Paper Commander Posts Huge Update

Paper Commander has a new resident model architect! Thunderchild has joined forces with Péricles to create fabulous paper Wing Commander ships. As a debut event, Paper Commander has been updated with five new ships - each one even includes an integrated paper stand!

Thunderchild's first design is an ultra detailed Banshee. It's the most gorgeous fan-made physical model since elend's polystyrene Banshee last year. Download building materials and instructions here.

The F-107 Black Lance "Dragon" is next. It looks especially sleek and dangerous! Grab everything you need to make your own here.

The majestic Tallahassee cruiser is third. Check out all those gun turrets! Download this one here.

The Yorktown light carrier rounds out Thunderchild's designs. Pictured to the left is the 3D render used to make the design. Grab the blueprints here.

Last, but not least, Péricles also has a new design. This is a 1/144 scale design based on the Armada variant. The Arrow is available at Paper Commander here.

The Arrow has few parts, but it's average difficulty to build. It's ideal for intermediate modelers.

WC Saga Game Test Seeking More Volunteers

German WC hub Shotglass.de is reporting that anxious fans have another opportunity to sign up for the WC Saga beta. The current test has been under way for a couple months, and the team behind the mod is looking to expand. To apply, register and post in this WingCenter thread about how you would make a good tester.

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.

Pirate 101: The Confederation Way

Bob McDob found a pretty interesting video on YouTube. It's not exactly a Wing Commander video, but it is made entirely in the Wing Commander 1 'cinematic' engine. The lengthy clip explains how to conduct piracy in the online space sim Eve Online, but it's done entirely from the perspective of a pilot standing in front of Colonel Halcyon on the Tiger's Claw. Check out the video here. Bob has put together a bit more setup:
This is, in fact, a fairly detailed look at the mechanics of space-robbing people in EVE Online. Or, at least, was - the mechanics have changed a lot in the past four years and I don't play the game so I don't know how relevant it still is.

Still, it's fairly entertaining, considering that it's essentially a nine-minute lecture. I think what impresses me the most after the fact that somebody actually had the idea to do this is how professional the whole thing feels. The voicing is measured and precise, syncing up smoothly with the mouth animations. Key points are clearly illustrated with text and diagrams, interspersed with in-game video to help break it up. This all sounds like the criteria for judging a school presentation - but really, the overall effect is more striking than many professional presentations I've seen, so maybe what I'm really impressed with is how superior this is to Powerpoint.

This isn't actually tagged as Wing Commander, and there's nothing in it to betray its origins (unless you scroll down to the comments, I guess), but the structure of the presentation and general tone shows the creator is clearly familiar with the source material, so I'm glad that this isn't just some cheap excuse to use "retro" graphics without any consideration or even knowledge of where they come from.

Big Bug Guns Add to Nephilim Power

Astro Commander has some bigger Nephilim baddies to share with everyone this week. The Hydra cruiser and Kraken "ship killer" complement the existing fleet of corvettes, destroyers and wormhole gates. A fearsome Tiamat was also built last year. The intricate shimmering paint job never ceases to amaze!

First the ever popular Hydra. I actually modeled two sizes of this ship. the first was a little large, but I like the larger one. The second is closer to appropriate "scale" in so far/little as I generally care about scale. It's always about paintability to me.

The second is the ever popular Kraken... which got so little attention in the game... Of course attention of that sort ends in one way, the only question is which side. Oh and clearly the lens flare is CG. Otherwise, as always, 100% airbrushed.

Next Edition of Flight Commander Being Built

Aspiring Wing Commander modders are still using Flight Commander to build their own campaigns, and eddieb is hard at work on the next version of the game engine to give them even more abilities. A full release is still a ways off, but some exciting improvements have already been integrated. Feature and issue progress can be followed on the tracker here. Download the current version of the mission builder here

Some have been asking what features will be in 1.7. I'm about to get married, so the wedding is my priority, and I won't be able to release anything until afterwards. But here's what I already got done
  • AI uses decoys against dumbfires
  • Display shield flash when hitting shielded part of a cap ship
  • Music change on Torpedo run
  • Change shield color
  • Add after debriefing movie.
  • Add a timer with a callback for scripting
  • Show ship name in the viewer
  • In-game lua console
  • weapons xml tag
  • Mission timer wrong when pausing
And here's some items that are partially done
  • Multiple friendly wings
  • More comms, and the AI to use them. For example, the AI congratulates you on a kill. Announces it is taking over the wing when the wingleader dies.
  • More interactive menus in the gameflow. Buttons will highlight when you mouse over them, the scrollbars work. More stats and fiction in the ship viewer.
  • An improved mission editor
  • Give the user a choice of joystick

