Prophecy Demo Graphics Updated

Pedro's update that allows Wingnuts to play Prophecy and Secret Ops with fancy OpenGL graphics is really popular, and Skanks was wondering if it was possible to upgrade the WCP demo to similar standards. The demo includes four new missions that are a part of Prophecy's regular storyline. PopsiclePete answered the question with an updated installer (55 meg exe) that combines the Prophecy demo with its OpenGL implementation. If you've only played Prophecy and Secret Ops, don't miss this bonus mission set! Check it out and let Pete know what you think here.

The current version has a bug that does not permit screenshots to be taken (this will be fixed in a future release), so the last three pics are from Standoff to demonstrate the graphical quality.

PC Gamer Names Wing Commander One of the Best Games of All Time

powell99 noticed that PC Gamer has listed Wing Commander 3 among it's top 100 games of all time, 2011 edition. Wing Commander has been left off their list in recent years, so some Crius.net posters have asked how the "best games of all time" list changes so much each year (last year's #15 winner is down to #100 this year). It's still a pretty nice honor from a pretty big source. Wing Commander 3 comes in at number 72 on the list.

I remember being blown away by game’s demand for over 30MB of hard disk space. Thirty freaking megabytes! What were those insane Origin developers thinking? I only had a 105MB drive in my 386 to start with. Once I got over my initial shock I was lost in this space romp for weeks. The cinematic cutscenes gave Mark Hamill a much-needed career boost (such as it was) and the space combat was as addictive as crack.

Forum Runner Now Supports iOS & Android

The Forum Runner plugin at the CIC Forums has been recently upgraded. Updates mainly focus on minor bug fixes, but this also adds compatibility for the new Android version of the program. Crius.net can be accessed and used via a normal mobile browser, but many people find the Forum Runner app to be a cleaner way to post on the go.

Flight Suit Finds a Good Home

cdtodd posted some pictures of the gorgeous Blair flight suit that he recently won on eBay. He even got a cool autograph from the previous owner. The costume still looks to be in great shape after nearly fourteen years in storage. Now he needs to make or buy a helmet!

Just got Mark Hamill's WC Prophecy flight suit from George Oldziey and figured I'd share some pics.

P2 Screenshots Find a Good Home

Lin Kuei Ominae acknowledged the lack of Privateer 2 screenshots floating around and started a killer thread to collect some of people's favorites. The game is so full of crazy locations, and its spaceflight engine is so unique within the series, that each one is a visual treat for fans who might not have played The Darkening in a while. Bob has even posted a few animated gifs. These are also handy for potential Privateer 2 entries in the WCPedia. Check them out (and post your own!) here.

Standoff Updates for 64-bit Windows

There is a new patch for Wing Commander Standoff. It mainly fixes issues with the newest versions of Windows. If the game is running smoothly, it's not necessary to update, but the tweak is now available via the game's auto-updater. The Standoff team is also working on an OpenGL update to smooth over display on ATI cards. Further on the subject of video cards: the recent nVidia driver release 260 breaks the game. Upgrade again to at least the 265 release to fix that.
A small update from 1.31 to 1.32 is now available through the game's autoupdate. It fixes a number of compatibility settings for Windows 64 bits OS that were not installing correctly in the past versions. Although these could be set manually they are now correctly set automaticly. The Help/FAQ page has also been updated.

The Scimitar Never Looked So Good

Here's some 'final' pics of Klavs' gorgeous Scimitar. The texture detail and coloring have been nicely sharpened up, and the ship is now sporting some beefy missiles. If you showed a brand new fan this model and some Academy cartoons, they'd think this was the hottest fighter around in '54!

Final Mission for Discovery Begins

The Space Shuttle Discovery launched today on its final mission into outer space. Discovery was the fourth orbiter built after Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger. It has also flown the most mission - today's launch kicks off the shuttle's 39th. In addition to stocking the International Space Station, Robonaut 2 is being brought aboard. It will be the first humanoid robot in space. The goal is to eventually have similar models work side-by-side with astronauts and perform more dangerous tasks alone.

