance were important considerations. Our goal was to offer a fast-paced fun arcade space combat game to WC fans that would also have broad appeal. And being able to fly Kilrathi ships has me excited as a fan too. It's an Arcade title - so think of Wing Commander Arena as a slice of the Wing Commander experience.

Q. Will the game include any familiar Wing Commander elements -- ships, history or the like?
A. Oh yes of course - we've advanced the history in a minor way, and the ships are drawn from across the WC universe, and will be familiar to WC fans. We've updated some to fit in with the frontier-like atmosphere of Arena. For Example:

The A-17 Broadsword Executioner: The Broadsword was first constructed for planetary bombing raids during the Pilgrim War, and was soon adapted to carry torpedoes. Lightly armored but sporting heavy weapons and good missiles as well as a deployable turret and a tractor beam, this bomber is perfect for taking on small, quick fighters.

And

The Dralthi IX Rhino: By far the heaviest Dralthi ever constructed, the Rhino is the equal of the Vaktoth or the Hhriss. Heavily armored and armed, with moderate speed and maneuverability, the Rhino hits hard and keeps on hitting.

Q. When and where in the Wing Commander universe is the game set?
A. The Epsilon Sector, 2701. The Terran Confederation and the Kilrathi Assembly of Clans have beaten back the Nephilim hordes, but at a terrible cost. As the shattered governments focus on rebuilding the core worlds, the frontier has descended into lawlessness. Regional governors hold power through force of arms, as humans and Kilrathi alike fight amongst themselves using the weapons of the last war. Privateers, outlaws and worse take advantage of the situation, eager to make a quick credit in the galaxy's most volatile arena...

Q. Can we expect to see any promotional tie-ins with Arena... web presence, Gamer Pics, XBox themes, etc.?
A. All good ideas

Do You Want To Know More?

Many Wing Commander fans are not familiar with the concepts being thrown around with the Wing Commander Arena announcement -- Xbox 360, Live Arcade, MS Points? It can all be pretty daunting for an old school PC gamer. So if you're Wondering what a Gold Subscription is and whether or not you'll need one for Arena, then you should check out our Xbox FAQ! If you have a question or concern which is not listed, please e-mail us and we'll figure it out!

Video Interview Transcript

If you don't have the bandwidth to download the 230-megabyte Wing Commander Arena video interview from GameSpot, don't worry -- we've put together a text transcript. All the dialogue is from Electronic Arts Line Producer Sean Penney:
Xbox Live Arcade, it's a great platform, it is very innovative, and we wanted to do a space shooter and we wanted to get on to Arcade. Everyone loves Wing Commander, I certainly do, and we were excited about the thought of putting Wing Commander IP with a 16-player action space shooter. So we've got a single player experience and a multiplayer experience. In the single player experience you can unlock ships by playing through a variety of modes. We have training modes, melees, a couple special modes where you're just blowing up asteroids, others that are just total mayhem, and those go on to leaderboards that go online, but I think where the real meat of it is is the, the online play. We've got sixteen player gameplay, which includes 8 on 8 team play or sixteen player free for all play. We also have one on one duels. And we have a specialized arena called the Bearpit where you can have two people go into the pit while the other fourteen wait outside and they can do all sorts of things like shoot at each other or play minigames or shoot inside the Bearpit. We've got capital ship versus capital ship, and there's going to be a lot of strategy there. We've got a capture the flag mode called satellite and then in the free for alls it's, you know, pick your favorite ship and take on the world and we've got specialized environments for them all.

So what we've got in the capital ship versus capital ship is you, you choose a side. You choose to be either Kilrathi or you choose to be human, and that's something you couldn't actually ever do in any of the previous Wing Commander titles. You couldn't play the Kilrathi, and we have nine Kilrathi ships that you can choose from and nine Terran ships that you can choose from. So you choose a side, and each side has their own capital ship, and each capital ship has three levels. On each level there are a series of turrets and missile launches which will be firing at you as you try to destroy them. If you destroy all of the devices and weapons on one level of the capital ship the capital ship actually drops down a level allowing you to then destroy all of the devices and all of the weapons and laser turrets that are on the second level of the ship. If you accomplish that the ship drops down to the final level which is the bridge. Once you destroy the bridge, the ship will break into three pieces and blow up, and you have won the game. So, so your goal in the game is to either attack the capital ship or defend your own capital ship.

So there's eighteen ships total. Each race has three base ships: a light fighter, a heavy fighter and a bomber. Each of the base types has three variations. So, one of the things that the original Wing Commander did was it allowed you to upgrade your ship, and when you upgraded your ships armor, for example, you would get better armor. You wouldn't get more of it, it would be a different alloy. It would be supersteel or duralloy or plasteel or these types of things, but in an arcade game, it's hard to communicate that visually, because arcade games are very visual games, it's not a first person shooter. So what we wanted to do was change the silhouette of the ship, so when you get an armor upgrade for your Arrow it takes on a different silhouette. It gets more armor. So there's three variations of the Arrow, three variations of the Rapier and there's three variations of the bomber, the Broadsword, and on the Kilrathi side it's the same thing. We've got the light fighter, the Darket, the heavy fighter, the Dralthi, and the heavy bomber, the Paktahn, and there's three variations on each one. It's a bit rock paper scissors. You can destroy a heavy bomber with your light Arrow, but you're going to have to play pretty carefully.

Three different types of pickups. There's regenerative pickups which will heal you or it will refill your missiles. Pickups that will enhance you, things like Hammer Shot or Cheap Shot which means it increases the damage you do or it increases your speed or it allows you to fire more often and then a third type of pickup we have is special pickup. These are quite rare, but these are things like energy absorption or supershields or wingmen, which gives you a clone of yourself. One to two would fly beside you and mirror all your actions. So if you fire weapons, they'll fire weapons so you can essentially triple your firepower with these guys.

It's an arcade game, so you want people to be able to just pick it up and play it, but it is a Wing Commander title, it is a space combat game, so you want to add some depth to it. So it's pick up and play, but there's layers of depth. It's the old adage that it takes a moment to learn but a lifetime to master, and I don't know if it would take you a lifetime, but there's a whole series of advance maneuvers, there's extra devices, so with the right stick you can do barrel rolls, you can do flips, you can do immelman turns, you can do 180s and different ships have different special maneuvers that they can do. So Wing Commander Arena should be out early summer.

