THE SPORE, EAT THE SPORE

How is a galactic penis monster like a tricked-out Centurion fighter? On second thought, don't answer that question... or even think about it. Nevertheless, 1Up has a review of Spore which suggests just that comparison:
This era-spanning scope allows for Spore to feel like a different game at any particular moment, depending on what stage you're in. To use the language of other games, the Cell stage resembles flOw (but with more purpose); the Creature stage feels like a mashup of World of WarCraft, The Sims, and, er, Simon Says; the Tribal stage plays like an elementary real-time strategy game; the Civilization stage is sort of like a real-time version of, well, Civilization; and finally, the Space stage makes me feel like I'm in a hybrid of Master of Orion and Wing Commander: Privateer...

...Heck, the previous four stages almost feel like extended tutorials for the Space segment; I breezed through the pre-Space stuff in about four hours, but the Space portion easily takes up 10 hours on its own. The "story" becomes more pronounced (you zip out into space to investigate some big, bad aliens), and you suddenly find yourself dealing with a lot of stuff, such as terraforming planets, establishing colonies, maintaining diplomatic relations with multiple empires, and setting up a steady economy. Even though you only pilot a single ship (you can create a fleet via alliances with other alien empires), at any moment, you might be zapping at pirates, transplanting flora and fauna from one planet to another, selling and trading materials like some sort of space haberdasher, or (literally) painting the sky blue. Then again, perhaps it's some sort of meta-commentary that sustaining a species in space is much, much more complicated than making sure a tribe of yokels has food for the night.

Making the Games: Odds and Ends

Today we finish the first disc of Captain Johnny's latest contribution to Wing Commander history -- but don't worry, there's a huge second set of images and documents which we will begin presenting tomorrow! For now we have several odds and ends -- two unidentified sketches and a Wing Commander IV promotional image. I have no idea where the sketches come from (there's no good context in their original file structure), save that it clearly features human skeletons and a Kilrathi base of some kind. There's a 'Privateer' feel to this. The third image, a promotional rendering from Wing Commander IV, can act as a preview for something coming in future months - one item we've recently recovered from the Mythic data is high resolution versions of several of the beautiful 'magazine cover' WC4 renderings.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Wing Commander 3 Fandub?

I'll be honest: I don't quite know what this is! RedPhoenix recently sent us this email:
I'm a great fan of the WC-series and I also visit your webpage many times. I wanted to show you a Fandub from a scene of Wing Commander III - Heart of the Tiger, which I made with a friend of mine together. Only one problem is that you won't understand it, because it is in German.

But I still want to give it to you as little present for your anniversary.

Congratulations and have fun with the clip!

Here is the link to the fandub: here

With nice greetings, RedPhoenix

Since I don't speak German I don't know... is it funny? Serious? What? A kind submission, regardless!

Making the Games: Wing Commander IV Capital Ships

Yesterday we showed you eleven Wing Commander IV 'action pose' ship images. They were used by the official site and the Official Guide back in 1995-6... but what both of those products lacked were any imagery of the game's other ships. Carriers, destroyers, bases, transports and the like were all left out. Until now! These eleven images were apparently rendered for the same purpose, but never used. This is the first time anyone outside of Origin has had such a close-up view of the amazing high resolution models created for The Price of Freedom!

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Space Sim First Look: Smugglers IV

Is it a smuggler far off the normal space lanes? Wing Commander fans may remember Smugglers II and III from some years ago -- addictive 4X space games set in a Wing Commander-style world. Well, now there's another one! Lead developer Niels Bauer says:
Smugglers 4 is a turn-based science-fiction space-trading game. You have the option to be a greedy trader, an ambitious bounty hunter, a ruthless pirate, or a multitude of the many professions that the game has to offer. Through trading, fulfilling missions, or pirating, you earn the money and skills necessary to buy new ships and upgrade your equipment. Additionally, you'll have to manage a crew, board & plunder enemy ships, and even conquer star systems.

The game offers an open-ended gameplay where the opportunities are virtually limitless, and your actions will ultimately have an impact on the galactic scale.

You can learn more (and try the demo) at the official site.

Making the Games: Wing Commander IV Fighters

Back in 1996, Origin's Wing Commander IV website was all the rage, for one good reason: unlike the game's manual, it had complete specifications for every fighter -- and with those specifications was a beautiful 'action' shot of each ship. These images (which also appear in the Official Guide) were copied and pasted from Geocities to Xoom back in the day, but are fairly difficult to find today. Captain Johnny's treasure does us one better: higher-than-ever-before resolution images of these same pictures, allowing you to examine the beautiful textures developed for Wing Commander IV. Unfortunately, three are missing - the Banshee, Lance and Dralthi. Did anyone save the web versions? To make up for this, though, you'll see two versions you haven't seen before: alternate paint schemes for the Arrow and the Thunderbolt (Confederation and Pirate, respectively)!

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Jumpgate Still Evolving

As anyone following modern space sims knows, JumpGate is getting ready for a massive overhaul -- and has been for quite a while. It's one of those make-food-taste-good-again upgrades that hopefully won't follow in the footsteps of Ultima Online 3D and the 'improved' Star Wars Galaxies experience. How do we know it won't? Because they're thinking about Wing Commander, if recent interviews are any indication! Producer Hermann Peterscheck with Warcry Network:
Q: Explain the "twitch-based" combat system.
A: Well it's similar to prior games that have had twitch based space combat. Games like Freelancer, Privateer, Wing Commander and so on. It's really more of a "fly the ship like in the movies" kind of approach.
Co-Owner Scott Brown with PALGN:
PALGN: Now for those who don't know much about Jumpgate Evolution and haven't been following it, can you give us a thirty second rundown of what the game is?
SB: Sure, Jumpgate Evolution is basically the idea of taking all of the fun of the old space flight sims that were out there - Wing Commander, Privateer, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, you know Elite kinds of games and bringing it online.

PALGN: Are you aiming at people who have not played the original Wing Commanders or are you really going for the old school crowd, or a bit of both?
SB: I'd say it's both. Our primary target for this game is people who are fans of space sims, that's really who we think the game is ideally geared towards. But what we're hoping is, is that it's approachable enough that people who wanted to try those or think this might be something fun, will find some interest in it as well.

Making the Games: Wing Commander IV Sketches

Today we have more behind-the-screens material from Wing Commander IV: six early sketches of the game's various spacecraft. These are really cool - a length for the Black Lance transport, a more streamlined Dragon... a Bearcat with a different name ("Cougar")! In order, they are: Avenger bomber, Banshee light fighter, Black Lance transport, Bearcat, Lance (Dragon) and Durango (BWS Intrepid).

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Klavs' Cat Caravan

Klavs81 has even more 3D models for everyone! After his triumphant collection of Wing Commander II fighters he has put together intricately detailed versions of the H'var Kann-class dreadnaught and the Dralthi Mk. VII! These ships were all created for the Wing Commander Saga FreeSpace 2 mod and are now available for fans to play with. Pack two is available for download in 3DS format here (14 MB). Klavs has also re-released pack one converted to 3DS format - it's available here (28 MB). He says:
I hope everybody enjoys these, the energy and creativity of the WC Fan community is really inspiring when it gets even a little something to play with, so enjoy.

You can probably still look forward to seeing some of these ships up close (scarily close, and 2200 KM long, for some of them...) In WCSAGA, those guys are absolutely working their butts off to bring the WC community an amazing story and game, you will NOT be disappointed.

They're probably a little miffed at me for releasing these, but I'm just so proud of the models, I couldn't keep them in anymore, I like to share, and I love to see what other people can do with them.

These will be the last for a while, so enjoy them, and I want to see what you guys do with them! Post your stuff!

Making the Games: Missiles

Moving away from Wing Commander Online concept art, today's download goes all the way back to 1995! The images you see below are renderings of all of Wing Commander IV's missile weapons. They appeared in smaller format at Origin's Wing Commander IV website and in print in Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander IV. Now you can study them in their full-resolution glory! Note the sheer amount of detail applied to the texture of each of these weapons - like the orange and black caution warnings on the Mace! In order, they are: Dumb Fire, Friend or Foe, Image Recognition, Heat Seeker ("Infrared"), Leech, Mace, Mine, Starburst and Torpedo.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Middle Excalibur

Remember that early, wingless Excalibur which TonViper had just begun to build back in August? It's shaping up nicely -- complete with a spiffy new coat of paint! Check it out:

Making the Games: The Shadow Force - Mercenaries

This is the thirteenth set of Feng Zhu concept artwork pieces. Unlike the previous sets, the origin of these is clear: they are the characters developed for Wing Commander: Shadow Force, an aborted follow-up to Secret Ops. This second half of the cast seems to consist of merecnaries, privateers and other shady characters. They're a bit more varied than the Confederation crew... and occasionally a good bit sexier.

Wingnuts Ring Up Freedom

Fans who are participating in the Wing Commander Community Replay have reached another milestone. This week they are completing Wing Commander 4: The Price of Freedom. Adventures in the Talos and Sol Systems conclude today with the dramatic debate on the floor of the Confederation Senate. Here's Lorien again with the story.
After I land, Captain Eisen comes on the comm and confirms my fears. Admiral Tolwyn has given us the slip and is on his way to the Senate's Grand Assembly. Our only hope now is for me to follow after him as quickly as possible and explain what I've seen of his operations to the Senate first-hand. To get there, though, I'll have to punch a hole through Earth's defenses, though the cloaking device will help me with that.

The first round of these defenses is a fight that I've been looking forward to. Seether challenges me to a one on one battle, using his usual mine track to get the drop on my rear. He's good, much better than the other Black Lance pilots, but still easily goaded into an attack. I simply have to give him a shot and he'll decloak and take it, no matter how easily I can counter. I ding up his nose with my guns using this tactic until he makes a mistake and decloacks too close. He fires a missile to try to force me away but I drop a decoy and afterburn over the top if it's sensor, locking on two IR missiles. He manages to decoy the first one out of the way and is in the middle of cloaking when the second missile impacts on his rear and tears the superman apart. The fight over earth is anti-climatic with only a few Arrows with uprated sensors challenging my cloaked approach towards earth.

