Happy Birthday Wing Commander Arena!

Today we're celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wing Commander Arena's release! We're used to a steady stream of 25th birthdays ticking by as the classics from the early '90s each reach a quarter century, but this one's a little different. The baby of the family has reached double digits, and while it really just seems like yesterday that we were eagerly awaiting its release, a lot of time has passed! If you weren't following us back in 2007, then this recap will help provide a glimpse into what it was like back then, and if you've been with us all along, then read on for a trip down memory lane!


Our story begins in the mid '90s when the CIC Staff cut their teeth on exciting news updates about the pending releases of Wing Commander Kilrathi Saga, Privateer 2, Prophecy, Secret Ops, the Movie, several novels and more. Things changed quite a bit in the early 2000s with the consolidation and eventual closure of Origin, and the community reinvented itself by intensely focusing on two priorities: archiving material related to the creation of Wing Commander games and an explosion of creative fan projects. Things got a nice boost with the release of Prophecy for the Game Boy Advance in 2003, but there was an even bigger surge in excitement for the all-new Arena in 2007.

Nearly ten years had passed since Prophecy/Secret Ops, and it's not lost on us that another ten years have now gone by without another follow-up. The fact that a grand total of nineteen years have gone by with just one new WC game (!!) makes us appreciate it even more today. How and why did this thing come to exist? The stars aligned and we got lucky. There have been at least half a dozen credible attempts to 'bring back' Wing Commander since the fall of Origin, and Arena is the one that succeeded. It came at a vastly different time than the PC games of the 1990s. The franchise already had a long and beautiful history of console ports, but the preferred platforms and genres were evolving rapidly through the 2000s, and the XBox 360 made the most sense in 2006. That's where the growth in the market was at the time, and the nascent market for digital downloads was just about to take off. Of course, Secret Ops was one of the world's first digitally distributed games, but that game was at least half a dozen years ahead of its time. Electronic Arts commissioned several titles to test the waters, including Boom Boom Rocket which arrived first. EA chose producer Sean Penney to lead the product out of Vancouver BC, and Gaia Industries in New York was tapped to do the art and programming. We're eternally grateful for both the man in charge and the small team tasked with bringing his vision to life. They both demonstrated considerable passion for the Wing Commander brand and a strong desire to "get it right" with a shoestring budget and the technological constraints of the format. They crammed in a wide variety of single player modes, competitive multiplayer and even a cool cooperative capship battle within a 50 megabit limit. Just a few short years later, lesser DLC games would balloon to multiple gigabytes in size, so it's amazing how much they jammed into this tiny package. There were also half a dozen iconic fighters that each sported three variants, and they dug especially deep to pull the Rapier from Super Wing Commander. Further, ships like the Longbow bomber and Pelican transport made cameos in the background. Man, what a night the release was! We all went to bed on the night of July 24, 2007 with plans to wake up at midnight and play until morning. But since these were the early days of digital releases, the exact time of release wasn't as predictable. A flurry of messages went out when it was discovered that the game was available a few hours early, and Wingnuts from the around the globe scrambled to get online. These were the days before Xbox Live Parties made grouping up with friends easy, so everyone was organized via message boards and IRC chat to link up, form squadrons and blast away. It was a classic case of being easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Ace pilots started to climb the ranks. Fans dug around to understand how to unlock each of the 18 flyable craft. Groups of 16 banded together to unlock the cap ship battle achievement, and people played the ring game to show off their acrobatic skills. The top-down 2D perspective put off some people, but fans that gave it a try were rewarded with a surprisingly deep space combat sim for an ostensibly simple arcade shooter. Agile players could rock cool 3D evasive maneuvers, and careful energy management was required to keep all systems operating when you needed them. Each ship had different strengths and weaknesses and required different piloting styles to master. LOAF even placed 3rd in an official tournament with other professional gamers in order to win an XBox 360 that we were able to give out to a fan. And we haven't even touched on Star*Soldier yet! We were fortunate enough to help build a huge manual in the spirit of Tiger's Claw or Victory Streak with tons of supplemental fiction that filled in many of the loose ends left open after Secret Ops. This subject alone is worthy of dozens of posts, so check those out for all the details and download the actual manual here (still hosted on EA servers ten years later!). There were plans initially to include a single player component. Had the game been a bigger hit, the work done on the campaign would have been refined and released as an expansion or sequel. Sadly, that did not happen, but we were gifted with a considerable amount of Gaia concept art that shows off the unreleased Centurion and Gothri fighters, Kilrathi and Firekkan pilots and more. And while we never got more than the initial release, Arena is still available to purchase online and play on the XBox 360. Fortunately, Microsoft has demonstrated a greater commitment to its back catalog of games in recent years, and support is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Although it's a long shot, someday it's possible the game could even become compatible with the XBox One, which would give it some nice enhancements such as future compatibility with the One X, improved party support, built in screenshot and recording ability and more. So get some practice rounds in now - we'll see you in the cockpit!

Wing Commander Arena is a fast-paced space combat game where players can team up to attack other teams of ships. The game introduces the classic franchise to an arcade-style experience that allows up to 16 players online in battle at once. Players can propel their customized ship through space, fire torpedoes and unleash deadly gravity bombs as they try to climb the leader board. Online players will compete for Frag count, high score and dueling stats.

"We're really excited to deliver unparalleled multi-player arcade action," said Chip Lange, EA Vice President. "The design for Wing Commander will appeal to both long-time fans of the franchise and immediately engage anyone who wants the melee style action of an arcade shooter."

Wing Commander Arena will feature four styles of play: single player, multi-team, multi-player free for all and multi-player duel. Within the game there are eight game maps that include team maps, free for all maps and dueling maps, so Wing Commander Arena offers a gameplay experience for every Arcade gamer, whether they want a quick ten minutes of action or a longer more immersive game.

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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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