A Sporting Choice

JasonRocZ has created several transport models for his Collateral Damage mod project. There's a whole host of new ships to choose from, including several variations on two different Kilrathi transports and an entirely new Confederation design. Orange textures or gray textures? Red intakes or orange intakes? The choice is up to you! More images are available in this thread.

We're Number... Five?

This week's PC World 'Casual Friday' column, "Putting the 'Video' in Video Games" discusses the 1990s Full Motion Video trend... and ranks the best on an inexplicable scale. Of our game:
5. Mark Hamill (and a whole cast full of people such as Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies, and...hmmm...Ginger Lynn Allen) in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. Honorable mention for the huge Muppet-like costumes.
Muppets aren't costumes, dude. You can find the whole article here.

WC HD - 22 Chances to See

Great news for everyone still hoping to catch the Wing Commander movie in HD -- it has made its way to UniversalHD, a channel included standard with many cable packages! What's more, it's on the schedule many, many times:
Monday, Mar. 31 - 11:30 AM EST
Wednesday, Apr. 9 - 11:30 AM EST
Wednesday, Apr. 9 - 4:00 PM EST
Saturday, Apr. 12 - 10:00 AM EST
Saturday, Apr. 12 - 4:00 PM EST
Friday, Apr. 18 - 8:00 AM EST
Friday, Apr. 18 - 2:00 PM EST
Monday, Apr. 28 - 12:00 PM EST
Monday, Apr. 28 - 4:00 PM EST
Friday, May 9 - 7:30 AM EST
Tuesday, May 13 - 10:30 AM EST
Tuesday, May 13 - 3:00 PM EST
Saturday, May 17 - 4:00 PM EST
Sunday, May 18 - 8:00 AM EST
Monday, May 19 - 8:00 AM EST
Monday, May 19 - 2:00 PM EST
Saturday, Jun. 14 - 8:00 PM EST
Sunday, Jun. 15 - 4:00 PM EST
Monday, Jun. 16 - 2:00 PM EST
Tuesday, Jun. 17 - 8:00 AM EST
Thursday, Jun. 26 - 8:00 PM EST
Friday, Jun. 27 - 2:30 AM EST

Good Work, Ad Men

What follows is the advertising slick FOX sent out to theaters in early 1999 offering suggestions as to how to promote the Wing Commander movie. The list on the back is truly amazing, culminating in this: "Use old computer equipment and other high tech items to simulate a spaceship command center. Have theatre staff dress up in WING COMMANDER type uniforms complete with space helmets." In a word, wow.

Someone Else Liked It!

Death has found an interesting bit of internet history: it's an unusually positive review of the Wing Commander movie from an expectantly respectable source - Dr. Jerry Pournelle (author of Falkenberg's Legion and The Mote in Gods Eye, among others.) He says:
I've just seen Wing Commander, Now this is one movie you will either love or hate. I doubt there is much in between. If you liked that game, you will love the movie. If you can do willing suspension of belief enough to like Star Wars, you should love this. It has at least as good a story line, and the characters are believable, at least to me. And Maniac is no longer an idiot. Impulsive, yes, hot pilot with a high regard for his own abilities, but not a dope at all.

I liked it a lot. I truly did. The effects were quite good. Now you have to go in there with the view that you are going to suspend your analytical faculties, but that's true of a lot of good movies, and certainly so for Star Trek and Star Wars. If you can do that, you will love this movie. I did.

Dare Your Eyes Gaze Upon the Mystery Cockpit?

I thought I'd seen it all - the dark recesses of the universe that would leave a lesser man shivering in broad daylight. But there's one thing I hadn't seen - one thing so terrible that it can only be described as... oh, wait, it's just a strange early Super Wing Commander cockpit. This image appeared in some 'general' Electronic Arts' advertising in 1993-4, as well as alongside some magazine reviews of the game. A flight of Rapier IIs, similar to those which appear in the intro, is clearly visible -- but the cockpit itself seems to completely lack standard elements like VDUs.

UWE II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi

Here's an unexpected tangent: film site IESB.net recently conducted an interview with video game movie director Uwe Boll in which Wing commander was mentioned:
IESB: Are there video game franchises that have been already been adapted unsuccessfully by others – like Doom or Wing Commander – that you’d want to go back and redo?

Boll: Not really, to be honest. I’m in total not a big fan of remakes. I like to start fresh in something new. This was the reason I produced only and did not direct Alone in the Dark II because I didn’t really like – the first one was my weakest movie in a way. The second one is different but not different enough. With Bloodrayne it was a different thing. With Bloodrayne, here I can basically jump from genre to genre. Bloodrayne II was a western and Bloodrayne III will be a second world war movie. So it’s a very different approach.

No Uwe Boll-directed Wing Commander II? Darn the luck.

Finish Up Crusade

Wing Commander 1 and the Secret Missions wrap up this week with the completion of the Corsair and Charon Systems in Crusade. After this short week, Dundradal is giving everyone a week off prior to the start of Wing Commander 2. This will allow anyone participating in his coordinated replay to reset and get ready. A lot of people were waiting for WC2, so they'll get their chance to jump in around April 6. Here's Lorien with some more adventures near Firekka.
Near Firekka 1: Maniac continues to snap, I can't say that I'm suprised but it's still a worry that he'll be put back on the flight line. Loved meeting Doomsday for the first time. Despite his attitude I always get the feeling he has a great sense of humour. Hunter's family are throwing themselves pretty seriously into the war, I hope the sister isn't out for revenge, that never ends well.

As much as I appreciate the Hornet's speed and maneuverability. I wish the Colonel had given us something with a bit more bang to protect the transports with. Even Salthi take ages to destroy with 2 laser cannons. It got even worse at Nav 2 when a Dralthi shot off a laser cannon. I was tempted to count the number of shots needed to blow a Dralthi up.

Corsair 3: The Austin is pulling back and taking Doomsday and Jazz with it. Is it just me or is there something sinister about the way Jazz is talking? It's probably just WC2 talking.

Note to the Drakhai training corps. While charging ahead may inspire the other pilots, it's best not to do so in a Dralthi against a Rapier. This mission felt like one from Thor's Hammer. Launching into a furball around the Claw, tracking down and nailing a Destroyer and a Carrier then returning home to find another bunch of cats making a run at my Carrier. I get a Gold star for saving one of our carriers while depriving the Kilrathi of one of theirs.

Corsair 4: I've got another mission in 8 hours, so no chance of finding out what Blair's usual is this time around. Besides the fact that it's not tea, which seems kind of obvious. It seems the Kilrathi aren't the only one's with loyalty difficulties as the Society of Mandarins raises it's ugly little head. Looks like Knight is going to stay with us, I guess he likes making a difference out here.

