Need Kilrathi? Check the Cat-a-Log

Sheppard is back with another cool scanned catalog. This one came with Wing Commander Academy in 1993 and is likely the next iteration following the version with the interesting Privateer box mockup. The Privateer box is in (closer to) final form here, but the pamphlet does include temp art for Tactical Operations and Pacific Strike. The early description of End Run is also fascinating! You can download the PDF here.

Kotaku Isn't Interesting or Good

Thanks to everyone who wrote in to report that gaming blog Kotaku had run an article on Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. Sadly the posting, "When A Porn Star Appeared In A Video Game About Giant Space Cats," doesn't have much to recommend it. It essentially explains that yes, Wing Commander III is a game that existed and that it did star Ginger Lynn Allen. Here are two 'behind the screens' stories that would have made the piece worthwhile.

During the game's film shoot, Mark Hamill's agent (likely not coincidentally his wife) famously refused to let him perform the 'kiss' scene(s) until Ginger Lynn Allen took an HIV test. Thankfully, the standoff ended on an amusing note. Here's Allen telling that story from a 2000 Aint if Cool News interview:

JOAD: How was your experience getting the gig for WING COMMANDER w/Chris Roberts?

GINGER: Nicole and Joy - the same two casting agents who brought me in to audition for "The Independent" - brought me in to read for "Wing Commander - Heart Of the Tiger". Whether or not they knew of my adult film past or not, I don't know. I do know that when Chris Roberts initially saw me on my first call back, he did not know of my adult career, and cast me on my acting abilities.

Principal filming took place in the Los Angeles area with most of the shoot shot on green screen. My grandmother came to the set one day wearing lime green pants. It was pretty comical to see the top half of my Gram floating across the monitor when she walked out onto the sound stage.

Wing Commander was one of the first, if not the first big productions to combine true interactive with film. The script was near 300 pages long. Each scene was shot in three to five different ways so that depending on the choices you made while playing the game the outcome would take the right direction. Preparation was a nightmare, but the game turned out to be fantastic.

For the most part it was a wonderful project to work on. The only unpleasant part of the shoot took place the day that Mark Hamil and I were scheduled to have our "big kiss". The day started off with Mark's representative requesting that I provide an AIDS test before Mark and I kissed. According to SAG rules and regulations this request was a violation of SAG policies. I wanted to go ahead and provide my most recent test results (I test every six months and have for the past 17 years) and my agent wanted to bring in SAG officials and shut down the production until things were settled. The final decision was that I would gladly provide my test results if Mark were to do the same. I had my test results faxed to the set, but Mark's never came through. I didn't show him mine, and he didn't show me his. We shot, we kissed and that was the end of it.

"Heart Of The Tiger" was the third in the "Wing Commander" series, and was, I believe the most successful. I played Rachel Coriolis, the ships chief mechanic and weapons loadout technician. Rachel for some reason was not brought back for part four. From what I understand many fans of "Heart Of the Tiger" were disappointed that Rachael 's character was not brought back. The director and producer of part 5 "Prophecy" decided it would be a good idea to include her in this episode.

Rumor has it that when the next two episodes are shot I will be in them. But this is Hollywood so God only knows. I'd love to be in them, but I'm not holding my breath.

Another little known fact is that the Rachel character was actually initially designed to be far, far sexier. Like the game's language, she was toned down when it was clear that Wing Commander III would be one of the first games subject to an ESRB rating. Here's the initial concept sketch for a pierced, smoking, chesty and ridiculously haired Chief Tech:

Pix Scans: On the Set of Privateer 2

Pix's Origin Adventures has posted an extremely cool set of Privateer 2 Preview scans, featuring an article from the October 1995 issue of PC Format magazine. It includes interviews with The Darkening's acting talent and the men behind the cameras, Steve Hilliker (director) and Erin Roberts. There's also some cool set photography, for everyone who always wanted a better look at the Sinner's Inn!

If You Like GOG Then You Should Put a Box On It

There's no denying that games from GOG are great. You're getting something no one else was willing to re-release at a price that can't be beat... but there's no box! Luckily, it turns out that GOG users routinely collaborate to create standardized DVD art inserts for the downloads! Now you can burn your games and extras onto discs, print out a cover and put them on your shelf! The first three Wing Commander releases, Privateer, Wing Commander 1+2 and Wing Commander 3 are available now courtesy of a user named Stuff. You can find covers for GOG's many other titles, including the Ultima and Crusader games, here. (They also make a nice addition if you're gifting a classic game to someone in 'real life!')

Wing Commander III: Why Origin?

There's one more surprise from Shari Graner Ray:
More interesting (at least to me) is the "Why Origin" sheet for Wing 3. By the time of Wing 3, Origin was owned by EA. EA required that everyone who wanted to propose a game idea, had to do a "why Origin" sheet. This was to give a high level overview of the game and show that it was timely, feasible and something that would make sense for Origin to do. Even Chris had to do it for Wing 3. I think you might have fun looking at it, as it's how Chris sold the game to Origin. You might also notice there is no mention of any live action or filming ;)
This truly is a fascinating document. It's very interesting to read about some of the things that were planned, including an Academy-style mission builder and plans to carry over Strike Commander's 'virtual cockpit' feature. Note that Heart of the Tiger's final budget--including the film shoot--was around four million dollars.

Wing Commander III Doesn't Give A F...

Origin composer Barry Leitch, who did music and sound work for Righteous Fire, Wing Commander 2 SNES and other titles, was kind enough to send us a pair of old Origin documents he happened to dig up. The first is a simple list of music... but it's music from the great lost game, Wing Commander 2 SNES! Another small hint at what the port would have been like: to fit it onto a tiny SNES cartridge they ahd cut the music down from forty-odd tracks to only seventeen.

