Two Weeks in Brittania

Electronic Arts would like you to revisit Ultima Online -- and they'll give you half a month to do it. From now through October 16th, former UO players can log back into the game and play for free. Has Ultima Online changed? It has been expanded and layered upon over the last decade... but, to EA's credit, I can log back on every few years and find my neon yellow fisherman waiting to be killed by llama. That's some dedication to data preservation, at the very least. Here's the press release:
September 28, 2009 - FAIRFAX, Va. - Mythic Entertainment, an Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) studio, today announced the Return to Britannia Campaign in celebration of the 12-year anniversary of Ultima Online (UO). As part of the Return to Britannia Campaign, all former players are being welcomed back to UO, one of the longest-running MMORPGs in history, for unlimited free game play through October 16th. Closed accounts in good standing have been re-activated, and former players can log back into the game using their original user name and passwords.

New content available to returning players through the Return to Britannia Campaign includes Mondain's Legacy, the 7th UO expansion which introduced the playable Elven race and dangerous, new dungeons to explore. Mondain's Legacy was made available at no charge in August 2009 to existing subscribers and to new players as part of the Ultima Online 14-day free trial.

"We're hoping that, as part of the Return to Britannia Campaign, former players will once again rediscover the joys of Ultima Online," said Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer for Mythic Entertainment. "UO was the first love of many MMORPG players, and it still holds a special place in their hearts after 12 glorious years. I think returning players will be pleasantly surprised to find a thriving and vibrant community from around the world ready to welcome back their former compatriots and include them in their ongoing adventures."

Players returning to Ultima Online through the Return to Britannia Campaign can download and install the UO client for free at: http://www.uoherald.com/trial/. Players who no longer have access to their Ultima Online username and password can retrieve their account information at: http://support.ea.com.

Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss, the 8th expansion was released earlier this month and revolves around the introduction of the playable Gargoyle race. Players will also find expansive new areas to explore, including Ter Mur, the Gargoyle homeland, and the Stygian Abyss – the largest dungeon area ever introduced to Ultima Online. This sprawling dungeon contains new boss monsters of unparalleled difficulty, including the Medusa, Primeval Lich and the Stygian Dragon, as well as Player vs. Player zones where adventurers are turned against one another. Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss is now available at UOGamesCodes.com and the EA STORE for $29.99.

To learn more about Ultima Online, visit: www.uo.com.

Making the Game: Incident Report

Today we feature the original form of the famous 'Blue Horizon' lost fiction. The odd thing isn't so much the content of the document itself, which was posted over ten years ago, but the context -- it's included with the other fiction files, but with a file name distinct from all the others (which specify week/placement/etc.). Could this be why it didn't end up at the finished website?

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!

Incident Report
Download (43 kb)

Date: July 7, 1998
Project: Wing Commander Secret Ops
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 4

Enigma Baddies Get SixView Treatment

Here's another fun batch of multiview ships from Red Baron. These are mostly classic WC2 Kilrathi fighter meshes from Origin. Pictured here are the Drakhri, Bloodfang, Ralatha, Fralthra, Rigakh, interior, Strakha and unused Strakha designed for Privateer.

Making the Game: Casey Report

Following yesterday's pattern, this is a collection of all of Casey's "diary entries" planned for Secret Ops. As with yesterday's document, it includes a more nuanced set of text options based on performance in multiple previous episodes -- especially an increased amount of self-loathing if you fail multiple previous episodes.

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!

Captain Report
Download (61 kb)

Date: July 8, 1998
Project: Wing Commander Secret Ops
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 10

Broadsword Brings Big Boom

Howard Day has another marvelous Broadsword paint scheme to unveil. This one is a World War 2 themed retro design. There's a special LOAF nose art and kill markings on the hull, and don't miss the Confed star in place of the five-point in some of the shots.

This particular Broadsword has downed numerous enemy fighters, two Fralthis, a Ralatha, and a Fraltha. It's also expended several dozen torpedoes.

Making the Game: Captain Report

We're moving on from Wing Commander Prophecy to a limited amount of material from its sequel, Wing Commander Secret Ops. Primarily, we'll be looking at draft and collected versions of the famous web fiction -- but there will be some other treats included. This document is an earlier version of all Captain Murkins' (known here as Captain [Name]) 'pre-series' reports. The most interesting thing is that they seem to have been originally developed as something much more interactive; some of the later updates include optional text that would be displayed depending on overall performance rather than just whether or not the previous series was won.

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!

Captain Report
Download (15 kb)

Date: July 8, 1998
Project: Wing Commander Secret Ops
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: 14

Hakaga Wallpaper's Explosive End

Red Baron has completed the third iteration of his Hakaga wallpaper. This one incoporates the crash, boom and bang of a frenzied attack run. Big explosions, ship fragments and weapons fire now lace the screen. All three images are displayed below for comparison. I think it's really cool to see how a scene like this developments into a finished work. Let the baron know what you think at Crius.net.

