Classic WC MUSH Transitions To New Forums RPG

Iceblade is in the process of kicking off a really cool new forums-based RPG. He's taken the setting and storyline from the old WC Gemini Sector MUSH and transitioned it to a message board style that's more forgiving on people's schedules. It'll continue to retain some of the combat action and other elements from a MUSH while being merged with a more traditional text role play. Interested players can learn more and sign up at the Phoenix Roleplaying Forums.
The year is 2659. War between the Terran Confederation and the felinoid aliens known as the Kilrathi has raged for twenty years, with no end in sight. Seeking to break the stalemate, the Kilrathi have launched a surprise offensive through the edge of Terran-controlled space in Gemini Sector. A tenacious counteroffensive has pushed back the first wave of the Kilrathi assault, but a second wave has washed over Confed's forces and placed the Majestic deep behind the frontline. For the pilots and crew of the Majestic, survival is not the only goal as the current circumstances offer them a prime opportunity to cut the Kilrathi offensive off at the knees.

That's is where the old Wing Commander Gemini Sector MUSH storyline halted. I am now attempting to reactivate this MUSH as a Forum Role Play Sim over at the Phoenix RP forums. While the story will continue from where Gemini Sector left off, the sim will be easy to jump into for new players/characters. This sim will bridge the forum RP model with certain MUSH style elements by providing an easy to use and understand combat system heavily influenced by the Wing Commander games and a fully detailed layout of the environments you will roleplay in. Unlike the original MUSH, character creation is much simpler and significantly faster; and there isn't a lengthy set of commands you must know in order to contribute. In addition, while MUSH roleplaying events would generally require a single several hour period when all players can meet, this sim allows players to contribute at times more convenient for them with roleplaying sessions lasting several weeks. As of right now, we are looking for a few good men and women to join up and post there interest in the sim proposal thread. These Kilrathi have been waiting too long. Let's wake up the Majestic and kick their furry buts out of Gemini!

Starship Tactics Checks In With Demo Video

Arraen is back to share the first gameplay video of his Wing Commander strategy mod, Starship Tactics. The clip shows off some Dorkir convoy raiding by a Confed corvette. This is actually a major role that the Ventures would have played during the war, although we so rarely get to see them engage in activity like this in the series. Corvette fans would do well to read up on Wing Commander Freedom Flight for more on the inner workings of these tight little capships.
Well, after loooooooong delay I'm coming back with update. Here is first video which contains gameplay. As you can see, I've started to use models from Klavs81's pack and the first one is Kilrathi Dorkier transport. Unfortunately these models are not very well imported into Unity but still I'm trying to bring them alive.

Fantastic Bearcat Model Available For Download

Last year Klavs released a pair of large Terran and Kilrathi model archives that included over a gigabyte of ships. Multiple fan projects have taken advantage of his generosity and are sporting some pretty slick looking craft these days. But he's continued to make new fighters! In order to keep projects in the loop with the latest designs, he's packaged up the nifty Bearcat he recently finished. It's available in both high and low poly versions to suit different game engines' needs. Grab the ship here (55 meg zip) or check out his larger releases here. A couple shots of it deploying in the Homeworld mod are previewed below!

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes Before Orbit

After half a dozen successful resupply missions, SpaceX launches to the International Space Station were almost becoming routine. Unfortunately, a Falcon 9 carrying a new payload to the ISS detonated on the way up this morning. The good news is that the mission was unmanned, but the loss is greater than simple supplies. The rocket was carrying a variety of new hardware for the station, including the new docking adapter that will be used for commercial crew launches by SpaceX and Boeing in a year or two. A second docking ring was already in the works and will replace what was lost today, but this is a good reminder of the challenges that face every aerospace endeavor. Today happens to be SpaceX founder Elon Musk's birthday, which makes for quite a bummer, but we're excited to see them bounce back and continue to push towards making space travel commonplace in the years ahead.
There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause. That's all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis.

Academy Gauntlet Dissected

WC Academy's 15-level gauntlet is a notorious time-sink. Each level consists of three enemy waves, and with each wave you face more and tougher opponents. Selecting the right ship and wingman can be as important as your own combat skills, so it helps to know what you'll come up against in the later levels. Forums member Kaunisto dove into Academy's data files with a hex editor, and extracted the complete mission setup and ship codes:

