Photon's Cannons

Noted Serbian Science Fiction community Photon Tide recently posted some cool 3D artwork of a Hellcat V medium fighter from Wing Commander III/IV! I don't read the language, but it's pretty neat that fans all over the world are continuing to create things like this many years after the games were released!

They also posted a six-part image set showing how the image was created!

HCl's Lost Missions

Music_Guru noticed my comment about HCl's old Wing Commander missions during last week's Wing Commander 1 & 2 marathon... and he pointed out that we actually host the original files on our server! Thanks to a little Archive.org magic, he was able to pull up HCl's original descriptions. Here they are, for the sake of history:
Destroy a Concordia class Carrier - Ah, this was one of the first missions I made for WC2. IMHO it's not bad at all...

Destroy a Damaged Fralthra - Another mission for WC2. It's interesting too, but IMHO, not one of my best missions.

Destroy the Kabla Meth Starbase - More challenging than most WC2 missions. Try it.

Beat The Odds 1 - Simple, small mission for WC2. One nav point only.

Steltek Endurance 1 - This one puts you in an endurance test against about 15 Steltek ships, one at a time. Mission for Privateer FLOPPY version!

The Tarawa Mission - This is probably one of my best missions. You should try it :) (WC2 mission)

BREAKING NEWS: GOG Releases Ultima Trilogy Package!

Good to their word, GOG has posted the original Ultima Trilogy, a package of Ultima I, II and III for just $5.99! As always, the games are DRM free and include scanned manuals and other materials. Purchase your copy here. The first three Ultimas were the work of Richard Garriott, working largely on his own before starting Origin. They're a bit older than Wing Commander, but they represent an amazing era in game history.

Be sure to check in with Ultima Aeiera today; the world's premiere Ultima site will surely be commemorating this event!

Ultima... IN SPACE!

If you've never played Ultima, you probably think they're all dungeons and dragons. Not so! In fact, the first three games released today on GOG contain equal parts swords, sorcery, lasers and time travel. What's more, Ultima I actually features Origin's very first first person space combat game!

A major part of the game involves collecting enough money to afford a space shuttle! You then fly the shuttle to orbit and trade it in for the starfighter of your choice. Next you fly to different solar systems trying to shoot down enough TIE Fighters to impress a princess! The package is worth $5.99 for that experience alone.

Denis Loubet is Everywhere

There is one string connecting the first Ultima trilogy to Wing Commander--Denis Loubet. Mr. Loubet, Origin's senior artist at the time, did the cover art, cockpit art and cinematic backgrounds for Wing Commander I and cockpit art for Wing Commander II. He was with the Ultima series, far longer: he was originally hired to do the cover and startup screen graphics for Ultima I way back in 1980! He was also responsible for the cover and manual illustrations for another of the games released today, Ultima III!

GOG's Screenshots

Below are the set of screenshots which GOG posted along with the Wing Commander 1 & 2 pack release. It's a small thing, but I wanted to point out that they're entirely new--proof that their team actually played the game! Their pilot even entered his own name, which appears in three shots (Skreczi.) GOG's slogan banner, with Colonel Halcyon, is also cool!

GOG Says: More to Come

GOG has announced that there's more to come! Last week's release of Dungeon Keeper 2 and Wing Commander 1 & 2 was the first in a series that will include six more titles from Electronic Arts over the next several weeks! We know that further games in the Ultima and Sim City series' had been previously announced--but will we see more Wing Commander in the near future? Bet on it!
We're proud to present you the next batch of classics straight from Electronic Arts' deep back catalogue of acclaimed franchises. With today's announcement we're releasing more from the two series that launched EA catalogue on GOG.com - Dungeon Keeper 2 and Wing Commander 1+2. But that's not all! 6 more great games are coming soon to GOG.com's ever growing catalogue of awesome games from the yesteryear, in the coming weeks. As announced back in July we have plenty of classics from Electronic Arts on its way, so stay tuned to GOG.com and give yourself a trip down memory lane!

What's That Ship?

On Tuesday, GOG e-mailed their users an advertisement called "Taking you back to the Old School with Dungeon Keeper 2, Wing Commander 1+2 and more classics from Electronic Arts" promoting their recent EA releases. Keen-eyed WingNuts, however, have been asking: what the hell is THAT? The picture for Wing Commander I is a bright red, angular fighter--not the standard Wing Commander I artwork, to be sure! Luckily, we have an answer: it's actually a Gratha heavy fighter as painted for the cover of the Japanese Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) release of the game! You can see the full image below, which inclues a Fralthi and a Dralthi. The real mystery is how the team at GOG came across it!

OpenGL Does DVDs

PopsiclePete reports that Pedro has updated the OpenGL renderer for WCP and SO to version 1.2.1. The new version is designed to work properly with HCl's Enhancement Pack -- meaning that it should now work correctly with the DVD upgraded version of Wing Commander Prophecy! The OpenGL package updates Prophecy's graphics for higher resolutions, adds improved effects and even high resolution textures. You can download the OpenGL package here. This update was made possible thanks to work from HCl himself!

Where Are the Addons?

There has been a great deal of confusion about the status of the addons for Wing Commander I, II and Privateer through GOG. The current releases are missing the five important mission disks, and other EA games (such as Alpha Centauri) are similarly lacking. Shortly after the recent release, an employee posted to their forums, implying that it was a rights issue:
Guys, it turns out that getting the rights for the expansions for the EA games is very, very, very complicated. While we are (of course) working on them, the rights clearance will not be resolved any time soon. In the mean time, though, two classic games that helped define the space shooter genre for $6 is nothing to sneeze at.
Unfortunately, this doesn't square with the message from Electronic Arts. I spoke with a source involved in the release who had no idea this was even a problem--he didn't know Righteous Fire wasn't available and expected the Wing Commander I and II addons would be included. My best guess is that GOG decided on their own that the mission disks don't fall under the terms of their contract and are nervous about doing anything that might hurt this unprecedented deal. Luckily, Bioware Mythic's Paul Barnett is on the case. He tweeted last night:
Having a conversation to see if I can find out why the add ons for the origin games are not out. Wish me luck!
And then:
Had a great chat with the GOG gods at PAX, we have a plan about the add ons for old origin games, hope it works out!
Good luck indeed! Let's get this thing fixed.

BREAKING NEWS: EA Works to Close the Add-On Gap

Great news for all parties involved: Paul Barnett has again tweeted to report that he has met with GOG representatives at PAX and worked out a plan for the Origin addns!
Had a great chat with the GOG gods at PAX, we have a plan about the add ons for old origin games, hope it works out!
There's ALWAYS hope!

BREAKING NEWS: More Ultima Coming to GOG

PC Gamer is reporting that GOG plans to release more Origin titles this Tuesday! They will publish a pack of Ultima I, II and III for $5.99 and also make a DOSBox-enhanced version of Ultim IV available for free! Also scheduled for release is Electronic Arts' Populous, on September 1. Looks like an off week for Wing Commander, but we'll tell you more about why the early Ultimas matter on Tuesday!

BIG NEWS: Wing Commander I Source Code Archived!

Thanks to an extremely kind donation from an anonymous former EA/Origin developer, the source code to the PC version of Wing Commander I is now preserved in our offline archive! Because of our agreement with Electronic Arts, we're not allowed to post recovered source code for download--but rest easy knowing that the C files that started it all are being kept safe for future reference. Our offline archive contains material that has been preserved but which can't be posted, including other source code and budget data from several of the games.

Wing Commander's a Hit!

GOG has updated its sales numbers, and the new release of Wing Commander 1 & 2 has taken the top spot in the shooters category! The previous release of Wing Commander Privateer is also still going strong in third place. For just $5.99, you can't go wrong. Pick up your copy and show your support of the series!

Fix Your GOG Sound

Many users are reporting issues with the sound in GOG's release of Wing Commander I. Specifically, they are hearing sounds like chime notes intead of lasers blasts during combat. The problem is that the game is configured to play sounds through a Roland MT-32 MIDI, which DOSBox does not naturally emulate. We expect GOG will provide an updated version of the game in the near future, but in the meantime this quick user fix will repair the issue: open the WINGCMDR.CFG file in a text editor and replace the letter "R" with "a552".

BREAKING NEWS: Wing Commander I & II on GOG!

As promised earlier in the week, GOG has released the next games in their 25-title deal with Electronic Arts. They are: Dungeon Keeper 2... and a two-pack of Wing Commander I & II! That's two of the greatest games ever made--arguably the two greatest games ever made--for just $5.99. Both games are DRM-free and configured to work properly in a modern Windows environment. This is the DOS version of the games and extras include both manuals, reference cards, the Wing Commander I blueprints and a scan of Origin's internal series bible!

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this is the best possible news we could be reporting today. Be sure and check the CIC later today, as we'll be celebrating the release of these games the only way we know how... with our own extra features on the history of these two incredible titles! In the mean time, pick up your copy of the original Wing Commanders... and codes to share with your family and friends!

It's Wing Commander I & II Day!

As regular visitors know, when GOG releases an Origin game release we like to pull out all the stops and celebrate that title. So, while it's not August 10th it is Wing Commander I and II day! Check back all through the day for updates about the history of these two incredible games. If you missed past parts of this series, be sure to check out Privateer Day, Crusader Day and and the Ultima Underworlds Day! And here's to many more Origin days ahead!

Wing Commander Teaser

The first indication the public had Wing Commander was on the way was this teaser image, which began to appear on the back of some Origin catalogs in early 1990. The game didn't even have a name yet--it wouldn't for a while--but Origin clearly recognized that they needed to get the buzz started early. Even in those days it was clear that Wing Commander was going to be a game changer.

Squadron Proposal

Behind the screens, the process started months earlier, when Chris Roberts drafted a seven-page proposal for a game he called Squadron, which would become the Wing Commander we love. It famously begins:
By the year 2654 AD, mankind has spread throughout his section of the galaxy. Along the way, humanity has come in contact with a handful of sentient races. Soon after first contact, most of these races have proven friendly.
The Kilrathi definitely are not.

Click here to download a high resolution scan, courtesy of Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum!

Amusing sidenote: "The Fatman" donated his copy of the Squadron proposal to the University of Texas' archive... along with a note for future historians that the brown stains on it were, in fact, ferret pee!

WingLeader Logos

As development continued, a trademark search revealed that another company had already developed a game called "Squadron". The decision was made to change the name to "Wingleader" during development and initial promotion... which lead to many promotional screenshots, sell sheets and posters printed with the name. Origin decided late in the process that Wingleader sounded too similar to Microprose's concurrent game, Wingman... and the decision was made to change the name to Wing Commander! Here's a look at the original Wingleader logo:

Wingleader in Print

Here's a great example of an early "Wingleader" preview, from a 1990 issue of Advanced Computer Entertainment! Since sell sheets and other material included the title, many magazines wrote stories about "Wingleader." Note the in-game logo!

Wing Commander Sell Sheets

Here you can see the evolution of the Wing Commander 'sell sheet,' which are pages promoting the game sent to retailers. Both the WingLeader and the Wing Commander version were published at different times, and then a combined release for The Secret Missions.

Wing Commander Art: Blood, Sweat and Patience

How were the early Wing Commander's impressive graphics created? Some years back, we asked Origin artist Dennis Loubet! He said:
I can tell you the cockpits and talking heads were done in DeluxePaint, and the ships you fired at were sprites rendered in early 3D modeling packages like the old DOS 3D Studio version 1. (That was used for WC2, WC1 utilized an early Amiga program I can't remember the name of.) Hope this helps.
Just imagining working with 3D models in DOS on a 286 feels like nails on a chalkboard to me. Those early artists had some patience! One thing we can announce is that we discovered the names of the outside contractors who did the Wing Commander I Amiga models during the Austin trip--we're trying to track them down now!

The Lost Painting

Unused material for the early Wing Commander is at a premium--few records of the game's development have been found today and a great deal of material cut from the initial release was added back to the Secret Missions packs. One very interesting piece has been found, though--a painting of a water planet created by Origin super-artist Dennis Loubet for the game. Take a look:

Wing Commander Press Kit

Here's something you haven't seen before, courtesy of Billy Cain--the original press kit sent to retailers about Wing Commander I! Enjoy these awesome sketches... and even some new continuity!

A Proper Sendoff for a Hero

Origin veteran Sheri Graner Ray has written a great blog entry about some of her experiences at Origin... including a great story about a GI Joe involved in the making of Wing Commander:
"My first office at Origin was a "fishbowl." It was on the second floor in an interior office with big windows into the hall. My desk was pushed up against one of those windows so it was a bit like sitting in the hallway. (Coincidentally the office directly across from me had a window into the hall too... and was occupied by Steve Beeman!) On about the third or fourth day at my new job, I heard the sound of Kazoos. Then down the hall came a HUGE bunch of helium balloons (obscuring the person carryingi them) and a parade of people all playing Taps on their kazoos. Of course I had to join the parade and see what in the world was up. We made our way through the building to the smokers' porch. There the person with the balloons stood up and gave a speech commemorating the valient work of G.I. Joe and his contribution (as the rotoscope subject) to the Wing Commander project. They went on to talk about how they were now sending him on to his next assignment. And sure enough there was a GI Joe tied to the bunch of balloons. He had a note tied to him, telling whoever found him to report his location back to Origin and we'd send them a copy of Wing Commander. Then with applause and laughter the balloons were released and GI Joe was lifted high in to the sky. And.. actually about six weeks later we did get a call. He'd been found in an oil field outside of Houston Texas!"

The Music of Wing Commander

Another one of Wing Commander's endless amazing features was the soundtrack by Dave Govett and The Fatman. Now you can add it to your iPod, thanks to this set of mp3s from the FM Towns version's Redbook audio tracks! The Wing Commander soudntrack also appeared (in part) on Origin Audio CD Vol. 1 and more recently in full on The Fatman's sadly unavailable "Wing One" digital album.
Wing Commander FM Towns
1. Start Tuning
2. Fanfare
3. Arcade Theme
4. Rec Room
5. Barracks - Go To Sleep You Pilots
6. Briefing Intro
7. Briefing Middle
8. Briefing End
9. Scramble Through Launch
10. Medium Damage Assessment
11. Flying to Dogfight
12. Grim or Escrot Mission
13. Strike Mission - Go Get 'Em
14. Goal Line - Defending the Claw
15. Ally Killed
16. Tailed
17. You're Severly Damaged
19. Regular Combat
19. Enemy Ace Killed
20. Intense Combat
21. Missile Tracking You
22. Tailing an Enemy
23. Your Wingman's Been Hit
24. Minor Bravery
25. Major Bravery
26. Returning Defeated
27. Returning Normal
28. Returning Triumphant
29. Landing
30. Overall Victory
31. Untitled
32. Debriefing - Unsuccessful
33. Debriefing - Successful
34. Medal Ceremony - General
35. Medal Ceremony - Purple Heart
36. Untitled
37. Eject - Imminent Rescue
38. Eject - Imminent Rescue
39. Funeral
40. Untitled
41. Overall Defeat
42. Commander's Office

Wing Commander Box Art

There is no more iconic image for Wing Commander than the box art to the original game. Everything about the game fired on all cylinders, of course, but the box was just incredible--all that you needed to know about Wing Commander was right there in that amazing rendering. It's no wonder it has been reused and parodied time and again over the past two decades!

Blueprints

Wing Commander I continued an Origin tradition of including 'feelies' in the box. Ultima games would include an ankh or a rune stone, Auto Duel included a tiny tool kit... and Wing Commander I had a set of space fighter blueprints! You can download incredibly high res versions in a pack here (42 meg).