I manage to make it on the Assembly floor just as Tolwyn concludes his speech urging war with the Border Worlds. If I'm to change their minds I need to act now. I quickly intervene and shout out that Tolwyn is the guilty party. Tolwyn has me seized by the guards but Paladin at least grants me a chance to speak. Tolwyn lays a trap for me, asking if I really think the senate is ignorant so I decide to go on the offensive and state they've been duped by a charade perpetrated by Tolwyn. The strong lanaguage should get them out of their naps.

I follow that up with a direct confrontation with Tolwyn on his involvement with our current state of affairs. He maintains that he is only attempting to maintain law and order, so I ask him what cost the control has. He insults my integrity and I can feel the Senators slipping away so I get straight to the cut of the attack and ask Tolwyn about the Black Lance forces. I nail down some of the details about the Black Lance forces before Tolwyn slips up and gives me an opportunity.

Seizing the moment, I instantly ask Tolwyn if the Gen-Select bioweapon was part of the equipment used by the Black Lance. The Senate has never approved of bioweapons and the accusation gets their attention, particularly when I detail the particular effects of this weapon. Now that I've got some traction, it's time to keep it going by telling the senate about Seether's heritage from the G.E program. Not only does it reveal more of Tolwyn's motives but the news that Seether is dead clearly knocks the Admiral a bit.

With this momentum going I decide to reveal all I know of Tolwyn's plans to the Assembly, including the ghastly plot to eliminate the undesirable elements of society with bioweapons. The attack combined with Seether's death has left Tolwyn off-guard and he tries to defend himself but trips up and starts to fall into talk of how to improve our methods of killing. It's only when Paladin rests his hand on Tolwyn's shoulder and says they've heard enough that Tolwyn seems to realise what he's done. Paladin calls for a vote and I stand there and watch the No's tally up. I'm still completely out of it when Paladin declares that there will be no war with the Border Worlds and several senators approach to congratulate me. It's been a hell of a day.


Making the Games: The Shadow Force - Confederation

This is the twelfth set of Feng Zhu concept artwork pieces. Unlike the previous sets, the origin of these is clear: they are the characters developed for Wing Commander: Shadow Force, an aborted follow-up to Secret Ops. The first half of the cast are Confederation officers -- note the dynamic new uniforms, which give the old converted garbage-man outfits a run for their money.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Space Sim Still Look: Elite IV

Fred was kind enough to email us news that Elite IV is (finally) on the way, according to an interview posted at Develop. Series creator David Braben says that the technology behind the game is almost finished - meaning that world building can begin in earnest. There's no need to reference Wing Commander on this one - Elite is the grandfather of all space sims, preceding Wing Commander (and more importantly, Privateer) by many years.

Making the Games: Kilrathi in Action

This is the eleventh set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. This is the third and final 'action' set, showing what four different Kilrathi designs could look like in an actual game. From left to right: a cruiser, a fighter, a freighter and a 'multirole' design.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Flight Commander Suffers Damage, Comes Out Shining

What's going on with Flight Commander? Plenty! Eddieb says: "Work on FC 1.6 is coming along. I've implemented damage reports, and the damage model. If you get shot up, your ship's performance starts to degrade. You lose missiles, you slow down, you can't afterburn. Your trusty repair system helps get you back on your feet. While I was at it, I cleaned up the hud a little bit too." And you can see that updated HUD here:

Very pretty -- it's amazing how much talent and skill has gone into this 'under the radar' fan project. You should give Flight Commander a spin today!

Making the Games: Confederation in Action

This is the tenth set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. This set of 'action' concept art is designed to show what Zhu's new Confederation designs might look like in the game itself. From left to right: a cruiser, a fighter and a freighter.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

The Best News

Everyone here at the CIC is extremely happy to share this with you all today - Hannah Elizabeth Strevell was born today, October 22, at 4:04 pm EST. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 15 ounces. ace and Blonde have been part of our family here for as long as I can remember, and we'd all like to congratulate them on the new addition to their family today. Congratulations!

Making the Games: Border Worlds in Action

This is the ninth set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. Over the last week we've seen some impressive space ships -- strange Confederation fighters, classic Kilrathi designs, massive freighters, deadly cruisers... now what's the next step? Put them all together and see what they look like in action! Today we see what a Border Worlds fighter might have looked like in the living, breathing Wing Commander world.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

My God, It's Full of Cats

Are you tired of Spore yet? That publicity campaign was hard on all of us -- but it turns out that the amazing Sporepedia is actually fairly amazing. Case in point -- there are Kilrathi everywhere! Some 326 at the time of this writing which you can study here. They range from truly outstanding to truly what-the-heck-is-thatish. Some samples:

Protip: To see even more Kilrathi, just search for 'Kzin'...

Making the Games: Miscellaneous

This is the eighth set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. What we have here is one tough little image that didn't fit anywhere else -- it's not a blueprint, it's not a categorized concept sketch... it's just: something. In fact, that's all we can say, since it isn't labeled, either. More Confederation fighters? Multi-roles? Another elaborate freighter cargo storage system?

A personal note: when I visited Origin back in October, 1998 these Feng Zhu pieces were arranged in a huge grid on a wall. Mike "Boomer" McCoy proudly showed them to me, but barred me from taking any pictures (not that my protoplasmic digital camera would have resolved enough detail in the first place...). He said that his favorite was of a medical ship designed for Wing Commander Online -- if it exists, we haven't seen it yet! Still, it's absolutely amazing that this artwork which I assumed lost forever, could appear once again.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Mac Mirror Made

Users looking to find the Wing Commander Saga Macintosh port recently were out of luck -- the worldwide mirrors disappeared for reasons unknown! Luckily, the Saga team was able to send us a copy to post... so anyone who swings that way can pick up a Mac copy of the Saga prologue here (274.9MB, DMG).

Making the Games: Blueprints

This is the seventh set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. This fleet of ships runs the gamut, including Border Worlds designs of all types and even more Kilrathi freighters and multi-role ships. The Border World ships are interesting, with effort clearly being made to give them a separate and possibly non-human design aesthetic... the Kilrathi ships are classics, though, and could be placed anywhere in the Wing Commander universe.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Dark Horizon Reviewed

Recent space sim Dark Horizon is here and hitting the review circuit. Naturally, certain comparisons will be made! Unfortunately, it sounds like they aren't entirely positive. GameZine.co.uk says:
A long time ago, this old timer loved to play Wing Commander and games of its ilk, even though the third one crippled his system and forced an upgrade.

Still, they were great days when men were men (with silly nicknames) and big cat people offered the greatest threat to mankind since the last one.

Those halcyon times are long past, with the poisonous influence of the diabolical Wing Commander movie having potentially snuffed out the series for good.

Then there came Dark Horizon (DH), a new space blaster that gladdened the hearts of silly old fools like myself and promised to bring the grandiosity back to the flimsy space combat genre.

Sadly, DH just doesn’t cut it. The whole thing is pretty average all round – nothing really grabs you and draws you into the universe, though it is clear the developer (Quazar) has tried its damnedest to create a fully fleshed out universe and story to get your teeth into...

...It just goes to show how important the cut-scenes in Wing Commander were, when you think about it. They provided an emotional link between the combat and the ongoing narrative.

You did genuinely care whether Iceman or Maniac got killed in a mission, because they were real characters to you, not just a collection of words on a screen.

I digress, though. Dark Horizon has everything you’d want from a space combat game – except a real reason to actually play it. A terrible shame.

411mania.com says:
It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen the last space simulation game. I guess it’s not as popular as it was during the glory days when Wing Commander, Freespace and Privateer first came on the scene. It’s a shame really as the space sim genre has a great amount of untapped potential. When first hearing about Dark Horizons, ironically when it was released as there was no press coverage at all, I had high hopes for the game, but sadly it wasn’t everything I was looking for.
Additionally, GamersHell.com has posted a trailer for the game; they call it "a stark and atmospheric space combat simulation which follows along the same lines of classics like Wing Commander and Freelancer." (And one slight fact check -- because of the massive differences between copies sold to make a hit game and tickets sold to make a hit movie, it's likely far more people saw the Wing Comamnder movie than ever bought the game. Go figure!)

Making the Games: Kilrathi Multi-Role/Freighter

This is the sixth set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. These images' filenames classify them as freighters while their labels identify them as multiroles - supporting the earlier theory that multirole refers to Privateer-style spacecraft. Regardless, this is another set of clearly Kilrathi designs. It's also interesting to note that these ships are dated a month later than the unusual Confederation designs - August, 1998 rather than July (the same month this site went live!).

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Redlime Still Still Out There

It has been eight months since the announcement of Starbreeze's "Project Redlime" and nearly three since we last heard the slightest mention that it was still in the works. Now St3lt3k has found a reminder that that's still the case. He notes that the board admin at the Starbreeze Forums recently responded to a question about the project with a few short words: "Yup, Project Redlime is in production. That is all we can say." So, there you have it: not abandoned. Redlime could be a Wing Commander project... or it could be something entirely unrelated and disappointing. We'll know -- someday.

