BREAKING NEWS: Is a New Wing Commander Already In the Works?

Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts shocked fans everywhere three weeks ago during an interview with G4. In a quote now etched in Wing Commander message board signatures everywhere, he announced of Wing Commander that "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." The million dollar question was immediately: was he just talking about his hopes for the future... or is a new Wing Commander game already secretly in development?

The question sounds like the stuff of conspiracy thriller novels... but some strong evidence now suggests it may actually be true. Longtime contributor Banjo points us to a an April, 2011 article in the Detroit News about potential tax breaks for film and game projects in Michigan. It quotes a Chris Roberts of "Bl!nk Media International" as having expansive plans for game development in the state (or Quebec, should funding fall through.)

Chris Roberts, a principal in Bl!nk Media International Ltd., wants to make a video game that would take years to build and require full-time workers. But Michigan could lose out to Quebec if Bl!nk's application for $12.3 million in tax credits isn't approved soon, Roberts said. Bl!nk plans to hire 112 residents and spend $31.1 million here. "There'd be multiple games," Roberts said. "We'd be creating long-term employment in Michigan."
Is this our Chris Roberts? It's not an uncommon name--Wing Commander III even had two Chris Roberts' on its development team! A check of LinkedIn, however, confirms that Origin Systems' star developer now lists himself as "Chief Creative Officer of Bl!nk Media International." So: what is Bl!nk and is this project a Wing Commander game? It seemed like a dead end... until we were given this (unfortunately poor quality) scan of an infograph included in the print version of the Detroit News article:

Look at the the third line. Listed only as "Video Game" is a project exactly matching the numbers quoted about Chris (112 hires, 31.1 million dollars). Then, in the last column, under "scheduled project actors": Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, Tom Wilson, John Rhys-Davies.

Remember that no announcement has been made. However convincing may seem, it is all circumstantial evidence. It's possible Detroit News decided the list of actors themselves, based on Chris' history. Keep in mind also that the article is five months old and that it is discussing plans rather than anything that had yet been financed. But at the same time, that means it predates the G4 interview. IF Chris Roberts was planning a game with the Wing Commander III and IV cast in April and then telling G4 he hoped to revisit the franchise soon in August... at the very least, the direction seems like good news.

BREAKING NEWS: More Wing Commander Academy Details

TVShowsonDVD has more details about the Wing Commander Academy DVD release that we announced last week! They report that the set will be distributed in the United States by First Look Studios/Millennium, LLC with a $24.98 suggested retail price. There's also a new description and '3D' cover image:
A spirited and elite corps of novice fighter pilots attends the Wing Commander Academy in the year 2655. Often thrust into battle against the mighty and ruthless Kilrathi race, the crew must master daring manoeuvres and veer through constant danger to save the world. Sedate and honorable Maverick, devil-may-care and impulsive Maniac, and serious-minded, cautious and competent Archer make up a quarter of the cadet wing at the academy under their brilliant, if argumentative, captain, Commodore Tolwyn.

The set should be available for preorder at US retailers next week; eager buyers (and Canadians) can go ahead and place their order with Amazon Canada.

BREAKING NEWS: GOG Releases Ultima IV, V, VI Package!

More Ultima! GOG has released a package of the Ultima series' middle trilogy--Ultima IV, V and VI for just $5.99! You can purchase a copy here. This is exciting news for Origin fans everywhere. Although Ultima IV was already free, it's still included in this package! All three of these games predate Wing Commander, so there are no great references... or are there? Check back today, as we run a number of updates connecting Ultima V and VI to the Wing Commander saga! (And, as always, be sure to check Ultima Aeira for serious celebratory Ultima updates!)

Chris Roberts In and Around Ultima V

Ultima V is actually Chris Roberts' first credit at Origin Systems! His role in the project was largely support, but he was listed as one of the game's designer in the finished release. Following Origin tradition, players can actually find and interact Chris in the game itself! He appears as a farmer named Christopher (aka "Dibbs") in West Brittany. Here is his full conversation tree--which culminates in his explaining that he's working on something called Times of Lore... the first game he released at Origin!
Christopher
You see: a dashing young farmer.
Christopher: G'day, {name}!
Player: job
Christoper: I fiddle in the fields to keep me fed.
Player: dibb
Christoper: I see thou hast been speakin' with Phillip.
Player: phil
Christoper: He's me mate!
Player: mate
Christoper: Friend.
Player: fidd or fiel
Christoper: I pride myself in a job well done, even if one does not enjoy it.
Player: enjo or job or done
Christoper: What I really enjoy is writing works of fantasy.
Player: writ or fant
Christoper: I'm currently working on an epic called 'Times of Lore!'
Player: time or lore
Christoper: I hope to have it published soon.
Player: soon or publ
Christoper: Through Origin, of course. Wilt thou buy it?
Player: (any)
Christoper: Then I'll be of little help to you in the future!
Player: y
Christoper: Good! Enchanted, I'm sure, to have met such an enlightened soul. What a nice chap thou art.
Player: bye
Christoper: Ta, mate.

