Wing Commander Rocked Before High Def

B4HD has written a profile on the first two Wing Commander games and their impact on modern gaming. They recall how the ground breaking mix of action and storytelling set a standard that's still hard to beat. The author stops before the series reaches SVGA graphics and full motion video, and it's hard to believe that these "early years" of Wing Commander span just a little slice of time from late 1990 to mid 1992. There's a couple small technical errors too - even with the Speech Pack, Wing Commander 2 only had spoken audio in the intro and spaceflight, and it did so prior to a CD-ROM release, but this is a good stroll down memory lane. Check out the full article here.
The very first game in the series had some really excellent features that were miles ahead of their time. The most notable was the branching narrative. As you fight the Kilrathi, your victories and losses affect what system you will journey to next. Your conduct in space as well could mean the difference between whether your wing man lives or dies and you could face their funeral when you return if you perform badly enough. This meant, for the first time on a basic level, several players could play through the game and have different narrative experiences based on their abilities as pilots and their choices in the heat of battle.

...

Wing Commander II is arguably Chris Robert’s finest work as he manages to put together an amazing storyline packed with twists and turns. The story puts much of the Star Wars series to shame and was definitely one of the defining moments of early ninties PC gaming.

Confed Tank Ready to Shoot

Iceman's made some more progress on his hover tank from Wing Commander 4. The guns are more well defined and hollowed out into real cannon barrels now. Additional improvements will be a mix between sharper versions of original elements and reasonable creative add ons.

As promised here are some shots of the details I've added to the hovertank. I've tried to stay true to the WC4 version, however I've added a couple things that weren't on the original model that I think would probably be on there, such as the computer terminal for transmitting messages and such. I've also re-done the main guns to make them more efficient in terms of polygons and hollowed them out so the projectile can actually come out. Next additions will be 'boxes' on the sides of the turret and adding some more detail to the body as well as some basic textures. If anyone can help me figure out what use those 2 boxes could have that'd be awesome, so far I'm thinking chaff and missiles but any input is greatly appreciated.

UO Producer on New Summer Story Arc

Ultima Online producer Calvin Crowner has posted a community update on the status of the game and series. He talks a little bit about the dynamic that exists between developers and players, particularly in a massively multiplayer game, and then goes into where the game is headed. The focus right now is on keeping the game engaging for existing players, but there will be a small push next month to bring in new players or those who started an account and didn't take to the game. Check out the full article here.
From my perspective no game is anything without substance. Ultima Online, in my opinion, has more substance than many interactive worlds with which I’ve been involved. In the next several months, we ask you to look beyond the surface of what we’ve given you, and what the purpose is. We are nowhere close to the middle of this saga. This is just the beginning. You will be going through many stages of battles. Evil is always the same, it just changes its face from time to time.

July, we are putting together a small present for new players, and those who wish to reactivate some of their under-developed or forgotten young accounts. There are some minor tech hurdles we are working through, but right now we are planning to press the visibility and accessibility of Ultima Online from multiple fronts.

Fan Fixes Fighter Feast

Marc has created another funky image with his nifty WC2 models. This time he's prepared a variety of Ferrets. Click the image to spin the platter.

Just playing with my models again.

An Officer's Beginning Rocks Vega Sector

Dahan has posted additional chapters of An Officer's Beginning to the CIC Forums. The story has taken on new life this year after being initially started in 2005. Check out this adventure and more in the CIC Fan Fiction Forum.
TCS Hibernia
Command Bridge
Far away from the conflict

Colonel Parker and Captain Lang were listening to the battle through the communication channels at the same looking at the progress of the battle at the tactical map.

Looking intently at the tactical map, Parker was rubbing his chin with one hand, while the other was squeezing a stress ball.
“Not good” said Parker, “not damn good”
“Colonel, Gamma Lead asking if they could join the fight and assist?” asked Lieutenant Jessica. Parker and Lang looked at each other uncertain of releasing Gamma Flight.
“We can ready the Wild Aces Squadron?” said Lang
“This was not part of the plan” said Parker. Looking at the tactical map Parker squeezed his stress ball tighter and took a deep breathe “Lieutenant tell Gamma Lead they are free to engage and assist. The Aces are on yellow alert. Tell Major Brady I want one flight launched and second flight on standby status”
“Yes Sir”
“A tad bit nervous David?” asked Captain Lang
“Shouldn’t a wing commander be?”
“Maybe”
“I’m sure your boys are will do well”
“That is what I’m afraid of”

DarkStar One Ad Seeks WC Cred

The August 2010 issue (#112) of the Official XBox Magazine features the space sim DarkStar One on its faux-cover. The full page advertisement glued to and made to resemble the actual cover includes the text "Wing Commander & Starlancer have a love child - finally on the XBox 360!" which is the most Wing Commander to appear on the cover of OXM since 2007. The game itself just came out in Europe on June 18 and makes its way to North American stores on July 20.

