Homeworld Mod Getting Cool Intro

Aaron Thomas has taken a break from texturing fighter models and tweaking gameplay mechanics to work on an intro for the WC4 Homeworld 2 mod. So far he's rendered a Confed flight suit for the clip and even that alone is very impressive. You can see the progression so far in the shots below and a couple actual pictures for comparison.

I have been planning to add an opening cinematic to the WC4 Mod for some time now. I have made it past the storyboard stage and started on the 3D modeling. The first model is the Confed Pilot. I initially thought I would just post the final model pics straight here, but it is taking me some time to get it done, so I will post wip images as it progresses. So far I'm still building the suit. There is lots more work left. Lots of detailing still needs to be done and I've only just started working on the sleeves. CIC welcome, have a look. :)

Making the Game - Part 87

This second and final unlabeled tab of the Wing Commander Prophecy bible has a cool 3D map of the game's progress, as well as flowcharts and notes on how the game as a whole will progress. It's the last 'errata' section of the bible - next we move on to incredibly detailed notes on each of the game's mission serises.

Bible 17 - Unlabeled
Download (3.0 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 10

Can Stand the Heat

It's rare that a press release mentions Wing Commander in 2008... but that's just what happened yesterday when Austin-based developer Heatwave Interactive announced a new business model:
AUSTIN, Texas, Jul 29, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Heatwave(TM) Interactive announced today that it has received a $7.5 million series "A" investment from Syncom Venture Partners for the initial funding of "Central Studio" which will develop new and licensed Video Game IP for exploitation across multiple media channels.

"Heatwave's Central Studio has assembled veteran talent from the interactive games, film, television and music industries to create a production studio with a unique business approach," said Anthony Castoro, Heatwave's President and Chief Creative Officer. "Games are a powerful platform for creating mainstream brands and IP, however the game industry is notorious for missed deadlines, excessive 'crunch,' and formulaic licensed games. Heatwave has taken lessons from game industry veterans as well as seasoned professionals from other media sectors to create a new model that is more disciplined and provides a more productive creative environment. The result is an entity that will generate successful new game IP that will easily crossover to other media formats."

Founded in early 2007 by games industry veteran Anthony Castoro (EA, Sony Online Entertainment, Codemasters) and successful entrepreneur Donn Clendenon (MPG-Net, World Gaming Corporation, I-Sun Networks), Heatwave(TM) Interactive is an entertainment production company developing original and licensed games that crossover to film and television. Staffed by veterans from multiple media industries, Heatwave's team members are credited with over 50 commercial video games including Wing Commander (series), Battlefield 2 (series), Ultima Online (series), Star Wars (various), Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, and Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa. Supporting the Central Studio is a Board of Advisors, including Jason Bell, CEO of Chrysalis Games, formerly of Turbine, Atari, EA, and Kesmai; Ann E. Kronen, formerly of Atari, Humongous Entertainment, Disney, Phillips, and Broderbund Software; and Charles J. Weber, CEO of Weber Communications, formerly of LucasFilm Ltd.

You can read the whole thing here. The company's founder, Anthony Castoro, was a major supporter of the Wing Commander IP during his time at Origin and Electronic Arts.

Making the Game - Part 86

This short section of the Wing Commander Prophecy bible offers a six-page overview of a mid-development Wing Commander Prophecy script. Divided into acts, this is the version that ends with Blair and the Maestro character missing in action. If only...

Bible 16 - Series, Missions
Download (5.3 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 6

Flight Commander Mission Contest Voting Begins

Iceblade's Flight Commander mission contest submission period has come to a close, and it's time to pick the winner. FC players now have the opportunity to pick between the top two entries - "Basic Training" by eddieb and "Furry Shell" by Kyran. Grab both mini-campaigns and vote over at Crius.net here. Here are some screenshots from the two scenarios.

All that is needed to play these missions is to install Flight Commander version 1.50 (found here) and extract each mission's files into the primary folder of your FC 1.5 installation. Also be sure to grab patch 2 if you don't already have it.

Making the Game - Part 85

Part 15 of the Wing Commander Prophecy bible starts with numbers taken straight from Wing Commander IV and evolves them into an incredibly interesting document about weapons philosophies and plans for Wing Commander Prophecy.

Bible 15 - Weapons
Download (16 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 27

Collateral Damage Mod Presents New Bird

JasonRocz has released new pictures of his Firekkan fighter design for the Collateral Damage Secret Ops mod. This is an updated version of the model from last week's update. The textures were inspired by WC: Arena concept art from Gaia.
I've designated the name as "Helbraus" which was the design name that was going to be originally used in the Privateer Online gameplay as a Firekkan medium class fighter. I'm looking to make this fighter super fast but without much shielding & armor... Here's the specs & total update on pictures below below. I'm thinking on still using the previous design perhaps as a heavy fighter.
  • Length: 19 meters
  • Mass: 14 metric tonnes
  • Max. Y/P/R: 90/120/120
  • Max. Velocity: 610
  • Max. Afterburn Velocity: 1680
  • Shields: 110 cm
  • Armor: 250 cm
  • Weapons: 2 laser, 2 Meson
  • Rocket pod (2x10)
  • Heat Seeker (2x2)
  • Light Torpedo (1x1)
  • Jump Capable: Yes
  • Manufacturer: The FPA (Firekkan Planetary Alliance)

Making the Game - Part 84

Here's a cool one - detailed rosters for all three of Wing Commander Prophecy's squadrons. Ever wondered who really commanded the Black Widows, or what Bishop's rank was? Now you can find out!

