Strike Commander's a Hit!

Strike Commander has shot up the GOG sales charts in its first week available as a digital download. It's well-deserved recognition for this close sibling of Wing Commander. But how's Wing Commander doing, you ask? Next week will mark the one year anniversary since the last major WC title (DVD edition of WC4) was added to GOG's library, and WC is still tearing up the charts! Every Wing Commander game available still sits on the top 10 of the shooter category. In my opinion, "shooter" is a more broad and competitive category (Strike Commander is grouped in with the "sims"), which makes WC's constant presence at the top of the charts all the more impressive. Come on GOG, let's get some more Wing Commanders online! You can help: let GOG know that you want more WC.

WC Saga Keyboard Reference Helps Players

It's been a year now since WC Saga was released, and a steady trickle of fans are still stumbling upon this major fan project. Since the game uses a non-WC spaceflight engine, some Wingnuts may be unfamiliar with the best ways to pilot a fighter. Imbacore has put together a handy walkthrough of important controls and hotkeys to help with this. Check it out here!
I've been playing it for several weeks now and while I've gotten the hang of the game, others new to the series and/or the genre might find the numerous controls daunting. I've made up a guide on what I think to be the core Wing Commander controls and hotkeys. If you want to have an easier time with the game memorize and utilize the list found in this article.
Q – Equalizes shields. All craft have six separate shields. If you find a bogey has successfully positioned himself on your six and has worn down your rear shield to zero, pressing Q redistributes your craft’s overall shield energy to all its areas. You might get weaker front and side shields temporarily but at least you’ll have shield power restored to the area that has been rendered vulnerable.

Kiowan Krell Gets Its Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Scooby has revisited the Tri-System once again to model a Kiowan pirate clan fighter. The Krell isn't an especially powerful nor well-known ship in the Wing Commander universe, but Scooby's done a really good job of modeling and texturing this craft. It's certainly fits right in with his other Privateer 2 models!
The Krell is the Kiowan pirate clan’s heaviest fighter. While the Krell’s gull wing design is imposing, it is easily the lowest quality pirate heavy fighter in the Tri-System. Facing Ashearers or Tacons, the Krell comes in a distant fourth. Because of this, it is more rarely dispatched on traditional missions than the fighters of the other groups… but it is more common on patrols.

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This is another remake of a really old model of mine ('04) based on the Krell. I know the wings aren't rotated nearly enough, but back then I just had one picture to go off of I think. Anyways I like them this way anyways. 2 mass drivers, 2 particles, 1 stormfire (which I can switch out for a dust cannon if needed to). I really liked how well the gun/engine hull smoothly connects to the wings.

Fighter Models Reactivated and Returned to Duty

We first shared Whiplash's hand crafted wooden Wing Commander models several years ago. After recently retrieving the ships from storage, he's now embarking on a new mission to retrofit and update the designs with the model-building expertise he's gained in the ten years since they were first put together. Right off the bat, his never-before-seen Paktahn bomber joins the fray. Soon rework on the Hellcat begins!
The family has finally been re-united! After a decade gathering dust at my parents' house, I finally took the plunge and moved my entire model collection to my own place. There are many, many others I won't show here, since you guys will be interested in the Wing Commander stuff. So, without further ado, here they are:

You'll see they've been joined by a new member: The mighty Paktahn. I never posted pictures of it before since it is still unfinished. Hopefully that will be rectified soon.

I'm a long time model builder. I started off with plastic kits and I've since progressed to scratch-building my own designs from balsa wood. Building something from scratch as opposed to using a model kit obviously means you have to draw your own plans to work from. This involved hours of taking measurements from the game manuals and even from in-game screenshots to get the look right.

Enjoy!

Rapiers Reign Over Six Decades

Klavs is a huge Rapier fan, and he's built several famous variants over the years. These new wallpapers show off the series' three most iconic iterations. The middle F-44C (or G) version was made famous by WC2 and is Klavs' favorite. It has some very refined lines, and the textures in this render are top notch since it's also a 3D printing star. To its right is the YF-44 prototype first seen in WC1. The spaceframe is cut a little sharper, and there are also some nice touches inspired by Dean McCall's movie concept art. On the F-44C's left is the Rapier made popular by Super Wing Commander. This one also made a major comeback as the F-44X in Wing Commander Arena. Finally, don't miss Maniac's autobiography excerpts below!
Blair woke me up from a nap. "They're here." he said, filled with reverence and awe.

He and was out the door before I could fall out of bed after him. Nearly the whole air wing was down in flight control, fogging up the LSO's viewports and pressing our noses against the glass until he chased us all out.

The Rapier.

Even after a lifetime of experience flying them, I still get a thrill just thinking about those ships. Every F-44 Rapier was a classic. From A to G. And the postwar models are STILL holding their own too. They were-are a true artist's ship. Origin knows how to build 'em, man!