There's Always (A New) Hope

Here's the cover of Issue 42 of the Swedish gaming magazine LEVEL. Last year they published this fabulous cover based on the original Star Wars poster. Everything is replaced by famous video game characters and items. None other than Prince Thrakhath fills in the Chewbacca slot. Space Invaders and Star Fox Arwings replace some of the ships. Does someone else recognize the others?

Launch the Attack

The next chapter of Frontier - Prelude to Darkness is now up to about three-quarters complete. There's a couple new screenshots from Part 11 that have been released, and they're both pretty darn pretty reminiscent of the "War with the Border Worlds" ending of Wing Commander IV.

Just Add Stars and Go

WCS posted a neat little shockwave demo, and it's oddly amusing. The ship below flies around pretty well in a browser window, but some artistic support is needed next. Check it out here. I have to say, this is already further along than some fan projects get.

I'm trying to create a small Wing Commander "game" using Macromedia Director 8. I have made slightly simplified model of a Hellcat V, but I'm having a bit of a problem with texturing. I have a background in programming, but not in art/media. Do you people have any advice to create a (semi-)realistic metal texture? Also, does anyone have a good reference for all the metal seams/other texture objects on which people base their models on?

Wing Commander Shockwave

Click once in the opening screen ( yes I'll replace it at some point, but I needed a suitably low-compression ratio image to prevent a bug in Adobe Shockwave player for Firefox )

Controls:
Q,W - Roll
Arrow keys - Yaw, pitch
Z,X - Speed
Home - Return to opening screen

Thanks in advance :)

EA Rocks iPhone Launch

Electronic Arts has announced their domination of the top selling app chart on day one of the iPhone 4 launch. They held 12 of the top 20 sales positions. This was no doubt boosted by the 99-cent sale on key titles held the day before the new phone was released. The good news is that the sale has been extended through Monday, June 28, on numerous games ranging from $1 to $3. Games can be purchased now via iTunes and downloaded to an iPhone later. Check out the full list of discounted titles here.
On the day of the Apple® iPhone® 4 launch, EA Mobile™ − a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) − dominates the Apple Top Grossing App chart for iPhone with 12 of the top 20 titles. EA Mobile also welcomes iPhone 4 with the release of NCAA® Football which has been specifically designed to maximize the power of iPhone 4’s new Retina display.

Since the inception of the iPhone, EA Mobile has been a definitive player with the rise of iPhone and iPod touch® devices as gaming platforms. Popular games include SCRABBLE, Tetris, MONOPOLY and BATTLESHIP, which have consistently ranked among top sellers and, in 2009, The Sims® 3 was the #1 best-selling game on the App StoreSM. For more information about EA Mobile, please visit www.eamobile.com.

Night Owl Gets the Pilgrim

There's one more satellite broadcast of the Wing Commander Movie this week! Mancubus noticed that Polsat will air the film on Friday, June 25, at 10:15 PM. They've posted a neat page for the movie with a variety of promo images. I like all the different movie synopses that various stations post. This one even gets the year correct!

Wing Commander
Sci-fi film based on the successful record-breaking computer game. The action takes place in the year 2654. Three young pilots from a squadron of elite interstellar pilots fight an alien race who are preparing to invade Earth. Their commander is a beautiful woman, endowed with extraordinary intuition and charisma ...

Early Bird Gets the Kats

There's another showing of the Wing Commander Movie in the Middle East this week. Fox Movies TV will be broadcasting the film on Friday, June 25, at 5 AM KSA time. The station is free to viewers in the Middle East and North Africa by tuning to either Nilesat N101 11.766 GHz Horizontal or Arabsat BADR03 11.843 GHz Horizontal.

Earth year 2564. The Confederation is engaged in a brutal war with the bloodthirsty alien race the Kilrathi. The Kilrathi have captured a computer navigation device, which they plan to use to jump behind enemy lines and attack Earth. Only three young space pilots and their elite fighter squadron stand in the way of the planet's destruction. Blair, Maniac and wing commander Deveraux are very different, but all are rebellious and talented, and must come together to fight a common enemy.

