Stuck Between a Rock and a Neutron Gun

Ironduke has released a side-project he whipped up when he wasn't working on TacOps. It's a simple Asteroids clone featuring a Rapier II and handful of rocks. The game doesn't know to end when the rocks are all gone and there's a few bugs, but it's a fun little tech demo. Duke isn't planning to go back and add anything, so players will have to wait for Arena's Meteor Storm mode for something more elaborate. You can download WC Asteroids here (1 MB).

X-Plane Yourself!

SakakinoRisa has a cool new toy for us to play with - a Hornet light fighter for X-Plane 8.5! X-Plane is a flight sim toolkit with a massive amount of user generated content... everything from super-realistic airliners to orbital Gemini Capsules! The Hornet, of course, is the first fighter ever flown in the original Wing Commander. You can download the fighter here. Rumor has it that a Rapier is in the works!

Korean Movie Poster Found

While searching the internet, AD stumbled across a neat poster that most people haven't seen before: the Korean WC movie poster. It's totally different from any of the other posters, and it doesn't actually include anything recognizable, but it's a great addition to the collection. It's great that over eight years on, we're still seeing movie products that are new to most of us. Feel free to click the Discuss link below and provide a translation if you can.

Space Sim First Look: Infinity: Quest for Earth

Kosch pointed out a new space sim in development titled Infinity: Quest for Earth. It's a massively multiplayer space sim that features real time space flight and combat. There are no specific classics or races, so players are allowed to pick their paths as they see fit. Regular physics are modeled in the game engine, but ships are "computer controlled" to make piloting easier. Planets and distances are mostly modeled to scale, and players can land and fly into atmospheres seamlessly. A limited combat test preview was released, but the real game is still estimated to be a year or two away.

Dark Mods Can Jump

The WC Saga team has touched up the in-game script that manages jump sequences. A batch of screenshots has been released that demonstrates a small carrier group transiting a jump point together. Before players get to see more scenes like this, an update to the Prologue should be released that adds improved autopilot, tweaked graphics and multiplayer.

C&C Series Getting First Novel

Electronic Arts has announced that the Command & Conquer franchise is about to expand with its first novel. As one of Wing Commander's sibling series, C&C has enjoyed an exciting resurgence over the last year with a large anthology collection and brand new game featuring a high profile film shoot. The new book will be a novelizaton of C&C3: Tiberium Wars. Keith R.A. DeCandido has been chosen as the author, and it will be published by Del Rey/Ballantine. It's set for release at the end of May, a few weeks after the XBox 360 version of the game.
In COMMAND & CONQUER: TIBERIUM WARS(TM), the novel by Keith R. A. DeCandido, the year is 2047 and the stakes could not be higher. Tiberium--a self-replicating alien substance that has infected the Earth--is spreading like a radioactive ice age. The Global Defense Initiative, a high-tech alliance of the world's most advanced nations, is fighting to contain Tiberium, but Kane, the megalomaniacal leader of the Brotherhood of Nod has other plans for Earth. Kane's secret society turned superpower is bent on using Tiberium to take control and transform humanity into his twisted vision of the future. In the midst of battles throughout the world, a third alien race emerges, and all-out war rages over Tiberium. The fate of the planet rests in the balance.

Razor's Edge

Following on the foosteps of the recent Centurion easter egg, long-time contributor AD has another Arena ship note: the EA Arcade features clip art of a fighter that looks like Wing Commander IV's Razor light fighter. This one is probably not intentional... but it's still worth thinking about!

UPDATE: German Arena Interview Translated

Here's a quick-and-dirty translation of the Eurogamer.de interview with Wing Commander Arena's Sean Penney. This is very rough - I did it myself and I don't speak German. We would be happy to post a more in-depth translation (or any corrections), so please keep going if you have one in the works! The original German text is available here.
Eurogamer: Hello Sean. Tell us first more about you and your involvement with the development of Wing Commander Arena.

Sean Penney: My name is Sean Penney and I'm a producer with Electronic Arts Canada. I've worked with the company for eight years. On Wing Commander Arena I am both the producer and designer.

Eurogamer: After the announcement numerous complaints circulated regarding the (very high) camera perspective in the first screenshots online. Why was this chosen instead of a cockpit? That would be more familiar from the predecessors.

Sean Penney: If you look at Wing Commander, you will see a story which focuses itself on the role of the player in an enormous universe. Arena is only a part of this experience. Like a strong liquor, it distills the series' most exciting point: close dogfights.

Wing Commander Arena is an arcade game. It involves a rapid and frantic multiplayer environment in which you must pursue targets and engage other opponents with your crosshairs. A cockpit perspective was not always suitable for such situations. The player needs to be able to see more. Additionally, constantly looking at the radar was one of the things which disturbed me personally in similar titles. It was only interrupted by short moments in which you looked at the actual battle, in order to fire a few shots.

In Arena's point of view one instead looks at the entire screen and only occasionally to the radar. There are alltogether four different perspectives: two show your own ship from some distance at an upper point of view. Another one is the rear lookout and then there is a camera position wich comes closest to the classic design. This one sees what is happening directly over the fighter's shoulder. This is a lot of fun, but a change to the higher camera is necessary to get a good overview of the battleground.

Eurogamer: Arena offers not only multiplayer battles, but also a single player portion. Can you tell us more about it? Are you challenged there or does it simply serve to prepare for the fight against other players?

Sean Penney: The single player aspect of Wing Commander Arena contains four play modes. As in a classic arcade game, it offers infinite levels. The high scores are conveyed via Xbox Live to a rank list. The four different variants are Melee, Meteor Storm, Gauntlet and Proving Grounds.

"Melee" is a free-for-all against a large number of AI ships. They fight each other and the player. The level is a very cool space station map. The engagements have a time limit and at the end the rank list is transferred. Although you play against the AI you are nevertheless in competition with other players.

"Meteor Storm" is a fun small game in which one must defend up to three satellites against emerging, burning meteors and plundering pirates again and again. The play ends as soon as the satellites are destroyed. An online rank list is likewise included.

