Broadsword, Destroyer of Destroyers

Kevin Caccamo has used the original Wing Commander II 3D models to create an Armada inspired attack scene. This take on the concept pits a duo of Broadsword bombers against a Ralatha destroyer... and as you can see from the three versions of the image below, it's still evolving!

Invasion Gives Way to Corruption

It's a blast from the past: Major A Payne, co-author of the legendary Wing Commander Invasion mod for Star Trek Armada, has announced a new project! This one will be a mod for Star Wars Empire at War: Forces of Corruption:
As anyone who has the expansion will know the game features three fully playable sides as well as the unplayable pirate side (there are many sub groups but these are limited to ground based combat only), and also features a large scale tactical map, space based tactical 3d combat and ground based 3d tactical combat. With this in mind this list below details proposed changes which I'm hoping to make:
  • Disabling of ground based combat so that only the space based portion of 3d tactical combat is available.
  • Significant changes to the Galactic Map which I'm hoping will reflect a more WC style of planetary systems (also hoping to include the Sol system as shown in the film).
  • The stock three sides will have all ships and stations replaced as follows: Rebel Alliance will become the Confederation. Imperials will become the Kilrathi. Consortium will become either the Nephilim (most likely), or Border Worlds (undecided on this). Pirate units to be replaced by the Black Lance (but will be unplayable).
  • I will attempt to include the original selection of custom weapons and sounds from the WCI project as those are the only ones I currently have.
As it stands this project is now in its most early phase and whilst I will do my best to produce a complete mod I am still learning the more advanced side of things. I'll also use this thread for continued posting of any updates but can people please be patient. I won't make any release dates of any kind as there are always unforseen problems that may arise.

Oh and if anyone would like to help in any way then please give me a yell. I have a good selection of the models and textures from the ST Armada project, but there is always room for others and any help is appreciated.

Anyone willing to help can post here.

Cat-sicle Realism

NinjaLA, whose award-winning Wing Commander Arena artwork now hangs in one of the finest galleries in New York City, has completed another piece. This one shows a Kilrathi warrior, a Scimitar, a ground installation and ties them all together with some very elegant otherworldly nature. Wallpaper hounds will find that it is available in 1024x768, 1600x1200 and 2048x1536 versions.

WC2 Community Replay Enters Fourth Week

Wingnuts are playing through the whole series again and posting their battle accounts to the Forums. This week covers the second half of Heaven's Gate and Tesla 1-4. DaveO recalls Novaya Kiev:
During a card game, Angel, Doomsday and Spirit discuss the upcoming action to try and retake our space station. Angel tells me about the Admiral’s lack of respect in regards to my combat performance. Doomsday is his optimistic self and predicts that the mission is suicidal. Spirit and Doomsday wonder what’s going to meet up with us at Heaven’s Gate, but Angel understandably can’t make a comment. I meet up again with Spirit, and she confesses that she received a mysterious email about her fiancé Phillip. Spirit has no idea who sent the message and I ask if she’s a part of something I’m not aware of. Spirit adamantly expresses her firm allegiance to the Confederation, and I urge her to bring it to Angel’s attention before I am forced to.

Upon takeoff, I receive a communication from the Concordia. There is an emergency mission to the Talbot system with a ship carrying very important data. Two Drakhri fighters meet me on the way to the jump point. Upon reaching the courier ship, I find that it’s under attack by Sartha and a Ralathi cruiser. The courier is destroyed, but not before ejecting a data pod. I take care of the Sartha, though the Ralathi is probably helping a bit with its flak. Two torpedoes to the Ralathi destroy it, but I make a mental note to be very wary of its anti matter guns. A direct hit from one shot will take down my shields to half strength, and I can count on at least a few shots directed towards me. I fly back to the Concordia, and apparently the data from the pod concerns Spirit. Admiral Tolwyn requests Spirit to come to the bridge, and Angel wants to be there but Tolwyn wants to handle matters personally.

We Still Need You!

Since the last time we posted about our mission to Electronic Arts' Origin archive, we've had nothing but good news. Thanks to the dedication and the trust of the Wing Commander community we've learned about some of the formats... and we've even been loaned a SyQuest drive for the mission! We hope we can do justice to your dedication.

Here's the deal: we still need all the help we can get! Do you know anything about data recovery? Are you in the Washington metropolitan area and interested in geeking out for a few days while helping us preserve this material? We're putting together a team now to assist with the project, and are eager to include members of this great community.

These are the no-longer-as-mysterious data formats -- plus an additional shot of some of the boxes of materials we will be archiving and studying. Are you up for it?

Got WCSO Site?

Attention packrats - Wing Commander historian Shades is attempting to put together an exact recreation of the Wing Commander: Secret Ops website... and he's missing a few files! Are you an obsessive collector of important internet information? If so then he'd like to hear from you in this thread. The missing files are:
  • msie_archive.html
  • mozilla_archive.html
  • screens_netscape.html
  • so_up2.html

Vampire State Building

Sometimes we just need to sit back and look at what's around us... like this awesome background-quality Wing Commander Prophecy image found at Origin-artist Mark Vearrier's portfolio website. There's something great about it that I can't quite put my finger on -- maybe it's just interesting to see the 'Prophecy' and the 'Wing Commander' separately... or maybe it's just still a beautiful piece of artwork after all these years.

Get Your Game On

Blitz wanted to share a new auction site with people who might be searching for Wing Commander games. Chase the Chuck Wagon is dedicated to cheaper listings of video games in general. There aren't many Wing Commander auctions yet, but it's good to see this additional source. If you weren't already aware, Half.com, eBay and Amazon are all excellent places to find Wing Comander games for cheap. Don't hesitate to complete your collection - virtually all classic WC titles can be played on modern systems with a few tips from our Tech Support section.

Destructive Duo Pair Up

Howard Day has incorporated a number of improvements to his Ralari, and he's paired it with an Exeter class destroyer for some new shots. The textures on the Confed ship have been beefed up a bit to match its Kilrathi counterpart, and little touches have been added throughout to both designs. It's great to see two iconic WC1 warships like this side by side in such beautiful detail.
New textures on the Confed ships. I've brightened them a bit, and added a considerable amount of detail. Still have more to add, but you can see that it's come a long way already. I've added real micro-scale details, like little red markings around various access panels. It's actually the closest to pixel art that I've been to in a long time.