Bible 14 - Squadrons
Download (2.3 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 6

Confed's Last Best Hope

Invisible fighters, bioweapons and the Excalibur prototype all make an appearance this week as the Victory pushes into the Tamayo and Locanda systems. Apart from a run-in with Skipper missiles, last week's missions mostly involved patrolling and escorting. Here are DaveO's notes from Orsini:
I meet up with Vaquero on the living level, and he's playing a lively tune on a guitar. He notices me sitting at his table, and salutes. I tell him to carry on, and he explains that he's playing rockero from the Celeste system. He makes an interesting observation by saying that you can tell quite a lot about a system from its music. Some places are "minor chords" that make you want to run out and do a suicide mission, and other places heat your blood with a desire to live a long life. I ask him if he’s a pilot or a musician, and he asks me to check the killboard if I have any doubts about him being a pilot. His family has made guitars for several generations and he even has a guitar that’s two hundred years old. He feels the age of that guitar makes its sound richer, and he tells me of his dream to open a cantina. He'll recruit the best players for that old guitar, and have it open to everyone. He'll just sit back, look at the pretty women, and listen to the music. I tell him that he has a nice dream, and that he should hang on to it. Vaquero observes that some are here for the kills, but he feels he'll be able to walk away without looking back. He starts playing the same tune on the guitar, and I take a few moments to admire the music and admire his passion.

I see Cobra in the berths, and she's busy sharpening a hunter knife. I tell her that it's time for us to have a talk. She says there is not much to talk about since both me and "it" (Hobbes) got the job done on our first mission. Cobra says that she can't fly with Hobbes, but I tell her that she will have to sooner or later. She says that she won't defend him if it comes down to it in combat, and I ask her why. She says that she's hardwired with a hatred for the Kilrathi, and won't go into further detail for the moment. In the interest of keeping peace aboard the Victory, I say that I'll do my best to keep her and Hobbes on separate assignments. She insists that she needs no special favors. I tell her that we need every good pilot available, and that I'd trust Hobbes with my life. Cobra says that's my choice and goes back to her work on the hunter knife. More memories of my hostile reception on the Concordia drift back to my mind. I hope I can be instrumental in turning the tide on the bad opinions for Hobbes. I head down in the elevator lift and enter the briefing room to receive my mission assignment. Eisen tells me that a tracking station has reported Kilrathi activity in the region. My job is to do a sweep of the area, and to be ready for a possible Kilrathi cap ship. I give the mission layout to the pilots, and pick Cobra in an attempt to get her mind on more important matters than her hatred. Before launch, I see Rachel and have the Hellcat, Arrow, and Thunderbolt available. Due to the cap ship possibility, I select Thunderbolt since it has a torpedo and the other ships don't.

I adjust power ratios, switch to full guns, and takeoff. At our first Kilrathi encounter, Cobra decides her hatred of the cats is more important than following orders. She breaks and attacks during my pursuit of a Darket fighter. She kills the Kilrathi pilot without much trouble, and I nail the other one before she can finish it off. That Darket makes an impressive debris field, and we head off for the next nav point. Here there are two more Darkets defending a Kilrathi transport. I afterburn closer to the transport, and my shields take a few minor hits. I let loose with my torpedo, and turn back to engage the fighters. Cobra makes my work easy by nailing one Darket before I can even see them thru my cockpit. I hear the communication scream from the Kilrathi transport as my torpedo hits it. I then spray full gun barrages at that last Darket and take him down. I ask Cobra how she's doing, and her ship is in good condition. We head back for the Victory, and Rollins is impressed. Rachel gives me the standard "attaboy" after landing.

Making the Game - Part 83

The 'springboards' section of the Wing Commander Prophecy bible seems to be a list of lists - what the player can do, when different ships appear, what types of weapons need to be developed further. There's some fascinating insight into the development of the game in here.

Bible 13 - Springboards
Download (6.9 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 10

Play Wing Commander Armada Online

Forums member wcnut wants to get a Proving Grounds game going tomorrow at 9 pm Eastern. Interested parties can look here for instructions. With modifications from HCl, one-on-one battles, two player cooperative missions and sector-wide strategic campaigns can now be played over the internet!

Making the Game - Part 82

Today we have a document by Captain Johnny layout out cockpit features and a great theory on why the team must make the cockpits all look different. This was accomplished to some level, but I don't think it was ever as effective as it was in Wing Commander 1 or 2.

Bible 12 - Spaceflight HUD NAVMAP
Download (13 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 26

New Ascii Sector Released

Chris Knudsen has been very busy since the last time we checked up on the Privateer: Ascii Sector fan project. New in version 0.3.7:
  • Fixed potential crashing bug with hand grenade explosions.
  • Fixed bug with enemies in character combat suddenly speeding towards you.
  • Added credit balance to the Merchants' Guild computer terminal.
  • The ship dealer will now tell you how many credits will be left in your account before you buy the ship.
  • Objects in your inventory can now switch positions, and you can now load and unload an ammunition clip anywhere in your inventory, not just in your hands.
  • Decreased banning periods.

Get it here. There have been three releases in recent weeks. The ASCII sector Forums thread has a comprehensive list of bugfixes and gameplay tweaks. Our previous Ascii Sector coverage can be found here.

Making the Game - Part 81

Part 11 of the Wing Commander Prophecy bible offers some interesting information on the game's sound development. This includes a great thesis as to why more sound recording is important as well as a preliminary budget and a list of deadlines.

Bible 11 - Sound EFX
Download (786 kb)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 2

Firekkan Fighter Hatched

JasonRocz has come up with a new ship for his Collateral Damage mod for Secret Ops. The textures were inspired by the Firekkan concept art Gaia created for Wing Commander Arena! You can leave feedback or look at more pictures here.

As a support ship for a few missions in the series I'll be implementing a few Firekkan ships. I've been designing one of such ships a Medium Class fighter armed with 2 Tachyon, 2 Lasers and some type of missile pods. Tell me what you think? are there any design changes that anyone would think would be cool? Textures? Anything really.. Only problem is that I can't really find much on the Firekkans. No logos, No flags... I just know that they are birds. Any thoughts or info would be greatly appreciated. Does anyone thing that a Firekkan Fighter would look like this or something totally different? After I got finished with doing the model and the texturing it almost looks like a Su-27 in space. But again any design thoughts etc is always welcome.

