Getting an out of touch fan back into the games.

ourchair

Spaceman
Long time no post.

I've been a super crazy Wing Commander fan for the longest time and have been visiting this website (sporadically) for years. It continues to amaze me how the community continues to thrive despite the fact that there haven't been any 'proper' (as in main continuity) Wing Commander games in 14 years.

Anyway, I always think about revisiting my Wing Commander love. Technology changes so fast and the fan projects are so many that I really don't know where to start.

Ten years ago, it was as simple as loading up your old copies of the games and using a few programs to account for high speed processors. But when byte rot sets in and CDs deteriorate, just setting up becomes a huge chore.

So I have but two queries:

1) What is the best way to start playing Wing Commander games all over again, and how do you get the best technical experience?

2) What is the idiot's fast track program to trying out all those fan projects out there?
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
Hi there, and welcome back!

Well, technical help you can find here in the forums, it is possible to run all the old games on new computers.
I myself tried WC 1-3 and Privateer a month ago on WinXP64 and even got my G940 joystick and rudder pedals working. Didn't try it on Win7 but IIRC I read somewhere that DosBox works there, too.

Fan projects to try from the top of my head (of course you don't have to try them in this order):
- ASCII-Sector (a kind of Privateer game in ASCII-graphics, it is still worked on but you can play it already)
- Standoff (be sure to download all the episodes, the game is finished)
- Saga Prologue (The game itself is in Beta at the moment, but the Prologue is already available)
- Unknown Enemy (also finished)

I'm sure I missed at least one or two great projects, though. Sometimes I just don't remember which ones were finished and which ones weren't..... Sorry about that, but I think someone else will correct that soon.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Always good to see a friendly ship!

To get back into it the first thing you need is DOSBox. Go grab the latest version (.74 I believe).

Next check out the CIC Tech Support Section for how to setup DOSBox for the different games. Not all the old games require DOSBox. Any of the Win95 games will run fine in XP/Win7.

If you need extra support try the Tech Support CZ here or #wingnut.

It depends on the Fan Projects. I'd start with UE and Standoff and work from there.
 
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ourchair

Spaceman
Always good to see a friendly ship!
::thumbsup::

Dundradal said:
To get back into it the first thing you need is DOSBox. Go grab the latest version (.74 I believe).

Next check out the CIC Tech Support Section for how to setup DOSBox for the different games. Not all the old games require DOSBox. Any of the Win95 games will run fine in XP/Win7.

If you need extra support try the Tech Support CZ here or #wingnut.

It depends on the Fan Projects. I'd start with UE and Standoff and work from there.
One thing I remember about the Wing Commander games was that I always found them really hard. I don't know if it was because I was like 9 when WC1 came out or if it was because they really were genuinely hard.

The Wing Commander games (up to Price of Freedom) and the original X-Wing were THE space sims to beat, and I couldn't finish them without cheating. I'm wondering if I should expect them to remain as 'frustrating' as they were 21 years ago.

A good motivator for me to set up the games is being able to get the satisfaction of beating those suckers.
 
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Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Kursawa 2 is still the most difficult mission, no matter how many years have gone by :p

You'll probably have some frustration at a few spots, but it will be a good motivator.
 

Sylvester

Vice Admiral
Welcome ourchair! Its always good to see lurkers become posters.

In addition to DosBox and revisiting the games of old, I highly recommend that you download and play Wing Commander: Standoff, made by a group of fans right here in the CIC. Its a standalone game based on the secret ops engine and its completely free. Its based around the time of the novel "Fleet Action" if you're ever read it. The game is real high quality and really felt like it belongs among the best of the games.
 

ourchair

Spaceman
Welcome ourchair! Its always good to see lurkers become posters.

In addition to DosBox and revisiting the games of old, I highly recommend that you download and play Wing Commander: Standoff, made by a group of fans right here in the CIC. Its a standalone game based on the secret ops engine and its completely free. Its based around the time of the novel "Fleet Action" if you're ever read it. The game is real high quality and really felt like it belongs among the best of the games.
I intend to play the games according to chronological order, excluding the Academy, Armada and Privateer games.

So where do I fit this in? The only game I never actually played was any of the post-Prophecy material from Secret Ops and I can't recall to what extent I finished the WC1/WC2 expansions (through cheating, natch.)

I'm definitely excited to try the fan material. I just don't know where to start. I hear there're some good mods for Freespace 2, which I'm a huge fan as well as other more modern space sim tech engines.

