Visual Reference: Wing Commander I Rooms

Following our gallery of Wing Commander II backgrounds, here is a smaller selection of backgrounds from the original game. There weren't as many places to go on the Tiger's Claw, but it's interesting to note they didn't 'double up' on similar places--the Hangar Deck and the debriefing area have separate backgrounds.

Briefing Room:

Debriefing:

Hangar (Medal Ceremony):

Colonel Halcyon's Office:

Officer's Lounge:

Goofballs Battle for the Enigma Sector

Last year, I was lucky enough to take part in a 25th Anniversary livestream of Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. Unfortunately, if you missed the live showing it has not been available... until now! We've put a copy online for Wing Commander fans who missed out on the event. It's a little over 11 hours long, and if you're brave enough you can start watching below. If the playlist does not continue, you can view it here.

Wing Commander Makes History

It's time for some serious history! The Digital Antiquarian has put together an excellent article titled From Squadron to Wingleader which follows the first half of the development of the original Wing Commander! It's a story hardcore fans are likely familiar with (much is sourced from Mike Harrison's Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide), but it has never been presented in so-compelling a form. Of special interest is the attention to the mood surrounding Chris Roberts' early days at Origin Systems and the story of how he came to become part of the company:

But whatever the relative disappointments, Times of Lore at least wasn't a flop, and Chris Roberts stayed around as a valued member of the little Origin family. Part of the reason the Origin people wanted to keep him around was simply because they liked him so much. He nursed the same passions for fantasy and science fiction as most of them, with just enough of a skew provided by his British upbringing to make him interesting. And he positively radiated energy and enthusiasm. He's never hard to find in Origin group shots of the time. His face stands out like that of a nerdy cherub — he had never lost his facial baby fat, making him look pudgier in pictures than he was in real life — as he beams his thousand-kilowatt smile at all and sundry. Still, it was hardly his personality alone that made him such a valued colleague; the folks at Origin also came to have a healthy respect for his abilities. Indeed, and as we've already seen in an earlier article, the interface of Times of Lore had a huge influence on that of no less vital an Origin game than Ultima VI.

You can find the complete piece here. A follow-up following the game's development from CES to release is promised (and, I add personally, highly anticipated!)

It’s the End of the World as We Know It!

Happy Earth Day, everyone! There are certainly important issues facing the world today… but let’s take a moment to jump forward and see what disastrous await our home planet in the Wing Commander timeline! Soon Earth itself will be in our grasp...

2219 - The Great Pandemics

The Confederation Handbook tells us that in 2219, the first in a series of Great Pandemics strikes. The disease completely destroys Luna Station and results in a 204-year quarantine of Earth itself. Isolated from the expanding solar system, Earth was ravaged by disease and famine, both of which were compounded by a crippled biosphere and a shortage of fossil fuels. Traditional farming became impossible, with the only source of food for the population being self-contained hydroponics stations. The planet became increasingly reliant on the goodwill of the Outer Planets to provide the fuel and material resources needed for these stations, trading cultural resources for unmanned supply drops.

2668 - Kilrathi Orbital Bombardment

Fleet Action tells the story of the ‘false peace’ and a surprise Kilrathi attack that ravages the inner worlds of the Confederation. It’s also the first time in the Wing Commander franchise that we spend any time on Earth itself (though we visit Earth orbit briefly in Wing Commander II and Freedom Flight.) Unfortunately (for Earth in 2668) the story doesn’t exactly leave the planet in the same shape it began: during the climax, a Kilrathi cruiser squadron breaks through the defenses and destroys a host of cities using antimatter weapons. A pyrrhic victory ensues when the cruisers fail to launch their final volleys of Strontium-90-clad weapons which would destroy the planet’s biosphere permanently. Here’s the scene:

"No!"

Doomsday screamed with impotent rage as he saw the heavy antimatter rockets streak away. A light screen of enemy fighters, launched from the cruisers, moved to intercept, and with a wild frenzy Doomsday slashed into them, killing them with a mad insane glee, while behind him, four modified Sabres lined up for the first torpedo launch.

The torpedoes leaped out, tracking in on the first cruiser, and seconds later detonated. Kruger's fighters swarmed in, slamming the cruiser, which appeared for a second to collapse in on itself before bursting asunder. The comm link was filled with mad screams of hatred and rage as the strike team turned towards the other cruiser.

Down in the Earth's atmosphere Doomsday could see pinpoint winks of light as point defense systems fought to knock down the incoming wave of more than a hundred missiles. And then there was a flash of light over the center of the North American continent. It looked like Chicago going up, followed seconds later by a dozen more: Pittsburg, Boston, Miami, Quebec, then across in Northern Europe: Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm, Constantinople and Paris. Other flashes detonated over the primary control centers for Earth's American and European space defenses at Omaha, Rio, Tripoli, and Kiev.

2669 (alternate) - Earth Explodes

If you can conquer an entire 11-sector Campaign in Wing Commander Armada then you are rewarded with a blink-and-you-miss-it cutscene of the enemy homeworld… well, exploding. It’s not specified exactly how the Kilrathi blow up the Earth as the result of a victorious Armada round (or vice versa, with humans and Kilrah) but it is likely one of the series’ most unseen cutscenes!

2669 (alternate) - Kilrathi Invasion

If you can’t hack it in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, you find yourself in an impossible situation defending Proxima and then Earth itself from a massed Kilrathi invasion. And bad news for any Captain Kirks out there: it’s a no-win scenario. The game will continue throwing wave after wave of enemy planes after you until you either eject or die. And you are then treated to one of the coolest losing sequences in history, in which the Kilrathi destroy Washington DC and render Earth an apocalyptic hellscape!

Visual Reference: Special Operations 1 & 2 Rooms

Earlier in the week, we collected all of the 'uncut' Wing Commander II 'sets.' Today we're following up that selection with the new rooms created for the Special Operations addon disks. A key consideration in that era of development was disk space; the mission disks could budget only a small amount of space to add new art content. As a result, each game added one cinematic ship view (the Crossbow and Morningstar, respectively) and one new location. That's the Gettysburg's brig in Special Operations 1 and the courtroom for Jazz's trial for Special Operations 2. Note that Tolwyn's shadow is part of the artwork, making for a somewhat creepy scene once he is removed!

Special Operations 1:

Special Operations 2:

Got Any Brilliance?

In honor of April 20th, here's a quick rundown on some of the recreational drugs of the Wing Commander universe! Blaze up some Arakh Leaves or swallow an Elysium capsule and let's get started...

Brilliance

Brilliance is probably the Wing Commander universe's signature drugs. Introduced in Privateer as a commodity available only at pirate bases, Brilliance is frequently namechecked as 'the' narcotic of the 29th century. Unit cost averages about 200 credits each. Most famously, Privateer features three missions in which the player is asked to run Brilliance from Oakham pirate base for Tayla; if you refuse, the game is over and you can never earn the Steltek gun. As hard as it is to imagine today, this upset a number of fans in 1993 who were not happy to be made to play a 'drug smuggler!' To address the feedback, Origin left a second set of Brilliance runs in Righteous Fire as optional missions.