Robotech FC Mod Kicks Off

saf0775 is also taking advantage of the Flight Commander engine to produce a Wing Commander-style Robotech mod. It's a project that's been in the works for some time, but until now, there wasn't a suitable game engine. A number of ships have already been imported into FC and a ready room has been created. Up next is more object importation and then some preliminary missions.

Seeing as how you have a well rounded engine already...and I have ALL the models I need...how about this? I have plenty of ideas on my own, as well as plenty of models, sprites, and sound f/x. I'm going to have some fun with this and see where I can take it.

Next on the list:

  1. Add some borrowed audio to the animated "face shots" I already have. This will be for communication traffic. I have all the characters from the first war portrayed.
  2. Build a Cat's Eye recon plane
  3. Import all the Pods
  4. Create some simple missions to test everything to this point.

I'm still not sure whether I want to be my own pilot or someone pre-created. I guess it's only a secondary problem. The real trick is making a good combat experience, and then enhancing that experience with a story line. At least I already have the plot and some minor characters already taken care of.

Raptor Gets Its Claws Dirty

Here's Klavs' vicious Raptor with a new advanced texture. There's significant weathering effects present now, and all of these shots feature the ship carrying four menacing torpedoes. It's amazing what some scorch marks and scuffs can do for the look!
Thanks a lot you guys, I will be building some good desktop pics for you when time permits!

As for the various game engines out there, they're all great, but I'm going to keep my grubby mits on these for a while, before I decide on any kind of release. Who knows what the future will bring?

Here's a quick update on the Raptor, she's a lot dirtier now!

Space Sim First Look: Star Pagga

There's been quite a few new space combat sims for iOS devices lately, so NuAngel sent in a cool new game for Android phones. Star Pagga boasts about its action-packed 3D gameplay, intense single player campaign and 8-player multiplayer over local networks or online. The Lite version is available to try for free, and the full game is only $2.36 on the Android market or $1.99 on iTunes. Reviews call the story brief, but generally rave about the game's spacecraft customization and nifty touchscreen/accelerometer-based controls.

StarPagga is an action based 3D space combat game. As a new member of the Azure Squadron it's your task to attack and defend in a variety of space environments. Choose one of four different spacecraft and take to the stars alongside your wingman in a series of dangerous dogfights against superior enemy numbers.

You can play multiplayer games over a LAN, enabling you to battle with your friends or alongside them whilst at the same location. It is great fun to talk to your wingman face to face and to fight the AI bots. This is particularly good for iPod users who will have internet access with on a LAN, but not necessarily whilst out and about.

Internet multiplayer is also a key feature of Starpagga. It means that iPhone users can play online wherever they are, providing there is good reception on their network. It makes the game incredibly accessible, as you don't have to be in the same room to play Starpagga together online, or even in the same country!!

There are a variety of different space environments available. You can fly around Saturn's rings, or you may need to duck and dive through the dense asteroid fields. The deep fog plasma clouds, where visibility is challenged really test your skills. At the same time, the orbital construction zones are full of dogfights and will require a degree of control. Playability for this game is paramount!

Brandish Your Zaga With Kilrathi Insignias

Wedge has made a vector (3 kb .svg) image of the relatively obscure, but pretty darn cool, Kilrathi insignia from Wing Commander Prophecy. It's a good companion for the famous Kiranka claw, which he had previously made in vector (9 kb .svg) form as well. Hopefully people can put these to good use!

Perhaps less well known, I thought I may as well make a vector image of the symbol used in Prophecy too. It might save some work for others, later on.

Privateer 2 Language Conversion Reveals Interesting Differences

Ser Lin Kuei Ominae has further researched Privateer 2 and discovered it's relatively easy to switch between regional versions. For his testing, a German copy was converted into English, but this should also apply for the French edition. Simply copying a number of key files into the game's installation folder (typically C:\Dark) will drive one language to another. Here's a couple of shots that highlight some interesting comparisons, and details of the conversion process are beneath that.

