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.

Park Your Supercruiser Here
2016-06-26 -- callitri is well known for his gorgeous Concordia Supercruiser, but now he's branching out a little. While he's got aspirations to build out more of the WC Movie's fleet, the next project he's leaning towards is the Pegasus outpost from the film's opening sequence. The design is still in the early stages, but he's got a bank of stalls and utility connections in pace.

FMV Roller Coaster Runs Its Course
2016-06-25 -- Emotional Multimedia Ride has posted its fifth - and possibly final - installment in their retrospective on the Wing Commander series. Both Prophecy and Secret Ops are grouped together in a review of the Gold package that GOG has for sale. While there are certainly some high points, they find the overall reduced number of cutscenes, lack of video choices and less seasoned cast to be somewhat less compelling than Wing Commander 4, which ranked as one of their favorite games of all time.

Flat Universe Pilots Help Hold The Line
2016-06-24 -- This week's Wing Commander Flat Universe preview isn't very flat at all! It shows a wing of Hornets rushing in to assist a Confed destroyer under siege by several larger Kilrathi combatants. On the positive side, it appears that the Fralthra in the lead has taken quite a few hits.

Pandora Handheld Plays WC Saga
2016-06-23 -- Oceankhayne likes to take his Wing Commander on the go, and so he's a fan of items like the Nvidia Shield Portable combined with DOSBox for Android. He's recently upgraded to a Pandora, where he's managed to even get WC Saga running. It also plays the standard Wing Commander games through about WC4 quite well, and you can find a video of Wing Commander 3 in action on the device here.

WC Saga Deutsch Up To Version 1.07
2016-06-22 -- Luke continues to refine the German edition of Wing Commander Saga, and his latest updates further enhance the experience. Version 1.07 includes improvements to the fiction viewer, overall improved compatibility and mod-ability through new LUA script options.

New Patch Removes Asteroid Damage From WC1&2
2016-06-21 -- Sheppard still loves to play the Wing Commander games, except one thing drives him crazy: asteroids. He didn't want to just cheat his way through the space combat, so he's been determined to figure out a compromise solution. With the advice of a few fellow Wingnuts and some old editing tools, Sheppard managed to isolate the games' space rocks and neutralize the damage they do by slashing their collision radius.

Cerberus Looking Good From Above
2016-06-20 -- Here's the latest on a very nearly complete TCS Cerberus by DefianceIndustries. The upper superstructure is all textured in now, so the ship is about ready to rock in the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack. Defiance saved the best for last, so just weapons and a few minor structures remain.

New Raspberry Pi 3 Meets The DOS Wing Commander Challenge
2016-06-19 -- CrazySpence is back with great news on the Raspberry Pi 3. A couple years back he had good luck getting WC1&2 to run on one of the first models, but things started fizzling out around Privateer. The new system-on-a-chip is significantly more powerful with its 1.

Announcing The CIC's 18th Birthday Party!
2016-06-18 -- The middle of the year is fast approaching, and that means one thing here: it's almost time for the CIC Birthday! We now hold the event on a Saturday near to the actual anniversary, and this year we've selected August 13. Most old timers know the drill, and they'll tell you that the party is a blast!

Fleet Action Fan Project Launches New Website
2016-06-17 -- For the past two and a half years, Arrean has been working on his Wing Commander themed strategy/tactics game Spaceships Universe which puts players in control of Terran and Kilrathi fleet operations. We check in on his progress periodically, with new screenshots or videos of his Unity based tribute to Wing Commander. Now that a playable alpha test is in the works, Arraen has set up a dedicated website for his project where he can consolidate background information and teaser media.

Freedom Flight Ebook Three-Fourths Released!
2016-06-16 -- As the official July 5 electronic release date of Baen's Wing Commander Freedom Flight quickly approaches, another quarter of the book has been published. Baen has a history of parsing out partial early drafts of their new sci-fi novels ahead of an official launch, and this happens to extend to rereleases of their back catalog such as this. The first half of the novel came out April 15, and now buyers can see the first three quarters.

Flat Universe Gears Up For The Future
2016-06-15 -- There hasn't been too much information on the future of Wing Commander Flat Universe since their big interview a couple months back, but that's about to change. kyrgiannis has posted the first in a regular series of status updates that will lead up to their next major release. The image below shows off a stress test of the engine.

Prophecy & Secret Ops Models Extracted For Easy Modding
2016-06-14 -- gr1mre4per has put together a useful package for aspiring modders and artists to more easily dabble in Vision Engine assets. He's extracted the Prophecy and Secret Ops ship and object files so that fans can jump directly to manipulating everything in their favorite Object Viewer. It should be a pretty complete rundown of what's in there, including some recent curiosities like the unused "Callisto Cruiser.

Massive WC Discount Returns To GOG
2016-06-13 -- Good Old Games is running their annual summer sale, and Wing Commander's incredible 80% price cut is back! This means all PC Wing Commander games, including expansions and bonus material, are just $9.52.

August 1999 Preview Teases Wing Commander On Pay Per View
2016-06-12 -- VHSGoodiesWA has opened a fascinating time capsule into the summer after the Wing Commander Movie premiered in theaters. Long before streaming video was a thing on the internet, cable companies offered Pay Per View programming for people interested in a convenient home option. "On demand" meant something different than it does today though, and people would pay to unlock their desired movie at given scheduled broadcast times.

WC3 Test Footage Gives Early Glimpse At Heart Of The Tiger
2016-06-11 -- LOAF recently happened upon some old VHS tapes with test footage of Wing Commander 3. These appear to be placement shots to explore the feasibility of the futuristic sets, camera angles and costumes. Since this predates actual filming, Eisen is portrayed by a Joe Garrity-lookalike stand in, and the other crew member is "Dallas.

FMV Rollercoaster Reaches Its Peak
2016-06-10 -- Emotional Multimedia Ride has published a fourth article in their series on Wing Commander. Wing Commander 4 is arguably the pinnacle of "emotional multimedia" storytelling in the franchise, and this writeup acknowledges it as such. They enjoy the real sets and deeper choices as well as the more elaborate mission structure.

Prophecy Clip Shows Off Slick OpenGL Effects
2016-06-09 -- Carrick McHwain has posted a nice video of the Wing Commander Prophecy OpenGL patch. He shows how it runs on a modern computer in 1080p with some pretty solid improvement settings enabled. A lot of people are posting play-throughs of all sorts of games these days, but few go the extra mile and max out their playing experience before hitting the record button.

WC RPG Completes First Major Kilrathi Story Segment
2016-06-08 -- After several weeks of final sprinting, capi has completed the Act One, Part One chapter of his WC RPG expansion, Elegy of Sivar. This particular episode has taken the better part of a year to write, and it's just one of a number of chapters that make up capi's planned story arc. This means it's a possibility that his exhaustive Kilrathi module could be broken up into separate releases so that he can wrap up a complete package sooner and publish it to fans.

Pirates On The Prowl With A Heavy Hitter
2016-06-07 -- DefianceIndustries' war machine keeps grinding out incredible new hardware. Up today is the WC4 pirate variant of the solid Thunderbolt. It can be hard to make a design look good in a tattered and worn state, but there are some fantastic visual aspects that do just that here.

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