In "Gauntlet" your own space fighter is stationed on a Midway-class carrier, which has had some interesting change over time. The task is to defend the carrier against attacking enemies who want to destroy it. With each new wave of enemies you can expect a larger number of attackers, better ships or more intelligent pilots. Some really spectacular firefights emerge later in the level. Gauntlet also offers a rank list at the end for comparison with other players.

In "Proving Grounds" the player is taken to an extensive area with a lot of open space with pickups, obstacles and numerous targets to shoot at. In addition, some of them fire back. As the name suggests, this is a training mode. Regard it as a playground in which you can try all the ships, weapons or maneuvers however you want. Proving Grounds contains no time limit, does not count your firing and does not have a rank list.

Eurogamer: That might keep the players busy for quite a while. How does it look online? What variants can we expect?

Sean Penney: The multiplayer mode offers free-for-all for 16 players, team engagements with two crews with eight members each and duels between two individual pilots. The team portions take place between the Kilrathi and the Confederation.

"Capital Ship" is the meeting of the Titans. The goal is to destroy the opposing battlecruiser and to protect your own at the same time. The capital ships consist in each case of three sections. One must destroy them successively, particularly their cannons, radar systems, generators, rockets and the bridge. If the player blows up all the goals on a level, the battlecruiser sinks one level deeper and offers new objects for pulverizing. The bridge comes at the end. Without a control center the ship breaks apart and you win.

With "Satellites" it plays as a variant of Capture the Flag on an interlocked map. You must dock with a satellite in order to conquer it for your team. If you leave it unguarded, it can be taken by the opposite side. You must mix ships, tactics as well as team play in order to be successful here.

"Boneyard" offers a beautiful environment with shipwrecks, astonishing crystal formations, dangerous terrain and a single planetoid where you can find hidden treasures. It can be played in both free-for-all and in team modes.

"Space Station" again puts the player - as the name implies - into an enormous space station. There you can lure enemies into dead ends, attack them from the corners or fly to open space. All the ships in an area can be damaged by destroying fuel tanks. The space station can also be played in either variant, free for all or team.

In "Bearpit" 16 players participate in duels. It involves a special map with an arena in the center. All participants first enter a queue. This concerns a duel pit, which supplies the necessary points for the rank list. If you win a fight, you remain in the arena. The loser must re-enter the queue, while the next pilot may start his challenge. The beauty to it is that the queue covers the entire area outside the stage. There you can fly fun duels, complete mini-games and resupply yourself. If you want, there is even the possibility to dock with the arena and take a few shots at the two fighters.

"Duel" is a head to head fight between two players for the best three out of five possible battles. Whoever wins the first three victories also wins the match - like in tennis. Combat takes place in a smoking crater in which one finds hiding places and other surprises like pickups too.

Eurogamer: There is something for everyone. How do the ships look? Did you use old designs or create new ones? How many different variants are there and do they differ in individual abilities like speed or maneuverability?

Sean Penney: Wing Commander Arena has 18 playable ships to offer - nine for each of the two sides. The Kilrathi ship classes are Darket, Dralthi and Paktahn, while the Confederation uses the Arrow, Rapier and Broadsword. For every space fighter there are three variants, which results in the total number 18. One must unlock the ships, however, but the ability to do that can be achieved in practically every game mode. Each variant shows large differences in things like speed, weapons, armoring and maneuverability.

Eurogamer: Can the rules be adjusted individually for the different modes? For example "no pickups", "only light fighters" or "friendly fire on/off"?

Sean Penney: The player sets the type of play (Ranked or Player), the number of participants (up to 16) and private slots for inviting friends.

Eurogamer: A popular feature of the Xbox 360 are achievements. What kind of achievements have been created for Wing Commander Arena?

Sean Penney: Most achievements involve fighting, since that is the main point of the game. However there are also points for exploring certain play sections. A majority of achievements involve the history of Wing Commander.

Eurogamer: Is there anything in conclusion that you would like to say to the fans outside? Particularly those who have mixed feelings regarding Wing Commander Arena?

Sean Penney: I would like to tell them that I am also a fan and played all the Wing Commander games when they were published. I loved it both due to its great presentation of history and because of the engagement. Arena exclusively focuses itself on the combat experience. I would like to remind them again of the fact that it is an arcade game and plays in that way.

The 18 ships, based on favorites from the series, look and feel like the originals. Naturally things have changed over the course of 20 years and ships have received some special upgrades. Other old favorites make an appearance and will introduce a few new friends. Wing Commander fans have demanded a multiplayer experience for a long time. Arena offers classic Wing Commander dogfights with up to 16 participants. For those which remember Armada: a fight in Arena resembles those in Armada.

Beyond that, we maintain continuity with the old games and fans even took part in the development process. We bring back classical ships and weapons from the first game up to the film. Arena was always meant as a homage to Wing Commander and we want things to be right.

Wing Commander always pushed the envelope. Each game set new standards concerning technology and design as well as changed how the games were played. Arena does the same to Xbox Live Arcade - from 16 participants online to the number and depth of our modes to the beauty of our scenes. Arena is by far more impressive than anything else available on Xbox Live Arcade so far.

Eurogamer: Thank you for the discussion.

BREAKING NEWS: German Arena Interview

Eurogamer.de has posted a two-page interview with Wing Commander Arena producer Sean Penney! The interview, found here, discusses the game's different modes, addresses fan issues and touches on the history of the series. Unfortunately for many of our readers, it's entirely in German. I know there are quite a few German Wing Commander fans out there - would someone be kind enough to translate this exciting article? Contact us and we'll post it immediately.

Eurogamer is also running an article on the history of Wing Commander spinoffs, which is available here.

The Wing of Beers

First sketches... then comics... and now a movie! LeaderOne is back with a Wing Commander 2 parody of those Budweiser "wassup" commercials. The characters movements are surprisingly well timed, making it very funny -- check it out! You can download the video here (4.9mb MOV file).

