DragonCon Trip: CIC in the Big City

On Tuesday we passed through New York City and had an amazing opportunity to visit Gaia Industries, the development studio that created Wing Commander Arena. They've also just released Street Trace NYC to Xbox Live Arcade, an equally elaborate (and fun) shooter-racing-hoverboard hybrid game!

We presented them with Ninja's original contest-winning Arena sketch on behalf of the Wing Commander community as thanks for taking such good care of our universe. Then we took to space where... they beat us at the game a lot. They're real pros!

So - a big thank you to the guys at Gaia for letting us stop by! We also saw some awesome concept art and talked about the ins and outs of the game for quite a while. We'll post a bit more about exactly what we learned in the near future, but for now enjoy a few pictures:

DragonCon WebCam Active!

It's that time of the year and we've made it to Atlanta! Now you can get in on the fun by... watching us sleep? That's right, the annual Dragon*Con webcam is active here.

Sartha vs. Ferret

IronDuke, the Wing Commander community's pre-eminent rock star, has some updates for his Wing Commander TacOps project. First of all, he's released version 0.12 of the game's manual! He says:
Please note that the gun stats have changed! The mass driver is now your "jack-of-all-trades" average medium gun, and I reduced the neutron gun's range while increasing its damage ratio. I hope these changes make WCTO more true to the original WC2 experience...
The manual is available for download here.

He's also running the first online practice game online - and you can follow the play-by-play here! Check out all the action as Kavok's Sartha face off against Pip's Ferrets!

There's A Newt On the Record

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently appeared on FOX News' 'On the Record With Greta Van Susteren' show to talk about his Presidential aspirations and politics in general. Why should we care? Because he also explained exactly how he co-authors 'alternate history' books with Wing Commander writer author William Forstchen:
VAN SUSTEREN: When you write these books, how do you do that? Do you, like — do you have a set time every day?

GINGRICH: Well, there are three of us, Steve Hanzer and Bill Forstchen and I. We're all three historians. We start a year, year- and-a-half out, and we begin to argue and put together a book and do research. And then we get down to one day at a time. So what would happen then and how do you do it and how do you put it together? Then Bill Forstchen does the first draft, and it comes to me. I do an entire second draft. Goes to Hanzer. Comes back to Forstchen. And we do it all on word- processing track change. I do most of my writing actually on the airplane, so you know, I'll pull out my computer and start banging away.

I wonder if they ever mention about our favorite game - after all, the Pacific War has previously served Dr. Forstchen well in plotting his Wing Commander novels. You can find the entire transcript here.

Now You Can Cube Your WCP

Kevin Caccamo has an unusual update for us: step-by-step instructions for using the new OpenGL patch for playing Wing Commander Prophecy in odd resolutions. So if you have an especially strange monitor or you just like playing with odd things, these are the instructions for you:
I've been playing around with Pedro OpenGL patch for WCP/SO and I've ran it in a few unusual resolutions, like 868x651 or 720x540.

To run your Prophecy/SO in unusual resolutions, download the patch here. Make sure you have a GENUINE (as in from the CD) exe file, or else the patch will not work.

Randomize a multiple of 4, then write it down or put it into short-term memory. Then divide this number by 4 and multiply it by 3. Then write it down or put it into short-term memory.

Then, open up the OpenGL config program and type in the first number as the width and the second number as the height.

And don't worry, it will look fine.

He also snapped a picture of Prophecy at 868x651 as proof-of-concept:

Peter Telep Goes to War

There's more modern military fiction from Wing Commander novelist Peter Telep - Amazon is listing "Direct Action: Special Forces Afghanistan" as being set for a January, 2008 release. Telep's official site says:
This series follows a U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha team as it takes on some of the hardest missions imaginable in and around Afghanistan. The first book, Direct Action: Special Forces Afghanistan is scheduled for Jan ’08 from Berkley Books. I’ve been working with dozens of military and professional tech advisors on this series. It promises to be a fun read!
Cover art is already available - poor helicopter:

DragonCon Trip: A Day at the Beach

We're on our way to Dragon*Con! Yesterday the CIC staff (minus Kris) spent the day at the beach in Frosty's home town of Old Saybrook, CT (America’s eighth largest indigenous body of water). We had plenty of fun and some of us learned a very special lesson (don't go swimming in jeans). Next we're off to New York, New York for a very important mission - more on that soon! After that it's a race to Atlanta to set up for the convention... so stop by our table to see Wing Commander in action or just join us for whatever other zany adventures we come up with. We're always happy to hang out with other WingNuts!

Wing Commander Remixed

Eric Sparks, an indie filmmaker and fan of the Wing Commander movie, was kind enough to e-mail us about a project he's recently finished: an entirely new cut of the Wing Commander movie! He's created this new version as part of the fanedit.org community. He says:
It is called "Wing Commander: Countdown to Invasion". Basically I tried to focus the film more on stopping the coming invasion, and less on the "Top Gun meets Melrose Place" aspects of the pilots' lives. I've cut 29 minutes from the film, leaving a runtime of 71 minutes.
This sounds like a fascinating project - similar 'fan' editing jobs (including one on Wing Commander's contemporary, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) have managed to make significantly different films out of the same material as the original. You can download the trailer here (WMV, 11 mb) and then find Torrent/Rapidshare information for downloading the full movie here.

DragonCon Week Is Here!

It seems like just yesterday we were all at LOAF's house getting ready for the '06 DragonCon. This year we're at Frosty's place, and we're almost set to go. The entire staff (minus Kris holding down the fort at home) drives down to Atlanta on Tuesday. In addition to the famous DC street parade, the CIC staff will also be promoting Wing Commander in the lobby of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. If you're in town for the con this weekend, stop by and say hello! CIC visitors get a special new CIC gift! We'll also be participating in various panels where we'll have the opportunity to let organizations like Baen know Wing Commander fans are out there and want more. Many pictures, webcam and updates to come!

Saga Knows Nose Art

The Wing Commander Saga mod for FreeSpace 2 has released a new piece of artwork showing off some of the squadron artwork included in the game. This is a cool choice that harkens back to the original Wing Commander when players would see a Killer Bee painted on the side of their Hornet when taking off and landing:
The Wing Commander Saga main campaign will provide the player with the opportunity to fly as a part of several different squadrons, just like the original Wing Commander series. Each squadron has a unique group of pilots and its own logo. These logos can actually be seen painted on the fuselages of the different fighter squadrons in game. Most of our squadron logos are inspired by actual logos used in the Wing Commander trading card game. Check out the screenshot for an example of some of the squadron logos you will encounter.

Three of them are from the CCG: Hell's Archers (Arrow), William Tell (Longbow) and Mud Shark (Thunderbolt). The Hell's Archers were VMF544, assigned to the TCS Ark Royal.

Flight Commander 1.5 Released

Eddieb has released version 1.5 of the Flight Commander engine. Get it here (50 megs). The most notable improvements for players are:
  • Players can control turrets on their fighters, including a new turret hud.
  • Mouse support
  • Captions support
  • Conversations with characters between missions
  • Moving doors/movies and sound effects in the gameflow
  • Multiple comms/insults for more variety
  • Nav points have names

The first screenshot shows the new turret targeting HUD. Flight Commander comes with a graphical mission editor and uses standard formats for graphics and sound. If you're looking to use the engine to create your own game, version 1.5 offers these new features:

  • Save variables between missions
  • 6 new scripting commands available during combat.
  • Fully customize all the music easily
  • Briefings:
    • Fully customizeable, scriptable briefings. Add voice actors, move ships, adjust timing.
    • Navs on briefings can have labels.
    • A new briefing creation tutorial.
    • 27 new scripting commands are available for briefing editing
  • Gameflow:
    • Fully scriptable, add conversation with characters, multiple rooms
    • play custom movies whenever you want
    • change movies based on the outcome of the mission
    • Move the briefing camera whever you want.
    • 6 scripting commands.
    • Custom fonts colors in the gameflow

Second Call For Prize Winners

CIC Birthday Party prize winners who submitted their addresses should have gotten a confirmation email from us by now. If you haven't seen one, your email probably got caught in a spam filter and you should resend it or drop by IRC. With most of the CIC Staff out adventuring together for the next couple weeks, a number of these packages won't ship until later September. Here's a list of the prizes and winners again.
    Birthday Prizes
  • CIC Glass - Wedge, Sycrus
  • CIC Playing Cards - Ironduke, Wedge
  • CIC Polo Shirt (submit size) - TheFraix
  • TCS Eisen T-Shirt (submit size) - Justice, Paragon, Priest
  • TCS Eisen Hat - Taser, Wedge, Powell99
  • Confed Replica Patch - Blitz, ventsetti, HCl
  • WC2 Game - BobMcDob, Justice
  • WC4 DVD - LeHah, Vinman
  • WC CCG Pack - ZFGokuSSJ1
  • WC Novel (submit preferences) - Jetlag, matthew954
  • WC Movie DVD - Frogzilla
  • WC Movie Action Figures (submit preferences) - No Regret, Blonde
  • WC Movie Poster - Shades
  • WC Movie Longsleeve T - Jetlag
  • XBox Live 1 Year Subscription - Jetlag
  • XBox Live 1600 Point Cards - Justice, Jetlag
  • XBox Smack Talk Device - Dundradal
  • Nasa Sticker Set (donated by EddieB) - Dyret
  • Star*Soldier Print - Mekt-Hakkikt, Vinman, AD, Shades
    Arena Xbox Contest Prizes
  • XBox 360 Elite - NinjaLA
  • CIC Polo, Playing Card, Glass & Star*Soldier - IronDuke
  • TCS Eisen Hat & Star*Soldier - Blitz
  • WCM Soundtrack & Star*Soldier - Pedro
  • CIC Glass & Star*Soldier - SabreAce
  • Star*Soldier - Paragon
  • Star*Soldier - matthew954

Standoff Episode 4 Inches Closer

Eder has posted a major update to the Standoff website. Episode 4's beta test has recently expanded, and the new missions and features are currently under close scrutiny. Four new screenshots have been released showing off the new starscape and high resolution graphics mode. These upgrades will improve the visuals for all previously released episodes, as can be seen by the upscaled intro shots below. The team also hopes to firm up a release date soon.
Now, as far as actual progress is concerned, we now (finally!) have all missions on both paths. Those last two missions from the losing path took a while because of the minefields mentioned last update, but it's all working now, and apart from a few briefings, the episode is now only missing music and voiceovers.

...In fact, my to-do list has gotten so short, that I've made three new cockpits in the last few days - the Arrow, the Hornet, and the Broadsword (all of which can be seen in the latest batch of screenshots - in fact, the Arrow cockpit can be seen in two versions, because after I took the first screenshots of it, I went back and added some stuff to the VDU and other displays in the cockpit, to make it less empty). And hey, if I get bored, there may be one or two others, before this episode is done :-).

