Academy Fan Mission Pack From 1997 Resurfaces

In the midst of many talented Wingnuts discussing modification of the original WC games, Shades remembered that he had an "unofficial expansion campaign" that he could never get to work. The set of 48 missions was included in the 1997 Chartbusters #16 collection of miscellaneous freeware on CD in the UK. UnnamedCharacter correctly pointed out that the files were in Wing Commander Academy format, which is actually not hard to get going. There are two packs of 24 missions, which is the maximum number that the game supports at one time. Simply backup your own savegames and drop in the files from either disk "one" or "two" into Academy's "missions" subfolder. They will then appear under the Load menu in the simulator mission terminal. Grab the pack here (55 kb zip) and let us know what you think!

Chronicles of the Claw Returns To Vega Sector

Sylvester recently noted the lack of new Wing Commander fan fiction and set out to do something about it! He began a story titled "Chronicles of the Claw" back in 2006, and he's dug up the manuscript to share with fans today. This version is significantly expanded and enhanced compared to what he came up with originally, so it's worth a look for all fans with an interest in this type of thing. Fan fic sometimes gets a bad rap on the internet at large, but the reality is that there are many talented writers out there dreaming up stories in their favorite universes. Although there have not been many new threads recently, over the years Wingnuts have created some three hundred topics in the CIC Fan Fiction Forum. There's something in there for everyone, and all stories are ripe for commentary. You can check out Sylvester's story here, and he'd much appreciate your feedback!
“Okay people, let’s get started.” Colonel Halcyon began. “First, the good news. Boxman’s escape pod was successfully recovered, he has a broken leg, but the doctor says he should be fine. Now on to business.” He pointed towards the map screen. Blair already knew what the mission would entail, Halcyon had briefed him in private a few minutes before the other pilots had arrived. The plan was risky, but it seemed the best option under the circumstances. “The Tiger’s Claw is currently on course for the Blytheheart jump point. We are taking a route that will take us past this pocket in the asteroid belt, where intelligence we have gathered shows the location of a Snakeir class carrier.”

“Now, up until this point, we have been sending out signals indicating that we do not know the location of the Kilrathi battlegroup. We want the Kilrathi to believe that we think the system is clear, and will proceed with standard escort to Blytheheart. And that is exactly what the Kilrathi will see when we pass their location. We will fly at standard cruising velocity with a six fighter escort screen.” Soft murmuring began to fill the briefing room.

“Sir, we’re going to just cruise by the kats with minimum escort?” Grunt asked.

“Yes Lieutenant. When we pass the Kilrathi battlegroup, we expect that they will emerge from the asteroid belt and attempt to attack us from the rear. As soon as we get indication of the Kilrathi attack, the Tiger’s Claw will immediately go to battle stations. We will have fighters standing by, already prepped in the launch tubes. They will launch and proceed to attack the Snakeir and their escorts. We will continue launching wings as quickly as possible until all fighters have taken off. This is a full smash, everyone is going up.”

If you missed it earlier this week, also check out the latest WC From the Ashes Newsletter for another recent story written by a fellow fan!

Simple Hack Brings Armada Editor Into The 64-Bit Era

There are lots of fun and useful programs in the CIC Files Section, but many of them are years old. The good news is that DOSBox and other tricks can get almost everything running today. When Wingnuts run across issues on newer hardware, they're super clever at getting things fixed! ARMEdit, the editor for Wing Commander Armada, is a great example. The program lets players doctor up the stats for the game's fighters, but it has issues with 64-bit operating systems. Whiplash did some investigation and managed to get it running with a relatively minor tweak explained below. He also pulled out some fun data tables based on the info that the editor sees. If you encounter an issue and need the help of fellow fans, hit up the CIC Forums!
Sorted! It was much simpler than I thought. Following the instructions in the readme file did not do the trick for me, so I fiddled about a bit. Here's how it works:

1) Backup Data.tre in case something goes wrong.
2) Unzip the files to the Armada root folder.
3) Using DOSBox, navigate to the Armada folder, and run the following command: "Tresplit data.tre". This will unpack DATA.TRE so that it becomes editable.
4) Run Armedit.exe, and edit to heart's content. Select "Update Data.tre" when done.
5) Run the game; it should launch normally.

Voila! I've tested it sucessfully by equipping the Arrow with a mass driver. Hope someone finds this useful!

