Adventures in Explorations: WC1 Edition

With all the work for the WCToolbox, I have observed and learned quite a few things about the inner workings of Wing Commander. I thought I would do a series of post highlighting this information. I suspect some of this information will be old news to WC veterans; and some will have no practical application as they are just curiosities.

Command Line

Let’s begin with starting the game itself: executing WC.EXE.

There are many posts online detailing the command line options and cheat codes available, but I don’t think I have ever seen a post highlighting some of the following options:

e|t|v selects the video mode: EGA | TGA | VGA; the appropriate files must be installed (you can have all *.EGA, *.TGA, and *.VGA files in the same GAMEDAT directory since they have unique names)​

a#|p|r selects the audio mode: AdLib | PC Speaker | Roland (for AdLib look into your CFG file for the number)​

For example:

"WC e p" - starts the game in the EGA video mode and using the PC Speaker for audio
"WC v a904" - starts the game in the VGA video mode and using AdLib for audio​

The following options are probably familiar to most and only activated if the Origin switch is specified:

s# select specific series (e.g. s8)
m# select specific mission (e.g. m0)
as# select specific action sphere (e.g. as1)
w# preview cinematic scenes (e.g. w3), scene numbers range from 1 to 22 (to 25 with SM1 installed). Mission specific scenes require that s# m# also be specified
l launch single mission, no copy-protection question
-k unlimited shields​

For example:

"WC Origin s1 m1 as1 l" - launches series 1, mission 1 (S01M1) from sphere 1 (Nav 1)
"WC Origin s2 m0 w8" - views series 2, mission 0 (S02M0) from the bar​

Note: From the command line, series starts at 1 (S1) instead of 0, skipping the training simulator series.
 
Cinematic Scenes

These are the cinematic scenes which can be previewed from the command line:

w0 cockpit death
w1 takeoff
w2 briefing
w3 running sequence
w4 cockpit canopy closing
w5 landing, no ship
w6 cockpit canopy opening, with full damage
w7 intro
w8 bar
w9 [none]
w10 debriefing, colonel angry
w11 funeral, our hero
w12 hangar deck, bronze star
w13 barracks
w14 cockpit canopy opening, no damage
w15 office
w16 closing animation, success
w17 closing animation, failure
w18 midgame.v00, both success and failure
w19 midgame.v01, both success and failure
w20 midgame.v02, both success and failure
w21 midgame.v03, both success and failure
w22 funeral, all wingmen
w23 midgame.v04, failure only (if SM1 installed)
w24 midgame.v05, both success and failure (if SM1 installed)
w25 midgame.v06, success only (using SM2)​
 
Versions

There are several versions of the game executable; from the original DOS release, to the Kilrathi Saga, to the Good Old Games. To see the version number, while in flight, press Ctrl+V.

version-ORIG.png
version-GOG.png


The following table includes all the versions I am aware of. If you have a version not listed, please let me know.

Code:
File Name   Size (Bytes)   Version    Notes
---------   ------------   -------    -----
WC.EXE      302,384        B2.3       Original (DOS).
WC.EXE      305,200        B3.1       Original (joystick patch; DOS).
SM2.EXE     305,024        SM2V1.3    Secret Missions 2 for original (DOS).
WC1.EXE     518,656        1.03F-95   Kilrathi Saga (Windows).
WING1.EXE   799,744        1.03F-95   Kilrathi Saga with Secret Missions (Windows).
SM1.EXE     799,744        1.03F-95   Secret Missions 1 for Kilrathi Saga (Windows).
SM2.EXE     808,448        1.03F-95   Secret Missions 2 for Kilrathi Saga (Windows).
SM2.EXE     808,447        1.03F-95   Secret Missions 2 for Kilrathi Saga (Snakeir patch; Windows).
WC.EXE      304,976        F3.1       Good Old Games (GOG).
SM2.EXE     305,024        SM2V1.3    Secret Missions 2 for Good Old Games (GOG).
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Wonderful stuff! I'm in the process of a move, but when I'm settled I'll help figure out versions. I suspect there's a bunch more -- there's at least two different Secret Missions 2s and I bet stuff like the Software Toolworks CD-ROM has a different version... and different disk formats might, too...
 