I managed to convert my German P2D into an English one (thanks Mincemeat for the files) and noticed some small differences:
  • The shortcut NHK instead of CCN in the booth welcome screen. I still don't know for what the 3 letters NHK could stand for as the text below actually gives the shortcut KKN which is also a quite accurate translation from the english text
  • A different background in the P.A.D. with a quite simple done removal of the smaller "Personal Access Directory" text
  • The small added suffix "verstorben" (eng "deceased") in the german Larn Regis and Douglas Pemtur entries as well as the missing title "Nurse" ("Pfleger") in the german Douglas Pemtur entry
  • The different name of the papogod clan which is called papago in german. However even the english one isn't consistent as it is called papagod in the text and papogod in the headline. I wonder what's actually the correct name of this clan.

For those who are interested, the following files are needed to convert the game into a different language:

  1. Booth.iff - text in the booth like the welcome screen
  2. Dani.big - the audio of the ships computer voiced by Dani Behr
  3. Gameflow.iff - text that is displayed in menus (e.g. load game), pad (name of the transits, e.g "customs", "You Are Here"), planetary interior (e.g "exit to transit", "enter booth"), text between fmv's (the text of the 2 plot-choices), text of the various commodities, weapons, ships, systems, missiles, Bulletin board text "Reward"/"Tons"/"Hire
  4. Isets.iff - the audio that Lev Arris speaks between the FMV when the player has to make a plot-choice
  5. Mission*.iff (0-9,m,r) - the text of the missions and diary entries
  6. Pad.iff - the text on the P.A.D. like the "exit" button and the background images.
  7. Speech.big - the voices of the different pilots
  8. P.S.: it would be cool if someone with a French (or other language) version could post the pictures here too.
criticalmass suggests NHK stands for "Netzwerk für Handel & Kommunikation."

Quick Look Back at WC3 Promotion

Dino from Simulation World posted some fun pictures taken during the development of Wing Commander 3, when he was a PC magazine editor. Has it really been 17 years since WC3 was in development?! The last two pictures were posted to show off Mark Hamill's autograph, but that's a really awesome paper plate!

Chris Roberts, Paul Mallinson, Mark Hamill and myself (front) in 1994 for Wing Commander 3 preview.

EA's iOS & Android Games on Sale

EA Mobile is holding a "Sweet Deals" sale for Easter weekend. Many games are $0.99 in the Apple App Store, and a handful of Android games are $1.99 as well. Some of these normally $5-10, so it's a pretty big markdown. Check out the full list of discounted titles here.

Wing Commander's a Computer Eater

PC Games Hardware has posted an article titled "From Wing Commander to Crysis, The biggest hardware devourers of their times." The piece is more of a photo collage with captions about the couple most demanding games of each year of the last two decades. Wing Commander 1 & 3 make the list, and they're in good company with Strike Commander and some Ultima games. Check out the full gallery here.

Is Your System Ready?

Speaking of high system requirements, here's the preview card for Wing Commander 3. This ad was included with the release of Wing Commander Armada, three months before WC3. It advises fans to double check their specs and make sure to get ready for the most demanding game ever! The front of the ad is pictured with the Armada Strategy Guide (ultimately released as the Playtesters' Guide) in the first image, and the second shot shows off the back of the card, plus the WC3 guide advertisement.
Upgrade Your Machine Now.

The fall, Origin releases the biggest game of the year - Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger - starring Mark Hamill, John Rhys-Davies, Malcolm McDowell and Tom Wilson. This Origin Interactive Movie will requirement 8 megabytes of RAM and a double-speed CD-ROM drive. Is your system ready?

Nephilim Invade Friendly Space with New Ships

Astro Commander has finished photographing his massive fleet of minatures and is currently going through the pictures. He's published a few of them as a preview of new ships. Four small corvettes make up a school of Barracudas followed by a larger Orca destroyer. The third image is a real clever recreation of the wormhole gate and invading Tiamat!

And finally the Wormhole Gate with a Tiamat emerging through. Yes, I know scale is wrong as the Tiamat had to compact to go through, but eh. (~3" Diam)

Priv Preview Gives Glimpse of Greatness

Evan let us know that Kultboy has posted scans of a cool sneak peek at Privateer from January 1993. It's a three-page article in the German magazine Power Play. The cover is dedicated to Origin's Ultima Underwold 2 (as well as a game called Erotik Report) and the main piece has inset portions on Chris Roberts and game audio. There's also some very high quality concept and promo images that show off the game's original SVGA aspirations that didn't pan out. If you didn't see these at the time, they're sure to wow you now!

