Poll Shows Everyone Getting Older

The 'introduction poll' series starts its last leg today with a question about everyone's favorite expansion intro. You'll have to forgive the Secret Missions 1 & 2 and their "cold opens" that drop you right into the action. From our perspective, the choices above reflect when the game starts with cinematics about Goddard and Firekka. The later Enigma exploits and the loss of Burrows' Steltek gun are also great choices. Pick the one you think is best!

The last poll produced an interesting bell curve that peaks in the 24-28 age bracket. A scant 2.5% of the visitors to the CIC sit in the 17 and younger category - definitely outnumbered by the 3.5% in the 46 and older row. It would have been interesting to compare these results to those of the CIC in the '90s. The curve would probably have shifted back a good bit. We'll run it again down the line to see how the demographic compares in the future.

Making the Game: Simulator3

Simulator 3 isn't all there! This document includes the choreography for a jump point patrol/escort mission... but the 'code' isn't in there. Sorry, gear heads!

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Simulator3
Download (274 kb)

Date: May 20, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 1

Need a Price Check

There are some great deals on EA Replay for the PSP and the Wing Commander Movie if you still need either of those. Replay's list price at Amazon is still $19.99, but it's available for much less than that through third party sellers. At $4.99 (with store pickup), Fry's Electronics may have the best deal if you are lucky enough to have one near you.

EA Replay is a great collection that turns your PSP into a full arcade. It features 14 older EA titles that thrilled gamers in past years. Whatever your favorite style or genre of game, you'll find something that you can enjoy playing for hours. Games include: Mutant League Football, Road Rash, Road Rash II, Road Rash III, Syndicate, Ultima - The Black Gate, Virtual Pinball, Wing Commander, Wing Commander - Secret Missions
EA Replay
Amazon.com: from $2.90
Frys.com: $4.99 (store pickup)
Half.com: from $6.88
WC Movie
Amazon.com: from $4.40
Frys.com: $7.99

Making the Game: Simulator2

Today's mission is Simulator 2, which trains the player on escort missions. This is also a good tool for learning how Prophecy's mission scripting works... I dig those comments! " Now, wait for the player to come close... so we can start the big fight!"

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Simulator2
Download (274 kb)

Date: May 20, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 10

Outlander DVD Available Now

Outlander was released in the US on DVD on May 19th. After a tumultuous ordeal getting the film released, genre film fans have been reacting very positively to the sci-fi/period actioner mash-up. While there's no US Blu-Ray announced yet (only Canada in North America), the movie can be rented in HD on Xbox Live, The Playstation Network and iTunes/AppleTV. However Wing Commander fans might be more interested in the DVD. You can order it from Amazon here.

Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts' company Ascendant Pictures was the production company that made the film and Chris himself was a producer on the project. Chris' duties on the film went beyond simple producing though, and when schedules were tight he even directed a number of second unit shots himself. Along with the writers, director and a fellow producer, he provides a fairly interesting and entertaining audio commentary on the disc.

Making the Game: Simulator1

We recently looked at an elaborate set of theoretical simulator missions based on TIE Fighter's formula. Those were ultimately dropped in favor of the more simple mix of gauntlet and "learn a mission type" 'sim missions found in the finished game... and now we'll look at those one at a time! First up is Simulator Mission 1, which is designed to orient new players to flying a space fighter.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Simulator1
Download (274 kb)

Date: May 20, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 11

Saga Releases Background Audio Track

The WC Saga team has added an accomplished new composer to its ranks. The mod's new ambient theme has been released as a sample and teaser for what's to come. Tolwyn has more details:
This week we are very pleased to announce that the highly skilled composer Jeff Ball has signed on to work on the music production and sound design for Wing Commander Saga. Jeff's unique range of work and talent will bring the soundtrack for Saga to a new level. To find out more about Jeff's work please visit his website at jeffballmusic.com.

We decided to share an excerpt from the soundtrack. As you listen to the ambient theme just imagine launching from a Confederation carrier. We feel confident the final soundtrack will reflects the epic scope of the game while giving the players a subtle sense of its grandness.

Making the Game: SHIPS CONFED

Second only to yesterday's SHIPS ALIEN, today's document is one of the all time greats - it contains the specifications, original sketch art and conceptual descriptions for all of Wing Commander Prophecy's Confederation ships! What's more, there's plenty of 'cut' material... like the Nautilus-class destroyer!

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

SHIPS CONFED
Download (274 kb)

Date: October 20, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 20

New Ascii Sector Focuses On Turrets

Today we have not one - and not two - but three new versions of Privateer Ascii Sector! Chris Knudsen has been very busy over the last week on several incremental upgrades designed to improve quite a few things. In addition to turret tweaks, some other changes relate to the movement of your character and interacting with other ships. Download version 0.5.3.2 here. Looking out towards the future, we're likely to see a 0.5.4 release to wrap things up before a larger 0.6 upgrade is implemented.
- The game now makes sure that you aren't standing on top of somebody when you exit your ship.
- If you are unable to exit Combat Mode, but then enter your ship and exit Combat Mode here, when you exit outside again you will automatically be back in Combat Mode.
- Gun turrets are now part of your ship's layout and you have to walk to them to use them.
- Added Turret AI Controller and Turret Energy Capacitor for purchase in the shipyard.
- F1 now toggles the AI of your current turret on/off. F2-F3 toggles the AI of the rear, starboard and port turrets on/off.
- Added a 12x12 fontset and resolution settings in the options menu.
- A couple of turret AI bug fixes.
- Made the turret AI less overpowered.
- Another attempt at getting rid of the SDL music crashing bug.
- Fixed bug with rear turret on the Nexus.
- Fixed bug when leaving the rear turret on the Drayman.
- Changed F1 to switch all turrets on/off instead of the current turret.
- Doubled the price of the Turret Energy Capacitor.
- You can no longer stun a mission character without failing the mission.
- Ramming a ship will now have the same effect on it's attitude and on your criminal record as shooting it.
- You will now automatically exit autopilot with a "PROXIMITY WARNING" if you get too close to another ship (to avoid collisions during autopilot).
- Ship messages will now be displayed even if there's another message.
- You can no longer set your game resolution higher than your current screen resolution, as that would crash the game.

