Video Interview Transcript

If you don't have the bandwidth to download the 230-megabyte Wing Commander Arena video interview from GameSpot, don't worry -- we've put together a text transcript. All the dialogue is from Electronic Arts Line Producer Sean Penney:
Xbox Live Arcade, it's a great platform, it is very innovative, and we wanted to do a space shooter and we wanted to get on to Arcade. Everyone loves Wing Commander, I certainly do, and we were excited about the thought of putting Wing Commander IP with a 16-player action space shooter. So we've got a single player experience and a multiplayer experience. In the single player experience you can unlock ships by playing through a variety of modes. We have training modes, melees, a couple special modes where you're just blowing up asteroids, others that are just total mayhem, and those go on to leaderboards that go online, but I think where the real meat of it is is the, the online play. We've got sixteen player gameplay, which includes 8 on 8 team play or sixteen player free for all play. We also have one on one duels. And we have a specialized arena called the Bearpit where you can have two people go into the pit while the other fourteen wait outside and they can do all sorts of things like shoot at each other or play minigames or shoot inside the Bearpit. We've got capital ship versus capital ship, and there's going to be a lot of strategy there. We've got a capture the flag mode called satellite and then in the free for alls it's, you know, pick your favorite ship and take on the world and we've got specialized environments for them all.

So what we've got in the capital ship versus capital ship is you, you choose a side. You choose to be either Kilrathi or you choose to be human, and that's something you couldn't actually ever do in any of the previous Wing Commander titles. You couldn't play the Kilrathi, and we have nine Kilrathi ships that you can choose from and nine Terran ships that you can choose from. So you choose a side, and each side has their own capital ship, and each capital ship has three levels. On each level there are a series of turrets and missile launches which will be firing at you as you try to destroy them. If you destroy all of the devices and weapons on one level of the capital ship the capital ship actually drops down a level allowing you to then destroy all of the devices and all of the weapons and laser turrets that are on the second level of the ship. If you accomplish that the ship drops down to the final level which is the bridge. Once you destroy the bridge, the ship will break into three pieces and blow up, and you have won the game. So, so your goal in the game is to either attack the capital ship or defend your own capital ship.

So there's eighteen ships total. Each race has three base ships: a light fighter, a heavy fighter and a bomber. Each of the base types has three variations. So, one of the things that the original Wing Commander did was it allowed you to upgrade your ship, and when you upgraded your ships armor, for example, you would get better armor. You wouldn't get more of it, it would be a different alloy. It would be supersteel or duralloy or plasteel or these types of things, but in an arcade game, it's hard to communicate that visually, because arcade games are very visual games, it's not a first person shooter. So what we wanted to do was change the silhouette of the ship, so when you get an armor upgrade for your Arrow it takes on a different silhouette. It gets more armor. So there's three variations of the Arrow, three variations of the Rapier and there's three variations of the bomber, the Broadsword, and on the Kilrathi side it's the same thing. We've got the light fighter, the Darket, the heavy fighter, the Dralthi, and the heavy bomber, the Paktahn, and there's three variations on each one. It's a bit rock paper scissors. You can destroy a heavy bomber with your light Arrow, but you're going to have to play pretty carefully.

Three different types of pickups. There's regenerative pickups which will heal you or it will refill your missiles. Pickups that will enhance you, things like Hammer Shot or Cheap Shot which means it increases the damage you do or it increases your speed or it allows you to fire more often and then a third type of pickup we have is special pickup. These are quite rare, but these are things like energy absorption or supershields or wingmen, which gives you a clone of yourself. One to two would fly beside you and mirror all your actions. So if you fire weapons, they'll fire weapons so you can essentially triple your firepower with these guys.

It's an arcade game, so you want people to be able to just pick it up and play it, but it is a Wing Commander title, it is a space combat game, so you want to add some depth to it. So it's pick up and play, but there's layers of depth. It's the old adage that it takes a moment to learn but a lifetime to master, and I don't know if it would take you a lifetime, but there's a whole series of advance maneuvers, there's extra devices, so with the right stick you can do barrel rolls, you can do flips, you can do immelman turns, you can do 180s and different ships have different special maneuvers that they can do. So Wing Commander Arena should be out early summer.

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

Hunting for The Awakening
2017-04-26 -- Earlier this year, we reported that the band Die Krupps has re-released the song they composed for the Wing Commander Prophecy OST, updated for a more recent album. This song, The Vampire Strikes Back, is one of three on the album that were 'inspired by' Wing Commander. What about the other two?

Visual Reference: Wing Commander I Rooms
2017-04-25 -- Following our gallery of Wing Commander II backgrounds, here is a smaller selection of backgrounds from the original game. There weren't as many places to go on the Tiger's Claw, but it's interesting to note they didn't 'double up' on similar places--the Hangar Deck and the debriefing area have separate backgrounds.

