From the Beginning, You Know the End...

It's time for the start of a new poll, and this one's all about endings. Which game had your favorite conclusion? Are you more into the traditional blast-a-starbase final missions from the early '90s? If that's not epic enough, the endings from the mid '90s were more focused on resolving entire wars than specific battles. Ominous conclusions are also an option for the later '90s games where the player stops the bugs for the time being, but an even larger invasion force looms on the horizon. Finally, if personal fortune and freedom are the most important things to you, the Privateer endgames wrapped up the story, but then allowed the player to continue living in the universe forever.

The annual New Year poll has concluded, and it shows how pumped Wingnuts are for the future! With the same number of votes and timeframe as last year's poll, the 2012 question's optimistic options each surged about 50% while the "poor" choice received about 25% fewer votes. All of the GoG releases in 2011 helped bring new fans into the fold, and it'll be exciting to see what comes next! Wing Commander Academy is coming in May... but there are always some surprises along the way!

Catching Up With Saga - GamePlay Complete!

WC Saga hit an important milestone recently - it went gameplay complete, meaning that it's completely playable - but not yet perfected. The team is going back now to revamp their Prologue demo and continue bug hunting. Here's some new screenshots and their announcement:

We have reached an important milestone that has been a very long time in the making. All 50 of the missions in the main campaign are now finalized; The Darkest Dawn is now complete! We still have a bit of work ahead of us before Saga is ready to launch. We are currently working on significantly updating the missions of the prologue campaign (with updated game play, improved missions, refined dialogue, more characters in game, and a few other things to bring it up to par with the main campaign) which will be included as a small, introductory campaign in the full Saga package. We are going through our final rounds of beta tests, making sure everything is fully polished and as bug-free as possible for launch.

Keep your eyes open for a release date announcement soon!

This Clawk Marks is Super

One of the most fantastic websites on the entire Internet, Pix's Origin Adventures, has posted a nice high res scan of the game manual for the Super Famicom version of Wing Commander 1. This edition is more than simply Claw Marks translated into Japanese however, and the booklet gets tons of bonus art alongside reformatted text. Some drawings are brand new, and others are colorizations of art used in the English documentation. We've seen the front and back covers recently, but check out the whole thing here (27 meg PDF).
Pix's Origin Adventures, my favorite blog, now has the SFC WC1 manual for download. It's full of art you've never seen.

Prepare to Roll the Dice

capi3101's been in the news lately for his tabletop tokens and Pen & Paper Armada, but the big project he's been working on for the last six months is an original Wing Commander RPG. Since last year, he's been steadily making progress on the game's character races, skills, equipment, ships, spaceflight and combat. capi estimates that the overall game is about two thirds written out, and more is completed each week. You can see everything he's developed so far at a custom Wiki here.
I can now proudly proclaim that all the game's combat rules are 100% complete (now I just got to get some ships, creatures, vehicles, etc. with which to use them). So far I've performed the initial dumps from SFRPG, though I don't think there will be much of the interstellar travel rules I'll be able to keep (owing to differences in the two universes). A lot of what's been going on so far has been collecting and collating data; to assist with this part of the game, it was necessary to start a discussion of the D-drive from Privateer 2 and to figure out its place in the overall WC continuity in general. This discussion is still ongoing. Meantime, I focused my work on Chapters 8.1 (Fuel and Fuel Efficiency Rules) and 8.2 (Planetary Transit/Exploration Rules).

I've also begun initial work on the game's timeline. So far, work has involved preparing the entries from Star*Soldier. I do hope to include some Kilrathi history in there, as well as some of the Confederation's early history (when the Akwende Drive was invented, when the Confederation came into existence, etc.). I would like some help with this if at all possible, and will accept entries from any canonical or semi-canonical source.

Orchestral Remix Strikes a Different Note

Shiryu, who authored some hip Wing Commander Movie-themed techno tracks back in the day, has a new composition to share. Orchestral Wing Commander has a much more classical and decidedly mainstream tone than his first WC songs. He's synchronized the tunes to WC1's intro, briefing and launch below. Hit the discuss link to let everyone know what you think.

An orchestrated version of the main title theme of Chris Robert's / Warren Spector's classic space opera/sim "Wing Commander". They don't make them like this anymore, sadly. Enjoy! =)

'Boxy, But Good' or 'Oh, Don't Mine Me'

Cybot's back with another cool render of a Wing Commander Academy vessel. In addition to bringing back a fun variety of familiar designs, WCA also created a few of its own. This dedicated hospital ship is one of them, and it packs a lot of character for a rectangular box! Cybot has also created another original design, which he has dubbed a (very well armed!) mine sweeper.
The hospital ship with the bridge not blow off and a mine sweeper.

LOAF on Sol: Exodus

"Welcome to Sol Sector, Lieutenant!?" - Lieutenant Chris McCubbin, TCS Concordia

Sol: Exodus, the new space sim from Seamless Entertainment, will be available starting today on Steam for just $9.99. I was very kindly allowed to take a look at the finished product over the weekend and would like to share my thoughts with the Wing Commander community.

