Original Wing Commander Logo Vectorized

elend has created two beautiful sets of artwork based on the logos used for the original Wing Commander. One is based more on the digitized design that appears in game and the other is more similar to the header font used on the game's box. Did you know that they were (slightly) different? Download both as high-res capable vector files here (3.5 meg zip).

I always liked that Wing Commander 1 Logo, which they used in game. I finally wanted to have a decent version of it, so I decided to vectorize it. In the CIC Wallpaper section I found a Wallpaper with nothing but the WC1 Logo, which helped me a lot. So my work is based on that. It's in vector format, which means you can resize it nearly endlessly without any quality loss. Great for prints like posters or for big wallpapers as well. I may do some in the future, if I find some time and feel inspired.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 57

Scene 57 - Maniac, seemingly oblivious to Eisen's problems, brags to Blair about how attractive Dr. Brody is. You know, the woman he helped kidnap. Future filmakers wondering how you animate 'Tom Wilson makes a kissing motion' on a storyboard would do well to take note!

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Richard Garriott Getting Married

Origin founder and space pioneer Richard Garriot has announced that he's now engaged to girlfriend Laetitia Pichot de Cayeux! Everything became official last weekend. Congrats! I hope they get married in zero gravity. Thanks to Ultima Aiera for the pictures.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 56

Scene 56 could almost qualify for 'lost scene' status, as you have only one brief chance to see it (and you can't save beforehand--attempting to do so loses the option). Blair receives a message from Admiral Tolwyn in the briefing room and then sends a reply.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Space More Black

We recently saw the earliest known build of Wing Commander III which showed the gameplay circa May, 1994. Today we have a glimpse of what Heart of the Tiger looked like two months later, on July 9, 1994. Stay tuned to watch the game take shape!

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 54

Scene 54 is more like it--Captain Paulson's arrival on the Lexington with orders to relieve Eisen of command. This may be another case of the storyboard preceding casting, as the character depicted here seems much more heroic than the late, great John Spencer (they seem to have gone from enthusiastic Nazi general to hopeless middle manager for the part).

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Time to Party Like it's 1996

It is traditional for film casts to throw a party when their project wraps and interactive movies were no exception. Here are eleven photographs from Wing Commander IV's cast party, which took place in May 1995--almost a year before the game was released! Check out Jason Bernard's cool outfit! We've also restored the original Origin intranet site which originally presented (slightly retouched versions of) these pictures.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 52

Scene 52: remembe the last two times Blair went to Captain Eisen's door and we had an update about it? Apparently it happened again. I'm starting to realize why these never showed up at the Origin website--they don't necessarily make Wing Commander IV seem all that exciting.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Old Pages Back in a Flash-Pak

Old hands may remember that Origin's Wing Commander IV website included an unprecedented amount of game-related resources, possibly to compensate for the game's limited manual. We have restored two of these pages: indexes of the game's guns and missiles. These pages reproduced material that would be printed in the game's official guide... but it was very cool at the time to get a (low resolution) look at individual missiles and guns!

We have also archived the internal documents used to create the site: WC4GUN.DOC, WC4MIS.DOC. Finally, you can find higher resolution images of several of the website's missiles (and several not included on the website) in a previous update.


Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 49

Scene 49 shows Blair's briefing for Tyr 2a/b, where he rescues (or kidnaps?) Doctor Brody. Dig that awesome Jason Bernard caricature!

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Space

A long-lost treasure has been restored to the archives: the very earliest Wing Commander III screenshots! These were put out by origin in late May 1994 and they broke some hearts. It was immediately obvious to everyone that Heart of the Tiger was a spectacular leap from Wing Commander II in terms of graphical quality... and system requirements! Take special note of the oddly textured carrier flight deck and the 'triangle' Kilrathi transport. The tringular troopships did not appear in the PC release of Wing Commander III... but they did star in the 3DO version and appear in a famous Wing Commander IV cutscene.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 48A

Scene 48A--ahh, transitions, those great little scenes that forced the player into an awkward position between liking how detailed the game was and being frustrated at how pointless they were. Here, Blair walks from Eisen's cabin to the rec room. I remember my little sister seeing Wing Commander IV for the first time and being very impressed that lesser ranks were stopping to salute for Blair as he walked by... so at least this game had some fun with it. Oddly, Wing Commander IV completely loses track of its transitions after Blair leaves the Lexington--there's no walking from place to place on the Intrepid.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

These Colors Don't Run, or Curve Correctly

Want to make your own Wing Commander patches? These circa-1995 images from Origin's vault should help--they show the correct colors and layout for each of Wing Commander IV's factions' shoulder patches!