Arena Video Interview

Thanks to Goliath for reporting this! GameSpot has posted a new interview -- a video conversation with producer/lead designer Sean Penney! This seems tailor made for people who are worried that Arena won't live up to the series legacy. Quotes include: "Everyone loves Wing Commander, I certainly do. And we were excited about the thought of putting the Wing Commander IP with a 16 player action space shooter." and "It's an arcade game, so you want people to be able to just pick up and play it. But it is a Wing Commander title - it is a space combat game, so you want to add some depth to it. So it's pick up and play, but there's layers of depth to it." Stream it online here or download a copy here (231 mb, .WMV). This is what you'll find inside:

Hands On Preview #5

Gaming news site 1Up has posted their preview of Wing Commander Arena! This article is not as in-depth as the previous four, but it still provides some interesting information:
The controls for each ship offer a fair amount of functionality. You can strafe, barrel roll and 180 degree turn, allowing you a bunch of options to shake enemy fire. Of course, what type of ship you arm yourself with before you jump into the fight has a lot to do with how effective the movements will be. Each ship is set to offer different amounts of firepower and maneuverability. The math would be as follows: fast ships + light weapons = fast to turn. You get the idea, so we're moving on.

It's hard to know how this game will catch on, as it's the strangest entry yet into the Wing Commander universe. And although this is no space combat simulator, it could be enough to jump-start the franchise once more. It feels like EA is testing the waters again, not only with today's announcement, but with the recent appearance of Wing Commander on PSP in EA Replay. As it stands, Wing Commander Arena is a decent Xbox Live Arcade experience that looks to be best played with friends.

If you want to know how Arena plays, be sure to also read the previews at IGN, ShackNews, Team Xbox and GameSpot. The word is good!

Wing Commander Arena Media Round-Up #3

Here's another set of shorter, non-preview articles about Wing Commander Arena. It's great that the word is spreading so quickly -- the ESRB's similar announcement of EA Replay 2 received only one mainstream media reference. It's Sunday, so there should be fewer revelations about Arena today... but we will continue to keep you in the look should anything occur. In the mean time, be sure to check out our aggregate page for Arena -- it collects every screenshot, movie and news story released so far into one convenient overview!
  • Multiplayer.ro - First Screenshots of Wing Commander Arena
  • MyGamerCard - Wing Commander Arena
  • GamerSquad - EA Official Announce Wing Commander Arena for XBLA
  • Pro-G - EA ConfirmedWing Commander for XBLA
  • GameGuru.In - Wing Commander Arena for XboxLive Arcade Announced
  • Next Generation - New Wing Commander Heading to XBLA
  • GameWorldNetwork - Wing Commander Arena Coming to XBLA
  • Digg - Wing Commander: Arena and Battlestar Galactica WillDukeIt Out
  • You Newb - Wing Commander Arena- Not Just a Rumor Anymore...
  • Phuze - Wing Commander Arena on XBLA This Summer
  • Phuza - Wing Commander Arena to XBLA
  • QJ.net - Wing Commander Arena confirmed for XBLA
  • Uncle Gamer - Wing Commander Arena Coming to XBLA
  • Xboxyde - EA Give You Wing Commander Arena
  • The Firing Squad - Wing Commander Arena Screenshots
  • Xbox 360 Fanboy - Video & Screens of Wing Commander Arena
  • Digg - First Screenshots of Wing Commander Arena
  • Game Info Wire - Wing Commander Arena
  • Bit-Tech - Wing Commander Confirmed for Xbox 360
  • Games Radar - Resurrection of the Veteran Space Combat Series
  • HD, Baby, One More Time

    BrynS has come to the rescue! He's found unmarked versions of the first six High Definition Wing Commander Arena screenshots. They've been posted by The Firing Squad, who deserve a lot of credit for keeping the internet clean. Here they are, one more time (but are you really tired of these already? I didn't think so.):

    Hands On Preview #4 & More Movies!

    IGN has posted a new hands-on preview of Wing Commander Arena! This one is shorter, but it still seems very positive. Again, note the surprising depth and the interest EA has in pleasing "hardcore" fans:
    How do you create a new game for a franchise that has a hardcore following that pleases the fans and casual gamers alike? That is the question that EA is attempting to answer with Wing Commander, an online 16 player Xbox Live Arcade space shooter due out this summer. The result is an arcade-style game with simple goals that has a surprising amount of depth for a downloadable title.
    They've also posted five new preview videos! Among other highlights, you'll get your first look at the ship selection screen, which is one of the coolest looking parts of the game...

    #1 - "Bring It" - An Arrow in an asteroid field. (19.5mb WMV, 19.2mb MOV)
    #2 - "Multiplayer Combat" - Includes ship selection! (38.5mb WMV, 36.9mb MOV)
    #3 - "Target Acquired" - CapShip Combat. (23.2mb WMV, 22.9mb MOV)
    #4 - "Attack!" - Rapiers in an asteroid field. (44.7mb WMV, 44.3mb MOV)
    #5 - "Dusty Rings" - Asteroids Mode. (19.7mb WMV, 19.5mb MOV)

    You can find other preview videos at our Wing Commander Arena page. Here's what the new set looks like:

    Wing Commander Arena Media Round-Up #2

    Here's the second day of introductory Wing Commander Arena articles from the mainstream media. As always, please e-mail or post any additions!
  • TG Daily - Wing Commander Makes a Comback on XBLA
  • Planet Xbox 360 - Wing Commander to Invade XBLA
  • CHUD - Gaming NewsRoundup
  • Gametactics - EA Announces Wing Commander Arena for XBLA
  • Team Xbox - Wing Commander Arena Screenshots
  • UGO - Wing Commander Makes a Comeback
  • PALGN - Wing Commander Returns
  • iWire - Old Favourites Coming to Next-Gen Console Near You
  • Hands On Article #3

    Following in the footsteps of GameSpot and Team Xbox comes another Wing Commander Arena preview -- this one from Shacknews. It sounds extremely promising, and confirms that the Arena team hasn't been taking liberties with our continuity:
    On the human side, the light fighters are variants on the F-27 Arrow, heavy fighters are models of the F-44A Rapier II, and bombers are based on the A-17 Broadsword. Kilrathi light fighters are modelled off of the Darket, heavy fighters off of the Dralthi, and bombers off of the Paktahn. Weapons too will be familiar, and as in past Wing Commander games the weaponry of the two races largely overlaps. Ships are armed with guns such as the laser cannon, meson blaster, tachyon gun, neutron gun, ionic pulse cannon, plasma gun, and mass driver cannon; heavier weapons include the dart DF (dumbfire, i.e. unguided), javelin HS (heat-seeking), vampire HS, porcupine mines, and lance torpedo.

    There is no single-player narrative in Wing Commander Arena, though there is a text prologue as well as various bits of flavor text scattered throughout the game to provide context and color for the setting. Despite the lack of a campaign component, there are four single-player gameplay modes.

    Developer Website Updated

    Cardinal has come across some excellent news -- the Gaia Industries website has been updated with information about Wing Commander Arena! Most importantly, it includes four new screenshots... including a nice logo with a pre-rendered Rapier, the menu screen and then two action shots!

