They're Quick and Light

All the digital Wing Commander art that people make is great, but I'm also a strong supporter of more physical arts and crafts as well. The latest example of this is QuailPilot's P-64 Ferret sketch. There's even a backstory to go with it. Keep 'em coming!

This was a quick sketch to help me get back into drawing. I imagine it as a Ferret pilot just about to go on patrol, and is reviewing his waypoints. I realize the Ferret isn't really scaled right, and the hands are a little funky, but I thought you all would enjoy it anyway.

Those are the Drathis stenciled beneath the cockpit, and it says "Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty," on the nose.

Saga Sheds Light on the Darkest Dawn

In advance of a preview trailer for WC Saga, the team has released a teaser with a variety of cut footage. It shows off a handful of the game's signature WC3-era ships in a pitched battle and suggest there will be more to come this "winter." You can download the 21 meg .mp4 video here.

A full length Wing Commander Saga trailer is about to be released. In fact, we are just finalizing the music for it. Watch, and enjoy! There is more to come soon.

Movie Airing in Finland

MTV3-SciFi in Finland will be airing the Wing Commander Movie this week. Air times are July 31 at 3:15 AM and August 1 at 10 PM. Check out their page dedicated to the film here. The Google Translation is pretty funny:
The inhabitants of the planet are fighting on behalf of the Kilrathi-empire. Ohjaaja: Chris Roberts, USA 1999.

Boeing CST-100 Renderings Released

Boeing has recently announced the CST-100, a small spacecraft designed to transport a crew of 7 to the International Space Station or commercial ventures in orbit. The vessel has some similarities in common with the original Apollo capsule and the recently cancelled Orion module, and it would be sized part way between the two. It's one of several programs kicked off by the NASA Commercial Crew Development transport project. A video of what the CST-100 might look like in action is available here.
Boeing is maturing the design of its CST-100 spacecraft under an $18 million Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Space Act Agreement with NASA. The CST-100 can carry a crew of seven and is designed to support the International Space Station and the Bigelow Aerospace Orbital Space Complex. The CST-100 will ... be able to launch on a variety of different rockets, including Atlas, Delta and Falcon.

Video Review Highlights Awesome Port

Brand new Crius.net member Decay has posted a thorough video review of Wing Commander 3 for the 3DO. He's captured tons of video footage and narrates throughout. Unlike the Playstation port, the 3DO version of WC3 has quite a few differences from the PC version. In certain places it has slightly different missions and weapons, plus it adds in some very cool video cutscenes. These clips are higher quality overall, and even the comm vids are in color instead of green. Watch Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
For my first review, I look at one of my all time favorite games. Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger for 3DO.

Countdown: Two Weeks!

We're now less than two weeks away from the CIC's 12th Birthday! In addition to celebrating a dozen years at wcnews.com, we're also pumped up about the Wing Commander series' 20th anniversary this year, so this should be our biggest bash ever! It's easy to stop by #Wingnut and start hanging out with the coolest WC fans in the world. Be sure to come by on Tuesday, August 10, 2010. The party starts at 7:00 pm Eastern US time (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT) to join the festivities. There'll be plenty of games, prizes and special features to unveil. You can also RSVP at the Facebook Page. See you there!


Starcraft 2 Released

The long-awaited Starcraft 2 was released last night to legions of eager PC gamers. With nearly 12 years since the original game and its expansion, SC fans have quite a bit of patience in common with their WC counterparts. We've heard a lot of comments that the new game feels like a Wing Commander game, and that's no coincidence! The lead Blizzard designer has been quoted as saying "it's very Wing Commander" and that WC was among the dev team's favorite games. Previews have also been citing the similarities for years. The core RTS gameplay is different, but particularly the between-mission gameflow segments and generous video sequences are very familiar. There's even a map table to stand around! When's the first WC mod coming out?

Online TacOps Game Grows Each Week

Avacar continues to make great progress on an online software-based version of Wing CommanderTacOps. The database to control ship coordinates is complete, and both popups and forms have basic functionality working. Click the links to test them out, but note that they may not work in Internet Explorer. There's even a bonus tech demo that lets you play with ship movement (again designed for Firefox or Chrome). Up next on the list of tasks is to work on the ship orders (as in commands) system.
Hi Everyone. I have a nice Phase 3 bonus for you. With the skills I picked up on Saturday, and using the framework I built for the Phase2a demo (i.e. this is not database fed, like the real game will be), I give you Fun With Rapiers. The formatting on the dialog is a bit chunky, but it took all of 30 mins to do this entire demonstration.