The second document comes from Wing Commander III. It seems he was given the tedious task of going through all the recorded wingmen dialogue to see where it differed, even slightly, from the printed script. This was done to give the French and German versions, being developed at the same time, an even more accurate translation. Note especially the lack of a particular curse in several instances: apparently the decision to use less strong language was made late in the process but before the actual recording session. Storyboards for the game also show Blair saying 'fuck you' instead of 'screw you' to Thrakhath in the game's excellent interactive losing endgame!

They're Just Seventy Off

G4, the cable TV gaming channel, is running a standard Top 100 Video Games of All Time article. Wing Commander II is ranked at #71 and there is a short video with talking heads discussing the game (although the focus is simply how cool it is rather than the idea that it introduced more serious, film-style narratives to video games.) The list is undeniably flawed, but it is at least cool to see someone flying a Broadsword around on TV in 2012! The only other Origin game to make the list is Ultima Online, coming in at #58.

The Other Side of Movie Business

You will probably recognize this poster since we've featured it several times before. The below image is the funky Korean poster that features ships that seem to have nothing to do with the film itself. Well, I recently came across a smaller A4 sized version of this same Korean Movie Poster but the kicker was that it turned out to be double-sided, which is apparently pretty common in asia. So here's the never before seen flipside of that poster! Of interest on side A is that while it looks like the same as poster seen before this version actually adds a now defunct URL (http://www.woosingcine.com/wing/default.htm) near the credit block! You can take a look at what is left of that website on the internet archives here. Here's the extracted Korean text for which we would be grateful for a proper translation of since the Google Translate version is a little hard to understand. Essentially it's a brief synopsis followed by some info about the cast and crew.

완벽한 기술, 신선한 감각으로 만들어낸 '뉴에이지 SF 액션 블록버스터'

해마다 여름 시즌이 되면 거대한 자본과 환상의 특수 효과, 할리우드 스타들로 무장한 SF 블록버스터들이 찾아왔다. 하지만 이제 그 블록버스터에 열광했던 젊은 관객들은 영화보다 빠르고, 영화보다 적극적으로 참여할 수 있는 게임의 세계에 빠져들었다. 이러한 상황에 SF 블록버스터에 새로운 방향을 모색하던 <마스크>의 제작자 토드 모이어는 실제 게임을 고안해낸 소프트웨어 업계의 천재 크리스 로버츠를 끌어들여 젊은 SF에 도전했다. 크리스 로버츠는 토드 모이어가 생각한 새로운 SF를 위해 정교한 CG와 거대한 세트, 화려한 특수 효과를 사용해 기존의 SF보다 스피디한 영상을 보여 주는 동시에 관객층과 비슷한 또래의 젊은 배우들을 기용하여 관객들이 마치 게임을 하듯, 주인공들과 함께 거대한 우주전쟁에 참여하도록 만들 었다.<윙 커맨더>는 99년 미국 개봉 당시 유니버셜의 배급으로 2019개관이라는 엄청난 수의 극장에 상영되어 미국 젊은 관객들의 폭발적인 반응을 불러일으키며 젊고 신선한 신개념의 '뉴에이지 SF 액션 블록 버스터'를 탄생 시켰다.

거대한 비행 정거장, 수많은 소형 전투기들의 화려한 전투씬

점프 포인트(공간이동구간)를 통과하는 빠른 영상

서기 2654년. 거대한 전투선이 다른 함선을 쫓는다.

수많은 폭탄과, 미사일로 전투선은 함선을 무차별 공격한다.

국가간의 경계가 무너진 지구연합국의 전사들과 악의 무리 에이리언 킬라디가 벌이는 치열한 우주전쟁을 다룬 뉴에이지 SF액션 블록버스터 <윙 커맨더>는 첫장면부터 화려하고 스피디한 영상으로 관객의 시선을 사로잡는다. 한때 군수공장으로 쓰였던 건물을 개조하여 만들어진 거대한 비행 정거장, 우주선 조정실, 에이리언 킬라디의 전투선 등은 너무나 위협적이어서 '보는 것 만으로도 숨이 막힐 듯하다.

또한 세트밖에 세워진 CGI 스튜디오인 디지털 앤빌에서는 계속해서 각 비행선들의 우주에서의 전투, 행성과 함선의 움직임 등의 애니매틱과 특수효과를 쉴새없이 점검하였다.

이렇게해서 만들어진 '뉴에이지 SF 액션 블록버스터' <윙 커맨더>는 거대한 비행 정거장과 수많은 전투기들이 펼치는 스펙터클한 전투씬, 그리고 점프 포인트(공간 이동 구간)를 통과하는 독특한 장면등의 화려한 볼거리를 제공한다.

<제5원소>의 촬영감독, <타이타닉>의 프로덕션 디자이너

<스타쉽 트루퍼스>의 특수효과가 한 자리에...

'뉴 에이지 SF 블록버스터' <윙 커맨더>를 완성하기 위해 할리우드 최강의 정예 요원들이 뭉쳤다. <제 5원소> <잔다르크> 등을 촬영한 티에리 아보가스트와 <스타쉽 트루퍼스> <에어 포스 원> 에서 특수효과를 담당한 크리스 브라운과 세차례 아카데미에 노미네이트 되었고 <타이타닉>으로 1998년 아카데미 미술 감독상을 거머쥔 프로덕션 디자이너 피터 라몬트.