Making the Games: Kilrathi Fighter

This is the fifth set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. While the human designs were somewhat unusual, the origin of these fighters should be apparent to anyone - they're absolutely classic Kilrathi knife-edge designs. Note that a lower-resolution version of the fighter image which is 'cut off' is available here.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Big Decisions in Community Replay This Week

Vigilant Wingnuts have been busy over the last couple weeks with replays of Circe, Speradon, Telamon, Axius and Ella in progress. Some players have picked up fancy new toys like the Bearcat and Mace Missile. The community replay of Wing Commander 4 will reach the Ella Superbase by Saturday and continue into Sol next week. Here's a little sample of Lorien's adventures in Telamon.
Sosa calls me to the CIC with an urgent message. It's a distress call from planet FT957 in the Telamon system. They're under attack by unmarked ships and people are dying. Admiral Wilford is ordering the Intrepid to investigate the situation. Just because Telamon is a far away system doesn't make them any less important to the Border Worlds. Maniac's late to the mission briefing, which pisses me off a little given the situation. We don't know anything about what's going on in the Telamon system and we need to find out. To achieve that, I'll head out with 2 wingmen and Dekker's shuttle. We're going to head towards the planet and clear out any bad guys along the way. Once we're in orbit, Dekker and I will descend to get a firsthand look at the situation.

The first resistance we encounter are two Arrows making an intercept run. Both are equipped with cloaking devices but Hawk manages to take ou the first before it cloaks with a missile. The second fighter takes longer, but 3 on 1 odds means that the Arrow is chewed up every time it decloaks. Again, Hawk claims a victory in this fight. The second nav point features some other Border Worlds forces that Wilford must have sent through, I'm glad we're not in the unmarked death ships. Finally, it's time for Hawk and Panther to veer off and Dekker and I to descend to the planet. Halfway down, though, two Dragons attempt an intercept. The first one takes a missile to the rear to protect Dekkar and I take my time with the second, making sure it doesn't get near the shuttle. The Dragons are such huge targets that once you get behind them you can't miss.

Landing on the planet, we're confronted by several men with guns. I tell them that we're from the Border Worlds and have been sent by Admiral Wilford but they tells us we're too late. As they lead us into a shelter they explain that bombs were dropped on the colony, confusing me as the colony looked intact on our approach. A local doctor explains that it wasn't explosives they were dropping but bioweapons. Dekker points out the obvious, that we're still breathing and the doctor asks what I know about bioconvergence. I don't know much so he explains. He thinks the attackers dispersed billions of nanobots into the atmosphere. These nanobots are programmed to get into a human body and do a comparison of your DNA against some preset parameters. If they don't like what they find they cause your cells to stop replicating and start attacking each other. The body he shows me to demonstrate the results in particularly gruesome, though Dekkar doesn't flinch. I wonder what he must have seen during his career to let him stay normal in the face of that.

The doctor reports that the unmarked ships come out of nowhere and dropped canisters all over the colony. He hands me a cylinder marked with all sorts of biohazard symbols and I ask how many people were effected. The doctor's reply is terrifying, 90% of the colony has been killed. Dekker pulls me aside to tell me that this planet is now what he calls a ghost planet. If the people aren't cleared out soon, they'll start killing themselves in depression. I promise the doctor that Admiral Wilford will get a full report and take the appropriate action. I'm as glad as Dekker that the Kilrathi didn't figure this weapon out.


Making the Games: Confederation Multi-Role

This is the fourth set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. These are labeled as "multi-roles", which creates more questions than answers. Thanks to the convenient scales they seem to be larger than fighters - but not by much. Could they be Privateer-style civilian warcraft? They do seem to be heavily armed!

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Wings Over Second Life

Some time ago, Vasator found a Yorktown-class carrier floating around in Second Life. Next, he found (and purchased) a Black Lance fighter (pictured below). Well, then he was inspired -- to build his own fleet of fighters! Check out scratch-built collection of Second Life Wing Commander III ships!

More pictures are available in this thread.

Making the Games: Confederation Freighter

This is the third set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. Like yesterday's fighters, these transports are unlike any seen before - several are built 'vertically' in an entirely unexpected manner. Note the attention to detail, including the artwork explaining how containers are stored in the first image!

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Making the Games: Confederation Fighter

This is the second set of Feng Zhu "concept" ships, commissioned for an unspecified Wing Commander title following the release of Secret Ops. These Confederation fighters are unlike any seen in other games, although they may have been derived from the 'rotating parts' concept seen in Wing Commander Prophecy's Panther and Vampire. Their apparent modularity suggests that they may have been for Wing Commander Online - although we will see some other Feng Zhu artwork which clearly belongs to Shadow Force in the coming days.

Thanks to Captain Johnny for both archiving and providing this material!

Spector (Formerly) of the Gun

Casualgaming.biz has more happy press for Warren Spector, the celebrated world-builder who helped bring the original Wing Commander to life. The big news is something that anyone might have been able to predict when he joined Disney's game development initiative -- that his next project is a family friendly "casual" title. Casualgaming.biz is quick to remind us that "... Spector has worked on classic hardcore series such as Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock and Thief." Hardcore! Remember when games were fun instead of serious buisness?

Brickrolled

We're a bit late in posting this, but Death Angel created an awesome new Lego Commander image in celebration of our tenth anniversary back on August 10th. It features Angel, Blair and Paladin as minifigs... with a sky full of Hornets!

Making the Games: Confederation Cruiser

Our next series of daily updates features a treasure trove of Wing Commander artifacts from former designer John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel. Johnny worked on Privateer 2, Wing Commander Prophecy and Secret Ops... along with several of the final projects attempted by the original Maverick team. More importantly, he has always been incredibly kind to Wing Commander fans - and for these updates he has dug up two CDs filled with amazing images, documents and data from his years at Origin. You'll see new images, documents and data from familiar games... as well as stunning material from projects sadly cancelled before their time. We will begin the series with several updates of unreleased artwork...

Following the release of Secret Ops in mid-1998, the development team at Origin put serious work into at least three projects which were ultimately cancelled: Strike Team, Shadow Force and Wing Commander Online. Since there was a good amount of overlap, it is unclear which project most of these ships were first designed for. What is known is their artist: Feng Zhu, who has since made a name for himself as a world-class concept designer. Today's update features several takes on a Confederation cruiser drawn in July, 1998:

You Want To Buy An Alt-133? I'm Telling You, You Do!

First 0.4 then 0.4.1... now 0.4.4! The astounding Privateer: Ascii Sector is on an updating rampage! Chris Knudsen has made the following changes:
  • Fixed bug with captives counting against your passenger space.
  • Fixed bug when calculating the payment for "Join Convoy" missions.
  • Asteroid fields now gradually thin out as you reach the edge.
  • You will now be able to enter autopilot if there are enemy ships nearby, but they aren't attacking you.
  • When escorting a ship, you can now order it to engage hostiles.
  • Miscellaneous minor changes and fixes to escort/convoy missions.
  • When escorting a ship to a docking, the ship to dock with will now engage hostiles instead of just sitting there.
  • During ground combat, innocent bystanders will now move away from the combatants.
  • Missions are now sorted in the order they're accepted (first to last).
  • Your risk of being scanned at a nav point is now based on: your confed and militia standing, how often you've been caught smuggling in the past, how controlled the nav point is by confeds and militia, and whether or not you've just attacked or destroyed any pirates, retros or Kilrathi at that nav point.
I hate to say it, but some parts of this game's design are more complex than the real Privateer! The updated version is available for download here

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 62

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the wanted page:
CONCEPT: This is the end! Also, the beginning. The Privateer 'wanted poster' was one of the first things that popped into my head. It was included in the original eight-page mockup of the manual (with the travel guide and the like). This is just a fun-as-hell visit to Privateer that works better than it should. Thank you all for reading and indulging me in all this, I hope you found something you enjoyed. Please post any questions to the chat zone and we will do a Q&A followup update in a few days. I hope to put all this text together, clean it up and offer it as a single document for whatever tiny portion of posterity needs such things.

REFERENCES-

  • "Grayson Burrows" - This is one of several names given to 'Brownhair' in press materials. It's probably the most official, since it appeared in a press release (albeit a press release for 'Trade Commander').
  • The picture! I'm so proud of this - we had neither the time nor the budget to make our own older-Brownhair image... luckily, Origin dit it for us! This is a scan of character artwork done earlier in the development of Privateer. They decreased his age and mean-quotient for the finished project but left behind the grizzled version for the year 2701.
  • "MURDER AND PIRACY ON THE SPACELANES" - Several people were offended that I made Brownhair into some kind of remorseless killer. No! The point of this page is that he's found himself in trouble again - not that he's actually guilty of these crimes (and remember that you have to commit both murder and piracy just to get through the original Privateer...).
  • "Hair: Brown" - Well, obviously! ('Brownhair' was the fan name for the character, since he had no official moniker in the game itself. Much credit goes to the rewritten dialogue in the talkie version... which manages to call him 'Captain' wherever the player name would have been in the original, without anyone picking up on the change.)
  • "Confederate" - Wing Commander I used 'Confederate' several times; other games use it less and less. It fits the frontier feel I'm going for here, I think.
  • "2670 model Centurion" - That's my ship -- our ship! Best 200,000 credits we ever spent.
  • "green cannon" - I've heard this cited as a mistake in the manual. No! Intentional! I'm a romantic at heart and I really, really want to believe that Brownhair got his Steltek Gun back at some point. I'm sure many recall the ending of Righteous Fire being extremely frustrating for exactly this reason.
  • "Aaron Burton" - Burton was the other name used for the character early in development; this one was never published.
  • Flag - That's the black-and-white version of the Confederation flag as seen
  • "Epsilon Prime Sheriff" - One, Brownhair is flying in the Arena area! Two, I like the idea of there being space sheriffs.

Richard Garriott Living the Dream

After a year of rigorous training, Origin founder Richard Garriott has made his way to space! He launched aboard a Soyuz from Kazakhstan with one NASA astronaut and one Russian cosmonaut bound for the International Space Station. RichardInSpace.com has footage of the launch and links to upcoming live feeds of ISS docking and hatch opening, which will occur shortly. Over the course of about ten days, he will participate in a number of scientific and commercial experiments, including wearing the Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk watch. Sounds like he'll have a blast.
“Today, my dream of following in my father’s footsteps to explore new frontiers is being realized,” said Richard Garriott. "Throughout my life, my sense of adventure has taken me to the ends of the Earth to embark on journeys few people have encountered. It’s with honor and appreciation that I launch on my greatest adventure yet, and step into a role assumed by only five private individuals before me." Garriott continued, "I’ve dedicated this flight to not only scientific and environmental research, but also educational outreach. I’m thrilled to be able to excite students throughout the world and demonstrate how far our dreams can take us.”

