PC Gamer Reinstalls The Heart of the Tiger

The April 2012 issue of PC Gamer includes a neat retro feature on Wing Commander 3! Much like the reviews of yesteryear, the game gets three full pages of gorgeous screenshots and text full of praise. WC3 was the hit cover story of PC Gamer's seventh issue way back in 1994, and it was long tied for third-highest-rated game of all time at a whopping 96% behind Alpha Centauri and Half Life. Copies have started arriving for subscribers and this issue should be on newsstands now.

This month’s Reinstall revisits Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, one of the highest-budget games of its time in 1994 and a beloved FMV classic to boot...

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Wing Commander 3 could definitely have aged worse, and the fact that you can switch on invulnerability in the options menu without any form of penalty means that you shouldn't let it put you off. At the very least, it's a great way to understand just what the hell convinced people that interactive movies were the future - from the cinematic style, to its ambition, to the way it used FMV to create a world instead of to cover a gaping hole where its soul should have been. It was an amazing game for its day, and it's still a movie worth starring in.

And a shout out to LOAF's archives!

...did you know there was a Saturday morning cartoon too? It was called Wing Commander: Academy, and against all odds, it was excellent. Like the games, it featured heroic moments, but took a surprisingly mature approach to war - not simply death and loss, but showing the dilemmas of being in command and the clash of two races with very different approaches to honor. For years, the only copies have been some low-quality [awesome] TV rips. The whole series is coming to DVD in March [now May] though, and is worth a watch.

Warren Spector Wins GDCA Lifetime Achievement Award

The Game Developers Choice Awards have announced that Wing Commander veteran Warren Spector will be receiving its Lifetime Achievement award next week. Congrats!
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the career and achievements of a developer who has made an indelible impact on the craft of game development and games as a whole, and Warren Spector, who has earned a sterling reputation as an innovator able to merge the deep gameplay elements of multiple genres, stands as a shining example of those principles.

"Warren, whose rarified, 'big picture' thinking and ideals have done a great deal for the games industry, exemplifies the exact qualities that a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient should possess," said Meggan Scavio, general manager of GDC Events at UBM TechWeb. "In presenting him with this honor, we continue a tradition of highlighting individuals whose work stands as a benchmark for the next generation of developers."

Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement are chosen by the Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Committee, which includes game industry notables such as Doug Lombardi (Valve), Mark Cerny (Cerny Games), Harvey Smith (Arkane), Raph Koster (Metaplace), Julien Merceron (Square Enix), John Vechey (PopCap) and Clint Hocking (LucasArts).

The 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards Ceremony is produced in association with the Game Developers Conference® (GDC) and will take place on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm, at the San Francisco Moscone Center. The ceremony is open to all Game Developers Conference attendees.

Never a Better Time for an "All Your Base" Reference

Cybot078 has arranged a slew of designs from the forces of the Confederation and Empire. This time it's the Kilrathi fleet descending on a huge variety of Terran outposts. Cybot's modeled everything from the Terran HQ to Pegasus Naval Base to New Constantinople! Do you recognize them all? Many of these designs are available in Lightwave format at the CIC Forums here and here.

Two New TacOps Games Accepting Players

Avacar has announced two new test games for Wing Commander TacOps. Players can now apply for slots and the games should start in a little over a week. The first mission is a small dogfight that tests out asteroid collisions and line-of-sight, and the second game is a large scale capship battle with escorts. This is a good opportuntity for players to try out the game, and it also supports testing of some of the last features in the current ruleset. You can find out more on the game or read up on its instruction manual here. Apply to play at the CIC/TacOps Forum.
With capital ships now feature-complete, it is time to announce 2 new test games. Meanwhile, I believe Game 5 will continue pointing out some of the limitations of the large-format maps which I haven't worked around, and Game 6 will continue to be used by me alone for Cap ship testing. Both games are going to follow a few basic rules, but they will be fundamentally different. Here are the commonalities and rough instructions for posting:

You may apply to both games. When applying (via post below) please list your preference if you can only get into 1 game. The games will both be player-limited, and I will try to sort it out so that the most people can get into their 1st choice. If we are short on pilots, I will happily allow people into both games, on a first-applied, first-served basis. Since the game doesn't understand 'teams' yet, both games will be split Terran/Kilrathi. You will be playing on the race-appropriate team with other human pilot teammates. For simplicity, both games will have all pilots set at 'Normal' pilot skill, to eliminate this variable from the testing.

Game 7: Collisions and Line of Sight: This will be a 3 on 3 dogfight in an asteroid field. I will also be dropping in a transport or cap ship in the center. This will be on a very small map, so avoid boosting off the edge! (20x20 squares)

Your mission:

1. Smash into asteroids at high speeds
2. Confirm asteroids provide LOS block
3. Confirm Capships provide LOS block
4. Defeat opposing race

Rules/Instructions:

1. Each player may choose one medium and one light fighter from their respective race.
2. Please specify your race/team, and your 2 ships in your post below. If you are willing to fly either race, specify 4 ships (2 each side) but also list your preference, in case I can accommodate it.

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Game 8: Carrier Battle: This will be a 4 on 4 battle. Each side is allowed 1 carrier, 1 destroyer, and 1 Cruiser (or Corvette). Additionally, each side may field up to 5 bombers, 5 heavy fighters, 5 medium fighters and 10 light fighters.