These are early mock up promo shots--Origin continued to use them in catalogs for years. The original hope was to use Strike Commander's 3D engine for Privateer, which is why the early concept stuff looks like this.

Aerodynamic Raptor Prepares to Attack

Klavs' gorgeous Raptor has gotten even more beautiful with its first textures. The ship's panel lines, color and decals help bring the heavy fighter to life. A prototype wallpaper has also been mocked up with fancier lighting and some beefy torpedoes mounted.
The Raptors look pretty nasty when carrying Torpedos! I just love it when jets have a ton of ordanance hanging off the wings. Still have a lot of weathering, and yes, reducing panel lines to do...

PC Gamer Visits the Wing Commander Academy

Several people wrote to let us know that PC Gamer has posted a weekend article about Wing Commander Academy. This is pretty good exposure for an underappreciated part of the series. The piece is peppered with some common gaming journalism conceits - back-handed compliments and dramatized complaints - but hopefully it introduces new fans to Wing Commander. The author has typed up a play-by-play of the pilot episode here.
Perhaps most notably, the usual cartoon rule that everything has to be wrapped up nicely by the end of every episode… is not in force. Academy isn’t afraid to end stories on a downer, or present war as something other a cheery, glorious adventure. In one early episode for instance, one of the main cast has to blow up a comrade who recently declared his love for her. In another, a legendary hero turns out to have taken a turn towards Nietzsche. In others, the show plays with the fact that the cast – as fighter and bomber pilots – aren’t privvy to the high-level tactical decisions being made elsewhere on the ship, and often have very distorted ideas of what they’re risking their lives for. None of this is desperately earthshaking for fiction as a whole, but for this timeslot, it’s good stuff. It’s also a rare case where this kind of spin-off has both slipped into canon, and generally been embraced by the fans.

Complete Your Collection With Wing Commander Academy

The notes we received this weekend highlighted a shocking fact - many longtime CIC visitors still haven't watched the Wing Commander Academy series! WCA is a must-have for all Wing Commander fans, and it helps us eat through our bandwidth allowance too! We're frequently asked questions about the Wing Commander series that are explained through events depicted in the television show. The 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.

New Poll Focuses on Iconic Briefings

There's a new poll today that asks which 'wing commander' delivered the best mission briefings. Colonel Halcyon had the original games on lock, but there was more diversity in Wing Commander 2 and even Paladin got in on the action in Special Operations. Eisen, Blair and Wilford are sprinkled here and there in the later games. Commander Drake is the last one we see, but Clippy delivers some of the best lines in Secret Ops. Who was your favorite?

The old poll asked what setting would be the best for the next Wing Commander, and a pre-WC1 timeframe won out! The decade spanning WC1-2 and a post-Secret Ops game were also quite popular.

Wing Commander Editor/Viewer Test Available

Here's a story from a while ago that we missed earlier. Over the period of a year or so, Flashpoint has been building a Wing Commander 1 editor. The project began when he went looking for something that could customize the original games. Since there wasn't a program that did exactly what Flashpoint wanted, he set out to learn how to make one himself! A preview release is available (1.3 meg zip) to see what has been developed so far. Each mission's nav maps and mission details can be pulled up, which is itself already a useful function. A copy of WC1 is not actually needed - just unzip the file and run wce1.exe. The code behind the program and user interface are now being improved, and the hope is eventually that custom WC1-engine campaigns should be easy to make.

Nearly finished the new interface screen. Looks a lot neater, ordered an d manages to fit a lot of relevant info on the screen at once. Done 50% of the pseudo code for the re-code and know how I'm going to handle most of the data. I'm feeling that this should go pretty smoothly (as an experienced coder, I should know better than that).

Then it's on to the briefings/debriefings and finally (if doable) the campaign file. I'm moderately excited!

Supercruiser's Smaller Details Redefined

Here's a couple updates to callitri's Concordia model. They show how a few secondary structures have been recently overhauled. Side hangar doors were revamped, and the smaller scale guns were sharpened up quite a bit. The third image is a comparison shot from an earlier build. Check out the simple boxy miniguns behind the main turret and blank rectangles on the side. His supercruiser has come a long way! callitri is still looking for a volunteer willing to take a crack at textures.