My next update will likely be longer in coming, as I now have to tackle the actual Phase 3 objectives (build the ship info dialog, and weave it into the code so it is turn/phase database fed. I also intend to build the pilot class, which I haven't done yet, and tie it in).

MSL Goes For First Drive

Here's a neat peek into the clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This webcam recording shows the Mars Science Laboratory rover taking its very first steps. The software that drives this mechanism was partially developed by esteemed Wingnut eddieb, and we can't wait for this thing to start exploring Mars! A second cool follow-up video is also available here.

Happy Birthday Arena!

Wing Commander Arena turns three years old today! Arena might be the baby of the Wing Commander family in terms of age, but that label also applies in regards to how many disparate elements of the series all came together and produce a remarkable blend of history. No other game pulls from so many sources in building its flight roster. Broadswords from WC2/Priv, Arrows from Armada/WC3 and the unique Rapier model from Super Wing Commander all fly side-by-side on the new frontiers of the Terran Confederation. Not since 1994 has there been a WC game so geared towards multiplayer space combat. Capturing satellites, chasing down enemy squadrons and going for the longest streak in the Bearpit are all tons of fun, but coordinating with seven of your closest wingmates to thrash an enemy battlecruiser guarded by eight live foes is as amazing as multiplayer Wing Commander gets.

Arena didn't sell well enough to garner an immediate expansion or sequel, but it continues to hold its own on the XBox Live Arcade sales charts. Contrary to outlandish rumors of delisting, the game holds its own around the 60th percentile (top 40%) of titles in Microsoft's Marketplace. Games are the core of this franchise, but peripheral fiction, books and merchandise are also an important part. The Star*Soldier companion to Arena includes the most comprehensive timeline of the series, which beautiful ties together elements from the television show, movie and latest games and novels. It also acknowledges the diehard fan base with numerous references to dedicated Wingnuts and the work they've done over the last 15 years to bolster the online community.

And all this for only $10! Happy Birthday Wing Commander Arena! And thanks to the team at EA Vancouver and Gaia Industries for putting everything together!

Super Soaker Stockpile Spread Out

It's been six years since Hades and I took a picture of my Super Soaker collection, and I've gotten dozens of new Soakers since then! Digital camera technology has also come a long way in that time, so it's possible to grab a much nicer and higher resolution image these days too. There's about 330 Super Soaker-branded blasters pictured below, and I have a few stragglers that didn't make it into the shot. To learn more about water guns, check out iSoaker.com.

Read Up on the History of 3D

TechRadar has written an article on the evolution of 3D games from 1980's Battlezone to upcoming games that you see in 3D with glasses on new televisions. The piece covers quite a bit of territory and acknowledges the early Wing Commander's scaled sprites as a noteworthy milestone. Origin's Ultima Underworld is also credited for its part. You can find the article here. It's a good companion to the gaming graphics writeup that they published last year.
For much of 3D's history, the trick has been getting the effect of the third dimension without having to do it for real. The early Wing Commander games gave the illusion that you were flying through 3D space, but really they were just scaling sprites up and down.

Ultima Underworld could afford to push these limits because as a role-playing game, it was inherently slower than a shooter, and the audience was more willing to accept the necessary limitations, like the small viewing window. It didn't hurt that while publisher Origin's official motto was 'We Create Worlds', its unofficial credo was 'Your PC Will Cry'. It never did worry about system requirements...

Prelude Part 11 Now Playing

The long awaited Part 11 of Frontier - Prelude to Darkness has been released. It sets the stage for a huge space battle between the two warring factions in the next chapter. Due to the size of this episode, the showdown was bumped to Part 12. Fortunately the next piece is well along, and Part 12 could be just a week or so away! Check out Part 11 now and stay tuned for 12 shortly.
I decided rather than clog it up releasing two episodes at the same time, that I would release Part 11 now and Part 12 when it’s finished whish should be about a week or so.

Part 12 is coming along now at 71% – lots of action in this part as it is now purely a space battle scene. Keep checking the updates on facebook. Stay tuned for more next week (and hopefully the release of Part 12).

New Dev Diary for Hostile Frontier

Kevin Caccamo has posted another update on his mod to WC Saga, Hostile Frontier. Space is a lot prettier now thanks to some new background nebulas, and a couple of cool capships have also entered the mix in the form of colorful escort carriers and Exeter destroyers. There's also been further development of the game's plot.

I recently finished converting the Wake-class and the Exeter-class. I also tried to do some high-polyization to the Wake-class model, e.g. recesses for the windows and bulkheads at the back, cylinders for the engines, and modeled bumps on the "bumpy thing" on the top. The modified model also has a changeable nameplate, so it can have "FRLS Independence" or "FRLS Magna Carta" written on it without having to create a new model. Thanks again to the Standoff team for the Wake-class and Exeter-class models.