Lots of Kilrathi in this mission. I saw a Drakhai in a Salthi use an interesting maneuver. He lined up in front of another Salthi and rolled as they both fired. None of the rear ship's fire seem to hit him and it doubled their effective firepower. Until the Drakhai blew up, anyway. The fight against the Hriss in the asteroid was tense, not being able to use afterburners to avoid much fire the fight resembled a brawl more than a dogfight.

Both Transports are taken out and the Marines accomplish their mission.

Space Sim First Look: Sins of a Solar Empire

It's part thirty-nine of our hopefully never-ending series of Space Sim First Looks. Up for preview today is the recently released (and wonderfully named) Sins of a Solar Empire, a space-based 4X strategy game for Windows that's getting some positive buzz from members of this community. The official line says:
Explore the Epic Scale of a Dynamic Galaxy
Explore and conquer neighboring planets and distant solar systems in a massively scaled, fully 3D galaxy featuring planets, clusters of asteroids, rare comets and radiant stars.

Customize and Improve Powerful Units.
As battle hardened capital ships advance in level, their core offensive and defensive systems are improved and their unique abilities are unlocked. Try out the devastating Raze Planet, the tactical Clairvoyance and the hull ravaging Phase Missile Swarm.

Take on Multiple Roles
Transition between the roles of emperor and fleet commander as you zoom-in seamlessly to direct a crucial battle while managing the rest of your empire effortlessly on the same screen.

Extensive Diplomatic and Economic Strategies
Diplomatic and economic strategies can exercise a variety of options including forging and breaking alliances, trading resources, placing bounties on backstabbing ex-allies and over-powered tyrants, blockading enemy planets, establishing trade routes and manipulating the commodities market.

A demo is available for download here.

Now You See It...

St3lt3k has found another neat Lego Wing Commander creation on Brickshelf - a Kilrathi Strakha stealth fighter! This is the model seen in Wing Commander III -- the sharp, knife-like production variant rather than the square prototypes seen in Wing Commander II and Academy. The creator of the model seems to be 'Cylon13' -- if you're out there, great work! Now let's see the same thing in all clear bricks...

Momma, You Been On My Zero G Flight

We hear a lot about brilliant game designer/Origin founder Richard Garriott, his financial genius brother Robert and their scientist-astronaut father Owen... but is there a mother Garriott? Wired has the answer (which, naturally, involves zero gravity flight):
Helen Garriott has taken Easter egg hunts where no mom has gone before.

Over the weekend, Ultima Online game creator and son of NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, flew on Zero G's 727 before his 'private spaceflight participant' mission to the International Space Station this fall. This time he took him mom.

Being Easter, she brought along a special pack of Zero Gravity Easter eggs from Willy Wonka... (It seems only fitting to throw an easter egg hunt for the man who has hidden so many easter eggs for Ultima players over the years...)

Richard goes back to Star City, Russia next month to continue his training for his October 12th spaceflight next month. You can follow his mission at www.richardinspace.com. His blogs posts give a great insight into life in Star City and his commitment to using his flight for science and enterprise. (They make me want to get my ham radio license.) Garriott has been training with South Korean spaceflight participant Yi So-yeon, who launches in early April.

The Wonka eggs are designed to take ordinary family easter egg hunts to the next level with suction cups, string and glow in the dark eggs. Released in a zero gravity parabola, however, they really earn their name -- hunters where rewarded with Nerds, Laffy Taffy, and Sweettarts tucked inside.

Given how many other cool things he has come up with to do on the plane, I can't wait to see what he does in space...

Don't Let's Art

Just over nine years ago, we reported that the April, 1999 issue of 3D Design magazine featured an article about the Wing Commander movie... and now we have a scanned copy! Better late than never? The article is actually a treasure trove of detailed information on how the movie's many CGI sequences were created -- much of which is at a technical level that goes over my head. There's at least one cool new picture in there, too... check it out:

Enter To Win Das Erwachen Contest

Deacan's Das Erwachen giveaway contest is still under way. Participation so far has been low, so your chances at winning a free signed copy of Book 2 Stille is high. All you have to do is write a short article describing your experiences flying (or visiting) a Privateer 2 ship (or location) for Deacan's P2 info database project. Entries can be posted directly to Crius.net. You can find more info here.
You can win one book of the "Erwachen-series" (Part II, Stille)! Yes, I will give one away for "free" - just a little request: write about a "test fly" in a ship (or different stuff) from the Privateer 2 game (the Darkening!!!).

Why? Well, we work on a wiki-style encyclopedia for both Privateer II and the "Erwachen" books and we hope to translate as much as possible from our German version into English, but we search for new material as well...

TacOps Scenario 2 Kicks Off

Ironduke has launched the latest Wing Commander TacOps adventure over at Crius.net. This time he's expanded from one packed thread to a cozy subforum. The players have already begun stretching their creative muscles by asking questions, making character-building posts and discussing rule changes. The forum also helped the group pick the theme of their new scenario: 'Destroyer Battle'. A Confed and a Kilrathi destroyer have squared off, and now their fighter squadron is about to join the fray. In other TacOps news, Ironduke has added a nifty Player Roster that will include vital stats about each pilot's career. Neato. Check out the Tactical Operations rule book for yourself here (25.7 megs zipped PDF).

Two New Models For The Price Of One

Kevin Caccamo has created two new lightweight models for aspiring modders out there. He's rebuilt the Scimitar from Super Wing Commander and the Strakha from Wing Commander 2 in relatively low-poly packages. Both craft employ a variety of texture and mapping tricks to enhance their looks while retaining their compact nature. Wingnuts who haven't yet played SWC might recognize the Confed model from its tweak and reuse as the A-20 Banshee from Armada. Grab both ships in this pack here (2.3 meg zip).

Yes, this is a dual model release. Yare free to use them in your fan projects. Textures, normal maps, height maps, and AO maps for both models are included in the package. I also updated the Hornet package.

Electronic Arts Expanding New Game Promotion Plan

In addition to pushing live-action cinematics in its key classic franchises, Electronic Arts has announced that it has commissioned an animated film to coincide with the launch of its upcoming sci-fi/horror shooter Dead Space. This is a big step up in terms of cross-promotion of a new franchise. Starz Media will be creating the prequel, which takes place between the upcoming game and prequel comic book series that was also announced earlier this year. Both the television broadcast of the film and XBox/PS3 release of the game will occur simultaneously on October 31, 2008.
"Due to the richness and complexity of stories that have evolved for video games, they have become a type of entertainment that can span generations and provide fantastic inspiration for other forms of media; especially in the realm of animated features," Film Roman President and COO Scott Greenberg said. "We're particularly thrilled to be starting off with Dead Space."