Claw Marks

Simply put, Claw Marks is the finest video game manual ever created. Put together by the great Aaron Allston, Claw Marks is an amazing effort--an immediate door into the world of Wing Commander. You weren't just learning how to play the game, you were holding the Tiger's Claw's shipboard manual! The PDF linked below isn't the best quality, but TC has an excellent online version available.

Wing Commander Demo

Today, we would probably call this a trailer--but in 1990, it was a world-shaking event. The Wing Commander I demo walks through footage of both the gameplay and the gameflow... and back then it was showing people something they'd never seen before. Today it remains a fascinating artifact--check out all the minor differences between the demo and the (like that Hornet VDU!). Download the demo here (part 1) and here (part 2). You can also find a video of the demo on YouTube.

Wing Commander Ports

The original Wing Commander holds a unique distinction among 'modern' games--more than six different ports during its lifetime! Before 1990, this was much more common, as games were released for a host of home computers and consoles... today, it is rare to see more than three ports of any one game

Amiga: The Amiga version of Wing Commander was actually announced alongside the original--but the man in charge of the port became deathly ill and it was delayed almost a year! The Amiga version is a competant port with music some consider far superior to the original... but unfortunately it ran sluggishly on the common Amiga 500s of the time. Still, many European Wing Commander fans got into the series through this release!

SNES: The Super Nintendo version of Wing Commander was developed under license by Mindscape in 1991-2. The game suffered from reduced colors... but still managed to do an incredible amount with the limited memory of the SNES! A second cartridge was also released, a stand-alone version of The Secret Missions. Both the US and the Japanese versions of the game have new cover art.

CD-32: The CD-32 version was an uprated edition of the Amiga port, featuring 256-color graphics similar to those in the original game. It was bundled alongside "Mean Streats" for the release of the CD32 console.

FM Towns: The Japanese FM Towns version of Wing Commander was very similar to the PC release, although it featured Redbook audio tracks of recorded music rather than the original MIDI soundtrack. It also has a beautiful new cover which shows a Fralthi in action!

Sega CD: The Sega CD version of Wing Commander I came out in 1994 and was similar to the original, with simplified controls. It is unique, though, in that it featured full speech--all of the game's conversations and taunts were recorded for the first time!

3DO: In 1995, Origin released "Super Wing Commander" for the 3DO, a completely revamped version of Wing Commander I. Hoping to introduce the series to a new audience, Origin created new artwork for every portion of the game, much of which confuses existing fans to this day.

Macintosh: With the 3DO in decline, Origin ported Super Wing Commander to the Macintosh (PowerPC). Unfortunately, modern Macs do not support the game.

Windows 95: Wing Commander was ported to Windows 95 as part of "The Kilrathi Saga"--it was later separated from that package and released for free through a deal with PC Gamer!

GameTap: In 2004, EA licensed several Wing Commander games to GameTap, a digital distribution service. GameTap opted to switch focus away from classic games and unfortunately removed Wing Commander from their service. And when was the last time you heard of GameTap?

PSP: In 2006, the "EA Replay" collection for the PSP was published, including updated versions of the SNES port of Wing Commander I and The Secret Missions! Finally, Wing Commander I in your pocket...

... and now, GOG!

Wing Commander in China

Wing Commander I and II were even released--legally!--in China! Here are some great shots of the Wing Commander I artwork, provided by Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum:

Wing Commander Merchandise

The release of Wing Commander I also saw the first release of promotional Wing Commander I merchandise--specifically, the official Wing Commander "flight cap." The hat was a trucker-style hat with a foam Wing Commander logo printed on it--and you could order it directly from Origin. If you preordered a special package, you got the hat and a copy of the game signed by Chris Roberts!

Ultimate Strategy Guide History - Wing Commander I

The Ultimate Strategy Guide to Wing Commander I & II includes a wonderful history of the making of both games called 'Software Meets the Movies'. Thanks to Pix's scan, we are able to post the 'Making of Wing Commander I' portion of the book! This is a fascinating look not at only how the game was made, but also at how Origin worked in 1990-91.

Wall of Honor - Wing Commander I

As on Privateer Day, we want to salute the amazing team of people who created the original Wing Commander by listing the credits here. Reading through this is like a whose who of game developers--a truly amazing team. To the best of my knowledge these are the canonical credits for the original Wing Commander--corrections are welcome!
Wing Commander IBM PC Credits
Producers - Chris Roberts, Warren Spector
Lead Programmer - Chris Roberts
Programmers - Steve Beeman, Ken Demarest III, Paul Isaac, Herman Miller, Steve Muchow
Dogfight Choreography - Steve Beeman, Erin Roberts
3-D Space System - Chris Roberts
ORIGIN Graphic System - John Miles, Chris Roberts
ORIGIN Sound System - Herman Miller
Art - Keith Berdak, Daniel Bourbonnais, Glen Johnson, Denis Loubet, John Watson
Writers - Philip Brogden, Steve Cantrell, Jeff George
Music - Dave Govett, George A. Sanger
Sound Effects - Marc Schaefgen
Quality Assurance - Philip Brogden, Steve Cantrell, Greg Paul Malone II, Erin Roberts, Mike Romero, Marc Schaefgen, Jeff Shelton, Scott Shelton, Brian Tompkins, John Watson
Claw Marks Magazine by - Aaron Allston
Gameplay Documentation & Reference Card - Steve Cantrell
Ducumentation and Blueprint Art - Glen Johnson
Documentation & Reference Card Editing - Warren Spector, Ken Demarest III, Steve Cantrell, Jeff George
Documentation & Reference Card Graphics and Layout - Jackie Chapman, Mike Harrison
Packaging Design - Cheryl Neeld, Craig Miller

Wing Commander II Box Art

Wing Commander II features yet another iconic image--a Drakhri dive-bombing the TCS Concordia! Which, interestingly, can't actually happen in the game--and the carrier's registration number (CVS-14) doesn't match the game itself (CVS-65). But what care we for such things: it's a brilliant, evocative rendering that immediately introduces you to the bigger scale of Wing Commander II--stepping out of the cockpit and seeing the whole story.

Wing Commander II: Ladies Might

Would you have played Wing Commander II as Captain Christina Blair? Writer Ellen Beeman (formerly Guon) recently spoke about how she pitched exactly that option during the game's development in 1991. Here's a live Twitter stream from the event:
Beeman talks about working on Wing Commander back in the day. She claims that she could reskin the character to female in 30 minutes.

...She could also test to see if women could buy it that way, and she was dismissed. "it's not worth you time"

It would be a hard sell for women to take interest in a flight sim, but today, she believes that there's a good niche for women playing.

Introduction Artwork

Here's a cool treasure, courtesy of Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum. These original paintings by Dan Bourbonnais were used to create the interior of the Kilrathi space station in the Wing Commander II demo and later introduction! Check out how they compare:

Wing Commander II Sell Sheets

There were fewer sell sheets for Wing Commander II--but you can see an unused mockup of a second version which promoted the undeveloped Genesis port of the game!

Wing Commander II Press Kit

Following on the heels of the Wing Commander press kit posted earlier, this WC2 press kit updates the information for the entire saga. And it includes yet more cool art not seen in decades!

The Ships of Wing Commander II

The best just get better--in Wing Commander II, ten years have passed and the fleets of the Terran Confederation and Empire of Kilrah have been extensively upgraded. Know your foe--read up on these ships:
Fighters

P-64 Ferret

F-54 Epee

F-44 Rapier II

F-57 Sabre

A-17 Broadsword

A-18 Crossbow

F-95 Morningstar

Sartha

Drakhri

Jalkehi

Grikath

Strakha

Bloodfang

Gothri
Capital Ships

Free Trader

Clydesdale

Gilgamesh

Waterloo

Confederation

Dorkathi

Kamekh

Ralatha

Fralthra
Installations

Supply Depot

Star Base

Supply Depot

Star Base

Joan's Fighting Ships Update

In all honesty, the Wing Commander II manual is something of a letdown after the incredible Claw Marks--but it's certainly worth a second look! At the very least, I now absolutely love the World War II style silhouette images used for the ships (especially because they seem so out of place in space!).

Wing Commander II 3D Model Package

We plugged this set on Privateer Day, but it's just as important today: we offer a huge archive of 3D models that includes almost all of the 'source' renderings created for Wing Commander II! So if you want to get a close look at the Broadsword or the Kamekh, download this package (230 megs). It also includes many of Wing Commander II's "sets" (ie, the Concordia bridge.) The Wing Commander II ships' filenames are all prefaced with "AN".

Meet the Cast of Wing Commander II

You've seen the men and women of the Tiger's Claw... now meet the crew of the TCS Concordia, the Confederation's newest dreadnaught! Wing Commander II features not these flying heroes, but also a selection of villains owing to its larger "cinematic" scope. For the first time players would hear Prince Thrakhath and his grandfather plotting against mankind. You can see the entire cast here.

Boot to the Head

For another interesting account of the making of Wing Commander I and II, check out The Escapist's article Wing Leader. The conclusions, about Roberts' film career, aren't interesting at all--but along the way it tells some great stories:
Wing II also used rotoscoping for its cut-scene animations. Stephen Beeman recalls, "We used people around the office, filming them with a camcorder, capturing with a really primitive capture card, and painting over the vidcaps in Deluxe Paint, frame by frame.

"The best part of the rotoscoping came when we filmed the scene at the end of Wing II, where Angel punches Jazz. Jackie Chapman, one of Origin's marketers, was playing Angel, and we had Chris play Jazz. Needless to say, neither of them was a trained Hollywood stunt person, so when Jackie threw that punch, it didn't breeze past Chris the way we intended - it socked him right in the nose! Naturally, that's the take we used.

"The fans should be pleased to know Chris literally put his blood, sweat and tears into that game. The rest of us settled for just the sweat and tears."

The Music of Wing Commander II

Wing Commander II also featured an amazing Fatman/Govett soundtrack, with both variations on the original music and a host of new pieces. Especially haunting is Jazz's upbeat piano performance! These mp3s also come from the FM Towns version, although they aren't the fancier MT-32 versions:
Wing Commander II FM Towns
1. Start Tuning
2. Missile Tracking You
3. You're Severly Damaged-Flounder
4. Intense Combat
5. Your Wingman's Been Hit
6. Overall Victory
7. Overall Defeat
8. Returning Defeated
9. Returning Normal
10. Returning Triumphant
11. Track
12. Goal Line-Defending the Claw
13. Strike Mission-Go Get 'Em
14. Grim or Escort Mission
15. Flying to Dogfight
16. Regular Combat
17. Scramble Through Launch
19. Landing
19. Track
20. Track
21. Funeral
22. Landing Music
23. Jazz's Escape
24. Topedo Lock Music
25. The Bridge
26. Angel Devereaux
27. Poker
28. The Flight Deck
29. In-Mission Jump
30. Off Duty
31. Upbeat O-Deck
32. Jazz's Storm Clouds
33. Neutral O-Deck
34. Midgames
35. Main Theme
36. Inflight Combat
37. Duel With Jazz
38. Duel With Thrakhath
39. Prince Thrakhat's Theme
40. Victory Music
41. Depressing Barracks
42. Main Theme - Cloak and Dagger

Wing Commander 2 Demo

The Wing Commander 2 Demo is an especially impressive affair. It isn't playable, but it runs through an early version of the game's introduction... complete with early, different, artwork for the Kilrathi palace! It also features ships in the Wing Commander I engine, including an even earlier version of Thrakhath's Bloodfang fighter. You can download the demo here (2 megs)--run it in DOSBox! There is also a video of the demo available on YouTube.

Wing Commander 2 Saves the Screen

Want to expand your Wing Commander II experience? Great! Do you have Windows 3.1? Origin's "Origin FX" commercial screen saver program included several modes for Wing Commander II... including a 'debris field' which displayed objects from the game (asteroids, mines, etc.) and a 'theater' mode which would play scenes from Wing Commander II in a frame! (A copy of Wing Commander II was required--otherwise it didn't have anywhere to get the movies.)

Wing Commander II Merchandise

Unlike Wing Commander I, Wing Commander II didn't sell any special merchandise (other than the optional speech pack!)--but there was plenty of promotional swag. Just check out these unusual Wing Commander II highlighters, from the Origin Museum! The cool shirt, which reads "I survived the Tiger's Claw," was given to members of the Wing Commander II development team!

Wing Commander II Ports

Amazingly, Wing Commander II has only two published ports: the Kilrathi Saga Windows 95 conversion and a rarely seen version developed for the Japanese FM Towns computer! The FM Towns version is CD-ROM based, but unlike Ultima VI it does not have full speech. The Redbook audio tracks, which replace the MIDI music, are also less impressive than Wing Commander I--they were recorded with a standard MIDI card instead of an MT-32/LAPC-I. It has one incredible saving grace, though: incredible new box art featuring a Drakhri, a Jalkehi (look closely!) and a unique take on the Fralthra cruiser!

Wing Commander II in China

Here are some Chinese Wing Commander II artifacts. The first image is a Chinese Wing Commander poster, the rest are the box art for the game and its addons as released there!

An Appeal for WC2 SNES

Unreleased ports of Wing Commander II, however, are another story. The biggest "holy grail" of the Wing Commander community today is the SNES port of Wing Commander II, which was developed at Origin and shipped off to Pony Canyon in Japan... but never published, due to an unexpected decline in Super Nintendo sales over Christmas 1994. Review copies were even show to magazines--the game is completely done, but no one knows where a copy can be found. We've set up a WCPedia page for Wing Commander II SNES which collects everything known about the project. Please, pass it along to anyone you know in the SNES community or elsewhere--the game is out there somewhere and we need to find it!

Ultimate Strategy Guide History - Wing Commander II

Here is the second part of the Ultimate Strategy Guide's 'making of' article. I think the Wing Commander II portion is even more interesting, with all sorts of behind-the-screens images showing how ships were rendered and how the character descriptions appeared in the script.

Wall of Honor - Wing Commander II

As above, we wanted to honor the incredible group that created Wing Commander II:
Wing Commander II IBM PC Credits
CD-ROM Shell Programming - Gary Scott Smith
Software Engineers - Bill Baldwin, Stephen Beeman, Charles Cafrelli, Reinaldo Castro, Richard Haley, Steve Muchow, Brent A. Thale
Story - Stephen Beeman, Ellen Guon
Script - G.P. Austin, Jeff George, Ellen Guon, Paul Arden Lidberg, Brian Martin
Art - Jeff Dee, Daniel Bourbonnais, Larry Dixon, Chris Douglas, Glen Johnson, Bruce Lemons, Denis Loubet, Jake Rodgers, Gary Washington, John Watson
Technical Design Assistant - Brian Martin
Sound Editor - Martin Galway
Sound Effects Engineer - Marc Schaefgen
Music - Dana Glover, The Fat Man, Dave Govett, Martin Galway, Nenad Vugrinec
Quality Assurance Leaders - Jeff Shelton, Kirk Winterrowd
Quality Assurance - Scott Shelton, Kevin Potter, Scott Hazle, Mark Vittek, Joel Manners, Ben Manners, Ben Potter
Development Services Manager - Sherry Cain
Documentation - Paul Arden Lidberg, Warren Spector
Documentation Design & Graphics - Craig Miller, Jennifer Davis, David Ladyman, Warren Spector, Gary Washington
Box Design & Graphics - Craig Miller
Assistant Director - Ellen Guon
Production Manager - Virgil Buell
Executive Producer - Dallas Snell
Producer - Chris Roberts
Director - Stephen Beeman

Cast
Dell Aldrich - Female Comm Officer
G.P. Austin - Prince Thrakhath
Wayne Bell - Doomsday, Stingray, Kilrathi Comm Officer, Kilrathi Fighter Pilot
Marten Davies - Paladin, Admiral Tolwyn
Denise Dee - Angel, Female Fighter Pilot
Ken Demarest III - Maverick
Richard Goodman - Hobbes, Kur
Clifford Haby - Rakti, Male Fighter Pilot, Drakhai Ace
Bill Harwell - Jazz, Male Freighter Pilot, Male Comm Officer
Paul Arden Lidberg - Khasra
Eiko Nagata - Spirit
Edin Neal - The Emperor
Lainie Whiddon - Major Edmond, Shadow, Female Freighter Pilot

Stunt Doubles
Jackie Chapman - Angel
Paul Isaac - Maverick
Chris Roberts - Maverick, Jazz
Jason Templeman - Maverick, Prince Thrakhath, The Emperor

Play Wing Commander: Standoff!