About this model performing in a game: it has to much detail IMO. Games like Homeworld 2 have seriously limited detailed models. They do great things with textures, which give you a sense of detail and shapes, but the models are pretty basic. I never destined the ship for games, I just wanted to be able to see it because I loved it in the movie. I hope I'll find someone to texture it for me

PS if anyone has good pictures of the Rapier and Broadswords from the movie, I would love to make them too and maybe detail the hangar in a separate setting.

WC Saga Makes More Talking Heads

While WC Saga conducts its latest round of testing, they have rendered a batch of comm videos to match up with a number of new voice acted lines. This is primarily an issue for communication officers on bases - clips of pilots wearing helmets can be recycled! Check out more examples here.

We apologize for the lack of updates lately. We have been working hard on the beta test. ...

Another work item are communications videos. When we came up with all of these capital ship, pilots, and other personas years ago, little did we know that eventually we would have to individually model and render each character to animated video. That is a lot of videos and time!

EA Talks Back Catalog

Evan found an interview with EA Games' Frank Gibeau about their vast library of intellectual property. Computer and Video Games asked about the company's various franchises and got an interesting answer. The good news is that all options are on the table as far as reviving old series are concerned, but the reality is also that market dynamics also favor recent games, for obvious reasons. Check out the full article here.
On the potential of remakes, he added: "When looking at a new bet, a new investment to make we always look at whether we should create a new IP, bring one back or have something in active growth right now that we can double down on.

"So we constantly look at ways to grow the recent category of titles like Burnout, Need for Speed, Road Rash are constantly things we think about. It's the same thing with the old Bullfrog IPs like Dungeon Keeper, Populous, Powermonger, Magic Carpet, I can go on. So we do look at that stuff and are very cognisant of our past.

"The key thing for us is, if we do bring [any of those] back, the game has got to be good. I don't know about you but when I look back at GoldenEye, I think of it as this amazing game and the you go and play it and are like, 'Oh. Really?'. From our perspective we have to manage that element which makes things look nicer in the rear view mirror compared to what you have to do now in the modern day.

"Production values and game mechanics are very different than what you see on some of those IPs but trust me, it's a part of the asset of our company to have 25 years of IP and you'll see them come back in different ways at different times."

And Immortal 4 Makes 10!

Immortal 4 is here! Orders began shipping this week and are now starting to arrive. The final track on the second disc is a live recording of Wing Commander music performed by Team FAT, apparently the Surf Theme. Also check out LOAF's awesome assemblage of all the collectible Wing Commander music albums! Can you identify each one? Hit the discuss link with your answers. Here's an alternate image that shows a couple under different light.

Fresh off the train from Germany, Immortal 4 is here!

Space Sim First Look: Black Market

st3lt3k found a neat game that's rendered entirely in a web browser via Flash. It's more of a space trader than a space sim, but it's a pretty darn impressive one for what it is. The game is free to try out and initially clocks in at just 12 megs. Registration allows players to save and continue their progress, but is otherwise available to jump in and try in just a few seconds. Check it out at Big Block Games here.

Big Block Games is still very young. Our main game- Black Market- is in the process of emerging from the late Beta stage of its development, and there's a fair amount of work ahead for it. While the first campaign is now essentially complete, there are still several additional features to be implemented, not to mention a large number of future campaigns on the drawing board- our ambition is to gradually create a vast, dynamic universe to play in. In the meantime, we'll also be producing plenty of non-BM related titles to keep our lineup feeling fresh and varied.

While our games will all feature significant quantities of free content- because hey, it's a global recession- we also intend to charge small amounts for premium content on our most popular products. Right now, the first Black Market campaign is available to purchase for $6.99, and until the Beta is complete we're giving away lifetime premium membership and permanent access to all future BM related items in return for your financial support.

Basic Structure of Raptor Heavy Completed

Here's some shots of Klavs' Raptor with the spaceframe pretty much finished. There's also a cool preview of the 'panel lines' that will set up textures. The final shot shows some of this texture development in progress in Modo. That blue space background also really reminds me of WC3 with the gamma correction on.
Panel Lines! Modo has the wonderful feature of 3D Painting, which allows me to very quickly add panel lines across complex surfaces as I rotate and view the model in 3D Space. Just like painting a real model, without the thumbprints!

