HCl Develops Sega CD Voice Extractor

HCl took a break from investigating the 3DO file formats to dig into the Sega CD/Megadrive. His preliminary work has already produced a utility that allows extraction of Sega CD speech! WC1 on Sega CD includes full spoken dialogue in place of the original game's subtitles. Try out the test release of SegaRIP here (7 k zip). If you don't have a Sega CD disc hanging around, HCl has posted audio samples from each of the pilots at his Editing Site. Now the challenge: what enterprising Wing Commander modder's going to create a speech add-on patch for Wing Commander 1?

I have been playing with my old Sega Megadrive a bit as well, so I ended up making a small detour and looking at the Wing Commander Sega CD files. Long story short, things went better than expected, so was able to quickly make an extractor for Sega CD speech! You can find my little SegaRIP utility here. Open your cmd window and type something like: segarip RIG.DAT

Please keep in mind that there may be a few voices in the game that are not extracted properly. I'm still looking into that. However, I decided to release a first version of this extractor since it does seem to work well for the large majority of speech in the game, so it could still be useful as is.

Cool stuff! This little adventure made me appreciate the Sega CD port of WC1 a bit more.

Rapier Returns in Paper Form

Péricles is working on a new paper model. His latest masterpiece is the Rapier II Blade based on the original Arena 3D meshes. The ships from Arena apparently make great source models for paper designs. Instructions and prinouts to build the Rapier could be available on Paper Commander as soon as next week!

I used the methods described in the Arena Extraction Topic to produce a paper model, and the results are excellent...

I used Ogre Mesh Viewer in combination with 3D Ripper to convert the mesh, and then imported to 3D studio, adjusted the mesh to real shape and put in the textures. All pieces for all variants of Rapier exist in a single model, but are separate objects and need adjustment in texture map to display correctly. I prepared the 3D object in 3D Exploration, and converted to COB format to reading in Metasequoia LE.

For building the paper model of Arena meshes, this is perfect, because the models are not high poly. The base model of Rapier has 700 faces in total. I made adjusts in meshe to build and unfold in Pepakura Designer 3. The scale is 1/100. I think this model will be avaliabe to download in Paper Commander next week.

Bestowing Bob's Badass Bengal

Remember that swanky Tiger's Claw in Bob's recent propaganda poster? It was singled out for being a nifty artistic take on the ship, and now it's yours to download! Grab the 3DS Max 7 model here (160 k zip). This rendition of the Claw is based off some of the perspectives seen in the Wing Commander Academy television show. How cool would this be to see in someone's WC mod?

No, sadly it doesn't look that quite that good, but the hull color should be the same (and I think I got the bridge lights in place all proper-like!) I don't have any proper images of it save for the poster at the bottom, so that'll have to do for now.

This is more of a skeleton model, rather than a polished finished work - it's actually closer to a mock-up, but it should be possible for an enterprising artist to build it up into something impressive.

* This is a max 7 file. You'll need 3ds max 7, a subsequent version of the program or one that can handle .max 7 files to be able to open it. I'd planned to export it to a more reasonable format, like .obj (the one foolproof max export format), but a spectacular cascade of equipment failures culminating with being IP-banned from the CIC server for three days made me decide to get it out now. I'd thought it lost, weeks before, so I'm glad that I have it to offer at all. Hopefully I'll have an .obj (and screenshots) by Wing Commander's twentieth birthday on the 26th, assuming nobody else manages to get any.

* This is set up a little differently from other max scenes you might have worked with - the main file contains only the Tiger's Claw base hull. The bridge tower and the forward wing turrets are linked to TCS Tiger's Claw.max through a process I can't remember. There was also, apparently, another turret design - "Turret02.max". Can't find it now. Sorry. Don't worry about "can't find Red Sun.max" or "BackgroundEmptySpace.bmp" errors, or the big hollow sphere in the background for that matter - all of those were used to create the image at the end of the file; they're not relevant to the actual model.

CIC Forums Go Mobile

The CIC Forums look better on the latest generation of smartphones than ever before, but they're still a bit cumbersome to use. KrisV fixed that today with an upgrade to support Forum Runner. The new app support allows iPhone users to browse threads and reply to posts as easily as working with email. The free version only allows browsing, but the full app is only $2 and includes push notifications, advance image support and full posting options. Try out FR Free first and see what you think. Additional versions for Android and Blackberry are also in work. If a ton of people would be interested in using this, we can even look into subsidizing a site license.

Special bonus! Today's updates were both written on an iPhone 4.

Radical Rapier RocZ!

JasonRocZ has posted another star trio of fighters from the Arena 3D Mesh pack. From left to right, these are the Rapier Blade, Vanguard and Cavalier. Although the ships might look unfamliar to some, they are based on the authentic F-54 Rapier II frame - from Super Wing Commander! It never ceases to amaze me that Gaia Industries pulled from so many original sources to fill in the universe of Wing Commander Arena.

F-54 Rapier II Blade - The Rapier II replaced the aging CF-117 in 2654 and immediately made an impact: Dragon, Bandit, Maverick, Maniac, Prankster... a disproportionate number of the war’s top twenty aces served with Rapier II squadrons. The Blade is the modern version of that famed ship, updated by fire through its service against the Nephilim.

F-44 Rapier II Vanguard - Named for their exceptional service against the Nephilim. It was a Vanguard squadron which led the first strike through the gate against G#38KMSx-Red. All sixteen Rapiers were shot down, but they went out fighting: an analysis of their flight recorders showed a 129 to 1 kill ratio. Carrying Porcupines and a deployable turret, Vanguards are often used as minelayers.

