Happy New Year! A Look Back at 2014

Happy New Year everybody! Once again Wing Commander fans worked hard all year long on a huge variety of creative endeavors, and there were also some great surprises along the way - just like in 2013. Going day-by-day through our news archives to highlight some of the bigger stories is always a very rewarding experience. Big things don't happen every day, but an astounding number of big things happen every year. We're anxious to see what's coming next, but let's rewind first and see some of the exciting events of 2014!
    Defiant Few Expands Story
  • The year began with a new chapter of Wing Commander: Defiant Few. The award winning audio drama follows a band of Confederation pilots as they struggle to push the Nephilim back from the Gemini Sector. In addition to new episodes of the regular story, they also put out a special April Fools edition.

  • New Life Breathed into Prophecy OEM
  • In January Prophecy OEM was upgraded to take advantage of advanced OpenGL graphics and other patches developed by fans. The OEM version was an extended demo of WCP with the missions and cinematics of the game's first disc. It doesn't have new missions like the official WCP demo does, but it's an intriguing artifact from the '90s that we're happy to include in our archives.
  • Fans Rally Around Wing Commander Music Kickstarter
  • Composer George Oldziey formally kicked off his mission to record an album of Wing Commander music with a live orchestra in February. Through the course of a typical Kickstarter and supplemental Fundrazr drive fans raised almost $50,000! This enabled a 100-piece orchestra and large choral contingent to perform George's masterpieces for the microphones this past fall in Bratislava.
  • Aaron Allston Passes Away
  • Wing Commander fans know happiness as well as sorrow. Renowned author Aaron Allston passed away in February. Many Wingnuts know him as the creator of Claw Marks, but he also worked on The Secret Missions and a 1995 pitch to create a Privateer television show with Chris Roberts. Learn more about his life here.
  • Wing Commander Officially Amazing
  • The WC series got numerous accolades in the latest publication of the Guiness Book of World Records. It was acknowledged for its pioneering work involving speech packs, multiplayer space combat, animatronic Kilrathi and live actor stars. Mark Hamill was even presented with a certificate!
  • Streaming Options Expand
  • 2013 was the Wing Commander Movie's year on Blu-ray, but 2014 saw even greater adoption of the film on streaming video services. HBO Go, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, Flixter, Target Ticket, XBox Video, iTunes and even Netflix (in the UK) carry it now.
  • Alcohollywood Profiles Wing Commander
  • Alcohollywood created a fun new way to enjoy Wing Commander! They created a custom drinking game and special WC-themed drink in one of their weekly podcasts. Let us know if you try it!

  • Beat Hazard Mod Adds WC1 Ships
  • Shaggy spent a good part of 2014 adding the Confed and Kilrathi fighters from WC1 into Beat Hazard. The game is a top-down rhythm-based shooter, and the WC additions add a ton to the atmosphere!
  • Mythic Entertainment Closes
  • The home of Origin's legacy within EA was shut down in May. Mythic held the torch for nearly a decade after the famous Austin studio was shuttered. The CIC launched an archiving expedition there in 2008, and the people were wonderful. The closure of their studio was a very unfortunate loss, but sometimes ends can be new beginnings!
  • Wing Commander Games on Origin
  • Electronic Arts surprised gamers everywhere by adding the Wing Commander series to its Origin gaming service in June. That had long been the hope of fans when the platform was created several years ago. The games were already available digitally via Good Old Games, but the publicity and ease of access garnered from the EA storefront meant a ton of exposure for the series in front of a new generation of pilots.
  • Another Wingnut Wedding
  • WCNews editor ChrisReid was married in June, and the groom's party was made up entirely of fellow CIC staff members. The event was aerospace themed and held at Seattle's Museum of Flight.
  • Wing Commander in Concert
  • Wing Commander's famous orchestral music finally got its day in front of a huge audience at Austin's July 4 celebration this year! A medley of George Oldziey's WC compositions were performed by the Austin Symphony. Listen to a recording here.

  • Wing Commander at Graduation
  • The July 4 concert wasn't the only major venue where Wing Commander was played! It popped up again in a performance at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology Masters graduation at Stockholm City Hall.

  • Rapier Search & Rescue Locates Fighter
  • One of the long lost Rapiers used in the filming of the Wing Commander Movie resurfaced in July. It's been restored and now features prominently at the Bricket Wood paintball field's gaming scenarios north of London.
  • EA Puts WC3 On The House
  • Electronic Arts topped their Wing Commander releases this summer by giving WC3 away for free for several months. This brought the series massive publicity as EA continued to promote the giveaway across its social media platforms.
  • Ultima Forever's Kilrathi Island Revealed
  • Just before the game shut down, images of the Kilrathi easter egg in Ultima Forever surfaced. They feature a Kilrathi idol and what looks like a crashed Dralthi VII in the jungle. There was no known way to directly access the location, but at least we got a peek!
  • HCl Debuts Online Ship Viewer
  • The editing god himself put together a really neat online tool for checking out the ships featured in Armada, WC3 and WC4. It actually goes way beyond ships: asteroids, space stations and destroyed hulls are included as well. Go searching and then manipulate each object with your mouse!

  • Controversial Wing Commander Projects Sort Of Appear
  • A new Wing Commander movie listing briefly appeared at IMDB. Details that surfaced seemed pretty sketchy before the project was ultimately pulled from the site. Additionally, Piranha Games launched a new space sim project about a month later. As players decried the developers' shift in focus away from MechWarrior Online for the new game, it was also revealed that the company had at one point originally intended it be a Wing Commander title.
  • Wing Commander in Concert - Again!
  • George Oldziey's music got yet another chance to shine in September through a live performance of the Austin Civic Orchestra. Awesome!

  • Ice Buckets Abound
  • Summer 2014 will be forever remembered as that time when people dumped ice water on their head for charity or something. We posted videos from Richard Garriott's family and the official Roberts Space Industries entry with Ben "Bandit (LOAF)" Lesnick and Sandi Gardiner. We originally missed the Star Wars cast going under the ice, so here's your chance to see Mark Hamill now.
  • Prophecy Fan Movie Released
  • Movie-izations of Wing Commanders 3 and 4 have been around for a while, but Prophecy hasn't gotten quite as much attention - until now! This 2.5 hour presentation consolidates the highlights from both cutscenes and game flight into one package.

  • Citizen Con 2014
  • The CIC staff got together again at this year's Citizen Con in Los Angeles. Although the focus at the event was obviously Star Citizen, we also got to meet up with a bunch of awesome longtime readers of WCNews.com!
  • Klavs Releases Model Archive
  • After first creating a slick virtual 3D gallery online, Klavs posted a huge collection of models for fans to use. He's amassed a very comprehensive look at the fleets of Wing Commander all in one place here.
  • Flat Universe Playable
  • The Flat Universe mod provided a steady stream of updates throughout the year, which culminated in a highly anticipated playable alpha test. The team has a ways to go before the game is complete, but they are already incorporating pilot feedback to improve the experience the next time out.
  • Celebrating Anniversaries
  • A couple of products celebrated milestone birthdays this year. The Wing Commander Movie turned 15 in March. Director Chris Roberts actually gets the rights back in 2015, and even though he's busy now, we hope he'll revisit the franchise someday. Wing Commander 3 and Armada also both turned 20 this year. The Heart of the Tiger is often cited as many fans' favorite game in the series, and it's hard to believe two decades have passed.