Plan to Record Your Voice

Kyran has successfully integrated a number of audio lines into the Perfect Plan mod for Flight Commander. His submissions so far have been good, and he's looking for even more. Contact Kyran to help out. If you'd like to get started on some generic filler, here's a list of phrases that might help.
Yes.
No.
I'm ejecting.
Arg. (death)
Status is bad.
Status is good.
Enemy is incoming.
Status is medium.
You're a traitor.
You're shooting me.
I insult you.

Ken Burns' Wing Commander

Rvcontre is putting together a neat YouTube series called 'The Gaming Standards.' He's creating a six-part documentary about Wing Commander and its time -- a pretty neat concept that I'd like to see more of in the future! He says:
Hi! I've just started to make a little video project for fun and am looking for some input on where I should go with it. The first section of the video (split into three parts) covers the influences and environment that led to Wing Commander being such a huge hit.
Looks good to me -- really interesting and well-researched stuff. You can find the parts at the links below:

Window Shopping for Wing Commander

Does anybody else take pictures of Wing Commander games whenever they see them in a store? I always do. I love seeing these things on shelves.

WC2 Community Replay Enters Third Week

This week features the Novaya Kiev series along with the first two missions of Heaven's Gate. It's never too late to join the war effort. Lorien recalls Ghorah Khar:
Had a nice chat with Stingray in the barracks before the mission. It seems his pilot wings were found in McGuffin's hand when he was found and that's why Stingray's off the flight line. You'd think we'd find an opportunity to connect a little with our similar experiences at undeserved blame. On the flight deck, Angel explains why the Enigma sector is so important to the war effort, if we lose it Earth and the homeworlds will be at risk. I'm to join her in the office to meet my new wingman.

It turns out that my wingman is to be the captain of the Fralthi we rescued a decade ago, Hobbes. I'm a little unsure about flying with him, especially since he's very eager to put us into the thick of the fight. I'm also reintroduced to an old friend, the Rapier. The Neutron guns have been replaced with Particle Cannons, but it's still the same hot rod that I flew ten years ago. Hobbes suprises me when he puts me in charge of the wing at the start of the mission. It seems I have a bit of a reputation amongst the Kilrathi. A reputation that will no doubt be enhanced by taking down Kur. That fight with all the Grikaths was a little hairy with Neutron Bolts all over the place, but it was a victory. I have a bit of a chat with Sparks as she repairs an Epee, apparently Downtown can offer a more complete story about Hobbes.

Collateral Updates

JasonRocZ has been hard at work polishing his spaceships for the Wing Commander: Collateral Damage mod. We now present updated versions of the Broadsword bomber, Buccaneer fighter (which I seem to have referred to in my update notes as 'Thunderipoff' - take that as you will) and the Belleau Wood transport. More pictures are available here (Broadsword) and here (Wood).

Prepare to Fold Space... Ships

Péricles of Paper Commander has posted a great set of images of the completed Dralthi IV paper model, and it looks... well, beyond spectacular! Check out the weapons, the base, the scale compared to the other ships -- it's just beautiful. You can find the entire set here. Now, when will that download be available?! I want to build one myself!

We Need You!

Next month, members of the CIC staff will be assisting in a project to restore and archive a large amount of historical data from Origin Systems, which surely includes some fascinating lost Wing Commander elements... and we need your help! Are there any data recovery experts out there who might be willing to provide their expertise for this project? Take a look at these three types of backup media -- do you know how to read them? If so, please let us know!

Let's Make This Brief...

The new poll asks which briefing rooms were most memorable. They mostly have about the same items in roughly the same configuration, but the atmosphere and circumstances of the missions we faced in each varied quite a bit. They sure look darn cool all pictured side by side like this though.

Our old poll asked what series was being reworked for EA's Project Redlime. Wing Commander definitely won our tally, but little new information has surfaced since the poll went up to hint one way or another. System Shock and Crusader came in second and third, which suggested people voted a mix of what they thought the unannounced EA game actually was and partially what they hoped it would be.

More Music, Mysteries

In a recent update we touted the discovery of a rare and unusual 1993 Electronic Arts soundtrack CD containing tracks from many classic games... including several Origin titles and two Wing Commanders. We provided mp3s for Super Wing Commander and Privateer, but you asked for more! Per popular request, here are the tracks for the other Origin releases in the collection:

Now, here's the question - what is Track 9 ("Into One's Own") from? It's listed only as being from a coming attraction, presumably an unannounced game. Laura Barratt was an Origin composer who worked on Privateer, Strike Commander and Wings of Glory. I'm not especially inclined towards identifying music, but it certainly doesn't seem like the piece is from WoG, the only of the three games not represented by other tracks on the EA CD.

2. Mission Guadalcanal (Pacific Strike) - Paul Baker - 4:41 (mp3)
6. Control (Bioforge) - John Tipton - 1:12 (mp3)
9. Into One's Own ("Coming Attraction") - Laura Barratt - 1:54 (mp3)
21. Chaos (Bioforge) - John Tipton - 2:15 (mp3)
25. Object Viewer Waltz (Strike Commander) - Nenad Vugrinec - 1:57 (mp3)

T'Pol Tales

Red Baron has either an especially keen eye for detail or an obscene love of Star Trek... both things we celebrate in these parts! He noticed that multiple weapons from Wing Commander IV appeared during the run of Star TreK: Enterprise. He's provided several examples from "Shadows of P'Jem" which feature the Black Lance and Union of Border Worlds Marine rifles:

Garriotted Orbital Laboratory

That's right, it's another Lord British in Space update -- and we're going to keep running them until we can manage to take up a collection to send Chris Roberts back in time to medieval Europe. Collect Space has teamed up with Astronaut Garriott to offer Earth Portraits. For only $500 you get a personalized photograph of you[r general area] taken by Garriott during his space mission! It's like a very expensive version of Google Earth! Here's the science behind it:
While Richard could just point his camera, a Nikon D3, out the station's windows and snap photos, what makes this project possible is the special software he will be demonstrating for possible use by future ISS crewmembers.

Windows on Earth is a revolutionary tool developed by Technical Education Research Centers (TERC) and the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), designed to simulate the actual view out of particular windows on the ISS, with targets for photography clearly marked. The software has been developed in collaboration with the astronaut members of ASE and NASA Johnson Space Center's Crew Earth Observations group, and supports their ongoing science research.

The Earth Portraits targets, specified by the longitude and latitude coordinates you choose will be loaded into the Windows On Earth tool to optimize Richard's opportunities to capture your chosen location.

[Editor's Note: all joking aside, I'm sincerely jealous of anyone who has Richard Garriott take their picture from space.]

