Another annual contest has run its course, and we have a new set of
winners! For the past few weeks, Wingnuts have been voting for the Wing Commander fan projects and web sites that made the most impact in 2013. Most of you are familiar with the process, so let's get to it!
Concordia Hangar has won in the category of Wing Commander Web Site of the Year! This time around, a lot of endeavors blurred the line between "site" and "project," but one thing was clear - fans are getting a huge kick out of being able to walk around some of their favorite fighters aboard one of their most favorite ships!
Daedalus Station is the runner up for WC Web Site of 2013! The site's style is out of this world, and their monthly Destiny's Way magazines are as slick as they are charming. And it doesn't hurt that the Maslas Brothers behind it are also putting together a sharp looking WC fan game!
This year we had two projects that were neck and neck for the lead throughout all the voting, so we've awarded two winners for Fan Project of the Year.
The first are the
Collected Works of HCl! He's always a busy dude, but HCl redoubled his efforts in 2013 with research that helped enable the GOG releases and increase our understanding of WC video decoding. He released patches that ensured people can upgrade their Prophecy games to the DVD version and also added deinterlacing to Privateer 2 movies. Not wanting to leave any corner of the series untouched, he even made big breakthroughs this year in editing WC3+ ships into WC2/Academy!
Also winning Fan Project of the Year are
Klavs' Models! He stunned Wingnuts everywhere with both gorgeous digital renders and incredible fully-textured physical 3D prints. His images are often paired with witty flavor text, and he's always up for trying something new - be it a more traditional sketch, custom scale physical model or breakthrough 3D printing technique.
Last, but not least, we have the Runner Up for Fan Project of the Year - Wing Commander:
Defiant Few. The audio drama is heavy on excitement, adventure and great sound effects. It revitalized WC fan fiction in 2013 by combining good stories with engaging voice actors, and fans eagerly await future chapters in 2014.
And that's what we have for 2013! If you want to read about more great undertakings, check out our
year in review and nominee list.
Today's new poll asks which Wing Commander product had the best flight suits. A few games have relatively similar outfits, but there's a significant change in styles over the years. Which one did you like the most?
The annual new year's poll has concluded with amazingly close results! Great, Good and Poor options all virtually tied, which means people with a pretty positive outlook once again make up the majority. No matter how you voted, we all have the ability to help make 2014 great!
Voting will soon be wrapping up for our annual contests, so if you haven't cast your ballot yet, get those votes in! There are lots of great fan projects and sites out there, and we're happy to recognize a small sampling of them here!
James Reeve tipped us off about a new review of Wing Commander 2 by gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun. We've seen a few of these retro reviews pop up in the news over the last few months, but this one is fun because it's part of a series on finding old games in second hand stores. It also chronicles the experiences of an author who's playing classic games for the first time rather than going just for nostalgia. It's nice to read these types of reviews when the writer has an open mind, and it sounds like he had a blast! Check out the full review here.
Combat holds up well – I mean, these are really the core rules of starbound dogfighting, ones still used in those few games that fear to tread the undiscovered country, and while perhaps it feels slower and less dramatic (in terms of sound, vibration and explosion effects) than we might call for noawadays, in the main it hasn’t aged. There’s an appropriate edge of desperation to trying to keep a bead on a target that can move anywhere in what feels like an instant, the cockpit looks/feels fragile and claustrophobic, the right sounds and music play when you score a finishing shot – it’s all there and it all still works. I’m not particularly far in so haven’t been able to play with too many weapon systems but hell, I’d like to.
GOG is also running a "soft" sale on Wing Commander. Visit a product page for a game like
It looks great too, it really does. I’m sure it was a high-budget game for its time and it shows, but even so, and even despite all its fart-huffing fascination with its own fiction, it’s got a Saturday morning, Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon serial ethos in both presentation and tone that somehow keeps it appealing low-key no matter how much its cast preen and posture. Perhaps it’s because the dreary browns and greys that were the unfortunate necessity of 3D games old and new hadn’t yet turned up to assert their dreary dominance, or that a mere 256 colours made a brash, comic book palette unavoidable, or that the games’ industry idea of escapism and the desires of adolescents were a little more innocent, a little more cartoon-inspired.
Or perhaps, as I prefer to believe, it’s simply deliberate design that this is a game rich in vibrant blues and yellows, space combat as unabashed derring-do rather than posturing towards reality or militarism. The 23-year vintage shows, of course it does, but its gaudy, chunky, space opera tapestry remains immediately appealing and enticing.
WC2, and the WC games are highlighted in a pane on the right side of the menu. Buying the whole series at once will save about $13 or 25% off the regular prices.
