Goodbye, Aaron Allston

Terrible news to report today: author Aaron Allston passed away yesterday at the age of 53. Aaron Allston was a traditional ‘pen and paper’ game designer, one of many who made the transition to Origin Systems in the late 1980s and helped give the company its distinctive culture during the early years of the Wing Commander and Ultima franchises. Today, Aaron is best known for his incredibly successful (and critically acclaimed) Star Wars novels, but for hundreds of thousands of Wing Commander pilots, he was our first portal into a new universe. He had a monumental impact on shaping the Wing Commander universe and drawing players in to the first game in the series, and the world is poorer for having lost his talents.

Aaron’s mark on the Wing Commander franchise was indelible: he was the man behind Claw Marks. The “Onboard Magazine of the TCS Tiger’s Claw,” Claw Marks was an astonishing piece of in-universe fiction included in the box of the original Wing Commander. The booklet didn’t tell you how to play the game, it treated you like you were a 27th century fighter pilot catching up on the news between missions. The ship specifications, pilot-of-the-month bios and in-universe editorials became the standard for the franchise going forward. Chris Roberts has always sought for an immersive game experience, and the inclusion of Claw Marks meant that Wing Commander offered it before the player could even insert the first disk. Aaron went on to serve as designer and writer for The Secret Missions, Wing Commander’s first mission disk. The Secret Missions took Wing Commander’s existing structure and a collection of cutting-room-floor ship graphics and turned them into the epic story of the Tiger’s Claw’s trip behind enemy lines to battle a Kilrathi superweapon. The product was an unexpectedly massive success. Wing Commander players clamored for more action in their new favorite universe and in the process set the stage for first years of physical game “add on” disks and then DLC development that continues today.

While The Secret Missions was Aaron’s last published involvement in Wing Commander, it was not his last time writing in the universe. In 1995, Chris Roberts brought him back into the fold to create the series bible for a Privateer television series. The television plans were bold to the point of insanity: Origin would simultaneously produce a pair of Privateer games, Privateer 2 and 3. The first season of the television series would begin after the release of Privateer 2 and run for a year. Game and show would have different protagonists, but the two would team up in occasional crossover episodes… and then after the conclusion of the show, would appear together in Privateer 3 to finish the series’ year-long story arc together (if that wasn’t enough, Aaron also pitched the idea of episodes that would tie in to the then-in-production Wing Commander IV.) Plans for the game and series fell through, and an entirely different Privateer 2 was developed instead. Aaron once remarked that he thought this for the best; his initial pitch had gone on to be “sexed up” by Hollywood (including the addition of a non-ironic planet of Amazon women.) You can read Aaron Allston’s original Privateer the Series pitch here.

Aaron was also a major part of the Ultima series, taking writing duties on the first PC spinoff, Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire. Savage Empire took the Ultima VI engine to its fullest, delivering the Avatar and his companions to a world populated by dinosaurs and other prehistoric terrors. True to his roots, Aaron went on to develop his own Savage Empire pen-and-paper RPG, which he made available to friends and family in Austin. Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire is available today as a free download from GOG.

I was lucky enough to know Aaron. Our first interaction was in 1995; he was tickled to discover that an early iteration of our Wing Commander Encyclopedia featured an entry for “Captain Aaron Allston” (as he is credited in Claw Marks) along with a hand-scanned picture of the magazine editor cartoon. Over the years, he was always generous with his time in answering questions about his work on Wing Commander and the early days of Origin Systems. In the early 2000s, Aaron was a regular fixture at Dragon*Con. The CIC staff would always make a point of attending his Star Wars panels and then after presenting him with stacks of Claw Marks to sign. I can’t say that he enjoyed the attention, but he was always thoroughly happy to stick around and sign everyone’s booklets and share a few words about the old days. It is almost appropriate that he passed away on Thursday during a convention appearance: he was the rare combination of a genuine talent and someone who was always willing to go out of his way to interact with his fans.

If you knew Aaron Allston or if you were influenced by his work, please let us know in the comments.

Wing Commander Music Kickstarter Hits $10,000

After one week of fund raising, former Origin composer George Oldziey's campaign to create a live orchestra Wing Commander album has reached its first $10,000! There's been a good response so far, but another $25,000 is needed in the next three weeks to get the album made.

There's also more music stories from Origin's glory days! Now you can read about how the opening sequence theme of Wing Commander 3 came to be. "I went for a long run early the next morning (been an avid runner since I was 20) and a theme came to me in the middle of the run. As soon as I got my sweaty self home I sat at the piano and got the theme, and a chord progression, down on paper. That became the Kilrathi theme for the project. I played it for an old composition professor some years later. He asked, "Why so many minor chords?" I said, "They were really bad guys." :)" Watch and listen to the intro below!