If you're loving Wing Commander II, then you owe it to yourself to make the leap to the greatest fan project ever developed--Wing Commander: Standoff. Standoff is a loving tribute to Wing Commander II built on Wing Commander Prophecy's incredible Vision Engine. The look and feel of the classic game has been recreated... and they even have a cameo from one of the original voice actors!

Read All About It

Wing Commander I and II predate the era of 'day and date' hint books; in fact, the guide to Wing Commander I and II is a single book, released after both games had already been released! It's actually written in prose like a novel and contains a great behind-the-screens section detailing the making of the games. The book was available in English and German, although the German release removes the extensive 'making of' segments. Unofficially, two other books were published--Secrets of the Wing Commander Universe, a comprehensive guide to every game through Privateer, in the United States and another unofficial 'pilot handbook' in Germany. Finally, the first three Wing Commander novels--Freedom Flight, End Run and Fleet Action--are based entirely on concepts introduced in the first games. The first two books even ape the Wing Commander I and II covers!

You Dirty Cheater

Wing Commander too tough? Want to experiment with other missions? Here are the official cheats, courtesy of the Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide!
The shortcuts are entered on the command line, after the command that starts the game. The following command options are available:

Origin -- allows you to destroy any targeted enemy with the <ALT> <DEL> key combination. You must be careful when using the key combination, since you can destroy friendly ships as well as enemies. In addition, if you press the keys withou targeting another ship, your own is destroyed

Example: In Wing Commander I, at the C:\Wing> prompt type: wc<space>Origin
         In Wing Commander II, at the C:\Wing2> prompt type: wc2<space>Origin

NOTE: You must include this command. Other options are not enabled unless you include it. The command must be entered exactly as above, with a spce between the game command and Origin. Origin must be typed with an upper case "O" and lower case "rigin."

s1 m1 -- allows you to access a specific mission. The number following s indicates the series The number following m indicates the mission number in the series. You can determine your series number based on the mission trees. In Wing Commander I and both Secret Missions, the series and missions are represented by a number. In Wing Commander II, the series is represented by a number, but the mission is represente by a letter (a, b, c, d). In Wing Commander II, ll of the series except the seventh contain four missions. Series seven has only three missions. In Wing Commander I, series one contains only two missions. Series 12 and 13 contain four missions each. All other series have three missions in each. In The Secret Missions, series four and five include three missions in each. All other series have two missions. In Secret Missions II, each series contains two missions.

Example (to access series 2 mission 2):
In Wing Commander I, at the C:\Wing> prompt, type: wc<space>Origin<space>s2<space>m2
In The Secret Missions, at the C:\Wing> prompt, type: wc<space>Origin<space>s2<space>m2<space>z1
In The Secret Missions II, at the C:\Wing> prompt, type: sm2<space>Origin<space>s2<space>m2
In Wing Commander II, at the C:\Wing2> prompt, type: wc2<space>Origin<space>s2<space>mb

Note: z1 is used at the end of the line to distinguish the first Secret Missions from Wing Commander I.

l (lowercase L) -- allows you to proceed directly to the launch sequence for the selected mission. ust type in <space> following your series and mission commands.

NOTE: After completing a mission you have accessed using this command option, the program automatically returns you to the DOS prompt. You cannot continue the game.

-k (dash and lowercase K) -- makes you invulnerable to damage from guns, missiles, asteroids or mines. Just type in <space>-k following any of the above ptions.

Example: If you wanted to employ all the above options, and access the fourth mission in the third series in Wing Commnder II, at the C:\Wing2> prompt, you would type: wc2 Origin s3 md l -k

NOTE: All of the above options are case sensitive. Everything in the command line, except the "O" in Origin, must be typed in lower case.

HCl's Wing Commander Research

As with Privateer Day, the early Wing Commanders arriving on GOG are a great excuse to look back at some of the incredible research HCl has done over the years! Unfortunately it looks like he doesn't have his Wing Commander 2 missions online anymore--I remember being completely blown away by them when I was nothing more than a kid!

WCPedia's got all things Wing Commander I and II

One area of WCPedia that has grown in the last year are what we call product landing pages. Each Wing Commander product has a landing page that will eventually link to all relevant information and WCPedia articles about that product. Wing Commander's landing page can be found here. The Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi landing page is located here.

Both pages are still works in progress, but already have significant amounts of information on them for wingnuts to explore.

WC vs History: They Shall Know Us By the Shape of Our Tail

Quick and accurate target identification is crucial in combat situations. Knowing your enemy and their capabilities can be the difference between life and death for you and your wingmen. For today's special edition of WC vs History we bring you a variety of target silhouettes.

The Confederation Class Dreadnaught entered service in the early 2660s. The class is easily identifiable by its distinct "fins" on the rear section of the dreadnaught. The desire for the fighter carrying heavy gun capital ship can be traced back to the first days of naval aviation. The Confederation class is an expression of that desire. Carrying over 100 fighters and mounting serious anti-ship weapons in its eight anti-matters guns and the Phase Transit Cannon, the Confederation class was a highly desirable target for the Kilrathi to identify and destroy. There are only two known ships of the class, the TCS Confederation and TCS Concordia. The TCS Concordia (CVS-65) joined the Fleet in 2661. She fought in many of the major engagements of the last decade of the war including the Second Enigma Campaign and the Battles of Vukar Tag, Sirius, and Earth. She was lost in a rearguard action in the Vespus System in early 2669.

Many of the most famous names of the war served onboard the Concordia during her decade long career including Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn, Colonels Jeannette Devereaux and, future Commodore and greatest hero of the war Christopher Blair, 1st Lieutenant, future Rear Admiral and hero of Tarawa Raid, Jason Bondarevsky, and two of the war’s greatest traitors, Major Zachary Colson and Lt. Colonel Ralgha nar Hhallas.

The USS Wasp (CV-7) was the product of the interwar arms agreement known as the Washington Naval Treaty. Desiring to squeeze the largest possible air group into the smallest possible space, the USS Wasp was the result. She is the only ship of her class and the basic design is a smaller version of the Yorktown class with modifications that produced serious design flaws. The Wasp joined the Fleet in April 1939 and first served with the Atlantic Fleet in World War II. The Wasp delivered two deckloads of Supermarine Spitfires to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean in April and May 1942. Prior to the second run in May, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was concerned that Malta would be destroyed from the air by German and Italian forces and asked President Franklin Roosevelt if the Wasp could take “another good sting” at delivering the much needed fighters.

As the Battle of the Coral Sea was coming to a close in the Pacific, the USS Wasp and HMS Eagle made a reinforcement run towards the island of Malta in what was codenamed Operation Bowery. The two Allied carriers delivered more than 60 Supermarine Spitfire fighters to the besieged island. Following the operation Churchill sent a short and witty message to the ship’s captain and crew: “Many thanks to you all for the timely help. Who said a Wasp couldn't sting twice?"

The Wasp joined the Pacific Fleet in the summer of 1942 following the major battles in the Coral Sea in May and the around Midway in June. The Wasp was deployed to the South Pacific where on the seventh of August, the Wasp along with the USS Saratoga (CV-3) and Enterprise (CV-6) provided air support US Marines participating in Operation Watchtower, the invasion of Guadalcanal. The Wasp missed the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on August 24th (Yesterday for those paying attention!) when it was ordered south to refuel by Admiral Fletcher because the Japanese forces had not yet been discovered at the end of the day on August 23rd.

The USS Wasp met her end as a result of what can be argued to be the most effective torpedo salvo in the history of warfare in September 1942. The Japanese submarine I-19, patrolling an area that would become known as “Torpedo Alley” because of the number of ships hit transiting it, fired six Type 95, a smaller version of the dreaded Type 93, at the Wasp. Three of the torpedoes struck home on the carrier. They had been noticed by crewmembers too late for any evasive actions to be taken. The torpedoes struck the highly explosive avgas storage and magazines areas of the carrier. The ship quickly burned and 35 minutes after the torpedoes struck home, Captain Forrest Sherman ordered “Abandon Ship.” Six minutes after the Wasp had been hit, the USS O’Brian (DD-145) was struck by one of the remaining three torpedoes fired by I-19. A minute after the O’Brian was struck the USS North Carolina (BB-55) took one of the remaining torpedoes. It was over 7 miles away from the Wasp when it was it! Both the Wasp and O’Brian would sink while the North Carolina would be out of the war for several months as she was repaired and upgraded before returning to the South Pacific.

More than one Confederation pilot has mistaken a Drakhri for a one of the Dralthi family of fighters and a Dralthi for Drakhri. While the two fighters look very similar because of their large semicircle wings the fighters have some significant differences.. The way a pilot can distinguish the two fighters is by looking for the over-the-cockpit missile rack. Only the Drakhri and the late-war model Dralthi VII use this configuration.

The Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighter was Japan’s premier and longest-serving fighter of World War II. It was designed to outrange and outfly any potential opponent which for the first year of the war it did extremely well. The Zero is identifiable by its rounded wingtips and distinct engine cowling. Often called one of the beautiful aircraft, its beauty hides its inherent weaknesses in lacking armor of almost any kind and self-sealing fuel tanks in order to save on weight. The difficulty the Japanese had in producing high quality aircraft engines meant they had to get savings anywhere they could. The armament of the Zero, while formidable on paper was truly only as good as the number of 20 mm cannon rounds remaining. The 7.7 mm machine gun rounds typically did not pack enough punch to take down more ruggedly built American aircraft.

The A-17 Broadsword was the standard Confederation bomber throughout the Terran-Kilrathi War. Every variant of this bomber carried multiple large anti-ship torpedoes and a formidable defensive armament. The three turrets found on later models were able to repulse multiple incoming attacks and allow more time for the pilot to complete the attack run. Even a single torpedo hit can be devastating to a capital ship. The Broadsword is easily identifiable by its large size, at 36 meters in length, it’s not difficult to spot the Broadswords amongst a force of Confederation fighters. The distinct wings and vertical surfaces also lend to easy identification.

The Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” was designed and used as a strategic bomber by the US Army Air Corps in all theaters of the Second World War. Carrying more than a dozen .50 caliber machine guns and having a range of more than 1,500 miles, early air power enthusiasts thought that bombers like the B-17 could win wars by themselves. The B-17 can be identified by its distinct nose section and large curved vertical tail. Later models had an additional chin turret to thwart head-on attacks that German pilots preferred because they discovered the lack of machine gun cover in that direction.

The Fralthra class cruiser was a Kilrathi heavy cruiser that saw combat in the Vega Campaign. It was a Fralthra that destroyed the famed TCS Beowulf. Fralthra often served as the center of carrier groups because of their large fighter complements. Multiple carrier groups formed around Fralthra were part of the 2667 attack on Ghorah Khar and Olympus. Fralthra are capable of operating even heavy fighters, with Jalkehi heaving been observed operating off of them. Possessing a similar silhouette with the Kamekh class corvette some pilots have been known to confuse the Fralthra and Kamekh, once even the TCS Concordia (CVS-65) made the mistake! Their designs are actually atypical for Kilrathi, lacking most of the “knife edge” aspects. Combined assaults are necessary to engage a Fralthra, the TCSNA's updated simulator program doesn't even allow students to roleplay single wing missions against Fralthra.

The Japanese Tone class heavy cruisers were the last two heavy cruisers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Tone class were to be the long range eyes of the fleet through extensive use of multiple floatplanes stored on the cruisers. Originally designed as members of the Mogami class, when serious faults were discovered in the original designs the Tone class was the result. The most distinct feature of the Tone class was the fact that all four of its main turrets were mounted in front of the bridge, the rear of the ship being utilized for the expanding flight operations.

The Tone had a long and mixed combat career, however its most famous moment came during the Battle of Midway when early on the morning of June 4. The Tone was to launch several floatplanes to search areas to the northwest of Midway. The scout plane known as Tone #4 was late in taking off due to unknown reasons. Not only was it late in launching, the scout plane most likely later flew directly over the American carriers groups but did not spot them immediately. The spotting report was then delayed for unknown reasons on the Tone before being passed to Admiral Nagumo on the Agaki. The Tone itself would be sunk by American forces at Kure in July 1945.

You can see all of Wing Commander II's silhouette's here, and you can download the entire United States War Department identification manuals below for American and Japanese ships and aircraft:

Matthew Lillard's Big Fat Directorial Debut

MyNorthWest reports that Matthew Lillard has started filming his directorial debut in the Seattle area. Lillard starred in Hollywood blockbusters such as Scream and Scooby-Doo, but is perhaps best known for playing Maniac Marshall in the 1999 Wing Commander movie.
The film, "Fat Kid Rules the World," is based on the popular young adult novel of the same name, and will be Lillard's directorial debut.

"Set against the backdrop of the Seattle music scene, FAT KID RULES THE WORLD is a coming-of-age story about two dysfunctional teenagers searching for something more out of their completely hopeless existence," said the film's facebook page.

There's word of another Northwest connection on the project with sources reporting that Pearl Jam's Mike McCready is set to score the film.

BREAKING NEWS: GOG to Resume EA Releases

GOG has announced that, as previously indicated, they will be resuming their releases of Electronic Arts licensed games this Thursday, August 25th. Previous releases have been heavy on Origin-developed games (including Privateer, Crusader: No Remorse and the Ultima Underworld series) and GOG has already been quoted as saying that more Wing Commanders are coming... we could see one in as little as two days! Here's the official release:
Back in June, when we announced that Electronic Arts joins GOG's DRM-free Revolution, we made a promise. After releasing couple stunning classics like Dungeon Keeper, Crusader: No Remorse and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, we took some time off from EA releases, but promised to bring back more great titles from this publisher in late summer. The time has come to say farewell to the summer and take you all gamers back to the Old School with the release of more EA classic games. Be sure to check back this Thursday to see for yourself what the next batch from Electronic Arts and GOG.com brings!

PC Games on the Good Old Days

Billy Cain also provided a copy of the August 1997 issue of the German PC Games magazine, which features a five-page preview of Wing Commander Prophecy! It's worth a look even if you don't understand the language--some of the early screenshots are fascinating, and it features the only known photograph of the Wing Commander Prophecy team's "war room," an elaborate wall of gameflow options connected with string that Billy likened to 'A Beautiful Mind'. Another interesting note--the early TCS Devereaux rendering with the ship name in huge block letters. I don't speak German, but this seems a lot cooler than previews in American magazines--featuring information on the developers themselves rather than just listing features of the upcoming game.