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 48

Scene 48: Blair chats with Eisen and the viewer notices that he may be up to something. Check out that awesome futuristic laptop--presumably they'll need to be five times as thick as they are today 663 years from now. Thanks to an easter egg at Origin's Wing Commander IV PSX site (and now the CIC!) we can actually read the message Eisen was typing!

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

F-44 Preps for War

It's been a couple years since we've last seen Klavs' sleek Rapier in action, and now it's back for a new tour of duty. The ship below takes the classic Rapier II from Wing Commander 1/2 and infuses it with some 'modern' cues. It looks a little rounder and aerodynamic and maybe even slightly more like the Arena/SWC version. There's some well done markings and nose art splashed on for good measure as well. Follow the progress of this model at Crius.net or SciFi Meshes.

The SolSector Network, Starring Christopher Blair

We'd like to thank all the Wingnuts out there who subscribe to the CIC's Facebook Page! The page just hit 300 followers. It's just another avenue that we have to share breaking news and interesting trivia with fellow fans!

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 47

Scene 47 offers all the excitement that the previous 'Blair knocks on Eisen's door, Eisen isn't home' sequence lacked... for here Blair knocks on Eisen's door... and it opens!

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Meet the Darkening Team

You've seen their cartoon equivalents before--now take a look at this great group photo of the Privateer 2: The Darkening development team! Take a close look at the details, too--there's an area on the wall for each Tri-System planet! Special thanks to the always-gracious Paul Hughes for identifying the lineup.
Back Row: Mark Goldsworthy, Phil Meller, Paul Hughes, Tony Stockton, Nick Goldsworthy, Jason Reeve, Adam Medhurst, John Miles, Erin Roberts

Front Row: Paul Chapman, Nick Elms, Mike Cottam, Chris Battson, Dan Blackstone

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 41

Scene 41 - "You bet, captain!"; this is another portion of a briefing (possibly a generic Lexington briefing-ender similar to the 'love that boy's spunk' bit in Wing Commander III).

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Have a... Ball?

One of the strangest things we discovered at Mythic was an envelope labeled "HomeCourt". Inside was a series of pictures--a basketball which had been retouched to say 'Origin' on it, a computer keyboard plugged into a basketball, a distinct logo, a border and so on. What was it? An elaborate Christmas card, an early magazine advertisement (after all, this was the company that would go on to sell their Winter 1995 lineup with a picture of a dead fish) or a game that wasn't only lost but unlike anything else Origin had released?

Surprisingly, the answer came from gaming legend John Romero. Mr. Romero mentioned another abandoned Origin game from his days with the company, 2500 AD. I shot back two pictures of HomeCourt and he replied by writing an article on it for his blog! It turns out Origin did, indeed, almost release a sports game:

Luckily, I’m one of the few people to know about this project. HomeCourt was a basketball game designed by two brothers, Don and John Walker. They were stronger on the design side than the coding side, so they had help from classic game programmer, Steve Meuse. I believe the game idea was brought to Origin in 1987 to make a full court basketball game (One on One was a half-court game).

Steve Meuse worked with the brothers, mostly with Don, to get a graphical prototype working. The prototype had players on a projected 2D court running around and passing the ball on an Apple II. I saw this prototype working once when Don Walker was visiting, and it looked pretty nice. It was black and white graphics at the time, and the running and ball-passing worked great. Unfortunately, Steve left Origin in 1988 shortly after I left to co-found my studio, Inside Out Software.

The New Hampshire office of Origin Systems closed, and the company was consolidated in Austin, TX at the start of 1989. That effectively put an end to HomeCourt. Says Steve Meuse, “The game design aspect was getting more complex, and by the time I left Origin in 1988, it seemed to me to be only getting moreso. With the company move and all, the Walkers probably could have used more help and guidance than they got, but that’s just the way things turned out.”

You can read the full article here.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 40

Scene 40 has Blair interrupt an argument between Vagabond and Maniac about the Border Worlds--really the game's first opportunity to explain exactly what the Border Worlds, a concept that had not been invented before Wing Commander IV, were.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

I Will Need to See a Menu

Is this the menu for Bioware Mythic's re-release of Wing Commander I? Nope--although it looks very similar, it's actually a July 1996 concept for the Kilrathi Saga launcher program! As you can see, at this point the project was still going to include all of the Wing Commander addons on the disc (this must be an early mockup, as it does not seem to take into consideration the fact that Secret Missions 1 does not have its own separate executable). The third image, dated October 1996, is much closer to the finished release.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 34