WC Saga Trots Out More Troops

WC Saga has posted some character profiles of various pilots. They're split between two articles that then break down each person individually. Each one gets a list of biographical data and several paragraphs of backstory.

For this next few character updates, we like to focus on characters first encountered in the Prologue who will carry over into the main campaign. ...we went back and rendered several characters, Sandman’s flight school classmates, that were briefly mentioned in the Prologue missions and the accompanying e-book. Few of them will move on and make appearances in the main campaign.

UO Developers Celebrate Happy Occasion

Ultima Aiera spotted a cool story on one veteran player of Ultima Online. The longtime fan recently celebrated her (real life) 83rd birthday in the game, and the awesome folks at Mythic created a unique bouquet item to commemorate the occasion.
...the feel good story of the week comes courtesy of the long-lived granddaddy of sandbox MMOs. Speaking of long lives, UO player Hollie Macrall recently celebrated her 83rd birthday, and while we don't know for sure whether that's some sort of MMO record, we do know that the Ultima devs were duly impressed enough to reward her with an in-game flower marking the occasion.

As you can see in the accompanying screenshot, Hollie was surrounded by friends and family for her virtual celebration and is also the proud owner of the one-of-a-kind item bearing the inscription "In appreciation of age and wisdom. Happy 83rd birthday Hollie from the UO Team."

Difficult Darkening Dialogue Deciphered

LOAF and the folks in #Wingnut have done an amazing job transcribing all of the hundred or so cutscenes included in Privateer 2. The script they've developed is quite a marvel, but there are a few difficult words and phrases that have not been made out. Of particular usefulness would be some British fans to help decipher some slang and pronunciations. You can check out the current transcript here. See the lines marked with a ??? to help.
Finished transcribing disc two of Privateer 2! ...but we need an English ear to help figure some lines (marked ???). It's high time we fans formed our own Avuncular Order of Hom (Bex's beer-based religion).

Edit: Some tips on how to play the movies off the Privateer 2 Disc:

HCl's movie player will play them (and also convert them into AVIs): http://hcl.solsector.net/movie_player.html

Back when the game came out we had a neat trick for playing all the videos, too--you could rename any of then files to match the Origin logo (ORIGIN_S.TGV, I think) and then the new video would play instead of the logo was the game started.

Galactic Fleet Action at Your Fingertips!

Astro Commander is back from Genghis Con with an amazing battle report that chronicles his miniature ships in action. He moderated a huge tabletop game with Confed, Kilrathi and Nephilim fleets squaring off. The latest picture below even reveals the surprise appearance of the Steltek. Everything was played according to his custom ruleset, and it sure looks like a blast! You can check out the full story behind the battle here.

Wing Commander Tabletop After Action Report. February 2011

Operation: The liberation of Kilrah. Genghis Con XXXII

Objective: Penetrate into the Kilrah system and destroy the wormhole gate structure.

Secondary objective: Investigate a Steltek installation recently deciphered from the ruins on Mars. It is believed that the Steltek knew something about this region of space might enable a wormhole to be opened and placed a monitoring station in system. It is suspected that the Steltek were aware of the Nephilim as a potential threat to the galaxy. Though why the installation didn’t appear to do anything when the first wormhole opened is unknown. Investigate for potential weapons or data. (Unrevealed objective until turn 4, must have held the objective for one turn to have attracted attention of a Steltek carrier)

Development Continues on New Frontier Chapter

Frontier - Prelude to Darkness has made progress on two fronts. The Chapter 1 HD Remake is complete and has been released for all to watch. On the opposite end, work continues on Chapter 14 to advance the storyline along. The project has also been picked up by a couple of internet media sites, which should bring some nice exposure to the fan movie and Wing Commander fans that support it.

So has there been time for Chapter 14 I hear you all asking? The answer is yes, I have been able to work a little more on the remainder of the 2D Characters and while this chapter is taking its dear sweet time, I hope you can be patient as I’m going through quite a big transition with my course, but the good news is that my animation knowledge will increase tremendously and we’ll get this puppy looking more awesome and epic.