  • Goodbye Larry Latham
  • The director of the Wing Commander Academy television show, Larry Latham, also passed on this year. He too went before his time, but fans were very appreciative of the help he lended to the community even very recently.

  • WC4 Artifact Preserved
  • When word went out that a set piece from the filming of WC4 was headed to the dump, Wing Commander fans leapt into action to save it! This hull section formed the bottom of the Dragon fighter during the scene where Pliers removes the flashpak. It current sits in the lobby of Cloud Imperium Games Austin to be appreciated by fellow space sim fans.
  • More Space Sims Released
  • The other big crowdfunded space sim, Elite Dangerous, recently reached full release. Reviews have been very positive! Slightly closer to home, Chris Roberts' Arena Commander simulator module achieved full playable version 1.0. Fans can join the CIC Organization over at RSI, which was also newly created in 2014.

  • Orchestral Preview Released
  • And just last week, the first thirty minutes of George Oldziey's live orchestra recordings were released for backers of the project! Additional digital reorchestrations, a behind-the-scenes doc and the final physical CD will all be coming next year.
  • And More!
  • And that doesn't even begin to get into Arraen's strategy mod that was announced at the beginning of the year, suspended due to the war in Ukraine and is now back in work. On the other side of the border, Ginger Tigra is making progress on the Russian translation of WC4. The creator of that huge starship collage came by the CIC to talk WC ships, and the Playstation TV launched with WC4 as a digital download. WC2 got an actual improvement patch, Kilrathi Saga WC1 got a compatibility patch, Standoff & Secret Ops got Mac upgrades and there was even a Doom mod! Whew.
So what does 2015 have in store? If recent history is any indication, there will be even more exciting surprises for sure! Thank you for tuning in to share them with us. When Wing Commander news breaks in the future, you know where to find it!

Nomination Window Closing Soon

Voting will soon begin for the annual CIC Fan Project and Web Site of the Year contests. The staff is currently putting together a short list, but if there is a contribution from this year that you definitely want to see included in the poll, be sure to nominate them before the week is out! Below is a look at winners from recent years. Look here for the complete list of winners and runners up all the way back to 1999.
  Fan Projects of the Year Runners Up
2013 Collected Works of HCl / Klavs' Models Defiant Few
2012 WC Saga Klavs' Models
2011 OpenGL Patch for WCP & Secret Ops TacOps Online & Standoff
2010 Astro Commander's Mini Models DirectDrawHack
2009 Standoff Gemini Gold

  Web Sites of the Year Runners Up
2013 Concordia Hangar Daedalus Station
2012 Pix's Origin Adventures Wing Commander RPG Wiki
2011 Shotglass' WC Saga
2010 Paper Commander Prelude to Darkness
2009 WC Saga Standoff & Paper Commander

Wing Commander Movie Cuts Revisited

One of the bigger news stories of 2014 was Beckmen's movie treatment of Wing Commander Prophecy, combining DVD quality movie clips with recorded gameplay footage into a single, cohesive narrative. It is made in a similar fashion as Queeg's movie cuts of Wing Commander III and IV from several years ago. They are perfect for reliving a large part of the Wing Commander storyline in a relatively short timespan, and without having to break out a computer and joystick. Over the years, Queeg's WC3 cut has amassed a stunning quarter of a million views on YouTube! The CIC's Holovids section has an area dedicated to full-length fan edits where you can either download the video file in the highest available quality, or stream it in your browser.

WC vs History: The Evil "I" - Part Two

The first American ship to bear the name Intrepid was, interestingly enough, also a captured French ship. Instead of a ship of the line however, it was a four-gunned ketch. Built by the French in 1798 and later sold to Tripoli, it was captured by Lt. Stephen Decatur on 23 December 1803. The name Intrepid was to enter naval history on 16 February 1804 when Lt. Stephen Decatur led 60 men aboard the grounded frigate USS Philadelphia in Tripoli and set it ablaze. Admiral Horatio Nelson called the action, "the most bold and daring act of the age." However, her time in American service was to be short-lived. In late August 1804, Intrepid was transformed into a fireship with the loading of 100 barrels of gunpowder and 150 shells. Manned by thirteen men, the ship was sent on its mission early in the evening of 4 September. Its target was the Tripolian fleet moored near the walls. Tragedy struck when the ship exploded before it had been placed into position, killing everyone on board. What happened is unclear.

The next American vessel was an experiment ship. Commissioned in July 1874 as a steam-powered torpedo ram, Intrepid was the world’s first ship armed with self-propelled torpedoes. During her trials, the ship’s design was found to be unsatisfactory in a number of ways. After only three months of service Intrepid was decommissioned in the New York Navy Yard on 30 October 1874. While the original design proved to be a failure the cash-strapped Navy looked for way to put the hull to use. The decision was made to convert her to a light-draft gunboat for service in the Far East. However, soon after work began it slowed down and eventually stopped altogether. The hull sat for years until 1892 when it was sold to a private party and later broken up for scrap.

The third American vessel was steel-hulled bark used for training. Commissioned in 1907, she served out of San Francisco until 1912 when she became a receiving ship. She was eventually decommissioned in 1915 and laid up in ordinary until 1921. Intrepid was converted for commercial service as a dredging ship with the Hawaiian Dredging Company. The ship was later reacquired by the US Navy as a dredging barge during the Second World War and took part in the salvage of the USS Oklahoma. At the end of the war the ship was returned to commercial service but was wrecked off the northern beach of the Columbia River in 1954 while being towed to Portland, Oregon. Her remains are still visible today along the shore.

The final American ship to bear the name Intrepid was an Essex-class carrier built during the Second World War. CV-11, nicknamed the “Fighting I” although many referred to her as the “Dry I” given her often bad luck and time spent in dry dock for repairs.

Intrepid was the third Essex carrier commissioned. Joining the Pacific Fleet in January 1944, Intrepid earned one of the most distinguished service records of the war. Her career began the same month with the invasion of the Marshall Islands where her planes raided Kwajalein atoll. In February, she raided the vaunted Japanese base at Truk as part of Operation Hailstone. After laying waste the Japanese installations there, Intrepid suffered a torpedo hit during a Japanese nighttime raid. She was out of action until June 1944 when she rejoined the fleet following the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Intrepid provided support for the invasion of Peleliu in September 1944. The following month, Intrepid operated as part of Halsey’s Third Fleet during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Her aircraft attacked Admiral Kurita’s Center Force in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea helping sink the battleship Musashi. The next day, 25 October, Intrepid’s planes took part in the Battle of Cape Engano. One of her aircraft put a bomb into the light carrier Zuiho and might have scored a torpedo hit on the last of the Pearl Harbor raiding carriers, Zuikaku.

Less than week later, on 30 October, Intrepid was hit by a kamikaze which briefly knocked out her flight deck. This was the first of several kamikaze strikes the ship suffered over the remainder of the war. In November, two kamikazes struck the carrier within five minutes of each other. She was out of the war for a second time and did not return until March 1945. During the invasion of Okinawa in April, she suffered another kamikaze hit. She returned to the West Coast for repairs. Intrepid returned to war for the last time in August 1945. On 6 August 1945 her planes bombed long since bypassed Wake Island for her final action of the war. She later arrived at Eniwetok where on 15 August she received the stand down order. Her war was over.

Put into mothballs for six years, in 1952 the order went out modernize the ship into an attack carrier. Her designation became CVA-11. Four years later she went in for a second modernization where she received an angled flight deck. For the next six years, Intrepid deployed with the Atlantic and Mediterranean Fleets on multiple occasions.