이들은 <마스크>의 흥행 제작자 토드 모이어와 게임 엔터테인먼트의 천재 크리스 로버츠라는 훌륭한 사령관을 필두로 '뉴에이지 SF 액션 블록버스터' <윙 커맨더>의 제작에 힘을 합쳤다. 결국 이들은 역사적인 고증을 거칠 수 없는 서기 2654년의 미래를 배경으로한 우주전쟁에 무한한 상상력을 펼쳤으며 그것을 영상으로 표현해내기 위해 그들 최고의 실력을 발휘하여 거대함과 정교함이라는 상반된 이미지를 동시에 창조해 냈다.

<나는 네가 지난 여름에 한 일을 알고 있다> 프레디 프린즈 주니어,

<스크림> 매튜 릴라드, <딥 블루씨> 새프론 버로즈..

블록버스터의 세대교체가 시작된다.

1980년대 일련의 할리우드영화에 출연하여 젊은이의 우상으로 군림했던 톰크루즈를 비롯한 아이돌 스타들을 일컫는 '브랫팩' . 그후 레오나르도 디카프리오로 이어지는 프랫팩은 다시 <나는 네가 지난 여름에 한 일을 알고 있다>, <스크림> 등 젊은 슬래셔 무비의 주인공들을 선두로 뉴 브랫팩을 탄생시켰다.

'뉴 에이지 SF 액션 블록버스터' <윙 커맨더>에서는 <나는 네가 지난 여름에 한 일을 알고 있다> 시리즈의 남자 주인공 프레디 프린즈 주니어와 <스크림>의 사이코적인 킬러 매튜 릴라드를 SF 액션 히어로로 재탄생시켰다. 이들은 폭발하는 에너지와 신선한 감각을 최대한 증폭시켜 <윙 커맨더>를 젊은 감각의 SF 블록버스터로 만드는데 제 몫을 해냈으며 이제 할리우드 뉴 프랫팩 군단의 선두주자로, 할리우드의 새로운 스타로 떠오르고 있다.

WC vs History - Don't Give Up The Ship! Fight Her Till She Sinks.

Today marks the 205th anniversary of the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair of 1807. An event that greatly angered Americans and was one of the many factors that led to the declaration of war against the British in June 1812. Today’s WC vs. History focuses on the first of the ships involved, the USS Chesapeake and its story and spot in Wing Commander lore.

The War of 1812 began on 18 June 1812 when the United States declared war on England for a number of reasons including impressments of American sailors and interfering with American free trade with France. This month marks the start of bicentennial anniversaries for the war’s many engagements. Wing Commander has only one direct reference to the conflict, besides several ship names, and it comes from Admiral Tolwyn in Fleet Action:

"There was an ancient cautionary tale told in the service academies, the incident dating back to a war once fought between England and America. In an encounter between an American and British ship the commanding officer of the American vessel was mortally wounded, and the junior officer took him down below deck to the surgeon. In the short interval that followed all the other officers were hit and, without his even being aware of it, the junior officer was now in command. By the time he returned to the deck his ship had already been battered into submission and forced to surrender after barely putting up a fight. The junior officer was held responsible, court-martialed, and found guilty of dereliction of duty, a duty he was not even aware had suddenly come to rest upon his shoulders. The lesson was part of the tradition and backbone of the fleet - there is no excuse for defeat."
The battle Tolwyn was referencing was between the USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon on 1 June 1813, 20 miles off Boston, Massachusetts. USS Chesapeake was one of the six frigates ordered by the Naval Act of 1794. These were the original six warships of the United States Navy. What made the Americans frigates effective was there speed and firepower. Armed with 38 guns, the frigates could engage most ships with an advantage. Those ships or battles it could not win through firepower, it could flee with its greater speed. The story of the USS Constitution fleeing a British squadron, through the use of rowboats in front and dropping out the anchor and reeling it in, is one of the most impressive escapes in naval history. Chesapeake was to have a less illustrious history. Read the rest of this article in the archive here.

Kickstarter: Minis With Enemies

Heatwave Interactive, an Austin-based developer founded by and employing a number of former Origin employees, is offering a new project via Kickstarter. It's called Minis with Enemies and it aims to turn miniature combat games (like Warhammer or Mechwarrior) into a fast, fun video game in much the same way Words with Friends digitized Scrabble. They're looking for $300,000, which is a heady goal... but it sounds like a pretty neat project! You can learn more and back the project here. Their plan to let the community help test the game is also very interesting.

The development team includes multiple Wing Commander veterans. CEO Anthony Castoro ran Quality Assurance on Wing Commander IV and Privateer 2 and Community Manager/Designer Chris "Binky" Launius was a tester for Privateer 2. You may remember his quoted hints about the game in Origin's Official Guide to Privateer 2. More recently he has been heavily involved in preserving Origin's legacy, shipping documentation to the Origin Museum and even sending us sketches from WC4 to post.

Here is the Minis with Enemies press release:

Starting today, crowd funding site, Kickstarter.com, will feature a new game project that is looking to secure more than just investors. Minis with Enemies, a digital tabletop game from Heatwave Interactive, is focused on building a strong community of dedicated core gamers to help design and fund the world’s first truly authentic miniatures gaming experience for PC, tablet, and mobile platforms.

"The Minis with Enemies team has years of experience working for some of the world’s biggest publishers on the world’s biggest games and we’re sick of the politics involved in the typical design process, which often results in games that totally miss the mark," said Chris "Binky" Launius, Minis with Enemies Community Manager and Game Designer. "By going directly to the players for creative input as well as funding, we can build an experience that will appeal to the audience immediately rather than trying to modify things after the game is live."

