DirectDraw Hack 1.0 Released

sol_hsa has completed his DirectDraw upgrade ddhack! It now works with all Kilrathi Saga games - Wing Commanders 1, 2 & 3 - plus the Windows version of Wing Commander 4. The program has come a long way since the initial release that added bilinear smoothing to the classic graphics. The latest edition adds several other filters, including a new deinterlacer for Wing Commander 3. On top of all this, the patch fixes some significant compatibility/palette problems that some people have experienced in recent versions of Windows. You can grab the program here (56 k zip). Instructions are included. The source code and debug tools are also available.

sol has posted an entertaining story about the exploration that lead him to development of the ddhack patch at his website. It includes some useful background on how each game implements the upgrade and really shows how much dedicated Wingnuts can accomplish when they set their minds to a task!

In the Beginning

It all started about a month ago, when one friend of mine had decided to follow his dreams and was moving to the states, and he had to get rid of a lot of stuff. Among his discard pile was a bunch of Wing Commander games, which I bought off him, figuring they might be interesting research material, as I'm planning on a game with similar game play structure (as in story combined with game play, not a 3d space shooter).

So, I found myself in the possession of Wing Commanders 1, 2, 3 and 4, all Windows versions - the Kilrathi Saga and WC4CD to be specific. I installed the first and tried it out. My Win7 switched to 256 colors at a 640x480 resolution, but the game ran.. with completely wrong palette.

Bugged by this I played with the compatibility options, and got the game to almost work well, with the palette going wrong at some points.. so the game was sort of playable, but I hated the fact that Windows changed to 256 colors and I couldn't see my mailbox properly in the other screen, etc.

I also tried WC2 and WC3, and they had similar - or worse - problems. I even learned the steps to get WC3 to work properly:

1.Find the WC3W.EXE executable, turn on (basically) all the compatibility options.
2.Start task manager.
3.Find and kill all instances of explorer.exe. Your desktop will disappear, along with the task bar.
4.Using task manager, launch WC3W.EXE

Naturally the screen resolution and color mode will be 640x480 and 256 colors, but if you've bent backwards that much, you probably don't care all that much.

Seeing that the games use DirectDraw, I decided to roll my own.

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Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans.

The Great Debate: Broadsword Color
2015-04-01 -- This year's viral phenomenon over whether a dress in odd light was either blue and black or white and gold has rekindled the age-old question: what color is the Broadsword in Privateer? Most Wingnuts clearly recall that the bomber was mostly green in WC2, but it has a less memorable look when flown in Gemini. Fans have long debated was color highlights cover the wingtips and forward fuselage.

Akkbar Acquires Descent's Dice
2015-04-01 -- Our longtime friend Dan Akkbar Hardwicke is back on the scene with a new a business venture. He's leveraged his considerable street cred in the online space sim community to secure a sweet deal with the makers of the defunct Freespace Tactics board game. For just dollars on the penny, he's purchased 20,000 bulk sets of Freespace dice.

Sivar's Hand Fiction and Fiction Viewer Make Headway
2015-03-31 -- Story progression has been at the forefront of Sivar's Hand development these past couple weeks. Aginor has sent several chapters on for editing, and he's getting deep into some of the more dramatic twists now. On a related note, Luke is also improving his fiction viewer that helps integrate the adventure into the game.

WC RPG Makes Kilrathi Expansion Progress & Launches Art Campaign
2015-03-30 -- Despite spring back falling right in the middle, March has been a big month for the Wing Commander RPG Wiki. The first half was largely about setting up the adventure pages for the different acts in the Elegy of Sivar campaign. This was important as it allows capi to plug in individual missions at will now.

WC4 Homeworld Mod Close to Kilrathi Faction
2015-03-29 -- Thanks to some generous help from a squadron of fellow Wingnuts, L.I.F.

Vengeance of the WC Playthroughs
2015-03-28 -- Wvlfy is another prolific YouTuber that's passed under our radar for the last couple years. He's extremely prolific and has produced over 60 WC mission recordings with full commentary. Sometimes you see people who start WC1 and then get bogged down in the difficulty of The Secret Missions or SM2: Crusade.

WC1 Almost Gave You The Finger
2015-03-27 -- Dondragmer's continued artistic exploits have uncovered some interesting hand gestures buried in the code of Wing Commander 1. It's likely that these were intended for the mechanic tech that greets each pilot upon landing. Note the blue sleeve versus the brown jacket around pilot hands.

Goodbye, Sir Pratchett
2015-03-26 -- Discworld author Terry Pratchett passed away two weeks ago. The internet has done a much better job memorializing him than we could, but we would like to take a moment to kindly acknowledge him as a fellow Wing Commander fan. There's quite a few writers out there that share our passion for the series, and it was prominent sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle that got the prolific novelist into the series.

SM1.5 Campaign Ported to PC with New Modding Techniques
2015-03-25 -- Fans have long been intrigued by the differences posed by Super Wing Commander. Ostensibly a remake of the original Wing Commander with newer graphics, the games' smattering of familiar fighters has much confusing crossover with ship models used in very different roles throughout Privateer and Armada. And while WC1 and The Secret Missions were pretty faithfully recreated in the new engine, SM2 was replaced by a brand new intermediate campaign where the Tiger's Claw seeks out and destroys the shipyards that spawned the Sivar Dreadnought.

French Dub of WC4 DVD Playthrough Defects to the Border Worlds
2015-03-24 -- DocteurJ tipped us off about the second chapter in OldiesGamesTV's high quality playthrough of WC4. Just like chapter one, this episode is spoken in French thanks to a special remixing of the audio from the CD version on top of DVD edition's high res video. Even for non-French speakers, it's pretty interesting to see how the voices are dubbed in a different country.

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