Howard has previously covered the UV unwrapping process, but you can see how entire Raptor is textured from a single image (8192X8192 allows for just about the right level of detail) There's a lot of wasted space on the UV Map, partially because I'm lazy, and partially because I wanted to come back in and include the Cockpit Texture maps in the same image, and they'll need some space to do that.

This is just a rough workup of where I want the panel lines to be. I will go back in in Photoshop later, which allows for precise placing of rivets, screws and other tiny details.

Upcoming Wing Commander Air Dates in the UK

Wing Commander will be broadcast this week in the UK on the Sky Movies Family channel. This will include simultaneous airing on Family HD, so this is a cool chance for some to catch the film in high definition. It's showing at 6:05 am on April 12 with an encore performance at 1:20 am on April 13. Check out the Sky Movies page with pictures and a review here.

Freddie Prince Jr, Saffron Burrows and Jurgen Prochnow star in a splashy videogame spin-off. Six hundred years into the future and human exploration has reached beyond Earth's galaxy. But the future is not so bright. As more galaxies mean more chances of alien hostility, Earth's existence hangs in the balance. This is an adventurous and courageous film of a battle against the odds as the threat of human extinction is all too eminent.

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

The Human thirst for the unknown has resulted in an intergalactic war between the Terran Confederation and the ever so slightly scary, giant, tuscan-coloured rubber cats - the Kilrathi. Caught unawares, the Confederation fleet is ambushed in a random Kilrathi attack.

Earth's remaining pilots (about ten) courageously opt to tackle the vast Kilrathi fleet in what can only be described as a Pearl Harbour-esque suicide mission (with really un-cool outfits).

Instead of taking to the sky they take to space with all the banter ridden arrogance of fighter pilots similar to the likes of Top Gun and Pearl Harbour, with classic lines such as, "You've got balls" to which the reply is, "You should see 'em."

In order to save Earth, the NAVCOM unit with the hyperspace jump coordinates to Earth must be recovered from the Kilrathi's clutches. The fate of the world lies in the half-human, half-pilgrim pilot, 1st Lt. Christopher Blair (Freddie Prince Jr.), who has inherited special interstellar navigational abilities from his Pilgrim mother.

By fending of discriminatory remarks (due to his Pilgrim blood) with a constantly confused stare, and out of this world flying technique, he eventually wins over... everything, with all the emotion of a wet flannel.

Asteroids, alien attacks and death defying stunts are the elements of this basic and unconvincing sci-fi adventure, although its best not to take it too seriously.

As science-fiction goes, Wing Commander is decidedly un-cool, yet ironically, probably the most realistic depiction of future space travel... with a little rust around the edges.

Standoff Mission Tree Guides Players to New Adventure

Farbourne has completed his Standoff mission branching guides. The are two major versions. The first file highlights the mission tree (1.4 MB pdf) in a flowchart with some notes on a second page, and a second guide focuses on the branching details (820 KB PDF) of winning and losing. Download the actual Standoff game here jump into the cockpit!

I made two versions because I couldn't decide which would be more useful. One is a large, hi res version of the tree, with (very abridged) notes on the "back" (page 2, but the back if you print double-sided) as to what controls the branching. It's essentially a "Quick Reference Guide". The other is a full document, a "Branching Guide", that explains the branching in more detail, but has a much lower-res version of the tree (because it had to fit into 8.5 x 11 to be printable with the text).

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I did confirm that "Rescue Run" and "Search and Rescue" are two different missions, and which you get is determined by where you wingmen eject (if any of the pilots eject on the patrol prior to the jump point battle in "Rearguard Duties" you get "Search and Rescue", but if all the ejections happen at the jump point you get "Rescue Run". Incidentally, getting Rapier pilots to eject to confirm this, when they're only facing a few Kilrathi on patrol is an adventure in and of itself...I ultimately had to, very carefully (to avoid being branded a traitor), "help" the Kilrathi along to get one of them to eject.