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 61

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the second controller page:
CONCEPT: See the previous post!

REFERENCES-

  • I found this page inordinately frustrating; describing how to use Xbox controller buttons is not my idea of a good time. We had 'button combo' graphics at one point, but they didn't come across well.
  • The graphic is one of the pre-release screenshots. I had wanted to make a separate line-drawing version with little numbers for each screen area like you find in old National Geographic panoramas... but it didn't fit (I think we did a proof-of-concept demo).

Thus Spoke... Lightspeed?

Madman has found something truly bizarre in his travels: a Wing Commander Academy 'speech pack' patch... that wasn't made by HCl. It even includes an Origin-style installer - what is going on here? No professional speech pack was ever released for the game... so where did this come from? You can download a copy here (742kb ZIP) and study it yourself.

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 60

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the first controller page:
CONCEPT: There isn't much to asy here: these were a late addition to the manual (which allowed some last-minute expansion of the timeline). They're the only pages requested by Electronic Arts - my guess is that they saw the next-to-last draft, decided it was cool and then wanted something regular players could understand. They may seem out of place, but they're probably what ultimately allowed for the booklet's print run!

REFERENCES-

  • The Confederation symbol in the background is a nod to the Kilrathi Saga's beautiful multi-game input reference card.
  • You may have noticed that both the Wing Commander Arena and Xbox graphics are kind of crummy. We had to put these pages together fast and didn't have time to go through the motions to access official graphics... the controller is taken from Xbox.com and the Arena graphic is from the EPK. Note the thick black lines around the buttons to disguise how crummy their edges look.

Saga Translated

The Wing Commander Saga team has good news for German-speaking users -- a group named Mind Crusher Studios has done a complete set of high quality translated voiceovers for the German release of the project! Back in the 1990s Origin realized how important fast, quality localization in French and German was for Wign Commander titles - it's great to see fans taking the same road today. A video sample of the new dub is available here (49MB AVI).

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 59

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the recruitment page:
CONCEPT: This page was something I always wanted to see but done on the cheap. I'd love to see a beautiful painted World War 2 style recruiting poster someday... but, time and budget. Although those are near and dear to my heart, this is actually based on a more modern army advertisement -- those "look what a great time soldiers have!" sort of things. I don't think it needs much discussion -- it has all the cliches: see the galaxy, serve your country, etc.

REFERENCES-

  • The image is a piece of Privateer 3-turned-Privateer Online concept art. It actually shows a Border Worlds fighter attacking a freighter... but I fudged the description a bit (I kept the fighter name, though!). I don't know if anyone remembers, but the image element of the freighter was the first thing from Privateer 3 we ever saw... way back in 1995. It appeared online as a result of some 3D rendering conference and was labeled 'Origin Systems'.
  • "Goddard System" - Goddard was home to the planet destroyed by the Sivar weapon in The Secret Missions.
  • "419th Fighter Wing" - Part of my 'higher numbers please' concept for fighter organization - also, WCNews.com's LOAF's birthday!
  • "Stelkta" - Stelkta was Goddard's moon and home to the berths which launched the TCS Lexington in Wing Commander Armada. I chose both it and Goddard for this vingette because there was an elaborately included moon in the reused concept art.
  • "Crusader" - The Crusader was a Border Worlds design for Privateer Online. I didn't want to contradict the concept art (which, honestly, wasn't originally supposed to be a Crusader - it was repurposed from a previous project by the Privateer Online team for their pitch to EA) so I just kept that name. After all, there are American squadrons that fly British Harriers...
  • "Landreich probe" - I took the idea of defining a freighter as a probe from Wing Commander IV. There's no actual war between these powers, but relations must be frosty. They did come into open conflict some years back, though, as explained in the timeline section (a story Andrew Keith never got to tell).
  • "country" - I really like the idea of referring to the Confederation as one's country. It's something these giant space Federation settings rarely do.
  • "citizenship" - Honestly not a StarShip Troopers reference -- more of a French Foreign Legion sort of a thing because I liked the idea that there were now Kilrathi serving with the Confederation military. It's a changing galaxy...
  • "holodisc action scenario" - Oooh, metagame. Will the Space Force send you a copy of Wing Commander? (Largely a reference to that United States Army recruiting game from a few years back... but also a nod to the fact that Wing Commander I & II are actual games in the Wing Commander universe, per the Ultimate Strategy Guide.
  • "Vega and Epsilon" - This was added at the request of the Producer, who didn't want to imply that the Confederation had any control over the area seen in Arena. I thought about cutting the whole ad, but it was something I wanted to see too much to do that.
  • "Long Live the Confederation" - The 'corny' expression from Action Stations, akin to "God bless America".

From Mass Drivers to Mass Effects

According to stories at Gamasutra and Gamespot, the folks at Bioware recently name-dropped Wing Commander in a recent speech at the AGDC 2008 conference in Austin, Texas (Wing Commander's birthplace). The subject was influences on Mass Effect and its style of cinematic storytelling.

Gamasutra:

Next was "The Renaissance," with titles in the early '90s such as Wing Commander and Rebel Assault making things a "fantastically exciting time", as Walters put it. Marino noted some of the key games later in the '90s, including the "watershed moment" of Half-Life, with 3D characters interacting and speaking to the player in real-time.
Gamespot:
Another World and other games like it gave rise to the early-'90s Renaissance period, in which designers began to scale back the text and convey more through technology. Examples of games that took advantage of these techniques include such classics as Myst, Wing Commander, and Rebel Assault. As Walters noted, the industry was both imitating and innovating during this period--taking sensibilities from the film world and riffing their own creations for what works well in interactive properties. Valve's Half-Life was another "watershed moment" for cinematic design, noted Walters.
It is also worth noting that Bioware is now part of the Electronic Arts family... and that their Austin-based team includes Wing Commander veterans! Chris Roberts once said he hoped Wing Commander would be looked on to future interactive movies as 'The Jazz Singer' is to talking movies today... and maybe that's what's happening here.

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 58

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the back issues page:
CONCEPT: Another late addition - simply the result of thinking 'what else do magazines have...' in order to fill an empty page. Note that each of the previous issues corresponds to the date of a 'main' Wing Commander game!

REFERENCES-

  • "Next Month" - I should be clear about this - there was never going to be a 'next month'; this is all to sell the illusion. I did start a second project that went out with the DLC - a 'full' Joan's Fighting Ships book. It would have had all the classic designs, all the ones mentioned in passing, others to fill out the gaps... and, especially, the new ships added to the game. I experimented with doing line drawings of ships, wrote some copy and... that was that.
  • "Joan's Fighting Ships, Vega Sector Update" - A nod to the original Claw Marks, which featured a 2654 Vega Sector Update way back when. I like the idea that each Star*Soldier focuses on a different region of space.
  • "Fury... Warrax" - I wanted to make canon the various Privateer 3 designs/names (note the 'II' added to the Hurricane, because of Action Stations).
  • "Ghosts of the Vacuum" - From the movie 'Ghosts of the Abyss' (... which I actually didn't like at all). The real focus here is (finally) making the 'Jutland' name official.
  • "Ghorah Khar to Vukar Tag" - We actually don't see a Jutland at Ghorah Khar, so that's a story for someone else. Vukar Tag references the TCS Gettysburg, which was the original Jutland-class ship. The name/design was created to explain why the Gettysburg was more like a carrier than a cruiser.
  • "TCS Philippine Sea" - Simply another naval battle.
  • "Looking Back, Part II" - I know, this is the part of the timeline you actually wanted to see.
  • "Burning Battle" - I'm going to get in trouble for telling this one. When Gaia was first tasked with coming up with the backstory for Arena they came back with something... genuinely strange. It centered around the odd belief that the war with the Kilrathi had ended in the "burning battle", whatever that is. It had no mention of... anything else in the existing Wing Commander continuity. I was asked what I thought of it and I kind of gritted my teeth and said gosh, that's great for a first true, but...! Well, here's the second half: EA asked them to try again and within a day there was a new pitch which was so full of continuity that you couldn't believe it -- it had Vance Richards and Stiletto and all sorts of classic ships. It was clear that somebody immediately sat down and played the games and read the novels in a matter of hours (and you never got to see any of that!).
  • "Interview With a Vampire" - Hah-hah. See, the F-109 is the Vampire, I consciously avoided mentioning that in the b... eh, you get it.
  • "Lieutenant Colonel Jean Talvert" - That's Stiletto from Wing Commander Prophecy. I guess she hasn't quite made Wing Commander yet...
  • "Laser Bolts vs. Ammunition" - Just another wink at a continuity issue - when are Marines supposed to use energy weapons and when are they supposed to use projectiles?
  • "April 2654" - Wing Commander I!
  • "Gilkarg" - Prince Thrakhath's father, as named in the Kilrathi Saga manual (and Action Stations).
  • "failed push for Earth" - That's the Wing Commander movie! See, in two sentences I connected it to the events of Wing Commander I...
  • "April 2665" - Wing Commander II!
  • "Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma" - Because those systems are in the Enimga Sector! Get it? Get it? Aww.
  • "plants" - Ooops, typo. Should be "plans".
  • "Ghorah Khar, Fiddler's Green and beyond" - I always like looking at the greater campaign from a viewpoint other than the carrier you're serving at in the game. The stories made this less and less easy as time went on, with Blair ultimately becoming the center of the universe in Wing Commander IV. In this case, the rest of the galaxy is watching Thrakhath attack Ghorah Khar and other systems... and not all the intrigue aboard the Concordia (whereas to the player, the strike on Fiddler's Green was just a single mention).
  • "October 2669" - Wing Commander III!
  • "PEACE IN OUR TIME" - The end of the Terran-Kilrathi War! (And a famous Neville Chamberlain quote, to suggest that maybe we haven't seen the last of those space cats).
  • "Also: stunning Steltek discovery" - The events of Privateer, which happen at the same time as Heart of the Tiger.
  • "July 2673" - Wing Commander IV!
  • "War is Good For Business" - This is a Ferengi Rule of Acquisition.
  • "Landreich and other border worlds" - I'm playing with the longtime confusion over just how the Landreich and the systems we see in Wing Commander III are related. Remember, the UBW doesn't exist at this point - so there's no proper noun to use here.
  • "February 2681" - Wing Commander Prophecy!
  • "INSECT INVASION?!" - I think this is exactly how most players felt when they first heard the storyline to Wing Commander Prophecy.
  • "TCS Eisen" - One last nod to the Midway's co-carrier... and Jason Bernard. (Again, perspective: humans at the time know that the Eisen is going into Kilrathi space to intercept the Nephilim... they don't know what happened to Midway!)