EA Looks Back Again

The big European Gamescom event was held in Germany last week, and all major publishers were on hand to promote their holiday lineups. EA Labels Predident Frank Gibeau also spoke to Computer and Video Games about old franchises coming back. This is particularly interesting in light of Chris Roberts' recent interest in returning to the series to make a new Wing Commander game.
"We do have a couple of old franchises that we're looking at right now... reimagining them and bringing them back," he said.

"We've got 25 years of good IPs and I've worked on a few of them in my career like Road Rash and the Strike series. So I have a strong affinity for a lot of the things we've done in the past.

"We kind of have a rule which is you've got to have a really good reason to bring something back - What can you do to it that makes it fresh and brings something new to the equation of the franchise?"

More Emerges from the Shadows

Also from Billy Cain and Shadow Force comes this twelve-page "Design Document Review." This is the Shadow Force teams' analysis of the now-famous "TCIS Eyes Only" Shadow Force proposal. The most amazing thing here is how much like Arena this game could have been--it would have included both Arena's hated powerups and a more arcade-style "chase camera" gameplay mode, with an automatic targeting feature!

Lord British Looks to the Future of Gaming

Origin founder Richard Garriott was at the GDC Europe conference this last week to speak on the evolving nature of video games. Gamasutra summarized the keynote speech here. The highlights involve the progression in potential from single player games in the '80s and '90s, to massively multiplayer games in the 2000s and new social games in the 2010s. We've recently heard him speak passionately on this subject, and he's working with his new company, Portalarium, to help push the envelope in this space.
"I want to create a reincarnation and reinvent roleplaying yet again," he said, but "to get there, we're creating a series of products."

Said Garriott, "Hundreds of millions of players who haven/t played a serious roleplaying game and don't know they want to play a real roleplaying game, so we not only need to groom our own skills in understanding the new player, but we have to move the new player along in their evolution."

His company's first stepping stone is its Facebook game Ultimate Collector, which has a similar gameplay loop to popular casual social games but introduces some new elements to prime the player for gaming evolutions.

Selling Shadow Force

While we were in Austin for the CIC birthday, Wing Commander Prophecy lead designer Billy Cain was kind enough to invite us over to hear stories about his days at Origin... and he shared some cool artifacts for the community, too! The first is a 'sell sheet' for the cancelled "Wing Commander: Shadow Force" project. Shadow Force was a game developed by the Maverick team shortly after Secret Ops which would have featured single- and multiplayer-gameplay, telling the story of a group of mercenaries hunting for a Steltek artifact. Sell sheets were sent to retailers to promote upcoming games, in the hopes of securing orders. It's likely that this one was only used internally (alongside this longer presentation), to promote the game to Electronic Arts executives. Unfortunately, it didn't work!

What a Novel Conversation

There's a thread / poll in the Chatzone asking wingnuts about their favorite Baen novel.

The seven Baen novels add a huge amount of information to the WC universe. From Freedom Flight's introduction of the Liege Lord concept to the inner workings of a Bhantkara carrier in False Colors, it's non-stop goodness.

So which is your favorite? What was the best moment? Made you cringe? Stand up and shout?


Make sure to drop in and comment!

More Ships Arrive to Patrol Vega Sector

CMDBob is making a fleet of classic Wing Commander ships - just for fun! The original ships from the first WC game have been very popular lately. Here are the first Confed ships he's modeled and a spaceflight mock-up in the Freespace engine. They look pretty sharp, and Bob's also tweaked the Hornet to make some concept versions that might have existed concurrently with WC3/4.

I went and made some models based of Wing Commander 1. There's no real story to these, other than the fact I was bored (and I wanted something I could eventually use in some sort of mod for Freespace 2 Open).

So, first up is the Hornet. This has 3 variants, the classic Wing Commander 1 green style, a Wing Commander 3 style, with uprated and smaller laser guns, and a Wing Commander 4 UBW style, with the uprated laser guns from the WC3 variant.

And finally, for now, is the Drayman Transport. I made this with a detachable cargo box, as it kinda looked like that was the case. This one is my favourate so far, but that might change with time. (oh, and the text on the engines is Terran Confederation Logistics Division, if you couldn't quite read it off the pictures.) I haven't made a WC3/WC4 style texture for this yet, but that shouldn't take me too long (hopefully).

A New Challenger Awaits

AAN has produced some of the Shapeways models by Astro Commander with great results. The first ship he's painted is a Dralthi IV. Check out all that fine detail! I especially like the complementary stand and red wing highlights.

I have recently bought some of Astro Commanders Models from his Shapeway site. Very nice stuff, just be sure to select ultradetailed material. ;) More soon!

Imposing Kilrathi Starts to Take Shape

QualPilot began to make a sketch to commemorate the CIC's 13th Birthday last week. Although the design is still not finished, he's posted this draft. The basic armor is inspired by the Wing Commander Movie, but the helmet is a more classic design. Looks like a good mix!

Happy Birthday CIC!

1 WC Article You Must Read Before You Die

Iceman16 found a fun article in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. It's got a couple of odd references (what does "each of the games marks a turning point in noninteractivity" mean?), but it does a decent job of covering the series for a book that also covers a thousand other games too. The focal point is Wing Commander 4, and they even mention its relatively obscure DVD release. Iceman's typed up the WC portion below.
Original Release Date: 1995
Platform: Various
Developer: Origin Systems
Genre: Shoot 'Em Up

Wing Commander is like TV's Battlestar Galactica played out through the eyes of fighter pilots, only with more World War II dogfights.

Capital ships are the cities, aces their champions, and the vacuum in between is where the fate of the galaxy unfolds. Plots are uncovered, patrols ambushed- it's always "quiet, too quiet"- and deaths are avenged by gatling guns and missiles. The narrative is unbroken throughout, the banter moving from the cockpit to the mess hall and back again, creating a sense of camaraderie in the drama.

Over the next nine years each of the games marks a turning point in noninteractivity, be it the groundbreaking animated cutscenes of Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, or the real-life actors and blue screens of Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. The format stayed the same but the balance of resources shifted, the player needing ever greater hardware while games demanded spiraling budgets. At a then-unheard-of $12 million, Wing Commander IV topped the lot.

Set during the aftermath of the Terran-Kilrathi War that preoccupied games one to three, The Price of Freedom is the second to star Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell. Filmed at broadcast quality using actual sets, its B-grade drama spanned six CD-ROMs, and had to be down-sampled (until a later DVD release) to play on hardware available at the time. It's a remarkably literal attempt to bring games and movies together which, like many of the interactive movies of the '90s, learns the pitfalls the hard way. It's actually hard to suspend belief when so much of what you're seeing is real, and even harder to withhold judgement of its writing and direction.

Birthday Corrections

With 105 updates, you can't be right all of the time! Here are some important corrections to the historical material offered last week.

First of all, thanks to Paul Hughes: this member of the Privateer 2 team is not Nick Elms but in fact Nick Goldsworthy!

Then, thanks to Billy Cain: this mockup was not for planning Wing Commander Prophecy's multiplayer feature... it was for planning an animated main menu. Billy explained that the menu would have been similar to Quake, with the words appearing one at a time.

Mmmm... Yummy Origin Treats

In addition to its Twitter account, EA's Origin service now has a Facebook page. Both are used to promote a variety of contests, demos and news about upcoming EA games. You can also find pictures from the program's launch event there. Don't look on an empty stomach!

Standoff Guide Goes Public

This year the Standoff team decided to let wingnuts finally get access to the strategy guide Dundradal had started to put together several years ago. Instead of just releasing the rough draft of the guide, the team decided to make it a community project by building it on WCPedia. The start of the guide can be found here. If you'd like to volunteer on the project, swing by the Chatzone thread to learn how to help out.

Home Sweet Home

After spending the last week in Austin, LOAF, ace and I are all traveling back home now. Thanks again to all the people who helped us out along the way, and we're sorry if we weren't able to link up (this time)! It was a jam-packed & productive week, and we had a ton of fun. Here's some pictures of Billy, Richard and Rhea kindly sharing their Origin memories!

Time to Claim Party Prizes

It's been a whirlwind week full of exciting news, and now we've got a few things to follow up on. All the winners in the trivia contest held during Wednesday's birthday party should submit their contact info. Please be sure to include your irc name, real name and address. If you have an outstanding prize from a prior event and haven't recently received an email from us, then we aren't tracking it and you should also send us a note now too.
  • CIC Polo Shirt - Sylvester
  • CIC Glass - Ilanin
  • CIC Playing Cards, Glass or Polo (pick one) - Iceman16, Iceheart
  • Eisen T-Shirt - Vinman
  • Eisen Hat - Powell99
  • Confed Replica Patch - Wedge
  • WC CCG Starter Deck Box - Priest
  • WC Novel (submit preference) - LeHah, Ilanin (Fleet Action)
  • WC2 Game (OEM) - Iceman16
  • WC4 DVD - Powell99
  • WC Movie DVD - Fr8, Kevin Caccamo
  • WC Movie Lobby Cards - Ironduke
  • Star*Soldier - Powell99
  • iTunes Wing Commander - Ninja
  • GOG Crusader - DMJC
  • GOG Privateer - evan, DMJC, Wedge
  • All 2011 GOG Origin Games - Powell99

BREAKING NEWS: The Commander is Back!

The third part of the G4 Wing Commander retrospective is now available and it contains some very exciting news--Chris Roberts is ready to come back to gaming and he wants to do a new Wing Commander! Let's get this in production, EA!
"I definitely want to do another Wing Commander, and I have a very specific vision for it," Roberts said. "I’m looking at the games being made now and I go 'Yeah, they're really cool, and there's some really great stuff,' but I think I could come back and push the boundaries of cinematic storytelling again. I'm looking at some of the stuff that's been done and it's sort of, in my eyes anyway, falling short, and it's not because of the technology. It's falling short because of how it's been done."

"I made Wing Commander because it was the game I wanted to play," Roberts told me. “I didn't make Wing Commander because I said 'Oh, this is something that's going to sell a lot of units,' or 'there's a gap in the marketplace,' it was just ‘I want this experience.’ The time where I could feel like I'm ready to engage in something is always when I have a personal feeling that 'Okay, I want to go and make a game that gives me this experience.' I feel re-energized, and I think I can come back... and push forward parts of the industry in terms of narrative and cinematic storytelling."

Just yesterday we spoke to Richard Garriott, who praised Chris Roberts' ability to simply sit down and envision an amazing game. It really sounds like he had something new and spectacular in mind. You can read the full interview here.

The Article We Deserve

Just in time for our anniversary, G4 is running a three-part history of the Wing Commander series this week! It's one of the best articles I've seen--a serious, professionally researched history with comments from series creator Chris Roberts! Part one is available here and part two is here. The third part, an interview with Chris Roberts, should be posted later today.

Wing Commander’s revolutionary approach to narrative presentation helped pave the way to the modern video game industry, and its design continues to influence game development to the present day. In order to help us celebrate the legacy of this famed franchise, creator Chris Roberts granted us his first games-related interview in over a decade. G4 is proud to present: The History of Wing Commander.

Forum Runner Still Running

This one's for mobile smartphone users: our exciting new CIC Forum upgrade works with Forum Runner, but users will need to remove their old Crius.net bookmark and readd the CIC Forums at their new www.wcnews.com/chatzone location. The forums do work fine on most cell phone browsers, but many posters prefer the mobile app. FR Free is a demo version of the program that lets you test out which you prefer. Full versions of the Android and iOS software runs $2.

Happy 13th Birthday, CIC!

Welcome to the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's 13th annual birthday party! Please join the fun on IRC, where we're having Wing Commander chat, trivia and giveaways! It's the social event of the season.

Wing Commander fans have a lot to be thankful for this year, from the release of Privateer on GOG (with more to come!) to the impending launch of the Wing Commander Saga fan mod.

For the first time ever, Chris, ace and I are celebrating this milestone in Wing Commander's birthplace, sunny Austin, Texas. You'll learn a little more about what we're doing below--and in coming months.

Every year I panic that this is the year we're not going to have enough to reveal for the community... but for the first time ever I'm not stressed at all. We have a truly huge slate of "presents" put together to celebrate Wing Commander's history and community. In the record number of updates below, you'll find high resolution graphics, mysterious sound files, updates on fan efforts and more.

Our big present this year is the release of the long-awaited tenth Wing Commander novel, Pilgrim Truth. Thanks to the diligence of Peter Telep and the willingness of Electronic Arts to work with us, the never-before-seen novel is now available online. And it is GREAT!

Scroll down and enjoy the updates--we'll see you in #WingNut!

Pilgrim Truth Released

Eleven years ago, HarperCollins angered Wing Commander fans everywhere by cancelling the third movie 'continuity novel', Pilgrim Truth. For more than a decade the manuscript written to bring closure to the Pilgrim storyline and the 'movie world' sat unread and unreleased. Today, we are proud to announce that it is now available.

Thanks to the efforts of Electronic Arts and the dedication of author Peter Telep, we are now allowed to release the text of the book for WingNuts everywhere to read. At the request of the author, the already-impressive book now includes all new artwork by NinjaLA. We've done our best to format the book like the great Wing Commanders of yesteryear--of which, of course, it is. You can start the adventure here.

Pay close attention to the end of the book, too--you'll find the answer to a question Wing Commander fans have been asking since 1997...

Pilgrim Truth: Also an eBook

Want to read Pilgrim Truth on the go? You're in luck! Starman has kindly set up Pilgrim Truth as an eBook! It's available in both mobi (Kindle) and epub (everything else) formats!

Keep Austin Wing Commander!

As you have heard, ace, Chris and I are in Austin, Texas looking at the University of Texas Videogames Archive. This museum collection includes the personal papers of Origin luminaries including Richard Garriott, The Fatman, Warren Spector, Gordon Walton and Billy Cain. Thanks to donations from our collections, there will even be a WCNews archive available soon! We don't have time for a full analysis yet, but I wanted to share with you some of the highlights:

  • The original, 1991 Wing Commander movie proposal and outline. This version was written by G.P. Austin, of Privateer fame, who left Origin around 1994. It is based largely on the original game, with many familiar characters (including Colonel Halcyon)... but is also a distant relative of the eventual movie, with characters like Forbes.
  • The original story outline and character list for Wing Commander II, which includes a much more elaborate, cinematic version of the story (which opens on the Tiger's Claw) and many different characters.
  • Warren Spector's collection of Wing Commander I production documents--everything from daily status updates to ship specifications to the agreement with Baen to release Wing Commander novels.
  • The Fatman's contract and notes on the Wing Commander I score.
  • A new, 300-page "Wing Commander: Privateer Online" proposal for the 1999 attempt. It is more detailed than ever, including the team's bucket list of concepts being discussed. Richard Garriott's papers also included an earlier, preliminary Privateer Online outline focusing on the budget and market.
  • Several 100-page Privateer 3 design documents, alternate versions of those already in the CIC archive.
  • The original "sell sheet" sent to retailers for WingLeader, which includes never-before-seen sketches and information about the Wing Commander universe. Sell sheets for every other game were also included.
  • Warren Spector's short proposals for many, many games, including "Alien Commander" (a Wing Commander FPS) and "Privateer 2 Cyclone Alley" a Wing Commander-based racing game.
  • Ultima fans will be interested to know that Garriott's papers include a wealth of information on the classic games and Ultima IX, with complete development plans for that game starting in 1995. We also saw large production binders for an Ultima RTS (Battlecry) and a 1997 attempt at Ultima Underworld III. Warren Spector's papers include concepts for dozens of Ultima titles, especially scenarios for further 'Worlds of Ultima' releases. Most shocking was a 'Savage Empire' pen-and-paper RPG--which was actually released in a limited printing for Origin employees and local gamers in Aaron Allston's circle! Allston also has a proposal for an Ultima paper game developed in the late 80s.

