Fancy Equipment Remains in the Aftermath

Operation Serpent has gotten some assistance from Cybot in bringing some new (old) Black Lance hardware online. The designs below show off how the Axius Starbase, Black Lance Carrier and a new armed transport are coming together. The mod's campaign deals with chasing down the remnants of Tolwyn's forces after WC4, so these ships should play a major role.

(The transport) replaces the Clarkson Class shortly after the Border Worlds Conflict. To cut down transport loses from pirates or remaining renegade Kilrathi, the transport gets a lot more turrets to defend themselves (difference in size, 8-13 laser turrets). There's also a short hangar in the back for shuttles or a few light fighters (about 4). For the cargo there ares three different containers: cargo, supply and fuel.

What did you think?

Tiger's Claw Major Assembly Finished

Malcolm Reynolds has posted new pictures with the latest on his cardboard Tiger's Claw model. All of the major body pieces are now together, and the conning tower has been added. Side docking bay ports also beef up the mid section. This leaves only secondary structures and finishing touches to go before the ship is complete! Malcolm is looking for suggestions on how to shape some of the finger details, so please post your feedback to the CIC Forum via the Discuss link below.

I've finally got back to work on the old girl. In these pics you can see some work I've done on the conning tower as well as the side hangar bay/launch tube things.

I have added some green coloring to the side of the ship, a couple of launch tubes and on one side of the Claw, another nameplate. Should I put the nameplate on both sides or does it look good on just one?

Here is where my design begins to deviate a bit more from Howard Day's original render, though hopefully not too much. I have mostly completed work on the conning tower on the underbelly of the Claw which is quite different from Howard's. Now I am working on building the upper conning tower, which is proving to be far more difficult than I had originally thought. I really like Howard's conning tower, and want to make mine as close to his as possible.

Kilrathi Workhorse Destroyer Newly Modeled

Kevin Caccamo has begun modeling a classic Ralari destroyer from Wing Commander. The basic design matches the original quite well, but it has a bit of its own style too. Even without textures on the ship, the camera angle and dark blue background of the second image has a nice WC1 vibe going for it.

I'm making a new high-detail Ralari model for Woolie Wool's Wing Commander: Advance Guard mod for Saga. I'd like to try and improve my 3D modeling skills, so I thought I'd post it here for feedback.

The model itself is largely based on the game sprites (like the Rapier II in Hostile Frontier), but it also draws inspiration from the Claw Marks drawings and other fan art as well.

Robotech Mod Coming Together

The Robotech Mod for Flight Commander is humming along again. saf0775 has recently added some voice actors to his team after calling for volunteers at the CIC Forums. Basic game mechanics sound like they're getting firmed up, and gameflow elements are on the schedule next.

The game is coming together nicely. I'm looking at a late winter 2011 or early spring 2012 release for the mod.

I've been able to secure several actors and actresses to lend voice talent to the game, which I feel will make it more rounded than if I were to just use audio clips from the Robotech series. The script I've written fits in nicely with the RT universe while not contradicting anything that took place in the series. In fact, it meshes extremely well with the RT universe.

I have several more 3D animation cut scenes to complete, as well as a few "bar" conversation parts, and then I'll be finishing up the capital ships weapons...but all-in-all the game is very playable at this point.

One of my biggest challenges in my FC Robotech Mod was the fact that I didn't own a joystick when I started this mod (it's okay... you can laugh). I picked up a sweet Thrustmaster at a pawnshop for $2.00. Yep. $2.00. I'm all set to start my mod back up.

More screenshots coming soon...

Saga Discusses Beta Changes

The WC Saga team has posted an update about their ongoing beta test. They estimate they are some two thirds through the test. As time has gone by, they have gradually added more testers and content to the trial, and about a third of the missions are now "mastered." Players who'd like to try something soon can give the Prologue a spin. Project manager Tolwyn notes that since so much as changed since the demo was first released in 2006, it will eventually be rereleased as an upgraded mini campaign.

Over the months following the start of the beta test, we’ve continued to listen and monitor discussions and requests related to the game design. We are still quite open to ideas. As we are adding finishing touches and smoothing over any wrinkles the beta testers find, the game comes closer and closer to completion. As it stands we're about 67% through the beta test and we're close to mastering the first 18 missions.

We thought we would take a little time out to explain what we’ve changed, improved and added:

  • There are a number of small improvements, some are very subtle but all of them combine to make the game work smoother and faster.
  • Music is a wrap. The quality and effort our composers put into the production is to be commended.
  • Introducing new ships is always a challenge - a lot of game balancing had to be made to find the right gameplay dynamics.
  • We’ve also completely changed the way Saga handles player’s voice - his lines are no longer put through a radio filter to make them sound like they're coming over a low-bandwidth connection. This makes it easier to connect to Sandman and identify the lines which are spoken by “us”.
  • We’ve redesigned the in-flight communication system.

GOG Privateer Adds Extras

GOG announced today that additional bonus material is now available for their release of Wing Commander: Privateer. The update adds a very nice wallpaper, some icons and then production artwork and documents from our own archive. The material is free to anyone who already owns the game through GOG... which should be all of you! It's good news that they're willing to add additional extras to previously released titles.... and could this indicate that a return to EA releases is coming soon? We'll keep you updated!

WC vs History: I'll have the Samar with an order of Surigao on the side...

Morale in the Third Fleet was high after the rough handling the Americans had given the Japanese Center Force. Admiral Kurita had briefly turned his mighty surface around in the Sibuyan Sea, however by early evening Kurita had turned around and was once again heading for the San Bernardino Strait. The Center Force now consisted of: the world’s largest battleship and sister to the lost Musashi, Yamato, the battleships Nagato, Kongo and Haruna, six cruisers, two light cruisers, and eleven destroyers. Through the night of October 24-25, the Center Force steamed towards the Strait. They did not go unnoticed. A “bat team” search from the USS Independence had spotted the Center Force and alerted that it was now headed towards San Bernadino Strait. Clear actionable intelligence that was squandered or ignored, depending on your source.

