Holiday Advert Promotes Origin's First Season on CD Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Here's a fun Origin advertising pamphlet that you might not have seen if you weren't on Origin's mailing list (like Dan Gheesling was). This brochure went out to promote the holiday lineup on CD. Wing Commander 3 gets top billing, of course, with special mention of the Premiere Edition that was only available via direct sale from EA. A lot of collectors picked theirs up on eBay after the fact without realizing these weren't readily available in stores, although a similar boxed film reel edition was sold at Sam's Club. The reverse side is a System Shock sandwich flanked by Wings of Glory and Bioforge. This sheet represents a magical time in Origin history. The company was no longer held back by the limitations of floppy disks, and they were taking full advantage of the new disc format!
Origin's Holiday CD Line Up is a folded mailer which was sent to registered customers to promote the companys 1994 CD-ROM lineup which included Wing Commander III.
Heart of the Tiger blazes into the entertainment industry with ORIGIN's latest installment in the successful Wing Commander series. This unique gaming experience exposes space sim players to a new world founded on cinematic style and cutting-edge technology. Live, professional actors matted on stunning synthetic sets evoke real emotion throughout the game. As a player, you guide morale by how you interact with other characters. Four CDs hold full speech, explosive sound, an interactive plot and thousands of live action video images. Wing Commander III hands you complete control over the continuing Terran-Kilrathi conflict. As Hollywood-type film techniques merge with computer graphics, ORIGIN leads the way by creating an interactive movie starring you!
I guess the "thousands of live action video images" refer to individual frames of FMV? That's an interesting way to say it.

New Generation of AI Enhancement Provides Better Realism Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

ODVS has more big news on the video enhancement front. He's no longer pursuing 4K remasters of WC4 footage, but he reports that 1080p versions are looking better than ever. With the latest iterations of the AI/neural net tools at his disposal, he's reached new heights of quality in the footage. There's less artifacting and crisper lines, but best of all, even traces of uncanny valley in the augmented eyeballs have been virtually eliminated. The technology continues to evolve and there will likely be even further advances in the future, but the clips below are stunning examples of what's possible today.
After much, much experimenting, I've decided to abandon 4K FMV for the remake. My reasons are twofold:
  1. The quality improvement over 1080p was neglible at best (it's just asking too much to upscale by 600%)
  2. The file weight for all the game's FMV at 4K would have been excessive
When you combine those two reasons, the decision effectively made itself.

However, I have good news - the quality of the AI models available is improving at an exponential rate. I recently got my hands on the 11th generation of models for Topaz Video Enhance AI and the results are a marked improvement over previous versions. On top of that, I finally calculated an excellent set of tweaks for the h.265 codec which provide an astonishing balance between image quality and file size. Current experiments have all the in-game FMV at double the image compression quality of the h.264-encoded HD Pack V5.0 at far less than half the file size!

If I could, I'd bring these improvements over to a new HD pack - but sadly, the original game won't accept h.265-encoded video - so I believe my time is better spent bringing as many improvements to the remake as I can.

And there's more reason to be optimistic for the future. We still have a long road ahead before we're ready to release the remake in its entirety - and by the time we do, I can only imagine how much better the AI upscaling tech will be :)

So, how about a sneak preview?

Blow up the YouTube window and enlarge to the 4K stream to see everything in full quality (for higher bitrate and to see the original side by side with 1080p).

German Translation Test Looks Promising for WC1 Language Conversion Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Marty2Life is a Wingnut from Germany with a dream to play the original DOS Wing Commander in German. He's been asking questions at the CIC Forums and may have finally overcome the technical hurdles to make it happen. Check out some impressive results from the first mission!
Hello to all the pilots out there.

I'm new to the forum and have known Wing Commander since the beginning of 1990. I played the first part on the Amiga 1200 when I was a child. That was the OCS version. Then the other parts on the PC.

I'm working on my DOSbox fork, which is a mixture of Dosbox-X and Daum (Windows95 and 98 run in my Dosbox). Got all the parts in the Dosbox (yes also the Windows95 versions). Now to my question. Since I am a German user, I would like to translate the PC Wing Commander 1 Dos version and / or the Kilrathi version into German. I have the CD32 (combi with Dangerous Streets).

Before I die, I want to play Wing Commander 1 PC DOS and SWC (with subtitles) and Privateer 1 in German. Wing Commander 2 German Conversion runs with Speech and Subtitles at same time :)

I was able to decrunch the German Script from Amiga Wing Commander :D and beginning to translate.

Wing Commander Saga Runs Smoothly on Raspberry Pi 4 Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Here's an interesting video by ShivanSPS. It features the mod Wing Commander Saga running on a Raspberry Pi 4. I don't really know much about Raspberry Pies (Pis?), aside from how they're tiny little $35 microcomputers. Freespace 2 and WC Saga aren't new or especially demanding pieces of software by today's standards, but it still seems impressive that they run so well on such a cheap tiny machine. It sounds like these were made to run via FS2_Open and WXlauncher in a 64 bit Ubuntu environment, and instructions on how to get those things going on the Pi can be found here! Let us know if you get it to working on yours.