F-44 Rapier II Cavalier - When it comes to fighters, the Cavalier is the crown jewel of the Epsilon Sector’s arsenal. A true artist’s ship, the Cavalier’s weapons are focused around ranged engagements. An experienced Cavalier pilot will make use of his lasers and ionic pulse cannons to allow him to avoid missile barrages from enemy bombers.

EA Holding Weekend Sale

Did you know EA runs some killer deals on the weekends? The EA Twitter reports that Dead space is $10, Spore is $20 and Mirror's Edge is just $5. These are all the digital download PC versions. Find the sale details here.

Frontier Adds Yet Another Dimension

There's been a big change on Frontiere - Prelude to Darkness! For the next chapter, character animation will go from 2D to 3D with new three dimensional models. This change mirrors a shift that occurred in spaceflight rendering during the early stages of the fan movie's production. This should definitely add some new spice to shipboard and ground sequences, and there's still plenty of space combat to come as well!

This week has seen a revolution in Frontier – the old 2D characters are out the door, the new characters for Part 13 are going to all be completely 3D modelled. Right here we have Private Devers, looking very serious. This will free up the previous constraints encountered by this production, such as more fluid and free camera movements, better perspective, better actions sequences (fights, chases, the list goes on and on), etc.

So I hope you all approve of the new direction, it is my hope it brings up the quality of the film. Previously you may have noticed certain times where there were limitations on character angles, as all we saw was – Front/Side/Back, now we can go everywhere. The modeling is being done using side and front shots of the original characters to try and keep it as close to the original as possible.

In regard to Part 13, we are still getting the voice lines back from the voice actors, most of the scenes have been modelled, but as we are overhauling the characters, this Part might be coming out a bit later than usual.

UPDATE: lew let us know that ongoing technical difficulties are likely to postpone the introduction of 3D characters for quite some time. In the mean time, production of regular animated Frontier PtD continues!

WC4 DVD Upgrade Upgraded

There continue to be improvements made to the patch that upgrades WC4 CD to take advantage of the DVD version's high quality movies. Most recently, Popsicle Pete has tweaked the program to include support for different languages. The patch now basically supports English, German and French, however the high res movie files themselves are still encoded in English. When using another language, inflight speech and some secondary text will appear in German or French though. Grab the latest version here (700 k exe) and lete Pete know how it works at Crius.net

UO Town Hall Gathering Saturday

The team behind Ultima Online will be holding a Town Hall gathering this Saturday at the EA Mythic building in Fairfax, Virgina. Registration to attend is closed, but the event will be streamed through the Whispering Rose Radio station. It may also be video streamed live, but the details haven't been worked out. Keep checking UO Herald for those details.
For some time we have mentioned that we would have a major announcement this Summer about the future of Ultima Online. While we have been busy with hardware updates and publishes, we have also been working on our first community event in almost two years.

During the event we will discuss the course of Live Events and share information about several major game updates we plan for the year. Finally, we will have an exclusive announcement about an upcoming release targeted for the end of this summer.

We will be raffling off cloth maps, Ultima Online gear: Ankh’s made specifically for the Stygian Abyss Expansion, and one T-Shirt signed by Todd McFarland and various other goodies.

Greetings from the Tri-System!

gevatter Lars took advantage of the Privateer 2 3D model archive and busted out this awesome render. It features a large military Veldor-class carrier escorted by a pair of Drakkar fighters. They boast a unique paint scheme seen in promotional renders. In addition to the main beauty shot, he's also arranged several more ships for show. It's not every day that we get new wallpapers with these ships!
Thanks for the kudos for the image. I was quite surprised that these small textures work so well in a big still image. I have just givem them some specular properties and dragged a copy into the bump mapping slot. So it's a pretty easy setup that is still working. Okay the backed in shadows are a small problem. As you might have noticed the light is comming from a complete different direction. ^_^

As for the model dump, there is a lot of other stuff in it beside the ship models. I have so far seen Planets, Missiles, Starbases and even weapon fx (they are 3d models for some reason).

All in all enough to do a complete Privateer 2 mod. The models need some attention as they are all pretty low poly (about 400 for a fighter) and they have tons of textures instead of just a single one. Still I would guess it's a good start.

New Kilrathi Saga Graphics Option Patched In

sol_hsa has released an update to his Kilrathi Saga ddhack. Download version 0.4 here (55 k zip). He's implemented a "half'n'half" mode that strikes a balance between standard upscaling and the bilinear smoothing implemented in the patch's first release. There is also much improved compatibility, especially with Wing Commander 2. Instructions are included in the attached readme. The first image below shows normal graphics, the second image has full bilinear filtering and the third image is the new hybrid mode.

sol_hsa could definitely use more testers. Give it a try and post your results and system specs to Crius.net. The program is compatible with the PC Gamer KS WC1 release, and there are some reports of people having more luck running that version compared to the original Kilrathi Saga. The interim version 0.3 is also available if you happen to boot to a blank screen with 0.4.

Seriously, I'd love to hear if anyone tries this to hear if it works elsewhere or not.

Later Excalibur

Remember that middle Excalibur that TonViper was building for the Homeworld 2 mod? He was able to translate the model to his current tool set, and the ship has been retextured. The plan is to still include it in some later update to Homeworld 2. It's looking sharper each time we see it!