Kilrathi R&D Kicks Into High Gear in Homeworld Mod

Several new updates have continued to round out and enhance the new Kilrathi faction in the Homeworld Remastered mod. The tech tree has been significantly refined so that a proper upgrade path is now available. Background spacescapes and menus look better in the latest release, and there have also been graphical fixes incorporated for torpedo detonation and texture reflection/glow. Finally, the capship anti-matter gun blasts have been visually amped up. The first image below shows this off, but they look even better in action! Fans who own the base game can grab the WC mod here.

The Kilrathi Empire has a massive selection of fighters and capital ships, with a few sneaky tricks up its sleeve. Asteroid fighters without any visible icons to see them from afar, long-range antiship missiles on many capital ships, advanced heavy fighters, electronic warfare crafts, heavy escort corvettes and frigates... The kitties are angry, and it shows!

The Kilrathi faction has a quite extensive tech tree for its units, using the system combining the Hiigaran and Vaygr logic: each category has general upgrades for all classes, and each class has specific upgrades. The thing is: different classes have different type of upgrades, furthering the specialization of each unit.

For example, let's take the capital ships: You will be able to buff the damage and the HP of all your capital ships through global research projects, but the light destroyer will have specialized projects to increase its speed. The heavy destroyer will improve its accuracy, the light cruiser will have first some line of sight upgrade, then anti-stealth detectors, while the heavy cruiser will get regen rate improvements. The Dreadnought, I hear some people ask? Well, it will have a massive and very expensive redesign upgrade that will give it an internal copy of the Kilrah Imperial Palace to make sure our favourite Princeling never feels away from home... and does nothing to the combat capabilities. :)

A Piece Of Cutaway Poster History For Sale

The Wing Commander SciPubTech poster is a great success story for Wing Commander fans. SPT was responsible for some incredible Star Trek cutaway posters that hit it big in the '90s. A TCS Tiger's Claw representation was first announced in 1999 and teased in a tiny postage stamp thumbnail. Years went by and repeated requests for status updates went unanswered. As a decade passed, WC fan NinjaLA made contact with one of the original artists, Christopher Cushman. And it turned out that his brother Michael was the person who made the WC poster! They were happy to support their fellow fans and released the gorgeous image below. If you're like most of the CIC Staff and were a Trek fan growing up, these SciPubTech cutaway posters were the coolest. You now have a chance to own one of the most popular designs of all and help the Cushman family out at the same time! Christopher is actually selling one of his original pieces, including a framed press proof, the hand drawn first draft and a final inking copy. Most people don't have $3500 just laying around, but something like this would be priceless to the right sci-fi fan! Details are below.

Two Milestones Are Better Than One!

First off, happy birthday to Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts! He turns 47 today, which means he was knee-deep in the very first WC game at the tender age of 22. Incredible! For reference, Origin founder Richard Garriot (whose birthday is the Fourth of July) was only 29 in 1990 when WC1 was released.


Today also marks more than 12 years of continuous front page updates at the CIC! We don't always have earth-shattering news each day, but I continue to be genuinely impressed at the community's unwavering commitment to the series. 2015 is really hitting its stride with a number of fantastic fan projects in high gear. You can take a trip down memory lane in our news archives here.

Mark Hamill and Chris Roberts Together Again?

A recent twitter post has the Star Citizen rumor mill all abuzz (and no, we don't mean the asset leak stuff everyone is talking about). Mark Hamill recently posted a message stating he had returned to England for a tantalizing non-Star-Wars project.

Mark Hamill engaging in a secret project on its own isn't necessarily huge news. Often, actors are restricted by NDA from disclosing movies they are working on until the studio is ready to reveal them. However, when combined with the fact that Chris Roberts is currently at Andy Serkis' UK-based Imaginarium directing the performance capture shoot for the Wing-Commanderesque Squadron 42, fans have been putting two and two together. It also helps that one of the Star Citizen early stretch goals promised that at least one Wing Commander veteran would be returning for the S42 single player campaign.

Coincidence? Or resounding proof that Colonel Blair will soon be back in the cockpit where he belongs? You decide!