The next update is just too hilarious to spoil. You have to check it out yourself! "No one ever caught it, and I of course never mentioned it. Until now. :)"

I'm very thrilled as well as grateful that we passed the $10,000 threshold today with the campaign! Many heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed as well as spread the word! You all are the BEST! 22 days to go!

Flat Universe Demo Video Teases Awesome Action

The Maslas Brothers have posted a video of the non-playable Flat Universe demo released last month. For those who didn't get around to installing the last release, it's been recorded and posted online. Just like with the original Wing Commander, the team promises that "what you see is what you play." There are some very nice animation graphics, a brief dogfight and then an asteroid encounter. Even a little humor pokes through. Everything about the clip just makes us want to try the real thing even more!

Banshee Light Fighter 'Bred For Dogfighting'

UnusualSuspex has put together a very sharp looking Banshee light fighter over at Deviant Art. There's some coppery coloring in select areas, but for the most part, the eye-catching surface features are all the fine details that appear to be modeled and cast a shadow. The image is very high resolution, so anyone out there with a 4K monitor is in for a treat! No matter what res you run at, this one makes a wonderful wallpaper.
The Banshee is everything that characterizes a light fighter: fast, maneuverable, armed with a standard loadout, and bred for dogfighting. The Banshee is a space superiority fighter best suited for patrol, escort, and raiding missions, only occasionally carrying out offensive missions against enemy starships or convoys. The Banshee is not the best-armored fighter in combat, but it makes up for this with its speed, allowing it to dodge enemy fire for prolonged periods of time.

Wing Commander Kickstarter Firms Up Stretch Goals

George Oldziey's campaign to produce a Wing Commander album recorded by a live orchestra has wrapped up its fifth day. Almost 150 people have now contributed more than $9,000, which puts the project about a quarter of the way to its minimum goal. Mr. Oldziey has also posted the Kickstarter's stretch goals to the project's main page. While $35,000 green lights the project's first 15 minutes of music, totals of $47,000 and $59,000 would pay the performers to record a total of about 30 and 45 minutes respectively. This is where we want to be!


He's also posted two great stories from his early days at Origin. The first is an amusing anecdote about his first few weeks on the job and how he was almost recruited out to a teaching position instead. "I reminded him that I was only a temp employee and had a family to feed. He said, "Wait a minute!" 20 minutes later he returned with a contract for full time employment with benefits and a good raise. That made my decision pretty easy, and the rest is history :)"


The other story illustrates George's shock when he found out that he wasn't just making gameplay music - there were movies in this game too! "Chris Roberts had returned from a lengthy visit to LA (reasons unbeknownst to me). He initiated a discussion on how well the film shoot was going. I was a bit confused as to why they were talking about "movies" so I leaned over to one of the artists and asked, "What are they talking about? Is this another project?" He looked at me like I was nuts and said, "This is for the interactive movie part of the game". I said, "Oh, who's writing the music for that?" He again looked startled and said, "You are.""


Good stuff! The picture above is George back in the Wing Commander 3 days. You can find more photos of the Origin team as it was in 1994 here.

After only a little over 4 days, my Wing Commander Orchestral Music kickstarted campaign passed $9,000 early this morning, on the way to the target of $35,000! I'm very humbled by the great response so far. Check it out and pass the word if you feel so inspired! Thanks to all!

The Versatile Transport Grows Teeth

Klavs has yet another idea for his innovative Drayman concept. This time, instead of cargo modules or tanker drums, there's a support module for the Confed Marines. This specialized compartment includes a dock for a dedicated assault shuttle that can then go launch short range raids. It's an interesting idea! Such a vessel could do quite a bit of damaged provided the Drayman mothership stays out of harm's way.
Through his faceplate, I see Thorskald wink at me just before he hits the detonator.

-Sven Lawson, 'The Reavers'

Wing Commander Name-Dropped in Cult Film

A number of people have reported that alternate history, sci-fi romp Iron Sky contains a reference to Wing Commander. This exchange between two main characters happens around the 55:20 mark:

Renate: Do you know how to drive this thing?

James: Well, it can't be any different than playing Wing Commander.

Cff points out that in the German dub, this line becomes "Ich kann ein UFO fliegen, ich habe alle Teile von “Wing Commander” durchgespielt."

Oldziey Campaign Adds Options, Clarifications & WC Demo Music!

It's been a huge first day for Wing Commander composer George Oldziey's Kickstarter campaign! Nearly 100 generous backers have already donated more than $6,000 to help make a live orchestra recording possible! Many fans have provided a lot of feedback, and George has responded with some tweaks and new information.