I had forgotten which program I used to model this ship back then, so I had to take a look at this topic. I'd thought it was blender, so I downloaded and installed it, only to find out I couldn't figure out how to use it.

I managed to salvage the model, but I had to restart on the texturing. That was probably a good thing, since I've learned a bit in the time since I worked on the model last. I also found it a good idea to remap the UV a bit, since some elements didn't have the resolution I needed, while others were needlessly detailed.

I consider the base surface texture a placeholder, but I'm not sure if I can find anything that looks better, so I may end up keeping it anyway. I'm currently mapping out the elements I want on the texture before I get onto the detail work.

It will eventually be bump mapped when I get it ingame in Homeworld 2, but I'll have to teach myself how to create a bump map first. In any case, I want to finish the diffuse texture first before getting into that too much.

WCPedia Campaign Victorious

Activity has picked up lately on the WCPedia project. In the last month alone, dedicated Wingnuts have performed more than 1500 edits and created more than 50 brand new articles. The team building the encyclopedia is currently going through all the newly released Birthday material and working out how to best integrate it. Any and all volunteers are welcome to help. There's lots to do! Ask for help at Crius.net if you're not sure where to start.
The Summer Campaign draws to a close but the Fall is already being planned out. WCPedia saw a huge bubble this summer in work being accomplished. We've seen WC1, SM1 and SM1.5 mission entries completed with basic data. We've started to go back through WC1 missions and add alternate text. Dozens of other articles have been added along with thousands of edits to existing articles to more fully flesh them out.

The goal for WCPedia in the next year is to double the size of the project. My personal goal is reach Wing Commander III in the missions section. We still need users to fill out other areas of the encyclopedia. If you want to help, we've got something for you to do. No matter your skill level you can help this project to its final goal.

Collateral Damage Damaging Again

There haven't been many Collateral Damage updates recently, but JasonRocZ posted these shots to show that work continues. The first two images are the old version of the TCS Coral Sea, and the three newer shots demonstrate some real improvement. The "weird shapes" have been toned down and the textures have a better feel to them now. Most of the craft that are featured in the game are either Confed or Nephilim, but Jason is looking at Firekkan or mercenary forces next to eventually round out the story.

I want everyone to know that the project is still moving forward. Also with the new Arena model archive that has recently been made public, I'm also trying to implement a few of the actual Arena models (with somewhat different textures). They will also have to be somewhat different (Poly count numbers), but to have these as a basis is pure awesome!

One thing that did take me a long time was to work out the gameplay as it related to the stats of a few ships and weapons. For instance, in WCCD I have implemented the Neutron gun into the engine. It has taken a lot of time to get them the way that are in previous games. The Neutron gun was slow moving, also had a long refire delay, but packed a pretty big punch. I made that similar to how it was in previous games without sacrificing that Secret Ops feel.

I want you guys to know that this project is not dead. Look for new updates within the coming weeks. :) Cheers!

More Cool Stuff in Arena 3D

There continues to be more progress on the Arena 3D meshes front. NinjaLA used Ogre and 3D Ripper to pull out these shots of a Midway carrier, Indomitable battlecruiser and Halsey station. They have a cel-shaded quality with the edges smoothed and minus the textures. JasonRocZ has also produced this image of the Port Broughton from the source files. Read up on the modeling discussion over at Crius.net.

Behind The Science of Super Soaker Collecting

Here's some behind the scenes pictures taken during the filming of my collection a couple weeks back. Going through all the Soakers with them was a blast. The final clips have been posted on the ABC website. The piece on my collection is available here. The broadcast segment on the creator of the original Super Soaker (with a bit about me in the middle) can be found here.

Saga Trailer Dawns Online

The WC Saga preview trailer has been released. You can download it here or visit YouTube. It clocks in substantially larger than the teaser at 85 megs. The clip includes a mix of explosive space scenes and some character CGI. Here's Tolwyn with the dramatics:
2nd Lieutenant David "Sandman" Markham's training took a cruel twist when his training carrier, the TCS Wellington, was ambushed and destroyed by the Kilrathi while cruising in a supposedly safe system. Unlike most of his fellow trainees and trainers, Sandman has survived to fight another day. But the days ahead are dark and foreboding.

The fight Markham has been prematurely plunged into is growing more desperate by the day. The Kilrathi are advancing on every front. Confed fleets are being forced to retreat in disarray. Terran losses are mounting catastrophically. System by system, the Kilrathi are pressing closer to the heart of the Confederation, hungry for the kill and the thrill of ultimate victory. Hope has run thin, and the total extinction of the human race seems all but inevitable.

Victory and survival for humanity can only be bought at a terrible cost. Gather your wingmen and your courage and prepare to play your part in humanity's desperate gambit as you face the Kilrathi foe. It is a time where even average men must reach inside themselves and become heroes. Answer the call. Face the enemy. Make your mark as the Confederation faces its darkest dawn.

HCl is Back!