Twice Intrepid recovered American astronauts. Scott Carpenter, flying Aurora 7 of Project Mercury, was recovered in May 1962. Three years later, the two astronauts of Gemini 3 were recovered. Several months after the recovery, Intrepid went in for last modernization. She rejoined the Fleet in 1966. From April 1966 to February 1969, Intrepid completed three deployments to Vietnam. Following her service there, the ship was home ported in Rhode Island where she participated in several NATO exercise. In 1972 she was decommissioned permanently. For four years she was moored at the Philadelphia Navy Yard where the original intent had been to scrap her. A campaign was launched to turn Intrepid into a museum ship. In August 1982, she was opened as the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on New York City’s Pier 86. She has been a popular destination ever since. In 2006, the ship underwent renovations. During the attempt to remove Intrepid from Pier 86 it was discovered the ship was stuck in 24 years of mud! After a massive dredging operation the ship was pulled free in December 2006. Two years and $60 million worth of renovations made her ready to continue the role as an incredible museum. She returned to her home base at Pier 86 in November 2008.

Intrepid was chosen as the display location for the space shuttle Enterprise in 2011. The space shuttle went on public display in July 2012. Enterprise joined an impressive collection of air and space craft and naval vessels at the museum including the first production of the Lockheed A-12, a TBM Avenger, a British Concorde, a replica of the Mercury Aurora 7 capsule and numerous others.

Retro Review - WC1 on Amiga

AD spotted a rather extensive review of Wing Commander for the Amiga on the Super Adventures in Gaming blog. We've seen quite a few of these retro reviews in recent months, where the author is either coming back to a franchise they grew up with, or they're entirely new to Wing Commander. This review is especially nice because it's richly illustrated, not only with screenshots, but also animated GIFs that capture all aspects of the gameplay experience.
I have a massive amount of nostalgia for this game, and I love the way it looks and sounds. This is an early example of cinematic gaming done right, with the inter-mission intermissions immersing players into the world in a way that TIE Fighter and later space combat games have tended not to focus on, without it getting in the way of the gameplay.
The article also includes a number of visual comparisons of the MS-DOS, SNES, Sega CD and Amiga versions.
Say what you like about the Amiga 500 version, it looks damn good considering that it only has 16 colours on screen, and it seems pretty much the same to the DOS version in gameplay. It's just a shame that if you try running it on an A500 you're going to get a frame rate just one step above 'turn based'. Oh, plus it loads off floppy disks.

WC vs History: The Evil "I"

Two ships bear the name Intrepid in Wing Commander lore. The first, TCS Intrepid, appeared in the novel End Run as one of two escorts for TCS Tarawa on its mission to Kilrah. The second, BWS Intrepid, was our second home during Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom.

Along with the corvette TCS Kagimasha, Intrepid formed the screen around the TCS Tarawa during Operation Back Lash in 2667. Helmed by Captain Grierson, Intrepid was one of the three ships tasked with raiding the Kilrathi home system of Kilrah. As a result of the raid, six carriers under construction, and much of the shipyard on the Klirathi moon Largkza, were destroyed by Marine Commandos landed from Tarawa. After fleeing the Kilrah system by an atomic ruse, the two remaining ships of the strike force made their way to the Baragh system. Here they encountered Prince Thrakhath’s carriers that had been split off from the Home Fleet. Angry with the destruction at Kilrah, but also with the loss of five more carriers during the Battle of Vukar Tag, Thrakhath wanted to insure the destruction of TCS Tarawa and Intrepid. Both ships were damaged following their actions in Kilrah and during the escape. Captain Grierson was committed to the protection of Tarawa and took his destroyer against a Kilrathi cruiser. Both ships were destroyed when they simultaneously launched full torpedo spreads. The Intrepid’s sacrifice kept the Kilrathi off the chase long enough for Tarawa to be rescued by TCS Concordia who had raced from Vukar Tag to help aid the escape.

The second ship to bear the name in the Wing Commander universe will be familiar to all as the carrier which we called home for most of Wing Commander IV. Of all the carriers in Wing Commander, the BWS Intrepid is certainly the most unique. Converted from a Durango-class Heavy Destroyer into a carrier, by essentially opening the deck space for flight operations, Intrepid was far from the sleek lines of the Tiger’s Claw or imposing power of the Concordia. She even made old Tin Can Sally look like a frontline carrier by comparison.

BWS Intrepid played a major role in the Border Worlds Crisis of 2673. Captained by a veteran of the Terran-Kilrathi War, Raul Dominguez, the ship had participated in many of the early actions against Black Lance and Confederation forces. During the crisis, a number of Confederation officers from the TCS Lexington, among them Colonel Christopher Blair and Captain William Eisen, defected to the Border Worlds. The Intrepid was informed of their defection and arrived in the Masa System to collect them, but was pursued by the TCS Achilles, which fired a pair of torpedoes at the vessel. The hull around the crew quarters and bridge were breached, killing two-thirds of the crew, including Captain Dominguez.

The Intrepid survived the attack and command of the vessel was accepted by Captain Eisen. After the devastating attack, a replacement bridge and Combat Information Center were installed in the Auxiliary Control Room. Command later passed on to Colonel Blair when Eisen decided to pursue an internal investigation into the Confederation's military activities. Accommodations were primitive, as the crew had to use what little space was available as makeshift sleeping quarters. However, the vessel, despite its age and technological inferiority, served her purpose well and fought in many major engagements. She hampered enemy activities across the Border Worlds and intervened in the civil war in the Circe System. She was later the first ship to respond to the disaster on Telamon. This led to the discovery of the Black Lance and its base of operations in the Axius system. Intrepid then began an all-out race to Sol against TCS Vesuvius. Eventually corned by the super carrier, Intrepid was only saved by the timely intervention of TCS Mount St. Helens which had been commandeered by Captain Eisen. The Intrepid managed to reach the Sol System and allowed Blair to expose the conspiracy to the Terran government, preventing a war. After the conflict's resolution, the Intrepid was refitted as a training ship for potential pilots with the Terran Confederation, and stationed in the Sol System.

Twelve ships, eight British and four American, have carried the name Intrepid. The first to do so was actually a captured 64-gun third rate French ship in 1747. Renamed after its capture, it remained in service of the Royal Navy until 1765. Five years later, the British built a 64-gun third rate ship and christened it Intrepid. This Intrepid served in the West Indies and North America. During the American Revolution, it was part of the British fleet turned away Battle of the Capes in 1781.

Four additional British ships were named Intrepid over the next century. None really have anything interesting to note save one was used as a blockship during the First World War.

Twenty years later, as tensions rose in Europe, the British laid down an I-class destroyer in 1936 and christened it Intrepid. In a short, but illustrious, career, this ship sank a U-boat (U-45) in October 1939, chased the Bismarck in May 1941, took part in Operation PEDESTAL in August 1942. She was sunk by German aircraft in Leros Harbor on the Aegean Sea on 27 September 1943.

The last British ship to bear the name was a Fearless-class amphibious warfare ship commissioned in 1967. Her career was fairly quiet until the 1982 Falklands War when she had been decommissioned for sale to Argentina. She was put back into commission and was part of the British fleet that was sortied to the islands. The surrender ceremony ending the Falklands War took place on the deck of HMS Intrepid in June 1982.

Next time we'll look at the American ships to bear the name Intrepid!