For starters, keep an eye on the official update page and Oldziey.com for frequent news on the status of the pledge drive, amusing anecdotes from the old Origin days and more. Here are the major updates so far:

  • Digital downloads of the album has been added to tiers $20 and up! The music will also be high quality - "AT LEAST the same 44.1 kHz 16 bit stereo master that makes it on the CD." No highly compressed MP3s!
  • The length has been explained: the "base" set of orchestrated music is 9.5 minutes based on the length of time George would have gotten in the canceled live Austin Symphony concert. He's also planning for some of the biggest pledgers to pick their favorite selections from Wing Commander 3, 4 or Prophecy for a total of about 15 minutes if the main goal is reached.
  • Tentative stretch goals have been proposed. Based on the costs of booking the musicians and preparing additional music. At approximately $47,000, an additional 15 minutes would become possible, and at about $59,000 a total of 45 minutes should become doable!
  • Some exciting new reward levels have been added. At $400 and up, pledgers will receive an autographed copy of the musical score. The new $600 pledge level also offers copies of Wing Commander 3 autographed by Chris Roberts!
Last, but not least, George has posted the original demo track he created as part of his application to work at Origin in 1994. This has only recently been digitized and never posted anywhere before now. For a sample transcribed from a degrading source, it sounds great! And it definitely has what we now consider a very Wing Commandery feel. You can listen here. Pledge to support this project here!
My most heartfelt thanks to all on this wonderful kickoff day to this campaign. I am humbled by the response so far!

I'm planning on giving regular updates, as well as posting some interesting stories about my wonderful days at Origin during the Wing Commander production periods. Fond memories for sure!

All the best,

George

BREAKING NEWS: George Oldziey Launches Wing Commander Music Kickstarter!

Amazing news! The composer of Wing Commander 3, 4 & Prophecy, George Oldziey, has launched an exciting Kickstarter project to record a Wing Commander album with a live orchestra! Depending on their pledge level, backers have the opportunity to receive a digital copy of the album, an autographed CD or even be present at the recording. The highest contributors can even choose selections of music from the WC series that they would like added! Additional surprises will be revealed as the campaign unfolds, so stay tuned! Production depends on your support - you can find out more and pledge here.

George Oldziey is looking for game music fans from around the world to help fund an orchestral recording of music from Wing Commander.

Many of you know me, George Oldziey, as the composer for many historic video games, but probably most notably 3 games from the iconic Wing Commander series. I've been blessed to have very dedicated fans of my music for many years, and I would like to offer them the opportunity to participate in this historic endeavor.

The initial goal of $35,000 is to record a 9 1/2 minute suite of music from Wing Commander 3 and 4 featuring a full 80 piece orchestra and 40 voice choir. The recording will most likely be done in either Prague or Bratislava, both homes to amazing game and film scoring orchestras, some time during the summer of this year. We will also institute a series of stretch goals beyond the initial amount to hopefully record more of my Wing Commander music while we have the musicians at the ready. The video will give you more info about me and this project.

I will update everyone very frequently on the progress of this exciting adventure!

More Fan Project Ventures Pop Up

Arraen has moved on from the Kilrathi corvettes in order to give Confed some similar warships. He's added the Venture as the latest fleet asset in his Unity-based WC strategy mod. With this in place, there are enough ships and game mechanics in place to start limited beta testing soon.
I continue creating content for the game. Today I want to present the next ship: Venture class corvette. It will be the starting class for Terran Confederation players. So for now 4 ships are ready in the game: 2 corvettes and 2 cruisers. I think it will be enough for the beta version.

Fat Man Engaging in Q&A at Slashdot

Slashdot is conducting something like a Reddit AMA-style open interview with famous Wing Commander composer, George The Fat Man Sanger. Users can simply post a question here. Mr. Fat will be skimming through what gets asked and replying throughout. Slashdot requests that you include one question per post. The first answer is below!
"The Fat Man" George Sanger has composed the music to hundreds of computer and video games since the 80's and remains one of the most influential people in game audio. Some of his most famous tunes can be heard in Maniac Mansion, Wing Commander, and Tux Racer.

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Q: Mr. Sanger, thanks for taking the time. I was a fan of yours and didn't know it until now ha. My question: Did you find the limitations of 8-bit computing sound to be a fun creative challenge or was it more of a slog of process and reduction to make it work within limitations of the sound system?

A: Exactly: 8-bit composing was indeed, as you say, a fun creative challenge. The feeling that I might have been "limited" in some way translated in my mind immediately into a positive: "OK, I'm writing for a new medium that has these requirements and these superpowers. What will I do with it?" I just couldn't imagine Bach being bugged by having to write for "just a string quartet." My players (the oscillators that were available to me) might have a tone less thrilling than Bach's target platform, but my guys would never miss a note, and could play as fast as I wanted them to, make huge leaps--all kinds of things. And one of my favorite things was, I very seldom felt insecure about "am I done with this piece yet?" When a piece was done, I felt like, no, there's not much more I can squeeze into this. So it's time to move on to the next task with a clear conscience.