FMV Defined a Video Game Era

Richard Cobbett has posted an article on the "rise and fall of interactive movies." It's a pretty in-depth piece on the multitude of mid '90s video games that included a live action film shoot. Most readers will recall that a lot of these games were pretty corny and cheesy, but there were some creative gems mixed in as well. The author credits Wing Commander and Command & Conquer as consistent winners, but he rags on the losers pretty hard. An important thing to consider though is the timeframe and context. In just a few short years, PC games transformed from 16-color blobs to three dimensional SVGA games with CDs full of video. Most just didn't age as well as the WC series. Check out the full article here.
The Wing Commander games are arguably the only ones where known actors have emerged smelling of roses. It helped that unlike many, these games had a real budget – a then-insane $4 million for Wing Commander III, which used the standard bluescreen technique, and $12 million for the fourth game, which finally allowed for actual sets and physical special effects. Mark Hamill’s performance as world-weary space hero Christopher Blair grounded the series in a way that surprised everyone who thought Origin had just hired Luke Skywalker as a gimmick, while Tom Wilson (as the arrogant but insecure pilot Maniac) was pleased to be recognised as something other than Biff Tannen from the Back to the Future movies. Malcolm McDowell and John Rhys-Davies also showed up and gave excellent performances, to the point that the fourth game’s most exciting moment wasn’t the last space battle, but the FMV debate that followed it, where you had to talk a council chamber full of diplomats into acknowledging the bad guy’s naughtiness.

Blast From The Past

Do people ever click this button? It shows you all front page updates from today's date in years past. Here's a gorgeous animated gif we posted ten years ago today! In 2010 we could easily just post the full 250 kilobyte image right here, but I'll save that for 2015 or 2020. Old (low bandwidth) habits from the 1990s internet are hard to break.

Saga Blasts Off Into The Wild Purple Yonder

The WC Saga dudes have shown off the latest update to their Confed frigate. The Caernaven was popularized by Wing Commander 4, but it was originally designed for Wing Commander 3. Quite a bit of texture and detail has been added since 1994's original, and that purple nebula looks pretty spiffy too.

This week, the Saga Team would like to show off another vessel: the Confed frigate. Our frigate is the 2669 variant of the post-War frigates seen in service with the Confederation and Border Worlds Fleets during Wing Commander 4.

More WCPedia Help Needed

Dundradal recently updated the WCPedia fighter entry template and spent the last month getting most of the ship pages upgraded. There's lots of useful work to do getting more information into the database. Visit Crius.net for assistance if you're not sure where to start!
I've finished with the conversion of the general capship and fighter articles to the new fighter infobox. All that remains in the Confed category is the individual ship articles (Tiger's Claw, Concordia, Victory, Princeton, Eagle's Talon, Mount St. Helens, you get the picture). If someone would like to tackle this small project, please do! It's an easy project, it will just take a bit of time. It is made easier though because you can copy and paste much of the infobox for individual ships from the general ship article saving quite a bit of typing.

The other ship categories are still in need of conversion. Aeronautico has done a few Kilrathi fighters, but otherwise that category is untouched.

Missions are my next priority. I only have a few to add basic mission script information to before I am done. There is still a need for someone to go back through the WC1 script and add in all the alternative briefing/debriefing/rec room conversations in the articles. I can explain to anybody willing to take on the project how to understand the WC1 script. I've also got the SM1/2 scripts ready to go thanks to LOAF. Once the WC1 mission articles have the basic stuff in I'll move on to doing SM1. It would be great to, again, have someone going over the articles after me and adding in little things like missing images and text. Just let me know.

If anyone has any suggestions or is looking for something to do on the project, but not sure what, just let me know. I've got tons of things that people can do to help out!

Buy PSN Wing Commander IV from the Web

There's now one more way to buy Wing Commander IV for your Playstation 3 or PSP. The process is similar to buying Wing Commander Arena for XBox Live over your PC. Start by downloading Media Go, an iTunes-like storefront and organization program. Search for "Wing Commander" in the Store area and follow the prompts. The 2.25 gigabyte game is just US $5.99, which is a great deal. Since PSN network accounts can be created over the web, particularly patriotic Wingnuts can buy WC4 this way without even owning a PS3/PSP! The Wing Commander Movie is also available for rent ($3) or purchase ($6) through the PSN Store. Thanks to Vinman for the tip.
Free Media Go® software lets you download content from PlayStation®Store to your PC, then to your PSP® system. It's an easy way to download and organize games, demos, movies, TV shows and more directly for your PSP® system.*

Just download and install the Media Go® software to your PC and browse PlayStation®Store right from your desktop. After you've completed downloading your favorite games, movies, TV series, and comics, connect your PSP® system to your PC using a standard USB cable, and transfer your downloads directly to your PSP® system.

DOSBox 0.74 Released

A new version of DOSBox has been released! Version 0.74 adds some great enhancements that help get classic Wing Commander games running better than ever. Control over CPU timing has been improved, which should particularly help smooth gameplay between open space and heavy dogfights in the oldest WC games. There are also some Windows 7 compatibility improvements, which is key for Wingnuts who've upgraded. Windows 7 doesn't support DOS apps directly anymore, so something like DOSBox is critical. A couple parts of our Tech Support section might now be out of date, but the overall instructions should still be good. Hit up the Tech Support forum for any other questions that arise. It's possible to get every classic Wing Commander game running on modern systems, so go forth and play!

