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.

WC Album on Track for October Recording; Supplemental Campaign Announced!
2014-04-22 -- Since the conclusion of his successful Kickstarter last month, former Origin composer George Oldziey has been in negotiations with symphonies all over the world to find the best musicians and make the most efficient use of the funds collected. He's selected Prague's prestigious Dvorak Hall with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to record the album! Since the Kickstarter basic goal was exceeded, he's used the current proceeds to plan about 30 minutes of finished recording with the orchestra.

Maniac Bikes to Work
2014-04-21 -- Tom Wilson was recently spotted in the May/June 2014 issue of Momentum Magazine. It turns out that when the Maniac isn't test piloting a Morningstar, his go-to mode of transport is the trusty bicycle. Tom explains how biking around Los Angeles is feasible, and he also reveals how he's bounced back from two hip replacements.

French Language WC4 Highlighted at Oldies Games
2014-04-20 -- Jérôme Brenner tipped us off about a profile of Wing Commander 4 in the the French OldiesGamesTV video channel. It's a brief collage of WC4 cutscenes that most Wingnuts are quite familiar with, but the French dubbing is interesting to watch. Over the years we've heard from many fans who learned English so that they could hear the original game audio, but now it's English speakers' turn for a taste of the reverse.

Happy CIC Easter!
2014-04-20 -- The CIC themed Easter eggs are back! Have a good one, folks. Special bonus: Roberts Space Industries' Sandi Gardiner at Lord British's haunted egg hunt at Lake Austin earlier today.

Wing Commander Games Discounted on GOG
2014-04-19 -- Good Old Games is running a big sale this weekend on its Electronic Arts catalog of games, including the Ultima and Wing Commander franchises! This also includes Strike Commander, Crusader and many other familiar titles. There hasn't been a discount like this since their holiday sale in December, and 60% off is nothing to sneeze at.

Rec Room 3D Perspectives
2014-04-18 -- In between recording Wing Commander long play videos, centaurianmudpig has been dabbling in 3D modelling with the open source Blender program. His very early version of the Tiger's Claw rec room is still rough around the edges (and missing its barkeep) but already feels familiar. If you have experience with Blender and have any comments or helpful pointers on recreating the classic look, mudpig would love to hear from you on the CIC forums.

Hellcat Gets Some Teeth
2014-04-17 -- Whiplash's Hellcat model needs one more thing before it's ready for battle: guns! He's put together a step-by-step walkthrough of how the side mounts came together, and the results look very much like their in-game equivalent. The forward cannons still need to be built, but the ship is very nearly finished!

Wing Commander Tastes Metal
2014-04-16 -- Wing Commander fans are constantly impressing us with their creativity. We love seeing what Wingnuts will come up with next. 'Michael Lochlann' recently debuted a new rock mix of the Wing Commander 1 theme oven on his soundcloud page.

First Space Sim Debuts on Next Gen Platforms
2014-04-15 -- The XBox One and Playstation 4 consoles have received their first space sim, an enhanced release of Strike Suit Zero. Compared to the original PC release, the latest edition includes improved graphics, an expansion pack and extra suits and goes for around $20 depending on the region. The director's cut is also the first indie game for the Xbox One.

Microsoft Talks Backwards Compatibility
2014-04-15 -- Reports from last week's Microsoft Build developers conference note that the company is looking into backwards compatibility for the XBox One. Such prospects still sound like a bit of a long shot, and only about half of original XBox games were compatible with the 360, but this does provide a tiny glimmer of hope for extended Arena longevity.One of the developers looking into this is none other than Frank Savage, who was the director of game development for Wing Commander 3 and other Origin titles.

Game Archaeologist Explores Wing Commander Online
2014-04-14 -- Massively has published an article that recaps various attempts to create a massively multiplayer Wing Commander game. As the piece largely pulls from the CIC's archives, there's not really any new information, but it's good to see the material collected and republished for more to see. That's why we put it out there!

What's Next for Wing Commander?
2014-04-13 -- Over the weekend, Chris reflected a bit on recent events and kicked off an interesting discussion on the future of the Wing Commander franchise. The last 10 to 15 years haven't been particularly exciting for space sim players, but the incredibly successful Star Citizen funding campaign has shown that genre still has a lot of life left in it. What shape and direction do you think the next Wing Commander release will take?

RSI Dogfights Into PAX East
2014-04-12 -- This past Thursday Cloud Imperium Games descended on Boston for PAX East and a very special livestream event. Fifteen hundred fans were able to obtain entry to the event, including yours truly, and we were treated to a night of the latest from Star Citizen. After crushing a few last minute bugs, Chris Roberts went into a recap of the game's development accompanied by a short film showing some of the trials and tribulations the team faced in the days before PAX.

Paladin Appearing at Cincinnati Comic Expo
2014-04-11 -- Veteran actor john Rhys-Davies will be appearing at the Cincinnati Comic Expo on September 19 - 21. While he is most famous for playing James "Paladin" Taggart in Wing Commander III and IV, you may have also seen him in Digital Anvil's Freelancer, the Indiana Jones series or the Lord of the Rings. Rhys-Davis will be appearing alongside actors from other major sci-fi franchises like Firefly, Doctor Who and Star Wars.

