Microsoft has announced that the aquatic shooter Undertow will be available for free download on XBox Live Arcade next week. This limited offer is being made as compensation for XBox Live's network troubles over the last month. The free window for Silver and Gold subscribers opens up at 2 AM PST Wednesday and remains open until midnight PST Sunday night, so don't forget to log on and grab it during that time. Undertow's claim to fame is that it's the only other sixteen-player title besides Wing Commander Arena on XBLA. The game also has a single player component and bigger cooperative multiplayer elements. It was originally released in November for 800 MS points ($10). Overall the game seems decent, and it's certainly worth a free download next week.
May 6, 1994: This isn't Point of Origin... it's The Point of Origin, now edited by David Swofford. What do these changes mean? A lot more Wing Commander, apparently!
A very special thanks to Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum for making this resource available and to Electronic Arts for sending them to him in the first place!
- Cover to Cover has press reaction: "Wings of Glory and Wing Commander Armada also received praises in short previews in PC Gamer... As for Armada, both Bielby and Poole were obviously blown away by Origin's first head-to-head/modem-to-modem game.' Considering the popularity of the Wing Commander series, Armada may be one of the year's biggest hits.'... ORIGIN graphics are also getting hyped by another publication. White Wolf magazine is finally getting around to reviewing Privateer. Better late than never, they say. 'The graphics and sound match and sometimes even exceed anything done by Origin to this point,' exclaims the writer. 'Privateer is as close as you'll get to a true roleplaying experience.' And finally, not everyone who's writing about ORIGIN these days is on an editorial staff. We found these quotes from Joe Folley in Hanford, California who decided to take issue with the editor of Computer Game Review in a debate over 'the best' in computer games. In a previous issue, Editor Steve Honeywell apparently couldn't say enough good things about X-Wing to his readers. In a letter to the editor Folley countered with this, 'Wing Commander II is by far one of the best games EVER to be put out on the PC. A game that was the foundation of games today, the father of simulations, the mother of action, this was the game that had me itching for more. Thank you, Chris Roberts, for one hell of a game.' Thank you Joe Folley!'"
- On the Road describes Origin's experience at SXSW: "The ORIGIN booth consisted of two tables with CES posters hung on the curtains separating the aisles, a VCR playing the 1994 Works in Progress Tape, a 3DO demo of Super Wing Commander and a PC loaded with the Strike CD, Pacific Strike, Pagan and the BioForge CES demo.... Super Wing Commander also attracted people to witness the 'best looking campaign of the Confed-Kilrah wars' as one player said."
- Bulldog Bytes from Marten Davies includes some market-wide financial numbers. On the list of the Top 200 Games of 1993 by Dollars, Privateer placed 8th and Wing Commander placed 48th. On the Top 200 Games of 1993 by Units Wing Commander placed 8th and Privateer placed 22nd.
- Pulse Check has even more sales data! "In fact, U8 came in at #2 on Software Etc's March sales charts, following SimCity 2000. On the same chart, Righteous Fire clocked in at #5... The Privateer CD is signing off and should be duping, too. Get this: Product Support says it plays pretty well on single-spin drives and on 386/33's. Plus, it only takes about 1.2 MB hard drive space. Could be another winner. Next up on the developmental fast food chain is Wing Armada, currently in Beta. 'Testers love it,' according to Kay Gilmore. It only has about 150 bugs and the modem/network stuff is running great. Marketing has produced a video demo of Armada that's being sent to worldwide offices and sales staff, but it could never do the game justice; it's really that much fun. Doom has met its match for lost productivity. Kudos to Jeff Everett and team. Current plans call for a June ship date... Finally, PC Data has compiled the top-sellers for 1993 based on units sold from 10 retail chains representing 1,300 stores. Strike Commander is there at #8, edged out for the #7 spot by... Wing Commander, the product that keeps on going."