Making the Game - Part 80

Today's section of the Wing Commander Prophecy bible describes the simulator and object viewer (one and the same, at some point). The most interesting thing here is probably the 'custom mission' option removed from the finished game, which would have allowed players to plan their own wings and opponents.

Bible 10 - Simulator, Object Viewer
Download (4.6 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 5

Need DAT Tape Experts!

Team Technosaur is having trouble getting data off old DDS-1 and DDS-2 tapes. They've been successful in reading Exabyte tapes, but using the same method with the DAT tapes restores an empty (0 kB) file. LOAF adds that Windows Backup detects *something*, but it won't list any actual files. They have HP SureStore DAT24 and Seagate Scorpion tape drives that should be able to read these DDS-1 and DDS-2 tapes. There isn't much time left, so hurry and drop LOAF an e-mail if you think you can help!

Everyone is very busy at Mythic working 12-hour days, but here's a brief status update:

We began the day by finishing up with 3.5" disks (beta versions of various ~1994 games). Charlotte focused on CD ripping and finished almost the whole job. Chris finished major photography today. Scanning began and we found some really interesting WC stuff that we can't reveal yet.

Concordia Disaster Revisited

Klavs has come up with resized versions of his Concordia render that will fit better on your Windows desktop. The wallpaper is available in normal 4:3 (2048x1536) and widescreen (2560x1600) resolutions.

Making the Game - Part 79

Today's Wing Commander Prophecy bible update has a lot of fictional ship background, including information on the unseen Confederation Mercury and Hercules-class capital ships. Here's a strange fact: the Hercules LC was originally called the Lamprey!

Bible 09 - Squadron, Confed Ships
Download (7.5 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 18

Report For Duty On The Victory

After a one week recess, the community replay crew is ready to take on Wing Commander 3. If you were unable to catch up to everyone else as they played through the first two games, then now would be a good time to just jump in. Our Tech Support section has instructions for getting Wing 3 (DOS or Kilrathi Saga editions) to run on modern hardware and operating systems. Dundradal writes:
Good Morning Gentlemen,

So it's finally arrived. The end of our Kilrathi Saga. I'm jealous as hell that I can't immediately join in with all of you in the final stretch of the fight. Just have a few short weeks of work to do then I'll be back in the game.

This first week we'll only be doing the Orsini System (4 missions) so the number of missions stays manageable over the weeks. Next week will be Tamayo and Locanda which will bring us back up to six missions a week.

Fight the good fight, Hearts of the Tiger.

Making the Game - Part 78

Nitpickers rejoice! This document has everything you ever needed to know about the Nephilim fighters... and it's remarkable how much data exists! Why did the team develop lengths, masses and other 'fictional' data which was never published? Note the older names for the capital ships, like the Osprey carrier and the Leatherback transport.

Bible 08 - Alien Ships
Download (17 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 44

Mythic Project Live Updates

Mythic Project begins today! Live updates throughout the week at http://www.youtube.com/WingCommanderCIC. Videos filmed from ChrisReid's cell phone will automatically appear on YouTube. Check this space regularly! The team will also be taking separate high definition videos of the event to archive/upload later.

Members of the CIC staff and other volunteers have made their way to Virginia to help archive what remains of Origin Systems' data library. We will be updating throughout the next week to let everyone know how the mission is going - expect big things!

Thanks to the invaluable assistance of the Wing Commander community, "Team Technosaur" is primed and ready with working equipment and methods for reading everything from 3.5" diskettes to SyQuest removable hard drives. Good work, everyone - we'll be working for you!

Making the Game - Part 77

A significant amount of planning was done on a Wing Commander Prophecy PSX port -- but it wasn't to be. These few pages are all that survived through the end of the game's release in the official designer's bible.

Bible 07 - PSX Philosophy
Download (1.8 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 4

Technosaurs: Locked and Loaded

Ready for action! Our equipment is packed for a short trip to the Origin Museum tonight - and then on to Mythic Entertainment tomorrow morning, where it will be used to archive a large collection of Origin and Wing Commander artifacts. What's on the manifest? A desktop, eight laptops, four tape drives, two SyQuest drives, five SCSI adapters, two VHS-to-DVD decks, a scanner, camera equipment, a CD resurfacer, computer tools, a DVD-ROM drive, hard drive enclosures, roughly five terabytes of storage, enough A/V, SCSI and power cables to strangle a Kilrathi and more! I took less stuff with me when I went away to college! We will do our best to keep you up-to-date as to our status as the week progresses. Wish us luck!

Making the Game - Part 76

Here's one for future historians: a big bundle of handwritten notes, emails and other documents fleshing out exactly how the MED (mission editor) software works. It will take some studying to appreciate, but this is a great indication of how the team worked together - check out the hand-written mission coding!

Bible 06 - Mission Editor
Download (15 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 52

Concordia Going Down

Klavs has a new render for us showing off his Concordia model (original report). The 2048x2048 resolution is a little unusual, but it should still fit on your desktop. Head over to the forums and let Klavs know what you think! You can see more of his work here.

Making the Game - Part 75

Here's a system that unfortunately didn't make it into the finished games: a series of ribbons and medals awarded for achieving various goals, similar to those found in the original Wing Commander. The finished game had only two or three static medal awards which were not influenced by the player's performance.

Bible 05 - Medals & Ribbons
Download (2.1 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 6

Redlime Still Out There

E3 has come and gone with nary a mention of a new Wing Commander -- but there's still hope. According to this recent interview with Starbreeze founder Johan Kristiansson, the mysterious project "Redlime" is still in development. There's no word on when the project will be released, or even what it is... but it does sound like whichever classic franchise is being updated is in good hands:

Q: You're working with Electronic Arts on a top secret title. How's that coming along?