Sprechen Sie Arena?

LeHah noted a small error at the EA Arcade site: a question about what languages Wing Commander Arena would be available in was answered with a response about Boom Boom Rocket. EA's community moderator was quick to respond with a correction and some good news:
Wing Commander Arena will initially be offered in English, French (Francais), Italian (Italiano), German (Deutsch), and Spanish (Espanol).
Sounds like the game will be released in Europe and the US at the same time! If you haven't started posting to the official message board boards, give them a look -- it's a great way to interact directly with Electronic Arts!

We're Not Out of the Woods Yet

Hot on the heels of his clay armada, Mustanger has turned to wood for his next creation. The wooden hull of his Confed Light Carrier is mostly complete. After some finishing touches, the ship will be ready for paint. If the clay version is any indication, the final product should be pretty sharp.

My next project is carving the Victory out of a wooden block. Should be able to make it a bit more accurate than with the clay I think. I'm pretty happy with the results so far.

Side-Scroll of Legend

Here's a great surprise: Mark Smids, author of the Prophecy DVD Viewer, has a cool new project to show off: Wing Commander Arcade, a Wing Commander themed fan arcade game! Here's the word:
For a couple of months now, We’ve been working on a new Wing Commander related project: Wing Commander Arcade. Even before the Wing Commander Arena announcements we had the idea to create a 2D Tyrian alike sidescroller situated in the Wing Commander universe. We decided to start from scratch in C using just the OpenGL and FMOD (for sound/music) libraries. Most textures used in the game are derived from resources found in the CIC archives. We are thrilled to announce that a playable demo is already available for download. From the Wing Commander Arcade section of our homepage, screenshots can be viewed, two recorded in-game videos can be downloaded and, of course, the playable demo for the Windows platform can be grabbed. The first stage of the game can be played where the player can start flying the Arrow, Hellcat V or Longbow and navigate through an asteroid field. In the second part of the stage you will encounter some Kilrathi resistance. Any comments, questions or bugreports are welcome. We hope the Wing Commander community will enjoy this playable demo. We keep you informed about the progress of the development of this game.
You can download the playable demo here (1.8 mb), and the sample movies are available here (5.7 mb) and here (8 mb). It looks like a lot of fun!

He Says, Banshee Says

Dreary Tuesday got you down? Brighten your day with a touch of fan art! Here are two Wing Commander sketches from artist (and forum poster) QualPilot - a Kilathi warrior and a Border Worlds Banshee fighter. The Banshee, which is an older drawing, is especially cool!

More Pioneer Available in 3D

Howard Day has released four more 3D fly-around movies for WC Pioneer. The classic Jalthi is followed by Howard's Phalanx and Camel designs. One of the fancy modular stations is also included in this batch. They're all QuickTime clips that were originally manipulated in XNormal. Each one looks pretty neat, but I'm especially impressed with the Jalthi. You can find the same treatment for Privateer's Tarsus and Pioneer's Hydra here. The new video links are below.

Anyhow - Each ship is using a combination of 5 different maps, all at a resolution of 1024x1024. These are palletized and compressed as much as possible, to keep the memory required low. For example, the Phalanx only uses 3MB of texture space. if these textures we not compressed and palletized, it would take closer to 12MB on the video card. This might not seem like much of a savings, but when we take into account that some players might only have a 64MB video card we see that we need to be as frugal as possible. This is especially important when the texture of the Camel come into play - they're 2048x2048. Uncompressed that's 64MB by itself! Compressed, they're only 6MB, so you can see why we're doing it.

Leader Spins Some Yarn

LeaderOne has put together a couple of comic strips based on Wing Commander 2. They're short, but cute and to the point. For creative Wingnuts who aspire to do something similar, screenshots are easy to get these days with DOSBox and a little PrintScreen work. The newest version of the program even makes recording videos easy.

I was bored... Let me know what you think.

Arena Supplement in the Works

AD recently started a discussion about Wing Commander game manuals over at the EA Arcade Forums, and community manager James Pond has replied by hinting at some exciting news - something extra is in the works for Arena! There are no details about what form this will take, but it will probably be "in the style of Claw Marks" and available on the EA Arcade website.
We are definitely aware that much of what makes the Wing Commander franchise great and memorable are the supplementary materials, subtle winks to past iterations of the game, and unique presentation of a "manual" in the style of claw marks, etc.

I can assure you that there is something in the works, that will be available here and it's really faithful to the spirit and presentation of those materials you remember and love!

This is more fantastic news for WC fans. From Claw Marks to the Secret Ops website, the additional fiction available for previous games has been an important bonus component to the overall experience, and it's great to hear that this effort is being made here. XBLA games traditionally have just a few pages of basic instructions in-game, so it seems that Arena continues to raise the bar in terms of what Live Arcade games have to offer.

What Will You Fly?

Today's new poll asks which upcoming Arena fighter you're anticipating the most. There will be three variants for each of the six main frames for a total of eighteen flyable craft. Each ship is a classic design from earlier in the series, so they should all have their fans. It'll be interesting to see how these results compare to the numbers after pilots have gotten a chance to play with each fighter. Check out our Arena Ships Preview to learn more about these famous designs.

Our last poll asked which Arena feature was most exciting. Nostalgic Wingnuts swept the votes with "attention to WC history" in strong first place. The "return of classic ships" came in second. Exciting new features like sixteen person multiplayer and complex capship battles followed next. Either way, there's a whole lot to look forward to!

Poll Archive Refurbished

On the same subject, the CIC poll archive now contains 150 past surveys! In addition to some layout changes last year, we have retooled this section to make it more accessible. You can now drill down by year, and recurring polls have been collected on the same page so results can be compared. Check out these popular themes: Today marks the first large-scale test of a new poll system, so let us know if you notice anything out of the ordinary. Also, if you have poll suggestions, we want to hear from you.