SNES Music Brings Back Fond Memories

Wedge notes that SNESMusic.org has extracted the soundtrack to the Super Nintendo versions of Wing Commander. The tiny 100 kilobyte download includes approximately 45 minutes of wonderful tunes that are a joy to the ears. Wedge recommends the SNESAmp plugin for WinAMP to listen to the somewhat obscure SPC .rsn format file. You can find the soundtrack here. And look at that, the old Winamp skins that have been sitting in the CIC archives for more than a decade still work!

If you don't know what SPCs are, it's the format used for storing Sony SPC700 sound chip memory dumps from a SNES console. The most common way to play it on a PC is with the SNESamp plug-in for Winamp.

It's certainly not the highest quality SNES soundtrack I've ever heard and compared with other versions of Wing Commander, the conversion is pretty low quality overall. Still, for some who started their Wing Commander experience on the SNES, this may hold some nostalgic value for them.

Edit: Evan reports that Game Music Box is the preferred player for Mac and SNES Player works for iOS.

New Stories Dreamed Up by Wingnuts Like You

The CIC Fan Fiction Forum has seen some new activity recently. Dahan has posted a new chapter of An Officer's Beginning and Plywood Fiend has started a new adventure, Fifty Voices of the Three Wars. You can find these stories and more at Crius.net.
January 17th 2663
Rho wing – BWS Magellan
Racene system - Enigma Sector

2nd Lieutenant Percival ‘Falchion’ Williams

I’d been flying off of the Magellan for two weeks, having been dragged out of the academy two years ahead of schedule thanks to a shortage of pilots on the border.

I was feeling rather miserable I must admit. I’d been sent into a war zone feeling anything but ready for it and what’s more, I was the only rookie on the ship, everyone else from my class having gotten transferred to either the Intrepid or the Tybalt.

The Magellan, a smashed up Confed Exeter bought on the cheap, boasted ten pilots in all. The other nine all knew each other, they had fought side by side for at least the past year, they were a team. I was the green, nervous plebe filling the bunk of 1st Lieutenant Alison Klim, the team-member that had been killed two weeks prior.

When I wasn’t feeling painfully awkward onboard ship, I was feeling shit scared inside the cockpit of my banshee. Kilrathi fighters had been harassing convoys in Racene, Telamon and Ghorah Khar for weeks now. This wasn’t just a matter of a dozen or so privateers, these were Imperial fighters flying in such numbers as could only come from Snakier carriers.

As yet, the Magellan’s rearguard patrols hadn’t come across any enemy fighters; a fact I was rather glad of. I was certain that my first encounter with a Kilrathi ship could only result in my death.

Banshee and Dragon Separated at Birth

TopGun found an odd duck over at DeviantArt. The Federation 'Banshee' is an F-107 Lance reimagined in Star Trek style. It's a recent creation by benbischop. He's done a pretty good job at maintaining the original design while incorporating all the revised elements.

More Tripe from the Blogosphere

HotT spotted an article on the "worst cartoons based on video games." There are no specific problems called out, and the author doesn't seem to know when the series was made. The Wing Commander cartoon is often praised for its storytelling and attention to detail, so it seems to me like they Googled for ten different video game shows and slapped them into an article. Check out yesterday's updates for download links to the entire series so you can see for yourself.
Wing Commander was one of the first game franchises to be badly burned by an awful movie adaptation. As if they couldn’t just leave well alone, they had to make an unsuccessful cartoon as well. Despite featuring some major vocal talent (Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell) the damage was already done.

Redesigned Scimitar Looks Cutting Edge

Klavs81 has done some great work reimagining the Rapier II and Hornet, and now his attention has turned to the Scimitar. The fighter has some great similarities to the workhorse of the Academy television show, and it's incorporated some 'real world' design elements that he's trying to standardize among his fleet. Here are some early shots with the craft alongside his other birds.
I knew I couldn't get away from those pods! I agree they complete the look but... Feh!

