Catching Up With Chris Roberts

Remember when Chris Roberts interviews were hard to come by? During the Star Citizen announcement and crowdfunding craziness, they were coming out faster than we could report on them. AD has collected a few that were overlooked but are still worth checking out today.

First up is delonick. He writes a technology column that gets picked up by a number of websites and magazines, typically shortened a bit for publication. His complete notes from the interview are available here: A Real Star Citizen.

I asked him what he felt made Star Citizen unique, versus other entries in the genre.

He responded that the level of detail Star Citizen offered, compared to its contemporaries, is extremely high. There's a fully-functional physics engine underlying the entire game, and unlike other Massively Multiplayer games like EVE, which is essentially played from the 3rd person point of view, Star Citizen puts you in the cockpit, which he feels is a far more immersive experience.

The other difference is the level of involvement a player can have. He compared it to buying a computer. You can buy a Dell out of the box, and just use it, or you can start to add things or overclock it. So in the game, your ship isn't just a ship. You can take the same hull and configure it to be a dogfighter or a freighter. The ship really is the character here, he said.

Forums member Don spotted a video interview with German gaming website PC Games. They talk about his experience developing video games and they touch on a few of Star Citizen's features. The interview is conducted in English with German subtitles.

Next up we have another video interview from krautgaming. It's an extensive, half hour interview that talks about Chris Robert's vision for Star Citizen.

Justin Olivetti conducted a one hour interview for joystiq's Massively Speaking podcast. You can listen on the page or download it directly here.

Today we have a Very Special Guest Star for a Very Special Episode: That's right, it's TV's Blossom, who's here to talk to us about the wonderful changes the human body goes through during puberty. No, that's next week; this week we have Wing Commander's Chris Roberts, the driving force behind the upcoming Star Citizen. Lock 'n load, listeners!

Finally, we have a massive two-part interview from Rock Paper Shotgun: Roberts On Star Citizen, Becoming A Space Crime Lord and Chris Roberts On PC Gaming, Going To Space.

During GDC Online, I find Chris Roberts situated in a plain white room – with little adorning it other than a conference table and Roberts’ PC. Given the almost ridiculous grandiosity of his plans, the sparseness of the room makes for something of an odd contrast. But soon, all of that fades into the background. Roberts runs me through a surprisingly polished demo of Star Citizen in its current state, and it’s hard not to let my imagination get away from me. The foundation’s clearly in place, and the possibilities seem endless. But this is still a game. There have to be limits. Moreover, where’s the line between pie-in-the-stars ambition and reality? So naturally, I ask. I ask about EVERYTHING. In part one, we cover why the universe is broken up into instances, Squadron 42, why Roberts doesn’t think this will become some crazy political struggle ala EVE Online, and of course, Roberts’ aspirations to a life of space crime.

Wing Commander in Concert Details Emerge

The Austin Symphony has released further details on the upcoming pops concert which will include music from George Oldziey's Wing Commander scores. The event is, unexpectedly, superhero themed:

“Superheroes”
October 18, 2013 8:00 PM
WHERE: Dell Hall
CONDUCTOR: Peter Bay
The Austin Symphony will open its Pops season with a night of iconic music from your favorite superhero film and television shows. Your spidey senses will be tingling and you will be at the edge of your seat when you hear music from some of your favorites, such as Batman, Superman, Captain America, The Incredibles, X-Men, and much more! In addition to the music there will be visuals on a big screen to enhance your experience. All concertgoers are invited to come dressed as their favorite superhero. There might just be a contest with a special prize for the winner!

There just might be some “super” special guest. Stay tuned for more details!
Special thank you to our promotional partner: Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy

Update 8/13: Wing Commander will not be part of this program afterall. Details here.

We reached out to George Oldziey, who is currently orchestrating the music, for confirmation that this is the correct event. He replied in the affirmative: "Yes it is. I talked Peter Bay into believing Captain Blair was a superhero:)" Tickets are not yet available, but we will post as soon as they are for sale. You can be sure we'll be organizing a Wing Commander fan event surrounding this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear Wing Commander music played by a live orchestra! Mr. Oldziey notes that he hopes to see some costumes... so we'd better get working on a super-Tolwyn outfit:

Fan Photos of Four Fighters

As Klavs toils away at his next Wing Commander designs, the existing ships at Terran Fleet Supply are finding their way into more and more homes. This latest batch of fan photos come from the flight decks of Whistler, sndwv and Howard Day. They've captured the very popular Rapier, Arrow and Hornet here, plus the first photos of the new Ferret are also below. Although the technology still has a ways to go until it's perfect, I'm continually amazed that individual decals, vents and panel lines can be made out. We've come a long way from unpainted miniature 3D prints in a very short time!
My Shapeways fighters have arrived finally. Had a bit of an issue with their ordering system forgetting to tell the printer folks that a Rapier II was supposed to be coming down the pipe. Took a few days but they've arrived and I've very happy with the results. You can smell the paint they're so fresh. Not as heavy as I thought they were either. The material feels semi-fragile but sturdy, similar to one of those figurines you're mom kept locked away to stare at that if you touched the floggings would continue till the next noon.

I can see what Sndwv meant in that there might exist some slight room for improvement in making the walls of the engine nacelles and vector plates a little thicker, not much more than a millimeter or more. You can see this the easiest on the rear shot of the Arrow where a few of the thrust-vectoring vanes have snapped off. Interestingly enough, the Rapier II's engines look more intact compared to the Arrow's (citing Sndwv's complaint). Still very acceptable looking considering the materials used, but I'm more than happy with the outcome and look forward to future orders. The lettering is also a little hard to read on the Rapier's wings, but you can still make out TCS Concordia.

Now the troublesome part... which one do I get next?! :S

Celebrating Ten Years of Wing Commander Prophecy Advance

Back in the very early 2000s, activity at the CIC slowed somewhat after the cancellation of several official Wing Commander games. The product that breathed new life into the community and proved that there was a future after Origin was Wing Commander Prophecy for the Game Boy Advance. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the game's release!