    Another Arena Impression

    Team Xbox has posted a two-page hands-on preview of Wing Commander Arena! This preview differs from an earlier such article posted by GameSpot in that it's more focused on how the game works for existing Xbox fans: it includes paragrahs on things like what some of the Achievements included in the release are. Here's the verdict:
    In the course of a couple of hours, we were able to try out a number of the single-player and multiplayer modes. Most of the action was smooth, despite many of the battles comprised of a dozen people in a confined area, all firing missiles at each other. Frame-rate glitches and camera foibles occurred, but EA Canada’s Penney explained that there’s still time in the development cycle for these to be cleaned up before the game becomes publicly available. While EA hasn’t offered a firm release date, a person close to the project told TeamXbox that it’s being groomed for posting to Marketplace around May. Similarly, no pricing was indicated other than the standard statement that it’ll be in line with other XBLA offerings.

    First Arena Interview

    Gamasutra has posted an interview with the man in charge of the Arena -- EA Producer and Lead Designer Sean Penney. Here's some choice comments:
    "People talk about Nintendo being innovative with the Wii controller. They ask, 'What's Microsoft's innovation?' Well, I think that their innovation is Xbox Live." The EA designer said that Wing Commander Arena has been in development for eight months. At the beginning, he said, EA was shopping the license around to a number of smaller third party shops. "You know EA, though," he added, "they're very cautious."

    As for development process, Penney was extremely complimentary of the Xbox Live system, saying that coding has gone smoothly, and that he feels EA's deep pockets will afford the company time to polish its offerings in a way that is not common on the service today.

    Penney concluded by suggesting that EA intends to differentiate itself on the service through the quality of its titles and the patience demonstrated in its development cycles - something it is also striving for in the recently announced, Bizarre Creations-developed Boom Boom Rocket, shown alongside Wing Commander Arena.

    Arena Spring's Forth

    Electronic Arts has published a 'fact sheet' for Wing Commander Arena, complete with a new screenshot and a very high resolution logo. Take a good look at that -- you can see all kinds of details on the little fighters around 'Wing'. This release runs down all the numbers, and also gives a more optimistic hope for the release date -- late spring. Here's the word:
    Wing Commander Arena blends classic arcade gameplay with modern multi-player mayhem.

    The beloved Wing Commander franchise is back with an all-new game for Xbox Live Arcade. Form a squad, propel your ship through space, fire torpedoes, unleash deadly gravity bombs, and destroy enemy armadas as you try to climb the leaderboard. Online players compete for Frag count, high score and duelling stats. Offline the game offers four modes with online leaderboards where it's pure arcade style competition.

    EA launches onto Xbox Live Arcade with Wing Commander Arena delivering 10 minutes or 10 hours of space combat entertainment. With four styles of gameplay players can play in single player mode or play with up to 16 players for an all out online space combat melee.

    Wing Commander Arena offers everything a space combat rookie or a veteran Wing Commander pilot would expect from the game: Team Duels, Free for all play, single player modes, 18 different ships within nine environments.

    Key Features

    # With up to 16 players, Wing Commander Arena offers the largest multi-player melee experience to date on Xbox Live Arcade.

    # The classic brand has now been rebuilt to maximize the Xbox Live Arcade feature set while providing the largest modern multi-player arcade experience available.

    # 4 types of gameplay: single player, multi-team, multi-player free for all and both one on one and multi-player duel

    # 8 maps, including team maps, free for all maps and dueling maps

    # 18 ships in nine environments

    # 2 Races with 18 ships for light fighters, medium fighter, bombers. Cloaking devices, energy sucking torpedoes, mines, homing missiles, energy weapons and a myriad of other guns, weapons and devices.

    Publisher: Electronic Arts Inc.
    Developer: Gaia Industries
    Ship Date: Late Spring 2007

    More Movies!

    GameVideos has posted a new Wing Commander Arena trailer -- two minutes of action that show off the loading screen (with a familiar starbase!), the melee mode, the asteroids game and the starbase map. Exciting stuff! Here's a preview:

    You can grab the movie here (28.7MB WMV) or here (36.7MB MOV).

    Take Me Higher

    Wondering why the first batch of Arena screenshots seems disappointing compared to the awesome gameplay movies? Apparently it's GameSpot's fault, as IGN has now posted less compressed full resolution versions of each image -- plus a seventh! The trade-off? A nasty watermark in each corner. Hopefully Electronic Arts' press site will have full versions of these available soon.

    Wing Commander Arena Media Round-Up #1

    Here's a collection of major news sites' articles on the Wing Commander Arena announcement... the buzz seems very positive, and the news has certainly spread very quickly! If you have any you would like to add, please contact us or post to the new Message Board.
  • Playfuls.com - Wing Commander Arena Confirmed for Xbox Live
  • The Game Feed - Wing Commander Flies on Xbox 360
  • GameFreaks365 - EA Launches Wing Commander Arena onto XBLA
  • GamePro - Wing Commander Franchise Resurrected for XBLA
  • Total Video Games - Wing Commander Returns
  • TeamXbox - XBLA: EA Announces Wing Commander Arena
  • Kotaku - EA: Wing Commander Coming to Live Arcade
  • Eurogamer - Wing Commander for XBLA
  • CVG Online - EA Brings Wing Commander to XBLA
  • Pro-G - EA Confirms Wing Commander for XBLA
  • Boomtown - EA Confirms Wing Commander Arena
  • TechShout! - Wing Commander Arena Brought to XBLA by EA
  • Totally360 - EA Announces Another Upcoming Title for Arcade
  • GamesAreFun - Wing Commander Returns, Flies to XBLA
  • Xboxic - Wing Commander Arena Announced
  • 1Up - Wing Commander Confirmed for XBLA
  • Gaming Target - Wing Commander Returns on XBLA
  • GameDAILY - EA Rolls Out Wing Commander
  • Next Generation - New Wing Commander Heading to XBLA
  • DailyGame - Wing Commander Coming to XBLA
  • GamingNexus - Wing Commander Coming to XBLA
  • GameSpot - Wing Commander Flies to XBLA
  • Gamasutra - EA Brings Wing Commander to Live Arcade
  • Game Informer - Wing Commander to Return to Consoles
  • Ve3d - Wing Commander Arena Announced
  • Gameworld Network - Wing Commander Arena Coming to XBLA
  • Spong - EA Confirms Wing Commander for XBLA
  • Comic Book Bin - Arena Football Arrives At Stores (Really)
  • And just to be complete, here's a collection of articles about the ESRB 'rumor' from the day before:
  • Pro-G - Wing Commander Franchise Rebortn on Xbox 360?
  • CVG Online - Wing Commander Jetting to XBLA?
  • Boomtown - Wing Commander Coming to X360?
  • Play.tm - Wing Commander Returning
  • Eurogamer - Wing Commander On 360
  • Guardian Unlimited - Wing Commander Returning on XBox 360?
  • TeamXbox - ESRB Reveals New Xbox Live Arcade Games
  • Fagland - Wing Commander Preparing a Comeback?
  • Video Game Blogger - Wing Commander Arena rated for Xbox 360
  • Xbox 360 Fanboy - Wing Commander Coming to 360?
  • QJ.net - All-new Wing Commander Coming to XBox360
  • Siliconera - Wing Commander... Revived on the 360?
  • Joystiq - EA Resurrecting Wing Commander on Xbox 360?
  • XBLArcade - Wing Commander on the Arcade?
  • Blongo - Wing Commander Arena Naar Xbox 360?
  • BREAKING NEWS: First Hands On & Gameplay Movies!