Sorry for the long time without any update, but I spent a good portion of it reading 3ds Max and Photoshop tutorials. My original goal was actually to use only what was available in Standoff, but I realized that Deep Exploration is just not capable of what I was aiming for. I used a friend's 3ds Max and made some nice laser beams and stuff, but Deep Exploration doesn't support them and when I tried to export my scene to 3dsmax, everything was messed up. So basically i was left with no alternative but to use Photoshop (or redo everything from the start).

Crash, Boom & Bang Your Way To Victory

The new poll asks which capital ships are your favorite to attack. We've narrowed down the results to just the "bad guys," and just some of the more notorious ones from key games. There's a wide range of strike missions represented by these choices. Are you more into torpedo runs under intense flak? Hitting picket ships in your Tarsus on the frontier? Dropping a flashpak on a flight deck? Defanging the beast? Or teaming up with half a dozen friends and picking apart a huge battlecruiser in the Antares Quadrant?

Our annual birthday poll has run its course, and it's provided some interesting results. Half of our visitors have been coming to the CIC since 2000 or earlier, and almost half of those people have been around since the mid 1990s. And as great as having such a loyal user base is, we're still attracting new faces. More than 10% of active Wingnuts didn't find us until after the release of Wing Commander Arena! Thanks for coming! You're why we keep updating every day.

Report For Active Duty

Did you know that you can track your Standoff simulator performance right here on the CIC? Episode 5 even added a cool new achievement system. You earn bronze, silver or gold ribbons for successfully completing a mission. Star medals are awarded for exceptional performance, and there are even a few mission-specific awards thrown in. We've also started keeping a list of new scoreboard submissions. If you successfully completed a mission in recent days, you will be listed here. Because there are only a few active players who all submit a large number of scores, we only show your best overall result from the last few days.

To see how you stack up against other Wingnuts, you need a Crius.net forums account and you need to advance to episode 2 to have access to the Standoff mission simulator. Check out the Scoreboards play guide for more information on this feature.

Happy Birthday Wing Commander!

What are you doing today? If you're here at the CIC, it's probably commemorating the 19th birthday of Wing Commander! The original release of Wing Commander 1 shipped out on September 26, 1990. Anniversary #19 is a little bit anticlimactic, but we're already looking forward to plans for the big 2-0 next year. How are you celebrating today? Hit the discuss link and let everyone know. If I might make a recommendation: I've noticed that lots of people are still missing Wing Commander games, books or other merchandise from their collection. Why not order something you're missing today?

Arena's Concept Excalibur Added to WCCD

Wing Commander Collateral Damage now has a beefed up version of the Excalibur. Since the game takes place around the time of Wing Commander Arena, the ship has been supplemented with additional structural armor and modified fins as seen in the original concept art. JasonRocZ has named this variant the Excalibur Wyvern.

Get Your Fan Project Fix Here

Collateral Damage is just one of many Wingnut endeavors currently keeping the fires burning. And the recently upgraded Fan Projects section puts them all right at your fingertips! Read about "finished" games such as Flight Commander, Gemini Gold and Unknown Enemy, or see what you can do to support titles like Ascii Sector, the Homeworld Mod, WC Saga, Invasion and more. Each page has general background information, screenshots and contact data on both active and inactive projects. Visit the Crius.net Fan Projects & Editing forum to get more involved!

Trooper Beefs Up Bengal (For a Limited Time)

Tr00per continues to polish his Bengal model. The added colors alone make it pretty spiffy. He temporarily put some giant turrets on the top of the body as a placeholder and, since it looked pretty cool, he's rendered some shots with additional turrets on the underside too. These will drop off as he adds the bridge and other monuments. Head over to Crius.net to let him know what you think.

When I come to starting the bridge I will sketch it out first, but in the mean time I put some prop turrets on to see how an uber dreadnaught hybrid would look! Also started to colour code the surfaces for texture later.

When I got started with 3d modeling on my A1200 and real 3d, I tried to do a basic layout of a Star Trek ship to do some animations. I ended up with just a corridor section and a couple of rooms that took forever just to model the layout. So I stopped there and started animating, then left the good old A1200 for a month or so to render the scene! ~~~ Got about 5 people walking from room to room with doors opening and closing. Looked good but very basic, decided not to attempt it again as it stopped me from playing my fave game from the time: good old WC1.

Garriott Bullish on Space

The Examiner has done an interview with Origin founder Richard Garriott and his extensive views and experienced with space. Garriott has a lot of particular insight, not the least of which was gathered during his recent trip to the International Space Station. He's obviously very excited to be discussing the topic. Check out the full article here.
Steven Andrew: When did you first decide you were going to go into space?

Richard Garriott (RG): I can't remember ever not thinking it. I grew up in Houston, just outside NASA's Johnson Space Center. My father, Owen Garriot, spent 60 days on Skylab in 1973 and another ten days on a Spacelab in 1983, my next door neighbor was Space Shuttle astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson. So I grew up thinking this is normal, that's just what people did, they built rockets and flew into space.