The story of Prophecy Advance began for us in January 2002. It was originally reported that an Italian developer named Raylight was putting together a game called Star Giants. This game had a very Wing Commander feel to it with space fighters on screen that looked identical to Rapier and Dralthi that we're all familiar with. The project turned out to be a tech demo for their proprietary Blue Roses 3D space combat engine, and their goal was to strike a deal with EA to create a handheld Wing Commander game. This agreement came to be in May 2002, and WCP GBA subsequently made a big splash at E3 2002 where it won awards for its advanced tech engine.

Regular development took about a year, and what a year it was! As dedicated reporters of Wing Commander news, it's always a joy for us to show off screenshots and report new features of an upcoming WC product. The CIC Staff was also lucky enough to assist Raylight during the development process by sending copies of the PC game and official guide to Italy and providing guidance on how to trim the original script down to fit the talking head version of the story on the GBA.

Anticipation was high in the spring of 2003, and we were on pins and needles as the game shipped on May 28. Reviews were quite positive with sources like IGN, GameSpot and Game Informer all putting it in the 7-8 range. Its faithfully recreated 3D spaceflight engine got high marks, as did its brand new 4-player multiplayer mode. It was also great to see that Raylight recognized the community members who contributed with mentions in the game's credits.

The story doesn't end with the game's release though! The CIC eventually posted the game's built-in cheats after giving Wingnuts a few months to play the game the authentic way. We also pointed out some of the slight differences between the PC and GBA versions and provided fans tips on how to get the game running on the GameCube with a joystick. Raylight also continued to be an active community partner, and they even released a wallpaper for Christmas 2003. It was presented in an awesome ICIS interface that is still online today! We also provided comparisons between the game playing on a GBA SP and a Nintendo DS when the latter system came out in 2004 (graphics and sound were much improved!). The game continued to be reprinted through at least 2005, and there are quite a few units still out there. It was a hit at DragonCon when the CIC staff made appearances there, and it's also in heavy circulation today on the used market. Just last weekend we found a couple copies when spot checking stores around Austin, Texas!

Happy 10th Birthday Prophecy Advance! And a big thank you to Raylight for the decade of entertainment that they've delivered with this game.

Lastly, here's a little bit more about Raylight. They have many products in their portfolio today, but they still credit Wing Commander for helping them make it big!

Raylight S.r.l., an Italian videogames developer company based in the sunny Napoli, was established in 2000 by Francesco Paduano, Massimiliano Di Monda and Fausto Cardone.

The goal of the founders is to create a new reality for the creation and development of high quality videogames, a new reference point in the game industry.

In its early times, Raylight becames very quickly official Nintendo GameBoy Color developer, thanks to its Rally demo on the little console. The demo received good feedbacks from Namco Japan and Nintendo of Europe, but never went to retail.

On 12 april 2001, the application to became an official GameBoy Advance developer was accepted by Nintendo of America and Raylight started working on Wings Advance, its first success.

In recent years, Raylight’s reputation has soared thanks to the development of Blueroses engine and tools, who ended into the development of the highly acclaimed Wing Commander Prophecy on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance.

At present Raylight is a leading Italian videogames development studio with dozens of games released all over the world, for the most outstanding publishers and on different platforms.

Composed of experienced and qualified people, Raylight is now committed to the development of cutting edge solutions for Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and PC.

Major Milestone Demonstrates Community's Determination

The CIC staff is mostly laying low today, but we are celebrating a proud achievement as well! Yesterday marked ten years of continuous daily front page updates at wcnews.com. Back in May 2003, I never would have predicted how many cool and amazing stories we'd still have to share with everyone. In total since 1998, we've posted some 12,000 items in the news. In just the last few weeks, we've reported on the WC Movie's upcoming Blu-ray release, shown off a video of the 1997 WC FPS pitch, gotten a Kilrathi easter egg in the new Ultima Forever and reported that Wing Commander music will be featured in a live Austin Symphony Concert this fall. Those are just the 'official' news blurbs! The real meat of our regular update slate comes from all the amazing fan projects that Wingnuts are constantly undertaking. capi's RPG was released last week, more of Klavs' amazing 3D prints are available and new projects like Flat Commander, just to name a few, floor us with the dedication and ingenuity of the Wing Commander community. Here's to many more years of continued success!

While we're musing on the site, we'd also like to remind people to mark their calendars for August 10, 2013 for the CIC's 15th Birthday Party! It's also a big round milestone for the site at large, and this year falls on a Saturday evening/early Sunday morning, so people in time zones around the globe should be able to attend. Speaking of birthdays, today is Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts' special day! Happy birthday!

Happy Memorial Day

Today is also Memorial Day in the United States, so the CIC would like to recognize the real life heroism expressed around the world so that we could enjoy our virtual heroes in the comfort of our homes. More so than in most video games, Wing Commander did often stop to pause and remember fallen friends, so such reflection isn't new for our community. A few years back, Kotaku put together an article on this phenomenon in games, and the WC series got credit for doing this subject justice. You can check it out here.

Arrow Shirt Unexpectedly Appears

Guilherme Mesquita found an oddity at the Chinese retailer Deal Extreme. The site purports to sell a 3D Pattern Artificial Fiber T-shirt that's plastered with Wing Commander's Arrow light fighter. A 3XL specimen goes for $17.90. It appears to clearly be some sort of bootleg product, but it doesn't have any associated Wing Commander branding, and we can't peg exactly why this exists or how it came to being. Has anyone stumbled across one of these before? If so, we'd like to see you in it!
Look what I've found on DX (a Chinese website some of you might know)... Weird. But I'll buy one anyway. Wish they had other sizes.

