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.

Update published on . View all news from that day.

Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

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

1990s Chris Roberts Talks Wing Commander, Star Citizen
2015-11-27 -- YouTuber RetroMantic has dug up an old interview with Chris Roberts from 1996, sometime between the releases of Wing Commander IV and the Darkening. He talks briefly about getting into game development and his first commercial projects before moving on to Wing Commander and Privateer. The interview closes with Roberts stating his views on the future of videogames, which he sees moving in two distinct directions: scripted, solo games with a focus on story-telling, and massively online multiplayer, where players set out to achieve some goal of their choosing within a living universe.

Happy Thanksgiving!
2015-11-26 -- It's every Wingnut's favorite Pilgrim-themed holiday today, and so we're here to remind you about an important Wing Commander product. The Wing Commander Movie novelization and its sequel, Pilgrim Stars, were released as timely tie-ins in 1999. But the third novel never got a proper release...

Blue Origin Rocket Nails Vertical Descent
2015-11-25 -- Fans create awesome Wing Commander content every day, but sometimes it's nice to see the real thing! Blue Origin successfully landed their New Shepard rocket for the first time earlier this week after the vehicle briefly reached the boundaries of space. There's been some debate over how this accomplishment compares to SpaceX's attempts to land their orbital vehicle on a floating platform, but that's just noise.

Hornet Evades Determined Attacker
2015-11-24 -- NinjaLA has another nice starry nighttime sketch. This one features a Hornet light fighter evading laser blasts. It looks like the shadowy figure in hot pursuit could be the very same Dralthi that Ninja shared last month, which would be great continuity.

Secret Ops Ship Swap Project Looks Very Promising
2015-11-23 -- DefianceIndustries has kicked off a fantastic project to swap out the ships in Secret Ops. While there are some great fan patches out there that upgrade the engine resolution, graphical effects and even add DVD quality video, the ship models remain limited by their 1997-1998 vintage constraints. Defiance has recently been able to figure out how to trick the game engine into accepting higher poly count fighters by treating them as subdividable units.

Roberts Space Industries Moves To New Home
2015-11-22 -- Chris Roberts and team at the Los Angeles-based headquarters of Cloud Imperium Games are in the process of relocating this weekend. They've closed up shop at the historic 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica now that they've run out of room to expand in that location. Here's some pictures of the Wing Commander decorations that they used to decorate (until yesterday).

3D Prophecy Possible With Special Wrapper & Glasses
2015-11-21 -- Alien Grey recorded an interesting video showing off how he got Wing Commander Prophecy running in helifax's 3D Vision Wrapper. This also takes advantage of the OpenGL upgrade to make the game compatible with the software (and also look great!).

EA's CFO Talks Funding, Digital Downloads & More
2015-11-20 -- Gamespot and and a number of other media outlets have picked up on a portion of a speech from Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen that was made at the recent Global Technology Conference in San Fransisco. In typical click bait fashion, many sites are latching on to a single comment about acquiring companies in a larger presentation that touches on everything from DLC, digital distribution, mobile strategy and micro transactions. What things like the Star Wars IP allow them to do, how to reach new markets and what to do with their over-a-billion-dollars profit this year are also discussed.

Wing Commander Stars Discuss Return To The Action
2015-11-19 -- To celebrate the third anniversary of the initial livestream that concluded their first crowdfunding campaign, Roberts Space Industries has unleashed a media blitz for Squadron 42. Mark Hamill is front and center in several new videos talking about his return to video games. He's quizzed by both PC Gamer and GameStar magazines about the differences between Star Citizen's motion capture process and Wing Commander's green screen filming.

Battled Hardened Kilrathi Ready For War
2015-11-18 -- Origin artist Denis Loubet has completed a new ink drawing of a Kilrathi warrior. As the creator of the original characters like Thrakhath and Hobbes, seeing his modern perspective on the feline race is very interesting. On top of just looking "right," he's managed to impart a very sage imperial quality to the character.

RPG & CCG Development Steadily Forges Ahead
2015-11-17 -- capi has continued to make great dual path progress on both his Wing Commander RPG and the digital WC CCG. He's expanded the Elegy of Sivar campaign and is now more than half way done translating Kilrathi phrases to help with immersion. Additional WC Aces designs have also been incorporated as capi works to add lots of fan background material to further boost the project's atmosphere.

Revisit The Saga Of The Warrior King
2015-11-16 -- Den of Geek has shone a light on one of the strangest cartoon crossovers of all time, The Saga of the Warrior King. In November of 1996, Wing Commander fans excited to see the eighth episode of Wing Commander Academy were treated to an odd surprise when the show was deferred for a half hour so that an episode of Mortal Kombat could air instead. What nobody realized at the time was that four different shows had inexplicably collaborated so a space viking voiced by Michael Dorn could hop through Street Fighter to Savage Dragon to Mortal Kombat and finally Wing Commander while chasing a mysterious object.

German Edition Of WC Saga Coming Soon
2015-11-15 -- Luke has announced that the long-anticipated German language conversion of Wing Commander Saga will be released November 28. It was originally planned for development shortly after the original game's 2012 release, but a decade of mod development left the original team weary of tackling such a major project. Fortunately for the large audience of German Wingnuts out there, Luke assumed the mantle and ran with it.

Twins Review Wing Commander
2015-11-14 -- Hey there wonderful Wingnuts! It is the weekend, and I may or may not have had a little to drink this fine evening, so I'm going to just leave this ridiculous Wing Commader Movie review here for you to enjoy or not enjoy at your leisure. Long live the Confederation!

Deep Discounts For Wing Commander, Other Classics at GOG
2015-11-13 -- If you still haven't picked up Wing Commander on GOG, you have just a few more hours to take advantage of a massive discount. GOG's entire Wing Commander and Privateer catalog can be had for just $9.50, an 80% reduction off the list price.

Vega Battle Fleets Take To The Skies
2015-11-12 -- Here's some fun shots of Mike Peters' WC Vega film project with a photoshopped starry background. The results are surprisingly good considering these were made out of simple household materials in his high school film class. This is the progress he'd made with ship designs through this past summer, but we're hoping the project resumes this fall with his new students.

WC Toolbox Supports Additional Encodings & File Types
2015-11-11 -- A new version of the WC Toolbox game data editing package has been released with a variety of extra features. It now supports character encodings and can be tested with executables and the 'midgame' file format. There is also a brand new console interface.

Wing Commander Theme Remixed With Flair
2015-11-10 -- Adam Monroe has put together a great keyboard cover of the original Wing Commander theme. It looks like he's playing a piano in the video below, but it's actually much more. He started with a live recording of himself playing the notes and then he took this input to digitally enhanced it with orchestral tie-ins.

Klavs Wakes Up His Escort Carrier Model
2015-11-09 -- Klavs is back with a new capship model, the Wake class escort carrier. This particular beauty is the famous TCS Tarawa. It's a design that he played with extensively a couple years ago and has come back to complete with some very nice polish.

More Than One Way To Skin A Kat...
2015-11-08 -- We've got a fun new poll starting today that asks about your favorite method for carrying out a capship strike. Lots of people might generally prefer conventional guns or standard ordnance, but that just scratches the surface. There's different ways you can use the normal armament, plus there's a host of special weapons pilots sometimes have access to.

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