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.

Variants on a Theme
2017-03-21 -- In honor of Mike Winterbauer's Kickstarter we thought we would take a look back through the history of 'that look.' What look? The classic Wing Commander cover art!

Laser Gun for Hire
2017-03-20 -- Yesterday, we reported that Wing Commander SNES cover artist Mike Winterbauer has re-launched his Kickstarter project to create a printed art book of his work. The project is going great, already nearing the 50% funding mark in less than 24 hours... and today we can reveal that it turns out Mr.

BREAKING NEWS: Game Cover Kickstarter Re-Launches
2017-03-19 -- How do you save the Ralari? You just keep trying! In exactly that spirit, SNES Wing Commander cover artist Mike Winterbauer has re-launched his Kickstarter project.

Pre-Christory
2017-03-18 -- Ever wonder what came before Wing Commander? Chris Roberts sold his first game at age 13, and had released seven games before Wing Commander in 1990! I recently took some time at my day job to run through some of the basiscs of that early history on our weekly livecast...

False Alarm: Book 7 Pre-Orders
2017-03-17 -- The ebook release of Wing Commander: False Colors is less than three weeks away and the first pre-order options have just launched! Amazon and Apple are now listing the book, with Barnes and Noble and Kobo still in a holding pattern. We will update the chart below when the other options come online...

Leading Different Boxes
2017-03-16 -- Hey, that's not how I remember it! Did you know that four Wing Commander games had significantly different box covers in Europe? While the original boxes were designed by Origin, Electronic Arts had regional marketing departments which would then adapt and change designs when they believed it would better suit a different audience.

Happy First Contact Day!... Maybe
2017-03-15 -- It's March 15th and as everyone knows that means it is the pre-anniversary of the 2629 destruction of the TCS Iason, mankind's official first contact with the Kilrathi! Or was that March 16th? Or was it April 15th?

The Fight for Books Continues
2017-03-14 -- We have some additional news to share about two projects: the Mike Winterbauer art book and the ebook releases of the Wing Commander series! (There is, perhaps, some irony in the fact that we are fighting for physical releases of an ebook AND ebook releases of a physical book!) Mr.

Computer Gaming World Reviews Wing Commander
2017-03-13 -- Computer Gaming World was, in the United States, the 'journal of record' for PC gaming throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The magazine, which was shuttered in 2006, closely covered Wing Commander. Today, we've collected all 12 of the reviews, starting with the original game in 1990 and ending with Wing Commander Prophecy Gold in 1999.

Mission 5 is Alive!
2017-03-12 -- It sounds (pun intended) like Wing Commander composed George Oldziey is making great progress on a second album. On Wednesday, he announced that he was starting to orchestrate another piece from Wing Commander IV:Just starting orchestrating another mission piece from #WingCommander 4! It's a mysterioso work!

Spinning!
2017-03-11 -- Pixelengineer has hit on a cool new trick sure to appeal to retrogamers and wingnuts alike: rendering 3D versions of the game boxes we so fondly remember! He has been posting 3D spinning boxes each day to his Twitter account representing classic games like Secrets of the Luftwaffe, TIE Fighter... and, of course, Wing Commander!

Game Cover Art Book Fails to Fund
2017-03-10 -- Some bad news to report today: Michael Winterbauer's Kickstarter failed to fund, meaning that a printed copy. The project ended just over $2k short, meaning that there's clearly a lot of interest in the project. Mr.

Compute! Reviews Wing Commander
2017-03-09 -- As promised on Monday, here are scans of Compute! magazine's three reviews of Wing Commander games. The original Wing Commander was reviewed in the February 1991 issue.

Action Stations' Cover: Mysteries Revealed
2017-03-08 -- If you purchased the recent eBook release of Action Stations, you may have noticed that the cover is wrong. Exactly how wrong, though, is a matter of opinion! There is one obvious problem: the eBook uses an incorrect, pre-release version of the cover.

Action Stations eBook Now Available!
2017-03-07 -- Confederation Day came early this year: the sixth Wing Commander novel, Action Stations, is officially available as an eBook today! Action Stations is both a prequel, telling the story of the war's first battles, and an in-lore artifact, a historical novel which exists in the Wing Commander universe. It's a great read, very much in the tradition of Dr.

Spring has Spring for GOG
2017-03-06 -- The good people at GOGhave kicked off their annual Spring Sale, which discounts over 500 games and collections up to 90% off. All eight Wing Commander packages are 75% off, with no need to stack multiple games for the discount... making this a great time to fill in the holes in your collection, or to share your favorite Wing Commander game with a friend.

Wing Commander Does Compute!
2017-03-05 -- Started in 1979, Compute! was a major home computing periodical which covered the rise of the microcomputer. Later issues included an increased focus on electronic gaming, and though publication ceased in 1994 the magazine covered several of the original Wing Commander games.

This is Bullshot!: The Wing Commander Box Art
2017-03-04 -- The box to Wing Commander I promised that "what you see is what you play!"... but the truth was a little bit different.

BREAKING NEWS: Kickstarter Project Covers Wing Commander Painting
2017-03-03 -- Last year, we reported that Wing Commander veteran Michael Winterbauer had published a free ebook chock full of his fantastic game artwork and packed with details about his process and history in the industry. Now, he's aiming to release a print copy by running a Kickstarter to cover a full color print run of the book. He says:The goal of this campaign is to raise $9,000 for a print run of my super cool, unique book "Classic Game Covers, Confessions of An Art Junkie" and get it to people who will enjoy it!

The Grateful Eight: Meet Privateer's Ship Dealers
2017-03-02 -- Last week, we provided a spotter's guide to the nine types of bartenders in the Gemini Sector. But that was only half the story: each base type also has a unique ship dealer! The ship dealers are even more similar variations on a theme than the bartenders, and they technically are not as numerous because not every individual base has a dealership.

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