-Marshall

BREAKING: Strike Commander on GOG

The team at GOG is at it again, releasing Wing Commander's closest cousin... Strike Commander! Strike Commander was Chris Roberts' followup to Wing Commander, an F-16 sim wrapped in an elaborate Hollywood action movie and set in the then-distant future year of 2012! If you loved Wing Commander or Privateer, you owe it to yourself to check out Strike Commander. You can pick up your copy here. The package includes several extras and features the full speech "talkie" CD-ROM edition of the game... with the Tactical Operations addon! Here's hoping this means the rest of the Wing Commander series is on the way! (We don't know why they've used this unfortunate fake box art for the game, but rest assured that team CIC has dug up the source files from Origin's archive and forwarded them along!)

Claw Marks Comrades Conjured in Color

-danr- was inspired by the stellar full-color Super Famicon Claw Marks, and he used this energy to paint the black & white headshots featured in the PC version's manual. The result is an artsy take that really jazzes up the simpler pictures. We'd love to see more of the booklet colorized! For those who don't own or can't wait to download the color Claw Marks, here's the original Japanese art. It's a pretty striking comparison! You can find even more classic headshots at the CIC here.

More GOG WC Releases on the Horizon?

Good Old Games has kicked off a new series of Electronic Arts releases with the recent addition of Syndicate Wars, Clive Barker's Undying and Magic Carpet 2 to their library. Could more Wing Commander titles be next? Previous WC titles were added to GOG's lineup amidst other non-Origin EA franchises, and it's been a few months now since the expansion packs went online. There's still half a dozen prime WC candidates yet to be added to the service, so which would you like to see first? This is our poll, not GOG's, but no matter who wins, we'll be pushing hard for all possible WC games to be added to their library!

The last poll asked which game manual was everyone's favorite. Claw Marks won with almost half the vote! Victory Streak took second place with another quarter of the response. Here's the final tally:

Pentium Celebrations Highlight Wing Commander Tie-In

A number of websites commemorated the Intel Pentium Processor's 20th birthday this week, and there have been some interesting articles on the history of the chip. One of the more popular items making the rounds is the famous mid '90s television commercial narrated by LeVar Burton. It highlights a child exploring the solar system in Redshift and then quickly launching into Wing Commander 3! If you were lucky enough to play WC on a Pentium in 1995 or 1996, you'll know how much it zoooomed on a fully decked out system. I remember loving this clip when it aired on TV, and of course they used Wing Commander as the star!
The commercial shows a boy studying the solar system using the Redshift planetarium software. He goes through several planets and recites facts about them; then he announces that it's time to "study the Kilrathi system," picks up a flight stick and instantly switches to an Arrow cockpit playing Wing Commander III!

It's amazing to think that 'Kilrathi' was a perfectly explicable word for a national TV spot in 1995. The footage itself is very interesting as well: of course, the instant switch between Redshift and Wing Commander III was impossible at the time... and eagle-eyed Wing Commander fans will also recognize that the game itself is a prettier mockup rather than the released version. The game mirrors the planetarium software with a lush planet image in the background and pairs of high resolution Arrows swoop past the view.

Raptor Joins Lighter Fighters in the Real World

Here are some larger shots of the absolutely stunning physical models made by Klavs. Photographs of the heavy Raptor now show off how big the fighter is compared to the Rapier, Scimitar and Hornet. Now that 3D printing technology allows them to come prepainted, they almost look too good to be true! You can order your own here. Filling your shopping cart with the various designs can get a bit pricey, but Klavs continues to search for ways to bring down the cost through innovative modeling techniques. The ships themselves are sold at no markup and no profit - they're a real Wingnut labor of love!
The Raptor came today. It's BIG. (6.2"!!) You could probably bludgeon somebody to death with it. They're a bit hard to photograph, some bright spots show up with the flash that aren't normally visible. But here are some shots with a camera that's slightly better than my phone.

Roland Rocks Marvelous MIDI in WC2

Everyone knows that Wing Commander put the Creative Labs Sound Blaster on the map with its dazzling sound effects, musical score and speech. It was not uncommon at all in 1991 to invite friends over just to show them the talking Kilrathi in the introduction to Wing Commander 2. WC1&2 sold quite a few Sound Blasters, which became the audio gold standard in the 1990s.


But there was an even better way to listen to the early Wing Commanders! Roland sound cards enabled special effects and soundtracks. You can read up on some of the details here, or you can listen to the sample below. This particular clip demonstrates the difference between the Sound Blaster and the Roland MT-32 MIDI card. The first half is how the game sounds with Creative Labs, and the Roland music kicks in at the 4:26 mark.

If you can't get enough, check out this update for a roundup of WC1 audio with the same Roland MIDI setup going. Thanks to Whistler for finding this one.

