Sivar's Hand Fiction and Fiction Viewer Make Headway

Story progression has been at the forefront of Sivar's Hand development these past couple weeks. Aginor has sent several chapters on for editing, and he's getting deep into some of the more dramatic twists now. On a related note, Luke is also improving his fiction viewer that helps integrate the adventure into the game. The new updates will allow players to select how fonts display for a better viewing experience.

WC RPG Makes Kilrathi Expansion Progress & Launches Art Campaign

Despite spring back falling right in the middle, March has been a big month for the Wing Commander RPG Wiki. The first half was largely about setting up the adventure pages for the different acts in the Elegy of Sivar campaign. This was important as it allows capi to plug in individual missions at will now. He also made a slick translation of the module's title into Kilrathi. On top of developing the faction reputation system for the game, the second half of the month was heavily devoted to setting up the game's Kickstarter campaign. The crowdfunding project that he's launched isn't directly intended to assist with the RPG itself. Rather, it's a collaboration with famous Origin artist Denis Loubet to create some amazing cover art for the game. Whether or not you intend to ever role play, getting one of the original Wing Commander artists to build a brand new creation in 2015 is certainly something we can get behind! You can find out more project details and contribute here.
An Elegy for Sivar, also known as "Elegy" for short, is the latest WCRPG module currently under development. It is intended to be the WCRPG system's first full-fledged campaign setting, set in the year 2680 in a region of space known as Epsilon Sector. In addition to the campaign setting, a pre-published full-sized campaign will be included. The campaign tells the story of Krahtagh "Bloodeye" N'Ryllis, a Kilrathi pirate whose demise is chronicled in the documentation of Wing Commander: Prophecy. The main plot-line of the campaign will chronicle the activities of N'Ryllis's group, the Demon's Eye Pack, as they attempt to re-build Kilrathi society. The main campaign will has a total of 44 individual adventures planned, though it is structured such that only 16 of these missions comprise the main plot. The module will include enough additional data that player groups will be able to develop their own adventures within the setting. One final and unique feature of the guide will be a Kilrathi lexicon.

Alright - so this is a game, right? Why is this on Kickstarter under Art Projects?

That's a good question with a simple answer: the purpose of the Kickstarter project is not to fund the development of the campaign guide itself. Rather, the goal of the campaign is to fund the artwork that will appear in it. The artist I hope to hire to do the cover art for the project is none other than Denis Loubet.

WC4 Homeworld Mod Close to Kilrathi Faction

Thanks to some generous help from a squadron of fellow Wingnuts, L.I.F. has made great progress importing Kilrathi ships into the WC4 Homeworld mod this past week. Fighters and capships from WC3 have been implemented in order to help fill out a new fourth faction in the game. The basics are already working, which means things like carrier-based fighter launches are functioning correctly. L.I.F. is optimistic that the Kats can be officially added in a new 2.0 edition soon. Homeworld Remastered owners can grab the latest release here.
Ok, so the plan right now is to get the Kilrathi as a playable faction ASAP to release the 2.0 version of the mod for every ody to enjoy both in Skirmish and in online multiplayer. No date promised, but I'll try to get it done fast.

If you heard about a really nice textured model of the Vesuvius, Bearcat, Dragon/Lance or any Border Worlds craft, please give me the contact info of the creator to see if I can use it.

Vengeance of the WC Playthroughs

Wvlfy is another prolific YouTuber that's passed under our radar for the last couple years. He's extremely prolific and has produced over 60 WC mission recordings with full commentary. Sometimes you see people who start WC1 and then get bogged down in the difficulty of The Secret Missions or SM2: Crusade. Fortunately, Wvlfy's gotten over the hump and is now in Wing Commander 2's Niven System. You can jump to a specific game via the preceding hyperlinks or dig into WC1 below! The long term plan is to cruise straight through to Prophecy and maybe even capture the Privateer games. He's got quite a few other series under his belt besides our space combat sim, so if you like these clips, there might be something else in his library worth checking out as well.
Wvlfy goes back in time to face a more terrifying foe than the Kilrathi: Farking Asteroids!

In space, noone can hear you meow.

Beginning his tour of duty aboard the Tiger's Claw in the Vega system, Christopher "Maverick" Blair takes part in an ongoing campaign against the Kilrathi, a race of tiger-like beings hellbent on using the Terran homeworlds as planet-sized litterboxes. It's up to you, the player, to declaw the Kilrathi and put those cats out for the night.

WC1 Almost Gave You The Finger

Dondragmer's continued artistic exploits have uncovered some interesting hand gestures buried in the code of Wing Commander 1. It's likely that these were intended for the mechanic tech that greets each pilot upon landing. Note the blue sleeve versus the brown jacket around pilot hands. A thumbs up might appear if a fighter returned with minimal damage. A less graceful motion could greet the pilot if they've created a lot of work for the crew chief to deal with!