Digital Downloads Trending Up

The NPD market research company has announced that their latest data shows digital download sales of PC games have nearly reached the number of boxed retail sales in the US. Their surveys list 21.3 million games sold via internet download versus 23.5 million boxed copies. Digital purchases at EA.com came in 4th behind Steam, Direct2Drive and Blizzard's website. In the casual market, EA's Pogo website was second behind Bigfishgames.com. Check out the report here.
While NPD’s point-of-sale research shows that PC physical retail sales experienced a year-over-year revenue decline in 2009, it was still slightly larger than PC digital download sales on a unit basis. PC digital downloads represented close to half of unit sales across digital and retail at 48 percent in 2009, and accounted for 36 percent of dollar sales.

Firekkans Get Legs & Straps

Here's the latest shots of Michelle D's Firekkan model. Some basic body armor/clothing has been added and a very preliminary body is now present. Much of the body is still a placeholder as the exact positioning and structure gets tweaked. You can help provide feedback at Crius.net

Tweeting Firekkans
I think I made a close match of the straps around his body.

Spore 2: The Darkening

Electronic Arts has announced Darkspore, a new sci-fi game for its 2011 lineup. To be more specific, it's an online, science-fiction action role-playing game based on the Spore franchise. It is a story-driven hack-and-slash moreso than a sim-type game, but it sounds like there will still be some nifty creature customization as well. As already well demonstrated, there are some potentially fun possibilities out there. The game is scheduled for a February 2011 release.

Darkspore will feature dynamic, fast-paced action as players battle across alien worlds to save the galaxy from the mutated forces of Darkspore in a four-player co-operative and full single-player campaign, as well as intense multiplayer battles. In order to defeat the malicious Darkspore, players will need to collect an arsenal of living weapons - genetic heroes with different combat abilities - and upgrade them with tens of thousands of collectible body parts and armor.

Darkspore will feature three unique classes of five different genetic hero types, with a limitless number of upgrades and customizations available through the parts players collect on each planet level. As players progress, Darkspore builds in intensity, with new planets and enemy forces requiring players to strategically select the right squad and ability combinations to succeed in their missions.

Steady Progress Made on Images & Missions

Dundradal has a quick status update on WCPedia updates. A few dedicated fans are hard at work, but more volunteers are always needed. Visit Crius.net if you'd like to help, or check out the most recent updates here.
Wedge has been a image replacing machine the last week! He's been replacing a lot of the crappy images we uploaded at first and replacing them with nicer ones.

The rest of us have been eating away at a variety of projects. I'm down to 2 WC1 missions to complete for basic article format. I've got the SM1 and SM2 scripts from LOAF ready to go when WC1 is completed. So this summer has been pretty productive. Let's keep up the good work in the final month before the bday!

Ascendant Pictures Acquired by Bigfoot Entertainment

Chris Roberts' Ascendant Pictures company has been acquired by Bigfoot Entertainment. Ascendant was an expansion of the Point of No Return endeavor, which was briefly involved in the preproduction of a Wing Commander live action television show. Some of the bigger movies to emerge from Ascendant were Lord of War and Lucky Number Slevin. Check out the full release here.

Los Angeles, July 6, 2010 – Bigfoot Entertainment, Inc. has agreed to acquire the assets of Ascendant Pictures to form Bigfoot Ascendant Distribution LLC. The combined company will drive the foreign sales of both companies’ portfolio of titles through Ascendant Pictures’ existing distribution channels, as well as build new relationships.

Founded in March 2002, Ascendant Pictures integrated the creative independence and budget sensibility of Indie film companies with the production and market savvy of major studios, and quickly became one of Hollywood’s most promising upstart film companies. Furthermore, Ascendant developed a foreign distribution operation that distributes its films through output arrangements with major territorial distributors and broadcasters.

"This development strengthens our portfolio of film titles," said Kacy Andrews, CEO of Bigfoot Entertainment. "And we believe that this acquisition will help springboard us into the distribution arena which is Bigfoot's primary focus this year."

"We are pleased that Ascendant Pictures has become a part of the Bigfoot Entertainment family," said Chris Roberts, Founder and Chairman of Ascendent Pictures. "We do believe that this will positively impact the industry through the consolidated efforts and resources of bringing the combined company’s arsenal of titles to market."

Titles that will now come under Bigfoot Entertainment’s rights under this new arrangement include completed films such as Who’s Your Caddy? (2007), The Big White (2004), Ask The Dust (2006), Lord of War (2005), and Lucky Number Slevin (2006), as well as other Ascendant Pictures’ titles in the works.