"We are really excited to be working with Film Roman to create an animated feature that will tell the portion of the Dead Space saga between the comic and game," said Glen Schofield, Executive Producer for Dead Space. "With the video game, comic book and now animated movie, Dead Space has become a true multimedia brand. Each of these elements delivers the story to new audiences and tells it from different aspects and perspectives."

Wührer You Been All These Years?

IGN has posted an interview with Red Alert 3 Executive Producer Chris Corry which touches on a subject that may be important to future Wing Commander games - EA's continued embracing of Full Motion Video in their C&C 'relaunch' titles. Could this mean that the likes of Mark Hamill and Tom Wilson might someday return for a Wing Commander film shoot? At the very least, let's see Agent Tanya again...
We really do think the live-action cinematics are a staple of the Red Alert series. We're going pretty full bore with the cinematics this time. We're going to have more than an hour of cinematics; it's almost a minimovie that we're shooting for this. We're not quite ready to talk about the cast. We've got almost the entire cast locked down, but until we actually do the cinematics shoot, which we're currently scheduled to do in mid April, we won't be talking about that. Until I've got the movie stars in their seats and doing their stuff, it doesn't feel real.

World War Two Two, Book Two

It's that time of year - the second book co-authored by formr Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Wing Commander author Doctor William Forstchen, Days of Infamy, is on the horizon! This one continues the story of Pearl Harbor, continuing an alternate history of the Pacific War. We assume the nitpickers are already salivating over the choice of 'day' instead of 'date' in the title... we'll know for sure on April 29th.
Gingrich and Forstchen’s now critically acclaimed approach, which they term “active history,” examines how a change in but one decision might have profoundly altered American history. In Pearl Harbor they explored how history might have been changed if Admiral Yamamoto had directly led the attack on that fateful day, instead of remaining in Japan. Building on that promise, Days of Infamy starts minutes after the close of Pearl Harbor, as both sides react to the monumental events triggered by the presence of Admiral Yamamoto. In direct command of the six carriers of the attacking fleet, Yamamoto decides to launch a fateful “third-wave attack” on the island of Oahu, and then keeps his fleet in the area to hunt down the surviving American aircraft carriers, which by luck and fate were not anchored in the harbor on that day.

Historians have often speculated about what might have transpired from legendary “matchups” of great generals and admirals. In this story of the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the notorious gambler Yamamoto is pitted against the equally legendary American admiral Bill Halsey in a battle of wits, nerve, and skill.

Days of Infamy recounts this alternative history from a multitude of viewpoints---from President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and the two great admirals, on down to American pilots flying antiquated aircraft, bravely facing the vastly superior Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft. Gingrich and Forstchen have written a sequel that’s as much a homage to the survivors of the real Pearl Harbor attack as it is an imaginative and thrilling take on America’s entry into World War II.

Nephilim Puffer Puffs Up

One of the hundreds of cool things about Star*Soldier was a WWII-style silhouette poster warning the population about Nephilim incursions. Not only did it feature the designs from Prophecy and Secret Ops, but a couple cool new craft were dropped in as well. One of those is the Puffer class ship. All we know about the Puffer is its general shape and that the heavy Dralthi Rhino was built to counter it. JasonRocZ has played off that to build a cool interpretation of what the design might look like colored and modeled. He did a great job. Take a look.

Here's some preliminaries of the Puffer class ship featured in S*S. If there's anything you think I should add lemme know. I used the Manta textures from Secret Ops as a base. I haven't darkened or lightened the textures at all.

Every Wingnut Needs Star*Soldier

Lots of people still ask where they can get Star*Soldier - the amazing manual for Wing Commander Arena. The answer is right here (7.7 meg PDF)! This super 60+ page guide introduces you to the world of Arena and fills you in on decades of new backstory for the end of the 27th century. It's a free download and absolutely everyone should have it. Here's a handful of pages, including the warning poster that includes the Nephilim Puffer.

The ENEMY can appear ANY TIME and ANYWHERE!

Learn these planes and watch the skies!

Final Details Applied To Pioneer Bengal

Howard Day has finished the final texture map for his Bengal class carrier, and it's come in at a trim 2048x2048 resolution. That's just a quarter of what his initial projections were for all the detail included. This should improve handling of the ship in WC Pioneer. Here's a shot of the basically complete mesh and wearing the final map. These are some screenshots of the final textures and everything coming together in Howard's modeling program.

I did a final texture test to see what scale texture this thing will need in game. I was worried that we'd need a 4096x4096 for all the detail to show though - but lucky me! There's just enough resolution for the the goodies to show up. Add in a detail texture for those really close-up situations, and I think we're golden. Here are some in-MAX shots of the mesh with the combined map on it.

Fan Fiction Leaves You Hanging

Forums member Plywood Fiend has published the first chapter of the second book in his "Front Lines" series. The first book was posted in full to the Forums over the course of two years. You can find all 38 chapters here. The new book is titled "Hangman's Noose." You can check out the prologue here once you've read through the first book.
Greetings, sorry for the long space between any kind of anything for this project but I really did need some time away.

This continuation takes place after a fair few chapters which I haven't written yet. My plan is to release book 1, (up to just after the battle with the Hvarkann) once I've ironed out all the plot holes and spelling errors. This will take the form of a downloadable word document/PDF file.

Wingnuts Tactically Retreat

Crius.net pilots evacuate to the Corsair System this week while they regroup and conduct some under cover recon in Dralthis recovered from the Ras Nik'hra. The Tiger's Claw has also taken on some new pilots - Jazz and Doomsday just joined the crew. WC fans are planning to complete the Secret Missions 2 together this month and move on to Wing Commander 2 in April. Here's Skanks with the latest mission reports.
Near Firekka 2: Back in the pancakes... this troopship better be worth it! The Gratha on the way to Nav 1 don't seem convinced so we afterburn to Nav 1. Amazingly the wing of Hhriss there don't realise we aren't Kilrathi! The Drayman jumps out... I hope we find it again soon. Get to Nav 2 where a few Jalthi are buzzing around, and thankfully the Drayman is here too! The unsuspecting Jalthi are made short work of, and it seems the marines have done their job too. We hook up with the Drayman and head home. Unfortunately the Kilrathi have other ideas and send a few Krants to stop us. They seem to underestimate us however as we easily blast through them and get the Drayman safely back under the protective wing of the Tiger's Claw.

Interlude: Doomsday and Jazz are back to the TCS Austin, Jazz seems a bit funny with me and seems insistent we'll meet again. Both of them seemed fairly decent pilots so I hope so.