Nimble KF-227 Harasses Vega Supply Lines

WC Vega's newest fighter is the swift Salthi light fighter. They've been added to Mike Peters' film project as quick little escorts to assist the larger Dralthi raiders. One of the sequences mocked up below shows off how they might work in tandem to take down a Drayman - before a pair of Scimitars come to the rescue! And if that's not enough to hold the kats off, the next Confed fighter is already in the works... Find more pictures and storyline updates at their website here.
Salthis! I made them a little small to improve the weight (mass) to thrust ratio, theoretically. Almost ready for a low-res, stop motion scene.

TCS Phoenix Still Holding the Line in Gemini

The crew of the TCS Phoenix is still cruising the star systems of Gemini Sector rooting out pirates and fending off the Kilrathi. For fans itching for old school '90s style forums-based role playing, Wing Commander From the Ashes is their best bet. The adventures follow the crew of a Confed ship assigned to the Potter and Humboldt Quadrants in many of the systems we became familiar with as privateers. You can find a taste of the action at their message boards here. They also publish a bimonthly newsletter with RPG updates, Wing Commander fan fiction and news about the space sim community at large. Grab the latest copy here (580 k PDF).

Ultima Art Project Moves Forward, But WC Element Still Possible

If you're not a Patreon follower of Denis Loubet, you may have missed the results from the recent vote for his next Origin-themed artwork. Unfortunately, Ultima fans won with a request for a new cover of Ultima VII. This is actually a very cool subject for Origin fans though as "The Black Gate" originally had just a stark black box! Denis will be consulting with Richard Garriott about what he might have imagined a properly illustrated cover to look like, so the results will be quite interesting for all.


The Wing Commander options in the poll placed around the middle of the pack of ten possible choices. But all is not lost for our heroic pilots, however! Mr. Loubet has acknowledged his significant support from the WC community and will likely find other opportunities to tide Wingnuts over in the future. In the mean time, fans are welcome to engage in open discussion about the glory days at Origin with this former senior OSI artist at the CIC Forums here.

Here is the breakdown:
=========
Ultima 7 Cover: 15
Ultima 2 Cover 14
Ultima Online Cover 0
Ultima Fiction Illustrations 9
Ultima Tableau Illustrations 14
Ultima Cover as Movie Poster 11
Generic Fantasy Characters 6
Wing Commander Portraits 8
WC/Ultima Crossover 10
WC/Ultima Cardboard Heroes 7
=========

The winner is #1! A real cover for Ultima 7!

It's interesting to note that everyone is apparently totally satisfied with the cover to Ultima Online, with 0 votes! ;-)

I will be quizzing Richard Garriott about what elements he would have wanted on the cover of The Black Gate if he had gone with an actual illustration. I'll let you know what he says!

The high counts for the U2 cover and Tableau illustrations shows a high Ultima bias in my fans so far. But the Wing Commander contingent just needs a few more voting fans to make things more interesting! Scold your friends who aren't already patrons!

I will try to sneak in something Wing Commander-ish at the same time for you guys.

I'd better get to work then!

Elite Dangerous Available For Mac

Elite Dangerous, that other major crowdfunded space sim, is now available for Mac. David Braben's adventure/trading game was released for PC late last year, with Mac and Xbox One versions still in the pipeline. Mac users can now get the game directly from Frontier Developments or through Steam, and players are able to fly alongside PC users. For the OS X port, the rendering engine was adapted for OpenGL, so a Linux port might still be in the cards.

Take control of your own starship in a cut-throat galaxy.

Start with a small starship and a few credits, and do whatever it takes to get the skill, knowledge, wealth and power to stand among the ranks of the Elite.

400 Billion Star Systems. Infinite Freedom. Blaze Your Own Trail

In the year 3300, across the vast expanse of an epic, full-scale recreation of our Milky Way, interstellar rivalries flare as galactic superpowers fight proxy wars.

Some may know you as an ally; others will call you a pirate, a bounty hunter, a smuggler, an explorer, an assassin, a hero... Fly alone or with friends, fight for a cause or go it alone; your actions change the galaxy around you in an ever unfolding story.

LOAF Talks WC3 For A Good Cause

Cloud Imperium Games community team members James Pugh and Disco Lando recently conducted a 24-hour video gaming livestream for charity. There's a wide variety of games on deck, including Wing Commander 3. LOAF even starred on the stream for a bit and provided a running commentary before taking the controls. The entire run has been archived here - jump to about 09:26:00 for the WC3 playthrough.

"Let's just say she could hypothetically cruise at a cool 500 kilometers per second..."