    Just when you thought the day couldn't get any better, GameSpot has done it again, premiering even more Arena content! This time it's a hands on article extolling the game's virtues and two high definition movies showing off the gameplay -- you can easily see that the game itself looks far more spectacular than the first set of screenshots suggested. Moreover, if the press release left you wondering exactly how Arena works, then this article is a must read! The verdict professional? "a game that is both respectful to the Wing Commander legacy but also approachable to an entirely new generation of players." Here's a sample of how the game controls work:
    Controls in Arena are simple enough to pick up though not without their subtleties. You move your ship with the two analog sticks; the left stick controls your thruster, and the right stick, your steering. Your ship seems basically stuck on a single plane in the game, so you won't be able to approach an enemy from above or below. That said, there are some special maneuvers you can pull off with the right stick when the going gets tough, including barrel rolls, loops, and 180 degree turns, the latter of which is perhaps the most useful. All weapons are fired with the two triggers and the two bumpers on the Xbox 360 controller and while blasters are more or less unlimited (governed only by your ship's energy level), you have a finite amount of rockets. Even so, don't expect to live long in Arena battles--our typical tactic was to face down an opponent and then unload with every weapon we had until we died. You can choose a new type of ship in between spawns if your current ship isn't working out.
    Lower resolution versions of the movie are available for free, but the 1280x720 is for paying GameSpot subscribers only. Here's what the game looks like in all its glory:

    BREAKING NEWS: First Arena Screenshots!

    GameSpot has published the first six screenshots from Wing Commander Arena! The first screenshot shows multiplayer combat in open space, the second is a single player asteroid-style game, the third is a multiplayer space station map, the fourth is a single player melee map (centering around a Midway-class carrier) and then the fifth and six display the game's spectacular capital ship combat multiplayer mode. Sharp eyed WingNuts will notice some very familiar ships... amazing!

    BREAKING NEWS: Wing Commander Arena Announced!

    Simple words do not express the excitement of this moment. Wing Commander fans have waited nearly a decade since the release of Secret Ops... and today we learn that our years of dedication were not in vain: Electronic Arts has officially announced Wing Commander Arena for XBox Live Arcade! Arena focuses on multiplayer action, and includes game modes for up to sixteen players at once! Here's the official press release and logo:
    EA Launches Wing Commander Arena onto Xbox LIVE Arcade
    Thursday February 22, 1:00 pm ET
    Legendary Game Franchise Delivers 16-Player Online Space Combat

    REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS - News) today announced the return of its beloved Wing Commander(TM) franchise with Wing Commander Arena in development for the Xbox LIVE® Arcade(1). With up to 16 players, Wing Commander Arena offers the largest multi-player melee experience to date on Xbox LIVE Arcade. The game is scheduled to go live worldwide on the Arcade service in Summer 2007.

    Wing Commander Arena is a fast-paced space combat game where players can team up to attack other teams of ships. The game introduces the classic franchise to an arcade-style experience that allows up to 16 players online in battle at once. Players can propel their customized ship through space, fire torpedoes and unleash deadly gravity bombs as they try to climb the leader board. Online players will compete for Frag count, high score and dueling stats.

    "We're really excited to deliver unparalleled multi-player arcade action," said Chip Lange, EA Vice President. "The design for Wing Commander will appeal to both long-time fans of the franchise and immediately engage anyone who wants the melee style action of an arcade shooter."

    Wing Commander Arena will feature four styles of play: single player, multi-team, multi-player free for all and multi-player duel. Within the game there are eight game maps that include team maps, free for all maps and dueling maps, so Wing Commander Arena offers a gameplay experience for every Arcade gamer, whether they want a quick ten minutes of action or a longer more immersive game.

    Wing Commander Arena is produced and published by Electronic Arts and cooperatively developed with Gaia Industries. This is the second EA title for Xbox LIVE Arcade with EA's first title Boom Boom Rocket set to launch this Spring.

    (1) Players must have an Xbox LIVE marketplace account to play Wing Commander Arena.

    Welcome Everyone!

    To everyone tuning in following Electronic Arts' announcement of Wing Commander Arena: Welcome to the CIC! We have been a center for the Wing Commander online community since 1995 -- we run daily updates and provide a wealth of archived information on the series and its universe.

    To help those unfamiliar with Wing Commander, we have put together a Background Guide.. hopefully it will help explain why Wing Commander is such an important franchise and also offer information on classic releases for those who are curious.

    It goes without saying that we will be reporting on the release of Arena to the best of our abilities -- we hope you'll join the community!

    Zone Back In!

    The Wing Commander CIC Forums have been updated with a new message board for Wing Commander Arena... and that's not all -- we've added GamerCard support! If you have an XBox Live account, here's how to add it to your Chat Zone identity:

    1. Go to your profile.
    2. Scroll down to "Additional Information".
    3. Enter your GamerTag.
    4. Save changes.

    Your 'tag will appear under your name whenever you post to the Arena message board -- here's to a future when 'Wing Commander' is the most recently played game!

    Interested in adding other Wing Commander fans to your Live friends list? You can find an automatically updated list here!

    BREAKING NEWS: ESRB Announces Rating for 'Wing Commander Arena'

    Silconera is reporting that the Entertainment Software Rating Board has granted an "E for Everyone" score to a game titled Wing Commander Arena by Electronic Arts. Along with an XBox 360 listing, they cited Fantasy Violence in the content description box. Joystiq's XBox 360 Site had these thoughts:
    This opens up more than a few questions. First, will the game be a retail release or an Xbox Live Arcade port of an older title? The fact that it's already rated means it must be complete, and we find it hard to believe that a new retail title would have remained under wraps this long. Besides, the ESRB has provided us with plenty of good XBLA leads lately.
    Note that the ESRB recently rated the unannounced EA Replay 2. We'll have more information on this exciting rumor as it becomes available. Thanks to lxi for spotting this first.

    Join The Fun

    Although there is no further information on today's top update yet, the CIC staff and friends have been using XBox Live to play online for quite a while, and we'd be happy to have a few more people join us. XBox Live is the special gaming network supported by the XBox 360, and XBL Arcade is an area where players can download games directly to their consoles. These games range from retro classics to elaborate brand new titles. Here's a few shots of us playing the Arcade game Uno this past weekend.