In other, also very important, news, progress on Pedro's OpenGL patch continues. We uploaded some screenshots showing this patch in action last update... now we've got a few more to show. In particular, these latest shots show off the new starfields, which replace the little random dots WCP/SO used to draw. The result is extraordinary, especially when you combine it with high resolution and anti-aliasing. Just look at that 1280x1024 shot of the Guadalcanal from the Episode 1 intro - it's just plain magnificent.

Birthday News Round Up

The CIC birthday is when we refresh popular sections and add new features to the website. For our ninth birthday we had over 30 updates. Hopefully you were here for the big party, but if not, here is a quick rundown of some of the most interesting news from that day.

Flint Fansite Still Kicking

A while back, Arek Grzegorzak noticed that there was a severe lack of Jennifer MacDonald websites on the internet. He set out to fix that by setting up the (Un)Official Jennifer MacDonald Site. It features a big section on her work as Flint in Wing Commander 3, along with a some biographical and filmography information collected from the internet, magazines and DVDs. Since the modern internet has become so obsessed with self-centered bloggles, podtubes or commercialized gaming/community hubs lately, it's really nice to see there's a few old school fan sites still around. Check it out here.

No Wing Commander BD In 2007

AD noticed that Fox has announced their Blu-ray Disc release schedule for the rest of the year. Unfortunately Wing Commander didn't make the cut, but there are some neat movies on the list. A high definition version of the film continues to make the rounds on certain cable channels, so we definitely expect it to show up in retail someday. Here's hoping for 2008. You can find their press release here.

Wing One Update: Tracks 24, 25 & 26 Added

It looks like the end of the road for Wing One! The Fatman has added three more tracks to the album, bringing the total up to 26. Here's the kicker: only one of them is from the game! The upbeat 'Arcade Training Theme', heard when you engage Wing Commander's TrainSim is Track 24. Track 25 is the famous Surf version of the Fanfare, long expected to be part of this album... but Track 26 is real surprise. It's a version of "Go To Sleep You Pilots" with, wait for it, lyrics! They are, in a word, hysterical - if you buy no other part of the album, get this last track!

Mean Green Cockpit Added To Standoff

Eder's whipped up another new cockpit for Standoff. This time it's the Broadsword, and I think it's one of his best yet. The arch of the frame seems spot on, and the enhanced starfield doesn't hurt either. The new background you see there is pretty much what space will look like beginning with Episode 4.

Wing One Update: Tracks 22 & 23 Added

The Fatman posted two new tracks for Wing One over night. Track 22, "Barracks - Go To Sleep You Pilots," is a wonderfully calm and soothing tune that pilots will remember from the Tiger's Claw Barracks. If you're just picking out individual tracks to buy right now, this is a great one to go with. The sooner you grab it, the cheaper it is. Track 23, "Eject - Lost in Space," is the alternative to "Eject - Upcoming Rescue," which was released last week.

Street Trace Released!

After many months of waiting, Gaia Industries' first Xbox Live Arcade game has been released! Street Trace NYC is now available for 800 MSPoints. For those unfamiliar, Gaia developed Wing Commander Arena for Electronic Arts - and now their own original title is available! Here's hoping it does well... they deserve a hit! I'll certainly buy it as soon as I make it home to my Xbox next week. Here's the official word:
Set in the urban wastelands of New York City, "Street Trace: NYC" (Gaia Industries) is an all-in-one hoverboard racing and arena battle game featuring multiplayer over Xbox LIVE with up to eight players and an up to a four-way split-screen. Players can choose from four arena games, three street games and even "cash" tournaments that allow them to purchase board and weapon upgrades between games. For more details on "Street Trace: NYC," please visit http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/s/streettracenycxboxlivearcade/

On The Wings Of A Lego Dralthi

Another day, another amazing Wing Commander creation. nnenn made this fantastic Dralthi out of Legos, MegaBloks and other compatible brick toy brands. He says that once in a while he might use some colored tape to cover holes and other things, but I don't see exactly where that might have been used on this model. I'm continually surprised by how authentic people can make Lego ships with the limited elements available. This is quite an art. You can find some of his other designs here.

Research? Bah!

Maxi de Sokar reports on a Play.TM article which gives a 'history' of the Wing Commander series, going from the original 1990 game through to today. As a basic timeline it's fairly well done, but their conclusions are fairly lame:
The Wing Commander universe lives on however, fans continue to create mods and hacks for the existing games and the recent release via Xbox Live of Wing Commander Arena is the first official new WC game in ten years. While it's turned out to be a none too impressive multiplayer shooter with not an FMV cut scene in sight, it does at least show that the Wing Commander brand lives on in the heart of EA somewhere and perhaps paves the way for a true sixth game in the series. There's been various false dawns for fans over the years, talk of Wing Commander Online or Prophecy sequel Strike Team have all come to nothing, so perhaps now is the time to dust down the franchise and re-invent it for this new generation of gamers who've been so starved of space combat games lately. I for one would be stood in the queue waiting to pick up a copy. Especially if they brought FMV and Mark Hamill back.
Actual Wing Commander fans to stupid people, Arena is awesome. I guess you can't expect the world from an article about Wing Commander that uses a StarLancer screenshot as its splash header (they also claim Chris Roberts left after Prophecy - it was before - and fail to mention Secret Ops). Read the whole thing here. Thanks as well to Justin Vroone.

Wicked Cool Wingnut

When you visit the tattoo parlor with a Warbirds poster, you're bound to come out with something neat. Now if anyone ever questions how fanatical a Wing Commander fan No Regret is, he has something to set them straight. The amazing image below took about 40 minutes to ink, and the dedication to Wing Commander will be evident for a lifetime.

When asked if he was living up to his name, No Regret had this to say.

Of course not. I know there's somewhat of a stigma attached to game tattoos, but the Kilrathi logo looks sufficiently tribal to go well with my first (tribal) tattoo. So far only one person I've shown it to knew what it referenced. Everyone else just thought it looked wicked cool. Which it does.

Command & Conquer TV Debuts

EA has added even more neat stuff to the resurgent Command & Conquer franchise. Last week, the first episode of Battlecast Primetime show appeared online. The hour-long show is packed with things like cast/development team interviews, narrated play-by-plays of exciting multiplayer games and information on community mods and events. The premiere show also announced the first expansion to C&C3, Kane's Wrath.

New C&C merchandise continues to emerge as well. EA is taking preorders on Talking Kane Bobbleheads now for $19.95! How crazy is that? I can't wait until we get Talking Thrakhath Bobbles.

Show your loyalty and order now! Hand-painted, the Kane Talking Bobblehead features Kane’s notorious black hooded cloak and an over-embellished Nod ring. Measures approximately 7” in height and stands on a base featuring the Nod logo.

Standoff Jazzing Up Starfields

The Standoff team is experimenting with new sharper starfield backgrounds for the Episode 4 release. These shots below are just preliminary, but they already look great. Eder explains the technical aspects of it below.

We are experimenting with the high-res cube-mapped nebula feature that Pedro showed in his video as a way to display better starfields. It lets us have thousands of stars, of varying sizes and brightness, that scale better between different resolutions... instead of a handful of tiny grey or orange blocky pixel-stars like in original WCP.

While the original starfields were single pixels (or small blocks) randomly scattered over space that we had no control on, the new starfields are texture maps, so we can do anything we want to them - the only limit now is the talent of this humble modder.

If you look very closely at the new shots, there are very subtle glows around the brighter stars, as well as a very subtle color variation between them. I did try to keep it as generic as possible so that we could make the same starfield fit all the different nebula / lighting colors in every system, that's why these features are barely noticeable.

Zerg Rush / Paladin's On Our Side

Chris (not Reid) has found an interesting article at 1Up: a StarCraft II preview which compares the game to Wing Commander III! In fact, it's subtitled "Single-player campaign = Wing Commander?":
The big departure from StarCraft is that story won't be doled out only in cut-scenes and through in-game conversations. Instead, in between missions, you'll get to control Jim on board the battle cruiser Hyperion, interacting with different elements of the ship and chatting with shipmates in role-playing-game style conversations with branching dialogue trees. The way you navigate the ship (click on a control panel, point of interest, or character milling about the deck) is reminiscent of a modern-day Wing Commander III or IV, only minus Mark Hamill and giant kitty puppets.
You can read the whole thing here.

Wing One Blowout: Tracks 17 Through 21 Added

It's been a few days since the last tracks were added to Wing One, so The Fatman has added a whopping five songs to the growing virtual album. Each one is quite impressive, and the set has a good variety. "Grim or Escort Mission" is a classic patrol march and "Extra Long Victory" is an embellished Wing Commander theme. "Debriefing Successful" and "Funeral" are both proud and emotional pieces. They're both on the long side too. The final track (#19 in the list) is an amazing bonus track that was not included in the original game: "Damage Sketch" includes recognizable WC elements but almost feels like it'd fit right into Privateer. Very neat.

From RealSpace Combat to Real Combat Spaces

Wired is running an article about Total Immersion Software, a company founded by former Wing Commander producer Mark Day. Total Immersion is developed something called RealWorld, a heavy duty simulation package that will help train soldiers for real-world missions.
With a pair of hoops in his left earlobe and a graying goatee, Mark Day doesn’t look much like the corporate suits, scruffy-bearded professors, and crew-cut officers hanging around the DARPATech conference in Anaheim. That’s because he’s a game designer by trade, not a military scientist; he produced a couple of installments of the Wing Commander franchise for Electronic Arts, then started his own gaming company.

Today, he's still putting together games, But now, it's for the government. He's using a version of the Gamebryo engine -- which forms the heart of everything from Civ IV to Morrowind -- to put together Real World for DARPA. "I still treat it as a game -- otherwise it gets too scary-serious," he says. Still, "after being responsible for supposedly corrupting the youth of the world for so long, it's nice to do something with actual meaning."

Mark Day certainly had a huge impact on our youths, corrosive or otherwise: in addition to being a good friend to the fans for many years, he produced Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy... and then the post-EA company he founded was Daylight Productions, which developed the Wing Commander IV and Prophecy DVDs. You can read the entire article here.

Small Sequence Packs In The Action

gr1mre4per has a neat little clip to show off that he constructed in Lightwave. The scene is just 18 seconds long, but the animation is smooth and the camera moves realistically in sync with the action. Appropriate music and sound effects add to the atmosphere as well. The ships were extracted models from WC3, except for the Excalibur which was modeled by Alan Hart. I would love it if people would turn stuff like this into full fledged projects. Check out the video here (1.7 megs, DivX or VLC).