Landreich In the Sky With Diamonds

Kevin Caccamo has released four more images from his 'Landreich Campaign' modification for Wing Commander Saga. The first two images show off the project's all-new backgrounds, which make it look a lot more like Wing Commander Prophecy! The other two should be even more familiar - Landreich versions of the Hornet and Scimitar fighters from the original Wing Commander.

I Believe You Have Something of Ours, Outlander!

We'd like to welcome a new addition to our motley collection of message boards: a forum to chat about the upcoming film Outlander! It's part of AD's fantastic Outlander news and information site (link). You can join the conversation here.

Is this like the time FOX offered us free 'Fear dot Com' jackets to promote some completely unrelated movie?1 No! Outlander is a new science fiction film produced by Wing Commander creator/director/producer Chris Roberts... and Outlander.solsector.net is an entirely Wing Commander fan-run effort -- we're happy to host!

1 True story.

Happy Birthday LOAF!

We'd like to wish LOAF a very happy 27th birthday today! You don't have to get him a present, but rest assured that he's hard at work uncovering new Wing Commander treasures to post on your birthday!

Fastidiously Fixing Fralthra

Bob has taken on the challenge of 3D ship recovery with surprising results: he has been able to restore almost all of the information in the crippled Fralthra 3DS model to its original form! He says:
Here is the mostly complete Fralthra model. I have not added one thing that was not already present in some aspect of the WCII models (in fact, excluding the running lights, everything used is from the original Fralthra model). The textures are rather bright, but this appears to be an unavoidable consequence of exporting to .obj from .max. [At least, in this version. Presumably Autodesk has fixed this in their newest versions.] I had tried to export to .3ds, but problems emerged during the export process that I lacked the energy to solve.

This is not a replication; it is a reconstruction. The model, aside from the rear segment, which remains missing, is complete and the textures are the original ones; all that was necessary was to apply them (and thankfully, the mapping coordinates for them have remained intact.) I have done my best to repair this model, but quite frankly very little needed to be done, and were I perhaps more experienced, had tools closer to the original, I could have had an easier time of it; nevertheless, at this time, this is probably close to the best that can be hoped for this fine ship.

Any errors that may eventually appear will, of course, be my own. Thanks be to Origin for designing and building this, and all the other, models.

Download it here!

Cunningly Crafting Cruisers

... and as soon as Bob's recovered Fralthra hit the vacuum, fans went to work! Death Angel has developed a 'cleaned up' version with higher resolution textures (left) and Kevin Caccamo has created a version with an additional flight deck added to its rear (right).

Beautiful Japanese Artwork Magnified

Yesterday we mentioned the FM Towns inspiration for Howard's Ralari, but the image in the update we linked to dates back to 2002. That might seem just like yesterday, but our graphical standards have changed a little since then. We've always tried to post as a high a resolution as feasible, so here's a big boost. This is a high res scan of the manual instead of the box cover, so there is less text over the image. Even if our main image was on the smaller side back then, I'm happy to see that the associated FM Towns map scan is a impressive 2400x3300 pixels. They probably thought we were crazy for that one in 2002, but that was before 2560x1600 monitors.


Low Res - High Res
Wing Commander (1) for the FM Towns: the FM Towns was a Japanese computer produced by Fujitsu throughout the first half of the 90s. The system is best known for the high numer of X-rated anime games produced for it... but it was also one of the first personal computers to feature a CD-ROM drive. As such, it had some amazing ports of popular early-90s games, including several Ultimas, several LucasArts adventures and... Wing Commander. So what's so special about this edition?
  • Partial speech: all the in-flight comms are spoken (in Japanese).
  • The original Universe Map: a nifty fold-out plastic road-map of the Vega Sector is included.
  • Soundtrack: The game disc doubles as a music CD, with 40-odd high quality tracks that will play in a normal CD player.
  • Cool new box art: Confed fighters attack a Fralthi... and Blair's flight suit looks eerily like those that later appeared in the movie.

The Other Sims

Electronic Arts has announced that it has sold 100 million copies of the Sims worldwide since its launch in 2000. The version from EA Mobile is also a hit on hand-held devices, with 9 million downloads so far on that platform alone. That's a lot of simoleons. The company recently announced a new focus on games for cellphones and other handsets, and it's easy to see why. Several classic board/puzzle games are available for download today. The company has a number of promotions going on now to celebrate the series' historic milestone, including a Buy 2 Sims Games, Get 1 Free sale.
GUILDFORD, UK April 16, 2008 —The Sims™, a Label of Electronic Arts, Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), today announced a significant entertainment milestone, celebrating 100 million units sold around the world, thanks to players of The Sims everywhere. The first game from The Sims was sold in 2000 and has gone on to become the best-selling PC game franchise of all time and is sold in 22 languages and 60 countries around the world. The Sims franchise has inspired millions of players to tell stories, create characters, explore relationships, live through generations, design fashions, and build homes and design home interiors for their Sims. TheSims2.com, the vibrant online community of players of The Sims, has more than 4.3 million unique visitors per month, who have downloaded more than 70 million user-generated creations. A place to discover player creativity is on YouTube, where more than 100,000 videos and movies of The Sims have been shared, with about 200 million views.

Revamped Ralari Readied For Battle

After a virtual fleet of amazing human capships, Howard Day has returned to Kilrathi models. This Ralari is based off the original design shown in WC Pioneer's announcement update, but the mesh has been tweaked and the textures considerably reworked in greater detail. Some parts were also inspired by the high detail Fralthi on the cover of the FM Towns WC1 box. The colors are accurate to the WC1 paint scheme, and sharp-eyed Wingnuts will notice a few common elements with ships like the Bengal. It looks great.

Still to do is a bit of clean-up around the engine nozzles, and the main turrets - top and bottom. Those will be comparable to the main anti-shipping turrets on the Exeter and Bengal. Incidentally, does anyone know what the huge cannons on the wings were for? I'd guess they were early AMGs, but that's pure speculation on my part. Enjoy, everyone.

Aces Club Reaches Its Teens

Another US tax day has come and gone, so that means the Wing Commander Aces Club is another year older. Long time Wingnuts will remember the Aces the largest organized body of Wing Commander fans of the 1990s. They focused on coordinated email stories but also spawned a large assortment of role playing games, website resources, web boards and more. The club's thirteenth year has been somewhat subdued, but its main storyline - Holding the Line - is still readying its next chapters and conclusion. In addition to its own story achives, the primary HTL website maintains an Aces Lounge with links, history, forums and a collection of classic stories published by the club.