Saga Pilot Manager 1.1 Released
2014-04-10 -- Luke has posted an update to his Pilot Manager application for WC Saga and Saga Plus. The program allows players to back up their pilot or create multiple characters for different play-throughs. It's great for experimenting with the game.

Hellcat Model Looking Mighty Fine
2014-04-09 -- Whiplash has finished his Hellcat model's surface paint. All of the various panel lines, rivet heads and macro detail looks great. There are still a small amount of personalization that will come last, but this is the final look of the primary hull.

Historical Kilrathi War Fighter Ready to Intercept
2014-04-08 -- Klavs was able to flex his creative muscles with his latest design, an early Confed Wildcat. Owing to the real life historical parallels between the Grumman F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat, there's been much fan speculation that the Wildcat interceptor introduced in Wing Commander Action Stations was the predecessor to the workhorse Hellcat V. Klavs has played up this connection with some easter eggs embedded in this design - this one apparently belonged to Wing Commander Academy's war hero-turned-rogue Damon Karnes.

Dralthis IVs Inbound for WC2 Modding Project
2014-04-07 -- Wing Commander editing god HCl has provided a status update on his project to import models into WC2. After recently figuring out how to customize movie sequences, the focus lately has been on the game engine and how to trigger cutscenes. A test Dralthi should be released soon.

Let's Play Special Operations 2!
2014-04-06 -- centaurianmudpig is driving towards the conclusion of the Wing Commander 2 era with his play through of Special Operations 2. SO2 follows the exploits of Paladin and Blair's elite team as they contend with the Mandarins, Morningstars and Wild Eagles Squadron. If you missed the expansion originally or just haven't played it in a while, be sure to at least check out episode one below.

LOAF Appearing at DragonCon Again
2014-04-05 -- The CIC's very own Ben Lesnick will make another appearance at this year's DragonCon. As the community manager and a designer for Cloud Imperium Games, LOAF hosted last year's Star Citizen panel and was interviewed by several video game news reporters. Development has progressed a lot since last Summer, so there will be lots to talk about.

Kilrathi Lexicon Complete; RPG Turns to Epsilon Detail
2014-04-04 -- capi3101 has made good progress on multiple aspects of his Wing Commander RPG. After months of research and development, his Kilrathi Lexicon section is complete. Based on linguistic clues, he's put together some very creative vocabularly, syntax rules and whole translations.

Underappreciated Dorkir Recognized as a Winner
2014-04-03 -- After handling Confederation logistics with a gorgeous Drayman, Klavs has turned to the Kilrathi supply chain. The Dorkir is rendered below in both tanker and transport variants. It's really interesting to see the design similarities between this ship and the Drayman.

Defiant Few Episode 5 Released
2014-04-02 -- The long-awaited fifth chapter of Wing Commander: A Defiant Few has been released! It continues the epic Confed fight for survival against the insectoid hordes. The action starts immediately with our heroes fully engaged in an exciting battle full of intense dog fighting, authentic Wing Commander sound effects and very creepy Nephilim taunts.

This JAW-DROPPING Cruise Liner Rents For 4.2 Million Credits... A DAY
2014-04-01 -- The Guinterin Combine travel company is preparing to launch three brand new luxury liners complete with shuttle bay, casino and spa. The Twilight Purchase, The Blue Horizon and Ana Maria Alberghetti have room for over 6,000 passengers and are set to cruise the Cygnus and Luyten systems. Companies wanting to charter one of these luxury vessels for a corporate retreat can do so for a stunning 4.

10 Cities Most at Risk of Being Hit By an Antimatter Warhead
2014-04-01 -- There's sure to be a hit amongst our list of likely contenders. We asked our team of Earth defense experts which cities were looking the most likely to be craters if the Kilrathi pulled up to downtown Earth and here's what they told us.Chicago Solves crime and the misery of the Cubs in one strike.

These Space Stations Are Too MASSIVE To Wrap Your Head Around
2014-04-01 -- The Blackmane starbase weighs an incredible 650,000 tonnes and is over 2,500 meters long!This Theta-class supply base makes for a "rocking" destination -- If you can find it! It's located somewhere in the Kilrah System.

Here Are 11 Exclusive Drinks You Didn't Know You Could Order
2014-04-01 -- Canteens across the fleet have been getting pilots hammered for decades, but few people realize that many bartenders offer a second, secret menu with drinks that are regularly requested but rarely publicized. We've compiled a list of the most exclusive (and gut wrenching) spirits that are out there. They won't always be available but they're worth asking for the next time you want to black out.

This Exeter Concept Almost Looks Like The Real Thing
2014-04-01 -- The art of creating ship concepts has turned into an obsession for many people over the years, but new concept images showing the rumored upgraded "Exeter" design look so good they could have come from Joan's Fighting Spacecraft itself. Pulled out of thin air by Klavs, using nothing more than Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, these drawings give us a glimpse of what the next iteration of Confed's primary "battleship" might look like, if and when it materializes. Meanwhile, this entirely made-up design is very sleek and the HUGE engines make it look like she'll be much faster than the current generation Exeter!

11 Incredible Things You Won't Believe Thrakhath Said!!
2014-04-01 -- MeowRawrNyaaaPurrGrowlHissYowlThe Heart of the Tiger has failed his race. He has failed himself. He has failed the human he knows as Devereaux.

Relive Wing Commander Saga In Six EPIC Screenshots
2014-04-01

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