Don't forget that you can buy his Wing One album for just $10 at Vibedeck. His game audio book has also been rereleased on Kindle for $10 here.

Minecraft Carrier Gains Escort Fighter & Interior Layout

Duckman has made some significant progress on the interior of his Confed carrier rendered in Minecraft. The ship looks pretty sharp from the outside, but the real challenge is making the bridge, pilot's lounge and other familiar locations look reasonably accurate with only colored blocks available. In the second image below, a section of the extior hull has been removed in order to reveal some of the internal deck structure. There's also a small cubical Thunderbolt VII underneath the larger warship. Everything might cast a characteristically "Lego" vibe, but this isn't child's play! What you see here is nearly 900,000 blocks representing more than 165 hours of virtual effort!
My current stats for this project:

Play/Buildtime: 6.91 days (165.84 hours ; time InGame)
Distance walked: 309.07 km (192.05 miles)
Distance flown: 989.50 km (614.85 miles)
Used blocks/stones: 888493

[Image #2] is a "bugged out" picture showing part of the engine and a cross section of the decks. (sometimes the render engine of Mnecraft "forgets" to render some of the "chunks"). As you can see, I am building all decks, including rooms for the crew. In this picture you can also see the Thunderbolt MK VII and the Quad Anti-Matter cannon mounted beneath the carrier. All decks will have a different color combination for the carpet.

Innovative Stretched Drayman Keeps Confed Well Supplied

Klavs has put together his take on the stalwart classic Drayman transport. It's fine to have plenty of fearsome warships in your fleet, but logistics is what keeps them fighting. We've seen the ship reconfigured before as the Diligent class tanker, but there's another fun variant depicted here as well. Additional cargo modules have been attached to the rear of the ship to form a "train" behind the main vessel. Each section is connected via umbilicals and there's even an extra engine pod on the back pushing all that bulk. Very clever! On top of the pretty pictures, Klavs has also prepared a story below about a spirited encounter between a Drayman and some unsuspecting Kilrathi raiders.
We had gone to 125% on the impulse pods, hoping to give us the delta to make the jump before the raider could close with us. Looking at the numbers now, it was obvious that he would overtake us long before that, all we could was burn out the reactor. Even if we burned all our propellant, there was still no way.

The crew were all looking to me, wide eyed. I felt a knotted, sick feeling in my stomach. Knowing it was just a matter of time, I ordered impulse zero and hoped. We coasted along, watching the range readout grow smaller and smaller.

At fifty kilometers he still hadn't fired, and I breathed a sigh of thanks. The raider swung around in front of us and closed to three clicks. No radio calls were necessary. It was obvious what they wanted. I ordered Sellers to drop the shields. Bless her, she only hesitated for a second before doing it.

Eight bulky figures dropped out of the raider and spread out. Spacesuits sporting heavy weapons. A Kilrathi, grinning through his armored faceplate, floated directly over the bridge window, brandishing a gigantic cannon.

I gave the order.

In a heartbeat we had severed the connections to the cargo modules and shunted power to the impulse engines. Raj vented propellant into the reactors and we were at full burn an instant later. I looked up to note the surprised look on the Kilrathi's face and then we were well past him.

Freed of tons and tons of cargo, the Joliet exploded into high velocity like the musclebound ox she was. We bore down on the raider as he writhed udner our bow, trying to manuver out of the way. The last thing I remember was seeing the light show as the shields shorted out.

When I woke up, I was in the rec-room, bathed in red emergency lighting. Sellers was floating over me, laughing. It made me laugh too. I laughed until tears stung my eyes and refused to float away.

The first thing I ordered after we all quit crying was a damage report. The Joliet had a broken nose, the first ten meters of her bow flattened like she'd been hit with a frying pan. It was a miracle none of the bridge crew had been crushed.

But the Drayman's stocky construction had paid off, the ship stove in around the bridge crumple zone and the aft bulkhead and door to the bridge was still intact. Sellers, the only one still conscious after the impact, had gotten us all out before we'd asphyxiated.

The raider was a million clicks astern and trying to recover his scattered EVA team. His shields were out and he didn't appear to be maneuvering. The Joliet, apart from needing a nose job and a new set of keel spars, was still under power.

My eyes settled on Henrietta's zero gee litter box module, still safely velcro'd to the aft wall of the rec-room. 'Come about,' I ordered. 'And bring me all the kitty litter you can find.'