Hellcat Prepped for Paint

Whiplash has pretty much finished the exterior spaceframe of his custom Hellcat fighter. His most recent additions finalized the engine intakes and mounted the ventral wingtip stabilizers. To get ready for the painting phase, some basic lines have been sketched on the hull. The intakes again got some good treatment in regards to this, and the cockpit was also marked up quite a bit. It's the first area to start getting filled in, which you can see in the last shot below. It should look great as more areas get colored in!
Hellcat V looks menacing and ready to take on some furballs (or maybe Border Worlds insurgents, seeing as this is the WCIV version...)

Next I need to do some general cleanup to make the model ready for painting. I'm also still considering the best way to add the panel lines. If they are simply drawn in, I can do them after painting. If however I decide to make small grooves to represent the panels, it will have to be done before painting.

That's all for now. More updates soon.

WC RPG Completed and Released!

capi has achieved a huge milestone in the development of his wiki-based Wing Commander RPG! After two years of building rules, curating information and proofreading hundreds of pages of content, his WC RPG is complete. Fans of the project provided input throughout the process, and they were kept informed at every step of the way through detailed status updates. The complete rule set is available to download here (22 meg PDF). Even if RPGs aren't your thing, it's definitely worth checking the download out to browse through the incredible amount of Wing Commander work that's been assembled here - it's over a thousand pages of content! It's also possible to order a print of the PDF split into a Player's Guide and Gamemaster's Guide if you're going to set up some games and would like a physical reference. Pilots man your planes! (and much, much more!)
IN THE DISTANT FUTURE, MANKIND IS LOCKED IN A DEADLY WAR...

The Wing Commander Role-Playing Game brings the wonder and grandeur of the ground-breaking video game series to the gaming table. Compiled using information gathered over two decades by fans of the original series, WCRPG has everything you need to create your own adventures in the Wing Commander Universe including.

-A simple, yet flexible character creation system allowing unlimited numbers of possible characters based on eighty unique archetypes and full details on sixteen unique sapient races.

-Full creation rules for characters, vehicles, ships, communities, planets and more.

-Flexible combat rules allowing players to fight with as much detail and complexity as they wish.

-Guidelines on creating adventures, including a list of adventure ideas and procedures for developing plots.

-A compendium and primer to the Wing Commander Universe, including a timeline of events, details on over 200 characters, and a list of lifeforms.

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

After two long years of work, I can finally report WCRPG's completion; it went to the press about half an hour ago. A couple of quick notes for those of you who are planning on picking the game up: at the moment, the eBook version lacks bookmarks. This is because Acrobat was being persnickety about merging the files and I couldn't find a descent PDF merge program that left bookmarks intact but didn't leave watermarks all over the place. This is a problem I mean to address in the very near future; right now, I wanted to get something ready for y'all. I'm not convinced I got the covers right on the print versions (Lulu won't let you put in a custom spine and their default spine designs look like crap), but the content is definitely correct and in full. If any of y'all were planning on picking up the hardprint, you might want to wait until my proof arrives so I can report back about it (unless you can live with a cover image that might be slightly off-kilter, then by all means go right ahead).

The eBook is free, meant for all; the hardprints cost a fair chunk of coin, they're for people who want them. The prices listed cover production costs only; I'm making no profit on it and it doesn't include tax/S&H.

The Vespus campaign also continues to grow. This is the mini game inspired by the Concordia's last stand. Characters for it have been fleshed out somewhat, but capi is looking for suggestions to refine the missions at the CIC Forums.

Epee Bolsters Enigma Fleet

Klavs is on a WC2 modeling spree! To follow up his Rapier, Ferret, Broadsword and Sabre, the F-54 Epee has now been put together. All of his Vengeance of the Kilrathi designs are quite faithful to their Confed source material, but this one has a nice 'heft' to it that the authentic fighter may have lacked. It may be small, but it's not scrawny! Klavs has also put together a nice comparison that shows what the new ship looks like between his Ferret, Broadsword and a classic WW2 bomber.
Epees tried to kill me every time I got close, man. Every time!

In Epees, I had three engine failures, a sneaky O2 system failure that gave me hypoxia before I figured it out, a reentry burnthrough, a missile propellant detonation, and finally, a total reactor breach that resulted in an ejection and loss of the spacecraft.

Epees hated me. I hated them back. I never wanted to fly one again!

The final straw happened as I was walking across the tarmac after one of the Morningstar test hops.

One of the Epees on the flight line had an 'accidental' weapon discharge. The whole damn world went pink and I was knocked square on my butt. A huge smoldering chunk of the tarmac was missing about a meter from where my left foot had been. I was pissed off, peppered with chunks of concrete, but otherwise okay.

The tech came running over, white as a sheet. She swore and swore and swore all the systems had been on 'safe'. Eventually, I believed her. Telemetry later confirmed that the Epee had shorted its own safety circuits in its bid to kill me.

I gave those suckers a wide berth after that. An Epee could look like it was innocently sitting out on the tarmac. Like it didn't have a care in the world!

But man, I knew better!

-Maniac

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

With apologies to Scooby, whose Epee I cribbed shamelessly from. You made me fall in love with this goofy bird! :)

Tried to figure out how the heck this little ship could mount a torpedo and I decided it could carry a light torpedo to handle things like corvettes and light destroyers. Not a giant ship killer like the Broadsword carries.

Speaking of which, I know this is going to be Divisive, but my Broadsword is smaller than the original's whopping 36 meters. Still sufficiently gigantic, I feel. More than enough room for 3-4 guys in there. (2-3 in the crew area, sat like in an EA-6B Prowler controling the weapon systems [left and right turrets are remotely operated from the cockpit and more like the laser emiters on the Boeing YAL-1] and the tail gunner/tractor operator in the rear turret.) My other fighters are smaller as well, because, well, they're mine and I can make them any darn size I want! :)

Play Ultima Forever Today

Are you a non-Canadian excited about Ultima Forever? Good news: iTunes is very forgiving about allowing foreigners to download free apps from the international versions of the iOS app store. With a little trickery you can grab Ultima Forever and run it on your current account and device!
1) Click "View In iTunes" on the Ultima Forever web listing.