Johan Kristiansson: It's going very well. We started working with them last autumn and in February we announced we were working together on Project RedLime. It's a classic EA franchise that we're trying to reinvent and it's great working with EA. They're quite a powerful machine that we're able to tap into, it feels really good.

Q: What are you learning from EA, what are you hoping will help the studio grow for the future?

Johan Kristiansson: A lot of it has to do with how we present our concepts about our game to the market. Definitely, on the marketing side we are impressed by how they think and the long-term planning in terms of marketing the game. One of the biggest challenges is getting the sell-in. If we can pull that off then we feel pretty confident that we can also manage to sell to consumers. Also in terms of production, we're working a lot with agile developments, scrum methodologies and such. They're very open to new kinds of production philosophies and that's been a very good step for us to move in that direction.

Q: Do you feel a pressure to satisfy the fans and the legacy of this classic EA franchise?

Johan Kristiansson: Yes, it's always a trade-off when you work on a classic property in how much you should be true to the original and how much you should reinvent or create something new. It's a pretty tough trade-off and something we're discussing here everyday.

Q: When are we going to hear more about this project - when can we expect an official clarification of what the game is, exactly?

Johan Kristiansson: I'm not sure about that. We've not really decided on when to go public with that yet.

Making the Game - Part 74

Ever wonder where the ICIS system came from? Right here! These pages define the ICIS interface and even argue over what the name should be ('CFOD'?). It's actually an elegant system for cutting down on the amount of live action video required in the game.

Bible 04 - Input Interface
Download (5.4 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 6

Mythic Project: Technosaurs are Go!

It's time to go! Starting tomorrow morning members of the CIC staff and other volunteers will begin making their way to Virginia to help archive what remains of Origin Systems' data library. We will be updating throughout the next week to let everyone know how the mission is going - expect big things!

Thanks to the invaluable assistance of the Wing Commander community, "Team Technosaur" is primed and ready with working equipment and methods for reading everything from 3.5" diskettes to SyQuest removable hard drives. Good work, everyone - we'll be working for you!

Making the Game - Part 73

This "unlabeled" section of the Wing Commander Prophecy bible sets forth the in-flight communication system - what needs to be recorded, how interactivity works and so forth. It also seems to be the origin of the 'squadron' and 'wing' confusion which continues to bother the continuity-obsessed.

Bible 03 - Unlabeled
Download (5.4 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 11

Get In The Mush Pit

Forums member goat wants to recruit players for a new Wing Commander MUSH (a text-based role playing game):
What is a MUSH: I believe the letters stand for Multi User Shared Hallucination. What that means? Heck if I know. Basically, it's a (in my opinion) better/cooler version of mIRC. It is a game where players can go to practically 24/7 to play a game instead of always scheduling one or two days out of the week to do something with a couple of guys. Generally people code up things like dice rolling, an economy system, and sometimes an interactive text based space system for players to immerse themselves more fully into a game system.
In the meantime, goat would like you to try either the Red Horizons or Ground Zero MUSH. He has posted detailed instructions on how to connect and play.
For all you old Wing Commander: Red Horizon junkies, I bring you this:

Wing Commander: Red Horizon swagatron.feem.net 2197

Rincewind and x run this site at the moment. x mentioned recently that he may be interested in opening the site up to allow players to run amok and fly about space until we all kill each other then start the game all over again and let us at each other again! He's thinking of setting it up where there is no staff, just players going crazy.

For all of you who are wanting to possibly start up a new Wing Commander game, I bring you a another site I stumbled upon by a guy who used to go by the name Locke:

Wing Commander Ground Zero: arctangent.net 5500

Locke is looking at having a slightly smaller game, or maybe a more managed one. I haven't discussed in depth what his plans are. I do know that he's wanting to start the game off during Wing Commander 2's time period and looks to focus mainly on the conflict between the Confederation and the Kilrathi. He's discussed the idea of allowing small civilian factions to exist but wants to keep the number of civilian organizations small for the moment.

If neither one of those appeal to you, I am still going to be working on my own Wing Commander project. I felt that as I find games out there, I should go ahead and keep the Wing Commander CIC Forums updated.

Making the Game - Part 72

The second part of the Wing Commander Prophecy designer's bible is the gameflow section. This lays out all of the 'static' screens in the game - ie, the interactive menus where you pick which character to talk to or which door to go through. One interesting thing is the reference to the Wing Commander Universe map, at one point considered for inclusion in the game itself

Bible 02 - Gameflow
Download (3.0 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 5

Concordia Carrier Opens Fire

Here's a new batch of updated WC4 Homeworld 2 mod screenshots that include Aaron Thomas' finalized Concordia class gun turrets, engines and bridge textures. The turrets look particularly great in action. With the new hollowed out flight deck, there's also a cool new effect for launching fighters (described below). For now this model is finalized and Aaron has moved on to other capital ships seen in Wing Commander 4.

Now that the hull is hollow I had tried several ways to land the fighters. My initial attempt to make them taxi in and out of the side bays didn't work out too well. They kept flying through the walls and sliding all over the deck. Didn't look very nice. The way it works now is that they land on deck near the side bays and disappear. Then reappear in almost the same location when taking off. With some stretch of imagination it looks quite nice, however I don't think the HW2 developers ever planned for such a scenario. It's fun though - I just keep landing the fighters and watching them take off over and over again. :)

Making the Game - Part 71

This is it - the big prize, the third and final portion of our Making the Game feature. Over the next several days we will be walking through scans of Wing Commander Prophecy's designer's bible. This is all the background and internal information that Billy Cain thought was absolutely necessary to the project - it should be quite interesting. we start with the 'Easter Eggs' tab (future historians note that the titles for these sections come from the binder's original tabs) - which actually seems to be only a small email.