It should be no secret to longtime readers that I am something of a curmudgeon when it comes to space games that aren’t Wing Commander. The 1990s were rife with soulless imitators that sought to be nothing more than the last Wing Commander done cheaper with the benefit of the latest video card drivers. Then the last decade was a scattering of well-meaning attempts to recapture our favorite series’ glory that generally suffered from trying to do too much with too little money. Suddenly every attempt needed a Privateer-style open world, a Wing Commander cinematic story and years worth of “player wish list” bucket items involving overly complicated physics and off-putting gameplay options which scared away the casual fans. And don’t even get me started about shoehorning multiplayer into space shooters…

I’m happy to announce that Sol: Exodus is none of these things. This is a small game that’s aimed at giving a modern audience their first taste of how much fun a space shooter should be. The game forgoes all those pitfalls to give us something unique: a deceptively simple action game that should teach today’s gamers how awesome space combat is. Let me run through some of the highs and lows that I think will resonate with Wing Commander veterans:

What I Loved

  • The game’s performance. I no longer maintain a cutting edge gaming PC and was a little nervous when I was asked to look at the game. I shouldn’t have been: it runs beautifully in Windows XP on the circa-2007 MacBook that I use for Wing Commander archiving projects.
  • The art style.While I recognize that the ‘paintings’ the game uses for the introductory cutscene and the comm. Messages are a cost-saving method to avoid expensive cinematics that may come off as cheap to many people I think they’re just outright fun. They give the game a unique style and they get your imagination going in the same way the original Wing Commander did with its own unique look. (The paintings-to-set-the-scene intro reminds me of nothing so much as the strange, cool TV cut of David Lynch’s Dune.)
  • The various locales of the Sol system are BEAUTIFUL. Big asteroids, battles set against the backdrops of massive planets and sprawling starbases. I’m reminded of nothing short of Freelancer, but where that game’s beautiful environs had an almost suffocating vastness, Sol: Exodus uses them to give each mission a particular immediacy.
  • The controls. The game has a wonderfully simple control layout that is entirely customizable (which came in handy when the tutorial wanted me to use my Mac’s non-existent second mouse button.) More importantly, it easily supports both gamepads and JOYSTICKS! This is the ideal solution that Freelancer flubbed so badly: come up with an intuitive control scheme for keyboards (I had no complaints using my laptop’s keyboard and touchpad) and give players who happen to have fancier hardware the option.
  • The price. Yes, the game has slightly fewer missions than a straight winning play through of the original Wing Commander… but it clocks in at under $10! For an old fighter pilot used to paying as much as $80 for a new game in the early 1990s that’s just incredible, unbelievable. I know it’s more common today, but part of me wants to rage against the idea of even reviewing a game that costs $9.99. Of COURSE you should buy it! That’s hours of entertainment for less than you’re going to pay for a sandwich… so it’s going to hurt, I think, watching the modern gaming media savage it as though it were supposed to be a thirty million dollar AAA affair.
  • The sense of fun in the ship design. One thing Wing Commander III and IV introduced, which was great at the time, was the “modern military in space” style for their ships. This quietly replaced the more fantastic anime- and classic science fiction-inspired designers of the early games and then quickly spread to every space game imaginable. Sol largely drops this, giving us spacecraft designs which are more fantastic, fun and unique.

What I Didn’t

  • Lack of cockpits. About fifteen years ago, developers decided that graphical “cockpit” layers in space games were unnecessary. I’ve heard a claim that they watched QA teams and found they turned off the cockpits within minutes of starting their games. I’ve also heard that they were embarrassed by the practice of including them in the first place, seeing them as a ‘hack’ to allow old computers to render the action in a much smaller area of the screen. Whatever the real story, future space sim designers need to suck it up and bring them back. A space sim is not a first person shooter and the goal is not to create an invisible HUD; rather, they should be trying to make us feel like we really are Buck Rogers… and seeing the inside of an awesome space fighter around the edges of the screen is exactly what you want to do. In Sol: Exodus, specifically, the “comm” messages are played at the top of the screen. You see the head of the character talking and then the associated text. How much more immersive (and frankly, helpful in hiding the fact that the lips don’t move) would it be to put this screen in a little VDU? Even do it in green-and-black or with some fuzzy signal interruption to obscure the speaker; it’s a case I don’t WANT everything to be perfectly clear.
  • A few too blatant nods. Without spoiling too much, I was slightly bothered that one plot element in the prologue training mission was lifted directly from “Halo.” Certainly space sims SHOULD be a collection of familiar tropes (what’s Wing Commander but a game of Star Wars?) but this one bit happened to feel too close to me. Similarly, the game’s masthead/logo is a bit too identical to the one Electronic Arts uses for their Mass Effect franchise. And while it’ sort of funny that the bad guys’ faction’s acronym becomes “C-O-D,” the joke gets a little tired when you have to hear it spoken so many times (I would have absolutely forgiven the game this, however, if it were spoken like the fish rather than spelled out every time.)
  • The lack of character animation. As I say above, I love the painted look for the character faces and for the introductory cutscene… but I would have been so much more impressed if they had borrowed the “talking head” style for the communications (or used that to create dialog cutscenes.) I understand and appreciate the lack of budget for cinematics, but I think they could have aped the original Wing Commander very well with the addition of a few different mouth shapes for the characters.
  • The radar and the targeting systems took a little time to get used to. They work perfectly fine and will likely be easy to pick up for new players… but I really don’t understand why the game doesn’t just borrow Wing Commander’s simple system straight out (that said, targeting actually works just like Wing Commander, it’s just that the tutorial teaches it to you oddly. There’s a hotkey you will learn later for flipping through enemy targets.)

It should come as no surprise that Sol comes from a scrappy young development team in Austin, Texas—the city that first birthed the Wing Commander franchise twenty-odd years ago (for those interested, the core team does not include any Wing Commander veterans, although Marc Schaefgen and David Swofford, who did sound work and PR for classic Origin titles respectively, are both credited in the same roles as contractors on Sol.) I should stress that it’s a small game. No, the graphics aren’t as seamless as the latest BioShock or Call of Duty… but they’re fast and full of color and character. Yeah, cutscenes are done in-engine and in-flight, like Secret Ops. And yes, you’ll be playing only nine or so fairly lengthy missions for your $10… but in addition to being hours of fun for old hands it’s also the ideal game for introducing today’s players to the concept. You should gift Sol: Exodus to your kids, relatives, friends, well wishers and others in the hopes that they’ll realize space sims should be the next big thing.