2) iTunes will inform you that the requested item is not available and ask if you want to change to the Canadian store. Click "Change Store."

3) Click download. When prompted for your login, select "Create Apple ID."

4) Procede to create a Canadian iTunes account. Use a different e-mail address. When prompted for billing information, select 'none' and enter any Canadian mailing address (123 Fake Street, Ontario, Ottawa, L3M 4E9 works.)

5) Return to the Ultima Forever listing and download the free app to your computer.

6) Plug in your iOS device and change the iTunes account in your settings.

7) Manually sync the app to your device using iTunes.

8) Change your iOS device's iTunes account back to your normal Apple ID.
Congratulations, you've installed Ultima Forever without actually being a Canadian! Now go meet "Lady British"... and find that Kilrathi ship!

EA Soft-Launches Ultima Forever

Electronic Arts today launched Ultima Forever, the latest attempt to revitalize the venerable Ultima franchise. Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar is an iOS game based loosely on Origin Systems' Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. It is a mobile game with a 'free to play' business model; the game itself is a free purchase while various enhancements are available as microtransactions. Despite this, the title has an impressive lineage: it has been in development for three years by a team of dedicated Ultima fans at Mythic Entertainment.

There's just one more catch: today's Ultima Forever release is a soft launch which makes the game available only to users in Canada. iPhone, iPod and iPad users in Canada can begin playing now, while everyone else must wait for a date in July (which will be specified at next months' E3 conference.) If you're in Canada, you can pick up your copy via iTunes.

Most interesting for Wing Commander fans, beyond EA's unexpected interest in revisiting a classic Origin franchise, is that the game supposedly includes a quest with a damaged Kilrathi ship, referencing the one found in Ultima VII. As soon as it's discovered by Canadian players, we'll provide more information!

Wing Commander 'Flat Universe' Unveiled

Long time Wingnut Maslas has revealed the first screenshots of his new fan project, Wing Commander: Flat Universe! He's paired up with his brother to build an impressive new top-down shooter game based on the original Wing Commander. They have some ambitious goals, including multiplayer support and unique cockpit interfaces to fit each classic fighter. Everything is still in the prototype stages, but this is a great first look. Some of the art used below comes from items created by elend and Howard Day. It looks promising so far, so we wish them luck!
What I'd like to announce is that in some spare time that I am stealing from my everyday life (work, family, etc...), I have started to build a game that recreates Wing Commander I as a 2D top down shoot 'em up game (I loved ASCII sector) but with sprites, animations, opengl particles etc.

When hopefully this project is finished, it must fulfil the following goals:

a. Exact recreation of the Wing Commander I. Same ships, guns, missions, characters, story, dialogues, music even colours.
b. Top down 2D gameplay, with animations, physics, lights, particles.
c. Multiplatform support. Windows, Linux and Debians and Mac OS (mobile phones and pads will be considered in the future).
d. Multiplayer support and 2 player support on the same PC. With VS mode in the simulator and cooperative mode in the main campaign.

Xbox One Unveiled

Microsoft announced the new Xbox One console today. The system doubles down on the Xbox 360's multimedia strategy with numerous tie-ins to television, apps, multi-tasking and smartphones/tablets. Gaming specs have also been bumped with an 8-core processor and 8 gigs of RAM. Additional hardware features include a Blu-ray player, 802.11n, a 500 gig hard drive, USB 3.0 and streamlined controllers with trigger force feedback. The Kinect motion camera has been beefed up with 1080P resolution, enhanced tracking abilities and support for group Skype chats. Kinect will also be bundled with the system at launch later this year. Like the Playstation 4, the system will not be backwards compatible with prior generation software. This is, of course, concerning to fans of Wing Commander Arena for Xbox Live Arcade. Although Microsoft has stated that there are no plans to discontinue the Xbox 360 in the near future, its days are certainly numbered. Xbox Live support for original Xbox games was shut down in April 2010, about five and a half years after the 360 debuted, so hopefully we can all continue to enjoy Arena for years to come. It wouldn't hurt if some smart people got to work on figuring out our options to continue playing indefinitely though!

Origin Museum Interviews the Vampire

Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum has a pretty cool toy and an interesting piece of history! The Vampire space superiority fighter pictured below was created by Origin Systems to advertise Wing Commander Prophecy at trade shows like E3. Joe recently came across it in a lot of props and costumes saved from Origin after all these years. The Vampire features light-up engines and was originally paired with a model of a Nephilim fighter. Unfortunately, no photographs of the Nephilim ship have surfaced yet... but we're happy to know the Vampire is now preserved for history!

Wing Commander Airing on HBO & On Demand

Blaster reports that the Wing Commander Movie has been added to HBO’s Video On Demand section on DirecTV. You can find the film listing here. It's also been recently airing in high definition on the HBO ZHD channel. The next showings are on May 21 & May 31 at 3:45 AM EDT. These broadcasts and the recent HD streaming options are great, but the big high definition prize will be Wing Commander on Blu-ray in less than three months!
A space pilot (Freddie Prinze Jr.) with an encoded message, his sidekick (Matthew Lillard) and their superior (Saffron Burrows) fight attacking aliens.

WC Vet to Lead New UT Gaming Academy

The University of Texas at Austin has announced that Wing Commander producer Warren Spector will be leading a new gaming academy at the school. The program will also be directed by Blizzard COO Paul Sams. Twenty slots will open up for promising students in the fall of 2014, and the end result will be a distinguished post-baccalaureate certificate. Each participant will make a small scale game of their own over the course of twelve months. UT Austin is also home to a massive video game archive that's full of historic Origin material. It'd be a great place to be if video gaming is your career path, but admission is highly competitive!
Texas is an epicenter for the computer and video game industry. It has the second-largest concentration of game companies in the U.S., with more than 155 development and publishing companies throughout the state providing around 4,000 full-time jobs, according to the Texas Film Commission in the Office of the Governor.