Bible 01 - Easter Eggs
Download (367 kb)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 1

Tarawa Hat Orders Open Up

McGruff has posted the details for an upcoming order for new Wing Commander hats. He's polled the audience at Crius.net and come up with a TCS Tarawa hat featuring the silhouette of a Wake class escort carrier by Eder. Their design includes the CVE registry number on the front and "First to Kilrah" written across the back. Both black and navy blue backgrounds are available. The Tarawa played a major part in the Wing Commander novels End Run and Freedom Flight and made additional appearances in Heart of the Tiger, The Price of Freedom and False Colors.

Including shipping, each hat should be somewhere in the mid to upper $20s. If enough people order one, the price would drop a bit below that. Head over to this thread to ask any questions or make an order.

Making the Game - Part 70

This document marks the end of our 'undated' collection - which puts us at two thirds of the way through this feature. Today we have a very cool image provided by Captain Johnny himself: it's a detailed map of the H'rekkah System, presumably generated as part of his project to map the Wing Commander universe (which resulted in the Wing Commander Universe Map included with Prophecy.) Tune in tomorrow to see the first section of Wing Commander Prophecy's designer's bible.

Hrekkah System Map
Download (1.0 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 1

Four Weeks to First Decade

It's already that time of the year again. In just four weeks the CIC turns ten years old! As usual, we'll be hosting a blowout party online in #Wingnut for all to celebrate. The fun begins at 7:00 pm Eastern US time (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT) on Sunday, August 10, 2008. The time zones might be tough for some visitors, so some people might have to sleep in extra long Sunday and wake up early Monday to attend.

Feel free to stop by #Wingnut any time between now and then to catch up with fellow fans and count down the days. The web interface makes it easy. Although the CIC staff is busy preparing for Mythic next week, we've already got some cool surprises in work. Lucky Wingnuts will also win some fabulous prizes. Mark your calendars now - see you there!

Making the Game - Part 69

There's another art treat today! This document contains early sketches of the Vampire, Panther, Devastator and Marine LC. Look at all the work that went into figuring out the 'dustbuster' design for the Hercules!

Ship Sketches
Download (704 kb)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 5

Flight Commander Mission Contest In Progress

Iceblade and eddieb are kicking off a fun summer modding contest! Wingnuts have the opportunity to create a short campaign in the Flight Commander engine. FC1.5 is a great framework to create short Prophecy-style missions and adventures like this. Participants can create single simulator sorties or are allowed to string up to four missions together in a quick cohesive campaign. All necessary ships, textures, sound files and so on must be included in one package and work with version 1.5 of the FC program. They are targeting late July for submissions, so don't delay! Head over to Crius.net to find out more details and post any questions. Good luck.

Making the Game - Part 68

This is the big prize for anyone interested in Wing Commander Prophecy's early visuals: an early version of the TCS Midway designed by Chris Douglas early on in the game's development. The evolution from Wing Commander III and IV is a lot more clear here!

Early Midway
Download (4.4 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 1

Here Be Dragons

AD has posted the international theatrical trailer for Outlander to outlander.solsector.net. Outlander is a new science fiction film produced by series creator/director/producer Chris Roberts. The movie stars Wing Commander veterans John Hurt (Joe Kane, Privateer 2) and Ron Perlman (Daimon Karnes, Academy). It tells the story of a battle between Vikings and an alien monster in ancient Norway. Check out the trailer and join the discussion! The initial reception seems very positive. You can also watch an interview with Chris Roberts (here) in which he explains the concept behind the movie.

Making the Game - Part 67

Here's an interesting one: at first glance it appears to be a screenshot from Wing Commander IV... but look closely! It's actually a mockup showing changes that the team hoped to make to the cockpits in Wing Commander Prophecy. I especially like the range gauge on the right side.

Cockpit Mockup
Download (704 kb)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 1

Storming the Rock

The Crius.net replay of Special Operations 2 comes to an explosive conclusion this week in the Ayer's System. In addition to blasting Ayer's Rock with the Mace Missile, there's a pivotal battle against a pair of Fralthra and the final confrontation with Jazz. Wingnuts will be getting next week off, and then all are invited to replay Wing Commander 3 together starting July 20. Here's Lorien again with a mission recap and a few new nifty photos from Dave.
Ayer's 4: While I worry about the Concordia's fate, we receive a tranmission from Ayer's Rock. Minx managed to escape in a life pod, though the radiation from the explosion will kill her. She tells us that Jazz has escaped and he has the Morningstar before begging us to kill him as her signal fades out. I'm not too eager to do missions at the direction of a traitor but another crack at Jazz is something I'm not going to pass up, and neither is Maniac.

Unfortunately, Jazz doesn't make his own attack which means we have to go searching for him. Without any definite word, we have to assume that he's somewhere between here and the Jump Point waiting for me, so I set out in that direction. Maniac takes off to follow but his new Morningstar still needs some bugs worked out and falters soon after launch, leaving me to face Jazz alone. Jazz isn't the only person I find, though, there are 3 Sabres guarding the jump point. He should have left more, as these three soon find themselves debris while my fighter is untouched and ready. Still no Jazz, unfortunately, so I jump to the Concordia and receive a very pleasant suprise. Jazz is on the other side waiting for me. He launches a vicious first attack that downs my shields before I manage to get behind him and take out the rear armour. He exposes his side as he tries to protect his rear and an IR missile followed by another volley of gunfire take him. I see the flash of ejection briefly before his fighter detonates. I scour the area afterwards to make sure and find his battered flight helmet. Satisfied, I return to the Concordia.

The Admiral meets me on the bridge to personally congratulate me on my efforts in taking out Jazz and Ayer's Rock. He'll be putting me for an award for all of done. Frankly, marking that 901st kill on my fighter is reward enough. Unfortunately he also has some bad news to relay to me. The Kilrathi have managed to destroy the 6th battle fleet and the Concordia is to retreat from the Deneb sector. It's going to be a hard battle ahead to protect Earth and the inner colonies from the Kilrathi.