Space Sim First Look: Rogue System

Rogue System is an upcoming space sim from Texas based developer DCI. The game tries to blend in defining elements from major franchises like Elite and Wing Commander, while targeting hardcore combat sim fanatics with a taste for realism and control. The SimHQ website has posted an extensive interview with the man behind DCI, and our very own Klavs has come up with a concept image for the game (pictured). A Kickstarter campaign has attracted a substantial figure in pledges, but has some ways to go with just hours left on the clock.

'You might even call Michael "Scott" Juliano's Rogue System space combat sim "Falcon 4.0 in space," because that's the level of realism and system fidelity he's striving for.'
Andy Mahood - Gamespy

Rogue System is an attempt to bring the classic space-combat sims into the modern era of gaming. However it sets itself apart by blending the detail and fidelity of the modern hardcore combat flight-sims by introducing fully integrated ship systems and the click-able cockpit to control them.

Rogue System's "Core Module" will be a complete campaign-driven sim on its own. Later, "Extension Modules" will add even more gameplay. The first EM would be the addition of open-ended gameplay. Other modules will include enhanced FPS gameplay with breaching actions, new ship hulls and ship systems, multi-player, and new military campaigns to draw you back into that story from time to time.

Lengthy Chris Roberts Audio Interview Covers Wide Range of Topics

Space Game Junkie has posted an extensive audio interview with Chris Roberts. During the nearly one and a half hours of discussion the group cover various topics ranging from Chris' earliest games to his time in the movie industry and onto Star Citizen and Squadron 42.

The interview is well worth any Wingnut's time. Some of the highlights include some insights into the earliest concepts for Wing Commander (then called Squadron). Before the game became the classic we know and love it actually was more of a tactical top-down game that focused on capships. Chris also mentions still wanting to revisit the Wing Commander IP someday.

When asked about whether high resolution source videos for the Wing Commander 3 footage exists Chris points out that EA likely has it if it exists, but does mention that the game was mastered on D1 quality digital tape.

Chris also spends considerable time talking about the Wing Commander film. Starting at about the 42 minute mark he spends some time explaining the different look of the film and laments the movie's accelerated production schedule. He mentions how having to cut Merlin and the unusable Kilrathi footage meant needing to remove the traitor subplot altogether.

Perhaps more interesting is that he mentions during a brief discussion of Wing Commander Academy that Origin had originally planned on also going with Universal for the production company for the feature film.

The last 50 minutes of the interview focuses on Chris' Star Citizen project. You can download the entire interview from Space Game Junkie here.

EA CEO Is Out, WC Back In?

Electronic Arts announced today that its CEO, John Riccitiello, has resigned amid recent financial shortfalls. His tenures with the company have coincided with extended absences of the Wing Commander franchise.

Mr. Riccitiello was first hired after the development of Wing Commander Prophecy in 1997 and held the role of President & COO as the Maverick Team was eventually disbanded at Origin in March 2000. He was still in charge when Origin was officially shut down in February 2004, and he resigned from the company almost immediately thereafter.

Wing Commander Arena was developed during his absence, but he was rehired as CEO just before its launch in 2007. The follow-up to Arena and several other attempts to restart the franchise in recent years have languished during the time that John has led the company.

CEOs are often portrayed as out-of-touch with the daily operations of large companies, but Mr. Riccitiello described himself as a gamer with insight into the series that were green lit (or not!). Here's looking forward to some fresh blood that will invigorate the classic franchises that make up EA's legacy!

Duress Impresses Against Energetic Expanse

Here's another look at Scooby's sleek Duress/Loki model. The ship is looking fantastic as it pulls away from yellow swirls in space. It looks like something that would fit right into Privateer 2. The lead fighter's wingman is also silhouetted nicely in the background. Hopefully we see these ships pop up in more wallpapers and fan projects in the future!

These Graceful Arrows Have Teeth

Klavs recently took on the Arrow V as his latest project, and the results are very impressive. As Arrow lovers are well aware, there are many different versions of the F-27, and each has slight visual differences. The Armada Arrow is two meters shorter with only a fraction of the mass, which is just the variant you'd want to build at far flung makeshift shipyards. The images below illustrate the differences very nicely. WC3's iteration includes a slightly longer center fuselage and extended engine modules. Even though the forward sections are nearly identical, there are plenty of differences (both in overall textures and underslung gun mounts) that provide a really fun comparison. Don't miss another excerpt from "Me: The Life and Battles of 'Maniac' Marshall" below - does anyone know what happened to the one at the Academy? Hit the Comments link if you do!
The early Arrows were usually restricted to the dissimilar aggressor/trainer role while the light fighter role was filled by the Hornets. We had an early one at the Academy. I was on the schedule to fly it right before graduation, but it disappeared one day and nobody could tell me where it went. I dunno, maybe somebody crashed it or something.

Eventually they came into their own, getting bigger and bigger reactors to power all the combat shielding and weapons, and the late war version mounted four guns and eight missiles. Before the 'peace' that would have put it in the medium fighter category. They were great though, enough acceleration to tear your face off. In the F-27 you could handle stuff all the way up to a Vaktoth, as long as his buddies were far enough away and you had some missiles left.

