For more than twenty years, Origin Systems, Inc. forged video game history. Not only was the company been responsible for some of the most awe-inspiring games ever created, but they inspired multiple generations of would-be developers with stories of their development. Throughout its life, Origin was emblematic of the very best gaming had to offer. From helping to create the computer game market itself with their early RPGs, to developing the interactive movies of the nineties and the massively multiplayer games of today Origin has set the tone for the entire gaming industry.
In the process of producing what will undoubtably be be looked back on as the high point of video game development, a lot of material has been generated: from development documents to advertising to finished product. This material tells an important story - one that until now has been left largely ignored.
Our primary concern is to archive this material while it still exists. There are countless design documents, props, video tapes and other valuable resources in the hands of former employees who have wisely saved them for the sake of nostalgia or future reference. There are two decades worth of magazine articles, beautiful print advertisements and copies of the games themselves being left in the past. It is time to preserve this information electronically for the sake of modern enthusiasts and future generations.
In the hopes of proving our dedication to this project, we've begun scanning our existing collections of 'behind the screens' Wing Commander documents. Here you'll find a collection of files spanning Wing Commander development from 1993 to today. These files, encompassing some 3,000 pages at the moment, are currently available online as high and low resolution .PDF files. 300 DPI losseless BMPs are being stored locally, and will be made available freely to contributers or to any individual by specific request. The vast majority of these documents were kindly donated by Origin and former Origin employees.
Generate a digital archive of "behind the screens" materials. This would collect any and all available production material relating to Origin Systems, Inc. and associated projects (ie, those undertaken by former Origin employees at Digital Anvil, Bootprint, Destination Games, etc.). This archive would be created solely for the sake of preserving a valuable historical resource. No portion of this archive would be disseminated to the public without the express consent of the copyright holders. Copies will be made available to Origin Systems, Inc. and anyone else providing archival resources to the project.
Valid objectives for this portion of project will include:
- High resolution scans of printed material: game flow scripts, artists sketches, designer notes, related photographs, internal memos, etc.
- Transfers of video and film elements (set recordings and other miscellaneous material) to a lossless medium.
- Preservation of data elements (game code, source renderings, in house development tools) currently stored on dated storage mechanisms (DAT tapes, diskettes, etc).
- Detailed digital photography of relevant three dimensional objects, including FMV props, notable buildings (Origin's various offices), etc.
Generate a digital archive of "release" materials, to be made available online to the general public. This archive will function under the same jurisdiction of the first (including Origin and related companies), but will involve only material that has been available to the public.
Items for inclusion in this portion of the project include:
- Advertising: Scans of print ads, MPEG-2 transfers of VHS tapes, copies of press releases, web materials (web sites and other material released online). This would also include any publicly available Public Relations correspondences - such as newsgroup and message board posts.
- Published Material: Including box art, reproductions of associated documents (where permitted), appropriate screen shots sampling each game's history and files released through Origin's BBS and FTP (patches, demos, etc.). We would also collect, where possible, magazine articles relating to the topic - game reviews, previews, interviews, etc.
- Historical Data: Including a timeline of game releases, development milestones. Where possible, we would like to perform modern interviews with former Origin team members regarding their experiences. This portion of the project would ultimately seek to create a "Where are they now?" listing for former Origin employees.
How Can I Help?
If you're a former Origin employee, we want to hear from you! We'd love to post your thoughts and experiences regarding the company and the projects you worked on... and we're very interested in archiving any behind the scenes materials you may have kept! All hard copy documents loaned to this project will be scanned and then returned (at your discretion - we're also happy to donate any unwanted material to Joe Garrity's Origin Museum when we're finished with it).
If you're an Origin fan, we'd love for you to join this project. Our area of expertise is the Wing Commander series... but Origin produced dozens of other equally amazing games. If you're a fan of one of Origin's other series, we want your help - Ultima, Crusader, Jane's, Cybermage and all the others should be represented in this archive!
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.
In the Works: We are currently attempting to construct a database of former Origin employees and their current locations.
Who Are We?
The Wing Commander Combat Information Center's staff has been providing the online hub of news and resources for Origin's once-flagship franchise for more than eighteen years. We are a non profit group dedicated to promoting Wing Commander fandom through any reasonable means. Recent activities include the coordination of fan-run conventions, the development of fan based games and the use of traditional advertising to promote interest in the franchise. At the request of Origin and other Wing Commander licensees, WC:CIC staff members have provided free assistance for the development and promotion of three games, four novels and the feature film.
In late 2002, an outside developer named Raylight contacted the WC:CIC with a request: they had been charged with developing a GameBoy Advance port of Wing Commander: Prophecy (1997)... but had found that Electronic Arts was unwilling or unable to provide them with source materials. Our staff rallied together to track former Origin developers, who were kind enough to provide gameflow scripts, 3D models and other development related resources. The project was a success, and Raylight constructed a remarkably accurate Wing Commander port. We were left, however, with the clear feeling that this sort of information must be archived for future reference and appreciation while it is still available.