I'm developing some rules for these ships. All designs must have:

1. Intakes for the engines when they are breathing air
2. Some kind of grill that acts as the ramscoop
3. RCS Thrusters
4. Large internal volume for fuel
5. Some kind of heat radiator

It's fun working these into the existing designs, using existing scoops and such. This applies to ships like the Dralthi too, though the Kilrathi have some different ideas about where to put things, to put it mildly.

Here's a few more shots of the Scimitar. She's a little bit smaller now. Added a pair of wing flaps (non busted).

Complete Your Collection With Wing Commander Academy

If all the Scimitar pictures have made you nostalgic about the television show, it's time to watch Wing Commander Academy again! The three-gigabyte series follows the Tiger's Claw through a very exciting year in Wing Commander history. Grab all thirteen episodes, plus some special features, below.

NOTE: Wing Commander Academy episodes are no longer available for download. Please support the franchise by buying the complete DVD set through the link above.

Gratha on the Ground in Giant Graphic

Michelle D has made many different iterations of the Gratha, and here they all are displayed in silhouette form. A large planetside scene with the latest incarnation has also been rendered. The forward fuselage and cockpit were inspired by the A-10 Warthog.

I do have some strange affection for the ship. This is like the twelfth variant, but I really stopped counting since I have many incomplete models. I think my biggest problem is making the ship look cohesive.

Smithsonian Snubs Space Sims

Victor Amaya reminded us that the Smithsonian American Art Museum is running a special exhibit on video game art next year. They are now taking votes for feature games for the project. Candidates are broken out by 'era': '70s to early '80s, '80s to '90s, mid '90s to early 2000s and current day. Shockingly, DOS & Windows don't become an option until the "1995 to 2002" category, which removes a huge swath of games from consideration. No Ultima or Wing Commander games make the cut, nor any classics from Sierra Online or similar contemporaries. Almost no sims of any kind are included. I remember when you couldn't make a list of top games of the millenium without at least throwing in some Myst, MechWarrior or Master of Orion. Disappointed? They have a comment board for you to let them know what you think about this.

Saga Cruiser Spillin' Like Molasses

WC Saga has posted new pics of their Savannah light cruiser. It's inspired by an unknown class of light warships mentioned in False Colors, and it clearly draws visual inspiration from the popular Tallahassee design. You can find more pictures and backstory here.

This week, the Saga team would like to show off another ship: the Confed light cruiser. This vessel is meant to fill in the gaps of the Confed Fleet as well as to show a conceptual design that’s been mentioned in the various novels.

This ship is intended to be the same class of Kilrathi War-era light cruisers that were sold off by the Confederation to the Landerich during the False Colors novel. Such fans would remember some of the vessels as the FRLS Themistocles (ex-TCS Andromache) and the FRLS Xenophon.

Collectible Costume Auction Ending Soon

There's less than one day left in the auction for a Mark Hamill flight suit. The costume has been in the care of WC music composer George Oldziey since the late '90s, but now it's time for the suit to find a loving new home!
This is an original costume used in the making of the cut scenes for the epic Origin/Electronic Arts video game, "Wing Commander IV". It's MOST LIKELY the same costume worn by Mark Hamill as he portrayed the character of Captain Blair. I have no papers to authenticate it as such, but I acquired it from the storage warehouse on the set where the scenes were shot as they were about to toss all the props away. This particular costume has "Blair" inscribed on it, so at at the very least he must have been fitted for it and tried it on! Having met Mark Hamill and seen how much shorter he is than me, and having tried on the suit myself, I can attest that this suit must have fit him very well!

*** George also reports that the Live Orchestra Wing Commander Concert with the Austin Symphony is still in the works, but the timing could slip into 2012. We can hardly wait!!

Blast from the Paper Past

Here's a look back at one of Péricles first paper models, the F-36 Hornet! The build plans for this ship were never released, but it sure looks sharp. Its paint scheme has a more weathered look than some of his more recent designs and it has some cool pilot customization. There's even a cute little tug. Thanks to Malcolm Reynolds for the internet archeology.