Follow that CIC!

The @WCCIC started off last year as an April Fool's Joke... but now it's the real deal! Kris has integrated Twitter into our backend, which will automatically notify readers of new CIC updates--and we'll be using it to post the usual array of Wing Commander jokes and references previously reserved for our personal accounts. Click the button below to follow us on Twitter!

CIC on the Go

You asked for it: the CIC has finally entered the 21st century with the addition of a "mobile" version of the site! Now you can get your Wing Commander news and information on the go without any awkward pinch-zooming. Point your tiny browsers at m.wcnews.com to get in on the smaller version of the fun!

Life Goes Zone

You may have noticed that the Chat Zone was down earlier today. That wasn't to frustrate partygoers--it was because we've replaced the aging VBulletin board with a brand new Xenforo system! There's no need to create a new account and your old login will continue to work... but the new board is more secure, features an achievement-style 'promotion' system, support for mobile platforms and social networking, and can be integrated right into the CIC front page!

The Chat Zone predates the CIC itself, dating back through WCHS to the "Origin's Official Wing Commander Chat Zone" initially established by OSI in 1995. This will be the fourth type of board software, following Matt's WWWBoard, Ultimate Bulletin Board and VBulletin. A great history of the zone is available here.

Happy Fourth Birthday WCPedia!

“In three years we’ve uploaded almost 1,100 content articles, uploaded 700 files, made 10,600 edits and had over 1.3 million views.” - August 10, 2010

What a year the last one has proven to have been! WCPedia’s growth was well beyond my expectations because of the hard work of a group of dedicated and determined wingnuts. WCPedia now has over 2,700 content articles. It smashes our goal of 2,200 articles by more than 500! KrisV has been hard at work moving the CIC's Downloads section into WCPedia. Wingnuts can now find all the CIC's hosted files and others in the WCPedia Downloads category. We've already got more than 3,500 files uploaded and organized. We’ve made more than 27,000 edits and had more than 2.5 million views! Those numbers more than double where we were last year. The amount of information now available on WCPedia is astounding.

In the coming year WCPedia will continue to expand in a variety of ways to help improve the community’s ability to access information. WCPedia will become, without question, the greatest Wing Commander resource ever assembled. Our goal in the next year is to hit the same number of articles as the range of the laser cannon, 4,800. We are always looking for more contributors and this year we've asked NinjaLA to help spur involvement with our very own recruitment posters.

Miggs is Ugly Joke Goes Here

WCPedia has needed a main page facelift for a long time. On its fourth birthday, what better way to start the Wing Commander year off with than a new main page? Well here it is. Wingnuts can now better navigate to the main areas of the project quickly and easily. We’ll keep people up-to-date on the latest WCPedia happenings and IRC-related events, feature our completed work, and offer an improved and expanded Help section, which will be completed in the coming year, so that wingnuts can more easily jump into the project. We hope you enjoy it and welcome any feedback wingnuts have!

WCPedia-Split Edition!

WCPedia has undergone some major structural changes in the last year. The project was split into two main content areas recently. The Wing Commander Encyclopedia is where you’ll be able to find all kinds of real world information about Wing Commander. Wingnuts can find landing pages for all the major Wing Commander products from which they can explore various areas about each product. The encyclopedia area also contains categories like Images, where we are building the most extensive Wing Commander image archive ever...modelers begin drooling, Cinematics, Behind the Screens, Downloads, and a number of others.

A reference from Super Wing Commander, the Terran Knowledge Bank is the new name for the main content area of WCPedia. This is where you’ll find articles written in the style of a 29th century researcher stationed on McAuliffe VI. Users can find the major categories like Characters, Ships, Battles, along with dozens of others within the Knowledge Bank.

With the creation of the Terran Knowledge Bank, based on McAuliffe VI, WCPedia is putting out a call to all wingnuts. Like any unit in the Confederation, we need a unit patch. We are asking the community to come up with some designs for a TKB patch that would represent the efforts of the WCPedia team. We have some ideas in mind, but we'd like to see what you can come up with first. Do your part for the Terran Knowledge Bank today!

Film Facts Filling Out

A lot of progress has been made to enter as much relevant background information on the Wing Commander feature film into the WCpedia project. While tastes and opinions vary on the film itself, every fan owes it to themselves to familiarize themselves with the making of the film and the development process that gave us what ended up in theaters. To this end, there are over 20 behind the scenes articles and interviews, and more than 420 behind the scenes images, and other resources available at the wcpedia movie landing page. Here are some of the highlights that you won't want ot miss out on.

EPKFLV4U2C

We've previously reported on a recent re-encode of the Wing Commander Movie Electronic Press Kit. That tape is available to download in it's entirety HERE. But until recently it's been one of the big holes in our Holovids section. As part of our WCpedia refit I've been spending time chopping up the tape into it's individual segments so that you can all enjoy it without having to wait for an enormous download!

You can now stream each segment of the EPK tape online at the WCpedia page HERE.

Highlights of the EPK tape include:

Reading Drafts is a Breeze

A big part of our WCpedia movie effort has been to include the various script drafts of the film for easy comparison. While some work is yet to be done, the labor intensive part is done and each draft can be read in it's entirety. All, four - yes four! - drafts are parsed and ready for you to enjoy. We've also provided links to the PDF scans if you would rather read the original copy. Note that the shooting script PDF was previously unavailable.

Special effort was put into entering the final shooting script into the WCpedia. This paricular draft should be of interest to fans because essentially everything in this draft was shot and exists on film in some form somewhere. To better help you see what was changed in editing in the theatrical cut of the movie we've color coded the text. Anything in red-orange was deleted. Sometimes it's just a single line of dialogue that was removed, while others it's whole scenes. Anything in gold was changed either in a revision we're missing or in post production by means of ADR or other means. Any scenes headers or text in green indicates scenes or lines that got moved around in the editing.

¿Habla Usted Español?

One curriosty that's been reported in the past are that the production notes for the Wing Commander film have never been discovered in English. While entering articles into the WCpedia project we noted this sad deficiency and would like to rectify that. The CIC needs YOU!

You can read through the spanish production notes HERE, along with an extremely rough translation. Any help providing an accurate translation would be much appreciated (or better yet let us know if you've seen the English version of these somewhere... I know I haven't).

Make Your Own Poster

Have you ever wanted your own Wing Commander poster? Just take one of these super high resolution pieces of key art to a local print shop and you'll have a beautiful new decoration for your walls!

Does it Grow the Brand?

It's funny to think about a cutting edge game developer doing art and layouts by hand--but that's exactly how things worked before Origin switched to a digital process in 1994. In this set of images (originally addressed to Dallas Snell), you can see the creation of the corporate logo used on the boxes of the first several Wing Commanders. It looks like there were some interesting alternatives in the mix!

The Art of Claw Marks - Part 1: Talking Heads

Also recovered from Origin's vault: print resolution versions of the art used in the magazine that started it all, Claw Marks! First up is the Tiger's Claw's intrepid crew:

The Art of Claw Marks - Part 2: Space Fighters

If you were a video gamer in 1990 and claim you weren't impressed by the line art of Wing Commander's ships then you are a liar. This was, without a doubt, the first step to hooking me on Wing Commander.

The Art of Claw Marks - Part 3: And The Rest

And what's a birthday without dancing girls? ... and medals, missiles and ribbons.

The Art of Claw Marks: Fearsome Foursome

For the first time ever online, here are Origin's "source" files for the famous Wing Commander I Kilrathi ace artwork! Dakhath, Khajja, Baktosh... they're all here! Also, Bhurak.

Wing Commander II Memories

In honor of Wing Commander II's upcoming 20th anniversary, we've asked members of the CIC staff to post their memories of the game here. Want to share your own? Post it to the forums and we'll collect them all in a future article!

LOAF:

I remember being given Wing Commander II the Christmas after it came out. My family was celebrating at some relative's house and I was desperate to go home and play the game. It was the 'promotional' release that came with the speech pack and I was terrified that I was going to somehow lose one of the giant stack of diskettes before I could make it home.

It goes without saying that Wing Commander II set a new standard for gaming. I don't know anyone who had a sound card in 1991 and didn't use the introduction to show off what home computers were capable of. It seems impossible now, but just being able to listen to Thrakhath and the Emperor speak was such an amazing sea change.

Everything about the game shined--it hit you in the gut when Spirit died, you cheered when you saved the day... you blushed when Angel kissed you. For all the credit live action gets, I honestly don't think we have ever been closer to the "interactive movie" than those faces in WC2.

It made such difficult choices, too--opening by destroying the Tiger's Claw? What a shock! Refusing to explain what happened to all your original wingmen? That had to be gnawing at the writers, but it grew the universe so much. Swapping the satisfying-but-easy capship runs for the complicated but so much more rewarding torpedo mechanic? Brilliant.

For me, Wing Commander II has also been--and remains!--a 'holy grail'. I'll never forget the first time Captain Johnny showed us his Wing Commander II FM Towns. A port of WC2? With an entirely new cover? I had to get one, and I learned to use a deputy service to purchase Wing Commander items from Japan... which became a very expensive hobby. Today the quest goes on, for Wing Commander II SNES, a game some of Origin's finest developed but that never saw release. There's a prototype out there somewhere--and we're going to find it!

Dundradal:

I’ll always remember when I first started playing Wing Commander 2 in 1995. My dad surprised me one day by bringing a copy of Wing Commander 2 Deluxe he’d found at a swap meet. I was in the middle of playing Privateer for the first time when it arrived. It had to take a back seat for a bit.

When I first played the game, I had not played the original Wing Commander. For me that experience wouldn’t come until later with the arrival of The Kilrathi Saga. When I first played Wing Commander 2 I thought the first mission you flew with Hobbes was impossible. For some reason I simply could not take out the Jalkehi! I remember getting so frustrated I stopped playing for a week, before giving it a try again, and it’s not a hard mission! Then the game’s story and gameplay sucked me in and didn’t let go for a considerable amount of time.

The torpedo run is what sets Wing Commander 2 apart from the rest for me. The game mechanics make it one of the most challenging and rewarding gameplay sequences I’ve encountered. Anti-matter guns firing, flak cannons bursting out rounds, all without afterburners most of the time! Now that’s a challenge! Even the attempt to create those runs in Wing Commander Prophecy pale in comparison to the original.

AD:
For me, Wing Commander 2 will always hold a special place in my heart among all Wing Commander games and product, and while I wish some of the more brilliant flourishes from WC1 made it into the overall design, it's one of those games where you can still pick it up today and be sucked in just as easily by the story and gameplay as ever.

While I had Wing Commander on the peripheral since it was released, it wasn't until Wing Commander 2 that I could really call myself a true Wingnut. My cousin and I would play WC1 on their 286 and eject to see the cutscenes... we weren't particularly good at the game back then. His dad even bought WC2 though I don't really remember playing it. It wasn't until nearly 1994 and Wing Commander 3 was close on the horizon that we found the WC2 deluxe CD somewhere. I took it home and spent the summer playing it on our 386.

Each new mission was a challenge but one that was rewarding. Sometimes I would only make it through one mission a day. It seemed like the more times I died the load time got longer when I went to re-fly the mission. I can't think of nearly any other game that would instill that same kind of dedication in me. To that, I credit the story and art design. From then, there was no question about whether we would be buying Wing Commander 3. It was in my blood and we were going back to play Wing Commander 1 the right way. And as they say, "the rest is history!"

Chris Reid:
The twentieth anniversary year for Wing Commander 2 is a huge milestone for me! It still seems just like yesterday. I played WC1 on the SNES, so WC2 was my first PC Wing Commander. I remember swapping disk after disk and then letting the installer decompress for an hour just to get it installed. Like many other people, I invited friends over just to see the animated intro and hear the real voices throughout. It didn't matter what mission I played - every day I booted up the computer, hit the "resume campaign" button and launched into space. From the quick and light Ferret to the almost-capship Broadsword, the WC2 engine felt so rock solid, and the game's story and atmosphere were perfect. What a great game!
ace:
Wing Commander 2 was great. It's probably the first thing my mind turns to when I think about Wing Commander.

Know Your Foe

When Wing Commander II came out I was very disappointed with the ship images in the manual. Black and white shapes compared to the detailed line drawings in Claw Marks? Twenty years later, it's clear I was terribly wrong--these get the feel of World War II identification silhouettes just right. From Origin's archive:

What's Wrong With These Pictures?

Look closely at these Wing Commander I and II screenshots, scanned from Origin promotional slides. They're from pre-release versions of the game! You'll find some of the familiar changes (ie, "Lt. Shadow" and the named Kilrathi)... but there are a lot of others that have gone unnoticed, like a Secret Missions 2 Dralthi armed with lasers or a Wing Commander II turret with a VDU... displaying a Dralthi! You can download the set in full resolution BMP format here.

Lost Scenes and Mixed Blessings

Here are high-resolution slide scans of two of Wing Commander's most mysterious images. The first, showing a young Blair in front of a group of photographers, appeared on the Wing Commander II box. In the actual game the scene was moved to Admiral Tolwyn's office and used the 'ten years later' Blair. That was all done to save disk space; as originally scripted, you would have seen Blair at his trial (some of the graphics for the court scene were later reused in Special Operations 2). The second is a smooth looking Gothri image which appears on various Special Operations-related boxes. Although the addon disks do introduce the Gothri, there is no cutscene such as the one indicated here (and the fighters don't look nearly as nice in combat).

Mythic Photos: Wing Commander II Genesis Sell Sheet

This fall, we will be running a lengthy series of updates highlighting the various objects and layouts Chris photographed while visiting Mythic in 2008 (and we will forward Ultima-related pictures to Ultima Aiera). Kicking off the project in honor of Wing Commander II's 20th anniversary is a fascinating "sell sheet" developed by Origin's publications department. At first glance it looks like it's just an advertisement for Wing Commander II--but it's actually a 1994 publication designed to convince retailers to order a Sega port of the game!

Origin planned to release both Sega and Super Nintendo ports of Wing Commander II, both of which were to be developed internally. Production of the Sega version was actually cancelled early in the process and work done on (and employees assigned to) the project was rolled into the infamous unreleased-but-completed SNES version. As a result, no Origin games for the stock Genesis were ever released--a licensed port of the original Wing Commander having also been cancelled years earlier. It has long been rumored that this was due to a conflict with Nintendo over the Sega Master System port of Ultima IV.

Shopping at Egghead Next Time I Get the Chance

Here's a blast from the past courtesy of Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum. Back in 1991, Origin decided to photograph their 'rock star' developers buying their newly released games at local stores. Here are Richard Garriott, Chris Roberts and Warren Spector buying copies of Wing Commander II, Savage Empire and Martian Dreams! Just looking at the shelves in the stores fills me with nostalgia. You can also download a zip of high resolution versions (four times as large!) here.

Privateer Codes - First Come, First Serve!

Courtesy of our friends at GOG, we have three digital copies of Wing Commander: Privateer to give away! And we're giving them to... whoever uses them first! Grab a code here and head over to GOG to redeem it. Good luck!
LZVE-YP6U-ZQXK-6KHK
BDEE-9XCJ-SJ8L-8FFM
YAWX-MUQZ-K4SC-Z9FK

Privateer's First Screenshots

Little bits of an earlier version of Privateer have slipped out over time--that nice 3D Gothri, the different intro cutscene and so forth. Here are all the screenshots, together for the first time and most of them never seen before. Note the Mercenary Guild secretary's lack of cleavage! Note the alternate intro scene involving a Galaxy and Demons! And, interestingly, they also prove that the "enforcer" scene at the start of Righteous Fire was originally created for Privateer.