As fun as it is, most of all what I want is for people to see Sol: Exodus as an important game, a new beginning for the game type. I want Electronic Arts to look at Seamless Entertainment and say hey, yeah, these guys have the right idea, maybe we should bring back space sims. Am I going to start the great Sol: Exodus community fan site? Probably not, but then I’m getting too old for that. I do truly believe that someone reading this today probably should. The game is great and its world has enormous franchise potential. I would not be surprised if we’re playing a massive Sol: Exodus sequel a few years from today… and if its success helps convince EA that there’s a market for a certain other space sim franchise, all the better!

Contrasting Designs Added to Growing Fleet

CMDBob has completed two new ships: the Dorkir transport and Arrow light fighter. Bob is using some new rendering techniques here, and the result delivers a great cross between animated and metallic texturing. You can check out more angles of these ships at the CIC Forums here. Up next is the Tiger's Claw!
These renders look different, as I changed renderer from the default scanline one in 3ds Max to the mental ray render, looks MUCH better.

Next up is the Tiger's Claw. I wanted to do another WC1 ship, and I thought it was time for a true carrier. After that, the Raptor, then something Kilrathi...

Congratulations Award Winners!

The votes have been tallied, and we now have the winners of our 2011 Fan Project & Web Site of the Year awards! Many great nominees received a ton of votes, which speaks to how many great undertakings were pursued over the past year. Although only a few can win, we're still amazed at all the constant fan activity. Without further delay, here's the winners:

The 2011 Fan Project of the Year is the OpenGL Patch for Prophecy & Secret Ops! Pedro and Popsicle Pete's recent updates to the program include new graphical assets, support for the WCP demo and compatibility with the Enhancement Pack that enables high resolution, multiplayer and DVD movie playback. These tweaks take an already beautiful game and make it gorgeous!


We have a tie for second place! WC TacOps Online and Standoff take runner up. WCTOO completed almost all of the game coding over the last year, which required a major programming commitment and time consuming testing. Standoff received hardware compatibility improvements and multiple fan enhancements, which continue to ensure one of the most popular fan mods around stays fresh.



The 2011 Web Site of the Year is Shotglass'! The site's grand opening was just last year, but it's run by a lifelong Wingnut who's dedicated to sharing WC news with fellow fans. Wing Commander's always been very big in Germany, so Shtoglass serves an important need. Check out an English translation here.


The web runner up is WC Saga! Many fans pointed to the home of the Saga mod as a source of frequent updates and information on the game's development. Reports on the game's beta test and behind the scenes features should continue to keep fans on edge until it's released.



Congratulations to the winners! And here's to a great year ahead! Thanks to all for voting.

Spacetime Studios Takes Time to Celebrate

The good news continues for mobile developer Spacetime Studios. CEO Gary Gattis has posted a rollup that summarizes the company's accomplishments in 2011 and aspirations for the new year. Spacetime was founded in 2005 in Austin, Texas by a handful of game industry veterans, including several Wing Commander pros from Origin. The company had some rough times a couple years after getting going with the cancellation of their space combat MMO, BlackStar. However, the game was relaunched and finally published as a mobile MMO this past August to rave reviews. Congrats guys!
Our second game, Star Legends: the Blackstar Chronicles, exploded on the mobile gaming scene in August to wide critical acclaim and has already accumulated over 1.5 Million downloads.

• Venture Beat: “Top 10 iOS game of 2011”
• Mashable.com “Top 10 Best Android Games of 2011”
• Appolicious “Best Free iPad Games of All Time”

Combined, Spacetime Games are played over a million times each week in over 200 countries worldwide.

This Gratha's Seen Some Action

Zohrath has finished his Gratha model, and the results are fantastic! The spaceframe had a very raptor-like feel to it, and the brown Kilrathi durasteel has some very fine wear and tear. Z's got more updates in the works, which we can't wait to see. Check out his previous models here.
Maybe someone will get a kick out of the final result. More to come!

BREAKING NEWS: Amazon Lists Wing Commander Academy!

Amazon.com has finally posted a product page for Wing Commander Academy on DVD! This is a day we've been eagerly anticipating since the preliminary Canadian Amazon.ca page went up in September. The new storefront features the box art and confirms the May 29, 2012 release date. It also offers the set at a preorder price of $17.49, compared to the MSRP of $24.98. Super exciting - it's getting closer! Order your copy now!

Product Details
Format: NTSC
Language: English
Studio: Millennium Media Services
DVD Release Date: May 29, 2012
Run Time: 286 minutes

Check out this video for an example of the set's fantastic image quality.

Quick Awards Reminder

If you still have not yet voted in the CIC's annual Fan Project & Web Site of the Year awards, today's your last chance! Hit the voting page to help pick the winners.

Freddie Prinze Soldiers On

Freddie Prinze Jr, who portrayed Christopher Blair in Chris Robert's Wing Commander feature film has lent his voice to the highly anticipated Mass Effect 3. Freddie plays a soldier character that coincidentaly bears the name of a classic Wing Commander locale: Jason Vega.

He's not the first Wing Commander alumni to transition to the Mass Effect universe. Adam Lazarre-White, who played Lt. Terrence 'Zero' O'Hearn in Wing Commander Prophecy and Secret Ops voiced the character of Jacob Taylor in Mass Effect 2.

While Freddie's movie career has been hit or miss... I actually think he sounds pretty good and much more matured in the short clip from Game Trailers below. Maybe we can get him to re-dub all his Wing Commander movie lines too.

Academy Comes to America

There's good news and bad news tonight. The good news is that the Wing Commander Academy DVD set is now set for an American (rather than just Canadian) release. It should be available for preorder via Amazon and other retailers soon. The bad news is that this means another delay: the set is now scheduled for release May 29. TVShowsonDVD suggests that the Canadian version may still release in March, although distribution issues are making that less likely.