-Harry Massaoui, Captian of the SS Joliet
'Kinetic Kitty Kill' Starfarer Magazine, July 2655.

WC Movie Image Reveals Tolwyn Ring's Intended Fate

AD noticed a really interesting detail in a promotional picture of the Wing Commander Movie that's been floating around for some time. It shows David Warner portraying Admiral Tolwyn in the film. Upon closer inspection, AD points out that Tolwyn's hand isn't just waving in the air. It appears to be accepting back his heirloom academy ring from Blair's gloved hand. In the final cut of the movie, Paladin is carrying around the handy trinket and uses it to convince Captain Sansky of his lofty connections. It's pictured again on Sansky's desk and again later on his finger during the Tiger Claw's jump sequence and ambush. And apparently in an earlier version of the film, Blair was to give it back. You can read more about the ring's backstory here.
Sansky reached into his breast pocket and produced the decoded disc. "So, I ask you, Mr. Taggart, what proof do you have that this is authentic?"

Taggart reached into his inner vest pocket and withdrew a small, shiny object. He tossed it to Sansky, who caught and quickly examined it. Between his fingers rested a gold class ring, its surfaces worn, its emerald dull. Sansky held it to the holograph's light and read the inscription: Annapolis Naval Academy, 1941. He closed his now-trembling hand over the ring and stared incredulously at Taggart. "How did you get this?"

"Tolwyn gave it to me eight months ago. He thought it might be useful in situations like getting a captain to follow his orders."

Swearing under his breath, Gerald watched Taggart plug numbers into the computer for a moment, then moved close to Sansky, out of Taggart's earshot. "Sir. This ring means nothing." He returned the antique to Sansky. "You shouldn't—"

"This ring has been in Tolwyn's family for sixteen generations. Any man who carries it has the admiral's full confidence."

"If it's real—which it may not be—then I can't believe Tolwyn gave it to a civilian."

"Believe it. He's done it before. This is the ring. And you have your orders. Prepare for jump."

As Gerald saluted and left, Sansky watched Taggart, wishing he could see past the man's mysteries. Sansky kept his own secrets carefully stowed, but he guessed that Taggart's cache far exceeded his. So be it. Life had become far more interesting. And dangerous.

Wing Commander Long Play Continues Into WC2

centaurianmudpig has finished his video walkthrough of Secret Missions 2: Crusade, recording each mission with commentary. The complete long play video is just over 4 hours long! Check it out below, or through his YouTube channel. If you missed his Secret Missions 1 playthrough, you can find that here.
Picking up the pace, centaurianmudpig has dived right into Wing Commander 2. Individual 5-15 minute segments are being uploaded to YouTube as he progresses through the game. If you can't wait for the feature length video of Wing 2, you can watch each segment as it comes online on his channel. Segment #1 (of 24 as of writing) has been embedded below.

Happy Valentine's Day

Animated GIFs have made a huge comeback in recent years, so we'll gladly bring out the Love Arrow again. Happy Valentine's Day!

Privateer Trade Profit Calculator Released

Version 1.0 of Whiplash's Privateer Trade Profit Calculator has been released! It's currently an Excel macro that will give you price info, profit estimates for a given commodity, and overall trading tips to get you the most credits no matter where you are and where you're going. The functionality is already all there to help you maximize your Privateer game now, but Whiplash is also partly using this as a test version to prove out the program's usefulness and solicit more ideas. In the long term, the goal is to make this a mobile app or web-enabled program so that pilots can use the included info as a companion while flying around Gemini. Try the calculator out for yourself here (60 kB xlsm zip)!
Right, I'm ready to share the first version! Note that it is a macro-enable Excel file, so if you are uncomfortable about macro security, don't feel obligated to run the file. I promise there are no nasties present though.

I've not protected anything, so you can look at my code, pick it apart and make comments to you heart's content. (Note that anyone who knows anything about programming will probably do well not to pay to much attention to my badly-written scribbles for fear of getting a heart attack).

If you can find ways to make it better, by all means do so. Any suggestions are welcome!

New Minecraft Project Stacks Up WC Ships

Duckman has shown off pictures of his attempts to build Wing Commander ships in Minecraft. So far he's got a hybrid Confed carrier and Venture class corvette simulated in the game. He's currently working on outfitting the interiors of these two ships as well as putting together Dralthi and Thunderbolt fighters. Duckman is also thinking about assembling a Wing Commander "resource pack" to help others. It's always interesting to see what people can make with enough cubes! A few years back, someone also made a pretty nice TCS Victory in Minecraft to provide an idea of what else is possible. You can find more pictures and provide feedback at the CIC Forums.
I am currently working on a Wing Commander Project in Minecraft. I will include ships from most of the games (as far as possible) and create some ships inspired by Wing Commander.