While cleaning his hard drive, Lc4Hunter stumbled upon old Excalibur model he'd created long ago. It brought back so many fond memories that he just had to take a stab at recreating it with all of the skills he's learned over the years! The result is a high quality update of one of the most beloved fighters in the series. You can also check out his recent Vesuvius remake here and more of his non-WC works here..
A long time during my childhood this ship was the most sexy thing in space I could imagine. I loved the Wing Commander series and especially Wing Commander 3 and 4 were my favourite ones.

This ship you can see here was created for an X3-Modification. The ship was already in-game and well... it was the death to all of its enemies. ;)

Behind the Scenes of the WC2 Demo

Wing 2 director and script writer Stephen Beeman recently shared some interesting facts about the WC2 demo, now almost a quarter century old. The awesome, 'alternative' intro animation is embedded below, or you can download the demo and check it out for yourself. Mr. Beeman also fondly recalled their rudimentary motion capturing efforts and the ensuing hijinks in an old Escapist article.
Yup, this is the WC2 announcement demo from winter CES in January '91. Those character closeups actually cost a huge percentage of our meager disk space, which is why the guard got cut from the final product.

This demo wasn't simply a promotional tool, it was a lab for trying out technologies for the game itself. Some of them worked--this was where I wrote what became WC2's voice system. And some of them didn't--Denis Loubet here was experimenting with sketching backgrounds, scanning them in and then coloring them in DPaint, and while it looks great in its own right, it wasn't clean enough to match the "pixel-perfect" style of the foregrounds.

You can find this demo on YouTube, where you'll get to hear some amazingly cringe-worthy voice acting. That's because we were crunching to get the demo done before Chris and Richard stepped on a plane, so the "actors" were just whoever happened to be around at 2am. The guard is Martin Galway, our audio lead; Prince Thrakath is Philip Brogden, designer/writer/programmer; and the Emperor, with the kind of gravely voice you can only get by sleeping under a desk three hours a night, is me.

Hari Sector Scans Reveal Gigantic Menace

There are several great new updates to the Homeworld mod. For starters, the incredibly massive Kilrathi dreadnought has been implemented. All of its turrets are also individually targetable when it's time to defang the beast. If and when one ever gets taken out, it'll also result in a new charred wreckage being left behind. Additionally, jump buoys and laser platforms have been implemented - which are part of a new game-balancing mechanic. Scout transports will be required to deploy the new buoys for the Kats to jump. Lots of other new features are planned for the upcoming version 2.5 update, including a cool jamming frigate and higher quality models. Homeworld Remastered owners can grab the the new 2.41 update here.
The Dreadnaught is... magnificent. 52 turrets, hours of work to get them all done, and one hell of a fireworks show when it fires at the enemy.

Though, given the size of the ship, its death animation was kinda lacking as it went boom and just disappeared. So I added a new feature for the Kilrathi faction: wrecks for capital ships. Here's what remains of a combat group after someone let a kitten play with the self-destruct buttons.

WC Vega Sets Up Classic Dogfight

Two iconic wings of fighters have been added to the WC Vega flight roster. Two foam-and-cardboard Scimitars were completed first, but they've been the most challenging design to build so far. A pair of Dralthis came together a bit more easily, and their presence allows Mike Peters and his students to set up some slick space combat action in their upcoming fan film project. All of the lightweight ships have been suspended on wires to set up a variety of dramatic angles - the test shots below look pretty promising on this front. Check out many more making-of photos and progress on the story at their website here.
Scimitars. Are. Hard. I think I have discovered why we’re outnumbered out there. A Scimitar is a technological marvel, a balancing act.

The idea was to create two chassis, and then make the wing assembly detachable. There are over a dozen different paint schemes on the Scimitars, and having a different wing-set for each pilot would make it easy to pick out your favorite pilot in a picture of many. It didn’t go so well.

The problem boils down to materials. Cardboard is too flimsy to use as wings. Chassis foam is too brittle. Eventually, I broke down and used pastry foam, which worked, but the plaster came off, and the paint ate it, so it looks terrible. I will find something, even if I have to use balsa.

Dralthi are the best. Dralthi I/II’s are the Wing Commander Franchise Player. Easily recognized. Distinctive. Attractive. My Dralthi have cats’ ears because cats’ ears are cute, and cute sells. I might be getting better at this.

