BREAKING NEWS: Is a New Wing Commander Already In the Works?

Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts shocked fans everywhere three weeks ago during an interview with G4. In a quote now etched in Wing Commander message board signatures everywhere, he announced of Wing Commander that "I feel re-energized, and I think I can come back... and push forward parts of the industry in terms of narrative and cinematic storytelling." The million dollar question was immediately: was he just talking about his hopes for the future... or is a new Wing Commander game already secretly in development?

The question sounds like the stuff of conspiracy thriller novels... but some strong evidence now suggests it may actually be true. Longtime contributor Banjo points us to a an April, 2011 article in the Detroit News about potential tax breaks for film and game projects in Michigan. It quotes a Chris Roberts of "Bl!nk Media International" as having expansive plans for game development in the state (or Quebec, should funding fall through.)

Chris Roberts, a principal in Bl!nk Media International Ltd., wants to make a video game that would take years to build and require full-time workers. But Michigan could lose out to Quebec if Bl!nk's application for $12.3 million in tax credits isn't approved soon, Roberts said. Bl!nk plans to hire 112 residents and spend $31.1 million here. "There'd be multiple games," Roberts said. "We'd be creating long-term employment in Michigan."
Is this our Chris Roberts? It's not an uncommon name--Wing Commander III even had two Chris Roberts' on its development team! A check of LinkedIn, however, confirms that Origin Systems' star developer now lists himself as "Chief Creative Officer of Bl!nk Media International." So: what is Bl!nk and is this project a Wing Commander game? It seemed like a dead end... until we were given this (unfortunately poor quality) scan of an infograph included in the print version of the Detroit News article:

Look at the the third line. Listed only as "Video Game" is a project exactly matching the numbers quoted about Chris (112 hires, 31.1 million dollars). Then, in the last column, under "scheduled project actors": Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, Tom Wilson, John Rhys-Davies.

Remember that no announcement has been made. However convincing may seem, it is all circumstantial evidence. It's possible Detroit News decided the list of actors themselves, based on Chris' history. Keep in mind also that the article is five months old and that it is discussing plans rather than anything that had yet been financed. But at the same time, that means it predates the G4 interview. IF Chris Roberts was planning a game with the Wing Commander III and IV cast in April and then telling G4 he hoped to revisit the franchise soon in August... at the very least, the direction seems like good news.

BREAKING NEWS: More Wing Commander Academy Details

TVShowsonDVD has more details about the Wing Commander Academy DVD release that we announced last week! They report that the set will be distributed in the United States by First Look Studios/Millennium, LLC with a $24.98 suggested retail price. There's also a new description and '3D' cover image:
A spirited and elite corps of novice fighter pilots attends the Wing Commander Academy in the year 2655. Often thrust into battle against the mighty and ruthless Kilrathi race, the crew must master daring manoeuvres and veer through constant danger to save the world. Sedate and honorable Maverick, devil-may-care and impulsive Maniac, and serious-minded, cautious and competent Archer make up a quarter of the cadet wing at the academy under their brilliant, if argumentative, captain, Commodore Tolwyn.

The set should be available for preorder at US retailers next week; eager buyers (and Canadians) can go ahead and place their order with Amazon Canada.

BREAKING NEWS: GOG Releases Ultima IV, V, VI Package!

More Ultima! GOG has released a package of the Ultima series' middle trilogy--Ultima IV, V and VI for just $5.99! You can purchase a copy here. This is exciting news for Origin fans everywhere. Although Ultima IV was already free, it's still included in this package! All three of these games predate Wing Commander, so there are no great references... or are there? Check back today, as we run a number of updates connecting Ultima V and VI to the Wing Commander saga! (And, as always, be sure to check Ultima Aeira for serious celebratory Ultima updates!)

Chris Roberts In and Around Ultima V

Ultima V is actually Chris Roberts' first credit at Origin Systems! His role in the project was largely support, but he was listed as one of the game's designer in the finished release. Following Origin tradition, players can actually find and interact Chris in the game itself! He appears as a farmer named Christopher (aka "Dibbs") in West Brittany. Here is his full conversation tree--which culminates in his explaining that he's working on something called Times of Lore... the first game he released at Origin!
Christopher
You see: a dashing young farmer.
Christopher: G'day, {name}!
Player: job
Christoper: I fiddle in the fields to keep me fed.
Player: dibb
Christoper: I see thou hast been speakin' with Phillip.
Player: phil
Christoper: He's me mate!
Player: mate
Christoper: Friend.
Player: fidd or fiel
Christoper: I pride myself in a job well done, even if one does not enjoy it.
Player: enjo or job or done
Christoper: What I really enjoy is writing works of fantasy.
Player: writ or fant
Christoper: I'm currently working on an epic called 'Times of Lore!'
Player: time or lore
Christoper: I hope to have it published soon.
Player: soon or publ
Christoper: Through Origin, of course. Wilt thou buy it?
Player: (any)
Christoper: Then I'll be of little help to you in the future!
Player: y
Christoper: Good! Enchanted, I'm sure, to have met such an enlightened soul. What a nice chap thou art.
Player: bye
Christoper: Ta, mate.