Your Mission:

1. Find flaws in Capship movement and combat
2. Fire capship weapons
3. Test flak fields (fly into them if you have to)
4. Find flaws with fighter/capship interactions (inappropriate weapon targeting, etc.)
5. Destroy the enemy Carrier (worth 5 points, +3 points for destroying the Destroyer, +2 for the Cruiser)

Rules/Instructions:

1. I will hand out the 6 cap ships on a first-come-first post basis.
2. No one may pilot more than 1 cap ship
3. Cap ships pilots may not also pilot bombers
4. Each player may pilot 16 points worth of ships. For this purpose, all cap ships will count as 8 points.
5. Please list your preferred race and ship set. Unlike Game 7, you may not list for both sides, so pick carefully, on a first-come-first served basis.
6. When listing your ships, please take into account what has already been posted for your side, such that you do not exceed the team limits. Incorrect posts will result in either me assigning arbitrary ships to you, or worse, forfeiture of play if we have too many applicants.

In summary:

* Post to join
* List preferred game if applying to both
* Game 7: List preferred side, and ships
* Game 8: List side, ships, and be careful not to exceed already claimed team limits by other players
Check back here frequently!

Barring further announcement below, everyone has 1 week to apply. Deadline closes Sunday, March 4th at the last midnight globally. Both games will start at some announced point after that, likely within the following week.

Good Luck Pilots!

Amiga Successfully Fixed in NZ While Karga Goes 3D

When we last mentioned the Amiga Wing Commander Computer, it was on its way around the world to have critical circuitry repaired in New Zealand. The machine has arrived at its destination, and the Kiwi technician there has already fixed what was broken! That doesn't mean that LOAF has been without a mission for the last few weeks, however. In the mean time, Karga has gotten some upgrades in order to clean up its layout and make room for the Amiga. Most impressive of all is the new VFX-1 virtual reality headset that has been added to the setup. In addition to fancy head tracking and 3D support in games like Wings of Glory and System Shock, the device is also the coolest way you can possibly steer your ship in Wing Commander. LOAF even got a posh glass head to store it on when not in use!
So, is that it? Project on hold for a month, you're not going to have LOAF to Amiga around anymore? Actually, the stars have aligned and I'm happy to announce that following in Pix's footsteps I have...

... purchased a Forte VFX-1 virtual reality helmet! You can read about Pix's first experiences here: http://www.pixsoriginadventures.co.uk/system-shock-on-the-vfx-1 and I just couldn't let him have all the fun. Actually, I saw sold the minute I learned I had an excuse to buy one: the card officially supports yaw movement in several Wing Commander games. That's enough to warrant inclusion in my setup, although the REAL prize should be using it to 'look around' in Wings of Glory!

Now, yes the use in Wing Commander is fairly limited... and yes the 3D aspect is useless to a cyclops such as myself... but it's just too darn cool looking to pass up. And WoG, one of my favorite games, fully supports them.

It's going to require a major structural change to Karga. The vaunted and valuable LAPC-I is out and will need to be replaced by an external MT-32 (luckily I have two ready to go!)... and I'll need to put a PCI video card with a feature connector in my last available slot. And of course my web of various external connections will need to change... but it'll be fun to figure that all out in the coming weeks! And come on, it's a freaking VR helmet! What is more 1990s than that?

I'd actually been working behind the screens to try and get one of these the last few weeks. I had a heartbreaking encounter over at the VFX Yahoo group where someone offered to GIVE ONE AWAY to the first person from the UK who responded. I replied first and I should have just given him Hades' address but I didn't think of it... so it went to someone else.

Then someone offered to sell me one, but shipped from Canada with an entire computer attached... and I had to make an offer. I was going to say $400 for the system and hope that was enough when I happened to search eBay and find one listed UNDER THE WRONG NAME! It was listed as a "VFX-I" (eye, not one) and so it didn't go for an insane amount of money. Burned off Saturday waiting to snipe it and I got lucky!

So: VFX-1 coming in the mail and Karga will re-enter our story!

Finally, I'd heard that the VFX-1 had a cameo in an episode of X-Files. I decided to go through my DVDs and see if I could find it. Interestingly it wasn't in EITHER of the Virtual Reality-related episodes... instead, it shows up in the Lone Gunmen's origin story, "Unusual Suspects." Screenshot!

Space Sim First Look: Moon Breakers

Moon Breakers is a new multiplayer space sim that has just been released. It's a pretty sharp looker, but on top of that, it's also free to play in the Google Chrome web browser! The game really shows off what's possible on modern platforms such as this, and it's a good test of the microtransaction model in the space combat genre too. A major plus is the game's accessibility - you can be off and flying in minutes. Try it out for free here (Chrome required) or check out the launch trailer below.
Imba Entertainment just recently launched our first game, Moon Breakers. While not a Wing Commander game (and I'll admit in advance we have no in-cockpit view), Moon Breakers is the distillation of our passion for space shooters, a genre that we know has fallen out of favour recently in mainstream gaming. As a team we grew up playing games like Elite, Xwing vs. TIE, Wing Commander and Freespace. We wanted to recreate those experiences for gamers who miss them, as well as entirely new populations of players. Our focus has been on 3D multi-player space combat with simple, intuitive controls and rock solid gameplay, in addition to a contemporary level of eye-candy. Moon Breakers is free-to-play and perhaps most exciting, the game runs directly in Google’s Chrome browser, which puts us on computers in homes, offices and internet cafes around the world. We're a small team, but what our game lacks in cockpit views and characters it makes up for in gameplay and accessibility.
New multi-player space combat title bringing classic SciFi action to a new generation of gamers, free to play.