-Maniac

Klavs was also asked what a large physical 3D print would cost. As this new technology is still a developing field, prints more than several inches in length can quickly ratchet up in price. The tally for a color 13" model is in the $1200 range! Needless to say, there won't be one made any time in the near future, but based on trends over the last few years, it's safe to say such amazing creations should be feasible someday.
I'm getting the feeling Maniac never met a fighter he didn't like. Note the differences between the Armada Version and the WC3 version. Finally explained that 2 meter length discrepancy!

Used the absolutely gorgeous Saga version as a reference, and did my best to rebuild her and make her my own. I hope I didn't ugly her up too much for you!

-Klavs

Study Up Before Hitting the TrainSim

Bearcat took the Wing Commander sprite art that was recently posted and produced a fun training reference. It's a wonderful throwback to some of the original tactics diagrams from the first few WC games. He's mixed some classic ships and techniques with preliminary Star Citizen physics in order to suggest how to maximize the effectiveness of a topside turret. A similar method could be used by Prophecy's Devastator bomber. It's pretty nice to see these in color - it would be great to see a full series' worth!
I wanted to use them to put together notional tactics diagrams for Star Citizen based on our current guestimations of how the physics and weapons will work. Since SC has a shortage of ship profiles, and I look for any excuse to reference the WC1/2 era, I reasoned that WC2 sprites would serve well as stand-ins.

Although after creating that I realized that the Hornet's turret might have trouble rotating to +90 degrees. I modified the tactic to be yaw based (shooting sideways) and threw the Hornet/Scythe graphics in there.

Thanks again for the sprites though. I'm still splicing them in everywhere on the flimsiest of justifications.

Hit the Deck Aboard the Claw

Lars has made some significant enhancements to the large flight deck aboard his developing Tiger's Claw model. The side bays are better defined, and new floodlights illuminate the whole hangar. An upper observation level has been added, and even the doors are in place. There's a nice starfield in the background too, which makes even these work-in-progress shots look great. We highly recommend pretty starfields!
Second update has been the hangar. I have been taking over details mostly from the movie. Added the small red "whatever it is" storage and a placeholder for the flight control center to it. Also some struts and the hangar door and force field. It's all more or less WIP but allready gives a nice impression.

Rock Out to the Original Wing Commander Theme

LittleVMills has created an "Epic Rock Cover" of the original Wing Commander theme, and it's truly epic! The video below shows Little V killing it on both the guitar and drums. Not only is the sound wonderful, but the clip is a full 3-minute version that pulls off the contrasting reverie in the middle. If you like it like we do, download the mp3 here. You don't have to take our word for it: famous Wing Commander musician The Fat Man loves it too!
George A. Sanger: How come we didn't hear about this 'til now??!! Great job--great attitude, you really captured the intent, I think. AND you look like Dave (the composer) when you/he are on drums. I'll point him to the video, too.

Wildcat Toughs Out Final Flight

Klavs has another fantastic render today, and this one's got quite a backstory! His new stylized "Hellcat" statue is a beautiful take on the famous icon featured in Wing Commander Academy. It's been speculated that the ship pictured in WCA is actually a Wildcat from the Action Stations novel, and Klavs plays this up in another fictional excerpt from "Me: The Life and Battles of 'Maniac' Marshall." There might not be much evidence to back this up, but it would be a clever parallel between the real Wildcat and Hellcat from World War 2!
I used to stare at the Wildcat statue at the Academy. I drew energy from it in a way, when times were rough. It got me back on track just to gaze up at that old bird for five, or ten minutes and remember why I was there. Which is why it wasn't really a big deal for me to walk off disciplinary tours in the square. Even in the rain, I could just keep marching, do an about face, and she'd be right there with me, cheering me on.

Objectively, the Wildcats weren't much to look at, a little ungainly, a little underpowered, and don't even think about an atmospheric dogfight in one. In space they could hold their own, at least in the early days of the war. To think of the history behind those early ships! Wow. I can still close my eyes and see that workhorse physique riding that durasteel exhaust against the sunset.

At New Edwards I got a chance to fly one of the last ones around. It had been down for maintenance for almost a decade. The techs had fixed her up in their spare time, hoping to fly it as part of the heritage wing. I lunged at the chance to strap on a Wildcat. Can you imagine flying a Sopwith Camel, P-51 Mustang, or a CF-58 Peregrine? She was a classic. A true beauty, and I HAD to fly her!

I bribed MCPO Venkata with a case of Scotch and wound up with an ancient copy of the Wildcat NATOPS and a slot on the schedule for Saturday morning. The manual was dog eared, bookmarked, and covered from cover to cover in handwritten notes. Pre-war budgetary constraints had delayed much needed engine and spaceframe upgrades, as well as the replacement of fatigued or weakly designed parts. There were many, many provisos to the flight regime. The Wildcat was, to say the least, a soft touch. It's not her fault for having osteoporosis, she was a grand old lady, and I was going to get to fly her!