Trying to play-test these branches led to a number of interesting and extra-hard mission challenges like this. For example, trying to *not* kill the Ralatha in, I think, "Making Way" to confirm that that lead to the Ep 4 losing path was fun...I eventually treated it like a fleet defense mission where I would park near it and try to shoot down my wingmen's torpedoes. This ultimately worked. However, trying to fleet defend a hostile capship when I couldn't shoot at the bombers and while there are scores of enemy fighters, and very good pilots in those bombers...let's say it was...interesting. It led me to believe that, by far the easiest way to get to the Ep 4 winning path was to take the Ep 3 losing path...way easier than saving the Verdun and the Clydesdales/Sao Paulo. Anyway, a lot of fun times like that.

WC2 Mod Opens Home on the Web

Deathsnake has launched a new website to support the development of his Wing Commander 2 mod for Freespace 2. The site posts current news and overall status levels today, and eventually it will host the mod itself. New screenshots are also available - check out that fiesty Ferret! Find more new pictures and information at wc2remake.de.to.

We now have a home. It's a simple page atm but take a look.

Article Details the Magic of Privateer Development

Bob McDob has dug up a great article from The Magic of Interactive Entertainment, a guidebook to new media published in 1994. There's a wonderful section inside on the creation of Wing Commander Privateer. It goes into just the right amount of depth to give a cursory overview of what it was like to create a groundbreaking video game in the early 1990s at Origin. References to the hot new 486 computers, three months of marketing on a major title and 50,000 sales guaranteeing a sequel really help set the perspective. You can find the full article here.

The Development Process

Game development at Origin Systems follows a fairly structured and organized approach. When a designer comes up with an idea for a game, the designer submits his idea to a review board. The review board evaluates the idea and decides whether or not it is worth investigating. If a game design is approved, the designer gets a software engineer (programmer) to help develop the idea further. What follows is a period of research and development where the designer and programmer work closely together to build the basic framework of the game.

After a period of time, the designer and programmer take their results back to the review board. At this point, if the game still looks like a winner, more funding is provided and a development timetable is set. Artists and more programmers begin working on the project. Programmers and designers work hand-in-hand to get the artwork and data merged together into a workable game.

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Gameplay Design

The main goals in the design of Privateer were to create a commerce trading system within the Wing Commander universe. Another goal was to provide a game with random missions that players could play over and over again. That freshness ensures the game never ends.

Some initial ideas never quite made it into the final game. One such idea involved player finances. The game initially enabled players to get loans from banks or other (less reputable) characters. In this scenario, you might run into debt, and be pursued by creditors or bounty hunters which were after the price on your head. Privateer took about a year and a half to make, and so during this period, many such ideas were dropped while others were developed and added to the game.

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Music and Sound Effects

Music and sound effects have become just as important to video games as they are to motion pictures. You would hardly expect to see a new feature film without a soundtrack and spoken dialog. Likewise, all computer games today have either a sound track, digital sound effects, or both.

Concordia Supercruiser Sketched Up & Nearly Complete

callitri is back at work on his Concordia Supercruiser. There's quite a lot of detail packed into the design. The structure of the model is almost done, and he will be looking for assistance to texture the ship. This is a very impressive use of Google Sketchup so far!

The ship is getting close to being finished. Hope I can find someone who can help me texture it, because I have zero experience in it. Don't forget I am still learning stuff in Google Sketch up, so it's still a learning curve. I have remodeled a few things and redid a few parts. The underside is done, though I feel it's a bit empty. At the moment I have no idea what to put there to change this.

The Price of Freedom is Eternal Modeling

How many mini space fighters is enough? Astro Commander hasn't figured that out yet, but he has started work on a new faction. The Border Worlds Banshee and Avenger from Wing Commander 4 are his latest creations. Just for fun, he's also posted a Star Wars Tie Interceptor that he had made, and down the line we should get a chance to see the huge miniature Wing Commander fleet that Astro battled with at Genghis Con.

Rugged Raptor Taking Shape

Klavs' Raptor model has been built a bit further. The 3D model was crafted with a program called Modo. In this revision, its streamlined "B-1 style" nose now more closely resembles the classic Wing Commander A-14, and the inserts between the wings have been removed. It's looking sharper each time we see it!
I think it still looks like an intergalactic biplane, but I am starting to like it a bit more. Had some fun detailing the engines, too.

CIC's RSS Gets a Modern Upgrade

KrisV has jazzed up the RSS Feed! It now sports pictures and includes the indented quotation blocks. In addition to looking sharp in Google Reader on your desktop, it's easy to take the CIC on the road with you with any mobile RSS program. This includes the hip new "automatic magazine generators" like Flipboard. A few example shots are below, and the XML link is available here. Another great way to stay in the loop is also the CIC Facebook Page where we post breaking news and other highlights.

