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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Update published on . View all news from that day.

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

Escapist's Not Feeling Privateer
2014-07-21 -- To coincide with the completion of the Wing Commander series on GOG, Escapist ran a series of reviews last year that covered almost the whole franchise. At the time they skipped over Academy and the Privateers, but they've circled back around with a Good Old Review for Gemini Sector pilots. It's the same reviewer that thought Prophecy was pretty good and loved WC1&2, but in this case, he just can't get into Privateer.

Krant Hardly Wait To Play
2014-07-20 -- Shaggy's completed the Krant fighter for Beat Hazard that he mentioned earlier this month, but the Kilrathi fleet isn't quite complete. The fearsome Jalthi is now in the works to supplement the kats on the very high end, and then that should finish off the planned lineup. You can see all of the cool ships that have been designed for this scroller shooter game here.

Armada/SWC Crossover Adds Self Sufficient Invasion Capability
2014-07-19 -- The parade of massive Kilrathi warships continues. Up next in the armada is the Shiraak carrier. It's a fairly rare ship to see in fan projects, and Klavs' take on it is certainly the most detailed Wingnut attempt.

New Documentary Explores Video Game Industry
2014-07-18 -- Crowdfunded documentary Video Games: The Movie examines the transition of video games from niche product to billion-dollar industry. It features several big names in game design, like Cliff Bleszinsky (Unreal, Gears of War) and Kobayashi Hiroyuki (Resident Evil). The only familiar name in the credits is Wing Commander veteran Warren Spector, but LOAF managed to snap (tweet) a half second of Wing Commander 4 footage with Mark Hamill, Chris Roberts and Malcolm McDowell in it.

16th Birthday Party Moves to a New Night!
2014-07-17 -- It's almost that time again! We're just about a month away from the CIC's 16th Birthday at wcnews.com.

Phoenix Crew Disembarks For New Experiences
2014-07-16 -- Silent Hunter asked us to remind everyone that the crew of his ship, the TCS Phoenix, is currently enjoying shore leave on pleasure planet Jolson. If that sounds like a place you'd like to be, join the Wing Commander From the Ashes RPG to start in. They are a forum based RPG that role plays its adventures here.

The Real Defiant Few Episode 5 Released
2014-07-15 -- The latest episode of Wing Commander: Defiant Few has been released! This time it's the real deal - a spoof was released on April Fool's Day. Episode 5 is actually a prequel chapter that takes place ten years before the prior four.

Starlancers' 45th Volunteers Remain Vigilant
2014-07-14 -- Here's a story fifteen years in the making: way back on August 26, 1999 (coincidentally the one year anniversary of Secret Ops' release), we reported on the "Star in Starlancer" contest. Lucky fans could win the opportunity to be featured in a digital promo poster for Erin Roberts' space sim game. Jaev73040 was one of the winners, and he recently came back to share the results - a pretty nifty squadron render!

Saga Plus Development Remains On Track
2014-07-13 -- As direct support of the original WC Saga mod appears to have come to an end, Luke has picked up the ball and is making good progress with his enhancement pack dubbed WC Saga Plus. In addition to support for multiple languages, improvements are being made to the ship viewer, fiction viewer, heads up display, mission editor and mission briefings. There is also helpful popup text and a menu interface for enabling various upgrades.

Hakaga Work In Progress Shown Off
2014-07-12 -- Wing Commander fans have seen quite a few of Klavs' ship renderings over the years, but they don't often get to see behind the scenes before the images are complete. Here's a peek at the Hakaga while it's still being assembled in MODO. It's overlaid with the Fleet Action cover in order to get the proportions right.

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