Fleet Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, Jr. was an American hero. He had led the carriers of the Pacific Fleet in the early dark days of the Pacific War. He was the first to strike back at the Japanese with raids in the Marshall Islands. He had escorted the Hornet to launch the Doolittle Raid. He had missed Midway because of most likely stress induced eczema and never forgave himself for it. He had turned around the American situation at Guadalcanal and then led US forces to victory in the Solomons before transferring to Fleet command once again. The Third Fleet was the US Pacific Fleet when Halsey was in command. The very same ships, planes and crew, when Admiral Raymond A. Spurance was in command was known as the Fifth Fleet. The two admirals rotated time between planning and executing operations and when they traded roles the fleet change designations. This had the effect of confusing the Japanese into believing there were actually two large American fleets roaming the waters of the Pacific. Halsey, again, missed the great carrier battle at the Philippine Sea when he was planning for operations farther west. He took command in the Fall of 1944 and steamed the Third Fleet into battle of Formosa. The stunning success of the raids there and against the Philippines provided intelligence that was quickly acted upon by the American command. The Philippines were barely defended. This caused the invasion to be moved up to late October and now put Halsey in the situation he was in on early evening 24 October. Fleet Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, Jr. was an American hero, who made a series of monumental mistakes.

The actions of the Third Fleet on the evening of 24 October, whose responsibility was split as a result of the lack of ships sunk during the Philippine Sea between protecting the invasion and if possible to destroy the enemy fleet, were unclear to those that it mattered to because of a split chain of command and because of implied intent and executed actions. The most notable problem, of all those that contributed to the following events, was that Halsey failed to guard San Bernardino Strait. He did not detach Admiral Lee’s battleline formed in Task Force 34 along with a carrier group for cover, and then continue with three of his other carrier task forces after Admiral Ozawa’s Northern Force and its carriers. Despite the intelligence from the search plane from the Independence of the turning of the Center Force and that the navigation lights in the Strait were on, and a general feeling that permeated the command staffs of Admiral Mitcher’s Task Force 38, notably Admiral Arleigh “31-Knot” Burke, and other task forces that TF 34 should be formed and detached to guard the Strait, Halsey nor his staff acted. They received the intelligence but reportedly replied “Yes, yes we have that information.” Not a single ship was left to guard this all important passage. Instead Admiral Halsey and the carriers and battleships of the Third Fleet went off on a wild goose chase after carriers that served no other purpose than as bait for Halsey’s aggressive nature.

The Battle off Samar

Admiral Takeo Kurita had told his assembled commanders before they left for their mission off Leyte Gulf, “You must remember that there are such things as miracles. What man can say that there is no chance for our fleet to turn the tide of war in a decisive battle?” He seemed to be right about the miracles part, just not for the Imperial Navy. Although Kurita wouldn’t know for several hours, because as far as he was concerned the sight before his eyes in the wee hours of 25 October was miracle, there were no American ships waiting at the exit of the strait. The Center Force set course for Leyte Gulf.

The Night Battle of Surigao Strait

While Admiral Kurita made his way through San Bernardino Strait, Admiral Shoji Nishimura, Commander of the Japanese “Southern Force”, was steaming into the Surigao Strait and his own meeting with American naval forces. The Southern Force was to be the other part of the pincer created by the Center and Southern Forces meeting in Leyte Gulf. Comprised of Japan’s older battleships Fuso and Yamashiro, the veteran cruiser Mogami and four destroyers, the Southern Force was far less powerful than the battle line Admiral Jesse Oldendorf had assembled at the northern exit of the strait. The Battle of Surigao Strait was to be the last time big gunned battleships exchanged broadsides. Ironically it was the older battleships of both navies, including five battleships “sunk” at Pearl Harbor in 1941 that were the last to exchange gunfire and not the modern Yamato and Iowa class ships. The chance for that encounter to occur was denied by the absence of Task Force 34. It was also the last time that a naval force “crossed the T” of its opponent’s force. It resulted in a slaughter of the Japanese forces at the hands of American torpedoes capped with naval rifle fire. The last salvo of the last battleship action was fired by USS Mississippi, the only one of Oldendorf’s battleships that was not at Pearl Harbor on December 7th.

The ships of Taffy 3 were never intended to fight a major surface action. Escort Carriers were designated CVEs by the Navy. Sailors gave the class nicknames like “Cheap Vulnerable Expendable”, “Kaiser Coffins”, “Jeep Carriers”, “baby flattops”, and others. They were merchant hulls redesigned to carry small air groups that were used for anti-submarine patrol and supporting amphibious operations with close air support. Six escort carriers formed the core of Taffy 3. They were escorted by three destroyers and four destroyer escorts.

The battleship Yamato and a heavy cruiser off Samar early on 25 October

The Fletcher class destroyers USS Johnston (DD-557), USS Hoel (DD-533), and USS Heermann (DD-352), and the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) engaged the vastly superior Center Force for two hours on the morning of 25 October 1944. The Japanese force was sighted by an anti-submarine patrol at 0637. Upon hearing the report Admiral Sprague demanded confirmation the pilot, Ensign William C. Brooks, were not looking at a part of Third Fleet. Brooks descended on the battleship Yamato and radioed back: “I can see pagoda masts. I see the biggest meatball flag on the biggest battleship I ever saw!" Brooks wasn’t kidding. The battleship Yamato, fully loaded for combat, was more tonnage than the combined tonnage of every ship in Taffy 3. A beehive of activity began within Taffy 3. All ships began making smoke to conceal the ships to the Japanese gunners.

Taffy 3 used smoke to hide themselves from Japanese gunners.

At 0700, as Japanese shell splashes began to land near the ships, Commander Ernest Evans initiated his own attack, without communicating with the other ships, by ordering flank speed towards the enemy. One has to wonder if anyone on the Johnston or any of the escort ships of Taffy 3 knew that it was the ninetieth anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava.

The USS Johnston, Commander Ernest E. Evans, and the Charge of the Light Brigade, all entered into history of 25 October.