Everyone at the CIC is very happy to announce that HCl's Wing Commander Editing Site is back! Didn't notice it was missing? Good! Thanks to some spry coordination and thorough backups, the site survived the recent decommissioning of WCRevival.de and has quickly resurfaced at SolSector. This trove of Wing Commander tools can now be found at hcl.solsector.net, and it comes with an important lesson - everyone back up your data! His fifteen years of creating amazing work has produced marvels such as online Prophecy & Armada multiplayer, Prophecy & Secret Ops high resolution patches, Prophecy DVD movie integration, WC1/2 ship viewer and many more. Even back on Opening Day, August 10, 1998, HCl was there to dazzle Wingnuts with new programs. Here's a few words on future plans from the editing god himself:
I will be resuming work in a couple of my patches, so there will be updates once significant milestones have been reached. In the meantime, if you haven't already, you may want to take a look at my video converter tools for WC3/4 Playstation (released on the CIC birthday update and part of an attempt of AD and myself to rip media from WC console games). There's also a Tai2wav converter available for WC3 PSX sounds.

I have also been looking at the WC3 3DO movies some time back. Although I did manage to put together some information regarding the video and audio encodings, I never managed to complete a decoder unfortunately... Maybe I should take a look into it again!

That's Some Bird's Nest

Michelle D is working on giving the Firekkans a home. This tree structure is based off a concept Firekkan dwelling from The Secret Missions 2.

Had to give the guy a home. :) It still needs a few more spires and a background. I may just paint in the holes for the spires, not sure yet though.

The houses look like they are built on giant petrified trees and the roots drop down to a dried out river bed, possibly somewhat like mangrove tree roots.

TacOps Tech Demo Adds Mouseovers

The Javascript layer development phase of Wing Commander TacOps online is now complete. Avacar has set up a sample page of what a simulated game might look like in the 'engine' here (may not work in Internet Explorer). Ironduke has also updated his wish list of graphical elements. All current TacOps ships have been converted for the software-based game, but craft like Free Trader, Venture, Talon, Gothri or Tarsus (in the TacOps art style) would be much appreciated.

Everything else is a nice bonus. Also, I haven't listed ships like the Arrow or Scimitar, for instance. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want those in WCTO - if you want to contribute anything at all, feel free! The only prerequisite being that it should match the existing art style. (And while I'm dreaming: I'd also love some civilian ships from Howie's Pioneer project... )

UO Entering GDC Hall of Fame

The UO Herald was excited to announce last week that Ultima Online is being honored as the first inductee to the GDC Online Hall of Fame. A formal award ceremony is being held October 7. The award 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.

WC4 CD to DVD Upgrade Patch Developed

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

Microsoft Flight Announced

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?

Frontier's Featured Flat-top

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.

Norway Excited About Wing Commander's 20th

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.

Test Kilrathi Saga Graphical Upgrade Patch

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!

Arena 3D Extraction Booming

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.

Update Preps UO for the Future

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.

Birthday Log Online

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

The Hangover

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

Happy 12th Birthday, CIC!

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...

Arena's Early Light

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.

A Tale of Two Stories

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:

Arena Extraction - 3D Models

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!

Arena Extraction - Audio

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!

Happy Birthday from the Standoff Team

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!"

Sneak EPK

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.

Documents - Wing Commander the Movie

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.

Twitter Promise: Pictures of Smudo

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).

Erin Roberts Interview

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!

More Privateer 2 Videos!

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:

Gallery - Mark Hamill on Tour

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 - Online!

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...

Wing Commander IV's Not Really Lost Scenes

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.

Making the Patch

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.

Gallery - Building the Kilrathi

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.

Gallery - On the Set

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.

Turning Japanese

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!

Pretty Slick Advertising, Sir

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!

You Can't Say That in Games!

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'...

Documents - Wing Commander III

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.

You're Just Fonting

Here is an excellent high-resolution scan of the Heart of the Tiger subtitle font. That's all I have to say about that.

Wing Commander PSX Video Extracted!

AD and HCl have coordinated to create a new tool capable of extracting the video files from the Playstation Wing Commander Games... and then they've gone one step further and extracted everything from Wing Commander III to post here! Because of advances in compression between 1994 and 1995, the Playstation video looks a little better than that seen on the PC. It's worth a look!

Wing Commander III Development Wall

Ever since I saw these pictures in Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander III, I've dreamed of being able to get up close to that wall. It looks like this is as close as we'll ever get! It's really a shame that photos of the software development aspect of Wing Commander are so much less common than those of the film shoots.

Twitter Promise: A Good Time Was Had By All

As promised on Twitter, here are scans of the liquor receipts from Wing Commander III's (film shoot) wrap party. They're from a folder of Chris Roberts' petty cash reimbursements--part of a whole mess of Wing Commander budget information we scanned and archived but didn't feel comfortable posting.

Dare You Examine the Mystery Pictures?

Here we have a set of random slide scans that the completist in me couldn't leave in a folder somewhere... or is there something more? Look closely at some of these images--the Super Wing Commander ships have VDU images from the original game! The Morningstar seems to be carrying two Maces! What's going on here? (The implication that Super Wing Commander is actually built on top of the original game is fascinating to me.)

Documents - Point of Origin

There are even two more Point of Origin scans to post, thanks to the Origin Museum! We have not only a previously unposted 'Point of Origin Special Edition' featuring the results of a company-wide survey... but also the original internal memo which created the newsletter in the first place! Pretty cool.

In the Beginning...

Video game anthropologists take note, this may be Wing Commander's cave drawing! Here we have the earliest known piece of Wing Commander artwork: an action mock-up used at COMDEX which would eventually go on to become the basis for the game's box art.