New Standoff Cockpits Implemented

Eder has built two new authentic cockpits for Standoff Episode 4. The Arrow and Hornet now have their own designs and will no longer borrow art from other ships. These will debut in the game's next chapter and be retroactive to all the prior episodes. There's several lesser-used craft still left in the game that lack their own dash, and it's possible that these will get a unique makeover for Episodes 4 and 5 as well.

Space Sim First Look: Deepspace: Life on the Frontier

Bob has found an oddity for general space sim fans - an 'Elite' clone made in Blitz3D, an amateur game development setup. It's called "Deepspace: Life on the Frontier", and should probably play similar to our favorite Privateer game... although that isn't the objective:
Anyway Deepspace was first started in May 2006 as an Elite ‘style’ space/trading game. But shortly after I noticed that Elite itself was or seemed to be disappearing from the gaming culture. I thought what better way to keep the legend alive than to do my own homage to this great game. Whether I finish it or not I’ll enjoy every minute of it. :)
You can find out more here.

Keep Them Flying

Bob is back with what can only be described as more thought than anyone would think possible about what the Terran Confederation flag should look like. He's done an incredible amount of good work here, so he can take over the update:
For as long as I can remember I've been interested in the design of flags—or "vexillology", as the official term for it is—and being a Wingnut, I was naturally drawn to the Confederation flag. In particular the Confed star intrigued me; despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it originated as the Origin company logo, I believe it has a simple, bold grandeur that many real state emblems lack. After I looked into the matter, I discovered that no one had ever tried to produce accurate dimensions and guidelines for reproducing this gallant badge.

Now, I can be a real stickler for detail sometimes; this is one of those times. I became absolutely determined to reproduce the various Confed Stars as closely and as authentically as possible, since after all it is a prominent feature of both confirmed Confederation flags, and my eventual dream was to see them take their rightful place alongside those of other fictional universes at the website Flags of the World.

All things have to start somewhere, of course; I needed a starting reference, and I found mine in the Kilrathi Saga manual, as it covers the first three games and its version of the badge seems to be quite close if not identical to that used in WingIII and IV. The end result was this—a bare-bones vector drawn in Inkscape which is traced at the same size as the manual version but "loses" two of its outer bars when viewed in many programs due to them being white. Since I wanted to keep this file as a resource to people who wanted a star without hassle, I needed to present it in a way that made it more visible to people who just wanted a star.

I thought this over for a few days before I realized the answer was right in front of me—the big, blue flags seen in the background of the Price of Freedom epilogue. Unfortunately, since the physical version of these have yet to be found, I was unable to recreate them as accurately as I would have liked, and so the final proportions of the non-star elements are very much a matter of guesswork. The actual star is, however, as close to the original as I could make it, and because it's not transparent it's probably more useful for learning the proportions of the thing. Download Inkscape and look at it. You'll see what I mean.

As a final, triumphant aside, I pasted the flag into the canton of the Confederation Flag—the version seen in the opening of the movie and which has been interpreted multiple times by Klavs, Shaggy and myself. It is my third revision of the design, and stems from a recent viewing of the film when I realized that the top of the flag was incorrectly reproduced. It's not a definitive version, of course; the colors are conjectural compared to the original in the film, the top bars are still somewhat uncertain, the proportions are imprecise. Unless the original art used in the introduction is found, I doubt there ever will be a truly official version of this flag. It is, however, the best that I could make of it.

You can find the SVG files below:

Tractor? I Just...

Jetlag's Broadsword poster didn't win the contest... but he's come up with a way to get that Xbox, anyway! Any Arena veterans can tell you that this is pretty much a sure-fire way to win:

Wing One Update: Tracks 14, 15 and 16 Added

Do good things really come in threes? They seem to, these days. The Fatman has released three more tracks from Wing One: Eject Upcoming Rescue (14), Rec Room - Swing Commander (15) and Dull Patrol (16). My favorite of the bunch has to be Swing Commander - it reminds me of all the good times chatting with Shotglass and my wingmen. At this rate, we'll be done in no time...

The Mighty Quine

It's that time of the week: Chris Knudsen has released more screenshots from his Privateer Ascii Sector fan game. The first screenshot shows the load screen. Chris says: "When you move the cursor over the saved games, you get a short summary of that game to help you remember what's what." The other four pictures show off the Privateer's best friend - the Quine 4000 PDA!

Happy Birthday from J. Allen Brack

Wing Commander Prophecy veteran J. Allen Brack was kind enough to follow Sean Murphy and George Oldziey in sharing some memories of WCP's development and wishing the fans a happy birthday! Read on:
Greetings to the Wing Commander community!

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since Wing Commander Prophecy launched. Like most games, Prophecy took lots and lots of time and effort to get out the door, and we worked really hard to make it the best Wing it could be.

Prophecy was conceived as the next WC trilogy, following Casey from raw recruit in game one, to a hero of the Confederation with game 3. We had a great cliffhanger with Blair at the end of Prophecy resulting in his transport to Nephilim space, and interesting plans for what could happen next. Sadly, the remaining 2 parts of that story will likely never be told.

Memories of the game in no particular order:

  • Captain Johnny and the Friday Doughnut Horn.
  • Crunching late into Halloween night to post the demo for the game.
  • Staying up 3 days straight as we got close to ship.
  • Spending time on the one page addendum, realizing that I was too tired and not making sense, and calling in a friend to assist.
Certainly for me the most difficult part of the experience was cutting multiplayer. It was something we were all excited about, but just couldn't make work in time for the holidays.

I'm also grateful for the opportunity to work on Secret Ops. The episodic content idea didn't have a lot of AAA support at the time, and we worked hard to prove that the concept could work. At almost one million downloads, it was a huge success for the time.

A lot of the WC veterans have transitioned to online in recent years. Lots of folks worked on Star Wars Galaxies, and have transitioned onto other products recently. Be sure to check out their great work, past, present, and future.

When the web first came out, I thought success for me would be the day I worked on a project that had people create their own fan page. Thanks for making one of my dreams come true and keep up the great work! You guys have kept the Wing Commander spirit alive since the Usenet days. You are true heroes of the Confederation.

J. Allen Brack
Lead Producer
World of Warcraft

Now I'm awfully curious about what Captain Johnny's doughnut horn was...

Post-Party Prize Procurement

Another big party has come and gone, so it's time for all the trivia and random drawing winners to claim their prizes. Send in your mailing address to get your stuff. Be sure to include your IRC and real name, plus size/preference where appropriate. Here are the prizes and list of winners. The results of the Great XBox 360 Contest are also below. Be sure to check out their entries if you missed them Friday!
    Birthday Prizes
  • CIC Glass - Wedge, Sycrus
  • CIC Playing Cards - Ironduke, Wedge
  • CIC Polo Shirt (submit size) - TheFraix
  • TCS Eisen T-Shirt (submit size) - Justice, Paragon, Priest
  • TCS Eisen Hat - Taser, Wedge, Powell99
  • Confed Replica Patch - Blitz, ventsetti, HCl
  • WC2 Game - BobMcDob, Justice
  • WC4 DVD - LeHah, Vinman
  • WC CCG Pack - ZFGokuSSJ1
  • WC Novel (submit preferences) - Jetlag, matthew954
  • WC Movie DVD - Frogzilla
  • WC Movie Action Figures (submit preferences) - No Regret, Blonde
  • WC Movie Poster - Shades
  • WC Movie Longsleeve T - Jetlag
  • XBox Live 1 Year Subscription - Jetlag
  • XBox Live 1600 Point Cards - Justice, Jetlag
  • XBox Smack Talk Device - Dundradal
  • Nasa Sticker Set (donated by EddieB) - Dyret
  • Star*Soldier Print - Mekt-Hakkikt, Vinman, AD, Shades
    Arena Xbox Contest Prizes
  • XBox 360 Elite - NinjaLA
  • CIC Polo, Playing Card, Glass & Star*Soldier - IronDuke
  • TCS Eisen Hat & Star*Soldier - Blitz
  • WCM Soundtrack & Star*Soldier - Pedro
  • CIC Glass & Star*Soldier - SabreAce
  • Star*Soldier - Paragon
  • Star*Soldier - matthew954

Wing One Update: Tracks 11, 12 and 13 Added

The Fatman has posted three, count them, three new songs at Amie Street! Have you taken some hits? Better listen to "Damage Assessment Medium"! Are you just an all around failure? "Debriefing Unsuccessful", is for you then. My favorite by far of the three, though, is "Medal Ceremony Purple Heart" - it's complex and emotional. You can listen, buy and download them here.

WCP/SO OpenGL Patch Beta Released

Sometimes spam filters are more trouble than they're worth - here's an update that should have been posted in time for the birthday. Pedro has come up with an HCl-style technical patch for Wing Commander Prophecy and Secret Ops aiming at improving the graphics even further! Read on:
This patch is infact an additional optional graphics library, compatible with both Prophecy and Secret Ops, and will be included in the release of Standoff episode 4. In principle it is designed solely to remove problems experienced when using Direct3D such as 32bit support for ATI cards, and removal of texture glitches, most notable on things such as lens flares. Full transparency is supported, mimicking 3DFX. Some other mild improvements are also available, including the option to scale backgrounds and FMV to fill the screen.

This is a test release, designed to get as much feedback as possible, there are however some known issues which means you should use your personal judgement deciding if you wish to use this initial release:

  • The DVD and multiplayer patch is not currently supported
  • Dynamic lights need to be refined
Thanks goto HCl and PopsiclePete for their documentation of the graphics interface, Quarto, Eder and PopsiclePete for testing, PopsiclePete for config utility and setup.
You can download it here . Also check out this video (19 meg AVI), which demonstrates the improved graphics in action. Update: get the latest version of this patch here.

Happy 9th Birthday, CIC!

I know I've said this every year for as far back as I can remember, but Wing Commander fans are the best fans in the world! In 2007, we were truly blessed - from official releases like EA Replay, Wing Commander Arena, Wing One and Star*Soldier to the continuation of amazing fan projects like Standoff, Flight Commander, Gemini Gold, Saga and beyond... it's been a good year to be a WingNut. Pat yourselves on the back, it was your hard work that got us where we are today... and it's only going to get better! For nine years I've watched you write fan fiction, argue about continuity, build amazing mods, run RPGs, record music, construct websites and a thousand other things. I've watched many of you (myself included) grow up and become the best of friends - I wouldn't trade this community for anything in the world.

2007 also marks the tenth anniversary of Wing Commander Prophecy - the very first game we ever followed live (as cub reporters at Introspection's Wing Commander Home Sector). It may be best known for having dialed back the amount of FMV, but it was also the first Wing Commander title developed from the ground up for Windows and the first to take advantage of 3D accelerator cards. Add to that the game's focus on smooth, fun and action-packed gameplay along with its epic story, amazing art direction and generally stunning visuals and you'll see why Prophecy will be remembered as one of the true classics.