Kirkland, WA, February 20, 2012 - Space battles are back! Newly formed game studio Imba Entertainment is pleased to announce Moon Breakers, an online game focused on bringing classic space combat to wherever Google Chrome is found.

The game pits two teams of players against each other in objective-based missions, where nimble star ships dogfight and Carriers bristle with automated gun turrets as they fend off torpedoes and cannon fire, all set to a soundtrack by legendary composer Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica, Walking Dead). Moon Breakers’ formula of incredibly intuitive controls, crisp visuals and thrilling action gives players an experience unlike anything they’ve played in a browser, and best of all it’s free to play.

“We’re big fans of the classic PC space shooters of the 90’s,” said Ed Byrne, Creative Director. “So we’re thrilled to bring that genre alive again for both a new generation of players and hardcore fans alike. As we expand Moon Breakers we’ll begin to introduce some exciting contemporary features in the works, including fully customizable ships, player clan ‘squadrons’, and unique mission objectives.”

Moon Breakers plays seamlessly on multiple operating systems, directly in Google’s Chrome browser with one click. Once new pilots sign in they will be able to jump into battle with the ‘Mamba’ light fighter and ‘Rhino’ bomber. Other ships can be unlocked using Moon Breaker’s in-game Helium-3 currency. Additionally, players earn Cred as they play which is used to upgrade their ships even further, allowing for extensive customisation.

PixelFoundry Forges Ahead Into BlackSpace And Finds Wing Commander

BlackSpace - a space based real-time strategy game for the PC - has been announced by new studio PixelFoundry, established by former EA Tiburon members Volga Aksoy and Jerry Phaneuf.

The space age emerges and fleets of ships await their birth. Massive mining rigs scatter into the darkness of space in hopes of finding mineral deposits to prospect for extraction. BlackSpace takes you to the edge of known space where nature's true hostility lay bare. It's here, in the frontiers of the galaxy, that those dubbed the BlackSpace colonists expect to prove that life can not only exist but flourish. It is yet to be demonstrated whether these deep space ventures can yield returns to justify the expense and the risk. You and your crew are among those who believe they can.

BlackSpace, is a unique form of real-time strategy, combining elements of action with an emphasis on economic and defensive efficiency. Players will find themselves on the outskirts of explored space, harvesting minerals, and supplying markets, while using the resources around them to sustain their operations as well as the lives of the colonist workers.

BlackSpace, is a unique form of real-time strategy, combining elements of action with an emphasis on economic and defensive efficiency. Players will find themselves on the outskirts of explored space, harvesting minerals, and supplying markets, while using the resources around them to sustain their operations as well as the lives of the colonist workers.

While the teaser itself doesn't reveal much about the game, the small team of developers look to blend elements from classics such as Wing Commander and Warcraft (the RTS, not the MMO) to create something that they feel will appeal to modern audiences. Read more here.

"I personally am a huge fan of games like the Wing Commander series. I also am one of the few that still think RTS when someone mentions Warcraft. If it's done properly, many elements of those two games can be melded," Phaneuf told Joystiq. "We see this as a great opportunity to make the game that we can't wait to play. So we're pretty excited about getting it done soon, but also growing it over time as well."

"Let's Play" WC Saga

WCSaga and Rurikhan have put together a new video that highlights a mission from the upcoming mod. It begins with in the game's main ready room, enters a mission briefing and then launches into space. The narrator/player seems somewhat inexperienced when it comes to space sims, but it's great to see the game in motion. Tolwyn warns that there may be spoilers, so watch at your own risk!

And today for something completely different, meet Wing Commander Saga, a space combat simulator developed by Gamers, for Gamers. If you were a fan of the Wing Commander series, you simply can't miss this game, and if you weren't a fan, you're in luck, because it's not too late, and this project will be completely free on launch, so check it out, you might just find that you are actually a fan of Wing Commander!

More Historical Planes Wing Commanderized

Here's some new concept models by ScoobyDoo. Most of his designs are derived from Wing Commander ships, but there are other inspirations as well. The large capship is similar to a late Kilrathi War carrier, and it's followed by something that's not far from a Stiletto. The other designs are more of a cross with real life attack planes a - P-61 Black Widow, F-4 Phantom and "F-19" stealth fighter.
[The carrier] was one of my first models I made (one of the model files dates back to Oct 2004). I've learned one or two things since then and gave it a total makeover. :D

Big and Small Craft Added to Vintage Fleet

NinjaLA has refined his retro ship sketch with intrepretations of what early war Ferrets and Broadswords may have looked like. The Ferret is a a little more hard edged, and the Broadsword incorporates the best elements from the Wing Commander Movie and game variants together. An enlarged and more carefully detailed A-17 takes the concept further with even more characteristic bomber features. Let Ninja know what you think at the Discuss link below.
Where are the side turrets?

They are there, but hidden.. I put them under the winglets on the fuselage just so they wouldn't be accidentally shooting at those giant shipkiller torpedos. There is also a tail gun in the back and a cannon on the nose for strafing. and I think the next version will have a ball turret on top and bottom.. to give it more of a bomber feel.

Maybe You Did Buy it for the Articles

Everyone's seen the famous magazine covers that appeared just prior to Wing Commander 4's release, but a lot of people have never read the actual write-ups within. Heart of the Tiger is here to fix that with a scan of the December 1995 issue of Computer Games Strategy Plus. It begins with the Hellcat-chasing-a-Banshee cover, then continues with an article packed full of the game's FMV and space flight screenshots. The text is a wonderful read as the author captures the anticipation and excitement of the upcoming release very well. Enjoy!
Hollywood "Puppet Master" Bud McGrew recounts "originally there were supposed to be three Kilrathi in the new game. Due to budgetary constraints that would produce three 'only all right' Kilrathi, Origin decided to replace quantity with quality. So now we have one 'movie quality' Kilrathi."