The most obvious difference is Spirit, sans helmet and labeled "Lt. Sakara"--but the rest is actually very different as well. The hand is different and the entire cockpit is parallel to the viewer instead of angled. It lacks cross-hairs and laser fire, the Kilrathi ships sport different markings... well, see for yourself:

... There Was Wing Commander I

For our final update of the night we are proud to present, in honor of its incredible 20th anniversary, the game that started it all--the original Wing Commander, available for download! If you're new to the original Wing Commander, be sure to check out our online copies of the Claw Marks magazine and blueprints posters... and if you're looking for an additional challenge you can pick up the Secret Missions

Please note that this is adapted from the Kilrathi Saga version; although DOSBox and related developments would make the original easier to run on modern computers, we are only permitted to post the specific release included on a 2000 PC Gamer coverdisk. I was able to play the game easily on a Windows XP machine while Kris had trouble with the speed limiter in Vista. I am confident that the Tech Support will rise to the occasion and help keep this version of the game running--so give it a try and post your problems so we can work it out.

Finally, to other webmasters and magazine editors: this is not a freeware release of the game--anyone wishing to include this download at their website or in their publication must contact the rights holders themselves.

Happy Birthday from NinjaLA

NinjaLA is back for another year of awesome Wing Commander fan art, starting with an awesome 'Fleet Action' drawing! He says:
A friend of mine gave me an amazing compliment when I showed him this drawing, he thought it was so symmetrical it was a cell shaded render, I promise though, it is 100% hand drawn on real paper.. only the brightness and contrast have been adjusted.

The Hakaga has one of the most interesting and unique looks of all the kilrathi carriers and make up one of my favorite book covers of all time. this is a tribute to that cover.

Hitting the Books

It seems impossible to me, but it's time to tell some of my own 'behind the screens' story. One of the first 'serious' Wing Commander things I ever did was advise Peter Telep and an editor for Baen about continuity for the movie novelization and False Colors, respectively.

I recently discovered that I had saved an old mailbox with a record of this correspondence. Reading these e-mails is a great way to see the amount of work that goes into something that seems so simple--how much unappreciated effort and passion people like Mr. Telep put into making their corners of Wing Commander just right. Check it out here.

WCPedia Status Update

We've invited Dundradal, who has taken the lead on the project, to report on the status of the WCPedia:
“Welcome to the great experiment!”

Three years ago today the CIC launched WCPedia with these words. The project’s goal was to create the authoritative database of the Wing Commander Universe. Every piece of canon and every aspect of the universe would be uploaded into one place so that some future work (fan or otherwise) might build upon the information contained within. This goal was to be accomplished not by a massive gaming company with vast resources, no this project was to be completed by the Wing Commander community itself. The great experiment indeed…

In three years we’ve uploaded almost 1,100 content articles, uploaded 700 files, made 10,600 edits and had over 1.3 million views. We’ve got detailed character entries looking into our favorite pilots lives as well as articles that provide immense amounts of information on the game series hundreds of missions and of course everyone’s favorite, ship entries. This project will be, perhaps, our crowning achievement. It is without question a labor of love as any contributor will tell you. By this time next year I hope to have doubled the size of the project at a minimum. We’ve made some huge strides in the last three months alone and I know in the next twelve we can easily meet this goal.

We are always looking for more people to contribute. You do not need to be a WC expert or own every game and product. We have a variety of projects that any fan can do, one just need ask.

To quote Ben Franklin, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

Happy Birthday from Obee

Obee (of WingCenter fame) was kind enough to give us a whole pile of tokens to download his album, Anker! So quick, grab a code from the list below and enter it at this site to get the dowload--before they're all used up!
zlar-5yft
3ylm-5pyf
5tp6-722m
rz9u-5lx6
a3yd-7eay
77ua-ykrf
vlwg-7khm
7pjz-e9qg
m7bn-u863
95xx-jnz4
nrej-kakm
wvrr-g7t6
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Trivia Redux

It's that time again--if you missed our party because you had somewhere else to be, we still want you to have a prize! All you have to do is be the first to answer these difficult trivia questions and you'll win yourself a copy of Freedom Flight autographed by Mercedes Lackey! Good luck!
Q1: Name a Wing Commander II character used as reference during the construction of Wing Commander III's Kilrathi creatures.

Q2: How many music tracks are there in Wing Commander Arena?

Q3: Name one asymetrical spacecraft from Wing Commander Armada.

Q4: What type of jet could you win a flight in by buying Wing Commander III?

Q5: What is the logo on Freddie Prinze Jr.'s hat in the "Sneak EPK" update?

Tough, eh? Luckily the answers are all somewhere at the CIC! The first person to e-mail us the answers between midnight EST tonight and noon tomorrow wins the prize. E-mail your responses here and please do not post the answers in public.

Happy Birthday from Kevin Caccamo

Kevin Caccamo has birthday missions, too--for two different games! Take it away:
Happy Birthday, CIC! Here's what I've been working on for the past few days: An update/mod for Wing Commander Saga with stuff from Hostile Frontier and a small mission for Standoff.

To install the WCSaga mod
1. Create a folder inside your WCSaga Prologue folder and call it "3612mod"
2. Download the mod and extract the files into the "3612mod" folder.
3. Download the 3.6.12 Inferno build and Launcher 5.5f from here, and extract the EXEs into your WCSaga Prologue folder.
4. Open up the launcher and click on the "Browse" button at the top right. From there, select fs2_open_3_6_12_INF.exe.
5. Go to the MOD tab, press "Select MOD", and select the "3612mod" directory.
6. Run the game.