The academy will be industry driven – instead of a graduate degree, students will earn a post-baccalaureate certificate, which offers fewer restrictions than a traditional academic degree and will enable the program to remain relevant and responsive to industry trends.

"The Denius-Sams Gaming Academy will create the most-intense program of its kind, in which aspiring professionals enlist in an all-in adventure, rather than complete mere credit hours," said Roderick P. Hart, dean of the College of Communication. "The program will prepare students to become creative team leaders who will drive the creation of games in the future, and ensure the vitality of the gaming industry."

A Little Austin Adventure with LOAF

I'm back in Austin visiting LOAF this week, and here's a tiny peek at our exploits. First things first, we hit up three vintage game stores and scored some WC merchandise at each one! It's always so great to see the store clerks light upon mentioning the Wing Commander name. Apparently, my rental was built for just this scenario and has a slot designed to carry an SNES cartridge. These images are followed by a picture snapped of us at the offices of Cloud Imperium Games/Roberts Space Industries.


We also caught the series finale of The Office on Thursday night and assembled all 18 ingredients from Michael Scott's Pretzel Day super pretzel to celebrate. And we even got some good old fashion Texas shootin' in! Last, but not least, we were at the premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness Wednesday night. Check out this link and like the photo to help LOAF win a Star Trek prize pack!

Strike Commander Gains OS X Compatibility

Good Old Games has added Macintosh support for ten more games, and this latest batch includes Strike Commander! This is good news for fans of classic Origin games, but it doesn't stop here. Fill out this form and let GOG know they need to add more Wing Commanders!
Do you feel like it's the time to spread your wings? Strike Commander is an action-oriented modern-day jet fighter combat simulation from the creators of Wing Commander, for only $5.99.

Slick Sabre Slicing Shapeways Soon

Klavs' latest design is another star of Wing Commander 2, the heavy attack Sabre. It's looking both sleek and vicious in these new renders. The F-57 still needs a set of colorful textures, but we can't wait for this bird and its Broadsword bomber brother showing up at Terran Fleet Supply soon!
Blair put the eight of us in line astern formation.

Single file, with one Sabre behind and slightly below the next, the carrier could only hit the leading ship, and the rest of us would be protected from the defensive fire while we went for torpedo lock.

The tactic would guarantee that most of us would make it to torpedo launch. It was inspired, except that Blair forgot about his own skin, like always. The leader of the formation would be absorb the brunt of the Kilrathi point defense, sparing the other ships, but sacrificing himself.

Not to be out done in the suicidal bravery department, I firewalled the throttle and broke formation. Couldn't let him have all the glory, could I?

Cuhna squalled at me, but quickly shut up as I bored in on the carrier. Dry launching everything I had, I threw it into a 960° slew/spin, firing intermittently at the carrier while we corkscrewed along its length. I heard wretching over the ICS, but I also felt the 'whump' from the turret as Cuhna also fired at the carrier whenever it flashed into view.

Good girl.

My torpedoes didn't have a chance at penetrating the carrier's shields without a lock, but the Kilrathi were concentrating on us anyway, throwing up everything they had to take us out. Hopefully, it was buying the others a smoother ride.

As I spun over the bow of the ship a flight of Jalkehi flashed past, launched forthwith to put an end to our monkeyshines. Blair would be close to launch now, but I had to keep the fighters off the strike team while they gained a lock.

I charged into the Jalkehi formation, fighting them for what seemed like hours. All the while Cuhna whumped away with her little turret. At some point, I noticed the whumping had stopped.

Then the sky lit up like a second sun.

-Maniac

'Hazardous Duty' Pitch Revealed!

Origin alumni and consummate archivist Binky has discovered another great treasure: the 1997 Origin pitch video for Wing Commander: Hazardous Duty. Hazardous Duty, named after one of George Oldziey’s music tracks for Wing Commander Prophecy, was an attempt to spin Wing Commander off into an FPS game. Binky saved a VHS of the demo all these years and recently digitized it for the ages!


The Wing Commander FPS project would have been built on the then-modern Quake engine and pitted Terran Confederation marines against space pirates and Kilrathi warriors in the Border Worlds. The plan was for it to stand out in the FPS market (and connect back to the initial IP) by featuring a more elaborate AI “wingman.” A very basic demo was done in-house by the Maverick Team (largely a reskinning of Quake, with some level design.) While the project was ultimately not funded by Electronic Arts, the multiplayer was enjoyed for some time in-house by the team!


Check out the pitch video here:

BREAKING NEWS: Wing Commander on Blu Ray

At long last, Chris Roberts' 1999 Wing Commander film is coming to Blu-Ray! Walmart's catalog has outed plans to release the Blu-Ray on August 13, 2013. A re-release of the DVD is also listed. Both are being put out by Anchor Bay rather than FOX; Anchor Bay is a smaller publisher which has previously re-released lesser known FOX titles on the HD format. This release may be a Walmart exclusive; the retail giant has been known to secure exclusive deals for back-catalog releases. We will have additional information as it becomes available. Finally!

Space Sim First Look: Wings of Saint Nazaire

Community member Howard Day is working on an indie space sim "in the vein of Wing Commander and X-Wing." The ship models look incredibly detailed, and the cockpit view has a pleasing '90s vibe. Wings of Saint Nazaire is being built on the Unity 3D engine, which means it'll run on Windows, Mac, Linux and even some consoles!

There are two reasons for the Sprite-based ship rendering in the game. The first is a desire to emulate the original Wing Commander games. In other words, straight-up nostalgia. The second is that it actually gives many advantages over normal 3d-polygons and textures: You can display as many ships as you'd ever want, You don't need LODs, You can very cheaply show complex lighting, glows, and shadows on every ship, They don't take much more memory than a normal set of textures and model ( the Copperhead 3d model would be 15MB in memory if it was a full 3d model, it's just 2 more at 17mb as a sprite set), The ships will look the same on every systems, and best of all, they feel like the ships from Wing Commander. I should be clear - the choice to do things this way was mine - the progammer agreed, as he also liked the way things looked when done as sprites. As AD noted - we're also doing modern multi-light source lighting on all the sprites. It's super neat to see a ship explode and light up all the floating junk in the scene that you'd just seen floating by the cockpit. It's very cool.