Making the Game: SHIPS ALIEN

SHIPS ALIEN is one of my favorite documents in the universe; you've probably seen other versions before... today is the November 11, 1997 revision. It contains all of the specifications, notes and concept art for the Nephilim fleet in Wing Commander Prophecy. Well worth a read or ten...

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

SHIPS ALIEN
Download (4,246 kb)

Date: November 11, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 40

Multiplayer Space Sim: New Screenshots

Forums member |BoH_Havoc| has released two new screenshots of his as-yet-untitled project. They show off the first version of his "shader driven explosions." The game will require a Windows XP computer with a DirectX 9 capable graphics card. There is no website for the project yet, but Havoc's team would welcome any feedback. Head on over to Crius.net and help him out! Our previous coverage can be found here.

Making the Game: Ship Data Explanation

Today's update gives us a glimpse at Wing Commander Prophecy's inner workings -- specifically, exactly how the game translates our beloved "ship specs" into gameplay! Learn how much depth is involved in things like sub-systems... and how values that seem like they should be nothing more than 'flavor', like mass, can actually have an important gameplay function.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Mission Briefings
Download (20 kb)

Date: March 25, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 3

No Time to Ralax

The Wing Commander Saga team has started a push to wrap up its capital ships as it makes progress towards an 'alpha' build. They've released new screenshots of their Ralaxath-class destroyer, featuring their most updated Kilrathi textures.
The Kilrathi's newest and most advanced destroyer, the Ralaxath-class closes the gap created by technologically superior Terran capships. This "heavy destroyer leader" combines superior maneuverability and acceleration with enhanced firepower and armor. Initial reports show these ships serving as individual flagships for destroyer squadrons and smaller flotillas to totally replacing Ralarrad-class vessels in the traditional fleet escort role. A serious threat to capships and fighters alike, Confed pilots are warned to approach this warship with all due caution.

Custom User Interfaces For Jumpgate Evolution

ZAM recently spoke with NetDevil President, Scott Brown, about various aspects of their upcoming space sim title, Jumpgate Evolution. JGE intends to "take the gameplay of a Wing Commander: Privateer or an Elite and set it in a massive, persistent universe". Find the interview here.
ZAM: Where did the idea for the original Jumpgate come from?

Scott: We were huge fans of a game called Warbirds and also the Elite/Privateer/X-Wing series of games and we wanted to make a game that could combine the online play similar to Warbirds but in space like the other games.

ZAM: While we enjoyed the first Jumpgate back in 2001, the game didn't experience the level of success that it deserved. Did this result in you encountering any problems in securing a publisher for the sequel?

Scott: Not really because once people saw the graphics, even early on, everyone was excited about the game. Also we were doing a lot of things that help cater to a broader player base and lowering the cost of investment for a publisher such as going for low system specifications on the server and client; therefore making it a very attractive project.

ZAM: As with EVE Online, the original Jumpgate suffered somewhat from repetitive missions and the absence of a strong story. How have these issues been addressed in Jumpgate Evolution?

Scott: We have a much stronger story now, with help from Keith Baker (the creator of Eberon for D&D) and we have significantly more focused PvP so players have even more reason to fight against the other nations.

Standoff to Feature Patching System

Standoff's fifth and final episode is still on track for a Summer release. There have been steady progress reports as the project nears completion. Here is Eder with this week's update:
Edging forward

Another quiet week. Still clearing up mission bugs, and Quarto's still working on that final mission... assuming he's doing anything at all :-P. Still, a few more bugs did get fixed this week, and I imagine we'll soon be getting a whole new batch of bug reports, after the testers receive a new game build.

Meanwhile, Pierre is taking time off from fixing the sim missions, in order to implement semi-automatic game patching from the launcher (i.e,. an option to check our website for updates, and then download and install them if you so choose). Now, why would we need that, given that we keep on saying there's not going to be any patches after the final release? :-P Well, I hope this is something that never, ever actually needs to be used. But, given the amount of changes involved in the graphics upgrades, we have to be prepared for compatibility issues.

If you haven't already, now would be a good time to play through the first four episodes. You need the 112 meg Secret Ops starter pack and the 270 meg Standoff Episodes 1-4 bundle to play. Once you reach Episode 2, your training simulator scores can be tracked by our online scoreboard. Detailed instructions are available here. The installation of Standoff does not interfere with Secret Ops.