To install the Standoff mission
1. Download the mission here.
2. Extract the TRE file into your WC Secret Ops folder.
3. Make a back up copy of stan_1.cfg
4. Open up stan_1.cfg in notepad and add "all stdfmsn.tre 5" before "end"
5. Run the game, enter the simulator pod, select MISSION 2, and enjoy.

I may not have had enough time to fully test these, but if there are any issues that come up, I will try and fix them.

Happy Birthday from Lt. Overload

Lt. Overload has built a Wing Commander Secret Ops mission in honor of the birthday. Here's the, ah, description:
COMBAT INFORMATION SYSTEM
LOADING DATA...
TCS Reid Plunkett-Class
Logging in...
Login Complete.
Displaying Message.

Several hours ago the Murphy-Class TCS Lesnick sent out a distress call, stating it was under attack by unknown vessels and most of her fighter complement was destroyed. Meet up with the Lesnick at NAV 2 and escort her to the Reid.

Happy birthday, CIC. :)

-Lt. Overload

Dragon*Con 2010: We're Back!

Good news, everyone! Team CIC is going back... back to Dragon*Con! This Labor Day weekend you can join Chris, LOAF, LeHah, Frosty, Death and presumably some surprise guests at the east coast's largest sci-fi convention. More importantly, if there is interest than we will conduct a makeshift screening of the Wing Commander movie rough cut--so let us know in the forums if you would be interested in attending! As always, those at home will be able to follow our adventures right here...

Poll - Been Waiting Long?

We always start the 'Wing Commander year' off with the same poll question--how long have you been visiting the CIC? Since the pre-history WCHS days or did you just start today? Let us know how long you've been hanging in there!

The last poll asked for everyone's favorite console-based Wing Commander--a surprising majority said the utilitarian Playstation ports of Wing Commander 3 and 4. I guess it's the most familiar console! Do yourself a favor, though, and splurge on a used 3DO Interactive Multiplayer... Super Wing Commander and WC3 3DO are something else.

Final Word: Thanks!

Well folks, you've just lived through history: a new record for number of CIC updates in a single day! We've smashed through 2007's birthday, which featured 35 stories. What will we do for an encore? As always, I would like to end by singling out some extraordinary folks for special thanks.

I'll start this year with the CIC Staff. If there's a more dedicated, competant group of people in the world then I don't want to hear about it. I can't take credit for putting this team together--magic did that--but damned if we don't make each other look good every day.

Of that group I would be remiss if I didn't take a minute to honor KrisV in particular. You guys may know Chris' obvious dedication or LOAF's personality or AD's quiet competence... but in truth the CIC stays alive because of Kris' constant, underacknowledged effort.

Dundradal deserves an enormous nod for taking over the WCPedia project when I wasn't available. I can't tell you exactly what I was doing, yet, but I couldn't have asked for a better replacement on the wiki.

A big shout out to Joe Garrity, who actually provided a lot of material this year (he just doesn't remember doing it!). Joe's a hell of a guy and I want to archive video game errata with you forever.

On a personal note, my good buddies Frosty, Trelane, ace and LeHah. These guys have been with me through tough times in the last year and I can't thank them enough for being my friends. Even if they're jerks. Which they are.

And hows about all the folks who keep fan projects alive, whether they're single sketches on cocktail or elaborate impossible games? The good news is that there's too many of you to list right now, so I won't even try. You know who you are.

See you next year, everybody!

And tomorrow.

Joe Garrity's International House of Wonders

Okay, one more! Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum comes through with a last minute set of scans... which is the record-shattering 45th update of the night! Here's high res PDFs of a September 1994 Powerplay Wing Commander III preview article in German and a long French piece with a dreamy picture of Mark Hamill:

You are Cordially Invited...

To the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's 12th birthday celebration! TONIGHT at 7:00 PM Eastern US (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT) in #Wingnut!

Featuring...

  • New and updated CIC material!
  • Classified photos and documents straight from the Origin vault!
  • More video downloads than any CIC birthday ever--guaranteed!
  • Trivia - from "Azruk'ha" to "Z'ratmak"!
  • So many pictures of Smudo.
  • Great conversation with your Wing Commander friends.
  • Door prizes! Trivia prizes! Just-for-the-hell-of-it prizes!
  • Cake!
So point your IRC client to irc.wcnews.com, channel #WingNut! If you need help with IRC check our #Wingnut section, or just use our Java Client.

Online TacOps Taking Shape

Avacar has recovered from a recent move and is back to work on the online conversion of Wing Commander TacOps. The window demo shows off several different types of popups and info boxes that will control the vast flow of information that makes a turn based strategy game tick. The "phase 3" mentioned below refers to a javascript layer to the game. After that's complete comes ship commands and a system to process them.

If you go check out the window demo page, you'll notice the new, and improved 'reduced profile' ship info window. Additionally, the last prototyped window, the 'end phase' is available at the very bottom.

Yes, I realize some of the windows interact; that's probably because I'm reusing names, but all the command windows will never be open at once (since even if you have multiple ships, you'll never have them at different turn phases at once). Also, right now, the 2 ships have their slide-out linked; I haven't decided if this is how it will remain, or if I need to add a last bit of unique identifyer code in there.

I need to do an update to the weapon class initialization and tie it into the ship class, and then I can finish up phase 3 with the self-generated display of a ship pop-up in the context of the phase 2 end demo. All ships will currently be piloted by me, since I haven't even written the pilot class (and don't really intend to until phase 5, if I recall the plan correctly).