+4 HP for Wing Commander

Blitz has an interesting fan project in the early stages of development - a 2D Wing Commander RPG to be creasted using a system patterned after the classic 'Unlimited Adventures' CRPG toolsets. To achieve his goal he's looking for team members who are good with 2D sprites -- or anything else that might be useful (sound, ship graphics, etc.) You can access his site (and contact him) here. He adds: "I know a ground base WC game is different but I am trying to edit/trick the game eng into letting me use fighters to add space combat to it including cap ships."

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 57

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the classifieds page:
CONCEPT: This one should be self-explanatory; many Wing Commander manuals have had short classified sections and they've always been so much fun... so, why not a full page? It increased in size as time went on - it originally shared a page with the Crusader movie advertisement. As I had so much fun writing more and more in-jokes, long overdue facts and nods to fans the Crusader picture became a half page and then a quarter page and then its own separate page.

REFERENCES-

  • "Patriots, the True Terran Militia" - This is mostly a play on the word militia, using it in the modern 'crazy people with guns' sense instead of the 'National Guard in Space' we see in Privateer.
  • "Lancers, Pirates, Kilrathi, Nephilim and others" - Hopefully this comes off as properly crazy, as the wars with all but one of these groups have since ended.
  • "the center must hold" - A variation on Yeats' Second Coming, quoted in Wing Commander IV (things fall apart, the center cannot hold).
  • "filho@circe.government" - Ed Filho, one of the alt.games.wing-commander posters. The fact that this is being organized on Circe (where such a conflict had already been seen in Wing Commander IV) and by a government official of some sort is also telling as to the state of the galaxy.
  • "HELP!" - The idea here (and elsewhere) is to mirror the Privateer mission postings. This one is especially relevant because it describes a mission you can fly in the game itself (sort of).
  • "safety on Circe" - The joke is that Circe probably isn't very safe, given the immediate preceding classified advertisement.
  • "ninja@avalon.government" - Named after NinjaLA, from the online community; he went on to win the Arena art contest with a sketch that was then presented to the team at Gaia. Avalon is a spinward sector (opposite the Terran-Kilrathi border) on the Wing Commander Universe map.
  • "Single Orange Kil" - Admit it, you wanted to see a Kilrathi personal ad. The joke is that it's essentially the same as a human one -- I only regret not being able to use nonsensical abbreviations instead of the actual wording (SOK, LM and so forth).
  • "Wing-Cat" - The term comes from Wing Commander Armada, where you are assigned Danthrax as a wingcat at one point.
  • "Lair Mate" - Term from Wing Commander III, used by Thrakhath to describe Angel and Blair's relationship.
  • "blood-feud against Qarg" - Even here we have the background Kilrathi conflict developed a slight bit -- the Som'mers must be fighting the Qarg.
  • "Maxims of Xag" - Bits of quoted wisdom, as seen throughout Action Stations.
  • "Sivar" - Kilrathi God(dess) of War introduced in The Secret Missions.
  • "no hairlesses" - Another jab at/explanation of those crazy movie Kilrathi (which do have hair, for the record... just not overly much of it).
  • "d'shrill@som'mers.clan" - Here's our obligatory asommers reference! The Som'mers clan was originally referenced in the Kilrathi Saga version of Victory Streak, where Bloodmist inexpicably becomes Bhuk nar Som'mers instead of Bhuk nar Hhallas.
  • "Path to Sivar" - Hey, Kilrathi religion is a scam!
  • "Priestesses" - The key take-away here is that the Priestesses of Sivar (introduced in Secret Missions 2) are still running/benefiting from the Kilrathi situation in 2701. Taking down the Empire didn't really harm the actual puppetmasters... and that seems like it should matter.
  • "DO NOT APPROACH NEPHILIM DERELICTS" - A classic public service announcement, based on the trouble with Nephilim disease being passed around in Wing Commander Secret Ops.
  • "Military Governor Masterson" - This is actually a tribute to a Wing Commander fan and not the librarian from Privateer's Oxford series... but I made the same connection after I wrote it and wasn't entirely sure how I felt. I also think that just the title, Military Governor, is important (it was used in the United States for governors appointed by Congress to run territories... or states in rebellion).
  • "Jetlag corporation" - Jetlag is another Wing Commander fan; his high resolution scans of CCG artwork were a huge help in my work here. This note is another take on a Privateer mission assignment - with the added kicker that it's a reference to Privateer 2! The concept is that the Tri-System has been discovered... but that it's very far away. Think of it as being like the early expeditions to China or the Americas -- we're sending out convoys that can take years and years to reach the new world without being sure of what they'll be able to find or bring back.
  • "Isaac System" - One of the three systems in Privateer 2's Tri-System.
  • "Hopper flights" - Hopper Drives were the technology that preceded jump drives - they're a slower and more dangerous FTL solution... but one that works when no jump lines are available/explored. They were introduced in the Confederation Handbook.
  • "Titan Alloys, Pleasure Borgs and more" - All commodities from Privateer 2's commerce system.
  • "Unexplored region" - Here's teh deal: Origin's canonical FAQ says: 'Privateer 2: The Darkening takes place in an isolated section of the Wing Commander universe. The Tri-System is not currently a part of the Confederation.' Too many people take 'isolated' to mean 'unconnected' -- it doesn't. All I had to do was get the Tri-System far enough away and I could reference the two. Still, I wanted to be especially cautious for the future, hence 'unexplored region'. Privateer 2 itself is still another ninety or so years off.
  • "jbiermann@jetlag.corporation" - That's Jetlag, the fan.
  • "Governor Muprhy" - A nod to Wing Commander artist Sean Murphy, who is great with fans and in actually should not be assassinated by a crazed member of the tourism industry.
  • "Bistango System... ruins" - Per Victory Streak and Wing Commander III, Bistango X (pronounced 'ex' - thanks, Barbara) is home to beautiful ancient ruins (which were attacked by the Kilrathi at one point). Think about various Greek ruins being delcared off-limits when it became clear that tourism was damaging them...
  • "omatta@watchmaker.corporation" - Octavio Motta aka Delance from alt.games.wing-commander. 'Watchmaker' plays tribute to an old joke about the company that owned Delance.com years ago. It's also a genuinely creepy sounding name for an evil corporation.
  • "Free to Good Home" - Another classifieds section trope, free kittens. I hope no one feeds the Weirdos to their pet spacesnake (and yes, I realize that it's odd that someone is giving away pets in a monthly magazine for hired killers...).
  • "Discurian Ovizard" - I hope it's clear what I'm naming here. In 'Lords of the Sky' (WCATV) the second act begins with footage of a lizard swallowing a huge egg and then reacting to a Scimitar entering the atmosphere by changing color and running off. I love the sequence.
  • "Stealthy, eggchomping space weirdos" - The exact terminology used for them in a WCNews.com update!
  • "creid@dioscuri.science" - Chris Reid, founder of WCNews.
  • "WAR MEMORABELIA" - Here's a more appropriate advertisement for a mercenary magazine.
  • "Kilrathi claw knives" - A special type of Kilrathi knife prized by victorious Marines, per End Run.
  • "Yan tails!" - The Yan were the group the Confederation fought in the century before the Kilrathi emerged, per Action Stations. Before this we weren't entirely sure they were an alien species... but if they have tails!
  • "ears, ears, ears" - Again, the marines in End Run collect Kilrathi ears (although human soldiers have done this throughout history, too).
  • "spork@ivanscollectables.commercial" - This doesn't reference anything. Spork is just a funny name.
  • "BOUNTY MISSION" - Yet another Privateer-style mission assignment. These make sense in the context of our magazine, at least.
  • "Telamon survivor" - Telamon was where Tolwyn's forces tested the gen-select bioweapon in Wing Commander IV, devastating an entire population. Note that Telamon wasn't actually the name of the planet - that was FT957. Again we see the idea of hunting down Lance survivors as being like modern day Nazi hunting, which is an idea we must credit the Wing Commander Aces club for.
  • "analik@vega.civilian" - Singer Anna Nalick. The Vega Sector was the original Wing Commander 'space' - note that Telamon is actually located in Engima Sector.
  • "Have You Heard the Truth? Local Church of Man..." - These are the Retros from Privateer, and they're still proselytizing!
  • "non-believers for combat missions" - ... and they're still hypocrites! More importantly, though, they're still around: they survived the shakeup that was Privateer: Righteous Fire.
  • "deacon7@churchofman.religious" - This brings up some interesting thoughts. Is this a simple joke, or is the futuristic group that assigns domain names either unreglulated or so independant that they assign terrorist organizations their own .religious subdomains? Or is there a 'legal' Church of Man?
  • "Used ships available!" - Here's the entry you all love - I realized I could quickly give designations to all the hitherto unorganized fighters in the Wing Commander universe. And so I did! I believe that with very few exceptions all of the Wing Commander ships should line up in 'design' order now. Note my big mistake: forgetting the Hellcat! Someday we'll get a better view of that WC3 screen to confirm whether or not it is the F-86...
  • "F-36 Hornet" - The Hornet was easy, I took it straight from the series bible. Note that the Scimitar's biblical designation has since been contradicted canonically so was not included here.
  • "F-38 Talon" - Taken from the Standoff mod.
  • "F-71 Stiletto" - Taken from the Standoff mod.
  • "F-98 Phantom" - Fans had given the Phantom a much lower designation, and with good reason - the thing sucks. That said, Armada's fiction claims at one point that it's a new ship... so it's part of our '90-series' of fighters. I'm envisioning that the F-9X designs make up the complements of the best-equipped carriers in the last days of the war.