The carrier is inspired by the TCS Tiger Claw (Wing Commander Movie) and the TCS Vesuvius (Wing Commander IV). Minecraft Stones used: about 1 million stones so far. More to come... I hope, you like my "creations"

Ventures Guide The 'Claw Towards Adventure

Klavs has taken his recently completed Venture corvette and combined it with his Tiger's Claw model to produce an awesome wallpaper image: 'Nuthin Ventured'. The carrier sets off with two of the corvettes running close escort. Their bright engine glow imparts a sense of speed as they all race into the blackness of space. If you like this scene, also check out an awesome animation that Klavs put together last year with some similar elements!

New Prophecy/SO Model Exporting Tool Released

Kevin Cacccamo has released a new version of Blender Commander, a modding tool for Wing Commander Prophecy and Secret Ops. It allows modders to create something in the Blender 3D modeling suite and export it to the Vision engine with less hassle. This is a successor to the OBJ2WCP tool of years past. You can grab a copy here and direct any questions to the CIC Forums.
I've just released another update to the exporter script. Rotation calculations for turret hardpoints have been fixed with a new rotation matrix calculation algorithm, and you can now exclude hardpoints from being exported by hiding them in Blender's viewport.

This project is now on GitHub. Also, I think it needs a new name. :p

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Blender Commander

Blender Commander is an exporter script for Blender 2.65+ that allows you to export XMF source code from Blender that can be compiled into a VISION engine (Wing Commander: Prophecy, Wing Commander: Secret Ops) IFF mesh.

This means you'll be able to do most of your work in Blender, and then simply export it to the game without having to pass the model through multiple conversion programs (3D Exploration, peoview, ModelC, etc.).

This project is the successor to OBJ2WCP, a crappy old OBJ converter written noobishly in Java.

Features

  • Allows you to do most of the work on the model in Blender and then export it and compile it without the need to use external utilities to set the collision sphere, radius, or hardpoints.
  • If a texture's filename is numeric, you will be able to convert it straight to a MAT file without renaming it. For example, if you have a texture named 424242.jpg, your model will reference 00424242.mat
  • Converts Blender "empty" objects to hardpoints and other VISION engine mesh metadata.
  • Collision sphere position and radius is automatically calculated
  • LOD mesh support

Tribute Mod Adds Kamrani Gunboat

Arraen has shown off the newest ship for his strategy-themed Unity game. Due perhaps to its prevalence in WC3, the Kilrathi Kamrani class corvette was at one point a relatively common design in fan projects. It's appeared somewhat less in recent mods as more projects focus on earlier Wing Commander eras. Although this is just a first cut at the vessel, it already looks pretty good, and it should fit right in with the other ships that will be included!
Just want to show you "first beta version" of the Kilrathi corvette. :) I know it far from ideal but work in progress.

It will be initial ship class for players who will choose Kilrathi side. Only three laser turrets and poor shields as weapons. I think it will be good "gun meat" in battles :)

Ultima Online Shifted To New Development Studio

Ultima Online's producer has announced a major change in the operation of the long-running massively multiplayer game. UO was born in Austin, Texas alongside the Wing Commander series at Origin Systems. It was then transferred to EA Redwood Shores in California and has spent more than seven years being run out of EA/Bioware Mythic/Entertainment in Maryland. Now, a handful of Mythic employees have formed a new studio, Broadsword, which is taking over management responsibility from EA. EA will still own the game and run its billing system, but the day-to-day matters will be executed by Broadsword.

There's been some concern voiced by the Ultima community, but I think this is a positive step for the game. It's truly incredible that an MMO (the MMO) started at Origin in 1997 is still humming along in 2014. Mythic has had some ups and downs, including the recent closure of the Warhammer MMO, so I see this as a move that will insulate UO from any negative shocks that come Mythic's way in the future. And in a best case, clearing this from Mythic's plate may even leave room for the developer to take a fresh stab at an Ultima, Wing Commander or other classic franchise.


Broadsword will also be running Dark Age of Camelot, another classic MMO, and its founding team includes one of the original co-founders of Mythic. It'll be very interesting to see what they can do with a streamlined focus on these two games. The team sounds excited and upbeat about the future, and we wish them good luck!

I come to you with some exciting news! Since its humble beginnings at Origin Systems Incorporated in 1997, through development at EA Redwood Shores and for the last 7+ years at Mythic, Ultima Online™ has been enjoyed by millions of devoted players around the world.

Beginning February 1st, 2014, Mythic Entertainment Co-Founder Rob Denton’s new studio: Broadsword Online Games will partner with EA’s Mythic Entertainment to operate, support and develop Ultima Online on EA’s behalf. Electronic Arts will continue to provide billing and account services through its Origin™ portal. Broadsword and Electronic Arts will work closely together to ensure a bright future for Ultima Online. For future inquiries and support, you can contact UO@broadsword.com.