SA: Would you do it again?

RG: Not only would I do it again, I am going to do it again. This is what I do. I and several other high technology business people are investing big in commercial space, establishing incentives for engineers and students to try their hand at coming up with better designs. We're designing a new generation of rockets, labs, and planning the first permanent settlements in space and on the moon or Mars.

Answer this: Suppose I told you that you could go to Mars but there's one catch -- it's a one way trip. You can go there, and when you get there you'll be able to live, there will be shelter, air and food, and power; but no coming back. This is actually a realistic question, because, getting to Mars, as challenging as that is, due to orbital mechanics, the dynamic relationship between an outer and inner planet, is a lot easier in terms of the duration of the trip and the fuel and other supplies required, than getting back. When I ask that question to a group of people, the answers usually come back half and half. Half say no, but half say yes. There's no doubt in my mind that some of the people who say yes mean it.

Source Ships Supply Sexy SixViews

Red Baron took a cue from the updated CIC Ships Database and has started creating some fantastic 3D ship poses. Instead of using the in-game models, he's arranged the high quality Origin source files to create some beautiful shots. He's started with Privateer designs. Below are the Dralthi, Dralthi (with better textures), Gothri, Salthi, Kamekh, Tarsus, Orion, Galaxy and Centurion.

Interesting sidenote: if you believe the filenames, during development the Centurion was labelled "Fighter", the Galaxy "Merchantman", the Orion "Tug" and the Tarsus appropriately "Clunker".

Congratulations FPJ!

Congratulations to Wing Commander film actor Freddie Prinze Jr! He and Sarah Michelle Prinze (recently formerly Gellar) had a baby girl on Saturday, September 19. They named the baby Charlotte Grace.

Get Your Fancy Standoff Icon Here

hip63 is a huge fan of Standoff, so he made a high res icon for Windows Vista & 7 users to attach to the game. It looks good! Download it for yourself here.

WCCD: Upgraded Stingray

JasonRocZ has set out to revamp all the Nephilim ships for his Secret Ops mod, Wing Commander Collateral Damage. The Stingray is the first craft to get the treatment.
We all remember the Stingray, once they formed up, wow some firepower they were packing! Well one of the things I decided was that ALL the nephilim ships needed to be revamped, not just a few. I'll have the new Stingray that will be used in the game engine sometime tomorrow... Stay tuned

Banshee Body Comes Together

The pieces are all falling into place on elend's fantastic Banshee model. The major components have been attached and the ship finally looks whole. He is thinking about adding battle damage. It'd kill me to mark up such a beautiful fighter, but I'm confident the results will be impressive nonetheless. After everything is structurally complete, elend plans to paint everything as well. We can't wait to see how that turns out! Check out Modellboard for more.

"Commander's Challenge" Would Make a Great WC Title

Electronic Arts has released their biggest downloadable console game yet. The highly rated Commander's Challenge portion of Red Alert 3 Uprising is now available for XBox Live Arcade and comes to the Playstation Store this Thursday for about $10 US. At 2 gigabytes, the package includes 50 different challenge missions and a healthy dose of live action video. The missions can be played both single player and cooperative with a friend online.

“With more than thirty hours of fun and compelling RTS entertainment, Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 Commander’s Challenge delivers the ultimate RTS gameplay experience console players have been waiting for,” said Wes Eckhart, Producer of Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 Commander’s Challenge at EA Los Angeles. “Each of the 50 challenges throws players into unique scenarios full of over-the-top twists and challenges. From armies of Japanese school girls and giant Soviet war bears to wrestling legend Ric Flair and more, Commander’s Challenge offers fresh and fun gameplay at an unbeatable price.”

Bengal Bombers Beat Baktosh's Brood

Howard Day has built on his classic Concordia paint scheme and released shots of his awesome Broadsword painted in Tiger's Claw colors. It looks fantastic! He's also gone back to some of his earlier textures and added some marks to represent wear and tear.

Do'h! I forgot a step. The wear and tear on the paint itself - I completely blanked on that. My apologies - here are some updated version.

GamePro's Most Wanted Franchise Resurrections

NuAngel also spotted an article over at GamePro. The magazine polled its editors about which classic series need to come back... and you can see where this is going. Of course, Wing Commander is at the top of the list. Check out the article here.
Part flight simulator, part space opera, the Wing Commander series was light-years (ha!) ahead of other flight games of its time. By sharing the focus between the personal interactions with your squad mates and fast paced, white-knuckles-on-joystick action, the WC games made dogfighting through the stars against the Kilrathi Armada a believable and truly emotional experience, one which I would love to find myself in again.