Tanks for the Pictures

Iceman is trying his hand at making a battle tank from Wing Commander 4. Although it was only seen in video for a few seconds, the ground assault vehicle has been popular as one of just a handful of non-flying military craft seen. Two different tank models were included with the game. The more wedge-shaped Confed tank is the basis for Iceman's design.

I decided to model the hovertank from the Circe missions of WC4. Thinking about making some more ground vehicles and perhaps making a mod for MW2 or some such. No textures yet as I'm just getting back into modeling and still not very good at textures yet. Any comments and suggestions are welcome!

Tiger's Claw Barracks Lit and Lengthened

Michelle D's barracks have come together quite a bit this week. The lighting has been improved and scale adjusted. In a three dimensional environment, there were some tricky measurements to work out between the height of the beds versus the doors. An extended concept image has also been created with the camera pulled back further and an archway visible.

I mirrored the room so that more beds exist on the other side of the camera. There is a beam splitting the two rooms which cuts the image horizontally where the black line in the original image originally was, this helps add more surfaces to bounce light off of and gives more light overall since the lights were also mirrored behind the camera. I'm happy with the level of illumination and now the Status readout panel is a bit brighter.

Confederation on the Move

NinjaLa's recent propaganda poster prompted Bob McDob to pull out an old art piece that he had been working on. It combines several different wartime themes with an iconic Bengal class carrier hanging nicely in space. There's also a Confederation flag watermark based on concept designs that were ultimately used in Star*Soldier

It's modeled on U.S. Navy archival photographs, hence the white bar with Times Roman on the top, to give it the feel of an historical artifact. The actual design of the poster is modelled loosely on early-war Soviet propaganda; the graffiti-like-writing-in-blood colors style that was popular with everyone in the Second World War; not so much in the First, oddly enough. It was a lot more popular with the Russians and Germans than it was with the British or Americans (though the Australians had something similar in the period immediately after Pearl Harbor).

Looking at it now, I probably made a mistake juxtaposing that phrase over what essentially is a serene image. It looks more like a peacetime recruiting poster than a wartime "BUY WAR BONDS" sort, and if I had decided on the text first I probably would have gone for a more muscular image. But the art was the part that was done first, and the text was literally slapped-on in the last few minutes. I'm not sure why I chose the text, I did, either - the idea here is that the battle for the Vega Sector is won (or at least in the balance), not that Confed is losing the war or on the verge of grave defeat. I think it was just mood - I'd just finished composing the image and was hysterically-exuberant; I needed a catchy phrase and I jumped to something hysterically-exuberant. I figured "LONG LIVE THE CONFEDERATION" was a good motto that would be on a lot of posters.

Kicking Back with Academy Storyboards

AD found some cool storyboards in the portfolio of artist Verne Andru. He's responsible for the sketches that helped set up the episode Wing Commander Academy episode 'Recreation'. I love the style - clearly Wing Commander action depicted with minimalistic ink. Someone should do a comic like this. Quite a bit of concept artwork has actually been found over the years. A beautiful gallery of scene background art for the Academy show can be found here.

Complete Your Collection With Wing Commander Academy

Speaking of Wing Commander Academy, do you know what was hidden on Tortuga? Where the 2654 Sivar-Eshrad ceremony was held (not Firekka!)? How Krulan nar Ragitagha died? Or who commanded the KIS Agon Ra Sivar? If any of those questions don't ring a bell, it's time to brush up on the animated series! The thirteen episodes follow the TCS Tiger's Claw through an exciting year in Wing Commander history. First time watchers might want to check out the Viewers Guide to read about the difference between chronological and broadcast order. Grab all thirteen episodes, plus some special features, 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.

No Kilrathi Aboard Here

NinjaLA has put together a wartime propaganda poster based on a historic WW2 publication. It features the vehicle from Privateer and a famous Kilrathi prince. Grab the super high res version (for poster printing!) here.

The first in a series of World War 2 style propaganda posters set in the Wing Commander universe and made by yours-truly.

Internet Archeology Unearths Old Interview

Here's a very old interview with veteran Origin sound expert Martin Galway. C64.com conducted this Q&A based on his substantial roots in the Commodore 64 market, but the questions spread into his slightly more modern efforts. Based on the comments about Digital Anvil's recent founding and the Wing Commander Movie's upcoming release, we can place this one in about early 1998. He would have been working on Starlancer at this time. Find the full article here.
Tell us about the Origin years.

It was more hands-off. I was less involved with music than I used to be. There were those that had composed for longer than I had and were simply better at it than me, for example George Oldziey. I can't get that "orchestral sound". All my music is minimalist, I think it's because I learned my trade on the SID!!! In the future I think there will be an outlet for my style though, we'll have to see.

I became more involved with dialogue, which simply didn't exist in the 80's. From scriptwriting, to directing actors, to editing the dialogue later and processing it to get a good clear sound in the game.

Why was Digital Anvil built up?