Holding The Line Chapter 217

Raptor is proudly sticking to his target of one HTL chapter per month with this new release.
Hey all, Raptor here

HTL continues with Part Four of Check And Mate II. As you saw in previous chapters, the Valeria and Yorktown pilots have been working together to destroy a crippled Nephilim carrier. While the Yorktown pilots are launching fighter sweeps to destroy Nephilim fighter patrols, the Border Worlders are planning to launch a simultaneous attack on the Nephilim to split the enemy fighters. This chapter picks up from there. Please send any and all comments to me or to Joe at captpowell1@yahoo.com

http://www.holdingtheline.net/800/8ch215_4.html

Best, Raptor

EA Canada's Number One

GameSpot UK is reporting that EA Canada beat out Nintendo and Konami as the best selling game developer in the United Kingdom for the third consecutive year. EA's Maxis and Redword Shores studios took fourth and ninth places in the territory as well. EA Canada is Electronic Arts' largest development studio and currently leads development for Wing Commander, Need for Speed, James Bond, FIFA, SSX and numerous other major franchises. Their most recent NFS release, Carbon, sold more than eight million copies during the fourth quarter, and FIFA 07 has sold more than six million so far. The twenty-two acre site that they occupy in Vancouver has its own soccer field, indoor and outdoor basketball courts and a specialized motion-capture studio. Some two thousand people are currently employed there and they are continuing to expand. You can learn more here.

An Hour and a Half of Magazine Time

The May 2007 issue of the Official Xbox Magazine, on news stands now, includes a brief preview of Wing Commander Arena! It's strangely hung up on the Wing Commander movie, but it does offer a nice look at how the game's controls work:
Wing Commander Arena

Free Freddie Prinze Jr. not included!

Sixteen-player games on Live Arcade? We're listening!

At the height of classic PC space-combat series Wing Commander's popularity in the late '90s, a feature film was made with Freddie Prinze Jr. in the lead role. This proved to be the worst idea in the history of videogame movies until Uwe Boll was allowed to step behind a camera, but sadly, this is where the franchise left off.

So in what is perhaps an attempt to wipe the slate clean -- but more likely an opportunity to do something new on Xbox Live Arcade -- EA is reintroducing Wing Commander on a small scale: as an XBLA space-dogfighting shooter. Fortunately, we're not just talking about Asteroids with the Wing Commander name slapped on it. Famous ships (18 in total) from both the Terran and Kilrathi sides are available in different classes -- bombers, fighters, and so on -- and in fact, series veterans will note that this is the first time the Kilrathi have been playable.

Gameplay is straightforward: the thumbsticks control your ship (with the right stick also able to initiate barrel rolls and other special moves), while the triggers and shoulders unleash your weapons arsenal. Four single-player modes are included, but it's the 16-player online play that distinguishes Arena from the pack. And while we weren't able to get a confirmed price, we suspect it will run you 800 Microsoft Points ($10). Our suggestion: grab some Battlestar Galactica DVDs and prime yourself for some space-blastin' action -- just do yourself a solid and try to pretend the movie never happened.
- Ryan McCaffrey

Platform: XBOX LIVE ARCADE
Publisher: EA
Developer: GAIA
Live/Multiplayer: YES
Release Date: SUMMER 2007
For Fans Of: Asteroids, Gradius, Wing Commander

Time To Get A Library Card

The Austin-American Statesman has an article of interest to would-be Wing Commander historians: Origin veterans Warren Spector, Richard Garriott and George "Fatman" Sanger are teaming up with the University of Texas' Center for American history to archive material relating to the history of game development!
Composer Sanger, also known as "The Fat Man," will donate almost 30 boxes with items including his first demo cassette tape from 1983, in which he pleads with game companies to hire him. Sanger has composed songs for games such as the "Wing Commander" series and "NASCAR Racing."

Sanger said he threw away several items the day he met with history center officials.

"They told me, 'You put what in what? Take it out!' " Sanger said. He dug it out of the trash.

Garriott, the developer of the "Ultima" series, has been particularly meticulous in saving documents and memorabilia from his development career, dating back to 1979.

For every game he developed, he saved and labeled the first 10 copies. He will also donate several now-defunct Apple II computers and framed posters from every game he helped develop.

It's great to see this getting some professional attention. I've done research using UT's archives before and can say with confidence that this is the best possible way to both preserve and present this material. It's amazing to think that the original Wing Commander pitch document will now be kept alongside the likes of LBJ's White House papers and D.H. Lawrence's original manuscripts.

First Virtual TacOps Screenshot Released

Mike-L has released the first screenshot for the online version of TacOps, Ironduke's neat WC2-themed tabletop game. This C++ port is still in the preliminary stages, but a basic interface and virtual layout is visible below. Units can be added, deleted and moved around now, and the game board can be manipulated. An AI isn't planned, but two players can hook up along to compete against each other or play custom scenarios. The map editor and basic game engine are also nearly complete. These elements will be releases as a basic tech demo when they're finished. Try out the printed version of TacOps here or help provide feedback at Crius.net.
I'm using mingw32 C++ compiler (one that comes together with DevC++ IDE) and SDL library (Simple Directmedia Layer) for graphics/mouse/keyboard support. SDL might not be top-performance but it's rather simple to use and it does it's job well. After all, running a 2D strategy game is not very demanding for the system. What is more it's a cross-system library so I'll be able to compile versions for Linux and MacOS as well.

All GUI elements were made in a hurry and there are to be replaced. That box in right upper corner is a minimap. More info coming soon.


Happy Birthday LOAF!

The CIC staff and I would like to wish Ben "Bandit (LOAF)" Lesnick a happy 26th birthday! When someone needs to seek out a Wing Commander expert, LOAF is at the very top of everyone's list. He's been a part of the online Wing Commander community for almost fifteen years, and nobody else has shared more knowledge and excitement with fellow fans. This year is no different in that regard, and every day LOAF is busy pumping people up and preparing for the upcoming launch of Wing Commander Arena. Join us and wish him a great day!