Spector on Epic Mickey and Classic Games

Martin Kronvall found a cool new interview with Origin vet Warren Spector. Mr. Spector does quite a few promotional tours, so there's probably not a whole lot of new revelations here, but the discussion does discuss creation of gaming classics like Wing Commander. You can find the piece in episode one of the Triangulation podcast on the TWiT network.
Not a full 1 hr of WC but very interesting and perhaps of interest to the community.

Kilrah's Demise Sketched Out

NinjaLA has sketched out a firey new scene based on the destruction of Kilrah. A Confed Excalibur can be seen swooping away as a Kilrathi on the planet is rocked by the seismic Temblor bomb. The Vaktoth in the upper background is pretty sharp too.

Kilrah in its final moments

Watch the Explosive Inspiration

Much of the motivation behind Ninja's sketch above came from watching the Temblor attack video included with the Playstation and 3DO versions of Wing Commander 3. As neither edition had ground combat, the final attack on Kilrah played out as an awesome FMV clip. You can find this cutscene, as well as dozens of other "lost" movies that appeared in special versions of WC3 in the Holovids section here. Scroll down to "Kilrah Ground Attack" or download the Divx (3.6 meg avi). Check them all out and see if they inspire you to create something for Wing Commander!

WCPedia Hits New Milestones

The WCPedia has hit two new milestones this week! The online Wing Commander encyclopedia has reached two million individual pageviews. It has also amassed more than two thousand articles, which is double the content from six months ago. Most of the recent additions have covered Privateer 2.

Lego Flight Deck Upgraded

Mr. Lee has rebuilt the hangar of his Lego Tiger's Claw, and the result looks even more like the original. The new setup (pictured first) is deeper and has a longer 'red carpet'. This allows more pilots to stand in orderly rows. Marcus is even planning to buy and install lights to simulate the floodlight effect, but for now you can see it simulated with background illumination.

Prophecy Movie Upgrade Reminder

If you haven't upgraded your copy of Wing Commander Prophecy to use the gorgeous DVD quality movies, then now's a good time to start downloading! High quality versions of each of the game's movie files are included in the three packs below. In conjunction with this handy file name index, you can easily call up any video cutscene in the game. This often very useful!
  • Pack 1: Relive Dallas' funeral, the destruction of Eloy, Casey's promotion to the Black Widow Squadron and... the 'hundred percent speech'! 43 cinematics in .VOB format. (1.6 GB)
  • Pack 2: Hawk's story arc, the landing on Dula VII and firing the plasma weapon. In all, 46 movies in .VOB format. (1 GB)
  • Pack 3: This final pack includes the game's stunning conclusion, all the losing endgames... and a heck of a lot of briefings! 45 cinematics in .VOB format. (550 MB)

Instructions on how to integrate these files into the actual game are available here. The intro movie (included in pack 1) is also available as a separate download from the Holovids section if you want to check out the quality, or check out the neat comparison to see the differences side-by-side. Be sure to visit the Holovids section for more cool stuff to download.

Give Your Phone Some Origin Flair

An Ultima Aiera reader has made a well done batch of iPhone / smartphone wallpapers. Most of them relate directly to Ultima, but there are also some pretty cool Origin and Wing Commander images as well. Check out the gallery and download the wallpaper pack here.

You're Invited to Mindy's Release Party!

Confed Science Officer-turned-Kindie Rock musician Mindy Hester is having a launch event this weekend for the release of her fourth album, Juice Box Hero! The fun starts at noon, February 13, at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago. As a special bonus, one lucky Wing Commander fan in the Chicago area has an opportunity to win free tickets to the show and a copy of the new album!

To enter the contest, simply hit the Discuss link and post the answer to this trivia question: In Lance Casey and Aurora Finley's introduction scene (the famous 'boom boom' sequence pictured below), how many shots did Aurora drink?! Crius.net registration is recommended, but not required. State whether you live near Chicago, and get your entries in by midnight Saturday. Wingnuts outside the Chicago area can enter, but obviously they won't get to come to the party! Good luck! You can also purchase the album at CDBaby or iTunes.

