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.

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Rock Out To Wing Commander Memories
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Wing Commander Script Guides Updated For New Release
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Our Most Pointless Post Ever... Or Our Best?
2016-08-19 -- There's a sizable slice of the internet today that's just mindless content farm drivel. No, I'm not talking about clickbait listicles or low quality aggregations - this is stuff so pointless that it really makes you pause. I get why they do it.

Happy 20th Birthday, WC4.123106: The Price Of Entertainment!
2016-08-18 -- Fan fiction is what you get whenever you have creative fans combined with an audience. Today, you'll see stories emerge for game series before the first game is even completed. But in the early days of the internet, things were rapidly evolving and the nature of things like fan fic were dynamic as well.

Pix Revives Tandy TX For Glorious Wing Commander Run
2016-08-17 -- Pix has put together a wonderful walkthrough of the process he followed to get an 8 MHz Tandy TX to run Wing Commander. The technical hurdles he had to jump through are a fun read for those of us who've built computers from scratch, and the results are quite impressive. The game is super choppy since the machine is well below the recommended specs, but it's amazing that it actually runs!

Dogfight Doubles Down On Colorful Contrasts
2016-08-16 -- Hot on the hells of his very colorful tribute to the CIC's 18th Birthday, NinjaLA has put together this beautiful scene. A Confed fighter chases after a Kilrathi ship in the distance. Its bright engine flare against a blue haze adds some great texture to the mix, plus there's some additional nice highlights provided by the electric green blobs being fired from out of the frame.

Party Logs Now Online
2016-08-15 -- We've put the logs from this weekend's party online, so if you couldn't make it in person, you can relive the event now! Check out the transcript here. Hop down to 16:17 to see when the party officially got started.

Time To Claim Party Prizes
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Happy 18th Birthday, CIC!
2016-08-14 -- Welcome to the CIC's 18th Birthday Bash! Daily updates all year round are an important way to keep the ball rolling, but once each summer we get this special opportunity to turn the faucet on full blast and share a load of big updates. In the months leading up the birthday, we're never exactly sure what all will solidify in time for the event, but we're always happy with the outcome.

Happy 18th From NinjaLA
2016-08-14 -- NinjaLA has put together this party-themed sketch of the Tiger's Claw and her escorts for our 18th birthday. I really like the idea of the colorful smoke trails and the ships are pretty sharp too! In case anyone else wanted to take a stab and crafting their own message, he put together this base template that tones down the smoke and removes the caption.

August 2681 Issue Of Destiny's Way Released
2016-08-14 -- Just in time for our 18th Birthday, the Maslas Brothers have released the next issue of Destiny's Way. Once again, the in-universe magazine of Wing Commander Flat Universe is packed full of nostalgic references, thought provoking articles and clever advertisements. Check out the pages below or grab the official PDF here (3.

Art Assets Reveal Never Before Seen Cockpit
2016-08-14 -- It's certainly not every day we get to see new Origin concept art or unused designs from the classic Wing Commander games, but we've got a birthday treat today! Joe Garrity recently uncovered an amazing set of cockpit art and animations from a fighter we've never seen before. The lock and autopilot lights are unmistakable, and there are vertical and horizontal bars that could definitely be for a gun capacity and afterburner fuel.

WC vs History: Takes More Than That To Make A Wake
2016-08-14 -- The CVE class had been a source of intense debate back in the Concordia's pilot ready room. This new class of ships was a rush job to try and plug the gaps after the heavy losses of the last campaign. Nine transport ships, already three quarters completed, were pulled out of the transport assembly stations and converted into escort carriers; and a single look at her convinced Jason of the folly of the whole damn thing.

Standoff Team Releases Single Package Install
2016-08-14 -- The Standoff team is happy to release the single package install (462 MB) for the CIC's 18th birthday. This file will install the complete game without the need to download multiple packages. It's been an amazing journey for Standoff.

More Prerelease Art Reveals SWC Differences
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