Custom Prophecy Mission: Midway Defense

Lt.Overload has put together a custom mission for the Prophecy simulator. You can download it here. A text file is included with the mission briefing and nav map information.
Okay Lieutenant, we have to be brief. 2 Hours ago a Nephilim Carrier Fleet entered the Vega System. Their fighters destroyed the first few lines of defense, and somehow, a large Moray Fighter group snuck past the Confederation Fleet. When our scanners picked up the group, we sent several fighter wings to intercept. Sadly, the wings failed. The Moray group is headed right at us. A Kilrathi wing will be within range to assist us when you launch, and the last of our forces, a few Wasps, are already fighting the group. Quickly get out there and destroy those Morays. The other wings have already transfered to your wing, just get out there and fight for your home.
Our Missions section contains a large number of fan-made missions for anything from the original Wing Commander to Privateer. Playing custom Prophecy missions requires only a few steps:
  1. Download the external missions patch file from here and extract the contents into your Prophecy directory.
  2. Double click on patch.exe to run it.
  3. Place the contents of your chosen mission zip in the Prophecy\Mission directory and rename the .mis file to s0.mis.
  4. Run Prophecy and play the Sim 0 mission from the simulator, which will now have been replaced by the mission of your choice.

Arena Needs Company

NuAngel caught a Wing Commander discussion recently in the Official Xbox Magazine Podcast. The commentators mention Wing Commander Arena and discuss how much they would like Wing Commanders 1 & 2 brought to Xbox Live Arcade. Check out the KOXM Podcast #175 here. The WC part starts 48 minutes in.

Dive Into Hakaga Hell

Since so many people liked Red Baron's recent Hakaga wallpaper, he's gone back and released a 'prequel' image. It was somewhat inspired by the cover of the novel End Run, and he's created a second action-packed version that is even more similar. He'd like to continue making new scenes, and this particular one could get yet another update.

The very empty looking lower right corner is reserved for an awesome exploding Sabre once I figure out how to do it. And the laser beams look like crap. If I don't find a proper solution I'll have to add them with Photoshop.

Visit the Wilson World Idea Factory

Hey, what's Tom Wilson been up to lately? Since we last caught up with him, Tom's been hard at work doing quite a few different jobs. He's had guest roles on television shows like House MD, Bones & Ghost Whisper, and he's continued his long running gig as a voice actor on numerous animated series. Tom even has a new(-ish) blog that tracks his exciting exploits. And he still regularly performs at comedy clubs around the United States. Here are some of his upcoming events.

October 1 - 4, 2009
The Funny Bone on the Levee
859-957-2000
1 Levee Way, Suite 3124
Newport, KY 41071

November 12 - 15, 2009
The Palm BeachImprov
550 S. Rosemary AVe., Suite 250
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
561-833-1812

December 3 - 6, 2009
The Ontario Improv
4555 Mills Circle
Ontario Mills
Ontario, CA 91764
909-484-5411

December 17 - 20, 2009
The Irvine Improv
71 Fortune Drive # 841
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 854-5455

Bengal Gets Second Push

There's another big Bengal class strike carrier model in work, and it's already off to a great start. Although a handful of people have modeled this ship before, we just don't get tired of it! Tr00per's design is still in the preliminary stages, so helpful Wingnuts have a big opportunity to give constructive feedback and affect the design. He's been working on it on and off for a few years, and your encouragement can help him finish it.

WCCD Devastator Bulking Up

JasonRocZ is through rocking the jailhouse, and he's continued work on his Devastator for Wing Commander Collateral Damage. Textures are still very basic, but the later two shots show his latest physical model. Since this is an Arena-themed mod, he's looking into possibilities for adding some cool heavy armor.

New Achievement System for Standoff Simulator

In the weeks since Standoff Episode 5 was released, PopsiclePete has been working hard to add a cool new achievement system to the mission simulator. You earn bronze, silver or gold ribbons for successfully completing a mission. Star medals are awarded for exceptional performance, and there are even a few mission-specific awards thrown in. A few ways to earn star medals:
  • Quick Ace: chain 5 quick kills
  • Every Shot Counts: maintain a gun accuracy of 70% or better in a successful mission
  • Solo flying: player is credited with 100% of the kills in a successful mission
Check out the updated play guide for more information on these new features. If you're new to Standoff or its online scoreboards, the guide will also explain how to get started.

Rocky Exoplanet Discovered

Scientists in Spain today announced the discovery of planet Corot-7b. Although there have been several suspected terrestrial worlds discovered outside the solar system, this is the first to be reliably confirmed and the most similar to Earth. Its size is about three times Earth's diameter without about five times the mass, but the planet's extremely tight orbit puts surface temperatures on the sunward side at about 3600 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile it's far below freezing on the planet's dark side. The European Southern Observatory has released an image of what it might look like from Corot-7b's orbit.

Brilliant Broadsword Brightens Blackness

Howard Day's amazing Broadsword is complete, and he's started to paint it in a variety of exciting liveries. The simpler gray structure represents the basic hull. As great as that looks, even nicer on the eyes is the classic "Concordia" paint scheme familar to fans of the classic Broadsword from Wing Commander 2. While you're wowed by the overall package, don't forget to look closely at all the fine detail in places like the cockpit too.