A Tour of the Box Factory

Ever wonder how a game box was made? Lets take a look at everything that went into the simple Righteous Fire box! First, we're going to find a font for the new text logo. This one looks good! Lets sketch it into the Righteous Fire text, then finish it.

Excellent! Now we need to turn it into a logo for the front of the box. We have a general idea of what we want, but the art team is a creative group and there will be a number of options to choose from:

Now we want to add the fight scene. We create it one part at a time--the background, the planet, each fighter and so on. Here are the components:

Put 'em all together and make 'em fight! Just need to play around and get it right. Whoops, had the Centurion firing from the engines there for a second--Compuserv would have been all over that mistake.

And so we have:

Now if we could just get it on GOG...

Taste the Rainbow

Nothing about Armada was quite like the rest of Wing Commander, from the speed of the gameplay to the ship specifications... and the logo, with giant green jello letters, was no exception. But how weird could it have been? Check out these candidates developed by Origin's publications unit! My favorite? The giant triangle--makes the game seem like a trendy 1990s nightclub!

Raiders of the Lost Manuals, Part 1

This is the first of two exciting 'lost pages'. Archaeolgists have discovered the draft text for Armada's incredible "Voices of War" manual... with some differences! One is that the letter to M'rathka is signed by a different kil, Clat'har nar Ragitagha... but the other is that there is an additional Confederation letter home:
[[YOU CAN DELETE THIS STORY AT YOUR DISCRETION]]
Mom,
Remember the story you used to tell me when I was six? The one about how the astronaut launched into orbit to fight an alien, lost his ship, and was then rescued? It ended up that the alien only wanted a friend. Today I realized that your stories always had happy endings that took away my fear. The fear is still gone. Only now, I’m the astronaut and the alien doesn’t want to be friends.
For the last three days, I’ve wondered how to write this letter. I don’t know how to tell you this, but it’s likely I’ll never see you again. We’ve been sent into the farthest region of the galaxy. I can’t say any more, except that we’re going to be gone awhile.
I don’t mind telling you I’m scared, but it’s my duty to follow orders. I want you to take this picture I’ve enclosed and have it framed for Kev. It’s been awhile since I called, and I haven’t exactly been a decent big brother. Tell him I love him, and that he can have the Purple Heart hanging by my bed. And could you buy a bouquet of burgundy rose lilies for Pop’s grave? I always meant to do that, but it seems like I let all my chances slip away.
Give my love to the rest of the family ... you know I’m there in spirit!
Love,
Jarvan
You can look through the document itself here.

Electronic Arts Presents...

... the least appealing advertisement ever designed. "The big fish in 3DO games"? Really? That's what you're going with? Your ad campaign is designed to associate your games with a rotting fish carcass? The takeaway is the very special 3DO screenshot included below the... dead fish... it's not a cockpit used in the finished game!

Drawing for 3D

Check out these radical Wing Commander III and IV sketches, done by the art team to plan the ships and characters that would need to be rendered and costumed for a new kind of Wing Commander game. Some of these were included in Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander III... but the Vesuvius sketch is as-of-yet unplublished! Seeing this sketch should better explain why the novel describes Vesuvius as being Kilrathi-like--its "prongs" are sharper and much more pronounced.

Now You Know the Rest of the Storyboards

Here are a selection of cool high-resolution storyboards and script pages from Wing Commander III. Interesting to note that the storyboards have stronger language for Blair's final optional losing-track 'fell off' of Thrakhath. Special bonus--three images tracking how they built the 'gunnery' CGI set (I never even noticed the planet)!

WC3 Film Shoot

Here is another great set of classy photography from the Wing Commander III film shoot, used in Origin's Official Guide. Colonel Blair sure looks confident for someone who can' sew his patch on correctly...

Everything Looks Better in Black and White

These incredible renderings were created by Origin for their Official Guide to Wing Commander III. Now you can see them at the highest possible resolution--and learn every rivet on the side of your Excalibur...

Sexy Colorful Arrow Detail

Get an even closer look at every crease and line of this sexy F-27 Arrow! Doesn't that 'straight on' shot have an unusual amount of weight to it?

WC3 Shared Images

Here are high resolution images of some of Wing Commander III's most iconic scenes. These were created by Origin for use across all branded products in 1994--from card games to Zanart! Okay, just the two.

Music to my Eyes

This Wing Commander 'sheet music' was found on an Origin disc. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like you can use it to play the Wing Commander III soundtrack yourself. ace says: "It looks like it's just the first 20 seconds of the WC3 escort MIDI. It seems to be the same MIDI file that's on the CIC and doesn't fix any of the oddities to make it more sheet music friendly. I wonder if Oldziey wrote this stuff out on paper or some other format before doing the MIDI. I have to imagine he had some format where he could play it all on the piano by himself or something. That would be awesome."

WC3 Dev Portraits

Take a moment to thank the amazing team of men and women behind Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. Here they are, in the flesh! They are: Adam Foshko, Chris Douglas, Chris Roberts, Craig Miller, Dan Orzulak, Frank De Palma, Frank Roan, Galen Svanas, George Olziey, Kirsten Maryott, Mark Chandler, Martin Galway, Nenad Vugrinec, Prem Krishnan, Tim Ray, Tony Morone, Tuesday Frase and the QA team!

Raiders of the Lost Manuals, Part 2

We have discovered an additional capital ship commented out of Victory Streak. In the manual's Quark files are located the following specifications for a Confederation heavy carrier:
Heavy Carrier
Length 1200 meters
Mass 35,000 metric tonnes
Max. YPR 1 dps
Max. Velocity 130 kps
Acceleration 2.5 m/s2
Shields 4000
Armor
Fore/Aft 1000
Right/Left 1000
Also interesting--in every manual revision, the dreadnaught is 22,000km long, despite many other changes to ship specifications. Take what you will from that!

Now That's An Obscure Reference!

Victory Streak, the Wing Commander III manual, includes a review of Hail SHODAN, a pretend movie in the Wing Commander universe that is a reference to System Shock. The 3DO version of the manual even includes a System Shock screenshot to go with the review! While digging through Mythic's System Shock archive, I happened to find the exact screenshot used... in full color! So, here for the first time ever is a still from the 2669 holovid 'Hail SHODAN' in color:

Clean Your Lockers

Here's a craft project for you--make your own Wing Commander locker! To start you off, here are Blair's two photos of Angel from Wing Commander III... and his bikini picture from Secret Missions 2 (courtesy of NinjaLA). Next you'll need Super Wing Commander's space condoms--and you'll never have to use them...

Tender KSes

We have seen some interesting 'road not taken' artwork before--but these early designs for Kilrathi Saga really takes the cake! It's very interesting to see the different attempts and how they clearly lead to the focus on the 'Kilrathi hand' graphic... which we'll look at in another update!

Making the KS Box

Here's a swath of Kilrathi Saga box art production examples--you can follow the rough idea (which includes a Bearcat and a Vindicator!) all the way through the individual ship renders to the finished box. Pay special attention to the version of the box that actually lists the addons as contents--that was published in PC Gamer in 1997 and confused a lot of people.

A New Record!

I am very pleased to announce that this is the 48th CIC update of the night--which means we just shattered the previous record of 46 updates set by Privateer Day several months ago! More importantly, the night isn't close to over yet--we're going to set a bar that it may be impossible ever to reach again!

You're Going to Need It

When it came time to design the Kilrathi Saga box's claw logo, Origin's artists didn't just render what they thought a Kilrath hand might look like... they dressed up in a real one to see how it would look! This set of test photos was taken to determine what the 3D rendering should look like--you can trace the development from the original picture of the emperor all the way to the render itself! Most impressive, the photo session seems to have lasted six hours and required multiple hand models.

Raiders of the Lost Manuals, Part 3

Finally, while looking at raw notes from Origin's publication department we've also found a page cut from the Kilrathi Saga manual--containing a letter from Blair's dad (you can learn more about Blair's father here). PopsiclePete was even able to render the page out using Origin's original layout... so you can see what the message would have looked like (here)! It looks like Origin's publications staff had something against letters involving parents... in the finished version this letter was replaced by a large photo of Blair and Angel kissing!
Son,
It’s been a long time. I know things haven’t always been the best between us, and I imagine you still haven’t forgiven me for trying to get you pulled from flight school. But I pray you’ll keep this letter long enough to read it. I need to say something to you. Not as your father, but as a man.
Do you remember when I took you to see Faces of War? You were only eight, but ever since then, you’ve wanted nothing more than to fly. I thought you’d grow out of it, but you didn’t. Ten years later, your Academy acceptance letter arrived, and I felt that familiar fear sweep through me.
I know I’ve been less than supportive of your career over the years. I only wanted you to remain within safety’s reach. But I want you know that even though I fear losing you to this god-forsaken war, I’m damned proud of you. I didn’t have the courage to face death and empty space, but you do. And all I can do is pray your name never appears on that list that scrolls after each newscast.
You don’t know this, but your grandfather’s dying wish was to see me follow in his footsteps as a pilot. But I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to leave your mother a widow — like he left my mother. Maybe somewhere he’s watching you, and forgiving me.
Take care,
Dad

Pretty, Sketchy

This set of awesome sketches--created throughout the development of the first three Wing Commander games--originally appeared in the 1997 Kilrathi Saga calendar. Now you can see them all at their original resolution!

Aboard the Supercarriers

Here are two interesting images discovered among Origin's publications material. Both are high resolution renders not seen in the games themselves. The first seems to be a shot of the TCS Vesuvius' bridge, possibly intended for use as a menu of some sort... the second is the empty flight deck of a Kilrathi Bhantkara-class heavy carrier.

Vukar

In fact, it sounded like a milk run. All they had to do was make an orbit or three around a small, insignificant planet the Kilrathi called "Vukar Tag." It was way out in the Kilrathi boondocks. Okay, so it was in enemy territory, but it was closer to the Fleet than to Kilrah, and they had the jump points very clearly mapped.

We Got It: Wing Commander III Source Code

We are pleased to announce that the CIC has succesfully recovered the Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger source code. Two versions of the complete source have been located and permanently archived. Our agreements with Electronic Arts mean that we can not make the source code available to the public at this time--but we want everyone to know it will now be preserved for future use and study. This is the first source code in our 'offline' research archive, which also includes budget documents for Origin's film shoots and the 'rough cut' of the Wing Commander film. We'll keep working to find more source code and, someday, it will be there when it is needed!

Improving the Making of WC3

Trixter of oldskool.org was kind enough to use his impressive video knowledge to remaster the Wing Commander III 'making of' video. He says:
I've created two versions: A 480i MPEG-2 that can be directly burned to DVD, and a 480p H.264 MPEG-4 file for computer viewing. Both files are roughly 600MB, and both properly preserve the full 60 images per second present in the original source material.

The *.mpg is an interlaced MPEG-2 file in a format that can be burned directly to DVD. Both files are roughly 650MB. If you want to play on computer, play the MPEG-4 *.ts file. If you want to burn to DVD or Blu-ray, use the MPEG-2 *.mpg file. I personally think the MPEG-2 file burnt to DVD and played on a set-top player looks the best, but I'm biased towards broadcast formats.

You can grab the videos here:

WC4 Sketches

These Wing Commander IV sketches bridge the gap between Wing Commander III and IV--and hopefully confirm that the Intrepid was never meant to be two destroyers attached together (where did that rumor come from?).

WC4 Set Panoramas

These two great photos show the complexity of two of Wing Commander IV's most impressive sets--the courtroom from the introduction and climactic endgame, and Pliers' detailed workshop on the Intrepid.

Everything Looks Worse in Black and White

These full color Wing Commander IV ships--source images created for Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander IV--make a compelling argument! This set includes the long lost Dralthi rendering!

Hangar: On

Here's a magnificent render of the BWS Intrepid's flight deck--possibly an alternative to the 'top down' version used in the finished game.

You Didn't Buy it for the Articles

In 1995, Origin created several beautiful magazine covers to promote Wing Commander IV. Rather than simply capture screens from the game itself, these renderings were unique works of art. Now you can see the original resolution images, as they were created before being sent off to the magazine editors! A fourth image was created for Electronic Entertainment, although the source file has not been located.

Make it POP

Ever wonder how much a Colonel Blair standup costs? $42. How many promotional Wing Commander IV t-shirts were printed? 1,280! How many Micro Center stores were sent Wing Commander IV VHS tapes? Eleven! These facts and more come from a fascinating little balance sheet for Wing Commander IV's point of purchase displays, available here. I wonder how many of the 2,386 Wing Commander IV screen frames still exist today...

WC4 Dev Portraits

Now meet the (very similar) team behind Wing Commander IV! They are: Andy Sommers, Chris Douglas, Chris Roberts, Frank Roan, Tony Morone and the QA team!

Building the Tri-System

Here we have an impressive array of The Darkening concept art, showing the design for sets, establishing shots and even ships! Interestingly, the artwork isn't 'dark' at all--it's light and painted with bright colors. The first three were once available as "easter eggs" at Origin's interactive Privateer 2 website in 1996... the others have never been released to the public before!

Inhabiting the Tri-System

This set of photographs includes a number unpublished (and somewhat arty!) photographs taken on the set of Privateer 2: The Darkening. Included here are Erin Roberts, John Hurt as Joe Kane, Clive Owen as Lev Arris, David McCallum as the Canera Captain, Brian Blessed as Uncle Kashumai and Mathilda May as Melissa Banks. Uncle Kashumai is just begging to become an "internet meme"...

Privateer 2 Pre-Release: The Booth

This is one of four sets of Privateer 2: The Darkening pre-release images. These come from multiple earlier builds of the game and were used for both internal testing and in some advertising. This set is images of the 'booth system', and changes should jump out at you right away--different characters in the database, a full color intro screen, different icons for the guns and so on.

Privateer 2 Pre-Release: Combat

This is one of four sets of Privateer 2: The Darkening pre-release images. These come from multiple earlier builds of the game and were used for both internal testing and in some advertising. This set is images of the gameplay itself, and it's certainly the most fascinating. Check out some of the changes from version to version--there were no less than three different types of VDUs for ships! And the ship graphics and names change completely from shot to shot, too...

Privateer 2 Pre-Release: FMV

This is one of four sets of Privateer 2: The Darkening pre-release images. These come from multiple earlier builds of the game and were used for both internal testing and in some advertising. This set is images of the game's full motion video shoot. Although it didn't change much between the recording and the release, these do offer some unseen angles and much clearer pictures of sets than have been available in the past.

Privateer 2 Pre-Release: Planets

This is one of four sets of Privateer 2: The Darkening pre-release images. These come from multiple earlier builds of the game and were used for both internal testing and in some advertising. This set is images of the game's various planet menus--and also some renderings from the landing scenes with the "HUD" removed! You can see some of the planets change just in the course of these image--little things like the number of trees in the picture can change between versions!

Shining City in a Tri-System

This magnificent 3D rendered city was created for the British version of Privateer 2--it was the front and back cover of the Crius Hospital guide! Bonus: high resolution 'splash' images used for Origin's Official Guide to Privateer 2. You can make them out a lot more clearly here...