The Johnston charged the Japanese line repeatedly. Her torpedoes and gunfire damaged three Japanese ships; a light cruiser, cruiser and battleship. After the ship had been ruined by gunfire, a Japanese destroyer passed the survivors and wreck. The crew of the destroyer had lined the side of the ship and gave the survivors of the Johnston a salute for the courageous battle they had just fought. The other ships of Taffy 3 charged the enemy repeatedly until their own losses or damage took them from the battle.

USS Gambier Bay being straddled by Japanese shells

The ships of Taffy 3 and planes of Taffys 1, 2 and 3, inflicted both physical damage, three cruisers sunk, three cruisers and a destroyer damaged, and mental confusion on Admiral Kurita. He thought he was attacking a part of Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet. His scouts reported cruisers and battleships where only destroyers steamed. Escort carriers, which one would be hard pressed to confuse with a fleet carrier, were reported as so. The almost nonstop air attacks by aircraft from three Taffys, sometimes with planes carrying weapons that had no chance of inflicting damage on surface ships, appears to have convinced Kurita of the direness of his situation. There was also a false sighting report of more American ships to the north that were to block his exit at San Bernardino. In reality, Admiral Halsey was hundreds of miles to the North, off Cape Engano (which translates to “Cape of Fools”), chasing Admiral Ozawa’s empty carriers. When Kurita turned his still potent Center Force away at 0930, Admiral Sprague reported that he heard a nearby sailor yell “Damn it boys! They’re getting away!”

Taffy 3 lost two escort carriers, 2 destroyers, and a destroyer escort. Three other escort carriers were damaged as well as the other destroyer and two destroyer escorts in the task force. Almost 1,600 men are lost and close to a thousand wounded. However, David has beaten Goliath.

The eminent naval historian, Samuel Eliot Morison, said of the Battle off Samar:

“In no engagement of its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.”

The Battle of Surigao Strait doesn’t have a direct mention in the Wing Commander lore. The action at the end of the Wing Commander movie, when Admiral Tolwyn’s fleet destroys the Kilrathi assault on Earth as they come through the jump point, is a close approximation. The Kilrathi forces are destroyed ship by ship as they come through behind the arrival of Christopher Blair and his intelligence.

The Battle off Samar has a direct mention during the Earth Defense Campaign in the middle of the Battle of Earth. One character has a direct connection to the valiant fight that October morning. Commodore Michael Polowski, Commander, Destroyer Squadron 3, in his unnamed flagship was ordered by Admiral Tolwyn to attack the Kilrathi to keep them off balance and allow the Confederation’s carriers to survive. His squadron is destroyed save for his ship and the TCS Roger Young. As they close on the Hakaga we get the following exchange:

"Enemy carrier turning away, sir.”
"Keep on closing," Mike said calmly.
He looked over at his helm officer and smiled.
"Just like the Battle of Leyte Gulf," Mike said.
"I was thinking that," the helm replied "One of my illustrious ancestors commanded a cruiser there. We should have won that day."
Mike nodded.

From here we’ll look into who that helm officer’s “illustrious ancestor” was.

WC vs History: Final Frontier of the Tin Can Sailors

The impetus for comparing Wing Commander to the Battle of Leyte Gulf originates with Fleet Action, where the comparison is made directly by one of the book's characters, Commodore Mike Polowski. As Polowski's 3rd Destroyer Squadron is bearing down on the KIS Craxtha, a surviving Hakaga, he comments to his helm officer:
He looked over at his helm officer and smiled.
"Just like the Battle of Leyte Gulf," Mike said.
"I was thinking that," the helm replied "One of my illustrious ancestors commanded a cruiser there. We should have won that day."
Mike nodded.
The destroyers fire their torpedoes and the TCS Roger Young explodes. Polowski realizes there is no hope of survival and orders his ship to follow in the torpedoes and ram the carrier. He asks the crew to abandon ship, but knows the helm and fire control officers must stay aboard:
He looked over at his helm and fire control officers.
"I hate to ask this of you two."
"It's all right, sir," the helm officer said. "This time the family wants to be on the winning side."
The hit cripples the carrier, knocking it out of the fight, embarassing Thrakhath pesonally and forcing him limp back to Kilrathi space without recovering many of his fighters. It's one of the battle's great moment, a final self sacrifice that exemplifies the depth of humanity's dedication to protecting the homeworlds. But the question remains... who was Polowski's helm officer's ancestor?

The Japanese order of battle at Leyte Gulf included twenty cruisers, but only eight took part in the Battle off Samar. Polowski an the helm officer are clearly talking about Samar, the equivalent to their situation and the only part of the battle that the Japanese "should have" won. The possibilities are:

The Haguro, a Myōkō-class heavy cruiser commanded by Kaju Sugiura. The ship survived the battle, but as sunk on May 16, 1945 by the Royal Navy during the Battle of the Malacca Strait. Sugiura, still in command, did not survive that battle.

The Chōkai, a Takao-class heavy cruiser commanded by Iyo Tanaka. Chōkai was torpedoed by an American destroyer escort during the battle and then set ablaze by dive bombers. Tanaka was among those rescued by a destroyer, but then died when the rescuing ship itself was sunk two days later.

The Kumano, a Mogami-class heavy cruiser commanded by Soichiro Hitomi. Kumano suffered heavy damage during the battle but ultimtely survived. She was sunk by aircraft a month later while undergoing repairs at Santa Cruz.

The Suzuya, a Mogami-class heavy cruiser commanded by Masao Teraoka. Suzuya was sunk by American carrier planes, but Teroaka survived the battle.

The Tone, a Tone-class heavy cruiser commanded by Haruo Mayuzumi. Tone survived damage from air attacks during the battle and became a training ship. She was sunk in May, 1945.

The Chikuma, a Tone-class heavy cruiser commanded by Saiji Norimitsu. Chikuma was sunk by Avenger torpedo bombers during the battle.

The Noshiro, an Agano-class light cruiser commanded by Sueyoshi Kajiwara. Noshiro was heavily damaged in air attacks and scuttled after the battle. Kajiwara was rescued and survived the sinking.