Corsair 3: The Tiger's Claw is under attack! Hunter and I launch in Raptors, thankfully it's only some Dralthi and Salthi. Two of the Dralthi even turn tail and run! Nav 1 is clear, but Nav 2 finds a Ralari guarded by 3 Grathas. We manage to take out the fighter cover before turning ours guns on the destroyer. Nav 3 finds a Snakeir guarded by a mere 2 Jalthi, this is worrying, where is the rest of it's fighters? We take the carrier and its fighters out before high tailing it back to the Tiger's Claw. Surprisingly only 2 Dralthi are attacking her, perhaps the ones from earlier returned? We take them out in short order.

Interlude: Iceman says they have founds 2 human traitors. They belong to a group called the Society of Manderins, what could make a person turn traitor when we are fighting for our very survival? Knight has decided to pass up becoming a flight instructor, a shame, he'd make a good one.

Learn The Moves Of A True Master

At the CIC we still get lots of questions about Wing Commander Arena, and one of the more common ones is how to get the tricky Ring Game achievement - Hot Dog. The Ring Game is activated by the blue tabs around the perimeter of the Firekkan bearpit station. There are different games on each side that are mirror images of each other. Navigating the rings seems nearly impossible at first, but it can be easy once you get a hang of the aerobatic fighter maneuvers. Learning some of the special moves can be a big bonus in combat as well. Kris typed up some pointers here to get people started.
You need to use a light or medium fighter for this. A bomber can't complete the tracks because you need to execute a loop for the high and low rings. And time is limited, so you need to hurry. I recommend a medium fighter because you'll need to make some very precise maneuvers and you risk overshooting in the Arrow or Darket. I completed the game in a Dralthi Rhino.

The right stick is instrumental here. Roll left and right to quickly make your way down the track. Keep the right stick pushed back to catch a low ring. Keep it pushed forward to catch a high ring. Keep one eye on the counter at the bottom of the screen. You'll see a number flash when you succesfully move through a ring (this is not always obvious for the low and high rings depending on your camera angle). For some parts you may need to back up a little and realign your ship or you won't be able to do the looping. Be careful that you don't back up through the previous ring or you'll have to start over! Save time by using afterburners for straight sections.

You need to complete the ring game three times in the same bearpit game (it's okay to die between turns). Each time you will be presented with a harder track. You should set up a private game with three other players. Two players can play the ring game (the two ring powerups are located at opposite sides of the arena) while the other two hang out in the pit.

Good luck!

Don't forget to take a cloak if you'll be doing this in a public game. If all else fails, drop by #Wingnut for some help setting up a quiet bearpit room to practice in.

Collaterial Damage Battleship Needs A Name

JasonRocZ has built a large warship for his Collateral Damage mod, and you get to name it. The design has moved from a carrier to a transport to a cruiser to a dreadnought as it's gone through development. The ship has many visual inspirations that fans should be able to see. Check out the turret positioning similar to the Plunkett, a dorsal surface like the Indomitable, vertical fins like the Confederation and other similarities. Jason's even mocked up an Arena-style render for one of the shots. You can see more of this history here or help give this bulky ship a name here.

Keeping Up With The Johnses

Electronic Arts has announced a new Chief Operating Office to replace executive turnover this year. John Pleasants assumed the role of COO and President of Global Publishing this week. The role also includes leadership of corporate communications, government affairs, and online, central development and technology teams. He reports to CEO John Riccitiello. In other EA news, the company has just signed a deal with Microsoft to provide constantly updated advertisements for the in-game billboards in its upcoming sports games.
Throughout his career, Pleasants has established himself as a leader in consumer marketing, online, and technology. His previous experience includes positions as President and Chief Executive Officer of Revolution Health Group, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ticketmaster, and key consumer marketing roles with Frito-Lay.

Paper Commander Open For Business

Today we're happy to announce the newest SolSector site - Paper Commander by Péricles. Paper Commander neatly organizes all of Péricles' paper models with added background history, special construction tips and tons of pictures. It's a great place to find current paper modeling news and check out updates on numerous ships in various stages of development. There's no less than a dozen breath-taking designs currently in work, and you can read about their individual progress in the WIP section. Soon to be complete are the bat-wing Dralthi IV and massive Plunkett artillery cruiser. Other promising designs include the WC1 and SWC variants of the Venture and the Shrike from Prophecy. There's even more to see at the site, so check it out here!

Hello!

It is with pleasure that I communicate the introduction of Paper Commander on models of paper from Wing Commander. The page is still in the beginning stages and it has some small mistakes, but soon we will have a few corrections and new models...

The adress is http://papercommander.solsector.net/index.htm

Péricles

My Little Baby Born In Europe

A lot of people have been wondering what Raylight's been up to since their impressive showing with Prophecy Advance. Their website hasn't been updated since a couple of their racing games were released last year, but they've still been busy. Since last March they have been working on My Little Baby for the Nintendo DS. This life simulator has many striking similarities to Nintendogs. It's designed for "big sisters, babysitters, aunts, expectant mothers and women of all ages." Players cook meals, feed their children, change diapers, play games, go shopping and rock the baby to sleep. With the microphone and touch pad, DS owners will teach their babies to talk and pet tickle them to build rapport. My Little Baby was released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on March 14 for €40. No screenshots yet, but here's the box art.

It's Raining Draymen

Howard Day has come up with something that should look familiar to 3DO gamers -- the Drayman from Super Wing Commander! Since Pioneer will feature both the original Drayman design and the one from SWC, Howard is thinking of naming this one "Diligent" after the alternate tanker-Drayman from Secret Missions 2. These two sets of three pictures show the progression from Howard's initial model to what is pretty much the finished design.

Initial design

Final design

Earlier this year, the original Drayman was voted favorite transport to escort. See the poll setup here and the final tallies here.

Pioneer Data Pipeline Under Construction

Howard isn't the only one making progress on WC Pioneer. Joel VanEenwyk is handling more of the coding aspects, and he's been hard at work these last few weeks. These types of updates are hard to see and often not directly applicable to the player, but they do help tremendously with development behind the scenes. Here's Joel with some details.
I've been fixing a few bugs and trying to get the tool-chain finished up. Good tools are a huge deal for me. I want to be sure that it is easy to update all assets. Not only that, I want all important aspects of the game to be updateable realtime while playing the game. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to tweak a game through a tedious chain of either text editing or recompiling. It may take longer to get a good pipeline, but I'd rather spend the time to get it done right instead of spending long hours fixing the mess later.

It has been going quite smoothly these last few weeks. I've been working a lot on data management so that we can have better live updating. I have been testing the new tools on my test case (a simple Tetris game). It is working really well. There are still some tweaks I need to make before it works perfectly, but it is now very easy to update game constants in realtime which then updates the corresponding data/option files automatically.