The team has a video up that first shows off some rendered models and then switches to actual combat action around the 1:45 mark. If you have the Unity webplayer plugin, you can play the alpha right in your browser for free.

Have a Helping of Homemade Hellcat

Whiplash has moved beyond subassembly construction and now has a complete spaceframe for his custom Hellcat design. His model wings have been joined to the fuselage with wood glue and everything is coming together nicely. The fighter looks really solid and has a slick finish to it. It'll look even better once it gets fine details next!
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Hellcat!

I decided to get right to the point and glue the wings to the fuselage. I could maybe have spent more time on shaping the details, but I'm at the stage where it is important to get a feel for the overall "look" of the model. I have a habit of sanding and polishing for days on end before I'm satisfied.. :) You need a bit of obsessive compulsiveness to be a good modeller.

Lots of work still to do, but the effort has been well worth it. I'm happy to say that thus far, it has turned out even better than I expected. I hope you'll agree!

Time to Think Outside the Box

Wing Commander games are well known for their amazing manuals and other boxed goodies, but the boxes themselves are a treat too! They all feature iconic art, and many even include snippets of bonus fiction, deleted scenes and pre-production graphics that provide an even larger window into the universe. The new poll asks about your favorite. In order to keep the number of options manageable, assume all versions of the particular game box fit under one selection. So this would consider the Privateer 2 box containing the large Heretic (US) and the giant eyeball (UK) together, for example. Likewise, both the standard and Premiere Edition Wing Commander 3 boxes both fall under WC3. If there's one that's especially profound in your mind, hit the Comments link and let everyone know!
The old poll asked which Wing Commander game you'd like to see on GOG next. Privateer 2 won with more than a third of the vote! It's nice to see The Darkening get this level of recognition. The game was underappreciated in the '90s, but its all-star cast, exotic setting and unique gameplay make it stand out today. Wing Commander Prophecy came in a close second, and it's the next logical choice after the release of WC4. It's also nice to see WC Armada getting some recognition in third place. As the strategic multiplayer Wing Commander, the game was far ahead of its time and just begs to be enjoyed by a whole new generation today.

Wing Commander... In Iron Man 3?

Ever since I first heard that they had chosen "the Mandarin" to be the villain in Iron Man 3, I had been wondering if someone would throw a Wing Commander reference into the mix. Now after having seen the film I'd like to believe they did. The Mandarin character claims responsibility for a number of terrorist bombings in the film. In Wing Commander 2, a group of traitorous humans and friends of Zack Colson, known as the Mandarins, create havoc by using bombs to sabotage Terran forces...

Can it possibly be a mere coincidence that one the henchmen of Iron Man 3's villain is named J. Taggart? The name first shows up on a pair of dogtags as Tony Stark examines them in a lab and again reappears later in the film as Tony examines the man's military file.

Now, some might argue that this is merely a reference to the Firepower character from the comic books. However, while the comic book character is named Jack Taggert, which fits the J. initial, the character bio is completely disconnected from the character in the film. Also the last name of the character in the film is Taggart with an A and not Taggert with an E... Curious! It's not unusual for Marvel character bios to change significantly when they hit the big screen, but for a character with such a small part in this film, it seems strange to me that when randomly hunting for a name for the Mandarin's pawn in their Marvel catalogue, they just happened upon J. Taggert and figured it would sound better with an A. Have you seen the film? What do you think?

RSI Approaches $10 Million Milestone

Roberts Space Industries has met another incredible milestone. The team recently hit a whopping $9.5 million in total crowd funding revenues since the October launch of Squadron 42. $10 million can't be far away. The recent surge was spurred by the sale of a hot space fighter and lifetime insurance deal, which has accounted for more than a million new dollars. Chris Roberts has also posted a Thank You Note, and here's a shot of him posing with the Cloud Imperium Games Austin team!

Roland MT-32 Emulation Still Beating

Back in the '80s and '90s, supported games sounded a lot better if you had an expensive Roland MIDI card for your PC. Now, it's possible to enjoy nearly the same audio quality through software emulation. We first reported on the munt Roland MT-32 emulator two years ago. The emulator has since been updated to version 1.2, getting even closer to the real thing. Best of all, it's DOSBox compatible. Taewong has posted a custom build of DOSBox that includes the munt 1.2 emulator as well as an OpenGlide patch from gulikoza.

The video below starts off using standard Sound Blaster music and switches to Roland MT-32 around 4:26. The difference is huge. More pre-recorded audio samples are available on YouTube. We have compiled a short list here.

Broadsword Bomber Swoops In

Here's a peek at one of Klavs' next models, the mighty Broadsword! We can't wait to see it side-by-side with the Ferret. The bomber looks massive and powerful from every angle, and the upcoming 3D print should make a great addition to any desk's strike force. There's new accompanying fiction that goes along with this one too, and it's not from Maniac this time!
The Dralthi swings in low behind us.

Coasting without power, Agatha is dying. The Kilrathi pumps round after round into us. Mass drivers again penetrate the cabin. Harris and Burke are further distributed about the cockpit. Red orbs cloud my faceplate, but to wipe them away would blind me completely.

The Dralthi must have run down his gun charge, for presently he drifts alongside us to admire his handiwork. He is close, but still prudently above the firing arc of the poweless portside turret.

Soon, his guns have recharged and he slides aft to finish us off. Agatha staggers again and again. Tears of frustration and anger shut my eyes.

Agatha's little world tears to shreds around me. She is dying. I will not leave her to die alone.