GunASKA posted some interesting pictures of WC4, Privateer 2 and Prophecy from China. He believes that these were the first WC titles formally released there. We posted some WC1 and WC2 boxes in Chinese language a few years back, and Gun reckons that these were probably from Taiwan. He's got a nice story about originally receiving these - no matter what country they're from, everyone has great memories of getting their first Wing Commander games!
I lived in Beijing. So far as I know, WC4 was the first release in the series in Chinese markets (mainland). It should have been 1996 and it came with a Chinese box, manual, and a translated novel (the translation work was not so good...).
This all happened after the EA China office was set up.
I clearly remember the day I got WC4. It was a present from my mom (I was just a kid and this was really expensive). After we bought the game, we went to some relatives' home. I got the game but there was no PC in my relatives' house, so I spent a whole day on the bed with my new game. I opened it and closed it then opened it again... I tried to read the novel, but the translation was bad so I could not understand anything... and then the only thing I did was fly in the space with nothing but my imagination. I stared at the face of Mark Hamill for a whole afternoon... (I hadn't watched Star Wars at that time, so I had no idea who he was).
It was really an unforgettable memory in my life.
Yesterday, RSI launched their Organization System that allows fans to create a variety of groups from the basic organization to complex role-playing groups with their own internal rules and ranks. It's sure to be a very cool feature of Star Citizen. We've created a CIC organization where Wingnuts can join now. After you apply, it requires someone to accept the application before you have access to the organization's internal Description, Members, and Chat areas. In the future, a Chart and Fleet View section will become available. The page could certainly use a Wing Commander touch, just in case any Wingnut artists are interested in contributing. We're sure other fans will form organizations to make their way through the Star Citizen universe as RSI continues to expand the system. There's already a, mostly, settled ChatZone debate over a squadron that quite a few Wingnuts will be joining and operating from. The number of organizations listed on the RSI website is growing quickly since the launch of the system yesterday. Twenty organizations on the list are already over 100 members with one already over 1,200!
LeHah tipped us off about an AMA with Mark Hamill that will be held tomorrow, January 22, at 1 pm Eastern Time. Hopefully there are some Wingnuts out there who can make a good showing and get some Wing Commander questions into the mix. We wouldn't want it to be all about Star Wars and Batman!
Chris Roberts conducted a couple AMAs back in 2012 during his the Star Citizen crowdfunding campaign. You can read up on what he had to say
here and here.
andy_herbert: Which is your favourite Wing Commander, or Wing Commander-alike game? My personal favourite is Privateer :) Many thanks for literally years of enjoyment!
CommanderRoberts: WC1 & WC3 are tied for different reasons. WC1 is probably the most perfect game I'e ever made in terms of matching the vision in my head to what the finished game was. WC3 is my other favorite as its where I think we perfected the combining the story with the action i a big cinematic way.
Here's another look at the Wing Commander Tribute strategy game in the works. These shots show off the improved Tallahassee class cruiser. The colors are more in sync with the standard WC3 palette, and details for elements like engines, intakes and gun emplacements have a sharper look. There's also a look at a much more defined jumpline map. Look at all that space to defend and conquer!
I finished the map of Sol Sector. You can see it in the screens. Green systems are frendly, red - were occupied by kilrathi. the game is also almost fully playable. It means you can:
- logon with test account,
- choose side (TC or KI),
- choose your predefined ship (for now only 1 ship for each side),
- choose system for battle,
- fire missiles and laser shells at another player or system's main base
- check results of the battle which are stored at DB.
Next I want to improve GUI and battle mode (update visual effects, ship physics).
For now my very big issue is to do (or to find :) ) good 3D models of ships. I'm currently working with very old models and giving them a new life. But it's quite hard for the developer. :)
If someone can tell me where I can find models it would be a great.
Also some updates on the Tallahassee cruiser. For now it's my version of "old lady" with antennas and new missile launchers. Sure, the model is far away from ideal but work is in progress. Also there's a new Earth with atmosphere. How do you like it?
Any comments are welcome as usual :)
Here's some amazing looking Kilrathi fighters to start your week! The latest kat duo from Klavs features the underutilized Krant and six-gun Jalthi. Not only are these absolutely gorgeous models, but their textures are rich with Kilrathi characters, "blood stains" and other accent marks. They're also high res enough to work as your desktop wallpaper, especially if you're in the mood to hunt down some Terrans!
If you didn't cast your vote for Wing Commander Fan Project & Web Site of the Year when the nominees were announced, voting still continues for a bit longer yet. There are a lot of great choices this time around, and it seems like a tight race! The options are listed here, and you can cast your ballot below:
Progress on the Elegy of Sivar RPG expansion campaign has taken an interesting turn over the past month. After completing work on bases and some data elements in December, development shifted into research of Kilrathi language. capi has collected known translations and previous ideas suggested by other Wingnuts to build a growing list of vocabulary, grammar rules and linguistic theories. The material he's put together so far has allowed him to make up new phrases and translate well-known English text into Kilrathi. It's been a lot of work, but it will all add up to a richer back story and more immersive experience for the next chapter of his Wing Commander RPG! Stay on top of the latest project updates at the CIC Forums.