The Yahagi, an Agano-class light cruiser commanded by Matake Yoshimura. Yahagi survived the battle without damage and was ultimately sunk during the final attacks on the Yamato the next year.

WC vs History: Leyte Gulf, Are You Sirius?

The Battle of Sirius, a pair of opposing carrier strikes, was the first major engagement of the Earth Defense Campaign, following days of Confederation withdrawls and the total destruction of several human colony worlds. Confederation strike pilots heading into battle at Sirius were more hopeful than at any other time in the campaign: despite the apparent long odds, no one had yet engaged a Hakaga directly. Little was known about the carriers' defensive capacities and it was still believed that a successful strike could disable or destroy the behemoths.

Admiral Tolwyn held nothing back, opening the battle with a massive combined strike consisting of the balance of his offensive forces. Straight victory at Sirius seemed unlikely, but the thought of abandoning two of the Confederation's most developed worlds and largest population centers was equally unthinkable. The Third Fleet needed to bloody Thrakhath at Sirius or die trying, else the war would be lost before the Kilrathi even arrived at Earth. The Confederation strike force consisted of two forces aimed at two Kilrathi carrier formations. The first, 250 craft, six Broadsword squadrons and four corvettes, would strike at three Hakagas. The other, 230 strike craft, targeted another fleet element which included older style ships.

Many of the Confederation's precious Broadsword bombers were expended at Sirius.

Losses were immediate. The fighter combat was preceded by a volley of Kilrathi antimatter area surpression missiles, which crippled Terran formations and destroyed dozens of bombers and their escorts. Kilrah's finest pilots attacked as soon as the explosions had cleared. The first strike divided their three targets equally, with thirty Broadswords assigned to each carrier. One group never even made it close enough to launch torpedoes. The other two scored hits, but neither brought down a Hakaga. In one instance, fifteen bombers survived to launch their torpedoes and four hit their mark. The carrier suffered damage, but never lost internal power. With the scattered survivors of the strike force in retreat, not one of the supercarriers had been destroyed.

The problem was the design of the Hakagas themselves, which had been built to resist a traditional strike. Even lucky hits from a desperate force would not be capable of sinking the massive warships. Internal bulkheads were double-layered, dividing the ships into independent components that could fight on regardless of damage to each other. The ships had been designed specifically to absorb torpedo hits, with mulitple belts of armor protecting command decks and storage areas. Even the engines were hidden deep within the hull, with lengthy exhaust ports leading outwards to space.

Heavily armored Hakagas were nearly invulnerable to traditional torpedo strikes.

The results of the battle were disastrous. Thrakhath immediately responded with a strike of his own, which destroyed TCS Verdun and TCS Moskva. Of 480 strike craft sent after the Hakagas, only 220 would fly again. Only a quarter of the Broadsword bombers had survived. Of those ships, only 49 strike craft were ready for a second strike. With a second, heavier Kilrathi attack already reaching the Confederation fleet, Tolwyn ordered the withdraw. Sirius was lost.

Thrakhath's strike force sank half the Confederation's carrier fleet and damaged a third ship.

~0800 hours 24 October 1944. Philippine Islands. American search planes locate Admiral Takeo Kurita’s Center Force steaming through the Sibuyan Sea. American planes from the USS Enterprise are the first to attack the mighty ships of Center Force. The Battle of Leyte Gulf has been joined.

The funny thing about the Battle of Leyte Gulf is that no fighting actually took place in the Gulf itself. It’s also not one battle. It was four major engagements, and several smaller actions, fought over the course of four days off the eastern side of the Philippines. By certain criteria the battle is the largest in history. It is certainly largest in terms of fighting area and tonnage sunk.

The four major battle areas are all outside of the main American landing area at Leyte Gulf.

Both Japanese and American naval strategy for the Pacific War envisioned a climatic naval battle occurring somewhere in a triangular area with its points of the triangle resting on Japan, the Marianas, and the Philippines. Two large scale naval battles did take place in that triangular area. At first they were called the First and Second Battles of the Philippine Sea, however later they became the Battle of the Philippine Sea (aka “The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”) and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea the rebuilt squadrons of Japanese naval aviation were eradicated by American fighters and anti-aircraft fire. The Battle of Leyte Gulf saw the destruction of a large number of Japanese capital ships and the elimination of the Imperial Navy as a fighting force.

The Terran-Kilrathi War has one comparable multiple battle campaign: the Earth Defense Campaign that culminated in the Battle of Earth. For this first update on the Battle of Leyte Gulf we look at the first of the major Leyte Gulf battles, the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and for the Earth Defense Campaign, the Battle of Sirius.

Japanese Center Force steaming out of Brunei

The squadrons of USS Enterprise (CV-6) were the first to spot and attack Admiral Kurita’s Center Force early on the morning of the 24th. This was the start of the morning long air-sea Battle of the Sibuyan Sea. The Japanese Center Force had already suffered important losses on the previous day as the force had made its way through the Palawan Passage. Two American submarines, the Dace and Darter, sank two cruisers, including Kurita’s flagship, Atago, and forced a third to turn back to Brunei.

The Center Force under attack by American aircraft.

Throughout the morning of the next day, 24 October, the carrier task forces of Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet conducted 259 sorties against the Japanese Center Force. The Japanese battleship Musashi, sistership to the great Yamato, took the brunt of the American airstrikes. During three large raids that morning, the Japanese battleship took an astounding 17 bombs and 19 torpedoes. She went down hours later, at 1936, taking half her crew with her.

The battleship Musashi under way and then shown under attack in the Sibuyan Sea.

The American forces did not go unscathed on 24 October either. Air strikes from Japanese aircraft landbased on the Philippines attacked Task Force 38.3. The USS Princeton (CVL-23) was hit by a 551 lbs bomb at 0938 hours. The bomb started a large fire in the hangar deck that was eventually brought towards control, however at 1523 hours there was a massive explosion. The aft bomb stowage had exploded and fatally crippled the ship.

