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.

WC1 Programming Library Widens Supported Assets
2015-07-31 -- Since we last checked in, UnnamedCharacter has made a large number of expansions and improvements to his Wing Commander library project. The software toolkit (implemented in .NET v4) provides a programming interface for working with Wing Commander 1 data files.

PC Gamer Reflects On FMV Games
2015-07-30 -- PC Gamer has posted a new article on the state of FMV both yesterday and today. They point out the genre's rocky history, but Wing Commander is called out as a major exception that stands the test of time despite some technical limitations. Although live action cutscenes are largely seen today as a relic of a bygone era, the author highlights how they continues to pop up in new places.

New Flat Universe Previews Tease Next Installment
2015-07-29 -- The Maslas Brothers have released a whole bunch of tantalizing new screenshots for the next iteration of Wing Commander Flat Universe. All images are either gameplay screenshots or otherwise rendered in the engine. These new pics show off the custom cockpits that frame the action: the angular green Hornet, squared off red Scimitar, silver curved Raptor displays and more are all there.

Wing Commander Arrives On US Netflix!
2015-07-28 -- Streaming Wing Commander's spread across the globe continues! After appearing in countries such as Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK earlier this year, the WC Movie will finally begin showing on the US Netflix roster starting August 1. Sure, we all got the Blu-ray edition a couple years back, but it's exciting to think about the huge new audience the film will soon be in front of.

Bearcat Gets Unreal Makeover
2015-07-27 -- ScoobyDoo has made big progress importing his new Bearcat fighter into the Unreal 4 engine. In this new environment, he's been able explore adding tons of detail to the cockpit, hull surface and landing gear. Although he's known for adding lots of stuff like this to his ships in the past, he's being careful to walk a fine line and avoid making his ships deviate too wildly from the baseline Wing Commander examples.

Frontier Bombers Get Modern Makeover
2015-07-26 -- The Border Worlds faction is getting some nice upgrades to their torpedo-carrying fighters in the WC4 Homeworld mod. L.I.

Three Weeks To Party Time!
2015-07-26 -- In case you missed our recent announcement, the date and time for the CIC's 17th Birthday Party has been set! You're invited to join us on Saturday, August 15, 2015 at 7:00 pm EDT (4:00 pm PDT and 11:00 pm GMT) in the #Wingnut chat room. It'll be fun night full of old war stories, cake, trivia games and prizes.

Sins of a Solar Empire Mod Starts Kilrathi Capship Conversion
2015-07-25 -- M3RcAden has built quite a few Confed ships for his Sins of a Solar Empire mod, so he's branching out more now to the Kilrathi side. First up is the Kamrani corvette. Check out those beefy turrets!

Wing Commander, EA Titles Heavily Discounted At GOG
2015-07-24 -- Over the next three days, GOG is discounting their entire EA catalog by 60%. Besides Wing Commander, Ultima and Crusader, their offer includes beloved classics such as Theme Hospital, Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper, Kyrandia and Populous. While you can buy an entire series outright for the sake of convenience, you can also handpick a few individual titles, many for as little as $2.

Wing Commander 4 Intro Remixed With Live Orchestra Track
2015-07-23 -- Former Origin composer George Oldziey has posted another fantastic sample from his live recording of Wing Commander music in Bratislava last year. This time he's enhanced the introduction to Wing Commander 4 with his new audio. The results are amazing!

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