Highres P2 Landing Videos

If there's one complaint we get about our birthday updates it's that there are too many images at once. Well, count this as the time we backed down. We recently discovered 1.2 gigabytes of individually rendered frames of Privateer 2 landing artwork. It's gorgeous stuff--an insane amount of detail went into the landing sequences... but we couldn't display thousands of images at once. Instead, we've used the images to reconstruct the videos using modern graphic capabilities! If you'd still like to examine the images themselves, you can grab them here (1.2gb).

Tri-System Noire

Like those black and white Wing Commander III renders? Then you'll love... every ship in the Tri-System!

For Sale in the Tri-System

Dinky little Straith got you down? Why not pick up an upgrade for it... in high resolution! Look at some of the amazing detail that could never have made it into a game in 1996, like the lettering on some of the missiles!

Cool, Dark Ships

The ships used to promote Privateer 2 are a unique group--their 3D models often differ significantly from those seen in the game itself! Check out this selection of beautiful Darkening 'out of engine' ships:

The Darkening: Goofy Slogan Goes Here

Between 'Privateer 2' and 'Privateer 2: The Darkening', it was known as simply 'The Darkening'--and here's a whole swath of potential box covers developed by Origin for the game! Note the prominent "Interactive Movie" logo in several... and the lack of Clive Owen!

Darkening Dev Portraits

Last--but not least!--are the official portraits for the Privateer 2: The Darkening team. They are: Adam Medhurst, Erin Roberts, Nick Goldsworthy, Paul Hughes, Tony Stockton and Brian Marshall.

Prophecy's Foundations

This collection of very early Wing Commander Prophecy sketches was the first group created for the game, including art from Syd Mead and others. Look at the turrets on that beautiful Devastator drawing!

Go with the Gameflow

Ever wanted to learn how to land a starfighter? This series of gameflow storyboards done for Wing Commander Prophecy should show you how it works! Note some interesting references in there--is that Sparks and a Rapier II? Bonus--a rough shot of the MED mission editor in use!

Confederation and Empire

The classic Confederation star should be familiar to everyone... but this Kilrathi logo is a bit more unusual. As far as I can tell it has only ever appeared in Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander Prophecy!

Prophecy Ships - High and Low

You've seen many of these before... but you've never seen them in this resolution! The most interesting, though, are the two fuzziest--which show the original design of the TCS Midway!

An Early Facebook

To prepare for Wing Commander Prophecy, designers collected examples of helmets used in previous Wing Commanders. I almost left this collection out, except for the awesome full color version of the pirate helmet... where you can see that "ROBERTS" has been crossed out and replaced with TRASHED!

Read Ginger's Contract

Ever wanted to know how much an actor might be paid to appear in a Wing Commander game? Actress Ginger Lynn Allen recently sold her Wing Commander Prophecy contract on eBay--to us! We've scanned the document and you can download a copy here (PDF).

Multiplayer Menus of our Shattered Dreams

More of the early planning for Wing Commander Prophecy. In these Visio sketches, a designer has plotted out how the game's multiplayer menus will work! Shame we never got anything to compare this to in the finished game...

Bugs, Lance Casey, Zillions of 'Em!

Wing Commander Prophecy had some truly outstanding advertisements--beautiful panoramas of detailed human and alien ships. Now you can download high resolution versions of these ads, without words or logos in the way! They make great wallpapers.

Charting Map History

This set of images--some of which are unfortunately very blurry--looks like the effort that birthed the Wing Commander Universe map! You can see a rough map as well as notes on the systems in Prophecy and two early missions. Pay special attention to the 'early' Midway model!

Do-It-Yourself Space Battle

It looks like someone rendered out all the parts to make... and then never put them together! Can you take these images, match them together and make an awesome battle for Kilrah?

Undercovers

Here are three mockup covers considered for Wing Commander Prophecy. Dig that awesome font... but seeing the Panther permanently bend like that just kind of hurts!

Wing Commander: Secret Ops and Standoff for OSX

From Chat Zone member wcnut and the Standoff team comes this gift for Macintosh users:
Mac gamers have been able to play Windows games for a while now using Wine, an open-source Windows API emulation layer for Unix/Linux/OSX, but it's typically a somewhat long and complex process to set up. Using existing tools and some help from other Mac gamers on the web, forums regular wcnut made his own Mac wrapper app for both Secret Ops and Standoff ! That means playing those games is now as easy as clicking on the package file (.DMG), dragging the Secret Ops and Standoff icons whereever you want it stored on your Mac and click to play ! No more complicated Wine and application setup.
You can download it here (700 megs), and leave your feedback on the Standoff forums. Special thanks for this goes to "johnniewaves" from the Mac Porting Team for his help.

Updated OpenGL patch for Prophecy and Secret Ops

PopsiclePete has released a new version (1.2) of the OpenGL renderer for WCP and SO. Built on the foundation created for the updated graphics seen in Standoff, the new patch sports several exciting features. This release also supports HCl's lastest WCP enhancement pack, but there are still some gliches with DVD playback while the game is running fullscreen that were not able to be fixed in time for this release.

Pete didn't stop there though. He also made the effort to update the Wing Commander: Prophecy demo and his enhanced installer for Secret Ops to include the lastest files and to fix various compatibility issues with UAC and 64 bits operating systems. You can find download links to all the files below along with some contrasting screenshots of the imrpoventes you will see with this new update over the stock direct-3D mode.

  • Fixed compatibility for Intel onboard video and some ATI cards
  • Fixed other compatibility issues
  • Added support for lighting effects: bloom and automatic specular
  • Added high-resolution art, some from Standoff, some built especially for this package (ie. high-res cockpit elements)
  • Edited the original launchers for easy access to the OpenGL setup
OpenGL package for WCP/SO
WCP Demo
Secret Ops enhanced installer

You Can't Reinvent Wing Commander!

It's not just pretty pictures today--we also have an absolutely insane sound file dredged from the depths of Origin history! Labeled "Maverick Mix", this four minute combination of music, sound effects and conversations is one of the strangest things you'll ever hear. It was part of an internal product pitch for "Shadow Force," and it begins with a Chris Roberts immitator, goes on to play some new music and ends with a conversation about what the new game was going to include. Warning--contains some language. Download it here:

Prowler Found

Origin's cancelled Prowler project was not a Wing Commander game; it was an Origin game developed for consoles by a group who would go on to do great things in the Wing Commander universe. Never the less, the CIC is the unofficial guardian of Prowler history, thanks to artist Sean Murphy's history of the project. As such, we're excited to announce that the box art developed for the game (the later Playstation version) has been discovered!

Happy Birthday from Movie Bits

I recently purchased a pair of Wing Commander posts from Movie Bits and their man in charge, David, was kind enough to note the WCNews in my sigature. He offered send me the set of photographs he had take of Wing Commander movie props that had passed through his hands over the years to share with interested Wing Commander fans. Check it out!

Your Courage is Exemplary of the Confederation's Finest Defenders

Did you know that when a game wins a magazine's "editor's choice" award that there is actually a physical award? Here's a quick look at a number of the awards won by the Wing Commander series, which are currently on display at EA's Bioware Mythic studio. We'll be looking in more detail at these and other Origin awards during our upcoming Mythic Photos updates series.

WC vs. History: Torpedoes A Way

On 2634.155, Crown Prince Gilkarg, the Barons of the eight noble clans and the heads of several claw fleets gathered to observe the first demonstration of a ship-killed torpedo. The test went flawlessly, an Asjaka bomber destroyed a Butha-class cruiser in a single strike, and the secret weapon that would allow the Empire of Kilrah to begin a war which would be fought on a scale unlike any before it was in place. The germ of the torpedo concept, however, belonged to Kilrah's impending foe. The Terran Confederation first demonstrated the concept in 2622, during the Panama system war games. There, the Blue admiral succesfully sank all ten of his opponent's battlewagons using a simulated fighter-based weapon capable of penetrating shields. The move was disqualified and its success was classified; the win went to Red team. Nevertheless, key figures took note and whispers of the potential behind the weapon would find their way to the highest echelons of the Empire as a new war strategy was being developed to combat the powerful Confederation Navy.


Diagram 1 from US Patent 1,032,394 showing Admiral Fiske's Method Of and Apparatus For delivering an aerial torpedo and a CF-131 Broadsword bomber with external antimatter torpedoes.

Both sides developed the technology in the pre-war period, although the Confederation efforts were limited. Prototypes were designed, but no method to counteract changing shield modulations could be determined. The Kilrathi, or rather their army of Varni slaves working under threat to their families, solved the issue. And on Confederation Day, 2634 the potential of the torpedo was proven in combat and the future of space-based carrier warfare was assured. Yet the successful strike at McAuliffe was also the beginning of the end for Kilrathi technological superiority. A Kilrathi torpedo hit the TCS Concordia but failed to detonate, a slave-installed firing mechanism link having been put in upside down. Within hours the weapon had been scanned and in just three months the Confederation was producing their own rough parity ship-killers.

The standard torpedo requires a difficult locking period, up to thirty seconds depending on the type, while it determines a capital ship's shield frequency. In the original Kilrathi weapons, a fighter had to stop completely to fire the weapon. This limitation was soon worked out, but treacherous "torpedo runs" would be among the most difficult missions flown throughout the war. Bomber turrets and fighter escort tactics improved across the conflict--as did the defensive weaponry on capital ships, ranging from turrets to rapid fire flak cannons to anti-torpedo flechette batteries. The more powerful Mark IV and V torpedoes (ten meter long weapons) traditionally carried antimatter warheads; others would carry less powerful fusion or proton packs.


A Type 93 "Long Lance" Torpedo measuring 9 meters long and carrying a thousand pound warhead alongside a Mark IV torpedo with a fusion warhead.

The story of the war, or any war, involved a continued cycle between advances in offensive and defensive technologies. As fighter-capable weapons became more powerful, shield technology would react with a new system. This cycle occurred at least twice during the conflict. In 2648, the development of Meson Shields, replacing the original Phase Shields, meant that torpedoes would again become a necessity. Within six years, guns and missiles had caught up. Then, the opening roles of the war would be reversed in the heydey of the Enigma Campaign. After the Kilrathi premiered a new type of Advanced Phase Shielding, seemingly capable of preventing all fighter-based strikes for the duration, Confederation scientists designed an even more advanced type of torpedo locking system. Antimatter torpedoes could again penetrate enemy shields--and Kilrathi spies quickly leaked the weapons back to the Empire. The only change in the equation in the 2660s was that production of the newer mechanisms was more difficult; Confederation pilots were advised to preserve munitions as much as possible because of their rarity. By the last years of the war, torpedo technology had again fallen back, with more powerful guns and missiles developed to knock down APS systems.

Torpedoes continued to cycle after the war. In 2673, shield technology premiered on the TCS Vesuvius again prevented the use of guns and missiles. When the Nephilim invaded in 2681, damage could initially only be inflicted on their ships by torpedoes. A testament to the speed at which weapons technology evolves is the fact that the standard torpedo and light torpedo were already replaced with enhanced versions by the time the Midway arrived at Kilrah. And as that war went on, torpedoes underwent an unexpected sea change, from complex weapons requiring a lock to a mix between the form factor of the original weapons and the functionality of the civilian-grade "Proton torpedoes" which had been a cheap armament used by Privateers since at least the late sixties. By 2790, torpedoes behaved much like ordinary missiles--still locking, but with a much larger payload.


An American Mark 13 torpedo with plywood nose and tail sections and a post-war "Firestorm" Torpedo.

The man who first conceptualized the aerial torpedo was Rear Admiral Bradley Allen Fiske of the United States Navy. He received US Patent 1,032,394 on July 16, 1912 for a “Method of and Apparatus for Delivering Submarine Torpedoes from Airships.” In the patent he lays out the foundation mounting the torpedo and an interesting method of delivery. He proposed that torpedo planes would approach their targets from several thousand feet and then spiral down to the water when they were close to them and then release their weapons. He recommended this method because he believed it would help the strike planes survive any anti-aircraft fire sent up by a naval vessel. The concept of dive bombing, first exercised by the US Marines Corps in 1919, used this approach for accuracy, but it gave the advantage that Fiske sort for torpedo craft. The concept of the aerial torpedo even made the New York Times on July 23, 1915 entitled “TORPEDO BOAT THAT FLIES. – Admiral Fiske Invents a Craft to Attack Fleets in Harbors.” It discusses Fiske’s ideas about dropping naval torpedoes from airplanes and attacking protected harbors with the same. While Fiske had thought of the aerial concept, executing it was far more difficult.

Naval torpedoes are complex machines. The successful operation of several systems is required for a torpedo to run “hot and true.” During World War I the lower airspeed of aircraft allowed torpedoes to have a fairly gentle entry into the water not much different from being launched from a ship. The first aerial torpedo mission was conducted by British Flight Commander Charles H. K. Edmonds on August 12, 1915 when he sank a Turkish supply ship. A handful more torpedo missions were conducted before the end of the war in 1918 with mixed results.

The United States Navy began testing aerial dropped torpedoes armed with dummy warheads in 1917. The first American torpedo drop was not a success. Instead of entering the water, the torpedo bounced off the surface and barely missed hitting the plane that dropped it. It was a portent of failures to come for American torpedoes.


A Grumman TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber dropping a Mark 13 from its internal bomb bay and the Kilrathi Gothri heavy fighter could carry six ship killer torpedoes, a record at the time.

Admiral Fiske received US Patent 1,379,972 on May 31, 1921. This patent was for a purpose-built aerial torpedo, mounting it onto an aircraft and a method of delivering it to a target. The spiral maneuver was dropped instead for steep dive from 6,000 feet, releasing the torpedo at 1,500 yards from the target. Upon entering the water, the torpedo would dive to a preset depth and cruise towards the target at 35 miles per hour.

Several months later, at the behest of General “Billy” Mitchell, the United States military held aerial attack demonstrations off the Virginia Capes in 1921. The sinking of the Ostfriesland on July 20 was the highlight of the demonstrations, however the Navy also conducted torpedo runs, again armed with dummy warheads, against a formation of US battleships traveling at battle speed. The torpedo planes scored well in the exercise although the results were inconclusive as to true damage potential of the weapons.

The United States began development of a purpose-built aerial torpedo starting in 1925. After many false starts the project eventually produced the infamous Mark 13 torpedo in 1935. The lean budgets of the interwar years, in particular those of the Great Depression, the US Navy did not test torpedoes with live warheads and detonators because of the expense of each torpedo. Because of this, the United States would not learn of major defects with the detonators on its torpedoes until World War II and even then it would not be until 1943 that the problems were truly rectified.


Japanese Type 91 aerial torpedoes on loading carts and a loading screen for a Kilrathi torpedo.

The Imperial Japanese Navy produced the world’s greatest torpedo of the time in the Type 93 “Long Lance.” This weapon earned a well-deserved reputation as a ship-killer during World War II. Its ability to inflict massive damage, at long range, while traveling at high speeds and not leaving a wake. Throughout the war, the Type 93 was unsurpassed by any of the world’s navies. The Japanese also produced an aerial equivalent in the Type 91 torpedo. The Type 91 was an extremely effective weapon that claimed numerous Allied ships during the war and inflicted a great deal of damage on a great deal more ships including a large number of carriers. It was on the Type 91 that the first wooden tail sections were installed to provide stabilization during flight into the water where they would then break away in 1936. Later wooden nosecones would also be installed to allow higher release speeds from the torpedo bombers. Both navies would make the use of wooden nose and tail sections standard practice during the war allowing for both higher speeds and release altitude. This gave the torpedo bombers a higher chance of survival in the face of the CAP fighters and the heavy volume of anti-aircraft fire put up by a naval task force.