Goodbye, Sir Pratchett

Discworld author Terry Pratchett passed away two weeks ago. The internet has done a much better job memorializing him than we could, but we would like to take a moment to kindly acknowledge him as a fellow Wing Commander fan. There's quite a few writers out there that share our passion for the series, and it was prominent sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle that got the prolific novelist into the series. He posted the following recently:
Terry was a friend and a fan. He had gone into survivalist mode when he read Lucifer’s Hammer, and came to the scenes where the survivors are discussing the old civilization. He said it made think, why be miserable when we have civilization. Better to try and keep it. After that he wrote at a prodigious pace. One day he was in Hollywood negotiating a movie, and came over for lunch. I showed him Wing Commander, he liked it, and I gave it to him as a present, remarking that this was a cheap way to slow the competition. He get addicted to it, but far from slowing his legendary output he produced even more. Wing Commander and its sequel Privateer were amusing interludes between the torrent of pages.

I have not seen him since his illness, because I have not been to Britain in many years. I fondly remember our last dinner in London. I wish we could repeat it. Our guest as Jack Cohen, and it was an experience worth repeating. Farewell, old friend. RIP

SM1.5 Campaign Ported to PC with New Modding Techniques

Fans have long been intrigued by the differences posed by Super Wing Commander. Ostensibly a remake of the original Wing Commander with newer graphics, the games' smattering of familiar fighters has much confusing crossover with ship models used in very different roles throughout Privateer and Armada. And while WC1 and The Secret Missions were pretty faithfully recreated in the new engine, SM2 was replaced by a brand new intermediate campaign where the Tiger's Claw seeks out and destroys the shipyards that spawned the Sivar Dreadnought. This special expansion, dubbed "Secret Missions 1.5" by fans, adds quite a bit of new story while borrowing a few elements from the original SM2 that help set up Wing Commander 2. To top it all off, the game was only made for older OS Macintoshes and the Panasonic 3DO, so few Wingnuts have actually played through it first hand.


delMar and UnnammedCharacter are now working on an innovative way to port the SM1.5 missions into the DOS version of SM2. They've extracted the core characteristics of the obscure expansion and come up with a prototype patch that recreates the game in the DOS WC engine. It's absolutely wild stuff! There are still a number of things that don't work quite right, but the fact that it works at all is amazing. delMar has recorded this YouTube clip below of an SM1.5 briefing in the Tartarus System, one of the few locales previously exclusive to the Mac and 3DO. It acts a little weird because it's a unique briefing that takes place in Colonel Halcyon's office, which normally does not happen outside SWC. Visit the CIC Forums here to try out the test release. Detailed instructions are provided in the post, and any feedback will go a long way towards enhancing this endeavor!
This is about bringing the Secret Missions 2 campaign from Super Wing Commander and 3DO, known as Secret Missions 1.5, to the PC.

For a start, I'll just make the files available here that have been converted 1:1 from the 3DO version. That's possible due to the awesome work of UnnamedCharacter and many others who paved the way. The zip file contains a readme file with all necessary information and instructions.

So, by downloading and installing this zip file to your Wing Commander I, Secret Missions 2 installation, you should be able to play the full SWC Secret Missions 2 campaign, which is commonly referred to here on the forums as Secret Missions 1.5.

AUTOMATIC INSTALLATION
----------------------
Unpack the zip file into the GAMEDAT subdirectory of your Wing Commander installation.
Execute the file "toSM15.bat" (or just "toSM15" in case file extensions are hidden)
The files should be renamed accordingly, continue at "STARTING THE GAME" below.

For playing the original SM2 campaign, execute "toSM2.bat".

STARTING THE GAME
-----------------
Execute SM2.EXE and start the game as usual.
When you talk to Shotglass and he is NOT talking about the Firekka, you seem to have done everything right.
Enjoy and please give feedback at the forums.

French Dub of WC4 DVD Playthrough Defects to the Border Worlds

DocteurJ tipped us off about the second chapter in OldiesGamesTV's high quality playthrough of WC4. Just like chapter one, this episode is spoken in French thanks to a special remixing of the audio from the CD version on top of DVD edition's high res video. Even for non-French speakers, it's pretty interesting to see how the voices are dubbed in a different country. It should even be possible to take advantage of a universal translator app to spell out any dialogue you might not remember or even listen in to what the player/narrator has to say.
Here is the reissue of Oldies Games TV #13. OGTV's subject was Wing Commander 4 on CD-ROM PC, but the game on DVD is only in English. But for your enjoyment I remade the show with videos from the DVD version and the sound of the CD release. A new way to enjoy Wing Commander 4 ... Bon visionage

Kat on a Hot Durasteel Roof

Dondragmer has been hard at work with fellow fans performing digital archeology on the art of Wing Commander 1, and he's made some interesting discoveries! The first reveals the ceiling panels of the original four Confed fighters. Everyone has probably seen these without noticing before, since they're briefly visible during the first person ejection sequence, but they fly by so fast that nobody ever gets a good look. It's fascinating to see what was slightly above our heads all along! Is the opening above your head the evacuation hatch? Or do the Hornet and Raptor have a sunroof?!
There are a few cockpit oddities in the WC1 file titled "PILOTANM.VGA".