Key personnel of Ascendant Pictures will remain on board in the newly-formed Bigfoot Ascendant Distribution LLC to ensure a smooth continuation of operation under the new management team.

About Ascendant Pictures:

Ascendant Pictures is an independent film development, production, finance and foreign distribution company. Ascendant combines the creative independence and budget sensibility of groundbreaking “indie” film companies with the production and market savvy of major studios. Ascendant is striving to identify, develop and produce films in a variety of genres with compelling stories and fascinating worlds that inspire and captivate global audiences while having the potential to grow into franchise entertainment properties. With the expertise and experience of its principals, Ascendant has the distinct ability to move films beyond their linear film medium into the interactive entertainment market.

About Bigfoot Entertainment:

Founded in 2004, Bigfoot Entertainment is an international entertainment company producing independent films for the global marketplace. The company finances and develops feature films, documentaries and reality TV shows, many of which have received industry accolades, festival awards and have been distributed throughout the world. Featuring both well-established and up-and-coming American and international talent, Bigfoot releases have shot on location worldwide including the United States, Hong Kong, China, Africa, Europe and Vietnam. Bigfoot Entertainment produces many of its projects at Bigfoot Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary that encompasses six sound stages and on-site state-of-the-art post-production facilities.

Headquartered in Los Angeles with studios in Cebu, Philippines, Bigfoot Entertainment creates content reflecting a Hollywood foundation with a global perspective. For more information, visit www.bigfoot.com.

Saga Website Revamped

The WC Saga website has been relaunched. Types of content have been arranged by category and the front page now sports an embedded Twitter feed. A handful of new screenshots from their upcoming teaser trealer have also been released. The new site should help lead the way to an upcoming beta test.

Browse our new site, leave us your comments, and stay tuned for exciting developments in the near future.

Help Build the Fleet

Ironduke has posted a list of potential ship graphics that would be helpful in upgrading Wing Commander TacOps and getting it going online. A great many of Marc's awesome ships have been incorporated, but there is potential to add even more. Capships and lesser seen fighters from both Confed and Kilrathi are the least represented at this time. Check out the list here.
This list shows all available graphics for use with the computer-aided version of WCTO. Mainly meant for Avacar right now, but it also shows the progress of the graphical side of the project.

Personally, I'd love to include the WC1 fighters, but their stats would be tricky to balance... Actually, I have all the WCTO ship stats worked out for pretty much all craft from WC1 to WC3 and Privateer - I'm just lacking ship models that are on par with Marc's excellent work.


The Darkening's Composer Interviewed

Square Enix Music Online has posted an interview with famous video game composer James Hannigan. He's been recently responsible for scoring music for the last few Command & Conquer and Harry Potter games, but one of his first projects was the in-game and theme music for Privateer 2: The Darkening. There's some interesting perspective on what new technologies were coming online in the mid '90s and how they've evolved into moderning gaming music today. Check out the full Q&A here.
James Hannigan: I've been composing professionally for around sixteen years. After starting out intending mostly to work in film and TV, I was offered a job quite quickly as an in-house composer at EA in 1995, where I then spent a few years before going freelance again. I'd already cut my teeth in games before that though, alongside composing quite a lot of library music and little bits and pieces for TV. I gained some useful experience while at EA, working on numerous EA Sports titles, games such as Privateer: The Darkening, and others, plus I got to grips with various techniques for creating so-called 'interactive music'.

Chris: As a freelancer, you came to prominence working on titles such as Conquest: Frontier Wars, Brute Force, and the appropriately titled FreeLancer. Could you share your experiences on these projects and how they influenced your career?

James Hannigan: A few years before those, I'd composed for the Origin title, Privateer: The Darkening while at EA, and one of the producers of that had a lot of involvement with the formation of Digital Anvil. Martin Galway, the audio director at the company, got in touch and we went from there. As a teenager, I'd heard a lot of Martin's music in various C64 games, so it was really great to be working with him — and we've been in touch ever since.

Secret Missions End in Success

On this day in the year 2655, Christopher Blair and Joseph Khumalo finally pinpointed the location of the Sivar dreadnought in the Vigrid System following a heated chase through the Kilrathi held quadrants of the Epsilon Sector. After an intense battle, fighters from the TCS Tiger's Claw were successful in destroying the enemy superweapon. To atone for this failure, the Grand Admiral of the Kilrathi fleet, Crown Prince Gilkarg nar Kiranka, was executed. His second son, Prince Thrakhath, then succeeded the admiral as second in line to the Kilrathi throne.

Ek'rah Skabak erg Thrak'Kilrah maks Rag'nith!