According to Launius, the "community designers" will have a say in almost every aspect of the game--from art direction to major gameplay strategies and tactics. While preliminary playtesting is already underway in Heatwave’s Austin studio, once funding is reached, the "community designers" will quickly focus on nailing down specifics like core game mechanics, minis character attributes, and art style.

The Minis with Enemies Kickstarter campaign, which will run through July 10th, is attempting to raise $300,000 to build the game. Along with gaining membership to the Minis with Enemies "community design" team, pledge rewards range from game downloads and blister packs to having an in-game miniature based on a backer’s image and associate content design credit. Interested backers can find out more at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/heatwave/minis-with-enemies-taking-tabletop-mini-gaming-dig-0 or http://www.miniswithenemies.com

"We love tabletop gaming and consider it more of a lifestyle than just a casual form of entertainment," said Todd Bailey, Lead Designer and creator of the Minis with Enemies concept. "Player input and insight early on is extremely powerful when creating something this important. We have one chance to get this right and need this community to help make it happen."

About Minis with Enemies
Minis with Enemies brings the creativity, adventure, camaraderie and competition of tabletop miniature gaming to life on PC, Tablet and Mobile devices. For the first time, players will be able to experience authentic miniature gaming anytime and anywhere with friends and enemies around the world. Like popular board games that have moved to social and mobile platforms, Minis with Enemies allows multiple games to be played with multiple friends (or enemies) simultaneously. However, Minis with Enemies targets a core gamer, and provides features these serious players would expect, including a dungeon editor and miniature painting tool. The game allows players to collect, trade and paint hundreds of highly detailed minis, and build the ultimate army to command into the depths of the deepest, darkest dungeons while battling through adventure maps to earn coins, items, and uncover new minis.

Features:

  • Turn-based Gaming: Asynchronous, turn-based gameplay allows players to play at their own pace. Only active players need to be logged in to take their turn, at which time, they will be able to watch the moves and actions from previous rounds to help formulate a unified combat strategy.
  • PVP Battles: Up to four Players battle head-to-head in an effort to complete the adventure map objective first. In addition to earning gold, items and minis…players earn bragging rights.
  • Cooperative Play: Allows players to play alongside up to three other competitors in adventure maps against the computer AI or Game Master.
  • Collectable Rewards: By defeating the adventure map objective, players win items, minis, and gold. Gold can be used to buy new minis, usable items, Adventure Editor pieces and creatures as well as user generated adventure maps.
  • Custom Content: Players can build their own adventure maps using room templates and fill them with creatures and diabolical traps.
  • Chat System: In-game chat allows easy communication with friends and enemies in the adventure map to formulate strategies or taunt the Game Master.
  • Mini Painter: A painting utility to paint and repaint minis in a 3D space using a wide variety of paints, washes, decals and "brush stroke" painting for an extraordinary level of color detail and customization.
  • Minis Bazaar: A marketplace to sell or buy minis, adventure maps, set decorations, tile sets, and other items using in-game gold and cold hard cash.

The First Centurion

Sheppard has made a cool discovery: an early 1992 Origin advertisement showing off the Wing Commander series... and featuring an extremely obscure piece of temp artwork for the Privateer box! This black-and-white drawing of a Centurion fighting a Stiletto is something I had never come across before; it's amazing that new classic Wing Commander art can be discovered twenty years later! The entire booklet is interesting, with descriptions for most of the pre-FMV games... and 1992 prices that will make games today seem like a bargain! You can download the entire booklet as a PDF here. (12 mb)

WC vs History Article Archive Now Online

Today is the 68th anniversary of the largest carrier battle in history, the Battle of the Philippine Sea. To help commemorate this anniversary, the CIC has organized our WC vs History series into a new archive. Over the last year, seventeen updates combining different Wing Commander references and their real-life equivalents were published through the hard work of research and writing by several Wingnuts. LOAF, Bob McDob, NinjaLA and myself really have enjoyed researching, writing and providing art for this series. The reception from the community has been great! We're glad that everyone enjoys the series. Thanks!

Here's the listing of the entire series along with a link to the archive itself. It can also be accessed from the original articles section as well. Enjoy!

WC vs History Article Archive

Tonight's the Knight - Tolwyn's Knighthood - 25 May 2011
Striking While the Eisen is Hot - Eisen's Zulu heritage - 26 May 2011
Forty-Five Score and Eleven Lexingtons - History of the Lexington's - 27 May 2011
Source Code - Battle of Midway Part 1 - 4 June 2011
Aces Over Eights - Battle of Midway Part 2 - 5 June 2011
Tools of the Trade - Battle of Midway Part 3 - 6 June 2011
Building a Better Mousetrap - Battle of Midway Part 4 - 7 June 2011
They Shall Know Us By the Shape of Our Tail - Target Identification - 25 August 2011
VJ to VK Day - Surrender Ceremonies - 2 September 2011
Hellcats of the Navies - History of the Hellcats - 13 September 2011
Leyte Gulf, Are You Serious? - Battles of Sirius and Leyte Gulf - 24 October 2011
I'll have the Samar with an order of Surigao on the side... - Battles of Surigao and off Samar - 25 October 2011
Final Frontier of the Tin Can Sailors - Battle off Samar - 25 October 2011
For Conspicuous Gallantry And Intrepidity - Medal of Honor - 21 December 2011
Action Stations! Pearl Harbor! McAuliffe! This Is No Drill! - Raids on Pearl Harbor and McAuliffe - 26 December 2011
Grin and Bearcat - History of the Bearcats - 3 April 2012
Star Raiders - Doolittle Raid and Raid on Kilrah - 18 April 2012

A Torrent of Files

On average, the CIC pushes out one and a half terabyte of data each month. Much of this traffic goes towards big downloads, and we have plenty of entertaining files that you may have missed in the past. We recommend a download manager to help the large files along. Below are just a few of our favorites. More can be found in our Files and Music sections.


