Ad Ben: Sound Runner

Multimedia! The year was 1992 and the buzzword was inescapable. The meteoric rise in home microcomputer power (alongside the massive success of multimedia games like Wing Commander) created an audience hungry for high resolution graphics, ultra-complex game controllers... and though we take it for granted today, realistic sound, music and speech.


As a result, countless hardware manufacturers took to the market to face off, each hoping that their particular product would be crowned industry standard. The results of this battle are felt today: graphics and video standards decided in the marketing realm of the early 1990s remain the de facto standards today, with the ultimate victory in the sound arena going to Creative Labs' Sound Blaster. We remember the victors, but we quickly forget the countless also-rans who once fought for their piece of the multimedia pie.


In modern game development, hardware partnerships are a high-value necessity. Companies like Microsoft, Sony, Intel and others frequently invest millions of dollars supporting game projects that will buoy their platforms. What's the best way to make sure your processor, VR headset or console 'The One'? Make sure it's the one that best or exclusively plays the games the audience wants.


In the early 1990s, the stakes were a little smaller: million dollar budgets were unimaginable, and hardware and software companies instead typically settled for either a quid pro quo 'you advertise us and we'll advertise you' deal or an arrangement to purchase discount copies of older games for bundled releases. In this irregular series, we will examine advertising from a range of hardware partners that featured WING COMMANDER in some way. Some of these, like Intel's Pentium, will be familiar... others will be long forgotten evolutionary dead ends.


To wit: today's advertisements come to us courtesy of Computer Gaming World, via the fantastic Computer Gaming World Museum. The first (blue) advertisement appeared in the February and March issues, while the later yellow version ran from April through August. The SOUND RUNNER from PC Turbo Corp was an 8-bit Ad Lib compatible sound card. (The later ad is a modification of the original's template with color changes; swapping between them will keep the Wing Commander II box in exactly the same place!)


While the ad copy makes it sound like the second coming, the reality is that it's a budget copy of the then-popular Ad Lib sound card. Creating an Ad Lib compatible sound card in 1992 was cheap and easy as such things went, and they were attractive for budget-conscious PC owners. The $89 price tag was the real selling point, compared to $200 for a brand name Ad Lib or $300+ for a Sound Blaster (or much more for a Roland card.) The Sound Runner is by no means alone in this attack of the clones: the July CGW alone includes similar advertisements for the similarly-forgotten "Sound Master II," "Thunder Board," "Sound Galaxy NX," "Sound Commander fx" and "Sound Galaxy." (At least one of which we will revisit!)


Ironically, the Wing Commander game presented here is the one that drove the stake through the heart of all the Ad Lib compatibles. Vengeance of the Kilrathi's support for full speech via the Sound Blaster's digital audio (PCM) helped define Creative Labs' product line as the winner in the sound wars... while simultaneously driving the Ad Lib to an early grave. Very little information on the SOUND RUNNER survives today; Google finds only these advertisements, and a deep dive through Usenet archives suggests that no one was even talking about it in 1992.


Did you own a SOUND RUNNER? Did you use it to play Wing Commander II or Ultima VI? If so, we'd love to hear from you!

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Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

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


Album Campaign Reaches $15,000 Milestone!
2017-08-21 -- George Oldziey's campaign to create a second Wing Commander Album had an amazing weekend! After getting a big boost from some generous matching funds, the story was picked up at Slashdot. Altogether, this brought in more than $5,000 in just the last four days, which means the project successfully hit its $15,000 minimum threshold!

Eclipse Glasses Still In Short Supply In 2790
2017-08-21 -- There's a Privateer 2 News Bulletin that's especially timely today! This blurb was a way of conveying that the price of optic nerve commodities was increasing on planet Hephaestus (and it was written as a poem because P2 is weird). Specifically, "magnifiers" had been used to view the planet's eclipse rather than "smoked glass," hence the need for these medical suppliers.

Happy 19th Birthday, CIC!
2017-08-20 -- Welcome to another CIC Birthday Party! Counting our grand opening event in 1998, this is the 20th time we've gathered to celebrate how the Wing Commander series has brought together this amazing community. It's always a great opportunity to re-energize with our fellow fans and perform some important site refreshes.

Happy Birthday Sing Along!
2017-08-20 -- Origin composer George Oldziey recorded this extra special video message to help celebrate the CIC's 19th! Sing along at home with everyone else and join the fun! His campaign to make a second Wing Commander album had a successful matching drive this past week and is now up to $12,500!