Starcraft 2 Appears Easily Moddable

Last week I jokingly asked when the Wing Commander mods for Starcraft 2 would start, and CptnEisen took me seriously! There isn't actually a full scale mod in the works (yet!?), but he mocked up these pictures to demonstrate how easy it could be. There's a Yorktown carrier in one shot and some Nephilim Devil Rays in another. The carrier is set up like a starport, so it even builds/launches fighters. These images are really fun, and they demonstrate some huge potential!

The downside to a carrier producing fighters this way is that the carrier can not move or attack whilst it is building... I might go back to the Protoss way of building ships - But this may limit the ship to building only one type of fighter (I want the Yorktown class to build Arrows AND Thunderbolts). The other option I might explore is having the carriers hold the fighters the same way a bunker holds marines... Working this way, I could still have specific fighters with abilities (Vesuvius building cloakable Lances, Bombers with a special Torpedo attack, etc).

On another note - I managed to get animations working. Hopefully I can figure out how to have the fighters doing barrel rolls. :)

Terry Borst On Game Storytelling

Game Central has conducted a thorough interview with Terry Borst, one of the writers behind Wing Commander 3 and 4. He's an author more recently, but he does spend time in the discussion talking about WC3, WC4 and Freelancer. Soon he will begin teaching screenwriting at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design. You can listen to the hourlong chat here (direct MP3 link).
We interview Terry Borst, co-writer of such games as Wing Commander 3 and 4, about game storytelling; the state of it, how developers could advance it, and a whole gamut of other things. Also a fond farewell to a beloved person.

Hostile Frontiers Getting Cocky

In addition to new ships, Kevin Caccamo has added some cockpits to Hostile Frontier. The first two images show off a Hornet and the third is the beginnings of a Scimitar. It looks like things are carrying along decently well with this project, but Kevin is also requesting assistance with texturing and mission scripting..

What needs to be done/We're hiring!

Missions need to be scripted and completed, and cockpit models need to be textured and imported into the game. If you would like to join the team (It's just me right now) then please post in this thread or send me a PM. Different conditions apply to different positions. Also, I'm not really looking for professionals, but I'm looking for people with considerable modding experience.

Need Help From Russian Visitors

We are currently working on a small side project and we could really use the help of a few native Russian speakers. If anyone out there is willing to help and has a few minutes to spare, please contact me. Thanks!

New Trailer Teases the Prelude

Even though work continues on the next chapter of Frontier - Prelude to Darkness, lew82 took some time out to recreate the game's preview trailer and make a promotional poster for the animated flick. It looks explosive! Wallpapers of the poster are also available over at Ardament.
Something that has been missing for sometime has been a proper Frontier Prelude to Darkness Movie Poster – so now one has been made, also in a 1152×864 wallpaper format, if you would like another resolution for the wallpaper just let me know.

Super Soakers & ChrisReid on 20/20

As much as I'd like to be recognized for my Wing Commander exploits, it's my other hobby that seems to attract the most attention sometimes. My Super Soaker collection and I will be featured briefly on ABC's 20/20 this Friday night (barring any last minute schedule changes!). The piece will be a sidebar to an interview with Lonnie Johnson, the creator of the original Super Soaker. The show airs Friday nights at 9 or 10 pm depending on time zone. Bonus footage and photos have already been posted on the 20/20 website. Yahoo!

Ascii Sector Leaving Gemini

Chris Knudsen has posted an announcement on the changing direction of Privateer Ascii Sector. Beginning with version 0.7 he will phase out Privateer elements and make the game its own universe. You can read more of the details at Crius.net. Fans can download the existing version 0.6.6.3 here.

For the past 5 years I've been working on Ascii Sector whenever I could squeeze in some programming time. There's still a lot of work left before the game is complete, but I'm beginning to approach a point where the completion -- or at least v1.0 -- is no longer a far off dream, but actually somewhat within my grasp. This has set me thinking about what projects I'd want to work on when I finally reach that point. My big dream is to take the engine and underlying game logic that runs Ascii Sector and make a graphical, commercial game from it. But that's a big dream and an equally big project, so what I'll be doing before that is make a smaller, commercial game that'll have some similarities with certain aspects of the graphical, commercial Ascii Sector game (which, for obvious reasons, likely won't be called Ascii Sector!).

...

How this all will impact Ascii Sector is with regard to Ascii Sector's story, universe and setting. As I now hope to some day make a commercial game based on the thousands of hours I've put into Ascii Sector, I can no longer use an IP I don't own the rights to. That basically means the Privateer name and everything related to the Wing Commander universe. So what you'll be noticing after I release the first 0.7 version is that I'll be phasing out these elements. The first thing is that the game will no longer be called Privateer: Ascii Sector, but just plain ol' Ascii Sector. That's not much of a change. However, I'll then be changing the setting of the game. Stuff like the Kilrathi and Retros will sadly have to go, and I understand if players and fans of the game will become upset over this.

What you'll be getting in return, though, is an original setting and game universe that still feels like the game you all currently play, but is able to go in new and different directions. I've already written out design documents that detail the new factions that'll inhabit this "new" Ascii Sector -- all tied into the story and main arc of the game I have planned. These changes will not only mean that I'll no longer be infringing on the IP that Electronic Arts currently owns and Origin and Chris Roberts created, they also mean that I can already start building the original universe and story that I'll use for the future commercial graphical version of Ascii Sector.