Axius of Evil

Aaron has updated with good news about his WC4 Homeworld 2 mod. The biggest announcement is that the mod now has a working AI for all three races - Confederation, Border World and Black Lance. A new release to show this off is in the works! He's also added two ships to the Black Lance, the Axius starbase and their special fighter transport. You can see both in action below:

A Picture Worth 200,000 Credits

Space Pirate, the artist behind some excellent Centurion and Talon 3D artwork, is back... with another Centurion! As you can see, the ship now has textures... and has been presented in a cool 'blueprints' style image. These heavy fighters have been showing up everywhere lately...

It's a Movie! It's a Text File! It's Both!

Chris Knudsen has updated with another cool feature from his Privateer: Ascii Sector project. The game can now record text-based movies... and he has released a movie player so people can share the action. More immediately, he's posted a movie playing through a 'Defend the Base' mission... so you can see that this surprising project actually works like the original Privateer!

You can download the movie player here (1.4 mb) and the demo movie here (1.4 mb). Just run PLAYASC.BAT and follow the on screen instructions!

Dralthi, Dralthi, Dralthi, I Made It Out Of Clay

Mustanger, an especially artistic Wing Commander fan, has posted some neat pictures of real 3D ships he made! They include the TCS Victory, TCS Concordia (WC2), Gilgamesh, Waterloo and a pile of Hellcats -- and there are more on the way! The largest ship is the Concordia at 5-6". These were made of clay and then baked and painted. Beats the heck out of cookies...

Lost But Not Forgotten

In yesterday's interview update I mentioned putting together an article about the history of 'lost' Wing Commander novels... and now it's available! This short article collects information which has been sitting around in our archive for a while, in the hopes that it will help some future publisher continue the novel series where it left off. It runs through the history of the HarperCollins' movie novels, Andrew Keith's False Colors concepts and a couple of other unexplored possibilities. You can read it here.
In retrospect, the writing was on the wall: despite a contract which promised to publish both books within a year of the movie's release, HarperCollins delayed Stars' publication by months. When the book finally did reach stores in 2000, it did so without even new cover art. Instead Wing Commander's theatrical poster was re-used, advertised alongside largely nonsensical advertising copy. The HarperPrism imprint, responsible for the series, was quetly disbanded. Although Telep completed Pilgrim Truth the book was never scheduled for release. Worst of all, Stars ended in a cliffhanger: Paladin was missing and thought a traitor, the Confederation still threatened by Captain Aristee and her doomsday weapon.

From The Archives: False Colors Interview

I was putting together a short article on 'lost' Wing Commander novels last night when I made an unpleasant discovery: the original interview we did with Andrew Keith, co-author of Heart of the Tiger and False Colors, was missing. The interview, conducted in 1996, was one of my favorite projects for our immediate predecessor, the Wing Commander Home Sector. It discusses how Wing Commander novels are written and provided the first details on the then-upcoming False Colors. Most importantly, it briefly outlines Mr. Keith's hopes for two sequel stories.

Mr. Keith died in August 1999, these books unwritten - but his kindness to the Wing Commander community will never be forgotten. Luckily, we were able to locate the original IRC log of the event and then put it back together from there! Please be kind when reviewing the questions... I was only fifteen (and completely star-struck) when I held this interview. You can read it, preserved forever online, here.

LOAF: Two new novels? Can you give away any information on those?
Keith: The book ideas are still vague. One I'd like to do would involve a Kilrathi prince -- a friendly one -- from False Colors. Sort of Bonnie Prince Charle in Scotland, with Cats and carrier support by the Karga. The other would put the Landreich at war with the Confederation. I'm thinking of following something like the Alamo/Goliad/San Jacinto model.

This Ship's A Straith Shooter

Deacan has released another update to his fancy Straith touch-up. The set of images below starts with Jacob Hudson's conceptual outline and artistic top-down redesign. A handful of his custom Brute Missiles are flanking the fighter in the second shot. Ser Kears is also continuing to make progress on a more intricately modeled and textured 3D version. These latest high resolution shots show how the team has captured many of the original ship's details while attempting to add some nice new polish.

The Straith is the cheapest fighter available on the private market in the Tri-System. Because of its low cost, Straiths are flown only by the most desperate of men - those generally willing to do anything for a quick credit.

Arena's Fighting Ships

Curious about the ships of Wing Commander Arena? Well, so are we - but we have collected a good amount of information from the interviews and screenshots posted so far... and we've started to collect it into an article! Read on for a brief history of the fighters and capital ships which we know make a reappearance in the newest Wing Commander game. We've included both 'before' and 'after' shots wherever possible, allowing you to see for yourself how much effort at historical accuracy has gone into this XBLA game. You can find the collection here. This is just a temporary measure, as we expect there will be official information available about all of these fighters in the near future...

Centurion Award

LeHah noticed something interesting in one of the Wing Commander Arena images -- something that may be a Centurion fighter! The ship appears in the background of the pre-renderd Arena logo artwork from the Gaia Industries website. It's small, but it certainly looks like one of the Privateer ships. Here's a rendering of the original Privateer model in the same position to compare it to:

BREAKING NEWS: New Arena Screenshots

It looks like the EA Arcade website is working for us... they have updated their Wing Commander Arena page with seven spectacular new screenshots! The biggest news here, though, is that the game seems to have added exactly what fans have been asking for -- a new 'behind the ship' camera which makes the game 'look' less like SubSpace and more like FreeLancer! We can't absolutely confirm that, but judge for yourself:

You can find the site's original eight screenshots archived in our Wing Commander Arena section.

The Non-Plot Thickens

Chris Knudsen has updated with the latest on his exciting Privateer: ASCII Sector. This time he's showing off the non-plot mission structure he's designed. The images below are, respectively, the Merchants Guild, Mercenaries Guild and Private missions. Here's how it works:
I've completed a basic structure for the non-plot missions and their descriptions in the nav computer. In the below examples all the ship names have been made up by me (as you can probably guess by the mention of the Millennium Falcon!), whereas all the names of characters have been randomly generated by the game engine. Also, in the below examples, Guamao is mentioned as a prison base -- it won't be a prison base, as there won't be any in the game demo. I've just designated it as such for testing the non-plot mission structure.