 Wave 1Wave 2Wave 3
Level 1 1 Sartha (1) 1 Drakhri (1) 1 Jrathek (1)
Level 2 2 Sartha (1) 2 Drakhri (1) 2 Jalkehi (1)
Level 3 2 Grikath (1) 2 Strakha (1) 3 Ferret (1)
Level 4 1 Wraith (1) 2 Epee (1) 3 Sabre (1)
Level 5 3 Epee (1) 1 Sabre (1) 3 Broadsword (1)
Level 6 1 Dorkathi (1) 2 Crossbow (1) 1 Morningstar (1)
Level 7 1 Wraith (1) 2 Jrathek (1) 3 Drakhri (2)
Level 8 3 Jalkehi (2) 2 Morningstar (2) 3 Sabre (2)
Level 9 4 Grikath (3) 4 Strakha (3) 3 Crossbow (3)
Level 10 4 Rapier (2) 5 Epee (2) 7 Ferret (2)
Level 11 5 Grikath (3) 4 Wraith (2) 4 Rapier (3)
Level 12 6 Jrathek (2) 2 Dorkathi (2) 9 Drakhri (3)
Level 13 5 Crossbow (2) 4 Morningstar (4) 6 Epee (2)
Level 14 6 Jrathek (4) 7 Ferret (4) 10 Sartha (4)
Level 15 7 Morningstar (4) 8 Wraith (3) 8 Jrathek (4)

The number in parenthesis indicates the enemy pilot skill. With a hex editor like Hexplorer you can modify each wave to be as easy or challenging as you want. If you'd just like to experience the final level, WingOver has made a small patch that lets you start the gauntlet at level 15. Back up the original WAVEINFO.DAT file and extract this zip file into your game directory. Now you can take on 7 Morningstars, 8 Wraiths and Jratheks without having been worn down by the 42 preceding waves. Easy!

New Border Worlds Eye Candy About To Head Home

DefianceIndustries has shifted focus a bit from Nephilim designs to work on what the Border Worlds has to offer. While the UBW had quite an intense fan following in the years after Wing Commander 4's release, it's a little less common these days to see their craft in the mix. One of the major projects to incorporate a Border Worlds faction today is the Homeworld mod, which has been actively working with several independent and talented fans to help upgrade its assets. These highly detailed fighters will be incorporated into that game in the near future!
Here's a teaser on what I'm working on for the HW mod...

Sins of a Solar Empire Mod Revises Ship Strategy

M3RcAden has been a little quiet lately, but he's back with a status update on his WC mod for the Sins of a Solar Empire strategy game. Work slowed when he encountered issues creating ships, so he's started on a new method to get them into the game. A cruiser, light carrier and heavy carrier are already starting to shape up nicely. The geometry is spot on, and the double/triple-barrel turrets are a nice touch. He'd like to dig into some Kilrathi ships next. You can catch up on some of the early work done for this mod here.
It has been some time since I posted in this thread, and I am sorry to say that there was a hangup. My friend is still trying to get a good extractor working for the iff files, but until he can work something out, this is sort of at a stand still. Just yesterday, on a whim, I started working on a new mesh, not sure where I was going to go with it. Well, that mesh has its primary structure completed, and I can show you exactly where I ended up. :)

I added turrets to the Victory, have completed the Tallahassee and have a good portion of the Vesuvius. Next on my list, after I finish that mesh, is to start and finish a Kilrathi ship or two. I'm starting with the capitals as there are fewer of them to have to contend with.

Priv Retrospective Starts Exploring The Troy System

RugePlus has kicked off a new "Let's Play" series covering Wing Commander Privateer. There have been quite a few people interested in profiling the main games in the franchise, but Priv has gotten much less attention. The mission structure of the core games makes for attractive bite-size episodes, and a free-form adventure can be harder to review. This video does a nice job setting the stage by introducing things like the mission computer, ship upgrades and spaceflight. The narrator provides a clean and straightforward introduction to the universe without being annoying like some YouTube personalities can be. He plans to work a bunch of missions offline to earn some credits and will then pick up with the storyline soon. We'll be looking forward to seeing how his Gemini Sector adventures go!

Welcome to Wing Commander: Privateer, the open-ended adventure by Origin Systems set in the Wing Commander Universe. It's 2669 in the Gemini Sector and join me in the journey through pirates, mercenaries and Kilrathi and we look to conquer the Gemini sector.

Episode #01: Introduction & Jump Drive
We focus on obtaining the credits for our jump drive, required to leave the troy system and venture out into the three other quadrants of the Gemini system.

Importing Ships to WC2 Engine About To Get Easier

Wing Commander editing god HCl has been busy this year, but he hasn't forgotten about his efforts to import ships into the original game engines like WC2 or Academy. His latest project involves creating a kind of converter that will take regular 3D models and transform them into the array of sprites that the original WC games used to display and scale ships. The results are very promising and could open a whole new world of early WC modding! He's provided new example shots of the Arrow and Tigershark below. Previous work has gotten the Dralthi, Manta and Hellcat working, and it may even be possible to generate cutscenes further down the line!
Just as a quick update: I haven't forgotten about this. I've just had to take care of some personal issues (again, unfortunately this ends up being a recurring thing), and that's been eating away at both my spare time and my energy.