These are the roof graphics. The final ejection graphics are stored in the respective cockpit files, PCSHIP.V00 to PCSHIP.V03. (PCSHIP.V04, the Dralthi, would presumably have one if you could eject from it. While the inability to eject from the Dralthi was given a storyline justification, was there first a technical limitation that prevented this?)

Something I'd never realised until I video-captured an ejection sequence is that these roof pictures get stitched on top of the regular front cockpit view. Even after all the hours I've spent in those cockpits, they look very different with the roof graphic stitched on.

Can't get enough cockpits? Check out the reference pack for 150 interior fighter shots from WC1, WC2, WC3, Academy, Armada and Privateer.

WCDX Restores Pinups, Planets & More!

Stinger has published another big update to his WCDX patch for Kilrathi Saga. It restores even more of the original DOS games' features to the Windows edition of the earlier Wing Commanders. Background planets now appear in space and the joystick can be used for menu navigation. SM2 for DOS added in the ability to click on the pinup posters against the far barracks wall, but this never worked in the Kilrathi Saga... until now! wcnut confirms that the package also functions in wine for Mac OS X users. Grab the latest beta here.
It took a bit longer than I'd planned, but 1.2 beta2 is finally here! Here's my list of fixes:
  • Planets are now visible in the stellar background and in the Wing1 victory sequence.
  • SM1 and SM2 now correctly search the local path for streams before looking for a CD (Wing1 already did this).
  • Fixed window title.
  • Joystick menu navigation now works correctly, showing the correct cursor and help text.
  • My initial fix for planets made them visible, but locked their orientation to your display. After watching a few YouTube videos, I found that my memory had been faulty; the original planets in the DOS versions actually did keep their orientation relative to the universe. Further, since the planet in the Wing1 victory sequence is drawn using the same code, planets also are drawn scaled at all times (just usually with a scale very close to 1.0). My original fix prevented the planet in the victory sequence from growing larger as the Tiger's Claw approached. This has now been properly fixed.
The joystick cursor issue took a lot more work than I was expecting. The bug may actually have been a result of some of the changes I made; it's possible that this feature worked correctly in the originally released Kilrathi Saga. Originally, the joystick handling code for the gameflow sequences would reposition the mouse cursor by calling the Windows SetCursorPos API. I think the resulting mouse "movement" would then trigger the code that updated the cursor image. As part of my changes aimed at making the game play nice with Windows systems, I removed all calls to SetCursorPos, so the second part of that sequence couldn't happen. Instead, I've reworked the joystick code to explicitly tell the rest of the game that the cursor position has been updated, and the gameflow sequences respond by updating the cursor image in the appropriate fashion.

Happy flying!

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

I've just released wcdx-1.2-beta3. In addition to fxing the planets loading bug, I've corrected what was possibly the most crucial oversight of the entire KS release:

That's right, I've added the poster back into the game! Originally added for Secret Missions 2, this highly important feature was left out of the Kilrathi Saga editions entirely. I have recreated the functionality from scratch, so the poster is now available for your viewing pleasure. Not only that, but I've added the functionality to all three games: Wing Commander 1, Secret Missions, and Secret Missions 2!

You're welcome.

Kick Back & Watch Some Wing Commander

With the proliferation of Twitch and ever-better gadgets for digital recording, online video game playthroughs are absolutely booming. Lots of people are playing and posting classics like Wing Commander. Some aren't newsworthy, but we like to share certain clips when a lot of effort has been put into them. Decadence Night has been working on his WC videos since late last year, and he's up to a dozen walkthrough nows. He started with very little prior experience, so it's interesting to see someone's take on the game 25 years after its debut. The author has a very open mind and loves the series' classic charm. You can find his full WC playlist with audio commentary here.
It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here! Let's Play Wing Commander! It's our first run outside the starbase. Will we make it back safely?

Seether Bombs Innocent Installation

Here's a funny/horrible story involving Robert Rusler, Seether from Wing Commander 4. Costar Robert Downey Jr. reports that the pair made a giant mess in a poor girl's trailer on the set of Weird Science. The unspeakable details are below. "You're gonna wish you never met me," indeed!
"It wasn't Kelly LeBrock. Myself and my costar Robert Rusler had been threatening that we were going to drop a three coil steamer in someone's trailer during a large portion of the shoot. Then finally, one hot hungover day..."

"It was not [LeBrock's] trailer. If it was her trailer, she'd of had a sense of humor, but it was this gal named Babette Props who was just this sweet, nice Christian girl and we happened to go take a dump in her trailer."

"We're not doing it in the toilet! I think we did it on her set chair. Whatever it was, it was wrong. We were crazy and were going to let everyone know how risque and off the wall we are. So [Props] comes back into the trailer and walks out literally holding her nose and then Joel Silver, who I knew only as someone I was afraid of and was a big Hollywood producer, said 'Everybody line up!'"