USS Princeton shortly after the bomb hit and then after the explosion later on.

Despite heroic efforts by the crew to save the ship, she had to be abandoned and scuttled by torpedoes at 1750 hours. USS Princeton was the first American carrier lost since the USS Hornet (CV-8) was lost two years earlier on October 26, 1942 during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. It was the fifth and last aircraft carrier lost by the United States during the Pacific War.

Gorgeous Graphics Go Into Impressive Icons

Nomad Terror has put together a beautiful set of Wing Commander icons, partially inspired by the designs that accompany the recent WC releases on GOG. The specific sources for each image are a variety of box arts, posters and other promotional items. There are several options available for each image: 32x32, 48x48, 192x256 and 384x512. Windows Vista & 7 users should especially take advantage of the high res icons! Additionally, the source .xcf Gimp files are available for anyone interested in further tweaks, although Nomad is likely to expand and upgrade the icon pack on his own in the future. Grab the .ico and .png package here (6 meg zip) and the .xcf source here (15.5 meg zip).
Not that it's a complete cut and paste job (though I do do a lot of that). I do a lot of color, hue and saturation balancing, brightness and contrast adjustment, artifact removal. I also add layered drop shadows to most elements to help them stand out.

Sometimes I do some minor reconstructive work. For example, I could not (and still cannot) find a scan of the SO1 artwork that does not have part of it blocked by a sticker, so I just filled in the gap there.

For Wing Commander 4, the logo was pretty much in tatters after I extracted it from the box art, so I completely reconstructed it -- the IV by my own hand in GIMP, Wing Commander text from the Armada high resolution art, TPOF text from the high resolution scanned manual. Then I used that original extracted logo as a template for sizing and positioning.

For the Proving Grounds icon, I rendered the "Proving Grounds" text in GIMP, reshaping the I, U and S to match the appearance of the title art. It uses another piece of Armada high resolution art. I'll probably most likely come back to redo this one later on, but what I have is a good start.

I do use some in-game text from time to time. The text on the smaller Armada icons, as well as the VotK subtitle on the 256px WC2 icon are both from in-game screenshots.

So, yeah, I'm not redrawing these by hand or anything, and I'm not doing anything spectacular that nobody else could do -- it's just a passion for Wing Commander that spilled out through this creative outlet for me. Plus, I sure do love having big pretty icons to click on when I want to play a game. :>

By the way, if anyone has any ideas or suggestions (or criticism!) for these icon sets, I'd love to hear it.

Does anyone think it would be worth making a SWC iconset in this style? I don't know how Mac OS Classic icons work, or the state of Classic emulators on PC.

Radical Rapier Roundup Revealed

CMDBob has added a trio of Rapiers to his fleet, and they look great. The Rapier I has been posed next to the early production model Rapier II, and the F-44G variant rounds out the bunch. With matching paint jobs, it's easy to imagine how they might have flown together. How about an F-44X next?

Finally finished the three Rapiers (both WC1 and WC2 Rapier IIs, and the movie's Rapier I). I did the movie ship in a more game-y colourscheme, as I kinda hated the brown rusty look. It really didn't show the detail off well. Anway, here are the images.

Kitbashes Kick Bug Butt

There's a couple of new enhanced fighters that have been revealed for Wing Commander Collateral Damage. Both are classic Prophecy-era fighters that have been beefed up for action against the Nephilim. The Piranha has some major engine upgrades and borrows design elements from its larger siblings. Meanwhile, the Tigershark has been turned into an even heavier missile boat. Let JasonRocZ know what you think over at Crius.net.

This is the Tigershark I've been working on. I added 2 physical Ion Cannons. If they are removed I was thinking on just redoing the outer wing areas to make them look more like the original high poly 3d model.

I figured since it had some rocket pod projectiles, why not make it look like a missile platform? Just by adding the projectile tubes above, the second image looks pretty intimidating.

Wing Commander Conference Reminder

A reminder to all Wingnuts that this Saturday at 1 pm EST (7 pm Berlin) there will be another chas session in the irc channel #Wingnut. We invite everyone who can to stop by! We'll be talking the latest Wing Commander news about official and fan projects, setting up some multiplayer games of Armada, Arena and, of course, HCl's Wing Commander Prophecy multiplayer patch. The last meeting was a great time for all who attended.

We look forward to seeing all of you!

Wing Commander Gets Screwed Again (in a Good Way)

GameTrailers.com has posted another amusing feature on the Top Ten Space Marines of all science fiction. The list includes courageous heroes such as Marcus Fenix, the Master Chief and Commander Shepherd. Each soldier is ranked in order of awesomeness, and the top spot is a tie between Luke Skywalker and Christopher Blair! Congrats to Mark Hamill! Be sure to check out the full video here. Thanks to all who sent this in (Music Guru was first, followed closely by Darren C. and Delance).

Top 10: Space Marines, Posted: Oct 7, 2011 | Views: 172,917

Not all Space Marines are completely generic!

Third Mod's a Charm

Deathsnake has revealed his newest project, a Wing Commander 4-themed campaign called Operation Serpent. Wingnuts might notice some similarities with the Enigma 2666 and Last Line of Defense mods, and Deathsnake acknowledges that he's got several irons in the fire here. In order to manage each project, he's reusing assets where possible and keeping each game to a reasonable length. Rather than a 40-50 mission epic, he's trying to make this a sustainable 10-15 mission arc that can be easily built. Find the latest over at the CIC Forums.

Operation Serpent is a storyline after Wing 4 and here you are a Confed Pilot and your job is to cut down the last of the Black Lance Forces. A few of them continued to fight against the Border Worlds and Confederation. After the destruction of the Axius Base another one is somewhere between the Confed and Border Worlds territory.

After the first attacks Confed send one of their newest Carrier to investigate the problem. You will be transfered to the TCS McKinley, a Vesuvius Class Supercarrier. Flying Craft will be the Hellcat, Excalibur and the Bearcat.