The Best Wing Deal

Well over a year ago, The Fatman published his Wing Commander soundtrack, "Wing One", through the Amie Street music service. Twenty-six tracks were released throughout the Summer of 2007. Thirty second samples of each track are available to everyone, and once you've bought a song, you can listen to the full version online or download it outright. These are plain old MP3s, free of DRM. The Amie service is a little unusual in that songs start cheap and rise in price up to $0.98 as they become popular. At the time of writing, most Wing One tracks cost upwards of ninety cents when purchased individually, but the full album can be had for just $8.98. Wing Commander fans who missed out on the original premiere of this album are in for a treat. The Fatman has six more albums in his Amie Street catalog, including the soundtrack to The 7th Guest. Check them out here. Office fans can also find some of Creed Bratton's music on there.
This is the soundtrack to the first Wing Commander game by Origin Systems. I was asked by the game's producer, Chris Roberts, to write something that sounded something like Star Wars and Star Trek the Motion Picture. My Team Fat writing partner, Dave Govett, had this little tune (the fanfare/theme) in his head already. It took him about a day to get finished music to me--and with that one tune, game music took what is perhaps a bigger step than it had taken before or has taken since. If you don't believe me, do the research. Try to find a soundtrack with stronger musical sensibility, better composition, or better arrangements. This game supported the then-new MT-32 sound card--this was pre-General MIDI, and most games had just used the internal FM sound card--which was considered high-quality at the time! In addition, Chris Roberts insisted on making the soundtrack interactive. There have been other soundtracks before and since, but this one stood out. Wing Commander was the hit of the CES show that year. These days, game soundtracks that attempt to imitate John Williams are commonplace. I don't like to do it anymore. But to my knowledge, this is the first one, and compositionally remains one of the better ones. I believe that for several years after this, game composers were still not asked to imitate John Williams. They were asked to imitate David Govett and Wing Commander.

You will hear the authentic, original MIDI files, playing back on a Roland MT-32 sound module, as you would have heard if you were playing a Brand New Wing Commander game on The Best Game Sound-Equipped Computer Available At The Time. A touch of Roland Sound Canvass (in MT-32 emulation mode) was added just because it was easy to do and made the tones just a tad-bit richer. Other than that...Welcome To The State of the Art in PC Audio, circa 1990!!!!

DOSBox Praised, New Version Forthcoming

DOSBox, the PC emulator that lets you run old DOS games on modern hardware and operating systems, has been named Source Forge project of the month. DOSBox is the most popular solution for running classic Wing Commander games on Windows. We have detailed walkthroughs available from our Tech Support section. Check the official compatibility list to see what other classic titles are supported. DOSBox 0.73, a major update, is in the Release Candidate stage now and is expected to come out in the near future.
Description of project:

DOSBox is an emulated x86 machine with integrated DOS for running old DOS games and applications. The emulated machine allows you to control the speed of old games and emulate old hardware like sound cards and video cards regardless of the host operating system. The integrated DOS also allows you to directly start games without first having to setup DOS in a virtual machine.

Why and how did you get started?

It was started around the release of Window 2000. This release was a serious break with the past of Microsoft and caused a lot of DOS games to become unplayable. There were some other ways of running DOS games under Windows 2000, but they didn't offer the ability to run the games in a window, or improve the graphics with a scaler. Both were important points for us to create DOSBox as it is now.

Who is the software's intended audience?

People who want to play DOS games and preferably already have a familiarity with DOS.

For Big Downloaders

Despite chewing through well over a terabyte of traffic so far, we have a lot of upload allowance to spare for the month of May. We have plenty of entertaining files that you may have missed in the past. We recommend a download manager to help the large files along. Here are some of our favorites:

Still Yearning For Vengeance

It's been a couple years since we began scrubbing the internet in earnest, and we're still on the lookout for material concerning the Super Nintendo version of Wing Commander 2. The CIC has an article that summarizes some of the highlights and interesting information uncovered so far. WC2 SNES was completed in 1994, but never released, and review copies even went out to some magazines. What makes this doubly excruciating was that the game was no simple port - it was a major overhaul that upgraded the graphics and reworked the gameplay for consoles. Also be sure not to miss this very informative Q&A with the game's lead designer, Billy Cain. Check out what we know here, and please hit the Comment link below if you have anything else to add!

Help Provide Pulsar Feedback

The developer of Pulsar for Windows/XBox 360 via XNA recently dropped by to get feedback on the team-based space shooter. He'd like to know some specifics that people would want in a game like this. quadgnim is a big Wing Commander fan, and he'd like to take some of the best aspects of WC gameplay and combine them with some innovative multiplayer and strategy elements. You can help provide your input at Crius.net.

First I want to thank WCNEWS for their post on Pulsar. It’s exciting for me as a developer to see the word getting around. I chose a WC/Space Shooter because the WC series are my all time favorite games and genre. It disappoints me that the genre hasn’t continued to grow. I had a lot of hope for games like Jump Gate, Eve Online and other similar titles but none ever really met my vision. I have this grand idea of a great MMOPG for Space Combat (STARQuest) but I finally realized it’s too large an undertaking for one individual, and there is still plenty of opportunity for more multi-player (not massive multi-player) and single player games in the space combat genre.

I really want to make PULSAR for the community and find the right blend of game dynamics to bring renewed hope to the genre. I’m hoping if enough people can speak up and let me (and other developers) know what you’d like in a new title, it can help me to bring my game to life and meet the wishes of the community. I have several ideas, but the one I’ve been leaning most towards is a multi-team based strategy/FPS hybrid. In this game 2-4 teams will compete. The goal will be to destroy all enemy bases, and the last team left wins. However, to destroy a base will require each team level up to a designated science level. It will require good team strategy and tactics to be victorious and should provide hours of game play in a single campaign.