Ultimate

Ultimate is Brilliance's much harder cousin (and likely named after Wing Commander's famous sister series of CRPGs.) Like Brilliance, Ultimate is available only at pirate bases... but at a much higher cost, averaging around 1,000 credits per unit. It does not appear in any of the scripted missions. Militia and Confederation patrols that scan Ultimate aboard your ship will attack on sight.

Tobacco

Welcome back to one of the oldest Wing Commander message board topics: smoking in WC is illegal?! The answer is yes, tobacco is considered contraband in Privateer and Confederation Broadswords will happily sink your Orion for transporting it... but it's also claerly smoked in cigar form in mixed company by Hunter in both the original Wing Commander and various novels. Perhaps a case where only transporting it is considered a felony?

Warp Steroids

The premiere drug of the Tri-System, Warp Steroids are all over Privateer 2: The Darkening. Warp Steroids (or "WaStes") are taken by humans hoping to improve their physique... with the unfortunate potential downside that overuse can shrink or collapse body parts. The Tri-System seems to be much more lax about drug use: versions of Warp Steroids are manufactured and advertised by large companies (including PumpUp! and Bulge-U-Like) and are not considered black market goods even they are repeatedly referenced as being typical 'party' drugs (used by rock stars and the like.) Perhaps anyone who wants a real trip in the Tri-System needs only to visit Karatikus... (Note that there are illegal drugs in the Tri-System; you are occasionally called upon to destroy pirate shipments of narcotics in booth missions.)

Elysium

Another product of the Tri-System, Elysium was invented and produced by a company called Stapleton Brothers. The drug returns the user to the cognitive state of a seven-year-old, providing a sense of innocent joy for several hours. It is distributed in capsule form, taken two at a time. In the Tri-System of 2790, Elysium was sold on the open market with an MSRP of 35 credits per capsule. Elysium also made its way to the Terran Confederation, where it was available illegally (as of 2701.)

Happy Death

Happy Death originates in Action Stations in an offhand remark by Senator Jamison More about how addiction is an epidemic that needs to be addressed in the pre-war Confederation.

Arakh Leaves

The Kilrathi enjoy a good trip, too! Arakh, introduced in the novel Freedom Flight, is said to be "like catnip" for the Kilrathi. Arakh leaves give a calming effect and are either chewed or infused in a drink. Kilrathi society does not outlaw the leaves--Ralgha even chews them on the bridge of his Fralthi--but it does seem to judge those who over-imbide and become intoxicated from them.

Kilnip

It's not clear exactly what Kilnip is, but the name certainly suggests it's intended for the Kilrathi! It's one of several illegal narcotics listed in the 'Life at Port Broughton' article in Star Soldier, the Wing Commander Arena manual (also mentioned are many of the above: Brilliance, Ultimate, Elysium, Warp Steroids and Happy Death.)

Sorry, Hunter!

Visual Reference: Wing Commander II Rooms

Wing Commander has, from the start, been called an interactive movie... and the team building the games embraced that in many aspects of the production process. For example, all of the 'talking head' scenes in Wing Commander, Wing Commander II and Privateer were constructed just like film shots, with different camera angles and purpose-built 3D environments (or sets!) When playing the game, your eye tends to follow the characters rather than their environments... so this series aims to remove the talking heads and show you just how much detail there is in the background of the games!

Sets in Wing Commander II have three levels of camera angles: an establishing shot (often a door), a wide (which the game calls medium) that shows the full bodies of the characters and then a close-up that would have the face of one particular character. For this post, we've removed the heads so you can enjoy exploring the Concordia yourself!

Barracks, TCS Concordia:

Tolwyn's Office, TCS Concordia: Also used as Tolwyn's office an Earth during the game's introduction.

Bridge, TCS Concordia: The game mirrors the close shot when a second character needs to speak.

Briefing Room, TCS Concordia: The briefing room has an extra 'wide' shot.

Comm Room, TCS Concordia: Also reused as other comm rooms, including at Gwynedd. Note that the screen would normally display an animated message and not read 'DONUT TOUCH!'

Flight Deck, TCS Concordia:

Angel's Office, TCS Concordia: A redress of the Tolwyn set. Angel's office has a second 'wide' that is used when she is debriefing Jazz (as he couldn't attack her if she was behind the desk!)

Observation Lounge, TCS Concordia:

Repair Deck, TCS Concordia: The Repair Deck re-uses a flight deck image for the wide.

Space Station: Used for multiple stations, including Caernavon and Olympus.

Ground Base: These are used for Niven and Ghorah Khar, depending on the series you earn. While they are a redress of the Tolwyn set, they are distinct renderings.

Kilrathi Flagship:

Kilrathi Throne Room: Used on multiple bases. The game mirrors the close when a second character is speaking.

Ship Cockpits:

Wing One Goes Mainstream

Did you miss out on The Fatman's Wing Commander soundtrack, Wing One? Good news: it's now available via mainstream digital music storefronts including Amazon and iTunes. The 27-track album includes all of the music from the original Wing Commander recorded using a Roland MT-32 (plus a few surprises, including a lullaby version of one track and a live recording of the theme from CES!) It's also available for purchase through Amazon's international sites, so no matter where you are you can add a copy to your digital library!


Model Upgrade Pack Upgraded

Good news for pilots who want to make their games especially pretty: DefianceIndustries has launched version 0.21 of his Wing Commander Prophecy Model Upgrade Pack. This is an unofficial update to the game that replaces the original 3D models with much higher quality, modern versions... the end result being pretty spectacular! The project now supports the original retail release of the game, Wing Commander Secret Ops, Wing Commander Prophecy Gold AND the GOG edition of the game! This update adds several new ships to the upgrade set: the Excalibur, Piranha, Vesuvius, Condor and even high resolution asteroids! Wing Commander Prophecy versions of ships include alternate livery for Diamondback and Black Widow squadrons. You can download the pack here.

Wingmen Back from the Dead!

Happy Easter, WingNuts! In honor of the holiday, we present a list of Wing Commander characters who (intentionally or--often--otherwise) came back from the dead! (Presented in the spirit of good humor rather than sacrilege.) Please note that for our sanity we are not including ‘killable’ wingmen; the character needs to have (supposedly) died as part of a story. Interestingly, that makes for MOST of the always-killable Tiger’s Claw wingmen anyway… but an honorary mention to Angel, Spirit, Jazz and Doomsday who died but once (and in the last case not yet at all.)