Broadsword Boasts Bold Biography

The Broadsword is famous for its exploits in Wing Commander 2, Privateer and Arena, but sometimes people forget that it also featured prominently in things like the Wing Commander novels and Academy TV show. Broadswords appeared in most episodes of Academy, and they looked good doing it! Here's some history from CIC Ships.
Camelot Industry's Broadsword is one of the Terran Confederation's most succesful spacecraft designs; Broadswords served on and off from 2633 to 2701--across multiple wars and for several different factions. The bombers were originally designed during the Pilgrim War to support the Grand Fleet's invasion of the Pilgrim Alliance. Early CF-131 Broadswords served as massed missile platforms and strategic ship-to-planet bombers.

With the advent of the Kilrathi war and the development of the torpedo, Broadswords changed to fit the times. In 2648 all current model Broadswords were outfitted to carry two antimatter torpedoes. That number would eventually double, by 2664, and then double again, by 2701. Broadswords became the Confederation's heaviest anti-capship bomber for the middle portion of the war; Broadswords flying off the Tiger's Claw, Concordia and elsewhere achieved great success in dangerous torpedo runs.

After the end of the Kilrathi War, the Confederation relegated Broadswords to reserve wings and boneyards.

Zachary Banfield's Guild maintained two squadrons of Broadswords which were used to attack the FRLS Mjollnir and destroy the FRLS Sindri. The Landreich themselves operated a number of Broadswords during the Kilrathi War, fielding them during the Battle of Hell Hole.

The Union of Border Worlds operated a number of Broadswords during their aborted war with the Terran Confederation. Admiral Tolwyn was, at one point, captured by a stripped patrol Broadsword as he attempted to flee the Peleus System.

But the Nephilim invasion of 2681 reactivated Broadsword squadrons - and proved that they were incredibly effective against the new foe. Production of Broadswords resumed, with modernized variants like the Executor, Warpig and later Behemoth rolling off the assembly lines.

In the post-Nephilim War world, surplus Broadswords are a common sight on the volatile Terran-Kilrathi frontier.

Frightening Foes Coming to Your Desktop

Red Baron has put together an imposing desktop image of three fearsome Hakagas face down the camera. Although this is the same Standoff model featured in the recreation of Fleet Action's famous cover, this time the ship manages to look even scarier thanks to careful use of lighting, shadows and posture.

The Standoff model is just too awesome and the Hakaga's shape makes it very intimidating when you see it flying towards you. I'm no artist and did it more or less for my own desktop, but if you have any suggestions regarding angle, lighting or anything, feel free to enlighten me.

Standoff Patch Primes Scoreboard Update

There is another small patch for Standoff. Update 1.30/1.31 performs some behind-the-scenes tweaks to prep the scoreboard for coming additions. Get it from the game's autoupdate mechanism if you want to stay ahead of the game!

Catscratch Fever

Mark Dacascos, who played Troy Carter (A.K.A. Catscratch) in Wing Commmander IV: The Price of Freedom, is going to be on the upcomming season of Dancing with the Stars, paired with a professional dancer named Lacey Schwimmer.

Mark's background as a Martial Artist alongside his acting career should suit him well as learning dance steps probably isn't that dissimilar to learning various martial arts moves, or memorizing the moves for an action scene in one of his movies. The new season of Dancing with the Stars premieres on ABC Monday, September 21st.

Czacen Claws the Way Forward

Continuing on with his efforts to give classic Wing Commander ships a contemporary spin, Czacen has created a few more impressive looking pieces of art for you all to enjoy. In today's set of images you'll notice the first is a streamlined version of his original Yorktown-class redesign, followed by a Tallahassee, and a Bengal. As usual, Czacen would appreciate any feedback you might have on his latest work.

HCl Releases New WCP Movie Patch

Given that there has been increasing interest in getting the flashy OpenGL patch for prophecy to cooperate with the highres movie packs, HCl has waded into the fray with an updated DLL for you all. I'll let HCl explain what is new with this DLL and how to install it. In the meantime, download the patch here.

New features:

  • Some bugfixes
  • Should work fine with the OpenGL driver, both in full screen and windowed mode.
  • Looks for movies both on the installation directory and on the DVD drive detected by WCP. If you want to burn a DVD with WCP and the HD movies, now is the time!

Please note: Direct3D and Glide support have been dropped. This shouldn't be an issue, however, since i don't think anyone is using these anymore (strictly speaking, Glide mode *should* work, but hasn't really been tested with the new code)

To install the new patch I suggest the following steps:

  1. Unzip Enhancement Pack into your Prophecy install directory(do not run install.exe... if you did run it, just delete highres.txt and patch.tre to disable the old Direct3D highres code)
  2. Install the OpenGL patch
  3. Copy the new WCP DVD DLL, it will overwrite a DLL from the Enhancement Pack.