Feel free to comment here or visit my Pulsar forums. Read my announcement here and visit the games site at http://www.3dmuve.com.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from everyone what they think of the game and what they’d like to see in it.

XNA Spaceshooter Officially Released

Here's another cool XNA update by Origin veteran Frank Savage. Spaceshooter is a space sim minigame for Windows XP/Vista & XBox 360 patterned after Wing Commander. Frank has written a document going into detail about the game's AI, collision detection, content and future plans. It sounds pretty cool. Anyone with a Premium membership or other access want to grab some screenshots or write up a short review?
The SpaceShooter minigame is an official released version of a tutorial session Mr Frank "Savage" Savage did for the Korea Game Conference in 2008. The idea was to try and create a basic prototype of a Wing Commander-style game using XNA Game Studio.

Despite having worked with XNA Game Studio for nearly 4 years, Frank was still surprised at how easy it was to create this minigame. This represents a grand total of 25 hours of coding, finding data on the web, building a procedural star field with MapZone, and lifting the rest of content from other XNA Game Studio samples and starter kits. Add to that another 5 hours of bug fixes, FxCop cleanup, garbage collector cleanup, and writing the appropriate documents!

...

Observant readers who've downloaded and played with the minigame probably noticed the stubs in the SpaceShip class for network play. My plan is to do a co-op play version where two players take on four AIs, which should make for some interesting multiplayer network code.

Once these elements are present, you have everything you need to build a real space game with multiplayer co-op, dozens of missions, and a compelling storyline. So I guess I better get those pieces built so I can start playing the great games this minigame will hopefully inspire. ;}

Hubble Mission Nears End

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to report to Earth tomorrow after a successful mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope's upgrades definitely mean the best pictures are yet to come, but here's some impressive shots taken of the servicing project over the last two weeks.

One Fan Versus Sixty Origin Games

Pix is currently in the middle of an impressive undertaking. He's created "another" 'blog' dedicated to playing through Origin games. What began as an Ultima playthrough last summer has expanded to quite a few classic series. The writeups of his experiences are quite thorough and complete with interesting anecdotes and pictures. New entries in Pix's Origin Adventures can be found here. Scroll down to the bottom right of any page to see a category listing with links to numerous Wing Commander and other OSI games that he's covered so far.
In this blog, I’m going to attempt to play through all Ultima related games and every game ever published by Origin Systems in roughly chronological order starting with 1979’s Akalabeth through to Ultima 9.

I’ve been a fan of Origin’s games for years and went as far as collecting them all but have yet to play half of them at all, never mind getting to the end. There’s a grand total of 60 games and I’m expecting to take around a year or so to get through the lot.


Making the Game: Series S Overview

Series S is the designation these documents give to the Simulator missions. As you can see, they're a much more complex plan at this point, featuring a grand total of twenty-one missions patterned after the training missions used in the Star Wars space combat sims.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series S Overview
Download (26 kb)

Date: May 2, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 9

Gratha Graphical Glitches Gone

Michelle D has a revamped Gratha model. The structure of this new version is a little bit more in line with the original game design. Now that the main frame is complete, texturing will begin soon. Help provide feedback over at Crius.net.

This time I'm a little more pleased with the model matching the original artwork. I'm wondering about the two pods under the wings. If they are missile launchers, decoy launchers, fuel tanks, landing skids, or the mass drivers the Gratha is supposed to have.

Making the Game: Series L Overview

Series L is the Hellespont/Alcor missions, Wing Commander Prophecy's only exclusive losing set of missions (other than D-L). Very few people bother to fly these missions, which is a shame - where else can you see the Confederation starbase? (Well, the simulator... and Secret Ops...)

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series L Overview
Download (21 kb)

Date: April 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 4

Standoff To Get Graphics Boost

The fifth and final episode of Standoff is slated for release on August 10th. There have been steady progress reports as the project nears completion. Here is Eder with this week's update:
More progress

Again, a fairly quiet - but certainly not progress-less - week. Quarto is working away on that final mission, though he doesn't seem to be working too quickly. Hopefully he'll finally get it done in a week or two - we're less than three months from release, so it's high time.

The bugfixing process is also moving forward - especially the bug-reporting part of the process :-P. Dundradal's been very busy indeed this week, there's at least ten or fifteen new bugs filed. Fortunately, the bugs are getting fixed pretty quickly too, so the overall number of open bug reports is growing at a slower rate.

Meantime, Pedro reports that his next graphical upgrade is progressing nicely. Naturally, we won't mention what this one is - you'll have to wait until we're ready to reveal them :-).

If you haven't played through the first four episodes yet, now would be a good time to get started. You need the 112 meg Secret Ops starter pack and the 270 meg Standoff Episodes 1-4 bundle to play. Once you reach Episode 2, your training simulator scores can be tracked by our online scoreboard. Detailed instructions are available here. The installation of Standoff does not interfere with Secret Ops.

Making the Game: Series I Overview

Series I is the game's final Kilrah sequence, ending with Blair's sacrifice at the wormhole gate. Sorry -- no indication as to if Blair was supposed to survive...

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series I Overview
Download (53 kb)

Date: March 25, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 8

How Old Are You?

The new poll today gives us a short break from our 'introduction' series. We've asked how long our visitors have been coming to the CIC before, but this is the first time we're gauging their actual ages. Don't be shy! In the future it should be interesting to see how 2009's results are influenced by a new Wing Commander game (or lack thereof).