Scene 34 - Blair meets Catscratch for the first time! It's hard to tell from the storyboards but it certainly looks like Mark Dacascos had not yet been cast at this point... Catscratch here looks a bit more like a farm boy fresh off the turnip truck than a goofy future Iron Chef.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

The Price of Freedom is Eternal Publicity

If you enjoyed our recent Planet Hollywood pictures then you may find these additional 'celebrity' pictures from Wing Commander IV's 1996 launch promotion of interest. In the first Mark Hamill appears on a radio show to discuss the game and in the second Hamill and Chris Roberts sign copies of Wing Commander IV. I wonder what the white sheet with the Black Lance logo on their table is.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 30

Scene 30 shows... Blair walking into the map room for a mission briefing. They can't all be epic space battles that decide the future of all mankind!

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Mindy's Music Live in Concert

The multi-talented Mindy Hester will be performing live on Saturday, October 23, at 12:00 noon at the Blues Bar in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. She'll be on stage with her family-friendly band, The Time Outs. If anyone is near by and can attend, be sure to get some pictures (and a copy of your Prophecy autographed by Commander Finley!).
A Rock Band For Kids Of All Ages!

Mindy Hester- Lead Vocals, Guitar & Songwriter
Chris Peterson- Bass Guitar, Guitar, Animal Noises
and Dean Harris- Drums, Cigars, Borat

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 29

Scene 29 holds a special place in my heart--I first played Wing Commander IV on a trusty 486/66 and impatiently waited for each new video to load. Imagine how excited I was to find that the new cutscene available in the captain's quarters was... a scene of Blair ringing his doorbell and then walking away.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Air Force Captures Kilrathi Fighter

Science fiction blog io9 is reporting that Google Maps has located Batman at an Air Force base on Okinawa. Batman? That's crazy--just look at the photo, it's clearly a captured Dralthi IV undergoing flight trials:

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 28A

Scene 28A cover's the CGI sequence which shows TCS Lexington's jump to the Hellespont. Note that the Lexington here is drawn just like the Victory (or the Vesuvius) and not, as has been often rumored, like Wing Commander II's Confederation-class.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Taking the Shirt off Mark's Back

On February 9, 1996, two days before Wing Commander IV's release, Origin held a promotional event at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Beverly Hills to unveil the game and donate costumes used by Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell (original press release). We've uncovered three photographs showing the event in progress!

Two of the pictures are also available in higher resolution black-and-white versions:

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 28

Scene 28 reintroduces Vagabond--along with the fairly odd concept that he apparently never loses at cards. Why does anyone continue to play with him?

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

October Brings Many Stops on Memory Lane

The second week of October caps a long list of release date anniversaries from the mid '90s. In the run up to the holiday season, numerous projects shipped around this time. The Kilrathi Saga turned 14 years old yesterday, and Wing Commander 4 on DVD turned 13 the day before. October 14 was also the ship date of Wing Commander Prophecy Gold in 1998 following a week behind the final Secret Ops episode. The Wing Commander 3 and 4 demos also saw the light of day on October 27, 1994 and October 19, 1995 respectively. The Prophecy 3DFX test? Not until November 1, 1997 (followed three days later by Privateer 2 Deluxe!). If there's any Wing Commander games you're missing after all these years, what are you waiting for!?

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 27

Scene 27 is Blair's first conversation with Captain Eisen aboard the Lexington. You can see how the storyboards indicate that a 'postage stamp' (moving character for the gameflow screens) is needed... and you have to dig the Captain's giant moustache!

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Goodbye, Simon MacCorkindale

Actor Simon MacCorkindale, known for his starring role in the British series Casualty, passed away on Thursday. He was 58. Wing Commander fans knew him best as Flight Boss Raznick in the Wing Commander film, the man responsible for flight operations on the Tiger Claw (credited only as FLIGHT BOSS). Appropriately, MacCorkindale dreamed in his youth of flying jet fighters like the Lightnings used to make the film before poor eyesight lead to a career in acting. Though his role in Wing Commander was limited, he still managed to steal a scene in which he orders a hot-dogging Maniac to abort his landing approach. Novelist Peter Telep expanded Raznick's role in his trilogy of Wing Commander-based novels.