Watch Genius at Work at the CIC Forums

Some of the Wing Commander community's brightest minds are continuing to delve deeper into the code behind the various game engines. Today's subject is some serious editing & extraction talk about Privateer 2. Lin Kuei Ominae is looking at savegames and hex addresses to find out what else can be improved in the next version of his marvelous game editor. Meanwhile, HCl is investigating the game's compression algorithms and file formatting to see what else can be tweaked. The discussion is all light years above my head, but it will make sense to many of you. If you've got a knack for this sort of thing, head over to Crius.net and lend a hand!

Apparently, the game might always use the same palette. Of the various GIFs AD posted that I checked, GAME.GIF and the various CV-xx-yy GIFs seem to have exactly the same 256-color palette, the only thing that varies is how those 256 colors are used. I speculate that GAME.GIF defines a lookup table for gamma levels, while the CV GIFs define conversion tables in order to stylize the textures according to a given criteria (eg. pirate clans... Chirichan might use the Yellow conversion table, while the Kindred may use the Red one, and so on).

I made a small script for playing with this color conversion mechanism a bit, using textures from spacetex.iff (the textures are already unpacked once you run inflate on them, no need to run them through the RLE unpacker). It seems to work out Pic attached on this thread, in case you're curious.

Regarding text compression: Thanks LOAF! That is actually very useful information and will allow me to try a few things out before diving into the EXE.

AD, I suspect those C file references might be related to the BRender engine. It was a really nice engine, I wish I could take a peek at it some day.

DS Emulator Supports Wing Commander

st3lt3k found a cool video of Wing Commander running on the Nintendo DS. SonataFanatica is running the game via the DSx86 program. Gameplay shifts between the upper and lower screens based on whether the touch-screen stylus is needed to navigate the Tiger's Claw or type on the keyboard. It sure looks like a lot of fun! Sonata remarks that performance is slow, but it's not a whole lot different than how many people played the game when it was new. A faster way to play on the go today is via the Playstation Portable and EA Replay. Check out the video here.

This is me running Wing Commander 1 on the Nintendo DS by using DSx86. It runs quite well, if a bit slowly. Sorry for the shaky footage - it was quite hard holding the cellphone in one hand and playing the game with the other. :)

Announcing the Ralph McCloud Drive!

There's a new service now available to Wingnuts online. Effective immediately, members of the CIC Forums at Crius.net now have the ability to upload and attach small zip files to their posts! No longer will the genius programmers of the community need to add a .txt extension to their bite-sized wares before sharing. The Crius.net Ralph McCloud Drive has been in development for some time and was in no way a response to the Amazon Cloud Drive unveiled earlier this week. In fact, industry executives have suggested that rumors of pending services such as the Ralph McCloud Drive actually pushed Amazon to implement their version early. Sony Music chairman Martin Bandier had this to say in regards to AMZ beating the CIC to the punch: "This is just another land grab. I can't make it any plainer than that. It's really disrespectful..."

WC Saga Upgrading to Conquest: Frontier Wars Engine

To celebrate the project's 10-year anniversary, the WC Saga team announced today that it is returning to its roots as a total conversion for Conquest: Frontier Wars, released in 2001. Said Space Marshall Tolwyn Tolwyn: "Freespace 2 is based on outdated '90s technology. Conquest will really help the game move into the 21st Century and become the best product it can possibly be." As part of the change, many additional voice actors will be needed. Anxious fans can also preapply for the new beta test by hitting the Discuss link below and posting their qualifications. Follow the project's MySpace page for updates.
It is about 200 years in the future and we have just discovered wormholes, and are learning how to navigate them. Wormholes connect galaxies and solar systems and allow you to fly across the entire breadth of the universe. Your goal as a commander in the Frontier Wars will be to explore and secure sector after sector of the galaxy.
  • An engaging sci-fi storyline chronicles the battle between three unique races over 16 episodic missions.
  • Simultaneously control up to 16 interplanetary battle maps through the use of wormholes.
  • Exploit an all new dimension of strategic possibilities with Conquest’s exclusive supply line management features.
  • Dispatch orders to up to six AI fleet admirals who implement your mission objectives, assess threats and react with organized tactics.

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