15 Years of Wing Commander - What Was Your First Time Like?

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Hello, WingNuts. Since today is the 15th anniverary, I thought it'd be nice if we all told the stories of our first encounters with Wing Commander. I don't care how uninteresting you think your story will be to the rest of us -- tell it! Even if it's just remembering what software stores used to be like, or about how somebody you haven't thought of in years let you try his copy. It'll bring back some great memories, and that's what matters here.


My story has a couple of false starts.

When the original Wing Commander came out I was ten years old and eagerly awaiting the release of Lucasarts' final World War 2 game, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe.

As was frequently the case in those days the game was delayed again and again. My precocious ten year old self checked at Babbages so often that they eventually started recognizing me and telling me it wasn't out yet before I could even ask.

Around that time my dad was assigned to work in Marseilles for a year and my family got ready to move there -- I was an IBM brat. Before we left he offered to get me a different computer game: Wing Commander.

He had read about the game in Jerry Pournelle's Byte column, Tales from Chaos Manner. Mr. Pournelle was a huge advocate of the original Wing Commander, singing its praises whenever he could.

I was interested, but I declined. To a ten year old living before the stupid ages, a new computer game was a precious, once-in-an-age event, and darnit I wanted to play SWOTL.

While I was living in Europe, one of my friends had a pirated copy of Wing Commander... and none of the copy protection. I spent hours at his house watching the game start and then randomly guessing numbers. It looked fascinating, but never broke in -- and yet somehow I turned down other contemporary classics, including Civilzation and Falcon 3, to play guess-Wing Commander-numbers.

When I got back to Maryland, my best friend from elementary school had a copy of Wing Commander. I took one look at Claw Marks and it was love. I have fond memories of copying out the statistics over and over, reading the articles until my copy fell apart and (in the years before screenshot utilities) delicately transcribing the VDU images to make my own spotters guide. Basically, the kinds of things I still do fifteen years later. I didn't learn how to play the game right, though -- I made it half way through Secret Missions 1 without knowing how to autopilot or afterburner!

That Christmas the second game came out... and, well, the rest is history!
Wow... 15 years of Wing Commander.:cool:

My story begins two days before Christmas in 1994. I was shopping with my folks at the local mall and was initially only going to be 10 minutes or so browsing in the computer shop, before meeting up with my folks elsewhere. I headed straight for the games section and didn't notice anything unusual at first.

After a few minutes of reading the back of game boxes, I went looking for an assistant to enquire about the release date of a game I was looking for at the time. I found one assistant, but was directed to another who was standing in front of a computer screen adjacent to the main entrance, which I had walked past quite oblivious to on my way in. As I walked towards him, I noticed that he was just standing there, motionless, looking at the still-obscured screen.

I was about to ask for assistance, when I started to pickup some dialogue, "...The T.C.S. Victory is a fine carrier..." later to be ingrained in mind and then noticeable music above the hustle and bustle of the store and passer's-by outside. With my interest piqued, I manoeuvred to the side of the assistant and looked up to be greeted by Eisen welcoming me to the T.C.S. Victory!

With a surge of excitement I started to ask, "What is..." "Wing Commander 3," replied the assistant, motioning to the glorious, full-size box stationed to the left and right of the screen. I stood in awe, transfixed for the next 20 minutes watching it loop, taking in every sound and scene change -- I had completely filtered out everything else around me and were it not for my father's hand tapping my shoulder, I probably would have stood there all day. I watched it a couple more times with my dad, before rather unwillingly leaving the store.

A week later, I was loading up the game and completely enthralled, even though my pc could barely run it -- jerky FMV with pauses every 2 seconds (due to a 512KB ISA Video card), 20 minute mission load times and constant file management in DOS to free up enough space on a 120MB HDD for the 20MB swap file (on top of 40MB installation to speed up load times) and more. I endured and would be lucky to complete 1-2 missions per evening after homework, finally completing the game for the first time and with a real sense of accomplishment in about May 1995, although the journey was probably more rewarding -- discussing my progress with friends, speculating on future mission branches and outcomes, looking for story linkage/crossover with Privateer and other WC games that I had recently discovered -- fond memories!

Here's to the next 15 years!


I had a bit of a mixed start as well. I was a little late, since my computer was a bit dated in 1990. I was mainly into the Space Quests and Police Quests at the time. I got Wing Commander 2 and then Wing Commander 1 for the Super Nintendo when they were both new. The crazy way they managed to map all the controls to the Super Nintendo control was incredibly intimidating at first, but the game was so captivating that I toughed through it. To this day, if you set me in front of a SNES with WC1 I can start adjusting weapons and requesting landing without thinking. I'm not sure which I played more, because I played WC1 SNES a lot. However, I think I must have played standard Wing Commander 2 more than any other WC game. It seemed like every day for years I'd come home, sit down in front of the computer and just pick up from any random point in the game and play for hours. Wing Commander 2 is probably my favorite because of this, but all my memories of it are heavily mixed in with the console WC1 since I played both so much simultaneously.