Rest in peace, Mr. MacCorkindale. Our sympathies go out to his fans, family and friends. He will be well remembered as a skilled actor who helped bring nuance and depth to the Wing Commander canon. Telegraph.co.uk has published an obituary, available here.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 24

Scene 24 shows the conversation between Blair and Tolwyn on Orion as they watch the Vesuvius under construction; note how Blair is to be filmed on a spiral staircase, which seems like it would be unnecessarily expensive.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Goofy Game Gossip Unveils Underlying Ultima

The internet is aflame today following an angry rant from a supposed former Bioware Mythic employee which exposes lurid details of the company's internals. Most of it is common sense crafted to enrage the Linux crowd (Electronic Arts wants to make money?!), but one paragraph should be of interest to Origin fans:
Oh yeah, and he needed Paul Barnett. You know him as the crazy British dude that appears in random videos at EA to promote his latest bullshittery. We know him as the crazy British dude who we have no idea of how he still has a job. This man was supposed to be the savior of Warhammer’s vision and design. Now all he can do is promote his strange ideas about his little secret project web Ultima game that’s been almost universally criticized by all of us and focus groups. What’s that? You didn”t know Paul loves one of those old Ultima games sooooo much he’s making a literal copy of it for Facebook? Well, the cats outta the bag. Too bad it sucks ass.
Ignoring the high school rancor, this may be an interesting puzzle piece. Mr. Barnett's interest in Ultima is not a well-kept secret--he is the man leading the charge to re-release the originals and he routinely mentions what is likely this project on his Twitter--but it is actually very good news to hear that he is heading a known project for Electronic Arts rather than developing something in his spare time. (If the Ultima project is really a Facebook game, then the stage is set for an exciting showdown between a lovingly crafted Ultima game and Richard Garriott's Portalarium!)

At the risk of editorializing, I would like to join the angry masses and put my own experiences with Paul Barnett on the record--and they couldn't be farther from the rant quoted above. The Paul Barnett I know is the man who came in on Saturday because he was excited to show off the Origin material Electronic Arts had shipped to Mythic and the man who would stand up to EA legal to re-release Wing Commander I online.

Paul Barnett is the crazy British dude who 'gets us'. He was single-handedly responsible for organizing our archiving trip to Mythic, the DOSBox re-releases of our games and now, quite possibly, for bringing back Ultima. I suppose I'm also not sure how he still has a job... because there can't be any money in the time he has put in to helping our small causes. Here's a good example: I have begged producer after producer at Electronic Arts for the permission Peter Telep needed to release Pilgrim Truth online--everyone from Sean Penney to Chris Roberts--and the response has always been that they would like to help but that it just isn't a priority. I mentioned it to Paul Barnett and in days the book was in my inbox... and he was trying to figure out how EA could celebrate Wing Commander's 20th anniversary. The man goes above and beyond in a way that matter to us.

My only question is: how do we put him in charge of a new Privateer?

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 21

Today's storyboard update, featuring ten drawings, is the longest series discovered to date--so don't worry that the front page will be filled with cartoons like this forever! Scene 21 is Blair and Maniac's shuttle trip from Bluepoint to Orion Station (which had not yet been named). Note that the scene is staged here to include a separate shuttle pilot... which should be interesting to anyone who wondered how the 'hot dog' line could be more awkward. Those interested in following ship designs should keep in mind the Victory as scene here, as it had already been established in the previous game.

These storyboard images were recovered from a backup CD containing materials belonging to Origin's web development team. They were dated November 17, 1995 and were likely planned for a never-completed web feature.

Privateer 2 Scientists Discover Missing Link

While sorting through one of the CDs recovered from Mythic I came across something that didn't seem like it should merit much attention: a folder of graphical 'borders' made for a corporate presentations. Tasteful monochrome images that showed the company's facilities, screenshots from games and... box covers. Here's the latter:

Wait! Computer, what's that. Look at the far right, zoom in and enhance!

The never-used box cover for 'Privateer: The Darkening'! The file, dated May 13, 1996, proves once and for all that Electronic Arts once seriously planned to release it without the '2'.

Wing Commander IV Storyboards - Scene 13

Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum recently made an exciting discovery among the hundreds of CDs recovered from Mythic--a 1995 backup disc belonging to an Origin webmaster. The disk contains small treasures for Ultima, Crusader and Wing Commander fans... but one of the most interesting is a collection of several hundred scanned Wing Commander IV storyboards, apparently planned at one time to be included with the WC4 website!

Unfortunately the resolution is very low, as they were intended for the web in 1995-6... but you can still follow the action, read the stage directions and take note of how characters and ships were drawn! The first is Scene 13, which show's Blair's entrance to the bar on Nephele and his initial conversation with the barkeep. Note the Luke Skywalker robes and the cool eye patch! These files are dated December 14, 1995--all others are dated November 27 (so all were made before the game shipped).

Who Shot P.P.C. Merlin?