This should get the OpenGL, DVD and Multiplayer patches cooperating with each other without issues, so just run Prophecy.exe or Multiplayer.exe as usual.

There should be an installer later on with all these patches combined, but there's still some details to sort with the authors of the OpenGL patch, since the version currently under development apparently does something differently that the current DVD patch doesn't like too much.

Standoff Episode 4 Mission Trees

Did you know that Standoff features extensive winning and losing paths? Dundradal has undertaken a project to visualize the game's mission tree. So far, diagrams of the mission branches from the first four episodes have been created in Edraw Max. These graphs should be a huge help to players that want to get the most out of Standoff! Winning and losing branches of Episode 4 are shown below. The older episodes can be found here.

WCCD Status Update

JasonRocZ of the Wing Commander Collateral Damage project posted the following status report to the Forums:
I'd like everyone to know that after a 6 month Hiatus from any updates, Some personal issues popped up mainly my own incarceration, (DWI). I was released from jail on 9-9-9. Now for those of you out there that have ever been jailed, It's a strange experience for sure. And no, most of the rumors about jail are untrue (insert "drop the soap" line here).

I'd like you all to know that even in my jail experience. I was writting missions, designing new ships, kept a diary of day to day life, and elaborated much more on the story for WC:CD. (Which I have to copy from paper to comp). I'd like you all to know that the project was never dead. Here's another lil tid bit.

I probably (more than likely) won't post any update for a few weeks. I have to totally replace my comp but fear not (I still have my harddrives with all the collateral damage material). And will be getting revved up within the next few weeks to kick some major bug butt!!

Download Wing Commander Academy

One of the larger items we host is the complete Wing Commander Academy television series. All thirteen episodes come in at just under three gigabytes. No matter how often we mention it, there's always tons of fans who are just learning about it for the first time. The episodes were originally aired out of chronological order, but we have a guide to help you decide which way to best view the series here. If you originally saw these years ago and haven't seen them since, watching them again now is a great way to spend six free hours. In addition to the main AVI files, a variety of neat behind-the-scenes and production material is also available. The series is full of amazing stuff that every fan should see. Get started below!

NOTE: Wing Commander Academy episodes are no longer available for download. Please support the franchise by buying the complete DVD set through the link above.

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.

Nighttime Launch Lights Up Sky

Every once in a while it's nice to look beyond all the impressive Wing Commander art and check out some real life space imagery. Not only are these shots beautiful, but the fact that these are photographs and not renders is always amazing. Here's some great shots from STS-128. The Space Shuttle Discovery is currently in orbit after concluding another successful mission to the International Space Station.

Broadsword Behind the Scenes

Here's a cool look at how the textures on Howard Day's amazing Broadsword are broken out. He's got 1024x1024 skins on the big panels and 512x512 textures on the smaller panels, special details and engines. Sometimes seeing these "making of" shots are almost as cool as the polished final product!
Well, it's not just a matter of changing colors, but changing designs, patterns, and text, to a certain degree. So right now here's what we're doing:

4 sets of generalized textures:
* 1 Big panels, 1024x1024 - 3 images, Color, Spec, Normal ( the vast majority of the ship is covered by these)
* 1 Small panels, 512x512 - 3 images, Color, Spec, Normal (corners, edges, tiny panels, and other small detail)
* 1 detail and interior panels, 512x512 - 4 images, Color, Spec, Normal, Glow (Leading, and trailing edges of wings and fins, cockpit and landing gear compartments, landing gear itself)
* 1 Engine, 512x512 - 4 images, Color, Spec, Normal, Glow (used on the engines, and anywhere that needs random pipe-y detail. Those insets inboard of the engines to the rear of the Broadsword are an excellent example.)

All of these use the 1st UV channel on the ship. The uvs for these textures are not clamped to 0,0-1,1 uv space, and are designed to tile either in all directions, or vertically, in the v direction.

Now here's the cool part: We take the first 3 of these texture sets, and apply another texture as a multiplicative overlay on the 2nd UV channel. This is mapped to the 0,0-1,1 uv space and covers every inch of the ship. This is what we back our ambient occlusion ( the thing that makes the corners darker than the open flat spaces) and the colors of whatever squadron we want this particular ship to be.

I don't know what any of that means, but it's all being used to make a gorgeous ship!

Making the Game: Multiplayer

Here's a very attractive--and interesting--Visio file. This is a menu developed for Wing Commander Prophecy's aborted multiplayer feature. I really like the central sceen for showing what item you're adding to your quick 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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

Multiplayer
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

Major Standoff Patch Released

Standoff patch 1.29 was released today, addressing the biggest issues that players have been experiencing. The team have tracked down the bug that was at the root of the stability problems introduced with Episode 5. Support for ATI video cards has also been improved. The final notable change is that all simulator missions, apart from mission 6, are now being tracked by the online scoreboards. A few more exciting features will be added to the scoreboards over the next couple of days. An updated Episode 5 installer is available for players who can't download the patches through the game's autoupdater.
At last, Standoff as we wanted to release it almost month ago. The random crash problem that plagued the game is now resolved, as every other show stopped crashes/bugs that were reported by our testers and the community via our forums. Few minor bugs may be remaining, but we're still working on sorting the last details for a next update.