EA Releases First Quarter Financials

It's time for the quarterly Electronic Arts earnings report, and the latest quarter is designated Q1 of the fiscal year 2011. Highlights so far are that EA currently represents about a quarter of the market for games on the XBox 360 and Playstation 3. They also claim about a third of the PC market and are #1 across all devices that play games from the Apple App Store. On the MMO front, FIFA Online 2 has also reached five million players in South Korea. Full details are available here.
“We had a solid first quarter, exceeding expectations both top and bottom line,” said John Riccitiello, Chief Executive Officer. “Top quality titles like 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, innovative digital offerings for titles like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Scrabble on the Apple iPad are driving the business.”

“EA is well-positioned for the year ahead and reaffirms its FY11 non-GAAP guidance,” said Eric Brown, Chief Financial Officer. “Digital revenue is expected to grow approximately 30% year over year, to $750 million in the fiscal year.”

One Week To Go!

There's just one week left until the 12th Birthday of the Wing Commander CIC! At this time in 1998, wcnews.com displayed a countdown timer ticking away to our grand opening. Now the WCNews staff is working frantically to prep updates for next week's big event. Join us in #Wingnut on Tuesday, August 10, at 7:00 pm Eastern US time (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT). The main focus will be on wowing Wingnuts with our slate of updates, but the next most popular part is the big trivia contest and prize giveaway. Tons of fun for all! See you on IRC!

Aces Archive Resurfaces

NeoDevilbane reports that his collection of Wing Commander Aces stories is back online. Availability of old Aces material has been spotty over the last few years, but if you're one of the many hundreds of people who remember these classic fan fics from the late '90s, check them out again here.
"Wing Commander : Renegade"

The Nephilim War fought to an uncertain conclusion after the events of the Prophecy series, a very much alive Commodore Christopher "Maverick" Blair comes to the twilight of his career and life in the year 2684. Living in obscurity since his apparent death in 2681, fate calls him to action once again. As an all-new Secession War threatens to erupt in the Epsilon Sector in the Firekkan territories, a visit from a wingman he thought long dead, Robin "Flint" Peters, gives Blair something to fight for once more: the Firekkan Commonwealth. When friends turn and the galaxy itself becomes his enemy, Blair embarks on his final, maniacal sojourn.

Prelude Part 12 Now Playing

Hot on the heels of Part 11, Frontier - Prelude to Darkness Part 12 has been released! The quick turnaround is a result of the major engagement that was bumped from the previous episode. Watch "The First Battle of Toyr'diablo" for yourself here!
This week has seen the release of Part 12 as promised, I hope that everyone enjoyed the episode.

Now that the episode is out I will be looking at updating a few items on the site itself. I will be resuming the weekly item – however it will now be one a week, and it could be anything – a character, capital ship, small ship, planet, battle? I will be updating some older profiles too, I will let you know here what has been updated when it happens.

I have also scene numbered the remainder of Frontier – Prelude to Darkness and the entire movie will number 61 Scenes – we have just seen Scene 25 with Part 12 so that gives you an idea of where the story progression is at the moment.

So in the meantime, stay tuned – there’s much more to come.

Great Games Experiment: Good, Not Great

Over the years since we last mentioned it, the pages at the Great Games Experiment dedicated to Wing Commander have filled out fairly well. There's not a ton of information for each WC game or product, but occasionally there's some good plot summaries or screenshots in the mix. It can be a nice complement to CIC Background Info, MobyGames or IMDB when researching Wing Commander information. Consider a bookmark if you find yourself frequently looking up reference material.

European WC4 Graphics Patch Found

Super sleuth boringnickname has tracked down a long lost patch for the German & French versions of Wing Commander 4! The small update fixes an incompatibility between WC4 and some graphics cards when running in 16 bit SVGA mode. The CIC has had the English version of the patch in the Files section for years, but this one was missing. You can once again download it here (17 kb zip). Installation instructions are included. While the specific contents of this zip isn't the most exciting thing, I always get a warm and fuzzy feeling when we find a new piece of official Origin material. The readme file even includes details on how to connect to the Origin BBS for more help. I'll sleep easier tonight knowing one more piece of the Wing Commander universe is in its place.
WC4P-GF was written to address 16-bit SVGA palette problem found with video cards using the S3 Vision 968 chipset and the IBM RGB524 RAMDAC. Cards we know Wing Commander IV has a problem with include the Hercules Graphite Terminator Pro 64 PCI and the STB Velocity PCI.

WC4P-GF verifies that the original executable (found on disc 1 of the release version) is used. If it does not work, try copying the WC4.EXE file from disc 1 into the Wing Commander IV directory.

Garriot Wins Lawsuit Against Game Publisher

Richard Garriott is sitting pretty this week with a cool $28 million coming his way. Unless anything goes awry in appeals, the Origin founder has won the case against his former employer, NCSoft. Garriott claimed he had lost tens of millions of dollars in potential profit by being forced to sell stock options as he was fired from the company. Part of the story also involves details on how the aspiring astronaut was notified about his termination while in post-space flight quarantine. What a way to go!
"I am extremely pleased with the jury's decision," Garriott said in a statement. "The facts were clear that my departure from NCsoft was not voluntary. I am very pleased with the final award."

Garriott had testified that he was in Russia, in quarantine after his space flight, when an NCsoft executive called to tell him his days with the company were over. He had worked for NCsoft for several years after it bought an Austin company he co-founded, Destination Games.

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