To celebrate nine years of WCNews.com and ten years of Wing Commander Prophecy we've collected the usual assortment of fun toys and cool oddities... check out the updates below to learn more! What's next for us? Well, you can see some of that from the new projects we're starting below... but first it's time for vacation! The CIC staff (minus Kris, who'll hold down the fort) is headed for Dragon*Con - and we're going big this time! Not only will we be running a 'fan table' to promote Wing Commander, but we'll also be leading a convoy right down the East Coast. If you're somewhere between Connecticut and Atlanta, GA and want to join in the festivities, be sure and let us know!

Birthday Greetings from Sean Murphy!

We asked Sean Murphy to say a few words about Wing Commander Prophecy in honor of its tenth anniversary. Sean was one of the game's 3D artists... he created some of the game's most familiar ships, including the beloved TCS Midway. More importantly, he's always been there for the fans, even after all these years! Without further ado, Sean Murphy:
Wow, ten years? It seems like just a short while ago we were burning the midnight...and two a.m....and four a.m. oil! What an experience Prophecy was - we were a seasoned team of Wing Commander vets, but we were striking out into new territory without Chris Roberts behind the wheel (even if that wheel had often been half a continent away on the previous games!). We were pretty stoked to prove we had the stuff to make a Wing Commander that would stand just as proud in the company of Wing III and IV (not to mention the classics I and II!).

It was a killer - no one who worked on the project would honestly say otherwise; but the fact is we bonded as a team in some pretty amazing ways. We went through a lot together, we kept each other going. Whether it was Captain Johnny's doughnut horn on Fridays (oh, how I miss the doughnut horn!) or movie viewings in Mark Vearrier's office (including THAT movie - remember, guys?) or a thousand other things the crew did to make the experience tolerable, we got through it - and at the end I think we produced a game that we were all as proud of as anything most of us have done before or since.

It's really pretty incredible that after all this time the work we did is still appreciated and enjoyed by you guys, the WCNews crew and fans. I know that I, for one, feel honored that the game I helped make ten years ago is still a source of delight to a group of fans out there.

Keep it up, and happy birthday WCN!

-Sean Murphy

You can find some of Sean Murphy's Prophecy artwork here.

Birthday Greetings from George Oldziey!

... and George Oldziey, who composed the wonderful musical scores for Wing Commanders III, IV and Prophecy, was also kind enough to take time out of his schedule to comment on the WCP's development! He gives a very honest - and I think important - commentary on the project:
For me, the most memorable aspect of working on Wing Commander Prophecy was that it was the first WC game of the post-Chris Roberts era. In my opinion, Chris had gotten a bad rap from Electronic Arts, as well as internally at Origin, for "overspending" on Wing Commander 4. It was a very expensive project (over $10,000,000 I think), but it still garnered a profit for EA, just not what they had projected. It seemed to me that the heads at Origin, including the new WC producers, wanted to change up the overall look and feel of the game as much as possible without straying too far, all in an attempt to distance themselves from the Chris Roberts production values, which I thought were very successful. This revamping even came down to the music, as I was told by the new executive producer and his henchmen to make the music sound as little like Wing Commander as possible. "WHAT???", I thought to myself. In my opinion, all of the Wing Commander games prior to Prophecy had a very distinct musical sound, and I'd always thought it was my responsibility to be as true to that as I could. So, in the early stages of the composition of music for WCP, I was constantly being told that my music sounded too much like Wing Commander and had to be re-written. Needless to say, it was a very frustrating experience. I would look at some video, think about some mission music, and inevitably the WC "sound" would pop into my head for inspiration. To then have to go against that instinct almost drove me to the point of quitting. But cooler heads eventually prevailed and I was slowly allowed to make the music sound "reminiscent" of Wing Commanders past as long as I added some new elements. I agreed to that scenario and the music started to flow again. However, due to all that angst I have to say that WCP was my least favorite of the three games (WC3, WC4 and WCP) on which I worked, and thusly I think my music was perhaps less inspired than in the earlier games.

Just fyi, even though WC3 was my first game, and was a magical experience, WC4 was my favorite. When I listen to some of that music I think some of it is the best music I've ever written.

You can find some of George Oldziey's Wing Commander music online here.

Birthday Greetings from Electronic Arts!

We're also here to celebrate Wing Commander's bright present... and the guys at Electronic Arts responsible for Wing Commander Arena were also kind enough to send along some awesome birthday greetings. They say it better than I can, so read on:
Hey there Wingnuts,

We here at EA and Gaia just wanted to take a minute to say hello and send a HUGE thank you to everyone in the WC News community for you support, help and passion. Without you, the Wing Commander franchise would not be what it is today and things like Star Soldier may never have existed. We are all honored to be a part of your community and to bring you Arena as Wing Commander gets ready to turn 18, we can vote! (Taggart/nar Hhallas 08!) Being able to share in a game that has at the same time such a rich, funny history (Ginger Lynn, really?) and such awesome fans is truly rare indeed. Thanks again and remember, somewhere between the Kilrathi Empire and the unknown, lies the future. Enjoy the party!

- The Wing Commander Arena team

A Special Present from Electronic Arts

... but wait, there's more! Producer Sean Penney, the guys at EA Arcade and the team at Gaia also have a special present for us to enjoy! One of the fan-favorite things we saw during the leadup to Arena's release were the amazing 'white' ship render wallpapers created by Gaia. Over the weeks and months we saw all eighteen flyable fighters, all three satellite bases and even the TCS Port Broughton... but two things were missing! Now, w e are pleased and honored to premiere the rendered images of the Confederation and Kilrathi battlecruisers! These bad-ass ships have quickly become the most popular part of Wing Commander Arena - massive warships that fight a giant broadside battle in the 'Capital Ship' game mode! If you haven't tried this part of the game, it's worth the 800 MS Points alone...

Birthday Greetings from The Fatman!

The Fatman, whose Wing One album is currently lighting up all of our Last.FM pages was also nice enough to send seasons greetings. He's also sent along information on an upcoming fundraiser for the University of Texas' new Game Archive being held by Richard Garriott and company!
Yeah, I Friggin' LOVE you guys! It's really fun to be able to dump this music onto the ears of somebody who knows and loves it. AND it's cool to be doing it in a way that keeps The Man from keeping us down. Well Done, my friends.

PLEASE ENJOY!

2.

On another topic, WC fans might be interested in knowing about the Game Archive that the Center for American History at UT....hey wait a minute, they know three of the four honorary committee dudes who are doing this!

It's me, Warren Spector, and Richard Garriott. And Bill Bottorf, who is cool but not a WC hero.

Anyway, there's a huge fundraising party coming up in less than a month, on Richard's property. Anybody got enough bucks to help out? I'm no expert, but I would guess that this would ensure WC's place in Actual American History.

AND the Captains of the Chess Team, my wife's nerd band will be playing, featuring three people who were deeply involved in Wing Commander:

me,
my wife, Linda,
Marc Schaefgen

And fabulous THINGS will be auctioned off. Perhaps Richard will...never mind...I'll just BCC him...

:)

again, THANKS
Love,
FAT

You can read all about the Game Archive event (and buy tickets) here. To borrow from Guy Clark, I wished I was in Austin...

Don't Call It the WingKiPedia

In general, the CIC staff are old fashioned internet gentlemen. We don't advertise or Podcast or YouTube or MySpace or anything of the sort... and, on rare occasions, we've been known to turn up our noses at these new fangled things kids today love. Well, our readers have made one thing painfully clear in recent months: they want a Wikipedia.

At first we demurred - the concept isn't one we've ever loved. Let anyone who wants to change anything they went to about an encyclopedia? One needs look no further than the current Wing Commander entries on the Wikipedia proper to see that it doesn't always work. Then, we realized: it wouldn't just be anyone editing the database... it would be WingNuts, the best community in the world!

Nevertheless, we're going to do this on our terms: it's not a permanent open database, it's a project to create the greatest Wing Commander Encyclopedia ever... and it has a timeline - at this time next year, we absorb it into the rest of the site. You have to register to use it and we've selected a license that doesn't give all our work to the Wikipedia corporation.

Everyone who contributes can consider themselves Wing Commander grad students... and you get your degree when the whole thing is finished! For my part, I'll be there every part of the way, writing entries as frequently as humanly possible and checking everyone else's research to make sure it lives up to our impossibly high standards!

We've set up a blank page and made it look like the CIC -- you can begin creating the WCPedia here.

... and as for the name in the update subject? Heed its warning, lest KrisV hunt you down.

Star Gods, Star Ships

To this day, a full decade after their arrival, the Nephilim remain largely a mystery. Their ships, however, are now a little better known... thanks to a behind-the-screens document left over from Origin! "Shipsalien.doc" includes specifications, histories, notes and sketches of all the Nephilim ships which appear in Prophecy! Want to know how long a Hydra is or what the original name for the Leviathan was? It's all there! We've translated the original Word doc into an article, which is available here.

Revamped Video Section Is Totally Tubular

Last year we opened the Holovids movie archive, cataloging everything from official trailers and interviews to fan created music videos. In an effort to make these easier to watch, we've adopted the Flash Video technology that made YouTube so popular. Many of our clips now offer immediate, inline viewing alongside traditional downloads. Some files could not be converted because they use a proprietary codec or because they are too large to offer in this format. If you want the best possible picture and sound quality, we still recommend the direct download option.

Full Full Motion Video Collection

The other night an old friend called me with a normal question - was Prince Thrakhath right or left handed? Boy, I said, I don't know - right, I think, but we'd have to load up WC3 to see for sure.1 Has this ever happened to you? Sure... but never again, thanks to our new index of Wing Commander III videos! By combining new-age flash video technology with Wing Commander 3's extracted videos we've created a neat site which allows you to pick and watch any part of Wing Commander III at any time! Better yet, the quality is identical to that found on the CD-ROM. Find the mission series you want in the index, pick out the video... and you're good to go! We've also included extracts from the game's script for each video, so you can know what you're looking for without even playing the movie! You can find the index here.

1 - True story. For the record, he is right-handed.

Tech Support Section Expands

The Birthday always gives us good motivation to refresh some of our older sections, and Tech Support, which debuted at last year's party, has been updated! The section now contains instructions on how to get all your Windows games working on modern systems. Unlike with DOSBox, we're dealing with thousands of unique hardware and software configurations, so not every issue has a clear cut fix. Nevertheless, it's more than possible to get every single DOS and Windows game running smoothly on today's machines. Many of the common tips have now been brought together in one place, and it will be much easier to add new information here as we identify additional workarounds and fixes in the future.

Going Back in Time!

Here's a quick feature old timers may enjoy - an 'On This Day in Wing Commander News' feature! Wondering what was in the news one, two, three... or nine years ago? You can find out here. So, what happened on August 11th? A heck of a lot of partying!