This week I continued my forays into the Kilrathi language. At this point I'm really making some headway towards something that hopefully will be usable in the Elegy campaign and beyond. On Monday, I began the process of seeing if I had enough material translated to go ahead and translate some of the more well known material "back" into Kilrathi, namely the Oath of Service from Armada, the Codices and Warrior's Oath presented in False Colors (I still need to prepare to add the response), and the Prophecy of Sivar; when I have these translated there should be sufficient material available to move onto other things. Translation of the Oath of Service went quickly and I had it done by the end of the day on Tuesday. I decided then to have some fun with the language based on a post in the WC Online Workshop thread and began a translation of the "Major General's Tune" from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. I managed to translate the first verse of that by the end of the day on Tuesday, though I'm still stuck on the second verse (largely due to the fact that before I can translate the words into Kilrathi, I have to figure out just what exactly Gilbert was trying to say in his libretto in the first place - I mean, how many of you know the definition of "animaculous"?).
Forums member wcnut noticed that his easy-to-use Mac launcher for Standoff and Secret Ops no longer works on the latest release of OS X. He's put together a new bundle that includes a newer version of the Wine emulator, and now everything runs smoothly again on OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Grab it here (706MB).
Mac gamers have been able to play Windows games for a while now using Wine, an open-source Windows API emulation layer for Unix/Linux/OSX, but it's typically a somewhat long and complex process to set up.
Using existing tools and some help from other Mac gamers on the web, forums regular wcnut made his own Mac wrapper app for both Secret Ops and Standoff ! That means playing those games is now as easy as clicking on the package file (.DMG), dragging the Secret Ops and Standoff icons whereever you want it stored on your Mac and click to play ! No more complicated Wine and application setup.
centaurianmudpig has completed his long play of The Secret Missions, and the resulting videos have been combined into one feature-length movie. At more than five hours long, it's quite the feature! It's a great way to relive the adventure without facing all the difficulty of this particularly tough campaign.
He's also jumped right into recording The Secret Missions 2: Crusade. Each episode is complete with voiceover commentary and plenty of nostalgia. Additional editing has also taken place that streamlines away some of the 'repetitive' sections such as mousing around the Tiger's Claw. The first is below, and you can find many more at his
YouTube Channel. There's a special playlist just for SM2.
ginger_tigra has kicked off an ambitious effort to translate Wing Commander 4 into Russian. It adds subtitles to cutscenes and revised interface text to the DVD version of WC4. The CD version can be upgraded to the DVD version via the DVD upgrade patch so it's compatible too. These upgrades do not yet work with the GOG edition of WC4, although tigra is hopeful that this could be possible in the future. The game and movies are about half translated so far, and work continues to address items like in-flight comms, cockpit screens and weapons. Since this is a work in progress, the installation method requires a number of steps, but detailed instructions are available to anyone who wants to try it out. Check out the CIC Forums for more information!
I present my work in progress: Russian translation of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom.
This is the add-on to DVD version of game and based on deep mod of dxmci.dll; six-CD version upgraded by DVD upgrade patch is suitable too. Unfortunately the GOG version of WC4 isn't supported by my addon, and I have no idea about how make it compatible yet :-( but I hope that idea will come - sooner or later.
Work is in progress. At now, I have:
all fonts are cyrillized, i.e. contain Russian, Ukrainian and Bielarussian letters;
"static" part of game fully translated: main terminal (except weapons in fighter selection screen), carriers' interiors, mission texts (from beginning to mission G3), list of pilots, loudspeaker subtitles, post-"funeral" menu;
in flight translated: comm menu for Confed and Border Worlds fighters, in-flight options and help screens, а "form" of nav map, messages from fighter's computer;
about 55% of movies (from intro to Pasqual system, ejecting, lose game) subtitled;
about a half of in-movie choice menu strings translated;
tools and utilities:
treutils are currently incorporated into dxmci pack;
iffparse, decompiler of IFFs to text, - currently supports not all of IFF types but I continue developing it;
iffmake, compiler of decompiled and translated IFF, - is fully functional, and its input language is as simple as possiible;
fontxtra is an exractor of fonts from globals.iff game file and can be modified to extract other WC4-like fonts
To Do: hack formats of:
subtitles of in-flight radio talks;
naming of targets on targetting comp screens;
naming of star systems on nav map;
naming of weapons.