Melek, the sole Kilrathi in the game, was custom constructed using four off-the-shelf Futaba radio control systems. These are connected to a Kuper motion control computer which was modified to work with the radios. To give you some indication of how sophisticated Melek really is, the gorilla "Amy" from the movie Congo was constructed with 23 servos while Melek has an astonishing 27.

"The Tiger's Claw closes in for the kill..."

CMDBob has taken his dashing Bengal model and positioned it in a planetary attack pose. Although we only see the Tiger's Claw like this for a few seconds at the end of Wing Commander 1, the iconic Venice Assault is always a fan favorite, and this one is just as charming as the original.

Austin Indie Game Development on a Fund Raising Kick

Glen Sanger, son of George 'The Fat Man' Sanger, is looking to break into the video game industry, and he's using Kickstarter to do it. Clockwork & Crossbones is a turn based strategy game that takes place in a steampunk pirate setting. It's being built as a Facebook browser game with highly customizable pirate ships, online multiplayer and weekly single player episodes in mind. If you're not familiar with Kickstarter, the service allows people to pledge donations towards a project that's still in development. Funds are only paid out if a minimum dollar threshold is met, and contributors get special game-related perks. You can watch a background video, learn more about the project and consider donating here.

Empire's Finest Deployed to Antares

starfox1701 has modeled another classic Wing Commander ship, and this time he's gone further back in time and over to the Kilrathi fleet. The fighter below represents his take on the experimental Hhriss. There aren't too many fan versions of this legendary ship out there, so it's always interesting to see a new one.
Inspiration has been flowing to the other side as of late. Couldn't find a good Hhriss model out there so I took a crack at it myself. What you all think?

Amiga WC Computer Embarks on Special Repair Mission

There's been quite a few updates since we last saw LOAF's new Amiga Wing Commander Computer. For starters, the system boots and runs Wing Commander! Unfortunately, the machine is afflicted by a leaky circuit board capacitor, which has killed the machine's sound. The issue is apparently quite common, however, and the Amiga is now on its way to New Zealand to be fixed by a repair person who specializes in exactly this problem. Read up on the full adventures at the CIC Forums here.
Good morning everyone! It's very cool that so many Amiga veterans are here... I had no idea there were so many of you.

I heard back from the Amiga surgeon and his rates are entirely reasonable... I just have to remove the motherboard and mail it to New Zealand! So, look forward to seeing some pictures of Amiga guts this weekend. My big worry is remembering how to put it back together... but it should make for a good story, and that's what we're here for!

(I KNEW that joke about Australians at the start of the thread would come back to haunt me.)

(Yes, I know Australia and New Zealand are actually different countries.)

I talked to Hades on IRC last night and he linked me to this: http://aminet.net/package/game/demo/WingCommander

The Amiga Wing Commander demo! I had no idea it was available to the public. He said he'd tried to emulate it but that it didn't work... so it's up to me to try it on the real thing!

IF this is the demo I've heard of then it should be pretty cool. It's not playable but has 64-color graphics instead of 16... and it shows the Sivar dreadnaught from Secret Missions, which never made it to the Amiga!

The problem is that I have no idea how to get this demo from my PC or Mac to the Amiga. I tried burning CDs a few different ways and the Amiga didn't recognize any of them. I did test its drive by loading some of my proper CD32 discs, which showed up just fine.

I've read online that you need to burn at very slow speeds, 2x or so, to get a CD32 to read CR-Rs... unfortunately, my burner won't go below 10x. So I'll have to experiment with different methods in the hopes of finding something the Amiga can read (I DID try downloading a CD32 ROM and then adding the wingcommanderdemo folder to the ISO... no luck there, either.)

Failing that, it sounds like there's a way to connect via null modem... if the Amiga has the right software for that onboard then maybe I can push the demo over from Karga. But I guess I'll have a few weeks to think about that...

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I know what you're thinking: an update on Saturday night?! Don't you write these at work to kill time? Shouldn't you be out partying with supermodels?! The answer to all three questions is yes, but this has been such an eventful night in classic Wing Commander machine-ing that I decided to go ahead and write a quick update now.

Thanks for the name suggestions! I'm really not sure what to go with, but I'll make a decision soon. Other ideas, from Twitter for the record: F-36, Amigo, The Behemoth, Eagle-1, Pathetic Insect and Hamburger Inferno. I do think the Amiga is female? Bertha was a girl for obvious reasons and Karga was male because Kilrathi ships are.

So, the Amiga's first surgery was this morning. My father, who has working eyes, helped strip it down to remove the main board. The board will be shipped to New Zealand on Tuesday for repair and if we're lucky it'll be back here in about a month.

Amazon Upgrades Academy to Release Date Shipping

The Amazon.com listing for Wing Commander Academy has been updated to advertise that Release Date Shipping is now available! This service is free for Amazon Prime members if they select the two-day shipping option. Wingnuts who have already selected overnight delivery ($3.99 additional) may want to revise their order to reduce the price and make this an even better deal. In our testing, orders that were placed at the original $17.49 presale price don't appear to be bumped up to the new $22.49 rate if the shipping method is changed. Orders that were previously placed with two-day shipping should automatically be updated and now reflect a May 29 estimated arrival. This will make the wait slightly more bearable!
Want to receive this the day it comes out?
Select FREE Two-Day Shipping at checkout.