Because Electronic Arts, who owns Origin, wouldn't give Chris (and by implication the team) the flexibility we needed to produce the kind of games we wanted to. Several new game ideas got canned. The Wing Commander feature project is a case in point, they weren't interested in doing it there. So we all left. We just secured the rights from them do to it ourselves and we're working on it now (for December 1998 release), because that's what we wanted to do. I understand one of the other games that was canned is one that we may acquire to complete later. It's about doing what we want. Origin employees are faced with such projects as Ultima Underworld 3, Privateer 3, Wing Commander 6, Ultima 9... Can you see a pattern there?

Tell us who's employed and such things.

In addition to all that corporate blurb on the web site, all the best staff from the Strike Commander, Wing Commander and Privateer teams all moved over to DA to continue making kick-ass space fantasy games. In addition, Tony Zurovec and the best of the Crusader team moved over here, and they're still into guns, explosions & carnage, except that this time it involves cars too, something we're all into!

Relaxing Rec Room Rendered

Michelle D is still working on the Tiger's Claw's barracks, but work has also spread to the bar. The shot below show how the room is taking shape, and there's even some prototype pilots inserted for scale. A starfield out the window is a nice touch, but it'll look even better with some color!
Good 'ole Shotglass dispenses more then just fine drinks, as his subtle nods coach you through yet another _______ conversation with _______.

I've noticed that nothing in the image shows any depth, I assume for simplicity. The table tops, chairs and bar top show depth but more for the players benefit. The simulator has a bit of forced perspective to show the screen a bit more then it should. The floor is the only clear reference for perspective.

New XBox 360 Announced

Microsoft announced a major new hardware revision of the Xbox 360 today at the 2010 Electronics Entertainment Expo. The slim XBox 360 250 GB console also includes 802.11n wifi for $299 in the US. As of last week, that same price point got you an XBox 360 Elite with a 120 GB hard drive that required a separate $80 wifi adapter. Old XBox systems in stores will receive a $50 price cut, so the hard drive-less Arcade unit can be found for as little as $150. The new XBox should be available in stores this week! If you held off on a 360 purchase before, now's the time to act! Then get your Wing Commander Arena on for only $10.

Electronic Arts is also announcing a slate of new titles today. Highlights include Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor, Monopoloy Streets and EA Sports Active 2, which supports the Project Natal/Kinect controllerless input system.

Epee Attacked by Wedge

Wedge has penned another sharp Wing Commander 2 sketch. The subject this time is the F-54 Epee. I think he nailed the bright color and mood of the ship just right. Check out a super high res PNG of the sketch here.

From an artistic point of view, Wing Commander II is probably my favourite out of the whole series of games. The saturated colours makes everything so bright and lively and the colour schemes make it easy to distinguish between friend and foe.

This is an Epee light fighter, often derided by players for having thinner-than-toilet-paper armour, at rest on the flight deck of the TCS Concordia. Compared with my previous drawings, I worked out how to filter scanned sketches so that the resulting black-and-white starting point is much cleaner. Consequently, the colour palette used makes the final image look rather cartoony, but then, the original game had a cartoon feel about it anyway. My colouring technique is rather basic, admittedly, but after doing some research, I realise this is probably the best I can manage without spending money on a tablet (which would be a rather extravagant waste of money given that I don't draw very much).

Materials: Paper, mechanical pencil, fine-tip black ink pen.
Software: GIMP 2.6.
Time: About one and a half hours sketching plus two and a half hours colouring.

Kotaku Bets on Wing Commander

E3 2010 kicks off tonight, and the staff at Kotaku have put in their predictions for the week ahead. Two of the seven editors suggested a Wing Commander announcement, although both with rather long odds. All of their predictions can be found here.
Prediction (Odds)

* Wing Commander reboot announced - for consoles (500:1)
* EA unveils Privateer: Steltek's Lament, an all-new adventure in the Wing Commander universe 30,000:1)
* Sony unveils a new PSP this one with two thumbsticks. (1000:1)
* We finally hear something official about a new Syndicate. (50:1)
* Steel Battalion is revealed as Capcom's core Natal game (16:1)
* Hulu comes to Xbox Live (1:1)
* Microsoft acts as if the Zune doesn't exist (2:1)

Ascii Sector Continues to Expand

Just in time for the weekend, there's two new updates for Privateer Ascii Sector! Versions 0.6.6 & 0.6.6.1 fixed a ton of issues with the game and add more neato features. The economy has been tweaked to make trading a more worthwhile activity. Five new systems and seven new bases have also been added, and you can now sell stuff from your locker in the equipment shop. Grab the new update here and have fun!