Cain Family Update & Opportunity to Help

We'd like to share an update about longtime friend of the CIC Billy Joe Cain. Billy was the lead designer on both Wing Commander Prophecy and the long lost SNES port of Wing Commander 2, and he's been donating archival material and supporting Wing Commander fandom for many years. About five years ago, he even engaged EA in a bid to create a new Wing Commander game. The project did not get far, but we really appreciate the devotion to the franchise! His wife, who helped support the Maverick Team at Origin back in the '90s, successfully underwent a complex surgical procedure this week to reduce crippling migraine headaches. The results so far are very promising, but the Cain family is still struggling to pay for the procedure. If you've got a some extra holiday cheer in your pocket and would like to help a family with strong ties to the community, you can help donate to their cause here.
You may not know this, but Jacqueline is a crunch-marriage-survivor warrior.

She gave so much support to me and many Originites over the 6 years I was there. On Wing Commander Prophecy, she was spending over 40 hours a week doing so much behind the scenes to support the team logistically: ordering meals, making grocery store trips, getting specific items to make each person know their work was appreciated, and managing a crew of volunteers NOT in the game industry to help shop for 4-6 grocery carts full of groceries each week and logistically get it all the fricking way out to the office (back then, nothing was near there as you may recall) and then hauling and storing everything everywhere. And too many other things to list.

She and I also made chili, stew, or something in a crock pot for everyone on the Wing team every Thursday night, even though she and I were killing ourselves with hours. She put up with the crunch. She was there for me and everyone when projects were killed. We were married right at the beginning of Prophecy and she put up with that. I am so ashamed of all the overtime. It was devastating to many friendships. Ugh.

I wrote because you were all friends there and you have the opportunity to appreciate what we just had given to us for Christmas - a wonderful, energetic, kind person that hasn't been able to truly participate as back then until today. (As soon as she heals)!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays from everyone at the Wing Commander CIC! Hopefully all of you get a chance to rest, relax and catch up on some Wing Commander action during the holiday season. Thank you for taking the time to share your holidays with us, and a special thank you to Marc for putting together an awesome Christmas treat again!

New Compatibility Patch for Kilrathi Saga WC1

As many of you will be aware, the Kilrathi Saga editions of Wing Commander 1/2/3 were supposed to make the games get along with Windows 95, but there is a host of issues when you try to get them going on more recent versions of Windows. Forums member Stinger has set out to create a patch that solves most or all of these problems. The 'wcdx' patch replaces the game's DirectDraw API calls with Direct3D equivalents, which brings a number of improvements/fixes to systems running Windows Vista or newer: the game no longer breaks the color palette, it always uses the proper 4:3 aspect ratio, and it can run in windowed mode. In addition, the game no longer requires compatibility mode or administrative privileges to run, and it fixes a music bug that could cause the victory theme to play over and over again. Visit the Forums for a detailed list of fixes.

Stinger's patch only works with the Kilrathi Saga edition of Wing Commander 1, and the Secret Missions add-on pack (freely available) must be installed. You can get the latest executable binary from the Forums thread, and the source code is available on GitHub. Here are the installation instructions:

  1. Install the game. You can use the installer from the CD if you wish, but my preferred method is to simply take the WC1 folder and copy it somewhere. If you use the installer, be sure to go back and copy the streams directory afterward. This will allow you to run the game without the CD, and (more importantly) is required in order for the music patch to work.
  2. Install the Secret Missions add-on pack. Once again, you can use the included installer, or you can simply copy the files over. If you choose to do it manually, note that every file that isn't an executable (.exe) belongs in the gamedat directory.
  3. Copy wcdx.dll, wcpatch.exe, and patchmusic.exe into the directory containing Wing1.exe.
  4. Open a command prompt and run this command: wcpatch Wing1.exe Wing1_wcdx.exe
  5. Run this other command: patchmusic streams\mission.str
  6. Try it out! Double-click on Wing1_wcdx to start the game. If everything works the way you expect it to, you can delete your old Wing1.exe and rename Wing1_wcdx back to Wing1.

Star Citizen's Arena Commander Hits 1.0

Another milestone for Chris Roberts and the Cloud Imperium team: Arena Commander, the space combat simulator module for Star Citizen has reached 1.0 status. Everyone that backed the game's funding campaign can download the simulator and try a variety of single or multiplayer game modes. Version 1.0 includes a slew of new features and enhancements: several new fighter craft, new guns and missile racks, an in-cockpit user interface (the HUD), and a new game lobby for meeting up with other players. Find out more on the RSI website, or in the Wing Commander-style game manual. Meanwhile, the month of November added another $6 million in funding, for a total of $67 million from some 700,000 backers.

Arena Commander 1.0 is here! Today’s release marks the most significant update to Arena Commander yet, adding both the long-awaited lobby system and more than tripling the number of flyable ships. Every variant of the Aurora, Mustang, 300 and Hornet are now flyable, as are the base models of the Cutlass and the Avenger. If you’ve been waiting to fly one of Star Citizen’s single-seaters, there’s a good chance your ship has come in today!

Arena Commander 1.0 adds a host of new ship upgrades as well as significant enhancements to many of the game’s systems. Included for the first time are a ship signature system, a thruster power system, and a lateral g-force system. It contains the first iteration of the game’s lobby and we have launched a friends system in the game and on the RSI site to help you connect. Audio and visual effects have been updated throughout the game, with new animations, new textures, new cameras and more. You can find the complete list of changes, which range from the major updates below to dozens of game balancing changes and technical fixes, in the patch notes.

As you know, the team has been working very hard to release Arena Commander today and we’re especially excited to publish this patch before our Holiday break. We would have ideally liked another 4-5 days of internal stress testing and polish but with everyone looking forward to some well-earned time off I didn’t want to eat into people’s break. That said, being cognizant of the fact that the upcoming holidays are a time when everyone (myself included) looks forward to playing their favorite games we wanted to make sure that we released Arena Commander 1.0 for all our backers to enjoy over the holidays. With that in mind, I’ve opted to push today’s build of Arena Commander 1.0 to all of our backers today. So please, enjoy this significant update, give us your feedback, and we’ll come back in the New Year ready to continue polishing Arena Commander and developing the BDSSE!

I would like to stress that today’s release of Arena Commander 1.0 is a beginning, not an ending. This milestone does not denote the completion of Arena Commander, it kicks off an even more significant phase of its development. With this update, we’ve added a significant number of ships, items, missiles, and systems which means more interconnected systems, more servers to stress and more bugs to squash. These future changes won’t be limited to fixing technical glitches and balance issues.

Some elements, like the initial Avenger and Cutlass, will be converted to the new modular ship component system, but we wanted long-waiting owners to get an early look at their ships. So I encourage you to experience everything we’ve added to Arena Commander 1.0, but also to know that much, much more is in the works!

And that is where you come in! With this update, there’s a lot more for the community to help us test. So get on the forums and share your feedback and let us know your thoughts, criticisms, and ideas on everything that we’ve added. Every experience you report today, positive or negative, will help us make a better game tomorrow and come January 2nd, we will go back to work making Arena Commander even better.

Thank you for your continued support, and I sincerely hope you enjoy Arena Commander 1.0. I think that it’s a great indication of where we’re going with the Star Citizen experience. I’d like to close by saying Happy Holidays to backers everywhere. I wish you all the joy in the world and look forward to continuing our journey in the coming year.

- Chris Roberts

Wing Commander Album Orchestral Pieces Released!

