DirectDraw Hack 1.0 Released

sol_hsa has completed his DirectDraw upgrade ddhack! It now works with all Kilrathi Saga games - Wing Commanders 1, 2 & 3 - plus the Windows version of Wing Commander 4. The program has come a long way since the initial release that added bilinear smoothing to the classic graphics. The latest edition adds several other filters, including a new deinterlacer for Wing Commander 3. On top of all this, the patch fixes some significant compatibility/palette problems that some people have experienced in recent versions of Windows. You can grab the program here (56 k zip). Instructions are included. The source code and debug tools are also available.

sol has posted an entertaining story about the exploration that lead him to development of the ddhack patch at his website. It includes some useful background on how each game implements the upgrade and really shows how much dedicated Wingnuts can accomplish when they set their minds to a task!

In the Beginning

It all started about a month ago, when one friend of mine had decided to follow his dreams and was moving to the states, and he had to get rid of a lot of stuff. Among his discard pile was a bunch of Wing Commander games, which I bought off him, figuring they might be interesting research material, as I'm planning on a game with similar game play structure (as in story combined with game play, not a 3d space shooter).

So, I found myself in the possession of Wing Commanders 1, 2, 3 and 4, all Windows versions - the Kilrathi Saga and WC4CD to be specific. I installed the first and tried it out. My Win7 switched to 256 colors at a 640x480 resolution, but the game ran.. with completely wrong palette.

Bugged by this I played with the compatibility options, and got the game to almost work well, with the palette going wrong at some points.. so the game was sort of playable, but I hated the fact that Windows changed to 256 colors and I couldn't see my mailbox properly in the other screen, etc.

I also tried WC2 and WC3, and they had similar - or worse - problems. I even learned the steps to get WC3 to work properly:

1.Find the WC3W.EXE executable, turn on (basically) all the compatibility options.
2.Start task manager.
3.Find and kill all instances of explorer.exe. Your desktop will disappear, along with the task bar.
4.Using task manager, launch WC3W.EXE

Naturally the screen resolution and color mode will be 640x480 and 256 colors, but if you've bent backwards that much, you probably don't care all that much.

Seeing that the games use DirectDraw, I decided to roll my own.

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

WC RPG Polishing Up Kilrathi Encounters
2016-06-27 -- We continue to admire capi's weekly WC RPG progress updates and how dedicated he remains to the project. Elegy of Sivar's "encounters" have been coming together this month with two of six planned events now complete. These sound like they'll be pretty dynamic scenarios within the context of the game.

Park Your Supercruiser Here
2016-06-26 -- callitri is well known for his gorgeous Concordia Supercruiser, but now he's branching out a little. While he's got aspirations to build out more of the WC Movie's fleet, the next project he's leaning towards is the Pegasus outpost from the film's opening sequence. The design is still in the early stages, but he's got a bank of stalls and utility connections in pace.

FMV Roller Coaster Runs Its Course
2016-06-25 -- Emotional Multimedia Ride has posted its fifth - and possibly final - installment in their retrospective on the Wing Commander series. Both Prophecy and Secret Ops are grouped together in a review of the Gold package that GOG has for sale. While there are certainly some high points, they find the overall reduced number of cutscenes, lack of video choices and less seasoned cast to be somewhat less compelling than Wing Commander 4, which ranked as one of their favorite games of all time.

Flat Universe Pilots Help Hold The Line
2016-06-24 -- This week's Wing Commander Flat Universe preview isn't very flat at all! It shows a wing of Hornets rushing in to assist a Confed destroyer under siege by several larger Kilrathi combatants. On the positive side, it appears that the Fralthra in the lead has taken quite a few hits.

Pandora Handheld Plays WC Saga
2016-06-23 -- Oceankhayne likes to take his Wing Commander on the go, and so he's a fan of items like the Nvidia Shield Portable combined with DOSBox for Android. He's recently upgraded to a Pandora, where he's managed to even get WC Saga running. It also plays the standard Wing Commander games through about WC4 quite well, and you can find a video of Wing Commander 3 in action on the device here.

WC Saga Deutsch Up To Version 1.07
2016-06-22 -- Luke continues to refine the German edition of Wing Commander Saga, and his latest updates further enhance the experience. Version 1.07 includes improvements to the fiction viewer, overall improved compatibility and mod-ability through new LUA script options.

New Patch Removes Asteroid Damage From WC1&2
2016-06-21 -- Sheppard still loves to play the Wing Commander games, except one thing drives him crazy: asteroids. He didn't want to just cheat his way through the space combat, so he's been determined to figure out a compromise solution. With the advice of a few fellow Wingnuts and some old editing tools, Sheppard managed to isolate the games' space rocks and neutralize the damage they do by slashing their collision radius.