    More Paper Models Under Construction

    Here's a preview of the new paper models that Péricles is working on. Two beautiful Broadswords are leading the way. Both are the same geometric model, but they feature characteristic paint schemes from Wing Commander 2 and Privateer 1. The Vampire, Jrathek and Dralthi VII are also coming along. All but the Dralthi are tentatively broken down into their streamlined 3D versions and awaiting construction. When complete, each fighter should be a 1/200 scale reproduction of the original. You can check out some of his previous designs here. Portuguese readers can also learn more at his website.

    The models in general are made starting from meshes and extracted textures from the original games or mods and add ons for other games. The meshes in different formats are converted to cob format and, if necessary, edited in the software Metasequoia and unfolded in editor Pepakura Designer. Customizations sometime occur with cockpit, landing gear and canopies.

    Scramble Through Time

    Magnum ran across an old World War 2 informational video, and something about it seemed pretty familiar. A couple of scenes in the short clip come across as the inspirations for scramble sequences in Wing Commander 1 & 2. I'd chalk up any specific similarities to the fact that WC is simply based on carrier warfare in general, but the resemblance is neat either way. You can grab the clip here (6 meg xvid).


    German Conversion Patch For WC2 Released

    Wing Commander has always had a huge following in Germany, and German translations of Wing Commander games and books have existed since the early days of the series. Some European variants were produced in relatively small numbers however, and this was the case with Wing Commander 2. Karl Frank has created an English to German patch to help fix this. Just unzip this file to the Wing Commander 2 directory and play. Floppy disk versions must already be installed on the hard drive, although the zip will translate the installation menu text as well. Note that this only alters subtitles (both cinematics and in flight) and not speech. It's always a good idea to create a backup copy before overwriting too.



    Queeg Releases 'Final' WC3 Cut

    Queeg has put together a third and final cut of his Heart of the Tiger movie project. He has combined highlights from the story and gameplay into an intense two hour film. Fans who downloaded previous versions might not need to grab this one, but there are a few significant changes (detailed below). You can download the movie here. Grab the XviD codec or VLC player if you cannot view the file. We also recommend a download manager like GetRight to help the 750 meg clip along.
    Well, it has been nearly a year but I'm ready to put this project to rest. The movie is finished completely. The changes this time aren't quite as dramatic as between the first two versions.

    Changes In Final Version - (Length shortened to 1 hour 58 minutes)

    • Video converted to standard 16:9 widescreen (without distorting the picture). This to allow better compatibility and so the movie isn't too letterboxed.
    • A lot of audio re-dubbed for clearer sound and better transistion between scenes (Annoying pops and clicks etc removed)
    • Missions re-edited and some removed, most missions shorter to keep the pace. New background music in important missions and subtitles size decreased.
    • Unimportant scenes cut out and a few new ones added
    There's a few other subtle changes but thats all. It's basically just a fixed up version of the second film, but it does flow better.

    More Multima Coming In 2007

    In addition to the Kingdom Reborn upgrade being prepped for release soon, details about the next full-fledged expansion pack to Ultima Online have reached the news. Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss shares its name with the original Ultima Underworld game from 1992. It adds playable gargoyle characters, larger dungeons and will require the otherwise-optional UOKR refresh. This is all part of a major EA push to revitalize the Ultima franchise and bring classic Origin titles more into the spotlight. The EA Mythic/UO team has its next Town Hall fan meeting scheduled for next Saturday, February 24, in New York.
    According to producer Aaron Cohen, these updates will represent "the largest investment EA has made in UO since the game launched." Cohen also noted that Kingdom Reborn will launch "this spring," while the Stygian Abyss expansion will launch "this summer."

    Yeah! You're Nailed, Pal!

    Here's another look at the status of Privateer Ascii Sector. This is the first time we've seen the cockpit in a while, and there have been some improvements. The most obvious item is the communications window. When players need to send a message to another ship, this box appears and voice commands are chosen with the number keys. Incoming transmissions will appear at the bottom of the screen. Planetary landings have also been adjusted to take advantage of the comm VDU, and this will allow pilots to fly over or around a base without getting sucked in by the automatic landing system.
    I was originally planning to work on turrets next, but I think I'll make a basic AI, since I need the computer controlled ships be able to shoot guns and fire missiles for some of the communication (like the taunting "Yeah, you're nailed pal!" when you're hit by enemy fire).

    While working on communication, I changed the procedure for landing on planets and bases. Originally, you just had to fly into the planet or base and you'd land. Now you can fly across a planet or base (and fire guns and missiles across it), so that it in a sense it is in the background. When you get close enough, you get the "Entering automatic landing zone" message and can then send a "Requesting automatic landing" message to them. Just like when jumping, your ship will be immobile and beyond your control for a short moment before it lands on the planet/base.

    Hidden in Plain Sight

    GameSpot has done a little detective work of their own, and they've come up with more evidence that EA Replay 2 is in the works! Apparently the ESRB now reports that the game has been submitted for a content rating:
    The ESRB database also includes ratings for a few retro collections. EA Replay 2 on the PlayStation Portable--which hasn't been confirmed by the publisher but was spotted at online retailers earlier this year--received a T for Teen, with content descriptors for blood and violence.
    If the game has already been rated, there's a good chance it will be out very soon -- the original rumors listed a February 19th release date. There's no evidence that Replay 2 will include any Wing Commander games, but ... there's always hope!

    Sound's Good

    A series of special Game Developers Choice Awards for 2007 have been announced... and there's one for Wing Commander veteran George "The Fatman" Sanger. The man responsible for some of the most recognizable video game music in history has earned the "Community Contribution Award", detailed below:
    The Community Contribution Award is presented to a developer who embodies the spirit of community and encourages improvement among peers. George "The Fatman" Sanger, music and sound designer for more than 250 games, including LOOM, Wing Commander, The 7th Guest, NASCAR Racing, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo and ATF, will receive this year's award for his development of programs that enrich and encourage advancements within the interactive audio community and industry in general.

    Sanger has been creating music and other audio for games since Thin Ice for Intellivision in 1983. In 1991, at the first Spotlight Awards, the Audio award went to Sanger's Wing Commander, and one of the only other two nominees was Sanger's LOOM. At various developer conferences, Sanger has hosted "Demo Marathons" to allow game producers to be exposed to the music of many musicians from all over the world in a single sitting. His writings in his Music and Computers Magazine column, "Ride the Wired Surf," were meant to promote ideals and attitudes that would lead to better music on computers. On the edge of the Canyon of the Eagles over the Colorado River, Sanger hosts both the annual Texas Interactive Music Conference and BBQ (Project Bar-B-Q), the computer/music industry's most prestigious and influential conference. Based on 11 successful years of influencing and galvanizing the audio and technical community at BBQ, in 2006 Sanger hosted the first Project Horseshoe, an intense think-tank aimed at solving game design's toughest problems. Sanger's book, "The Fat Man on Game Audio: Tasty Morsels of Sonic Goodness," is less a technical work than a treatise on the benefits of living creatively and treating people well.