"[Silver] lined up the whole cast. He goes to Rusler, 'Did you do it?!,' and Rusler goes 'Nope,' even though I'd done the poo poo, but he had taken the pee right on top of it. So I started thinking, 'What would I say if I hadn't done it?,' so [Silver] goes, 'Downey, I'm going to ask you one time...' I go, 'No... I wish I did.'"

WC4 Homeworld Mod Remastered!

The WC4 Mod for Homeworld has now been fully relaunched! L.I.F. has made great strides over the path month with integrating czacen's original project into the Homeworld: Remastered framework. The game is now fully functional with the updated version of the core game. Multiplayer is operational, and some slick bonus features are in work for future updates. Confed, the Border Worlds and Black Lance are all playable, and L.I.F. is even considering adding a fourth Kilrathi faction if he can get some modeling assistance. A tester made a really cool preview video below that shows off the exquisite blend of fighter combat and large scale capship battles below. Homeworld Remastered owners can grab the mod here!
Well, that's it! The Wing Commander 4 mod is now fully operational on Homeworld Remastered. It features are:

- everything from the CIC-hosted version of the mod (including torpedo defense)
- the engine improvements from Remastered
- fuel management for all strike crafts outside the Excalibur and the Dragon, forcing you to come back to your carrier regularly
- functional tech tree for all three factions
- working AI for all three factions
- "hero" fighters, for each faction, unique crafts with boosted stats and, for Blair in the Border Worlds, the possibility to choose his ride. One special pilot for each faction, possibly more to come
- hidden units you have to unlock for your faction the Dekker way (two already, I'll try to get more in future updates)
- multiplayer functionality (requires an additional step explained on the mod page)

And as a call to the community, if anyone with 3D design experience has models of Kilrathi ships/fighters and would be willing to share them for this mod, I would be grateful for any material helping me to build a Kilrathi faction for the mod.

The Fur's About to Fly!

DigitalOrigami has put together an amazing scene with the help of Klavs' Model Archive. The backdrop is a large Kilrathi Dorkir convoy lead by a Fralthra and Rigakh. This combination of capships isn't one you'd ever naturally encounter in-game, which adds an artful extra layer to the melee. The Confed attack force has a similar mixed makeup with Rapiers, Sabres and even Klavs' Wilcat design swooping in. As an extra bonus, the canvas here is absolutely massive. Anyone who wants to zoom in, and especially Wingnuts with 4K or Retina displays, can grab the full 3500 pixel wide version here.
Klavs has released some wonderfully detailed Wing Commander models. Some of them needed a bit of work in modo, and a few need substantial U/V work and/or textures, but it's an amazing collection of ships.

Modo being modo, it choked on having more than 6 ships in the scene at a time, so the major Kilrathi ships were done in one scene, the 5 nearest Terran fighters in another, and then the smaller ships were done individually and duplicated in photoshop. I really like the ability now to render out different aspects of a scene - diffuse colour, spec, luminosity, etc., but modo did this wonderful thing in giving me a completely different gamma for the individual aspects than it did for the normal final color render. Didn't find this out until I spent several hours rendering stuff out and then bringing it in to photoshop. Found out there's about 6 different places one can change the colourspace and eff things up. Except, all I did was duplicate the existing final colour render output and change its effect to spec, diffuse, etc.

Really anticipating the next Lightwave crossgrade offer.... Anyhow, thanks for the trip down memory lane. Lost more days than I care to admit on the Wing Commander series.

Sivar's Hand Gameflow Room Coming Together

The flight control room that Lars was cooking up for the Sivar's Hand mod wasn't quite in sync with the game's growing story, so he's retooled it into a more usable interface hub for the project. It has a more bridge / combat information center tone and can be used as a jumping off point to a ready room, tech room, campaign missions, game options, an exit and more. The second iteration below adds to the mood considerably with some more reddish light, better lighting effects and additional detail surrounding items like the ceiling wire.
Does anyone get what the bright corner is all about? I think it might not be that clear yet.

Flat Universe Lays Out Path Ahead

The Maslas Brothers have popped in to provide the latest status on Wing Commander Flat Universe, and they've also answered a few fan questions. A pending update to the game will address issues brought up by fans in the past, and their long term roadmap will continue to deliver what the people want. Grab the latest alpha for Windows, Mac or Linux here.
We know that we have turned to silent mode for a while but believe us when we say that it is for a good reason. Right now we are in the process of tuning our game engine and if we mange to make it through right on schedule it won't be long until you'll get your new update. :) Hopefully this "following update" that I am referring to will include better graphics quality and more balanced overall performance.

Since we are the two of us who are working on this project, we are trying hard to automate some of our development procedures (e.g. in game update system) in order to gain time and schedule more frequent updates. Our ultimate goal is to deliver this free game to the community finished, but not just that. We want the game to be delivered to the standards that we have set. Therefore, we will try to give frequent updates but if we have to hold our scheduled build for the good of the project, then the update will be postponed.