Slick Rapier Model Now Painted

Klavs has an update to his awesome resin Rapier model. The rough edges have been polished away and the ship has its first coat of metallic paint. It already looks great, and Klavs isn't done yet! Let him know what you think at the CIC Forums.
Man what a couple of weeks this has been. Phew! I managed to throw a coat of grey on her and pick out some details. I'm particularly proud of the gold radiator.

Overall I'm happy with Shapeways customer service, delivery, pricing etc, but the "terracing" on some of the slanted surfaces is really frustrating. The panel lines show up beautifully, but in order to get a smooth transition on some of those terraced surfaces I've got to sand, and it's obliterating my panel lines!

I'll probably wind up going the CnC machine/Injection molding route if I make these available to the community, it's not quite up to my standards yet!

Also, speaking of work: Check out my conceptual design and visualization section on my company's website. The Rapier II is being used as example art at a genuine aerospace company! Now if I can convince my boss to move away from re-entry vehicles to full blown aerospace fighters, we'll have a REAL product on our hands!

Bring the Noyes

Wing Commander IV producer Mark Day was kind enough to send us some more information for our recent nametag update. The "Noyes" nametag was in honor of the Wing Commander IV film shoot's Tab Operator, Greg Noyes. Mr. Noyes was an assisant to Ultimatte Operator Bo Kertesz, who was himself tuckerized as fighter pilot "Bob-O-Matte" in the game. Noyes is still a camera operator in Los Angeles today!

I Love it When a Mac Comes Together

When we last left our hero he was staring down a headless Power Mac 7300 and wondering what it would take to run the Macintosh Wing Commander games. In just a few short days, the computer, now christened "Big Bertha," has gone from messy $10 surplus scrap metal on a floor to a fancy machine with a HOTAS setup running five Origin games and three Wing Commander demos! In the process we've learned a lot about how pre-OSX Macintoshes work and even scoured the internet for a Wing Commander IV demo that hasn't been seen in fifteen years! You can follow the narrative and read daily updates in this thread. Bertha is currently waiting for a copy of Mac OS 8 to arrive in the hopes of making Super Wing Commander more stable.

Ralari Jumps into Animated Fleet

CMDBob has another model to share, and this time it's an imposing capital ship. The Ralari destroyer is ready to enter into battle with its fighter counterparts, if a project comes together around these designs. For now this is just eye candy. The shots below demonstrate a little of the progression from basic to finished model. More ships are coming soon!

I've FINALLY finished the Ralari. This was a pain, as I never could work out how I wanted it to look, within the confines of the design. I think I've got it now though, and I've got it to the point where I like it too.

Time to do the Rapier II (WC1 version). After the Rapier II, it's the CF-117 Rapier I, from the movie. I'm gonna do the movie Rapier in a brighter, more WC1/2 ish texture scheme, to match up more.)

A Rose By Any Other Nametag

Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum has a cool treat for Wing Commander fans today--scans of name badge props used in Wing Commander IV! Name badges were worn by actors and extras throughout the game, with most of these coming from Border Worlds uniforms. Three are main characters--Pliers, Dekker and Wilford--but many of the others are a mystery. Unlike Wing Commander III, which used the names of Origin and EA executives for extras, most of these don't seem to be direct references to the development team or crew. "Day" is obviously producer Mark Day, but the rest seem to be a mix of callsigns (Jett, Sharpie, A-G, Tarzan, Magnum) and last names (Katto, Lossos, Favazza, Noyes, L. Smith, Sam) that don't synch up to anything in particular. The callsigns mostly don't match up to the game's redshirts, either, although fan favorite "Excell" is included.

Squadron Form Up! It's time for another round...

Of the Wing Commander CIC's new monthly Wing Commander chat session.

We are going to be holding monthly Wing Commander meetings on the CIC IRC channel #wingnut. The time of the meeting each month will be rotated to give our international Wingnuts a chance to participate. This meeting will be held at 1 pm EDT, which converts to 7 pm in Berlin. Next month we will move the time to accommodate our Asian and Australian wingnuts.

The last meeting was a huge success. All those who attended had a great time and learned quite a bit about the future of Wing Commander. This meeting our topics will change a bit, but there's still a lot of juicy intel for those who are interested.

So mark your calenders for October 22 at 1 pm EDT (7 pm Berlin) and stop by #Wingnut! We look forward to chatting with you all!

Space Sim First Look: Star Conflict

Music Guru spotted a sharp looking new PC MMO space sim, Star Conflict. Players control everything from small scout ships to large warships and ultimately fleets. There's a wide variety of missions and strategies that then determine each person's style of playing the game. A preview video is available at the game's website.

Star Conflict, a dynamic new MMO action game that puts you at the helm of a space ship to fight in the star fleet’s massive battles!

Three thousand years have passed since the first colonists left Earth. Now the galaxy is divided between the militant star empires and independent mercenary groups. In a remote corner of the galaxy — Sector 1337, the area of the dead — a world has been left behind. Here, the ruins of a great civilization of Precursors have recently been discovered. Huge factories and sprawling cities are falling into decay. Fragments of ships lie on the fields where massive battles were once fought. But there is not a living soul. Everything has been destroyed by a mysterious Cataclysm — a pulsing anomaly that burned out all life within this sector.

Wing Commander Academy Delayed

Some bad news tonight: TVShowsOnDVD reports that the Wing Commander Academy DVD set has been delayed to March 6, 2012. They report that "the reason for these date changes was to provide more time on the projects to result in the best quality possible, as well as to schedule the release in the early part of the new year when your local retail stores will be more willing to stock the title."

We can't go into the specifics at the moment, but the delay isn't just for marketing--there's a specific technical issue with one of Universal's master episodes. The set's producer had the option of making the October 25th date with a cut episode or waiting to fix it. This is the right call. The good news is that Wing Commander fans are nothing if not patient!

