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.

--
Update published on . View all news from that day.

Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans.

WC Toolbox Adds Ship Editing Feature
2016-02-05 -- UnnamedCharacter has released a new version of his programming library for interfacing with Wing Commander 1's game data files. This newest beta release (3.3.

Kilrathi Durasteel Polished For Homeworld Mod
2016-02-04 -- L.I.F.

Wing Commander Finally Gets Its Due?
2016-02-03 -- Den of Geek recently ran an article on the 50 Underappreciated DOS Games. As one of the best selling and highest rated DOS games of all time, we'd probably agree with Space Game Junkie that Wing Commander doesn't really fit on this list. Rather, this instead seem like a missed opportunity to highlight something like Wing Commander Armada or perhaps Privateer 2.

Ron Cobb's Wing Commander Concept Art Found!
2016-02-02 -- LOAF recently uncovered several pieces of exotic concept art for the Wing Commander Movie! These treasures were drafted by Ron Cobb, who is famous for creating some of the iconic imagery for Star Wars, Alien, The Last Starfighter and more. Each is dated 1997 before Chris Roberts and producer Todd Moyer decided to go in a different visual direction, although some of the promotional material such as the 1998 SFX WC magazine still credits him with the "texture" of the film.

Star Citizen Fan Creates Wing Commanderific Squadron 42 Box
2016-02-01 -- Illusive_Man has mocked up a pretty clever Squadron 42 box based on the classic Wing Commander 3 art. It mirrors the original fonts, backgrounds and all of the arrangement. Mark Hamill and John Rhys-Davies' positions are the same, as is the placement of the catlike alien and their exploding ships.

Annual Community Vote Begins!
2016-01-31 -- We've left 2015 in the past, but there's one more thing to do as we move further into 2016. You've sent nominations in over the past month, and now we're kicking off our annual awards to recognize the fan projects and websites that had some of the most impact over the past year. We had an even larger number of worthy projects this year than normal, and we definitely wanted to get this out before the end of January, so excuse the brief listings of each choice.

Medium Size Capships Get Visual Upgrades & New Orders
2016-01-30 -- Back on the Homeworld front, L.I.F.

The $6 Million Dollar Game Arrives on 3DO
2016-01-29 -- Flashback Nation, a Twitter account dedicated to all things retro, recently put up this scanned cover page of the Winter '94 issue of 3DO Magazine UK. Wing Commander 3 is featured prominently on the cover, and the issue included a review of the "$6 Million Dollar Game." The coverdisk (which appears to be free sampler disk #1) would not have included the playable 3DO demo of Wing 3.

Border Worlds Pilot Defies His Opponent
2016-01-28 -- When DefianceIndustries isn't modding Secret Ops or lending support to other fan projects, what does he like to do for fun? Make a gorgeous wallpaper! This one sticks his excellent Banshee model front and center as he recreates one of the most famous advertisement renders for Wing Commander 4.

MetalJesusRocks The Price Of Freedom
2016-01-27 -- Today we have Metal Jesus Rocks' review of Wing Commander 4. This was actually created a while ago, and despite MJR's popularity, managed to stay under our radar until now. The quirky reviewer covers retro gaming with a dash of his own heavy metal soundtrack tossed in.

"Ek'rah skabak erg Thrak'Kilrah maks Cheesy Balls"
2016-01-26 -- LOAF recently uncovered a neat "alphabet" sheet for the Wing Commander Movie. It shows sixteen symbols of the type used in the alien scene translations. There are several very distinct Kilrathi writing styles observed from the dots and dashes in the SM2 Dralthi cockpit to the iconic Kiranka claw that debuted in Wing Commander 3.

Universe Explored In A Flat Way
2016-01-25 -- Space Game Junkie recently conducted a live stream playthrough of the Wing Commander Flat Universe fan game. We've posted lots of screenshots of both the top-down action as well as the flow sequences aboard Daedalus Station, but these images don't do the game justice. Videos like the one below are much better at showing off how cool it can be to just walk around in a familiar WC setting.

Classic Opponents Engage In Aerial Dogfight
2016-01-24 -- NinjaLA has combined two of the most iconic Wing Commander ships into one pretty nifty sketch. He's gotten some practice making both Dralthi and Hornets look really good lately, so it's no surprise that they're finally pictured together here. The Confed fighter needs to lean even heavier on its afterburner if it's going to avoid a pancake/wing collision though!

Homeworld Mod Experiments With Turret Upgrades
2016-01-23 -- Here are some neat screenshots of another cool concept L.I.F.

Still Time to Back the Wing Commander Album
2016-01-22 -- Physical copies of George Oldziey's reorchestrated Wing Commander album have been landing in mailboxes the world over. If you missed out on the crowdfunding campaign, there are still a few copies available. Fans that donate $20 to offset the remaining production and shipping costs will receive a digital copy of the album, the collectible physical CD (including a digital copy) is available for those who contribute $40 and an autographed album is $60.

WCP Hardpoint Editor Helps Modders Mount Weapons
2016-01-21 -- gr1mre4per has created another useful tool for all of the folks working on Secret Ops mods and enhancements these days. As the ships become more detailed, it can actually become harder to find suitable flat surfaces to place weapons turrets. grim has streamlined that process with app designed to streamline this whole process.

You're Either An Earthworm Or An Eagle
2016-01-20 -- And not every model out there can be a majestic eagle. Dark Sentinel is a super talented artist and one of the best Nephilim creators in the world. But sometimes you're limited by the subject matter, and that's made the bugs' capship missile a challenging project.

Shot Like a Movie -- On Film, Not Video
2016-01-19 -- The Documents Archive is where we try to keep track of the various development and promotional materials that we cover in our daily news updates. We've already rounded up a good selection of classic advertisement materials, but from time to time something new shows up. Late last year, gaming hub VGBounceHouse shared these two printed advertisements for Wing 3 and 4.

PC Gamer On The Most Important Games
2016-01-18 -- PC Gamer is well known for their Top 100 lists where they annually rank the best computer games in the world. While this ranking does stretch back through gaming history, it can be quite subjective with frequent changes year-to-year and a skew towards the newest games. Their latest article attempts to create a slightly more meaningful list by selecting the Top 50 "Most Important" PC games of history.

Homeworld Mod Refreshes Vesuvius & Improves Small Arms Fire
2016-01-17 -- It might seem like we just saw this Vesuvius class carrier in the news, and we did! But last week it was being featured in the Secret Ops MUP, and now DefianceIndustries' design has been imported to the Homeworld Remastered mod as Wingnuts continue to cross-collaborate in order to maximize each other's potential. The gun turrets are still not quite complete, and you can see in the images below that L.

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

Current Poll

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

Site Staff