Copy Protection Questions

The questions vary depending on the installation.

Wing Commander 1:

Code:
Question: HORNET BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE ESK RATING FOR THE DART DF MISSILE?
Answer: 11000

Question: SCIMITAR BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE MAX RANGE OF THE MASS DRIVER CANNON?
Answer:  3000

Question: RAPTOR BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE ESK RATING FOR THE PILUM FF MISSILE?
Answer:  9500

Question: RAPIER BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE VELOCITY OF THE DART DF MISSILE?
Answer:   900

Question: HORNET BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM RANGE OF A LASER CANNON?
Answer:  4800

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 27: HOW MANY CM OF FRONT ARMOR ON THE FRALTHI?
Answer:    28

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 45: THE TIGER'S CLAW WAS LAUNCHED IN WHAT YEAR?
Answer:  2644

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 26: WHAT IS THE WEIGHT OF THE RALARI?
Answer: 18000

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 31: HOW OLD IS MANIAC?
Answer:    23

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 43: WHAT SPEED IS SAFEST IN ASTEROID FIELDS?
Answer:   250
Secret Missions 1:

Code:
Question: SECRET PAGE 4: HOW MANY VARIETIES OF TERRAN TREES HAVE BEEN TRANSPLANTED?
Answer:  7225

Question: SCIMITAR BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE MAX RANGE OF THE MASS DRIVER CANNON?
Answer:  3000

Question: RAPTOR BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE ESK RATING FOR THE PILUM FF MISSILE?
Answer:  9500

Question: RAPIER BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE VELOCITY OF THE DART DF MISSILE?
Answer:   900

Question: HORNET BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM RANGE OF A LASER CANNON?
Answer:  4800

Question: SECRET PAGE 3: HOW MANY KILOLITERS OF SPECIAL DOES GODDARD EXPORT?
Answer: 75000

Question: SECRET PAGE 4: HOW MANY SQUARE KM IS CONSERVATION FOREST?
Answer: 12500

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 26: WHAT IS THE WEIGHT OF THE RALARI?
Answer: 18000

Question: SECRET PAGE 1: WHAT YEAR WAS THE NEUTRON GUN INVENTED?
Answer:  2618

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 43: WHAT SPEED IS SAFEST IN ASTEROID FIELDS?
Answer:   250
Secret Missions 2:

Code:
Question: SECRET 2 PAGE 1: HOW MANY PRIESTESSES ARE IN THE SIVAR CULT?
Answer:  9500

Question: SCIMITAR BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE MAX RANGE OF THE MASS DRIVER CANNON?
Answer:  3000

Question: RAPTOR BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE ESK RATING FOR THE PILUM FF MISSILE?
Answer:  9500

Question: RAPIER BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE VELOCITY OF THE DART DF MISSILE?
Answer:   900

Question: HORNET BLUEPRINTS: WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM RANGE OF A LASER CANNON?
Answer:  4800

Question: SECRET 2 PAGE 1: HOW MANY SYSTEMS ARE USED TO FIND THE SIVAR-ESHRAD PLANET?
Answer: 25768

Question: SECRET 2 PAGE 3: IN WHAT YEAR DID DR KOHL OBSERVE THE SIVAR-ESHRAD?
Answer:  2621

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 26: WHAT IS THE WEIGHT OF THE RALARI?
Answer: 18000

Question: SECRET 2 PAGE 2: HOW MANY WARSHIPS ARRIVED AT THE SIVAR-ESHRAD ON GHORAH KHAR?
Answer:  3715

Question: CLAW MARKS PAGE 43: WHAT SPEED IS SAFEST IN ASTEROID FIELDS?
Answer:   250
 
Introduction Menu Keyboard Shortcuts

Naturally, you can select one of the menu options by moving the cursor using the mouse, joystick or arrow keys, but keyboard shortcuts are also available.