GameTap Press Release

Here's a quick addition for tonight: Gamers Hell has posted the official press release for the GameTap release of Wing Commander (available here):
As new titles continue to join GameTap’s catalog of more than 850 console, arcade and computer video games, this week’s GameTap Thursday alert touts the latest additions, including the critically acclaimed Wing Commander and Warlords Battlecry III, as well as the network’s first SEGA Saturn title.

Wing Commander: Electronic Arts’ sci-fi strategy game enlists players in an outer space aerial war to defend Earth from the marauding Kilrathi race. Wing Commander was a revolutionary game when it was released, blazing trails in the realms of 3D gaming, cinematic storytelling and the popularization of sound cards and game soundtracks, so check out the game that started it all!

Warlords Battlecry III: This real time strategy game from Enlight Interactive Inc. further expands the Battlecry tradition of featuring persistent RPG-like fantasy heroes with its retinue of loyal followers fighting massive battles in the Warlords' world of Etheria. As a true sequel to Warlords Battlecry I & II - both of which are also available on GameTap - it features many familiar races and troop-types, while also adding new ones into the mix.

Bug!: Originally appearing on GameTap last week in the form of an “Easter Egg,” this SEGA action title ushers in GameTap’s latest console – the SEGA Saturn. Bug is a big movie star whose film set friends are kidnapped, so he’s off to save the day in a hopping-and-bopping platform-jumping adventure. With some of the greatest Saturn titles on the horizon, this is big news for fans of classic console gaming.

Doki Doki Penguin Land: GameTap unveils SEGA’s Doki Doki Penguin Land, its latest addition to its library of games for the rare SG-1000 Japanese-only 8-bit console. As a penguin in the harsh arctic wasteland, it's your job to outsmart the burly polar bears and roll your egg to the safety of your underground home.

ThinkTanks: GarageGames’ ThinkTanks is a fast-paced tank combat game where only the smartest tanks survive in a deadly arena. The backstory is that the Terranians have been harvesting human brains and popping them into armored vehicles, all to create a game show where these captive Think Tanks do battle for the amusement of wicked alien overlords. You're one of the Think Tanks, but you've escaped! Now it's up to you to free your fellow brains and destroy the enemy.

In addition to 850+ games, GameTap provides subscribers with unlimited access to more than 600 original TV shows and videos that cater to fans of the video game lifestyle.

To register for GameTap, visit www.gametap.com where your first month of service is only 99¢.

It's Official: GameTap Wing Commander

It's not just an Easter Egg anymore! GameTap has added Wing Commander to its library of games. You can see it online here or access it through the GameTap client by searching for "Wing Commander"! This is a great, cost effective way to play one of the greatest games of all time... and hopefully, there's more to come!
The Confederation has been locked in mortal combat with the marauding Kilrathi race for over two decades. As a hotshot rookie fresh from the academy, it's time to do your part in defending the people of Earth. Wing Commander was a revolutionary game when it was released, blazing trails in the realms of 3D gaming, cinematic storytelling and the popularization of sound cards and game soundtracks.

EA Arcade Site Spreads

It also looks like Electronic Arts has also officially launched their EA Arcade website... news stories have been slowly popping up at sites like Gaming Nexus and Gaming Bits. This is good news for those of us impatiently reloading the site for more information about Wing Commander Arena.

Be sure and head over to their Wing Commander Arena forum -- posting there will help EA see how much interest there is in Wing Commander... as well as show them that WingNuts are the best fans in the world!

Boom Boom Rocket Released!

New Xbox Live Arcade titles are released on Wednesdays, and this week's offering is Boom Boom Rocket! The music rhythm game is Electronic Arts' first XBLA title and costs 800 Microsoft Points ($10). This is exciting news for us, because the next game for the EA Arcade will be Wing Commander Arena! Since EA needs to coordinate with Microsoft in rolling out XBLA titles, we don't yet have a specific release date for Arena. The original press release said the game is scheduled to come out this Summer.

In Boom Boom Rocket, players trigger rockets to the beat of the music while traveling through a 3D cityscape. The better the player times the explosions, the more spectacular the fireworks effects. The fireworks are choreographed to 10 original tracks created by Ian Livingstone. Players can play in single player mode or go head-to-head against a friend on the same console.

“As one of the worldwide leaders in game publishing, EA has long recognized the power of on-demand, online entertainment,” said Chris Early, Product Unit Manager for Xbox Live Arcade and Microsoft Casual Games. ”We’re honored that EA has chosen Xbox Live Arcade as the platform for their first-ever downloadable game for console game players and are excited to make Boom Boom Rocket available to the millions of Xbox Live Arcade players around the world.”

“Boom Boom Rocket is an addictive and original challenge for all types of gamer, and we're enjoying working with EA to create this unique Xbox Live Arcade experience”, said Martyn Chudley, Managing Director of Bizarre Creations. “Our teams love both working and playing on Xbox Live Arcade, and we're looking forward to releasing another innovative title on this platform with Boom Boom Rocket.”

Screenshots and gameplay videos are available from the Boom Boom Rocket website.

IGN Says Go

GameTap's preview release of Wing Commander made it on to the most recent edition of IGN's weekly Retro Roundup article. Frankly, I'm surprised that the WC release didn't make it into more of the mainstream gaming news -- I guess they did a good job of hiding the 'egg'! IGN says:
This week in GameTap: A few oddball PC sim titles (Marine Park Empire, Restaurant Empire, and Zoo Empire), but the real treat are the hidden games: Bug! for Sega Saturn, Warlords Battlecry 3 and PC classic Wing Commander. The sims are probably something you could pass by without a tear, but Wing Commander is fantastic, and Bug! is lousy but cool just because it means you're playing a Saturn game.

Rated X3

Here's one we missed: a fan named |K.O.S.H. is working on a cool Wing Commander conversion for X3: Reunion. His project includes nine ships from the original Wing Commander with details based on their Claw Marks blueprints. You can find more screenshots and info here, or view some of these models 'under construction' here. A beta version should be available soon! Wing Commander fans can also find information on previous X3 projects here and here.

