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.

"I'm Poppin' The Pod! Make Sure I Get Picked Up..."
2014-10-19 -- Today's new poll asks about your philosophy on ejection. Are you a pilot that always goes down with their ship? Or is Control+E a legitimate strategy for tough situations?

Ace Ferrara Launches on Android
2014-10-19 -- Philipp Seifried reports that his Wing Commander-inspired space sim Ace Ferrara and The Dino Menace is now available on Android. It was released for iOS devices earlier this summer. The price has been temporarily marked down from approximately $4 to about $2 on both platoforms to celebrate the release.

Workhorse Fighters Rebuilt Closer To Original Specs
2014-10-18 -- ScoobyDoo is well known for tweaking familiar Wing Commander designs to come up with interesting concept models, but some situations ask for fewer liberties to be taken. He's answered that call and put together these shots of his Scimitar and prototype Thunderbolt with a bit more familiar profiles. The designs still contain his trademark flair such as hefty hull plating, refueling markers, stylized engine inlets and a nifty transparent radome on the TBolt.

Amiga Retro Games Reviews Classic WC Port
2014-10-17 -- Mind Wipe has posted a video overview of the Amiga version of WC1. The Super Nintendo and Amiga both got ports in 1992, so many players who didn't have access to high end PCs in the early '90s fondly remember these as their first interaction with the franchise - and often 3D space sims in general. Since this was a less common way to play, however, we like to take opportunities like these to share alternate WC experiences.

Rapier Render Revisits Powerful Prototype
2014-10-16 -- Klavs has posted the latest iteration of one os his most popular fighters, the Rapier II. Many of his takes on the craft draw from Super Wing Commander or WC2 elements, but this version gets its cue from the original Wing Commander and famous Dean McCall render. This gives the design some nice hard angles on the leading edges, engine inlets and stabilizers.

Fantastic Foundry Figures Featured For Fun
2014-10-15 -- Mwikan of The Redoubt has painted some pretty nifty Kilrathi fighters and is preparing them for battle at this year's Millennium Con. The gathering is dedicated to tabletop miniature gaming, and these ships look like they'll fit right in! He'll be using the 5150 Fighter Commander game as a backdrop for the action.

Trip Report: Citizen Con 2014
2014-10-14 -- The CIC Staff is all back home after nearly a week in Southern California. While KrisV, AD & Dundradal held the fort online, LOAF, Frosty, ace and I kept busy in Los Angeles. We got a chance to check out the latest on Star Citizen at Citizen Con 2014 last Friday.

Starship Comparison Errata
2014-10-13 -- We've reported more than once on Dirk Loechel's awesome starship comparison graphic, which includes designs from dozens of games, books, movies and tv shows. The collage has been updated several times to include additional ships or make minor corrections, but LOAF has spotted a few remaining issues. These nuggets of information might even come in handy at the next CIC birthday trivia, so read on...

Chris Roberts to Discuss WC History at PAX Australia
2014-10-12 -- Important heads-up for fans near Melbourne. The Australian edition of the Penny Arcade Expo includes a panel discussion with Chris Roberts. The session is at 3:30pm on Friday, October 31.

Prophecy Fan Movie Released
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