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.

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

Watch System Shock's Wing Commander Minigame
2015-10-05 -- Afrim Kosovrasti just learned about Wing 0 last week during our coverage of System Shock Enhanced, and he immediately set out to play it. He loaded up a special save file (500 k zip) with the appropriate Entertainment Pak already unlocked and jumped right in. The top-down space shooter plays in the lower left VDU of the game's interface.

Wing Commander Album Complete, Digital Reorchestrations Released To Backers
2015-10-04 -- George Oldziey's campaign to create a high fidelity remaster of his famous Wing Commander music has reached another big milestone! The digital reorchestrations that he has been working on to fill out the full album are now complete, and a download link has been sent out to fans who backed the project. If you didn't receive it, log in to Kickstarter to access the files.

Red Alert 2's On The House
2015-10-03 -- Electronic Arts' latest game to go on the house is Command & Conquer Red Alert 2. Titles in this program briefly become free to download and keep via EA's Origin games storefront. Wing Commander 3 and a number of other classic Origin Systems titles have been given away as a part of this program over the last couple years.

Wing Commander Broadcasting On German TV
2015-10-02 -- In this day and age, with all the online streaming options for the WC movie, it's hard to imagine anyone not having either purchased a digital copy of the movie or having access to a streaming service that hosts it, but if you are one of those people and happen to live in Germany, your next chance to catch the Wing Commander film on TV happens this month. RTV will be airing the show on Thursday, October 15th at 7:15. You can visit the RTV site for more details.

Wing Commander Out Of The Mouths Of Babes
2015-10-01 -- Here's something to lighten the mood and provide some hope that future generations are being brought up right! Trey's a little kid that makes two minute reviews on YouTube. The Wing Commander series was recently playtested, and the results are in.

New Master Of Orion Takes Shape
2015-09-30 -- There's a new Master of Orion coming out soon, and it's great to see how a classic '90s space game series is coming back to life. The developers have been posting dev diary interviews as development progresses, and they feature a number of perspectives from Wing Commander vets who worked at Origin. Artist Jeff Dee talks about how alien races with similarities to animals need to still feel like aliens that evolved in their own way.

System Shock Enhanced Edition Released; Look Back At Wing 0 Minigame
2015-09-29 -- With all of the excitement over Wing Commander 1 this past weekend, it's been easy to overlook another classic Origin (via Looking Glass) game in the news. An enhanced version of System Shock was released last week. While this famous RPG/shooter deserves a major spot in gaming history on just its own merits, the CD version of the game also added a fantastic Wing Commander minigame!

Anniversary Livestream Posted; Jump To Special Features
2015-09-28 -- The Cloud Imperium Games team has posted this weekend's amazing 25th Anniversary Livestream to Youtube in its full 9-hour glory. The recording was previously available on Twitch, but many find the Youtube interface more user friendly. There's also a helpful index below that shows where to jump to in order to see certain key segments of the show.

Wingnut Donates Collection To Celebrate 25th
2015-09-28 -- While many fans spent the weekend playing, watching or buying even more Wing Commander games, Oggy took it one step further by donating his collection to the National Video Game Arcade in the UK to help preserve and share his love of the series. While that might sound like kind of a downer at first, how often do Wingnuts get a chance to start collecting the entire series over again from scratch? Sounds like fun to me!

Hornet Mod Amps Up Sky Rogue Action
2015-09-27 -- CMDBob has taken his colorful Hornet and repurposed it for the flight sim Sky Rogue. The developers of the game describe it as a "simple, accessible-yet-difficult, fwooshy, 'feel good' arcade flight simulator," which makes it a great fit for Bob's models! The art style is light and it looks like some really fun way to kill some time.

Happy 25th Birthday Wing Commander!
2015-09-26 -- Today Wing Commander fans are celebrating the series' 25th birthday! The original game shipped to stores September 26, 1990 after eighteen months of development, and the rest is history... It's hard to find words to convey the magnitude of this event as a milestone to the fans.

AtV Interviews Roberts For WC's 25th Birthday; Big Livestream Saturday!
2015-09-25 -- Wing Commander turns 25 years old tomorrow (!!!), and Episode 62 of Around the Verse is celebrating in style! Sandi Gardiner and Ben Lesnick's news desk is decorated with WC1 memorabilia, and they conduct an extensive interview with Chris Roberts about his thoughts on how the series came to be: what the early days at Origin were like, how the first missions were drafted and what his tips to save the Ralari are!

The Real Lance Casey Returns Home
2015-09-24 -- Actor Steven Petrarca who played Lance Casey in Wing Commander: Prophecy did not reprise his role for the Secret Ops follow-up the next year, and a different voice actor was brought in to perform his gameplay speech bits. If this has been bothering you for the past 17 years, then fret no more! Lt.

Goodbye, Pete Shelus
2015-09-23 -- There’s a star system named after me in the Wing Commander universe. It’s the result of an overworked designer at Origin needing to fill a giant map with hundreds of names quickly, but it may still be the single thing in my life that I’m most proud of. But where there were hundreds of systems to fill in, there were only a handful of encompassing quadrants.

WCDX Focuses Its Lenses
2015-09-22 -- The first test build of WCDX for Kilrathi Saga WC2 rolled out earlier this month, and fans quickly jumped in to start running the patch through its paces. A few players encountered some graphical blurriness, and Stinger has managed to redo how the program resizes the gameplay window to resolve this issue. Overall it's still in the phase where basic functionality like this is being tested, but longer term plans include fixing things like cockpit damage, smoothing out performance speed and eliminating input lag.

Littlest Nephilim Ship Gets Its Day
2015-09-21 -- The Remora is a serious contender for most insignificant enemy ever faced by Confed pilots. These remote turret craft were the original WC drone ship before drones were cool, but they were just too weak to take as a real threat. The Ray/Remora Node Cluster is a clever idea though.

Unknown Enemy Revamp Picks Up Steam
2015-09-20 -- The Wing Commander Unknown Enemy mod for SecretOps turns 15 next year. For some time now, the team has been wanting to release one last major update, to incorporate all the advances the modding community has made over the years. The initiative seems to be gaining traction once again, according to Quarto's recent status update.

Updated Pilot Pack Fixes German Subs
2015-09-19 -- The Secret Ops pilot pack we reported on earlier had one minor oversight: it didn't account for Prophecy's German subtitle files. Lt. Overload has put together an updated version of the pack that can be downloaded here (56 megs).

Japan Fires Most Powerful Laser In The World
2015-09-18 -- Scientists in Japan have test fired a new laser capable of a 2 petawatt blast. This is equivalent to 2 million gigawatts (2,000,000,000,000,000). As Wing Commander fans are well aware, the TCS Behemoth was capable of directing 500 million gigawatts to one lancing point.

Excitement Builds For Wing Commander's 25th Birthday
2015-09-17 -- The 25th anniversary of WC1's release is fast approaching, and we'll be celebrating with fan par excellence Bandit (LOAF) in a special livestream event next Saturday, September 26, on Twitch! You'll get to see Mr. Ben Lesnick take on all of the Vega Sector's most classic missions and hear about interesting behind-the-scenes trivia along the way.

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