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.

Fighters Swarm Solar Empire Mod
2016-09-30 -- After several rounds of really big capships, Nomada_Firefox has zoomed in for a look at some impressive fighters added to his Wing Commander mod of Sins of a Solar Empire. On the Kilrathi front, the Strakha and Darket might both be pretty lightweight, but the elite Bloodfang more than makes up for that. The Confed additions all come from Prophecy by way of the Devastator bomber and Panther & Vampire space superiority fighters.

Return To The Frontier With New Privateer Enhanced Soundtrack
2016-09-29 -- Jason Walton has partially released his second enhanced Wing Commander soundtrack. In addition to Wing Commander 2, his repertoire now includes Privateer. His first eight Gemini Sector tracks are now available in this convenient playlist.

Fewer Colors, But It Still Sounds Great
2016-09-28 -- Mindwipe has put together a nifty tribute remix of the Amiga Wing Commander's title track. Listen below or download here. The Amiga version's unique music has a following just like the DOS edition's, and you can find additional recordings of it in another update here.

Super Heavy Fighter Bomber Uncloaks In Homeworld
2016-09-27 -- Now that DefianceIndustries has turned out his fearsome F-107 Lance, L.I.F.

Those Shooting Stars Are Laser Blasts
2016-09-26 -- NinjaLA is back with another take on the classic Dralthi. This time the ship has a more realistic gloss finish, and it's portrayed from a head-on angle that gives it an exotic elliptical shape. At first glance, the Kilrathi vessel might appear to just be cruising through the night, but some of the colorful background streaks are actually its guns blazing.

Cruise Through The Border Worlds Carefree At 7692 Klicks Per Meganewton
2016-09-25 -- DefianceIndustries is back from a well earned vacation with a gorgeous new model. He's hand crafted the imposing F-107 Black Lance fighter, commonly known as the Dragon. There's even a sell sheet that's similar to the famous Playstation advertisement that portrays it like a car ad.

Sins Of A Solar Empire Mod Gets All Fired Up
2016-09-24 -- Today's update to the Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire is all about engines. Nomada_Firefox has carefully worked within the game's limitations to get the powerful flares looking just right. The results look pretty hot!

Behind The Blue Screens Of The Scimitar Schematic
2016-09-23 -- Joe Garrity has uncovered another gem from his vast archives. This time he's managed to secure a copy of the original Scimitar master of the blueprints included with Wing Commander 1. You can see how each of the little elements is taped in place prior to mass production - that's how layout was done back in the day!

Righteous Playthrough of Privateer and Expansion
2016-09-22 -- YouTuber Hercxena has wrapped up his playthrough of Wing Commander: Privateer and the Righteous Fire expansion pack. Many people have recorded Let's Play videos of various Wing Commander installments, but smaller titles like Righteous Fire don't get much coverage. If you skipped over Privateer or Righteous Fire back in the day, you can get a taste on Hercxena's channel.

Happy Birthday Wing Commander Academy!
2016-09-21 -- Today marks 20 years since the premiere of the Academy television show on the USA Network! The animated series came at a prime time in Wing Commander history. It arrived just a few months after Wing Commander 4 & the CCG premiered and a couple months ahead of Kilrathi Saga & Privateer 2.

Fleet Action & Heart Of The Tiger Ebooks Partly Released!
2016-09-20 -- Been has officially listed Wing Commanders Fleet Action and Heart of the Tiger in its ebook store! Expect to see them show up for Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle and more on December 6, 2016. In the Baen tradition of releasing partial manuscripts ahead of time, the first half of each novel is already available for early purchasers.

Solar Empire Mod Upgrades To 22K Ultra High Definition Dreadnought
2016-09-19 -- Nomada_Firefox has taken on the issue of scale in his Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire. Tackling the enormous size of the 22,000 meter Kilrathi dreadnought is challenging for most modders, and it's interesting to see how each project addresses this. In order to prevent an issue with the ship conflicting with planets, he's had to downscale everything 20%, but the proportions are still right.

Enhanced Wing Commander 2 Soundtrack Almost Complete!
2016-09-18 -- Jason Walton has nearly completed his project to redigitize the music of Wing Commander 2, and it sounds great! Give it a listen for a fantastic wrap up to our WC2 weekend. Compared to the previous clips he released last month, Jason has upgraded to Logix Pro X as his editor of choice and spent a lot of time ensuring the pacing, tone and synthesized notes were just right.

Listen To A New Take On Thrakhath & The Emperor
2016-09-17 -- It's a Wing Commander 2 weekend! Voice actor David Lanzafame has recorded a pretty slick rendition of the Wing Commander 2 intro. How goes the war against the humans?

Wing Commander 2 Live Stream Saturday!
2016-09-16 -- There's just one day to go until Wing Commander 2's 25th anniversary live stream! The fun gets going at noon Pacific US time (3 PM Eastern, 8 PM British Summer Time) on Twitch and continues until we successfully strike K'Tithrak Mang! Along the way, join in for trivia, commentary and guest interviews.

Art Display Spans Kilrathi Saga Years
2016-09-15 -- Vulpes-Sapien makes a lot of really cool line art from a variety of sci-fi series. Here's his take on the most common Confed fighters of Wing Commanders 1-3. As an extra bonus, WC2 gets a handful of Kilrathi ships as well.

Four Queens!!!
2016-09-14 -- Joe Garrity came across a cool artifact in his massive Origin collection that he'd like to share. This is the set of Confed playing cards that were used during the filming of Wing Commander 4. Joe's pulled out the four-of-a-kind that Maniac ominously used to defeat Vagabond before his final mission.

Come For The RPG, Stay For The CCG!
2016-09-13 -- capi is back with another diligent report on the status of his ever growing Wing Commander RPG. Summer holidays and a side project to create a card game took up a chunk of the last month, but lots of work still got done on Kilrathi lexicon and translation. Here's his plan for what's coming up next:My Plan for this week is to continue in Chapter 2.

Solar Empire Mod Construction Yards In High Gear
2016-09-12 -- We saw a variety of utility ships in the last update on the Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire, and this time we're upsizing quite a bit. Nomada_Firefox has added a fleet of Kilrathi warships to the mix that's turned out very well. The first several shots show the assembled armada with a large number of potent vessels.

This Junkyard Dog Has A Serious Bite
2016-09-11 -- VERTi60 is an ace starship commander in the new Galactic Junk League. The point of the game is to cobble together a cool ship from space debris and then battle it out with other players. Naturally, Wing Commander fans quickly started to make familiar designs from their favorite series!

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