I got DOS WC1, and I had the little ads for the expansions.. and I searched high and low for them and couldn't find them. I finally found them somewhere and grabbed the last ones immediately.. and ran to find and tell my mom, who told me that she'd just ordered them direct from Origin because I'd had such trouble finding them. I thought that was really nice, because I didn't even realize other people knew I was into it so much. I got Academy, and she helped me get the expanded memory going to run it. I did have speech in WC2, I got an 8 bit Soundblaster just for it, but apparently I wasn't using expanded memory for it. Mark Minasi's Secrets of the Wing Commander Universe book was a big favorite of mine at the time. Privateer was next, and by that time I was a pretty serious Wing Commander fan. Armada came out in mid 1994, and the little advertisement that told you to get your computer ready for Wing Commander 3 was one of the most thrilling things I'd ever seen. I got Wing Commander 3 for Christmas, and couldn't wait till the end of December. I actually didn't even get a CD-ROM drive until January though, because they were $300 or $400, but we finally broke down and did it.

I first got online in 1995 and visited the Keyword: Origin place on AOL. AOL didn't have web access at the time, but I got online from middle school and checked out the neato WC4 stuff and the Introspection Wing Commander Home Sector. In mid 1996 I got regular full internet access and struck it big in the alt.games.wing-commander newsgroup. I think ChrisReid's Cool Homepage and ace's Happy Homepage were actually both founded on the exact same day, June 26, 1996. Someone in agwc got me onto irc, and I met ace, LOAF, Hades and everyone else by the beginning of 1997. We founded #Wingnut in March 1997 and were all in the Wing Commander news business by that time. Prophecy was the next big thing. I ran it on a Pentium 100 with 16 megs of ram and no 3d card. WCHS closed in early 1998, and we all founded the CIC here in August 1998, the same month Secret Ops came out. And the rest is in the News Archives.
Spring 1993

We had purchased a "family" computer for Christmas a few months prior although my brother and I were the only ones who really used it. After a few months of playing around with our 486 Phillip Magnavox system (complete with external 9600 baud modem), we decided it was time for an upgrade. My brother and I saved up our money and purchased a Multimedia package that included a SoundBlaster 16 card, two speakers, assorted software and a blazing fast 4x CD-Rom!!!

Most of the assorted software was crap but one disc stood out to my 15-year-old eyes...

Wing Commander II Delux Edition

I loaded it up and was immediately blown away. I spent most of my first afternoon with the game just trying to figure out how to land on Caernarvon Station but after that... it was ON! The Kilrathi didn't stand a chance! I spent the next several months playing and re-playing the battles of the Enigma Sector. I wrote my own continuing adventures when I should have been studying. Each subsequent game stole months of my life at a time and that's not including the countless times I've re-played them over the years.

In short, I'd like to thank the makers of Wing Commander for turning me into a cautionary tale of a youth mis-spent! Happy Birthday, Wing Commander!!!
I remember my next door neighbor got me into WC1 back when I was in the 4th grade, at that time I had a 486/dx 66 with 16 megs of memory and a brand spanking new CD drive. That lil baby lasted me up to WC3 which took me about 10 mins to load each lvl but I would hapily wait again for all of that. Out of pure luck I was able to find acadamy and it was even more luck when out of the blew I found one single copy of armada *at the time I diddnt know existed* by then everything was on CD so to find this at that store was amazing *must have been fate* My fav by far will always be privateer. I spent countless hours playing till my parents thought I was addicted and started taking it away from me. Then one day stumbling on RF which I diddnt even know was on there I was sucked in even more. Ive read all the books *except the pilgram books I still consider them seperate story* all the games *cept for card game* I even took a tour of Origin and was able to get a disk with all the save games from WC3 and playtest Bioforge before it even came out. Sadly though I was never able to meet chris roberts but I do have a letter from him from right before WC4 came out I need to get a picture of it to post here. WC I would have to say made me who I am. I loved the Confed Navy and how they did there best to always fight with honor fighting to the death to save the ones I loved. One of the reasons why i joined the Navy so I could do a lil bit of the same. Someone in EA needs to take a look at this community and get it in there heads that if they make a MMORPG WC game they will have one fan right here till the day I die
Gosh it's so long ago I barely remember.