Arraen has unveiled a new Wing Commander fan project. This one's a strategy/tactics game that will allow players to control fleets of familiar Confed and Kilrathi ships rather than pilot individual fighters. Multiplayer is planned, and there are even RPG elements on the drawing board that may allow players to gain experience that would control stats like damage or accuracy. The images below are just the beginning, and it looks like things are off to a pretty good start. As with any project in its initial stages, fellow fan feedback is very useful in helping to craft the direction of things to come. You can help provide feedback at the CIC Forums!
With these words many gamers, especially of the old school, imagine space battles where they command space fighters. Battles between people and intelligent cats thrilled gamers for many years. The saga has had a lot of official parts and also numerous fans’ mods developed in the universe for long time. And despite the fact that opposition between people and Kilrathi is over, the universe turned out to be so multiform that it continues to live. This project is a tribute to this great game and to some extent - its development.
So, the full game name is Startship Tactics: Wing Commander Tribute. Unlike the original idea of the saga as steering space fighters or bombers, the game provides the opportunity to control main ships of the space fleet – corvettes, destroyers, cruisers and even battleships. Huge ships will fight for stars systems. In the game there will be an opportunity to control separate ship systems such as canon and missile armaments, radars, engines and reactors.
Another special feature of this project is a multiplayer. Probably it will be the first opportunity for many to fight on the Kilrathi’s side and re-write history by capturing Earth and overwhelming the Terran Confederation. Multiplayer is based on the principle of separate rooms where each room is a battle for a separate star system.
It is planned to implement three sectors in the game: Sol, Vega and Kilrah. Battles will expand for star systems. Their occupation will help to reach the main aim – the enemy’s home planet.
Gamers will have an opportunity to develop his/her avatar to control bigger ships and receive experience in order to inflict more damage and shoot accurately.
Now the game is in active development, so many of its aspect will change and a lot will be added. But the main idea will remain unchanged: it's time for the Kilrathi to re-write history or for people to defend Earth again and to win a victory in Kilrah’s system.
Klavs' last model of 2013 and first model of 2014 are here - and they really crank the graphical fidelity up to 11 this time! The capship is a Wake class escort carrier as pictured on the cover of Wing Commander End Run. Somehow it manages to maintain aspects of the more animated WC2 style while looking so crisp and real. Carriers need fighters too, so the second image features Klavs' signature Rapier and Hornet parked on the deck. The exquisite detail is breathtaking here, and the 1920 pixel wide image would make a perfect wallpaper!
A little progress on the Tarawa today
Playing Wing Commander: Armada with your friends is now easier than ever. Forums member NuAngel is providing a 16-player Armada server that is available around the clock through Classic Gaming Arena. Internet dinosaurs will find the CGA concept similar to that of the ill-fated Heat.net multiplayer service from the late 1990s. You install a small program on your PC, after which you can meet up and connect with other players through the CGA website. After clicking a button on the site, DOSBox is launched automatically with everything preconfigured for playing Armada over IPX! Voice over IP support is also included. With Armada for sale on GOG.com, you don't even need to look for a computer with a floppy drive or CD-ROM station.
The dedicated server software communicates with the website so that players can use it when setting up their games. Players will also be able to connect up via a peer-to-peer mechanism since DOSBox has a built-in server as well if they do not want to use a dedicated server. Players are required to create an account (for free of course) and through the website configure their DOSBox and game settings (ie: local paths and CD information if needed). Once that is all setup they will then be able to setup game rooms which will use either a dedicated server or themselves as the server and allow others to join the room and get connected.
We have tried to make the process as thin and streamlined as possible so as to create a great gaming experience for the players. (one of the things that killed the services of the past was bandwidth issues and lag) We have done quite a bit of testing over the past several months with different platforms (Windows and Linux) and network scenarios, including wireless, desktops and laptops and any combination there of. So far it has all been very successful.
The CGA Client and Server are publicly available for both Windows and Linux.
The past year has been great for Wing Commander fans. Just read our year in review for a glimpse of all the amazing things that happened. Most everyone is familiar with the official rereleases that happened over the past twelve months, but now it's time to recognize some of the fans that made 2013 so great. I think this is one of the most competitive sets of nominees we've had in a while, so picking winners won't be easy! We're starting a little later than normal this year, so without further delay, here are the nominees!
Web Site of the Year
Concordia Hangar - Wing Commander fans also got a hangar module this year, thanks to Howard Day! His prototype ship viewer has expanded significantly over the year to add more ships, gorgeous graphical effects and a familiar WC2 atmosphere.
Daedalus Station is the home of the Flat Universe fan game, but it’s also a lot more! It’s a very stylish website that has developed a very distinct personality. The Destiny’s Way magazine is regularly posted here, which further extends the experience. Even more features are planned for 2014.
HCl's WC Editing Site - HCl’s work is vast and far-reaching, but he still makes time to collect and organize some of it concisely on his Solsector page. A quick scroll through the projects can leave a reader wondering how one man has the time and know-how to do so much!