With this mechanism in place, we can tweak almost every aspect of the game while playing the game. There is no tie-in to our source control system (Subversion), but it's easy enough to simply submit the changes manually once you are done tweaking them. Right now it's all done in-game, but perhaps at some point it would be beneficial to have a connection to the editor so that it doesn't take up space in the game.

So the plan is to work on this a bit more to get it working perfectly and then coordinate with Howie to make sure the pipeline works well in the test case. Once we are thoroughly happy with it, we can start getting the gameplay ironed out for Pioneer. I'm taking it slow with the data side for Pioneer, because once we decide on a pipeline, I want to be able to stick with it and not have to make major changes which would result in major content changes.

Anyways, you can rest assured that progress is being made. :)

Free Das Erwachen Book Up For Grabs

Deacan is running a contest to give away an autographed copy of Das Erwachen Stille. To enter, participants need to write up "test flight review" for one of the Privateer 2 ships. Articles on visiting various P2 planets or starbases may also be acceptable. All entries will eventually make it into the Tri-System wiki-project that the Das Erwachen team has in the works. For the time being, post your entries to the CIC Forums here.
Dear English speaking people!

You can win one book of the "Erwachen-series" (Part II, Stille)! Yes, I will give one away for "free" - just a little request: write about a "test fly" in a ship (or different stuff) from the Privateer 2 game (the Darkening!!!).

Why? Well, we work on a wiki-style encyclopedia for both Privateer II and the "Erwachen" books and we hope to translate as much as possible from our German version into English, but we search for new material as well...

So - if you think you can make a good and detailed page about a ship (or a person, a place, a planet) from the game and you want that (signed) book - make a short note here. The winner will be choosen by the readers at the CIC Forums.

So, once again: one book (Value: 16 € plus free shipment, even if you live in the USA, England or France, it dosent matter!) waits for a winner...

PS: You speak Ggerman? You are from Germany? No problem at all - I will give away a second book for free for a German-version! Please contact me via pm if you are interessed! The German contest starts on a other board, but I will of course inform all you here about this contest!

So - start to work on the keyboards!

Good luck!

Joysticks This, Markets That

Escapist Magazine has posted another article about the state of space combat sims. It also weaves in a bunch of info on fan projects in work today. The author talked with several ongoing projects, but there's a big lean towards "open source" undertakings. Unfortunately it doesn't get into any of the impressive Wing Commander mods out there today that are pointedly closed source or that have achieved great success without access to any type of source material to begin with. To top it off, the article only mentions Wing Commander Arena's third person mode in a section on first/third-person POVs, and it skips over Arena's creative environments right after talking about how boring open space is in most games today.

New TacOps Game Starting Up Soon

Ironduke is starting up a new online game of Wing Commander Tactical Operations, and now's the time to sign up to play. TacOps is the board/role-playing game that he's been working on for the last year and a half. The previous virtual games have helped improve the rules quite a bit, and everyone involved had a ton of fun. Players email/PM daily turn info to Ironduke, and there may be special IRC sessions as well. Each participant is also invited to role-play their character at the CIC Forums while the game is in progress. Check out the play-by-plays for the most recent adventure at Crius.net here. An updated version of the 0.14 rules manual is also available here (25.7 megs zipped PDF). Contact Ironduke right away if you want to get involved in the next game - it's scheduled to start Monday! Here are a few more details.
There's a total of 7 PBM players right now, which makes me think of a game of 3 Confed vs. 4 Kilrathi players (due to the underpowered Kilrathi fighters).

I'll start to host the new game on March 17. If you're new to the game, please be sure to send me your email address (preferably via the board's private messaging system)!

I also need to know on which side you'd like to play in the upcoming game (Terran/Kilrathi). And last, but not least, here's a selection of scenarios that came to my mind or have been proposed. Please choose the one you like best!

  1. Asteroid Ambush: A Kilrathi and a Terran fighter patrol clash in the middle of an asteroid field. Restricted to light and medium fighters only.
  2. Capship Arena: This is a pure fun game: One cruiser in the top left edge of the map, the other one in the bottom right edge. Free choice of any fighter or bomber, as long as it belongs to your faction. If you're destroyed, you get to choose a new fighter. The team destroying the enemy cruiser first wins. Since this is of course an allusion to the "Capship" mode of the great Wing Commander: Arena, be warned that random upgrades might pop up...
  3. Destroyer Battle: A Confed and a Kilrathi destroyer engage each other, while their fighter escorts battle it out. This game requires one team leader per faction who takes direct control over the capship. No torpedo-carrying fighters allowed.

I'll probably announce the IRC game(s) one or two days ahead. I'd suggest simple dogfights with no more than 4-5 light or 2-3 medium fighters involved. Could be difficult, since I'm not in the US time zone, but we'll see if it'll work out nonetheless.

Cosmonaut Garriott In Training

Origin founder Richard Garriott is now working hard in Russia to complete his rigorous cosmonaut training course. His backup, Nik Halik joined him in February and they continue to count down to launch. So far Richard is on track to become the world's sixth space tourist this fall. Here are some pictures from space camp and one of his recent journal entries.

I am quite excited to be in training now and I look forward to all aspects that it will entail, but I am particularly enthusiastic to be here in Star City, as a resident, with its amazing history of space exploration. I’m honored to surround myself with its people and I am determined to learn as much as I possibly can, inside and outside the classroom...

We covered stabilization planes in our class on Wednesday. As you might expect, distributing weight and positioning thrusters is a big deal, but I won’t go into all the boring engineering and mechanical details. That night we had chicken curry over at the NASA cottages and I chatted with “ShREC” Greg Chamitoff, who will be onboard the station during my visit, about my Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) experiments and our mutual interest in magic. That night I had my first space-related dream. I don’t remember ever having had one before!

Thursday, we bussed over to Energia, the rocket manufacturer, to discuss my experiment plans. It was a very interesting meeting, with Nik and I sitting opposite a board of Energia managers. Fortunately, they seemed very interested in my plans, coming back with some great questions and comments about the PCG work I hope to do. Plus their main ham manager was the grandson of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, considered the father of human space flight. He was very excited to meet and discuss ham activities, plus also offered to personally show me the space museum in Kaluga, which I hear has many fine examples related to the beginnings of the space era. I hope to go this summer.

On Friday, we covered the exterior of the Soyuz: radio-antenna locations, docking procedures, the periscope, TV viewers, that kind of thing. But most importantly, we covered the reentry and how the bell-shaped craft can actually be “flown” to decrease the g-loads and land at a more exact location. If all goes according to plan, we’ll have a smooth ride and land right where the helicopters will be expecting us!