Wing Commander Privateer came out as the most popular WC spin-off with nearly half the vote. Privateer 2 also had a very strong showing with one third of Wingnuts choosing it as their favorite.

Making the Game: Series H Overview

Series H is the long Hrissith series, the prelude to the game's final wormhole battle. The odd thing about Hrissith, to me, was the fact that there was one and only one mission where you could select your fighter. Why develop that functionality and then use it only once, and with the exact sort of linear choice the game was supposedly trying to avoid?

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series H Overview
Download (56 kb)

Date: March 25, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 8

Wing Commander Movie on HBO Slovakia

The wing Commander movie played on TV on 'HBO Slovakia' this Friday at 4:25 P.M. If you happened to miss the show, there will be two more showings near the end of the month. It will be playing Monday, the 25th at 1:15 P.M. and Tuesday, the 26th at 6:00 A.M.

Making the Game: Series G Overview

The 'G' series is the short G'Wriss series, which leads up to the capture of the (first) Nephilim ship-killer. Note the lack of scripted FMV sequences...

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series G Overview
Download (68 kb)

Date: April 28, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 4

From The Outside Looking In

It's not that often that we uncover new tidbits of behinds-the-scenes material from the Wing Commander film, but we recently uncovered this cool shot from the movie's set. It shows a camera rig set on a track for steady shots of the bridge set. Anyone want to guess whether this is the Tiger Claw or the Concordia?

Making the Game: Series F Overview

The 'E' series is the second half of the game's long series of missions set in the T'lan Meth system. F is where the game's "in-flight choice" concept finally comes into its own, with a variety of outcomes stemming from your performance in the Cult of Sivar rescue mission.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series F Overview
Download (54 kb)

Date: March 31, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 8

Frank Reminisces About Playtesting At Origin

Normally we don't report on playtesting guides posted to the XNA site, but this one is a little different. It's written by Wing Commander veteran Frank Savage, who is a development manager for the XNA toolset. You can read the entire article here. To prove a point, he even delves into his Wing Commander past to pull up an anecdote from his time at Origin:
Got any good playtest stories?

I have dozens of great playtest stories from the trenches that could probably fill a book. I’ll give you my favorite two.

The first was from the Wing Commander era, and is a great example of an issue that didn’t really matter. In Wing Commander 1, when you returned to the Tiger’s Claw after a mission, the carrier was sometimes upside down, depending on your orientation when you were coming back. This was to be expected since the game was 3D and it was easy to get your ship into that state by simply rolling. A very persistent playtester at Origin kept filing bugs on this until the game shipped.

So, in Wing Commander 3, I purposely brought the carrier in upside down for several missions in the hopes of getting this bug again. Alas, no one complained about it. This is a great example of an issue that doesn’t really matter. You could land on the carrier regardless of its orientation in both games.

The second story is from the Strike Commander era, and is a great example of how to approach an issue when you think your game is done. We were running through the last set of tests before shipping the game to the duplicators, when I got a call that the cluster bombs in the training mission on the F-16 were exploding the instant you dropped them, which of course destroyed your plane. Since we had dropped hundreds, if not thousands, of cluster bombs during every other mission in the game, this bug was perplexing. I went into work and watched someone reproduce the bug and I noticed that they were flying over water in the training mission when they dropped them. This struck me as important because I had never seen the bombs dropped over water before. There was simply no reason to drop them over water as there were no targets in the water that a cluster bomb would damage severely.

I went and dug into this issue, only to discover that I had indeed put a bug in the code almost eight months earlier! The cluster bombs were supposed to detonate in the air and scatter their munitions over a wide area. Instead of code instructing the game to “detonate when you reach this altitude or go below it”, what I had written was code to “detonate if the terrain is ever lower than this altitude”! Since the terrain was always higher than the minimum altitude specified in the code in every other part of the game except over water, the bombs usually dropped fine and detonated when they hit the ground. This was not the desired effect, but we had tweaked the entire game to play well with the cluster bombs hitting the ground instead of going off in the air. No one knew the bug had been there for the last eight months.

Making the code “right” by changing it to act as I had intended would almost certainly have made the cluster bombs behave differently everywhere. This might have made them more effective or less effective, but only a complete play through would have been able to make sure this feature wasn’t broken, and we were scheduled to ship the game the next day!

We decided to remove the line of code that made the bombs detonate over water, instantly destroying your plane, and left the rest of the code the way it was. It wasn’t “accurate” but we knew we had a good game with the cluster bombs behaving the way they did over land. This also fixed any possible issues from a player inadvertently dropping the bombs over water and blowing themselves up! In this case, the right thing to do was to fix the small thing that was clearly broken, and leave the rest of the bomb’s behavior alone.

Making the Game: Series E Overview

The 'E' series is the first half of the game's long series of missions set in the T'lan Meth system. It's home to Prophecy's most confusing mission, Treasure Hunt.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series E Overview
Download (168 kb)

Date: April 25, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 6

Ascii Sector v0.5.2 Released

There's a whole bunch of new fixes and some neat features in the latest version of Privateer Ascii Sector. Chris Knudsen has the details below. Using the new Brilliance and Ultimate contraband even skews time during combat! Download the game here.
  • Fixed bug that would lock the door to your hotel room if you walked on and off your ship.
  • Various code changes in my continued effort to squash crashes due to SDL music playback.
  • Added anti-cheat measures.
  • Added a margin of "nothingness" around the walkable area on a base so that something at the edge of the area won't be hidden beneath the boxes with various information at the edge of the screen.
  • When on a base, you can now move the viewable area outside the view of your character, both while looking around and when aiming.
  • If you're critically wounded, you now also lose health while flying in space, so you can bleed to death while flying your ship.
  • If you have a repair droid, it will gradually clean up any blood on your ship from, uhm, "accidents".
  • Confeds and militia now detect corpses on your ship, fine you and attack.
  • All commodity events will now have a news item posted in your Quine5000 when they end.
  • Ships will now send an apologetic message if they hit or destroy a friendly ship.
  • When in Combat Mode, the game will now show you how much time you've used, as well as how much time an action takes.
  • Added Brilliance and Ultimate drugs to manipulate time usage when in Combat Mode (can currently only be acquired by stunning or killing a character that is carrying Brilliance or Ultimate).
  • Added quicksave (F8).

