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.

Pix Plays WC4 DVD The Old Fashioned Way
2017-01-19 -- Pix has posted an awesome story about getting the DVD edition of Wing Commander 4 to run. WC4 DVD was only released as part of a specific Creative Labs Encore DVD-ROM bundle, and as such it was designed specifically to work with the DXR2 (and DXR3) decoder board. Pix highlights a fun alternate method utilizing the REALmagic Hollywood Plus decoder card, which happened to also be compatible.

Origin Games Added to Origin Access Vault!
2017-01-18 -- There's great news for subscribers to the aptly-named Origin Access service! The plan now includes Origin classics like the Ultima series, Crusader games and Wing Commander (1-4, plus Privateer). Although we'd recommend that Wingnuts just go ahead and pick up permanent digital purchases of the series whenever Origin or GOG have a sale, the benefit here is that a large core of existing subscribers now have "free" access to the Wing Commander series.

Last Glimpse at the Origin Hiring Process
2017-01-17 -- Here's a really cool artifact for Origin fans out there. James was going through some old things and found this nifty postcard he received from OSI. It's an acknowledgement letter sent out to potential applicants who had submitted resumes.

Murphy Destroyer Prepares For MUP Debut
2017-01-16 -- The current Secret Ops MUP alpha test is all about fighter craft, but the capships are definitely coming. Check out this preview of the badass Murphy class destroyer for a taste of what to expect. It'll have some technical upgrades when it arrives in the game with both the small hangar bay and large plasma gun available as targetable components.

Flat Universe Recruiting Pilots For Multiplayer Test
2017-01-15
Votes Still Being Collected For Community Contest
2017-01-14 -- Both of our annual community votes are now in full swing, and you still have a chance to cast your ballot if you missed the initial kickoff. A long list of talented Wing Commander endeavors are in the running for Fan Project and Website of the Year. All of them have made fantastic contributions over the past twelve months, but which ones made the biggest impact on you?

Wing Commander SNES Prototype Salvaged
2017-01-13 -- A while back, LOAF managed to snag a prototype of Wing Commander for the Super Nintendo off eBay. This general purpose game pak originated at MindScape, who were responsible for porting both Wing Commander and Secret Missions to the Nintendo console. It has room for two EPROMs that contain game code and some SRAM memory that could potentially serve various purposes, notably keeping savegames alive when paired with a battery.

Homeworld Guide Adds Kilrathi, Mod Adds Special Supply Transports
2017-01-12 -- L.I.F.

Party Like It's 1995 Again
2017-01-11 -- Before we get too far into the year, we need to remind fans that their 1995 calendars are good as new again! Just like in 2006, the special WC3 calendars included in the Premiere Edition direct from EA can be used in 2017 since all of the days match up. Note that this is not the same as the more common Kilrathi Saga calendar made for 1997.

Sale at the Kindle Store!
2017-01-11 -- There's lots of book news already this month! Amazon.com has discounted the recently released Wing Commander novels available in its Kindle library.

Condor Now Ready to Resupply
2017-01-10 -- DefianceIndustries' latest ship might look like the familiar Search and Rescue ship he completed last month, but this is actually the tanker/refueler version. It has a slightly different model to account for the docking port that transfers munitions and fuel. Although it won't see action in the Secret Ops MUP due to its sole appearance in Prophecy, this bodes well for our chances of seeing the enhancement pack make the leap over to its Vision Engine sibling after the current upgrade is complete.

False Colors Confirmed for April!
2017-01-09 -- Hot on the heels of TPoF's release, Baen has confirmed a date for Wing Commander False Colors! It will become available electronically on April 4, 2017 - about a month after Action Stations. The first half will become available this Sunday to those who preorder from Baen direct, and there's also an option to get it and half a dozen books at a discounted rate as part of the April Bundle.

Merry Christmas Hobbes!
2017-01-08 -- If you're like us and still have your Christmas lights up, then this update is still just as timely as ever. Origin artist Denis Loubet has released a public snapshot of the awesome Wing Commander-themed Christmas card he sent to his Patreon subscribers this year. Contributors also got access to high resolution digital TIFs so they could reproduce the card for their Wingnut friends in future years.

Battle of the Medium Fighter Sketches
2017-01-07 -- It's two NinjaLA sketches for the price of one today! First is a very well done Dralthi with nice hull shading and perspective. Ninja credits his digital pencil set for helping make the drawing authentic here.

First Service Pack for WC Saga Deutsch and WCS Plus
2017-01-06 -- Luke and the rest of the team continue to extend and refine the Wing Commander Saga experience. The previous release (1.0.

Wojo Wows with Map Mojo for Pilgrim Project
2017-01-05 -- Wojo has been working on his Pilgrim Legacy mod for quite some time, and although we haven't seen too many updates recently, he popped him to provide this nifty New Year's update. First up is an absolutely gorgeous starmap depiction of Pilgrim space in the shadow of the Confederarion. It's done in the style of the WC Movie's opening credits map and is quite stunning.

Secret Ops MUP Playable Alpha Released!
2017-01-04 -- The first test release for the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack has arrived! This initial version provides a massive graphical overhaul for the game with some major visual enhancements created by DefianceIndustries and Dark Sentinel. This alpha only has fighters and small craft at the moment, but capships and other items will be added in the future.

The Price Of Freedom Is $6.99!
2017-01-03 -- Wing Commander fans get to start the year off on high note with today's release of The Price of Freedom as an ebook! It's now available at all major digital storefronts for $6.99.

A Look Back At 2016
2017-01-02 -- The past year has been another exciting adventure for Wing Commander fans. With 366 days of material to go through, it can be hard to remember all of the significant things that happened in the past twelve months, so that's why we did it for you! January started off with the big news that George Oldziey's physical Wing Commander album was shipping, and fans who missed the earlier crowdfunding effort even got a way to acquire a few surplus copies.

Happy New Year!
2017-01-01 -- Happy New Year Wingnuts! It's 2017 and we have a fresh opportunity to make another exciting year for the WC community. All of the fan projects and websites highlighted yesterday give us considerable inspiration to move forward and see all of the amazing things they come up with in the year ahead.

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