Cerberus Looking Good From Above
2016-06-20 -- Here's the latest on a very nearly complete TCS Cerberus by DefianceIndustries. The upper superstructure is all textured in now, so the ship is about ready to rock in the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack. Defiance saved the best for last, so just weapons and a few minor structures remain.

New Raspberry Pi 3 Meets The DOS Wing Commander Challenge
2016-06-19 -- CrazySpence is back with great news on the Raspberry Pi 3. A couple years back he had good luck getting WC1&2 to run on one of the first models, but things started fizzling out around Privateer. The new system-on-a-chip is significantly more powerful with its 1.

Announcing The CIC's 18th Birthday Party!
2016-06-18 -- The middle of the year is fast approaching, and that means one thing here: it's almost time for the CIC Birthday! We now hold the event on a Saturday near to the actual anniversary, and this year we've selected August 13. Most old timers know the drill, and they'll tell you that the party is a blast!

Fleet Action Fan Project Launches New Website
2016-06-17 -- For the past two and a half years, Arrean has been working on his Wing Commander themed strategy/tactics game Spaceships Universe which puts players in control of Terran and Kilrathi fleet operations. We check in on his progress periodically, with new screenshots or videos of his Unity based tribute to Wing Commander. Now that a playable alpha test is in the works, Arraen has set up a dedicated website for his project where he can consolidate background information and teaser media.

Freedom Flight Ebook Three-Fourths Released!
2016-06-16 -- As the official July 5 electronic release date of Baen's Wing Commander Freedom Flight quickly approaches, another quarter of the book has been published. Baen has a history of parsing out partial early drafts of their new sci-fi novels ahead of an official launch, and this happens to extend to rereleases of their back catalog such as this. The first half of the novel came out April 15, and now buyers can see the first three quarters.

Flat Universe Gears Up For The Future
2016-06-15 -- There hasn't been too much information on the future of Wing Commander Flat Universe since their big interview a couple months back, but that's about to change. kyrgiannis has posted the first in a regular series of status updates that will lead up to their next major release. The image below shows off a stress test of the engine.

Prophecy & Secret Ops Models Extracted For Easy Modding
2016-06-14 -- gr1mre4per has put together a useful package for aspiring modders and artists to more easily dabble in Vision Engine assets. He's extracted the Prophecy and Secret Ops ship and object files so that fans can jump directly to manipulating everything in their favorite Object Viewer. It should be a pretty complete rundown of what's in there, including some recent curiosities like the unused "Callisto Cruiser.

Massive WC Discount Returns To GOG
2016-06-13 -- Good Old Games is running their annual summer sale, and Wing Commander's incredible 80% price cut is back! This means all PC Wing Commander games, including expansions and bonus material, are just $9.52.

August 1999 Preview Teases Wing Commander On Pay Per View
2016-06-12 -- VHSGoodiesWA has opened a fascinating time capsule into the summer after the Wing Commander Movie premiered in theaters. Long before streaming video was a thing on the internet, cable companies offered Pay Per View programming for people interested in a convenient home option. "On demand" meant something different than it does today though, and people would pay to unlock their desired movie at given scheduled broadcast times.

WC3 Test Footage Gives Early Glimpse At Heart Of The Tiger
2016-06-11 -- LOAF recently happened upon some old VHS tapes with test footage of Wing Commander 3. These appear to be placement shots to explore the feasibility of the futuristic sets, camera angles and costumes. Since this predates actual filming, Eisen is portrayed by a Joe Garrity-lookalike stand in, and the other crew member is "Dallas.

FMV Rollercoaster Reaches Its Peak
2016-06-10 -- Emotional Multimedia Ride has published a fourth article in their series on Wing Commander. Wing Commander 4 is arguably the pinnacle of "emotional multimedia" storytelling in the franchise, and this writeup acknowledges it as such. They enjoy the real sets and deeper choices as well as the more elaborate mission structure.

Prophecy Clip Shows Off Slick OpenGL Effects
2016-06-09 -- Carrick McHwain has posted a nice video of the Wing Commander Prophecy OpenGL patch. He shows how it runs on a modern computer in 1080p with some pretty solid improvement settings enabled. A lot of people are posting play-throughs of all sorts of games these days, but few go the extra mile and max out their playing experience before hitting the record button.

WC RPG Completes First Major Kilrathi Story Segment
2016-06-08 -- After several weeks of final sprinting, capi has completed the Act One, Part One chapter of his WC RPG expansion, Elegy of Sivar. This particular episode has taken the better part of a year to write, and it's just one of a number of chapters that make up capi's planned story arc. This means it's a possibility that his exhaustive Kilrathi module could be broken up into separate releases so that he can wrap up a complete package sooner and publish it to fans.

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