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.

Reimagined Confed Cruiser Packs A Major Punch
2016-05-29 -- DefianceIndustries has taken a stab at creating an original design for the WC Homeworld mod that heavily draws on Wing Commander sources. The intent was to put together an all new take on the sometimes confusing Gettysburg cruisers. Although the Gettysburg class TCS Austin is depicted by the (360 meter) Exeter model in The Secret Missions 2, Freedom Flight describes it as larger than a (500 meter long) Fralthi.

Getting Emotional About Wing 3
2016-05-28 -- The retro blog Emotional Multimedia Ride has followed up on their WC1 and WC2 piece with a long look at Wing Commander 3 for PC. Like the one before it, this article touches all the bases with an overview of the main cast, the quality of the graphics and video, reflections on the gameplay mechanics and the way the player's actions (directly through conversation choices or indirectly through mission performance) impacts the storyline. Technically, the game is a two-sided sword.

From The Set of Wing Commander 4
2016-05-27 -- The DosGamesBlog YouTube channel has posted a compilation video of behind the scenes footage from Wing Commander 4. The video doesn't specify a source for their material, but we know that a 1996 issue of CD-Rom magazine MultiMedia World Live! contained seven brief videos in which interviews with the cast and Chris Roberts are interspersed with scenes from the set.

Listen To (And Watch!) The Wing Commander Roland MT-32 Difference
2016-05-26 -- Space Game Junkie recently managed to score one of the legendary Roland MT-32 sound modules, and he's put together a new video to provide a comparison and show off how he got it working. While it's possible to emulate and tweak your way to some pretty great sounding music in Wing Commander games, this is the real deal. An especially cool feature here is that Brian points an embedded camera at the device while firing up some classic space games.

New Version Of Wing Blender Accesses Exotic Files
2016-05-25 -- Kevin Caccamo has finalized and released the latest version of Wing Blender. Version 1.6.

Cerberus Gets A New Coat Of Paint
2016-05-24 -- DefianceIndustries has started texturing the Cerberus, and so far it's coming along nicely. A couple different hull plating variants are pictured below with the later shots being the likely final candidate. The material has kind of a retro marbled pattern combined with a bit of futuristic gloss and red accents.

Sweep Around WC Capship Sim's Starships
2016-05-23 -- Arraen has pulled together a neat video that shows off the remodeled fleet of his strategy game, WC Spaceship Universe. Each of his four workhorses are encircled so that fans can see them cruising through space in his Unity engine. The project has gone through a few evolutionary upgrades that have stretched out the development timeline, but the results evident now look pretty good!

It Helps To Get A Running Start
2016-05-22 -- Klavs has posted a new angle on his developing Concordia model, and this time it comes with a piece of accompanying fiction. When asked whether the ship's familiar hangar opening runways will make a return, he let a member of the crew answer with a pretty interesting response! After clicking the thumbnail below to get a better look, also don't forget to hit "download" and then zoom in on the detail.

Get Your Wing Commander Film Posters From... Sears?
2016-05-21 -- AD noticed that some unusual Wing Commander search results appear at the websites of some major big box retailers. It's not hard to find copies of Wing Commander on Blu-ray or DVD in stock all around the web, but both Sears and Walmart list Wing Commander Movie posters that have been out of print for some seventeen years. Unfortunately, this does not signal any particular release, but rather, these retailers allow private "marketplace" type sellers to list a wide variety of goods.

LOAF Interviewed in Major Print Publication
2016-05-20 -- The May issue of German PC gaming magazine GameStar contains a big Wing Commander retrospective, including an interview with Star Citizen community manager and CIC founder Ben Lesnick. Brian Chambers of Star Citizen's Frankfurt branch shared a teaser on Twitter. Pick up a copy if you can!

WC1 Live Viewer Reveals Programming Details In Real Time
2016-05-19 -- UnnammedCharacter has made a neat little app that provides enhanced visibility of each WC1 object in space. It shows ships and their speed, of course, but the really cool aspect is that it reveals exactly what each of the enemies pilots/ships is "thinking." By tapping into the game's AI routines, you can see exactly which ships are patrolling a nav point, holding formation, wandering, chasing our hero and more!

Vintage Videos Visit WC3 & P2 Film Shoots
2016-05-18 -- FMVStory has posted a couple of really cool set visits for Wing Commander 3 and Privateer 2. The clips come from Bad Influence, a '90s show that covered tech items and video games. A lot of people are familiar with the WC3 Behind the Screens footage, but the first video below shows a few really neat and rarely seen glimpses of the Kilrathi animatronics in action.

Unused Cruiser Found In Prophecy Files
2016-05-17 -- Kevin Caccamo has made a cool discovery while digging through the guts of Wing Commander Prophecy. Using a modified version of Wing Blender, he was able to import an unusual ship file. The result is a preliminary version of a rarely seen Confed cruiser that did not appear in the final game.

Quick Strike Cruiser Zooms Into Secret Ops Upgrade
2016-05-16 -- DefianceIndustries has taken a break from player pilotable craft for a moment to work on the most iconic ship of Secret Ops, the TCS Cerberus. He's got the shape down pat, and now he's adding subcomponent details throughout the model. Compared to the Midway and other contemporary capships, the Hades class had a cool blue hull with neat red accents, so we're anxious to see how this one comes out with texturing on!

Amiga Article Takes Us Back Nearly 25 Years
2016-05-15 -- Janne Rautiainen tipped us off about a really cool July 1992 article on the development of Wing Commander for the Amiga platform. The piece was originally published in Britain's The One magazine and is saved at archive.org.

Hamill Talks Return To Space Sims
2016-05-14 -- There's a new PC World interview making the rounds that takes a moment to pull Mark Hamill away from Star Wars Episode VIII filming to talk about some of the other sci-fi ventures he's been involved with over the years. Major topics include working with Chris Roberts again as well as the shift from live FMV to motion-captured CGI video. He notes that the majority of his Squadron 42 work was a reunion with John Rhys-Davies.

WCDX Examining Cockpit Malfunction
2016-05-13 -- Stinger's WCDX patch streamlined and fixed a lot of minor annoyances with Kilrathi Saga WC1, and even improved the graphics rendering and compatibility with newer versions of Windows. There is an early, playable version of the patch that fixes some of the issues plaguing the Wing 2 port, but getting KS WC2 up to the same level of refinement is proving to be a major undertaking. In a forums post, Stinger provides some insight into one strange aspect of the Windows port, namely its framerate.

Brazilian Gaming Site Posts Arena Video
2016-05-12 -- The Video Game Database website posted an interesting video of Wing Commander Arena in action. Since the game was released in 2007, it came a bit before recording and streaming things like this became common. They start the game, briefly peek at the modes, pick a ship and launch into space combat.

Shrike Swoops Into Secret Ops Upgrade
2016-05-11 -- DefianceIndustries has added another ship to the Cerberus' roster with the completion of the Shrike "Class B" torpedo bomber. Despite its mass, the ship has some pretty sleek curves, and its turrets help convey how much punch this ship packs. It'll definitely do some damage to any bugs trying to invade!

Painted Over Concordia Looking Mighty Fine
2016-05-10 -- NinjaLA saw Klavs' recent Concordia update (pictured right) and was so inspired that he had to personalize it on his own. Many people have gone out and textured other artists' 3D models, but this might be a first for WC art. Ninja started with the complex render and then digitally painted in the colors, lights, details and his own visual flair.

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

Current Poll

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

Site Staff