The UO Herald was excited to announce last week that Ultima Online is being honored as the first inductee to the GDC . A formal award ceremony is being held October 7. The award Online Hall of Fame acknowledges UO's Origin legacy and its contribution to the massively multiplayer genre as a whole over the last fourteen years. Some of the developers who will be accepting the award also worked on various Wing Commander Online prototypes. Congratulations!
Choice Online Awards organizers have also announced that Electronic Arts' Ultima Online, the Origin-created game that is now the longest continually running massively multiplayer online game in history, will be honored with the first ever Hall of Fame award for online games.
The persistent world installment for the seminal Ultima game franchise, which launched on September 25th, 1997, has now been operating for almost 14 years - and was a key part of the wave of late 1990s subscription-based MMOs which brought the genre to much wider attention.
Some of Ultima Online's most important features included in-game events affecting the entire lore of the world, and progressive features for their time such as item crafting and persistent player housing. Continued upgrades of in-game content and even the game engine have helped to keep the game fresh for players, some of which have subscribed continuously for over a decade.
In honor of the game's induction, the Hall of Fame award will be accepted on stage by key members of Ultima Online's original development team: Rich Vogel, Launch Producer, Starr Long, Director, and Raph Koster, Lead Designer. Joining them will be Eugene Evans, GM of BioWare Mythic, the current home of Ultima Onlinewithin Electronic Arts, who will introduce key team members from the game's development history.
In celebration GDC Online will present a special lecture, 'Then and Now: Ultima Online Over Time'. The lecture will be co-presented by Rich Vogel, currently at BioWare Austin and the original producer of Ultima Online, and Calvin Crowner, the currentUltima Online game producer. The duo will talk about the history of the title, contrast their work on the game throughout its history, and provide anecdotes and specific takeaway from many years of work.
While I definitely shared LOAF's confidence, even I'm surprised that this came together in under a week. Popsicle Pete has reused elements of Gulikoza WC4 DVD patch and created an installer that allows owners of Wing Commander 4 (on CD) to take advantage of the DVD version's movies.
To streamline installation and setup, Pete's put together
this exe (700 k) upgrade pack. It's designed to work with both the Windows and DOS versions. Simply run the installer and and it will prompt you to insert your CDs to install the game. At the end of the install, you will be asked if you want to open the appropriate folder to drag the DVD video packs in to.
It's just amazing how far we've come from the days when people needed to hunt down the entire Creative Encore DXR kit to experience this. Please test this one out and
provide feedback at Crius.net!
I cooked up an small installer to allow owners of the CD edition of WC4 to install it as a DVD version. The installer includes Gulikoza's patches, so most people should be able to fire off the game straight after the installer ends and having copied the high-res movies to into the game's folder. You can download the installer here.
To be honest no hacks or new patches is included in there; all it does it automate a process of copying the right files and configuring a few things. It also contains a few files from the DVD version of WC4. The result is an installation of Wing Commander 4 DVD playable disc-less.
I couldn't test it much, please try it and tell me if it works for you. Comments also appreciated
Wing Commander fans are all keenly aware that flight and space simulators have fallen off over the last few years. One of the big blows to the genre was the discontinuation of Microsoft Flight Simulator after X was released in 2006. However at the Gamescom convention today in Germany, Microsoft announced the series' successor, Microsoft Flight. Very few details have been announced, but the game will clearly cater to a less hardcore sim player. The internet is already raging back and forth about what this means for the franchise, but the real question is: will it let you ?
fly a 737
Happy first birthday to Frontier - Prelude to Darkness! The project turned a year old last week. lew82 has been pumping out regular updates and new episodes so steadily that it seems even longer. The weekly ship/character of the week feature has started up again with new items being posted about every Tuesday. One of the latest updates is about this slick looking carrier.
Pre-production has been the order of the day this week, with the loyal voice actors going over their scripts and sending me their lines, then possibly redoing them again in different ways – thanks guys for all your efforts, you know who you are.
The Norwegian site Gamer.no has posted a nice mention of Wing Commander 1's upcoming 20th birthday. The actual ship date anniversary comes next month on September 26, but we're happy to celebrate all summer long! Check out their post here.
...Wing Commander featured a dynamic campaign that changed the character based on your performance, and it was not at all certain it ended with victory for humanity. In fact, it could be pretty bad, but it did not mean "game over". Instead, you will experience a different (and much more depressing) story and very different missions.
But this was not the only area where the Wing Commander was ahead of its time. It was able to also boast intense, animated sequences and an incredible atmosphere outside of missions, thanks to dialogue with other pilots (a bit like we have between missions in Starcraft II) and brilliant briefing-sekvnenser.