Making the Game - Part 66

Yesterday's Whole Comms List has a companion - the Wing Commander Prophecy Whole Movies list. Can anyone find the elusive 'Tiger in Your Tank' scene on this list? Best description - "S&M Blair", for the alien torture scene.

Whole Movies List
Download (26 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 15

Homeworld Mod Recommissions Concordia Carrier

Aaron Thomas has begun work to revamp a number of key models in the WC4 Homeworld 2 mod. His first design is a cleaner take on the Concordia class carrier. These shots reveal the improved body wither sharper textures and better lighting. Newer engines, weapons and subsystems are not yet visible. The interiors look particularly good already, and it's possible the Aaron will be further improving the main hull textures as Homeworld modding technology improves.

After I played the Mod the other day after almost 6 months, it pissed me off how shabby the ships looked. To me Wing Commander was always a game that broke ground, and a very important part of that was the graphics. With the HW2 engine being beefed up like avathar mentioned, I thought I'd take a whack at some high-res stuff in game.

The bridge and main engine block are still grayed-out, and the turrets are going to be completely redone. The rest is running smooth. The carrier will be hollow like in the pictures below, and the Hellcat and Thunderbolts will add to the detail only once you build medium fighter bays and heavy fighter bays respectively. This way you can visually tell the carrier's threat level.

Making the Game - Part 65

Here's a big document for the obsessive fan to check through: a twenty page chart listing every one of Wing Commander Prophecy's comm messages. An internal file name and a short description are provided for each -- are they all in the game? "WHY WON'T ANYBODY HELP US!!! THE BRIDGE IS ON FIRE!!!!! YYAAAAAAAAA!!!"

Whole Comms List
Download (19 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 20

Saga Wallpaper Roundup

The Wing Commander Saga mod for FreeSpace 2 has posted three fan-made 'Saga inspired' wallpapers (one actually seems to be a poster). They were done by "Dark Hunter" and are very nicely arranged -- I like the purple one!

Making the Game - Part 64

You've seen some sketches, now here's the original handwritten list of set requirements. You'll find that it's largely similar to the finished game, although several were clearly cut or duplicated. The 'Monroe and O'Neil Research Vessel' reference is interesting, as it suggests there was originally something more to the intro sequence.

Set List
Download (1.0 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 2

Former Origin GM Moves On

Late last month former Origin General Manager Neil Young announced that he was leaving Electronic Arts after eleven years with the company, and news about his next project has just started to surface. MocoNews is reporting that Young's new company is focusing on advanced games for the second generation iPhone. Some of his thoughts on the potential for this market are quoted below. After departing Origin in April 1999, Young went on to lead Maxis, EALA and EA Blueprint most recently. Westwood founder Louis Castle will be taking over as head of that EA division. In the late '90s Young was also a big supporter of the Wing Commander CIC, so we wish him good luck on his new venture.
On a more granular level, Young said that means: “I want customers to feel like there’s somebody out there that’s building games, that’s financing games, that’s helping games get made that take advantage of what the device does really well, and gets beyond porting a PSP game or a DS game...The iPhone is a unique device, right? It has a camera in it. It will be a 3G phone. It will have GPS. It has a touch screen. It has accelerometers. It’s got good graphics performance. It’s got all your media on there. My instinct is, the type of games that will make people want to buy more iPhones or more devices of that class are the types of things that really showcase the capabilities and bring what we know as game designers together with what Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has delivered as a platform to create compelling and exciting new experiences.”

Making the Game - Part 63

Now we're getting visual - today's document contains a set of Wing Commander Prophecy set sketches. They range from a familiar ready room to an absolutely different version of the trainsim (it can't be called a pod!). Check out the photocopied reference material from 'Alien', too.

Set Concept Art
Download (5.5 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 4

New New Detroit Rendered

Michelle D has taken a stab at recreating the iconic New Detroit planetscape. She's tried a new cubic mapping technique and released two very different interpretations. I think the second attempt shows quite a bit of progress over the first. I'd like to see more of the second planet, but the industrial lights visible on the dark side are a cool and eerie sight as well. These were somewhat inspired by Marc's New Detroit renderings from a while back.

I searched for a while and found a nice tip for mapping planets - they use a cube and cubic mapping and then distort the cube into a sphere instead of using a sphere.

I just made my first sphere this way in XSI using the "PUSH" and "SMOOTH" tools. It took me a while but the results are pretty amazing.

Making the Game - Part 62

On Friday, you saw how Wing Commander Prophecy's missions worked - now you can see how they fit together. This Series Flowchart document first shows how the entire game functions as a single progressive unit and then breaks down each series to show how the missions attach together.

Series Flowchart
Download (4 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 10

Saga Mac Attack

Do you want to better play the Wing Commander Saga Prologue release on a Macintosh computer? Well, now you can - thanks to a new patch released by the Saga team. The bugfixes are:
- fixes the annoying mousepointer in the bottom bug
- fixes the widescreen misalignment (Mac usually have a 16:10 screen)
- adds some new SEXP (e.g. radar range limit, set-nav-carry)
- works with MacOS 10.5.x
- lots of problems with MBP and ATIX1600 gfx fixed
The patch is available here (3.8 MB, ZIP).

Making the Game - Part 61

Here's a little document for the holiday weekend - a single scan of the TOBY rendered artwork. You can find a full color digital version here. So, the question in this case is... why was this the one ship promo image photocopied and included with the lead designer's paperwork?

Research Vessel
Download (1.1 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 1

Happy Fourth of July!

The Combat Information Center would like to wish a happy Independence Day to all of our American readers. Why not sit down with a copy of Wing Commander IV and experience a conflict modeled after the one that gave rise to this holiday some 232 years ago? Whatever you do, have fun and stay safe.