Pix's Origin Adventures - Pix is an expert in quite a few classic game series, so a quick visit to his site might not reveal Wing Commander stories right at the top of the news. But scroll through the year’s archives and there’s still a ton of Wing Commander material he’s uncovered in 2013!
Wing Commander RPG Wiki - The core RPG was officially finished in 2013, but work didn’t stop there! capi's project’s Wiki continues to steadily grow with expansion pack information and innovative research into subjects such as Kilrathi language.
World Creator’s Workshop is another new Wing Commander site that hit the scene in 2013. It primarily allows fans to customize missions for WC1 now, but its creator is also experimenting with other exciting modding technologies such as customizing the game’s cutscenes.
Fan Project of the Year The
Collected Works of HCl touch on nearly all aspects of the franchise! In just the last couple months alone, HCl made advancements in WC2/Academy ship importation, movie extraction for the 3DO version of WC3, added new features to Privateer 2 and upgraded his enhancement patch for Prophecy to ensure compatibility with the GOG release, Linux and Mac.
Flat Universe turned heads in May when it debuted a beautiful top-down scroller that leveraged some of the best ship models made by the Wing Commander community. There’s no playable demo yet, but the Maslas Brothers have kept fans engaged with trailer videos and numerous content updates as development continues.
Klavs’ Models kicked off a new era of 3D printing in 2013 with the advent of color designs. Now, larger ships can be ordered that come complete with detailed textures, decals and hull paint. As an emerging technology, Klavs continues to work through the growing pains associated with various 3D printers, and his digitally rendered models still rock the house too! The diversity of
ScoobyDoo’s Models have helped to spread appreciation for some of the more exotic designs in the Wing Commander universe, especially concerning Privateer 2. His imagery has helped inspire other artists to take on Wing Commander projects, and Scooby’s models have even found their way into a couple of fan projects in development.
Wing Commander: A Defiant Few has helped broaden the types of fan projects that the community is engaged in. Plywood Fiend has taken fan fiction to a new level by casting actors to participate in his exciting audio dramas. They’re one of the few fan projects that Wingnuts can take with them and enjoy on the go while mobile!
World Creator’s Workshop’s biggest splash was the demonstration of customizable WC1 cutscenes in December, and while that is still in testing, fans can already generate custom missions via the WCWorkShop website. It’s part of a new renaissance in modification of the first few Wing Commanders!
Even though there will be just a couple winners, all of the endeavors mentioned above are worthy of great praise! And they're just a sampling of all the great things that Wing Commander fans are doing every day - keep up the great work in 2014 Wingnuts!
SpiritPlumber spotted a neat article with some familiar looking hardware. Apparently in the late '90s, a UK firm developed a person-carrying enclosure that attaches to the weapon hard point of a small helicopter or jet. The "Exint" pods were designed to insert special forces soldiers or extract wounded troops. Although the idea might lead someone to assume a few British engineers were just big fans of Wing Commander 4's Manned Insertion Pods, it apparently goes as far back as WW2. All of the real life variants look super cramped compared to the item that Pliers found!
It’s almost impossible to imagine the self discipline required to be stuck inside one of those for long periods of time but, believe it or not, Exint pods, man-carrying pods designed to be carried by fast jets and choppers exist.
They were conceived as an alternate method of inserting and extracting special forces (or wounded soldiers) and were developted by AVPRO UK Ltd in the late 1990s. They were reportedly tested on the Harrier jump jet, the AH-64 Apache and, according to some sources, were as still are certified for use on the Israeli AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters.
A new modeler has shown off his first piece of Wing Commander art at the CIC. Maxx Christopher's Heretic is inspired by the famous ship from Privateer 2, and he's also been motivated to build the fighter by seeing all of Scooby's Tri-System craft in the news. Maxx's choice of colors and texture complement the vessel quite well. Most Wingnuts instantly recognize this craft due to its prominent placement on the P2 box and marketing materials, but it's a really classy design that would stand out in the game regardless of its top billing. If you missed it last month, also be sure to check out the giant physical mockup of the that Erin Roberts' team made in the '90s here!
Here is a Heretic I did only took me 6 hours... Cockpit complete with pilot.
Gaming website, Edge, recently went back in time to review Super Wing Commander for the 3DO. In a positively glowing appraisal, the reviewer finds a lot to love in the effort Origin put in to re-dress the original game in the series. You can read the entire review here.
Wing Commander has enjoyed considerable success on a variety of formats, but this 3DO version is without doubt the best of the lot. Developers Origin could have chosen the easy option and simply ported the already excellent PC version, but that’s not their style. Instead, they’ve isolated the rougher aspects – including the scaling of the in-game fighters and the substandard Star Cruisers – and smoothed them out, while leaving the rest of the game intact...
