Ten Years of Wing Commander IV

It was exactly one decade ago today that the interactive movie reached its high water mark: on February 12th, 1996 Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom was released.

Wing Commander IV will go down in history for its famous film shoot. With an estimated budget of $12 million, Wing Commander IV was at the time the most expensive video game ever made. Like its predecessor, Heart of the Tiger, Wing Commander 4 featured a cast of professional actors -- including Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, Tom Wilson and John Rhys Davies. For the first time, though, the movies were shot on actual sets in Los Angeles using 35mm film. Series creator and director Chris Roberts' had finally brought to life the project he had dreamt of for years: a blockbuster Hollywood movie where you were the star.

The Austin-based Maverick Team deserves equal praise for Wing Commander IV's success. In terms of gameplay it was Heart of the Tiger writ large. Wing Commander III's visually stunning but technologically cumbersome flight engine was streamlined beyond all expectations: for the first time in the series' history a new Wing Commander didn't necessitate a major hardware upgrade. At the same time, the team introduced a host of new features that have now become standard in such games: dual wings, projectile and charging guns, in-flight interactive choices, a FMV map, infiltration and capture missions and more.

Equally important were the moments of quiet brilliance. Wing Commander 4's artists visited the USS Lexington museum and applied what they learned about the look and feel of real life naval aviation to the game. For the first time individual capital ships had their own specific artwork - the TCS Lexington was distinct from the Princeton, the BWS Intrepid from the Tango. The game introduced a working background to the Wing Commander universe, featuring missions set against a complex panorama of communications arrays, weapons factories, shipyards, spacelabs starbases, turret mines and the like. Ground missions featured a detailed surface, eschewing the lumpy yellow blobs of the previous game. These little touches made gameplay more immersive than ever before - and have continued to reward a fandom interested in Wing Commander continuity to this day.

Those who waited for Wing Commander IV will forever remember January, 1996 as the longest month of their lives. The game was originally scheduled for release December 8th, 1995... fans awoke that day to find the disappointing news at Origin's early website: Wing Commander IV was delayed until February. Then, it hit. Wing Commander IV inaugurated one of the greatest years of Wing Commander fandom. Bookended by the release of two major titles, WC4 and Privateer 2, 1996 was an amazing year that helped create the community we know today. The WC:CCG was in full swing, the Academy series was on television, Baen kept novels in print and in development. In the news reports of a theatrical movie began to trickle in -- at the message board fans debated Tolwyn's ideology while lusting over the new Bearcat and Lance fighters. It was truly the best of times.

Ten years later Wing Commander fans continue to fervently hope and honestly believe that there will be another 1996 and another Wing Commander IV.

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Update published on . View all news from that day.

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


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.

WC Album Bar Music Explained - Plus Matching Bonus!
2017-08-15 -- Wing Commander composer George Oldziey has posted a really cool video update that talks about the inspiration for the TCS Victory's bar music that will be featured in his new Wing Commander music album. A surprising amount of skill and improvisation were required, and there's some interesting linkage to non-WC music as well.Additionally, there's some very exciting news on the actual crowdfunding front.

Fan Makes Epic Remaster Of WC Theme
2017-08-14 -- Utho Riley put together an interesting 'orchestral rescore' of the main Wing Commander theme. The instruments are certain embellished and there's a pretty major choral element. It's accompanied by an overlay largely comprised of Origin concept art and fan renders, which is fun to watch.

Armada 2 Mod Adds WC's Heavy Cruisers
2017-08-13 -- The Wing Commander mod for Star Trek Armada 2 continues to make new headway. We reported on its resurgence after a five-year hiatus earlier this year, and Janos Miklos is back with some addition screenshots and news to share. Right now the Confederation and Kilrathi factions are part of a larger mod with a variety of Star Trek races, but the plan is ultimately to streamline the project into a conventional human versus kat setup.

Fans Needed To Help Album Reach Its Goal!
2017-08-12 -- The campaign to create a second Wing Commander music album is up to $9,500, which is a good start. There's now less than two weeks to go through, so another $5,500 needs to be raised to make the project a reality. In addition to enhanced digital reorchestrations of a wide variety of classic music from Wing Commanders 3, 4 and Prophecy, when fans make this happen, composer George Oldziey will also do a live recording of the TCS Victory's bar music!

Vesuvius Gets Even Sharper Teeth
2017-08-11 -- The Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack isn't just about bringing the visual assets into the 21st Century. That might be the main priority and most obvious change, but incremental improvements continue to be made as they make sense. In addition to making the new Vesuvius model look great, it's now got destroyable components as well as significantly upgraded turrets.