This is a cool video from the Wing Commander Movie's Electronic Press Kit. It includes the only known footage of Merlin's scenes. Merlin was a small holographic AI character that was voiced by Mark Hamill and set to accompany Blair along his adventure. Ultimately he was removed from the film and condensed into limited interaction between Blair and the Rapier's cockpit computer. This scene isn't in the extended workprint. The sequence's music, which was in a separate audio channel, has been removed to make this easier to hear. Download the clip here (5.1 meg avi).

Congratulations, Neily!

The New York Times is reporting that a Japanese social gaming company has paid a record-setting $400 million for iPhone gaming developer Ngmoco:
The new global platform will allow developers to aim for both Apple and Android users and gain access to both Western and Japanese customers, said Neil Young, the founder of Ngmoco — short for “next generation mobile company” — and a former executive at the U.S. game company Electronic Arts. Ngmoco’s games, including We Rule, Godfinger, Coin Push Frenzy and Flick Fishing, have been downloaded more than 60 million times on Apple iPhones and iPod Touches.

“Whether you’re a developer in Japan working on a Mobage, or you’re a developer in the West making apps, you’ll be able to work with us, and your games will be able to move across borders and move across devices,” Mr. Young said.

What's the Wing Commander connection? In fact, this very website owes its existence to Ngmoco co-founder Neil Young. Mr. Young, then president of Origin, actually visited Chris Reid and I on IRC (DALnet, nickname neily) to offer the company's support in creating a new Wing Commander website that would help promote Secret Ops and future titles. He was incredibly kind to us while he was at Origin, offering constant support and even tickets to the Wing Commander movie premiere! A $400 million corporate sale couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Wing Commander 2 Gets Its Due

Chris Gerrish found an article at Maxium PC about the six most important moments in PC audio history. It begins with some background on the first sound cards and MIDI. Then the Sound Blaster, and Wing Commander as its killer app, get a ton of credit for expanding the market. Check out the full article here.
One of the first games to support the Sound Blaster’s digital audio capabilities was Wing Commander II, in the form of an expansion pack consisting of seven floppy disks. Those floppies contained all the digitized audio for in-game voice. So you not only got music, but your wingmen and opponents would talk to you, and some of the cut scenes were voiced as well.

The great spoken intro to Wing Commander 2 was actually included in the base game, which totaled 7 3.5" floppy disks in the most common version. The in-flight speech pack was an additional 3 disks.

More WC2 Missions for FS2 Released

The Wing Commander 2 Campaign mod for Freespace has been updated with several new missions, ships and cutscenes. There are also some tweaks to the HUD interface and intro sequence. Installing it requires several steps: Install the Saga Prologue and 3.6.12 Inferno pack. Then add the initial release followed by this update (32 meg zip). If you tried the first release last week, you should only need the Inferno pack and 32 meg update now. A couple of videos have also been released to show off the game in action.
I continued work on the cinematics (these are not the final cutscenes) to make a few flybys to the ship. I've worked only a few weeks on this mod, so I need still to lern some features and so on. The HUD make me sad because it's a mix of the WC2+3 version (on my computer I see only the WC2 hud).

So have fun and tell me what is good, what's bad, what could be better. The next build perhaps (I hope so) contains camera flyby.

Update: Madman provided these revised instructions:

You need to install the prologue, then copy the latest Inferno build exe into the Saga prologue folder. Make a folder called wc2demo and put the latest release file (it's not an update, it's a new release) and music file in there. Then in the launcher a) change the exececutable to the newly downloaded Inferno build and select a mod (choosing the game folder).

New Benchmark in Fancy Joysticks Set

There haven't been a whole lot of reasons to buy an elaborate new joystick rig lately, but Thrustmaster is providing some new hardware to tempt flight/space sim fans. The new HOTAS Warthog A-10 replica setup will begin shipping this month for a whopping $500. The joystick sports 19 buttons plus a hat switch, and the dual throttle has 17 buttons as well. There's a further 15 switches and 5 lighted displays on the control panel base. Just what you need to play Microsoft Flight!

The HOTAS WARTHOG™ joystick is the result of an intense collaboration between Thrustmaster's development teams and members of the simmer community. Exchanges and studies were carried out constantly throughout the product's development phase, in order to create a joystick which meets the most specific and precise requirements of the experts. The result is a replica set of the joystick, dual throttle system and dual throttle control panel of the U.S. Air Force A-10C attack aircraft.

Weighing in at more than 6.5kg and using metal for the joystick, throttle handles & bases, the HOTAS WARTHOG™ joystick is physically imposing. When you take into account the 55 fully programmable action buttons and 2 four-direction hat switches, each with a built-in push button (this is the first joystick in the world to incorporate such a feature), it becomes clear that the HOTAS WARTHOG™ is in a class of its own, best described in terms of superlatives.