Bearcats Bagged By Border Worlders

Klavs returns from Speradon with a fan favorite -- the iconic Bearcat heavy fighter. Its slick but powerful design has always had a huge appeal, although the ship itself only made a brief appearance in the series. Klavs has also provided a short animation showing a pair of Bearcats en route somewhere, possibly a manufacturing plant of some kind.

There we go, textures!

It's worth noting that when Neil Armstrong was asked what his favorite airplane to fly was, his answer was a simple, one word, "Bearcat."

I like to think he'd of liked this one, too. :)

I love this ship, but I've never been able to get her in a shape I liked before. This one is... closer.

Lunchables Uploaded Reloaded With More McDowell

Lunchables Uploaded has produced three more videos of their spokesman, Malcolm McDowell. Although he's most renowned for his serious roles, Mr. McDowell is a super funny guy. You can find the earlier extended commercial here.

Make Or Break A Strategic Shakedown Cruise

The WC Generals beta continues to wage battle across the galaxy and root out issues to be fixed. New features described below add some meaningful depth to the latest iteration of this fan game. There have also been good discussions on how to address time/turns and how some mechanics could be refined to enhance the strategy aspect. If you're curious and would like to give the playtest a shot, head over to wcgenerals.net and sign in. Be sure to post your feedback to the CIC Forums!
Two Major Updates and many minor fixes:

1. The planets, refineries, mining etc. have to be fought for. No more sweeping through a system picking up installations. You need to bring the heavy guns to bear on each installation. Asteroids are easier than planets but still need to be fought for.

2. Ship Repairing now available. Just park your ship next to your ship yard, click on the repair button on the right ship details window and get it fixed. Only strength below 8 will be fixed and only up to 8. Credits will be deducted from your overall credits total for each point of strength renewal (1 strength point = 10% of ship cost/value).

Coming up:

Merchants will be harvesting goods from your planets and installations to keep your credit score ticking and will also keep your merchants busy.

Please keep playing testing and post your ideas and recommendations.

Digital Archeology Looks Behind WC1's Curtain

delMar is always on the search for better understanding of how the original Wing Commander games were made. His latest exploration led him to the non-playable WC1 demo. Long before video game trailers were released on the net, actual game engine demonstrations were scripted out to portray what a new title had to offer. And tucked away in the guts of this relic is a snippet of WC1 source code. It's an early draft that still contains references to "Wing Leader" and calling Confeds "Imperials," but many Wingnut techies will find this small sample fascinating. Check it out here. You can also watch the demo unfold on Youtube below thanks to MusicGuru.
heat_seeking_missile_intelligence()
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*/

void heat_seeking_missile_intelligence (int obj)
{
int exhaust_heat, target_ship, targ;

/*--------Intelligence used for heat seeking missiles ---------*/

// This is implemented wrong. Heat seekers need enemy to be facing away... -KLD
if (facing_to_target < 0 || ship_target[obj] == NONE)
{
/*-- If lock is lost on the target, look for closest "hotest" target --*/
ship_target[obj] = NONE;

viable_target_index = 0;
for (target_ship = your_ship; target_ship <= last_ship; target_ship++)

Majestic Vesuvius Sets Sail

LC4Hunter is getting back into Wing Commander modding, and he's chosen the Vesuvius to return in a big way. The carrier looks sufficiently massive next to a carrier or destroyers below, and it has a well detailed hangar deck for launching fighters. There are also plenty of heavy turrets dotting the superstructure. It's built similar to the WC Saga design with Scooby's classic textures, but it's intended for a future update to the Homeworld mod. A fleet of these will certainly put the fear of god into the Kilrathi!
A nearly finished model of the TCS-Vesuvius Class with a small Destroyer escort (which the Vesuvius could take out in a few moments :P ). The model uses currently two 2048x2048 maps - for the Homeworld engine this should be ok. ;-)

Flat Universe Preview Posted

Maslas has posted an exciting peek at the next version of Wing Commander Flat Universe. The screenshots below show off the enhanced visual effects that will soon be incorporated into the game. On top of the graphics, actual performance will be improved and there has been significant ship balancing incorporated since the last release. There will also be bug fixes relating to the game interface, joystick control and more. Last, but not least, the next playable iteration will include a fun new special weapon...
Since you liked our screenshots let my give you some taste of the quality differences between version 0.6.5 and the one that will follow...