Changing the Face of Ultima

Christopher--and Times of Lore--would get the last laugh. When Richard Garriott redesigned the Ultima interface for Ultima VI, he based the streamlined user interface on the one used in Chris Roberts' recent hit! Shay Addams' The Official Book of Ultima records: "But the most sweeping change would appear in the interface. Influenced by the icon-based interface of Chris Roberts' Times of Lore, Garriott streamlined Ultima's 26 commands into ten icons, one of which was new. In previous games you would "ignite" a torch, "jimmy" a lock, and so on; the new "use" commands could be used for several such actions, reducing the necessary number of commands for the player to master and simplyfing the design work." (pp.83-84) You can see the change below--a great early example of Chris Roberts' cinematic sensibilities changing the face of gaming.

Sutek and Seggallion

It turns out a pair of Ultima V/VI characters are also TCS Tiger's Claw fighter pilots! If you boot up Wing Commander I's arcade TrainSim, you'll see a list of other players and their high scores. Two names that may appear are "Sutek" and "Seggallion"--who are both NPCs in Ultima V and VI! Sutek is a mage in Ultima V who loses his mind in Ultima VI. In Ultima V, Seggallion is a retired pirate... and in Ultima VI he is a knight from another world trapped in Brittannia who can accompany you in the game (going even further back, he originates as the main character in Origin's Knights of Legend). For good measure, a star in Wing Commander I's Vega Sector map is also named Seggallion! He gets around. You can learn more about both characters (including information on their appearances in other Ultima games not yet available via GOG) at the Codex of Ultima Wisdom.

A Match Made in Heaven

This isn't the first time Ultima VI and Wing Commander have lived together! As early as 1991, Origin had the idea to bundle the two titles together in a single value-priced release in the hopes of cross-pollinating between fans of both franchises. An Ultima VI/Wing Commander package was even one of the first CD-ROMs put out by Origin, and it went on to be re-released multiple times through Software Toolworks. These releases were especially cool in that they came in a full box and included all the manuals and artifacts.

Aren't You the Guy from Ultima?

Wing Commander IBM PC Credits Chris Roberts wasn't the only Wing Commander veteran to work on the second Ultima trilogy. In fact, we've run the numbers and nearly two thirds of the Wing Commander I team actually worked on Ultima IV, V or V! Here's the full list:
Chris Roberts - Ultima VI
Warren Spector - Ultima V
Steve Beeman - Ultima VI
Paul Isaac - Ultima V
Herman Miller - Ultima V, Ultima VI
Steve Muchow - Ultima V
John Miles - Ultima V, Ultima VI
Keith Berdak - Ultima VI
Daniel Bourbonnais - Ultima VI
Glen Johnson - Ultima V, Ultima VI
Denis Loubet - Ultima IV, Ultima V, Ultima VI
John Watson - Ultima VI
Steve Cantrell - Ultima VI
Marc Shaefgen - Ultima VI
Greg Paul Malone II - Ultima VI
Mike Romero - Ultima VI
Jeff Shelton - Ultima VI
Mike Harrison - Ultima VI
Cheryl Neeld - Ultima VI

Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans.

Annual Call For Award Nominations
2016-12-03 -- Somehow it's December already, and we're trying to be a bit more timely about our annual awards festivities this year. This is our chance to recognize many of the great things that the fan community constantly puts out. Our eighteenth annual Fan Project and Website of the Year Awards will kick off as the year comes to a close, so now's your chance to nominate.

Retro Gaming Podcast Interviews The Fat Man
2016-12-02 -- Retro Hour, a UK-based retro gaming podcast, has posted an in-depth audio interview with Wing Commander composer George The Fat Man Sanger. They talk about the origins of his artist name, his early work for slot machines and Atari, the 7th Guest, creative process and the demo scene. The segment with Sanger starts at around the 21:30 mark and the subject briefly turns to Wing Commander at 39:00.

WCSO Improvements Enhance Your Ship's Shake, Rattle & Roll
2016-12-01 -- Building on his cockpit research last month, DefianceIndustries has managed to better understand cockpit framing and motion in the Vision Engine. If you click through the gallery quickly, you can start to see how fluid motion in front of a fully detailed dashboard would be pretty cool. There are some other potential upgrades that Defiance mentions below as well...

Flashy Encounter Peeks At Project's Potential
2016-11-30 -- Adm_maverick has jumped a few more technical hurdles on the way towards his Prophecy Video Project. He's been working with multiple video and audio editors to figure out how to change the names that appear under talking heads and add in new voiceover segments. This new test video shows off this blend of dynamic elements with comm chatter superimposed over external camera footage in one of the early WCP missions.

Another Exciting Day At Action Central
2016-11-29 -- L.I.F.

That's A Heck Of A Scratching Post...
2016-11-28 -- After all the Confed Forces got a bunch of big bases, the Kilrathi were left needing a place to stay. The new stations outlined here are a great start! Melek's starbase from WC4 makes an appearance as the trading port in the Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire.