BREAKING NEWS: Worlds of Ultima Free on GOG

GOG today announced the surprise release of both games in Origin's Worlds of Ultima (aka Ultima Worlds of Adventure) series. Both titles are available free. The idea behind both "Worlds" games was that Origin could re-use the existing Ultima VI engine to create lower budget games between 'numbered' releases. A second team of developers would focus on spinoffs while others continued work on Ultima VII.

Worlds of Ultima: Savage Empire (1990) transports the Avatar to a jungle world full of dinosaurs and stone-age people. Much of the development team would go on to work on Wing Commander II, including Stephen Beeman who directed both games. An SNES port was developed by Billy Cain, lead designer of Wing Commander Prophecy.

Ultima Worlds of Adventure: Martian Dreams (1991) is a significantly more complex game set in the Victorian era and featuring a trip to Mars and a cast of familiar historical characters (including Sigmund Freud and Nikola Tesla.) Oft-forgotten is that much of the game is not spent on Mars but in fact in the various characters' dreams. Martian Dreams was championed by Wing Commander produced Warren Spector. Spector was clearly enamored of the possibilities offered by the Worlds platform; his papers at the University of Texas include dozens of concepts for further spinoff adventures.

Lower than expected sales doomed the series and the lack of a retail CD-ROM release has left it an obscure footnate for most gamers. Development of a tangential third title, Arthurian Legends, began after Martian Dreams but ultimately came to naught as the development team was slowly transferred away for other projects. Origin did continue to develop spinoff projects based on existing engines, including Serpent Isle, Crusader, System Shock and a host of RealSpace games.

These releases are not part of GOG's 25-title Electronic Arts deal and were instead provided as part of the disjointed promotion for the yet-to-be-announced Ultima Forever social game.

Wing Commander III Sketches: It's a Set Up

As promised, here is a set of Wing Commander III sketches kindly discovered and scanned by Sheri Graner Ray. Four of them are sketches of the game's live action sets (flight deck, bridge, etc.) which were rendered in 3D by artists at Origin... and the fifth is the Victory's escort destroyers (TCS Coventry and Sheffield!) Sheri notes that the "Dicko" under one of the sketches indicates it was done by Origin artist Richard "Dicko" Mather.

Lillard Film Picked Up For Distribution

The Chicago Tribune has a piece on Wing Commander star Matthew Lillard's directorial debut, Fat Kid Rules The World. ARC Entertainment will distribute the film in North American through Tugg.

Produced by Whitewater Films, "Fat Kid Rules the World" won the narrative feature spotlight audience award at the SXSW Film Festival in March. The Kickstarter campaign to support the domestic release of has surpassed its goal of $150,000.

Film stars Jacob Wysocki, Matt O'Leary and Billy Campbell. "Fat Kid," adapted from K.L. Going's young adult novel, centers around a 17-year-old who is overweight and suicidal. Just as he's about to jump in front of a bus, he's saved by a charming high school dropout/street musician, who enlists him to become the drummer in a new punk rock band.

The film features original songs and score by Pearl Jam's Mike McCready.


Privateer Sketches: First Base

We have a very cool treat today from a former Origin employee. She explains:

I'm Sheri Graner Ray. I worked at Origin Systems for 3.5 years. I worked on Ultima 7, Ultima 7 part two and Ultima 8. (For Ultima 7, my name shows up in the credits as Sheri Hobbs) My husband, Tim Ray, was also working at Origin at that time. He was on Strike Commander and Wing Commander 3. He was what was then called a "TDA" or Technical Design Associate. (Today that position would just be called "Designer.") He was the "lead TDA" on Wing Commander 3 and did all the data wrangling for that title.

ANYWAY.. I was going through some of our old boxes and came across a file that had a bunch of photocopied storyboards from [Privateer and] Wing 3. Each one had "done" on it in pink highlighter. Tim said they were the storyboards the artists did for the TDAs. The "DONE" was written on them when that particular scene was, well, done. Now they are scans of photocopies, but photocopies are what the TDAs were given to work with. I wasn't sure these would be all that interesting to you, but I figured, what the heck and scanned 'em.

We're very glad she did! These are extremely cool images. Today's set are the storyboards for many of Privateer's bases. Several, including the pleasure planet bar, are by Paul Steed, who would go on to fame at id Software. Note that many names hadn't been finalized at this point: the game is called "Free Trader" in some and New Detroit is "New Chicago!" Check back soon for artwork from Wing Commander III!

EA Talks Franchise Reboots

Joystiq is carrying a story about two classic franchises that EA has recently brought back. While the Syndicate relaunch was not a huge commercial success, the newest installment in the SSX snowboarding series has done really well. An EA exec does not rule other more franchise resurrections:
"Syndicate was something that we took a risk on. It didn't pay off – it didn't work," Gibeau told CVG. "But in general it doesn't change my appetite for wanting to go look in the library and see what we have and maybe bring back some IPs for the next-generation. That's the nature of the business; some stuff works, some stuff doesn't."

Armada Acquires Animated Arms

CMDBob has wrapped up his Kilrathi turret design and is ready to mount them on his feline fleet! His capships are in tip top shape, but there was one thing missing - all of the fighter scale defenses. There will also be a new website coming soon that will carry all of the designs he's made so far.