I remember though I had only had a PC for a very short time. It was 1991 so the game had been out for a bit, but it was the first. We got it just after we bought a Sound Blaster sound card for the PC.
I was blown away. This game told a story of pilots fighting for humanity's survival in a war so distant in the future, it's hard to imagine. The action etc. I'll never forget any of it. I could never save McAullife though. I always failed. But one day I gave it my best and I managed todo it. I was only like 6/7 years old so it was tough. And from then on >>>I<<< saved the Vega Sector.
It was a game I know inside out. I can remember all the sounds, all the music, all the cutscenes and lots of dialogue.
It's a game that shaped not only my gaming hobby, but also inspired me to take what I want out of life. Hopefully one day I can elaborate on that last sentance.
Wing Commander was my first game for the PC. At this time I used to play with my Amiga, but my brother had a 386DX. After reading a test in a magazine I bought the Wing Commander I Deluxe Edition on 5 1/4" disks for 99 Deutsche Mark.
After that, I bought nearly every Wing Commander title and I still have them.
My newest Edition is Super Wing Commander for Mac but on my Mac it is so fast I can not play it.

Lets hope there will be an other WC title someday....
So it's been 15 years, wow. My first experience was with the Amiga version of Wing Commander, it must've been in '92 that I got it, making me 11 (time flies!). My mom and I went to the local amiga store, where she'd buy a game for me. The guy in the store immediately pulled out Wing Commander, praising it like the second coming, telling me that it was the only game worth buying. I vaguely remembered eyeing past a review in the magazine I subscribed to, not being too impressed with it, but I went ahead and bought the game anyway.

When I got home, I installed it and...WOW, it was just incredible! It was like playing a sci-fi movie, only better! The framerate was awful on my Amiga 500, but I didn't care, it was the best game I'd ever played! Some time later I was at a computer convention, and I saw Wing Commander 2 (!!!) just lying there, and I snatched it in an instant, looking over it only to discover it was for the PC (gaaahh!!!!). That day was the first time I'd ever wanted a PC, but it wasn't until several years later that I got one, but I'd missed out on the Wing Commander 2 era. Still, Wing Commander 1 was the best game ever made for the Amiga, bar none.

Damnit, I'm gonna play through wc1 one more time now!:D
Hmm. I was somewhat of a late bloomer, as far as WC goes.

My first computer (not counting the family Apple 2e) was a craptacular Tandy PC clone, 486sx/25, 4MB, Windows sound chip, 1x CD drive, and a whole 256/512KB (forget which) on-board video. Yes, that was stupid, in retrospect, but at the time I didn't know better. I soon figured it out, but that's another story.

Anyway, I was in Groton, CT, for sub school, and was browsing around the local mall to see what I could see, having little interest in most of the other night activities (namely, getting plastered; not only am I not an "all the time" heavy drinker, at that point I wasn't yet 21, and around there they took carding seriously). I wandered into the local Electronic Boutique (before that "EBX" thing) and looked around at the options.

Then I saw it. The original CD release of Privateer. The picture of that Galaxy heading towards Perry (neither of which I knew the names of, at the time) caught my attention enough to make me pick it up to read the back of the box, at which point Mr. Roberts had his hooks set in me good.

It was a pain getting it configured, between the sound card being only in Windows for the non-music stuff and EMS (like I said, I was ignorant at the time), but eventually I did get it going, and spent hours playing all around Gemini, with only the music for company (plus anyone passing by the locker in which I placed the computer, as at the time I was in an open-bay dorm, so no lockable doors or other room-level security).

After that came the WC1&2 "TwinPack", and every WC game since, within a week or so of its coming out. That, however, is a story (or rather a set of them) for another day, as I have to go to work in a bit. :p
I think I was 8 or 9. Wasn't really into computer 'games' at the time because I thought they were boring. A friend came over with his new copy of WC after I talked him into letting me try to get it to run instead of just returning it to the store (his computer was something dreadful at the time). I got it fired up and when that intro played we were just enthralled. I had a lot of fun times playing it, solo and taking turns w/my friend. I remember blowing up the Tiger's Claw a few times out of frustration.

Imagine my surprise when in WC2, Adm. Tolwyn calls me out. :eek: "Sorry sir, won't happen again!"
Happy Birthday WC :D

Hello Wing Commander fans.

Before I tell you my story as a WC fan I want to congratulate this Community and its fans cause through all these years is still pure and interesting.I dont have internet connection at home but I always find ways to visit these forums and wcnews.com.When I found this site at about 1999-2000 I spend hours (and money :p) at internet places just to post and read about WC.It was facinating cause I found a place to talk about my favorite game.

