Point of Origin: Vol. IV, No. 61

This issue of The Point of Origin represents a time most of us remember fondly - the release of Wing Commander III! The rare Origin product that shipped on time, Wing Commander III completely changed the face of gaming -- with effects which last to this day. But how was the launch felt at Origin?

A very special thanks to Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum for making this resource available and to Electronic Arts for sending them to him in the first place!

  • Spotlight: Wing Commander III and beyond is the final in a series about the huge game's development:
by John McLean

After eighteen months of development, during which more than 140 people worked some 125,000 man-hours, Wing Commander III is finally heading out the door. And not a moment too soon. At a cost of $4 million, Origin & EA's biggest-ever Interactive Movie will need to kick ass and take names in retail outlets this Christmas in order to repay the company's investment.

Fortunately, advance orders and early public buzz are encouraging. In the inimitable words of Marten Davies, "We're going to blow the doors off worldwide!" The completion of this massive project also marks the beginning of a new era in the computer game business.

Although live-action video isn't suitable for every title, an increasing number of producers are discovering that real actors can add significantly to the impact of their projects. "Computer games will never be the same," says Chris Roberts. "And we're there to lead the charge."

Yet blending traditional art, programming and audio requirements with a live-action component complicates a project enormously. Alliances between computer game companies and Hollywood actors, agents, unions and crewmembers were unknown a year ago. Now they're becoming a regular part of the interactive landscape.

While landing Hollywood veterans for a production costs money, if Wing commander III is any indication, the results are worth it. An experienced crew and cast bring professionalism, name recognition and high-quality work to the dance. Though the film community doesn't even pretend to understand the technical nature of creating computer games, they're fascinated by our industry and, in the end, their goal's the same as ours--to entertain as many people as possible with each new project.

Producing a movie of any size is difficult under the best of circumstances. When you add to the equation the programming challenges of topping the popular Wing Commander game and the enormous art hurdles of generating hundreds of objects, sets and animations, the result is nothing short of a logistical nightmare.

"Damn, that was a lot of work," says Art Director Chris Douglas. "But we pulled through and hopefully managed to set a new standard for the rest of the artists in this industry."

Generating the tremendous amount of art, code and audio was one thing. Keeping track of it all to make sure everything fit together and nothing fell through the cracks was another. At the peak of production, four separate people were engaged full-time in tracking and routing the constantly increasing amount of material.

Right up to the end, the sheer size of a game packed onto 4 CD-ROMs created new challenges. "The hard part about this project is that we have essentially two gigs worth of data,' says Director Frank Savage. "The fact that we can even keep track of that two gigs of data and not have each version totally screwed up is something of a miracle."

Simultaneous with the final stages of development, Origin's marketing department has been banging the drum for the title at events in New York City, Austin, Los Angeles and numerous points in between. Meanwhile our sales department continues to pull out all the stops to make Wing Commander III the must-have hit of this Christmas season.

As to what's next for his development team, Chris Roberts will only say, "You haven't seen anything yet." Who knows, maybe there'll be yet another multi-CD Interactive Movie under Christmas trees around the world for next year?!

  • In Ink has the latest on Armada and WCIII:
Back in this country, Tom McDonald is jumping on the Wing Commander Armada bandwagon. In the December issue of PC Gamer, Tom listed Armada as one of his favorite modem games. "One of the best arcade titles I've ever played head-to-head," Tom writes. "Armada has it all."

And speaking of the December issue of PC Gamer, the cover has the Wing Commander III cover art on it. The guys at PC Gamer did an excellent job previewing the game. They even included the WC3 demo on the CD that comes bundled with the mag. Bill Trotter did a marvelous write-up inside. "Drop-dead gorgeous graphics," he wrote about Wing III. "The integration of digitized and computer-generated images was utterly smooth and convincing in every respect. The acting here is some of the best ever in a PC game." And that's not all, but space limitations prohibit me from going on.

