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.

Ninth Issue Of Destiny's Way Released
2016-02-09 -- The Maslas Brothers have released the first issue of Destiny's Way for 2016! It features a lengthy article about exploration on the frontier and plenty of easter eggs. Grab the full 8-page PDF here (4 megs) and stay tuned for more from the Flat Universe team soon.

Defiance Industries Meets Douglas Aerospace
2016-02-08 -- DefianceIndustries has put together a really nice Hellcat, and it comes in two varieties! In the shift from Wing Commander 3 to 4, the workhorse fighter didn't just get slightly different color highlights. The earlier variant has four clear underslung guns in the same mount.

Who Would You Be?
2016-02-07 -- We've got a new poll up that takes a slightly different turn than usual. Rather than asking what your favorite thing is, we're posing a question that asks if you could be a pilot besides Christopher Blair in the regular Wing Commander series, who would that be? To narrow down the options, we've selected a slate of eight pilots well known for their aggressiveness in the cockpit.

GOG Discounts EA Games by 60-85%
2016-02-06 -- Good Old Games is having a unique EA Completionist sale this weekend. While individual games are 60% off, if you opt to buy all of the EA titles missing from your library, the discount jumps to a whopping 85%. The GOG catalog is up to 42 different titles from Electronic Arts, but because the discount is so high, the full slate is $41.

WC Toolbox Adds Ship Editing Feature
2016-02-05 -- UnnamedCharacter has released a new version of his programming library for interfacing with Wing Commander 1's game data files. This newest beta release (3.3.

Kilrathi Durasteel Polished For Homeworld Mod
2016-02-04 -- L.I.F.

Wing Commander Finally Gets Its Due?
2016-02-03 -- Den of Geek recently ran an article on the 50 Underappreciated DOS Games. As one of the best selling and highest rated DOS games of all time, we'd probably agree with Space Game Junkie that Wing Commander doesn't really fit on this list. Rather, this instead seem like a missed opportunity to highlight something like Wing Commander Armada or perhaps Privateer 2.

Ron Cobb's Wing Commander Concept Art Found!
2016-02-02 -- LOAF recently uncovered several pieces of exotic concept art for the Wing Commander Movie! These treasures were drafted by Ron Cobb, who is famous for creating some of the iconic imagery for Star Wars, Alien, The Last Starfighter and more. Each is dated 1997 before Chris Roberts and producer Todd Moyer decided to go in a different visual direction, although some of the promotional material such as the 1998 SFX WC magazine still credits him with the "texture" of the film.

Star Citizen Fan Creates Wing Commanderific Squadron 42 Box
2016-02-01 -- Illusive_Man has mocked up a pretty clever Squadron 42 box based on the classic Wing Commander 3 art. It mirrors the original fonts, backgrounds and all of the arrangement. Mark Hamill and John Rhys-Davies' positions are the same, as is the placement of the catlike alien and their exploding ships.

Annual Community Vote Begins!
2016-01-31 -- We've left 2015 in the past, but there's one more thing to do as we move further into 2016. You've sent nominations in over the past month, and now we're kicking off our annual awards to recognize the fan projects and websites that had some of the most impact over the past year. We had an even larger number of worthy projects this year than normal, and we definitely wanted to get this out before the end of January, so excuse the brief listings of each choice.

Medium Size Capships Get Visual Upgrades & New Orders
2016-01-30 -- Back on the Homeworld front, L.I.F.

The $6 Million Dollar Game Arrives on 3DO
2016-01-29 -- Flashback Nation, a Twitter account dedicated to all things retro, recently put up this scanned cover page of the Winter '94 issue of 3DO Magazine UK. Wing Commander 3 is featured prominently on the cover, and the issue included a review of the "$6 Million Dollar Game." The coverdisk (which appears to be free sampler disk #1) would not have included the playable 3DO demo of Wing 3.

Border Worlds Pilot Defies His Opponent
2016-01-28 -- When DefianceIndustries isn't modding Secret Ops or lending support to other fan projects, what does he like to do for fun? Make a gorgeous wallpaper! This one sticks his excellent Banshee model front and center as he recreates one of the most famous advertisement renders for Wing Commander 4.

MetalJesusRocks The Price Of Freedom
2016-01-27 -- Today we have Metal Jesus Rocks' review of Wing Commander 4. This was actually created a while ago, and despite MJR's popularity, managed to stay under our radar until now. The quirky reviewer covers retro gaming with a dash of his own heavy metal soundtrack tossed in.

"Ek'rah skabak erg Thrak'Kilrah maks Cheesy Balls"
2016-01-26 -- LOAF recently uncovered a neat "alphabet" sheet for the Wing Commander Movie. It shows sixteen symbols of the type used in the alien scene translations. There are several very distinct Kilrathi writing styles observed from the dots and dashes in the SM2 Dralthi cockpit to the iconic Kiranka claw that debuted in Wing Commander 3.

Universe Explored In A Flat Way
2016-01-25 -- Space Game Junkie recently conducted a live stream playthrough of the Wing Commander Flat Universe fan game. We've posted lots of screenshots of both the top-down action as well as the flow sequences aboard Daedalus Station, but these images don't do the game justice. Videos like the one below are much better at showing off how cool it can be to just walk around in a familiar WC setting.

Classic Opponents Engage In Aerial Dogfight
2016-01-24 -- NinjaLA has combined two of the most iconic Wing Commander ships into one pretty nifty sketch. He's gotten some practice making both Dralthi and Hornets look really good lately, so it's no surprise that they're finally pictured together here. The Confed fighter needs to lean even heavier on its afterburner if it's going to avoid a pancake/wing collision though!

Homeworld Mod Experiments With Turret Upgrades
2016-01-23 -- Here are some neat screenshots of another cool concept L.I.F.

Still Time to Back the Wing Commander Album
2016-01-22 -- Physical copies of George Oldziey's reorchestrated Wing Commander album have been landing in mailboxes the world over. If you missed out on the crowdfunding campaign, there are still a few copies available. Fans that donate $20 to offset the remaining production and shipping costs will receive a digital copy of the album, the collectible physical CD (including a digital copy) is available for those who contribute $40 and an autographed album is $60.

WCP Hardpoint Editor Helps Modders Mount Weapons
2016-01-21 -- gr1mre4per has created another useful tool for all of the folks working on Secret Ops mods and enhancements these days. As the ships become more detailed, it can actually become harder to find suitable flat surfaces to place weapons turrets. grim has streamlined that process with app designed to streamline this whole process.

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