Wing Commander was :)() very popular in Greece at about 1994-1996 at its golden times ,but then forgotten again.LOL sometimes I believe I am the only one left here ...:p

Anyway,My first WC game was Wing Commander 1 (Amiga version) ,it was a pirate copy :rolleyes: ,that my big brother bought.I spend hours watching him play and sometimes ,when he was missing , I played it.It was fantastic.After this I forgot about WC,untill 1996 when my Brother made me a present for my new Pentium It was WC4.I was excited,I remembered the old times and I loved WC again,this time forever.

After this I tried (and I have accomplished that) to buy them all original and I continue to play them all the time.Now I am missing some books ,its difficult to find them here but I try :p

Thank you for reading this!
I was 10 and got my first taste of Wing Commander from the 1990 edition of Electronics Gaming Monthly. That year, we had just moved to California and my father was working at the Rockwell International plant in Downey.

Because my parents only had one car, I would have to wait for up to an hour in the parking lot for my dad to get off work. That issue of EGM magazine had a 10 or 12 page review of WC1 and I was totally enthralled. Due to the dinosaur of a computer we had (a 'Tandy 1000' with monochrome monitor and no hard drive), there was no chance in getting the game in the near future.

I ended up first purchasing WC1 for the SNES in 1993/1994 and then acquiring a Panasonic 3DO just for WC3 in 1995 or so.

My love for the series only continues to grow. I think having an active and supportive fan community has done as much for that as the game series itself! Let's keep going and hopefully our kids will be writing about a new installment of WC someday!
Wing Leader

Back in 1990 I was 15 years old and used to buy a French magazine called A.C.E., one day there was this article about an upcoming game called Wing Leader that would be fantastic, as they said. It was stated that it could be compared with movies like Star Wars or The Last StarFighter and the TV series Battlestar Galactica. An orchestra arranged the music and the graphics were astonishing. I remember ready the article, watching the screenshots and feeling a sudden need to have it and play it. As more articles were written the name of the game became Wing Commander.

When it was released I tried to buy it but I couldn’t find it anywhere, so one day I wrote a letter to Origin asking if it was possible to buy it directly. A very nice lady called Kathy Dorset replied explaining me what to do. I tried to buy it for the Amiga 500, my computer at the time, but for some reason the cashier check was never used and the game never arrived. But even so I was very lucky, because sometime after a friend of mine bought a great computer, a 286 16 MHz (if I recall well), and he had a pirated copy of the so much wanted game with copies of the Claw Marks, I still remember the day he phoned me telling the news, he knew I wanted very much to play that game. It was great, that intro, those ships… We spent many afternoons in his home playing Wing Commander.

BTW, I‘m one of those guys who bought on purpose an 8 bit SoundBlaster just to hear that famous “Guards you are dismissed…”. And a CD-Rom drive to play WC3.

Happy birthday Wing Commander! Live long and prosper. :)

P.S.- It’s good to have a place like this, where we can “talk” about WC and not getting that boring look of the ones that do not share the same interest. Thank you all for making it possible.
Wow, 15 years...that's a long time but Wing Commander remains to this day the best game I've ever played. Before I give one of my stories, but thanks to Loaf for that great write up on the front page! That was awesome! Really flooded me with nostalgia.

It was 1993 I believe (might have been 1992) we had just got our family's first computer, a Leading Edge Fortiva 3000 for Christmas and we visiting my mom's family down in Arkansas. We went to Walmart to pick up some things and of course me and my older brother wandered over to the electronics section to see what games they had. I wandered around being awed by just about everything but didn't have a whole lot of money so I had no idea what to get. Finally, my dad (who has never ever played any type of video game) holds up a small box in his hand and says, "This one looks interesting." It was, of course, Wing Commander 1. I looked at the back and that was it. Like Death, Chris Roberts had hooked me too. :) You get to fly with wingmen?!!! I was so excited. I couldn't wait for our vacation to end so I could get back home and play this fantastic game. When I finally booted it up and the conductor tapped his stick for the band to begin I knew this was going to be awesome. I flew my first sortie in the venerable Hornet racking up a kill before returning to the claw only to find I had no idea what to do! How do I land this thing?! I flew for an hour around the claw requesting permission to land but nothing happened. There was no way I was going to restart this mission...I had gotten a Kilrathi kill!!! Finally in exasperation I told my dad about it and he grabs the manual and starts thumbing through it. Finally he announces that I have to approach from the front of the carrier...that did it. I sighed in relief as the landing cutscene flared across the screen. What a great game!!!
I was about 8 years old when I started playing Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. Wow, what a fantastic piece of gaming. I fell in love with that game the moment I started to play it. And I still play it today, at 18 years old. It's been a little while now since I've played it, so it's always nice to sit back and play it all over again! :D