Vance Richards

If you aren’t familiar with Vance Richards, don’t worry: he’s one of the Wing Commander novel series’ major characters who never moved over to the games. We first meet him in Fleet Action where we learn he is a mythical figure responsible for the Confederation’s intelligence work. He reappears in several books and also stars in Action Stations, where we see his early days as a fighter pilot. In False Colors, Richards seems to finally meet his end when his flagship is destroyed in battle:

There was dead silence in CIC as they watched Xenophon's last fight, helpless to intervene, helpless to do anything but watch as Ragark's fighters swept in and hammered the light cruiser. They had thrown up a heavy jamming field around her, too, so they couldn't even raise Forbes or Richards to speak to the men one last time.

It came to an end far more quickly than Bondarevsky's fight with the two Kilrathi cruisers had. One moment Xenophon was still alive, lashing out at any craft impudent enough to approach too close. The next minute…nothing. The ship was just gone.

And with it, one of Tolwyn's best friends. Admiral Vance Richards had been a good man, for all his faults, and Tolwyn would always remember him as a man of principle and honor. He had a flash memory of before the war, when they were both newly minted young gentlemen and together they had gone on their first mission.

"God's speed, Vance," he whispered.
A touching end! The problem? As book seven, False Colors may have been the last Wing Commander novel that Baen published, but it wasn’t the last one in the timeline. The fifth book, the adaptation of The Price of Freedom, took place a year later (in 2673) and had already featured another appearance by Admiral Richards. Oops! Guess he had a top secret plan to escape? Not a stretch in his case, at least! (The Admiral was also scripted to appear in the single player storyline for Wing Commander Arena at one point, though it was cut midway through development.)

Knight

Joseph “Knight” Khumalo of the 58th Fighter Wing, one of the original game’s main wingmen… and apparently no one’s favorite, as even his talking heads end up telling the story of how other pilots are spreading rumors that he’s a cat lover. Knight is also the less significant of two of the original wingmen that were killed ‘too early’ in the Wing Commander movie. The movie tells the story of Blair’s arrival on the Tiger’s Claw and takes place shortly before the events of the original game… so these two pilots that seem to die must have somehow survived! In the movie, Knight is flying a Broadsword during the mid-film strike on a suspected Kilrathi convoy. His bomber is shot down during a torpedo run (something well familiar to anyone who ever played Special Operations 1) against a Kirathi dreadnaught and he is not seen or mentioned again.

… except, of course, that he later appears in the Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide, Wing Commander I, both Secret Missions and the novel Freedom Flight. We don’t know the rest of the story yet, but we can safely say he must have ejected or otherwise survived the blast and been recovered later. (Pilgrim Stars, which takes place immediately after the film, mentions only that “we lost Knight” in a list of characters that includes both those killed and those transferred to other squadrons.)

The real question seems to be: did Knight then survive the loss of the Tiger’s Claw? He appears on Blair’s list of characters killed by Jazz in the Gwynedd losing series… but so do Hunter and Iceman, who were already known to have survived (see entry below, just apparently not by Blair.) He does not appear with the survivors in the Ultimate Strategy Guide, though, and his ‘story’ in Secret Missions 2 seems to be intentionally ironic: he chooses to stay onboard and fight the Kilrathi instead of accepting a transfer to train new pilots. Knight’s ultimate fate is really one worse than death: he’s a character no one really cared what happened to.

Hunter & Iceman

As mentioned for Knight, Hunter and Iceman were treated as dead in Wing Commander II. The game makes it pretty clear who is intended to be the ‘last’ survivors of the Tiger’s Claw, and in the losing endgame series actually calls out Knight, Iceman, Hunter and others (and it further makes clear that Maniac IS still alive.) Later stories, however, would need both characters. In 1992, Hunter was resurrected with the implied (and later stated in Fleet Action and the Kilrahti Saga Manual) story that he was away from the Tiger’s Claw because of the events of Freedom Flight. Iceman, on the other hand, had a dual-resurrection: he’s mentioned seemingly in error among the Tiger’s Claw survivors who land on the Austin in the official guide (the dialogue seems to be intended for Angel.) But many years later, his survival was confirmed when it became necessary that he father a son, Lance Casey, who would star in Wing Commander Prophecy. Because of how the backstory works out, he had to have survived K’Tithrak Mang for that to happen. And speaking of K’Tithrak Mang...

Shotglass

… in this minor reference, Shotglass seems to have survived the loss of the Tiger’s Claw! The unidentified author of Voices of War (Jacorski?) claims that he owns an item that Shotglass gave him, emphasis ours, “AFTER K’Tithrak Mang.” That could be one of two times: after the Tiger’s Claw attempted to destroy K’Tithrak Mang in 2656 or after the Concordia finally did in 2667. Either way, Shotglass seems to have somehow survived the carrier’s destruction! Did any characters we know actually die there?

Maniac & Vagabond

In adapting Wing Commander III into a novel, Andrew Keith first followed the game’s mechanics exactly. In his first draft, he killed Flint, Maniac and Vagabond during the attack run on Kilrah. In the game, every pilot is killable at this point and (see the entry for Stalker) no one you bring with you can survive the last mission. Andrew chose Maniac and Vagabond, so they’re dead, right? Wrong, Origin said. Knowing they hoped to bring both back for Wing Commander IV (then in pre-production) they asked him to go back and add a small chance of survival for each. But not for Flint! Sorry, Flint. Here’s how they played out:

Vagabond:

In that moment, the second Darket engaged. He didn't have to look at the damage control panel to know that he was losing armor around his reactor. Desperately, Vagabond tried to dodge, but the controls were sluggish.

He broke comm silence. "I can't shake him! I'm going up." And just before the Darket fired again, he managed to add a final plea. "Don't give up, Colonel. You've got to take them down . . . for all of us who didn't make it!"

He slammed the switch to trigger his ejection system, praying he wasn't already too late.

Maniac:

"Shields are failing," he said as he released the missiles, his voice almost matter of fact now. "Looks like you're on your own now, Colonel. For what its worth, I'm proud I flew with you . . .''

And then his fighter was gone, too, an expanding cloud of flame and smoke and whirling debris. Blair thought he caught a glimpse of the Excalibur's escape pod boosting clear of the explosion, straining to reach orbital velocity, but he wasn't sure. And even if Maniac had somehow managed to survive that blast, he wouldn't be playing any further part in this battle. Blair was alone.

Stalker

Marjakh nar Kurutak, aka Stalker, was the Strakha ace in Wing Commander III. As the ship choice and callsign would suggest, Stalker is a silent killer who hones in on his prey using his invisible fighter before decloaking to pounce… the perfect tactic for a space cat! You meet Stalker in combat in the optional Alcor 3 mission, as he leads an attack on the TCS Victory while you are busy hunting Hobbes.