Behind the Screens: Prophecy GBA Script

Here's an unusual sort of developer document to archive -- one we actually created! As some of you may recall, the CIC staff helped advise Raylight on their ground-up GameBoy Advance port of Wing Commander Prophecy. One of our jobs was to create a gameflow script from the extracted video and comm video files in the PC version. To explain how the game worked we created a 'no frills' website that walked the developers through Prophecy one step at a time, listing all the dialogue, mission locations, events, etc. Because Raylight originally planned to render cutscenes in their 3D engine, we also went about the heartbreaking process of choosing roughly one third of the game's story which should be cut (marked in red in the document). Thankfully that never came to pass! You can read it in its original web format here. It's not only a historical curiosity... it's also great for finding bits and pieces of Prophecy's dialogue.

Wing Commander Movie Storyboards

In 1995 Chris Roberts and Origin Systems began pitching a Wing Commander movie to various film studios and investors. To help sell the project they created a series of lush painted storyboards to go with their presentation. Over the years several of these have made their way around the internet in generally low resolution scans from magazines - owing mostly to a PR release at Origin which accidentally claimed they were storyboards for Wing Commander Prophecy's film shoot. Today, however, we collect them all in their original format - showing everything from Blair in his space suit to paintings of the 3D Merlin character who almost was. You can find all 28 of them here.

Radio Free CIC

Nine years ago to the day, we launched our very first InfoBurst -- an interview with CIC founders Christopher Reid and Ben Lesnick. Originally a RealAudio show, the CIC InfoBurst returns as a free internet radio station. Tune in 24/7 to listen to random tracks from our music archive. Special shows including the 1998/1999 interviews with Chris Roberts, George Oldziey and Chris McCubbin have been archived in MP3 format. The new system allows for live broadcasts, so look forward to new special shows. We hope to set up a live broadcast from Dragon*Con next month.

Supported players include Winamp and VideoLan. Click here to tune in. Playlist and listener information is available from the InfoBurst section.

Selling Prophecy: Press Kits 1 & 2

In 1997 magazines couldn't just log on to a press site to download screenshots and content -- the internet wasn't that complex yet. Instead, game developers put entire disks and later CDs of game information in the mail! Our own KrisV was able to track down the two special Electronic Press Kits which Origin released for Wing Commander Prophecy. They're packed to the gills with screenshots in obscure high res format. PSDs, TIFs and TGAs, oh my! What's in these mysterious files? We've converted a lot of the data into several updates below! But if you're especially adventurous then you can download the original packs here (heck, there are even some files in here that we couldn't figure out):

Selling Prophecy: Promo Images

You've all seen how Electronic Arts releases Wing Commander Arena screenshots in bursts. Well, life in 1997 was the same way - with Origin offering precious few Wing Commander Prophecy in special bursts. We've managed to preserve three of these collections in better quality than has ever been seen before -- including eight amazing full resolution FMV photographs and twenty high res cutscene renderings! Some are familiar, some were thought lost to the ages... see them all here.

Selling Prophecy: Ship Images

You've all seen them before, two Prophecy images you'll never forget: a trio of Wasps arrayed over a planet and a pair of Panthers exiting a bright green jump gate. They're beautiful and part of our shared Wing Commander culture... but did you know that Origin actually made over two dozen such promotional ship renderings? It's true - everything from Vampires to TOBY pods got the 'promo' treatment ... and many of them never appeared in public -- until now! You can check them all out here.

Selling Prophecy: Teaser Intro

Would you enjoy... a little bit of new continuity? We've got it! What follows is part of a Prophecy 'teaser' story written by Origin for the press in 1997:
Following this revelation, Kt’Lan refused all offerings of food or drink from her accolytes and ordered them to prepare her K’Shrik-Non, or death den. On the third day of her fasting, before she was welcomed into the busom of Sivar, Kt’lan dictated her final words as the 9th Prophecy.

“As our hearts are consumed in sacrifice, a sound of thunder will herald the beginning of a new age. Our Great Loss will bring with it dark enemies of our clan who will seek to feast on our bones and will, like the savage wind, spread to the four corners of the sky and all that is. But yet in this suffering, we must be strong, for Sivar will send another messenger who shall bring redemption to our race and fill us with the Warriors Spirit and reunite us as a people.”

The coolest part? Because it was published, the tiny details can be considered canonical. So, if you're the kind of person who lives to learn the names of ancient Kilrathi Emperors or what the furball word for "death den" is then you need to read the whole thing here.

Selling Prophecy: Rod Nakamoto Interview

Rod Nakamoto, a former Sega executive, was brought in by Electronic Arts to run the Wing Commander franchise during the development of Prophecy. Worlds of Origin, the great Origin fan club, interviewed Nakamoto for a document which Origin later distributed to promote the game:
Is there anything you can tell us about the future of the Wing Commander line?

I wouldn't want to spoil our surprise…All I can say is that a new Wing Commander product will be released later this year…and it will be AWESOME. As anticipated, it will be a strong single player game with a new multi-player component. If you're interested, I'll supply more information and previews as we get closer to our target.

Read it all here.

Selling Prophecy: Broad Strokes

This is a good crash course for those unfamiliar with Wing Commander Prophecy - the original press description of the game (and franchise) created by Origin's PR department to sell the game to newcomers:
The Story
Rookie academy pilots Casey and Maestro report for their first tour of duty aboard the experimental capital ship TCS Midway. On the ship they meet the crew, including senior fighter pilot Maniac, and special military advisor Col. Christopher "Maverick:" Blair, both of whom formerly served with Casey's war-hero father Iceman (from Wing 1). Before the new pilots can adjust to their first assignment, word comes down of an attack on an unarmed Kilrathi colony. Soon, the Midway finds itself on the front lines of a full-scale invasion: a mysterious alien race is pouring into confed space, literally out of nowhere. And what does the new menace have to do with ancient Kilrathi Prophecy?

History
Wing Commander is an original space combat series that stunned the gaming community with its debut in 1990. It continued to set new technology and design benchmarks with Wing Commander II in 1991. Wing Commander III built on this success in 1994, and added the highest quality interactive movies ever seen by the industry. In 1995, Wing Commander IV combined everything that ORIGIN had learned, to provide the gaming market with the smoothest synergy of Hollywood and gaming ever seen. Wing Commander : Prophecy, due in late 1997, will continue in the Wing Commander tradition, delivering the same standards of quality and innovation that Origin's audience has come to expect.

The entire document is online here.

WCHS Comes Home Sector

But what were we doing when Prophecy was being released? The CIC is only nine, and Prophecy came out a decade ago! Well, for those who haven't been with us for all those years: the CIC had a predecessor, a Wing Commander news site called the Wing Commander Home Sector. The basic setup was essentially the same - daily news, feature articles, fan developed content and more organized by a very young LOAF and ChrisReid. Unfortunately, the WCHS archives were long thought lost... until today! We're proud to give everyone a sample of what we were like way back when! You can find our WCHS web mirror here.

Web Archive: Prophecy Official Site

One of the most elaborate websites ever created (with one of the worst URLs ever registered) was Origin's wingcommanderprophecy.com. The game offered extensive details about the game, including a section where pilots logged in as TCS Midway fighter pilots! After many years, we've been able to recover many portions of the site! Unfortunately the site just doesn't work in a modern browser... so we'll link you individual sections: Check out how different some of these VDU shots are from the finished game!:

Too Cool For MTV

Wing Commander music videos... we've all seen them. From touching tributes to Blair's death to heavy metal set to giant space battles to Ashlee Simpson narrating the Wing Commander IV trailer, fans are good at making them (except for that last one). Did you know there was an actual Wing Commander music video? It's true - Cobalt 60's 'Prophecy' song was set to a scripted video of the game's first mission! The video was released on the Prophecy OST and saw a limited amount of play in some areas of Europe. Most interesting to fans is the fact that a very early build of WCP was used to create it - check out different VDUs and a Fralthi II wreck that's actually on fire! You can download it here (102 mb, MOV) or view it in the new Holovids section here.

Birthday Poll - How Long Have You Been Here?

Annual poll time! At this time each year we ask our readers: how long have you been among our ranks? Is anyone old enough to remember WCHS? Did you come aboard for Secret Ops, Prophecy GBA, Standoff or EA Replay? Let us know! I'm willing to bet there are some new fans thanks to the release of Wing Commander Arena. You can find old 'longevity poll' results here.

Our last poll asked you which Wing Commander Arena single player mode you were looking forward to. A majority chose Gauntlet as their 'most excited' game type... not surprising, since it includes a familiar Midway-class ship! Melee, which pits the player against a host of AIs in the middle of the familiar space station map, came in a close second.

Prize Parade

We didn't post a big picture full of birthday prizes this year, and we got a lot of questions about it! Nothing's changed though - we're still giving away tons of prizes at the party right now! And here's a peek at this year's loot!

Got It Made By Shades

Longtime WingNut Shades has an awesome present for us - a Secret Ops specific version of the ICIS Manual and a host of Wing Commander Prophecy and Secret Ops DVD covers and disc artwork! I'll let him explain his project:
At long last it has been FOUND!

OK… Created!

A DVD cover, manual, and CD label for Secret Ops. I always felt the game deserved more credit and was disheartened when Origin didn’t include the on-line story for SO in Prophecy Gold. Once Karl “CFF” Frank created the off-line SO web site I knew I wanted to burn SO to disk. And what’s a disk without a label, case cover, and manual? This along with the SO Strategy Guide I recreated rounds out my Secret Ops project.

For the DVD cover I tried to give it the feel of the beginning of SO where the Cerberus was first scene around earth. To that end a big “Thanks” goes out to Greg Bock who gave me permission to use his picture of the Milky Way galaxy with “Mars in Scorpios”.

At the time the manual was created WCNews had not found the prophecygold.pdf and had to be typed manually I have also set it up in such a way that it will fit perfectly in a DVD case. (You have to print it on a duplex printer staple it and trim the edged.) Thanks to Wedge for proof reading it for me and catching the mistakes that always turn invisible after looking at something for too long. The ICIS border is what took the longest on the manual and went through four painfully long iterations but I’m very happy with how it came out.

For the CD label I tried to use the format of the Prophecy disks and of course the one new ship there is the Cerberus and I felt it deserved to be on its own disk. This copyright font size remains a problem in Photoshop but I can’t make it bigger and have it fit on the perimeter of the disk. (If somebody know how I can fix this let me know.)

Also, thanks goes out to the various people whom I bugged to get their input and help trying to find certain fonts. This whole thing took about two years of on and off work and through several variations.

Thanks to WCNews for their dogged determination in searching for, finding, and releasing to the community the Prophecy DVD! Thanks of course to HCl for his work on making a patch to make it all work. On that front I created a Prophecy DVD case cover and DVD label so we can all have our own case for this wonderful addition to are gaming collection and experience. I think I found the background at Space.com.