So what are you waiting for? Carrier Tiger's Claw has room for a new pilot, and humanity needs you.
sol_hsa is working on a very cool graphical upgrade for The Kilrathi Saga. As anyone who's worked on modifying games knows, revamping graphics can be much more work than it sounds, so the predominant method is to take advantage of different scalers and filters. The result is ddhack, which adds bilinear filtering to Kilrathi Saga versions of Wing Commander 1 (and probably 2). Coincidentally, this also works with the PC Gamer release! In addition to smoother visuals, this tweak also improves multi-tasking compatibility for the game. Sol is currently looking for testers to help improve the compatibility and implementation of the program. It's been demonstrated to work somewhat differently on Windows XP versus 7, and more test results would be appreciated. Download ddhack 0.2 here (40 k zip) and provide feedback over at Crius.net.
Usage: Copy to the application directory (next to the .exe). Play.
F6 toggles between bilinear (smoother) and nearest-neighbor (closer to original) filtering.
F7 toggles logo on and off.
ddhack is still at a very early stage, and may be somewhat unstable. It has been mainly tested with the 'kilrathi saga' wing commander 1, but wc2 should also work. If any other directdraw programs work, it's a miracle!
In just a couple short days, Wing Commander fans have accomplished some amazing things with the 3D files that AD extracted from Wing Commander Arena. For starters, Howie and Lars have found some great tools to view the included meshes. Try the Ogre Viewer and Show Mesh to get a closer look. Red Baron has gone even further and produced a badass Arrow Guardian file (400 kb zip) with the Arena mesh files. Pictured below are the Arrow Scout, Eclipse and Guardian. Talented Wingnuts are making progress every day. To see the latest, visit Crius.net.
Arena uses a custom method. In the mesh package you downloaded, there should be a folder called 'Materials' with a single file in it called 'MainLibrary'. It specifies what texture and shader each materials uses. It's like one giant material file instead of a bunch of separate ones. I guess they were trying to simplify lighting to keep arena's 50MB budget (I also included the shader scripts in the "shaders" folder). This info should be enough to recreate at least the basic material files for each ship. Someone more experienced with ogre may be able to do more than that.
Ultima Online producer Calvin Crowner has written another post explaining all the big improvements in the game's recent Publish 67. He also discusses future plans involving arena, a classic shard, the game's storyline arc and more. Read about the developers' commitment to the game as it nears its 13th birthday here.
The media outreach prior to this letter went to quite a number of people -- some who have played Ultima Online before, or know of the Ultima series … some who are only RPGers. The intent? To open the channel and experience of the longest running MMO to countless who have only heard of the game in passing.
Just doing anything in UO is easy. But we don’t care to do just anything. We care to grow, evolve, and prosper. As a team we are not without ears or eyes. More importantly, we are not without understanding. Dazzle us with your candor and skills of persuasion. We’re watching … and we just love cake.
Wedge lent us a hand and formatted the logs of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning's party. He's in Australia, so the main event began at 9:00 AM and counted down to the big unveiling at 10:00 AM on the included timestamps. A few of the jokes fall into the "you had to be there!" category, but if you missed the party, check it out here!
(9:42:11 AM) LOAFB: Next is a question that we should all know the answer to at this point
(9:42:31 AM) wcs: You'd be surprised LOAF
(9:42:32 AM) LOAFB: And the winner gets a WC novel.
(9:42:49 AM) LOAFB: Q. Who played science officer Aurora Finley in Wing Commander Prophecy?
(9:43:02 AM) LOAFB: Wedge got it fast.
(9:43:02 AM) Madman: lol - excellent question
(9:43:08 AM) Iceheart: hehe
(9:43:09 AM) wcs: Haven't got a clue..... Told ya....
(9:43:18 AM) Iceman16: dammit, too slow lol
(9:43:24 AM) Mekt-Hakkikt: Of course, she just went to the forums
(9:43:32 AM) akula65: Good job
(9:43:32 AM) Wedge009: Yep. (:
(9:43:33 AM) CaptainXax: Now I have good reason to get pissed at my parents for never buying me WCP when it came out ;)
(9:43:33 AM) NinjaLA_: I hadn't even hit sent :(
(9:43:34 AM) Natreg: you people have been training for this lol
(9:43:37 AM) Mekt-Hakkikt: Congrats
(9:43:38 AM) LOAFB: Yes, the forums' own Mindy Hester.
(9:43:48 AM) LOAFB: Sorry, I still think that's cool.
(9:43:50 AM) NinjaLA_: which is pretty awesome
(9:43:52 AM) Wedge009: It is!
