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.

Return To The Frontier With New Privateer Enhanced Soundtrack
2016-09-29 -- Jason Walton has partially released his second enhanced Wing Commander soundtrack. In addition to Wing Commander 2, his repertoire now includes Privateer. His first eight Gemini Sector tracks are now available in this convenient playlist.

Fewer Colors, But It Still Sounds Great
2016-09-28 -- Mindwipe has put together a nifty tribute remix of the Amiga Wing Commander's title track. Listen below or download here. The Amiga version's unique music has a following just like the DOS edition's, and you can find additional recordings of it in another update here.

Super Heavy Fighter Bomber Uncloaks In Homeworld
2016-09-27 -- Now that DefianceIndustries has turned out his fearsome F-107 Lance, L.I.F.

Those Shooting Stars Are Laser Blasts
2016-09-26 -- NinjaLA is back with another take on the classic Dralthi. This time the ship has a more realistic gloss finish, and it's portrayed from a head-on angle that gives it an exotic elliptical shape. At first glance, the Kilrathi vessel might appear to just be cruising through the night, but some of the colorful background streaks are actually its guns blazing.

Cruise Through The Border Worlds Carefree At 7692 Klicks Per Meganewton
2016-09-25 -- DefianceIndustries is back from a well earned vacation with a gorgeous new model. He's hand crafted the imposing F-107 Black Lance fighter, commonly known as the Dragon. There's even a sell sheet that's similar to the famous Playstation advertisement that portrays it like a car ad.

Sins Of A Solar Empire Mod Gets All Fired Up
2016-09-24 -- Today's update to the Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire is all about engines. Nomada_Firefox has carefully worked within the game's limitations to get the powerful flares looking just right. The results look pretty hot!

Behind The Blue Screens Of The Scimitar Schematic
2016-09-23 -- Joe Garrity has uncovered another gem from his vast archives. This time he's managed to secure a copy of the original Scimitar master of the blueprints included with Wing Commander 1. You can see how each of the little elements is taped in place prior to mass production - that's how layout was done back in the day!

Righteous Playthrough of Privateer and Expansion
2016-09-22 -- YouTuber Hercxena has wrapped up his playthrough of Wing Commander: Privateer and the Righteous Fire expansion pack. Many people have recorded Let's Play videos of various Wing Commander installments, but smaller titles like Righteous Fire don't get much coverage. If you skipped over Privateer or Righteous Fire back in the day, you can get a taste on Hercxena's channel.

Happy Birthday Wing Commander Academy!
2016-09-21 -- Today marks 20 years since the premiere of the Academy television show on the USA Network! The animated series came at a prime time in Wing Commander history. It arrived just a few months after Wing Commander 4 & the CCG premiered and a couple months ahead of Kilrathi Saga & Privateer 2.

Fleet Action & Heart Of The Tiger Ebooks Partly Released!
2016-09-20 -- Been has officially listed Wing Commanders Fleet Action and Heart of the Tiger in its ebook store! Expect to see them show up for Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle and more on December 6, 2016. In the Baen tradition of releasing partial manuscripts ahead of time, the first half of each novel is already available for early purchasers.

Solar Empire Mod Upgrades To 22K Ultra High Definition Dreadnought
2016-09-19 -- Nomada_Firefox has taken on the issue of scale in his Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire. Tackling the enormous size of the 22,000 meter Kilrathi dreadnought is challenging for most modders, and it's interesting to see how each project addresses this. In order to prevent an issue with the ship conflicting with planets, he's had to downscale everything 20%, but the proportions are still right.

Enhanced Wing Commander 2 Soundtrack Almost Complete!
2016-09-18 -- Jason Walton has nearly completed his project to redigitize the music of Wing Commander 2, and it sounds great! Give it a listen for a fantastic wrap up to our WC2 weekend. Compared to the previous clips he released last month, Jason has upgraded to Logix Pro X as his editor of choice and spent a lot of time ensuring the pacing, tone and synthesized notes were just right.

Listen To A New Take On Thrakhath & The Emperor
2016-09-17 -- It's a Wing Commander 2 weekend! Voice actor David Lanzafame has recorded a pretty slick rendition of the Wing Commander 2 intro. How goes the war against the humans?

Wing Commander 2 Live Stream Saturday!
2016-09-16 -- There's just one day to go until Wing Commander 2's 25th anniversary live stream! The fun gets going at noon Pacific US time (3 PM Eastern, 8 PM British Summer Time) on Twitch and continues until we successfully strike K'Tithrak Mang! Along the way, join in for trivia, commentary and guest interviews.

Art Display Spans Kilrathi Saga Years
2016-09-15 -- Vulpes-Sapien makes a lot of really cool line art from a variety of sci-fi series. Here's his take on the most common Confed fighters of Wing Commanders 1-3. As an extra bonus, WC2 gets a handful of Kilrathi ships as well.

Four Queens!!!
2016-09-14 -- Joe Garrity came across a cool artifact in his massive Origin collection that he'd like to share. This is the set of Confed playing cards that were used during the filming of Wing Commander 4. Joe's pulled out the four-of-a-kind that Maniac ominously used to defeat Vagabond before his final mission.

Come For The RPG, Stay For The CCG!
2016-09-13 -- capi is back with another diligent report on the status of his ever growing Wing Commander RPG. Summer holidays and a side project to create a card game took up a chunk of the last month, but lots of work still got done on Kilrathi lexicon and translation. Here's his plan for what's coming up next:My Plan for this week is to continue in Chapter 2.

Solar Empire Mod Construction Yards In High Gear
2016-09-12 -- We saw a variety of utility ships in the last update on the Wing Commander mod for Sins of a Solar Empire, and this time we're upsizing quite a bit. Nomada_Firefox has added a fleet of Kilrathi warships to the mix that's turned out very well. The first several shots show the assembled armada with a large number of potent vessels.

This Junkyard Dog Has A Serious Bite
2016-09-11 -- VERTi60 is an ace starship commander in the new Galactic Junk League. The point of the game is to cobble together a cool ship from space debris and then battle it out with other players. Naturally, Wing Commander fans quickly started to make familiar designs from their favorite series!

Wing Commander 2 Articles Abound
2016-09-10 -- To further commemorate this past week's WC2 anniversary, Music_Guru has unearthed a second trove of articles that explore the period just before and after the game's release. There's a whole lot of reading ahead, so let's get to it! First up is a a single page from the May 1991 issue of Zero based in the UK.

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