Early War Warbirds Sketched Out

NinjaLA has revamped his old fighter concepts with a handful of new sketches. The focus is on the early days of the war with ships from the novel Action Stations and others that would have existed at the time. Easily recognizable designs include the Arrow, Scimitar and Rapier I, and Ninja got more creative with the older ships. His Wildcat fighter is designed to look like a retro Hellcat, and the more sleek Corsair is a fresh take on the design with elements borrowed from several other WC craft.
I redid the Wildcat to look like a Hellcat with bigger engines. I figure the power output would be similar for older fighters.. but engines probably got streamlined and cheaper over the years of the war. So here's an old arrow, Scimitar, and everyone's favorite: the CF-117 Rapier too, and a new design I rather like.. but I'm not sure if it actually fits the Corsair moniker or not.

Dauntless and Tiger and Wolfhound... Oh My!

CMDBob has finished his Bengal model, and the results are below. In this case, it really is a Bengal and not just the Tiger's Claw: Bob's rendered two other sister ships with slightly different markings. Like his other designs, the ship has a cartoonish look at first glance, but a closer inspection reveals some wonderful detail. Check out those side launch bays!
Well, it's been a bit, but here it comes; the Tiger's Claw (and a couple of other Bengals too!)

Next up, the Raptor, which would mean I have all four WC1 Confed fighters done! Then, something Kilrathi, perhaps the Fralthi (which would mean I have all three WC1 Kilrathi capitals done. [not including Secret Missions, because er... I'm not including it, and not including the star post as it's a spacestation, not a capship!]) So, yeah... enjoy!

Happy Birthday George!

February 15 is Wing Commander 3/4/Prophecy soundtrack composer George Oldziey's birthday, and we'd like to wish him a happy one! What's George been up to lately? He recently created another video game score for Crimson Alliance on XBox Live Arcade. Listen to the audio in the game's trailer for that classic orchestral flair!

Meet TNC's Star Anchor

Here's a news story that's been lost in the dusty corners of the internet for quite some time. Way back in 1999, IndustryCentral.net ran an interview with Barbara Niven, who played news anchor Barbara Miles in Wing Commanders 3 & 4. Ms. Niven is a working actress (and motivational speaker) and continues to star in numerous television shows/movies. As interesting as it is to read about this particular WC actor's story, it's also fun to find a website that appears to be stuck in the late '90s/early 2000s. IndustryCentral doesn't seem to have been touched much at all in the last decade, yet someone is still paying for the domain and account. It could go down at any moment, so if you're interested in checking the article out, visit quick here.

Barbara Niven is commited to acting classes and doing theater when she’s not on location shooting her current role on Pensacola: Wings of Gold. She loves taking risks, playing "out there" characters. "I never want to play it safe. I like being afraid… if something scares me, I’m going to say YES and then figure out how to do it." She has an independent film Anoosh of the Airways coming out where she plays eight different characters, and says it was freeing because there were no limits to where the characters could go. She’s also currently onstage in Los Angeles starring in a John Patrick Shanley play, Psychopathia Sexualis, playing an outrageous Texan named "Lucille" who stomps around the stage in a wedding dress and cowboy boots! She says, "I find that you can play anything outrageously… as long as you play it from an absolute core of truth. I learn something from every character I play, and carry part of them with me from that moment on." She says that Katherine Hepburn and Jessica Tandy are her idols. "You follow their careers and you watch the evolution of two human beings over the course of a lifetime. Age just made their work richer. It takes living to be a good actor. For me, it gets more exciting all the time. I can feel my instrument and my work getting better and better, and can’t wait to see where the journey takes me."

For now though she says she’s got one of the roles of a lifetime playing Kate on Pensacola, the owner of the local bar where all the fighter pilots hang out. Niven even studied with a local bartender when she got the part. He gave her lessons in bar tricks, which she paid for by washing bar glasses for him - lots of them. Dishpan hands were worth it. Although she says she still can’t flip those bottles around like the good ones do. She’s broken a few trying though!

You can also find all of the TNC Infobursts in the CIC Holovids section here. Only a few such news segments made it into the PC version of WC3, but more than a dozen more were included in the Playstation & 3DO editions.

Last, but not least, the site also covered Richard Riehle in 2000. You can find more on that piece here.

Classic Connie Gets a Modern Makeover

starfox1701 has posted an interesting take on the TCS Concordia. At first glance, it's a pretty faithful rendition of the Confederation class dreadnought, but there are also a few slight differences. The weapon turrets are probably the most pronounced change, and starfox also tried to do some new things with the textures. Check out more images and let him know what you think at the CIC Forums.
Recently got the WC bug again after years and been putting my burgeoning modeling and model tinkering skills to work.

Wing Commander Trademark Extended

NuAngel spotted an update to the Wing Commander trademark that Electronic Arts filed back in 2009. In the years since the filing first made the news, evidence has mounted that preproduction continues on a new Wing Commander game. And although there is still little firm information at this time, it seems like the project has been quite a while in the making. The trademark filing shows that there have been several extensions submitted, and the most recent went through on September 6, 2011. It was first established on August 5, 2009. Hopefully the extension means the project still has momentum!
Mark (words only): WING COMMANDER

Standard Character claim: Yes

Current Status: A third request for extension of time to file a Statement of Use has been granted.