The good news: I've began to slowly reclaim some spare time :) What I started doing with that spare time? Some minimal cleaning on my WC2 conversion scripts, setting them up so anyone with GNU Octave can generate a WC2 ship just by minimal tweaking. Then I'll be releasing this to the community. Many thanks to delMar for keeping pinging me about it :)

So basically the idea is to have a package capable of producing a WC2/WCA ship file as-is, with a couple sample ship tiles included. This will allow anyone playing with this to set up GNU Octave, verify everything is working correctly, and then go from there. Even if I don't have time to do substantial work on this myself, I welcome to folks working on the Covert Missions mod to reuse what you can, push it forward and improve it! :)

This may also be interesting for non-developer folks, for this purpose I had in mind the Arrow and Tigershark as "sample" ships, and they should end up being flyable in the end. Here are the ship tiles I have at the moment, in case anyone is interested :D

Source Art For Two German WC Books Uncovered

Wing Commander's always been extremely popular in Germany, and the official German translations of the WC novels were highly anticipated back in the year 2000. Their weird sci-fi covers were always a bit of a mystery though, which we mostly just calked up to some international licensing/contract issue. LOAF was recently able to track down the source of two odd pieces of art. After all these years, this helps paint a more complete picture of the books' unusual lineage. The image used on the front of the German edition of The Price of Freedom was originally used on Mageworlds: The Long Hunt. German Action Station's cover first belonged to Rimrunners. Crazy stuff! You can see all of the German novels lined up here.
Here's an oddity I discovered today: the origin of the weird 'lady running' German cover of Action Stations. The painting was originally for a C.J. Cherryh novel called "Rimrunners." Further odd coincidence: CJ Cherryh was one of the two writers Mark Minasi suggested following if you were interested in the origin of the Kilrathi, in his Secrets of the Wing Commander Universe. The German Wing Commander IV novel cover was originally Mageworlds: The Long Hunt.

Incredible Tarsus Is Ready To Do Work

We've got another gorgeous model from Klavs to kick off your week. There's a lot of mainline Confed and Kilrathi attack craft in his massive library, but this time Klavs took a civilian ship out for a spin. The Tarsus has a really iconic shape that just oozes character (and other fluids). It looks like a workhorse that's seen it all. With all the detail packed into this model, we can really see the rust and patchwork that holds it together. And the atmospheric scene depicted below is even cooler with heat distortion around the engine, the lights turned on and landing gear deployed. The ship already has a cult following - who'd love to own one of these in a future Privateer?
"Dietrich was late. There was nothing to do but keep the engines hot and wait. If she didn't show, I was definitely a dead man.

...She didn't show."

Vote For Wing Commander Arena's Xbox One Backward Compatibility Support!

Microsoft revealed big news at E3 this week when they announced that the XBox One will gain backwards compatibility with XBox 360 games. Twenty-one titles are already functional for XBox Preview members, and about a hundred will be online when the feature formally launches later this year. Additional games will be added each month, and players have an opportunity to vote for their favorites. This development gives Wingnuts a glimmer of hope that Wing Commander Arena could see renewed interest if it were added to the list. Although it's still easy enough to fire up the 360 and jump into the Bearpit today, backwards compatibility on the One would add bonuses such as the ability to natively take screenshots, record videos or stream games to the internet via Twitch. It's also likely that titles will see a spike in sales/players as they are added to the list. It'll be easy for people who just own the Xbone to buy Arena online and then play.


There are currently 1559 potential XBox 360 games that are candidates for XBox One BC after things like hardware peripheral issues are filtered out. Microsoft has created a website where gamers can vote on which should be most strongly considered. Arena currently sits at 1217th place. For comparison, about 51% of the original XBox library was eventually made compatible on the 360 over several years of updates. Games weren't chosen strictly on popularity as developer factors or technical performance may have also weighed in. Still, it doesn't hurt to let Microsoft and EA know that there's an audience out there who'd like to play! To cast you vote, follow this link (or search for "Wing Commander" at xbox.uservoice.com), click "sign in" to input your Xbox.com credentials and then hit the small black "Vote" bar under the vote count. You're all done when the bar changes to "Voted!" And then sleep a little easier tonight knowing you did your part to support the Wing Commander community today!

French Article Explores Space Sim Realism

Here's one for our French-speaking Wing Commander fans. Histoire de L'Eternite has posted an article about the evolving balance of realism versus fantasy in space sims. They observe a recent push to try to scientifically ground certain films and wonder how much that touches video games. Everything from Elite to Elite: Dangerous is covered, including some Wing Commander and Star Citizen in between. It's an interesting topic, although the Google Translation isn't particularly smooth. Non-French speakers can still check it out here.

Never Before Seen SM1 Ad A Dazzling '90s Artifact

The Super Nintendo version of The Secret Missions is well known for its exotic cover art. Memory limitations at the time meant that the heavy Jalthi fighter was replaced with a green-tinted Salthi model. Mindscape chose to double down on this change by emphasizing it on both the box and a nifty fold-up poster included with the game. This threw some people off at the time, but the heavily armed olive drab Salthi has become a fun relic from the age where software developers were forced to do more with less. LOAF recently stumbled upon a really cool pilot advertisement that we've never seen previously. Does anyone else recall seeing it in late 1993 or 1994? You can read up on all sorts of interesting facts about Wing Commander on the SNES here.
The Secret Missions (TM) is the futuristic space combat sequel to the blockbuster Wing Commander (R), winner of five "Game of the Year" awards. With all the action and adventure of the original, The Secret Missions brings you 16 new missions with a new look and feel.