Go Big or Go Homeworld

Having recently overcome the size limitation inherent in Homeworld modding, L.I.F. has added two of the most gargantuan ships in the Wing Commander universe to his project. The massive Hvar'kann and Behemoth class dreadnoughts are now undergoing space trials. Check out the incredible laser blast effect! They're not quite implemented in version 2.1 that was just released, but their data files are present in code for people with the ability to tinker. The latest update does include functional Kilrathi AI now, and the heavy weapons platforms will be fully unveiled in a future update. Homeworld Remastered players can grab the mod here. If any players also have any creative ideas for beefing up the Border Worlds in a future update, hit up the CIC Forums and add your thoughts!
Also, penny for your thoughts, everyone, about how to buff the poor Border Worlders in the final version of the mod and make them a valid faction to play. I intend to add a menu option to force a game to take place in an era or another, though there would be one "free for all" with everyone authorized. Anyway, one of the ideas was to give Border Worlders access to some light Kilrathi units as Melek reluctantly sides with the Heart of the Tiger, so stuff like corvettes and frigates, but it would be hard picturing a "super-unit" like the other factions will receive. Maybe some bigger advantage in resource or some non-conventional buffs, but I'm not sure what... oooooooh, just got an idea while writing this post: a sneak capture unit. A specially modified Avenger bomber with cloak and a capture function, or some way to neutralize defences remotely, like the vanilla game capture units neutralize weaponry on the target ship after some time...

Last Days of Denis Loubet's Patreon Vote

Now's your last chance to have a say in former Origin artist Denis Loubet's May Patreon vote. Dedicated fans who pledge toward his art projects have the opportunity to pick three choices for his next major creation. Most of the choices are Ultima-based subjects, but Wing Commander portraits, a Wing Commander / Ultima crossover (Kilrathi in Britannia illustration) and an Ultima / Wing Commander cardboard hero project (miniatures of WC characters and ships) are also on the ballot. Lots of Ultima fans have contributed, but there's definitely a chance that the crossover options could win if a bunch of Wingnuts weigh in by Monday morning. Check out our previous coverage if you have questions on how it all works or visit the voting thread here.
It looks at first glance that I'll be doing an Ultima cover, unless there's a sudden influx of Wing Commander fans.

It could happen.

--Denis

Comm Relay of the Future: The CIC on Social Media

The CIC's modern social media accounts turned five years old this week. If you're not currently a follower, our Facebook Page periodically posts things like little-known Wing Commander facts and interesting stories that you might've missed. It's also a great way to catch breaking news when it hits. For a more complete picture of the day-to-day happenings at the CIC, visitors can also follow our Twitter or RSS feed to be notified each time we post an update. Finally, Wingnuts looking for an even more in-depth conversation can join us on IRC chat or at the Forums. And if anyone can explain to us what Snapchat, Meerkat or other crazy things kids use these days are, hit the Discuss link below...

Escapist Searches for the Best Battles

Escapist has pretty mixed feelings about Wing Commander. WC games and Privateer dot their best space sims of all time list, but they usually struggle to do the series justice (a WC Armada review that decides to ignore multiplayer?!?). Their latest article is about the "Top 5 Video Game Space Battles," which sounds like it should be a great topic. A Drakhri fighter graces the piece's cover art, but then Wing Commander almost comes up empty. WC2 earn an "honorable mention," alongside Star Wars: Battle for Naboo, for the emotion surrounding Shadow's death. While that event is certainly memorable as one of the first gut-wrenching plot points of the game, the "space battle" is non-existent. A wing of Sarthas have no chance of even scratching the paint on the Concordia. And just several systems later, your first wingman - Spirit - sacrifices herself in an epic kamikaze strike that destroys a major Kilrathi starbase and her fiance along with it. WC games generally shy away from capship combat, but WC2 actually also features some pretty prime engagements where the Concordia blasts Fralthra out of existence with the phase transit cannon. The losing endgame cutscene battles glimpsed at the end of WC3 and WC4 might be some of the most amazing of all. You can't win 'em all, I suppose. Check out the full article here.
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that this left an impression on me simply because of how long it took me to get to this point when I played the game as a kid. Wing Commander 2 is not an easy game and it kicked my ass back and forth when I was younger. By the time I actually reached this mission, Shadow had spent hours on my wing, following my orders and keeping me company in-game. Her death made me genuinely sad and it's always memorable to me when a game can do that.
Thanks to Delance for the tip!