I had no idea I could yell so loudly. The scream of white-hot rage reverberates inside my helmet, deafening.

It stops.

Again, the bat wings have appeared on our left side.

He is very close. I can see his eyes.

-Excerpt from 'Broadsword Agatha'

Goodbye, Tony Stockton

There is truly terrible news today, as we have learned that programmer Tony Stockton passed away yesterday. Tony worked on Privateer 2: The Darkening and was the man responsible for the game’s incredible booth trading system. Tony was an extremely active member of the UK game development community and he leaves behind an extensive body of work. His credits include contributions to major franchises like Call of Duty for Activision and Mortal Kombat for Midway. Wing Commander fans know him best for his part in our world. As a member of a three-man programming team at EA Manchester, Tony helped build Privateer 2: the Darkening in 1995-96. His work on the game included developing the CCN Booth trading system, a menu interface that boasted a mix of artful design and extreme usability which remains unmatched in the canon. Tony was immortalized in the game itself as CNN reporter Anthony Stockton, whose byline appeared in many of the game’s news stories (which impacted the Tri System’s trading economy.) He also contributed his face to Liston Sativa, the game’s top AI wingman. A major part of this site’s mission is to preserve the history behind the Wing Commander series; in light of this sad news, we would like to collect any photographs or memories you have of Tony, whether they were from Privateer 2’s development or beyond. The years he spent working on The Darkening may have been only a small part of his life, but we would like anyone who knew him to understand that it had an enormous impact on thousands of Wing Commander fans… and that we will preserve his story as best we can. His work on the game will live on forever, continuing to entertain and inspire.
Tony was a fixture in Privateer 2’s publicity, always appearing alongside fellow programmers and friends Paul Hughes and Brian Marshall. Here we see the three in Point of Origin and the PC Zone Privateer 2 Preview.
LEFT: The Privateer 2: The Darkening team. Tony is the fourth from the left in the back row. RIGHT: Tony’s team caricature which appeared at the end of the game; he was credited as Tony ‘The Count’ Stockton.


If you would like to share memories or condolences, please contact us.

Super Wing Commander Played with Flightstick Pro

Decay has put together another neat video that shows Super Wing Commander being played with a 3DO Flightstick Pro joystick. Console input methods can range from amazingly awesome to quite cumbersome, and Decay's not sold on this particular interface. It's really cool to see it all in action like this however, and most people haven't seen anywhere close to enough Super Wing Commander. Even without the joystick side-cam, it's well worth checking out his cool SWC play-through! Hit up the direct link on YouTube for a larger high definition version.
The unfortunate thing is, this game was just not well designed for the flightstick pro. They still make you mess with multiple button combinations, which is actually harder than the standard 3do pad since the buttons are spread out even farther on the flight stick. They don't even bother to take a real advantage of the throttle wheel or the hat switch. And the analog stick itself doesn't offer much benefit as the movement is very stiff and two dimensional.

The game just seem overly designed for the regular 3do dpad, the auto aim they give you with the regular pad is also a big help. Kinda interesting to play but could be better.

Wing Commander 3 fares a bit better on this stick but not by much. Once again you still have to rely on ridiculous button combinations that were just much easier on the regular 3do pad with all the buttons close together.

Either way, hope you enjoy the vid.

"Whiplash, I want you on my wing..."

Whiplash's hand-crafted Hellcat has seen significant progress on its wings. Each section had to be carefully measured and cut to ensure a smooth fit to the fuselage and engines. A lot of effort went into getting the shape right with the vertical wingtip stabilizers, and the entire wingbox benefits from some new strengthening. You can find more pictures at the CIC Forums here. The finished results look very sharp!
As mentioned last time, I started construction on the wings this week. Here are a few pics detailing the process.

First I cut out the section flush with the fuselage. I then fit a horizontal section in the shape of the wing profile to give me a flat reference plane to build on. Previously I simply built the entire wing as a hollow box shape, but I think this approach will be easier and give better accuracy.

I cut out the hollows where the wing-mounted engine exhaust nozzles will be fitted later on. Next come the vertical stabilizers on the wingtips. You would think I would leave them for last, and only fit them once the rest of the wing is complete, but they actually help me determine the attatchment points for the final shape of the wing. As you can see here, I can now attach the wing surface directly to the top of the wingtip for a nice even finish.

There's some internal bracing to ensure the wings' surfaces don't flex too much. Balsa wood is very soft, after all. I glued all the external surface covers in place, and started the process of shaping them to the final finished look. You can see the wing engine ports quite nicely now.

Things are moving along nicely! Next time, there may just be something resembling a Hellcat to show you.

Fan Favorite Ferret Flies into Fleet Supply

Klavs has released his latest model, and this one's a beauty! The P-64 Ferret is now available at Terran Fleet Supply as a 3D print. Owing to its small size and Klavs' innovative modeling techniques, it's also the cheapest design at under $15. You can see it rotate in 3D or pick one up for your desk here.
The Ferrets were great fun for joyriding, fast, light, and a kick in the ass to fly. Literally.

See, the designers saved every inch of space in that ship for power systems, engines and sensors. The pilot was nearly an afterthought, so there was less margin for the accelleration absorbers. The Ferret had more of what us pilot types called 'feel'. Especially when you went to afterburner.

-Maniac

Facebook Page Turns Three

The CIC's Facebook Page hit its third anniversary this past week. It's been a big year for Wing Commander news, and the membership at the page has more than doubled in the last twelve months! The look has also changed considerably. Check us out today compared with 2010 below. The third picture is also a shot of the old-style Facebook group! You can follow us on Facebook here, and don't forget that we also have a Twitter feed for real time notification of when front page posts go live.