Changing the Face of Ultima

Christopher--and Times of Lore--would get the last laugh. When Richard Garriott redesigned the Ultima interface for Ultima VI, he based the streamlined user interface on the one used in Chris Roberts' recent hit! Shay Addams' The Official Book of Ultima records: "But the most sweeping change would appear in the interface. Influenced by the icon-based interface of Chris Roberts' Times of Lore, Garriott streamlined Ultima's 26 commands into ten icons, one of which was new. In previous games you would "ignite" a torch, "jimmy" a lock, and so on; the new "use" commands could be used for several such actions, reducing the necessary number of commands for the player to master and simplyfing the design work." (pp.83-84) You can see the change below--a great early example of Chris Roberts' cinematic sensibilities changing the face of gaming.

Sutek and Seggallion

It turns out a pair of Ultima V/VI characters are also TCS Tiger's Claw fighter pilots! If you boot up Wing Commander I's arcade TrainSim, you'll see a list of other players and their high scores. Two names that may appear are "Sutek" and "Seggallion"--who are both NPCs in Ultima V and VI! Sutek is a mage in Ultima V who loses his mind in Ultima VI. In Ultima V, Seggallion is a retired pirate... and in Ultima VI he is a knight from another world trapped in Brittannia who can accompany you in the game (going even further back, he originates as the main character in Origin's Knights of Legend). For good measure, a star in Wing Commander I's Vega Sector map is also named Seggallion! He gets around. You can learn more about both characters (including information on their appearances in other Ultima games not yet available via GOG) at the Codex of Ultima Wisdom.

A Match Made in Heaven

This isn't the first time Ultima VI and Wing Commander have lived together! As early as 1991, Origin had the idea to bundle the two titles together in a single value-priced release in the hopes of cross-pollinating between fans of both franchises. An Ultima VI/Wing Commander package was even one of the first CD-ROMs put out by Origin, and it went on to be re-released multiple times through Software Toolworks. These releases were especially cool in that they came in a full box and included all the manuals and artifacts.

Aren't You the Guy from Ultima?

Wing Commander IBM PC Credits Chris Roberts wasn't the only Wing Commander veteran to work on the second Ultima trilogy. In fact, we've run the numbers and nearly two thirds of the Wing Commander I team actually worked on Ultima IV, V or V! Here's the full list:
Chris Roberts - Ultima VI
Warren Spector - Ultima V
Steve Beeman - Ultima VI
Paul Isaac - Ultima V
Herman Miller - Ultima V, Ultima VI
Steve Muchow - Ultima V
John Miles - Ultima V, Ultima VI
Keith Berdak - Ultima VI
Daniel Bourbonnais - Ultima VI
Glen Johnson - Ultima V, Ultima VI
Denis Loubet - Ultima IV, Ultima V, Ultima VI
John Watson - Ultima VI
Steve Cantrell - Ultima VI
Marc Shaefgen - Ultima VI
Greg Paul Malone II - Ultima VI
Mike Romero - Ultima VI
Jeff Shelton - Ultima VI
Mike Harrison - Ultima VI
Cheryl Neeld - Ultima VI

Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

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


New Unboxing Series Kicks Off With Wing Commander Amiga
2018-01-19 -- Unboxing Hands has a massive collection of classic PC and other video games, and they're starting to go through and unbox them all. Wing Commander Amiga was lucky enough to be one of the first titles up. Most Wingnuts are pretty familiar with Claw Marks, the blueprints and so forth, but there are minor and major differences between editions that are really cool for collectors and diehard fans to see.

TCS Wolfhound Gets Tag Teamed
2018-01-18 -- Deathsnake has a new video showing a Confed vs Kilrathi engagement in his Last Line of Defense project. It was announced last year that the endeavor was transitioning from a playable game to a more cinematic adventure using the mod's assets, and this video shows how that has progressed. It's certainly a pretty awesome battle captured here, and we're eager to see more!

Video Tutorial Shows Birth Of A WC Fan Project
2018-01-17 -- Longtime Wing Commander fan centaurianmudpig has posted something a little different. Lots of talented Wingnuts upload videos of the works in progress, but CMP recently livestreamed the entire creative process. He goes through bit-by-bit looking up tutorials, sampling graphics and writing Unity code.

Homeworld Mod Testing Fighter Visibility Updates
2018-01-16 -- L.I.F.

Vega Super Star Back In Action
2018-01-15 -- DefianceIndustries is back from a well deserved holiday break with a slick new wallpaper image. It features a cool new Rapier model first teased last October. This is the variant featured in Super Wing Commander and Arena, so it's a bit more flat and round than DOS or GOG players might be familiar with.

Rapier Research Leads To New Sighting
2018-01-14 -- Lilja saw our post a while back about one of the Lightning fighters that became a Wing Commander Movie Rapier at Pinewood Studios and decided to do some digging of his own. Finding where they've all ended up over the years has been an interesting endeavor, and through some clever investigation, he managed to track down some new information on the afterlife of these exotics birds. Immediately after the film's debut in 1999, fans spotted one Rapier at a Planet Hollywood in Ohio, and then a couple showed up for auction/rental/sale in the early 2000s.