Making the Game: Series D Overview

The 'D' series is divided between the game's first alternate losing path and the two important "Relay Station" missions - the ones which send Blair off as a Nephilim prisoner.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series D Overview
Download (24 kb)

Date: April 28, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 6

Specialty Kat Ships Invade EAW

In addition to the impressive armada of familiar Kilrathi ships to be featured in the Wing Commander Invasion mod, Major Payne has incorporated a couple of special designs. The first is based on a piece of Feng Zhu concept art commissioned for an unreleased Wing Commander game. Payne has worked this one into the Empires at War engine as a type of cruiser. The other ship is an exotic asymetrical model based on a design by Lars & Scooby Doo.

The original concept design was create by Feng Zhu. From the only released image, I've tried to get the overall shape of the ship correct. However, the entire rear in not shown so I've had to become "creative" to a point. As usual the ship has been clothed in the same textures as the other Kilrathi capitals, and this one is classed as a fast attack cruiser. It'll be relatively heavily armed and armored but carry no fighters.

Making the Game: Series C Overview

The 'C' series of missions became Prophecy's "G'wriss" series, which showed the first (... and basically only) other human capital ships and introduced Nephilim capital ships. Two notes: "• Player will have the first opportunity to dock with the refueling ship (it will survive long enough for the player to meet if, and it will give him full instructions as to how to do it. This is unprecedented in Wing Commanders." -- other than Wing Commander II, on the long range bombing runs. "• Player will be told in the briefing that there is little chance of reaching the supply convoy. " That would have been nice!

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series C Overview
Download (35 kb)

Date: April 28, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 7

Malcolm McDowell, Videogame Star

Kombo.com is running a piece on Malcolm McDowell's videogame appearances. They mention the part of Admiral Tolwyn in Wing Commander 3 and 4, as well as his more recent work. McDowell can be seen in Red Alert 3's live action sequences and he did voicework for Fallout 3. Earlier this year, Electronic Arts also highlighted McDowell's famous performance in WC4.
He's been appearing on screens of various sizes in 1964, but now he seems to have found a surprising niche for himself as the voices of various video game baddies. Most of you out there know that he was the voice of President John Henry Eden in Fallout 3 (apparently the ZAX computer didn't know that a foreign born American can't become president), but his appearances as a man, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, has been going on since long before Fallout 3 was a pencil scratch on official Bethesda stationery.

His first role in a video game was in 1994 when he took the role of Admiral Sir Geoffrey Tolwyn in Wing Commander 3 and 4. I'd never played the game before, so I went and had a look; apparently Tolywn was the start of a theme for old Malcolm as his character, Tolywn, was someone who had heard of the words "morality," "restraint" and humanity but had ordered a surgical strike on them from orbit. At some point in the game it had been discovered that he was using illegally created clone soldiers (he was the first to make it the "in" thing) and use it to provoke a war so that he could create his own, and admittedly rather twisted, vision of the future.

Making the Game: Series B Overview

The 'B' series of missions became the starting H'rekkah missions. It's interesting that discovering cloak technology is useless is one of the four objectives for this series. It was ultimately cut -- and it's a lot of focus on explaining away an unnecessary gameplay element.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series B Overview
Download (38 kb)

Date: April 28, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 7

Standoff to Squash Bugs

Last week, the Standoff team announced that the fifth and final episode would be released on August 10th. There have been steady progress reports as the project nears completion. Here is Eder with this week's update:
Testing continues

After last week's announcement, this week's news update may seem a bit anti-climactic :-). Not much progress to report this week. Mind you, as long as I'm keeping the new ship improvements under wrap, there really isn't going to be much to talk about, except for getting that final mission done, and bugfixing.

Speaking of bugfixing, our main tester, Dundradal, is finally back in action this week. He's been out of it for several weeks after his testing machine died - but now the bug reports are pouring in once more. Hmm, pouring? Well, at least dribbling in :-P.

And that's about it for this week. No significant progress on missions or voiceovers, but hopefully this weekend will change that. It had better, I don't like posting updates with nothing to say :-P.

If you haven't already, now would be a good time to play through the first four episodes. You need the 112 meg Secret Ops starter pack and the 270 meg Standoff Episodes 1-4 bundle to play. Once you reach Episode 2, your training simulator scores can be tracked by our online scoreboard. Detailed instructions are available here. The installation of Standoff does not interfere with Secret Ops.