It includes a new flight interface to allow novice players to begin immediately and experience unparalleled intensity and excitement.

The Secret Missions is the amazing 3-D space combat game for all ages and a must for Wing Commander fans.


Nephilim Ships Prepare For New Incursion

In addition to the top notch fleet render that DefianceIndustries posted earlier this month, he's also been actively working on several Nephilim ship models. These are pretty underrepresented in the galleries of Wing Commander fans, so it's nice to see someone's fresh take. The Leviathan carrier has a particularly assertive shape while still remaining unmistakable. His Orca destroyer has already been through a couple revisions based on fan feedback, and it's also coming together nicely. DI has some future ideas about texturing these designs and setting them up to import into a game engine, so if you have any feedback, he'd much appreciate it at the CIC Forums.
So some questions for the community. I notice there seems to be a bit of a lack of Nephilim ships so I figured I'd take a stab at them. I'm looking for feedback on the basic models - I'll get around to texturing them later, but based on their descriptions, they are at least partially bio-organic (the line art makes them look positively Geiger-esque) but I sort of took it (maybe too far) with the spines? Dunno. Like I said was hoping for a little constructive criticism. I'm also trying to keep it within a lower poly limit since I plan on converting them for anyone to use in FS2 or do a mod of my own someday if time permits.

Homeworld Mod Version 3.0 Released

The Homeworld Mod is looking better than ever in version 3.0. All four factions - Confed, Kilrathi, Border Worlds and Black Lance - are playable in both multiplayer or AI skirmishes. The user interface, tech trees, carrier-centric operations and game balance are just a handful of the features that have been upgraded in this revision. It's been in prerelease mode for the last couple weeks, which has helped root out a few minor issues and improve the formal launch experience. The game's fleet has also been rounded out with light capships like the Caernaven frigate and Clarkson trapsport. Some additional screenshots below show off an impressive lineup of the Confed fleet. Homeworld Remastered owners can grab the WC mod here.
The Caernaven frigate, a small package of sensors, two pairs of turrets and anti-fighter missile launchers. Her only hope against larger ships is a pair of close-range light torpedoes, but do not under-estimate her, as this frigate makes an excellent picket and her low cost make this characteristic shape a common view in Confederate space. She is watchful. She is reliable.

The Clarkson transports have the most underrated and the most important role of the fleet. Without them, no war can take place, as they ensure the proper logistics of the Terran Confederation forces.

This is the version 3.0 of the mod for Homeworld Remastered. All four factions are playable in addition to the vanilla ones. You can play both against the AI in local or in the beta multiplayer with people having this mod, by using the command line "-mpbeta -mod WC4FC_Remastered.big" in your Homeworld Remastered shortcut.

Entire WC Series For Ten Bucks At GOG Sale!

GOG's Summer Sale is in full effect, and today is Wing Commander's turn in the discount bin. This marks the return of the whopping 80% discount, so all DOS & Windows WC games can be purchased in a bundle for just $9.52! It's incredible how much you get here. All the expansions are included, WC3 comes with a digital copy of the Fleet Action novel, WC4 is the high quality DVD edition, many games come with the official strategy guides and more. Complete your collection or gift the series to a friend here.

Fun With Flags: Confederation Edition

June 14 is celebrated in the United States as the anniversary of the 1777 adoption of the familiar 'stars and stripes'. So, what better day to look at some flags of the Terran Confederation?


The end of Wing Commander I offers up the first flag in Wing Commander history, with soldiers erecting it on Venice in reference to the famous Iwo Jima photograph. Unfortunately, the scene is all done in silhouette, so the details were unknown. The first visible flag in the Wing Commander canon appears in a cutscene in The Secret Missions 2: Crusade. The Firekkans stand under a bejeweled rock column and the Terrans under a distinct blue flag with two white five-point stars and a red stripe:

It's worth noting that the Confederation went without a single distinct emblem for quite a while. Both a five-point star and the distinctive "Origin logo" roundel appear at various places in the earlier games. In Wing Commander II, Ferrets have red Origin logos on their wings but Terran capital ships have yellow stars. In Wing Commander III, the familiar logo is more prevalent but pilots also wear a 'sword in star' logo on their uniforms. Super Wing Commander even has a different elongated star!

Special Operations 2 shows us an interesting flag--it's derived from the Wing Commander I flag but swaps the five-point stars for 'Origin logo' style jump points:

Wing Commander IV created a flag for the Confederation by placing the now-familiar roundel on a blue field (sometimes with a white trim).