S Start Vega Campaign
C Continue Campaign​

For later versions of the executable, you can also press J to calibrate the joystick.

intro-menu.png
 
Ship Image View Positions

As everyone obviously knows, Wing Commander uses a series of images to simulate a 3-dimensional view of a ship, star post, or missile. The game cleverly reduces the number of images needed by using symmetrical ships and mirroring opposite views; for a ship, it can do so with 37 images, 17 for a star post, and 22 for a missile. Internally, the game actually makes use of 62 images arranged at 30 degree interval around an imaginary sphere.

SHIP.V08; 62 Images, Aligned.png

The following shows the arrangements of those images; the top row of a box is the internal image slot index, the middle row is the image, and the bottom row is the actual image index with the mirroring value in parenthesis (0 no mirroring, 1 flip horizontally, 2 flip vertically, 3 flip both horizontally and vertically).

Grid; Ship.png Grid; StarPost.png Grid; Missile.png

Now all of the above is to set the stage for the following question: Is it possible to use 62 images? Yes.

The following uses the default configuration of 37 images. I modified the images to add a big red number to make it easier to identify them in game. As expected, when approaching from port, image 18 is displayed (internal image slot 28), and when approaching from starboard, image 18 is used again, but this time, mirrored (internal image slot 34).

WC1-default18.png
WC1-default18m.png


After modifying the game data files to expand the configuration to 62 images and updating the internal mapping within the game executable, we get the following result.

WC1-extended25.png
WC1-extended28.png
WC1-extended34.png
WC1-extended60.png


This is an all-or-nothing approach; all ships need the exact same number of images. Ships do not need to be symmetrical, although too asymmetrical will cause problems for collision detection, direction of flight, etc... I do not know if this would place memory pressure on the game, although probably not a problem for Kilrathi Saga.
 

delMar

Rear Admiral
and the bottom row is the actual image index with the mirroring value in parenthesis (0 no mirroring, 1 flip horizontally, 2 flip vertically, 3 flip both horizontally and vertically).
These images are killer when it comes to illustrating how this is done, thanks @UnnamedCharacter! This thread is awesome!

Question:
I only see 0 (no mirroring) and 1 (flip horizontally) in the image, but I think there should be 2 as well?

Looking at the picture showing the 62 aligned images:
Say we start at #37.
Pulling the ship up leads us to #43 and #55.
Continuing that maneuver should show #61, but rotated accordingly (meaning that for each column images #61 and #0 need to be rotated in a different angle).
Still continuing, should show #49 and then #37 (that's the image that shows the nose closer to us), but flipped either vert or hor (I always mix these up), as it needs to be upside-down.

To finally come to my question:
Shouldn't there really be more than 62 slots?
I know that HCl also described it with 62 slots, so you guys are probably right.
Leaves me with the question, how the missing angles are rendered...

Thanks!

EDIT: changed the example of images, as I got the sequence wrong. Maybe I still do...
 
Last edited:

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I only see 0 (no mirroring) and 1 (flip horizontally) in the image, but I think there should be 2 as well?
2 and 3 even, yes - check out the third of UnnamedCharacter's images, showing the missile sprites. Basically, it depends on the number of axes of symmetry in an object. If you only have one axis of symmetry (as most ships do), then you only flip horizontally (or only vertically, if you had a ship that has asymmetric sides, but vertical symmetry). The only objects that typically have two axes of symmetry are missiles, and the only ones that might conceivably have three axes of symmetry would be those round WC2-style mines.

Incidentally, it's funny that the Kilrathi starbase *didn't* get flipped on two axes, because it's symmetrical both in X and Z axes. You'd think that would be something someone would have noticed, given the desperate need to save disk space for WC1.

Shouldn't there really be more than 62 slots?
No, because not all images need to be repeated if you abandon symmetry - I mean, you already have half of the images you need included in the 37. If you open up one of the ship sprite compilations, you can see that the number of repeated sprites (conveniently marked grey) adds up to 25. So, take 37, add 25, and you wind up with 62.
 