(9:43:59 AM) NinjaLA_: and she plays darn good music
Thanks again to the dozens and dozens of dedicated fans that came out for another successful CIC birthday. It's very impressive how many people have come to ten or more such events. We're still recovering from the marathon Wing Commandering, and normal news will resume tomorrow. Forty-five front page updates set a record for birthday news, and most of the posts lead to galleries and features that should take hours to enjoy. Here's another nod to Dundradal as well for hosting simultaneous games of Prophecy Multiplayer and Wing Commander Arena during the event. It's also time to clean up and claim party prizes. A bunch of lucky and talented Wing Commander fans have won the items below. Collect your winnings by emailing us your name, IRC name and address. Indicate your shirt size or novel choice preference as applicable.
CIC Glass - Mekt-Hakkikt, akula65
CIC Playing Cards - HowieDay, CaptainXax
EA Replay PSP - Madman
Eisen T-Shirt - Stone48420, Wedge, Ironduke, JasonRyock
Eisen Hat - BobMcDob, Mekt-Hakkikt
Confed Replica Patch - Iceheart
WC CCG Starter Deck Box - Wedge
WC Novel - Wedge, Wedge
WC2 Game (OEM)- MusicGuru, Sader, Stone84820
WC4 DVD - NinjaLA
WC Movie DVD - HowieDay, CaptainXax
WC Movie Action Figures - Iceman16, Captain Xax
WC Movie Pair of Lobby Cards - Iceheart
WC Movie Poster - MusicGuru
Autographed Freedom Flight - Wedge
Star*Soldier - MusicGuru
Welcome to the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's 12th annual birthday bash! If you aren't on IRC chatting and winning trivia prizes... well, why aren't you?
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the original Wing Commander--that's a concept so huge I can't get my head around it... so I'm not even going to try. Let's just enjoy a good time with good frieds who make up one of the truly great online communities.
This year we decided to do updates 'my way'--they're all things things I completely dig about Wing Commander's history. I'm giving you thousands of pages of scanned documents, hours of archived video, hundreds of now-preserved photographs. If you're anything like me you'll have a lot to look through in the coming weeks.
Of course we have the usual updates, too, and some other surprises--greetings from the community, some impressive fan art... even a particularly awesome game you can play. Join us in
#WingNut and read on as we travel back in time through the series...
Ever wonder how the latest Wing Commander game got its start? Now you can see more of the earliest concept drawings... and the first screenshots of the game's original 'top down' look. Be sure and look closely--they include early models of the two abandoned heavy fighters, the Centurion and the Gothri! View them all here.
In the past we have talked about the story mode planned for Wing Commander Arena (then "Conflict") and how there were two versions--the initial 'burning battle' pitch that was apparently written by someone who had never heard of Wing Commander... and another elaborate plan created in response to our criticism that involved a crazy amount of Wing Commander minutae. It's about time we let you read them for yourself:
The future is here! AD has managed to extract all of Wing Commander Arena's audio and 3D model files. Time for the modders to start playing... and everyone who likes looking through folders of beautiful textures should take a gander, too! One fun note--the ship wreckage believed to be a Pelican is, according to its internal filenames... a Pelican!
AD has zipped all of Arena's audio files up into a single package and converted the game's music into mp3s. The music may seem odd--they were designed to loop and some have a few-second intro and then a looping main body. He's also produced an Arena medley, included in the package!
When I was originally planning today's updates I had hoped to pick out one great 'present' for each game, walking back through that series. Now that fell apart as we found more and more cool stuff that had to be included, but right along side my list of official games with possible updates was one important note--make sure Wing Commander Standoff is represented. They came through with an awesome new trailer, available below. Here's the official word, from Quarto:
The trailer was actually created as a form of musical presentation, providing a visual backdrop for the music from Standoff, which Michael was presenting as part of one of his final university assignments (that's right - working on WC mods does get you good grades!).
While putting together the trailer, I found that most of the team thought it was excessively long, with too much story and the action starting much too late in the piece. This is a reasonable argument, and ever since finishing this piece, I have in fact been trying to find the time to re-cut it into a shorter, more action-oriented version. However, there are good reasons for the way the trailer was put together.
Firstly, I wanted to give Michael enough space for his music to unfold - just action, action, action would have meant that the whole piece would be, obviously, action music. This would help much to show off all the different themes of Standoff. A second consideration was the audience. I had to assume the people watching Michael's presentation would have no idea what Wing Commander is. The story of Standoff (which can be confusing even to WC fans, if they haven't read Fleet Action) therefore needed a lot of explanation. And finally, as great as the action is in Standoff, we always tried to emphasize the story - so it made sense to do so here, too.
All in all, we think the trailer turned out very well - but hey, judge for yourselves!"
An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is a tape sent to television stations and other multimedia outlets put together to make producing a story on your product easier--they include stock interviews with cast members, film footage that can be narrated over, trailers and other background material. We've digitized a new copy of the 45-minute Wing Commander movie EPK for anyone interested in seeing interviews with Chris Roberts and Freddie Prinze Jr. or a copy of the movie's b-roll.