So... yeah. Time for the Exeter and the Gettysberg. Actually, scratch that. I'm still gonna do em, but what I'm going to do first is go back and sorta... update all my renders, and shove em all onto my small website I've been working on for these. I'll add the new turrets, make the background on the renders consistent, that sort of thing. (Plus, I'll use the mentalray rendering engine for all of them!)

Man, I've got to render roughly... 18 ships and set the page up for em. I've got so many ships to make...

Someone's got to do it - Kilrathi ships don't render themselves!

Small Scale Scimitar Shines

RC1207 tipped us off about one of his miniature models that we missed earlier, and it's too gorgeous not to share! The Scimitar complements his fleet of finely detailed Hornets, Rapiers, Salthi and Dralthi. You can check out all of the prior designs here and pick up unpainted versions here. These make me really wish we had some Wing Commander Hero Clix.
To complement Drew minis, I uploaded a mesh for the good old Scimitar Medium Fighter in my shapeways store. Below are the results after some paint.

Elite Kilrathi Cruiser Visits Enigma

Deathsnake has a big Kilrathi ships update for everyone, and the showpiece is the mighty Rigakh class cruiser. Prince Thrakhath's flagship in WC2, the Hha'ifra, was one such vessel. The shots below show the progression from base model to render to in-game Enigma 2666 ship. It's a very imposing design!
It's done. The ship every Broadsword pilot wished to destroy... wished... but reality was another matter.

WC Computer Four: The Price of Fandom

Wingnuts have been following LOAF's adventures to build the perfect Pentium, Macintosh and Amiga over the last year, but the question has loomed - what's next? Well, in short, it's another DOS-based machine, but it's also so much more! Due to the vast array of special hardware that PC Wing Commanders are compatible with, it's become impractical to keep them all going on one machine. This also presents an opportunity to build an ideal rig for the earlier games that run too fast on higher end computers. But I'm not doing the story justice - follow the real adventure at the CIC Forums here! The fun is just about to begin. And for those on the bleeding edge of the Internet, track the action on Tumblr.

What ever happened to Bandit LOAF?

When we last left our hero, he was on the top of the world. The Amiga had returned from New Zealand and been lovingly reconstructed, a thoroughly unnecessary VR helmet sat atop Karga's yellowed frame... all was right with the world.

One part of the story you didn't hear is that Karga is not the happiest computer in the world today. As the man who would be Maniac said: you bojo, those boards don't work on water. Unless you got power. And I don't, at all. The VR helmet's bizarre USB competitor, Access.BUS (real thing!), sucks so much juice down a weird hole that Karga can't power her lengthy joystick-and-keyboard mess.

Add to that the issue of Wing Commander I, II and Privateer 2 running too quickly. There was hope early on that Mario would create patches, but he's bogged down with other projects and parts of his life that don't involve Wing Commander (?!) So it's time for an executive decision. And that decision is: split Karga in two and give one half to each villager.

Karga will remain the idealized Wing Commander Prophecy machine, featuring a Soundblaster Live, 3dfx card and so on. All the DOS toys will go to a new computer, to be named. And this is the story of how we build that computer. The ideal candidate should be able to run Wing Commander I to Wing Commander IV with enough ISA slots to handle some of my oddities. Maybe even so many ISA cards I can do something more. I haven't even properly specced it out. This is seat of the pants stuff right now.

Which brings us to the turbo button.

What's a turbo button, you ask? That's a stupid question, you exclaim angrily in response to my assuming you would ask that question. It's obviously a button that makes things turbo! Well hah-hah, smartass, you're completely wrong. It's actually a button that makes things SLOWER.

Now I know what you're thinking: knowing that, why would anyone ever press the turbo button? Under what circmstances would you possibly not want your computer to be as fast as possible? Well, people are dumb. But that isn't the reason. In the early days of personal computing, processor power multiplied far more quickly than software had been designed to cope with. So when your office upgraded to blazing new 286 computers sometimes the fifty thousand dollar custom spreadsheet program built for your IBM ATs just didn't run anymore. Thus, the turbo button.

Traitors Tried in the Court of Public Opinion

The newest CIC Poll asks which traitor created the most havoc by betraying their original cause. Treachery is a common theme in Wing Commander, and there's no shortage of characters from which to populate this survey. The list is even comprised of both human and Kilrathi options. Some of the choices are more familiar than others, but think hard about who caused the most damage!

The last poll asked who the next Wing Commander villain should be. Out of nearly a thousand votes, a single digit difference separated the Kilrathi and the Nephilim, with the Kats slightly edging out the Bugs. A much smaller number thought the Steltek would be fun, followed by the Confederation itself. Human foes could indicate either a civil war or a game played from an alien perspective. Surprisingly, the Border Worlds came in a distant last spot. The faction was extremely popular in the last '90s (both as the player side and the opponent), but Wingnuts voted for Retros, Pilgrims and even the Mopoks over engaging the UBW.

Let everyone know what you think at the CIC Forums!

DVR Alert: Weird Science

Fans of Origin's unusual history should tune in to the Science channel this weekend! Their original show, Oddities, will feature Origin founder Richard Garriott in an all new episode tomorrow night! Oddities follows a group of antique hunters who track down especially bizarre artifacts, which sounds like a natural fit for Richard Garriott's eclectic collection. The episode is titled "Keeping Austin Odd":
An astronaut sends Mike and Evan on a task to keep his home weird. The challenge puts them face to face with a mummy, a weightlifter and a scorpion.
I have some doubt as to whether or not Richard Garriott needs help keeping his home weird, but it should be great to see Britannia Manor on TV! Be sure and tune in Saturday, June 9th at 9 PM EST on Science and Science HD! You can watch a teaser online here.