Prophecy Leaves Reviewers Hungary For More

Lévai József has found a Wing Commander Prophecy review in the February 1998 edition of the Hungarian magazine PC Guru. The game received a rating of 89%. The article also featured several storyboards from... the Wing Commander Movie! Back in '97, these were accidentally labeled as being for Prophecy's film shoot and included in the electronic press kit for the game. We have archived the full set here.

WC HD - Still 17 Chances To See

If you have UniversalHD, a channel included with many cable packages, your next chance to see the Wing Commander Movie in high definition is this Friday! It's on their schedule all through June. Also be sure to catch Lifeforce, the iconic sci-fi/horror movie starring Privateer 2's Mathilda May and Star Trek's Patrick Stewart.
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

Meet Hobbes This Week In WC2

Wingnuts are cruising together through WC2, and the fight is just warming up. Players should plan to finish up and Niven complete the Ghorah Khar missions this week to stay on track. The hunt is also on for nifty screenshots from the game. Here's DaveO's recollections from Gwenydd.
I meet my new wingmate, Shadow. It’s nice to meet somebody who does not daily remind me of what happened to the Claw. Another boring diamond patrol is up for today. At the first nav point, my adrenaline goes up a few notches. I see three Sartha light fighters on the first nav. Each fighter takes a few hits, and goes down easily. I relearn how to fly through asteroids from my first tour of duty. A few discreet touches on the afterburners, and no problems. Unfortunately, there are three problems at nav 3. Drakhri fighters are around, and they bear a small resemblance to Dralthi. The shields and armor on these ships are not much better than the Sarthas. Thank goodness my piloting skills did not rust after ten years of no combat action.

Shadow admits her fear of dying in combat. I tell her she did well, and that our only choices during this war are to keep fighting or to aid the Kilrathi like the Society of Mandarins. During communications duty, I get an urgent SOS from the Concordia, and they need fighter support since their hangar was damaged. I contact Shadow, and we autopilot to the distress signal. It’s a bit of a furball with six Sarthas swarming the Concordia. Fortunately, the light shields and armor of my opponents makes the defense short work. Upon landing on the Concordia, I meet up with some crewmates from the Tiger’s Claw. Angel and Spirit are in the Rec Room to meet me, along with Jazz and Doomsday from the TCS Austin. Jazz reminds me of what happened to the Claw, and I tell him what I think.

Invisible Bombers

JasonRocZ is creating a Paktahn bomber for his Collateral Damage mod. The pictures below show the evolution from initial 3D model to early renders of the work in progress. Jason is aiming to recreate the Phantom variant from Wing Commander Arena.

I worked more on the Paktahn last night in trying to stay true to the WC Arena Paktahn "Phantom" Model... Of course it may be off in areas. I'm trying to get it as close as possible but that is proving to be pretty hard when I get in to the texturing area. Anyways, Here are some updated Screenshots and also engines, the cockpit (as close as I can get it without tipping the poly scale) [...] it tips the scale at 1181 Polies and only 2 texture files.

The Fine Line Between Trash and Treasure

This is a sad tale -- with a happy ending. Some months ago Kotaku ran an update about our Wing Commander I blueprint scans. This prompted an anonymous EA employee to respond in the comments page that his division had just thrown out boxes of old Origin games and shipped other material away. He included some photos:

Prince Thrakhath himself, plus his helmet and armor! Unwanted and abandoned? Possibly thrown out? We were heartbroken -- he belongs in a museum. We rushed into action -- contacts at EA tried to find out what had happened, friends in the industry listened to us crying and so forth. No luck... until, a month later the props surfaced again at EA Mythic in Virginia. The helmet appeared here, in a short cell phone camera video documenting the development of Warhammer Online. We've since confirmed that a large amount of EA's archived Origin material was shipped to Mythic... and that it's all safe and being cared for by people who appreciate its importance! Whew.

Get Scout of Here

Tolwyn has revealed a new original ship from the Wing Commander Saga mod for FreeSpace 2: the Terran Confederation scout ship. In my day, we just renamed transports! He says:
One of the most well-known Terran vessels encountered in WC2 is the civilian Free Trader, which in some cases, is much more then meets the eye. One of these special cases is the infamous Bonnie Heather, which was in reality a high-tech special operations ship captained by James "Paladin" Taggart. The WC Saga Team wishes to show their version of the ConFleet Intelligence Scout. This ship is intended to be the missing link between older scouts such as the Bonnie Heather and the Bannockburn (mentioned in the Fleet Action novel), to true cloaking scoutships such as Zachary Banfield's "Highwayman" and the Landreich stealth scouts mentioned in the False Colors novel.

The true speed and capabilities of these scouts remain classified to the highest level. In addition, ConFleet Public Relations can neither confirm nor deny rumors that the latest Terran spy scouts are being outfitted with prototype cloaking devices.

Carriers and Coasts Don't Mix

Vasator has found something cool - a Yorktown-class light carrier (the same class of ship as the TCS Victory from Wing Commander III) floating over the sea in the popular Second Life multiplayer environment. The carrier is a storefront, offering various crafted vehicles for sale to Second Life users. Neat stuff!

A Certain Familiarity

GamaSutra has posted an interview with Certain Affinity President Max Hoberman. Certain Affinity is an Austin-based studio whose background includes a lot of Wing Commander experience! He says:
Tell me about Certain Affinity. How did you get started?

Max Hoberman: I’m originally from Austin, Texas, and I moved up to Chicago and then out to Seattle. I went to work for Bungie and I was there for about ten years. I moved back, finally, to Austin. I missed the sun.

When I went back, I was working for Bungie remotely, but there’s only so much you can do remotely in the game development business. It’s very much collaborative, especially since I worked in multiplayer as the multiplayer online lead at Bungie. It’s just an extremely collaborative business.

I wanted to go on and do bigger and better things. I met a really good group of guys and we ended up founding Certain Affinity. Austin has a lot of people with a lot of experience – some of my guys are old Origin guys, going back to the late eighties. Our lead programmer started in ’87, and was the lead programmer on some Wing Commander games. So we put together a really good initial group, and since then we’ve about tripled in size.

The programmer in question? Paul Isaacs - veteran of just about every Wing Commander under the sun! We wish these guys nothing but the best - they're one of the leader contenders for recapturing that Origin magic!