"You can take the girl off the Midway, but you can NEVER take the Midway out of the girl" - Lt. Finley

Mindy Hester & The Time Outs!
and Max Trax Studios


Famous Flight Suit Now For Sale

In more news related to popular Wing Commander musicians, acclaimed composer George Oldziey is selling Mark Hamill's Wing Commander Flight Suit on eBay. The outfit has been part of George's personal collection since EA cleared out a warehouse of WC3, WC4 and Prophecy-era props and relics. He's explained the story behind it below. This is quite a collectible! The auction continues until mid day (US time) Wednesday, February 16. Place your bid here! (and check out the snazzy pics of George all dressed up).

This is an original costume used in the making of the cut scenes for the epic Origin/Electronic Arts video game, "Wing Commander IV". It's MOST LIKELY the same costume worn by Mark Hamill as he portrayed the character of Captain Blair. I have no papers to authenticate it as such, but I acquired it from the storage warehouse on the set where the scenes were shot as they were about to toss all the props away. This particular costume has "Blair" inscribed on it, so at at the very least he must have been fitted for it and tried it on! Having met Mark Hamill and seen how much shorter he is than me, and having tried on the suit myself, I can attest that this suit must have fit him very well!

I, being the composer of the music for this and two other Wing Commander games, will be happy to autograph and include a picture of me wearing the costume, or some other picture if you'd like.

How To Disable Kilrathi Saga Speech

Mincemeat has a clever tip for reverting to subtitles in the Kilrathi Saga port of Wing Commander 2. Most of the earlier Wing Commander games that had speech automatically hid subtitles when voices were enabled. If someone was interested in reactivating subtitles, the typical method involved going into the game's installation menus and deactivating special voice effects. Kilrathi Saga's Windows installation has no such option, so turning on subtitles is a little tricker. Here's the method he's discovered.
Go to the directory where you have installed Wing Commander 2, (eg. c:\program files\kilrathi saga\wc2), go inside the gamedat directory, (backup the contents first), delete all the SPEECH.S?? files, delete all the COMMUNIC.S?? files.

Note: Leave the COMMUNIC.T?? files alone! These are the actual text files...

This will permanently remove the speech from the game and it will revert to the printed subtitles.

Pretty sharp! Speech can be reenabled by reintstalling the game or restoring your backed up folder. A similar tweak allows German DOS WC2 owners to switch to English.

Ultima Reel Shows Off Origin's Last Project

Ultima Aiera has posted a cool pitch video from January 2004. It's a pitch proposal for another iteration of Ultima Online 2. Several different iterations were attempted over the years, and this demo appears to be a dressing up of the canceled Harry Potter Online engine. Development did not go much farther, as Origin was closed in February 2004. Check out the video here.

...this video was produced as part of the very last pitch that Origin delivered to EA, proposing to resurrect UO2 and begin new development on it. Electronic Arts turned the pitch down, and Origin was closed instead. So, at least in one sense, this video is Origin’s dying breath.

WC Saga Seeking Voice Actors

It's time again for WC Saga to look for voice actors, and dozens of slots are surprisingly available. Each of the roles is detailed in a post at the Voice Acting Club. Plenty of grimacing dudes and even a few ladies' characters are up for grabs. Auditions should be sent in by Feb 15. Find out more here.
I represent the Wing Commander Saga team. We are currently in full production and making considerable progress towards our full campaign release which is scheduled for mid-spring. So, the time has come to also turn up the heat on filling our voice acting roles. We still have several major roles to fill, as well as literally dozens of minor roles. Please feel free to throw your hat in the ring and send us a sample.

Watch Out, Enemy On Your Six!

Wing Commander TacOps Online has added several new features in the last couple weeks. From a gameplay perspective, the "tailing" feature has not been implemented. Selection of stacked objects has also been improved in the interface. Test Game 4 is currently in progress to test out these and newer features as they're implemented. You can peek in at the progress here.

