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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Time to Claim Party Prizes
2014-08-19 -- It's time for people who won prizes at the Birthday Party on Saturday to claim their gifts. If you won an item below, send us your IRC name, real name and address. If the item has a choice involved (which game, book, size of shirt, etc), be sure to let us know that as well.

HP Software Shows Terran Allegiance
2014-08-19 -- Klavs was setting up a new computer recently and was surprised to see a familiar logo in the center of the screen! Hewlett Packard didn't just read his mind and select an appropriate Wing Commanderific avatar - the "compass" logo is the icon HP associates with new computer installations and their "Getting Started with Windows 8" app. Klavs superimposed a traditional Confederation star over the symbol and they're a very close match!

New Wing Commander Proposal Drives IMDB Listing
2014-08-18 -- Last Tuesday a new IMDB page appeared for a Wing Commander film reboot slated for 2015. Fans have been understandably surprised and curious about this new development!The project description sounds similar to that of the original movie with the added addition of the 'reboot' aspect that's popular today.

Happy 16th Belated Birthday, CIC!
2014-08-17 -- Happy 16th Birthday everyone! We've had another exciting year. On top of the full DOS game lineup finally being added to GOG, Electronic Arts got back into the game with several Wing Commander additions to their Origin service - they're even heavily promoting WC3 as their August 'On the House' freebie!

Listen to Wing Commander in Concert!
2014-08-17 -- Since the conclusion of George Oldziey's successful Kickstarter earlier this year, he's been working to prepare Wing Commander tracks for live recording with a full orchestra. Austinites got a special preview of this album last month when a medley was performed live by the Austin Symphony in front of a huge Fourth of July audience. Shocked (and lucky!

Wing Commander 3 Video Index Revamped
2014-08-17 -- Last year the Holovids section was revamped so that the inline videos would work without third-party plugins in any up to date browser, on desktop or mobile. This involved re-encoding the bulk of our videos to formats that can be played by HTML5-capable browsers. Notably, the massive Wing Commander 3 movie index was still using the old Flash technology.

HCl's Online Ship Viewer
2014-08-17 -- HCl has created a viewer that allows you to see various Wing Commander ships in 3D right in your browser. Check it out here. The viewer is still a work in progress but supports a variety of 3D formats including the ship files used by the games themselves.

Ultima Forever's Kilrathi Island is Real!
2014-08-17 -- When Ultima Forever launched last year, there were rumors of a quest that involved a downed Kilrathi ship. The game's untimely cancellation was announced without the easter egg ever having been found, but thanks to a little birdie, the mysterious relic has been revealed! Here's the screenshots!

Cake Time!
2014-08-17 -- LOAF's amazing wife, Alexis Lesnick, baked us an amazing cake this year! The frosting looks great and I love the bright candles. Really wish I was down in Santa Monica to try it!

Product Primers For New Players
2014-08-17 -- Through the CIC's Mediawiki, staff and fans have been collecting a massive amount of background information on all the Wing Commander products in existence. If you're a new player who's just (re-)discovered the series through Good Old Games or Origin, those wiki pages can be a little overwhelming. Our series background section aims to provide more of a primer for people who need the basic history of a core product, or some quick links to a piece of documentation or walkthrough.

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