Check your e-mail inbox if you backed George Oldziey's live orchestra Wing Commander album on Kickstarter or FundRazr, because the orchestral pieces are now available for download! There are ten high quality tracks (48kHz 24 bit masters!) for a total run time of about 32 minutes. The remaining (digitally sampled) tracks and the physical album are due out early next year. We also have a behind-the-scenes documentary to look forward to, and you can check out several preview videos here, here and here. If you're in need of album art for your music organizer software, you can use the one that Mike Joffe put together with Klav's Hornet.

A couple of thoughts on the process. These musicians were wonderful, and very motivated to do the best they could. They particularly had to rise to the occasion on the gameplay music from Wing Commander 3, which turned out to be MUCH more demanding than WC4 or Prophecy music. You probably recall that the technology used back then to generate the gameplay music was very limited in terms of polyphony (in this case, how many notes could be played at once). Chris Roberts wanted that orchestral sound of course, so I had certain patches playing a lot more notes than I'd otherwise make live musicians play, as well as play in ranges that were challenging. I tried to keep as accurate to the original compositions as possible, which of course put a lot of strain on the french horns and strings, but I think they did a magnificent job.

Here is a list of the tracks... There are two tracks from the movie portions of the games. There is of course the 9 minute Suite, which features music from the intros to both WC 3 and 4. There is also the winning endgame from WC4 where Tolwyn has his meltdown in the senate chamber and culminating in Col. Blair flying off into the "sunset".

WC 3 gameplay music features three mission pieces; "Strike", "Behemoth" and "Defend". WC 4 gameplay music features two mission pieces "Borderworlds" and "Mission 4" (not sure what the final title of that was, but I found it in my files as mission 4!). There is also a WC4 battle medley. Music from Prophecy features "Mission to Alien Space" and "Intense combat".

You'll notice that for some of the shorter gameplay pieces they loop at least once before fading. I'm sure all you clever gamers out there can figure out good loop points if you want to try to hack them into a game!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the digitally sampled pieces and CD will be available early 2015. This process took a bit longer than I anticipated, but I'll complete my mission before too long!

Once again, a TRULY heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support. Being in that recording booth and hearing all this music played by an orchestra for the first time was one of the biggest highlights of my career! Maybe we can do "Volume 2" in the not too distant future!

I hope all of you have a blessed and happy holiday season!

Musically yours,

George

Last Chance for Amiga Music Album

In 2011, Maz Sound released Immortal 4, a two disc album with Amiga videogame music. The album has a runtime of 158 minutes and contains 35 familiar videogame tunes, all of them beautifully remastered. The final track is a recording of a Wing Commander song, performed live by none other than Team FAT. Maz Sound has announced that they are shutting down their shop on December 28, so this is your last chance to pick up a copy.
Amiga videogame music 20 years later: Songs newly interpreted by original authors

The Double-CD Immortal 4 is the 4th strike of the popular Immortal series. Once again producer Jan Zottmann managed to gather the celebrities of the golden homecomputer age of the Commodore Amiga and to let them re-arrange the unforgettable music of legendary computer games using all the latest studio technology. The catchy melodies once played by a handful of 8 bit samples now experience their rebirth in a colorful mixture ranging from a complete rock band to the fully-fletched synthesizer-setup.

The two filled-to-the-brim CDs of Immortal 4 feature no less than 35 newly arranged songs (about 158 minutes) of Amiga videogame music. Most of them have been created by their original authors - trademark of the Immortal series. We couldn't even stop them to play live-instruments, you'll become earwitness when Al Lowe himself (Leisure Suit Larry) is playing the saxophone, Jon Hare (Cannon Fodder) being back at the microphone and Dave Govett (Wing Commander) hitting the drums.

Numerous classics have been rearranged, such as Lemmings (Tim Wright), Turrican 2 (Chris H�lsbeck), Flashback (Jean Baudlot), Gauntlet 3 (Tim Follin), F17 Challenge (Nicola Tomljanovich) and many more. Exclusive new versions were contributed by well-known demoscene musicians, such as Romeo Knight (at the guitar too) and Jogeir Liljedahl.

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

17. Wing Commander (2:52)
Composed by Dave Govett - Performed by The Fat Man & Team Fat at the CES
Guitars by George Sanger & Joe McDermott - Bass by Kevin Phelan - Drums by Dave Govett

Call For Annual Award Nominees

Another year is quickly coming to a close, so that means there's a few annual holiday traditions that are upon us. The sixteenth annual Wing Commander Web Site & Fan Project of the Year awards will kick off soon, and it's time to start thinking about the undertakings that impressed you this year. The CIC doesn't rely on original content to keep the news page full - it's the daily activities of thousands of fellow Wingnuts that keeps everything going. In order to bring attention to and help recognize some of these working fans, we vote on the people and places who've done a lot for Wing Commander over the past year. Send your nominations to news@wcnews.com. They'll be collected and voting will begin shortly. To help give you some ideas, here's a summary of all the prior winners.
  Fan Projects of the Year Runners Up
2013 Collected Works of HCl / Klavs' Models Defiant Few
2012 WC Saga Klavs' Models
2011 OpenGL Patch for WCP & Secret Ops TacOps Online & Standoff
2010 Astro Commander's Mini Models DirectDrawHack
2009 Standoff Gemini Gold
2008 Ascii Sector Flight Commander
2007 Standoff & WC Saga Ascii Sector
2006 WC4 Homeworld 2 Mod Das Erwachen
2005 Standoff Privateer Gemini Gold
2004 Standoff WC Saga
2003 Standoff & WC Saga Holding the Line & Vega Strike
2002 Unknown Enemy Kilrathi Empire & WC Saga BS
2001 Unknown Enemy Holding the Line & Vega Strike

  Web Sites of the Year Runners Up
2013 Concordia Hangar Daedalus Station
2012 Pix's Origin Adventures Wing Commander RPG Wiki
2011 Shotglass' WC Saga
2010 Paper Commander Prelude to Darkness
2009 WC Saga Standoff & Paper Commander
2008 Paper Commander Standoff & WC Saga
2007 HCl's Wing Commander Editing Site Pericles' Paper Inside
2006 HCl's Wing Commander Editing Site Wedge's Wing Commander
2005 WC Saga Fleet Tactics
2004 Fleet Tactics Wedge's Wing Commander
2003 Wing Commander in Russia WC3D & Wedge's Wing Commander
2002 Wing Commander in Russia BlackLance HQ & WingCenter
2001 Wing Commander in Russia Acenet Central
2000 Acenet Central Wing Commander in Russia
1999 Wing Commander in Russia Acenet Central & HCl's WC Editing Site

Santa Clause Strikes The Border Worlds' Top Mechanic

A lot of people enjoyed the Pliers clip we posted earlier this week along with the Dragon hull salvage. This begged the question... what's he up to now? These days Richard Riehle is starring as Santa Claus in the Dean Cain holiday movie The Three Dogateers. Check him out below!
When they are left on their own a few days before Christmas, three white little fur balls get their paws into a world of trouble. A couple of no-good burglars have made off with all of the family's presents and decorations, and it's time for the Three Dogateers to unite! The always-hungry Barkos, the pampered purebred Wagos and the adventure-loving Arfamis set off on a journey to sniff out the bad guys. But with the world's meanest dogcatcher hot on their tails, they may need a little help from Santa Claus himself to save Christmas!