Standoff Fan Patch Adds a Retro Touch

danr put together a simple audio patch that takes the Prophecy/Secret Ops mass driver sound in Standoff and replaces it with the classic WC2 mass driver effect from the Kilrathi Saga. All of the original guns have a very distinctive sound and feel to them, so this little tweak adds a nice touch. Simply drop the contents of this file (35 k zip) into the Standoff folder and play. More instructions are included.
Hi, I made this for personal use a while back, but after starting a Standoff replay today, decided others might like to try it out.

The attached zipfile contains a replacement sound effect for the Mass Driver. It replaces the current (Secret Ops?) sound effect with the 1996 Saga Mass Driver. So if you've played a lot of KS WC and WCII, it might add a retro touch to your Standoff experience. Works for me.

I took the KS soundfile and converted it with WAV2IFF. The attached zip is a ready-to-go version, just add it to your Standoff directory via the readme inside.

Massive Monolith Gets Modular Makeover

Scooby Doo has put together a new Monolith concept. Aside from simply being a bigger sharper version of the design from Privateer 2, the ship has a new modular cargo system with a variety of customized transport sections. It can even carry fighters! Such versatility would be super useful on the frontier.
I've changed the monolith's cargo area completely. There's four different detachable modules, a cargo container, a fighter transport, fuel tankers and civilian transport units (with landing bays)

Just Crusin' Along...

CMDBob has put some of his numerous models to good use in a new wallpaper image. It features a Tallahassee being escorted behind a planet by several Rapiers. The setting is simple and even has a nice serene quality to it. Hit the thumbnail below for a full 1920x1080 version.

Wing Commander Armada Taken to the Tabletop

capi3101's latest role-playing project is an exciting "pen and paper" translation of Wing Commander Armada! The setup is fun and easy: players can use any Wing Commander sector for their battle. Gameplay pieces are comprised of capi's printable WC tokens and several dice. The rules have been summarized at the wikia WCRPG page here, and a printable rules PDF is also available at the CIC Forums. Give it a try and let everyone know what you think!

One of the big problems with creating all those counter sheets is that I really didn't have any specific pnp games in mind when I did them. True, I was pretty sure I could use some of them with TacOps (and later WCRPG), but the vast majority of them would be sitting unused for who knows how long. So, I decided since no games yet existed that would take advantage of those counters, I should probably make a few. And a pnp adaptation of Armada seemed like a good place to start.

I'm happy to announce that I completed the first draft of Wing Commander Armada: PNP this afternoon. The rules are currently online at the WCRPG wiki, at http://wcrpg.wikia.com/wiki/Wing_Commander:_Armada_PNP. The game is a reasonably faithful adaptation of the original (at least in my humble opinion). Of the counter sheets, it only requires the logo sheet (used as "Production Points" and "Claim Tokens") and the Armada Strategic sheet. I will probably need to work up some custom maps at some point; right now the rules suggest using the maps available from CIC.

The game is a first draft and it has yet to really be playtested at all (though I did do a pretty thorough check of the combat system while drafting the long combat example), so I'd definitely appreciate some help on that front. Anyone who has any comments, questions, concerns, complaints, etc. regarding the game may reply to this thread.

I hope y'all like it, share and enjoy, and so forth...

Last Week to Vote

The voting period is starting to wind down, but it's not too late to make a difference! This is the last week to vote for nominees of the CIC's annual Fan Project & Web Site of the Year awards, and results will be posted next weekend. Head over to the voting page if you haven't cast your vote yet!
    Fan Projects of the Year
  • Enigma 2666 began as a remake of Wing Commander 2, but has evolved into its own fledgling campaign. Deathsnake made steady progress all year long, including a couple of brief playable test releases.
  • OpenGL for Prophecy & Secret Ops offers substantially enhanced graphics for these two classic games. Pedro and Popsicle Pete's improvements in 2011 include new graphical assets, support for the WCP demo and compatibility with the Enhancement Pack that enables high resolution, multiplayer and DVD movie playback.
  • Rapid Prototype Mini Models include major contributions from several people: Astro Commander, AAN and Klavs independently continued to expand how many of these amazing ships there are. The paint jobs are just incredible!
  • Remote Control Dralthi & Morningstar is one that's hard to believe exists! Chris Carpenter has worked some aerodynamic magic to make physical Wing Commander models that actually fly.
  • Standoff still serves as the gold standard for Wing Commander game mods, and in 2011 they released patches for 64-bit versions of Windows and new ATI video cards. Dedicated fans of the game, Ilanin and wcnut, even helped complete mission walkthroughs and a Macintosh port!
  • Tactical Operations Online made consistent progress all year long with new features and test games. Avacar has taken an already great tabletop game and successfully brought it to the Internet.

    Web Sites of the Year
  • HCl's Wing Commander Editing Site offers an amazing assortment of editing tools for all sorts of Wing Commander games. HCl made considerable progress this year decompressing file formats used in WC games, and he published one such tool to grab Privateer 2 text in addition to several collaborative works.
  • Paper Commander released half a dozen new models this year, including designs from guest modeler Thunderchild. All of the newest designs even include integrated paper stands!
  • Shotglass' Site launched this year as a useful new Wing Commander hub for German-speaking fans. The site continues to be frequently updated with WC news and other stories of interest to Wingnuts.
  • Tactical Operations serves as the base of operations for Ironduke's tabletop WC RPG. The fun role playing game is the inspiration for the online variant up for nomination in the Fan Project section, and it also works with capi's counter tokens.
  • WC Saga kept fans up to date on the latest beta test progress at their project's website. The frequent updates on the mod's development status will surely continue throughout 2012.
  • Wedge's Wing Commander Site is one of the most complete archives of WC information on the internet. It's a prime collection of organized resources in addition to displaying its own content.

Don't forget to vote here!

