UPDATE: German Arena Interview Translated

Here's a quick-and-dirty translation of the Eurogamer.de interview with Wing Commander Arena's Sean Penney. This is very rough - I did it myself and I don't speak German. We would be happy to post a more in-depth translation (or any corrections), so please keep going if you have one in the works! The original German text is available here.
Eurogamer: Hello Sean. Tell us first more about you and your involvement with the development of Wing Commander Arena.

Sean Penney: My name is Sean Penney and I'm a producer with Electronic Arts Canada. I've worked with the company for eight years. On Wing Commander Arena I am both the producer and designer.

Eurogamer: After the announcement numerous complaints circulated regarding the (very high) camera perspective in the first screenshots online. Why was this chosen instead of a cockpit? That would be more familiar from the predecessors.

Sean Penney: If you look at Wing Commander, you will see a story which focuses itself on the role of the player in an enormous universe. Arena is only a part of this experience. Like a strong liquor, it distills the series' most exciting point: close dogfights.

Wing Commander Arena is an arcade game. It involves a rapid and frantic multiplayer environment in which you must pursue targets and engage other opponents with your crosshairs. A cockpit perspective was not always suitable for such situations. The player needs to be able to see more. Additionally, constantly looking at the radar was one of the things which disturbed me personally in similar titles. It was only interrupted by short moments in which you looked at the actual battle, in order to fire a few shots.

In Arena's point of view one instead looks at the entire screen and only occasionally to the radar. There are alltogether four different perspectives: two show your own ship from some distance at an upper point of view. Another one is the rear lookout and then there is a camera position wich comes closest to the classic design. This one sees what is happening directly over the fighter's shoulder. This is a lot of fun, but a change to the higher camera is necessary to get a good overview of the battleground.

Eurogamer: Arena offers not only multiplayer battles, but also a single player portion. Can you tell us more about it? Are you challenged there or does it simply serve to prepare for the fight against other players?

Sean Penney: The single player aspect of Wing Commander Arena contains four play modes. As in a classic arcade game, it offers infinite levels. The high scores are conveyed via Xbox Live to a rank list. The four different variants are Melee, Meteor Storm, Gauntlet and Proving Grounds.

"Melee" is a free-for-all against a large number of AI ships. They fight each other and the player. The level is a very cool space station map. The engagements have a time limit and at the end the rank list is transferred. Although you play against the AI you are nevertheless in competition with other players.

"Meteor Storm" is a fun small game in which one must defend up to three satellites against emerging, burning meteors and plundering pirates again and again. The play ends as soon as the satellites are destroyed. An online rank list is likewise included.

In "Gauntlet" your own space fighter is stationed on a Midway-class carrier, which has had some interesting change over time. The task is to defend the carrier against attacking enemies who want to destroy it. With each new wave of enemies you can expect a larger number of attackers, better ships or more intelligent pilots. Some really spectacular firefights emerge later in the level. Gauntlet also offers a rank list at the end for comparison with other players.

In "Proving Grounds" the player is taken to an extensive area with a lot of open space with pickups, obstacles and numerous targets to shoot at. In addition, some of them fire back. As the name suggests, this is a training mode. Regard it as a playground in which you can try all the ships, weapons or maneuvers however you want. Proving Grounds contains no time limit, does not count your firing and does not have a rank list.

Eurogamer: That might keep the players busy for quite a while. How does it look online? What variants can we expect?

Sean Penney: The multiplayer mode offers free-for-all for 16 players, team engagements with two crews with eight members each and duels between two individual pilots. The team portions take place between the Kilrathi and the Confederation.

"Capital Ship" is the meeting of the Titans. The goal is to destroy the opposing battlecruiser and to protect your own at the same time. The capital ships consist in each case of three sections. One must destroy them successively, particularly their cannons, radar systems, generators, rockets and the bridge. If the player blows up all the goals on a level, the battlecruiser sinks one level deeper and offers new objects for pulverizing. The bridge comes at the end. Without a control center the ship breaks apart and you win.

With "Satellites" it plays as a variant of Capture the Flag on an interlocked map. You must dock with a satellite in order to conquer it for your team. If you leave it unguarded, it can be taken by the opposite side. You must mix ships, tactics as well as team play in order to be successful here.

"Boneyard" offers a beautiful environment with shipwrecks, astonishing crystal formations, dangerous terrain and a single planetoid where you can find hidden treasures. It can be played in both free-for-all and in team modes.

"Space Station" again puts the player - as the name implies - into an enormous space station. There you can lure enemies into dead ends, attack them from the corners or fly to open space. All the ships in an area can be damaged by destroying fuel tanks. The space station can also be played in either variant, free for all or team.

In "Bearpit" 16 players participate in duels. It involves a special map with an arena in the center. All participants first enter a queue. This concerns a duel pit, which supplies the necessary points for the rank list. If you win a fight, you remain in the arena. The loser must re-enter the queue, while the next pilot may start his challenge. The beauty to it is that the queue covers the entire area outside the stage. There you can fly fun duels, complete mini-games and resupply yourself. If you want, there is even the possibility to dock with the arena and take a few shots at the two fighters.