The UO team will continue to work as hard as ever under our new banner. In the immediate future, we will be putting out a publish for Valentine’s Day and a few bug fixes, along with polishing a final release of Vendor Search. I will be putting out a list very soon of all the features we will be working on this year to get everyone’s feedback as well as some updates regarding our ongoing projects.

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Will this transition alter the plans for Ultima Online in the near term and the future?
Yes! Both Broadsword and EA are heavily invested in the continued success of Ultima Online and our future has never looked so bright! Customers in need of help or questions should contact uo@broadsword.com

Is Broadsword an Electronic Arts studio?
No. However, for purposes of Ultima Online, Broadsword will be operating the game on EA’s behalf to continue its success.

Will there be changes to the Ultima Online development team?
Yes! Broadsword's additional investment into UO gives us the freedom to expand our resources for bigger projects, so again - the future has never looked so bright!

WC Encyclopedia Needs Contributors

Did you know that we have a wiki that every Wing Commander fan can contribute to? The Wing Commander Encyclopedia is where you’ll be able to find all kinds of real world information about Wing Commander. Wingnuts can find landing pages for all the major Wing Commander products from which they can explore various areas about each product. The encyclopedia area also contains categories like Images, where we are building the most extensive Wing Commander image archive ever, Cinematics, Behind the Screens, Downloads, and a number of others.

A reference from Super Wing Commander, the Terran Knowledge Bank is the new name for the main content area of WCPedia. This is where you’ll find articles written in the style of a 29th century researcher stationed on McAuliffe VI. Users can find the major categories like Characters, Ships, Battles, along with dozens of others within the Knowledge Bank.

To prevent automated spam abuse, new CIC Wiki accounts need to be individually approved. When registering, be sure to put a line or two into the 'biography' box to prove you're not a robot. If you're in a hurry to have your account approved, you can contact us on IRC, via e-mail or on the Forums.

Classic Confed Corvette Completed

Klavs has put the finishing touches on another fun model - the Venture corvette. Although the ship is an uncommon sight in the games, its exotic rarity and an awesome story set aboard the TCS Johnny Greene in the End Run novel have cemented the design as a fan favorite. As usual, there are also plenty of small details on the model that'll make you want to zoom in and scrutinize up close. There's also a bonus image that compares the ship to a B-52!
A Venture corvette can easily do a barrel roll in standard atmosphere, it is simply a matter of timing and altitude.

TCFT Report titled 'Unconventional manuvers in conventional craft' by Todd Marshall (rejected for publication)

Also, if you were wondering what's up with the ordering 3D prints of Klavs' design, here's the latest on Terran Fleet Supply:
Still working on it. Think I'll stick with Shapeways for now and keep the shop open there. They won't let you order any of the ships with problems, so the ones that are still available for purchase should print okay.

I'll eventually be working on some lower detailed models for the problem ships that should print with fewer problems.

WC Saga Enhancement Project Contines to Make Strides

Luke has provided an update on the ongoing effort to take the Wing Commander Saga source code and upgrade the game's usability and features. A list of the new additions and fixes incorporated into their latest internal build - dubbed WC Saga Plus - is below. There are also some neat tweaks for any other people out there interested in modding Saga.
Current version: 1.1.0.8009
  • If there are new database entries and WCS+ shows the database hint, now the amount of new entries are shown too. Example: "There are new database entries: Ships (3), Intel (2)"
  • If there exists new database entries, these will be shown with a green font in techroom. So it's easy to see what's new. If the player click on a new entry, the entry will be marked as "read", like mails in a mail client. This works also, if the player solved several missions without visiting the techroom for reading the new entries.
  • This database markers will now saved in the player profile, so the player have the "new entry markers" again, if he start WCS+ the next time. For this i created a new WCS file format called .DB2.
  • The database hint is now mouseclick sensitive. This means, if the hint is visible, the player can click on this hint and WCS+ will automaticaly switch to the techroom. If the player click on the F1-help-hint, the help page will shown. Idea by MasterLuke81.
  • The last database hint in the mainhall can shown again.
  • At start screen and in the barracks the current amount of pilots and the maximum will shown. Idea by Kalumet.
  • For modders: Modders have now the possibility to create a About-box in the mainhall for their mod.
  • For modders: Changed the way how WCS handles the translation of Sandman's orders: there are now 2 different variable groups in strings.tbl, so modders can translate the orders comm menu in cockpit without the need to translate the order texts in a mission script too. So the "orders logic" in a script can still be unchanged as english text.
  • For modders: If the player press F1 in the mainhall, the WCS version text in the lower left corner and the mod version text in the lower right corner will be deactivated now while the help page is shown. So modders have the chance to use the full screen for their help page.
  • For modders: The translation system extended another time: more variables for strings.tbl and higher text limits.
  • WCS (original) fix: If the player want to switch to a finished campaign, a negative sound was played and the campaign room was not closed. This is solved now.