Date of Status: 2011-09-06

Filing Date: 2009-08-05

LAST APPLICANT(S)/OWNER(S) OF RECORD

1. ELECTRONIC ARTS INC.

Address:
ELECTRONIC ARTS INC.
209 Redwood Shores Parkway Legal Department
Redwood City, CA 94065
United States

Hornets Commemorate Fallen Pilots

Tim Peel has composed yet another top notch Wing Commander scene with Howard Day's models. This one features several Hornets in the Missing Man Formation, and the slight contrails behind the ships give a nice sense of speed. The head on view of the Tiger's Claw is also quite a sight to behold.
I've put together something using LOAF's "Missing Man" formation suggestion. I'm hoping the formation is obvious enough in the current composition - happy to hear people's thoughts on that though. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Wing Commander's Got This

Matthew Khouzam found a video with a cute Wing Commander cameo. XCOM Lore in a Minute is a quick run through that series' backstory. When the clip reaches X-COM Interceptor and its genre shift over to space combat, the fighter pilot is clearly a tribute to Christopher Blair from WC2. The character is outfitted in a surprisingly accurate WC2 flight suit and blue hairdo. Check out the video here and the WC bit at 0:55.
Lewis of The Yogscast takes us through the story of XCOM!

Art by D.J. "Metaly" Ross

RPG Finishes Background Timeline

capi3101 has completed writing out the chronological setting for his new Wing Commander RPG. The universe takes elements from the Star*Soldier timeline and merges them with info from the unpublished Privateer Online. There's also a sprinkle of knowledge from the Movie's Confederation Handbook and Privateer 2 too. capi would appreciate it if knowledgable fans checked out the wiki and verified its WC facts and internal consistency. Visit the timeline here.

Progress on the game as a whole is also going well. The latest rule elements that have been fleshed out this month revolve around interplanetary and interstellar travel.

Just thought I'd let y'all know I've finished making my latter-era timeline entries, reconciling the Privateer Online entries with the events of the Nephilim War; this gives me a complete enough timeline to call the Chapter finished at this point. I did have to make one change to the "official" timeline seen in Star*Soldier; I pushed back the entry on the novel Clipped by about five years. Couldn't think of a different way to resolve some of the events otherwise.

I'd like it if y'all could review the events as listed and point out any errors or anything that contradicts continuity. There shouldn't be much, but I'd still like to keep the mistakes to a minimum. There may be entries that are superfluous or that duplicate one another, or contradict one another; those are the ones I want to try to eliminate.

Been reviewing the timeline this morning, and I think I've got most of the major inconsistencies in the timeline resolved at this point. I could still use an independent review from anybody willing to give it a readthrough. Looking for any remaining big mistakes at the moment.

The WCRPG timeline is at http://wcrpg.wikia.com/wiki/12.1:_Timeline. I'd be more than happy to put the name of anybody who helps out in the game's credits.

Saga Beta Expands to Full Game

There's a new look inside WC Saga's beta test. The team reports that there have been many iterations of the beta and they are now starting to test missions in the later portions of the game. There have also been issues with capship positioning and audio recently, but these bugs are being worked through.
We're almost there! The beta testing has been a long process for the testers and for the team but we can all see the end of this very long road. With ten years of development behind some of the team members this is an incredible project coming to fruition.

I have described in earlier reports that the beta testers have not had access to the entire campaign but rather we have tested the missions in the same order that players will experience when the project is complete. After 15 beta versions we have now arrived at a content complete beta test and testers are working hard beta testing the final missions.

Here's just a few of the bugs that we've been able to identify and eliminate:

* A Kilrathi raiding party arrives with several capital ships. In one instance two capital ships arrive on the same trigger and appear inside of each other. The triggers were changed and now they arrive separately. Much to the relief of the Kilrathi!
* In another mission the player receives a message to protect a Confed capital ship, however, if the ship is already lost the sound file is still played. Problem solved.
* A missing voice over causes a bug in the message line up resulting in some dialogue continuing over an autopilot sequence. Voice over files found and problem solved!

There is a definite buzz and a sense that something special is really starting to come together as we test the final missions of the campaign where the story comes to its epic conclusion. More missions are green lit and problems are found and solved.

It takes many years of serious work and commitment to get to this point and there will be more time and serious work to come. I think it will be all worth it. Stay tuned for more updates in the near future!

LOAF Fixes an Amiga

With the addition of some recent finishing touches, LOAF has essentially completed Karga the Wing Commander Computer, and he's looking for new challenges. Although there are a few opportunities for Karga expansion later, the next great frontier lies with the Amiga. These teaser shots provide a glimpse into the adventure ahead, and LOAF sets the stage below. Continue the story at the CIC Forums here!
AMIGA! Is there no word more thrilling to the human soul?

If you're reading this and thinking: what the heck is an Amiga? then you're probably... an American! Amigas were available here but they were never more than an also-ran, a distant third or fourth or seventh in the titanic struggle between Macintosh and PC.

If you're reading this and thinking "Amigas, eh? Jolly good." then you are British and know what's going on. The Amiga was HUGE in Europe and England especially, where they were the last desperate strike against having to use the same kind of computer as normal people (you know, along with the BBC Micro and the Sinclair and the Acorn and half a dozen other weird space computers.)

(Finally, if your reaction was: "eh mate, thems a fuzzy wagger" then you are an Australian and should seek help.)

The one exception is in professional video work, where American Amigas found a real niche. Thanks to an invention called the "Video Toaster" (yes, we're all thinking of the After Dark flying toasters right now, just let it happen) the humble Amiga became an unexpected powerhouse in the field of video editing and 3D effects work. In fact, the still-popular LightWave 3D package got its start as software bundled with the Toasters. The quality of a given 1990s TV show can be determined entirely based on whether or not an Amiga was involved in the effects work and editing. SeaQuest? Amiga! Sliders? Amiga! The X-Files? Amiga! Babylon 5? Amiga... okay, so it's not a hard, fast rule.