We love your passion and interest for "FlatUniverse" and of-course we are always available to answer to your calls. Always, feel free to tell us what's on your mind through this forum or any of the known contact methods that we provide. Stay tuned for new updates! ;)

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

Q: Will you make Kilrathi ships flyable as well, somewhere down the road?

A: Well not exactly down the road... The first of those is supposed to be flyable not in the next update but on the one after ;)

Q: How do you create missions? Some kind of text file (or XML or something), like in the FS2 engine, or do you actually have a graphical editor?

A: At the moment we design our missions directly in the game engine. However we have planned for and have the mechanics ready for a graphical mission editor that will hopefully also support chained missions (that's a synonym for campaigns)!

We've planned for one or two initial campaigns with one that might involve a Kilrathi side to the story. Now we would not mind if you prefer to make your own campaigns. That would be more fun...

Star Citizen Reaches $75 Million!

Roberts Space Industries has reached another incredible crowdfunding milestone, $75 million! Chris Roberts has largely downplayed the dollar value that they've reached and instead chosen to focus on all of the big things the team at Cloud Imperium Games is doing. They've been furiously working toward the 1.1 release of Star Citizen, which adds more ships, multiplayer options and feature enhancements. The team has also has a very busy traveling schedule. After a big presence at PAX East earlier this month, they are now hosting events at SXSW. While up on stage in Boston, RSI also teased EA with the slide pictured upper right. Last, but not least, they've posted a cool video that interviews their Community Team - with a few familiar faces!

Last Day For GOG Sale, Unbundling Also Announced

There's just about one day left in this weekend's 60% off sale for the Wing Commander series and other EA franchises. GOG has also announced an unbundling initiative that will change how games are displayed in your library. There will be no change in the packages or prices that will show up in the digital store, but when multiple games are grouped together, they will soon be able to be downloaded separately. Each title will also get its own separate place on your virtual shelf. This affects Wing Commander 1&2 for sure, and it should also apply to Prophecy and Secret Ops if GOG is on the ball.

Timbres of Heaven Enhanced MIDI Sampler

The General MIDI music featured in many classic games can sound underwhelming without a fancy hardware synthesizer like the Roland Sound Canvas. To solve this problem, people have created virtual MIDI devices and software synthesizers (soundfonts) that make MIDI sound much more lifelike. Don Allen's Timbres of Heaven is a very slick example. Last month, we reported that Timbres has a new version out and that it's well worth the effort to set it up. If you still need convincing, check out these fantastic samples that Forums members Goku and wcnut have created.

GOG Sale Cuts Wing Commander Prices More Than Half

GOG is holding its first EA game sale of the year, and Wing Commander is 60% off this weekend. No bundling is required, so this is a chance to pick up individual games, their expansions and associated bonuses for just $2.39 each. The entire series including all DOS and Windows WC games is under $20! Quite a few other Origin titles in the Ultima, Crusader and other series are also on sale. Check out the full deal here.

Young Luke Skywalker Cast

Star Wars Episode 7 is set some 30 years after Return of the Jedi and will include many original cast members, with Mark Hamill reprising his iconic role. One crucial flashback scene will feature a young Luke Skywalker, and rather than make Hamill appear 25 again through CGI, a new actor has been cast. No, it's not Freddie Prinze Jr., but relative newcomer Robert Boulter.

WCDX Finds Lost Planets

Stinger pushes on in his quest to fix Kilrathi Saga's bugs and quirks; just recently he figured out why all the planets are missing in the Wing Commander 1 port. This and other patches will be included in an upcoming release of WCDX. Follow Stinger's topic on the Forums to keep up with the latest developments.

This one was interesting.

The PLANETS.VGA file (like the other VGA files) is a resource archive containing several image sets. The first image set (which I've dubbed the Space Junk image set) contains all of the normal floating debris images as well as the images for the individual stars that you see in the space backdrop (38 images in all). All of the other image sets contain only a single image; each of those is a planet or nebula or other large object (hereafter referred to only as planets). Of particular importance is that each planet image is alone in its image set.

The CAMP.00X files are resource archives. The first resource contains nothing but planet information, with four entries for each system. Information for a planet is stored in four two-byte values, in this order: Planet index, yaw, pitch, and roll. The index indicates which planet image should be used, with the special value -1 indicating that the slot is empty. The yaw, pitch, and roll values (given in degrees) determine where the planet should appear in the stellar backdrop. (The roll value is ultimately useless, but it's there anyway.)

The game keeps track of several space objects (up to 64, apparently). Each individual star is one such object, and so are the planets. Each object has a number of properties, including (among other things) orientation, position, a pointer to the image set, image index, and type. Stars are type 2; planets are type 3. For objects of type 2 (stars), the game doesn't keep track of the image set on a per-object basis. This is because the image sets are loaded on a per-object basis; if the game kept track of the image sets for individual stars, it would end up loading several copies of the image set in memory, one for each star. The game therefore has special handling for these objects, making the assumption that the image index refers to an image in the Space Junk image set. (This apparently also happens for type 4 objects, but I haven't bothered to figure out what those are yet.)