Making the Game: Series A Overview

Next up are 'overview' documents for each of the game's series -- starthing with the unused 'A' series and running through the 'S' (for simulator) series. Today we have 'A', which were the training missions (with Blair as a drill instructor) that were originally planned to start the game.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Series A Overview
Download (50 kb)

Date: March 25, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 2

Prophecy Enhancement Pack Reminder

HCl's Prophecy Enhancement Pack is an awesome thing. It runs WCP in high resolution, adds online multiplayer, allows DVD quality videos to be patched in and fixes bugs that were part of the original game. If you experience crashes while running install.exe in the Enhancement Pack in Windows Vista, unzip install_gui.exe into the game folder and run it instead. Be sure to report your results afterwards to help make future improvements even better.

Making the Game: Script VDUs

Another script -- this time the 'story'-related VDU segments. It's interesting that these are separate; presumably they're filmed in the same way by the same group of people as the regular script.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Script VDUs
Download (40 kb)

Date: April 28, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 18

Richard Garriot Sues NCSoft

Mage Guru reports that Origin founder, Ultima creator and space hero Richard Garriott has filed a $27 million lawsuit against South Korea-based NCSoft relating to his departure from the company last year. The Austin Business Journal has the story:
In the lawsuit Garriott alleges NCsoft mischaracterized his termination in November 2008 as voluntary in order to force him to exercise his tens of millions of stock options "into one of of the worst equity markets in modern history." Had Garriott been terminated involuntarily his options would have remained until June 2011, the lawsuit states.

Garriott is seeking $27 million to recover the lost value of his stock options and for costs and tax liabilities associated with the exercise.

According to the lawsuit, Garriott was fired while he was still in quarantine from flight into outer space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The son of an astronaut, Garriott took a working leave of absence on reduced salary to pursue that long held dream when he was informed by the head of NCsoft’s North American studios, Chris Chung, that the company wanted to "part ways," according to the lawsuit.

Making the Game: Script

This is a draft of the Wing Commander Prophecy script! Although it claims to be the first, dated 1996, it clearly isn't -- it has the correct names for the characters and other changes made later in the process. The most interesting thing is the character bios, which seem to be the source of information offered at the original wingcommanderprophecy.com site (like Rachel's divorces).

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Script
Download (472 kb)

Date: March 25, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 125

Saga Unveils New Backdrops

The Wing Commander Saga website has been updated with another set of screenshots. This time, the team is giving us a preview of all the different starfield backgrounds. They're also providing us with some insight into the game's development process.
Welcome to the latest news update! This week, we'll cover a few different topics, including space environments, our work flow process, and feature creep.

Last week we got all nebula backgrounds done, and they came out very well. The in-game visual experience is now amazing. Each star system has it's own backdrop, giving each one an individual flair. Take a look at our latest screenshots for a few examples. These are from multiple environments, and you'll be seeing more as we continue pushing out media. So, basically, you can consider those shots an appetizer.

Making the Game: Flow Notes

'Flow Notes' is actually a nicely drawn flowchart of all of Wing Commander Prophecy's missions, showing how they connect to one another. I'm betting this was Captain Johnny's work -- I get the feeling he was pretty handy with Visio.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Flow Notes
Download (88 kb)

Date: November 17, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 1

Space Sim First Look: Pulsar for XNA

Microsoft's XNA is a set of tools that enables hobbyists and independent developers to rapidly create videogames for Windows and the XBox 360. The XNA software suite makes it easier to render graphics or connect to the Live network. Laurence is putting together a Wing Commander-style shooter for the platform. The Pulsar development blog already covers a number of topics, from creating nebulas to multiplayer support.
I had attempted to take some time off from game programming after I released BlockBUSTER but after a few weeks I just couldn’t stay away. I decided to revisit some of my STARQuest visions but cut way back to something more realistic. I’d always loved the legacy space combat shooters such as Wing Commander, Tachyon, Privateer and FreeSpace. I decided I wanted to do a space shooter but somehow based in my STARQuest universe. I also wanted to reinvent the genre which hasn’t really done anything since the late 90’s. I really liked the team based style of Tachyon’s multi-player Base Wars. I therefore modeled my next title after Base Wars, but instead of just 2 teams, I’ll support several teams combating each other. I’ll also support a richer strategy element, providing more options on how to allocate resources. I believe this will provide a unique and exciting blend of action combat and strategy set in a cool futuristic space setting, and best of all, it’ll run on an Xbox 360!

Making the Game: Powerups

Here is another fascinating remnant of Wing Commander Prophecy's multiplayer which again mirrors that of Wing Commander Arena: the decision that it was necessary to include arcade-style "powerups" in the game. Clearly, the team knew longtime fans would take powerups poorly and wrote this "rational": "In Privateer and Armada, there was no problem with our player/customers flying through cargo that the ‘enemy’ ships dropped, and having that automatically stored onboard their ships. It was a natural game element. We are bringing it back. Shield power icons will look like blue shield power, fizzing away in space; armor icons will look like armor plating in space. The look will be as ‘real’ as possible, keeping with the Wing Commander mindset (Space War, military style, etc.), but fun should be the real deciding factor."

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Powerups
Download (27 kb)

Date: June 9, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 7

No Joystick Required

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

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


Making the Game: Pilot Bios

These pilot bios, with details on all the cinematic and redshirt wingmen, are clearly the basis for a chunk of the Wing Commander Prophecy official guide -- but the changes are very interesting. If anything, I would say these are better: they generally lack that surreal quality that the versions included in the guide seem to have. One must also wonder what the other wars Maniac is credited with being involved in were...