Just Out of 'Reich

Kevin Caccamo has released the fist screenshots for his 'Landreich Campaign' project, a side-mod to the Wing Commander Saga mod for FreeSpace 2. He says: "Good news: The campaign will NOT feature Ninja, Assassin or Major Baws. All of the original dialog will be replaced by my own. Bad news: Unfortunately, I cannot change the default keys. I won't be able to until Taylor finishes his new pilot code for 3.6.11." Further details are sketchy, but one thing is clear: it will feature Hornets!

In Space, No One Can Hear Lord British Tell Time

One of my favorite websites on the entire internet, CollectSpace, is running an article on -- wait for it -- the Richard Garriott Space Watch:
The task of creating this remarkable watch was difficult, and it has involved new developments in every aspect of SEIKO's watchmaking skills. It has taken a dedicated team over three years to create and to test the Spring Drive Spacewalk and new skills, materials and ideas have been generated as a result. SEIKO's history is replete with examples of how watches like Spacewalk later inspire future generations of SEIKO watches. That is the spirit that inspires SEIKO. Perhaps, the SEIKO Spring Drive Spacewalk will be another example. We are going to create just 100 watches. Among them, three pieces will go with Richard on his mission and the remaining watches will be marketed worldwide in December this year.
Limited to 100 watches? Where could they find someone crazy enough to pay... oh, right.

The Scims: House Party

JasonRocZ has built something old, something borrowed and something that makes us blue - a CF-105 Scimitar medium fighter for his Wing Commander Collateral Damage Secret Ops mod project. Why the square acceleration absorbers? He's replaced them with launchers. I bet they have to hose down the cockpits a lot!

Movie Night With Queeg Films

The CIC is on a different billing cycle now, so the bandwidth cutoff occurs more towards the middle of the month. For the many new visitors to the site this year, Queeg's movie projects are a must-have to help eat through the remaining transfer. They run for a combined five hours and weigh in at nearly three gigabytes. Grab the XviD codec or VLC player if you can't view the files. We recommend a download manager like GetRight to help these large files along. The Prophecy DVD upgrade and Academy animated TV series are also still up for grabs if you don't already have them.
Queeg has put together a third and final cut of his Heart of the Tiger movie project. He has combined highlights from the story and gameplay into an intense two hour film. Fans who downloaded previous versions might not need to grab this one, but there are a few significant changes (detailed below). You can download the movie here.

Barely three months after releasing his third and final version of his WC3 movie and two months after announcing the project, Queeg has released the first complete version of his WC4 movie project. The project aims to create a full movie experience by tying together high quality FMV scenes taken from WCIV DVD, along with in-game spaceflight scenes. You can download the 2.1 gigabyte, three hour long movie from our local HTTP mirror. The spaceflight scenes also feature new nebula graphics in the background. Don't forget to post your thoughts on the movie here.

Rarities & B-Sides

Never say never - I thought I had finished my collection of Wing Commander soundtrack CDs five years ago (update)... but I was wrong! Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum spotted "Signature Sounds: Electronic Arts Music Sampler Volume One" at an auction. I immediately set about tracking down a copy and can now reveal its secrets! It is dated 1993 and contains 31 tracks from a variety of EA games... including several from Origin (Strike Commander, Bioforge, Pacific Strike) and two Wing Commander games (Privateer and Super Wing Commander)! Here's the impressive track list, some scans of the package and mp3s of the two Wing Commander pieces!
1. Dream Theme (4D Driving) - Michael J. Sokyrka (Engineered by Jeff Dyck) - 0:48
2. Mission Guadalcanal (Pacific Strike) - Paul Baker - 4:41
3. Slammin' (NBA Showdown '94) - Traz Damji & Jeff Dyck - 1:34
4. Point of Focus (Budokan) - Rob Hubbard - 2:34
5. Driving the Simulation (3DO Driving) - Kris Hatlelid & Edwin Dolinski - 2:04
6. Control (Bioforge) - John Tipton - 1:12
7. Thoughts To Dream (Powermonger) - Jason A.S. Whitely - 5:03
8. Victoria's Theme (4D Tennis) - Edwin Dolinski - 1:01
9. Into One's Own ("Coming Attraction") - Laura Barratt - 1:54
10. Stealth (F-117 Night Storm) - David Whittaker - 1:06
11. Miles Driving By (Car & Driver) - Michael Bartlow - 2:32
12. Combat Montage (Privateer) - Nenad Vugrinec - 5:15 (mp3 - 7.4 mb)
13. Backhanded Melody (4D Tennis) - Edwin Dolinski - 2:28
14. March Around With Ryan (College Football) - Don Veca - 1:56
15. The Metallion (Cybermorph) - Alistair Hirst - 2:55
16. Hoopla (NBA Showdown) - Traz Damji & Jeff Dyck - 1:00
17. Watson Distracts Manager (Holmes I) - Rob Hubbard - 2:17
18. Soothsayer Theme (Holmes I) - Rob Hubbard - 3:09
19. Sweet Victory (NHL '94) - Michael J. Sokyrka (Engineered by Edwin Dolinski) - 1:07
20. Opening Theme (Super Wing Commander) - Joe Basquez - 2:01 (mp3 - 2.9 mb)
21. Chaos (Bioforge) - John Tipton - 2:15
22. Polterguy's Dilemma (Haunting Starring Polterguy) - Tony Berkeley - 1:17
23. Aliens On The Move (ShockWave) - Tony Berkeley - 1:28
24. Uno Momento (FIFA Soccer) - Jeff Dyck - 1:24
25. Object Viewer Waltz (Strike Commander) - Nenad Vugrinec - 1:57
26. Beats To Pieces (Desert Strike) - Jason A.S. Whitely - 3:05
27. Rippin' Rash Thrash (Road Rash 3DO) - Don Veca - 2:59
28. Cheese Grater (Skitchin') - Jeff Dyck - 1:15
29. Braking Late (Indianapolis 500) - Rob Hubbard - 2:34
30. Big Win (4D Driving) - Michael J. Sokyrka - 0:43
31. This Game is Over (3D Driving) - Michael J. Sokyrka - 0:39

EA Mobile Spins Wildly

Yeah, yeah - you're as tired of seeing these updates as we are of writing them... or, more accurately, as we are of dreaming how they should work. Electronic Arts has announced a new focus on smartphone and iPod games which includes Sims and Hasbro-branded games. You know the drill - where's Wing Commander? The press release says:
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 2, 2008--EA Mobile(TM), a division of EA's Casual Entertainment Label, today announced the availability of five new titles for mobile phones and two iPod games. Continuing its tradition of creating high-quality, easy-to-play, casual entertainment, EA Mobile has launched these exciting, new titles: The Sims(TM) 2 Castaway and The Sims(TM) Pool, both extensions of the enormously popular The Sims franchise; Monopoly(R) Here & Now, a modern version of the world popular board game; Yahtzee(R) Adventures, the treasured dice game updated with unique characters and settings; and Merv Griffin's Crosswords(TM), based on the popular TV show. In addition, visually rich iPod versions of the hit Hasbro games Scrabble(R) (in North America only) and Yahtzee(R) are now available for purchase from the iTunes Store.