Wedge has made a high fidelity Kilrathi insignia that he would like to share. It's an accurate representation of the "Kiranka Claw" first introduced in Wing Commander 3. You can also download the source .svg file here. Bob made some Confed counterparts a while back as well.

I think I have been quite faithful to the design as it appears in the Warbirds document from WC3, but I appreciate comments and constructive feedback all the same.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

GameSpite has posted an article on "the end of space combat simulators." It's a good topic to talk about, and it frequently comes up in conversation. A lot has to do with the changing tastes of the gaming market, the role of peripheral input attachments, rising game development costs and more. There are also many specific factors that influenced each particular series and company. Gamespite's article focuses on the discontinuation of three series - Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace - at the turn of the century. There's a lot of potential confusion about the events that lead up to this, and we're always anxious to set the record straight.
In 1998, Interplay decided to leap in with the confusingly named Descent: Freespace. The name was a curious marketing ploy, considering that Descent was a niche series that played like a corridor-based first-person shooter on three axes, offering only the faint whiff of crossover appeal for space combat fans. But it came at a perfect time, arriving on the heels of the disappointing Wing Commander: Prophecy, which marked EA’s attempt to relaunch the series without the input of creator Chris Roberts. Freespace received enough positive word-of-mouth to warrant a sequel, which would be released the following year.

The release of Freespace 2 alongside X-Wing Alliance was part of a confluence of events that would ultimately mark the end of what had been one of the preeminent genres of the 1990s. Roberts had long since left Origin, leaving the series dead in the water after the lukewarm reception given Wing Commander: Prophecy. Interplay was in the process of hemorrhaging money, and X-Wing Alliance marked the end of a trilogy. The stage was set for the genre’s demise.

It's a little more complicated than this, especially in regards to Wing Commander. Prophecy was a very successful entry in the series, and while it disappointed some who were in love with the hours upon hours of FMV in Wing Commander 4, it dazzled fans who were anxious for a greater emphasis on space combat. Sales were excellent - so good, in fact, that Wing Commander Secret Ops followed up for free to tide over fans, keep them excited until the next game was released, and test novel new ways to market new Wing Commander games. And these games were well on their way into development through 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Privateer 3 (more, more, more, more, more, more and more) and Wing Commander Strike Team / Shadow Force should have continued the series as everyone expected. But then we got to those changing market conditions, unsustainable FMV budgets and rising costs. Games like Freespace 2, X:BTF and Starlancer did not sell as well as the last crop of Wing Commanders and Star Wars games. New formats such as the massively multiplayer Ultima Online were booming, and so there was a big shift in direction. Wing Commander development transitioned into Privateer Online (more), Wing Commander Online and then Privateer Online again. Electronic Arts also acquired Westwood Studios, which was further along on their space MMO Earth & Beyond. With competing products in the pipeline and a market quickly becoming saturated, the decision was made to launch E&B instead. Wing Commander Online and Ultima Online 2 were sidelined, and Origin didn't recover from the tailspin.

That hasn't kept the powers that be from attempting to pull everything back together, but so far only smaller scale projects (Prophecy Advance, Wing Commander Arena, various ports/rereleases) have made it to see the light of day. Hopefully you find this history fascinating, and someday we'll all be able to look back at this time period and see how it built up into a great relaunch of the series. It's only a matter of time until the next Wing Commander game!

Callitri Continues Concordia Construction

callitri has recovered from some hardware problems (why do artists have so many hard drives destroyed?) and is back at work on his Concordia model. Significant detail has been added to the engines and aft end of the supercruiser. Suggestions or additional reference shots from the Wing Commander Movie are welcome.

"Hey, that's a Kilrathi on the screen!"

Highball is still plugging away at a playthrough of the Wing Commander series, and he's made great progress. The commentary on mission structure, interesting twists and high/low points makes good reading, but it's also a lot of fun to see scores of pictures gracing the page for each new game. Wing Commander, The Secret Missions, Crusade and Wing Commander 2 have all been covered so far. The mission continues next in The Special Operations. Visit the "Chronicles of Wing Commander here.
Missions: VotK re-established the famous “mission tree,” with a slight change: there was not an extensive “losing track.” Each new system to which the Concordia jumped offered a series of winning track and losing track missions. When players failed a mission or series of missions in any particular star system, they would then play through that system's one series of losing track missions that offered the chance to get back on the winning track. Of course, should the player fail at both a regular series of missions and its subsequent chance at redemption, the player would then see a “losing” ending, which is being reassigned back to Caernaveron station, losing the entire main campaign, and Angel.