Nakajima B6N2 Tenzan (Allied codename: Jill) carrying Type 91 aerial torpedoes and external torpedo hardpoints are visible on one of the war's most advanced fighters.

Welcome Aboard!

We are pleased to announce that the newest addition to the Combat Information Center team is Jason "Dundradal" McHale. Dundradal has been a member of the community since the Origin's Official Chat Zone/#Wing-Commander days. His contributions to the site date back to our very first week of operation, where he arranged an interview with Heart of the Tiger and False Colors author Andrew Keith. More recently he has been in charge of the WCPedia effort and co-authoring the 'WC vs History' update series. Expect to see more of both! Here's a few words from the man himself.

The history of my Wing Commander fandom starts with the arrival of my family’s first “PC” in late spring 1995. After years as a Mac only houshold, my father - a software engineer - brought home our very first PC: A Gateway 2000, and with it my first Wing Commander experience. I’d seen ads for Wing Commander in PC Connection and PC Warehouse flyers that would come to our house every month, but at this point none of the games had been yet ported to the Mac. My father had also purchased several game packs that Gateway offered with their machines including a simulation game pack. The simulation pack included a joystick and Wing Commander Privateer/Strike Commander on one and Armada on another along with some other games. My Wing Commander collection would soon start to grow. Times were good.

The Terran Confederate Underground - an early CIC/WCPedia type site - was the first Wing Commander website I'd found. It was from there I found the IRC channel #wing-commander. I became a regular there, visiting almost every day after school and meeting many great wingnuts. My own transformation into a wingnut was complete. There would be some good times over the next 16 years.

When the CIC asked me to join the staff as the head of the WCPedia project and a news contributor, there was, of course, only one answer for a diehard wingnut. I can only say thank you to the CIC staff and to the Wingnut community. Keep up the good work and see you starside!

Happy Birthday, Ultima Aiera

Amazing fact: the CIC almost shares a birthday with its Ultima community counterpart, Ultima Aiera! Aiera turned seven yesterday, August 9, and we wish it all the best. Kudos to WtF Dragon and Ultima fans everywhere for the great work they're doing.

Poll - Are You Still Here?!

Every August we kick the Wing Commander year off with a poll asking how long you've been part of the community. Have you been hanging on since WCHS days or did you just get hooked on the digital release of Privateer last month? Let us know!

The previous poll wanted to know gave the best briefings. Unsurprisingly, the winner by a lap was Captain William Eisen, as played by Jason Bernard. Colonel Halcyon was up there and everyone else was split in the single digits. Poor Clippy...

Trivia Redux

As always, we want to offer some trivia and a prize to those unable to make the 'party'. The first person to correctly e-mail us the answers to these five questions will win a copy of Wing Commander IV on DVD!
Q1: What ships are rendered on the cover of Kilrathi Saga?
Q2: What planet's Privateer 2 landing sequence includes blimps?
Q3: Wing Commander III isn't a game--what is it?
Q4: What day does Pilgrim Truth begin?
Q5: Why can't we reinvent Wing Commander?
Pretty hard? All the answers can be found in today's new features! Please do not post them in public. Good luck!

100th Update Spectacular

It seemed like an impossible goal--not to mention one sure to break the new mobile site and RSS readers everywhere--but we have just hit 100 updates for the night! To celebrate, here's the selection of images that I pulled out of the Mythic material as being important but that didn't really fit anywhere else. The first one is especially strange--I have no idea who Alex is, but his screenshot appeared on a Kilrathi Saga folder.

Kilrathi Saga Manual Gets High

PopsiclePete has a cool present for us--a high resolution version of the Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga manual rendered from Origin's original file templates! The cover is still a scan, but it will be updated soon. The rest is magnificent, you've never seen a digital manual that looks this nice. Download it here (96 meg PDF).

Happy Birthday from Kevin Caccomo

We have a very kind gift for Wing Commander fans everywhere, from Kevin Caccomo of the Hostile Frontier project:
For the CIC's awesome 13th birthday, I'd like to say congratulations and thank you all. Some of you may know that other FreeSpace projects like Earth Defense have released all of their exclusive assets in case anyone else in the modding community may find a use for them. Me and the team have decided to follow suit and release a big modpack containing much of our exclusive assets (Ship models, cockpits, textures, effects) to the WC fans to celebrate the CIC's 13th birthday, and so that others who are planning or working on a WC mod have more toys to play with. The ship models included in this model pack may be freely used in your own WC fan projects, but please do not forget to give proper credit to the people who made them.

But that's not all! There are some missions included in the modpack as well to show off some of the ship models and some of the new features that will be in the WC: Hostile Frontier demo. I'm including the missions mainly to get feedback to help me improve the mod. Here are some notes on the missions included in the package:

WCHF-Tactrain - Tactics training simulator mission. Shows off the new ingame ship selection system and includes 2 branches.

gwenhyvar - Historical mission about the Gwenhyvar encounter. Thanks to FekLeyrTarg for this interesting idea.

CombatLaunchDemo - What it says on the tin. A Combat Launch inspired by the End Run novel and WC Prophecy. Would you like to see this feature in WCHF?

Here's the release thread

The ship models are available in OBJ and PNG format upon request. Also, if you'd like any Standoff ships retextured for your mod, please contact me on wcnews.com/chatzone.

Presenting: THE WORLD'S LARGEST BLAIR

Come one, come all, see WCNews.com's amazing WORLD'S LARGEST BLAIR! Other sites may have promised you a giant Blair before, but we aim to make liars out of them all! Step right up, my good men, because what we have in this tent is a massive 4023x10120 image of the great Colonel Christopher Blair, weighing in at 41 megabytes... or--if you dare!--you can download the original TIFF file here, which is a whopping 168 megabytes! For what purpose was such a monstrosity ever constructed? Well, it was created by Origin in 1995 so that they could print life-sized cardboard standups to promote Wing Commander IV!

Cake!

Thanks, mom! This will be the first time the staff have been able to eat the birthday cake together...

Final Word: Thanks!

Whew! That was a lot of work! A very special thanks to the talented group of people who helped do the 'birthday crunch' several weeks early this time so that Chris, ace and I could head to Austin knowing everything was ready. As always, the CIC Staff is the best group of people I know.

And again I have to single out KrisV for special acknowledgement. The work he does here will never sound as sexy as finding lost games and interviewing celebrities... but it is much, much more important. There would be no CIC without Kris' tireless efforts.

Special thanks to NinjaLA, Starman and PopsiclePete for supporting the anniversary this year and Wing Commander in general year-round. Ninja has gone above and beyond doing art for Pilgrim Truth and other projects... and we'll be seeing plenty more of him in the future! Pete didn't let years of Standoff drag him down, he's more active in the community than ever.

Of course, thanks to the thousands of Wing Commander fans who continue to support the CIC on a daily basis. We wouldn't be here without your continued interest.

2012 is going to be a bold new year for the site--so keep watching the skies!

You are Cordially Invited...

To the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's 13th birthday celebration! TONIGHT at 7:00 PM Eastern US (4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT) in #Wingnut!

Featuring...

  • Newly released behind-the-screens material from every Wing Commander game!
  • The WORLD'S LARGEST COLONEL BLAIR!
  • More CIC updates in a single day than ever before!
  • Trivia - from the "Ariel System" to "Zak Skintight"!
  • A live report from Austin, Texas-birthplace of Wing Commander!
  • Prizes! Prizes! Prizes!
  • The Truth will be revealed!
  • Cake?
So point your IRC client to irc.wcnews.com, channel #WingNut! If you need help with IRC check our #Wingnut section, or just use our Java Client.

Tiger's Claw is #Winning

Malcolm Reynolds now has a very complete body structure for his Tiger's Claw model. The only structural elements that remain are the lower "wings" and conning tower, and then he'll come back through to touch-up details like turrets and engines. She's come a long way!

Here's some more pictures of my progress on the TCS Tiger's Claw. As you can see, I'm nearing completion. I just need to add conning towers, launch tubes, engines and turrets. Still not sure how I'm going to do the turrets...suggestions?

Enjoy the pictures and have a nice day.

We're Here!

Team CIC is on the ground in Austin - birthplace of Wing Commander - to celebrate our 13th year! Actually only half the crew got to come to Texas. The other half is busy making final preparations for our huge birthday event this Wednesday (or Thursday, depending on time zone). We're super excited to host our biggest celebration yet. There's less than 48 hours to go, and then y'all will see what we mean! (It's more than this hotel wifi connection can handle!)

Join us in #Wingnut beginning at 7:00 PM Eastern US time (Wednesday night, 4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT). We'll start with a countdown to midnight GMT, and there will be prizes and trivia throughout the night. RSVP via the Facebook Page to let everyone know you're coming. See you there!


Blue Devils Get Their Mud Pig

Zohrath has finished his Scimitar model, which completes his classic WC1 Confed set. The pictures below show how the design started with the forward body section and grew from there. Although underappreciated and quickly retired in the original games, the Scim comes back as the star workhorse of Wing Commander Academy. Zohrath's attention turns to the Kilrathi fighters next.

Ok, it's finished, sort of. I haven't bothered making a proper cockpit, although there is room for it. I just don't see myself ever using this model, but I wanted to make it for completeness' sake. I took a few freedoms from the design for parts that looked terrible, like the giant blocks on top of the wings that connect the giant cylinder objects. Not sure what I'm gonna do now, maybe Confed capships or Kilrathi fighters. It'd be fun to do some Wing Commander Online designs as well. I'm also gonna go back and re-do the Raptor in greater detail. We'll see!

Fat Man Discusses Self-Employment

There's been some cool developments in the life of Wing Commander composer George The Fat Man Sanger. He was recently profiled in the Jobs Plus section of the Austin American-Statesman on his success has a video game musician. It's an interesting and entaining article that you can find here. Fat Man's latest project is a potential gig creating the background music for the Survivor television show. You can download a sample here (6 meg mp3). It has some very Wing Commandery elements with a bit of a tropical twist.
In a town that bills itself as the "Live Music Capital of the World," Austin isn't short on musical talent.

But while most musicians can be heard belting out tunes from the city's countless stages, George Alistair Sanger has crafted his career writing music for video games from his North Austin studio — a makeshift musical laboratory of sorts equipped with everything from a circle of keyboards and prototype synthesizers to old tube radios and a collection of guitars too numerous to count.

...

"I wanted to be the big hot shot here in Austin — I was going to be The Fat Man of Austin, which is where the name came from," Sanger said. "In one way or the other, I was struggling the whole time. It never did get easy."

Despite that fact that Sanger has composed music or designed sound for more than 250 games — including "The 7th Guest," "Wing Commander" and "Zombies Ate My Neighbors" — he's familiar with the woes of self-employment.

"When you are self-employed, you never have the exact right amount of work," he said. "It's either too much or too little, and you are always worried about whether you will have something to eat or be able to fulfill your obligations."

Frontier's HD Conversion More Than Half Complete

Frontier - Prelude to Darkness had made steady progress over the last few months. The WC-inspired fan movie has been going through a high definition overhaul this year, and 8 of the original 13 chapters have now been remastered and released. Chapter 14 will be unveiled in-sequence, hopefully later this year, after all original episodes are available in high quality. Also congrats to Prelude to Darkness for its screening at the GenCon Indy Film Fest earlier this week! You can catch up and watch the movie yourself via the launcher at the top of the project's webpage or YouTube.

All in all we’re going well, but not a massive amount to update on, so in the spirit of a release on Koldcast and Youtube every three weeks, the Saturday Weekly Roundup will now be the Saturday Tri-Weekly Roundup to co-incide with the release of a new chapter, this way it will be full of news as more will have occured to report on... And stay tuned 'cos there’s lots more to come!

Scooby Bashes Banshees the Best

Here's some of ScoobyDoo's latest funky combo designs and exotic inspirations. The first is based on a majestic Tallahassee cruiser with some Yorktown carrier influences. There are also a couple super-metallic models that are plays on the Excalibur and later Drayman designs. The second capship below is a pretty classic destroyer, and finally, there's a mixed up fighter with elements of the Gladius, Banshee and Piranha combined. Look closely until you can make out all the recognizable sections!

...it's kinda surprising how sometimes odd combos will actually work.

Garriott Nominated for Amusing Accolade

Jim Reeve tipped us off about a new award that Origin founder Richard Garriott is up for. He's in the running for "Personality of the Year" at the European Games Awards. The EGAs are designed to celebrate all the video game contributions by the continent of Europe, and Garriott (Lord British) is eligible since he was born in England. Check out all the different award categories here. Votes are being accepted through August 11, so don't delay!
If you weren't already aware, Richard Garroitt is up for personality of the year at the European Gaming Awards 2011. Given that none of the other contenders made it into space this year I can't think of a more worthy winner! Voting is still open for EU residents....

Countdown to Celebration

We're now just ONE WEEK from the CIC's 13th Birthday! I've seen the sneak-preview of what we have to share with you all, and it's absolutely astounding. You won't want to miss the big event on August 10! Join us in #Wingnut beginning at 7:00 PM Eastern US time (a Wednesday night, 4:00 pm Pacific and 11:00 pm GMT). We'll start with a countdown to the record-setting updates, and there will be prizes and trivia throughout the night. You can even RSVP via the Facebook Page. See you there!


Invaluable Insights Included Inside

Oggy was going through his Privateer 2 package, and he found a neat relic from the UK release. As the game was preparing to ship, a critical bug was found that prevented players from progressing through the story if they paid Hal Taffin in one of the earliest plot missions. The discs had already been pressed, so instead of rerunning the CDs, this handy hint sheet was printed to nudge players in the right direction. Fixing this bug delayed the release in the US, and ultimately the Privateer 2 patch resolved this issue.

More Shots from the Set

AD found a couple neat behind-the-scenes pictures from the Wing Commander Movie at the AnimatedExtras and TRS websites. Animated Extras specializes in prosthetics and assisted with the Kilrathi costumes. There's a good shot of the Kilrathi suits and a sharper version of a Kilrathi mockup that appeared in the movie's stylebook scans. The flight deck shot also provides a glimpse at the bluescreen beyond the hangar doors.

How best do I describe our company?

Well, I’m biased, obviously, but perhaps if I start with the core components…..Nik Williams, possibly the best animatronics designer and mechanical engineer this side of the Atlantic, Tina Foster, the fastest, finest fabricator/designer in the Northern hemisphere, and me, Pauline Fowler, (no, not from East Enders!) speedy sculptor, sometime hair replacer, and, dare I say it, all round creative person.

We have been asked many times if we specialise in anything – the simple reply is yes…in everything. If the aforementioned supremely talented group can’t, then we hire in the best that can. Anyway, the point of this website is for you to see for yourselves, so don't just sit there - click something!

Tiger's Claw Built Just Enough to be Dangerous

Malcolm Reynolds has made more good progress this week on his cardboard Tiger's Claw model. The most distinctive progress is the distinctive aft body, but the ship has also received its foreward nameplate and has sprouted forward gun barrels. There's still lots of work to do, but you can start to imagine what the finished product will look like!

I've done some finishing work on the blocky wing things, here are two pictures of the overall progress of the model from top and bottom. There's still some glue drying on the bottom, but other than the conning tower, some clean up work and that random block near the engines, the bottom is about finished. Time to get the top built up and cleaned up. I've been spending a ton of time reinforcing just about every part of this model until it's about as sturdy as well, a battle ship. More pics when I make some progress. :)

Oh and there's my foot.

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

Current Poll

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

Site Staff