The Amiga had a graphical interface which I assume without checking was called AmigOS, and was appealing in that period of history before Microsoft decided to just force everyone to use Windows. The line ended in the early 1990s and they were always a little underpowered compared to their PC equivalents... but they were plucky and have a host of fans to this day. Amiga people continue to do insane things to Amigas, much like Wing Commander fans continue to do insane things to Wing Commander. There are even some weirdo modern Amigas made by other companies that may or may not be real.

All well and good, but why does LOAF care? Well I'll tell you, you jerk, I care because there's...

... A PORT OF WING COMMANDER FOR THE AMIGA!

It's true. In fact, the Amiga port of Wing Commander was the very first one announced, in 1990. In the first Origin catalogs that listed Wing Commander an Amiga port was listed as "COMING SOON" from Origin.

And it never happened.

But you just said it DID happen! Jeez, let me tell the story, internal narrator.

"The ’sport jumped right on schedule. You covered her well."

Tim Peel has followed up his Venice Assault with another classic scene from Wing Commander 1. In "Convoy," a squadron of Draymen are shepherded through space by a determined Exeter and some Hornets. This is the kind of thing people imagined in the original game when the autopilot cinematic played during an escort mission. Brings back good memories!
Thanks for the kind words, guys. I'm glad you like the image. It was fun to recreate that shot. :)

I'm definitely keen to do some more renders with Howard's fantastic Tiger's Claw model. If anyone has and requests or ideas for a WC1 era scene, let me know!

Although it received a rather lukewarm reception over at Scifi-Meshes, I recently posted another WC1 image there recently that might interest some of you -

Wallpaper Honors the Escort Carriers

This wallpaper isn't Wing Commander-related, but it was made by a talented Wing Commander fan. "Sunset Over The Bay" is Klavs's take on WW2 carrier aviation, and it's a pretty sweet scene!
Hi guys, it's not strictly Wing Commander, but since it's WW2 History related I figured I could squeak by. Here's my latest piece. Couldn't stop thinking about the TCS Tarawa as I worked on this one!

Ensign Douglas S. Adams in FM-2 BuNo 55410 "White 10" of U.S.S. Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) cranks down the landing gear in preparation for one of the last landings of the day.

The aircraft was later ditched and unrecoverable by Ensign Adams as he ran out of fuel short of the runway at Ponam. It may still be there under 20' of water.

The Ommaney Bay was struck by a Kamikaze aircraft in January 1945 and sunk with 93 of her crew, including Ensign Adams.

Amazon's Academy Price Increased

Amazon.com has slightly raised the presale price of the upcoming Wing Commander Academy series on DVD. It's now going for $22.49. Hopefully everyone got their orders in already, but if not, the new price is still a great deal for this thirteen-episode masterpiece. If there's another change, Amazon's preorder price guarantee should ensure you get the best deal. May 29 can't get here soon enough!
Whenever you pre-order a book, CD, video, DVD, software, or video game, the price we charge when we ship it to you will be the lowest price offered by Amazon.com between the time you placed your order and the end of the day of the release date.

Wing Commander Airing in Brazil

The Wing Commander Movie will be showing twice in the next few days in Brazil via the Telecine network. In Portuguese, the film's title is A Batalha Final, which translate into "The Final Battle." Check it out on the TC Action channel on Feb 6 at 8:05 pm or Feb 8 at 12:20 pm.
Wing Commander (1999) 1:55:00

The Earth is in an interstellar war with the Kilrathi race. The aliens are planning a major offensive, which could wipe out our planet. Two beginner pilots are on a suicide mission, which may be the last hope of earthlings.

Classic Style Ship Viewer Built for WC3

Farbourne has put together a neat app that compares the stats of Wing Commander 3 fighters. The numbers themselves are readily available, but the charm comes from the ability to pit two ships against each other. Each attribute is compared, and the fighter with the advantage in each category is highlighted. The program also gives tips on how each craft should take on each other craft, and it goes beyond the perspective of the four Confed fighters. Sure, you can see how a Hellcat compares with a Dralthi, but you can also ask the program what to do if you found yourself in, say, an Ekapshi vs a Bloodfang, an Arrow vs a Sorthak or a Strakha vs an Excalibur.

The tool is in the form of an Excel macro, and a full version of Microsoft Excel may be required (Google Docs and the free Excel Viewer do not work). Hit the Discuss link to let Farbourne know what you think or if you find another software suite that runs this. Grab it here (6 meg xls).

I have a little fan project I've been working on that I wanted to share with the community. Some time back, as you may recall, I was working on a Wing Commander ship comparer built in Microsoft Excel, that hearkens back to the old glory days of combat simulators--the great old game Chuck Yeager's Air Combat. That game included a fighter comparer that allowed you to put two fighters side by side, compare their stats, and get some sage advice from Yeager himself on how to win an encounter. I built something similar to that for WC1, but never finished it due to difficulties in determining exactly what the specific ship stats actually were.

Now, in honor of WC3 being released on GOG, I've built a finished version featuring the ships from WC3. It is much improved over the original. I thought some in the community might get a kick out of playing with it, especially if they're old enough to remember Chuck Yeager's Air Combat. (There's a few little tributes to that old game in this comparer for the sharp-eyed with a good memory). And for rookies trying WC3 for the first time, the engagement advice might actually be useful in some cases.