It seems there are many others sitting up and taking notice of Wing III. Bernie Yee had an excellent article on the game in USA Today in the November 2 edition. That was a result of a Wing III press day in New York City last month put on by ORIGIN's Media Relations Dept. While Chris Roberts and Frank Savage demonstrated the game, cast members Mark Hamill, John Rhys-Davies and Ginger Lynn Allen talked to the media. Other media who stopped by to have a look included The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, Billboard Magazine, Fortune, and Forbes.

Meanwhile, other gaming magazines are singing the praises of WC3. Bill Meyer of Electronic Entertainment writes, "Hold on to your joystick, because Wing Commander III is about to redefine the genre once again."

Bill Kunkel of Electronic Games, not to be outdone, writes, "The world of interactive entertainment has taken a quantum leap forward."

Charles Ardai, one of those who attended the NYC event, also appears to be in the WC3 fold. "ORIGIN's Wing Commander III heralds a new era in interactive cinema," he exclaims. "Chris Roberts has pulled off the impossible yet again; he's topped not only himself, but the entire industry of which he is a part." And Wing III apparently was music to Charles' ears. "You can hear the soundtrack loud and clear, and it's a beaut: a symphonic overture full of dread and mystery that would do John Williams proud."

Wing Commander III has also been featured on television quite a bit lately. This past weekend VH1 included a story about the game in its movie preview show "Flix." In recent weeks some of the WC3 cast have been plugging the game on national talk shows. Ginger Lynn Allen did just that while she was a guest on the Howard Stern show. And just last week, Malcolm McDowell did the same while he was on the Jon Stewart show. Last month, "The Computer Man," a nationally syndicated computer show, turned the spotlight on WC3.

And WC3 isn't the only Wing Commander drawing the headlines these days. In case you missed it, Computer Gaming World inducted Wing Commander II into its hall of fame. Calling it "one of the most popular games of all times," WC2 joins Wing Commander and three of the Ultimas in the CGW Hall of Honor.

Bill Trotter, who wrote the previously mentioned WC3 article in PC Gamer, was impressed with other games currently under development at ORIGIN... Meantime, the reviews keep coming in from several older ORIGIN titles. Trent Ward gave Privateer CD a four rating out of five in CD-ROM Today. "Stunning graphics, crisp digitized sound, and totally absorbing game play."

  • Another EOM with Wing Commander experience: "Randy Buck is ORIGIN's Employee of the Month for November. Randy has been at ORIGIN for three years and during that time has turned the company's audio department into one of the most respected in our industry. He currently serves as ORIGIN's Senior Audio Engineer... Another, who works on the Wing III team, wrote, 'He has to deal with supervising the details of more music and sound effects than are generally used in most feature length motion pictures. He has done all this with an ever vigilant eye for quality as well as keeping us all on a schedule that allows no room for error.'"
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 61 - November 23, 1994
Contents
Spotlight: Wing Commander III and beyond
In Ink
Point Man
Haunted Memories
EOM
New Hires
The Future
--
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:


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!

GalCiv 3 Mod Continues To Expand
2017-11-04 -- Hellakazoo has posted some additional screenshots of his Galactic Civilizations 3 WC mod that highlight some of his latest additions, such as the Tarsus and Clarkson jammer. There's also a neat screenshot of one of the game's menus that feature the character portraits. Some of the recent CIC Forums discussion has been about what to add next.

Wing Commander Scores Lucky #7
2017-11-03 -- Here's a throwback to a twenty-one year old issue of Computer Gaming World. Back in November 1996, when we all were just getting into the Wingnut scene online, CGW posted a comprehensive "best 150" games feature. Wing Commander came in as the 7th best title of all time, just behind other famous contemporaries like Sid Meier's Civilization, Ultima IV, Doom & Sim City.

New Prophecy, Secret Ops Update Adds Ships & More!
2017-11-02 -- The newest version of the Prophecy and Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack has been released! It includes a whole pile of exciting ships that have been gracing the news over the last few months. There are additional bug fixes as well as some new features to smooth in-game graphical loading.

Kilrathi Invade #GamingHaikus
2017-11-01 -- We may have missed International Haiku Poetry Day by quite a bit, but idspispopz is there to make sure we're still covered with this simple yet elegant Wing Commander poem. Feel free to hit the comment link and add your own!

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

Current Poll

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

Site Staff