- Fixed bug with a transfer procedure still completing even though it's interrupted by hostiles.
- Fixed bug with stunned NPCs acting as witnesses and calling for help.
- Fixed bug with EMP Torpedoes not homing in when fired from a capital sized ship.
- Fixed bug with Kilrathi ejecting from a mission ship.
- Fixed bug with a scooped ejected pilot being placed on the same tile as another NPC.
- Fixed bug with the equipment locker on a boarded Demon: Only the player's ship has an equipment locker now.
- Fixed bug with commodity items reappearing in the exchange if you save the game while still using the exchange terminal.
- Fixed bug that could cause the game to freeze when using the inventory (the game would think there was a quest being played and check for unexisting trigger events when picking up or dropping items).
- Fixed issue with the old Quine4000+ not being upgraded to the 5000 model when loading an old game.
- Fixed bug with a kill from a hand grenade not being registered if nobody saw you throw the grenade.
- Fixed bug with the weight of a grenade not being subtracted from your total weight when throwing it.
- Fixed bug with not being able to walk onto a tile with a corpse that was sitting on a chair.
- Fixed bug with a quest item not being removed correctly after a quest is done if the item is in the player's backpack or locker.
- Fixed bug with cargo being spawned on a retro Talon.
- Balanced the commodity market prices to make trading more profitable: When a commodity is produced at a base, the price will never go above the index price, and if a commodity is consumed at a base, the price will never go below the index price. Also increased price variations between imports and exports. And when you buy/sell in bulk, each unit is now priced the same. Had to remove the "Sell all" button or this could be abused.
- Added top imports and exports information in the Quine5000 for each base you've visited (under Sector > Trade).
- The Quine5000 is now the default computer in the game -- the old Quine4000+ has been retired.
- You can no longer delete a mission where you still have to collect payment.
- Added ShowImage quest trigger result for showing cutscene images.
- Added ASCII drawing program for making quest cutscene images (you can find it by selecting Quest Maker from the main menu).
- Added five new systems.
- Added seven new bases.
- You can now sell stuff from your locker at the equipment shop.

Wing Commander Goes Green

Welcome to the mirror universe! The below screenshots are not, in fact, from Wing Commander--they're from the opening scenes of Retrograde, a 2004 direct-to-video action movie starring Dolph Lundgren. What's going on here? Both movies were produced in Luxembourg by the Carousel Picture Company, which apparently decided to recycle some of Chris Roberts' sets and props--the Tiger's Claw flight deck, Rapiers, marine rifles and armor and so on--to decorate post-apocalyptic Los Angeles circa 2204.

CIC Birthday Less Than Two Months Out

The year will soon be half over, and the 12th CIC Birthday Party is only two months away! On August 10, 2010, we'll be celebrating twelve years of Wing Commander news at wcnews.com. The party takes place at 7:00 pm Eastern US time (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT) in the IRC channel #Wingnut. The night will be full of trivia contests, special features and fun. As the biggest gathering of the year, it's also a great time to set up some multiplayer Wing Commander matches. See you there!

Next Prelude to Darkness Chapter Hits Halfway Mark

Part 11 of the Frontier - Prelude to Darkness movie is now more than half way complete. Now that numerous plot events have been set up by chapters 9 and 10, the next segment should be full of action. Facebook users can also follow the project on the Frontier Fan Page or check out recent ship and character profiles at the animation's main website.
Part 11 contains three main scenes, I am pleased to say the first one is complete and I am diving into the next one, the third scene is one I’ve been wanting to make for awhile so I’m looking forward to that.

You may notice I am attempting to do a fan drive on the facebook page, with a little pushing from a friend :) . So spread the word and suggest your friends like the page, and let’s see if we can get some numbers up there.

Privateer 3 in Print

Last week, we posted some amazing Privateer 3 artwork from developer Ruben Garza's online portfolio. Mr. Garza's resume revealed one moer interesting fact: a piece of his Privateer 3 work appeared in "Spectrum 6", part of an art book series which collects a variety of sci-fi and fantasy artwork. We ordered a copy from Amazon and discovered the image scanned below--it belongs in a museum!

Spectrum 6 was published in 1999 and is currently out of print, but as luck would have it there will be a softcover reprint released in September! It's a neat chance to own a part of Privateer 3.

artist: RUBEN GARZA JR
client: Origin
title: Privateer--Black Star
medium: Digital
size: 17"x11"

Upcoming WC Movie Showtimes in France

The Wing Commander Movie is doing a tour of duty in France this month. This times pretty well with the recent French DVD rerelease with localized audio. It will be airing on Le Nouvel Observateur this Friday afternoon and several other times in the coming weeks. Check out the play schedule here. Also watch a cool French dub of the movie's trailer here.
Le sujet

En 2654, un vaillant guerrier intègre une force d'intervention spatiale qui s'oppose à une monstrueuse invasion perpétrée par des extraterrestres belliqueux.