    You can read the entire press release here.

    Nobody Respects Tomb Raider

    The Firing Squad has taken on a tired-and-true topic -- the quality of video game movies. The article, "From CPU to Cinema: Why Unforgettable Games Make Unforgivable Films", hits... all the same bases. Here's the trick: this one is part of a contest to decide who the popular gaming site's next editor should be. What does it say about our favorite series?
    Take for instance the cinematization of Wing Commander a series of games whose major strongpoint was the gripping storyline that played itself out in a series cut-scenes as you progressed through the games. You grew to care about the characters, brought to life in later installments by such wonderful actors as John Rhys- Davies and Mark Hamill, as they battled alongside you tooth and nail( or mass driver cannon, and heat-seeking, missile as the case may be) against the relentless Kilrathi, while each dealing with the harsh realities of war in their own ways. The story driven action is what made the Wing Commander games a hit, yet when Wing Commander the movie arrived in theaters the storyline followed in the games was completely discarded and replaced by a helter-skelter plot about a long lost tribe of discriminated space navigators and a one dimensional, evil alien, crew obsessed with getting their paws on a human navigational computer. None of the games’ actors were even present and those that reprised their roles came off as second rate at best.
    None were present and those that reprised their roles? Regardless of your feelings about Wing Commander in particuler, we have...seen... this... before. Vote accordingly!

    Holding The Line Chapter 215

    It's time again for your monthly fix of Holding The Line. The project is now in its eighth year after celebrating its anniversary last month. Here's Raptor with his introduction to the latest chapter.
    HTL continues with the second part of Check And Mate II, written by myself and Joe Guida. As you saw in the last chapter, the Confed pilots were recovering back aboard the Yorktown after their initial strike against the Nephilim carrier, and preparing for the follow up missions. This chapter follows the group who were detached back to the Valeria to help co-ordinate the joint operation. Please send any and all comments to myself or to Joe at captpowell1 at yahoo.com.

    http://www.holdingtheline.net/800/8ch215.htm

    Best, Raptor

    Are You An Artist?

    Forums user Pedro is looking for an artist to help him with a project that he is working on. It's a DirectX based space combat engine which could one day be used by fan projects to create their own games. His previous credits include Unknown Enemy the unreleased WC X-Type. Right now Pedro is looking for someone to give advice on artistic effects and eventually produce some 3D models for the engine. If you think you can help, this is the thread to check out.

    Under Extreme Duress

    Hudson has released a few shots of his latest fighter. Rather than simply clean up and sharpen a classic Privateer 2 design, he opted for a completely new variant based on an original. The Duress "MKII" appears to be a more streamlined model with sharply angled canards and swept winglets. Special red squadron markings were added to the standard paint scheme to tie in with the next segment of Deacon's Das Erwachen series.

    To avoid some questions: the colors of Hudson's fighter comes from book II of the "Erwachen" - series. Hudson did his first duty inside the "Red Stars" wing, which is one of the best battle groups from Hades.
    Here is the earlier ML01 Duress for comparison.

    Happy Valentines Day

    Love Is... the point defense variant of an Arrow V-class light fighter. This year, be sure to take a moment and reflect on all the great stories of true love presented in Wing Commander: Bear and Svetlana, Blair and Angel, Brownhair and Miggs...

    Flags Of Our Sons

    Bob and Shaggy have been working on recreating the Confederation flag as it appears in the Wing Commander Movie. Their source image is intentionally weathered and without color, so there is some room for debate on the specific design. Bob's composition emphasizes subtle stripes present in the original picture, while Shaggy relies more on color to contrast certain areas. Klavs also recently outlined a black and white variant that is slightly different as well. They all began working on flag designs independently, so it's interesting to see how each turned out. You can help provide feedback at Crius.net.
    Bob: I should emphasize, once again, that the color scheme in this - and in every other version - is purely speculative; we don't actually know what the colors are, and I based the ones here on the flags at the end of Wing Commander IV.

    Fan Fiction Explores Alternate Universe

    WingFan06 has posted the first chapter in his story titled 'Wing Commander V: Eternal Vigilance'. A prelude was released a couple of weeks ago.
    Eternal Vigilance is my adaptation of what I think should have happened a month before and 5 years after Wing Commander IV, this is in no way ‘Canon’ as most Fan Ficts aren’t... So, a few of the things we know in the Wing Commander Series may change. View this, as an alternate reality if you will... I'm just trying to see how this idea would play out, so. Everyone who reads I appreciate any feedback!

    Keep in mind since some things have changed, I'm going to write as if Prophecy never happened 'Hence the reason why I number this as Wing Commander V'. The reason being, I have different ideas for what happens before and after TPOF. Firstly Col. Blair was exiled from Con-Fed for being a Traitor, and it was never found out that Con-Fed was starting to become corrupt... So, in fact Con-Fed is now becoming its own worst enemy.

    You can read the short prequel story and the first chapter here. Let him know what you think!

    Walmart Distributing Wing Commander Online

    Walmart has joined Amazon and IGN in offering movie downloads via the internet. After Wing Commander's success at the other two sites, it's no surprise to see the WC Movie again here. It appears that Walmart's digital versions are unchanged from previous releases. Like with other services, a download manager is provided to organize your movies, and viewing is limited to a certain number of devices. The price is competitive at $7.50 instead of $10, but the cheapest way to pick up the movie is still on DVD.

    Synopsis: Blair, a fighter pilot, joins an interstellar war to fight against the evil Kilrathi who are trying to destroy the Universe.

    DragonCon Prices Increase This Week

    With just a little more than six months remaining until DragonCon 2007, prices for four-day convention passes are due to increase this week. They will remain at $50 until Thursday, February 15. Host hotels began to fill up around March last year, so we'll be formalizing our arrangements soon. Check out the 2006 gallery if you're thinking about joining us this year.

    There's No Dork Here

    The Dorkathi is a fun ship to run across. It's great to line up, lay some steady fire down on his engines and watch the big explosion. And who could resist clustering eight Dorkathi for some Mace Missile practice in Academy? Marc has cleaned up the textures on this classic transport and posed it for everyone to see.

    Concordia: We’ve detected a pair of Dorkathi troop transports in the system. We don’t know why they have strayed from their destroyer escort, but you and Stingray will intercept them and stop them from rejoining their convoy.

    Stingray: Roger that, and lemme at ’em, Concordia!

    Concordia: Glad to hear your enthusiasm, Stingray. Just keep it under control. We’ve beamed you an updated patrol pattern, putting you on an intercept with the transports.

    Maverick: Roger, Concordia. Each of those transports can carry over a thousand enemy troops...

    Concordia: Correct, Maverick. Each transport you take out is a thousand troops our Marines don’t have to worry about. We expect that they’ll have a fighter escort, so be careful. The transports are your main targets, so don’t let them escape.