"Duel" is a head to head fight between two players for the best three out of five possible battles. Whoever wins the first three victories also wins the match - like in tennis. Combat takes place in a smoking crater in which one finds hiding places and other surprises like pickups too.

Eurogamer: There is something for everyone. How do the ships look? Did you use old designs or create new ones? How many different variants are there and do they differ in individual abilities like speed or maneuverability?

Sean Penney: Wing Commander Arena has 18 playable ships to offer - nine for each of the two sides. The Kilrathi ship classes are Darket, Dralthi and Paktahn, while the Confederation uses the Arrow, Rapier and Broadsword. For every space fighter there are three variants, which results in the total number 18. One must unlock the ships, however, but the ability to do that can be achieved in practically every game mode. Each variant shows large differences in things like speed, weapons, armoring and maneuverability.

Eurogamer: Can the rules be adjusted individually for the different modes? For example "no pickups", "only light fighters" or "friendly fire on/off"?

Sean Penney: The player sets the type of play (Ranked or Player), the number of participants (up to 16) and private slots for inviting friends.

Eurogamer: A popular feature of the Xbox 360 are achievements. What kind of achievements have been created for Wing Commander Arena?

Sean Penney: Most achievements involve fighting, since that is the main point of the game. However there are also points for exploring certain play sections. A majority of achievements involve the history of Wing Commander.

Eurogamer: Is there anything in conclusion that you would like to say to the fans outside? Particularly those who have mixed feelings regarding Wing Commander Arena?

Sean Penney: I would like to tell them that I am also a fan and played all the Wing Commander games when they were published. I loved it both due to its great presentation of history and because of the engagement. Arena exclusively focuses itself on the combat experience. I would like to remind them again of the fact that it is an arcade game and plays in that way.

The 18 ships, based on favorites from the series, look and feel like the originals. Naturally things have changed over the course of 20 years and ships have received some special upgrades. Other old favorites make an appearance and will introduce a few new friends. Wing Commander fans have demanded a multiplayer experience for a long time. Arena offers classic Wing Commander dogfights with up to 16 participants. For those which remember Armada: a fight in Arena resembles those in Armada.

Beyond that, we maintain continuity with the old games and fans even took part in the development process. We bring back classical ships and weapons from the first game up to the film. Arena was always meant as a homage to Wing Commander and we want things to be right.

Wing Commander always pushed the envelope. Each game set new standards concerning technology and design as well as changed how the games were played. Arena does the same to Xbox Live Arcade - from 16 participants online to the number and depth of our modes to the beauty of our scenes. Arena is by far more impressive than anything else available on Xbox Live Arcade so far.

Eurogamer: Thank you for the discussion.

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. Recent updates:

Tom Wilson Bouncing Around The Vlogosphere
2017-11-24 -- As we first reported last year, actor Tom Wilson is doing a pretty good job of maintaining his YouTube Vlog channel. He doesn't post nearly as often as some of the big stars out there, but his video posts are pretty funny and provide interesting insight into what he's got going on in life. The first video below provides a glimpse into his art show, then he's got a new song, and finally he takes his fans with him on a trip to Australia.

Happy Thanksgiving!
2017-11-23 -- The holiday season is now in full swing, and Wingnuts in the US are celebrating Thanksgiving today! As the story goes, we give thanks for the assistance given the European Pilgrims and the Native Americans who cooperated with them. Although 100% unrelated, this is a fantastic opportunity to remind everyone about the super cool Wing Commander Pilgrim-related item hiding in the CIC archives.

Annual Call For Award Nominations
2017-11-22 -- Another busy year is flying by, and before we know it, 2017 will be coming to a close. To start to get things in order, we're now thinking about nominees for our traditional Web Site & Fan Project of the Year Awards. There are so many fans doing great things out there, so this is our chance to acknowledge some of their fantastic efforts.

Zappenduster Those Kindred!
2017-11-21 -- LOAF found a really cool Privateer 2 article from the German magazine PC Player. It dates back to August 1995 during the early development phases of the game, and the feature includes some cool behind-the-scenes set photos from the game. Check out the nose art on that Kalrechi too!

Get Your WC4 DVD On With Lazy Game Reviews
2017-11-20 -- It's turning out to be a great week for classic game channels on YouTube! Lazy Game Reviews has posted a very in-depth profile of the Creative Labs Encore DXR2 DVD-ROM kit. He does a great job setting the stage for just how cool this was in 1997 and covers every inch of the box and its contents.