Au XXVIIe siècle, la Terre entre en guerre contre le puissant empire Kilrathi, qui ambitionne de l'annexer et de la soumettre, comme le reste de l'univers. A l'issue d'une attaque-surprise, les créatures de Kilrathi, au physique proche de celui des humains, prennent le contrôle du système central de navigation. Les envahisseurs disposent désormais de voies d'accès directes à la planète bleue. Plus rien ni personne ne semble pouvoir freiner leur progression. Personne, sauf peut-être le lieutenant Christopher Blair et ses deux compagnons, le pilote Maniac et l'aventurier Paladin. Sous les ordres de leur «Wing Commander», la superbe Devereaux, il partent à l'assaut de l'empire Kilrathi...

Feel the Wind Blast By

Tim Peel from SciFi Meshes took Howard's Hornet out for another spin and produced this gorgeous wallpaper image. Like his last image, this one was taken at dusk and takes advantage of a natural environment. Whether in space or over water, this design just looks great. Two aspect ratios are available: 1680x1050 and 1920x1080.

As a near daily regular and occasional contributor to the CIC for over 10 years, I paged through the archives to catch up on everything Wing Commander related and came across G_Starkiller's new Hornet model that you posted a few days back. His work, along with my own guilt at having unwittingly neglected wcnews.com for so long, inspired me to blow the dust of Howard Day's excellent Hornet model and render up a new wallpaper to share with you all.

I hope people enjoy the render as much as I did making it.

GoG Adds More Space Sims

Ed Filho tipped us off about the latest space combat sims to show up for sale Good Old Games. Independence War Deluxe and Star Wolves are now available for just $6 and $10 respectively. They join several others such as Freespace and Darkstar One. We just need Wing Commander next!
A guerilla war has been raging in space for centuries. Human colonies are breaking away from Earth's control, declaring independence from the Commonwealth. As a Commonwealth Navy commander, your mission is to stop the Indie rebels and their attacks of terror and random piracy. It's a sophisticated, interstellar battle for life, and you must fight your way along the path between duty and justice. With luck and skill you can secure a victory for mankind.

Have Fun Exploring the Sega CD Claw Marks

CrazySpence noticed the instructions to the Sega CD version of Wing Commander 1 were missing from the Game Manuals section, so he went out and found one by way of SegaFans.com. The Sega CD port was especially notable for its addition of full speech throughout the game. The basic controls have been posted for a while, but the back page of today's copy includes different layouts for three-button and six-button controllers. This should be especially cool for people who don't own the Sega variant, so they can see all the unique stuff compared to stock Claw Marks. Download it here (33 meg PDF).

Everyone Should Have a Wing Commander Weekend

Earok had a long weekend on his hands and D-Fend Reloaded on his computer. The result was an action-packaged weekend full of Wing Commander 2. He's covered the experience in a 'retrospective' article at Earok's Arcade. Sounds like a productive weekend to me! Thanks to Hurleybird for spotting this one.
I had planned to be productive this weekend. I was going to do my blog posts for the week, tidy everything up, sort the bills, reply to outstanding emails, do some more XNA tutorials etc.

Yet, for some reason I felt compelled to play Wing Commander II. I had it on an old Creative Labs OEM CD and thanks to the magic of DosBox I was able to play it again for the first time in perhaps a decade or more.

Windows Compatibility 'Superpatch' Updated

Mincemeat has been successfully helping fellow fans in the CIC Tech Support Forum get Wing Commander games running in Windows for years, but we have neglected to mention his custom compatibility tweaks in the news. The CIC's own Tech Support section includes a variety of tips, but when adjusting the stock compatibility mode settings isn't enough, Mincemeat's 'superpatch' is ready to adjust Windows' hidden compatibility mode settings even further. The new version 0.3 of the patch includes special settings for Kilrathi Saga WC1&2, WC4 for Windows & DVD, the Prophecy 3dfx Test & Demo and Privateer 2. Mash's Patch is the recommended fix for KS WC3. Grab the superpatch package here (6 kb zip). Detailed instructions are included. Have fun!
This is a collection of Application Compatibility fixes for various Wing Commander games for Microsoft Windows XP. It should save the player from having to manually configure compatibility settings in order to play.

At the time of release of Windows XP, Microsoft has built-in some compatibility fixes, but they were either incomplete or do not sucessfully cater to the myriad of system configurations in existence.

Always try playing without any compatibility fixes first. You might not need this at all!

Remembering Our Fallen Wingmen

In honor of Memorial Day last week, Kotaku posted an article on video games that acknowledge fallen characters. Wing Commander does this better than anybody, and a couple other series get a nod as well. Hobbes' funeral in Wing Commander 3 is even embeded in the piece. Check out the full article here.
What made it real, though, was the fact they could die. One stray bullet, whether by accident or some careless command from you, the player, and they were dead. And not video game dead, where you could magically revive them, or they'd be "unconscious" and would return for the next mission. Actually dead. They'd be stricken from the game, their progress lost, and to replace them, you'd need to get a fresh young soldier and do it all again.