Digital HD Wing Commander Discounted to $10

The Wing Commander Movie has recently undergone a nice round of price cuts at a handful of major internet video providers. Whether you were previously on the fence or have recently taken to building your digital library, now's a great time to add WC to your collection. We've come a long way since struggling to catch a rare HD broadcast on cable television! High definition copies haven't even been readily available for three years yet - and now it just takes a couple clicks to carry a cheap high res version around in your pocket. The initial prices were in the $14-17 range, so $10 is a decent discount. Today's lower price looks valid at VUDU, Amazon Instant Video, XBox Video and iTunes. Thanks to Jacob for the tip!

Revisit the Golden Age of Space Sims

Arstechnica has published a fun article titled "The five space sims that defined my youth," which is an awesome topic that we can definitely get behind. The author touts the series interactivity, branching paths, engrossing cutscenes, awesome sound and high quality graphics as what put it on top. Other sections in the writeup are about singular titles in a franchise, but the entire Wing Commander series gets a nod here. Even when he moves on to Star Wars, he mentions WC and even Strike Commander at least half a dozen times throughout its portion. There's a final reminder at the end that despite the terribly long drought after the 1990's, we're living in good times thanks to the easy availability of classic games today and the new crop of space sims on the horizon. Check out the full piece for yourself here.
Wing Commander sold with abandon and became one of the defining PC gaming experiences of the early 1990s. ... Wing Commander, in particular, has one of gaming's grandest legacies. The Privateer spin-off series were outstanding, combining some Elite-style elements into the Wing Commander universe. For a number of years, Origin was an unbeatable powerhouse of space flight gaming.
Thanks to Kyle Maverick for the tip!

WC Generals Beta Kicks Off

The formerly hex-based strategy game WC Generals has released its first playable test. Interested commanders can sign up at wcgenerals.net and help square off in grid combat. The existing squadron of testers has been pretty actively running the fan game through its paces lately, and that's produced some good actionable intel for Ron B to follow up on. You can find instructions on how to play and get the latest on how the beta is unfolding at the CIC Forums here.
After almost a year of work we are ready to beta test the new 'WC Generals' game. Feedback is always welcome! Please try it out and get back to me. Thanks.

Flat Universe Prepares to Land

Maslas has posted another set of teaser images for Wing Commander Flat Universe. It shows a cutscene landing sequence that leads up to docking at the game's main Daedalus Station base. Then we catch a glimpse of the area's hangar bay, which should look pretty familiar to WC2 fans. If you haven't given the game a try for yourself, the 0.6.5 beta is available here. Beware of reduced gravity regions indeed!
Thanks for your support guys. It keeps us going!

Fully Armed Lexington Joins Homeworld Mod

There are both big and small updates for the Homeworld WC mod this week. On the larger side, L.I.F. has completed integration of the Lexington heavy carrier into the game engine. It also has tiny, but highly detailed, turret models, which were initially tricky to get working. Since the Lexington was designed to be a self-sufficient ship designed for deep penetration into enemy territory, it'll be the only carrier with resource collecting ability. Fighters will land on the main deck while smaller shuttles will dock on the side ports. Finally, there's an update to the game to fix graphical shaders on the newly implemented Kilrathi ships. Homeworld Remastered owners can grab the mod here. The high level plan for future updates is also mapped out below.
The development planning is as follow:
  • Current version 2.0X: Kilrathi working faction, with research and construction tree debugged.
  • Planned version 2.5: Hvar'Kann available as a super-unit, Zartoth electronic warfare correctly implemented, Kilrathi voices working ingame.
  • Planned version 3.0: WC Saga Confederation models added to the game, option to select WC3-era Confed or WC4-era from the skirmish menu.
  • Planned version 4.0: Integration of updated models and textures for Border Worlds and Black Lance units, almost everything smoothed

Origin Promo Gives Ultima VIII Away

EA's Origin service has announced its latest free game, Ultima VII Pagan. This marks the third time that an Origin Systems Inc game has been given away as part of the On The House program after WC3 and Crusader: No Remorse. Other contemporary classics like Sim City 2000, Theme Hospital and Syndicate have also made the list. It's great to see these older titles making a retro comeback - the influx from a new generation of gamers is great! For Ultima fans on a super tight budget, GOG is also giving away Ultima IV, Savage Empire and Martian Dreams. Hopefully we get more OSI titles here in the future!
To find a way back home, you must become a Titan.