I am working on a few more things but they are not ready right now.

I hope you all enjoy is and I would love to hear your feedback.

Shades

Files:

Talkin' Nephilim War Blues

Mark Smids has a cool Prophecy-related surprise for us - a song! He writes: "For a while now, I've been recording some of my guitar songs. One of these tracks that I wrote a while ago, is a funny song dedicated to Wing Commander. It's a Tom Wilson style acoustic guitar song, describing lt. Casey's first day aboard the Midway. Since the daily newsposts include a lot of music lately, this might be a nice addition. I hope you all like it." Pretty darned cool - fan-made songs are a rarity, and this one is very cool! You can pick up the song yourself here (2.7 mb, MP3).

Face Out!

An anonymous WingNut has sent us a neat little birthday present - enhanced versions of several Wing Commander 1 conversations. This neat tech demo adds a fan-recorded voice track and morphs the mouthes and moves the heads of the characters to make them look like they're actually talking. These are pretty amazing -- although... Spirit has sounded better!

Wing Commander 1 Remake Released!

Kevin Caccamo has released a new stand-alone version of the Wing Commander 1 Remake for Flight Commander! Here's the official word and some pretty, pretty screenshots:
The Wing Commander 1 Remake is an individualized attempt to re-create the same gameplay and action that was seen in Wing Commander 1, only this time in three dimensions. Wing Commander 1 Remake has evolved steadily along with Eddie Benowitz's game Flight Commander.

In the standalone release of WC1 Remake, mission briefings, as well as green comm videos were included. Also, new pre/post-briefing videos were included. The Raptor ship has been scaled down for the player's convenience. And at last, but not least, the weapons have been modified to more closely match their counterparts from Wing Commander 1.

You can download it here (67.2 mb).

Trivia Redux

We did did it before... and we'll do it again! If you missed our party because of work or other commitments, we still want you to win a prize! All you have to do is be the first to answer these very hard trivia questions and you'll get yourself a copy of the rare-as-isometal Wing Commander IV DVD! Good luck!
Q1: What are the class names for the two battlecruisers in Wing Commander Arena?

Q2: What is the designation for the Skipper missile, as shown in Wing Commander III?

Q3: What was the name of War-God Sivar's first High Priestess?

Q4: The Nephilim's Triton transport was originally named after a kind of turtle. What was the name?

Q5: Wing Commander Prophecy PC features what is now a 'politically incorrect' destination for the rerouted convoy in the G'wriss series. What is the colony?

Really, really hard? Well, yeah - but the answers are all somewhere in the CIC... so seek and ye shall find! The first person to e-mail us the correct answers before noon EST tomorrow wins the prize. E-mail your responses here. Please do not answer in public.

Contest Entries

The Xbox 360 Contest went better than I could possibly have hoped - with people from all corners of the globe submitting entries of all sorts. Better yet, they're each incredibly unique - from drawings to interactive software to 3D trailers to physical objects - when we need to prove how diverse the community is, we need point them no further than this update. And the competitors (in no particular order) are...

MajorCam: "To run it the html file and px file need to be in the same directory to work. Open the html file in your browser and click on the WC: Arena logo to play. It'll probably prompt you to download the Photodex Presenter plugin, which it'll automatically start downloading once you hit okay (I had to do this on my machine that doesn't have the slideshow software I used to create this show). You'll also want to have your sound turned on, as there is a soundtrack." (Available here.)

David Kolesar: "Not exactly what I wanted to do, but I realized I wouldn't be able to finish my story in time.

(I would like to thank the Saga Team for the screen shot)"

SabreAce: "Even though I'm sure Confed was running a draft during the Kilrathi War, there's always the chance they were also running recruiting advertisements. This is how I imagine such an ad would appear if produced around 2667. The flags at the end are based off a design seen on the CIC a little ways back (itself based off the intro the WC Movie), and my own little tweak of the standard Confed star logo." (Available here.)

Ironduke: "This just in: Ironduke & The Lovebirds plan to release their brand new album "Memories from the Claw," including the smash hit single "Summer of '55" - due to hit shelves on 2668.250!

In other news: Well, since you're running that Xbox contest (not that I'd need one anymore...) and asked for some WC creativity, here you are! I wrote a song about our beloved Tiger's Claw - from the perspective of one of the Claw's survivors. Okay, so I didn't exactly WRITE that song - Bryan Adams did that for me. But you'll see what I mean when you're listening to it...

Unfortunately, I don't have professional recording equipment, so don't expect too much - but I think it's all right anyway. If you listen closely, you can hear our (my wife's) two lovebirds twitter in the living room - in case you were wondering about the "artist's" name. *g* (And yes, I know, this song NEEDS a guitar, but I can just play the piano...)

Have fun, and most important of all: HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :)" (Available here.)

NuAngel: "Back when I bought Wing Commander for the Super Nintendo, I was a little late to the game. I had to buy it used. And for some reason, nobody had ever hung on to their manuals. I was stuck learning the game on my own. Still, the controls were pretty straight forward, and very user friendly. However, my wingmen kept reminding me that they were ready to fight - but I was never able to turn them loose.

After copious amounts of button mashing, I resolved the issue on my own, June 17th, 1999. Still but 14 years old, I was proud of my accomplishment, and wanted to make a little 'guide' for the next person I sold the game to. I have attached the word document I made up in 1999, as a 14 year old with MS Word and Paint. While it seems plausible that the CIC may have scans of the Wing Commander / WC: Secret Ops Manuals somewhere on site, I just thought perhaps this could be handy, as the complex and annoying combination of buttons is certainly a tough one to stumble on to, and I thought maybe this child-made guide could be handy to someone else.

And, though it was created when I was a child, it was found after dismantling an old Packard Bell 486DX4, pulling the hard drive, and wiring it up to an external drive casing. Solely for the intent of finding THIS very document so that I could enjoy my games again. I was wondering if, perhaps in addition to making it some kind of 'news' if I could submit this as an entry to the WC Arena / "Elite" contest? If not allowable as a contest submission, I still submit it to you as consideration for just some random news on the site or something. " (Available here.)

Erkle: Erkle has written "No Medic Is Safe", a fan fiction piece available here.

matthew954: "Here is my entry to the CIC Birthday contest. The first ever F-36 Hornet Radio Control Profile Parkjet. Though what you see here is just the basic airframe. Whats great about this is that it is simple and cheap to build. This particular version is a prototype. I have been kicking around with the idea of building a Wing Commander fighter as a parkjet but didn't have the motivation to begin work on one, atleast until now. This model design was derived from the Hornet Blueprints at the CIC. I scaled them up to a 20" wingspan. I can blow them up further but wanted to test the design out first. I would like to have presented the model completed but unfortunately the parts I need to finish it won't arrive until after the contest is over. Although soon enough I'll be launching off on my first sortie looking for some furballs he he."

Mekt-Hakkikt: "Here's my submission for the CIC birthday. Given my limited talent and time, I send you a picture (not even high quality I realize) of the Confed Star made with some of my CCG cards. And since the CCG feature the Star of the Armed forces (or isn't it?) and the Kilrathi logo and you get 3 logos in 1! ;-)

NinjaLA: "Here is my entry for the CIC contest. I wanted to do something that brought arena into the WC universe in a big way.. And what better way is there than glorifying the adrenaline inducing capital ship mode!"

Pedro: "I’m submitting for the competition. It’s only video (XviD format) of work in progress, one of a number of planned visual upgrades for Prophecy (I’m a programmer, its all I can do). I’d love to submit the whole graphics GL as an entry but as it has been in development for several weeks so I guess I can’t. The new nebulas however are a recent hack overriding the geometry and texturing. It will take some time to tweak them, and to override them all, so for now I am submitting only one video and one screenshot as proof that the work is in progress." (Available here. (19mb AVI))

Filler: "Also on behalf of Robbie Fowler, aka Filler, I’ve uploaded the first shot of his hi-res HUD in game. We had hoped to include this with the beta of the OpenGL patch, unfortunately some of the original 3dfx specific materials which the GL uses have only just been tracked down, too late for him to integrate them; for now a screenshot of what has been done will have to suffice. I asked him to replicate the original as closely as possible and personally I think he’s done an amazing job, especially considering this is just the first version."

Blitz: "I first had a Idea for a Virtual CIC then I thought how about a WC Museum, then I thought hmm, why not something combined. And thats what I have constructed after about 8 days and nights.

First Off Let me say that the engine I chose for this is not really made for it, its a Tactical RPg engine in the style of the old SSI Gold Box games of the late 80s. But even without knowing almost anything about the engine and not even having a manual I pressed on.

Its turned out fairly well, tho everything does seem to work I'd say it still needs some polishing which I plan on doing as I do believe I will update it. I call this version .073" (Available in two RAR archives here (665 mb ZIP) and here (303 mb ZIP) ).

Paragon: "Attached is my entry for the Xbox 360 Contest and a birthday present to CIC. It is the first of a weekly comic strip entitled "Wing Commander: Defiant". Enjoy (there will be another one soon)."

Bob McDob: "What can I say, I'm finally done, and quite proud of it at that. I think the image speaks for itself."

Jetlag: "Here's my printed and assembled Broadsword Behemoth poster. It measures 45" x 29".

Happy Birthday, CIC!"

J. Chen: "Wing Commander is something I grew up with, but did not entierly get into until III. This was mostly because I was a bit young during WCI/II, so by III's release I was able to get into it properly.

This is my entry of a Wing Commander themed wallpaper. Done with a healthy mix of flash and photopaint. The Excalibur is a big favortie of mine, so there's no other option for me. A few inconsistancies, but I feel it is good enough to send.

The background was used with permission from http://heavenlyview.com/"

MChen: "This is my submission, two variations of the same picture in the attached zip file honoring three generations of Rapier fighter (doing the undersides was a pain, especially since there don't seem to be many clear shots for reference >_< ) along with my interpretation of what could be a post-Prophecy-era pilot in flightsuit, which is inspired by a few of the different flightsuits of the series.

I chose not to due color considering how much of a mess I'd make of it, though I hope everyone enjoys it still!"

Nob: "It's a short service history of the Rapier-II, didn't get around to getting anything done beyond the first two variants, but oh well." (Available here.)

And the Winner Is...

NinjaLA

... for his Wing Commander Arena drawing. The action scene was truly spectacular, capturing the mood of the Wing Commander universe down to the tiniest detail. Check out the Kilrathi nobleman in the Kiranka's windows, or the little tears in the Broadsword's Durasteel... that kind of extra work is exactly what we were looking for in this competition.

I can't stress enough that this contest isn't fair - because you're all amazing fans and you all did a great job here. I don't even mean that to make people feel better... had I the ability you would all get Xboxes. Just taking the time to enter a contest like this is something... but the hard work everyone put into it was above and beyond.

