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.

Recent Flat Universe Update Profiled In Detail
2015-09-02 -- Now that the dust has settled from last month's CIC's birthday, the Maslas Brothers have caught a breath and returned to explain all of the upgrades in version 0.8.5 in more depth.

Wing Commander Viewing Party Now Available Online
2015-09-01 -- If you missed LOAF's Livestream of the Wing Commander Movie last month, you can now find a full recording at the INN Youtube page. It's full of fun, trivia and insightful commentary! Note that they had to restart the film a ways in, so it doesn't officially get started until 23:30.

Homemade Vampire Kicks Off New Paper Arms Race
2015-08-31 -- Adm_Maverick stopped in to share these pictures that document the build of his papercraft Vampire fighter. This is one of the many ships originally developed by Péricles for Paper Commander. All of them are amazing creations!

The Raptor Pilots Are Brave, The Hornet Pilot Is Crazy
2015-08-30 -- Klavs' latest wallpaper image is an exciting strike on a Fralthi. While a pair of heavily armed Raptors swoop in on an attack run, a single Hornet dances across the cruiser's hull with laser beams blazing. I also really like all the blue highlights and background dust as well as the sense of motion here.

Spirit Sketch Captures '90s Charm
2015-08-29 -- Denis Loubet's new sketch of Mariko Tanaka is now complete! It's an ink drawing that emulates the style of the printed art that accompanied the original game. It's very neat to see the one of the original artists take on the character after nearly twenty-five years.

Maniac Picks His Desert Island Movies
2015-08-28 -- The Skinny recently conducted an interview with Matthew Lillard. The focus was his directorial work at the Edinburg Festival Fringe, but topics were all over the place. When questioned which movies he might take with him to survive an apocalypse, this is what he had to say.

Unboxing Goes Retro With WC1 Review
2015-08-27 -- Unboxing videos are everywhere these days, and it's a shame that this trend arrived after the decline of physical video game packages. Most games are downloaded digitally now, and there just aren't all that many awesome collector's editions anymore. Sometimes Youtubers just need to look back into the past for cool games to open up.

Super Ships Join Homeworld Fray
2015-08-26 -- L.I.F.

It Takes Two To Tango
2015-08-25 -- DefianceIndustries continues to bulk up the Border Worlds fleet, and this time he's upsized his efforts with a preliminary model of the Durango class heavy destroyer/light carrier. It's already looking super sharp and appears to be ready for texturing work. If his fighter models are any comparison, the final paint scheme should be a sight to behold!

New Kilrathi Escort Added To The Armada
2015-08-24 -- Klavs has produced a massive fleet of iconic Kilrathi warships, and that's left him with a variety of major subcomponents on the cutting room floor. He's cobbled together these parts to assemble a pretty compelling new kat design. The consensus seems to be that this could be some sort of destroyer or light cruiser.

Party Logs Now Online
2015-08-23 -- If you couldn't make it to the big party last weekend, now's your chance to relive the event virtually. Our Seventeenth Birthday logs are available online here. Hop down to 16:00 to see when the party officially got started.

Clive Owen Joins Luc Besson’s Valerian
2015-08-22 -- English actor Clive Owen is going back into space. Reports say he's been cast in the lead role of Valerian in the live-action adaptation of a long-running French comic series. The actor joins director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Léon) and co-stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne in the big budget sci-fi epic.

Frontline Nephilim Invaders Recreated
2015-08-21 -- Dark Sentinel has returned with complete versions of his Nephilim Manta and Devil Ray fighters. Both have been fully textured, and there's a third bonus fighter: the reddish brown Manta bomber. Nephilim skins can be very hard to pull off, but these execute a colorful organic vibe without just being splotchy psychadelics.

First Glimpse Of The 'Starship Tactics' Fralthi
2015-08-20 -- Arraen has had a busy summer adding lots of Confed ships to his strategy mod. Now it's time to start bulking up the Kilrathi fleet, and fans have been clamoring for a Fralthi to give the kat forces some muscle. The shot below is the first teaser of the new enemy light cruiser in the game.

WC Movie Briefly Disappears From/Reappears On iTunes
2015-08-19 -- In all of the excitement late last month with Wing Commander joining Netflix, we noticed that the movie simultaneously disappeared off iTunes. Our theory was that it was related to Chris Roberts regaining the distribution rights and set off to investigate. But, before we could get too far, the film popped back up!

Digital Wing Commander Tracks Almost Complete
2015-08-18 -- George Oldziey has provided a status update for the digital reorchestrations he's working on to round out his Wing Commander album. The supplemental 15 minutes of music is now a bit more than three quarters complete. Once this is wrapped up, the physical compilation discs can proceed.

Excaliburz Wit Attitudes
2015-08-17 -- We were going to post this one on Saturday, but it got missed in the crazy party shuffle! Richard H ran this one through the Straight Outta Compton meme generator, and it was a hit on social media. It's definitely the best one I've seen!

Time to Claim Party Prizes
2015-08-17 -- It's time for the lucky and talented winners from Saturday night's party to claim their prizes. If you're one of the folks listed below, please submit your IRC name, real name and address now. If you had an unclaimed item from a prior year's party, now's the time to get in touch with us.

Happy 17th Birthday, CIC!
2015-08-16 -- Welcome Wingnuts to the celebration of the CIC's 17th Birthday! The years keep racing by faster and faster, and the site is now older than many staff members and visitors were in 1998 when we first set up shop at wcnews.com!

Massively Revamped Flat Universe Released!
2015-08-16 -- The Maslas Brothers' impressive top-down Wing Commander shooter, Flat Universe, has been upgraded to version 0.8.5.

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