Classic Magazine Feature Highlights Origin Hits

st3lt3k found a neat video recorded for the February 1994 issue of PC Player magazine. The clip is a five minute feature exclusively on the cool things Origin had planned for the year ahead. Unfortunately there's no info on Armada or Wing Commander 3, but Super Wing Commander makes a cameo at 0:22. For fans who are only familiar with the WC series, it's also a good introduction to what else Origin had going on during the mid '90s. You "won't believe your eyes" at all the amazing games! Attentive Wingnuts will also spot the unique interview background settings that also appeared in the WC3 Behind the Screens videos.

Saga Continues to Work Missions & Demo

Tolwyn reports that WC Saga has "finalized" almost all of the game's missions and has started to go back and update the demo that was originally released in 2006. The latest advancements raise hopes that the mod could be released prior to its upcoming eleventh birthday! Two more teaser shots have been released. Although these may appear too dark/light for some viewers, the team has mentioned that ambient light levels will be adjustable in the game.
By the end of next week, we will have finalized 48 of the missions from the main campaign, leaving only the final two climactic missions. In addition, we are also remastering and upgrading the original prologue missions to be released as a second, brief campaign as a part of the full Saga package. Beside that, we are finishing working out a few issues with the code, and of course we will resolve any issues that come up as we finalize the missions. We are just as anxious to be finished with the project as you are for us to be finished, but we are making sure to be careful and not take shortcuts on these final missions as we come around the bend on the last stretch to the finish line. So, while we do not yet have an exact release date because we cannot foresee what issues may come up as we make these last missions and code refinements, we are confident in stating that in a matter of weeks, Saga should be ready for launch.

After ten years of work, the end is indeed near!

TacOps Pulls Out The Big Guns

Avacar has coded a number of new features into WC TacOps Online that make it easier and harder to blow up bad guys. On the offensive side, anti-matter guns, the phase transit cannon and flak blasts have all be implemented, which gives capships a hefty boost in battle. For those on the defense, "line of site" has been introduced which allows ships to hide behind asteroids and large objects. The project is getting very close to completing all the rules from Ironduke's tabletop game!
Continuing with my roll-out of new features, I am happy to announce that line-of-sight has now been coded. I haven't had a chance to do any testing whatsoever of this algorithm, but at least it isn't giving any immediate run-time errors.

Obviously, putting in the line-of-sight code has ramifications for all gun target acquisition and ranging. In this up-coming combat phase, if any of you feel like you should be able to target someone and cannot anymore, point this out immediately and do not submit your order. Also, as it is currently coded, there is nothing actually telling you that you're blocked by line-of-sight, you simply won't have the target listed as an option on your drop down in the command window.

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

I should mention that we're 'getting close'. Flak fire is the 2nd last game rule/feature yet to be coded. After that, only friendly fire remains before we have a 'game rule-complete' version of WCTOO.

When that happens, I'm going to kick us into Phase 6. This is a redefinition of all the timelines out there, and I'll publish updates to the appropriate threads when we get closer. Phase 6 will focus on a lot of the user interface requests/suggestions, as well as start work on the much-needed administrator tools (leading up to the eventual map editor).

Wing Commander Computer at Full Throttle

LOAF is back to building Karga the Hero, and the "cockpit" is looking fantastic. The latest addition is a Thrustmaster TQS throttle, and there's some new high res photos to celebrate the nearly complete setup. Watch out for that first one, it's an 18 megapixel/7 megabyte behemoth. Be sure to zoom in to read all the writing on the MasterPilot displays!
The best news is that my recovery coincided with the arrival of the Thrustmaster TQS! As Dundradal promised, it is one heck of a throttle: just covered in crazy knobs and switches and buttons. Just learning to fly again is proving to be a fascinating experience.

Basically, there's a four-way switch that you use with one finger to control many extended cockpit features... and then a three-position slider you use to change the values on the four-way switch, for a total of twelve possible commands with two fingers. But many of the games support the other buttons, too... Wing Commander III, for example, lets you swap between different cockpit views by rotating the big radar wheel.

The TQS also has a built in mouse nub! You connect it with a separate serial cable and so can navigate menus and such without needing to switch to your mouse. I didn't have a serial cable on Friday, but one is on the way now...

Now of course this wouldn't be /this/ project if there weren't some crazy problem to overcome during the installation. And that was getting the TQS/F22 to program correctly. I had initially chained everything from my PS/2 keyboard connection in this order: PC-MasterPilot-MasterPilot-MasterPilot-F22-Keyboard. Unfortunately, the programming signal couldn't make it to the joystick--it would lock up in the 'finding' phase using both the DOS and Windows loaders.

I read in old usenet posts that having one MasterPilot and one MasterPilot programmer (which I don't have) could cause problems because of the power and the length the signal would have to travel to the joystick and that the solution was to swap things around until you got an order that worked for your system.

So next I tried: PC-MasterPilot-F22-MasterPilot-MasterPilot-Keyboard.

That was a bust, completely ran out of voltage before I got to the keyboard; it would barely pick up keystrokes or get stuck and repeat letters.

Finally I attempted: PC-MasterPilot-MasterPilot-F22-MasterPilot-Keyboard, which had the added bonus of removing a PS/2-AT converter that I had been using to plug the keyboard into the F22 (MasterPilots, oddly, have both AT and PS/2 holes.)

Bingo! Everything powers up correctly and the loaded can send sticksets to the F22/TQS correctly.

Dorkir Gets the Right Shape

Here's a preview of CMDBob's newest model, a Kilrathi Dorkir transport. The ship has really great geometry, but it still needs textures. That's nothing a little brown and red can't fix!

New Classic Cartridge Player Coming Soon

Here's a new way to play your Super Nintendo Wing Commander games. The latest iteration of the Retrode device allows SNES and Genesis games to play on your PC via the adapter pictured below. There's a bit of work necessary to get everything going: players must install an emulator and supply their own controllers, but connection and compatibility with computers looks pretty easy after that. Now all we need is WC2 SNES!

