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.

New Sins Of A Solar Empire Mod Unveiled
2016-08-24 -- Nomada_Firefox has taken the wraps off his Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. There's a number of screenshots already available because he's actually been working on the project for quite some time and held off on sharing it until he felt like he had a good amount of momentum going. It looks like he's definitely off to a good start.

Gr'Kath's Sick Of Herding Kittens
2016-08-23 -- Next up in NinjaLA's stream of sketches is a Wing Commander comic concept. Before you get your hopes it, this is just a one-off concept page. Ninja has several other examples from prior attempts to kick off a full length story, but an engaging and visually striking series is a huge undertaking.

Homeworld Mod Strives To Be First To Kilrah
2016-08-22 -- Now that L.I.F.

Looking Back At The Heart Of The Tiger's Awesome Premiere Edition
2016-08-21 -- One of the most elaborate packages in the Wing Commander series is the Premiere Edition of Wing Commander 3. In addition to the regular items that everyone got, it included a color version of Warbirds, a soundtrack CD, a 'Behind the Screens' CD with cool interviews & features, a t-shirt, a 1995 calendar, a VHS 'making of' tape, a folded poster and a copy of the Fleet Action novel in a film reel enclosure. There was a variant available at Sam's Club, but the primary way for fans to acquire this collector's item was to directly call and order from Electronic Arts - since this was years before online orders were a thing!

Wing Commander Script Guides Updated For New Release
2016-08-20 -- In the chaotic hustle and bustle leading up to the CIC Birthday, sometimes we run out of time to process a few things in time for the party. Shades' Wing Commander script guides didn't quite make the cut this year, but that means they gets a whole news cycle to themselves today! These were first previewed back in 2014, but Shades has used the intervening time to edit and clean up the documents.

Our Most Pointless Post Ever... Or Our Best?
2016-08-19 -- There's a sizable slice of the internet today that's just mindless content farm drivel. No, I'm not talking about clickbait listicles or low quality aggregations - this is stuff so pointless that it really makes you pause. I get why they do it.

Happy 20th Birthday, WC4.123106: The Price Of Entertainment!
2016-08-18 -- Fan fiction is what you get whenever you have creative fans combined with an audience. Today, you'll see stories emerge for game series before the first game is even completed. But in the early days of the internet, things were rapidly evolving and the nature of things like fan fic were dynamic as well.

Pix Revives Tandy TX For Glorious Wing Commander Run
2016-08-17 -- Pix has put together a wonderful walkthrough of the process he followed to get an 8 MHz Tandy TX to run Wing Commander. The technical hurdles he had to jump through are a fun read for those of us who've built computers from scratch, and the results are quite impressive. The game is super choppy since the machine is well below the recommended specs, but it's amazing that it actually runs!

Dogfight Doubles Down On Colorful Contrasts
2016-08-16 -- Hot on the hells of his very colorful tribute to the CIC's 18th Birthday, NinjaLA has put together this beautiful scene. A Confed fighter chases after a Kilrathi ship in the distance. Its bright engine flare against a blue haze adds some great texture to the mix, plus there's some additional nice highlights provided by the electric green blobs being fired from out of the frame.

Party Logs Now Online
2016-08-15 -- We've put the logs from this weekend's party online, so if you couldn't make it in person, you can relive the event now! Check out the transcript here. Hop down to 16:17 to see when the party officially got started.

Time To Claim Party Prizes
2016-08-15 -- Another great party was complemented by another great round of Wing Commander trivia, and now it's time for the winners to claim their prizes. If you won an item below, send us your IRC name, real name and address. If the item has a choice involved, be sure to let us know that as well.

Happy 18th Birthday, CIC!
2016-08-14 -- Welcome to the CIC's 18th Birthday Bash! Daily updates all year round are an important way to keep the ball rolling, but once each summer we get this special opportunity to turn the faucet on full blast and share a load of big updates. In the months leading up the birthday, we're never exactly sure what all will solidify in time for the event, but we're always happy with the outcome.

Happy 18th From NinjaLA
2016-08-14 -- NinjaLA has put together this party-themed sketch of the Tiger's Claw and her escorts for our 18th birthday. I really like the idea of the colorful smoke trails and the ships are pretty sharp too! In case anyone else wanted to take a stab and crafting their own message, he put together this base template that tones down the smoke and removes the caption.

August 2681 Issue Of Destiny's Way Released
2016-08-14 -- Just in time for our 18th Birthday, the Maslas Brothers have released the next issue of Destiny's Way. Once again, the in-universe magazine of Wing Commander Flat Universe is packed full of nostalgic references, thought provoking articles and clever advertisements. Check out the pages below or grab the official PDF here (3.

Art Assets Reveal Never Before Seen Cockpit
2016-08-14 -- It's certainly not every day we get to see new Origin concept art or unused designs from the classic Wing Commander games, but we've got a birthday treat today! Joe Garrity recently uncovered an amazing set of cockpit art and animations from a fighter we've never seen before. The lock and autopilot lights are unmistakable, and there are vertical and horizontal bars that could definitely be for a gun capacity and afterburner fuel.

WC vs History: Takes More Than That To Make A Wake
2016-08-14 -- The CVE class had been a source of intense debate back in the Concordia's pilot ready room. This new class of ships was a rush job to try and plug the gaps after the heavy losses of the last campaign. Nine transport ships, already three quarters completed, were pulled out of the transport assembly stations and converted into escort carriers; and a single look at her convinced Jason of the folly of the whole damn thing.

Standoff Team Releases Single Package Install
2016-08-14 -- The Standoff team is happy to release the single package install (462 MB) for the CIC's 18th birthday. This file will install the complete game without the need to download multiple packages. It's been an amazing journey for Standoff.

More Prerelease Art Reveals SWC Differences
2016-08-14 -- It's been a good season for Joe Garrity and undiscovered cockpits! He found a second interesting artifact, but this one is a little more familiar than the one above. The first photo below comes from a disk labeled "1994 WINTER CES SWC.

Homeworld Remastered Mod Is Out Of Refit With New Features
2016-08-14 -- L.I.F.

Wing Blender 2.0 Released
2016-08-14 -- Kevin Caccamo's Prophecy/Secret Ops importer/exporter marvel, Wing Blender, has achieved full 2.0 release! This update further streamlines the process to manipulate ships destined for the Vision Engine.

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