For whatever reason, possibly just because it was the expedient thing to do, the navigation crosshair (nav point indicator) is classed as a type 3 object, just like planets.

At draw time, the code cycles through all of the visible objects and draws them. For objects of type 2, 3, and 4, the game ignores orientation data and simply draws the image with no scaling or rotation. (You can see this by looking at the stars and planets as you roll your ship: the positions will change, but the orientations will remain the same.) The game checks to see if the object is the navigation crosshair; if it is, the game draws the image indicated by the object's image set and image index. If it isn't, the game uses the Space Junk image set instead, and therein lies the bug: All type 3 objects that are not the navigation crosshair are drawn using the Space Junk image set. Recall that each planet image is the only image in its respective image set; each planet, therefore, has an image index of 0, indicating that the game should use the first image in the image set. The game therefore loads the first image from the Space Junk image set and draws it where the planet should be.

The fix was very simple, once I understood what was going on. Instead of checking if the current object is the navigation crosshair, I just check to see if the object type is 3. If it is, I use the object's specified image set; if not, I use the Space Junk image set.

I would be very interested to know how this bug was introduced; it doesn't seem like the sort of thing that the KS developers should have been touching.

Matthew Lillard Joins Cast of Problem Child Remake

Matthew Lillard in Wing Commander Matthew Lillard has been cast as the lead (grown-up) role in the upcoming remake of the 1990s comedy romp Problem Child. The actor will portray the father character, originally filled by the late John Ritter. Lillard has received critical acclaim for his directorial debut, Fat Kid Rules The World, and has starred in a string of Scooby Doo related productions, but he is perhaps best known for playing Todd "Maniac" Marshall in the 1999 Wing Commander feature film.

WC1 Editing Made Easy

UnnamedCharacter has created a new software library for editing Wing Commander game data. A console tool allows for easy editing of WC1's core data files by converting the game's internal files to human-readable XML. Once the desired changes have been made, the tool can convert the file back to the game's internal format, so you can then check out the result of your tinkering. If somebody felt like creating a WYSIWYG mission editor for WC1, this new library greatly simplifies the work involved. It can also extract various game assets. Look here for a detailed description and some examples.

I am a long time fan of Wing Commander, playing since the original WC1 DOS release. Although this is my introduction to the community, I have been visiting this site for a while.

Last year, after witnessing all the work done on various WC projects, I was inspired to try and contribute by building on some of the work already done. I have been working on a WCGames Library (in .NET v4) for editing WC game data. I believe I now have enough functionality to share the results with the community.

Using the WCGames Library, you can edit existing data or create new data files. At this moment, there is support for CAMP, BRIEFING, and MODULE data files whether compressed or uncompressed; although compressed files will be written uncompressed.

Along with the WCGames Library, there is a simple console application which converts supported WC game data to and from XML. This provides a quick and easy way of editing game data.

This has only been possible because of the great work done by others. I hope this is just the beginning and to expand the library.

Hakaga Under Construction

Some time ago we got a first look at NinjaLA's latest undertaking, a sketch of what we thought was a Ralari class destroyer. It turns out it's really a much tougher target: the massive Hakaga carrier from Fleet Action. It's still early work, but check out an updated sketch below.

Denis Loubet Answers Your Questions, Plans Patreon Project

The party is still rocking over at the CIC Forums. Wingnuts have turned out in force to question and interrogate WC1/2 senior artist Denis Loubet. Especially savvy fans like Howard Day, danr, Dondragmer and others have delved deep into the original game's code, dug up exotic concept art and extracted digital specimens to help explore the happenings that resulted in our favorite games being made. Virtual archeology is tons of fun when you've got the live source to talk to! If you ever wondered anything about the original games' art, now's your chance to ask your questions. Denis will soon be kicking off a new project, and he'll soliciting ideas via his Patreon site to help him decide what to make. Support his efforts and help get something based on Wing Commander made!
LeHah: Yeah! I really liked the scramble animation! They shot some guys on a treadmill, and gave me the images to rotoscope from. I kept it simple and silhouette-like in order to keep the memory requirements low. I created the background as a series of tileable panels that could be randomly assembled into a background corridor. All the programmers had to do was slowly pan the randomly created corridor, and superimpose random running-character spot-animations. Add flashing lights and a klaxon, and you're good to go! :) I was big on using multiplane effects to create depth.

Jdawg: Things get kind of complicated at this point. I did the ship launch sequence for WC1, and the return battle damage. And although I did the tech that's behind the ship for the canopy closing, I didn't do the tech that stands in front of the ship welcoming the pilot back. That was Glen Johnson. I did the Battlestar Galactica launch tube effect with a series of multiplane background images, and I did the carrier-launch deckhand silhouette after watching a lot of old WWII footage of carrier launches.

Bandit LOAF: Speaking of atmosphere, I still like the hanger backgrounds I did for WC1. Those big hazy actinic light banks in the distant corners of the cavernous hanger just worked great for any spot animation you wanted to throw in front of them. (Yes, I'm unduly proud of those.)

