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.

Frightful Kilrathi Concept Art Surfaces
2014-11-24 -- Concept artist Mariano Diaz has posted some startling Kilrathi additions to his portfolio. Much like Rob McKinnon's work, this dates back a couple years to Chris Roberts' early Wing Commander pitch for what would eventually become Star Citizen. The Kilrathi included here are some of the most terrifying depictions anywhere.

WC Strategy Mod Back On Track
2014-11-23 -- Arraen began work on a tribute to Wing Commander at the beginning of the year. His project is a WC-themed strategy game made in the Unity engine. Things were coming together nicely until March, when he posted this message: "Sorry, guys, due to Russian invasion at my country I put on hold this project.

Star Wars Trailer Rumors Stir WC Memories
2014-11-22 -- There have been conflicting stories this week about the Star Wars Episode VII trailer being paired with the new Hobbit film set to release in December. It's possible that the rumor was unfounded, and there are many ways they could choose to unveil the preview these days - from attachment to a hot movie to a large scale television event to many many internet-based options. Mass digital media was much more limited fifteen years ago, and in March 1999 The Phantom Menace's trailer was revealed to the world before Wing Commander.

Academy DVD Marked Down for the Holidays
2014-11-21 -- A number of people have written in to report that Amazon is now selling the Wing Commander Academy DVD collection for just $7.99. It's not clear if this price reduction is in any way permanent, but with the holiday season fast approaching, this is a great opportunity to pick up some additional copies for gifts.

Wing Commander on German TV Saturday
2014-11-20 -- The Wing Commander Movie will be broadcasting on the German station RTL2 this Saturday, November 22, at 2 PM. We frequently mention all of the streaming sources such as HBO Go, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, XBox Video and iTunes, but occasionally people in certain countries have trouble accessing these. Even if fans don't have a problem going digital, the copies online may not be in their native language, so we especially like to point out opportunities to catch the movie on normal television in non-English speaking countries.

Early Concept Art Hints at SC's WC Origins
2014-11-19 -- Concept artist Rob McKinnon has mocked up images for both major Hollywood studios and video game developers like Cloud Imperium Games. His relationship with Chris Roberts actually goes back several years to some of the earliest fighter pilot and Hornet pictures for what would become Star Citizen. There are also some very interesting mockups in his portfolio for when the game was being pitched as a potential Wing Commander game.

WC Invasion Sees Renewed Interest on YouTube
2014-11-18 -- Timpedia has produced a multipart series of video reviews for the Wing Commander Invasion game. It's a Star Wars Empire at War (Forces of Corruption) mod that hasn't really been in the news for a couple years since the project reached a final stable release, but it's still available online and looking really slick. If you ever wanted to know what a fleet of Bengal class carriers, Confederation dreadnoughts and a Behemoth could unleash on the Kilrathi, this is your opportunity.

GOG Sale Cuts Wing Commander Prices In Half (80% Off Tuesday!)
2014-11-17 -- Good Old Games has a sale for every season these days, and that's a good thing for Wing Commander fans! Our favorite franchise has gone 50% off, which means each package is marked down to $3. All of the DOS and Windows WC games and expansions are included across eight different packages, so the series is available for $24.

Kick Kilrathi Butt Like a Superhero
2014-11-16 -- Lord Savage has posted a neat scan the shows the famous SNES Wing Commander advertisement as it appeared on the back of a comic book. This appears to be the February 1993 issue of Avengers West Coast (the "91" above "Feb" means "Issue 91"). Many Wingnuts have seen this ad in magazines like GamePro, but it's neat to see how they cross marketed WC back in the day.

Aussie Site Takes Gamers Back
2014-11-15 -- AusGamers just threw a Throwback Thursday shout out to Wing Commnder 3, but rather than splash a one-liner across social media, they've put together a nice review of the game as well. The author does a good job trying to set the stage for an audience whose members may have grown up in the 21st Century. It's important to grasp how revolutionary full motion video was for the time and how the Wing Commander series was pulling off green screen special effects better than some movie studios.

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