Is this guy telling the truth about his role in "making" Wing Commander IV?

Daniel Walters

Veteran Spaceman
I'm a reporter looking into the business practices of a man who has, repeatedly, claimed to have been involved in creating the "first DVD computer game, Wing Commander" back in 1997 for Creative Labs.

Here's an example, from an interview with him and Michael Jackson's Dad, Joe Jackson:

Now, I believe that if he's telling the truth he's referring to Wing Commander IV, which I understand came out both on a conventional DVD, and a more High-Res version on a double-sided DVD.

But I don't have either DVD edition of Wing Commander IV, or access to the credits, or much knowledge about the production of this particular game. I'm wondering if "Erick Hansen," "Hansen Entertainment," "Optical Disc Media," or "Getty Film., Inc." is listed in the credits.

If not, who is listed as the manufacturer or a similar role? Who would be the best person to contact that would know the nitty-gritty of who was involved with making the DVD?
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Hmm - the 1997 DVD version of Wing Commander IV was done by a company called Daylight Productions. The man in charge of the project was Mark Day, who continues to work in the industry. If you'd like to contact me directly at ben@cloudimperiumgames.com I can put you in touch with him.

It's possible that your person was some related outsourcer --- maybe involved in the 35mm film transfer needed for the DVD. The DVD doesn't have updated credits from the CD-ROM version, so there's no help there.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
(Note that if he were involved it'd be in some entirely dull capacity - he unquestionably had nothing to do with the creative development of Wing Commander.)
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
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cff

Kilk'dymga'qith laq Ik'vikvi
In any case, would WC4 be the first (PC) game to be released on DVD at all? Kinda doubt it. Among the first, yes. Absolutely first?
 

Daniel Walters

Veteran Spaceman
This is all helpful stuff, guys. I had a good chat with Mark Day, but I still haven't been able to prove or disprove it.

If I could somehow figure out who the manufacturer was, that would be even better.

I think if Wing Commander wasn't the first DVD-ROM game, it was at least among the first. This FAQ highlights that Creative Labs, in 1997, were one of the first companies to sell DVD-ROM drives. http://www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Creative almost certainly wasn't the only one making DVD drives, but they were definitely among the first marketing them to PC users and to gamers. Back when DVD drives first came out, the average PC hardware and video cards weren't capable of playing MPEG2 video in real time so you needed a separate decoder board to play DVD movies. Creative's bundle put that hardware decoder board together with a DVD drive in one package along with a few DVD games. Their DXR2 package was the only way to actually buy the DVD version of the WC4 (not counting the DVD version that doesn't have upgraded video). If you consider that this package also had a game called Claw, Saying it was the first DVD game is kind of nitpicking which disks were pressed first. It's kind of a semantic argument. Whether there was another DVD game available elsewhere before WC4 and Claw I couldn't say, but for all intents and purposes, most people that were early adopters in PC DVD drives were buying creative's DXR2 bundle and thus were buying Wing Commander 4.

Within a year or two though there were several other DVD re-released of PC games that originally shipped on several CDs... One of the first I actually saw sold on shelves by itself was probably Tex Murphy: Overseer which had both a DVD and CDs IIRC. Though there were also DVD versions of Riven, The Journeyman Project ... I'm sure there's others I'm forgetting.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
I think if Wing Commander wasn't the first DVD-ROM game, it was at least among the first. This FAQ highlights that Creative Labs, in 1997, were one of the first companies to sell DVD-ROM drives. http://www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html

That's probably more accurate, being the very first is one hell of a claim...and perhaps I'm out of line for criticising the guy in the video but he does seem to be out to make himself look better than he is; that business about 'making' Wing Commander lets on that he actually helped in the games design stage - lost credibility with me as soon as he said that. I doubt it was the very first.
 

Oggy

Rear Admiral
I hate reading about people who act with no honour, so disappointing that one man screwed so many people over.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
He seemed sketchy just from that one video, but from what I can gather from the article he's more than that.
 
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Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Only saw about this from the news on the CIC front page. Fascinating story. Looks like nothing got proved either way, but it does all seem quite dubious nonetheless.
 

Dondragmer

Rear Admiral
We actually reported on these same claims here in 2006 https://www.wcnews.com/news/2006/05/24/what-smells-like-blue.

Is there anything to suggest that this post on the thread you mention was written by the Erick Hansen referenced in the article? Because that would lie smack at the intersection between pathetic and hilarious.

ur think this is funny but iam a fan of ur site wow now 4 the good stuff i heard all the same stuff with dvds and cds come on every tech e knows u grow it a format. let me give a hint its going to change the ------- world kinda way c u erick blueray hansen

I know a good con can convince you the sky is green, but I'm disappointed that so many people fell for a business venture that simply made no sense. Mass-producing any physical media - books, casette tapes or Blu-Ray Discs - is an industrial process. It should be undertaken by serious people who wear pocket protectors (US) or jumpers with leather patches on the elbows (UK). The manufacturing facility will be full of workplace hazards (high voltage, robots, heavy vehicle movements) while minimising vibration and contaminants.

As multiple commenters have said, whichever people did manufacture WC4 weren't involved creatively in the game or film shoot. In reverse, people studying creative arts gain nothing from doing so in the floor above a disc factory. While the article was written with the advantage of hindsight, it seems like it should have been obvious even at the time that this "business" was throwing around fancy buzzwords instead of getting work done.

Maybe I'm more aware of this than most, since I've arranged runs of 200 DVDs for an organisation I work for. This means they were still duplicated using a regular burner. You need batches in the thousands before they start replicating on the serious machinery. About 5 minutes after I started looking for quotes on disc copying, I learned this distinction, how much cooler replication was, and why the unit cost for 1,000 discs is so much lower than for 100, but the turnaround time is weeks instead of days. Wouldn't a prospective investor do the same sort of research? And, wouldn't they realise that this investment made no sense?
 
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