"EA Mobile continues to create and distribute games that compel potential customers to download and play games on mobile devices," said Travis Boatman, Vice President of Worldwide Studios, EA Mobile. "The wide range of handsets, from everyday devices to sophisticated 3G phones, and the iPod, provide great platforms that foster and satisfy consumer demand for anytime entertainment."

Mule Be Home Soon

Self-described lurker Radovan was kind enough to forward us an interesting article at XBox Family which suggests an interesting - if flawed - theory for the secret franchise behind Project RedLime. Their guess? M.U.L.E.:
This news comes to us directly from a student of one of the original creators of the M.U.L.E. game - Alan Watson, who still pursues game design in Georgia where he teaches. The rumor appears to be true based on Watson being the only living license holder of the M.U.L.E. name due to the death of co-creator Dan Bunten in 1998. We’re still looking for more confirmation, but believe that if this franchise is to be resurrected, it could very well be the much talked about Redlime project that EA has recently announced as being outsourced to the creative minds at Starbreeze.
The idea that a new MULE could be in development is fascinating, but it doesn't really fit with what we know about RedLime - that it's coming from a studio known for action titles and that it is reviving a franchise with some form of established fiction. These don't really apply to MULE, an amazing puzzle game from the earliest days of Electronic Arts history (on the other hand, Mules have surprised people before -- just ask the guys who ran The Foundation...)

Moreover, though, it's great to see someone, somewhere speculating about this -- the initial announcement of the mystery game doesn't seem to have generated nearly as much commentary as it should have. Where are the hard-working game journalists? Where are the top secret leaks? We want answers!

Come Back, Wing Commander

There is an excellent article on bringing back 'abandoned' gaming franchises in the San Francisco Chronicle... and Wing commander is among those singled out! The author seems to know his history, too -- it's great to see our goals discussed in this way in the more mainstream media. Here's the relevant portion:
Wing Commander. This space opera never regained its footing after EA acquired Origin Systems and Freddie Prinze Jr. crashed the movie adaptation. Wing Commander was the darling of space combat simulators, pitting humans against a feline-like alien race, the Kilrathi, in a xenophobic death match. Wing Commander yielded several great sequels and spin-offs that pioneered full-motion video, casting Malcolm McDowell and space-opera icon Mark Hamill in Heart of the Tiger and The Price of Freedom and a then-unknown Clive Owen in Privateer 2: The Darkening. Wing Commander was a forgotten franchise. Last year, EA attempted a rival with a poorly received shooter, Wing Commander Arena, for Xbox Live. However with the death of joysticks, I doubt any developer could recapture the spirit of space combat simulators as they did 20 jump-points ago.

The Nuts, Bolts and Rapiers of the Movie

Here's another cool gift from AD: scans of "Space Ace Engagement", a huge 'making of' article about the Wing Commander movie. It was taken from the April, 1999 issue of Cinefex (#77.) This is, without a doubt, the most in-depth behind the scenes article I've ever seen on the movie -- lots of amazing facts in here. You'll learn everything from how shots were framed to what type of cameras were used. Here's an extract:
After emerging successfully from the hyperspace jump, Diligent makes her approach to Tiger Claw. "The big ships are really like central characters in this film, so the shots that introduce them required a lot of attention," stated digital artist Rhett Bennatt. "Diligent comes in from the top of the screen with Tiger Claw in the distance. We follow Diligent as it goes right down the length of this enormous capital ship. Then it stops and turns toward the larger ship as big doors open up to receive it. It's about a thirty-second shot that establishes scale and shows you everything in lingering detail."

Real-world imperfections were incorporated to make shots like this lengthy approach read as both spectacular and photorealistic. "When the Diligent is on final approach to Tiger Claw, we built a deliberate operator error into the move," Chris Brown said. "The camera overshoots, continuing to track along after Diligent has stopped and begun its descent. Then the camera corrects, looking back and down at Diligent as the smaller craft enters the landing bay." The landing bay/flight deck area of the Tiger Claw was constructed full-scale, but the Luxembourg stage was too short for the flight deck to be built in its entirety. This necessitated redressing and reshooting the set to produce two different plate elements that Digiscope seamed together, doubling the length of the set.

Tiger Claw enters a star system containing a brown dwarf sun, asteroid belt and Jupiter-like planet. This colorful environment was largely the creation of digital artist Mark Goldsworthy, who had also developed jump point Scylla. "Mark did a tremendous amount ofR&'D for us," digital artist Rodney Brunet related, "plus more than seventy animatics. lIis brown dwarf star started out as a background painting for the original presentation trailer, but Chris Roberts loved it so much that a good deal of the film's action wound up being centered around it."

The whole thing is also available as a PDF here (6.98 MB) It even includes a two-page advertising spread purchased to thank the movie's animation team!

A Facelift For Prophecy

With a few large files and some easy instructions, you can upgrade your CD version of Prophecy to play DVD quality movies off the hard drive. The three packs linked below provide all the videos, and HCl's enhancement pack makes them work with the game. Specific instructions are available here. The video files can each be viewed separately with a program like VLC player. The intro movie can be downloaded in DVD quality here. In this update, we compared the new high resolution videos to the CD version.

Community Replay Kicks WC2 Off With A Vengeance

With Wing Commander and The Secret Missions all wrapped up, Wingnuts are ready to begin replaying Wing Commander 2 together this week. If you missed out on WC1, now's a great time to get started. The instructions are simple: play a few missions each week and share your experiences with other fans. Check out the forum links at the bottom of this news post for some awesome examples from fellow pilots. Here's Dundradal with more details.
Greetings Pilots,

The time has come. The Vengeance of the Kilrathi is at hand and we have to do our best to repel them from the Enigma Sector. It's been ten years since our last combat mission, but what we need is "a bona fide hero!"

WC2 is a favorite to many and this replay should spur some intense debates about how to wreak havoc on the Kilrathi in the Enigma Sector. Because of breakdown of WC2 missions we are going to find ourselves stopping in the middle of a system as opposed to finishing one up every week. I'm going to leave the missions per week at six until the last two weeks of WC2 when the last seven missions (Enigma and K'Tithrak Mang) will be split into two shortened weeks.