RetroN 5 Plays SNES, S Famicon & GBA WC Console Games

The Hyperkin RetroN 5 is an upcoming console that emulates a number of popular gaming machines. The system has slots for NES, SNES, Super Famicon, Sega Genesis, Megadrive and Gameboy Color/Advance. If you've wanted to play your PAL or Super Famicon Wing Commander on a North American computer's LCD, the N5's HDMI output will make that quite a bit easier. The press release points out these key features:
  • 2 Original Controller Ports for Each Platform (6 Total)
  • Includes 1 Wireless Bluetooth Controller
  • 5 Cartridge Ports for NES, SNES, Genesis, GBA and Famicom
  • HDMI Output with upconversion on HDTVs
  • PAL and NTSC Cartridge Compatibility
Release information is still sketchy (note that there are only renders and no pictures of the finished product), but the console might be due out around July and be priced under $100. Joystiq recently posted an introspective on vintage hardware versus the convenience of all-in-one solutions like the RetroN5.

Love playing retro games from the NES and SNES-era, but are sick of having all those consoles clutter up your living room? Or maybe your new-fangled HDTV is struggling to deal with the decades-old machines? Hyperkin has you covered, announcing the RetroN 5 retro-gaming console. The console can play games designed for the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy Advance and Famicom (Japanese NES). It can play games from both PAL and NTSC regions, and supports HDMI output with up to 720p resolution.

Just as the GBA supported Game Boy Color and Game Boy games, and the Genesis supported Sega Mega Drive games, so to will the RetroN 5. Super Famicom (Japanese SNES) games will also work in the SNES slot. This means the console can play games from nine different systems. The Famicom slot is the latest addition to Hyperkin's line of RetroN consoles, with the company stating that "we found that we could incorporate one more cartridge slot without hindering our current developmental cycle."

Six controller slots line the sides of the console, supporting controllers from the NES, SNES and Genesis. As well as being able to use any controller for any system (for example, you can use a SNES controller to play Genesis games), the RetroN 5 comes with its own unique wireless controller. The new controller has a Microswitch Directional Pad instead of a traditional directional pad.

Big GOG Sale Knocks 60% Off Low WC Prices

Good Old Games' weekend promo delivers almost 30 EA games at 60% off for the next three days. This means Wing Commander titles are discounted down to a whopping $2.39! It seriously doesn't get much cheaper than this! WC1, WC2, WC3, WC4, Privateer and all their expansions can be purchased for under $12, which is absolutely incredible. If you already own all the Wing Commanders, now's your chance to get Ultima, Crusader or Bioforge on the cheap!
This weekend nearly 30 classic from the Electronic Arts collection make their way to GOG.com with a solid flat-rate 60% discount. A line-up of timeless games arriving at such speed deserves to be called nothing short of a Classic EA Convoy! You'll find memorable stand-alone titles here, as well as all-time favorite series. Games from many genres to suit all tastes and temperaments. Whether you are an adventurous soul, a keen manager, or a daunting pilot, you'll find an excellent match for yourself on our promo page. But before you go there, let's take a quick look at some of the brilliant games we offer you today, shall we?

Arena Match Set for Sunday

The Monday afternoon time slot appears to have been a tough one for TrueAchievement. They have rescheduled the Wing Commander Arena achievement-gathering session for this coming Sunday, May 5, at around 4 pm Eastern time (1 pm Pacific, 8 pm GMT). It's still early enough that hopefully Wingnuts from a couple continents can join in. Coincidentally, this will be a Free Xbox Live Gold weekend in the UK, so even British Xbox owners who have let their accounts lapse can jump right in!
Boosting Gaming Session for Wing Commander Arena

Session starts on Sunday, 05 May 2013 at 20:00 for 1 hour

Intended achievements for this session: Wing Commander Arena TCS Tiger's Claw The TCS Tiger's Claw achievement in Wing Commander Arena worth 20 pointsCompete in a 16 player Capital Ship game

We are going to go for this again. Hopefully this is a better time than last attempt.

Steam Indie Game Introduces Curious Ursine Foe

Claymore has spotted an interesting alien race from the new space strategy game StarDrive. It features a Japanese-inspired race of intelligent bears named the 'Kulrathi'. Even with their samurai swords, my money would definitely be on a bonafide Kilrathi to win in hand to hand combat!
StarDrive sets a new benchmark for the ‘4X Space Strategy’ genre. Starting with a single planet and a small number of space-worthy vessels, you must venture forth into the galaxy, conquer new worlds, build new colonies and defend your very existence against those who would take what is yours. How you play is your decision. Use diplomacy or brute force. Trade, spy and research your way to galactic domination. Make friends, or create mortal enemies…

Privateer Board Game Nears Printable Trial

The Privateer-themed board game team has posted new pictures of the fan project close to beta testing. Images released last month showed the game running in the Vassal engine for online play, and these shots show the new printable tabletop version. It's very colorful, to say the least! You can ask questions or apply to be a tester via the CIC Forums here.
Hello WC fans, I posted almost a year ago that this project was under way. I am pleased to update that we are now looking for playtesters.

Privateer embodied what I feel was the best of what was emerging as a genre in video games - self-guided experiences with the freedom to adventure through your own story. The boardgame we are developing is inspired by that sense of adventure, and open-ended story.

Virgin Galactic Pulls Off Major Test Flight

Here's some fantastic shots of Monday's first supersonic rocket-powered flight of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo craft. They look straight out of something science fiction, but these are actual photographs! The SS2 hit Mach 1.2 at approximately 55,000 feet in these test flight, and the plan is to execute an actual space flight by the end of the year. Good Luck!
MOJAVE, Calif. – Today, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, completed the first rocket-powered flight of its space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). The test, conducted by teams from Scaled Composites (Scaled) and Virgin Galactic, officially marks Virgin Galactic’s entrance into the final phase of vehicle testing prior to commercial service from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt, our single most important flight test to date,” said Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson, who was on the ground in Mojave to witness the occasion. “For the first time, we were able to prove the key components of the system, fully integrated and in flight. Today’s supersonic success opens the way for a rapid expansion of the spaceship’s powered flight envelope, with a very realistic goal of full space flight by the year’s end. We saw history in the making today and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved.”

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