… and then again in the game’s ultimate mission, Kilrah 3 where he appears alongside five other Strakha to prevent you from reaching Prince Thrakhath and the planet. And if you and your wingmen can somehow kill those six ships… he appears again! And again, and again and again until all of your wingmen have been shot down. Why? The final sequence of the game requires you be alone (ground missions had pre-rendered cutscenes which showed a single fighter entering/escaping the atmosphere) and so the designers simply threw the game’s toughest ace at your wingmen over and over until they die (even if you had previously killed him at Alcor!) Was this the true end of Stalker? Nope, see the next entry...

Pretty Much Every Kilrathi Ace

During the production of Wing Commander Arena, the team asked us for a list of familiar Wing Commander callsigns for humans and Kilrathi. Unfortunately, they did not explain that it was to populate a list of random NPCs who you could fight in some of the game’s modes. When I put together Star*Soldier to go with the game, I took on the task of eliminating most of the familiar characters, generally by giving them a different first and last name. I opted to keep a number of familiar Kilrathi aces, though, even though they were killable in the game. And even included two of their bios in the ‘top ten’ section of the magazine. For the record, the aces that somehow survived to 2701 are…
  • Dakhath “Deathstroke” nar Caxki
  • Kur “Human-Killer” nar Tr’K H’hra
  • Marjakh “Stalker” nar Kur’u’tak
  • Bhuk “Bloodmist” nar Hhallas
  • Najji “Fireclaw” Ragitagha
  • Kramm “Deathfang” nar Caxki
  • Bhurak “Starkiller” nar Caxki

    (And before you mention it, you CAN shoot down Deathfang in the 3DO port of Wing Commander III!)

    Everyone at the Vacuum Breather’s Bar

    Not a continuity error or an intentional story change… we just can’t help but notice that everyone who arrives at Windward in Fleet Action thinks that everyone else had died. Guess this is a common problem in the Wing Commander universe? First Hunter and Vanderman (a previously unknown Tiger’s Claw pilot) have this conversation...

    "Vanderman from Tiger's Claw, isn't it?" Ian asked, and the old pilot sitting across from him on the other side of the aisle nodded and shook his hand.

    "Hell, I thought you bought it when the Claw got it," Vanderman asked.

    "I got transferred off on a two week furlough the day before she got hit," Ian replied, a flicker of sadness crossing his features at the mention of his old ship.

    "Luck of the draw I guess," Ian mused, "if it hadn't been for the furlough I'd have died with the rest of my friends.

    "But what about you," he asked, forcing a smile, "I saw you go down over Draga just before we pulled out."

    "I ejected and made it down to the surface, mostly in one piece. Stranded for a couple of years," Vanderman said, "kind of wild and woolly down there, with the carnivores and such."

    Then Paladin arrives and it starts all over again!:

    "Paladin, damn me, I thought you got killed," Ian shouted, coming to his feet and running up to embrace his old friend.

    "As usual, laddie, the reports of my death are a bit premature."

    The group roared with delight as the old pilot came up to stand by Tolwyn.

    "How the hell did you get out of that last scrape?" Ian asked. "They said you were reported long overdue and presumed dead. Hell, man, you owe me a drink 'cause I bought a round at the Vacuum Breathers in your honor. Old Gallagher even gilded your mug."

    Ivar Chu McDaniel (and Friends)

    The Confederation Handbook develops a great mythos for the Pilgrim religion introduced by the Wing Commander movie, which involves the founder of the religion, Ivar Chu McDaniel, and a crew of colonists disappearing into the unknown early in humanity’s colonization efforts. It’s a great retcon in general because the meat of it is actually based on the 1997 Wing Commander Universe map included with Prophecy… which features a system called McDaniel’s World near several ‘holy’-sounding stars: Faith, Promise and so on. The Handbook took that slight implication and turned it into the Pilgrim backstory! So the church’s founder, Ivar Chu McDaniel was believed lost in a drive malfunction… until the final movie novel, Pilgrim Truth, where we learn that he and his followers have traveled far away from the galaxy thanks to a still-unidentified alien intelligence! Huh.

    Bossman

    Time to talk about someone who never existed. They say that the valiant taste death but once… but the sad truth is that Bosman, originally introduced as a wingman in Wing Commander I, has now died twice and possibly as many as three times. In the Wing Commander movie, we learn that Blair and Maniac have arrived on the Tiger’s Claw as replacements for pilots recently killed in the Vega Sector including Bossman. Blair makes the faux-pas of sitting in Boss’s former fighter and the rest is history. Of course, that story is problematic on the surface: how the heck do you recover the fighter of a pilot who died in space? The Confederation Handbook adds a little backstory, but certainly leaves open the idea that he might have been taken by the Kilrathi.

    Whatever happened, Bossman was still alive in Wing Commander I and actually has a scripted death in Secret Missions 2 which is important to a lot of character development in Vengeance of the Kilrathi. As in the movie, Angel is deeply affected by his death (and blames herself) and it serves as a prelude to her reaction to Spirit’s loss. (The second potential death happens in Super Wing Commander, which retells much of Secret Missions 2 from a different perspective. Whether they’re the same mission or not is up for debate!)

    Christopher Blair

    You knew he was coming! In early 2681, Commodore Christopher Blair boarded the final tower to allow Lieutenant Casey and the other Midway pilots a chance to destroy the Kilrah wormhole gate. Blair attempted to escape to his ship but was attacked by a Nephilim Warlord. The gate was soon destroyed and he was presumed dead. The Confederation held a memorial service and mourned their greatest hero… and Wing Commander fans immediately began to debate.

    Did the Warlord kill him? Had the shield tower fallen through the gate, leaving him stranded in alien space? Did he make it back to his Hercules somehow? There was no good answer. Some of the game’s developers would go on to say the plan was to bring him back in a sequel… others deny that entirely (including the artist who rendered the scene thought to imply the shield tower might have survived.) The few later additions to the canon, such as Star*Soldier, would sidestep the issue entirely and later unfinished sequels would choose wildly different directions (up to and including a Privateer Online pitch that involved a universe full of evil Blair clones.)

    But the answer finally came with the 2011 online publication of the unreleased Wing Commander movie novel, Pilgrim Truth! Towards the end of the story, young Blair flashes forward to see that the Confederation will someday be attacked by alien-allied Pilgrims:

    As Blair turned to catch up with Paladin, he suddenly found himself staring in a mirror. His hair had thinned and grown white. Age spots dotted his wizened forehead. His shoulders slumped and his chest sagged. The mirror shattered, and the pieces hurled back across a scarred and blackened landscape that he recognized as Washington D.C., Earth. Pilgrim fighters and bombers streaked overhead, dropping unceasing salvos. Fires raged. Pillars of smoke supported a dusty blanket of sky.