With our week’s studying and meetings completed, we relaxed this weekend by catching a children’s circus here at Star City, plus managed to get into Moscow for some shopping, eating, and even a night out! After all our hard work this week, we deserved it, right?

Wing One, Take Three

Last Summer, The Fatman published his Wing Commander soundtrack, "Wing One", through the Amie Street music service. Twenty-six tracks were released throughout August. Sixty second samples of each track are available to everyone, and once you've bought a song, you can listen to the full version online or download it outright. No DRM, just MP3. The Amie service is a little unusual in that songs are very cheap until they're popular. At the time of writing, Wing One tracks were priced between 40 and 90 cents. Wing Commander fans who missed out on the original premiere of this album are in for a treat. The Fatman has three more albums in his Amie Street catalog, including the soundtrack to The 7th Guest. Check them out here.
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!!!!

XBox Live Arcade Size Limit Broken

Capcom has announced that two of their upcoming XBox Live Arcade titles will set a new size record for the downloadable game store. Last year Microsoft upped the limit from 50 megs to 150 megabytes for each game and released a new 512 MB memory card. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix will be designed to take advantage of the full 1080P resolution, and Bionic Commando Rearmed will also feature special high res textures. Final sizes have not been announced, but both should come in at more than 150 megs. For the time being, other games will still be held to the existing limit, but it's a good bet that the bar will continue to rise as more higher res Live Arcade games are released. Amazingly, Wing Commander Arena was just 42.03 megabytes.
The last thing I’ll mention is concerning the talks the have been occurring online concerning the filesize of the game with respect to features on the 360 and the PS3 versions. I can officially say that the filesize will not be an issue. With great help from the guys at Microsoft, we will be able to offer the same features on both platforms to the same quality as each other.

Tiger's Claw Prepares For Firekkan Style Vacation

Fans in the midst of the coordinated Wing Commander series replay are on to Crusade, the second Secret Missions expansion to Wing Commander 1. This week's sorties include the first six Firekka missions. The crew of the Tiger's Claw has been assigned to diplomatic duty and shore leave, but things are about to heat up faster than they expect. Here's Lorien with the first impressions.
Things are nice and relaxed at the moment, everyone's enjoying a bit of a cake-walk after Thor's Hammer. Bluehair's showing a bit more personality in the talks than he ever has before. I'm suprised at what Iceman said about not surviving Thor's Hammer, I don't think I recall him having any doubts during SM1.

Firekka 1: Ahhh, a nice easy escort mission. Or Not. Those new Dralthi are a definite improvement over the last model, they left some nasty dents in Iceman's fighter before we finished them off. The second nav was better. Salthi are the last things I'd attack capital ships with. I send Iceman's dinged up fighter home while I investigate the high energy reading and immediately wish I hadn't. 1 Hornet against a Destroyer and elite Gratha pilots is long odds. I manage to weave through their fire enough to take out the Ralari and I think Kilrathi friedly fire took out a Gratha, leaving me 3. Those things take ages to kill, even from behind, with only a pair of lasers. I finish off the last Gratha only to have 4 Krants jump in. With my ship badly banged up and low on fuel, I afterburn towards the 'Claw to let them know that the Imperial Guard is here. I get a Bronze Star for my efforts.

-----------------------

Everyone's remarkably calm considering the Kilrathi presence in the system. Confed forces seeming to chase away a Kilrathi fleet must have cheered them up. Given Angel and Blair's history, Angel & Spirit chatting about Blair's shore leave may not be as innocent as it sounds....

Firekka 2: Now that the shock of decent Dralthi has worn off, they're a lot less troublesome. Iceman and I blow through them and the Krant easily, and then we hit Nav 2. 3 Fralthi and a buttload of Jalthi. I order Iceman back on my wing and we afterburn straight towards the 'Claw. Fortunately, we have enough of a lead up to navigate the minefield safely. Colonel Halcyon is very pleased that we just burned out of there, though it's going to take one hell of a strike force to blow up that fleet. My reward is a transfer to a Rapier and a place at the signing of the Firekka treaty.

Catscratch Returns To Video Games

Mark Dacascos, who played Catscratch in Wing Commander 4, will be coming back to electronic entertainment this year. Although he's kept busy with a handful of miscellaneous movies and television series, these days he's probably best known as the "Chairman" of Iron Chef America. His second video game was actually Stranglehold last fall, although he just performed voice work there. Iron Chef: Supreme Cuisine will feature his animated likeness as he narrates the action. It's due out for the Nintendo DS and Wii this summer. AD spotted this one.

Developed by Black Lantern Studios, the game is based on the highly rated Iron Chef America program, a spinoff of the worldwide hit Iron Chef, produced by Fuji Television. Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine features the voice and likeness of the show’s host, Mark Dacascos, and Destineer will announce the involvement of additional talent from the show shortly.

In Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine players square off in Kitchen Stadium and battle through a series fast-paced and intense culinary challenges.  Each victory advances players closer to a final showdown that will determine who will reign supreme as the next Iron Chef America.

Preview New Gemini Gold Intro

The Privateer Gemini Gold team has been hard at work on a new game intro. It's not yet complete, but the portions that are available follow the original Priv sequence quite well. The video has been rendered in high definition, and it takes good advantage of the extra resolution. A complete set of Gemini Gold credits is also included after the action. You can download the video here (37.8 meg xvid).

XBox Price Drops In Europe

Microsoft has announced a price drop across Europe. Each package on the market has dropped about 80 Euros. The barebones Arcade SKU has been reduced to €199.99 / £159.99, even less than the Nintendo Wii, and the standard package has dropped to €269.99 / £199.99. The Elite model, which comes with the large hard drive, will be €369.99 / £259.99. The drop takes effect Friday, March 14. Wingnuts who might have been on the fence now have one more reason to jump in to Arena. This news has caused speculation about a North American price drop, but even after the current adjustments, prices in Europe remain a bit higher than their US equivalents.

Humongous Discount For UK Replay

Starman reports that UK based Game site TheGameCollection.net is offering everyone's favorite PSP based game collection for a fraction of the recommended retail price. They are selling EA Replay for only £4.99 plus £5 delivery. uWish is still selling Replay for £9.97 including delivery, but TheGameCollection is cheaper if you buy two copies or more. If you're in the UK, own a PSP and have been holding out on EA Replay, head either here or here and put WC and Secret Missions on your portable.

EA Replay is a throw back to what you loved about videogames in the first place. Let EA bring you back to a simpler time when movies were still on VHS, Boy Bands were all the rage, people adorned themselves in layers of plaid and called themselves 'grunge', everyone wanted to live in 90210, and the dawn of gaming’s golden age took hold. Embrace the 90s nostalgia with a compilation of 14 classic console games from EA exclusively for the PSP (PlayStation Portable) system.