I am pleased to announce that tailing is now fully functional! After a fully successful test case of 1 trial, I am 10% confident there will be no further problems! Unfortunately, like many of the phase5-based updates, only a signed-in account can properly witness how this will change things. As you probably should expect by now from my 'design intent' during a Movement Phase, an extra tab appears at the top, and should theoretically list all the tailing information you have available.

------------------------------------

After 4 hours of work, and a fair bit of diving into the inner workings of the jquery-ui widget I was trying to use, I have made a vast improvement to the multi-selector! I honestly didn't think I'd be able to understand what was going on well enough to fix this, but I think I finally pulled it off. Ironically, we're now using a bug-fixed, more improved version of the selectmenu jquery UI over anyone else on the internet! Sadly, I'm simply not interested enough in jquery development to go open up a github fork of the current selectmenu-ui tree, and put in a pull request to that community.

Okay enough blathering, let's deal with this from a WCTOO point of view: the select menus should now disappear when you mouse away from them. I haven't fixed the 'you have to pick something new' bug yet, however, but I believe that this was the key annoyance with them.

Sim Developers Look to the Future

Victorinox found a cool article at SimHQ about the Future of Simulation Games. It's a 'roundtable' article with input from about ten current developers of sim type games. There's a lot of good question and answer conversation about where the genre is going. The last page also includes some discussion about what inspired these developers to get into gaming, and Wing Commander definitely played a role. Check out the full article here.
20mm: What specific simulation titles have been the most inspirational to you in terms of what you strive for in the development of new titles, and why?

Flexman: Everything by Microprose. M1 Tank Platoon and Gunship 2000 offered repeat play through simple mechanics. And I'd also go with Wing Commander for its attempt at a narrative. And a huge shout out to Jane's Longbow 2 which was a fine blend of action and simulation. What's interesting in those choices is (with exception to Wing Commander) are totally dynamic. Grand Theft Auto managed to blend narrative with a free-flow structure. That's a little of what we're aiming for, a blend of dynamic missions with a few narrative threads. Both M1 Tank Platoon and Gunship 2000 had crew advancement (or death), you could get really fond of those AI guys. We unashamedly copied the idea of a crew roster you can develop over missions. They have metrics for flight time, skill level, combat fatigue, aggression. The latter being quite important for AI sorties.

Jane’s titles managed to walk a tightrope of action and simulation. The audio chatter went a long way to provide a sense of battle and excitement. F15 was super with calls of “shack” and “check your panel”. Even Falcon 3.0 has some amusing pilot chatter. All of that we scripted for our game too just because it added so much to the feeling of a Jane’s simulation and it’s not technically difficult to do. It adds value at little expense.

Coolest Way to Protect a Kilrathi Head Modeled

Michelle D is working on a new unit for her Firekkan themed scene. It's a Kilrathi shock troop based off the losing ending of The Secret Missions 2. Right now just the helmet has been modeled, but this is a great opportunity to show the screenshot that this is based off of. That's some pretty badass Kilrathi armor there.

Home Sweet Kilrah

Some might be wondering where all these Kilrathi are supposed to live. Michele D is addressing that as well by starting to model a Kilrathi city. It appears to be inspired by some of the scenes on Kilrah show in Wing Commander 3.

I can't really say if it's Kilrathi enough, especially the building with the most progress done on it. The orange cubes are scale markers 7' or 8' high.

Lego Squadron Poses for Group Photo

Here's a look at the full cast of Mr. Lee's nifty Lego project. What a sharp bunch! Can you name each of the Tiger's Claw pilots and crew depicted below? The same challenge has been posted to our Facebook page. Who can do it first? Hit the Discuss link and find out!