Collateral Damage Figuring Out Which Way to Point Guns

Here's some good news for Collateral Damage fans: JasonRocZ is working on importing some of his numerous ship models into the Vision Engine. The first shots below show what a couple of ships look like in Secret Ops, although Jason's hit some snags in regards to turret placement. There's also been updates to the popular and funny looking Earwig model.
Now that I'm looking at the model I made and the sillouette I really do not know what that thing could have looked like . This is really a rough best guess. Here's a third shot showing a revised front area with some Earwig claw looking tusks of some sort.

3D Printing Coming Home

This one is for all those awesome miniature Wing Commander model makers and 3D artists out there. Hot off the floor of CES this week is the MakerBot Replicator 3D. It's an amazing 3D printer capable of turning your personal 3D models into real life plastic designs. This version supports two simultaneous colors and/or types of material stock. A $2000 price tag is a bit steep, but it's not unreasonable for such a fancy futuristic device. I'd love to see what Wingnuts could do with it!
The MakerBot Replicator™ is the ultimate personal 3D printer, with MakerBot Dualstrusion™ (2-color printing) and a bigger printing footprint, giving you the superpower to print things BIG! Assembled in Brooklyn by skilled technicians, the MakerBot Replicator™ is ready within minutes to start printing right out of the box. At $1749 for a single extruder and $1999 for a dual extruder, The MakerBot Replicator™ is an affordable, open source 3D printer that is compact enough to sit on your desktop.

With a build envelope that's roughly the size of a loaf of bread, The MakerBot Replicator™ gives you the power to go big. Make an entire chess set with the press of a button. Friends, classmates, co-workers, and family will see the things you make and say "Wow!"

The MakerBot Replicator™ creates anything you can imagine with the new MakerBot Stepstruder™ MK8, the extruder is the part of the machine that turns raw feedstock, like ABS (what Lego® is made of) or PLA (a biodegradable material made from corn), into the objects you desire. You can order your MakerBot Replicator™ with single or dual MakerBot Stepstruders on it. By choosing the dual extrusion option, you'll print with two different colors at the same time. MakerBot Dualstrusion™ unlocks the ability to make beautiful combinations of colors and opens the door to experimenting with multi-material objects.

Today, MakerBot Industries re-launches Thingiverse.com, the website that allows you to share your designs and download files for thousands of models turning your ideas into real, physical objects. It's now easier than ever to share your digital designs! Thingiverse users will notice a new look and better organization for Thing pages and User profiles, as well as improved search and navigation making it easier to find what you're looking for. The updated Thing sharing process allows you to share designs faster with the "I Made One" button and use the new "I Made a Derivative" button to show off your mashups!

The MakerBot Replicator™ is ideal for personalized manufacturing, providing a new way to make the things you want and need. It is also an essential tool for children and students; parents and educators with a MakerBot Replicator™ offer the next generation an opportunity to learn the digital designing skills required to solve the problems of the future. Students with access to a MakerBot have an edge in the future job market. Just like the youth of the 1980's, who had access to computers, children with access to a MakerBot Replicator™ will become the leaders who make a better tomorrow.

The MakerBot Replicator™ is the tool from tomorrow, today. In the two years since the company was founded, the capabilities of a MakerBot have grown from printing cupcake-sized objects in 2009 to printing things as large as an entire loaf of bread today on on the MakerBot Replicator™. MakerBot Industries continues to demonstrate its dedication to putting the tools of creativity into the hands of the those brilliant and bold enough to bring their imagination into the physical world.

WCPedia Tackles Ship Layouts

The WCPedia team has started their big 2012 push, and the current hot topic is ship pages. There have been many updates to how information is laid out for fighters and capships, and the F-44 Rapier II page is a prime example. In addition to numerous stats and images, intuitive ways to display information on each ship's back story and different variants needs to be considered.
We continue to try and find the best layout for the new Ships articles. We are trying a new approach to see if we can find something we like.

Currently, we are working on gathering every reference related to the F-44 Rapier II on the ship's talk page. I've worked through the WC1 materials, the game itself, and the WC1 section of the Ultimate Strategy Guide. We've still got quite a few more sources to comb and any help would be appreciated. It's just a matter of searching the sources for references then just copy and pasting them in.

Active Wingnuts Want Your Vote

The CIC's annual Fan Project & Web Site of the Year awards are under way, and we need your vote! A handful of nominees that contributed to the Wing Commander community over the past twelve months have been chosen, and Wingnuts can help decide the winners. Head to the voting page to cast your ballot. Thanks to those have already voted!
    Fan Projects of the Year
  • Enigma 2666 began as a remake of Wing Commander 2, but has evolved into its own fledgling campaign. Deathsnake made steady progress all year long, including a couple of brief playable test releases.
  • OpenGL for Prophecy & Secret Ops offers substantially enhanced graphics for these two classic games. Pedro and Popsicle Pete's improvements in 2011 include new graphical assets, support for the WCP demo and compatibility with the Enhancement Pack that enables high resolution, multiplayer and DVD movie playback.
  • Rapid Prototype Mini Models include major contributions from several people: Astro Commander, AAN and Klavs independently continued to expand how many of these amazing ships there are. The paint jobs are just incredible!
  • Remote Control Dralthi & Morningstar is one that's hard to believe exists! Chris Carpenter has worked some aerodynamic magic to make physical Wing Commander models that actually fly.
  • Standoff still serves as the gold standard for Wing Commander game mods, and in 2011 they released patches for 64-bit versions of Windows and new ATI video cards. Dedicated fans of the game, Ilanin and wcnut, even helped complete mission walkthroughs and a Macintosh port!
  • Tactical Operations Online made consistent progress all year long with new features and test games. Avacar has taken an already great tabletop game and successfully brought it to the Internet.