This new release should better support ATI video cards than previously: Alex has found some limitations in the Catalyst drivers he could make a workaround for. In the case of older or mobile cards, the renderer should now automaticaly ignore a visual option that isn't supported. Unfortunately we don't have access to many ATI testers so your feedback will be appreciated.

Here's the list of changes/fixes in 1.29:

  • Fixes the random crashes when using the new effects.
  • Removed the crazy values nagscreen in the options menu, as the crashes are now fixed.
  • Fixes support for most recent ATI cards, better sopport for older and mobile versions. Cards that doesn't support the new visual effects should now ignore those options.
  • Fixed the inversion of the middle and good endings.
  • All the simulator missions are now enabled for the scoreboard, except simulator mission 6.
  • Minor tweeks to some episode 3 missions.

Making the Game: New Multiplayer

Here's an updated multiplayer interface -- far less attractive, but no less fascinating (and, of course, it includes definitive proof that Casey's callsign is Harold, as most had long suspected).

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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

New Multiplayer
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

Czacen's Cool Concepts

As a kind of offshoot to Czacen's recent project to give classic Wing Commander ships a more contemporary feel, he's undertaken the task of creating some very cool concept art to improve his technique.

In an attempt to better my rather shabby concept art skills I have been training hard on building up a few techniques. While I am far from close to getting good at it, I have managed to do a few practice pieces that people might like. Please feel free to comment on them, and also please note that these are not 2010 redesigns but rather just 2 illustrations in the concept art speed painting technique commonly used by game and move designers today. I also have taken some artistic liberty with the engine/intake glows just to add some excitement to the images.

It takes me roughly a 4-5 hrs for one of these renderings. I did these by hand but directly in Photoshop. I used some 3d elements to place the perspective properly.

Making the Game: Options

An options menu isn't as sexy as a fighter or a universe map, but this is interesting all the same -- especially because it suggests a point at which Wing Commander Prophecy could be played at three different resolutions--something fans didn't manage to add until recently!

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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

Options
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

Ascii Sector 0.6 Bugfix Releases

Version 0.6 of Privateer: Ascii Sector was released last week, and Chris Knudsen has since been busy fixing gameplay glitches and some minor cosmetic issues. You can download the latest release (0.6.0.3) from the Ascii Sector website. Here is the full list of changes:
  • Fixed bug with messages from an empty ship when it is close to being destroyed.
  • Fixed bug with turret AIs not working.
  • Fixed bug with cargo manifest computer terminal.
  • Fixed bug with characters, objects, smoke and blood sometimes carrying over from one boarded ship to another.
  • Fixed bug with AI ships and turrets firing at non-piloted or disabled ships.
  • Fixed bug with afterburner draining energy from turret capacitors.
  • Fixed bug with energy information in temp ships.
  • Kilrathi weaponry can now be sold in equipment shops.
  • Fixed bug with using turrets while docked.
  • Fixed more bugs with characters, objects, smoke and blood sometimes carrying over from one boarded ship to another.
  • Decreased the size of the groin area on characters and increased the size of body armor to protect the groin.

Making the Game: Quick Fight

This is another option sadly cut from the finished game: quick fight. Wing Commander and mission builders have always had a tense relationship... but it would have been very cool to have an Academy-level option included in Wing Commander Prophecy itself.

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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

Quick Fight
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

Exceptional Memmory

Gamasutra recently ran an interesting article on dirty programming tricks in which various programmers and developers revealed cheats and coding hacks that they used to make sure games and other programs shipped on time. The article attracted several industry members who've also chimed in with their own stories in the comments, including Ken Demarest - a veteran of the original Wing Commander, both secret mission add-ons, Super Wing Commander, Ultima 7, Bioforge, and more. Here's what Ken Demarest had to say about working on Wing Commander:
Back on Wing Commander 1 we were getting an exception from our EMM386 memory manager when we exited the game. We'd clear the screen and a single line would print out, something like "EMM386 Memory manager error. Blah blah blah." We had to ship ASAP. So I hex edited the error in the memory manager itself to read "Thank you for playing Wing Commander."

Making the Game: Universe Map

Today's Visio file is a real beauty: the original Wing Commander Universe map mockup, created by Captain Johnny. Remember when this was posted to the original wingcommanderprophecy.com for analysis by Wing Commander fans?