My girlfriend has been rolling her eyes since last night. I watched the first episode of Wing Commander Academy, caught the first half hour of the Wing Commander movie and proceeded to play Wing Commander 1.

The last bit was embarrassing because I couldn't remember how to land, and I freaked out at the last minute when I couldn't tell that the gray blob in the center of the green blob was the landing pad.

Then I played again and got all 5 kills in my first mission, so it's all good.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Standoff takes place between wing commander 2's second expansion pack and wing commander 3. You play a different character,and it is a lot tougher then the other games, because you have limited recources, if you lose ships in one mission they won't be available for the next and then the game will end for you. I had never read fleet action, so the story was new to me, and it explained to me why confed was at such a poor position at the start of wing3, while the previous campaigns had been succesfull.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Standoff occurs in 2668-69. Like Mace said, that's in between SO2 and WC3. The mod is based on the WC book "Fleet Action" that covers the False Armistice and Battle of Earth.
 

ourchair

Spaceman
Is it just me, or does the game have performance issues that need to be adjusted in DOSBox?

I know how to use DOSBox and tweak my games and all that. I even used MoSlo during the 9x days to run Vengeance of the Kilrathi, but I can't tell whether I'm getting the 'authentic' experience right now on my XP-based Dell Inspiron laptop.

Basically, the game is chugging down whenever multiple objects are on screen, and I don't know if that means I really need to adjust the amount of memory allocated to the conventional 640k-space or the amount EMS I have, or if that's just really how the game runs since, there's an upper limit to what the core program itself can handle.

Also: Maniac is really really really an asshole. He's a bigger asshole in combat than 'Biff Marshall'.

I might just give up and travel to my hometown to get my copy of Kilrathi Saga in my parent's house.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Is it just me, or does the game have performance issues that need to be adjusted in DOSBox?

Basically, the game is chugging down whenever multiple objects are on screen

I might just give up and travel to my hometown to get my copy of Kilrathi Saga in my parent's house.
Kilrathi Saga has its own issues. Are you still talking about WC1? It's one of the harder ones to tweak, but you can tune the speed pretty well. Setting something like core=auto is enough for most people to play around, or you can just set cycles a little higher and deal with the slightly increased speed when there are fewer enemies (or downcycle at that point).
 

ourchair

Spaceman
Kilrathi Saga has its own issues. Are you still talking about WC1? It's one of the harder ones to tweak, but you can tune the speed pretty well. Setting something like core=auto is enough for most people to play around, or you can just set cycles a little higher and deal with the slightly increased speed when there are fewer enemies (or downcycle at that point).
I kind of gave up after being stuck with Maniac so often, but I'm going to try that soon. You're talking about the DOSBox settings right, and not some internal file in the Wing Commander directory?

I'm currently playing Prophecy, with the intention of going backwards in time and I've installed the video fix, put in the Compatibility mode and dialed back the DirectX sound acceleration.

The game is absolutely playable, but I'm getting a hitch of the video cut-scenes pausing for like less than half a second - and the spoken audio remains in sync - and occasionally I get in-flight frame skips of less than a quarter of a second.

It doesn't really impede my ability to win missions or anything like that, but it is kind of bothersome. Especially when I'm trying to be really precise with my shots.

Anyone know what's up with that?
 

ourchair

Spaceman
Thanks for the recommendation!

I just installed it last night. Outside of enabling a sweet 1280x800 resolution, is there any toggle that fixes my problem with the little frame skips? Again, it's not a big problem but there's a split second where I really have to be sure about pulling the trigger when I've acquired my target.

Also, does anybody know how to activate pillar box screens on a laptop in general? I want to play more 4:3 games, and I know that not all of them can be tweaked to accomodate a widescreen resolution. I plan to do this for not just Wing Commander but other 640x480 games like Fallout and Starcraft.
 

FekLeyrTarg

Rear Admiral
If you wish to play Wing Commander as RTS, I recommend this:
http://www.moddb.com/mods/wing-commander-invasion

Or as Turn-based Strategy Game:
https://www.wcnews.com/fanprojects/piarmada

And if you liked the Prologue of WC Saga, then I recommend to check those out:
http://wc2remake.de.to/
http://www.ciinet.org/kevin/wchf/index.html

This is an interesting Project: A bridge between Secret Ops and Arena, which uses SO's Vision Engine:
http://www.crius.net/zone/showthread.php?t=25497&highlight=collateral+damage

This is a new Engine under developement:
http://www.crius.net/zone/forumdisplay.php?f=27
http://flightcommander.solsector.net/
 
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