Happy 15th, Wing Commander!
I started a bit late myself - it wasn't till 1992 or so when I first got to play WC1 for the first time, because my computer wasn't up to the job. Instead, I went over to a friend's house to play the game through, starting with the main WC campaign and then finally getting SM1 a few months later. SM2 took a while incoming, like 1993, but I did get into it. Then I ended up installing WC2 ANOTHER friend's machine.... :D

As soon as WC came out for the SNES, I snatched it up in a game store (now closed), followed quickly by SM1 for that. When WC3 came out in 1994, I was working at a computer store and snatched it up, followed by Wing Commander 4, Kilrathi Saga, and Prophecy during their releases. Prophecy Gold followed all this.... though Privateer I quickly rescued from the 'EA Classic Clearance Bin' by picking up like a half-dozen copies, all of which remain unopened and theoretically saleable.

Well, what got my attention was the story, which for a flight sim was almost unprecedented - especially with the branching plot missions. The little touches like the moving hand-on-joystick and the wingman chat in the lounge were the next few things I noticed... and the FMV in WC3 was rather cool. :D

I haven't had any games grab me the same way since then - Advance Wars is a love/hate relationship, Baldur's Gate ended (and wasn't really a must-buy for me anyways, unlike WC3-P), and playing Freespace 1 kept me from playing Freespace 2.
I was largely Windows ignorant for most of my computing life. That is to say - yes, I knew how to use Windows, but the home computer was a Dell 320/SX that had DOS 5.0 and some ancient version of WordPerfect. It was underpowered, so I never had any exposure to games outside of consoles or an arcade.

The first thing I remember about Wing Commander was the full page ad on the back of many comic books I owned for WC on the SNES. I was very interested - hey, I was interested in almost any game I didn't own - but soon forgot about the ads.

Some time passed and I was getting into that crazy Star Trek CCG game that came out. While browsing T&S Comics And Cards for some of the more expensive cards, I came across the Wing Commander CCG. That set off some alarms in my head; not only did I remember the ads but my friend David kept talking about Wing Commander as well. I snagged a starter set and two booster packs. The game was pretty neat to play in theory (Ive still never used my deck) and was mildly interested in the series it came from.

That monday, my friend David came into school with a copy of Wing Commander III on PC CD-ROM. I had just gotten a new 486/80 for Christmas and balked at the box - four CDS?! What the hell did this thing do - fractal geometry? I brought it home and after some screwing around, got the thing to work. I was in heaven, I had no clue computers had games like this!

Ever since then, I've been all about the WC series. It wasn't until the year after WC4 came out that I realized that there were books on the series. I grabbed WC4 and read them in backwards order - though didn't find End Run until about 4 years ago.

(My 486 computer - a custom job from someone my mom works with in Atlanta - was suppose to be packaged with an EA CD-ROM featuring WC2, Syndicate Plus, Ultima... VI and Strike Commander - but the guy only sent the disc to us many, many weeks later. He admited the error was his own - he was addicted to playing WC2)

(I should also mention that I played through the first disc of WCIII about three or four times - becuase I didn't understand I had to blow up the Kilrathi tankers; they didn't lock on when you autopiloted into the system, so I ignored them!)
15 years? That must explain why WC has been a part of my life for as long as I can remeber, as I'm 17 tomorrow. My dad played the WC games a lot, and I enjoyed watching him play them, until I was old enough to play them myself, by which time, I think I was 10, and I played Privateer. I played that whenever I could for quite some time and have now completed it several time. I then took a break from anything WC related until I got my first P.C. of my own at 12, when I revisited all of the series and played them all back to back, and that's about it really.

God bless, I fel in love with this series when I was fricking 7, and played Wing Commander: The Secret Missions on SNES. Later, when I saw Wing Commander 3, my love was solidified.

God bless you , Chris Roberts.
Time flies fast. Wing Commander really changed the computer and video game world. It was truly was standard changer. Wing Commander pushed the enveloped. WC1 was the first movie game where you can relate to the characters. WC3 made people get CD-ROM drives. Prophecy made full use of 3D acceleration cards. My first WC game was WC2 Deluxe edition in 1994 when I was in middle school. I had a 486DX 33 mhz with 8 megs of RAM. Played it and I liked it. I wish EA took note and made more WC games, like continuing Prophecy or between WC1 and WC2.