The Grand Daddy of Privateer 3 Concepts

Thanks to PopsiclePete's recovery work, we have an exciting new Privateer 3 document available! This one includes a plethora of new information and more screenshots and sketches than we've seen before. Historically speaking, this is the first Privateer 3 proposal, put together by the Loose Cannon team during the development of Wing Commander Prophecy in 1997. This version of the game is very different from the Privateer 3: Retribution story and concept you may be familiar with. Download it here (48.9 mb, PDF.)

GOG Wants to Know What You Think

Good Old Games is conducting its annual survey to collect data on how to improve the service. It takes just a couple minutes to fill out, and there's a field where you can request that more Wing Commander games join their library. You can send in your input here.
We know you're busy people, but would you like to contribute to an even better GOG? How about taking 5 minutes of your time to make the GOG experience an outstanding one?

Our main goal when designing GOG.com was to create the best user experience in digital distribution ever. Many say we're doing it right, but we want to get even better, that's why we're launching a survey that will help us lead GOG in the way you'd like it to go. Taking part in it isn't required of course, but if you want to have your share in making GOG the best digital distribution service there is (or at least even better than it is right now) and maybe win a free game, devote few minutes of your time to answer couple questions we've prepared. From all users who will take part in the survey, we'll randomly choose 20 who will receive a free GOG game of their choice. Grab a pencil... er, a keyboards in your hands and answer the below questions for a better future for all of us :)

The survey ends on Thursday, October 27 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Privateer 3 Pitch Document Restored

Some time ago we released incomplete PDFs of a "Privateer 3 manual" which featured ship specifications, information about the story and a guide to the different locations. Thanks to advances in document recovery on the part of PopsiclePete, we can now offer the complete file with correct images, fonts and layouts! We also now know what this beautiful piece of documentation is: it was developed by the Loose Cannon team to internally promote the game, showing higher ups at Origin and EA executives the potential behind the project. Unfortunately for us, it didn't work. Note that the download is very large--a 378 megabyte PDF! Pick up your copy here.

Own a Piece of Origin History

Attention collectors: Rhea Shelley, a former Origin employee who worked on both Ultima and Wing Commander, has a large number of rare Origin items available for sale! Mr. Shelley worked in QA on Privateer 2, Prophecy and Secret Ops, and even wrote some of the Secret Ops fiction (he has an in-universe cameo here.) He also seems to have been something of a packrat: his collection has something of interest to everyone, from beautiful copies of the games themselves to props from the film shoots to layout proofs of hint books and documentation!

You can view the entire gallery starting here. We will highlight items of interest to Wing Commander fans over the next few days, but there's also an enormous variety of Ultima material available! If you're interested in making an offer for anything seen at that page, please contact Chris Roseman with a bid. Good luck!

Epic Audio Track Inspired by Wing Commander

Rich Douglas has posted a beautiful reorchestration of music from Wing Commander. Several WC1 tunes inspired the new rendition, and it's certainly a grand tribute to the original. Even TheFatMan is a fan! Check out a cool YouTube video that syncs the music to scenes from the game, or download the mp3 here (5.3 megs). Find more of his work at RichDouglas.net.
My name is Rich Douglas and I've been a pro freelance composer in the video game industry for 7 years now... Wing Commander is one of the main reasons I got into the industry to begin with! In my spare time I'm also very active over at Overclocked Remix under the handle Beckett007. All of my current 6 mixes over there are essentially chiptunes made epic with an orchestra. I re-orchestrated several key themes from Wing Commander 1 and have put together a suite of music...

Themes included in the suite are as follows (in this order):

Fanfare / The Main Theme
Briefing
Scramble
Flying to Combat
Heroes Funeral

Wing One Album Available Again

Also don't forget that the official rerelease of the original Wing Commander soundtrack is now available! Visit VibeDeck to download the 27-track Wing One album for just $9.98.

Return of the Mac

LOAF was recently inspired to rebuild an old Macintosh computer for the purpose of playing the three Macintosh Wing Commander games: Super Wing Commander, Heart of the Tiger and The Price of Freedom. Turning the clock back nearly 20 years to assemble right pieces of hardware and software that WC requires is no small task however, and LOAF is in for a mission into unexplored territory. Follow the complete adventure over at the CIC Forums here.
I know I have enough Wing Commander projects to last ten lifetimes, but the recent news about Steve Jobs inspired me to finally get to work on something I've been meaning to do for myself for many years: build the ideal old Macintosh for playing Wing Commander. My aim is to go from some old surplus to a kickass machine for Super Wing Commander, Wing Commander III and Wing Commander IV, tracking down all the cool extras they support in the process. I thought I'd start a thread so folks who are interested can follow my progress... and we can use it as a reference for anyone else wanting to do this.

First I should say that I have absolutely NO idea how old Macs work. As I mentioned in the other thread, I grew up with an Apple ][... but irony of ironies my father turned the skills he learned on that early Apple into a job for IBM and we never owned a Mac. I have a Macbook as my regular notebook and I use a Mini as my HTPC today... but beyond the occasional encounter in a middle school library, I've never touched anything before OSX. So this will be an adventure! Sort of.

(... and it goes without saying that I could use some helps from folks here who *didn't* skip the Macintosh...)

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

Some questions to be answered, from thinking about this last night.

* What's the deal with hard drives? First: can the Macintosh WCs be run off the hard drive... and if so, what is my path to add a second drive to this machine? Macs of this era used SCSI drives, right? What kind can I put in it, and how?

* Can a Macintosh from 1997 read CDs burned today? I will want to transfer the Super Wing Commander and Wing Commander IV demos over along with various erratta (I'll make a list of everything when I actually do it, for future reference.)

* Could a 166 mhz computer be too fast for Super Wing Commander? I'm hearing that G4s and possibly G3s needed to be slowed down for the game. Not sure if that will be a problem for this slightly older model.

* What kind of LCD can I use? I need something that's 4:3 with a VGA input *I think* that has a 1024x768 mode. That may be a significantly limiting factor today. Anyone know monitors?

* Will the OLD Origin games work on this computer? I'm not /that/ interested in this since they predate Wing Commander and will be incredibly expensive to find... but I am curious. Origin released Ultima III, Autoduel, Moebius and Ogre for the Mac in the 1980s. There's also a licensed color version of Ultima III from the early 90s, I believe, that I should research.