- The E.O.M. for May is Frank Savage, a true Wing Commander fan: "Frank Savage, Project Director for Wing Commander III, is our Employee of the Month for May. He has been at ORIGIN since September of 1991 and came here because of his love for Wing Commander I. (He even had vanity Illinois state license plates that read 'WNGCMD 1' to prove his devotion.)... He met Warren Spector at GenCon and was hired soon after to perform tasks on Strike Commander... These efforts paid off and he's devoted his time since then developing the Wing III Engine. Most recently, Frank traveled to the U.K. to help ex-ORIGIN-patriot Erin Roberts set up the Wing Commander III engine for Privateer II. In addition, something new for our games that Frank is working on, is code that allows the player to affect game morale by giving certain responses to other characters. For instance, a negative response in a conversation is more likely to elicit negative behavior and poor teamwork to destroy the enemy later on. This way, you don't have to actually lose missions to change how the AI reacts. Alas, Frank's major goal as director of Wing III, however, is not only to create a really great game, but to 'get it out on time.' Good luck, and congratulations!"
- Last, but not least, there's Lights, Camera, Kilrathi...:
(Ed. note: Adam Foshko gives us his first hand account of how the Wing III shoot is faring after one week.)
(Los Angeles)-In an immense area of stone, there is something evil afoot; a single razor-sharp talon caresses the young woman in the battle-worn fatigues. It removes a single blonde hair from her face, and plays dangerously close to her blue eyes. She remains frozen. The Kilrathi prince peers at his captive like a hungry cat stalking a mouse. He salivates at the thought of blood. She remains defiant, spitting in his face. After a moment of surprise, he regards his prize with renewed lust... his eyes dilate in anticipation and with a great roar, he strikes...
"Cut..." is heard from the mass of people, huddled around the playback monitor. Chris Roberts removes his headset and has a word with his Director of Photography, Virgil Harper. After conferring for a moment, a light is refocused on the character of Angel, (Yolanda Jilot). She smiles and nods as Chris adds a few more comments for her character. With that, Chris returns to his monitor and the Assistant Director, Harry Jarvis, again calls to roll tape.
Elsewhere in the large soundstage in Los Angeles, there is more activity: Blair, played by Mark Hamill, is sitting under the shade of a large umbrella running lines with one of his costars, Ginger Lynn Allen, who plays Rachel. A call from wardrobe comes down to them; it's time for them to change into their costumes for the next scene. They retreat back inside the facility, joined by Jennifer MacDonald (Flint), who also must change for an upcoming scene.
The editing room (from where this account comes) is abustle with the cutting together of segments from the day's shooting. Roberts comes in for a moment to look at some newly assembled footage on the AVID. He likes it and makes a couple of suggestions for pacing. With that he is gone. He has to get back to the stage for a rehearsal. Donna Burkons, Line Producer, steps in to see how we are doing, followed by Pam Auer, the Production Manager. 'This footage looks great', says Phil Gessert (Editor), I have to agree. We stop for a moment to check a technical background question with Mark Vearrier (who, with Chris Douglas is supervising the SGI rendering for compositing on set). Richard Johnson, in the company of Mark Day from EA, also stop in on their way to the stage. We show another clip, during which another roll comes in fresh and hot from the set to be digitized and cut.
There is lots of action going on here, soon we are to expect other cast members: Tom Wilson (Maniac), John Rhys-Davies (Paladin), Malcolm McDowell (Tolwyn) and others to arrive. With 18 more shooting days planned and another stage for second unit work to address, we have a lot to do. However for now, as Michael Hood from Precision Effects (who built the Kilrathi creatures for the shoot) reminds me with one beclawed index finger, 'That's show business...'. Wrong, Michael, that's the interactive business.
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 55 - May 6, 1994
Cover to Cover
On the Road
Bulldog Bytes from Marten Davies
A Note From Down Under (EA-Australia)
SEARCH and FIND, SHOW and TELL
Sharon on Email Etiquette
Lights, Camera, Kilrathi...
Dear Point Man