Wingnuts in the US who missed out on Black Friday sales last year can still pick up EA Replay for $9.99 at Circuit City or $13.99 at Amazon.com.

Get Carded

Those with Xbox Live accounts should sign up for NuAngel's Wing Commander fan leaderboard at MyGamerCard.net. Between them, WingNuts have unlocked nearly six thousand achievements, good for a combined gamerscore of 134,000! You can also find out which games are most popular in our community. Click the image below to visit the WingNuts leaderboard.

Low Poly Hornet Is Super

Kevin Caccamo has remodeled the sleek Hornet featured in Super Wing Commander. The high res source is a part of the 3D Model Pack, but Kevin has redesigned the ship to come in at a very low 200 polygons. His hope is that fledgling fan projects might be able to take advantage of this lightweight version. Thanks to a few modern graphical tricks, the end result looks surprisingly authentic. The original is pictured at the very bottom. Download Kevin's SWC Hornet here (1 meg zip).

By using Blender, I was able to create the low-res model over the high-res model which I used as a reference. I put Origin's textures onto the model with xNormal. Diffuse map, normal map, height map, and AO map are included.

Apply To The Wing Commander Academy

The CIC is on a different billing cycle now, so the bandwidth cutoff occurs more towards the middle of the month. And for the many new visitors to the site this year, Wing Commander Academy is a must-have to help eat through the remaining transfer. The three-gigabyte series follows the Tiger's Claw through an exciting year in Wing Commander history. Grab all thirteen episodes, plus some special features, below.

High Def Wing Commander More Than Higher Resolution

Wedge made a great observation after comparing the Wing Commander Movie on DVD to its recent high definition broadcast in Australia. The adjusted aspect ratio means more of the frame is visible compared to the original release. A shot of the universe map shown in the intro highlights how neat this is. An ornamental border is revealed on top and an additional object is visible in the bottom left. Text noting the locations of the Enigma, Epsilon and M'shrak Sectors is also present in the larger shot. This same thing happened when the high res Prophecy DVD VOB files were released. All we need now is the Blu-ray...

Space Sim First Look: Abyss Lights: Frozen Systems

AD stumbled on a new space sim "in the style of the legendary told titles Freespace and Wing Commander." Abyss Lights' Frozen Systems is the first game to take place in the Abyss Lights Universe. It takes place long before humanity exists and takes place from the organic-silicon Aspirogues' point of view. Your race must repel the Shaark hordes from enslaving and exterminating everything in their path. The development team behind the game includes Brute Force and Freelancer among its staff credits, as well as a number of educational games, short movies and cartoons. If the screenshots look appealing to you, there's a demo available to check out.

Wing Commander's Look and Feel

PhoneMag is reporting that Apple has created a tech-demo of a Wing Commander-like game for the iPhone:
EA’s Travis Boatman showed up at the Roadmap event to demonstrate their iPhone version of Spore, where the accelerometer moves the spore around, while Apple themselves created a Wing Commander-style game called Touch Fighter. Tilting the iPhone steers while tapping the screen fires.
It sounds like they're already working with Electronic Arts on the platform... and the last time we saw a cool Wing Commander-inspired tech demo, it became Prophecy GBA!

Sorry, Saffron

Here's one from left field: celebrity site Available for Panto is claiming that British singer Leona Lewis looks just like... Colonel Jeanette "Angel" Devereaux from Wing Commander 2? It happened:
Now I know this is tantamount to blasphemy for some of you so before you start with the death-threats, I'm not saying Leona always looks like a person from an early 90s space fighting game. But even the most die-hard Lewis fans among you must agree that this picture of her sure as eggs didn't come straight off a camera. I reckon it went through some kind of Wing Commander pixelisation transcombobulation filter before the internet got hold of it ("but what pixels!" etc) ...And Leona fans, think yourselves lucky, I came within a whisker of putting her down as a Kilrathi! Now that would have been offensive.

Free Trader Pressed Into Service

Howard Day's hung up the green paint brush for the time being and slammed out an amazing Free Trader transport. The first three shots represent the preliminary stage with firm model configuration and temporary textures. Howard's already done with this ship, and the last three images show off his final design. You can check out a few more pictures and provide feedback at Crius.net.

Okay, I've finished the Free Trader. There's some minor work to be done to get it into engine, but not much. I changed the engine glow texture over to the orange we see in the sprites - it does help differentiate between the bigger capships and these smaller corvette-sized vehicles. Also, after putting the windows in there, I've come to realize how small this thing is - 83 meters is far smaller than I always thought this thing was. I was expecting something closer to 150-200 meters. Anyhow, random tidbit.

K'rakh Drish'kai Rai H'ra!

It's Howard Day Day here today. For fans who liked his previous Kilrathi Audio Test, here's two (5.4 meg wav) more (4.3 meg wav). Since Howard separately manages some of the growling effects, he was able to tune them and hopefully make the clips more intelligible. Here are the lines just in case.
"I shall mount your head in my lair Ape!"

"Terra shall become my personal hunting grounds monkey!"

"When we are done your worlds will be nothing but burnt out cinders!"

"Bugs Bunny will pay for your incompetence with his life!"

"I take great pleasure in toying with you feeble Ape!"

Those are some of the ones that just popped into my head.

-----------------------------

"Your death is for the glory of Sivar!"

"I shall feast on your flesh Terran!"

"For the glory of Kilrah!"

"Your weapons are no match for my own!"

New Flight Commander Mission Editor Under Development

eddieb's posted some pictures of the revamped mission editor to be included with the next version of Flight Commander. The interface makes it easy to add nav points to your custom campaign missions in order to help get new modders started. Experienced users will probably still want to script in more elaborate scenarios. Eddie's posted the mission editor source code already for any advanced programmers that might be able to find expanded uses for it.

Undertow Expansion Released Today

The free giveaway of Undertow has given the game a healthy boost in popularity. The larger installed base has helped to make a downloadable expansion viable. Path of the Elect was released today for 400 Microsoft Points ($5). It adds five new single player missions, four new maps and a new playable faction. Rocketmen: Axis of Evil was also released for XBox Live Arcade today for 800 Microsoft Points ($10).

Team Wingnut Smashes The Sivar

Wing Commander fans are invited to wrap up the first Secret Missions expansion pack this week and post their experiences in the latest Community Replay thread. Only four missions remain in Valgard and Vigrid, so it's a short week. That'll give a few Wingnuts who might have lagged behind a chance to catch up. The combined playthrough of Secret Missions 2: Crusade is scheduled to begin Sunday. Good luck taking down the Sivar!
Vigrid 2: This is it. Halcyon gives everyone a little pep talk. The one concerning us is actually interesting.