To lose a player like that is heart-breaking. And because of that, you remember it. You remember the characters you liked most, the ones who helped you out in the most important missions. And each time you enter a new battle, those old characters are still with you, their loss serving as an example, making you more aware, more cautious of what's around each corner.

Fancy 3D Trick Jump Starts Barracks Modeling

Michelle D is working on a 3D model of the Tiger's Claw barracks. The process began with a "camera mapping" technique to quickly create a pretty accurate approximation of the scene right from the start. This skeleton was then lit, and the third image shows the old art projected on top. The last two images show additional detail and the beginnings of textures starting to go in.

I enjoy walking the corridors as much as I do piloting spacecraft, so I decided to do some interior modeling. I did a quick search and found that someone else did in fact make a barracks model. It's very nice, and further inspired me to work on my model.

Privateer 3 in Motion

A new selection of Privateer 3 media has been discovered! One of the last great resources for information on cancelled games are the online portfolios of the artists who put their blood, sweat and tears into material that would otherwise never see the light of day. Ruben Garza, a veteran Origin artist who also worked on Wing Commander Prophecy and Ultima Online, has included Privateer 3 sketches and renderings at his website. Even more exciting, his demo reel shows us the game in motion for the first time. It features a 3D rendered Privateer 3 sequence which pits a trio of fighters against a capital ship. Ah, what should have been...

For archival purposes we have placed a copy of Mr. Garza's demo reel here (8mb, Quicktime).

Privateer 3 at Rest

Also for the sake of archiving material from a 'game that never existed', here are a pair of screenshots from the last cache of Privateer 3 images discovered at the website of Charles Workman. These pictures (a wireframe and a render) show the game's merchant space station. They appear in Mr. Workman's demo reel but not his project gallery.

Southampton Turns Towards the Sun

ScoobyDoo took a brightened screenshot of the latest WC Saga destroyer, and the difference is like night and day! Many small details like ports, vents, decals and discoloration and visible. It stands out pretty well against that red background too.

Wing Commander Ripens on the Vine

Rotten Tomatoes has compiled a ranking of the best movies based on video games. The numbers are a simple listing from lowest to highest on the Tomato Meter. Wing Commander took 20th place between Pokemon Heroes and Street Fighter. If the Tomato Meter says so, it must be true... right? You can find the ranking here.
Ever since Space War! and other titles entertained forward thinking minds and delightfully nerdy fingers over fifty years ago, video games have become a staple of modern entertainment. And over the past two decades, Hollywood has been trying to successfully translate the platform's biggest successes from arcade, television, and computer screens to the silver screen (and not just for gaming competitions).

With casual, MMO, and social gaming expanding the audience of gamers today (we see you and your needy cows, Farmville players), there is no doubt that Hollywood will keep trying to bring the active experience of gaming to the passive comforts of your local multiplex. Critically, despite its best efforts, well, Hollywood appears to have a ways to go.

New Hornet Joins The Swarm

G_Starkiller recently got back into the original Wing Commander game, and it inspired him to start building a fighter model. The Hornet has always been a very popular ship for modelers to make, and the shape on this one seems really good so far. More texturing and fine details will follow as the ship takes shape further.

I was playing Wing Commander for the first time in over a decade, yeah, I know I'm dating myself here. I figured it'd be cool to try to do high detail models of these ships.

I started with the ship I flew in the first few missions, the F-36 Hornet, Confed's top light fighter at the time of the first game. I just finished detailing and assigning materials to the laser cannons and missles. I also just finished the armour plating.

Destiny Is Not Our Destiny

A short video teaser for a Wing Commander Destiny game has been making the rounds lately, so this is a good opportunity to set the record straight. Even though it's been floating around since March 2009, there have been quite a few questions about it in just the last few weeks. It's purported to be a new XBox Wing Commander title due out in Fall 2010, but no such game exists. Aside from the heavy use of dropships from Aliens, it wouldn't be a bad fan movie were it not claiming to be straight from Electronic Arts. When the next Wing Commander game does get announced, the promotional trailers will be preceded by an official press release, and you'll be sure to hear about them all here!

Mark Hamill Taking Command of Shooting Things

Here's some more information on Mark Hamill's potential film deal mentioned over the weekend. The Wrap has collected some insight into the process that's been holding up a film adaptation of The Black Pearl, Mark's pet comic book project. Money to advance the movie seems available, but negotiations are still pending on some of the details. Check out the article here.
Considering that Hamill’s writing career encompasses some stories for “The Simpsons” comics, an introduction to a Batman anthology and one major comic miniseries, “The Black Pearl,” the clues made it clear that he’s talking about the latter, five-part story, which he’s said he wants to direct ever since its initial publication in 1996.

The story of “The Black Pearl,” Hamill told the New York Daily News at the time, is "a crime thriller, fairly raw in terms of violence … about tabloid journalism and sensationalism and all the things that thrillers come from."

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