Wing Commander IV has another treat for flagophiles: 16 other flags hanging above the assembly, likely representing different Confederation members:

Then came the Wing Commander movie! The wonderful opening sequence actually shows another Confederation flag, one that is almost a mix of the Secret Missions 2 and Wing Commander IV versions (and part Texas State flag). Unfortunately it is only a faint image that is overlayed over a map of the galaxy. Star*Soldier uses a version of the Wing Commander movie flag on two pages, offering a canonical color scheme:

Later, concept art of the sketches from the movie intro were discovering--allowing Bob McDob to create an image of how he believes that flag should be colorized!

New WC Saga Patch Improves Secondary Monitor Handling

Luke is back with another helpful tool for Wing Commander Saga players. With his latest patch, you can launch the game on your secondary (or tertiary) monitor, in its native resolution. Luke provided a special windowed mode without borders or title bar, creating the illusion of playing in regular full screen mode. The bundled INI file is pre-configured to launch Saga on your secondary monitor. If you want to play on a different screen, you can either change the monitor number variable, or you can manually specify the x- and y-coordinate of the point of origin.

WCS Launch On Secondary Monitor (Download)

This tool allows to launch WCS on any secondary monitor with a special fullscreen window mode. It can also coupled with WCS Mouse Trap. It works out-of-the-box with a second monitor but it can also be configured to run on any other secondary monitor (third, fourth etc.).

If you also have Luke's mouse trap patch installed, you can have that feature enabled automatically as well. His other work includes a data extraction tool and a pilot profile manager.

Saving 'Sports Since 1990

Cracked has posted an article about "annoying game gimmicks you didn't know were super old." Their first target is the concept of escort missions. They're widely used throughout the storyline campaigns in various shooters today, and they've been increasingly popping up in multiplayer combat as well. But, as Wingnuts know, escorts are nothing new! Wing Commander gets the nod as the original classic known for these tedious missions, and at least in WC it made more sense within the context of the game. It can get ridiculous in other series when a character struggles to follow you and can't carry their own gun. You can find the full article here.
Contrary to popular belief, old-timey games also suffered from the curse of the escort mission, most notably 1990's Wing Commander, a simple game about detonating spaceships cunningly disguised as massive blocks of pixels.

At various junctures within the game, you're asked to escort large, unarmed ships across enemy territory. Simple, right? Wrong. If you leave the ship's side for even a minute trying to shoot down the enemy fighters riddling it with bullets, your escortee will just speed off without you ... right into the path of the next group of enemy fighters, who'll succeed at blowing it into atoms because you're still 20 billion light years away.

That is, of course, if your escortee doesn't decide to ram you to death while you're busy trying to keep it alive.

Along with serving as a reminder of how adorable old-timey games look, the crude nature of the graphics meant that the game couldn't reliably detect where you were in relation to literally anything around you. As such, going near the cargo ship would often register as a collision, meaning that you had to fly at a distance from the thing you were supposed to be defending, which helped the mission graduate from "stupid bullshit" to "impossible bullshit."

Sharp Looking X3 Oldies Resurface

Here's some more nifty renders from Lc4Hunter. Although he's back at work today contributing to projects like the Homeworld mod, these images date back a few years to his now-suspended X3: Terran Conflict project. They didn't get posted at the time, but we were happy to stumble upon them recently. The designs are quite accurate to their WC3 counterparts, so it'd be a shame not to share!
A render of my "new" TCS Vesuvius model for game usage. The model is about 25,000 polygons but with the whole hangar interior. This is only for LOD 0 usage. Every other LOD uses an easier model which saves about 5000 polygons.

Netflix Now Streaming WC in Canada

Netflix has added Wing Commander to its high definition lineup in another country. Canada joins European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK with the movie on its roster. It's not yet in the US library, but WC is clearly on the march across the globe! Canada was also the first country to get the film in the Google Play store. Other sites like VUDU, Amazon Instant Video, XBox Video and iTunes are also cheaper places to score a copy if you're looking to own it in your digital locker.
Earth's only hope against the vicious Kilrathi Empire are two young fighter pilots, who must stop the enemy and warn Earth of an impending attack. Average of 290,162 ratings: 3 stars

MUSH Adventures Highlighted in New Fan Fiction Push

We've been highlighting Wingnuts' recent efforts to bring back fan fiction, and Iceblade noticed the similar lack of text-based roleplay in today's fan projects. There's the From the Ashes forums RPG, but none of the old Wing Commander MUSHes, MUDs or MUXes are still operating out there. So he's taken to posting some of the prior adventures of the Gemini Sector MUSH to the CIC Fan Fiction Forum. Even if you're not into actively playing text-based adventures, there's some good stories here!
Foreward: The Wing Commander Gemini Sector MUSH was a Multi-User Shard Habitat set aboard the Bengal Class Strike Carrier TCS Majestic in the year 2657. Seeking to break the stalemate, the Kilrathi launched a surprise offensive through the edge of Terran-controlled space in Gemini Sector. A tenacious counteroffensive has blunted the Kilrathi assault. This MUSH featured both a tough struggle with a massive Kilrathi force in front and a morass of corruption and piracy behind.