WC vs History Rerelease: Building a Better Mousetrap

Today's update is the last in our WC vs History series around the Battle of Midway. This last article compares the TCS Midway and USS Midway.

The megacarrier program was developed in the mid-2670s as a more efficient peacetime alternative to the massive Vesuvius-class carriers then being built. The new megacarriers would outclass Vesuvius and aging war-era ships, not by offering superior firepower, but instead by acting as mobile starbases capable not only of fighter operations but a wide range of roles.

Read the rest of the story here!

CIC Staff Members or Future Game Cover?

Last month I attended a military history conference just outside Washington, D.C. After the conference, I stayed a few extra days to explore the many museums and sites around the city. LOAF and I met up on my first day into D.C. We've known each other since the mid-90s but had never met in person before. So after a brief introduction, we got to work going through the Air & Space and American History museums. When we came across this display in the American History museum it seemed only right to take a picture.

As we close out our rerelease of this WC vs History series we extend gratitude and safe travels to all those Wingnuts who stand in harm's way.

WCPedia's Summer Offensive

Wingnuts have been steadily working on creating, updating and editing a number of areas on the WCPedia project. Iceblade has updated and expanded a number of the Confederation fighter pages and Capi3101 has been updating the Gemini Sector system maps. Along with their work, the WCPedia team regulars have been updating a variety of other areas of the project.

This summer the WCPedia team's goal is to complete the move of CIC Ships to the project. We are going to not only replace the old Ships, but create the ultimate replacement. The new fighter pages should give Wingnuts an idea of the level of information we are going to provide whenever possible. In order to accomplish this goal we've got a number of smaller projects already started. We have already started a list of all the guns of Wing Commander. The list makes clear we've got a number of articles to create already and there's still a few guns to add! A similar list still has to be drawn up for missiles.

We need the community's help to organize and upload all this data. The CIC's IRC channel #Wingnut and the Chat Zone WCPedia thread are the best places to drop in and find out how to help out with the project. #Wingnut is also always a good place to drop by as many of the CIC staff and channel regulars congregate there to talk shop. So be sure to stop in!

WC vs History ReRelease: Tools of the Trade

The plane types found during the Battle of Midway can be seen in museums around the United States and the world. Wing Commander borrowed many of those iconic names and turned them into ships we've all come to love. The "Tools of the Trade" found in today's WC vs History update represent the aircraft that played a role in the battle and their Wing Commander counterparts. Seventy years after the battle, the last surviving aircraft of it is an SBD Dauntless dive-bomber that now resides at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

These aircraft defined the early part of the War in the Pacific. It is no surprise that the names of many of those aircraft and ships ended up in Wing Commander.

In today's Battle of Midway commemorative update we're going to look at four aircraft and one ship that served during the battle--and the Wing Commander equivalents named in their honor!

At the close of the Terran-Kilrathi war the F2M Vindicator was one of the most popular Home Defense planes. A "jack of all trades but master of none", the Vindicator was an ideal choice for units on distant frontier worlds who might be called upon to fly many mission types with a single ship. Vindicator units went on to serve aboard the makeshift carriers that formed the backbone of the Outerworlds Fleet.

The Vought SB2U Vindicator was a mid-1930s American naval dive bomber design. It served on four American carriers during the interwar and early war years. It also served with the US Marine Corps, the French Navy, and the Royal Navy. By the outbreak of World War II, they were obsolete but were still in service in some roles until 1943. During the Battle of Midway, a group of Vindicators, part of Marine squadron VMSB-241, led by Major Benjamin W. Norris attacked the battleship Haruna at 0820 am. They bracketed the ship with five or six near misses but they caused no damage. Marine pilots who had gone on to fly the Douglas SBD Dauntless called the SB2U's with disdain “vibrators” or “wind indicators.”

Read the rest of the story here!

Ultimate Collector: I Shall Mount Your Boxes In My Hall

Portalarium's second game, Ultimate Collector: Garage Sale, is currently in beta on Facebook. Designed by Origin-founder Richard Garriott, Ultimate Collector is something altogether unexpected.

At first glance the game, with its bright colors and Sims-inspired interface, seems to be another casual Zynga-style "ville" game. The type of game that will get everyone involved very rich but perhaps not interest old school gamers. Appearances can be decieving, though, and in this case they belie a game that is actually built around the sort of complex mechanics that Garriott's Ultima series were known for. Players looking for a simple 'collect stuff' game are rapidly lead into an experience that is not unlike the crafting mechanics found in serious MMORPGs.

Of most interest to Wing Commander fans, though, is the fact that Garriott has populated his new universe with fun in-jokes about his Origin days, including Wing Commander games you can collect! I must confess that these screenshots were provided by David Swofford as I have been unable to collect the games myself as of yet... but I plan to keep playing until I do! And almost certainly beyond that.

WC vs History Rerelease: Aces Over Eights

We continue the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway with the second in our multipart series. In today's article we take a look at Commander Winston Turner's famous ancestor who fought at Midway: Lt. Commander John Waldron. Since this article was originally published another great book on the battle has been written. Craig Symond's The Battle of Midway compiles a large amount of the recent scholarship, and some of his own, into a single volume. Symond has an excellent chapter on the so called "Flight to Nowhere" involving the air group of the USS Hornet and its failure, except for Torpedo 8, to find the enemy on the morning of 4 June 1942. Without further ado, we present once again WC vs History: Aces Over Eights.

