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.

Cerberus Gets A New Coat Of Paint
2016-05-24 -- DefianceIndustries has started texturing the Cerberus, and so far it's coming along nicely. A couple different hull plating variants are pictured below with the later shots being the likely final candidate. The material has kind of a retro marbled pattern combined with a bit of futuristic gloss and red accents.

Sweep Around WC Capship Sim's Starships
2016-05-23 -- Arraen has pulled together a neat video that shows off the remodeled fleet of his strategy game, WC Spaceship Universe. Each of his four workhorses are encircled so that fans can see them cruising through space in his Unity engine. The project has gone through a few evolutionary upgrades that have stretched out the development timeline, but the results evident now look pretty good!

It Helps To Get A Running Start
2016-05-22 -- Klavs has posted a new angle on his developing Concordia model, and this time it comes with a piece of accompanying fiction. When asked whether the ship's familiar hangar opening runways will make a return, he let a member of the crew answer with a pretty interesting response! After clicking the thumbnail below to get a better look, also don't forget to hit "download" and then zoom in on the detail.

Get Your Wing Commander Film Posters From... Sears?
2016-05-21 -- AD noticed that some unusual Wing Commander search results appear at the websites of some major big box retailers. It's not hard to find copies of Wing Commander on Blu-ray or DVD in stock all around the web, but both Sears and Walmart list Wing Commander Movie posters that have been out of print for some seventeen years. Unfortunately, this does not signal any particular release, but rather, these retailers allow private "marketplace" type sellers to list a wide variety of goods.

LOAF Interviewed in Major Print Publication
2016-05-20 -- The May issue of German PC gaming magazine GameStar contains a big Wing Commander retrospective, including an interview with Star Citizen community manager and CIC founder Ben Lesnick. Brian Chambers of Star Citizen's Frankfurt branch shared a teaser on Twitter. Pick up a copy if you can!

WC1 Live Viewer Reveals Programming Details In Real Time
2016-05-19 -- UnnammedCharacter has made a neat little app that provides enhanced visibility of each WC1 object in space. It shows ships and their speed, of course, but the really cool aspect is that it reveals exactly what each of the enemies pilots/ships is "thinking." By tapping into the game's AI routines, you can see exactly which ships are patrolling a nav point, holding formation, wandering, chasing our hero and more!

Vintage Videos Visit WC3 & P2 Film Shoots
2016-05-18 -- FMVStory has posted a couple of really cool set visits for Wing Commander 3 and Privateer 2. The clips come from Bad Influence, a '90s show that covered tech items and video games. A lot of people are familiar with the WC3 Behind the Screens footage, but the first video below shows a few really neat and rarely seen glimpses of the Kilrathi animatronics in action.

Unused Cruiser Found In Prophecy Files
2016-05-17 -- Kevin Caccamo has made a cool discovery while digging through the guts of Wing Commander Prophecy. Using a modified version of Wing Blender, he was able to import an unusual ship file. The result is a preliminary version of a rarely seen Confed cruiser that did not appear in the final game.

Quick Strike Cruiser Zooms Into Secret Ops Upgrade
2016-05-16 -- DefianceIndustries has taken a break from player pilotable craft for a moment to work on the most iconic ship of Secret Ops, the TCS Cerberus. He's got the shape down pat, and now he's adding subcomponent details throughout the model. Compared to the Midway and other contemporary capships, the Hades class had a cool blue hull with neat red accents, so we're anxious to see how this one comes out with texturing on!

Amiga Article Takes Us Back Nearly 25 Years
2016-05-15 -- Janne Rautiainen tipped us off about a really cool July 1992 article on the development of Wing Commander for the Amiga platform. The piece was originally published in Britain's The One magazine and is saved at archive.org.

Hamill Talks Return To Space Sims
2016-05-14 -- There's a new PC World interview making the rounds that takes a moment to pull Mark Hamill away from Star Wars Episode VIII filming to talk about some of the other sci-fi ventures he's been involved with over the years. Major topics include working with Chris Roberts again as well as the shift from live FMV to motion-captured CGI video. He notes that the majority of his Squadron 42 work was a reunion with John Rhys-Davies.

WCDX Examining Cockpit Malfunction
2016-05-13 -- Stinger's WCDX patch streamlined and fixed a lot of minor annoyances with Kilrathi Saga WC1, and even improved the graphics rendering and compatibility with newer versions of Windows. There is an early, playable version of the patch that fixes some of the issues plaguing the Wing 2 port, but getting KS WC2 up to the same level of refinement is proving to be a major undertaking. In a forums post, Stinger provides some insight into one strange aspect of the Windows port, namely its framerate.

Brazilian Gaming Site Posts Arena Video
2016-05-12 -- The Video Game Database website posted an interesting video of Wing Commander Arena in action. Since the game was released in 2007, it came a bit before recording and streaming things like this became common. They start the game, briefly peek at the modes, pick a ship and launch into space combat.

Shrike Swoops Into Secret Ops Upgrade
2016-05-11 -- DefianceIndustries has added another ship to the Cerberus' roster with the completion of the Shrike "Class B" torpedo bomber. Despite its mass, the ship has some pretty sleek curves, and its turrets help convey how much punch this ship packs. It'll definitely do some damage to any bugs trying to invade!

Painted Over Concordia Looking Mighty Fine
2016-05-10 -- NinjaLA saw Klavs' recent Concordia update (pictured right) and was so inspired that he had to personalize it on his own. Many people have gone out and textured other artists' 3D models, but this might be a first for WC art. Ninja started with the complex render and then digitally painted in the colors, lights, details and his own visual flair.

WC RPG Refines Missions & Mocks Up Board Layouts
2016-05-09 -- We haven't mentioned his project in a few months, but capi has been relentlessly adding to his WC RPG the entire time. He's spent a lot of effort beefing up encounter scenarios as well as tweaking Kilrathi language sections to match the theme of his "Elegy of Sivar" expansion. There's also been a lot of work drafting the overarching storyline narrative of Bloodeye N'Ryllis.

Concordia Once Again Preparing For Next Mission
2016-05-08 -- Klavs' history with the Concordia goes way back, but his latest take suffered a serious mishap last year. Now he's starting the design over. Rebuilding something from scratch can be a frustrating affair, but a recent surge of inspiration has helped deliver this exciting update.

Billy Cain Talks WC2 SNES, WC3 PSX, Prophecy & More
2016-05-07 -- The Big Box PC Game Collectors group has conducted another nifty Origin-themed interview, and the star this time around is Billy Joe Cain. Mr. Cain is perhaps best known as the lead designer on Wing Commander Prophecy, but one of his first projects was actually the creation of the (sadly, unreleased) Wing Commander 2 for SNES as well as the Playstation port of WC3.

Korean Prophecy Article Explained
2016-05-06 -- Forums member YPersonified has kindly provided a brief summary of the Korean Prophecy spread we reported on last month. Thanks!Wow.

WCSO Upgrade Adds Illuminated Features
2016-05-05 -- DefianceIndustries has made another cool tweak to the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Project. Kevin Caccamo's Wing Blender application was able to help effectively add glowing elements to the updated ships. The main engines and their associated intakes now light up, as do the green guns on the Nephilim ships.

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