* If I need an older OS... how do I get it and how do I install it over the newer one?

* What kind of cool flight hardware should I start looking for? Will the Mac Wing Commanders support the whole FCS/WCS/RCS setup I use on the PC?

* Sound. How does sound work on a Mac? Is it on the motherboard? What kind of output does SWC/WC3/WC4 give me in terms of needing a speaker setup?

Pendulum of War Swings Back Towards Sol

To counter the growing Kilrathi war machine, AAN has rolled a new Confederation fleet off the line. A very slick carrier and destroyer duo are escorted by a squadron of Excaliburs. The kats don't stand a chance!

Feet scale Wing Commander Confed fleet ... OK, not a full fleet but the start of it... ;)

More of the Enigma Revealed

Deathsnake has refreshed the website of the Enigma 2666 mod, and there are a bunch of new pictures to see. The latest images show off the Strakha cloaking effect and the game's many new ship models. Missions are a priority after ships are complete, and the team hopes for a playable release this year.

I reopened the page for the Enigma 2666 mod and loaded it up with a few pics. We also need help to texture the Supply Depot. We want to use the same as on the Kilrathi ships, but we need help to do this.

Terran Forces at the Ready

CMDBob has a couple more Confed ships to keep his Hornet and Drayman company. He's modeled a slightly larger fighter this time, the Scimitar, and a slightly smaller transport, the assault shuttle from Wing Commander 4. Both are drawn up in a fun animated style and painted in different primary colors to represent unique fleets or squadrons. It'd be fun to see a game built around these!

Once again, I bring more ships to the fleet! Fresh out of my shipyard, here is the WC4 UBW Marine shuttle. Oh, and if it seems like I'm not showing anything for a while, that's deliberate. I want to get both Rapiers all made before I show them off.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

If you were one of the many peopled out there saddened by the passing of Steve Jobs today, why not celebrate his life with your Wing Commander friends? In addition to Mac OS games such as Super Wing Commander, WC3 & WC4, did you know an Apple device is currently the only way to obtain the WC Movie in high definition on demand? iTunes has a special iPad HD version of the movie available to rent for just $3.99. The HD edition doesn't show up in the PC-based store, but it will be present when browsing iTunes directly on the iPad. The film can also be easily streamed to your HDTV via an HDMI adapter or Apple TV. SD versions are available for $2.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy as well. No iPad? Feel free to just hit the link below to visit the CIC Forums and discuss with other Wingnuts.

Standoff Improves ATI Compatibility

Wing Commander Standoff has gotten a new upgrade. The new 1.33 patch includes an updated graphics renderer and is significantly more compatible with ATI video cards. Use the program's built-in auto updater to get the tweak. Brand new players can get started downloading Standoff (including the new Mac version) here!
A new patch is available is available through Standoff launcher's autoupdate. It contains a new version of the OpenGL renderer for Standoff, making its HDR and Enhanced Lighting options compatible with a wider array or video cards, especially ATI.

Lego Minis All Lined Up

st3lt3k pointed out that we never showcased saf0775's full lineup of Lego minis. They're a pretty awesome assortment of classic WC fighters, and it's amazing how accurate they look with so few bricks. With Lego Digital Designer, you can view instructions on how to build them yourself! Grab them in Confed (20 k zip) or Kilrathi (16 k zip) format.

Collateral Damage Mod Wakes Up

It's been a long time since the last update on the Wing Commander Collateral Damage mod for Secret Ops, but JasonRocZ is back at work. He's posted two new screenshots of recent progress. The first is a Halsey class station as pictured in Wing Commander Arena, and the other is his light "Thresher" Nephilim craft.

I'm still working on missions script. I was able to get the friendly Capship (The Destroyer) in the game. Most of my work lately has been doing missions script and also doing voices (I was actually able to do a few of the voices myself) while I employed (At the price of beer and food) a few others to voice 2 female roles and 2 kilrathi roles. I'll try giving a sample of one of the Kilrathi friendly pilots in a few days.

Retro Rapier Reaches Reality

Klavs has started to take his awesome Confed fighter renders and turn them into real life models! Thanks to the emerging rapid prototyping / 3D printing industry, it's now possible to turn digitized designs into solid resin ships (see yesterday's news for more). Due to the cost of this new technology, most fans have been making miniature models for tabletop gaming. Klavs' Rapier is huge by comparison! We're looking forward to seeing the ship after it's painted!
Something neat finally came in the mail today! Pretty nice, even if I made the secondary tails too thin and they snapped off. A little light sanding took care of the ridges, and the extra cash I coughed up for the extra high resolution print really paid off. Check out those panel lines boy! If anybody needs me I'll be making zhooming noises and flying around the house. :) I'll try and get some better shots once I get it painted!

Claws Bloodied and Victorious

The new CIC poll asks which Kilrathi fighter is the scariest to face in combat. There's a lot to choose from, so we narrowed the list down to some of the most fearsome. Which options on the poll were more hype than hazard? Do you have a nemesis that didn't make the list? Hit the discuss link and let everyone know.

Bonus question: who knows where this news post's headline comes from?

The last poll asked how long visitors have been coming to the CIC, and the results demonstrate some serious Wingnut dedication! A quarter of people have been around since the beginning and either clicked 1998 for the founding of the CIC or 1996 to denote older WC news sites that the CIC staff previously ran. Most visitors have been following WCNews for a decade or more. On the other end of the range, almost one in ten readers just found the site in the last year, which is pretty exciting - the more, the merrier!

Kilrathi Fleet Buildup Continues

AAN has completed some more gorgeous Wing Commander miniatures. The latest batch features the Rapier, Salthi, Dralthi and an original Kilrathi cruiser design. All of the detail and fine airbrushing is amazing! Check out more of his designs here. Astro Commander also warns that Shapeways is increasing its prices October 1.

Some more pictures of additional fighters from the Wing Commander I era...

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