While the story interactions weren't persistent, most clients used to access the server come with logging systems. The roleplaying sessions were usually taken from these logs and posted to the MUSH-related wiki. While these logs have remained online thus far, the age of these wiki sites has left me concerned that the host will disappear. So I am posting these logs here as a story. I also think that these logs will prove interesting for some here.

Backbone of the Confed Fleet Remastered for Homeworld Mod

L.I.F. has updated three more warships for the Homeworld Mod. First up is the majestic Confederation class dreadnought: it comes complete with an arsenal of weapons topped off by the phase transit cannon! Even though ships like the Concordia can surely hold their own in battle, they aren't running into the fight alone this time. The iconic Southampton destroyer and Tallahassee cruiser duo are also ready to run escort. It sounds like both will be tons of fun to field. Find even more shots of these gorgeous ships over at the CIC Forums.
And to finish the week-end, I present you the pride of the Fleet, the Confederation-class dreadnought! Armed with eight antimatter turrets, two missile turrets and twelve laser turrets, this beast would be terrifying on its own... but the name "dreadnought" shall not be uttered in vain, as the Confederation-class can bring to bear eight short-range torpedo tubes and the infamous Phase Transit Cannon. The latter is a devastating long-range weapon able to maul any capital ship in the Kilrathi arsenal. Add to it a large hangar capacity and you soon realize why the Cats fear this ship more than anything else in the Terran fleet.

The Southampton-class destroyer is small, but a very nasty escort ship, that will prove its worth as an escort ship against any threat. Its eight laser turrets will keep a healthy fire barrage on any attackers, while its frontal antimatter turret gives it a good punch against isolated corvettes and frigates, but its real value lies in its missile armament: a dorsal Vertical Launch System allows it to fire every minute up to eight medium-range ImageRec missiles on inbound attackers, while the usual light torpedo package will fire every minute a potentially devastating salvo of four light torpedoes at close ranges, making its enemies wary of a destroyer squadron that could easily maneuver to force a torpedo attack on an unsuspecting target.

Finally, the Tallahassee-class cruiser brings the heavy firepower to the front lines, with eight laser turrets for self-protection, four antimatter batteries for heavy combat against enemy warships, the four light torpedo tubes and a spinal plasma cannon for medium range fire against critical targets.

Clever Tweak Streamlines Secret Missions 1.5 Installation

WingOver has modified the latest build of Secret Missions 1.5 to work independently of the base Secret Missions. This is a nice update for anyone who was wary about backing up or inadvertently overwriting the original game's files. Simply unzip the four .015 files into Wing Commander's gamedat folder and execute with cm15.exe. Further instructions are included in the zip (200 k). The files include the storyline and missions that were originally included in a new WC expansion pack that was exclusive to Super Wing Commander on the Macintosh & 3DO.
The Covert Mission files have been renamed by me to follow the original WC naming convention. ie. WC file extensions are .000; Secret Mission 1 files are .001; and Secret Mission 2 files are .002. So, for Covert Missions (SM1.5) I set the file extensions to .015.

briefing.sm15 ~~~> briefing.015, camp.sm15 ~~~~> camp.015, module.sm15 ~~~> module.015, title1.sm15 ~~~~~> titl15.vga

Then, within the Secret Missions 2 executable file (sm2.exe) I used a hex editing program to change the .002 extensions for the three files to .015 and the title screen file name from title1.vga to titl15.vga. I saved my changes to a new file named cm15.exe.

Using this method you can place the new Covert Mission files in the gamedat folder along with the Secret Missions 2 files. Starting the game with cm15.exe brings you to the Covert Missions title screen and off you go from there. :)

While on the subject of special material included in WC ports, Shades captured the animated gif above from the SNES version of The Secret Missions (1). It's a small snippet of the game's modified intro that discusses where the Sivar superweapon came from - War Hammer XII! Check the full intro out below!

"Magnificent, aren’t they? I bet you wish you'd had one of those during the war!"

There are many talented Wingnut artists out there, but it's not every day a new one pops up to enter the fray. DefianceIndustries actually isn't a complete newcomer to the Wing Commander community, but this is his first time sharing one of his projects - and he picked quite a scene to do it with! The wallpaper below features a prominent Vesuvius class carrier flanked by a pair of Murphy class destroyers. There's what looks like a Concordia carrier in the background as well as a wing of Piranhas flying escort. Whether bearing down on a Kilrathi starpost or posting to the CIC Forums, this task force makes a hell of an introduction!
I've been lurking around these forums for a good many years and figured I should probably properly introduce myself. But because it's rude to show up in someone's playground without bringing a toy I figured I'd share some of the wingnut work I've been doing of late.

