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.

Action Stations Available for Pre-Order
2017-02-27 -- Get ready for Action... Stations! The sixth Wing Commander novel's ebook March 7 premiere is fast approaching and several e-tailers have gone ahead and put up preorder pages for the book.

The Art of the Sci-Fi List
2017-02-26 -- Stories set in distant futures have an interesting challenge: what frames of reference should the characters display? For example, Wing Commander takes place roughly seven hundred years in the future. Should characters speak in a 'future dialect' or in a manned immediately comprehensible?

All Nine Privateer Bartenders... RANKED
2017-02-25 -- Early inn Freedom Flight, Hunter opines that "species didn’t seem to matter; wherever there were fliers, there seemed to be a bar..." and Privateer's Gemini Sector seems to be ample proof! Every one of the game's regular bases features a variety of services; some boast ship dealers, others different guild halls...

Homeworld Mod Guide Adds Border Worlds Faction
2017-02-24 -- Since we last reported on the Homeworld Remastered Mod's Player Guide, L.I.F.

The Short, Strange History of WC4 DVD
2017-02-23 -- It's 1997 and the future of media storage is here: DVD! With 'interactive movies' like Wing Commander taking three, four and even six CD-ROM discs to store hours of low-resolution video, the immediate benefit of DVD for multimedia games seems clear. With so much space, a game like Wing Commander IV could be stored on a single disc...

Ad Ben: Where's Wing Commander?
2017-02-22 -- There's plenty of room for debate about the coolest Wing Commander print advertisement: that first image of a Hornet cockpit, Seether hidden in the shadows behind Blair and Tolwyn, the Nephilim fleet massing in a centerfold, the Dragon-as-a-car-advertisement... the list could go on! Today, however, we would like to introduce you to what is unquestionably the most simple Wing Commander advertisement.

Who's that Music?
2017-02-21 -- There's great news for fans of Wing Commander music: composer George Oldziey is back at work orchestrating his classic Wing Commander music! He tweeted on Friday: Spending a rainy LA day diving into orchestrations of more of my #WingCommander music! Stay tuned!

The Wing Commander Art of Alan Gutierrez
2017-02-20 -- Last week, we showed you how the developers behind the 1995 Wing Commander CCG used a single painting to create two different cards. Today, we'd like to share another example by walking you through the incredible art of Alan Gutierrez. Mr.

EA Gives Free Access
2017-02-19 -- Still on the fence about this whole Wing Commander thing? Electronic Arts has announced that they are adding a seven day free trial to their Origin Access service (previously reported here.) Origin Access, the PC equivalent of their Xbox-based EA Access program, gives you the ability to play a host of Electronic Arts games free of charge.

Retro Ad Highlights Tricky Windows Transition
2017-02-18 -- Anatoly Shashkin of DOSNostalgic shared this awesome advertisement for System Commander. Although it shares no relation to the Wing Commander series, it still has a pretty cool name, and this ad includes a shout out to WC4. "Win 95 is cool, but sucks with DOS games!

Digital Wing Commander in HD Discounted to $6.99
2017-02-17 -- Vudu enthusiast Jacob reports that the company has included Wing Commander in their latest monthly HDX sale. Through March 7, digital ownership of the movie will run you just $6.99.

Just Play the Classics!
2017-02-16 -- In 1994, Electronic Arts hit on a sales trick that has since become commonplace: re-release your recent back catalog as budget 'classic' titles using simple packaging and digitized manuals to lower printing costs. The original cost of producing these games could be further amortized, ultimately helping further support the ever-growing game development budgets needed for new titles to stand up. You could call it GOG's great, great grandson!

Welcome to Sol Sector, Julianna!
2017-02-15 -- We have the happiest possible news to report today: congratulations to Chris and Lacey Reid on the birth of their daughter, Julianna Ella Reid! Julianna was born on February 9th, a brand new baby girl. Chris, Lacey and daughter are home and recuperating well.

Love, Terran Confederation Style
2017-02-14 -- We all know Blair and Angel, Maniac and Rosie, Catscratch and Sosa... but the conventional wisdom says that Wing Commander is, by its very nature, not the platform for stories about complex romantic relationships. In honor of Valentine's Day 2017, I would like to respong by remembering two relationships from the Wing Commander canon that are a little more nuanced.

Ad Ben: Sound Commander
2017-02-13 -- Here's a nickel's worth of free marketing advice: if it's 1991 and you are trying to sell a PC game it does not hurt to make sure it has the word 'Commander' in the name. The degree to which Wing Commander was a success means that an incomplete list from those years includes Air Commander, Flight Commander, Tank Commander, Air Force Commander, Robot Commander and many more. And the tie-ins didn't stop there: there were even a host of hardware peripherals that tried to ride Wing Commander's coattails.

Where Everybody Knows Your Clan
2017-02-12 -- Don't drink and fly! The 1995 Wing Commander Customizable Card Game (CCG) includes a pair of 'LUCK!' cards which discuss this exact scenario: the Confederation "TOO MUCH VAK'QU" and the Kilrathi "TOO MUCH FIRE LIQUOR" cards allow the player to return an individual opposing pilot to the Ready Area, effectively disabling them for the turn.

Ghosts in the (Metal) Machine
2017-02-11 -- Could there have been new Wing Commander music in 2015? The answer may surprise you: a strong 'sorta!'Back in 1997, Wing Commander Prophecy's abortive flirtation with a Cobalt 60-supplied industrial music soundtrack resulted in one of the stranger additions to Wing Commander’s musical canon: a "Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack” that seems to be more industrial variety sampler than anything connected to the Terran Confederation.

Denis Loubet Goes Behind the Screens
2017-02-10 -- The gang from the Big Box PC Game Collectors group have a great new video of interest to Wing Commander fans: an hour-long hangout with Origin artist Denis Loubet! Denis is the man responsible for the original Wing Commander box art (and countless other pieces of early WC art) and hearing him talk about his storied career if fascinating. Wing Commander fans should pay special attention around the 50 minute mark, where talks about creating the first game's explosions and debris in Deluxe Paint and even designing the game's radar screen!

Ad Ben: Sound Runner
2017-02-09 -- Multimedia! The year was 1992 and the buzzword was inescapable. The meteoric rise in home microcomputer power (alongside the massive success of multimedia games like Wing Commander) created an audience hungry for high resolution graphics, ultra-complex game controllers...

Spoiler Filled Wing Commander Review
2017-02-08 -- The crew of Spoiler Filled have done a conversational podcast review of the Wing Commander feature film. Being unfamiliar with the Wing Commander franchise beyond the film's reputation, the podcast covers their expectations and then contrasts them with their impressions after watching the film. Their overall impression is not necessarily positive, but they do say the reputation is undeserved and give props to the movie's special effects scenes as being quite good for 1999.

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