Goofballs Battle for the Enigma Sector
2017-04-24 -- Last year, I was lucky enough to take part in a 25th Anniversary livestream of Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. Unfortunately, if you missed the live showing it has not been available... until now!

Wing Commander Makes History
2017-04-23 -- It's time for some serious history! The Digital Antiquarian has put together an excellent article titled From Squadron to Wingleader which follows the first half of the development of the original Wing Commander! It's a story hardcore fans are likely familiar with (much is sourced from Mike Harrison's Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide), but it has never been presented in so-compelling a form.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It!
2017-04-22 -- Happy Earth Day, everyone! There are certainly important issues facing the world today… but let’s take a moment to jump forward and see what disastrous await our home planet in the Wing Commander timeline! Soon Earth itself will be in our grasp...

Visual Reference: Special Operations 1 & 2 Rooms
2017-04-21 -- Earlier in the week, we collected all of the 'uncut' Wing Commander II 'sets.' Today we're following up that selection with the new rooms created for the Special Operations addon disks. A key consideration in that era of development was disk space; the mission disks could budget only a small amount of space to add new art content.

Got Any Brilliance?
2017-04-20 -- In honor of April 20th, here's a quick rundown on some of the recreational drugs of the Wing Commander universe! Blaze up some Arakh Leaves or swallow an Elysium capsule and let's get started...BrillianceBrilliance is probably the Wing Commander universe's signature drugs.

Visual Reference: Wing Commander II Rooms
2017-04-19 -- Wing Commander has, from the start, been called an interactive movie... and the team building the games embraced that in many aspects of the production process. For example, all of the 'talking head' scenes in Wing Commander, Wing Commander II and Privateer were constructed just like film shots, with different camera angles and purpose-built 3D environments (or sets!

Wing One Goes Mainstream
2017-04-18 -- Did you miss out on The Fatman's Wing Commander soundtrack, Wing One? Good news: it's now available via mainstream digital music storefronts including Amazon and iTunes. The 27-track album includes all of the music from the original Wing Commander recorded using a Roland MT-32 (plus a few surprises, including a lullaby version of one track and a live recording of the theme from CES!

Model Upgrade Pack Upgraded
2017-04-17 -- Good news for pilots who want to make their games especially pretty: DefianceIndustries has launched version 0.21 of his Wing Commander Prophecy Model Upgrade Pack. This is an unofficial update to the game that replaces the original 3D models with much higher quality, modern versions...

Wingmen Back from the Dead!
2017-04-16 -- Happy Easter, WingNuts! In honor of the holiday, we present a list of Wing Commander characters who (intentionally or--often--otherwise) came back from the dead! (Presented in the spirit of good humor rather than sacrilege.

Happy CIC Easter!
2017-04-16 -- Hope you all had an eggscellent Easter out there!

Japanese Translators Needed: Mega CD Manual
2017-04-15 -- Remember Lyle Starbuck? That's the name used for the player character in the Mega CD port of Wing Commander I's manual! It's one of at least three original Japanese-language Wing Commander publications that we'd love to explore further.

Pillow Talk
2017-04-14 -- One of my core philosophies is that you can always find a little bit of Wing Commander in the least expected places... and so I was not at all surprised when I happened across Raumstation Vokhila, a German-language blog that puts the author's DIY projects on display. It features what can only be described as a pretty cool pillow!

Classic Game Cover Arts Funding Imminent
2017-04-13 -- Mike Winterbauer's Classic Game Covers book Kickstarter has reached its funding goal and is rocketing (auto-piloting?) towards the finish line! The campaign ends in just four days...

Homeworld Mod Has Claws
2017-04-12 -- The Homeworld Remastered mod marches forward! L.I.

Dralthi Fun!
2017-04-11 -- Remember the TrainSim (aka Squadron)? The 'arcade game' in the Tiger's Claw was both your first step into the original Wing Commander and a fun way to learn to fight the Kilrathi. Under the hood, the game treats the TrainSim as its own series of four missions (in fact, this is likely why there are four 'slots' in each series for potential missions in the first two games.

Wing Commander Album Campaign Prep Continues
2017-04-10 -- There's music in the air... or, at least, we're getting closer! Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy composed George Oldziey is continuing to make preparations for his next Wing Commander album crowdfunding project.

Privateer 101 Stream
2017-04-09 -- Welcome to the Gemini Sector! I was recently lucky enough to host another live 'RSI Museum' segment for Star Citizen's Happy Hour program... this time, talking about Privateer!

VG&CE Behind the Screens of Wing Commander
2017-04-08 -- Here's an especially interesting gaming magazine scan: a longer cover story from the October 1990 issue of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment magazine. Published alongside the game's release, this may have been the first on-hands 'making of' article about the game.

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