Privateer 2 Timbres Sound Sampler

Don Allen's excellent soundfont, Timbres of Heaven, was recently updated to version 3.1. With a custom soundfont, you can make MIDI files sound like they're being played through a fancy hardware synthesizer, such as a Roland MT-32. If you play classic games on your PC, you can configure a virtual device that will automatically enhance the MIDI music of whatever game you are playing. This also works in combination with DOSBox. For this update, we've converted the Privateer 2 in-flight MIDI's (MIDI) using both a Sound Blaster General MIDI soundfont, and the latest Timbres of Heaven. You can find some more Wing Commander samples in a previous update.
# General MIDI Timbres 3.1
1
2
3
4
5
6

Antique Academy Art Acquired

While going about his adventurous day, original Wing Commander musical composer George The Fat Man Sanger stumbled upon some really cool art labeled "Wing Commander." He snapped some pictures and posted them to social media, where sharp eyed Wingnuts immediately identified these as background concept paintings for the Academy TV show! Mr. Fat Man helped point us in the direction of the Pasadena Antique Mall where these were located, and LOAF was able to pick them up. As an extra bonus, there was also a complete storyboard board for the episode "Recreation!"
From left to right: storyboard paintings from "Expendable," "Word of Honor" & "The Most Delicate Instrument"
You can purchase Fat's album of music from Wing Commander over at Vibedeck for $9.98!

Tactical WC Mod Implementing Enhanced Gamification Ideas

The ongoing beta test of the WC Generals fan-made strategy game has helped refine the mechanics and fix a handful of bugs, but creator Ron B thinks there's some untapped potential out there. He's going back to basics and looking at how to make the experience more competitive and engaging. Other players are coming up with good ideas, and a tentative list of improvements has been started below. If you'd like to add to the feedback, stop by the CIC Forums. There's some bonus screenshots below as well, or new players can also poke around the testbed themselves here.
I was taking a long hard look at the game playability factor. The game dynamics are working fine, but there is no fun factor or punch to it. After all a game must have a gamification element.

So I went back to the drawing board and have started on the following update:
- Players start with a nice back story and unique profiles such as raider, merchant, fleet, militia etc.
- Players start with a very small fleet which they need to grow.
- Multiple sources of credit and freebies when capturing installations.
- Game wide comm between players and in game updates and announcements.
- More failure points like engine malfunctions and crew mutinies.

Would love your views on the above.

New Confed HQ Hits Close to Homeworld

The Homeworld Remastered Mod has seen continued advancement on multiple fronts. From a feature perspective, music is now working in the game, fuel management has been added to the Kilrathi faction, and a new supply station has been added for the kats. There has also been good progress on upgrading the game's resolution to support high quality textures and models. Most of the shots below preview this higher fidelity option. Chief among these updated designs is a massive new representation of Confed Headquarters, which you can see next to the original version below. You can find even more shots everything here at the CIC Forums here or pick up version 2.45 of the mod here.
Hem, public service announcement here: I loathe your graphic cards and I want them to self-ignite with the fury of a flashpak. I present you the refurbished Confed HQ for the upcoming 3.0 version. It weights a wooping 155 MB and is, by itself, bigger than most mods for the game.

Goodbye, Mary Bellis

I have some sad Wing Commander news to relate today. I just learned that Mary Bellis, an uncredited but essential part of the development of the original Wing Commander, passed away earlier this year. I don’t believe that most people know her story, so I thought I’d share it here by way of memorializing a woman most people probably didn’t know was a gaming pioneer.


A bit of technical background to set the stage: the original Wing Commander doesn’t store or display its ships using 3D polygon data, like most modern games. Companies like Spectrum Holobyte were starting to use polygons for their air combat games, but the result wasn’t especially attractive at the time: untextured geometric objects that left you wondering whether you were looking at a triangle or an F-16, a set of cubes or a tank and so on. Chris Roberts wanted more detail for Wing Commander’s immersive, ‘interactive movie’ atmosphere. During the R&D phase for his next big game (then called Squadron), Chris decided to forgo polygons and instead, inspired by Lucasarts’ Battlehawks 1942, create a system based on pre-set bitmap images. It took about two months of work, but the result was stunning for the time. Each ship was stored as a set of 37 pre-rendered image showing the craft from every possible direction. The game engine would then swap, rotate and scale sprites based on the players’ perspective, making it appear as though you could be smoothly maneuvering around a detailed object from any angle. It was this tech breakthrough that helped sell ‘Squadron’ to Origin’s executives at the time; it was quick, beautiful and like nothing else on the market!


With Wing Commander in production, the next challenge was creating all those ships! The ship building ‘pipeline’ on Wing Commander worked largely the same way it does on Star Citizen today. First, a concept artist, in this case Glen Johnson, created line art of the twenty odd ships required for the finished game. You may not know it, but you’ve seen much of this art before: with a couple exceptions, it was used in the Claw Marks manual (and some of those exceptions later appeared in a Computer Gaming World supplement.) From there, a powerful computer would be used to create 3D models of each ship, which would be turned into the hundreds of individual bitmaps needed. But there was one problem: no one at Origin in 1990 did 3D artwork.