    A hand slid across his neck, and he found his mother standing beside him on a mountain of rubble. “You won’t be able to stop this, Christopher. Nor will you remember this vision until the day it comes to pass. You’ll have your life to live. And one day, people will think that you’re dead. But you won’t be. You’ll live to see this. And I want you to know that it wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t your fault…”

    That’s bad news for Washington DC, but good news for Wing Commander fans who want Maverick to have further adventures. Here’s hoping we can tuned for Wing Commander: Resurrection!

    That wraps up our list! Can you think of any other Wing Commander characters brought back from the dead? Let us know in the comments!

  • Japanese Translators Needed: Mega CD Manual

    Remember Lyle Starbuck? That's the name used for the player character in the Mega CD port of Wing Commander I's manual! It's one of at least three original Japanese-language Wing Commander publications that we'd love to explore further. Like the Super Famicom manual, the Mega CD (the Japanese name for the Sega CD) version is not Claw Marks. Instead, it's a new, full-color booklet that contains much of the same information. Are there new events in the timeline, new background about the Tiger's Claw crew? If you're familiar with Japanese and would be willing to donate your time, please contact us to help the community find out!

    Want to take a look at the manual? Even if you can't read it, it still features original Wing Commander art (including a new version of the Vega Sector map and a full-color decoration chart! Pix has scanned the entire manual and it is available for download here at his site.

    Pillow Talk

    One of my core philosophies is that you can always find a little bit of Wing Commander in the least expected places... and so I was not at all surprised when I happened across Raumstation Vokhila, a German-language blog that puts the author's DIY projects on display. It features what can only be described as a pretty cool pillow! This entry introduce's the small project: a homemade Hornet pillow created as a gift for a friend! Check it out:

    Classic Game Cover Arts Funding Imminent

    Mike Winterbauer's Classic Game Covers book Kickstarter has reached its funding goal and is rocketing (auto-piloting?) towards the finish line! The campaign ends in just four days... so if you'd like a copy of his extremely cool book, now is the time to pledge! In honor of the last days of the campaign, we've tracked down TWO more uses of his Wing Commander painting! The first is a November, 1992 preview of the game printed in Electronic Games Monthly magazine and the second is an advertisement put out by Mindscape to show off all of their SNES lineup. Can we find any more apperances of the painting? Check back in three days to find out!

    Homeworld Mod Has Claws

    The Homeworld Remastered mod marches forward! L.I.F. has integrated Klavs' Bengal-class model to the project and the results speak for themself! The Bengal-class is best known to Wing Commander fans as the carrier TCS Tiger's Claw from the original game, but in this case it will also serve as the TCS Wolfhound, a sister ship of the Tiger's Claw present for Operation Backlash in the novel End Run (Admiral Bandbridge's flagship.)

    Dralthi Fun!

    Remember the TrainSim (aka Squadron)? The 'arcade game' in the Tiger's Claw was both your first step into the original Wing Commander and a fun way to learn to fight the Kilrathi. Under the hood, the game treats the TrainSim as its own series of four missions (in fact, this is likely why there are four 'slots' in each series for potential missions in the first two games.) Each of these missions has four Nav Points that the player can't see because you can't access navigation or the map. The first has the wave with one enemy, the second two, the third three and the fourth four. A careful examination of the game's data reveals that each of these nav points has its own name... and they can be pretty funny!

    Here are the point (or wave) names from the original version of the game:

    Salthi
    Point 1: 12:00 at O.K. Corral
    Point 2: Couple o' Nasties
    Point 3: Triplet Terror
    Point 4: Fear the Four

    Dralthi
    Point 1: Solo Flight
    Point 2: Daring Duo
    Point 3: Triple Threat
    Point 4: Fantastic Four

    Krant
    Point 1: Brave Fighter
    Point 2: Kilrathi Wingmen
    Point 3: Kilrathi Squad
    Point 4: Gratha Leader

    Gratha
    Point 1: Good Odds
    Point 2: Still Good Odds
    Point 3: Not So Good Odds
    Point 4: Set Up (Sting)

    For The Secret Missions, the names are changed up (except the Salthi!)

    Dralthi
    Point 1: Dralthi Fun
    Point 2: Two Dralthi
    Point 3: Three Dralthi
    Point 4: This is Boring

    Krant
    Point 1: Krants on Drugs
    Point 2: Two Krant
    Point 3: Three Krant
    Point 4: Four of these ships

    Gratha
    Point 1: Big and Slow Gratha
    Point 2: More Gratha
    Point 3: Yet More Gratha
    Point 4: The Final Battle

    Wing Commander Album Campaign Prep Continues

    There's music in the air... or, at least, we're getting closer! Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy composed George Oldziey is continuing to make preparations for his next Wing Commander album crowdfunding project. He's planning to launch the campaign in May. On March 17th, he tweeted:
    Next up on the orchestration schedule an intense battle medley from #WingCommander 4. Will be launching next campaign for volume 2 in May!
    On Saturday, he reported that the orchestration for a Wing Commander IV piece was finished... and he shared a picture! Take a look:
    Finished another orchestration for #WingCommander volume 2 CD. WC4 intense combat. Pretty crazy music! Here is part of the score!

    Privateer 101 Stream

    Welcome to the Gemini Sector! I was recently lucky enough to host another live 'RSI Museum' segment for Star Citizen's Happy Hour program... this time, talking about Privateer! To make a long story short, we ended up being too excited about the game to ever really do any flying. But it should be an interesting history for anyone not familiar with the game's backround:

    VG&CE Behind the Screens of Wing Commander

    Here's an especially interesting gaming magazine scan: a longer cover story from the October 1990 issue of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment magazine. Published alongside the game's release, this may have been the first on-hands 'making of' article about the game.

    Electronic Games Monthly Reviews Wing Commander

    If Computer Gaming World was the PC gaming magazine of record int he 1990s then Electronic Games Monthly (EGM) was how the other half lived. EGM covered console titles and featured more of an 'in-your-face' vibe. Reviews were generally limited to small capsules as part of a 'Review Crew' system where a selection of personalities each gave their thoughts on a game.

    These Review Crew scans cover the four Wing Commander console reviews we've been able to identify: The Secret Missions SNES (#54), Super Wing Commander 3DO (#58), Wing Commander III 3DO (#73) and Wing Commander IV PSX (#94.) Wing Commander SNES, Wing Commander III PSX and Wing Commander for the SegaCD would also have fallen under EGM's purview, but we have not found an indication that they were reviewed.

    EGM may not have given us as much 'behind the screens' detail, but there were some pretty cool ads targeted to console players...

    The Saga Continues!

    Crazycanuck has built something very cool: a pack that brings Klavs' Wing Commander I fighter models into the the Wing Commander Saga mod! Here's how to play:

    Installation: Place the WC1ships10.vp file in your Wing Commander Saga Root directory (eg: C:\Program Files (x86)\Wing Commander Saga)

    How to Use: All the ships should be viewable in the Tech Room. There is also a simple three point patrol mission in the mission simulator. For added fun try flying the mission with different ships which you can select before starting the mission. All the ships work in FRED so feel free to make additional missions and share them with the community.