The Gemini Sector Certainly Had Space Ships

World of Space Ships has posted a new chapter on their retrospective road to Star Citizen. The focus this time is Wing Commander Privateer. The most significant link between the two may be Erin Roberts who is also driving the story portions of Star Citizen now as well. WoSS isn't a fan of Priv's space combat engine, but they don't specifically describe what hasn't aged well. They do like the overall blend of open universe and storyline missions, and the author acknowledges that this is a good template to expect for the future. Strike Commander also gets a nod for its similarities and groundbreaking place as an Origin sim. Towards the end they dock Privateer 2 some points for not being helmed by Chris Roberts, but they leave out the part where it too was actually produced by his brother Erin in the UK - a model good enough to duplicate with Star Citizen! You can check out the full article here.

Sketch-a-Day Results Celebrate Wing Commander

Wingnuts make a lot of great digital art, but sometimes it's nice to step back and appreciate pictures drawn by hand. NinjaLA has put together two scenes of early Wing Commander fighters for your enjoyment. The Kilrathi collage is dominated by Ninja's popular Dralthi design. It's flying with a Gratha, Salthi and Krant escort. On the Confed page is a slightly more diverse lineup. Clockwise from the top left are a Scimitar, Hornet, Raptor, Rapier I and Broadsword. They seem to be struggling to hold formation, but that's how furballs go!
Some ‘o these designs ought to be familiar-ish to my Wing Commander people.

Saving a Dragon!

Way back in 1998, I was invited to take a tour of Origin Systems. I was a senior in High School, and was visiting Austin to tour the University of Texas… of course, what I really cared about was Wing Commander (and that hasn’t changed much!) Our WCNews.com PR contact, Mike “Boomer” McCoy, arranged for me to get a tour and to have lunch with the team. This was shortly after Wing Commander Prophecy Gold had shipped and the team was working on design concepts (little did I know, mere days before my visit their proposal for a co-op multiplayer game called Wing Commander Strike Team had been cancelled).


I won’t bore anyone with details of that tour (I’ve probably told that story enough times!) but I will mention that part of the tour involved a walk down to Origin’s basement. Stored downstairs were a number of arcade machines and a pile of seemingly random Origin props (a ruined Thrakhath head, some Crusader bits and bobs, old flight suits and the like.) The largest of these was what seemed to be the wall of a spaceship or a space station: a big wooden section with a window in the center.

At the time, I assumed it was a set piece from one of the Crusader games. It made logical sense to me: those were shot in Austin rather than Los Angeles, so it was far more likely that a wall segment had survived. And besides, it didn’t really look like anything I remember from Wing Commander!


Two years passed. In 2000, my (then new) friend Joe Garrity had his own tour of Origin… where he snapped his photo next to the same wall segment. After his visit, he sent me the picture with the question: what is this from? His tour guide had told him it was from Wing Commander, though he’d also assumed it was a Crusader prop. He had watched through all the Crusader videos (I’m sorry) and hadn’t come across anything like it. Was it a WC prop, or something totally unrelated?


I put my thinking cap on and ran through Wing Commander IV in my head. It felt like a Wing prop, but the windows and the exposed superstructure didn’t match anything in the game I could recall. And then in a flash of what I will maintain is brilliance, I figured it out: it wasn’t a WALL at all… it was the inside top of a Lance (Dragon) fighter! It was from the scene where Pliers reaches up into the ship and discovers the flashpak. What was hanging on the wall at Origin was actually the bottom of a spaceship, looking down! I was suddenly jealous I didn’t get a picture with it… although Joe thought I was a genius for realizing what it was! (Scroll to 2:10)

Origin closed in 2004, and I think we all assumed it was thrown out along with anything else they didn’t want to ship to California (after all, what use could anyone have for a giant wooden spaceship hull slat?)


Flash forward another decade. I get a notification on my phone that there’s a new post to the exOrigin Facebook group (sorry, invite only.) There it is: a photo of the same set piece! It turns out a former employee had rescued it from being thrown out and had been using it to hold an entertainment center in the ensuing years. Now, he said, it had to go. Anyone who could haul it away was welcome too it.


I immediately replied that if he couldn’t find a home for it in Austin, I’d gladly have it shipped somewhere. That was beyond my financial means (it’s a really big prop!) but I figured I could work it out somehow. Maybe Chris would want it for the office! A conversation on the exOrigin user group ensued and several solutions were offered… including one person who said they wanted it for their charity haunted house. I figured I wouldn’t stand in the way of it going to charity, so didn’t follow up.

A week or so went by and I awoke to another update: it had not been claimed and was going to be thrown away at 5 PM today if it couldn’t find a new home! I knew I had to save it, but I had no idea how. I no longer lived in Austin and couldn’t just go and get it. Luckily, I knew a Star Citizen backer with a truck in town. After a crazed morning of trying to contact him while in the weekly Star Citizen Leads meeting (at one point missing a question about ship specs the UK guys were asking me!) I arranged to have him pick it up. An hour later, it was in the back of his truck (where it barely fit.)


He took it out to the CIG office in Bee Cave, where half the team stopped what they were doing and helped carry it up the stairs. It now sits in reception.


Ship butt PRESERVED!

Elite Pilot Takes Cockpit Design to the Next Level

Elite Dangerous is set for release this Tuesday, December 16, and Tyrranus spotted the video of an awesome way to play! The pilot below has three 3D projector screens arranged to form an immersive digital cockpit. He's also got a super slick custom touchpad setup, voice controls, top notch HOTAS controls and more. CNET has more info about his setup here. It gives everyone a good idea of what they'd need to get for a new Wing Commander game, right?
The setup also includes a custom touch interface dashboard, comprising three Treckstor Ventos 10.1 SurfTabs, running on Roccat Power-Grid software; voice commands available using VoiceAttack software; head tracking and gesture control using TrackIR and Leap Motion respectively; a Saitek X52 Pro HOTAS joystick and Logitech G19 keyboard; a Crossfire2x Sapphire RADEON R9 290 Tri -X OC video card with AMD Eyefinity, resolution 5,760x1,080; and sound via a Logitech Z-5500 5.1 surround system.

Goodbye, Larry Latham

LeHah has conveyed some unfortunate news, Wing Commander Academy producer and director Larry Latham passed away last month. I'll let LeHah expand:
Bearer of bad news, Wingnuts. One of the best of our best has passed on.

Larry Latham was the producer on Wing Commander Academy, the 1996 cartoon series on USA Network that I'm sure we're all familiar with. Despite working a lifetime in animation it was one of his few Producer credits.

I hate to say that despite my own long interest in animation and passing knowledge in Larry's main credits (he won an Emmy for his work on Disney's Talespin), this post isn't about his work but the man himself, a man that I got to know very briefly over the last few years.

BanditLOAF had asked me to track down Larry in anyway I could, in an effort to archive anything from WCATV he might have. Remembering that a lot of the crew on the show originally came from Universal Cartoon series ExoSquad, this gave me a perfect excuse to start talking to Will Meugniot who forwarded me on to Larry. Originally, I got the feeling that Larry was a little confused why anyone was asking about a show that lasted 13 episodes for one year, but he was very welcoming and humorous in his exchanges. I sat down at my work computer one day to find he had added me on Facebook and left a wallpost...

"Justin, Will told me you were looking for stuff on the Wing Commander Acadamy show. I produced and directed it. I'll be glad to share whatever I know or have with you, just let me know."

We had many brisk exchanges (much of it not about Wing Commander, but don't tell anyone that) and he was a very pleasant, very knowing person. He was very happy to divulge production secrets and brief glimpses into the production process of the show. He understood I was a fan and was part of a group who wanted to help keep his work remembered; he seemed very flattered by the idea that someone wanted to give him a legacy of sorts.