WCPedia: Image is Everything

In addition to vast amounts of information, the dedicated Wingnuts working on the WCPedia have also uploaded hundreds of cool images. New ones are being added constantly, and most haven't even been utilized in articles yet. Dundradal has invited fellow fans to both take advantage of what's available and upload additional pictures that would be helpful for the project. Visit the WCPedia image archive here!

WCPedia has started to amass quite a few images that would probably be very useful to all of you in your artistic endeavors. We are uploading a ton of images all the time, but quite a few are not linked to any page yet. I hope this category is of use to all of you.
Bonus Question! Do you know where all three images in this update originate from? Hit the Discuss link to answer.

Starcraft 2 Found Under the Influence

Game Informer magazine recently conducted an interview with Starcraft 2 lead designer Dustin Browder. The piece is actually quite lengthy and delves into a number of topics, and there's quite a bit of discussion on Wing Commander. The neato part is quote below, but you can check out the full article online here. It's definitely not the first time that this has come up.

One of the most interesting choices in the game from my point of view is the between-mission segments in the ship where you can click on different items and talk to characters and learn additional information. Many players have mentioned how this recalls the Wing Commander games, and it even reminded me a little bit of the Mass Effect series. What inspirations were you drawing on when you came up with these segments, and why did you feel that they were necessary for the game?

Certainly Wing Commander is one that was talked about frequently in the studio when we first started this project. I don’t think Mass Effect was even out yet when we started creating this, so that wasn’t a reference we could use, but it was one we could use later on.

We’d always had these elaborate briefings in StarCraft. Then there were cutscenes using the engine in Warcraft III. The team had always wanted a chance to do more with story. We knew that for StarCraft, we really needed to find places to innovate with the game, and we knew that solo play was an opportunity to do something a little bit new. We wanted to give players some choices, some options, some gameplay that hadn’t existed in our titles before.

I know Wing Commander was one that was definitely talked about because it was such a story-heavy game. We’ve always been story-centric with our RTS games ever since StarCraft. A little bit in Warcraft II, but especially since StarCraft, story has always been really essential to these experiences. It was an idea that was already here when I started at Blizzard. I know Rob Pardo and Chris Metzen had been talking about that for several years; I’m sure there were many people around the studio that had already been talking about this kind of Wing Commander approach. Obviously we had lots of directions we were taking it before we settled down on exactly what we ended up with.

I think what we’re hoping to do is try to bring the clunky story-telling tools that we had from Starcraft and Brood War and Warcraft III and try to bring them into the 21st century and really push the story and give players opportunities to experience it in new ways that aren’t just more cutscenes. We wanted players to have some kinds of choices about what they wanted to do. I think ultimately, we would have liked to have done more choices, but I think we’re pretty happy with the kinds of choices we provided players.

GameTap Moving Away From Retro Games

GameTap, which brought several Wing Commander games to its subscription service in 2007, has announced that it's moving away from retro games. Their technical center in Atlanta will also be closing. The service has been changing focus since being sold off a couple years back, and their new direction is moving towards digital sales and downloads of newer games. With all the ridiculous shenanigans in the retro gaming industry lately, our bets are squarely placed on the source. You can find an original summary of the Wing Commander material that GameTap posted here.
As for the immediate future of GameTap, the next update to the service will also occur at the end of this month, when all the games will use a new download technology and be 64-bit compatible. The company is trying to move away from being associated with retro games -- with the possibility of dropping its brand name altogether in the future. For now, the update will create three major tabs on the GameTap site: "PC games Unlimited Play," "PC games Download to Own" and "Retro games Unlimited Play."

"We need to show that we have moved forward and that we now offer a wide range of recent PC games," the GameTap representative said. The company will add 15 more games to its catalog of 550 PC games. "Some old PC games will be replaced by more recent PC games or by some casual games. Our decisions were taken based on our gameplay statistics, which is much better than our own opinion about the games or the opinion expressed by some of our users on the forum. We offer what people play."

WCTOO Now Has Pilot Registration Too

Wing Commander TacOps has received a sharp graphical upgrade! Or rather, I've upgraded my web browser, and the existing art assets all look how they're supposed to now. Avacar has also made great progress on 'phase 5' of the plan to develop an automated version of the game. Recent advancements include significantly enhanced pilot roles. Players can individually authenticate, create unique personas and develop skill stats. Game navigation, display options and reporting functions are also more polished. These improvements can be seen in the game's test environment (here for unregistered players). Last, but not least, the project has a new acronym. WCTOO - short for Wing Commander Tactical Operations Online - has seemed to stick.