    Known Issues/To Do List:
    • No capital ships yet.
    • The weapon icons do not accuratly reflect the loadout locations on the ships.
    • Placeholder shield icons used for some ships.
    • Pilum FF external model is missing.

    You can download the pack here (50 meg zip). Here's a look at the new fighters in action:

    The next update will feature the Confederation capital ships. The Drayman, Venture and Exeter are already finished and the Bengal is in progress! Here's a look at what's to come:

    All About False Colors

    Yesterday, Wing Commander: False Colors was released as an ebook. Today, we'd like to tell you a little about the book's background! Eagle-eyed readers may notice there's slight difference with the ebook edition of False Colors' title: the name of the co-author. Printed copies read "William Keith" whereas the new version says "Andrew Keith." What's going on? The answer is that the original printing was actually an embarassing error: William Keith is a real writer... just not the one who wrote False Colors. His brother Andrew, who also wrote the Heart of the Tiger novelization, was the man behind False Colors. Andrew Keith was active in the Wing Commander community at the time and he took the error in good spirits. Unfortunately, Andrew passed away not long after False Colors was published.

    SPOILER WARNING: One thing new readers will notice is that False Colors leaves the characters' stories somewhat unfinished. The immediate threat from the dreadnaught is gone, but our familiar novel characters are no longer flying for the Confederation and are facing an uncertain future in the Landreich. At the time, Mr. Keith spoke of his desire to continue the story with two additional novels. THese were never contracted, and to the best of our knowledge no outlines were ever written. We did include the theoretical events of both in the Wing Commander Arena timeline update as a tribute to Mr. Keith. In his words:

    LOAF: Any future plans for working with WC?
    Keith: I hope to pitch two new novels down the line. But it depends on Baen Books, Origin, and others.

    LOAF: Two new novels? Can you give away any information on those?
    Keith: The book ideas are still vague. One I'd like to do would involve a Kilrathi prince -- a friendly one -- from False Colors. Sort of Bonnie Prince Charle in Scotland, with Cats and carrier support by the Karga. The other would put the Landreich at war with the Confederation. I'm thinking of following something like the Alamo/Goliad/San Jacinto model.

    You can find our full interview here. If you would like to learn more about Andrew Keith and his work, he was kind enough to provide some reference material which we have maintained since the book's release:

    The preview chapter is an earlier draft, saved before the editing process was complete. As such, it's an interesting look at how the smallest details of a book can change!

    Here's an odd fact: False Colors is the only Baen Wing Commander novel NOT translated into German. It's unclear exactly why the book wasn't translated, given the success of the other novels in the range. It was, however, available in the Czech Republic where it sported a beautiful new cover (pictured.) The Czech translations only adapt novels involving Dr. Forstchen, so it is book 6 instead of book 7 there. Released in 2005, this translation was the last official Wing Commander novel printed.

      End Run
    • Baen Ebook
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Apple iBooks
    • B&N Nook
    • Kobo

    False Colors eBook Now Available!

    Wing Commander: False Colors, the final book in Baen's Wing Commander series, is now available as an ebook! Set just after Heart of the Tiger, False Colors tells the story of a Kilrathi warlord who aims to rebuild the old Empire and destroy mankind... and the band of familiar heroes who salvage a cripped Kilrathi carrier to stop him. The book was written by Dr. William Forstchen and Andrew Keith and was originally published in 1999. Here's the official description:

    MORE WAR…
    A desperate attack on the Kilrathi homeworld had succeeded in destroying the entire planet, including the Emperor and his warlords. The surviving Kilrathi, on warships and on their colony worlds were hopelessly demoralized and had sued for peace. The catlike warrior race was no longer a threat to Earth and its colonies. Thirty-five years of war had finally come to an end, bringing peace in our time. They thought…
    The reality was more ominous. There were still plenty of independent Kilrathi warlords surviving, commanding a formidable array of warships and weaponry. Some wanted revenge on the apes who had destroyed the sacred homeworld, some wanted to set up their own new empires, and some were simply content to go pirate, raiding human colonies at will. But back on Earth, the war-weary people and their leaders turned a deaf ear to reports of Kilrathi belligerence, preferring to look forward to a peaceful and prosperous future.

    You can find links to purchase False Colors from various ebookstores below. Missing links (currently Barnes and Noble) will be updated when they become available. Meanwhile, the remaining unreleased Baen novel, End Run, has not been placed on the schedule yet. The next window is August, and we will report when it is announced.Update: The Nook version is now available.

      End Run
    • Baen Ebook
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Apple iBooks
    • B&N Nook
    • Kobo

    You Can Bring Back Your Homeworld Now

    It would appear that L.I.F. has elves in the back building these things, as the Homeworld Remastered Mod is being updated with a whole fleet of new ships! The project has begun integrating some of Klavs' amazing Wing Commander models, using a number of them as campaign-exclusives for the upcoming recreation of Operation Backlash! Here's a quick walk through the amazing new additions:

    A variety of capital ships relating to the events of End Run are being added to the mod. Last time, we reported that the Snakeir carrier had been added for the Kilrathi. Countering that for the Confederation is the TCS Wolfhound (Bengal-class flagship of Admiral Banbridge), the Exeter destroyer, the Confederation-class Concordia, the TCS Tarawa and the Venture corvette!

    The Kilrathi fleet is getting bigger, too! This Sivar-class dreadnaught is not intended for the campaign... but it is pretty cool! It's Klavs' take on a design for the Kilrathi weapon you hunted down in The Secret Missions. The Kilrathi drydocks can be used to represent those attacked at Kilrah during the course of End Run. The Ralari destroyer and the Wing Commander III asteroid base have also been added.

    Moving past capital ships, a host of classic Confederation fighter designs have been added, including the Broadsword bomber, Sabre fighter, Hornet, Scimitar and two different takes on the Rapier (one more like the original Rapier II, the other like the Super Wing Commander version.)

    The Kilrathi get an impressive fleet of fighters, too! The original Dralthi, Gratha, Hhriss and Jalthi are ready for action. In addition, the Skipper Missile (not pictured) has been added.

    The ships aren't the only thing being updated! A new set of icons has already been integrated into the available mod. L.I.F. writes: "The new icon is strongly inspired from the tactical icons showed in Wing Commander Saga's briefings, modified with the new ships as well as with a dedicated space for the statistics of the unit. I think I'll end up going with multiple-view profiles for ships and fighters, like in Wing Commander III's loadout screen."

    Finally, a note of apology from the editor: since returning to write for the site I have not had a good handle on current Wing Commander Fan Projects. I will be making a special effort to include all of the incredible work the community is doing going forward and future updates on this and other Fan Projects will be more timely!