    Bad News For The British And French

    It looks like the wait has gotten a little longer for European Wing Commander fans who are planning to pick up EA Replay. The release dates listed at both Amazon and the EA Press site have changed from February 23 to March 16 for the UK and March 15 in France. No other information has changed, and Germany still seems to be on track for a February 22 launch at this time. If it makes it, that would rule out localization problems. Whatever happens, it will undoubtably be worth the wait.

    Klavs Creates Clothing Sample Patterns

    Klavs81 has a few new pieces of WC art to share today. These were made while he was playing around with the idea of Wing Commander themed clothing through places like Spreadshirt, Custom Ink or CafePress. He's mocked up a Confederation flag from the WC Movie, a Ferret side profile, a Rapier's top silhouette and a Confed star emblem. If these are useful to you, I'd also recommend checking out a couple more Confed star variants by other artists here.
    I was attempting to design my own WC themed shirts, and I thought, why be stingy? Feel free to use these to create your own aparrel. Personally, I love my official Confederation panties!

    EA Japan Shutting Down

    GameSpot has confirmed a report that Electronic Arts is closing down its internal studio in Tokyo. EA Japan's only completely finished title in its three year history has been Theme Park DS. Other games that were in various stages of production will be handled through contracted teams managed by major hubs like EA Canada or EA LA/Redwood Shores. The company's total worldwide employee rolls have increased 14% in the last year to more than 7,750 personnel.

    Give Me a Resin

    There's more Wing Commander models from Kiyara! He's added the Confederation, Ralari, Fralthi, Snakeir, Sivar, WC3-style Confederation Destroyer, Rapier and 'movie' Bengal to his lineup... and they all look fantastic. Interested parties can buy any of these resin models at his website. You can see some of his previous work here.

    Standoff's State of the Union

    It's time for a long-awaited status update from the Wing Commander Standoff mod for Secret Ops! After a year of slow progress, the mod seems to be moving at full steam again:
    January has seen a lot of progress, and February's started out rather well, too. In terms of missions, we're now almost halfway through Episode 4's winning path, and Quarto claims he's going to get ALL the remaining winning path missions done in February. In the meantime, cutscenes are also doing very well - in fact, they've been notched up to green status on the progress page. Mind you, "cutscenes" on the progress page refers to game engine cutscenes - FMV status is shown under "additional videos", and remains more or less unchanged (...but I'm working on it). In addition, the splash screens you'll see at the end of Episode 4 are also done now.

    And that's not all - we've also been making a lot of progress in the voiceover department. At long, long bloody last, all the lines to be recorded have been sent out to the actors. One or two people haven't gotten back to us yet, so we may end up having to look for a few additional folks for minor roles (capship comm officers and the like), but most of the others have been promising to deliver their lines in a few weeks at the most. And we're not talking only about Episode 4 in this regard - Episode 5 is being done, too. Hopefully, this will reduce the waiting time between Episode 4's release and the final episode considerably.

    Paper, Paper, Everywhere

    A Wing Commander fan named Péricles has made some very impressive paper models, including the Dralthi, Jalthi, Sabre and Rapier II. He's also put together Anthony Greenfield's SWACS model! You can find more details at his website here, and see more Wing Commander paper models here. Take a look:

    You can download the models below:

    Six from Saga

    The Wing Commander Saga mod for FreeSpace 2 has released several new screenshots. Here's the official word:
    The first six are action shots from one of our simulator missions in which the player is desperately trying to save the carrier Ticonderoga from an intense Kat assault. In the next three screenshots (run through an ATI post process filter), some of our nebulae provide a backdrop for a conflict between Confed and Kilrathi capital ships. Confed comes out on top… this time.
    The Confederate starships are rather dark, but the Kilrathi fighters look very impressive -- it's always great to see a Gothri!

    Wing Commander Games Very Compatible With Windows Vista

    Last summer we gave the Windows Vista Beta 2 a spin to see how well Wing Commander games designed for Windows 95 would run, and the initial results were promising. Now that the final release is available, Sarty has been able to completely play through a battery of WC games for an update. Although his trials reflect compatibility with just one system, the results are surprisingly positive. It appears that virtually every Wing Commander title designed for Windows runs well. Not only is compatibility mode rarely needed to achieve stability, but some traditional Windows XP bugs have even disappeared in Vista! Here's his complete report:
    • WC1 (KS) - Runs fine without compatibility mode activated. Colors invert and stay inverted whenever I alt-tab out.
    • WC2 (KS) - Runs fine without compatibility mode activated. No obvious problems.
    • WC3 (KS) - Runs okay without compatibility mode activated. Colors invert and stay inverted whenever I alt-tab out. Problems with random colorization, running on Win95 compatibility seems to fix the problem.
    • WC4 - Both CD and DVD versions run fine without compatibility mode activated. No obvious problems.
    • WCP - Runs fine without compatibility mode activated. Even the typical video-skip bug that I always had was not a problem.
    • WCSO - Requires compatibility mode to be activated, Win98 worked fine. No other problems during run through of the game.
    • DOSbox works just as well as it did on XP with Privateer, Academy, and Armada.
    No explanation for the color inversion. Even running in compatibility mode doesn’t seem to fix it, so I’m assuming it is something to do with my hardware.
    Note that Sarty is still working on testing Privateer 2, but the game already functioned properly during our initial beta trials. We still expect there to be occasional hiccups and issues with specific hardware configurations, but we're quite happy that the new operating system won't hold back Wing Commander fans trying to play their favorite games in the future.

    Run DOS Games Easily Too

    Wing Commander games developed for Windows aren't the only ones that run well in XP and Vista. With the aid of programs like DOSBox, all of the original DOS WC titles run in Windows (and MacOS/Lunix) with a little setup! The DOSBox interface and standard DOS installations can be tricky at first, but the CIC Tech Support section has detailed instructions to help. Just follow our step-by-step walkthroughs and you should be all set. If you still have trouble getting any Wing Commander game to play, stop by the CIC Tech Support Forum to get additional help from expert Wingnuts.


    Bridge Commander Mod Beta 2 Released

    BES has released a second beta version of his Star Trek: Bridge Commander mod. This is actually just an interim test, since he is hard at work on further enhancements to the project. There are a handful of known bugs and issues with this release, but BES would appreciate the feedback to improve future versions. The issues mainly pertain to things like textures and model scaling, but some ships will cause the mod to crash. Quite a few Terran and Kilrathi ships are included though, and the next iteration will include Nephilim craft. You can grab the 17 meg pack here. The BC Mod Installer is required, and installation instructions are included in the zip.
    It is not done yet, but it will show people my progress. I welcome positive feedback about it. I have MUCH to do yet, but I've taken suggestions from many people that want to see what I've done so far... Things to do still:
    • I have to make all new models low poly so they can be ported to milkshape from 3DS and exported into a .NIF.
    • I need to balance the ships more. Ships seem too powerful after testing them for a bit. I need to rehard-point some weapons arcs and stuff.
    • I need to script a point defense system so the ships act like real Wing Commander ships.
    • I have to make missions with whole sectors planets, stations, etc.
    • I need to finish the icons (main ship menu in quick battle).