Our first assignment is Gwynedd 1 - 4 and Niven 1 and 2. Man your Ferrets and get to work people! This war isn't going to win itself.

You've Got Gold

AD has found an interesting celebrity website - it's the online portfolio of Mark Goldsworthy, a wonderful artist who did a lot of the environmental scenes for the Wing Commander movie. He also worked on FreeLancer, the sadly cancelled FreeLancer 2 and the Digital Anvil logo! Check out his beautiful matte and 3D paintings here or some of these especially interesting videos:
  • Wing Commander Movie Crash Landing - here
  • FreeLancer Intro - here
  • FreeLancer 2 Ship Docking - here
  • FreeLancer 2 Nebula Demo - here
  • Digital Anvil Logo - here

McCall Industries Still Hard at Work

Origin and Digital Anvil artist Dean McCall has an amazing online portfolio. Hardcore Wing Commander fans will recognize his name as the in-continuity builder of the Longbow bomber... and he has worked on projects from Pacific Strike to the Wing Commander movie to FreeLancer 2. His site shows off something from each of these -- so fans of those games should visit immediately. Wing Commander fans, though, should be universally impressed by at least one thing: a 3D model of the Rapier II used for early test renderings created to secure financing for the Wing Commander movie. He also has beautiful renderings of some of the Wing Commander Prophecy craft and some scenes from the movie. Check it all out here!

AD Sounds Off (On?)

AD has a tight present for all sound hounds everywhere: a complete collection of extracted comms from Wing Commander III Playstation! He used a program created by (who else) HCl to extract and convert all the comm messages, sound effects and Blair's deep thoughts into WAV files! The download is available in two versions: everything together here (ZIP, 41.3 MB) or just the Kilrathi files here (ZIP, 7.9 MB.) Good work!

What's a Dralthi Four? Folding!

A paper Dralthi is on the way! Péricles is now 'testing' the design (along with four others) -- and it will be available at Paper Commander in early April. More importantly, he has also created a wonderful visual tutorial to explain exactly how to put his amazing models together! I know I've looked at the complex printouts and wondered how to put the darned things together in the past -- and now he's been kind enough to show us! You can find the paper walkthrough here. Now, a few spy shots of that upcoming Dralthi...

Didn't The Sivar Weapon Crush This?

Electronic Arts has announced an elaborate 'collectors edition' of its Warhammer Online MMO release scheduled for later this year. It includes some neat extras:
EXCLUSIVE GAMES WORKSHOP MINIATURE - GRUMLOK AND GAZBAG
From the Age of Reckoning to your tabletop battle! Based on original characters from the MMORPG and designed by Games Workshop specifically for the Collector's Edition, this official Warhammer metal miniature depicts the Greenskin warboss, GRUMLOK, and his shaman, GAZBAG, in rich detail. (Assembly and painting required.)

ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL - WARHAMMER ONLINE: PRELUDE TO WAR
The forces of Order and Destruction collide under the red Chaos moon! Commissioned exclusively for the Collector's Edition, WARHAMMER ONLINE: PRELUDE TO WAR is a full-color, 128-page hardcover graphic novel that sets the stage for the start of the game. Written by acclaimed Games Workshop writer Graham McNeill, the oversized book is richly illustrated by Chad Hardin, Joe Abraham, Rahsan Ekedal, Tony Parker, and Kevin Hopgood. Each of the graphic novel's six chapters tells a unique story about the armies in the game, and together they detail the events leading up to the Age of Reckoning:

ART BOOK - THE ART OF WARHAMMER ONLINE
A stunning collection of art that gave birth to the Age of Reckoning. THE ART OF WARHAMMER ONLINE is a 224-page hardcover collection of original art from the game. Each of the glossy, full-color pages showcases the talented work of our concept artists and offers a glimpse at a world in the making.

BONUS IN-GAME ITEM - THE LIBRAMS OF INSIGHT
Wisdom is its own reward. Readers of the Librams of Insight are granted special insight into their own actions and earn experience at a higher rate for a limited time. (XP-gain modifier for 60 minutes, 3 uses, 90 minute reuse timer.)

BONUS IN-GAME CONTENT - QUESTS, REWARDS, AND TITLES
New adventures and just rewards await players on the battlefields of WAR! Purchasers of the Collector's Edition will begin their adventures in the Age of Reckoning with twelve (12) bonus quests awaiting them in their Tome of Knowledge. Each quest offers an exciting in-game reward, as well as a unique character title, to those that complete the challenges before them.

BONUS IN-GAME CONTENT - CHARACTER HEADS
Stand out in a crowd with a look unlike anyone else's! The WAR Collector's Edition includes twelve (12) bonus heads for additional character customization options. Each race gets a truly distinctive look (with male and female versions) that is sure to turn heads on the battlefields and be the envy of everyone in the army.

As an added bonus, players who pre-order the Collector's Edition will receive two exclusive in-game items, guaranteed access to the Open Beta, and special early access to the live game.

Pretty cool -- but why is it relevant to Wing Commander fans? EA Mythic, the developer of Warhammer Online, is one of the studio's most independent groups -- and they're essentially in charge of Origin's legacy, continuing to run and update Ultima Online. It's great to see that they're continuing Origin's "trinket" system in some way, and it would certainly be good to see the group get a 'win' with this title to take back some of the audience lost to World of Warcraft over the years. Beyond that, who can help but dream about a big budget Wing Commander release that might include such cool toys?

Pretty, Sketchy

Former Origin artist Mark Vearrier has built an absolutely astounding online portfolio full of Wing Commander sketches and renderings! Old hands may recall that Mr. Vearrier has sent us great Wing Commander artwork several times: 1, 2, 3. He's a real cool guy! Check out some of the amazing work he's done!

The Nephilim themselves, designed in collaboration with Syd Mead:

... and their warships (plus Prophecy's Wolfpack logo)!:

Scenes from Wing Commander III, including the refueling asteroids, the Victory bridge and the rec room:

The evolution of Wing Commander III's Gunnery Control set:

Check out lots of other great art at Vearrier.com -- and be sure and watch the first video in his animations page. It includes a veritable what's-what of Wing Commander CGI sequences!

PiArmada Goes Bad

THP is back -- and he has a new project that you may be able to help with! He's building a new version of Wing Commander Armada from the ground up and... well, I'll let him take over:
Hello there!