And now for the less-coveted 'second place' ribbon. This was a very close call, and at the end of the day I could have gone either way:

Ironduke: A hilarious Wing Commander song parody? A man after my own heart! Plus, you sang and recorded it very well... and you have to be a HUGE (and fearless) fan to sing a song like this. I hope you won't mind if we put this in heavy CIC Radio rotation. You win a CIC Polo, CIC playing cards, CIC Confed glass and a copy of Star*Soldier.

I'd like to take a moment to honor five other entries as special runners up. The prizes are all smaller, but your work wasn't - it was really razor close. I truly wish we had something for everyone.

Blitz: A FRUA-style dungeon engine used for displaying Wing Commander material? That's genius! It was a little bit buggy (and a big download), but the concept was great and the execution is absolutely in the right direction. You win a TCS Eisen hat and a copy of Star*Soldier!

Pedro: I'll be honest, I don't understand any of the science behind what you've done - but you sure as heck made Prophecy look good, and that's something that's going to help every fan in the universe. You've done a great honor to a great game on its birthday! You win a Wing Commander Movie soundtrack and a copy of Star*Soldier.

SabreAce: Wonderful concept, cool animated Rapier... and you can't beat those flags! You win a CIC glass and a copy of Star*Soldier.

Paragon: You're a great artist, and I'd love to see this continue! You win a copy of Star*Soldier.

matthew954: Hey, you already have a prize, a real Hornet! Never the less, that kind of dedication gets you a Star*Soldier.

Final Word: Thanks!

... and at the end of a great night, we have some big thanks to make after a big year!

Sean Murphy and George Oldziey, for taking the time to send us their memories about Wing Commander Prophecy. We really do love the work you did, and hope that we'll still be finding ways to honor and remember it in another ten years.

Sean Penney, for his kindness towards Wing Commander fans and his dedication to this community during the development of Arena.

Ben Swanson and Andrew Green at Electronic Arts, for keeping us in the loop for the Arena launch. We hope we'll be working with you guys again in the near future!

Everyone at Gaia - you made an excellent addition to the Wing Commander universe.

The EA Replay Team - history will record that you got the ball rolling in terms of new Wing Commander releases!

The GameTap Crew - Thanks for the expert rereleases of Wing Commander 1 and IV... and for keeping our community in the loop! Now, lets see Privateer...

The Fatman - for (finally) getting his Wing One album to us!

You - well, you folks know how I feel. You're the ones who built this great community and at the end of the day this event is always about honoring what you've created.

You are Cordially Invited...

To the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's ninth birthday celebration! TONIGHT at 7:00 PM Eastern US (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT) in #Wingnut!

Featuring...

  • New CIC Material!
  • Never Before Seen Origin and EA Stuff!
  • Stuff from the best community in the galaxy!
  • A Pelican-load of Prizes!
  • Trivia for Everyone - Beginner to Expert!
  • The Xbox 360 Contest Winner Announcement!
  • In all Likelyhood: Cake!
  • Charming Conversation from ace, Chris, Frosty, Hades, Kris and LOAF!
  • ... and not Hadrian!
So point your IRC client to irc.wcnews.com, channel #WingNut! If you need help with IRC just check our #Wingnut section, or just use our Java Client.

Wing One Update: Track 10 Added

The Fatman has posted the tenth track to his Wing One page on Amie Street. The track is a bit of a downer - it's called "Returning Defeated and Landing"! It should remind everyone of all their failed attempts to catch Bhurak Starkiller in the McAuliffe System...

Contest Deadline Approaches

The deadline is drawing close for the CIC's Xbox 360 Elite contest - entries must be in by noon EST tomorrow, August 10th. The rules and requirements are available here... even if you don't need an Xbox, send in something to show your colors as a Wing Commander fan! Please note that we've e-mailed everyone who has entered the contest so far - if you haven't seen an e-mail from a CIC staff member, then we haven't seen your entry!

Be sure and join us in #WingNut tomorrow night starting at 7 PM EST to hear the winners... and for the biggest Wing Commander party of the year!

Wing One Update: Track 9 Added

Wing One Track 9 has been added to the virtual album at Amie Street. "The Great Dogfight" is the longest track released so far. It's the exciting piece that plays during the heat of battle - complete with victory music to carry you home. The Fatman had this to say...
This is the one! Sing Along, it's Dogfight Time! Dunt Dunt Dunt Dunt DA Dunt Dunt DA Dunt Dunt DA da DUNT Dunt Dunt Dunt...

Gemini Gold 1.02a Released

A new version of the Gemini Gold Privateer remake has been released. The "a" iteration expands on this summer's major release with a handful of bug fixes and tweaks. The Paradigm and New Constantinople models have also been replaced with upgraded models. You can grab the 280 meg game in Windows, Mac and Lunix flavors here. Players will have to grab and reinstall the full package, but they can continue to use their existing savegames. John Cordell also passed along word that the game has now passed 200,000 downloads. Around 250 new fans try it out each day!

This version will basically iron out a few nasty bugs and upgrade graphics. We want to thank all people who sent in feedback and helped to make this release possible.

That said, don't expect much more from us during the next few weeks, we are starting our summer holidays and therefore won't be around providing support. Everyone have fun and happy privateering!

XBox 360 Price Drops

Microsoft has announced that the first North American price reduction for the XBox 360 console takes effect today. The Core package is now $279, standard XBox 360 (formerly "Premium") is $349 and Elite is $449. A limited edition Halo 3-themed system with some features of the Elite (less the larger hard drive) will debut at $399 in September. North of the border, the XBox is dropping $100 in Canada to $299 (CAD) Core, $399 Premium and $499 Elite. And that's not all - Mexican Wing Commander fans can now get a Base system with a game for $3,699 (MXN) or complete console with two games for $5,199.

This is great news for fans who couldn't quite come up with the cash for a system in time for Arena's launch. Hit the Discuss link if you have any questions about what you need to get started.

Wing One Update: Track 8 Added

Getting tired of these updates? We sure aren't! The Fatman has posted the eighth track to his Wing One album page on Amie Street. The latest track is "Flying to the Dogfight", which should be familiar to many as the primary in-flight music in the original Wing Commander. A big thanks to Fatman for keeping up with this - it'd be easy to forget about us...

Birthday & Contest Reminder

It's almost time to party! As many know, this Friday is the WC:CIC's annual birthday party - and as usual we'll be giving you the presents, including new material for the site and prizes for those who join in on IRC! From EA Replay to Wing Commander Arena to Star*Soldier to Wing One to GameTap we have a heck of a lot to be thankful this year... so come celebrate our good fortune with the best fans in the universe!

Come experience the fun in #WingNut starting at 7 PM EST (4:00 pm Pacific, 11:00 pm GMT) - there'll be an hour-long countdown to the annual site update complete with door prizes, trivia contests and chat with some great people! You can find details on connecting to IRC here.

... but wait, there's more! Friday is also the deadline to enter our Great Xbox 360 Contest! You can read the instructions here - please make sure your entry is in by noon EST so we can judge the winner before the party. We'll announce who gets the Xbox during the celebration and then we'll show off all the cool entries alongside our traditional birthday updates!

Wing One Update: Track 7 Added

Another track from Wing One is now available for download and purchase from Amie Street. "Strike Mission - Go Get 'Em" will be familiar to anyone who attacked a Ralari back in '54! Keep checking back... we're not even a third of the way through yet! Hopefully Fatman will take note of the fact that his Wing Commander tracks are now the most expensive ones in his library.

Ascii Privateer Fixed

Chris Knudsen has your fix - fixer missions, that is. These are, of course, part of his impressive Privateer Ascii Sector project, which seeks to create a Privateer-style game complete with flight engine in a completely text-based environment. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, fixer missions are those offered by a character in a bar (such as Sandoval in the original Privateer) rather than by a mission computer.

Last Chance to Enter EA Giveaway

Today's the last day to sign up for EA's amazing Arena contest. All you have to do is sign up for the EA Arcade newsletter to enter to win a huge assortment of Wing Commander games - and the systems to play them on! Quite a few random sites have advertised this one, and we'd love for a real Wing Commander fan to win it. As usual, this is a US-based contest with a variety of limitations and restrictions, so check out the complete rules here.

Note that this is a completely separate event from the contest that the CIC is currently running. Dedicated Wingnuts have several more days to come up with an entry to win the XBox 360 Elite that LOAF won for the community in last week's Arena tournament. Check out the news post here for more details.

Wing One Update: Tracks 5 & 6 Added

It's music to my ears - The Fatman has added two more tracks to his Wing One album on Amie Street. Track 5 is "Briefing Through Launch" and Track 6 is "Defending the Claw" - both beautiful reminders of the good old days! I don't know how everyone else feels, but I'm really enjoying this release system - a little Wing Commander nugget every day or so really makes me happy... even if I have to pay twelve cents for it! You can buy, download and rate them here.

Wing Commander Movie in France

Scipio has good news for French WingNuts! The French channel RTL9 will be airing Chris Roberts' Wing Commander movie on Monday (August 6th) at 20:45 CET. You can find their Wing Commander writeup here:
2654. Les Kilrathis, mi-hommes, mi-félins, s'apprêtent à envahir la Terre, dont ils connaissent toutes les positions de défense. Stationné à des années-lumière du drame, l'Amiral Tolwyn est trop éloigné pour les intercepter. Seul le lieutenant Blair, à bord de son navire marchand Diligent, peut arriver à temps pour organiser la résistance...
Enjoy, and let us know what Freddie Prinze Jr. sounds like when he's speaking French!

Standoff Fields Mines

The Wing Commander Standoff fan project website has been updated with a report on the status of Episode 4. It sounds like we're getting closer to the release but that it's still well over a month away. There's always hope!
With just over a month since the last update, we've been able to make quite a significant amount of progress. Episode 4 isn't done yet - we still have some mission tweaking to do, a lot of voiceovers still to be added (a small amount needing to be recorded, first), a lot of cutscene music to be done, and a few FMV scenes (but all the complex ones are done, the remaining few are just the usual talking heads convos). In short, it's highly unlikely that we'll release Episode 4 in August - but, fingers crossed, we should at least get to the point where we can announce a release date we can keep.
Most importantly, they've also released nine new screenshots showing off a damaged Hakaga, a minefield and some of the game's FMV:

Super Sabre

... but wait, there are more Sabres! The Wing Commander Saga mod for FreeSpace 2 has released two renderings of Klavs' new Sabre model. They went left where Standoff went right, creating a streamlined reinterpretation rather than a duplicate of the ship as it appeared in Wing Commander II. The F-57 Sabre was a powerful heavy attack fighter available to the player in Wing Commander II and the Special Operations addons. It also played a significant role in several of the Wing Commander novels, and came within a hair's length of being featured in the Wing Commander movie instead of the Rapier.