A few months after our first exchange, he started responding less and soon revealed a cancer prognosis. You can all tell where this story is heading already...

His originally quick replies in email and twitter started to peter out, but he still took the time to reply occasionally. After claiming immense frustration with a personal project on a Facebook status, he left a comment "Damn it Justin, you're already a writer! Do the work!" which meant the world to me (and was the kick in the ass I needed).

As time went on, he updated occasionally - struggling with the prognosis but slowly winning - and still drawing his webcomic "Lovecraft Is Missing". His lack of communication became commonplace, and so his passing was a quiet one. Weeks of not updating turned to months... and then stories on his Facebook from former students and coworkers filtered in. Larry passed on November 2, but I and many others didn't know until after Thanksgiving. I get the feeling he wanted to be remembered by people who knew him instead of it being a "public event".

Larry was the captain of a ship that added to the greater WC canon and he even defended the product from some people who wanted to turn it into a cheap cash-grab. He gave us a lot with those thirteen episodes (along with Adam Foshko as a creative producer) but more importantly - he was a really good guy and a good friend for the three years I knew him.

His obituary (which was the first news most of us got) - here

The announcement from his wife on his webcomic - here

I never got a chance to interact with Mr. Latham myself, but by all accounts, he was a genuine fellow with a passion for working with students to teach the creative arts. Few people are aware, but he actually did the Wing Commander community a big favor several years ago when VEI was developing Wing Commander Academy on DVD. Universal's source tape of the episode "On Both Your Houses" was missing about ten second of footage. LOAF was able to connect the two, and Larry graciously donated his personal copy of the original episode so that the series could be released whole. You can find the CIC's Academy section here. It includes the series bible, draft scripts, crew bios and more. Please take a moment to keep Mr. Latham in your thoughts as you peruse the material.

GOG Winter Sale Slashes Wing Commander Prices Again

It seems like GOG was just in the middle of its Fall Sale, but now their holiday-accelerated Winter Sale is coming to a close. They're going out with a bang, and Wing Commander is once again marked down by 80% for this weekend. This means all DOS and Windows Wing Commander games are available for under $10! This even includes expansion packs and bonus materials such as the official guides in PDF form or DVD quality videos in WC4. The series also makes a great gift! There's enough Wing Commander here to keep anyone busy for a few quite a while.

Prinze Talks Wing Commander

Wing Commander actor Freddie Prinze Jr. was recently interviewed on the Full of Sith Star Wars podcast. Prinze mostly talks about his early exposure to Star Wars and his recent voice work for Star Wars: Rebels, but around the 23:30 mark the topic shifts to the Wing Commander movie. They mention the Phantom Menace cross-promotion and making friends on set, but Prinze also blames production issues for the movie not living up to its potential. Check it out here.
Freddie Prinze, Kanan from Star Wars: Rebels joins the Full of Sith crew to discuss a variety of topics. From his earliest exposures to Star Wars, hints about the future of Rebels and his relationship with Mark Hamill to the difference between Dave Filoni and Vince McMahon, we cover it all.

Anticipation Builds As Orchestral Album Approaches

Composer George Oldziey is back with another big update on his mission to record a live album of Wing Commander music. Mixing the tracks is coming along well, and the target is to get a preview of the Bratislava portion out to backers this month. Work on the additional digital reorchestrations and the physical album CD will continue into 2015 a bit. George has also put together another awesome preview video. A larger behind-the-scenes documentary will also be available next year!
Busy creating final mixes of orchestra music!

Greetings all! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Just to keep you updated; I'm about half way through mixing the orchestral versions of the Wing Commander compositions that will be available for all of you (30 minutes plus). My plan is to have the digital downloads of these works ready this month before Christmas. They will be available in both the original, hi res 48 kHz 24 bit masters as well as 44.1 kHz 16 bit CD quality versions. The physical product as well the sample-based additional 15 minutes of music will be ready early in 2015.

I'm extremely pleased with the results of the sessions, and am having a WONDERFUL time listening to the results during the mixing process! It is my fervent wish that you will all share my enthusiasm once you get to hear them!

In the mean time, I've attached a short video that I recently, and quickly made of the process. This was done for a recent faculty show and tell type of event for the institution where I currently teach. It is not the official "making of" video, which BTW will also be available when the CD is ready, and will most likely be included on the CD. This is just a little taste of what's to come.

Yours truly,

George

World of Wing Commander in the Spotlight

World of Space Ships has put together a history piece on Chris Roberts' road to Star Citizen. They passed over his early days starting with game coding on BBC Micro computers through Bad Blood at Origin and jumped right to the first Wing Commander. Each of Mr. Roberts' main installments is briefly profiled. I'd agree with them that the best action in the series might be in some of the earlier games, but calling out WC4's gameplay as "atrophied" seems a bit off. "Overshadowed" would probably be a more accurate description due to its focus on big budget cutscenes. The Price of Freedom was certainly knocked for going solely with invisible cockpits (which were quite popular in Armada and WC3), but there were otherwise no reduction in spaceflight quality. It's true there weren't any big new innovations, but dynamic mission goals, branching star system choices, new ships & special weapons, greater infrastructure items like space stations and multi flight wings were all added in despite the game's one year development cycle. They're definitely right that the Cloud Imperium team has budget and time on their side for CR's next space sim outing though! Check out the full article here.

Privateer MIDIs Rerecorded With Top Roland Hardware

C75 doesn't play Wing Commander games, but he loves video game audio! After carefully going through each of the tracks in Privateer, he's put together a treat for fellow fans. The original MIDIs have been run through a fancy SC-55 and the gorgeous audio output has been captured in lossless flac files. You can listen to a preview via the embedded YouTube below, but I highly recommend grabbing the full zip (248 megs). It includes 23 of the Gemini Sector's best tunes - nearly a full hour! There's background music for the various bases as well as different tracks for things like space combat. One of my favorites is the launch into space. If this has put you in the mood for more, check out the music in the CIC archives here.
Tracks were converted with SC-55 soundbank, mostly, to wav. I spent lots of time to listen and adjust each track to convert it to its eternal glory. Now I have it in lossless format, FLAC, 44.1 kHz, 16 bit, (youtube) audio has AC LC 448 kbps. Have a nice day.

Happy Birthday Wing Commander 3!

Today is the twentieth anniversary of Wing Commander 3's ship date! The logistics of high profile game releases were not as advanced as they are today, which meant there were few overnight shipments and zero midnight digital preload unlocks. But the game steadily made its way to stores, and ravenous fans bought them up in droves. Summer 1994's release of Wing Commander Armada forewarned fans that they would need to upgrade their machines with CD-ROMs and more RAM, and the gaming press was in awe of the big budget, SVGA 3D spaceflight engine and all star cast. The game even garnered PC Gamer's highest score in history until it was later surpassed by Half Life and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. It would also surpass Strike Commander to become Electronic Arts' top selling PC Game of all time until The Sims was released. Looking back at 640x480 screenshots with just 256 colors, it can be hard to imagine, but those of us who lived through the WC3 launch were shocked at how real everything looked. It was a huge leap from the animated style of previous Wing Commander games in more ways than just the live actor FMVs. The game flow scenes aboard the victory were considered practically photorealistic. Players who previously steered clear of capships to avoid accidentally clipping the hit sphere were treated to glorious fly-through hangar bays. Terms like "interactive movie" got a bit of bad rap due to the poor quality of other '90s attempts to film actors for video games, but Wing Commander 3 (and later 4) really nailed it. And as much as the Hobbes defection and Angel's death seriously bummed everyone out, finally eliminating Thrakhath and the Kilrathi homeworld are amazing emotional high points of the series. As crazy as twenty years is, what almost shocks me more today is that it's been ten years since I wrote this post commemorating the game's tenth birthday. As vividly as I can remember first playing WC3 when it was brand new, the year 1994 seems like a long time ago - practically prehistoric compared with today's modern cloud storage, 4K TVs and supercomputer phablets - but I remember writing that tenth birthday post in 2004 just like it was yesterday. Where has all the time gone?! At least it was neat to see EA remember and commemorate the game this year. If all this talk has got you in a Heart of the Tiger mood, check out our WC3 Day festivities from a while back for tons of cool behind-the-scenes material.