But, like dancing with grandma, you can't just start her off with the tango. You gotta limber her up a little. I showed up early. Preflighted for two hours, going through every patch, fastener and rivet. The run-up checklist? Did it twice. Taxi was done at a snail's pace. Takeoff was done at 60% of recommended throttle just to save on engine and lubrication temps. She ate up a lot of runway that way, but even shuffling along as she was, climbout was a dream. Turns were gentle and honest. I eased into a slow, 1G roll, and I could tell she wanted more. So we began to dance. Slowly at first, then we moved faster and faster. We were really having a wonderful time together when a missile trail scorched over my right shoulder as we entered a left turn.

The ship shuddered into a crab, snap rolled, spun, and twenty thousand feet later I finally started thinking again, "Someone is shooting at you! You took a hit!"

Recovering at about 200 meters AGL, I began climbing again and began looking around visually (there was no radar to speak of) for threats. Those old combat instincts die hard. Eventually realizing there were none to be seen, aside from my own very sick spacecraft. My CW panel was lit up like a Christmas tree, and I had some spectacular adverse yaw that I was able to mostly trim out using left and center engine gimbals.

The right engine had, apparently, become cleanly separated from the ship. It had shot out like a missile, still developing full power and scaring the crap out of me. I had permanently bent the spaceframe recovering from the spin, but everything else about the limp home was sweet and honest.

Even with one of her engines lying somewhere on in a smoking crater on the desert floor, she showed me three green on downwind and the two engine landing happened just like the checklist said it would. Bless her heart.

When we rolled to a stop in front of the astonished ground crew, I managed to escape the wrath of Master Chief Venkata and his crew by promising them even more more cases of scotch and, to my everlasting credit, a very humble apology. I honestly felt terrible for bending that precious old bird. Still, losing a month's pay beats a lynching any day, and I even managed to sneak in a kiss and a pat on the rear of that beautiful old lady before they wheeled her sadly back into the repair bay. She was, unfortunately, never to fly again.

Still, I smiled every time I passed her, sitting regally up on her pole at the main gate. I'd been her last fling, and we'd had a hell of a time.

-Excerpt from "Me: The Life and Battles of 'Maniac' Marshall."

Now Compared to the Original...

And if that's not enough Hellcat/Wildcat, here she is next to a model of the real thing! The older fighter is super detailed and well textured. Although the classic craft looks great, I'm not so sure how she'd hold up against the Kilrathi!
Just playing around, I doubt this will ever appear as anything but a model in Commodore Tolwyn's quarters, but still fun. A lot smaller than the Hellcat, about 14 m long (I believe the Hellcat is 27). Compare that to the ancient original!

I wanted to create something that could have been that statue we saw in the Academy Cartoons, just a little more stylized.

Shipbuilder Makes New Fighter Under Duress

ScoobyDoo has added another Tri-System vessel to his fleet. This time it's a popular light fighter that Scooby has renamed the Loki. In this case it's been beefed up a bit with twice as many regular guns and a hot Stormfire on the ventral side. I think the textures are looking spot on, but Scooby may yet tweak the coloring and finder details a bit more. The light blue highlights look even better than the strong teal overtones in the original, in my opinion. Someone could make quite the P2 mod with this fleet!
Also the Loki (the Duress ["duress" is more of a verb than a name]). I had to take some personal liberties with it, mainly the intakes and gun mounts (2 particles, 2 mass drivers, 1 stormfire). I wish I had seen Hudson's version of the Duress earlier on. It's about the same length as the Hellcat, although (I) fixed the cockpit a bit, was way too big for the ship.

I originally had the a mass driver there. I was going to put vents where the mass drivers were. Then I was debating on deleting that section where the stormfire is now. Also fixed the cockpit a bit, was way too big for the ship.

CSMs Are Your New Best Friend

Progress continues to be made on capi's Wing Commander RPG. The main game is still under massive proofreading, although about two-thirds of this has now been completed. There haven't been many major changes, but information such as interaction with capship missiles is being added in order to support some cool new mission variants.


The RPG's new Vespus campaign now has a formal Wiki page, and the preliminary missions outlined there sound really neat. In addition to addressing the Concordia's fate, there's some exciting setup for Wing Commander 3 at the end. The intent of the game is ultimately to entertain fans, and capi is doing a great job soliciting feedback from potential players. You can join in on the conversation at the CIC Forums.

Had a thought for the first mission today - we've all had to do those gawdawful capship missile interception missions. You know, where the Cats have launched way more many missiles than they should've had available to them and you have to shoot them all down because if you let so much as a single one through your carrier explodes in a big fiery ball that's visible from the next star system over, a virulent plague breaks out that renders the entire Sector uninhabitable until after the heat death of the universe, and the gods of Wing Commander sneak into your house in the middle of the night to fill your shoes with Miracle Whip. Right?