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Pilot Bios
Download (94 kb)

Date: May 25, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 3

Kilrathi Ships Incorporated Into EAW Mod

The Kilrathi Invasion fleet has been added to the Star Wars: Empire at War game engine. Major Payne now has eight Kilrathi ships cruising the space lanes in his nifty mod. Fighters and starbases are still on the agenda, and traces of the Star Wars Imperials still need to be removed. There should be some neat video releases at that point.
So what have I been up to?? Well as some will have seen, the Kilrathi capital ships have been slowly rebuilt and gotten ready for conversion. Today marks the first inclusion of not one but the full eight capital ships that the player will use. Although there's still some work to be done with them before I consider them to alpha complete status, I figured it would be necessary to get something done seeing as it's been around two weeks since a last update of any kind. Anyway, two ingame images of the current Kilrathi selection are up on MODDB, so for those who are interested feel free to head over there for a look see. Yes, I know they aren't to scale, but this is one of things on my "to-do" list.

Making the Game: Phonetic Alphabet

This is exactly what it sounds like (no pun intended): a phonetic alphabet for the Wing Commander world, presumably for standardizing things like missile calls and Spyder's taunts. It seems to differ significantly from the NATO and RAF phonetic alphabets at points - is it taken from something else?

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Phonetic Alphabet
Download (14 kb)

Date: April 28, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 1

Standoff Episode 5 Release Date Announced

The launch date for the fifth and final episode of Wing Commander Standoff has been announced! The adventure comes to a close this summer. Here is Eder:
Standoff's final episode is coming...

August 10th, 2009.

That's 14 weeks and 3 days from today - or 101 days, if you prefer. Standoff will come to an end on 2009.222 - and not a day too early.

August 10th also happens to be the Wing Commander CIC's 11th birthday - so, no Standoff-related birthday gifts from us this year. Sorry . No, but seriously - the CIC has been hugely supportive over the years, in more ways than I can even describe. Come to think of it, without the CIC, the various members of our team probably wouldn't have even heard of each other. All in all, it seems really appropriate that our final release will be a birthday gift for the CIC and its - our - entire community.

Meanwhile - how's about some progress? Well, Tempest reports that he's received the last voiceovers from the final remaining external actor this week. Now, apart from cleaning & filtering those, he still has one final role to record by himself - and then we're done with voiceovers.

...Or maybe not. We've spent quite a bit of time discussing what additional improvements might be made to the game during the extra time before release, and it may well be we'll record a few more voiceovers before we're done.

What about the rest of the team? I'm working away on improving the ship graphics, Pedro is working away on further graphical upgrades, Pierre is polishing up sim missions, and Quarto's... ok, Quarto really hasn't done anything since the last update. But he's still working on that final mission, supposedly . Only the testers seem to be goofing around. No computer? Come on, Dundradal, when has that ever stopped anyone?

If you haven't already, now would be a good time to play through the first four episodes. You need the 112 meg Secret Ops starter pack and the 270 meg Standoff Episodes 1-4 bundle to play. Once you reach Episode 2, your training simulator scores can be tracked by our online scoreboard. Detailed instructions are available here. The installation of Standoff does not interfere with Secret Ops.

Making the Game: Options

We often forget the less sexy aspects of game design -- and the case in point here is the install and setup option screens for 'Wing Commander Armageddon'. Look at all the detailed thought that has to go into what is and is not included... likely a thankless job. The biggest change from the norm seems to be the inclusion of Time Compression -- which seems like it might have been unnecessary in a space shooter.

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Options
Download (56 kb)

Date: September 22, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 5

Flight Commander Mission Editor Updated

The Flight Commander mission editor was tweaked this weekend. Did you know there was a FC mission editor? If not, time to get designing missions! Make sure you install the Java runtime environment first. Get it all here.
Made a small update to the mission editor today. Now, when you are adding ships to your map, the name of the pilot and the type of the ship is now displayed underneath the ship icon. It's handy, don't know why I didn't think of this before.

Making the Game: Multi Player Scenarios

Today we have another very interesting document about how multiplayer would have worked in Wing Commander Prophecy. It's astoundingly similar to the multiplayer in Wing Commander Arena -- and it even uses 'arena' in its description: "The Multi-Player game in Wing Commander Prophecy will be in the form of scenarios, as opposed to missions. The main difference being that a scenario is a stand alone arena, whereas a mission is a ‘part’ of a greater whole."

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Multi Player Scenarios
Download (15 kb)

Date: April 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 4

Warren Spector On Modern Game Design

Origin veteran Warren Spector recently engaged in a discussion and debate on game design at an NYU Game Center event. The focus was on competing philosophies about the motivation of game stories and goals. One camp prefers more open-ended free-flow games where users drive their own emergent themes. Spector's belief is that superior game design revolves around cunning narration and scenarios built by the developers. Check out a summary of the conversation over at GameSetWatch for more of the interesting details.
One thing Spector said during the NYU discussion was that he feels multiplayer games are "lazy." This is the designer in him talking, of course -- his theory that in letting players build stories via Left 4 Dead-style happy accidents in open worlds, the designer doesn't have to tackle complex challenges like making choices meaningful, or making characters believable.

Making the Game: Multiplayer Design

One of the things we've noticed with these updates is that very little work seems to have been done on the multiplayer portion of the game, theoretically dropped late in the process. The document below seems to be a good summary of what was ultimately hoped for -- a much smaller multiplayer experience than many had imagined: "Multi-player for Wing Prophecy will consist of a small set of competitive and cooperative “challenge” type missions, a simple quick mission generator, and a set of missions from the single-player game which can be played with multiple human and/or computer wingmen."

These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!

Multiplayer Design
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 6

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