I encourage *everyone* who intends to play WCTOO when the Beta comes out to start registering (click "Account") their user accounts now. Even if we migrate servers, I'll take that with us.

Still to do for phase 5:

  1. Games/Deaths/Kills tracking at the user level (slots are there, just not the code)
  2. More fixes to indicator stacks?
  3. Pilot skills firmed up
  4. Better user controls re: options/changing passwords/etc.
  5. A drop-down at the top called 'game' (or maybe in the navigation pane?) that will let you see who hasn't issued orders yet.
  6. Automatic background counter that will refresh the board every X (=30?) seconds in case you don't, so that if you're playing a highly active game, it can be semi-live.
  7. A 'force check to see if turn is ready yet' button.
  8. A short email script that will send email notifications on turn completions (subject to user preference?)

Many of the above are actually sort of fluffy and not strictly necessary. Based on popular vote/opinion, I can drop off the more user-friendly ones, and stick to the core game mechanic ones, if, after sufficient testing of what's already there in phase 5, we want to push forward to a beta and start really playing.

Finally: I can't stress enough that this is really meant to be played in Firefox 3.6.10+ for now. Wedge has also been busy this week, so there's no guarantees of anything in Phase 5 being at-all cross-platform safe yet, although I'm trying to be better about it. We will continue to do our best as time moves forward however.

Novel Flight Deck Gets Novel Additions

There's a couple more shots of Marc's Tarawa flight deck. The central control tower has been cleaned up, and the large orange tanks have a little surprise. Both have cool animated versions that you can check out below!

At first I was trying to flesh out Tarawa's flight deck because it only existed in the novels. And it was pretty useful as many members had different notions on how it was layed out (the TCS Tarawa was never visually featured in an official Origin/EA game, so there are infinite ways the deck could be).

Since then it's become an ongoing obsession of mine - "nothing to do? load up the Tarawa model!"

Because the End Run novel describes it as being an "elevated" platform facing the airlock. I imagine it would have read "hanging" or "suspended" if it was the way you describe it. Plus, given the average height of flight decks in WC, it'd be a hell of a long ladder climb (the novel also say there's a ladder).

Ralaxath Development Can Relax

JasonRocZ has finally finished the Ralaxath heavy destroyer for the Wing Commander Collateral Damage mod. This ship has been in various stages of construction for almost exactly one year, so it's good to be past this one. Ships in general have taken a lot longer than expected to clean up, but the basic plot to the game has been worked out and mission design should follow soon.

The last showing was a work in progress so here's the final product. I'm happy to finally be done with this ship... It took a lot of long hours to get the textures to how I wanted them for this ship. Enjoy! :D

Vega Campaign Pushes Toward Victory

On this day in 2654, Rapiers from the TCS Tiger's Claw launched in support of operations to recover a captured Ralari in the Kurasawa system. Christopher Blair and Kien Chen fought their way through wings of Salthi and Gratha in order to escort the valuable destroyer to friendly space.

Failure sent players to the Rostov System where their efforts determined a winning or losing path in either Venice or Hell's Kitchen. You can find walkthrough information on this mission and hundreds like it in CIC Teal.

This mission is considered by some to be the most difficult mission of any WC game. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, however it certainly isn't simple. The Salthi in the asteroid field are simple enough, but don't take any damage and don't use any missiles. Nav 1 is the real challenge. There is no perfect strategy to this, it is mainly down to luck. As soon as you arrive, order Bossman to Break & Attack, and let loose with all of your missiles as quickly as you can. If your missiles hit home, and Bossman does his job well, you might just have a chance at taking out all of the fighters before they destroy the Ralari. But don't bet on it. Expect to have to try this mission several times before getting it right. Good luck.

Small WC Miniatures Printed & For Sale

Astro Commander came looking for information on how to get miniature (physical) Wing Commander models and mostly came up empty, so he made his own! The fleet so far has been built with a 3D printer and is fit for painting. It includes the Midway and a Tiamat, plus a small flotilla of escort fighters. Several Confed fighters and a cruiser have also been built on a larger scale. Since all the leg work to get these made is done, he's passing on the fun via the Dream Foundry storefront. Fellow fans can buy additional ships at roughly cost here.

Well after a lot of effort I've loaded a few models. I'll probably keep them available until I tire of it or it seems like there is no interest. I recommend detail materials (white detail, transparent detail, or black detail. These show grain but any other material is worse. All parts are designed optimally to be printed in detail. It also seems the detail material requires some cleaning with hot water and a brush, from the gel support material.