Mekt-Hakkikt: I was walking a fine line with the colors! The more different colors you have, the faster you eat up your 256 color limit with the different necessary shades of each color. That's why the backgrounds sometimes looked a little -- or a lot -- posterized. It's because the forground objects left only a few colors for the background. The cockpits were a lot of fun. I'd kind of zone-out when doing them, just layering dithered gradients and throwing in highlights and shadows. I tried to create a unique feel for each cockpit, some were very geometric, and others all curves. Some were rugged and thick, and others were thin and spindly. I think we even managed to have a side-mounted joystick in one of them. But they all had to display the same amount of information, so I moved all the items around to make each layout slightly different.

Did you know I invented the radar display? :D The design for the radar screen came from an idea I had to simulate peripheral vision in 3D games. It would still work today, but might be completely annoying. Basically, I imagined the center of the screen to be your normal first person view, but as you approached the edges of the screen the view becomes more and more compressed and distorted until the rectangle of pixels right at the edge of the screen represent the single pixel directly behind your head. Or more realistically, the rim of pixels at the extreme edges of your peripheral vision. Due to the distortion, you might not be able to tell what it is that's in your virtual peripheral vision, but you would be able to detect motion and color, which is all the input you need to know you need to turn that direction. I took this idea and applied it to the radar. The edge of the radar is the point directly behind your ship, and although you don't know what the red dots are exactly, you instantly know which direction to turn to quickly bring them into view.

WC Workshop Offline, But Not Forgotten

delMar popped in this week to give a status update on the WC Workshop site. He suspended development last year due to personal issues, but he would appreciate feedback on what direction the project should go if it were started up again. During the workshop's brief time in operation, delMar managed to come up with a neat method of customizing the talking head portions of WC1. However, overall structural limitations made further WC1 modding a tough prospect. One possibility is that the project could return based around the WC2 or Privateer engines. It's really cool to see people still tinkering with the oldest games in the series! You can weigh in on the best way to approach classic WC modding at the CIC Forums.
WC1 may be moddable to a certain extent, but there are limits. The cutscenes between the series are hard-coded into the .exe file, just to name an example (in non-technical terms: that sucks).

From a story-telling perspective, there's also quite some limitations: there's Shotglass, there's two characters in the bar and there's the briefing and the debriefing. Compared to that, WC2 offers much more:

  • cutscenes are not inside the .exe file
  • a dedicated story-line view, making it possible to have multiple scenes
  • cutscenes in-between missions (hell, I nearly freaked out 20 years ago when I first saw that in-flight conversation between Bluehair and the Concordia and then landing there)
  • probably some other things that have evolved from being hard-coded inside the .exe

Homeworld Mod Gets Second Wind; Remastered Version In Work

L.I.F. has long been the caretaker for Czacen's glorious WC4 Homeworld 2 mod. After development ceased in 2008, L.I.F. picked up the torch and ran with it by adding new features and abilities. The recent release of Homeworld Remastered has provided a great opportunity to bring this awesome fan game to a new audience. To start with, Remastered comes with the original games. He's worked with Steam to get the mod uploaded to the game's workshop area so new players can grab it and dig in. Meanwhile, he's also working on porting the mod to be compatible with the new main game rerelease. This has always been a very slick project, and we're super excited that it's getting a second shot at prime time!
Announcement: As Homeworld Remastered has been released a few days ago on Steam, porting HW1, HW2 and, most importantly, a revamped version of both games in 4K resolution, remastered gameplay and other improvements... I have begun porting the Wing Commander mod to the Remastered engine.

You'll notice that I have still quite a lot to do to get it working completely, but I'm doing my best to get everything operational as soon as possible for the mod to work under the new user interface and the changes in engine. More to come very soon. :)

Of course, the praise must once again go to Aaron "czacen" Thomas, who did, well, 99.9999% of this mod and managed to create an excellent total conversion for a game that just came back to the spotlight it always deserved through the Remastered version of Homeworld 2. The models, the textures, the coding, the soundbites and music integration, the file architecture as a whole, everything is his colossal work, to which I came only much later to do some gameplay tinkering. Also to note that the icons are not working with the Steam version of the game, while they are obviously here for the original one (the one published by Relic a dozen years ago). I've identified where are the icons, and am currently trying to get them to be loaded, but to no avail. I'll update the mod if I get that bug fixed, though.

Sivar's Hand Mod Bounces Back

Based on all the positive feedback Aginor has received lately, he's more formally relaunched development of the Sivar's Hand mod. A number of Kilrathi-styled design elements such as fighters, user interface, voices and awards are already coming together, but the story that glues the existing missions together still needs to be filled out. The game's difficulty will be tame in order to avoid scaring away less hardcore pilots and allow them to fully enjoy the experience. Aginor is also looking into the best way to plan development around individual missions so that development is more bite-sized and manageable. There are a few things he could use help with, so if you've got artistic or other modding skills and would like to help, drop by the CIC Forums.
As I am trying to get the mod development out of its hiatus I figured it would be a good idea to post a development thread. Until now the info about my mod is spread over several threads, I am trying to change that. I am also going to try and write small updates at least every two weeks, to try and motivate myself to finish this thing.