Though this does not give the player as much of an opportunity to claw their way back to victory after a series of losses due to some bad luck, it’s definitely better than the “all or nothing” approach of Secret Missions and Crusade. Of course, most players never see the losing ending, because VotK gives you the option to immediately replay a mission after a loss, or to "continue script." Which do you think the majority of players are going to choose? I had never seen the above losing screens, in point of fact, until I lost intentionally just to get the screen grabs.

Story: VotK expanded the Wing Commander universe substantially, as well as adding elements of uncertainty, doubt, and fear into the game by using the human traitor subplot; the reveal for which is done very well, keeping you guessing as to who the traitor may be the entire time. Of course, the scripted deaths added just the right element of suspense and impending doom. Developing a relationship with Angel over the course of the game only added to the fear that "anyone can die."

Ultima Online Receives Technical Upgrade

Ultima Online was down briefly this week for maintenance, and the systems updates that were conducted are a big deal. A major upgrade to the underlying databases that run the game has been in the works for years and was finally conducted this week. The investment represents a nice commitment to future of the game!
Why is this significant for us the team at Bioware Mythic? Because while we have worked on it in the background for months, and planned for it for a couple of years, UO has needed it for much longer than we'd like to admit.

While we do understand that game bugs, skills and object balance, and live content are important to the longevity of Ultima Online ... the foundation on which all this is supported was at a critical level. We want you to know we are in this for the long haul! 

We thank you for your patience, and I'm certain you understand the significance of this update as we continue to improve the service of UO.

Test Basic TacOps Tech Demo

Avacar has posted a new demonstration of his Tactical Operations game board here. Eager players can punch in coordinates and see a dogfighting duo appear on the board in the designated locations. Although it might look primitive, it's an important foundational step for getting the game working online. Work continues now on the database and background code that would drive unit locations as ships move around during combat.

These Cockpits Deserve Close Inspection

AD found a very cool image in the gallery of Craig Halverson, an artist that worked on Wing Commander 3. The two cockpit shots in the first image below show off some very unique perspectives on the Thunderbolt and Excalibur. The TBolt picture is cropped back from a wider angle, which reveals the full upper strut and more of the dashboard. In the second frame, the Excalibur display is presented with new colors in many of the electrical elements. Great find!

Chinese Conference Connection to WC

A conference on Hollywood animation was recently held in China. A variety of American experts went to Asia to discuss techniques and production processes to help spark the industry in new regions. Global Times briefly covered the event and added an odd footnote. Apparently none other than Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts was on the list of presenters, and a handful of upset participants demanded a refund when he was unable to attend. Curiouser and curiouser...
Aron Warner, the producer of the Oscar-winning cartoon feature Shrek, led a team of Hollywood producers and designers to Beijing to talk about the success of Hollywood's animation industry. Only a quarter of the anticipated number of participants signed up for the three-day course, an outcome the organizer blames on the Chinese cartoon industry being too protected to invest in learning.

...

Some students requested a 1,000-yuan ($146.40) refund after learning scheduled participant Chris Roberts, producer of Lord of War and the Wing Commander series, was unable to attend because he couldn't secure a visa, according to Tuo.

Birthday Bash Next Month

The next CIC Birthday is just one month away! Come celebrate with fellow fans and watch the website turn twelve years old on August 10, 2010. The party starts at 7:00 pm Eastern US time (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT) in the IRC channel #Wingnut. It's a great chance to catch up with other Wingnuts, and lucky fans will also have a chance to win rare and exotic prizes. First time partiers can get up to speed via the simple Java interface. Clear your calendars and don't miss it!


Behold the Beautiful Blue Box

CrazySpence recently added a copy of Wing Commander I Deluxe to his collection, and he had to share it with the world. He's posted pictures and described his glee at The Kingdom of Philtopia. What a great feeling it is to get a new Wing Commander game. Check the posting out here.
A few weeks past and I found a set of Wing Commander 1 with the original fighter specs however after some heavy bidding I lost it to someone else and felt rather defeated. I took one more pass at ebay and found a “Buy it now” of Wing Commander deluxe edition IN THE ORIGINAL BOX with FIGHTER SPECS, CLAWMARKS, WC1, Secret missions 1 and 2 plus the install manuals, a 1990 catalog and some other paperwork from Origin! I jumped on that quickly and awaited shipping.

Today it has arrived and it is Christmas in June for me! The box has a dent in it but all the contents are in excellent condition. For being almost 20 years old I would say it has held up pretty damn well and I look forward to liberating the Vega Sector, chasing down the Sivar and liberating Firekka from Kilrathi Occupation!