So how about a gawdawful capship missile escort mission? Stick it to the Cats for once, eh? Eh?

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The work plan's still moving along. My immediate goals are to finish up the remaining race profiles. I'm thinking that I'd like to keep some of the momentum I've got going and I know it's going to come to a screeching halt when I hit the next big page, so I'm thinking this week I'm going to try to isolate and finish as many of the remaining small sections of the game as I can.

It has been suggested to me that I try to make WCRPG an offering for the upcoming Free RPG Day (June 15th this year); given that I'd have to have the game to the press by May 15th to have it ready in time and that's only 64 days off at this point, I doubt that will happen. You never know, though...

Wing Commander Pulled Out of the Vault

Games Are Evil has posted a new article in their "Vault" series that profiles classic games. GrE has recently shifted away from the mainstream gaming focus somewhat, so covering a series like Wing Commander is right up their alley. The author was spurred to write this particular piece because of how often the WC series has been coming up in the news lately. Whether from Chris Roberts' Star Citizen, titles like Strike Suit Zero or the many WC fan projects in the headlines, the franchise is still very much in the internet's collective conscious.

The article hits the many highlights that helped make the Kilrathi a (gamers') household name: nonlinear missions, breath-taking storylines and cutting edge technology. It also gives the Wing Commander Movie a thumbs up, but, surprisingly, the highly acclaimed animated series a thumbs down.


A few minor clarifications: The third 'expansion' to Wing Commander 1, which is part of Super Wing Commander, was available on both the Macintosh and 3DO. Kudos to the author for knowing that it exists. And WC2's subtitle is "The Vengeance of the Kilrathi," not "The Secret Missions." WC2 is somewhat commonly misnamed because Secret Missions on the Super Nintendo is a standalone sequel, while the full WC2 for the SNES was lost in limbo. You can find the full article here.

I could talk about Wing Commander and its spinoffs for days, maybe even weeks. It is one of the finest examples of an almost-extinct genre of gaming, and if you’ve never experienced the series you’ve certainly missed out. So again I will remind you that the Wing Commander games are on GOG.com. You can get them for around the price of a fancy coffee. So don’t stop for one in the morning… you might be buying a game in the evening. Nudge nudge, wink wink.

88th Fighter Wing Ready to Rock

Klavs81 first made a splash in the Wing Commander community way back in 2005 with some very impressive hangar bay renders. He's created a great many scenes since then, but he does flight decks extremely well, and today's images are no exception. The gritty texture, fine detail and superb lighting really look fantastic here. In addition to his fleet of Confed fighters, familiar items such as his recent tail art stand out here if you look closely. In addition to the interior perspective, Klavs has put together one ultra wide view that shows off how all these ships might be able to fit on the Claw's deck. Last, but definitely not least, there's another piece of micro fiction to accompany the scene below.
"The word 'cavernous' gets overused a lot when talking about carriers, but the main launch bay is huge, around 35,000 m^2 of deck space, all dedicated to spacecraft launch and recovery. No ship is allowed on deck unless it is ready to fly. Eight elevators (four in the portside launch bays) provide access to the hangar bay below, which, while not as tall as the launch bay, is almost as spacious. I didn't get a sense of how much space that really was until somebody told me to visualize three and a half soccer fields end to end stacked over another three. Translate that into regulation sumo rings and you've got a whole lot of Dohyo!"

-Lt Mariko Tanaka, personal correspondence.

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Thanks guys! There's about 80 bazillion lights in the scene, but everything you see is a raw render. I'm working on detailing more of the bays now, and rigging the scene so I can turn parts on and off to minimize render times for animation. There's lots of room on deck for a full load alpha strike, with 8 elevators (white squares) to bring up a few reserves from the hangar deck below. I still stand by my numbers of 60-80 craft, including shuttles and perhaps a few marine landing craft in keeping with the self sufficient 'strike carrier' concept.

Lord British Unveils Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

Origin founder and space explorer Richard Garriott has unveiled his newest game, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. After being involved with several massively multiplayer games throughout the early 2000s, Richard dedicated himself to becoming the casual games and has long said that this was to build infrastructure and talent up within his new studio. Portalarium has now announced a full-fledged role playing game. The project's intent is to get away from some of the more linear trends in recent RPGs and deliver a more immersive and free form experience. Here's some of the first screenshots.

To help drive the development of the new game, a new Kickstarter campaign has been launched. Early returns are very promising, and it looks to be on track to earn nearly $500,000 within the first 24 hours. Although the final product is intended to be a digital download, the Kickstarter is also offering a number of physical bonuses, which include a cloth map, collector's coin and printed documentation. Here's Richard to discuss the game.

The CIC gets frequent requests to highlight new Kickstarters, and like many sites recently, we've had to restrict which ones make it into the news. Our primary criteria include a history of contribution to the Wing Commander series, and Lord British certainly qualifies. Aside from his involvement at Origin, Richard has been a supporter of the Wing Commander community for a long time. Did you know he was credited as a designer and a playtester for the Wing Commander CCG? His current team includes staff that directly worked on almost every Wing Commander game, and he even temporarily donated his office space to Chris Roberts in order to help launch Star Citizen last October. If you're interested in supporting Mr. Garriott on in this endeavor, find out more here.