One important thing...to be used, it must be opened in MS Excel, and macros must be enabled. I built it in a very old version of Excel (Office 1997), but it should be compatible with any version since then. It does NOT work in GoogleDocs (because it makes use of substantial VBA scripting that GoogleDocs does not support).

If folks like this, I might revisit the WC1 version, and maybe make a WC2, WC4, Prophecy, or SecretOps version. Or maybe even a version that compares ships across eras... But that's a lot of work. For now, I'll just offer up the WC3 version.

Fighter Tokens See Battle on the Table

Progress continues to be made on Wing Commander TacOps Online. Avacar has implemented numerous bug fixes in the last several weeks and has big plans about the next phase of the game's development. After an upcoming flurry of coding is complete, the idea is to launch another beta test game that involves capital ships and their escorts. Meanwhile, capi has mocked up the current game using his counter tokens. A few of the shots below are a bit hard to see, but it's cool to see them in play.
I intend to throw a full day or two's labour at this to finish off the End Phase Engine aspect of Flak Fire (a.k.a flak fire as a point defense). Once that is done, I'll launch Game 7, and possibly a Game 8. One of these games will be a medium-scale battle with 3 Capital-class ships and their fighter escorts. I'll launch another game at that same time if I feel we haven't sufficiently tested LOS or collisions yet. That second game would mostly likely be a true 'beta tester' game in that I'd only put 1-2 people in, and have them just run around smashing themselves into asteroids and trying to shoot past asteroids.

"And the last Kilrathi planet in the sector falls!"

Tim Peel has put together another gorgeous scene with Howard Day's models. In this new image, he's beautifully recreated the Venice Assault from the end of the original Wing Commander. Flights of Hornets play escort as the Claw advances. You can grab this wallpaper in two resolutions: 1920x1080 and 2560x1440. Let Tim know what you think at the CIC Forums.
Howard Day was kind enough to share his fantastic Tiger's Claw model with me so I thought I'd take a crack at recreating a famous scene from Wing Commander. Hopefully, if I've done my job well enough, fans will be able to recognise it! I really can't stress how fantastic Howard's model is. I get an incredible nostalgia trip when working with it. :) This was one of my favourite ships from my childhood and I hope to do a few more images with her yet.

Have a great one,
Tim

Mission Accomplished!

Origin founder Richard Garriott's mission to space has been well documented in the CIC news archives, but a whole lot more people are learning about the story thanks to the premiere of the Man on a Mission documentary about the trip. Rather than just a vanity film to commemorate his space tourism, the story has been highly-rated as an excellent adventure about a man realizing his dream to become the first second-generation astronaut. There are a handful of streaming options for fans who'd like to check it out, and theatrical premieres across the country are taking place now. The streaming rentals run about $7, and eventually it'll be sold in digital format for about $15. Richard will be attending another showing in person at the Austin Alamo Village theater on Thursday, February 2!

Austinites! Join me, the film crew, Portalarium staff, and my mother at Man in a Mission at the Alamo Village Premier Thursday night!

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

Garriott’s father was the first astronaut to take a ham radio into space and talk with people on the ground below, including his sons. In a further closing of the cycle, the younger Garriott is shown talking to his father from orbit via ham radio. In another bit of torch-passing, Garriott used a newly developed software program that enabled him to take the same pictures of areas of Earth that his father did aboard Skylab, thus depicting any changes which had occurred in a generation.

While he might have missed out on becoming the first space tourist, Garriott can still take solace in the fact that he was the first second-generation American to follow a parent into space. In an odd coincidence, he shared his capsule for the return to earth with Sergei Volkov, the first second-generation space traveler. When the capsule made its bumpy landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan it was greeted by the recovery crew (a very casual, commonplace seeming event), and both the elder cosmonaut and astronaut were on hand to greet their space-faring progeny.

As for the movie, for those would-be astronauts lacking tens of millions of dollars to go through the process and make the flight themselves, experiencing it through Garriott’s eyes is the next best thing.

Garriott Wins Release of First Sci-Fi Movie Actually Made in Space

Man on a Mission wasn't the only movie recording during Garriott's time in space! In addition to gathering footage for the documentary, Richard also taped a short horror flick - the first science fiction film made in space! After years of lobbying NASA, Garriott has finally gotten approval to release Apogee of Fear, and distribution details should surface soon.
After his talk at the conference last year, Garriott gave a private screening of "Apogee of Fear." That is, he showed the eight-minute movie on his laptop to a half-dozen or so folks who had stuck around to ask him questions or introduce themselves.

"Apogee of Fear" is without question the best science fiction film ever made in space. It begins with NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff waving affably to Garriott through a window as the space tourist departs the orbiting lab and heads back home to Earth.

Then they turn to each other and express profound relief that he's finally gone.

"Man, am I glad we finally got rid of that guy," Chamitoff says.

Cut to several days later, and Fincke and Chamitoff are actually starting to miss Garriott. Without him around, Chamitoff is having trouble juggling, and the two astronauts are finding it difficult to settle their recurring arguments about who is upside-down and who is right-side-up.

But then an ominous declaration breaks the wistful chatter: Cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov announces that oxygen use aboard the station is higher than it should be.

"Let's just think of what might be the obvious reason," Chamitoff says. "Maybe it's aliens."

The spaceflyers conclude that an unwanted visitor has found its way aboard the station, and they begin a search to root him or her out. And what they find will shock and amaze you! Well, not really, though there is an interesting double twist.

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