    April Fools! Redux

    Wing Commander made an appearance in two great April Fools' tricks yesterday! First, the Star Citizen subreddit rebranded itself as the Wing Commander subredit for the day, complete with new content and images. Best of all was their custom cursor, which featured a Dralthi and targeting reticle. We may have to steal this:

    The team at Rebel Galaxy won the day with an incredible fake trailer for a sequel to Privateer called Grayson’s Revenge:

    If only! They posted several additional images on social media showing the Drayman, Retros and more:

    As for the Carl LaFong poll... well, that of course was deadly serious.

    A Modest Proposal: Saving Mr. LaFong

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." - Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

    “Bonjour, Lieutenant. You are called PRANKSTER, non? I am called Angel.” - Captain Jeanette “Angel” Devereaux, TCS Tiger’s Claw

    SEIZE THAT MAN! No, not because he intends to disrupt a plot to start a war with the Border Worlds… but because he is an imposter! The dashing, young blue-haired pilot chatting with Angel about statistics and Shotglass about space drinks (or for Super Nintendo veterans, space desserts) is not future destroyer of worlds Christopher “Maverick” Blair at all… he is Carl “Prankster” LaFong! For too long, the Wing Community has wilfully ignored the great crisis of our age, the multi-Blair issue (aka the Blairadox.) With this post, that all changes.

    It is an established fact that the player character in the original Wing Commander did not initially have a name and that because of this fact later adaptations and updates that might need to refer to him took many different and seemingly irreconcilable tacts for referring to him before Wing Commander III introduced us to Christopher Blair in the form of Mark Hamill. Today, we propose that the hero of Wing Commander I, The Secret Missions and The Secret Missions 2: Crusade is not and was not ever Christopher Blair.

    We propose that the hero of Wing Commander I and the two addons is and always must be Carl LaFong. LaFong is the author of the first two sections of the Ultimate Strategy Guide and he is the man who flew missions like Enyo 1 and Kurasawa 2. Christopher Blair, then, is the character introduced in “Red and Blue” and the 1999 movie. He is a fellow Tiger’s Claw pilot, he attended the same class as Maniac and Prankster at the Academy and he was present for the Vega Campaign. But his early adventures are told exclusively in the movie and on Wing Commander Academy.

    Why is all of this a problem?

    The biggest issue caused by the Blair retcon is that it invalidates Mike Harrison’s seminal Wing Commander I & II: The Ultimate Strategy Guide. As was common for top tier hint books of the day, the Ultimate Strategy Guide (henceforth referred to as USG) adapted the games it was discussing as a prose story. In a very real sense, the USG is the first Wing Commander novel. But it isn’t a story about the exploits of Maverick Blair… it’s the memoirs, written well after the war, of one Carl T. LaFong. The guide covers LaFong’s early years at the Academy and then his combat missions.

    More than any other Wing Commander volume, the guide has informed later material. Much of it was printed wholesale in Origin’s licensor bible and as a result it is referred to throughout supporting material, from obscure references in the Customizable Card Game (“The Maniac Solution” and many others) to helping form the conceptual basis for the Academy animated series and even the Maniac/Blair relationship that formed the heart of the 1999 film. In short, the book is a massive part of Wing Commander’s canon and history, a major influencer on the series… and it is not something we should delete because later stories needed to specify more about the era!

    This solution is not just about preserving a historical artifact, it is about correcting the history of the Wing Commander Universe itself. Later stories, like the TV show and movie, did not believe they needed to respect Wing Commander I as a strict story at all, and instead they gave the character a new backstory and new relationships with the Tiger’s Claw pilots. One of the most significant criticisms of the movie is that Blair and Angel are too close, that Blair should know Paladin was a spy in Wing Commander I, that the original characters should continue to rag on him for his later-established heritage and the like. But none of that matters if you aren’t Blair in the game! Carl LaFong isn’t a Pilgrim, he didn’t have a relationship with Angel and he has no idea Paladin is secretly with Naval Intelligence.

    The timeline, too, matters. Even though it does not feature a direct linear story like later games, Wing Commander I has a fairly well established timeline. With the additional context of the UCG, Claw Marks and other sources, the 40 missions exist relative to one another in a fairly established story that happens at a specific time. Here again, later sources have provided disruption. Especially: the movie novel Pilgrim Stars, which puts Blair and company in captivity aboard a Pilgrim supercruiser for weeks in the middle of the game. That’s okay, we can now state, because Carl LaFong was still flying off the Tiger’s Claw and fighting the Vega Campaign at that time!

    Let us continue by walking through a list of the ‘other Blairs’ that have appeared over time.