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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

Universe Map
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

Fully Upgraded WC Prophecy

Want to combine the Prophecy DVD upgrade with the new OpenGL renderer and improved starfields? Red Baron claims to have the answer. Let us know if this method works for you.
Well then, you need: wcpep_Release1.zip, wcpmoviepatch_testrelease.zip, OpenGL-WCP_setup.zip and the vobs from the movie archives
  • 1) install Prophecy
  • 1.1) make a backup (optional)
  • 2) copy content of wcpep_release1.zip to prophecy folder, overwrite when asked
  • 3) DON'T use the new install.exe! instead:
  • 4) run opengl-wcp_setup.exe, follow instructions
  • 5) copy wcphr.dll from wcpmoviepatch_testrelease.zip to prophecy, overwrite
  • 6) make "movie" folder and put the DVD movies there
  • 7) use oglsetup.exe whenever you want to change your graphics
Voila: OpenGL, starfields, DVD movies! looks like you all did an even better job than you thought. Maybe some steps are redundant, but it works for me (WCP Gold, XP prof). Now to my initial question: is there a way to make ffdshow stretch the movies to 1600x1200 so they play fullscreen in that resolution? Or is the movie resolution hardcoded in the dll, because Prophecy doesn't seem to care for my filter settings.

Making the Game: VDU

Check out those beautiful early Vampire mockups! This Visio file shows off Wing Commander Prophecy's status VDU. The note about something to indicate states in multiplayer is interesting -- it shows they really were considering that aspect of the game through development.

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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

VDU
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

Cool Carrier Catches Compliments

czacen is a big fan of the ships from Wing Commander 3, but he was recently inspired to sketch out what the ships of that era might look like if they were created today. Below is a stylized version of a light carrier similiar to the TCS Victory. I think it would fit in well in Wing Commander Arena. This is still a work in progress. Aaron wants to add a bridge or conning tower, but he'd like some feedback in the mean time.

I recently tried to think of what the WC ships of 1990s would look like if the game designers had the freedom that game engines allow today. While most of the ships from WC3 still look aswesome to me, I thought I'd give it a try and redesign the more famous ships in a more 2K generation appeal.

Making the Game: ECTS Keymap

This is an update to yesterday's keymap: a later version created for the press who would be playing the game at the ECTS conference. The screenshot included is even more interesting -- colorful in an unexpected way, with a flat style for the instruments that didn't make it to the finished release.

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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

ECTS Keymap
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

Howard Day's Broadsword Breaks Out

Howard Day has another modeling project, and it's freakin' awesome! Below is his rendition of the A-17 Broadsword. It's an amazing blend of slight variations between the bomber's Wing Commander 2 and Privateer appearances. After about two weeks of work, it's a good 90% complete or so. There is still a little texture work to be done before it gets stylish squadron markings and paint. Let Howard know what you think at Crius.net.
This is serving as a bit of a test bed for Pioneer's rendering tech - Joel and I have made some changes in how the ships are textured and modeled, and we wanted to make sure the system worked.

Making the Game: E3 Keymap

This is the first of two incredibly interesting Visio documents: the Keymap created for members of the press who would play Wing Commander Prophecy at the 1997 E3 convention. Check out the very early working cockpit screenshot!

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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

E3 Keymap
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

Ascii Sector 0.6 Released!

Version 0.6 of Privateer: Ascii Sector has been released with a round of new bugfixes and gameplay tweaks. The biggest addition is ship-to-ship docking and boarding. This new feature looks really cool and expands on what individual game characters are able to do. A Centurion is shown grappling a Dralthi below. Download the game here.

- Fixed bug with "food stores destroyed" commodity event that would affect the price of all commodities on the base.
- Fixed bug with some commodity events causing the bartender to freeze the game when trying to tell you about them (specifically, commodity events that have a character's name in them).
- Fixed bug with calculating time left until you bleed to death (the code only took your total health into account).
- Fixed another bug with random placement of quest template ships.
- Fixed bug with quest items placed on a base using PlaceItemOnBase.
- Fixed bug with quest characters not always loading correctly.
- Fixed bug with TABs at the end of a line in a quest script causing compilation errors.
- Fixed bug with NPCs spawning inside a hotel room on New Frankfurt.
- Fixed a couple of bugs with dialogues.
- Fixed bug with selling cargo that is also used for mission.
- Fixed bug with messages from an empty ship when it is close to being destroyed.
- Fixed bug with turret AIs not working.
- Fixed bug with cargo manifest computer terminal.
- Wingmen are no longer spawned on pirate bases.
- Redid the NanoBots to make them more balanced.
- Corrected ship armor information in the shipyard.
- Added ship docking and boarding.

Making the Game: WCU Map & Privateer 3

For our final Visio file, here's a real prize: an updated version of the Wing Commander Universe map--Captain Johnny has added the new sector which had been planned as the setting as Privateer 3. The most interesting part is that he put it exactly where we fans later placed the Landreich Sector. Great minds...

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!

Please note that the "Download" link points to an older-style Visio file; these do not open in Microsoft's current Visio viewer. We have converted the VSD into a graphic which can be viewed by clicking on the document thumbnail.

WCU Map & Privateer 3
Download (29 kb)

Date: July 23, 1997
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: John Guentzel
Pages: n/a

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