...To describe Super Wing Commander as satisfying to play would be a grotesque understatement. Pursuing the enemy at close range, letting ‘em have it right up their exhaust port with your missiles and then watching them explode in a shower of twisted metal is disturbingly gratifying stuff...
...Once Super Wing Commander gets a grip of your senses, you’ll have to prise it off with a crowbar. So far, most 3DO software has been completely unworthy of attention; happily, Super Wing Commander avoids falling into the same category.
Wing Commander Flat Universe is back with a big New Year's update! A Christmas-themed Issue #4 of the Destiny's Way magazine was published at the tail end of December. That would be cool enough on its own, but they have also released their first (non-playable) game demo! Check out Daedalus Station, their awesome website, and scroll down to Downloads to give it a try. In addition to Windows, it even runs on Linux and Mac! The team hopes to include a playable portion in the next demo. Here's a status update on the rest of the game:
Last year, Afrim, asked a question about our progress. I'll reveal you a few points regarding the gameplay:
1. Space flight model is 100% complete. Tested on fighters and capital ships.
2. Space environment and physics behaviour 100% complete.
3. Weapon systems is 25% complete.
4. Animations, particles and other lighting stuff 25% complete.
5. Damage modelling, Shields, Capacitors 10% complete. There will be damages, shields and capacitors just like in Wing Commander. We don't like the idea of "life-bars" or "respawns".
6. HUDs and HUD systems (Radars, Comms, Nav etc.) 2% complete.
7. AI 0%.
Klavs' first sketches of the new year are a tribute to the artist mentioned in Claw Marks, Lt. "Tooner" Dibbles. Although he's a very minor footnote in the history of Kilrathi War, every inch of the original Wing Commander games' documentation is memorable to thousands of Wingnuts. Klavs has turned that nostalgia up a notch with some artisy sketches that Tooner would have produced, plus an anecdote from Paladin that drives his loss home.
Tooner was a great kid. When he was on his game, you could really recognize yourself in his doodles. Some were really hilarious. If he'd spent half as much time in the sim as he spent huddled over his tablet, he'd probably still be with us. The worst of it was that he took his best friend with him when he went.
As his squadron commander, it was my duty to clean out his locker. It was chalk full of drawings and half finished sketches. It was the hardest thing in the world to send those away from the ship with Dibbles' personal effects.
One day, a battered package came via Confedpost to the Bonnie Heather while we were docked at ###redacted###. The original mailing address read 'TCS Tiger's Claw" which was by then was long since gone. It had taken years to catch up to me.
It was from Dibbles' parents. It contained a fabulous gold-bound leather bound book, containing each and every one of Dibble's cartoons. So many memories came flooding back, I nearly sunk to my knees.
Ralgha suggested that if the book upset me so much, we could jettison it into space. It was okay, I said. I just had something in my eye.
Combined Forces patch on Hunter's shoulder is a great touch!
The ingenious hacking of WC1/2 continues! HCl's latest achievement is understanding how the video sequences play in the WC2 engine. Items such as the games' intro movies and landing clips are a type of FMV scripted into the game. By adjusting how this is coded, HCL has managed to take bonafide live action movies and make them play in game. A test using the simplified capabilities of Wing Commander Academy has already proved successful! A brief segment of the Wing Commander Movie trailer was encoded and plays back - a screenshot is below. Further tweaking should allow for better color palette access and smoother rendering. You can read more about this discovery and try it out for yourself at the CIC Forums.
In order to further explore the possibilities of what can be done with the WC2 engine, I decided to quickly put together a converter for WC2 animations. WC2 in fact supports FMV-like animations which are triggered at various parts of the game. These are, for example, most WC2 landing sequences, the sequence depicting the flyby of Thrakhath's flagship (below), and so on.
If you missed it earlier, delMar has also recently figured out how to
As with my other WC2 mods and experiments, I decided to turn to WCA for a quick test, as a proof of concept. ... I took a small 12-frame sequence from the WCM trailer and encoded it with my animation encoder, quantizing the image to the existing WCA palette. I put the newly encoded file into the WCA\GAMEDAT folder and launched the game. Sure enough, the game plays the first animation with the Wraith hunting down the Drakhri and, once it's done, it plays the new WCM animation. Pretty cool! Here's the result.
Not too bad! The canopy-closing animation does play rather quickly, since it's only 12 frames, and the image would end up looking a bit better if I had computed a new palette (and used a better quality source), but not bad for a first test :) I would expect we can have WC3-FMV-like quality animations in WC2, if we change the palettes often enough (although at a much higher rate than WC3 FMV, since WC2 uses simple RLE...).