Scale:

Fighter combat: These are generally between 25 and 40mm in length, optimized for painting (IMO) but still usable on a 1 and 1.5" grid.

Fleet combat: Capital ships are centered around 75mm while fighters are between 1 and 1.5cm (roughly). They work best on a 1.5 to 2" grid

Collectable: Certain ships, generally the ones I really like and want bigger, will be scaled up to around 150cm. But expect these to be pricey due to material required.

Wing Commander 2 Campaign Demo Released for Prologue

FekLeyrTarg reports that a new WC mod demo has been released for FreeSpace 2. Deathsnake is working on making a Wing Commander 2 style campaign as an addon to the WC Saga Prologue. Both English and German versions are available in 134 meg packages. There are two playable missions now, and an additional update should be released soon that includes four missions. You can follow the development in English at HLP or German at WingCenter.

Have fun and please respond with changes for future updates :)

Think Back to the Most Expensive Year...

There's a new front page poll that asks about the biggest Wing Commander investment you've undertaken in a single year. The options are presented in US dollars, so hit the currency converter if needed. It'll be interesting to see how these results compare to the lifetime spending poll we asked in the past. Wingnuts that bought a new computer in 1994 with Wing Commander 3 as the overwhelming driver should count that. Other fans might consider the XBox 360 that they bought just to play Wing Commander Arena. Hit the comment button and tell us how your numbers added up!

The old poll demonstrates just how committed our visitors are! A full quarter of those that participated have been around here since the beginning, and there's been a steady influx since. Welcome to the newcomers too!

See Hostile Frontier's Frontier Spacescape

Kevin Caccamo has posted quite a few pretty ships for the Hostile Frontier mod recently, but where will they fly? Here's some images of the beautiful nebula in the "Oecumene System" that will serve as a backdrop for this FS2 mod. This batch includes one gameplay shot as well.

4000 Days of Wing Commander News

By our reckoning, today is the 4000th day that we've updated the CIC front page! In twelve years of operation, we've been around for some 4400 days. At first glance, that looks like a 90% update rate, but we haven't missed a day since 2003! Who would have thought we'd still have daily material to report on in 2010? We used to wonder if the well would dry up, but there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. The only limitation seems to be time to sift through what everyone's doing and organize it into neat packages. You're a very active community that gives us plenty to report on. Thanks all, and keep it up!

Taliban There, Done That

The gaming blog-o-sphere is on fire following word that Electronic Arts has bowed to pressure to remove the Taliban as a playable faction in their upcoming Medal of Honor relaunch. From their press release:
However, we have also received feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers who have expressed concern over the inclusion of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of our game. This is a very important voice to the Medal of Honor team. This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to. It is a voice that we care deeply about. Because of this, and because the heartbeat of Medal of Honor has always resided in the reverence for American and Allied soldiers, we have decided to rename the opposing team in Medal of Honor multiplayer from Taliban to Opposing Force.
As this generation of gamers trades blows in yet another uninteresting debate over free speech, Wing Commander fans should remember that it happened here first. Wing Commander Prophecy featured this briefing for the first mission in the G'wriss series:
The Midway has been cut off from her primary supply routes by the enemy fleet in H'rekkah. Before her transmissions were jammed, we contacted a supply convoy destined for the Taliban colony. It has been notified of our situation and will be rerouted to the Midway. Our primary sensors have detected a small attack force closing to within strike range of this convoy.
That was all fine, if somewhat odd, in 1997. Then, in 2003 with America's fighting men and women on the ground in Afghanistan, Electronic Arts released Wing Commander Prophecy for the GameBoy Advance. One small change: the ships were now bound for the Eielitian Colony. In short, this whole situation is just another instance of Wing Commander doing something first. Where's our parade?!


Separated at birth?

Special XBox Live Promotion Running in October

Microsoft is running a nifty rebate promotion on XBox Live Marketplace Points. Players that spend 2400 points (approx $30 dollars) during the month of October will get an 800 point credit (about $10 dollars) in return. This applies to arcade games like Wing Commander Arena or game content such as the XBox WC Dashboard Themes. And technically, no XBox is required if you're buying via the web. Details are available here (sorry Japan, Italy and France, you're out!).
Get a Thank-you Gift from Xbox LIVE

Summer of Arcade may be over, but the great deals on Marketplace just keep coming. During the month of October, spend 2400 Microsoft Points on Arcade games and/or game add-ons and you’ll get 800 Microsoft Points added to your membership as a thank-you gift. Spend your bonus points on anything you want—game add-ons, avatar accessories, or even another Arcade game!

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