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!


Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans. Recent updates:


Hats Off To New FMV Record Holder
2017-12-11 -- Games that feature full motion video have undergone a bit of a renaissance over the past two years with a handful of innovative adventures hitting the market since 2015's Her Story. Two decades of dormancy, however, let Wing Commander reign as king of the genre in a number of ways. Now, one game has passed Wing Commander 4 for quantity of FMV, and The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker has the Guiness World Record to prove it!

WC1 Live Viewer Now Displays Medal Points
2017-12-10 -- UnnammedCharacter has released an update to his WC1 Live Viewer program. The previous iteration of the app displayed game state statistics on flying objects throughout the battle space in your Wing Commander 1 game. It's not an editor, but rather, it can be paired with things like the WC Toolbox to help understand what's going on behind the scenes.

Check Out Rebel Galaxy's Delightful Blueprint
2017-12-09 -- The creators of Rebel Galaxy, already well known for their incredible Privateer April Fools commercial earlier this year, have made another awesome Wing Commander tribute. They've created a fighter diagram for the game's Coyote fighter that's a perfect match to the style of WC1's blueprints. Sure looks like Howie is having fun!

Backers' Wing Commander Album Scores Released
2017-12-08 -- Wing Commander fans who pledged for the second Wing Commander album at the $80 level and above now have a treat waiting for them. The PDF digital scores for the seventeen expected orchestral tracks have been released. Contributors can now log in to their Kickstarter Message Inbox for a special note from George Oldziey with a download link and access password.

Homeworld Mod Now Spoofs Missiles
2017-12-07 -- Yet another new feature has been added to the Homeworld Remastered Mod. Electronic Countermeasures are now available to the fighter fleet so that they have a much more robust defense against large missile salvos. Check out this post for exact effectiveness percentages by model.

Hornet Zooms Towards The Action
2017-12-06 -- NinjaLA is back with a nifty sketch that shows off his "gradient mask coloring" technique. There are two images this time so you can see how things begin as a simple pencil sketch... and progress into a very sleek Hornet!

Nephilim Added To Star Trek Armada 2 Mod
2017-12-05 -- The Wing Commander mod for Star Trek Armada 2 has added a major new faction to the game. A full lineup of Nephilim capships and fighters have filled out the ranks and is set to invade the spacelanes. Each individual starship is beautiful, but check out the battle scenes.

Recording Session Set For WC Bar Music!
2017-12-04 -- There's a pretty sizable update on the progress of George Oldziey's second Wing Commander album today. A date has been set now for early February to do the live recording of the WC bar music. It'll be performed in George's personal studio in Austin.

The Voices Of War Speak Many Languages
2017-12-03 -- Christian Klein, the Pixel Engineer, has dug up a really cool version of Wing Commander Armada. This one's made for the Japanese PC-98 computer. There's so much to love on every inch of the box here, but my favorite might be the dark red disks with Japanese text.

We're Number 239!
2017-12-02 -- Polygon has put together a massive a feature on the 500 best games of all time. Wing Commander has made many, many such lists in its time, but this might be the longest - and furthest down - that we've seen it ever rank on. I can imagine it's really hard to qualitatively score a hundred games across many disparate genres, let alone five times that number, so it's kind of interesting to scroll through and see what they ended up with.

Wing Commander Teaches 3D
2017-12-01 -- AD found a nifty Wing Commander feature in Isaac Kerlow's The Art of 3D: Computer Animation and Effects which includes snippets from the Wing Commander Movie. The shots are interesting because they break down certain scenes into the various elements that get composited together to produce the finished frame for the film. The book was published just a couple years after WC was released, so computer animation was still a groundbreaking field.

Homeworld Mod Improves Skipper Missile Execution
2017-11-30 -- The latest updates to the Homeworld Remastered Mod are all about the Skipper Missile. Several iterations have been released that update the Skipper's code to properly cloak and decloak as it cruises through space. There have also been AI tweaks to better guide when the computer deploys the missile as well as bug fixes that address an issue with deploying it against large bases.

New WC Toolbox Release Adds WC2 & Academy Support
2017-11-29 -- UnnamedCharacter is back with an awesome upgrade to his WC Toolbox application. The program allows aspiring modders unprecedented ease of access to play around with and tweak some of the core elements of the original Wing Commander games. Previous versions have allowed for ship editing, revision of the in-game text, new copy protection questions and more!

Avoid The Node
2017-11-28 -- Dark Sentinel still has some of the fearsome capships like the Hydra under construction in his shipyards, but he's let loose a smaller pair of ships this week. This time we get to see the Ray node and its smaller Remora counterparts. When Prophecy was released twenty years ago, this ship was a real oddball.

Cyber Monday Discounts Abound For WC Fans
2017-11-27 -- If you're still searching for the perfect present after Black Friday, Cyber Monday gives you a great opportunity to give the gift of Wing Commander. GOG currently has the Wing Commander series for 75% off, which brings it down to just $11.92 for all DOS/Windows games (you may need to add them to your cart individually).

Fralthi Fights For Furball Frontier
2017-11-26 -- The Kilrathi kick continues for the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack with another brown durasteel capship. This time the Fralthi II joins the fray, which actually stars in the beginning of Prophecy. Our pilots encounter it partially destroyed, which is why we're lucky enough to get the artsy damaged version here.

Extreme Fun Pak Pushed Gamers To The Edge
2017-11-25 -- If you're tied into the Apple ecosystem, then there's a good chance you've encountered a billion ads for discounted iPads and similar products as you navigated the Black Friday holiday salescape this weekend. But if you were to roll back the clock by twenty-one years and put yourselves in the shoes of a Mac customer in 1996, you'd have seen some significantly different products. One of them would have been this official "Apple Quality Bundle" "For Serious Gamers.

Tom Wilson Bouncing Around The Vlogosphere
2017-11-24 -- As we first reported last year, actor Tom Wilson is doing a pretty good job of maintaining his YouTube Vlog channel. He doesn't post nearly as often as some of the big stars out there, but his video posts are pretty funny and provide interesting insight into what he's got going on in life. The first video below provides a glimpse into his art show, then he's got a new song, and finally he takes his fans with him on a trip to Australia.

Happy Thanksgiving!
2017-11-23 -- The holiday season is now in full swing, and Wingnuts in the US are celebrating Thanksgiving today! As the story goes, we give thanks for the assistance given the European Pilgrims and the Native Americans who cooperated with them. Although 100% unrelated, this is a fantastic opportunity to remind everyone about the super cool Wing Commander Pilgrim-related item hiding in the CIC archives.

Annual Call For Award Nominations
2017-11-22 -- Another busy year is flying by, and before we know it, 2017 will be coming to a close. To start to get things in order, we're now thinking about nominees for our traditional Web Site & Fan Project of the Year Awards. There are so many fans doing great things out there, so this is our chance to acknowledge some of their fantastic efforts.

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