Happy 19th From DefianceIndustries!
2017-08-20 -- DefianceIndustries kindly sent along these cool graphics to commemorate the CIC's 19th Birthday. But wait, there's more! People have been asking us about CIC gear for a while, and it's been a long time since we've had anything new.

Check Out Flat Universe's Nav System & New Screens
2017-08-20 -- Here's an exciting look at the next iteration of Wing Commander Flat Universe! For starters, there's a peek at the depth of the game's navigation system. The Maslas Brothers have created an entire database out of the Prophecy universe map for pilots to explore.

And Then Play Flat Universe Multiplayer!
2017-08-20 -- And you can now register for the open Flat Universe multiplayer alpha! The game will be playable on both 32 & 64 bit versions of Windows, Linux and MacOS! It incorporates numerous improvements from smaller scale tests and is the coolest version yet!

Or Play The New Model Upgrade Pack!
2017-08-20 -- DefianceIndustries also has a new release ready to go for the slick Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack. This new build revamps several major cap ships and implements the joinable Skate clusters. Grab it here (65 MB exe) and have fun!

Document Archive Keeps Growing
2017-08-20 -- In our daily updates, we sometimes share fascinating background information related to the development of a Wing Commander product. This could be never before seen storyboards, pictures from the film set, early draft scripts that differ wildly from the final version, or high resolution source files used in the creation of the box art. In 2004, we launched the Document Archive with the purpose of collecting and categorizing these materials so our visitors can more easily research the development history of their favorite titles.

Prophecy Completes Holovids FMV Archive
2017-08-20 -- It's an exciting day for the Holovids section - all of Prophecy's cinematics have been converted and made available for streaming. This means that every single cinematic from the FMV games are now online! Continuing his work from previous years with WC3, WC4, and Privateer 2, AD has taken the DVD-quality cinematics and added them to Holovids for your viewing pleasure.

CIC Now With Added Arena
2017-08-20 -- A little under a month ago we were all celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wing Commander Arena's release, so this seemed an appropriate time to revisit our coverage of the game. In doing so, our Background section has now been given a dedicated Arena page, and our original Arena mini-site has been brought in line with the rest of the site. Our dedicated Background page can be found here, and if you missed it don't forget to check out Chris' amazing 10th anniversary coverage!

Download List Gets Birthday Update
2017-08-20 -- Over the years, the CIC has gathered a huge number of files in our archives from all types of places. We've been working on organizing many of those files, 116 gigabytes of them to be exact, in our Downloads section. It's been given a birthday update to cover the things we've posted the last few years.

Any Questions?
2017-08-20 -- Here at the CIC, we get asked a lot of questions. Sometimes they are even about Wing Commander. But when we noticed that we were no longer getting so many questions about running Prophecy on a 3Dfx card in Windows 95, we decided that it was time to act!

Cake!
2017-08-20 -- It's a CIC Birthday, so here's a CIC Birthday Cake!

New Poll: Still With Us?
2017-08-20 -- The traditional birthday poll is now up with another year added to it. How long have you been coming to the CIC? We get a steady stream of newcomers, but we know a lot of Wingnuts have been with us since even before the very beginning!

Thank You!
2017-08-20 -- And that's another year down! The community came through again with some really cool releases, and hopefully you enjoy the updates we've made at the CIC as well. A big thanks to George Oldziey, the Maslas Brothers and DefianceIndustries for their contributions to the event.

You Are Cordially Invited...
2017-08-19 -- To the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's 19th birthday celebration! TONIGHT at 7:00 PM Eastern US (4:00 PM Pacific and 11:00 PM GMT) in #WingnutFeaturing...Some of the best Wingnuts you'll ever meet!

Last Chance To Grab Matching Funds For Album Campaign!
2017-08-18 -- It's been a productive 24 hours for George Oldziey's mission to make a second Wing Commander album. The project is well past $10,000 now, but there's still some room to go if fans would like to take advantage of a generous Wingnut's matching pledge. Overall, about $4,000 needs to be contributed in the next week for the project to get the green light.

High Caliber Plunkett Cruises Into Upgrade Pack
2017-08-17 -- Here's a peek at the latest addition to the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack. DefianceIndustries has finished texturing Dark Sentinel's Plunkett and getting it to function in the Vision Engine. This powerful cruiser now has some high quality detailing to match its imposing stature.

Flat Universe Shares Fantastic Music Sample
2017-08-16 -- There hasn't been a whole lot of Flat Universe info in the news lately, but that's about the change. Here's a very cool audio sample that gives fans a taste of what to expect next. The clip is from project musician Cory Fujimori and fuses some of the best elements of WC1/2 audio into an exciting patrol track.

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