“Richard and I have known each other 26 years when I first joined up with a small little company called Origin Systems. We had a lot fun being the small rebel upstart company and made some games that are still remembered for defining or creating genres even today. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Richard this energized about the world and game he is creating. Shroud of The Avatar, feels like the kind of game we would have made in the old days of Origin when we didn’t answer to anyone and just made the best game we could with no interference. That’s what’s great about Crowd funding. I’m backing and looking forward to being part of Lord British’s next great adventure” ~ Chris Roberts, creator of the best-selling Wing Commander game series

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Richard Garriott, the award winning designer and creator of the Ultima franchise, makes his triumphant return to the genre that earned him a place in the Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Shroud of the Avatar is the first installment of Richard’s new vision and represents the reinvention of the classic, fantasy role-playing which he pioneered. A fantasy role-playing game that will focus more on player choices and discovery than on level grinding.

With Shroud of the Avatar, Richard and his team will again reinvent the classic fantasy role-playing experience. Using state-of-the-art tools and technology, the game will focus on what made his seminal Ultima Series great. Once players are introduced to the game, they will discover their own story woven into the immersive world and lore surrounding them. Players may choose to follow the life of the adventurer or, if they prefer, focus on exploration and discovery. Players may even choose the life of a homesteader; either nestled within the safety of the settled lands, or on the dangerous but potentially lucrative frontier. The world is full of opportunities and challenges!

The familiar psychological profiling used to create your character, organically derived game-play responses to player behavior and fundamental virtues and consequence of actions will all play a huge role in Shroud of the Avatar. Players will be free to choose their path, but must then live with the consequences of their actions.

Shroud of the Avatar general features:

From Lord British's Treatise on "What is an Ultimate RPG?":
• Fully interactive virtual world - If it looks usable, it should do something
• Deep original fiction - Ethical parables, cultural histories, fully developed alternate language text
• Physical game components will be available: Cloth map, fictional manuals, trinkets
• Multiplayer Online Game - which can also be played solo player / offline

Confed & Kilrathi Take on Tumblr

NinjaLA is in the middle of a sketch-a-day project, and some of his drawings are based on Wing Commander. Right off the bat, his site's header is flanked by a sharp looking Scimitar and Hornet. There's also a nicely colored Kilrathi soldier, and he seems to be holding a Dor-Chak rifle. Finally, his new Dralthi sketch includes a lot of detail in an energetic package. You can find more images at his Tumblr here.
Dor-Chak Laser Rifle

The standard Kilrathi sidearm in shipboard operations is a light-energy weapon called the Dor-Chak (“Striking Bird”) in the Kilrathi tongue. It usually weighs about 6 kg, and measures 29 cm from barrel-tip to the end of the stock. (Some clans wield variant Dor-Chaks, which may look somewhat different from the standard model, but most function virtually identically.) It is believed that the Dor-Chak, in its modern form, was developed by the Kilrathi 50 to 100 years before contact with humanity.

The Dor-Chak is a multifunction weapon. There's a short-range, wide-beam setting (good for about 10 meters against unarmored targets, with a spread of about 2 meters), a long-range narrow-beam setting (able to penetrate an unarmored human target at 200 meters), plus a 1-meter torch mode, for cutting through hatches and bulkheads. Its crystalline power supply is good for about 20 minutes of continuous use, after which time it must be discarded and a new one slotted into place. Most Kilrathi warriors go into battle carrying at least five fully charged power supplies for their Dor-Chak.

Confed's M-47 semiautomatic laser, which is quickly becoming the standard weapon for planetary operations, is based directly on technology originally created by the Kilrathi for the Dor-Chak.

That's a Sprite for Sore Eyes

Bearcat and FekLeyrTarg reminded us recently about a cool ancient project that Jetlag undertook to screenshot all the various angles that were rendered for WC1&2 ships. This feat was accomplished with HCl's Ship Viewer program. We've shown off the WC1 lineup before, but the WC2 slate never made it into the news. Both are available below! Hopefully these are useful to some fan project out there - they're pretty interesting even as a reference.
Now that ya got 'em, whatcha gonna do with 'em? :p
And if you missed the Targeting VDU Megapost last year, be sure to check it out too. Those images come from every game in the series!

New Era of Color 3D Printing Begins

Klavs81 has achieved a fantastic breakthrough with his Wing Commander-inspired models! Build-to-order 3D printing continues to evolve and mature, and color objects are now possible. While some mini diehards are talented enough to paint their own ships, most of us lack the skill and time to do the designs justice. That problem has been resolved with the latest technology. Check out the results below - the pictures speak for themselves! In addition to the textured metal skin, realistic decals and other details are visible. The shots here are prototypes, and the final version of the Rapier is slightly smaller and closer in size to the Scimitar so that each ship is to scale. All four classic WC1 fighters are ready to build at Terran Fleet Supply!
They work!