    Web Sites of the Year
  • HCl's Wing Commander Editing Site offers an amazing assortment of editing tools for all sorts of Wing Commander games. HCl made considerable progress this year decompressing file formats used in WC games, and he published one such tool to grab Privateer 2 text in addition to several collaborative works.
  • Paper Commander released half a dozen new models this year, including designs from guest modeler Thunderchild. All of the newest designs even include integrated paper stands!
  • Shotglass' Site launched this year as a useful new Wing Commander hub for German-speaking fans. The site continues to be frequently updated with WC news and other stories of interest to Wingnuts.
  • Tactical Operations serves as the base of operations for Ironduke's tabletop WC RPG. The fun role playing game is the inspiration for the online variant up for nomination in the Fan Project section, and it also works with capi's counter tokens.
  • WC Saga kept fans up to date on the latest beta test progress at their project's website. The frequent updates on the mod's development status will surely continue throughout 2012.
  • Wedge's Wing Commander Site is one of the most complete archives of WC information on the internet. It's a prime collection of organized resources in addition to displaying its own content.

Don't forget to vote here!

Space Sim First Look: Sol Exodus

Sol Exodus is a new space sim in development, and much of its preliminary buzz has been spun around its similarities to Wing Commander. The game is being made in Austin under the creative direction of Chris Stockman of Tachyon the Fringe. The company's marketing contact is also none other than David Swofford, who once served as Origin's dedicated director of communications. Otherwise, the team behind the game is fairly small. There are a few nice touches already apparent, such as Wing Commander-style glass cockpit cracking and sliding-bar HUD indicators similar to WC4. It will be released sometime this year as a downloadable title for PC, and Facebook and Twitter pages for the game were just set up this week. Check out some of the sharp looking trailers and screenshots for an idea of what to expect.
AUSTIN, Texas, July 20, 2011—Seamless Entertainment™, an independent game developer located in Austin, Texas, is setting its sights on re-energizing a faded genre once known for legendary hits like Wing Commander® and FreeSpace™. Seamless unveiled its first trailer today for SOL: Exodus™, the company’s 3D space-action game. The game, currently in development, will be a downloadable title with a planned release later this year. The trailer is currently available at http://www.YouAreSOL.com.

SOL: Exodus will deliver epic space battles featuring enormous capital ships, hordes of spacecraft and beautifully rendered planetary battlegrounds in an action-packed presentation reminiscent of iconic sci-fi TV shows and movies.

The Seamless team is led by game industry veterans Dan Magaha (Firaxis Games/2K/NCsoft) and Chris Stockman, design director on the mega-hit Saints Row for Xbox 360.

“With SOL: Exodus, players will enjoy gameplay staples of the genre such as dogfighting and engaging giant capital ships,” said Creative Director Stockman. “But we‘ve also introduced some unique special abilities for added mission depth and interactivity. I’ll be talking more about those as we get closer to launching later this year.”

In SOL: Exodus, players will assume the role of fighter pilot in a battle for the survival of the human race, commanding their multi-purpose tactical fighter in battles across the most recognizable landmarks in our Solar System. Together with a squadron of wingmen, they will dogfight in the rings of Saturn, engage enormous capital ships around Neptune, thwart a trap in the chaotic, intense atmosphere of Jupiter, and much more!

“It’s not just a coincidence that this project is coming together in Austin, where the Wing Commander series was born back in the 1990s,” said Studio Director Magaha. “Austin has really become a hub for determined indie developers. I think we’ve got some of that maverick personality in this team; we’re just driven by the goal of making this game great.”

Josh Lucas Hits Television Big Time

HotJob & Goku report that WC3's Josh Lucas is the star of NBC's explosive new show, The Firm. It's a serial TV sequel to the 1993 movie starring Tom Cruise. The premiere is set for Sunday, January 8 at 9/8c, and a preview video has been posted here. It looks like Flash has a hit on his hands. NBC has also set up a biography for Lucas and a timeline of events between the movie and series.

After 10 years, Mitch McDeere and his family leave witness protection to start a new life and a new law practice. But are they really safe?

Compare that to his performance in WC3 here.

Everyone Loves a Good Dralthi

Zohrath has a couple more ships to show off, and these are both beauties. The first is a classic Dralthi with a fantastic weathered texture. It's even sharper than the Jalthi from last year. His second fighter is a Gratha, and although it's not quite as far along, it's an excellent start. Check out more of Z's ships here.
I've been working on a Dralthi lately, and as always working on new ways to texture stuff.

Saga Keeps the Lights On

The WC Saga team has posted another update about the game's current beta test, which began last March. IceFire notes that they're starting to now look at the second half of the game's campaign. This has highlighted issued with capships and larger fighter engagements. The mod is now working on becoming content complete by checking off items in a process they're calling "green lighting."

Beta Testing Progress

The beta testers and the WC: Saga team are as busy as ever as all of the crucial come together.

The latest round of testing takes us into the back half of the WC: Saga campaign featuring both small and large scale engagements. Larger numbers of fighters and sometimes epic capital ship battles are just some of the treats in store.

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

Green Lighting

As testing continues there comes a time when the content has to reach a completed stage. For WC: Saga this process is called “green lighting”. When a mission reaches a certain level of polish then testers check the fine details to look for any lingering problems.

Here are just a few things that testers are checking:

  • All objectives are present.
  • Wingmen are behaving appropriately to the situation.
  • Voice and message text match.
  • Autopilot cameras work correctly (i.e. no ships fly through the camera for example).
  • The debriefing is correct and matches the end scenario.
  • Your wingmen don’t bump into you while taking off.
There are many more hurdles that must be completed before a mission has been fully checked out. Once a mission has passed all of the checks it can be green-lit and considered finished barring any last minute adjustments.