WC1 should be able to play these animations with some COM-file hacking... That's something to do later though. Anyway, I'm attaching the new INTRO.VGA in case you want to give it a try, or tear it apart for study.
Of course, this opens up a new line of research, in order to study and document the WC2 INCIDENT.Sxx files. That will allow us to have more control over animations, figure out how the game determines that the animation must be differentially-decoded or drawn against a background, and so on (also, it might also be useful to Fabien's Strike Commander efforts and delMar's Workshop).
As an aside, I think it would be pretty cool to make a small WCM mod for WC1/2 at some point. Pretty exciting idea!
create custom WC1 cutscenes as well!
Last August we covered the hard-to-find
Prophecy OEM release that came bundled with the Real3D Starfighter graphics card. The Starfighter was an i740 (Intel) based graphics card for Pentium (PCI) or Pentium II (AGP) systems that supported Direct3D and OpenGL. Included in the package was the first of three Prophecy CD's, complete with cinematics. Instead of a disc swap prompt, players were shown a special splash screen inviting them to buy a full copy of the game to complete the story.
Back in 1997, Starfighter owners would have missed out on some of Prophecy's advanced graphical effects, because a 3Dfx-based accelerator was required for full 3D enhancement. Now, PopsiclePete has prepared a new version of the Prophecy upgrade patch that should support the OEM release. The upgrade patch installs
Pedro's advanced OpenGL renderer and HCl's multiplayer patch. The Prophecy OEM version is free to download, so anyone can grab it and play a Prophecy multiplayer match. Download the patch here and reach out to Pete on the Forums if you encounter any problems.
The long-awaited fourth chapter of Wing Commander: A Defiant Few has been released! It continues the epic Confed fight for survival against the insectoid hordes. The action starts immediately with our heroes fully engaged in an exciting battle full of intense dog fighting, authentic Wing Commander sound effects and very creepy Nephilim taunts. This episode took quite a while to put together, and it's easy to see why after listening. It clocks in at thirty minutes long and includes a ton of different voice actors. It's fun to just jump in below (or grab the MP3), but you can also catch up on Episode 1, Episode 2 and Episode 3 to get all the back story up to this point.
Inspired by an uncountable number of childhood days sat before an ancient Amiga 600 (which has since melted), shooting at giant space tigers. Wing Commander - Defiant Few is a free, fan made audio series focusing on the war between the Terran Confederation and the alien insect creatures known only as the Nephilim.
The ever uneasy peace of Gemini Sector is destroyed when the Nephilim begin a full scale invasion, with their first target being Perry Naval Base. It is left to Admiral Sandra Goodin and the piecemeal forces at her command to stop the considerably larger alien armada and safeguard the lives of the millions of civilians in Gemini.
Thanks to everyone who starred in this episode for their hard work and thanks to everyone who's listened thus far.
The new year also means it's time to run our traditional January poll. Based on what's happened lately and what you think about the year ahead, how do you think 2014 will be for Wing Commander?
The last poll asked which fighters everyone considered their favorite in Armada. The Wraith and Banshee were neck and neck in one of the closest races we've ever seen. The medium fighter maintained the lead for most of December, but the heavier craft pulled ahead by one vote at the last minute. I was very surprised by how many people voted for the Gladius, which came in third. Kilrathi fighters fared worse, with the tougher kats doing especially poorly in the race!
Happy New Year Wingnuts! It's been another big year for Wing Commander fans, and 2014 should be even better. The biggest news stories often arrive out of nowhere, so it's exciting to think about what might happen next. But before we go charging forward, here's a brief look back at a few of the big stories from last year. If someone were to just look at a couple random days of WC news, it might not seem like a whole lot is happening - but skimming the weeks and months of news in our archives is amazing!
There you have it! This is only a sample of what happened in
Star Citizen Development Gets Under Way The Austin office of
Cloud Imperium Games was established around the beginning of the year, and developments poured out regularly thereafter. We're not a Star Citizen news site, but we do cover Roberts Space Industries events that are Wing Commander-related such as numerous ex-Originite hires, inclusion of a neat easter egg or the theatrical showing of the WC Movie at Citizen Con.
Wing Commander: A Defiant Few Launches Plywood Fiend's audio adventure in the Gemini Sector
kicked off with scripting, casting and previews in January. Over the course of the year, several chapters were were released and the story is still going strong.
Wing Commander Highlighted in 3D Printing Breakthrough In early February a German company
demonstrated a new form of micrometer-scale 3D printing that could be used to build incredibly tiny structures. Many major magazines and websites ran with the story, so it got a lot of press. What did they build to demonstrate the technology? A Hellcat V!
Hamill's WC3 Flight Suit Resurfaces
Pix's Origin Adventures helped reconnect with the fan who won a 1995 contest for the screen-worn Blair flight suit in Wing Commander 3. The suit has been well cared for over the course of 18 years and the winner graciously provided some cool pictures. Later in the year, we got a peek at quite a few artifacts that also decorate Chris Roberts' office today.