  • "F-95 Morningstar" - Taken from the Standoff mod.
  • "F-97 Wraith" - Taken from the Standoff mod.
  • "A-14 Raptor" - From the series bible.
  • "A-15 Gladius" - Taken from the Standoff mod.
  • "A-20 Banshee" - Derived from the fact that Banshees are absolutely brand new in 2669, in Wing Commander Armada.
  • "crazyjoe@shipsmustgo.corporation" - Nod to Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum and to insane car dealers everywhere.
  • "How few remain!" - Here's our nod to the Piglrims from the Wing Commander movie, which are (per the elaborate history in the Confederation Handbook) formally the McDanielite church. "How Few Remain" is an alternate history novel from a few years back - I wish the phrase came from somewhere great, because it evokes a great sense of generation-fading whistfullness.
  • "Ivar Chu" - Ivar Chu McDaniel was the father of Pilgrim theology and the part of the first group to travel to another plain of existence.
  • "McDanielist" - I already explained this, but I just wanted to point out how clever Chris McCubbin and friends were in creating the background in the first place. Their entire basis for the Pilgrim religion comes from the fact that without planning anything of the sort intentionally the Wing Commander Prophecy map makers included 'McDaniel's World' on their star map placed near several 'religious sounding' system names (things like 'Faith'). The whole Pilgrim backstory flows from making that connection...
  • "crossbearer@mcdaniel.reserve" - Because they wear distinctive Pilgrim crosses (and so do I!). I can't say for sure what the reserve is - did the Pilgrims leave behind agents to convert future humans or is this a group that has formed in the years since 'Pilgrim Truth'?
  • "BIG CREDS" - Scam scam scam! Do not sell your Steltek artifacts! They are valuable! This is the equivalent of those 'cash for gold' advertisements you see on late night TV. (Steltek artifacts were the mcguffins that began the Privateer story... and many, many cancelled Wing Commander stories planned to use them as the WC equivalent of Known Space's Slaver stasis boxes.
  • "lmonkhouse@oxford.archaeology" - Dr. Monkhouse was the scientist who discovered the initial Steltek artifacts in Privateer. Oxford was that game's university planet where they were studied.
  • "ACTORS WANTED" - An uncharacteristically mean swipe at Steven Petrarca, the actor who played Lance Casey in Wing Commander Prophecy (and then refused to voice the role in Secret Ops).
  • "ascendant@digitalholovid.productiosn" - Ascendant is Chris Roberts' current production company, Digital Holovid was the fictional one from the Kilrathi Saga manual.
  • "Duty, honor, adventure" - Just a reminder that the Free Republic of the Landreich, which appears in a good portion of the Wing Commander novelizations, is still out there. Frankly, I'm kind of tired of fans mythologizing these guys -- but there you go.
  • "Glory to Kilrah" - The Kilrathi want to... rebuild Kilrah? Crazier things have happened! This was actually the plot of a Privateer 3 concept, although it would have involved a Steltek tool
  • "murragh.cakg@noktak.clan" - Murragh was the Kilrathi Prince from False Colors; we learn in this manual that he is now in exile.
  • "FIREKKAN UNIONIST PARTY" - Am I the only one who felt bad about the fact that Fleet Action breaks the Firekkans away from the Confederation and that they're never returned? We worked our butts off in Secret Missions 2 to save them! I've always wondered if Firekka was eventually conquered by the Kilrathi at the end of the war - there are a few lines to suggest this is the case circa 2669... like the availability of tasty Firekkan roasts in Armada.
  • "T'kirsa Customs House" - T'kirsa is the 'second' Firekkan system introduced by the Wing Commander Universe map. In earlier days, a custom house was a government office where paperwork for ingress/egress into a country takes place. The name is probably best known today as the name/location of Hawthorne's introduction/prequel to The Scarlet Letter.
  • "AMAZING NWE GUN MOUTN" - The Kraven Mk. IV was the 'super gun' in Privateer 2... and here we see its anscestor!
  • "johnmaddox@kraven.corporation" - John Maddox is presumably an anscestor of Bill Maddox, the Texas cowboy who introduces the Kraven Mk. IV in The Darkening.
  • "PATROL MISSION" - Really simple - this is a nod to how I made about five million credits in Privateer. You take three 'patrol the whole system' missions in Perry at the same time and you make quite a profit.
  • "BOUNTY OFFERED" - More background on the Kilrathi Civil War - we can see that the Sihkag and the Qarg are fighting especially hard.
  • "WANTED" - More Black Lance background, inspired by that great 'car sales' poster of the 'Dragon' (WCIVPSX advertisement).
  • "F-107 Lance" - A designation for the 'Dragon' from Wing Commander IV! My theory which goes against the popular fan opinion is that there's an ordinary fighter model of the Lance serving with the Confederation fleet. Imagine it with slightly less sleak lines and painted in ordinary Confederation colors. (For those unfamiliar with the elaborate history here: Wing Commander IV calls the ship the "Dragon". The novelization retcons this - they're called Dragons informally, like the A-10 Thunderbolt II is the 'Warthog'. The actual name of the ship is the 'Lance', because per the script it is derived from the Excalibur program, and the covert ops variant is the 'Black Lance' (think 'Black Panther, Black Wasp, etc. from Wing Commander Secret Ops). In turn, conspiracy has no formal name - "Black Lance" is derived from the familiar fighter, while the actual group is 'The Project' (or '212'). All of this makes sense and, as such things go, is a very clever set of supporting retcons... but it's a huge shock to anyone who has only played Wing Commander IV.
  • "anonymous@212.squadron" - 212 was the designation for The Project in Wing Commander IV; this advertisement is a Nazi wanting engine parts for his Messerschmitt (I don't think this actually happened). Remember that Tolwyn had seeded small pockets of Lancers throughout the galaxy in the hopes that they could reorganize should he fail in his initial attempt.
  • "JACK OF ALL TRADES" - The Vindicator, my favorite fighter from Wing Commander IV, makes a rare appearance! This actually references the Strike Commander manual, which has an A-10 pilot in similar (if more dire) straights. 'Jack of all trades' is a criticism of the Vindicator, which is certainly a 'jack of all trades, master of none' fighter.
  • "mason@borderworlds.government" - I do not believe this references anything.
  • "BOUNTY OFFERED" - Here's the opposite take on the Qarg/Sihkag fight.
  • "HAVE SHIP, MUST TRAVEL" - From 'Have Gun, Will Travel,' one of the great 1950s Western shows.
  • "Hari Sector" - The vast expanse of worthless space first seen in Fleet Action; the Kilrathi conquered the thousand worlds of the Hari in a three year war of extermination... but the planets were all lifeless and devoid of resources.
  • "lemmings@vukartag.civilian" - Lemmings is another nod to a Wing Commander fan. Vukar Tag is the Kilrathi world attacked in End Run (and visited in Milk Run). The idea that there's a civilian presence on the former reserve-world home of the Emperor's mother is interesting.
  • "FREE FURNITURE" - We jump back to abject parody here, with another classic classified ad.
  • "Nephilim Infected Zone" - I would like to see this fleshed out someday; is it an area ruined by Nephilim bioweapons or does it have to do with the plague seen in Secret Ops? I believe I borrowed the name from Starship Troopers' Arachnic Quarantine Zone.
  • "jefferson@camelot.industries" - Camelot Industries was the company Flash flew as a test pilot for, per the Wing Commander III novelization. They also, apparently, designed the Broadsword!
  • "BOMBER PILOTS NEEDED" - Here's confirmation that the Confederation built more Behemoths! Why? Only time will tell.
  • "TCS Gargantuan" - What a great name - just another word meaning something huge, like Behemoth.
  • "menace to navigation" - A reference to the flimsiest excuse in science fiction history, from the last episode of Babylon 5.
  • "weapon of mass destruction" - We throw this phrase around an awful lot these days and apply it to pretty much anything that mildly inconveniences us. Eight mile long space gun that blows up planets? That's an actual weapon of mass destruction.
  • "david.terrell@gemini.government" - Admiral Terrell, the credits-reader from Privateer! This gives him an official first name, which comes from the background for the aborted Privateer television show.
  • "MANTU SPOTTED" - It wouldn't be arcane Wing Commander lore without a reference to the Mantu, the since neutered 'evil' aliens which posed a background threat in several Forstchen novels. For those unfamiliar: way back in 1991 Dr. Forstchen was already interested in what would happen 'after' the Kilrathi War. He spoke to Origin and agreed to 'hint' at a greater threat than the Kilrathi, which were eventually called the Mantu. When Wing Commander Prophecy came around the manual retconned the Mantu as being a perceived threat by the Kilrathi but not actually a danger to humans - allowing the Aligned People to become the next big heavy.
  • "TCS Tsiolkovsky" - The Tsiolovsky was a science ship first referenced in Secret Missions 2 and then reported lost in Wing Commander II. That's never followed up - until now, where we learn it was apparently destroyed by a Mantu warship. The interesting thing here is that it suggests that the Mantu could be more dangerous than the ICIS manual lets on.
  • "vengeance@aussi.hrai" - Vengeance was the callsign of a Kilrathi in Word of Honor (WCATV), but I'm pretty sure that's a coincidence. The actual reference here is "Aussie.hrai", implying that despite Hunter and Kirha's deaths their 'clan' lives on somehow. Did Hunter have a son? Kirha? Who knows.
  • "WHO KILLED THE INVISIBLE SHIP?" - From that 'Who Killed the Electric Car' documentary that's all the rage these days. Just a simple joke about conspiracy theorists (and not a suggestion that the Confederation and Empire got together to prevent eachother from developing stealth fighters for nine years).
  • "rburns@hope.civilian" - RFBurns was a Wing Commander fan who was also somewhat of a conspiracy theorist. Hope was the new sector created for a cancelled Privateer Online attempt.
  • "GOT SPEED?" - I really, really hoped people would start having space races in Wing Commander Arena. Ah, well.
  • "mmahadeen@avalon.civilian" - Needaham, from the Standoff team (their musician).
  • "centicredits" - A subunit of currency!