Yesterday, I've been trying out PiArmada again, and I didn't really like the look of the interface, so I set out to try and produce something better-looking from scratch. This is just the result of a four-hour hacking session, and therefore only the map part is done.

I really liked the strategy part of Armada, as it can be played while waiting for some download or spending some free time. The turn-based game mode makes it possible to focus on other things and continue the game after interruptions.

As PiArmada seems to have been inactive for quite some time now, maybe someone is interested in getting in touch and creating something similar to the strategy part of Armada (no spaceflight planned).

If anyone is interested, please get in touch in the WCNEWS forums. Apart from the graphics (we'd need new space, planet and ship graphics that are licensed under an open source license, what you see on the screenshot are some graphics I quickly collected from the web), coding, sound and other skills would be needed. So, yes: If we decide to work on that project, the code, graphics and sounds should all be open-source.

I am quite sure that I won't have the time to do the project on my own, but if there are some volunteers that are willing to join the effort, I might spend some more time on it.

The current code is written in Python with the drawing done in Cairo.

I also noticed that the source code for PiArmada 0.9 is not available, so that's another reason why I didn't look at PiArmada more (it doesn't seem to be really open sourced, despite being hosted on sourceforge).

Thomas (thp)

Happy April Fools!

As long-time readers know, we weren't really trying to fool anybody - it's just a good excuse to do something stupid for a day. So, in case anyone missed it: it is not really 1991 again (I know, I know - too bad.) Our concept this year was to try to be a little nicer and generally make fun of ourselves instead of anyone else... but apparently that still managed to anger the FreeSpace crowd. Damned if you do...

The 'Point of Origin' memo is, in fact, real -- we'll do a serious update covering it in the very near future! The wwwboard that replaced the Chat Zone for the day (... and a half) was a replica of the one where some of us first joined the Wing Commander community: Origin's Official Wing Commander Chat Zone (1995-97.) We'll leave it up separately for a while as an 'anarchy park' until it breaks permanently. You can access it here.

All the behind-the-screens work was courtesy of Kris, who put together the wwwboard with only a moment's notice. The terrifying CIC-1991 logo was from Frosty:

¡Wing Commander!

Kind archivist Maxi de Sokar has sent us another Spanish Wing Commander magazine scan! It's a preview of the CD-ROM release of the original Wing Commander -- but we don't know where it's from! Does this look familiar to anyone? (The title, ¡Qué la Fuerza Te Acompañe!, is the Spanish translation of 'May the Force Be With You'... if only they knew what was coming!)

BREAKING NEWS: Wing Commander II Box Art Revealed

Origin Systems, Inc. today released a first look at the box art for Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. It features a pair of Super Dralthi destroying a human transport ship. I hope the Tiger's Claw will get there in time to save the day! You can check it out below. For more information on Wing Commander II you can access keyword 'Wing Commander' on America Online or Door Forum #5885.8988 Subtopic LJ-X58 on CompUServ.

Space Sim First Look: X-Wing

LucasArts - the company previously best known for ripping of Sierra's "Quest" adventure games -- is at it again... and this time they're taking aim at Wing Commander! Presumably impressed with Wing Commander's stellar sales, Lucas announced "X-Wing" at the recent Comdex show - a space shooter which puts the player in the cockpit of the X-Wing space fighter featured in several Star Wars films.

As you can see from the screenshots below, this thing isn't going to hold a candle to Wing Commander. Look at that ugly gray cockpit -- with damage measured in percents? And what are they fighting, a puke-yellow square? Did we need more evidence that textured bitmaps and not 3D objects were the wave of the future?

The game is being developed by Larry Holland and the rest of the team which brought you Battlehawks 1942 and Battle of Britain. Big mistake, LucasArts! This kind of game needs an epic storyteller and not some flight school washout. Imagine Andy Hollis running Wing Commander instead of Chris Roberts!

So, be wary of this title. I think it's going to help prove why there hasn't been a 'Star Wars' movie in eight years!

Editorial: Those Awful New Kilrathi

By now you've all seen the first screenshots of the Wing Commander 2 Kilrathi... and I'm sure you all feel the same way I do: disgusted and betrayed. What's the deal, Chris Roberts? In the original game the Kilrathi wore elaborate body armor and were - more often than not - bright green. Now they look like big talking jungle cats? Way to "cute up" the franchise! We can only hope they haven't similarly changed the looks of our favorite Wing Commander heroes - I don't want to have to think anything bad about Shotglass, Hunter, Iceman, Knight, Commander Halcyon or Jazz. I personally refuse to accept them as an official part of the Wing Commander universe.

Countdown to Strike Commander

It's time for your daily reminder: we're just 273 days away from the launch of Chris Roberts' next opus, Strike Commander!

Why so long? Strike Commander is a massive title that will require months and months of programming to 'get right'! With that much lead time, we're sure it will be an especially smooth gaming experience.

The assault begins Christmas 1991!

"Crazy" Origin Founder Buys Moderately Large House

Ultima creator Richard Garriott, known to thousands of fans as "Lord British", has shocked the Austin community by purchasing an unexpectedly large house. The four bedroom, three bathroom ranch-style home (affectionately dubbed "Brittania Split-Level") is located near the headquarters of Origin Systems.

Locals wonder what a single man could possibly want with so much extra space -- but then Garriott is no stranger to controversy, having recently made waves by purchasing a $300 painting of a dinosaur at auction. What will this 'outrageous' character do next? Garriott further shocked interviewers by announcing plans to take a 'zany' adventure vacation, possibly on a boat or small plane.

Point of Origin: It's New!

Origin Systems, Inc. doesn't have an internal newsletter -- yet! But thanks to OSI fan Joe Garrity we know that's about to change! Check out the following internal memo from Fred Schmidt and Dallas Snell:
In an effort to promote communication within the organization, we will be creating a company newsletter, Point of Origin. This document will contain information from all departments and management. Some of the featured sections of this newsletter will include:

-- Information on changes in company policies & procedures.
-- Questions and answers.
-- Information from the Computer Gaming industry.
-- Answers from management to rumors running the "grapevine."
-- Featured employee, product, or company-related stories.

Good work, Joe - you could put this stuff in a museum someday! Now if only we regular folks could see this newsletter somehow...

EA Reports Slight Earnings Increase

Electronic Arts chairman Larry Probst announced today that the company's second quarter earnings were expected to rise 15% above expectations, thanks largely in part to the continued success of their line of sports titles and the quick adoption of the Super Nintendo computer gaming platform. This news isn't important to Wing Commander fans because Electronic Arts isn't the boss of us, and they never will be!

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