New Dimension Added To Flat Universe's Space Combat
2016-11-27 -- Flat Universe has achieved a major milestone! After months of dedicated effort, multiplayer combat has now been successfully implemented. The screenshots below show off the team's ceremonial first dogfight between a Hornet and Dralthi.

Militia Forces To The Rescue
2016-11-26 -- DefianceIndustries is here to brighten your weekend with a wonderful sunrise scene over Nephele. It shows the BWS cavalry dashing in to save a transport with a rugged assortment of tough ships. A mixed force of Rapiers, Razors, Vindicators and a Thunderbolt should be plenty to take on just about any pirate threat!

Origin's Space Rogue Added To GOG Lineup
2016-11-25 -- What should you get for the Wing Commander fan who has everything? GOG is here to help with the recent addition of Space Rogue, a space sim published by Origin about two years before Chris Roberts' Wing Commander arrived on the scene. The game was designed by Paul Neurath who went on to fame with Ultima Underworld and the System Shock series.

Happy Thanksgiving!
2016-11-24 -- Happy Thanksgiving to our readers out there in the US today! We know there's Wingnuts from all around the world tuning in, and we hope everyone has a great day and weekend coming up too. Owing to its Pilgrim origins, this is a convenient time to remind fans about a Wing Commander novel that few have read, Pilgrim Truth.

Boosted Bug Bothers Bombers
2016-11-23 -- As many of you skate into what's hopefully an extended weekend, check out this Nephilim interceptor from Dark Sentinel. The image below shows a comparison between the original and his upgraded version, which is nearly a ten-fold polygon increase. All the smoothness gained here significantly helps the organic feel that the ship should have.

WCSO Update Investigating Cockpit Upgrades & Capship Implementation
2016-11-22 -- It's been one year since we first reported on DefianceIndustries' Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack. Although he's had to reprioritize and shift focus among some other projects over the last few months, he posted an update to assure fans that progress is still being made. The latest research goes inside the ships to determine how cockpits might be improved.

More Translations Complete, Kilrathi Pirate Base Looms For WC RPG
2016-11-21 -- It's been a while since we've checked in with the Wing Commander RPG, but it should come as no surprise that capi keeps plugging away. Lots of work last month centered around wrapping up the chapter 2.2 section he's been working on and conducting numerous translations into the enhanced Kilrathi language he's designed.

Powerful Destroyer Bulks Up The Home Fleet
2016-11-20 -- The Homeworld Remastered Mod has gotten a sleek upgrade in the destroyer department. L.I.

Coping With Helmet Hair: How to Look Good After a Sortie
2016-11-19 -- We've got a new poll today, and it asks you to think about all the glorious talking heads of Wing Commander 1. WC1 arrived at an interesting time stylistically - coming down off the '80s' big hair debacle and transitioning into the cool-guy '90s slick look. With so much of our interaction depending on what existed from the shoulders up, the game wasn't shy about hair flair.

DOS Wing Commander 4 Added to GOG Lineup
2016-11-18 -- The high resolution DVD version of Wing Commander 4 shipped as part of a rare piece of hardware and never got a proper retail release. Fan made patches with separate video downloads had offered people with DOS or Windows 95 copies a fairly convenient upgrade path since 2004, but the 2012 re-release of Wing Commander 4 on Good Old Games finally made this a zero effort experience. If you are feeling particularly nostalgic about Wing 4, or interlaced Full Motion Video in general, GOG has recently added the original DOS version as a bonus download when you purchase the game on their platform.

Prototype Pieces Preview Prophecy Production
2016-11-17 -- Adm_maverick has started work on a new project to record the video and gameplay of Wing Commander Prophecy, but unlike Beckmen's fan movie, the goal isn't purely to pull together one or two feature length segments with existing material. He's envisioning 10-20 minute segments of a mission or two with embellishments that add visual flair and stylistic edits. For example, he's created a mockup that shows new HUD elements popping up during the Nephilim's first appearance.

Flat Universe Adds Kilrathi Ordnance Models
2016-11-16 -- The kat arsenal now includes a variety a missiles and torpedoes for the Kilrathi war machine. They're forged in brown Kilrathi durasteel and use some of the conceptual artistic design cues shown off in the KS calendar. Although pilots don't usually get much time to sit back and admire the missiles streaming toward them, if they do, they're in for a visual treat!

Confed Bases Dot The Solar Empire
2016-11-15 -- After adding all manners of capships and fighter craft over the past year, Nomada_Firefox has made a serious push for bases to be added to the Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire. There's several old favorites from WC3, WC4 and Prophecy, plus there are several shipyard structures that have been put in place to build those aforementioned capships. A new video preview has also been put together that shows off how these bases work in operation.

Project Aries Playable Alpha Test Released
2016-11-14 -- Avid Wingnut YouTuber centaurianmudpig has branched out into game development with his new prototype, Project Aries 3D 64. It's a Wing Commander-inspired space shooter with a charming cartoonish visual style. He's dabbled in prep work for a story campaign, but decided to right-size his project to a more achievable gameplay oriented scope.

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