    The Hero with a Thousand Faces

    • $R $C $N aka Bluehair (1990): GAME OVER. At least, so begins our saga: following a failed attempt at the trainsim, our hero is prompted to enter his name for a high score. And in 1990 that name was your own. There could certainly be an argument that the original intend to the character was that he had to be ‘you’; $N was a near-silent protagonist intended to connect you to the game world and nothing else. To this, I would say only that the development of LaFong was necessary for telling the history of the world after the fact… but that we should also encourage anyone to imagine that THEY (be they Mark “Big Dog” Minasi or or Rolf “Snake” Muesel or Ben “Loaf” Lesnick) are part of the Tiger’s Claw’s 104-pilot complement. (STATUS: NON-CANON DEVELOPMENT BLAIR)
    • Captain “Dipstick” Dipstick (1990): Looking ‘under the hood’ reveals something interesting about the developers INTENT for the player character. Wing Commaner I features a ‘mouth script’ that tells the game what sounds the talking heads’ should be mouthing for each piece of text they read. The system does not take into effect variables, so they mouth the same thing for every rank, callsign and name. And the script reads? You are always a Captain… and always a Dipstick. (STATUS: NON-CANON DEVELOPMENT BLAIR)
    • Arturo “Bluehair” Blair (1990): Soon after the original game’s launch, it became well known (via Compuserv interactions with the dev team) that the character was informally referred to by the team as BLUEHAIR because of his beautiful blue locks The fan community picked up on this and immediately took it to heart. The inaugural issue of Point of Origin (Origin’s internal newsletter) further reveals that he has been dubbed “Arturo Blair,’ shorthand for Our Hero Blue Hair. Most interesting of all, the context of the mention in Point of Origin was that the company was holding a contest to decide the ‘real’ Blair for the strategy guide… who would, of course, be Carl LaFong! (STATUS: NON-CANON DEVELOPMENT BLAIR)
    • Carl “Prankster” LaFong (1991): Discussed above. Carl LaFong is the protagonist of the Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide, theoretically the author of the book and the character whose life story the in-lore Wing Commander games were based on. He is named after a joke from a W.C. (HAH) Fields movie (“It’s a Gift”) in which one character is always looking for Mr. LaFong (who, Godot-style, never appears.) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
    • “Falcon”/“Phoenix” (1992): The Wing Commander series bible originates this odd pair of names, claiming that the player character was initially ‘Falcon’ and then after the events of Wing Commander II he changed his callsign to Phoenix. This would all be development history except that the novel End Run actually referenced the name Phoenix intending to refer to the early events of Wing Commander II. Luckily, the intent here must already be ignored as it causes another continuity error: Jason Bondarevsky “remembers” the event despite not having been on the Concordia at the time. It must refer to a different pilot named Phoenix who saved the Concordia (it WAS always getting into trouble) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
    • Jack A. Lombard (1993): Jack Lombard is the first of several ‘near Blairs’ introduced for Wing Commander spinoff games. Wing Commander Academy (the 1992 game) needed a voice familiar to players who would have some connection to the wingmen and ships available in the mission builder… and so the manual invents Jack Lombard, anohther Confederation fighter pilot who served with Angel, Maniac, Hobbes and the like. Lombard ends up disabled and unable to fly, so he couldn’t have ever completely BEEN Blair… but he’s written to imply that he is. (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
    • Lyle “Eagle” Starbuck (1994): There’s no easy way to say this, so we’ll come right out: the Wing Commander port for the Japanese MegaCD console names the character Lyle “Eagle” Starbuck. We’re sorry. We’re so sorry. (STATUS: ??????????)
    • “Hotshot” (1994): The English language release, then, is much kinder: it simply replaces all references to the name and callsign of the character with ‘Hotshot.’ We can assume here that it’s simply a nickname. (STATUS: NICKNAME FOR CARL LAFONG)
    • Jacorski? (1994): The second major ‘near Blair’ is the potentially unnamed commander of the TCS Lexington’s mission in Wing Commander Armada. Like Blair, he was a Concordia pilot who made an enemy of Admiral Tolwyn. That was all, again, to connect us to the unseen character and the nature of the game’s suicide mission. (The character’s logs are unsigned, but another element of Voices of War refers to “Jacorski” as ‘the big man,’ implying that might be the commander.) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
    • Chris “Maverick” Roberts (1994): Perliminary sketches for Wing Commander III (concept art, costume plans, etc.) use series creator Chris Roberts’ name. There was never a plan to use this as the official name, but there are a number of drawings of the character with ‘Roberts’ as his nametag. (STATUS: NON-CANON DEVELOPMENT BLAIR)
    • Christopher “Maverick” Blair (1994) The big man! Blair was first mentioned by name in Wing Commander Freedom Flight, a nod to the internal Arturo Blair name. This reference did not necessarily connect back to the player (he’s just a Tiger’s Claw pilot said to be lucky), though it was intended. Blair earned his full name (but did not lock down his callsign) in Wing Commander III in 1994 and then became ‘Maverick’ (and later Pilgrim for a time) starting with Wing Commander Academy (the show.) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
    • “Maverick” Armstrong (1995) The Super Wing Commander remake of the original game names the character ‘Maverick’... but changes the last name to Armstrong! Later sources retcon Armstrong to be a fellow Tiger’s Claw pilot who flew the ‘Secret Missions 1.5’ storyline. (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
    • Colonel Hart (1995) - Another simple ‘near Blair’; Colonel Hart was the voice of the Wing Commander III Authorized Combat Guide. He is never explicitly said to be Blair, but he seems to be able to reference everything Blair has experienced very readily (ie, he is implied to also have been serving as a Colonel on the Victory.) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)

    Is there any other evidence that supports this theory?

    • Later sources consider Blair, Armstrong and LaFong separate (but similar) characters. The review blurb for Maniac’s book in Star*Soldier mentions all three in the same breath.
    • The idea of creating ‘near Blair’ characters for Armada, Academy and the Wing Commander III Authorized Combat Guide tells us that there is no real issue having ‘other pilots’ who are Tiger’s Claw veterans with the shared history. Similarly, we note the pains stories like Freedom Flight went through to AVOID stepping on the history of the WC1 player (such as introducing Hunter as a sort of alternative protagonist.)
    • Wing Commander Academy was intended to reboot Wing Commander I and replace Blair’s story with a new telling of Secret Missions 2. Note the redesign of the character to look like Mark Hamill (while Maniac stays similar.) The original pitch was also explicitly set in 2655 and involved the Firekkan crisis. Carl LaFong isn’t dead. His book is written in the 2700s long after the Kilrathi War has ended.. and long after Blair seemingly died in the Nephilim wormhole! Origin continued to assign the WC1 story to other character (Armstrong) AFTER Wing Commander III was developed and Blair was established to be the name of the player.
    • Wing Commander Prophecy introduces a new player character to the ‘main’ series of games, suggesting that there does not need to be ‘one’ character from game to game.
    • Existing published Wing Commander timelines explicitly avoid mentioning Blair in their entries for the Vega Campaign.
    • The final full biography of Blair, published in the Wing Commander Prophecy guide DOES NOT MENTION the destruction of the Sivar, the victory at Venice or Firekka. Later sources are entirely consistent in NOT referencing the events of Wing Commander I in Blair’s history, only that he was on the Tiger’s Claw.

    What About…?

    • … Blair’s appearance in Wing Commander II. He looks like an older version of the Wing Commander I character, right? WRONG! The first scenes of Wing Commander II take place in 2656… and when Blair faces Tolwyn in his office, he looks just like he does a decade later!
    • … the Wing Commander II section of the Ultimate Strategy Guide. We propose that the ‘Wing Commander II’ section is BLAIR’s autobiography rather than saying that LaFong was also a traitor who had a relationship with Angel. (Later material does establish pretty clearly that Blair IS the character in WC2; his treason is referenced constantly in novels and later stories… his victory in the Vega Campaign is not.) Supporting this idea is the coincidence that the Wing Commander 2 section is written very differently, the name LaFong is never mentioned and he is only called “Prankster” twice by a drugged Maniac!

    What doesn’t work?

    • The introduction to the Wing Commander I & II Guide is still problematic as it features one paragraph in which LaFong mentions being blamed for the Tiger’s Claw’s destruction. It can be worked around, but it should be noted as it does suggest an intent counter to this retcon.
    • The Kilrathi Saga names - Kilrathi Saga ‘slugs’ in Blair and Maverick as the high score options in its update of Wing Commander I. You have to delete them to set your own name, if you so desire. This seems like a minor issue, since it isn’t locked down in any way.
    • Lyle Starbuck still exists.

    In Conclusion…

    Now, my beloved countrymen, the decision falls to you. Carl LaFong’s achievements have been wrongfully supplanted and ignored by history. It’s time to make this right, once and for all. Please vote in today’s poll and decide the fate of who we consider the protagonist of Wing Commander I. LaFong vs. Blair, the ultimate showdown. It is time to decide whether or not the Wing Commander Combat Information Center triggers BLAIRXIT.

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