Together Again for the First Time

Klavs spotted a fun pairing in the 1983 film Blue Thunder. Jason Bernard plays "The Mayor" while Malcolm McDowell is Colonel F.E. Cochrane in the film. You can watch them together on YouTube. This mirrors the episode of Beauty and the Beast where Mr. Bernard acted alongside Chris "Hawk" Mulkey. These guys really got around!
Malcolm McDowell & Jason Bernard in 'Blue Thunder' also staring Roy Scheider! It's probably been posted before, but it just tickled me pink. :)

New Privateer Trade Profit Calculator In Development

Whiplash has been tinkering with a new tool to help the pilots of Gemini Sector. He's used Privateer's commodity prices to build a calculator that helps predict the best cargo purchases and trade routes. The basic mechanics are working, but he's now asking for feedback to fine tune the best formulas and user interface. If everything works out, he may be able to get this running at a smartphone/tablet app for convenient Quine in the cockpit!
Hi folks, best wishes for 2014! I wanted to tell you a bit about my latest project. It's not another ship model; the Hellcat is still WIP and I will be sharing some more updates on that soon, hopefully.

I've been toying for a while now with the idea of creating some kind of app that could be used to calculate the most effective trade routes in Privateer. Many purists will no doubt tell me that figuring it out for yourself is half the fun, but I've done that anyway, and in fairness the official playguide also gives you quite a few hints. Mostly though, I just wanted to see if it could be done, and to set myself a little programming challenge.

I've made good progress, and most of the groundwork for the calculation is done. As input, I used this price list, which should be pretty well-known to most of you. By copying this into Excel and applying some VB magic, I now have something that looks like this. The price checker, for instance, will give you the lowest and highest prices for a commodity as well as the bases where they occur.

The function I am actually interested in though, is choosing your origin and destination, and then obtaining a list of the commodities you can trade as well as which ones will be the most profitable.

Here's the catch though: The spreadsheet gives you min and max values, but in reality these values almost never occur. You are far more likely to see values somewhere in between. Currently I'm calculating a simple average using (min+max)/2, but that is far too simplistic for my taste. It's more likely that the prices variations are defined by some kind of function.

You can select the bases you plan to travel from and to, and it will spit out a list of all commodities you can sell at the destination base with a non-zero profit margin. By setting the profit threshold, you can select which ones the app should bold as being particularly profitable. Negative values are shown in red. You can also switch between worst, best or average prices, and the output will change accordingly:

So: If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please let me know. I'm hoping someone has an idea of how I could better model the price fluctuations.

I have quite a few friends who do a bit of mobile development, so once I have the code figured out, I can ask them for some help in writing an app. Task switching will have to do for now though. Any further comments / questions / suggestions? Any ideas or changes you would like to see?

Defiant Few Calls for More Voice Actors

Work continues on Episode 5 of the audio drama Wing Commander Defiant Few, but Plywood Fiend is also planning a new chapter that explores what some of the characters were doing before the Nephilim Invasion of the Gemini Sector. This means there's a fun opportunity for a handful of new voice actors to join the team! Interested fans can find the audition lines at the CIC Forums - both men and women are needed. Submissions need to be in before the end of the month. Good luck!
Been a while since I did one of these. First off, I’d just like to thank everyone who voted for Defiant Few for fan project of 2013, your support is greatly appreciated and I’m hoping to make 2014 a far more productive year for the series and to that end, I have in the works a special, stand alone episode which looks into the back-story of some of the protagonists. There are a number of roles available, both male and female, for anyone who'd like to audition.

Starship Tactics Mod Focused on the Action

Arraen has provided a brief update on the status of his WC Tribute strategy game. Things like the final name and platforms that it will be available on are still to be determined, but he's clarified that this uncertainty is made possible because he's using the flexible Unity 3D engine. He is trying to prioritize development in such a way that gets a playable demo out to fellow fans more quickly. You can read more about the direction he's going below and at the CIC Forums.
Primarily I'm focused on creating multiplayer because it allows to avoid development of AI and gives the opportunity to create playable version quicker. So it means to kill monkeys in the name of Sivar quicker :)

Next I want to create 2-4 models of the ships. I need 2 corvettes (kilrathi and terran) and maybe 2 destroyers (1 for kilrathi and 1 for terran for game balance). And after that technical demo can be released. It will be playable version despite the fact that some bugs will still need to be fixed. :)

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