That's No Moon! It's Flat Universe's New Space Station

Maslas has posted several new images that reveal the Caernarvon type structure in Wing Commander Flat Universe. In this case, the base is Deadalus Station, which is the outpost popularized at the WCFU website and in its fiction. Be sure to check out the playable Alpha test if you'd like to get a sneak preview of the game in action. The project has also been nominated for an "Indie Game of the Year" award at IndieDB, so head over and help them out by casting a vote if you like what you see!
Wing Commander: Flat Universe is a free fan top down space combat simulator based on the world of the famous Wing Commander Series created by Chris Roberts and Origin. The game is still in Alpha phase and its development is progressing on a regular basis. The game will be released and given to the public on stages. The project development will continue by the MaslasBros until most of the following goals are fulfilled:
  • Cross platform support (Windows, Mac and Linux).
  • Single Player Campaing mode.
  • Multiplayer mode (both LAN and OnLine).
  • Mission Editor for both single and multiplayer modes.
  • A wide range of warbirds from all factions (Confed, Border World, Kilrathi, Black Lance).
  • Numerous weapons. From basic laser blasters to mace nuclear missiles.
  • Addictive gameplay that will blow you away. Including shields, capacitors, power management, damage modeling.
  • Spectacular 3d graphics. With more than 20 impressive systems to travel to.

King's Quest Returns in 2015

Some good news for classic gamers was announced at this week's Game Awards show. Sierra's King's Quest franchise will return next year with a brand new installment in the series made by The Odd Gentlemen. These games were powerhouses in the '80s and '90s, but - much like Wing Commander - the last significant boxed retail release came out in 1998. Also just like WC, there have been no less than five attempts to create a major sequel. Rumors about a new title have been going hand in hand with the reappearance of the Sierra name, and it's good to see that things appear to be actually coming together well. And while this is all a good precedent for Wing Commander fans, it'd also be pretty darn cool for a new Space Quest to appear one of these days...
Developed by The Odd Gentlemen, the new King’s Quest™ reimagines all the charm, humor, puzzles, exploration and sense of wonder that made the franchise so magical when it first arrived thirty years ago. Old and grey, King Graham – the hero made legend in the original King’s Quest games – shares the extraordinary stories of his youth with his curious granddaughter, Gwendolyn, taking players back to the feats that shaped a kingdom.

Orion Launch Successful!

Today was another very successful launch to cap off an exciting year in space exploration. In case you missed these images in your internet travels, here's another chance to see what went down (after first going up). Check out those marvelous rocket flames! The Orion capsule made it out to a 3,600 mile orbit in the first test of what will eventually be a long-range system for deep space exploration. After an unrelated launch pad mishap in October, it was great to see the today's mission performed pretty much flawlessly. The flight tested take off, basic control systems, high speed re-entry and splashdown, among other things. Before traveling to Mars and beyond, NASA plans to use the ship to rendezvous with an asteroid towed to lunar orbit. If you still haven't had enough Orion imagery, here's a few bonus Wing Commander shots! The first is a six-view rendered by Red Baron using authentic Origin assets. The second is an ad from Destiny's Way, the in-universe magazine of Wing Commander Flat Universe.

Space Game Tropes All Rounded Up

Space Game Junkie recently recorded a new podcast about "The Tropiest of Space Game Tropes." Wing Commander is guilty of reusing quite a few well known sci-fi conceits - none perhaps as common as the duplicitous traitor. Jazz, Hobbes, Admiral Wilson, Admiral Tolwyn, Prime Minister Jamison and Ortiz come to mind, just to name a few. If you'd rather jump to this and other focused WC topics in the discussion, scroll over to about the 44:30 timestamp, otherwise the entire two-hour broadcast is worth a listen if you have the time. SGJ has been pretty prolific in the space sim podcast arena with a total of 85 recordings in less than two years. If you'd like to hear more, good episodes to start with are the interview with Chris Roberts and a conversation with capi of the WC RPG.
Welcome, my friends, to this episode of the Space Game Junkie Podcast (also happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Americans! ;)! This week, Jim and I talk about a few things, such as a small glut of space games hitting Steam, the (at the time upcoming, currently ongoing) Steam Fall sale, and our main topic of the week, space game tropes! Tropes like: Why are pirates always like a biker gang? Why do they call big fighters, “bombers”? How come YOU always have to be in charge of the damned wing? That sort of thing. It made for a fun conversation, I’d like to think. ;)

WC RPG Wrapping Up Fan Sourcing Effort

This can be a busy time of year with holiday preparations and impacts from the weather, but Capi has still been actively building the Kilrathi expansion to his Wing Commander RPG. Over the past month, work on importing fan fiction elements from WC Saga and the WC Aces Club has been nearly completed. If there are any other authors of classic WC fan fiction work out there, feel free to contact Capi if you'd like to include your material. Importing things like ship designs from other fans has helped streamline the creation of this new campaign. Efforts now shift towards rounding out the rogue Kilrathi characters and finalizing faction descriptions. If you're new to the RPG, there's no need to wait for the upcoming Elegy of Sivar module. The core rules and expansions are already available in the CIC archives!

This Heavy Fighter's a Forward Striker

ScoobyDoo has recreated another prominent Privateer 2 fighter, the Ashearer. If you're not up on your Tri-System ship identification, this bird was the star of the Papogod Clan arsenal. Its weapons loadout was top notch and enabled the craft to go head-to-head with virtually any craft in space. Scooby's take gives the fighter fancier wingtips and significantly beefier engines. The funky doughnut hole in the center has also been plugged.
The Valkyrie, which was based on my original Valkyrie, which itself was based on the Ashearer

DVD Reviewer Takes A Look At Academy

Vermin tipped us off about a video review of the Wing Commander Academy series on DVD. Zaranyzerak is new to me, but it looks like he's got a cult following in the videophile community. He shares quite a bit of information about the set and praises it for its epic story arc and faithful attention to the series' backstory. Playthroughs of video games have gotten really popular on services like YouTube and Twitch lately, but you still don't see nearly as much attention to the peripheral elements of the franchise like this. Academy is an underappreciated gem, so really we're glad to see it on stage here (despite the hilarious typo in the name). The set is also still on sale at Amazon for a whopping $8, so if you're not an owner yet, don't miss out!
Update: Zaranyzerak stopped by the CIC Forums to explain the "Wind Commander" title. As a purveyor of obscure headline in-jokes myself, I can appreciate the effort!
As for the title, it's actually very deliberate. When I do update videos like this, I like to keep my latest acquisitions a bit of a surprise, so the titles are often a play on words relating to the titles I'm talking about. In this case it was "Wing Commander Academy" and "When the Wind Blows" So I thought "Wind Commander" was a fun little mix of the two. And of course it baffled everyone....oh well!

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