Satellite Lessons

There's more on Xbox Live Marketplace!... sort of. Microsoft has added HD versions of three of the official Wing Commander Arena trailers to the Game Videos section. Included are the Capital Ship trailer and the amusing 'How to Capture a Satellite' and 'How NOT to Capture a Satellite' videos. All are free and worth watching again in HD. From MajorNelson's blog:
Content: Capital Ship Battle
Price: Free
Availability: Only in Canada, United States
Dash Text: [ESRB: E (Everyone) FANTASY VIOLENCE] Witness the epic frenzy of a 16-player Capital Ship battle!

Content: How NOT to Capture a Satellite
Price: Free
Availability: Only in Canada, United States
Dash Text: [ESRB: E (Everyone) FANTASY VIOLENCE] Team tactics are critical to success in Wing Commander Arena. Here we show you what NOT to do…

Content: How to Capture a Satellite Trailer
Price: Free
Availability: Only in Canada, United States
Dash Text: [ESRB: E (Everyone) FANTASY VIOLENCE] Effective teamwork will be the difference between victory and getting fragged. Here we show you a few good maneuvers…

You can find the internet versions of these trailers here. Unfortunately, for some reason these are only available in the United States and Canada.

More Reviews

Planet Xbox 360 has published a review which is fairly positive (7.3/10). They take issues only with legitimate problems - the lack of a tutorial and the game's failure to allow groups of players to continue between matches without going through the invitation proccess again:
By design, most Xbox Live titles are designed to be easy to pick up and play. Not so with WCA. The Help screen doesn’t help much at all, leaving gamers to learn as they go. There is no in-game explanation of the items on your HUD, what each power up does, or the purpose and use of the satellites. You’ll have to learn and remember as you play, or go to EA’s website for an instruction manual.

All in all, Wing Commander Arena attempts to revive the past with a lukewarm effort that many fans might find to be blasphemous. WCA was built around the multiplayer experience, but the inability to keep your group of gamers together in player matches goes against the spirit of Xbox Live. Hopefully EA will patch this major flaw, but in the meantime, the Live Play and Replay Value scores take a hit.

GameZone has published a moderate review (6.1/10) which speaks to the truth of the matter we've been shouting all along - this is a multiplayer game:
Outside of the multiplayer, there’s no real reason to download Wing Commander Arena. I’d suggest only downloading this if players are desperate for 16 player action over Xbox Live.
It's worth discussing their biggest problem with the game: "perhaps the biggest letdown for hardcore Wing Commander fans will be the simplicity of controlling the ships." That's an interesting criticism, because a lot of people are shouting that the game is too complex (it's also a credit to the immersion of the original games - which were, by and large, not very complex at all)! Finally, Eurogamer has published a very bad review... which argues the opposite, saying the games is too complex:
There are other gripes - the bland visuals, the way defeated players just wink out of existence, and the way the rubbish music doesn't even loop properly - but it seems rather pointless to list them all. Wing Commander Arena is a rudimentary shooter, the sort of thing that might have passed muster as a homebrew PC title ten years ago, but an unimpressive trudge for console gamers today. While there's obviously a limit to what you can do with an HD game in 50Mb, a few less game modes and a lot more polish on the actual gameplay could have made this one of the most attractive multiplayer titles around.
This seems to be another case of a jaded reviewer who just isn't looking at the game contextually - there's nothing like Arena on Xbox Live Arcade...

Full articles: Game Zone, Planet Xbox 360 & Eurogamer.

Wing One Update: Track 4 Added

The Fatman has added the fourth track to his Wing One album on Amie Street! You can listen, buy and download it here. Based on their popularity in only the last few hours the first three songs have risen in price to thirteen cents each - still a steal, in my book!

BREAKING NEWS: Fatman Releases Wing Commander Music

The moment you thought would never come is has finally arrived: six years after our original petition, George "The Fatman" Sanger has started to post tracks from his Wing Commander album, "Wing One", on the Amie Street music service. Here's the official word:
This is the soundtrack to the first Wing Commander game by Origin Systems. I was asked by the game's producer, Chris Roberts, to write something that sounded something like Star Wars and Star Trek the Motion Picture. My Team Fat writing partner, Dave Govett, had this little tune (the fanfare/theme) in his head already. It took him about a day to get finished music to me--and with that one tune, game music took what is perhaps a bigger step than it had taken before or has taken since. If you don't believe me, do the research. Try to find a soundtrack with stronger musical sensibility, better composition, or better arrangements. This game supported the then-new MT-32 sound card--this was pre-General MIDI, and most games had just used the internal FM sound card--which was considered high-quality at the time! In addition, Chris Roberts insisted on making the soundtrack interactive. There have been other soundtracks before and since, but this one stood out. Wing Commander was the hit of the CES show that year. These days, game soundtracks that attempt to imitate John Williams are commonplace. I don't like to do it anymore. But to my knowledge, this is the first one, and compositionally remains one of the better ones. I believe that for several years after this, game composers were still not asked to imitate John Williams. They were asked to imitate David Govett and Wing Commander.

You will hear the authentic, original MIDI files, playing back on a Roland MT-32 sound module, as you would have heard if you were playing a Brand New Wing Commander game on The Best Game Sound-Equipped Computer Available At The Time. A touch of Roland Sound Canvass (in MT-32 emulation mode) was added just because it was easy to do and made the tones just a tad-bit richer. Other than that...Welcome To The State of the Art in PC Audio, circa 1990!!!!

Amazing! The service is a little strange. You can listen to music at any time or sign up and buy downloads like iTunes... but until a track is popular the songs are very cheap (or, in this case, free)! I was able to download all three of the current pieces after registering but without entering any sort of payment information. Get in there and make this music popular!

A very special thanks to LeHah, who has shepherded this thing from day one - he's gone above and beyond to make sure this music is released. He, in turn, forwards this message from The Fatman:

Govett is now a full-time cop. Perhaps he will do the full orchestration someday, but let's let fly with this for now:

Three little tracks posted. I'll try to add a track a day or so until it's all up. There are about 25 tracks total.

Please apologize to the Fans for our tardiness, and let them know that they have our deepest, most heartfelt THANKS FOR THEIR PATIENCE--and especially, THANKS for their interest in the music that we tried very hard to make as good as we could...for them, at a time when it was considered kind of, well, silly to put effort into game music.

Thank You For Listening!!!!

You can find The Fatman's entire Amie Street portfolio (which includes several non-Wing Commander albums) here or the Wing One album here. He's also created some amazing cover art -- look at the image closely, it isn't what you think! We'll keep you updated as soon as new tracks are added! I sure hope there's a way to buy physical copies of this thing someday...

Tournament News Round Up

Everyone loved the tournament... and now you can revisit it by checking out the news coverage of the other sixteen sites involved in the battle! We've collected all the announcements, updates and wrap-ups written by the participants thus far in a nice fat list, located below. The winner's wrap-up is here, which is pretty cool - written in a pseudo in-continuity style. The coolest of these articles, though, is Acheive360Point's training article which gives a day-by-day breakdown of how they prepared for the tournament. It begins on release day with "At first, I think this game is horrible, but the more I play it the better it gets. Kind of one of those games that starts off slow then ends in a positive note."... and three days later: "I didn't play WCA at all today. I really wanted to though." Fantastic. Another notable entry is the Kotaku wrap up, which includes a video of the start of the tournament. Here's the whole enchilada:

The Great Xbox 360 Contest Begins!

As you heard yesterday, we recently won an Xbox 360 Elite system to give away in the Wing Commander Arena community tournament event... and it's going to the readers who've supported us all these years! Now, we're absolutely adamant that this prize has to go to a Wing Commander fan, so we've tried to come up with a contest that lets you show your colors!

In short, you have ten days to make something relating to Wing Commander! Something? Anything - whatever you're good at! Draw a picture, render a ship, record some music, film a video, write a story... bake a cake! Just make sure your entry is in by NOON EST on August 10th, because we'll be sharing every entry with the community at our ninth annual Wing Commander Combat Information Center birthday party! The CIC staff will vote on the best entry and that person will receive the Xbox 360... and we'll throw in some CIC prizes for the runners up, too!

Make sure your entry expresses that you're a Wing Commander fan - that's the only real requirement. We also ask that you make something new. If you've already started a fan project which has been featured in our news or forums, it isn't eligible... not because you wouldn't deserve to win but because it's an unfair advantage. Everyone should start on an equal footing right now!

Also, note that this is an American Xbox, meaning that it's the type that runs on the power and TV systems found in the United States. We welcome entries from all around the world and will judge them equally... but if you're from another continent then be aware that you might not be able to use the system upon winning it. Games are also region locked, so this system can only play American releases. Even if you aren't interested in winning the system, we'd love to see your creative work on our big day!

Submit your entries to news@wcnews.com. If they're too large for our inboxes then contact us at the same address and we'll arrange an FTP login for you. The winners will be announced at our annual birthday party which takes place in #WingNut and will then be announced on the front page news. All material submitted will be posted for the public to see (no naked pictures, please)!

(Disclaimer: Electronic Arts hasn't actually sent us the Xbox yet - the prize can't actually be awarded until we receive the system to give away.)

Good Reviews

The pendulum turns! Today we have a set of Wing Commander Arena reviews that are entirely positive. It's an odd situation... but it seems pretty clear that the more time people spent with Arena, the more they like it. One might reasonably compare the game to the recent Pac-Man CE XBLA release, which quickly went from being considered a cheap ripoff to being a true classic. In the scary world of Podcasts, Achievement Junkie performed an audio review of the game -
Host 1: It is a fun game...

Host 2: The very strange thing about the game is that it didn't seem like it would appeal to me at all... but when you play it more and you start to do some of the combat stuff... it's actually kind of fun.

Host 1: ...I was totally surprised by it too, because I'm not a driver or a plane flyer, I'm not a pilot by any means... but this is definately a cool game. The multiplayer is going to be exciting...

AD was kind enough to extract the Wing Commander portions - they're available here here (2.92 mb). The entire report (Episode #48) here. Here's the real prize, though: UGO has published an incredibly positive review:
Arena is the first XBLA game to support 16 player multiplayer matches, and once you jump into a packed capital ship battle you really see why they put the legwork in. Seeing 8-on-8 ship-to-ship battles as massive, half-mile long capital ships slowly blast each other to bits is an experience I never expected in an XBLA title. There are also straight deathmatch modes and even a one-on-one duel which is a great addition for two friends with the game.

It’s hard not to sound surprised when I talk about how well this game turned out. I honestly thought that EA was just trying to cash in on the Wing Commander franchise with a quick, trashy arcade game. I’m happy to report that that’s not the case, and XBLA fans should seriously consider plunking down $10 for Arena, as it’s not likely to disappoint.

You can read the entire article here.

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