Making the Game - Part 60

Today you learn exactly how difficult a job mission designer is - with this large document containing forty-six pages of mission layout diagrams. Each has symbols representing what appears at each nav point alongside objectives, conditions and other mission criteria. Just look at how complex even some of the early missions are (some of them are quite beautiful, too.)

Mission Flowchart
Download (11 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 46

Dawn of the Morningstar

Wingnuts over at the CIC Forums are steadily hacking away at Special Operations 2, and now they've eagerly taken up a new tool to do it with - the advanced Morningstar prototype. Here's a sample of Lorien's experiences in Canewdon. DaveO grabbed some awesome fighter shots as well.

Canewdon 5: I meet Paladin on the Concordia, a welcome sight in some ways but I hope he hasn't got us into as much trouble as we were in during the Ghorah Khar compaign. He has some bad news for me. It seems the Kilrathi already know about the Morningstar Project, probably through a Mandarin source. While the existance of the project is something we can live with them knowing, we don't want them to have access to the technical details that will let them develop a counter. The spy we captured on the freighter doesn't have any information, besides the fact that they were transporting supplies to a Mandarin base called Ayer's Rock. Paladin knows of this base, but doesn't know where it is, which will make destroying it easier. I offer my services to him in that regard.

Today's briefing is a sombre one. The Confederation has taken some considerable losses in the Deneb sector and the Concordia is to hold the line while the 6th Battle Fleet regroups. The heavy enemy presence we encountered on arriving is only going to get heavier but we can handle it because we're the best. With the Kilrathi knowing about the Morningstar, we decide to put it through it's paces on a patrol mission. I was about to grumble about being stuck in a Broadsword surrounded by the hottest fighter we have when I realised that I'd also be surrounded by three Maniacs and suddenly the armour and shields felt very comforting. I wasn't too impressed with the Morningstar's performance in this mission. Out of 9 cats we found on the patrol, my broadsword accounted for 5.

Canewdon 8: I encounter Crossbones on the Observation Deck looking glum. It seems the Mandarins have been making propoganda broadcasts, including the hijacking of two freighters. Jazz Colson is in the middle of it all of course. Crossbone's doesn't seem to understand the difference between someone being let go and someone being rescued and I'm not in the mood to explain it to him. Minx approaches me as I vent some of my frustration in the barracks. I confide some of my frustrations with Jazz to her, grateful for a sympathetic ear. She misreads my opening up as an opening, unfortunately and kisses me. I'm too suprised to react.

I'm still collecting my feelings when I encounter Minx on the flight deck, back from her patrol early. I ask her what she's doing back early and she says that her wingman ordered her back early in order to save the Morningstar prototype. I start rousing on her for leaving her wingman to die when she lets slip that her wingman was Angel. I know now where my feelings lie, I grab the nearest available fighter and head off to save my love. Angel's under attack by quite a Kilrathi force. Several Gothri are chasing her and I descend upon them with a vengeance, the first one destroyed before it could fire a shot. As I pull in behind the second I notice a jump flash. It seems a Kamekh has joined the party. Ah well, the more the merrier. The rest of the Gothri are downed with only some scratches to my paintwork. Angel's Sabre is in much worse shape, however, and she heads home as I scrape the Kamekh off her back. When we land, I tell her that she's much more important than the Morningstar. She apologises for being so busy lately but she had her head put straight when she thought the she wouldn't see me again. We make up then and there.

Making the Game - Part 59

Up for offer today is the first Wing Commander 5 (Prophecy) "Game Design Document". This sixteen-page doc includes the initial proposal and argument for the game, as well as early notes on things like keyboard layout and new gameplay elements. It starts with an interesting counterpoint to yesterday's comments as to just who decided to include Privateer 2 in the Wing continuity: "The Wing Commander 5 story will be the basis for an expanded fictional universe full of potential. Including a sustainable core product line (Wing Commander 6, 7...) as well as an extended product line (Privateer: The Darkening, and any other action oriented game we can fit into the fiction)."

Game Design Document
Download (7.5 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 16

A Playtester's Guide

Alert reader Theo came across something interesting - an Everything2 node by Origin playtester Anthony Salter about the development of Privateer 2: The Darkening (from an Austin perspective). It's fairly incendiary, but it's also part of history -- it seems important to archive it here. We do know from talking to Erin Roberts and Paul Hughes that they were in the dark regarding a lot of the cross-studio criticisms and politics.
Privateer II: A Playtester's Perspective
My name is Anthony Salter, and I was a playtester for Privateer II. I thought I'd expand on the above writeup and explain how the game managed to ship with the problems it did.

First, some backstory. Privateer II started as a game under development by Electronic Arts' studio in Manchester, England. Chris Roberts' brother Erin Roberts was in charge of the studio at the time, and wanted to make a spiritual sequel to the original Privateer.

The result was called "The Darkening", and it was a game that combined first-person outer space combat with trading and a plotline very much like the original Privateer did, at least on the surface.

I was working at Origin Systems in Austin, Texas during 1994. Word came down that Erin Roberts had requested to Electronic Arts that the game's title be changed to Privateer II: The Darkening. Electronic Arts approached Origin Systems about this, and Origin upper management said, "Yes, you can call it that, if you submit the game to our testers here and incorporate their feedback into the game." EA Manchester agreed.

The test schedule for Privateer II was a strange one. The test lead, J. Allen Brack, called for volunteers from among Origin Tech Support and Quality Assurance who would be willing to do their normal jobs during the day, then stay late for several hours each night and test Privateer II. I was one of the people who signed up for this, along with several other excellent Origin testers and tech support folk.

When we got our first build of the game, we were initially impressed. The entire game ran in 640x480 when most other games were just offering that resolution as an option for high-end machines. The interface looked very sharp and streamlined, with nice little artistic touches. The movies ran well and looked good.

But we started to dig, and we didn't really like what we discovered underneath. The first thing was that the keyboard controls were very different from the Wing Commander games, and there was no way to customize the keyboard layout (a feature that was commonplace in games at that point). Since the game was going to be called Privateer II, people would expect it to have the same key layout as Wing Commander.