The 1/300 scale ships will be just about the perfect display/zoom around the office size and should be pretty darn affordable (Around $35 for a 3" model) And you don't have to paint 'em! The Scimitar is 1/300 scale and the Rapier an odd 1/230 scale. (About 4.1 inches. I wanted to see what would happen at larger sizes)

They're hard to photograph, but I'm getting details like panel lines, Confed insignia, even hints of stencil markings and warning placards! The texture is a bit rough, like sandstone, but a little sanding on the rough parts evens out the minor "terracing" effect, and the colors are preserved. I painted the Rapier canopy as it was a bit light, and picked out some minor details with a sharp #2 pencil. I can't believe how well these worked.

It turns out the smaller scale ships won't work for the Hornet, Raptor, and Rapier without having to thicken the wings and fine details to the point of silliness. So the Scimitar, Hornet and Rapier will only be available in 1/300 scale for around $35 a piece. These scale out to around 3-4 inches long. Big enough to see plenty of detail, but not take up too much room on your desk. I did some major surgery on the (larger) Raptor and got the price down a bit (for its size). It's still in scale with the other ships. Hornet, Scimitar, Raptor and Rapier are now available on the Shape Ways store!

In the meantime I'll be running around the house making whoosing noises at the dog.

Now that the Tiger's Claw's quartet is complete, Klavs is moving on to bigger challenges bringing together new designs at the lowest possible cost. He's set up a new poll that asks whether people would prefer he work on WC1 Kilrathi fighters, WC2 Confed fighters or WC3 Confed fighters next. Vote over at the CIC Forums!
If this is Gen 1 color printing, I can't wait for next year...

Enigma Ventures into Corvette Territory

Another of Scooby's models has made it into the Enigma 2666 mod. This Venture class corvette's nose appears somewhat short in the five-view shot, but this gives the model a bit of a tougher look maybe. The in-game image looks a little closer to the design as seen in the games, and it hangs in space nicely paired with an escorting Rapier. There's been a lot of good looking ships inducted to the mod lately - hopefully we're getting close to a playable campaign.

Tiger's Claw Upgrades Weapons & Propulsion Systems

Lars has upgraded several systems on his developing Bengal class carrier. Various weapons emplacements have been elevated on a taller turret, which provides a more realistic look. Some physical locations were also tweaked slightly to provide better fields of fire. Finally, numerous inset thrusters have been added to strategic points in order to support the ship's maneuverability. She's looking good!
Yes the "new" Bengal is very well armed indeed.

Small thrusters to turn the ship: I had these in an older version and realy liked it as a small detail to the overall design so they found their way back into the new version.

SpaceX Dragon Docks Again

The SpaceX Dragon successfully linked with the International Space Station this morning. It's the second commercial resupply mission that the spacecraft has undertaken after a test docking and cargo run last May and October. The craft launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, which has successfully lifted off five consecutive times now. This will be the first time that the Dragon uses its unpressurized trunk section to bring additional cargo up. Hopefully such missions will soon become routine, and crewed missions will begin in just over two years. Even with such "routine" missions, and all the other science fiction imagery we post here at the CIC, it's always amazing to see real live pictures like the ones below!

Fine Piece of Tail Art

While on break from ship modelling, Klavs has come up with tail art for the Tiger's Claw Black Lions squadron. This would look great on his Rapier II model! You can find more of Klavs' incredible work in past news updates.

One of the techs was a fair hand with the art tablet and a master of programming the CNC sprayer. She came up with this great insignia, a big, black, mean lookin' winged guy on top of some red claw marks. which the Colonel immediately approved. The new Rapier squadron was to be the "Black Lions". All the ships were sprayed, and we flew the crap out of those awesome birds all the way to Venice, through Thor's Hammer, and beyond.

Excerpt from "Me: The Life and Battles of 'Maniac' Marshall."

PlayStation 4 Announced - Key Takeaways

Last week, Sony sort of unveiled the upcoming PlayStation 4. Unlike the PS2 and PS3, the new console will not play your older disc-based or digitally downloaded games. However, it does sound like you'll be able to stream classic titles on the new console, similar to OnLive or Gaikai services. Streaming involves 'hosting' the game in a datacenter reasonably close to you and transmitting compressed video frames to your machine. The streaming service will be rolled out gradually as part of Playstation's new online services and may not be available at launch. In the meantime, there are several ways to play Wing Commander on your PlayStation:
  • Wing Commander 3 (PS1/PS2) and Wing Commander 4 (PS1/PS2/PS3) came out on disc for PlayStation 1
  • Wing Commander 4 is available through the PSN Store on PS3
  • EA Replay (WC1 and Secret Missions) for PSP is available from the PSN Store in Europe

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