Metal Jesus Rocks The Whole Wing Commander Series!
2017-11-19 -- Metal Jesus of MetalJesusRocks is back with another Wing Commander video, and this time he's here to do a rather comprehensive overview of the entire series. Anyone can cover WC1-4 and Prophecy on YouTube, but MJR goes further with coverage of expansion packs, Academy & Armada, the Privateers, Super Wing Commander and Kilrathi Saga. He even has both the regular and Premiere Edition of WC3, SNES & Sega CD ports of WC1, and both standard and Gold Prophecies.

We've Got This Sector Bottled Tight, Friend...
2017-11-18 -- We've got a new poll out today that asks which of the the galactic sectors in Wing Commander is your favorite. This obviously isn't an exhaustive list, and there are some omissions like the Landreich or Hari Sectors that have quite a mystique about them, but we went with eight mainline areas that are particularly noteworthy. Sometimes sectors are short-hand named after the stars and quadrants within them, so if you're looking for Antares or Deneb, you can find them within the larger Epsilon cluster.

I Like This A Hole Lot
2017-11-17 -- LOAF was poking around in Wing Commander 2's background files and discovered a hilarious easter egg that would ordinarily never be seen by the player. The game frequently uses a red and green communications interface for dialogue sequences between a fighter and larger carrier or base. A small rectangle on the right features a graph intended to depict signal strength or something like that.

Taste That Synthi Meat
2017-11-16 -- The Wing Commander series has had quite a few large and elaborate print advertisements over the years, but even by the franchise's often lofty standards, this one's a whopper. This ad is spread across six full pages and follows a "five senses" theme with a late '90s vibe. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch are all emphasized along with a smattering of FMV screenshots, gameplay scenes and a handful of commodities.

A Localization Interrogation
2017-11-15 -- Most Wingnuts are familiar with all of the cool contents of a basic Wing Commander Prophecy box... but this one's a little different. Can you spot everything that makes this setup unique?

Upgraded Corvette Ready For Vision Engine
2017-11-14 -- Version 0.32B of the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack was just released, but work continues at a rapid pace. The Kilrathi are the next focus, and they're led by the fearsome Corvette.

Catch Up On Strike Commander's History
2017-11-13 -- The DOS Game Club is a really cool place dedicated to gaming highlights of the '80s and '90s. Their community selects a game each month, and then they jointly play it together and discuss in their regular podcast. A recently selection was Origin's Strike Commander, and our own Bandit (LOAF) was able to participate in their episode on it.

Wing Commander Composer David Arnold Interviewed
2017-11-12 -- Modern Vinyl has posted an interesting interview with David Arnold, the composer behind the Wing Commander Movie's famous Overture theme. Much of the article focuses on the recent vinyl release of his work on Hot Fuzz, but it also notes his wide ranging involvement with films from James Bond to Stargate. Check out the full article here.

Homeworld Mod Removes Bugs & Fixes AI
2017-11-11 -- There's another new update to the Homeworld Remastered mod, Flag Commander. L.I.

OldiesGames Does Vengeance Of The Kilrathi
2017-11-10 -- We've been following the OldiesGamesTV series of Wing Commander reviews for a number of years, and now they've completed their three-part profile of Wing Commander 2. The videos are in French, but even if you can't speak the language, seeing all of the minor differences in the game are really cool if you originally played in another language. And where you understand their words or not, it's clear that they're big Wing Commander fans that we're happy to support!

Wing Commander Album Track List Complete!
2017-11-09 -- George Oldziey is back with another update on the progress of the second Wing Commander album. He's been quiet for a little bit, but there has been tons of progress on the orchestration front. The basic track list is complete and PDF scores will even be sent out soon.

Secret Ops Is All About Squashing Bugs!
2017-11-08 -- Fans have been running the new Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack through its paces hard since the latest version was released last week. As intended, the test managed to tease out a few bugs, and the team quickly responded. DefianceIndustries and PopsiclePete have already managed to put out a new version that resolves the issues identified so far.

Three Cheers For WC2 Manuals
2017-11-07 -- Wing Commander games can come in all shapes and sizes, and today we have a look at the different colored manuals of Wing Commander 2. WC2 was one of the most ubiquitous titles of the early '90s thanks to several factors: the popularity of WC1 was key, but it also was a major showcase for in-game speech and eventually mass-produced for inclusion in a large number of different OEM and budget CD-ROM releases. The red manual below was quite common and the black lesser so.

Shapely New Wing Commander 3D Prints Available
2017-11-06 -- Carter3D is a cool Shapeways outfit with a whole bunch of neat ships. There are quite a few Star Wars designs, but there are also about a dozen detailed Wing Commander models available to 3D print. Carter seems to be a Prophecy fan, but there are also a handful of ships from WC3&4 mixed in as well.

Wing Commander 3 Play-Through Remade At Nightmare Difficulty!
2017-11-05 -- It's been more than ten years since the legendary Queeg released his consolidated Wing Commander 3 movie. The original film set download records at the CIC and garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Now he's back with a brand new take on The Heart of the Tiger - this time he's completed the entire game on Nightmare difficulty!

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

Current Poll

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

Site Staff