For the second day of our Battle of Midway series, we are going to look at another connection from a Wing Commander novel. Action Stations tells the story of Commander Winston Turner, a Naval Academy professor turned intelligence operative in the first days of the Kilrathi War (Turner is something of a Mary Sue for author Dr. William Forstchen, who is himself a college history professor). Early on, we learn that Turner's family history goes back to the first shots of the Battle of Midway, the failed attack on the Japanese carriers by Torpedo Squadron Eight:

Skip's gaze shifted to the other print, of a naval battle, back when fleets still sailed on water.

"You had an ancestor in that one, didn't you?"

"Squadron Leader, Torpedo Eight," Turner said proudly, even though he was speaking of someone dead nearly three quarters of a millennium.

"And they all got shot down, but not one of them wavered from the attack on the Japanese carriers. Their heroic sacrifice pulled the fighters down to sea level, allowing the dive-bombers to slip through. Damn, what guts they had then," Skip said, looking back at Turner who arched an eyebrow in surprise that his friend remembered the story from the Battle of Midway.

Read the rest of the story here!

WC vs History Rerelease: Source Code

Seventy years ago today, the Battle of Midway began as forces from the Japanese Combined Fleet bore down on the small Pacific atoll of Midway. The majority of the Combined Fleet had been sortied for the battle. Admiral Yamamato himself steamed on the flagship Yamato as part of the Japanese "Main Body" force. However, only one element of the Japanese force, Kido Butai, was to play a role in the most famous of carrier battles. The Japanese set out to crush the remaining power of the American Pacific Fleet, their carriers, and instead saw the four core units of their carrier strike force destroyed in a single day. The penultimate moment of the battle being the five minute American dive-bomber attack between 1020 and 1025 am that put three of the four carriers of Kido Butai permanently out of action.

In remembrance of the battle and all its participants seventy years on, we present again our multipart WC vs History series on the Battle of Midway.

"In less than a month the Kilrathi will be above Earth demanding our surrender if we're lucky, though if past practices are any indication they'll flatten us with a full antimatter warhead bombardment and then come down to gloat over the wreckage and tear out the throats of the survivors with their claws when their next Sivar ceremony comes around." - Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn, 2668

The Empire of Kilrah has broken the armistice agreement. A massive fleet of heavy carriers is poised to strike at the heart of the Confederation. Thrakhath's advance should be unstoppable. He has new ships, fresh pilots and believes he has achieved total surprise. What he does not know is that Admiral Sir Geoffrey Tolwyn, supposedly disgraced for sinking a Kilrathi carrier hours after the formal armistice, has actually been working with Confederation intelligence to learn the Empire's plans for months. Now Tolwyn is the newly minted commander of Third Fleet--and he is struggling to piece together an armada capable of stopping the Kilrathi.

Read the rest of the story here!

Fun Tip: Print Gift Codes, Hand Out At Parties

If you didn't jump on the Good Old Games sale on Friday, this is your reminder to take advantage of this amazing deal! Each of the Wing Commander packs pictured below is discounted to $2.99 for this weekend only. You've got through Monday evening to make your purchases. Happy Wing Commandering!
This weekend, two epic series, Ultima and Wing Commander, unite in one promo to rule the universe. Grab Wing Commander 1+2, Wing Commander 3, Wing Commander 4, Wing Commander: Privateer, Ultima 1+2+3, Ultima 4+5+6, Ultima 7, Ultima 8, and Ultima: Underworld 1+2 50% off this weekend or only $2.99 each.

Reddish Ralari Rips Through Space

Kevin Caccamo has taken his Ralari and tried it out in a game engine. The pics below show it flying around in FS2. Even relatively straightforward action shots always help models like this stand out. Since the last pictures were released, the destroyer itself has gotten a little more color, and this has been combined with some good lighting effects to produce the images below.
The Ralari now has colour! Also, ingame screenshots!

Weekend Sale on EA's Most Famous Classic Series

Good Old Games has announced a big weekend sale, and it's all about Origin fans! The nine Ultima & Wing Commander packs that GOG sells have been discounted by 50% to just $2.99 each. This is the absolute cheapest that anyone has ever been able to get the enhanced DVD edition of Wing Commander 4. Wing Commanders 1 through 4 plus Privateer can now be purchased for less than $12 total, which is just amazing. Act fast and don't forget that GOG games make great gifts!

Ground-breaking, redefining, legendary--however you want to name these two franchises, there aren’t many other series with a comparable fanbase and affection from gamers of all ages. This weekend, all games from Wing Commander and Ultima series available on GOG.com are discounted by 50%. You have the chance to buy Wing Commander 4, or Ultima VII: the Complete Edition for only $2.99 until Monday, June 4 11:59 PM EDT.

Wing Commander is a series of 3D space combat simulators, described by the games’ creator Chris Roberts as "World War II in space.” In this series, you follow pilots of the Terran Confederation in their fight against the aggressive feline Kilrathi. Introduce yourself to the epic military space conflict in Wing Commander 1+2, play as Col. Christopher "Maverick" Blair (starred by Mark Hamill) and watch amazing FMV cut-scenes in Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger, enjoy fast, action-packed, and varied space combat in the most expensive video game of its era Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, or explore a vast universe in an open-ended spin-off to the original series Wing Commander: Privateer.

In addition to that, because the Wing Commander series plays so much better with a joystick, we’ve approached the guys from Logitech and they were kind enough to offer a few awesome Logitech Extreme™ 3D Pro joysticks to our users. Leave a comment below for a chance to win 1 of 3 logitech joysticks. You can also enter a similar joystick-winning contests on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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