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!
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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:

Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans. Recent updates:


3DO Flight 101
2017-09-22 -- Whistler has taken control! This dedicated WingNut has taken it upon himself to update and enhance our aging controls page... and he's started by adding the missing joystick controls for Wing Commander III 3DO and the missing analog scheme for Wing Commander IV Playstation.

Secrets of the WCU Goes Dutch
2017-09-21 -- It's another new, old discovery! Check out (or should we say Sabre?) the beautiful cover art for this previously unseen Dutch translation of Mark Minasi's Secrets of the Wing Commander Universe.

Oof, Right in the Listicle
2017-09-20 -- The Animated Times is running one of those list articles that the kids today love: "15 Video Game Cartoons You Totally Forgot." Wing Commander Academy makes the list, at #15:The Wing Commander franchise made a splash when it debuted in 1990, but it was never a series that burned up the sales charts. This, however, didn’t stop the USA Network from turning the space combat games into a short lived cartoon in 1996.

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day
2017-09-19 -- It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! ITLAPD is an internet favorite, with all sorts of goofy nonsense occuring every September 19th. Of course, this is nothing new for Wing Commander fans: we've been talking like pirates since the 1993 release of the Wing Commander Privateer Speech Accessory Pack.

Pass the K'ha'haf
2017-09-18 -- You've seen hint books for games, you've seen hint books for series of games and you've seen hint books that cover collections of games on particular consoles... but have you ever seen a hint book for a COMPANY? Better yet: have you ever seen a hint book with a painting of Prince Thrakhath and a basketball player?

No End Run in 2017
2017-09-17 -- Bad news for eBook fans: Baen has published their schedule through December and End Run is still not on it. The second Wing Commander novel was accidentally left off the original schedule because a physical copy wasn't retained in Baen's archives... the publisher intends to issue it when a hole opens on their schedule, but sadly that will not happen in 2017.

Cute Little Mini Ship EXPOSED
2017-09-16 -- Do you remember Wing Commander III's smallest, cutest spaceship? You have to look carefully! The Confederation and Kilrathi transports in Wing Commander III are designed to have cargo pods attached to their latticework.

In France, No One Can Hear You Scream
2017-09-15 -- Our examination of classic magazine scans continues! This two-page Privateer advertisement appeared in a November, 1993 issue of Generation 4 magazine in France. A similar ad appeared in UK publications, with a somewhat different variant in the United States.

All About My Triangles
2017-09-14 -- The image below is the first screenshot of Wing Commander III's gameplay ever released to the public. An Arrow flies past... a triangular Kilrathi transport.

Look What You Squid!
2017-09-13 -- DefianceIndustries has posted finished screenshots of the next two ships being added to the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack: the Terran Confederation F-103D Excalibur and the Nephilim Squid interceptor. There are just two more ships on the docket for the next patch, so once the Orca and the Plunkett are completed there will be a new playable version. We can't wait!

Wing Commander Sticks With Us
2017-09-12 -- What is there that does not love a crazy, meaningless sticker? Not Origin Systems, that's for sure! In the early 1990s, Origin's manufacturers could barely keep up with demand for new copies of Wing Commander...

RIP Jerry Pournelle
2017-09-11 -- Jerry Pournelle, one of the giants of science fiction literature, passed away on Friday. He was best known for his frequent, genre-defining writing collaborations alongside fellow luminary Larry Niven, including The Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall. He was an unparalleled creator of worlds in his own right, responsible for series like Janissaries and the CoDominium setting, which has become an expansive shared universe that continues to expand today.

Test Your Audio Trivia Knowledge In New WC Contest!
2017-09-10 -- The fun drive is over, but George Oldziey is still working hard and staying engaged with fans. He's put together another contest to see who can place where another new track originates. If you think you know what game and scene it first appeared in, email the address below!

Flat Universe Multiplayer Alpha Now Multiplatform
2017-09-09 -- The Flat Universe team has been hard at work these past few weeks debugging the multiplayer alpha of their fan game, and they can finally say "FU" to the glitches that have nagged the Mac and Linux editions of the game. Everyone will need to re-download now, but future editions should be patchable with the new auto updater. Give it a try and let the Maslas Brothers know what you think!

Taking The Wraps Off The PPG
2017-09-08 -- Unboxing videos are still all the rage, and a proper video series that details the contents of a wide variety of Wing Commander products would be awesome. That's why we were excited to stumble across a Privateer Playtesters' Guide being unwrapped for the first time. It's a relatively obscure book, and there's some really useful stuff in there for the Gemini Sector traveler.

Wing Commander Album Well Under Way
2017-09-07 -- It's been a productive two weeks for Origin composer George Oldziey since the successful conclusion of his campaign to create a second Wing Commander album. Most of the orchestral portions of the album are already in work, and George details where in the WC games these pieces originate from below. He's also firming up plans for the live jazz recordings with the goal of wrapping up the album around the end of the year.

Ships Added & Bugs Squashed For Next MUP Release
2017-09-06 -- There's been a ton of progress on the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack over the last week or so, and we've gotten behind in the news! Here's a double update worth of great progress to catch up on. There's something for everyone: new Excalibur models and quick incorporation of the Vaktoth fighter we featured yesterday - plus status on the latest bug fixes and feature additions.

New Vaktoth Ready For Post-War Battle
2017-09-05 -- The Kilrathi are perhaps the single thing that Wing Commander is most known for, but somehow it's been several months since we've written a post dedicated to a kat space ship! DefianceIndustries is here to help with his latest take on the heavy Vaktoth. Its sharp-edged design may make accurate rendering relatively easy, but the high quality textures is where the model really shines.

New Homeworld Screenshots Come Hell Or High Water
2017-09-04 -- While trying to find some high ground to stay dry on, L.I.F.

Confed's Contrasting Cartoon Carriers
2017-09-03 -- If you liked Klavs' cool Concordia animation from last week, we've got a new way to check out the model. NinjaLA has put together an artsy render of the ship for fans to enjoy. It's from a forward perspective that gives a great glimpse of the large phase-transit cannon.

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