Another Dorkir Update

Here's some emerging talent! Kevin Caccamo has rendered his first 3D model as part of his Wing Commander 1 Remake project for Flight Commander. The ship was rendered in Wings3D.

The Dorkir was the standard Kilrathi transport in the original Wing Commander, but they've continued to make cameo appearances since then... they're mentioned in Wing Commander 2, seen on Wing Commander Academy and even have a brief appearance in the Wing Commander movie!

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I'll Buy That!

Jetlag has found that GameTap has released a 'commercial' advertising the original Wing Commander's addition to their service. A special video now plays while you're downloading the game (and at other points in the service). The voiceover narration they've come up with is especially cool... and very respectful towards the game!
Welcome to the war. The Confederation needs you. We've held off the bloodthirsty Kilrathi for some twenty years, but they are relentless. One pilot, one savior, could turn the tide of this entire conflict. Is it you? Play the space combat game that launched a thousand immitations: Wing Commander, coming to GameTap.
Fans of Origin's other big series will be interested to learn that each of the five available Ultima titles feature a brief video introduction by Richard Garriott himself. You can download the Wing Commander trailer here (1.1 mb, .WMV format).

UPDATE: GameTap Adds Blueprints!

Here's a quick update to report that GameTap has added the original Wing Commander blueprints to their supplemental materials for the game. You can download them here in PDF format. It's very impressive that they were able to do this so quickly... and during a holiday weekend, no less! It sounds like they are very interested in watching out for our best interests -- and that's a good feeling! What's more, all four blueprints are included, rather than just the one or two needed to bypass the copy protection.

Happy Easter Plus One

It's the day after Easter, so that means more Wing Commander themed eggs. This time there's a few dedicated to Arena!

Saga is Quick and Light

The Wing Commander Saga FreeSpace 2 mod team has released its first three screenhots of the P-64 Ferret patrol fighter. The Ferret was introduced in Wing Commander 2, the first ship available for the player to fly. At the time it was an interesting change, trading away missiles and a second VDU for pure speed. The small fighters have been around a long time - Ferrets flew off the TCS Iason in 2638. Here's the Saga look -- the first two pictures are in-game images, the third is a TrueSpace rendering.

Then Things Got Sketchy...

Longtime Wing Commander fan LeaderOne stopped by the Chat Zone to show off some of his excellent fan art -- including a Drakhri, an Excalibur and a whole bunch of cats! He's also selling (and just plain showing off) a variety of rare Wing Commander items -- anyone interested in such things would do well to check out his thread here. Here are his drawings:

Boom Boom Soon...

1Up is reporting that Boom Boom Rocket, Electronic Arts' first EA Arcade will be released to the service in mid-April. Since XBLA titles are always published on Wednesdays, this means that BBR will probably be released on the 11th or the 18th.

The BBR official site has posted several trailers and a video showing someone playing the game blindfolded. I haven't really figured out how you play this game... but darnit, it looks pretty.

... Arena Later?

Wing Commander Arena, the second game planned for EA's XBLA, might take a little more time getting out: EA UK has published a new version of the Arena fact sheet to their press site. An earlier version of the document listed "Spring 2007" as the release date... but this release has changed that field to read "Summer 2007". Without further specifics it's impossible to tell what this means... a late spring release is barely different from an early summer one. Nevertheless, you can download the original Word Document here (542 kb) -- suitable for framing!

BREAKING NEWS: Wing Commander Arrives On GameTap

Very exciting early morning news from mEISdAVIDp: the original DOS Wing Commander has been added to the GameTap service! The game is currently available as a week-early 'Easter Egg'. It can be found by searching for "Tiger Claw", which brings up not only the ability to play the game in modern Windows but also gives access to some detailed information about its history. This release comes as a big surprise all around -- hopefully the promised addition of Privateer to the service is getting closer...

ADDENDUM: Copy Protection

I kept my promise and bought a GameTap subscription the minute Wing Commander became available... unfortunately, it turns out the game still has its original 1990 copy protection in place -- and GameTap doesn't yet offer an online copy of the fighter blueprints (though Claw Marks is available)! In the interests of getting everyone back to the Vega Campaign as quickly as possible, here are the common answers to the copy protection questions:
Claw Marks:
  • The weight of the Ralari is 18000 tonnes.
  • The Tiger's Claw was launched in 2644.
  • Maniac is 23 years old.
  • The Fralthi has 28 cm of front armor.
  • The safe speed in asteroid fields is 250 kps.

Ship Blueprints:

  • The ESK rating for the Dart DF is 11000.
  • The ESK rating for the Pilum FF is 9500.
  • The velocity of the Dart DF is 900 kps.
  • The range of the mass driver cannon is 3000.
  • The range of the laser cannon is 4800 meters.
If you run into another question please let us know and we'll post the response!

Yes, But Is It Sart...ha

Quality webcomic Starslip Crisis included a completely unexpected Wing Commander joke on tuesday! I'm not sure if it's possible to explain the storyline behind the reference, but K'Tithrak Mang was included in a list of future art museums. You can read the whole strip here or start the storyline which lead to it here.

Look Ma, No Gravity

Hurleybird points us to a story in The Inquirer which claims that Origin founder Richard Garriott and Stephen Hawking, the inventor of the universe, are going to take a zero-g aircraft flight later this month:
RICHARD GARRIOTT, better known as the game developer Lord British has invited world's top theoretical physicist, no other than Stephen William Hawking - on a Zero-G flight on April 16th.

Garroitt is a gaming guru, having created Ultima, Bioforge, Lineage, City of Heroes and upcoming Tabula Rasa. He is also a space nut, investor in Zero-G company and one of trustee of the X-Prize Foundation.

Bioforge? This is just the first step for Garriott -- his goal is to shoot down 20 TIE Fighters, becoming a Space Ace so that a princess will allow him to travel through time.

