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.

Magic DOSBox Streamlines Android Wing Commander Experience
2016-05-04 -- DOSBox Turbo has long been a popular option for getting classic PC games to run on modern Android devices, but it's not the only choice out there. Magic DOSBox is a relatively new entrant that takes game emulation in a different direction. Rather than focus on speed optimization or branching out to Windows compatibility, Magic DOSBox focuses on playability in the tablet or smartphone form factor.

Fan Film Follows Fearless Freddie
2016-05-03 -- Andromeda Briggs has put together a thoughtful Wing Commander tribute video. His focus is, of course, on Freddie Prinze Jr's role in the WC Movie. A lot of work has clearly gone into this project to tease out more than four minutes of young Blair looking alternately pensive and emotional.

Fans Take On Prototype Midway Model
2016-05-02 -- DefianceIndustries has recently decided to take a stab at rendering an odd prototype in the CIC archives. The ship depicted in these black & white photos and blurry images is commonly seen as the precursor to the TCS Midway. It has many of the megacarrier's design elements built in, although the final version smooths out some of the hard lines, centralizes the bridge tower and separates/stretches out the left and right hull sections.

Wing Blender Works With Even More WC Ships
2016-05-01 -- Kevin Caccamo has released a new version of Wing Blender. The program is a helpful tool for exporting and importing models to or from the Vision Engine into the open source Blender 3D modeling suite. This potentially makes manipulation of the Prophecy and Secret Ops ships much easier.

How Will You Make It Through?
2016-04-30 -- There's a new poll out today that challenges you to think about what Wing Commander product fans would most like to have by their side if they were stranded on an island. Is the goal entertainment or survival? There's lots of great choices, but you can only pick one!

Two Retro Reviews For The Price Of One
2016-04-29 -- The aptly named Emotional Multimedia Ride blog has posted classic reviews of both WC1 and WC2. It helps that both games are bundled together in a very affordable GOG bundle! The articles are written in a way that highlights their strong points and enduring charm after two and a half decades.

Model Upgrade Project Invites New Vampire In
2016-04-28
Tweak Guides Help Maximize The Wing Commander Experience
2016-04-27 -- In addition to his guide to Wing Commander 3, PhilsComputerLab has published helpful "tweak guides" for Wing Commanders 1 and 2 as well as Privateer. GOG does a good job of preconfiguring their games to automatically run on most people's systems, but there are a small percentage of folks who encounter compatibility or speed issues. It's not difficult to optimize a setup to run on a specific computer, but people who buy the game at GOG for the convenience factor may not be familiar how to do this.

Wing Commander Crossover Appears In Popular Mass Effect Fan Project
2016-04-26 -- Klavs spotted a Wing Commander reference in a bit of an unusual place. The Mass Effect-based web comic Marauder Shields is a fan made alternate ending to Mass Effect 3. The authors are apparently Wing Commander fans, and they've created a Christopher Blair character to fit into their story.

Outdoors Rapier Photo Shines New Light On Design
2016-04-25 -- Lightning Picture of the Day recently posted this nifty photo of what appears to be the Wing Commander Movie's Rapiers after construction. The caption references Pinewood, and if it's the same historic Pinewood Studios, then that would be where Privateer 2: The Darkening was filmed. This somewhat contradicts the info we have for the canopy photos which were believed to have been shot in Luxembourg.

Capship Combat Mod Has New Ships & A New Name
2016-04-24 -- Arraen has posted some new images from his starship combat tribute mod. He's retextured two of Klavs' destroyers to act as workhorses of the Confed and Kilrathi fleets, and both of these are quite solid. In order to create a counter to the Venture, he's also beefed up the Jalkehi to act as a type of light corvette.

Diverse Designs Incorporated Into Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack
2016-04-23 -- It hasn't been very long since we first saw the upgraded Moray and Wasp models, but DefianceIndustries has already got both running smoothly in the Vision Engine. The Nephilim medium fighter is a very common sight in contested space, so it's nice to see how good looking it is out there. And of course, they'll look even better as they're being shot down!

Huge Prophecy Spread in Old Korean Mag
2016-04-22 -- AD has come across a Korean blog that posts scans from old domestic gaming magazines. One post showcases a massive 18-page spread on Wing Commander: Prophecy from around April 1998. At first glance it appears to be a brief game guide or walkthrough, but the article concludes with a rating of 95%, so it could also be a review with a lot of background information thrown in.

Gamers Nexus Interviews Origin Super Stars
2016-04-21 -- Warren Spector has been away from making games directly for a few years, but he's hopping back into it with the development of System Shock 3. Gamers Nexus recently caught up with him and asked some questions about the gaming industry. Discussion quickly turned to the classic Origin days and company history.

Classic Rapiers Spotted In Initial Movie Sketch
2016-04-20 -- If anyone in the world were to get Wing Commander presents on their birthday in 2016, it'd be LOAF. He's celebrating his 35th this week, and he got a super cool snippet of WC art as a present. We know from the beautiful Dean McCall concept renders that a more familiar looking F-44 Rapier II was used in some of the very early work.

Confed Interceptor Upgraded For Secret Ops
2016-04-19 -- DefianceIndustries has completed his Wasp model with the addition of its massive booster pod. It's now being integrated into the Vision Engine as part of the Secret Ops Model Upgrade pack. In the grand scheme of things, we almost always launch and immediate fire our booster to intercept incoming attackers.

Crusade Livestream Now Available Online
2016-04-18 -- The 25th anniversary playthrough of The Secret Missions 2 has finally been posted to YouTube! Fans who missed the live streaming event can now find the archived video below. It's not just full of slick flying against Hhriss and Snakeirs - the nonstop commentary includes lots of great trivia and Wing Commander stories.

LOAF Gets A Wicked Kilrathi Tattoo!
2016-04-17 -- LOAF has further increased his Wingnut devotion with an awesome Wing Commander tattoo! He recently had a section of Kilrathi characters permanently inscribed on his collar. It's the same text that Paladin hid under his jacket in the Wing Commander Movie.

Freedom Flight "Half" Ebook Released!
2016-04-16 -- Baen has partially released Wing Commander Freedom Flight has an ebook! The company is known for putting out draft half-manuscripts for its upcoming novels, so even though the book is already long complete in this case, they've issues the first portion as a preview ahead of its full July 5 debut. Fans can grab it now for $6.

WC Saga Deutsch Up To Version 1.06
2016-04-15 -- Long time visitors will be familiar with Wing Commander Saga Plus, a series of patches to improve the user interface, usability and modability of the original Wing Commander Saga project. Luke and about a dozen other contributors have been slugging away at these enhancements with the goal of creating a German language conversion of the 2012 mod. Darkest Dawn was released last November, and is currently up to version 1.

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