Lego Darket Built Out Of Digital Bricks
2018-01-13 -- Lego Digital Designers Club has posted a neat virtual Darket made with Lego brand activity bricks. The color could probably go a bit more brown, but otherwise it's a pretty good design. All of the crazy Star Wars Legos out there sure make me wish we got these for real!

Annual Awards Voting In Full Swing
2018-01-12 -- Our annual community voting is now in progress, and Wingnuts like you are helping choose the Wing Commander Fan Project of the Year for 2017! Here are the nominees one more time. It's hard to choose because there's so many great projects going on, but vote below and help pick the winner!

Star Wars Excitement Spills Over Into Wing Commander
2018-01-11 -- Mark Hamill's return to the Star Wars series and starring role in The Last Jedi has also sparked a wave of interest in his work between epic film projects. The gaming press has largely already done this thanks to Mr. Hamill's role in Star Citizen, but now it's spreading to a more mainstream audience.

Catch Up On Everything Wing Commander Amiga
2018-01-10 -- Shot97 has put together an absolutely massive review of Wing Commander for Amiga systems. He covers every inch from top to bottom. Shot goes over what the game meant to him and then proceeds to cover the backstory, the impact of the characters, the depth of the manual, the significance of the Kilrathi, and that's just getting started.

Casper Van Dien On Wing Commander 4, Starship Troopers & Much More
2018-01-09 -- GeekScape has posted a podcast episode with Starship Troopers star Casper Van Dien. The actor is well known for his sci-fi acting, but he's also a director with a diverse variety of projects under his belt. He also had a brief cameo in Wing Commander 4, which is mentioned in the show.

Privateer Model Exploration Continues
2018-01-08 -- A lot of people have done some pretty nifty things with the Privateer 3D model archive over the years, but it can still be a slightly daunting task to dig into if you're an artistic novice. This is where fans come into play, and Wingnuts have continued to help their fellow Wingnuts learn how to navigate these waters. bai recently got some assistance unpacking some of the texture files and finding out how to convert and read them.

WC1&2 Audio Sound Comparison Presented In Easy Playlist Form
2018-01-07 -- pcuser1541 has put together a number of videos that showcase the wide variety of audio setups supported by the original Wing Commander games. SoundBlaster was the most common card of the day, but the Roland MT-32 was highly sought after early on and new variants continued to be released through numerous ports over nearly half a dozen years. There are examples from the Microsoft GS, FM Towns, Amiga, Macintosh, Super Nintendo and Sega CD.

GPD Win Is Latest Handheld To Showcase Wing Commander Emulation
2018-01-06 -- Alien Gray has posted a nifty video of the GPD Win playing the 3DO version of Super Wing Commander. This device actually runs Windows 10, but it's using the Project Phoenix emulator to get the game running. This is just the latest in a fascinating string of modern handheld devices that have managed to get various WC games running.

IMDB Takes Video Games To The Movies
2018-01-05 -- The Internet Movie Database has posted a photo gallery collage to highlight the history of video games crossing over to movies. There are 96 examples highlighted (a significant fraction of which are Resident Evil films), which is surprising in itself. Even more so, Wing Commander is chronologically listed in the first fifteen movies, so the genre has really exploded in recent years.

Childhood Adventures Explored On YouTube
2018-01-04 -- Claude Blair has put together an interesting video that reviews a large pile of Wing Commander documentation. After some initial introduction, he spends more than a half hour lovingly detailing the material on every page of Claw Marks. Obviously most of you are quite familiar with what's in the WC1 manual, but it's always fun to hear the perspective of someone who's so excited about it.

Happy New Year From George Oldziey
2018-01-03 -- George Oldziey is back with a New Year's message and Wing Commander album status update. He's anxiously preparing for the Wing Commander bar music recording happening next month as well as planning out the next steps for the orchestral portions of the album. He's also dug up a vintage interview that was published in the January 1999 edition of Film Score Monthly.

Kick Off 2018 With Some Slick Sketches
2018-01-02 -- Arne from Android Arts is currently putting together some awesome Wing Commander sketches. He started with an Exeter and has drawn a contemporary flotilla around it. There's also a gun mockup and fighter concept art, plus a really cute 'Dralthi Commander' diskette.

Happy New Year!
2018-01-01 -- The confetti is starting to settle, and those of us who had time off for the holidays are getting ready to go back to work now. We're all inspired by the last two days' worth of 2017 recaps. When it's all summed up like that, it's really astounding, and these are just the condensed highlights.

A Look Back At 2017
2017-12-31 -- The year 2017 is on the way out as I write this, so it's time to review what a wonderful year it's been. We got a taste of the action in yesterday's Fan Project of the Year roundup. There were lots projects that released some great things for the community over the past twelve months, including many playable adventures and multiplayer games.

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