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!
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.

Red Alert 2's On The House
2015-10-03 -- Electronic Arts' latest game to go on the house is Command & Conquer Red Alert 2. Titles in this program briefly become free to download and keep via EA's Origin games storefront. Wing Commander 3 and a number of other classic Origin Systems titles have been given away as a part of this program over the last couple years.

Wing Commander Broadcasting On German TV
2015-10-02 -- In this day and age, with all the online streaming options for the WC movie, it's hard to imagine anyone not having either purchased a digital copy of the movie or having access to a streaming service that hosts it, but if you are one of those people and happen to live in Germany, your next chance to catch the Wing Commander film on TV happens this month. RTV will be airing the show on Thursday, October 15th at 7:15. You can visit the RTV site for more details.

Wing Commander Out Of The Mouths Of Babes
2015-10-01 -- Here's something to lighten the mood and provide some hope that future generations are being brought up right! Trey's a little kid that makes two minute reviews on YouTube. The Wing Commander series was recently playtested, and the results are in.

New Master Of Orion Takes Shape
2015-09-30 -- There's a new Master of Orion coming out soon, and it's great to see how a classic '90s space game series is coming back to life. The developers have been posting dev diary interviews as development progresses, and they feature a number of perspectives from Wing Commander vets who worked at Origin. Artist Jeff Dee talks about how alien races with similarities to animals need to still feel like aliens that evolved in their own way.

System Shock Enhanced Edition Released; Look Back At Wing 0 Minigame
2015-09-29 -- With all of the excitement over Wing Commander 1 this past weekend, it's been easy to overlook another classic Origin (via Looking Glass) game in the news. An enhanced version of System Shock was released last week. While this famous RPG/shooter deserves a major spot in gaming history on just its own merits, the CD version of the game also added a fantastic Wing Commander minigame!

Anniversary Livestream Posted; Jump To Special Features
2015-09-28 -- The Cloud Imperium Games team has posted this weekend's amazing 25th Anniversary Livestream to Youtube in its full 9-hour glory. The recording was previously available on Twitch, but many find the Youtube interface more user friendly. There's also a helpful index below that shows where to jump to in order to see certain key segments of the show.

Wingnut Donates Collection To Celebrate 25th
2015-09-28 -- While many fans spent the weekend playing, watching or buying even more Wing Commander games, Oggy took it one step further by donating his collection to the National Video Game Arcade in the UK to help preserve and share his love of the series. While that might sound like kind of a downer at first, how often do Wingnuts get a chance to start collecting the entire series over again from scratch? Sounds like fun to me!

Hornet Mod Amps Up Sky Rogue Action
2015-09-27 -- CMDBob has taken his colorful Hornet and repurposed it for the flight sim Sky Rogue. The developers of the game describe it as a "simple, accessible-yet-difficult, fwooshy, 'feel good' arcade flight simulator," which makes it a great fit for Bob's models! The art style is light and it looks like some really fun way to kill some time.

Happy 25th Birthday Wing Commander!
2015-09-26 -- Today Wing Commander fans are celebrating the series' 25th birthday! The original game shipped to stores September 26, 1990 after eighteen months of development, and the rest is history... It's hard to find words to convey the magnitude of this event as a milestone to the fans.

AtV Interviews Roberts For WC's 25th Birthday; Big Livestream Saturday!
2015-09-25 -- Wing Commander turns 25 years old tomorrow (!!!), and Episode 62 of Around the Verse is celebrating in style! Sandi Gardiner and Ben Lesnick's news desk is decorated with WC1 memorabilia, and they conduct an extensive interview with Chris Roberts about his thoughts on how the series came to be: what the early days at Origin were like, how the first missions were drafted and what his tips to save the Ralari are!

The Real Lance Casey Returns Home
2015-09-24 -- Actor Steven Petrarca who played Lance Casey in Wing Commander: Prophecy did not reprise his role for the Secret Ops follow-up the next year, and a different voice actor was brought in to perform his gameplay speech bits. If this has been bothering you for the past 17 years, then fret no more! Lt.

Goodbye, Pete Shelus
2015-09-23 -- There’s a star system named after me in the Wing Commander universe. It’s the result of an overworked designer at Origin needing to fill a giant map with hundreds of names quickly, but it may still be the single thing in my life that I’m most proud of. But where there were hundreds of systems to fill in, there were only a handful of encompassing quadrants.

WCDX Focuses Its Lenses
2015-09-22 -- The first test build of WCDX for Kilrathi Saga WC2 rolled out earlier this month, and fans quickly jumped in to start running the patch through its paces. A few players encountered some graphical blurriness, and Stinger has managed to redo how the program resizes the gameplay window to resolve this issue. Overall it's still in the phase where basic functionality like this is being tested, but longer term plans include fixing things like cockpit damage, smoothing out performance speed and eliminating input lag.

Littlest Nephilim Ship Gets Its Day
2015-09-21 -- The Remora is a serious contender for most insignificant enemy ever faced by Confed pilots. These remote turret craft were the original WC drone ship before drones were cool, but they were just too weak to take as a real threat. The Ray/Remora Node Cluster is a clever idea though.

Unknown Enemy Revamp Picks Up Steam
2015-09-20 -- The Wing Commander Unknown Enemy mod for SecretOps turns 15 next year. For some time now, the team has been wanting to release one last major update, to incorporate all the advances the modding community has made over the years. The initiative seems to be gaining traction once again, according to Quarto's recent status update.

Updated Pilot Pack Fixes German Subs
2015-09-19 -- The Secret Ops pilot pack we reported on earlier had one minor oversight: it didn't account for Prophecy's German subtitle files. Lt. Overload has put together an updated version of the pack that can be downloaded here (56 megs).

Japan Fires Most Powerful Laser In The World
2015-09-18 -- Scientists in Japan have test fired a new laser capable of a 2 petawatt blast. This is equivalent to 2 million gigawatts (2,000,000,000,000,000). As Wing Commander fans are well aware, the TCS Behemoth was capable of directing 500 million gigawatts to one lancing point.

Excitement Builds For Wing Commander's 25th Birthday
2015-09-17 -- The 25th anniversary of WC1's release is fast approaching, and we'll be celebrating with fan par excellence Bandit (LOAF) in a special livestream event next Saturday, September 26, on Twitch! You'll get to see Mr. Ben Lesnick take on all of the Vega Sector's most classic missions and hear about interesting behind-the-scenes trivia along the way.

Pixel Probe Leads To Greater Understanding Of WC1's Dev Techniques
2015-09-16 -- UnnamedCharacter has been intensely studying the early Wing Commander games lately, and he's discovered some tiny yet fascinating aspects of how WC1 was created. For instance, he's discovered that more than just the windscreen is transparent on the Hornet. A tiny row of six pixels that features in the iconic cockpit actually light up as if they can see through to the space background.

Saga Editing Tools Upgraded For Today's Windows
2015-09-15 -- Luke has updated his expansive suite of WC Saga (Plus) enhancement tools to work with Windows 10. Over the years he's created quite a few different programs that do things such as enable joystick throttle and rudder, detect installation file issues, fix the Excalibur weapons, support debugging efforts, manage pilot rosters, extract core assets, improve mouse control and support secondary monitors. That's a lot of stuff!

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