Shockwave Hellcat Painted for Patrol

WCS has improved his Shockwave Hellcat again. The latest addition is a crisp Confed texture donated by limdaepl. Combined with the starfield in the background, the ship looks ready to talk on some Kilrathi! The next update will likely be in the form of a Confed cruiser or destroyer to fly around. Jump in the cockpit for yourself here. Click on the Confed star and use Q, W, Z, X and the arrow keys as controls.

I am astonished as to how good it actually looks, even if some parts of the texture do not properly align with the mesh ( yet! ).

Gotta Love Those Tachyons!

365 Days of Astronomy has profiled the tachyon, a wonderful time traveling subatomic particle that moves faster than light and has a cool name. If the powerful Tachyon Cannon wasn't famous for its market value in the Gemini Sector, its inclusion on the F-103 Excaliur definitely brought it to the forefront. Scientist Craig Robertson has recorded a podcast that discuses some of the theory behind the physics. The Wing Commander series is later mentioned as using the concept in popular fiction. Check it out here.
The Tachyon cannon is one of my favorites. It packs a real wallop, rarely fails and it's one sleek design.

Fleets Engagement Coming in Prelude Part 11

lew82 has posted a couple more exciting screenshots from the next chapter of Frontier -Prelude to Darkness. Both show off the huge space battle in store for part 11. Looks like it'll be a blast to watch everything go down!

I know that this part is taking its damn sweet time, but let’s just say making a battle scene between a opposing fleets is quite complex – one 300 frame shot I did yesterday took twelve hours to do.

The last week has however been massively productive in terms of how much is actually in this latest scene (Scene 25 – the final scene of Part 11). I have managed to squeeze another 10% into the completion status since the last update so by that rule, we should be looking at another 1-2 weeks.

Online TacOps Version in Development

Avacar is working on trying to make an automated version of Wing Commander Tactical Operations on the web. TacOps is a turn-based strategy game with a bunch of fancy stat cards and a polished rule book. Fans have wanted to play something like this for a while, but implementation has been tricky. Avacar has managed to get a static game board implemented on the web, and he's mapped out the next several steps to make the game playable.

Phase 1: Establish a working, static html/css board which successfully overlays the grid on a background, and puts ships in grid cells. Being static, I expect a hardcoded change is necessary to move the ship to a different cell. I also need to work out how ships that are larger than cells will work (since images typically aren't positioned based on their center), and how to handle multiple ships in the same cell.

The key thing shown here, is that we have determined how I'll layer the css and the html, what is a child to what, tag wise, and how I'll move ships around. While this static version can't move ships without a hard code change, *where* to put that hardcode change is obvious.

The next step, I'll put in the hex-coordinates to pixel-position math, and a form to let us control them. Additionally, I may mess with some simple jquery. finally, I'll start playing with the php GD library that lets us rotate the image on-the-fly, and see if we want to do that, or simply store 6 orientations for each ship.

I haven't decided the best way to address if 2 ships are on the same square yet.

Mythic Entertainment Becomes Bioware Mythic

EA Mythic Logo Electronic Arts has restructured its role playing and massively multiplayer game development studios under the Bioware name. Mythic Entertainment, which has maintained Ultima Online, Warhammer Online and Dark Age of Camelot for some time, will now be folded into the new organization. This announcement renames the studio to Bioware Mythic and puts them under the same EA executive that originally founded the first Bioware studios in Canada. Coincidentally, the brand's other satellite studio is Bioware Austin, which is currently developing Star Wars: The Old Republic. The company has struggled somewhat with growing the business of its existing MMOs, but they will soon take direct control of Warhammer's European operations. As part of this change, EA also reaffirmed that Warhammer will "provide players with an engaging battleground for years to come."

New Firekkan Model Swoops In

Michelle D has posted pictures of a model Firekkan. The primary references are the characters as seen in The Secret Missions 2, but without feathers these birds come off as a little creepy so far. We're anxious to see the finished product with brighter colors, softer lines and some cool gear!

Tweeting Firekkans
I'm not done with the head. I would like to add in instanced feathers, and work on the texture more. I'm not doing a body yet, I'm looking for feedback on the head before I move on to the body. Does it look too bird like or not humanoid enough?

War is Declared

On this day in the year 2634, war is formally declared between the Terran Confederation and Empire of Kilrah. The last straw came in the form of the tragic Anna Magdelena incident. See how descriptions of this event vary slightly over time. The quotes below come from Claw Marks, Victory Streak and Kilrathi Saga/Star*Soldier.
On 2634.186, war is formally declared by the Terran Confederation on the Empire of Kilrah for countless acts of piracy and unwarranted assault.
The Anna Magdelena, ferrying orphans to Dieno, is attacked by a pair of Kilrathi fighters. All hands are lost. In retaliation for this and the five-year string of equally heinous abuses of all known laws of civility, the Terran Confederation officially declares war on the Empire of Kilrah for countless acts of piracy and unwarranted assault.
The Anna Magdelena, a refitted transport ship ferrying orphans to their new homes on Dieno, is openly attacked by a pair of Kilrathi fighters. No one survives. In retaliation for this and the five-year string of equally heinous abuses of all known laws of civility, the Terran Confederation officially declares war on the Empire of Kilrah.