Credits

The team which ported the game to Windows decided to add a few extra credits for Kilrathi Saga, but hidden by default. The following are the standard credits which loop during the introduction:

Code:
String  0: Design by Chris Roberts
String  1: Software Engineers Chris Roberts Ken Demarest III Paul C. Isaac Steve Muchow Herman Miller Steve Beeman
String  2: Dogfight Intelligence Ken Demarest III  Dogfight Choreography Steve Beeman Erin Roberts
String  3: 3Space System by Chris Roberts  OriginFX Graphic System Chris Roberts John Miles
String  4: OriginFX Sound System by Herman Miller
String  5: Artwork Denis Loubet Glen Johnson Daniel Bourbonnais Keith Berdak John Watson
String  6: Screenplay by Jeff George  Additional Writing Steve Cantrell Philip Brogden
String  7: Soundtrack by George A. Sanger and Dave Govett
String  8: Sound Effects by Marc Schaefgen
String  9: Produced by Chris Roberts and Warren Spector
String 10: Directed by Chris Roberts
intro-009.png
intro-013.png
intro-016.png


When including the following text (without quotes) "$#SAGA.EXE" at the beginning of the WINGCMDR.CFG file, this activates the extra credits:

Code:
String 11: Windows 95 Team
String 12: Combat Programmers  Jeff Mangler Everett Jeff jefftep Grills Chuck Bishop Karpiak Kris Goblin Pelley
String 13: Sound System  Richard Cupcake Lyle
String 14: Soundtrack Rescored by  I Need Names
String 15: Head Whiner  Anthony Sommers
String 16: Whiners  Monte Mathis Hal Milton Dieter Martin
String 17: Richard Zinser Kanon Lillemon
String 18: Special Thanks To  Socks and Caffeine
KS Credit 01.png
KS Credit 02.png
KS Credit 03.png


Notice the missing "95" in "Windows 95 Team", and the extra spacing. The golden text is displayed using images from the TITLE.VGA file, but only letters and not numbers are included; the DOS version has no need for them.
 
Last edited:

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Notice the missing "95" in "Windows 95 Team", and the extra spacing. The golden text is displayed using images from the TITLE.VGA file, but only letters and not numbers are included; the DOS version has no need for them.
Hehehe. I guess they didn't consider it worthwhile to attempt to insert numbers into TITLE.VGA :). I suppose they could have used "Windows XCV" as a workaround :D.
 

Stinger

Vice Admiral
Very interesting! I noticed the $#SAGA.EXE tag while digging around in KS, but never bothered to figure out what it was for. Might be worth reintroducing this, though the credits are clearly incomplete. In particular, the soundtrack was rescored by George Oldziey.
 
Let’s Insult the Kilrathi

The insults are embedded within the EXE, therefore WC1 and SM1 share the same insults:
  • Die furball!
  • Slag off!
  • Bite it cat face.
Since SM2 has its own EXE, there was an opportunity to change the insults:
  • Here, kitty kitty!
  • Get fixed, furball!
  • Eat this, cat face!
But the same was not done for Kilrathi Saga; all the EXEs have the same insults, those from WC1.
 
Replacement Variables

The text of conversations or pilot speech can be customized during game play using a set of replacement variables. These variables allow for in-game specific values, such as number of enemies killed or for personalization, such as call sign or rank.

For conversation dialog, the following set of variables is available:

$A: MEDAL TO BE AWARDED
$C: CALLSIGN
$D: DATE
$E: PREVIOUS DATE (for medal ceremony)
$K: KILLS LAST MISSION
$L: WINGMAN KILLS LAST MISSION
$N: NAME
$P: NAME (never used)
$R: RANK
$S: SYSTEM
$T: TIME OF NEXT MISSION
$W#: WINGMAN NAME; # = wingman index, values: 0-7 (surprisingly never used)​

For in-flight pilot speech, the set of variables is limited to these:

$C: CALLSIGN
$N: NAME
$P: NAME (never used)
$R: RANK​

If your rank ends with a period (ex: 1ST LT.) and is the last word of a sentence, the consecutive dots will be trimmed to only one. See Office conversation, Dialog item 34: That's all, then, $R. Dismissed.

wc_257.png
wc_258.png


Wonderful attention to detail.
 
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