About the story: The most important plot points will be in the briefings and a few in the missions. Reading the story is not required to enjoy the missions. I love story, and I am writing a full (and not too short) story that I hope people will enjoy. So I decided to not include the story in the mod itself, but to include it as a PDF file to read on your phone, tablet, PC or whatever you like. There will be breaks in it that tell you when the missions are supposed to be flown, in order to not spoil them for you. In good old WC fashion the story is about a rookie pilot on his first assignment.

So where are the blockers? Well, the story is in my head, but not on paper yet. Most parts of it are finished (9 of 12 chapters, approximately), and thanks to capi the words sound much better now. Keep in mind that I am not a native English speaker, and I am writing that thing in English (what the hell was I thinking?) This is probably what will take the most time.

The missions are not quite finished. They are all there, but they lack some dialogues, debriefings, possibly voiceovers, and a bit of balancing/bugfixing. Also the player isn't given any awards or promotions yet.

I still need some graphics. Not many, but a few. A Kilrathi player portrait is the minimum. If I can't find someone to render or draw it, I will take a Kilrathi helmet from WC3 and use that. But I would like to have that, and a few more portraits for main characters in the story PDF. So if an artist reads this and wants to draw some space cats: PM me! :)

That's all for now. My first task: I will try and write another chapter for for the story in the next few days.

For the glory of Kilrah, the Emperor and the Empire!

Speculative Kilrathi Flight Control Rendered

Lars has previewed this interesting scene from a work center overlooking a Kilrathi hangar deck. We get just a few rare glimpses at the inner workings of Kat vessels throughout the series, and they're always cool opportunities to get a look at the really dark and creative design potential that they reveal. Lars has taken advantage of jagged shaped viewscreens and windows to set the mood, and he's got a couple of cool ship renders in the background to better set the atmosphere. I really like that Paktahn wireframe too!
Currently I am trying to figure out what goes where and how the Kilrathi equivalent of a workstation could look like and other Kilrathi stuff. As a reference I am using an image of the Kilrathi DN hangar bay, some WC3 cutscene images and an image I found from Privateer 3 (?) concept art.

It's an very early design and I can already see one or two problems with this.
A) I have just rendered the stuff for Saga back then but don't know how to implement it
B) I can't model people, let alone an Kilrathi. So we would need someone who can help out in that regard.

WC RPG Sets Sights on Dynamic Mission Tree

It's been another busy and productive month for the Wing Commander RPG Wiki. Our last update was just over a month ago, so that means there've been five weekly updates worth of new content. capi spent the first part of February working on stat blocks and wrapping up character creation, and then he pivoted back to work on the his Kilrathi expansion's campaign. The story will be full of "adventure hooks" that lead to the type of mission branching that Wingnuts are used to seeing in regular WC games. There's also some cool stuff bubbling up in regards to the game's art. You can read the latest update for yourself here, and don't be fooled by capi's modesty - he gets more accomplished in a slow week than some fan projects do all month!
I have an idea for the campaign's main plot, but I'm still trying to figure out the best way to write it. I also have yet to figure out just what events will constitute the main plot line, and which will act as side plots and adventures. My current plan of action there is to take some time to flesh out a campaign tree (with which anybody who has ever played any Wing Commander game should be intimately familiar) and I spent a fair amount of time over the weekend writing down adventure hooks (I'm using some diagramming software to do this, basically a high-tech version of the "post-it note" storytelling method).

So the plan for this week is to organize my adventure hooks into a proper campaign tree. This will let me know roughly where any single given adventure will fall in the whole series of events, which in turn will let me know into which of the four "Acts" a given adventure will fall, which in turn will let me begin making wiki pages for each adventure and start hammering them out. It'll also show me if I need to add some additional adventures. I'm actually pretty excited and looking forward to this whole process - for a while now I've struggled with what will be in the campaign's middle, and it'll be nice to finally have something there. I do have an even dozen plotline missions planned at this point; it would be nice to get that up to a multiple of eight (for no reason other than to keep with the whole relationship between the Kilrathi and the number eight, really).

WCDX Improves Again with SM2 Support

It's been barely a week since the last release of WCDX, but Stinger has already achieved compatibility with The Secret Missions 2. He can also confirm that the game works with the PC Gamer KS WC1 release, so any CIC visitors can give it a try right away. There are a few minor bugs that remain, hence the beta label, but these should be resolved before long and development will proceed to Wing Commander 2. If you spot anything that needs to be addressed or are just happy with the improved compatibility of your Kilrathi Saga, let Stinger know at the CIC Forums. The WCDX 1.2 beta is available here.
And now 1.2 beta 1 is up, with Secret Missions 2 support! Next on my plate is the planets bug; I want to try and tackle that before heading on to WC2. Happy flying!

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