Consider Copious Console Choices

The new poll asks what Wing Commander game for console and handheld gaming systems is your favorite. And there's some great options to choose from! Quite a few Wingnuts got their start on the Super Nintendo versions of Wing Commander and The Secret Missions in the early '90s. These were also recently rereleased for the Sony PSP in EA Replay. Since Wing Commander 2 for the SNES was never released, that one's not an option above. However the Genesis/Sega CD version of WC1 with full speech is there. The Playstation iterations of Wing Commanders 3 & 4 were also very popular, and WC4 is available once again via the PSN store. The 3DO got some of the most fancy ports of the franchise by way of an enhanced WC3 and Super Wing Commander. That leaves one of the most technically surprising games in Prophecy for the Gameboy Advance, and the most recent is the multiplayer powerhouse Wing Commander Arena. I wonder what will be next... but that's for another poll.

The old poll picked Wingnuts' favorite cockpits. The realistic dashboards of Wing Commander 3 won, but there's a pretty even popularity between Privateer, WC1 and WC2 behind it. WC4's spartan HUD also had a fairly strong showing.

Happy Fourth!

Happy Independence Day to our American visitors out there today! Visitors from the US make up the majority of Wingnuts, but we've upgraded our Origin FX fireworks for all. To Wing Commander fans everywhere, have a great day!

Happy Birthday Richard Garriott!

We'd also like to wish Origin founder Richard Garriott a happy birthday! He turns 49 today. To celebrate, Mr. Garriott is flying Zero-G Parabolas over Washington DC and will watch the Smithsonian's fireworks tonight.

OBJ 2 WCP 2 U

Kevin Caccamo has updated his program for streamlining the conversion of OBJ files associated with Wing Commander Prophecy/Secret Ops modding. Version 1.0 now takes advantage of and requires the Java 3D API. Download the program here (13 k zip). Instructions are included with the file, and more information can be found at KC's website. A basic tutorial has also been posted at Crius.net.

OBJ2WCP is a command line application that converts models from Wavefront OBJ format to a pascal source code file, which can then be compiled by WCPPascal into a Wing Commander Prophecy/Secret Ops IFF mesh. OBJ2WCP is written in Java and the source code is available in the download.

-| Features |-

- Reads info from v, vt, vn, and f
- Support for multiple materials
- Support for full lighting on materials with "illum 0"
- Apparently it supports smoothing too.
- Gives statistics about the model
- Tells the user what bitmap goes with what MAT number
- Gives understandable error information
- Attempts to calculate face normals (experimental)

Supersized Saga Ship Sets Sail

The newest WC Saga ship is a transport based on the Belleau Wood from Wing Commander Armada. It's got a darker blue paint scheme and a mean looking gun on the nose. An extended version of the craft will fill the role of the larger assault transport from the WC4 novel. There's quite a few of them in the convoy pictured below!

We intended our vessel to be the same class of the troopship mentioned in the Price of Freedom novel. In the novel, the Pelileu-class assault transport TCS Louis B. Puller deployed the Marines that “rescued” Tuesday Brody from the Border Worlds in the Tyr System. As the sharp eye can see, our concept of this ship is a larger derivative of WC Armada’s Belleau Wood-class transport.

Expert Endeavor: Expanding Entries

It's a long three-day weekend coming up here in the US, and any Wingnuts with some spare time on their hands should help out on the WCPedia! Over a hundred registered users have created over a thousand pages. Since the Wiki came online in 2007, there have been over one and a quarter million page views and 8500 individual edits. That means each time you edit something, you're good for an average 150 views! The top three pages are...
  1. The year 2654
  2. The TCS Tiger's Claw
  3. And Christopher Blair
Not a WC expert? That's okay too! Dundradal offers this at Crius.net...
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!

Invest in Interstellar Industry

NinjaLA's latest WW2-themed propaganda piece implores Confederate citizens to buy war bonds. The more bonds you buy, the more planes will fly! For more posters, also check out Bob's rendition here.

This one is still a work in progress.. but I consider it about 85% complete.

Shockwave Stars Surround Sleek Ship

WCS took our advice and added a starfield to the background of his Shockwave tech demo. A few stars or a nebula always bring an otherwise simple render to life!

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

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