"Halcyon: Maverick, no astrobatics, nothing fancy. Do the job and get out of there alive.
Maverick: Aye, aye, sir.
Maverick considers what the Commander said. He was saying goodbye to the pilots… just in case."

So he thinks we fly a bit fancy eh? You ain't see nothing yet! Let's DO THIS!

Nav 1 is the remaining support fleet. 2 waves of 2 Krants and a Ralari. I might go back later and count the number of capships we've destroyed in this campaign. The Sivar's fleet was certainly formidable and would have been a match for a full-sized Confed Task Group.

Nav 2 is the party destination! This is not easy. 3 waves. 6 Krants, 5 Jalthi and 6 Gratha along with the big bastard. This fight requires fancy flying to stay alive as well as use of Bossman. Every now and then I throw a few rounds at the Sivar just to let him now that's he's the target. After what seems like an enternity it's finally time to take the Sivar on. I've saved my missles and unload them once his shields go down. As fast as they lock I'm firing them off. He takes a beating but the explosion is very satisfying. Truly a victory for the Confederation. The bi-polar crew better be happy.

A Gold Star is a very fitting reward, even though I think a deserved a Silver Star for Valgard 1. Ah well.

The death of Grand Admiral Gilkarg. A more fitting reward for nailing the Sivar. Another one of the few insights into Kilrathi culture we see during the original game. Time for the rise of Crown Prince Thrakhath. But before that we've got a little celebrating to do and a transfer to a quiet sector. A little system called Firekka. They've got a native bird-like population that wants to join the Confederation. Sounds like a cakewalk to me...

Well it was a fun 3 weeks guys! SM1 is really a fantastic addon. The amount of capship killing is great! And the story adds nicely to the base laid in WC1. It only gets better from here!

MSN On Joystick Significance

One (of many) reasons why there were no new Wing Commander games in the early part of the current decade has to do with the decline of the joystick as a PC peripheral. UK MSN's Teh & Gadgets column recently addressed the issue in an article by Patrick Gross. Games like Freelancer were sold on their ability to play without the input device. That's a big change from a dozen years earlier when Wing Commander's on-screen joystick hand was a hyped up feature. Some of the coolest, most elaborate and most advanced sticks are still around today, but they are nowhere near as ubiquitous and available as they once were. The article does a decent job of summarizing the present situation and making a guess at what's to come. Also check out JoystickRequired for a good news hub dedicated to flight and space sims.

I {Bleep'd} At Chris Roberts And Did Not Get Fired

Gamasutra has posted an article about artist Paul Steed's recent Game Developers Conference lecture. Mr. Steed got his start in the game industry working on Privateer and Wing Commander III and went on to greater fame as an artist on various high profile FPS games. His speech included an interesting (and slightly unbelievable) anecdote about Chris Roberts:
“I was at Origin for four years. I’ll tell you a funny story about developing Wing Commander III. Does everyone know who Ginger Lynn is? Well, she was a porn star. Chris Roberts had no idea, and didn’t believe me when I told him. This guy, my boss, didn’t know it. So I took him to the video store and we watched some stuff. He gained a new respect for people in the adult entertainment industry!”

New EA Team Tackles Innovative Projects

AD was reading about EA's newest studio and noticed a familiar name. Former Origin (and Maxis and EALA) General Manager Neil Young will now be heading up Blueprint, a creative upstart subdivision within EA Games. The group is chartered with developing new media on a variety of different platforms. These projects will be created at a lower cost and at greater risk than EA's traditional lineup. It'll be interest to see what comes from this.
Blueprint is apparently an attempt for EA to get out of its internal creative rut by taking risks, somewhat along the lines of a studio speciality division like Fox Searchlight or Miramax.

It's also a way for EA to experiment beyond traditional videogames. While Blueprint projects could start as games, Young said they could begin in other forms as well, citing examples such as the Internet, live events and even clothing.

"We want to find a new way to make games with smaller teams," Young explained.

In addition, Young said Blueprint will be taking ideas that come from outside of EA, with the Spielberg-created games a likely example. In that respect, Young's experience working with Hollywood while heading EALA could be useful in forging partnerships with showbiz talent.

Perfect Plan Seeks Voice Actors

Kyran is looking for any volunteers who might want to lend their voice to the next iteration of his Flight Commander campaign. Perfect Plan has its own self-contained story, but it uses a variety of Wing Commander ships and ideas. After a slow period last year, the project has seen a good number of updates and advancements in 2008. Visit Crius.net if you'd like to help out.

For the next version I hope to have all the fighters re-skinned (the ones used in the campaign), the Masquerade, Sanctuary and Knothole ship class replaced with something smaller and cheaper, a few new missions, and more voice acting.

Promo Poll Posted By EA

If you're not all polled-out from yesterday (Wing Commander has doubled its percentage since Wingnuts charged in), EA has a question for you. Their latest survey asks what sort of collectible item you would most like included with deluxe editions of future games. Choices include an art book, graphic novel, t-shirt, bonus DVD, "bag" and strategy guide. The shirt, DVD and guide are leading, but head over and let them know what you think. Wing Commander games have included most of these items in the past, plus patches, posters, audio CDs and more.

Tiger Claw Needs Assistance

Chris Allen and Cosire tipped us off about Slashdot's new poll. The classic TCS Tiger's Claw is among the options for Favorite Sci-Fi Starship. They managed to goof the name, but it's still great to see Wing Commander included with the small handful of iconic space series. Slashdot polls don't stay up for long, so head over now and give it a boost.

It would be great to get a ton of votes to show EA that Wing Commander is alive and well.

Command & Conquer Goes Celluar

Occasionally we joke about the next Wing Commander title potentially being for cellphones, but EA is actually quite serious about the mobile market (which is separate from the hand-held PSP/DS market). Their newest game for the platform is none other than Command & Conquer 3. A cute promo trailer (12 meg .mov) featuring Joe Kucan/Kane is available to download now. The game is due March 14. Check out more releases at the EA Mobile site. I'd say it's a good bet that someday you'll be playing Wing Commander on your phone. In the mean time, Prophecy Advance and EA Replay are there when you need WC on the go.

Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars is coming to mobile phones this March! Now you can take Command & Conquer with you wherever you go. Join the GDI to reclaim the region taken by Kane and his evil Brotherhood of NOD. Embark on an adrenaline fueled single player campaign to stop the launch of a deadly weapon, or take on the action packed Skirmish mode to test your strategic wits. Defend your base at all costs. Welcome to mobile, Commander.

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