Unlike companies today, Origin in 1990 didn’t have a large in-house production staff. It’s largely forgotten, but the company primarily published independent authors’ games at the time, taking a cut of the proceeds and letting the creators retain the rights to their properties. Those creators would set their own budgets, hire their own people and so on in addition to using resources provided by the company. Chris himself wasn’t an Origin employee until the day Wing Commander shipped! Wing Commander started life with just two artists on the team, neither of whom worked with 3D (not unexpected, since 3D art was in its infancy, and unheard of in games.) Chris opted to solve this problem by outsourcing the creation of the ship models and images to a company dedicated to such tasks. With that charge, producer Warren Spector reached out to a small company located in downtown New York City: Process Animation.


And that’s where Mary comes into the story! A tiny operation, Mary’s company Process Animation took on the task of creating Wing Commander’s now-beloved spacecraft. Working from Glen Johnson’s striking line art, she created a 3D model of each Wing Commander ship. Using a program called Sculpt 3D on her Amiga, Mary created the exceptionally (for the time) detailed, ray traced ship images you see in Wing Commander. The Hornet, the Rapier, the Dralthi… all created outside Origin, on an Amiga by a woman in New York City! Each image was done individual byte by byte, until the ships were ready for primetime. She delivered the individual motion frames and the 3D files to Origin on a budget, and those became the ships that most everyone here spent their youth’s flying and blowing up.


Mary isn’t credited in Wing Commander, but she created part of the game that can’t be forgotten (per her contract, Process Animation should have had a credit... but it doesn’t appear in the intro.) Looking at the individual Wing Commander bitmaps, each one is more than the sum of the concept art. There’s a distinct style that immediately sold you on the nascent Wing Commander universe, from the tantalizing glimpses of the Confederation and Kilrathi logos to the uniform color schemes (green and white camo for human ships, tan, yellow and red Kilrathi.) Like everything else in Wing Commander, Mary’s artwork hinted at a greater world that further brought you into the game.


I was lucky enough to get to chat with her in 2013, just as Star Citizen was taking hold. She was surprised anyone would be able to track her down, but was good enough to chat about the old days with me until both of our lives got in the way. She immediately struck me as a very kind person, and she was certainly happy to learn she was remembered and that her work was still appreciated. It goes without saying, but I was genuinely saddened to learn she passed away in March… an unsung hero of Wing Commander’s development, a talented artist and an outright good person. You can’t ask for much more of a legacy than that! So here’s to Mary, and to our always remembering the folks behind our favorite games.

Five of the 37 Hornet images created by Mary for Wing Commander I. Glen Johnson's Hornet line art, used to create the raytraced 3D model. A VERY polite postcard ("I hope that you send us a cheque soon, but even if you don't stay in touch.") from Mary to producer Warren Spector. Part of the Warren Spector archive at the University of Texas at Austin. Box copy for Spectrum Holobyte's Falcon 2, featuring the competing polygon technology. Battlehawks 1942, an inspiration that used a similar bitmap technology.

Star Citizen's Hornet, the great great grandson of the 3D model Mary rendered twenty five years ago. Note that the color scheme lives on today!


(For anyone interested in the rest of the story, vis a vis 3D ships. Chris Roberts introduced Origin to Autodesk 3D Studio for Wing Commander II, training up traditional artists to build and render 3D ships in-house. This technology was used for Wing Commander II and several spinoffs. For Strike Commander, Chris revisited 3D polygons thanks to another technical breakthrough by another late, great artist, Mr. Paul Steed, that would allow them to be easily textured for additional detail.)

WC Vega Flight Roster Doubles Almost Over Night

It's been another hyper productive week for Mike Peters and his students working on the WC Vega film project! They finished a whopping three new fighter designs in the last few days, including the Hornet, Raptor and Jalthi. All three benefit from the expertise they've built putting together previous models, and the result is surprisingly accurate given the simple construction materials. They've even recreated the iconic landing sequence lining up with the Tiger's Claw! As great as that scene is, there's also something pretty rewarding about the final picture below where the Raptor zeroes in for the kill. Check out tons more pictures and stories about making putting these together here. It's summer break now, so updates could slow for a bit, but we're anxious for them to get back into it in the fall!
Next up, Jalthi. What? Whaddaya mean, “Out of plaster?” The Jalthi’s not done, but I’m in a hurry to get things cleaned up for summer.

I built a Hornet while I was waiting for the Jalthi paint to dry. It’s an experiment with glitter paint. The glitter paint cost 200X the cost of the fighter. That is to say, the fighter cost 1c to build, and the glitter paint cost $2.00.

The Raptor is my favorite – hands down, no contest. It wasn’t my favorite until I put the wings on. Then, I saw it. It LOOKS Sci-Fi – like the next generation of something Tom Corbett or Buck Rogers would fly. If you’ve ever played SolarQuest, you know. (If you haven’t played SolarQuest, then you don’t know your moons of Saturn.)

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

Current Poll

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

Site Staff