Rapier Today, Gone Tomorrow

Welcome, nitpickers! We've rendered out the original 3D models of the Wing Commander 2 and Super Wing Commander Rapier IIs so you can compare them to the new Wing Commander Arena wallpaper rendering released yesterday. The transition between the three designs is pretty clear -- although the new details make the 'Blade' stand on its own. But don't take my word for it...

The Rapier II also appeared in the original Wing Commander... but unfortunately no one has located the original game's 3D models. If you liked this update, you'll also enjoy our TCS Midway comparison!

Subaru Glad I Didn't Say Toyota?

Our favorite developer of Wing Commander titles for the Gameboy, Raylight Studios is turning up the heat with a GBA port of the gritty street racing / girlfriend collection simulator Street Racing Syndicate, so all you import tuners better take notice.

Prepare to push your nitrous-injected passion to the limit! but be careful, your opponents could have more under the hood than it seems. This is your initiation into the underground world of street racing...

SRS's JDM-sweet action is set to powerslide from the GBA screen like a Corolla with a tofu cargo that must get through thanks to Raylight's impressive Blueroses graphics technology. With more than 40 modifiable rides and two-player mode, it's sure to be a wild drive.

But wait - that's not all! New for PSP is Hot Wheels Ultimate Racing, with over 20 licensed cars of its own, and an amazing stunt ramp made from a live anglerfish, I think.

Keep in practice, fellas, one never knows when you may be called upon to portablize another WC.

BREAKING NEWS: Official Site Launched

The official EA Arcade website has been launched -- and it's very promising! It includes a major section for Wing Commander Arena as well as a front page that includes some awesome WC-specific information. The current FAQ is focused on Boom Boom Rocket, but is promising anyway... including a mention of possible future downloadable content. The main page is here and the Wing Commander section is here. And just in case you were worried about continuity...
The F-44 Rapier II Blade, developed by human company Origin Aerospace, has scored more space-to-space kills than any other Confederation fighter. Even though this ship is an Earth leftover don’t underestimate it’s capacity for destructive skirmishes.

The Second Best Just Got Cheaper

Good news for everyone dreaming about someday playing EA Replay for the PSP: GameSpot is reporting that the MSRP for the core system is being reduced immediately by thirty dollars! You can have your PSP (and eat it, too) for only $169.99. The PSP is a good solution for handheld video viewing... and for handheld space combat!

April Fools!

Hopefully you've already realized that yesterday's updates were fake. Freespace: Coliseum was a loving criticism of both Arena and our favorite runner-up game series (which just goes to show you, there's a first time for everything...). As for the Crusader movie, I think we realized too late that you can't write a parody version of Uwe Boll... so an unfair number of people were actually 'fooled' by that one. Our apologies -- that's never our intention with April 1st updates.

Perhaps the coolest thing to come out of April 1st this year was a pretend article by German gaming magazine PC Games Online... which claimed in a serious tone that "Wing Commander Online" was in the works. That's interesting to me because it's close enough to the truth in 2007 that people can believe it... and in another year's time, it might not even be a joke.

Welcome Aboard!

This one is no April Fool's joke: I am proud to announce that the CIC is adding a new staff member! Asher "Frosty" Lawson joins our ranks with a focus on graphics and layout work (but you'll also be seeing his name on update bylines). This is a unique honor: he is the first staff addition in almost eight years -- since KrisV joined the team in 1999. Frosty is an excellent web designer, a dedicated WingNut and an all around good friend. We're lucky to have him, especially now that the Wing Commander community is poised to grow by leaps and bounds. Long live the Confederation and look forward to great new content!

FreeSpace Joins the Arcade

Volition Inc., in concert with developer 3000 AD, announced today the impending release of Descent: Freespace: Coliseum for the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA). The new game collects familiar Freespace ships and lore on an innovative new one-dimensional 'back and forth' playing field. Executive Producer Shaun Nickel says that the game is sure to appeal to both the existing fans, and as many as another two. "We've got Terrans, we've got Vasudans, we've got mining robots -- what's not to love?" He added: "Plus, it has really, really big ships!"
# With up to 17 players, Freespace Coliseum offers the largest multi-player melee experience to date on Xbox Live Arcade.

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

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

# 19 ships in ten environments

The first screenshot is already available!:

Crusader Movie Coming Soon

Soon Wing Commander won't be the only Origin-created property to get the hollywood treatment - Crusader will be making the transition to the silver screen courtesy of Uwe Boll. The German director is famous for creating movies based on games, and even now is currently working on Dungeon Siege, Postal, and Far Cry movies. Crusader started life in the mid-90s as a third person isometric shooter for the PC, and centered on a main character known as a Silencer and his fight against a corrupt World Economic Consortium. Uwe had this to say on his website:
I'm really excited about being able to work on a Crusader movie. I had originally wanted to make a movie based around the exploits of the Boba Fett character, but George Lucas gave me hell. Then I remembered this game I used to play with an identical character and decided to make a movie on that. We're going to try and get someone heroic like Matthew Lillard to play the Bounty Hunter and he'll be fighting some very cool monsters. In the games you were always fighting robots, robots, robots, and so I said enough! The fans want to see beautiful women, so we are hiring many beautiful prostitutes to play the aliens. You will see, this will be the biggest thing yet.
The movie, provisionally titled Crusader: No Shame, is slated for release in early 2009.

Commemorative CIC Wallpapers Available

To celebrate the recent announcement of Wing Commander Arena, here is a pack of commemorative wallpapers that highlight key headlines that were in the news. Famous updates such as "First Arena Screenshots" and "ESRB Announces Arena Rating" are all included. This is a great way to relive some exciting times all day long. You can find similarly awesome background images in our Wallpapers section.

Akkbar Was Wrong!

Reports have surfaced that Akkbar has packed up all his things and rushed to Alaska to strike it rich. After staking a claim near the Klondike River, he's discovered that he's 110 years too late and no gold is to be found. He's now in the process of selling off his Wing Commander collection to pay for a ticket home.

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