Pix's Origin Adventures Cover Tremendous Territory

It's been almost two years in the making, but Pix's Origin Adventures blog has blasted through more than a decade of classic Origin material and covered most of the Wing Commander series as a result. He's played through Wing Commander 1, Secret Ops and nearly everything in between, but he's still finding cool contemporary articles and most recently reviewed False Colors. Quite a trove of information and experiences have been amassed! What's even more impressive is that while this could be referring to just his Wing Commander exploits, Pix has actually been playing everything from Origin's catalog. His well-documented adventures include Wings of Glory, Transland, Cybermage and more (including a few dozen Ultima and Jane's games). Even Standoff and Unknown Enemy are fair game. Each of his posts are full of pictures and detail, so head over and see for yourself. Hopefully it inspires your own Wing Commander playthrough!

This blog started out as an attempt to play every Ultima game starting at Akalabeth but quickly changed into a more ambitious (or foolish) attempt to play every game ever developed or published by Origin Systems. Origin have been my favourite developer for years and I’d been collecting all their games but still hadn’t played half of them and this seemed like a good excuse to start. At the time of writing (Jan 2011), I’ve finished all the Origin games I’m aware of.

I’ve branched out into playing fan games and some of the games made by Origin’s more famous ex-employees. There are still quite a few of these left which I’ll be playing when I get around to it. I’ve also been writing posts on Origin related bits and pieces I’ve picked up over the years, including scans of magazine articles from the day.

My main focus now is trying to read every official novel and cluebook based on Origin’s games or published by them. There are a lot more of these than you might expect although it’s a considerably smaller task than playing the games was. I expect it’s going to keep me busy for the rest of the year for all that.

WC Saga Game Test Seeking Volunteers

The WC Saga team is thinking about conducting another beta test, and they are currently taking applications for participants. Those working on the mod have been looking at some of the same material for years, so they would appreciate a new point of view on the project. If it sounds like you can help, sign up here.

We can't overestimate the value of fresh play tester eyes on the product. As developers, we look at the thing all day, everyday, and to be honest, we lose perspective. When we're able to watch a new "fresh to the game" player run through the game, we get to see the game play out in a whole new way. We get to see when things are good, but more importantly, with the aide of our new set of eyes we can't hide from something that's just not working.

P2 Cargo Bug Offers Infinite Wealth

It's not every day that someone discovers a new trick to a 15 year old game, but the very clever Lin Kuei Ominae has found a bug that allows players to quickly amass unlimited credits. All of the built-in cheats relate to space combat, so this is pretty neat. Of course, his comprehensive save game editor allows tons of instant tweaks, but there's a certain charm to finding something like this in the game itself. Check out his instructions below. The screenshots are in German, which are worth peeking at if you've only played the English version. It doesn't affect the basic steps being demonstrated either.
  1. Take a freighter and buy one ton of something cheap such as Brikcrete (just to occupy the first cargo pod).
  2. Then buy several hundred tons of a cheap commodity like Grain.
  3. Now sell the one ton from the first cargo pod and empty it this way.
  4. Now go to the Bulletin Board and hire a different Freighter.
  5. Go back to the commodities and you see that now the first cargo pod is filled.
  6. If you now buy one ton of something expensive, the second pod (which was previously filled with many tons of cheap Grain) is now fill with several hundred tons of the expensive commodity.
When hiring a new freighter, the game reorganizes the cargo pods by moving full pods up into empty pods. However it doesn't set the amount of cargo stored in the pod back to zero and only assigns "Null" for the stored commodity type. So basically you still have hundred tons of nothing stored. When you now buy something, the cargo type is changed from "nothing" to the new commodity and the amount of tons is adjusted by one. I've attached some pictures showing the five steps.

Congrats Lt Cdr Finley!

Aurora Finley doesn't spend all her time converting alien technology into new fighter weapons. In real life, Mindy Hester is a popular kids' musician! Mindy Hester & The Time Outs have a new CD, Juice Box Hero, which they have been performing lately at major venues around the US Midwest. A video of them recently at the Mall of America has been posted to Youtube. The big news today is about the two Kids' Music Awards that they've won for best song - one each for 'Monster In The Closet' & 'Welcome to the Jungle Gym'!

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