WC2 Bonus Chapter Released from 'Moongate' History Book Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Andrea Contato has a great surprise for everyone today. He's allowed us to share the Wing Commander 2 bonus chapter from his new book Through the Moongate, from Wing Commander and Ultima VII to Portalarium. It includes discussion about some of Chris Roberts' initial expectations for the game and draws heavily on extensive interviews with WC2 director Siobhan Beeman. The chapter provides some really helpful insight into how Origin and the game industry worked in the early '90s. You can grab it in PDF format and read for yourself here (350 k). And if you'd like to check out the rest of the book (or part 1 covering the pre-WC days), check out Andrea's shop here.
The Wing Commander II team was not satisfied, however, to simply improve on what they already had. Despite the limited timeline, there was also the intention to add features and expand the gameplay. Siobhan explains:

“We knew we wanted to add gunnery positions to the game, a la the famous scenes from Star Wars IV. What was necessary was an in-fiction rationale for why those positions would exist. Modern jet fighters after all don’t have turret gunners, because that weight is far better spent on additional speed and maneuverability. So we created bombers, a ship type that would be forced to fly slowly in a straight line and thus needed gunners if it was to have any defense at all. To give bombers an excuse to exist, we introduced torpedoes, a weapon that would be devastating against capital ships but required a period of slow, straight flight to ‘lock on’ and fire. This was of course another example of basing Wing Commander combat on World War II fighter combat, in this case torpedo bombers like USN Avengers and IJN Kates. I’d say that Star Wars and "WWII air combat" were the two cornerstones of Wing Commander, but Star Wars itself was also based on WWII dogfights, so really that’s what all of this comes back to.”

The Change That Upended Privateer 2's Economy Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Privateer 2 programmer Paul Hughes has posted an awesome little story about the development of the game's economic model. After balancing all the numbers, they learned that the video shoot had decided to change one little thing, which had big consequences!
Writing this Privateer 2 movie thing just reminded me of a classic FUBAR during development; whilst the shoot and edit were underway we were working away on the "Elite-esque" trading elements of the space game. Tony had the trading booth up and running...

...and we'd simulated all sorts of galaxy runs to work out prices for bounties, goods and missions to spread the difficulty curve nicely through the main story arc. Then I encoded the sequences for the very first mission along with its different branches and...

discovered during the shoot they didn't think the bounty in the script for the first mission sounded big enough so changed the number and bunged a few extra zeroes in the dialogue. This meant that just completing the first super easy mission would give you enough credits...

to buy the best ship with the best equipment with millions left over to happily trade through the entire main plot and sub missions! Thus the entire trading game needed completely rebalancing due to a single word change in the script. We weren't happy bunnies on that day!!!

LOAF called out the likely place that this occurred, "I suspect this is the first Xavier Shondi mission which promises you two payments of 8,000 credits in the video. Which is still a chunk of cash so early in the game!"

Paul also teases that he's got a big article in the works, titled Privateer 2: Making "Interactive Movies." We can't wait to see what that reveals!

Wing Commander 3 as Seen From the 21st Century Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Sidequest has posted a thorough retrospective of Wing Commander 3. It comes from an interesting perspective. The author has a lot of experience reviewing games, but was born after WC3's 1994 release. As such, one of the first things he calls out was the game's low resolution and high compression in cutscenes. While there's no doubt that this is an issue, if you lived through it at the time you would recall how the high end graphics (both in flight and for video) brought hardware of the time to its knees as it was. He also struggles a bit through the lack of tutorial help in-game, which was also typical of the era. But it's wonderful to see how people power through these difficulties and nevertheless have a blast with the game!
Thanks to Spacedock for spotting this one!

WC4 Fan Remake Enlisting Programer Reinforcements Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

ODVS has put together a new promo for the WC4 Fan Remake, and it's a little different than most that we've seen. Watch it and let him know what you think. The team is also potentially looking for another programmer. If this might be something you could help with, hit the comment link below!
Are there any C++ / C# programmers out there left to recruit? We have two musicians but only one programmer. :) It's our only real bottle neck.

We're looking for tools. Now whilst many of the tools are in C# like all game engines the core is in C++ interop is going to be needed even for those.

I'll outline some tasks I think we could bounce to others here:

  • AI Behaviour Tree - New behaviours for space combat (Tool C#, game behaviours protocol buffers, behaviour implementations C++)
  • Model material editor: Leaning towards C++ using IMGUI to avoid complexity. C# is an option but would require a lot of interop The AI tool exists but needs to be redone to support per project behaviours and a focus on 3D locomotion. The material editor doesn't, material overrides are currently defined in yaml.
And here's a recent example of the reworked in-game audio, in case you missed it!

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