New RPG Counters Come From Exotic Sources

Here's capi's latest batch of role-playing counter tokens, and these have a bit of a twist. The first two sheets below are squadron emblems borrowed from the Wing Commander Customizable Card Game. This is a fun idea! Some 104 different symbols are displayed here to spice up any tabletop game. The next pair of images are full of craft from Wing Commander Standoff, which allows for scenarios based off the scenes in the popular fan mod. Finally, a sheet of Black Lance/Border Worlds counters have been put together, and some improvements to the Prophecy card have been made. All of the tokens made so far have also been organized at the WCRPG Wikia page here.

I have completed the squadron emblem sheet set. The set consists of two sheets, one for Confederation emblems and the other for Kilrathi emblems (with one carry-over from the Confederation page). There are five copies of all Confederation emblems and four of all Kilrathi emblems; considering there are 47 unique Confederation emblems and 57 unique Kilrathi emblems...well, this enables 104-player games (of which I'm pretty sure none exist). If someone needs more tokens for their own use, they can simply prepare multiple copies of the sheet (or just use more than one squadron emblem). Even if you're not interested in pnp games, this is a collection of one of the more unique portions of the CCG; I'm not sure if it's ever been gathered together in one place like this. Debating as to whether or not I want to post up the entire emblem set or not as a separate set of downloads...

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

I decided to take the route where people could recreate any single mission from Standoff in pnp (perhaps using TacOps rules; it wouldn't require much rules tweaking at all - torpedo rules, maybe). That, of course, required the availability of a metric tonne of some Kilrathi craft, which in turn ultimately led to the decision to A) make this a two-sheet set, and B) make it dependent upon the ordnance sheet. I also went ahead and used silhouettes created from the in-game models, made possible thanks to Quarto's most excellent ship viewer modification (only exception to this is the Shoklar, which I only realized was missing last night; I wanted to get this done, however, so I just went with the Armada model). It's interesting to compare the silhouettes from this set to their originals, personally. Of course, this set includes the unique craft whose only appearance has been in Standoff, the reason why I created the set in the first place.

Annual Awards Kick-off Begins Now!

It's a new year, and that also means it's time for the CIC's annual Fan Project & Web Site of the Year awards! A handful of nominees that contributed to the Wing Commander community over the past twelve months have been chosen, and now Wingnuts can vote towards the winners. There were tons of exciting projects this year, so limiting the options to just six isn't easy. Thanks to everyone who contributed in 2011! Head to the voting page to cast your ballot.
    Fan Projects of the Year
  • Enigma 2666 began as a remake of Wing Commander 2, but has evolved into its own fledgling campaign. Deathsnake made steady progress all year long, including a couple of brief playable test releases.
  • OpenGL for Prophecy & Secret Ops offers substantially enhanced graphics for these two classic games. Pedro and Popsicle Pete's improvements in 2011 include new graphical assets, support for the WCP demo and compatibility with the Enhancement Pack that enables high resolution, multiplayer and DVD movie playback.
  • Rapid Prototype Mini Models include major contributions from several people: Astro Commander, AAN and Klavs independently continued to expand how many of these amazing ships there are. The paint jobs are just incredible!
  • Remote Control Dralthi & Morningstar is one that's hard to believe exists! Chris Carpenter has worked some aerodynamic magic to make physical Wing Commander models that actually fly.
  • Standoff still serves as the gold standard for Wing Commander game mods, and in 2011 they released patches for 64-bit versions of Windows and new ATI video cards. Dedicated fans of the game, Ilanin and wcnut, even helped complete mission walkthroughs and a Macintosh port!
  • Tactical Operations Online made consistent progress all year long with new features and test games. Avacar has taken an already great tabletop game and successfully brought it to the Internet.

    Web Sites of the Year
  • HCl's Wing Commander Editing Site offers an amazing assortment of editing tools for all sorts of Wing Commander games. HCl made considerable progress this year decompressing file formats used in WC games, and he published one such tool to grab Privateer 2 text in addition to several collaborative works.
  • Paper Commander released half a dozen new models this year, including designs from guest modeler Thunderchild. All of the newest designs even include integrated paper stands!
  • Shotglass' Site launched this year as a useful new Wing Commander hub for German-speaking fans. The site continues to be frequently updated with WC news and other stories of interest to Wingnuts.
  • Tactical Operations serves as the base of operations for Ironduke's tabletop WC RPG. The fun role playing game is the inspiration for the online variant up for nomination in the Fan Project section, and it also works with capi's counter tokens.
  • WC Saga kept fans up to date on the latest beta test progress at their project's website. The frequent updates on the mod's development status will surely continue throughout 2012.
  • Wedge's Wing Commander Site is one of the most complete archives of WC information on the internet. It's a prime collection of organized resources in addition to displaying its own content.

Don't forget to vote here!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! We hope 2012 is going well for everyone so far. The annual New Year's poll is up, and it asks what kind of year you think is ahead. Wingnuts have some exciting things to look forward to, and the first should hit in early March when the WC Academy TV show is released on DVD. GOG's Wing Commander releases are also selling very well, and it's a good bet that there'll be more in the months ahead. And there should hopefully be more news on the rumored Chris Roberts WC project. The WCPedia will also make great strides in 2012, and volunteers are always needed. There are sure to be some big surprises and plenty of impressive fan projects along the way. We can't wait to see what's in store!

Now we're coming back with a new wave of EA classics. And we'll be bringing you more Wing Commander games, more Ultima games, games from the Lands of Lore series and games from the Sim City series, tonnes of great EA classics all coming to GOG in the next few weeks [referring to the release of WC1&2].

The last poll asked about players' favorite factions to fly on behalf of. The Terran Confederation was a strong winner, followed by the scrappy Union of Border Worlds. I'm surprised that the Kilrathi Empire and being an independent mercenary came in such a distant third and fourth and that almost nobody voted for pirates. There's a lot of noble fans here!

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