That was minor compared to what we found in the other game subsystems. While there was a trading system in the game, prices varied by less than 10% in most planetary systems, making turning a real profit difficult. There were no big wins in the trading system for the player to find.

We also discovered all of the flaws in the combat system that ichthyroid noticed above. Watching an enemy jump in just as you were about to jump out is a horribly frustrating experience. And since these enemy jump-ins were random, there were times when our testers recorded being stuck at a single nav point for a half-hour or more - totally unacceptable.

Actual combat was divided into two types - way too easy and way too hard. Most ships were easy to defeat. The simplest evasive maneuver on our part was enough to make them miss, and once we got on their tails they were inevitably destroyed. On the other hand, some ships (especially Kiowan Skrulls and Shuttles) were incredibly difficult to kill - the Skrulls because of their high speed and manueverability (much higher than the player's ship could ever attain) and the shuttles because of their damaging lasers that could kill any player ship in two or three shots. We discovered that if we jumped into a nav point early in the game and found a shuttle there, it was easier to just allow ourselves to be destroyed and restore from the last save game. Again, totally unacceptable.

The scripted missions were not only weak, but they were almost hidden in the game, and were missed by a lot of players. Some of the missions required the player to have the best ship in the game and phenomenal reflexes, while others drug the player halfway across the system map without allowing him to land and refuel or repair his ship (to do so would cause the mission to fail instantly). One particularly stupid one required the player to decipher numerical clues to find out which nav point to jump to.

And we also had the plethora of bugs an alpha version inevitably contains. But we were still excited, because we saw that the game, while currently flawed, held great potential.

So we set about fixing it. Not only did we write up every bug we found, we wrote extensive notes about how the team could make this game much more enjoyable. My friend Lee Gibson wrote up a new trading chart. Kenny Hott and Rhea Shelly worked on the combat system. I worked on the ship building system, finding bugs (the level three shields were initially more effective at stopping damage than the level four) and suggesting ways to make the ships less "generic" and more unique for the player.

We sent back our first batch of bugs and in return got a new version of the game. We also got a rude awakening - it played almost exactly like the previous version!

Our communication line with EA Manchester seemed to break down at this point. We requested cheat codes to help with testing, since without them we had to play the game extensively to get enough money to buy the more expensive ships and weapons in order to test them. EA Manchester told us no such codes existed. We knew this almost certainly wasn't true, but if they wouldn't tell us, what could we do?

After many emails, phone calls and conference calls, it became clear to us that EA Manchester considered the actual gameplay aspect of the game "finished", and therefore the gameplay bugs that we had sent weren't bugs at all. J. Allen and Rhea went to bat, trying to convince their superiors that the fun aspect of the game was just as important as the bugs.

Finally, EA Manchester told us, "The version you have is the version we're shipping." J. Allen responded by stating that we in Origin QA would not sign off on the game in this condition, as it still had some technical issues on top of being no fun to play. But he was overriden at a higher level and the game shipped without QA's signature, something that was never supposed to happen.

And less than a month after the game shipped, EA Manchester leaked the cheat codes to the gaming press.

The final sting was that even though we hadn't signed off on the game, Electronic Arts considered us at Origin Tech Support responsible for supporting the game - and the game still had significant problems that required several workarounds and finally a patch (this was back when patches on games were a lot rarer than they are now). We were not allowed to tell customers then that we had found the same gameplay problems they were; we simply had to bite our lips and give them whatever help we could.

The worst part of this experience was that the game had such potential. Even though the plot movies were poorly acted and made little sense, the player could have ignored those and gone off on his own to become rich and powerful through trade and bounty hunting...if any of that had worked either. We gave EA Manchester everything they needed to make the game superior, and they refused to.

If I become a producer and a group of incredibly devoted guys who play games for a living ever tells me that my game is no fun to play and offers to help me fix it, I'm going to listen.

Making the Game - Part 58

This is the last Component Manager Meeting agenda in the collection - and also the last dated Wing Commander Prophecy document, so we'll be moving on to some different things in the next few days. The game is approaching beta and will soon be displayed at ECTS. This is where our memories pick up: next comes the briefest screenshots in magazines, the video interview with the team, the original web site, the Universe Map posting and then the 3Dfx demo.

Component Manager Meeting Agenda
Download (2.2 MB)

Date: August 15, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 5

You Can Go Homeworld Again

Remember the excellent Wing Commander IV mod for Homeworld 2? Well, after a long absense Aaron is back with an update!:
Hello all fans of the WC4 HW2 mod! I am sorry for not responding to many people who have praised and supported as well as added valuable feedback about the mod. I do feel sad that i have lost touch with this project over the last 6 months and I am sure many must be cursing me for having shelved it for so long, but rest assured this is only temporary. Some work has already been done several months ago towards incorporating the Kilrathi and an alternate version of Confed ships with WC3 markings/colours. But I have genuinely been very busy at work and not been able to follow up with the mod much. I hope to pick up the reigns again in August, I am also dwelling over another entirely new fan project, this time using the Star Trek Legacy engine for WC ships. This engine has more scope than the HW2 engine for ship details and such, plus the gameplay would be interesting. But for now I ask for your patience and thank you all for your support. I will let everyone know the instant I am fully back on the mod.
I hope we see the Kilrathi soon - he really did an excellent job with the other factions.

Making the Game - Part 57

Today we present you with the penultimate Component Manager Meeting agenda. August 8, 1997 sees all sorts of decisions that we're all ready familiar with - can color comms fit? How many CDs will the game ship on? and so forth. Most interestingly we also see Privateer 3 in development at this point. Tune in tomorrow when our 'timeline' approach to these documents ends... and prepare to start looking at some cool undated material!

Component Manager Meeting Agenda
Download (2.3 MB)

Date: August 8, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 6

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