Happy Birthday CIC!
2017-08-10 -- Nineteen years ago today, the CIC first opened its doors and welcomed in the Wing Commander community! We marked that occasion with a big online party, and next week we'll continue the tradition with another big bash in #Wingnut on irc. Hopefully you can join us on Saturday, August 19.

Help Identify WC Track & Win An Autographed CD!
2017-08-09 -- Fans keep pledging to support the new Wing Commander Music Album, and composer George Oldziey keeps working on the enhanced tracks that will be included in it. Today he shared a very interesting sample. It's clearly some of his classic WC work, and George's personal notes explain what it was designed for, but he can't quite pin down exactly where this was used.

Come For The Fleet Carrier, Stay For The Retro Workhorse
2017-08-08 -- DefianceIndustries has pulled back the curtain on his impressive fleet carrier model. This is his detailed rendition of the TCS Lexington. The exterior space frame looks exquisite, but the interior is where it gets interesting.

New Bug Infestation Ready For Squashing
2017-08-07 -- Dark Sentinel is back to ship building, and he's crafted several new creepy Nephilim vessels. The screenshots below start with a full lineup of Skates, including their individual Skate elements as well as the grouped bombers and mine-laying variants. The Manta workhorse also appears, plus the Stingray cluster adds another separable model.

Preview First WC4 Track From New Album
2017-08-06 -- George Oldziey's campaign to produce a second album of Wing Commander music is in full swing. We're a third of the way through the allotted timeframe and nearly two thirds of the target amount has already been pledged! While this is great news, we're also entering a period of time where most crowdfunding efforts plateau and stagnate a bit.

What You See Is What You Play - Over & Over Again!
2017-08-05 -- Tom's Hardware has posted a new feature on the Best Replayable Games. They've pulled together a rather diverse assortment of games that are good for more than a single run through. A lot of these types of articles tend to skew towards a particular genre, platform or timeframe, but this one is impressively broad with both new console games and ancient ascii adventures side-by-side.

Get Well Soon, LOAF!
2017-08-04 -- We're happy to report today that CIC co-founder Ben 'Bandit (LOAF)' Lesnick has managed to pull through some rather harrowing eye surgery today. He's got a few weeks of recovery ahead, but it sounds like doctors are optimistic that the complex operation he's undergone went well. LOAF recently shared some of his personal medical journey, and fellow space sim fans have been incredibly supportive.

Actions Shots Show Off Enhanced Secret Ops Models
2017-08-03 -- DefianceIndustries has been working hard all summer on the next release of the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack. Here's a variety of exciting screenshots that show off the enhanced Murphy, a really cool Pelican, and the all new Cerberus. The detail on each is fantastic, and the still images are quite a tease for the full game.

One Time...
2017-08-02 -- Independent music service Bandcamp has made the news this week by announcing that 100% of their share of every digital music sale made on Friday will benefit the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to change law, policy, and culture for the more equitable. The promotion will run from midnight to midnight Pacific time and further details are available here. With that in mind, we thought we'd spotlight some Wing Commander music available through the service that you could purchase while also supporting a good cause!

Wing Commander Album Half Funded!
2017-08-01 -- There's good news on the drive to make more Wing Commander music! With over $8000 in contributions so far, the project is more than 50% towards its $15,000 minimum goal after five days. The new campaign aims for enhanced digital reorchestrations as well as live recording of the Victory's bar music at a much lower cost than previous attempts.

Flat Universe Moves Past Initial Alpha
2017-07-31 -- The Maslas Brothers have a status update on the development of their slick WC shooter, Flat Universe. Back throughout the spring time, the team conducted a very successful multiplayer alpha with some lucky fans. They were able to test out a wide variety of different ships across numerous star systems, and this proved out connectivity between Europe and North America.

Homeworld Mod Aims To Be First RTS To Kilrah
2017-07-30 -- The Homeworld Remastered Mod was originally conceived with a major focus on Wing Commander 4, but it has grown into some interesting places over the years. L.I.

Maniac & Paladin Visit London Film & Comic Con
2017-07-29 -- BrynS stopped in to share some positive Wing Commander experiences from this weekend at the London Film & Comic Con. He managed to meet Tom Wilson & John Rhys-Davies and get them to autograph his copy of WC3. Both were fantastic con guests, as usual, and they both seemed to enjoy talking about something other than the roles that they're more commonly known for.

New Music Album Kicks Off With A Bang!
2017-07-28 -- Composer George Oldziey's mission to reorchestrate a second album of Wing Commander music - this time with digital instruments and bonus bar music - is off to a great start. Over $5000 was taken in during the first 24 hours, which is ahead of the last campaign. And with a more affordable minimum bar for success this time out, the project is well on its way to becoming a reality.

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