The Guardian has tricked you, Avatar. After you defeated Batlin on Serpent's Isle, he banished you to Pagan, a world under his control. Once, it was a beautiful land, but ever since the ancient battle between the Elemental Titans and the evil "Destroyer", it is engulfed in eternal twilight. Titans - now worshiped as gods - are cruel and uncaring. They bestow power on their most dedicated followers who, in turn, terrorize Pagan's population. To find a way back home, you need to become a Titan yourself before the Guardian succeeds in his plot to conquer Britannia--and then Earth itself.

The eighth installment of the Ultima series takes a much darker tone. The story is much more mature (do the ends justify the means?) and the game focuses more on action, like climbing and jumping across platforms. Training your character has also changed: the more you use an ability, the better you are with it. Without a party to assist you, you must rely on your own strength, dexterity, intelligence, and magical abilities to save Britannia and Earth.

Help Denis Loubet Select Next Artwork

Former Origin senior artist Denis Loubet has kicked off a vote for his next project. The poll is being conducted through Patreon, which is a type of crowd funding site built around supporting artists. Fans can sponsor Mr. Loubet at the site for as little as $1 per piece, which gives them access to new creations on a regular basis. Among the ten options in his new poll are three Wing Commander choices. Denis is the main behind many of the most iconic animations, cockpits and Kilrathi in the series, so we'd love to see what else he might have up his sleeve!
Right now, my Patreon is a hotbed of Ultima fans. Ewww! :p You don't want them deciding what art I'm going to do, do you! ;) I need more Wing Commander fans to be patrons because although I don't mind fantasy, I also like science fiction! Help save me from a career of swords and sandals! ;)
Voting on a Patron Project for me to do starts today, and ends on May 11th at noon central time. Only Patrons can vote!

Here are the 10 candidates:
1. Ultima 7 cover (Color, LB approved.)
2. Ultima 2 cover (Color, based on recent illustration.)
3. Ultima Online cover (Color, LB or Raph Koster approved)
4. Ultima Fiction illustrations (B&W, perhaps The Tale of Captain Johne, given permission.)
5. Ultima Tableau illustrations (Color, assorted scenes from Ultima, player approved.)
6. Ultima Cover as Movie Poster (Color, where I try to impersonate Drew Struzan.)
7. Generic Fantasy Character studies (Color, Dwarf, Elf, etc, you know the drill! Load them up with character.)
8. Wing Commander portraits (Color, how I envision them.)
9. Wing Commander / Ultima crossover illo (Color, qwirky Kilrathi in Britannia illustration!)
10. Ultima / Wing Commander cardboard heroes (Color, cardboard miniatures of WC characters and ships.)

VOTING RULES:
1. Only Patrons can vote, so become one now!
2. Send a Patreon message to me, or reply to the voting thread on my Patreon Activity Feed, with your top 3 choices.
3. Each of the 3 choices must be different, duplicates will be ignored.
4. Voting ends May 11th at noon central time.
5. The project that shows up most often, wins!

May the coolest task win!

Here's a bit more background on how this setup works for those who new to Patreon:
Patreon is crowd-funding. But you're not buying art, you're funding the artist. I have my patreon campaign set up in a "per art" arrangement where the patron is charged each month for each piece of art I do. This is why funding levels are usually smaller on a Patreon than a Kickstarter. You can, however, cap your monthly funding to stay within your budget. You could, for instance, fund at $5, and cap at $5. That means you get charged $5 for the first piece of art I do that month, and you get any subsequent art that month "for free!" :D

This decoupling of what you pay versus what you get is why you're not really buying art. It might look like a patron is gaming the system and getting free art, but they're not. The artist is still getting some funding from them, and feeling grateful because he knows how rare good fans are! :) Plus what would be the point of consciously ripping off someone you want to fund? The whole idea is to make it possible for the artist to work for his fans, and that includes you! ;) I expect to do about 3 to 4 "chargeable" pieces of art a month, and also offer a host of freebies. Of course, since I'm currently trying to social-media my way to more patrons, I've only had time to do 1 or 2 chargeable pieces a month so far. (Mostly 1.) :(

So for as little as a dollar a month, you can fund me and I'll be forever grateful! :)

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