Tarawa Me a New One

If you joined in on the Tarawa hat production organized by McGruff then you already know how cool they look... but if you missed out, here's your chance to see the end result. A limited run of these TCS Tarawa ship hats was created for (and by) interested fans - and they turned out great! Be sure to keep watching the forums for similar projects in the future. Thanks to BrynS for the blue pictures.

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 56

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the third weapons page:
CONCEPT: See the previous post!

REFERENCES-

  • "Paulsen Kinetics" - Paulsen Kinetics was a company mentioned in the Wing Commander Secret Ops fiction; it was probably there intended to reference the arms company owned by the family of Captain Hugh Paulsen (as mentioned in the Wing Commander IV novelization).
  • "aren't just for salvage ops anymore" - This explains the change in role for the tractor beam (in Arena you use them to grab other fighters during combat).
  • The images are all from the Privateer source renders: the tractor beam is the tractor beam, the Sonar is a software package, the cloak is thrusters, the power core is an engine, the turret is a Galaxy upper turret, the flares are ECM pods and the fusion batteries are jump drives.
  • "Blackfish Cloak" - Blackfish was the name of the 'full' Confederation cloak, from the WC:CCG. "Shroud" was the sensor cloak used by the Excalibur.
  • "destroyed the Tiger's Claw, Concordia and Behemoth" - We see cloaked fighters destroy the Tiger's Claw in the WC2 intro and the Behemoth in Wing Commander III - their involvement in the final fate of the Concordia is new!
  • "in space, all cats are cloaked" - From the expression "at night, all cats are gray".
  • "Wingleader One..." - These are the first sentences on the back of the Wing Commander I box.
  • Some mistakes - there's no label for 'power cores'... and it occurs to me now, a year later, that there should have been some contact information for the store.

HotT Skits the Issues

Heart of the Tiger is back!... with his unique form of fan art. Some of his past hits include... uh, this, this, this, this and of course... this. Oh, and this. And that's that. He says:
I decided to move away from the usual Peanuts skits for now.

Vampires: This fighter, while powerful, was just too darned manueverable. I know I'm not the only one who overshot and over-compensated everytime I had to target something. First time I ever had to take Dramamine just to play a game. ('No-doze', but that was during my FF_VII craze )

The Ebay Skit: Eh, happens more often then people think. *LOL*

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 55

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the second weapons page:
CONCEPT: See the previous post!

REFERENCES-

  • The missile graphics are also all from the original Privateer's source models. The ones that aren't familiar are ones that were cut from the game - the torpedo model was an antimatter torpedo and the "Vampire Missile" was originally the "EMP Missile".
  • "Terran Standard" - I think End Run actually says the language of the fleet is English...
  • "Dragonfly Technology" - Another reminder that there are massed-missile technologies in Wing Commander.
  • Missile specifications are from earlier games. Costs are from Privateer.
  • "Rarest high tech weapons" - Because almost no one knows what a Vampire missile is.
  • "Oldest targeting missile" - References the Victory Streak description about Heat Seekers being invented in the 1950s.
  • "Killing blow to any fighter" - I included this because in Arena your torpedoes are giant slow dumbfires for hitting other pilots.

Wing Commander's Iron Man

Roguetrada is living the dream - by which I mean he's casting his own tiny metal Wing Commander ship models! He has made (and painted) a Dralthi Mk. VII, a Tarsus and a Pirate Talon... with more to come! We can also expect to see a Gladius, Stiletto and Demon in the near future... and then all four of the original Confederation fighters. Want your own? He's making affordable copies available on eBay!

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 54

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the first weapons page:
CONCEPT: This was one of my very earliest concepts - I wanted a unique way to include the weapons in the manual, which is something other booklets haven't done. What I was picturing was those cheap newsprint advertisements for car dealerships or grocery stores -- just badly put together and BUSY as all hell. I think it ended up being slightly too slick to get that across... but it's close! So many fonts, colors, text directions all at once...

REFERENCES-

  • "Gar's Emporium" - The smugglers den from Action Stations - apparently it escaped the event horizon!
  • The image in the corner is Bhurak Starkiller, taken from the original Claw Marks.
  • The images are all from Origin's Privateer source models, rendered out anew. Note the cheapo rainbow effect to cover their jaggy edges.
  • Gun specifications come from the original Privateer.
  • Credit pricing is my own; although there were plans for an economy in Arena early on, this was created well after that was dropped.
  • The "Mark" numbers on the guns tribute/add to the Wing Commander I blueprints, which gave these designations for the holy trinity of Wing Commander guns (laser, mass driver, neutron).
  • "most efficient" - A nod to Wing Commander fans like Mark Minasi who calculated that the Tachyon was by far the most cost effective gun in the original Privateer.
  • "Hades class ships" - There's a retcon! The massive awkward plasma weapons in Privateer are the same type found years later in Secret Ops. Go figure!
  • The font along the side is the Kilrathi font from the Wing Commander movie, as published in the Confederation Handbook. I used a downloaded version someone made and tried not to use any of the 'non canon' letters... but that may have been abandoned in order to spell something in the background.
  • In general, the gun descriptions are all designed not to hurt any of the 'how-it-works' descriptions from past titles.

Wingnuts Help Themselves Out of a Jam

This week Crius.net posters blazed through the Pasqual and Peleus Systems in their community replay of Wing Commander 4. Battle hardened Wingnuts fought alongside the Kilrathi and took out the jammer that was crippling Border Worlds communications. Here's DaveO with some recollections and screenshots.
Peleus 1: Three Border Worlds Banshees are flying in the Peleus system on patrol when their ship systems get disrupted. A pair of Excaliburs comes from behind the Banshees, and one Banshee is quickly eliminated. A Banshee pilot manages to get a missile lock on an enemy Excalibur, but the missile takes out a fellow pilot’s Banshee. One of the Excaliburs swoops in and finishes off the final Banshee.

On the Intrepid, Sosa relays a communication from Wilford to me. The Vice Admiral tells me that there are ships being lost in Peleus without evidence of an enemy behind it. Due to the importance of Peleus to provide fuel for our forces as well as its strategic location, we are to investigate the area. I tell the navigator to jump to Peleus, and we get a surprise. All of our ship systems go offline, and even emergency systems are useless. The Intrepid just got a big bull’s eye painted on it since we’re sitting ducks. Maniac points out the obvious about having to fly blind without way of knowing what is waiting for us. I point out that we’re not entirely blind, but we’ve already found out why ships are being lost in this area. Something is interfering with ship systems including our fighters, so we need to find the cause of this disruption quickly or risk an attack we’ll have little chances to fend off. Maniac wants a refund for this little tour of Peleus, and I’m sure there will be opportunities for paybacks on both sides. We manage to pull to the edge of this jamming ‘black hole’, but it does not help matters much. The only choice left is to do a search and destroy. Due to the missile guidance issues, dumb fire missiles will be the only options. I talk to Pliers before I take off, and he recommends increased power to engines since the armor for the fighters has been increased. I go with his recommendation, and pick an Avenger due to its durability.

Turbo and I take off, and instantly the Avenger is a life saver. An enemy fighter runs right into my rear while I’m trying to shake him off at the first nav point. The second nav point is clear, so we head on to the third. There are multiple enemy fighters here, but it’s hard to sight them and keep them in view with the sluggish Avenger. I manage to get lucky after doing evasive maneuvers and see an enemy Bearcat heavy fighter. I get on its tail, and destroy it with several direct hit blasts. I don’t see any other fighters, so we go onwards to the fourth nav point. This area is also empty, so we head to a fifth nav point area. More Bearcats are here, and I sight one and engage it. It’s destroyed by multiple shots, but my Avenger is critically damaged. I can’t afford to take many more hits. I’m doing some evasive swerving in an attempt to see the other Bearcat, but Turbo pitches in and destroys the fighter. At the next nav point, Sosa manages to make communication to tell me about enemy forces approaching the Intrepid’s position. Turbo and I head for that area, and there are two Excaliburs here. I decide to try my luck, and I get one of the enemy fighters with a dumb fire missile. I get behind the other one, and finish him off with my guns. The pilot ejects, and Decker comes on the communication line thinking the pilot may know something to help us find the source of our ship system troubles. I pull the ejection pod of the pilot into my ship with the tractor beam, and head back to the Intrepid. Sosa tells me that we’ll be questioning the pilot as soon as I land.

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 53

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the fourth Port Broughton page:
CONCEPT: See the previous post!