    Saga Prologue Still Coming To Linux

    With the Macintosh launch following so fast after its Windows counterpart, Lunix users held out hope for a quick release of their WC Saga prologue. It's still coming, but new problems have caused delays. Here's Sphynx with a few more details.
    A few bugs that have slipped into the SCP version 3.6.9 have been causing some annoying issues for the Linux version, and we are delaying the Linux release until those can be resolved and we can run a quick round of testing to make sure they have truly been worked out. In addition, since the OSX version together with the Linux version are based on a newer code than the Windows version, we will be releasing an updated OSX version once the bugs have been resolved.

    Repeat, Clear Flight Deck...

    The response to Klavs' Flight Ops fan art was very positive, so he took some time and bumped up the size to make some high resolution wallpapers for everybody. This is a fantastic scene that we can't get enough of. The larger images are still based off the original 1024x render, but a few finishing touches were reapplied at the higher res. Wing Commander fans who aren't caught up on their novels should check out End Run, Fleet Action and False Colors to learn more about Escort Carriers like the TCS Tarawa below.

    "Sir, our flight deck is already crammed to the gills," Jason said.

    "Then it'll be even more crowded," Banbridge replied.

    K'rakh Drish'kai rai H'ra!

    A few fans were wondering about the Kilrathi quote included with yesterday's fan art. "Ek'rah skabak erg Thrak'Kilrah maks Rag'nith" translates into "For the glory of Kilrah, the Emperor and the Empire" in spoken Kilrathi. If that sounds completely alien to you, check out our classic Kilrathi Lexicon article. LOAF has collected an extensive list of word translations and known phrases to study up on. You never know when a foreign language might come in handy. If that's not enough, our Kilrathi Characters article also includes a long list of interesting Kilrathi names used throughout the series.

    Score One For The Empire

    NinjaLA has just finished inking up a couple more Kilrathi sketches. The first drawing features a classic Kilrathi male that includes a variety of common physical features. It doesn't exactly look like a Kilrathi from any particular Wing Commander product, but it would probably fit in anywhere in the series. Ninja's second image shows the original Dralthi emerging victorious in a dogfight with a Scimitar.

    Ek'rah skabak erg Thrak'Kilrah maks Rag'nith!

    Truly 3D Space Sim Demo Released

    top-fit has released a cute little 3D space sim demo, but Stereoid doesn't just use three dimensional polygons. Players will need red/green or red/blue 3D glasses to see the game as intended. The game will probably be fairly disorienting to people looking at the screen normally, but at just 1.5 megs, it's small enough for anyone to try out. You can provide feedback at Crius.net. It'd be nice to hear from anyone who actually has the glasses handy.

    Print Some Tabletop WC Markers

    WholeHazelNuts from the SCNews Forum has created some markers for the Victory By Any Means game system. They kind of make me think of Wing Commander pogs. VBAM is a modular infrastructure that allows gamers to easily create their own rules, settings and environments for tabletop games. A handful of SCN posters are trying to develop a set of rules for a Wing Commander variant. This new project is separate from the Victory sheets we reported on last year or the cool Starmada miniatures. It may be possible to use some of these markers with TacOps.

    ASCII Cargo Is Brilliance

    Development of the Privateer: ASCII Sector project is progressing at an impressive speed, and developer Chris Knudsen has posted the latest update: the cargo manifest. Since the manifest won't fit in the multi-function display, it gets its own ASCII screen. Following on from this, the next parts of the game to be developed will be code relating to cargo containers in space.

    TacOps Stat Cards Released

    Ironduke has released the stat cards for his Wing Commander board game. All the fighters, bases and capships are available in a 22 meg zip here. The individual packs are also available separately at Crius.net. Each one includes high res sheets suitable for printing. A simple open space hex map is available here, and new players should check out the Rules first. Duke is still working on marker tokens to place on the map, so players can use coins or other makeshift items if they'd like to give this a try in the mean time.

    EA Announces Financial Results

    Electronic Arts has released its quarterly financial data for the 2006 holiday season. Total revenue was up slightly at $1.28 billion from October to December. Over 10 million games were sold in the Sims 2 subseries during that period, along with several million more Need for Speeds, FIFAs and Maddens. EA was the best selling game publisher on the original XBox, XBox 360, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, PC and PSP in both Europe and North America in 2006. Income from digital content distribution and cellular phone games were also each above $100 million for the last year. The company expects to end the fiscal year on March 31 with total revenue just above $3 billion.
    "We are pleased with the performance of our products on next-generation consoles," said Larry Probst, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "In the year ahead, we plan to build on our leadership position on both the Xbox 360 and the PLAYSTATION 3, and to significantly increase our support for the Nintendo platforms."

    Wing Commander On Lamp

    Mark Williams wrote to tell us that he's been working on a browser-based strategy game set in the Wing Commander universe. He sent along a project overview and some early screenshots.
    CTA is a completely contained Real-Time Strategy Game playable on any computer with an internet connection and a browser (Must support at least a 1024x768 resolution). It takes place in the Epsilon sector in the Wing Commander universe and gives players a chance to explore two different ship trees and over 40 unique systems.

    -Over forty eight unique Wing Commander systems to explore!
    -Eight differant ships to drive into combat!
    -Experiment with the differant upgradeable ship trees!
    -More than thirty missions to undertake in exchange for ship upgrades!
    -Engage in battle with anything from a corvette to an enemy fleet - all in real-time!
    -Manage the supplies fighters and crew aboard your ship in an effort to overcome the odds!
    -Free-form campaign style - play the missions or do your own thing!
    -More then 20 differant Kilrathi ships to engage and destroy!
    -Oversee that damage control parties on your ship during combat to increase your chances of survival!

    It's being programmed in PHP with an SQL database. Website to be online shortly.

    The History of Space Simulation

    WingCenter's Obee has written an article on the history of the space sim genre for Swiss online magazine GBASE. The Wing Commander series is featured prominently. Visitors that don't speak German can find a computer translation here.
    Das ursprünglich als Wingleader angekündigte Spiel erblickte 1989 das Licht der Welt und erschien sowohl für Amiga als auch für PC und bot dem Spieler eine noch nie gesehene Detailverliebtheit. Während das später erschienene X-Wing auf Vektor-Grafik setzte und so zwar klare, aber vor allem kahle Objekte durch das All fliegen liess, nutzte Wing Commander zweidimensionale Bitmaps, die zwar aus nächster Nähe nur noch Pixelbrei boten, aber sonst sehr detailliert wirkten.

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