We can't leave the movie out of the document updates! Check below for a scan of the 'Set Book', which will tell you all about where and when the Wing Commander film was... filmed.
As always, Prophecy gets the most new documents--we have a press clipping binder (from a professional pull service-swanky!), a set book and some designer notes on weapons.
One of our Twitter teasers promised many pictures of German rapper Smudo in a Prophecy flight suit... now, thanks to Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum, we can deliver! You can see them all here (also includes pictures of David Downing showing off Prophecy at ECTS... but we know you're here for Smudo).
Please find enclosed a fantastic one-page Privateer 2-era interview with Erin Roberts conducted by "CGR". Unfortunately that's all we know about the origin--full color copies were included, unattributed, in press kits put together by Origin in the United States to sell the game here!
We've located 'Tape B' from Origin's Privateer 2 video archive, which adds most of the videos not already in our archive (except, somehow, the introduction). Here's the roster:
Uncle Kashumai 1 (24M, .m4v)
Uncle Kashumai 2 (8M, .m4v)
Uncle Kashumai 3 (23M, .m4v)
Auntie Maria Gabriel 1 (12M, .m4v)
Auntie Maria Gabriel 2 (2M, .m4v)
Auntie Maria Gabriel 3 (6M, .m4v)
Auntie Maria Gabriel 4 (6M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 1 (3M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 2 (3M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 3 (3M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 4 (6M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 5 (6M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 6 (4M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 7 (5M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 8 (8M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 9 (4M, .m4v)
Joe the Bartender 10 (6M, .m4v)
Melissa Banks 1 (17M, .m4v)
Melissa Banks 2 (13M, .m4v)
Melissa Banks 3 (9M, .m4v)
Melissa Banks 4 (12M, .m4v)
We have updates of two familiar Privateer documents--the concepts for Privateer 3 and Privateer Online. These versions feature maps and other charts which were missing from the previously archived versions.
Here is the third and arguably least interesting of the photo galleries from Origin's archives. These pictures show Mark Hamill promoting Wing Commander IV at a signing session at New York's Virgin Megastore. It's still pretty neat to see Wing Commander (and Star Wars) fans excited to meet the man! Could you be among them? Find the whole set here.
Wing Commander IV documents, too! These are only for true hardcore crazed fans--production books that show the smallest aspects of the game's shooting schedule.
We've decided to burn bandwidth like it's going out of style... by posting all of the movie files from the Wing Commander IV DVD! Now you can see Wing Commander IV's film segments better than they were meant to be seen--and I feel condident fans will soon create an 'upgrade patch' for the CD-ROM version of the game...
Since we posted the entire run of videos from the Wing Commander IV, we decided we also needed the scenes that for one reason or another didn't make it onto that project... so here they are, extracted directly from Wing Commander IV PSX! The download pack includes the "Bearcat factory" scene mysteriously missing from WCIV DVD and the three alternate 'space' versions of the Tyr briefings found only on the Playstation release.
Another great update from Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum! How much work goes into making something almost no one will ever see? A lot! Check out these documents which cover the 'making of' the Wing Commander IV development team patch.
We have three awesome galleries of 'behind the screens' photos from Origin's archives to show you today, and this is the first: 101 photographs that show how the animatronic Kilrathi in Wing Commander III were constructed! Check out the full collection here.
This is my favorite update being offered today--behind the screens photos of the Wing Commander III cast and crew at work (and play) during the game's film shoot. If the candids of Jason Bernard don't bring a tear to your eye, I don't know what will. View them all here.
Ever want to see Hobbes speak Japanese? Thanks to Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum, you can! He has provided a wonderful 9-minute Wing Commander III Playstation promo video made for the Japanese market. If you speak the language it's probably very interesting, seemingly introducing the entire concept of the series... if you don't, it's a pretty good trip!
How do you sell a new Wing Commander game? Every which way you can! Check out these newly scanned advertisements which prove that it takes everything from awful puns to promising players a ride in a Soviet jet!
When the ESRB rates a new game, they don't necessarily play it themselves--instead, they ask for a video sample they can just play. These days I'm sure it's all done with DVDs and e-mail--but in 1994 that meant Origin needed to cut a special tape of Wing Commander III material to send off to the rating board. Here, for download, is a copy of that tape. It consists of just over an hour of FMV footage--not everything, but a significant amount. The video quality is a touch better than you have seen before, although the sound is awful. Surprisingly, it even includes some of the 'lost scenes'...
That's right, new Wing Commander 'making of' documents... for all of the FMV games and beyond! Rarely represented Wing Commander III steps up with two cool scanned books: a large notebook of information about props, including details on uniforms, ranks and... chairs, and Origin's collection of press clippings for the game.
Here is an excellent high-resolution scan of the Heart of the Tiger subtitle font. That's all I have to say about that.