REFERENCES-

  • The pictures on this page are the amazing promotional image of the TCS Midway from Prophecy and one of the 'prototype' renders from Gaia. I told you I would sneak them in!
  • "F-44X Rapier II Cavaliers" - I mostly avoided giving the new fighters letter designations, I'm not sure why the mood struck me here. The idea here is to casually mention that there have been a LOT of models of Rapier IIs over the years.
  • "3129th InSys" - Wing Commander's setting has hundreds upon hundreds of systems, thousands of people fighting in space every minute of the day for thirty years... and the unit designations we see are all really low. This is a slight attempt to fix that.
  • "Interview with a Frontiersman" - The article (supposedly a series of articles) from the Privateer manual.
  • "Heroic CrabSpider, frontman for the Kirankan Pulse-Funk Warcore group HamTwosLices" - I really wanted to make up some futuristic music. HamTwosLices is a hosting site connected to WCNews (here spelled in a way that tributes tHE lOVE aNIMALS from Victory Streak). Kirankan would be coming from the Kilrathi Kiranka clan. As for the rest... well, who really knows?

CD-ROMantics

Ars Technica has published a look back at Myst in the context of having created the CD-ROM gaming market. It begins by acknowledging Wing Commander:
On September 24, 1993, Broderbund Software released the game Myst, and in the process, substantially contributed to kick-starting the nascent CD-ROM software industry. Myst, to be fair, was only one of several excellent games that shipped around this time and made good use of that new-fangled CD-whatsis thingy—The Seventh Guest, Wing Commander III, and Alone in the Dark were all popular titles that sold well. But Myst shattered sales records and set marks that stood until The Sims came along in 2002.
Wing Commander III was a big deal, but Myst does deserve this crown - while Heart of the Tiger sold a record number of copies, it shipped over a year later. It is also worth noting that the very first computers to include CD-ROM drives standard, the Japanese FM Towns systems, had upgraded disc versions of Wing Commander and Ultima titles available as early as 1991!

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 52

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the third Port Broughton page:
CONCEPT: See the previous post!

REFERENCES-

  • The screenshots on this page are both from Arena itself, from the Midway map. Is it just me or does the exploding Dralthi look more like a Vaktoth in that frame?
  • "lighting seem almost Kilrathi" - References Hobbes' preference that for a red light to emulate Kilrah, from the Wing Commander III novelization.
  • "Cube-warren" - ... is a funny word.
  • "Xanadu" - Pleasure planet mentioned in Victory Streak and the Kilrathi Saga manual.
  • "Centrax" - The type of Nephilim facility where Blair was tortured in Wing Commander Prophecy.
  • "Celeste" - Celeste was introduced in Wing Commander III, where Vaquero plays "rockero" music from it.
  • "Varni" - Another race of lizards from Action Stations; in so far as non-trifecta Wing Commander races go, the Varni have been fairly developed.
  • "Warlord" - The 'highest' class of Nephilim from Wing Commander Prophecy; Blair was kidnapped/killed by Warlords.
  • "Army Ranger" - Another reminder that there's an Army in Wing Commander - as touched on by the Wing Commander I & II Guide ("BEAT ARMY") and Fleet Action.
  • "habicubes" - ... is a funny word.
  • "gold-bordered holoframe" - I'm constantly impressed by those fakey gold framed pictures of Jesus you can buy at dollar stores. Who is the audience? People who love their religion but don't want to spend a lot of money?
  • "Lance Casey" - The player character from Wing Commander Prophecy.
  • "President Harrison" - Addressed earlier; he's my own character. He actually comes from an old IRC joke involving elaborate Presidential quotes about waffles.
  • "Maverick Blair" - The player character from Wing Commander I - IV.
  • "Sorn, Ka" - More conquered races listed in Fleet Action. I believe I was trying to make a point of mentioning all of them.
  • "Hector Paz" - Grunt from Wing Commander Academy. This is where I try to explain that medicine in the 28th century means that it's ordinary for humans to live longer... I've done that for a few reasons, not the last of which being that I wanted to sue some pilots who were flying in the 2650s (Doomsday, in particular). There are also a few other examples of very old humans in Wing Commander, including Admiral Wilson in the movie (presumably a result of an earlier script).
  • "Chameleon BUD" - This concept came from End Run and if you don't read carefully you gloss right over it - the Confed marine outfits change color to match their surroundings in that book. Here it's stuck on purple.
  • "not protected by the carrier's phase shields" - It has always bugged me that occasionally turrets (and in this case structures) on capital ships can be knocked off with ordinary weapons. Ah well...

Nintendo Backs Away from Advance

Joystiq is reporting that Nintendo has announced the 'DSi', the presumptive successor to the Nintendo DS. The new handheld gimmick is a pair of digital cameras, which it combines with a 12% thinner casing and enhanced online capabilities... in exchange for, and here's the trouble for Wing Commander fans, loss of GameBoy Advance legacy support. So: Wing Commander Prophecy Advance fans should consider themselves warned to keep an older system on hand -- and that now may be the time to stock up on those brighter GameBoy Advance SP units.

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 51

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the first Port Broughton page:
CONCEPT: See the previous post! I do want to note that this article is a pastiche - it's supposed to sound like an overly dramatic popular magazine article, not attempt to be a piece of great writing.

REFERENCES-

    "first ten Midways" - The ICIS Manual establishes that the Navy plans to build ten Midway-class ships. I call this the 'first ten' because I assume the war changed the goal to building as many as possible...
  • "Midway... Tripoli" - The ten names come from a list posted by Captain Johnny some years ago. It's one of my favorite pieces of trivia and I wanted to make sure it was 'canonized'. Note that the prose specifically avoids giving a fate to Midway herself. It's up to a full fledged game designer to sink a 'hero' ship!
  • The picture is the ready room from Wing Commander Prophecy. There were no characters standing around, so I didn't mind lying in the caption...
  • "Shrike" - One of the attack fighters assigned to the Midway in Prophecy.
  • "Jarma lizards" - One of several 'background aliens' mentioned in Action Stations.
  • "Platolum jewelry" - Platolum was the amazing laser-proof metal discovered on Ghorah Khar in Victory Streak.
  • "optic nerves" - A commodity from Privateer 2. Creepy!
  • "Firekkan feather trinkits" - I'm not sure if Firekkans can lose their feathers or not... but this was certainly inspired by the fact that the Kilrathi are eating Firekkan roasts in Voices of War.
  • "Marine dog tags" - Borrowed from a similarly nasty reality where shady street markets in Vietnam sell (fake) GI dog tags.
  • "Hell's Kitchen" - Drink mentioned in Wing Commander IV's intro. The ingredients aren't mine save for the addition of 'Brimstone' (a system from Wing Commander I).
  • "Kilrathi guave-ape" - I guess this is some kind of monkey that tastes like fruit? Mmmmm.
  • "Terran hamburger" - Inspired by the early episode of seaQuest where Krieg is trying to smuggle an illegal hamburger onto the ship.
  • "Wu stringo" - Made up instrument. The Wu are elephant-sized aliens from Action Stations, so the idea of a human playing whatever their instrument is is amusing.
  • "credit chit", "dol chit" - Ah hah! I used both 'credits' (mentioned in everything but Armada) and 'dols' (Armada) as the currency. So... what's the difference? You decide!
  • Kilrathi, hookers and mercenaries - That'd be a great game.
  • "Gorth" - The Gorth were a species conquered by the Kilrathi, according to Fleet Action. For some reason what I'm envisioning here is that Gorth is the future equivalent of Spanish - a good second language to have in the Confederation. I don't know why, I think it's just a fun word to say.
  • "Brilliance, Ultimate, Elysium, Warp Steroids, Happy Death" - A veritable whose-who of Wing Commander's narcotics! In order: Privateer, Privateer, Privateer 2, Privateer 2, Action Stations.
  • "Kilnip" - And my own addition to that pantheon! I think the inspiration is clear.
  • "Durasteel" - Here's where we get to those pods everyone hates so much -- literally!
  • "Kennedy Annex" - Kennedy is just a popular name for anything in space.

Red Alert Free, Tiberium-Free

As part of a promotion for the upcoming Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, EA has made the original Red Alert available as a free download. You can get both the Soviet and Allied discs from their site here. Be sure to read the instructions provided on the site to set up the included patch for playing the game in Windows XP or Vista.

What's more, Red Alert 2 is also being made free for those that pre-order Red Alert 3 from participating retailers such as the EA Store, Gamestop, and EB Games. Should EA announce that they are revisiting the Wing Commander series soon, it will be interesting to see what kind of promotions will come our way.

In other news, our future is going to be Tiberium-free as Gamespot is reporting that EA has pulled the plug on its Command & Conquer-themed first person shooter. The article cites corporate communications spokesperson Mariam Sughayer on Tiberium, "The game was not on track to meet the high quality standards set by the team and by the EA Games Label. A lower-quality game is not in the best interest of the consumers and would not succeed in this market." As Wing Commander fans who've endured our own share of heartbreak (Privateer 3, anyone?), we truly feel for any C&C fans that were looking forward to this title.

Star*Soldier Gloss: Page 50

This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the first Port Broughton page:
CONCEPT: This was another late addition, which basically came about when I realized this would probably be my only chance ever to write prose set in the Wing Commander universe. It's supposed to give a little more life to the much-abused Midway map. It's patterned after the 'Interview with a Frontiersman' article in the Privateer manual.

REFERENCES-

  • "Chandra Karr" - The same person who wrote the already-mentioned Privateer article.
  • The screenshot is from Wing Commander Prophecy; presumably all Midway-class ships have similar bars. I ended up labeling it as being from the Midway, though, lest anyone complain that they could spot Hawk.
  • "towers and habipods" - Yet another explanation for the extra modules on the Port Broughton.
  • "massive plate... bank of terminals" - I'm describing the bridge of a Midway based on the exterior; there was no whole bridge set in Wing Commander Prophecy.
  • "commissioning pennant" - We first see a comissioning pennant on a ship in the Wing Commander universe in Fleet Action, aboard the Tarawa.
  • "Commodore Strevell" - References the earlier background article about the ship's history.
  • "erected weekly" - ... because the ship is magically repaired when you restart the map!
  • "turbolift" - Do turbolifts exist outside of Star Trek?
  • The obnoxious 'text captures' are straight out of Readers Digest.

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