Amateur 3D Printing Explodes Wingnuts have been 3D printing small miniature
ships for years now, but the technology really took off in 2013! One of the biggest breakthroughs happened in March with Klavs' color 3D prints. For the first time, fans could go beyond hand-painting tiny figures and order large designs with relatively detailed color textures and decals. They have been extremely popular and dozens of sharp models were made in 2013.
GOG Rereleases Entire Wing Commander Series 2013 was huge for digital rereleases of Wing Commander games! The entire DOS/Windows saga was completed with the addition of
Academy in August, P2: The Darkening in September, Prophecy & Secret Ops and Armada & Proving Grounds in November. Don't forget that Strike Commander was also added in March and Macintosh compatibility was expanded all year. As great as it is for a whole new generation to be able to buy Wing Commander cheap and easy, this also provided HCl an opportunity to flex his considerable programming muscle and add new features such as the deinterlace patch for Privateer 2 and DVD video upgrade for Prophecy. All of these enhancements even work for both the digital GOG releases and the old school disc-based versions!
Wing Commander In Concert In April it was revealed that famous Wing Commander composer George Oldziey's music would finally be performed live in concert by the Austin Symphony. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the WC portion was ultimately removed from the planned October concert, but all hope is not lost! Stay tuned for more on this subject in the future.
Wing Commander FPS Unearthed Origin veteran Binky Launius uncovered "lost footage" of a
first person shooter set in the Wing Commander universe. The project didn't get very far, but in 1997 it was considered and pitched at Origin. There's even a very rudimentary concept video!
Flat Universe Shooter Project Kicked Off Flat Universe was one of several promising fan projects that were initiated in 2013. The Maslas Brothers worked with prominent Wingnut artists to import existing assets into their 2D engine. They also supplemented their project with a flashy website and electronic magazine.
EA Releases Ultima Forever Origin's
other vaunted franchise received a boost this year with the release of Ultima Forever for iOS devices. Although we'd much rather see a new Wing Commander game, it's great to see a new title based on one of Origin's classic series. The game continues to receive updates and has a strong social media component. Supposedly it even includes an easter egg quest with a Kilrathi ship!
WC RPG Completed capi's well-planned and meticulous
role playing game was finally completed and released this year. It's not the only RPG project that was active in 2013, but what is remarkable is that the project set out with a very specific set of goals, set specific targets and then provided status updates with progress details on a regular basis. It's a model that many people could learn from - and it works!
CIC Hits Ten Years of Constant News We proudly tooted our own horn in mid 2013 when the CIC reached
ten years of constant daily updates. Around the time that Prophecy was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2003, the CIC Staff decided to kick things into overdrive and hunt something down to report every day. We now sit at about 3870 consecutive days of Wing Commander news on our front page! The material isn't always earth shattering breaking news, but this very roundup proves that quite a bit of exciting stuff does happen!
Fatman Cleans Up WC1 Album George
The Fatman Sanger updated his commercial release of WC1 music mid year when discrepancies were found with two tracks. This was the kind of thing that could easily have been ignored and left to sit for eternity, but Mr. Fat graciously avoided leaving Wing Commander fans in the lurch.
Wing Commander on Blu-ray! On August 6, Wing Commander was finally
released on Blu-ray! The long-awaited high definition physical media release did not include any extra features aside from higher resolution and detail, but seeing a brand new boxed Wing Commander product on regular store shelves with simply a joy to behold. Even the regular DVD was updated with an anamorphic aspect ratio, and the sound track was released digitally on iTunes/Amazon.
The CIC Turns 15 Years Old
August 10 marked 15 years of WCNews.com! Our birthday party was a huge success and ton of fun. We released a new OEM demo of WC Prophecy, modernized our video section, reported on tons of fan projects and posted some very interesting archive material. Here's to the next 15 years!
Bandit (LOAF) Gets Married
Wing Commander and LOAF go together like Shotglass and the Tiger's Claw Bar, but he made room for a second love in his life this year! His
CIC friends were there to share pictures from the happy event. It'd been nine years since the last staff member got married, and it was fun to see how much we'd changed in between (and stayed the same!).
Classic WC1/2 Modding Back in Style It was also a great year for modification of the first couple Wing Commander games. Most modding over the last decade or so has focused on the later games in the series, but
HCl and Howard's additions to Academy and delMar's WCWorkShop site have reinvigorated interest in the classic titles. We're anxious to see this trend continue! 2013. The real news is that fans continue to work tirelessly every single day to commemorate the Wing Commander series and strengthen the community. Keep it up in 2014! We'll be here to report what happens.
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