Meet the WC2 Characters... as of 1990! (April 15, 2020)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!



I've been staying busy with a little CIC housekeeping. Enjoy a newly-transcribed Wing Commander II development document featuring very early (December 1990) character descriptions! You can find the whole document here.

Wing Commander II Characters is a development document created during the making of Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. It is dated December 3, 1990 and is an early description of Wing Commander II's characters and their planned story arcs. The document is part of the Warren Spector Papers at the University of Texas at Austin's Briscoe Center for American History (box 2008-091/6).

Much of the material planned in the document is significantly different from the finished game including plans for significantly more missions to take place before the arrival of the Concordia. Some of the characters were ultimately cut or referred to only in dialogue; others, like Bear and Minx, would reappear in other forms in the Special Operations missions. The role planned for Iceman would largely go to Stingray in the finished game. Other notable changes include early references to Hobbes as "Tomcat" and different first and last names for many of the secondary characters.

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Original update published on April 15, 2020
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
(These thoughts are after having replayed the whole series about a month or two ago.)

Even as a player I liked Angel's interaction with Blair in WC1 and with the loss of Bossman I could sense them drawing closer in the midst of shared grief. It might have turned out a bit rushed in the end, but I liked the pairing in WC2 (even if Blair seemed a lot more hard-hearted than his innocent WC1 counterpart due to his exile in ISS).

Iceman clearly hated the Kilrathi in WC1, but he seldom let it show in his emotions other than one brief outburst that I can recall. I think it worked better putting that hostility into a younger pilot like Stingray, and we see the 'blind hatred' characteristic pop up again with Cobra in WC3.

I liked Spirit and Blair's friendship. It runs counter to the WC3 environment where Blair seems to be romantically involved with nearly every female he encounters.

Looks like Doomsday was never really planned to have a significant role other than being the fatalistic character.

Interesting that they initially made Jazz strongly 'suspicious' of Spirit, perhaps to try to direct suspicion away from himself. In the end, he actually seems to defend Spirit in the face of Blair's protestations against Stingray.

Tomcat vs Hobbes is a bit confusing, looks like the draft hadn't been revised properly and hadn't yet replaced all instances of Tomcat with Hobbes.

Dallas: was 'c lean' a typo on the original document? Him viewing Blair as a hero seems to be revisited with Catscratch in WC4.

I wonder if the TCS Peel is a reference to Sir Robert Peel. And from Maniac's brief, it looks like it was supposed to be a second carrier for Blair at some point... on second thought, maybe Peel was supposed to be the starting point for Blair - makes sense if Peel is supposed to represent a police force and Blair is stuck in ISS. Funny idea originally making Maniac a morale officer rather than a test pilot. Shadow 'not classically beautiful but has attractive strong features' - I'd say the artist/s conveyed that really well.

On other pilots like Cirocco: I'm glad identity politics wasn't a thing in the 1990s! There's no end to certain groups demanding representation in media.

On Bear's background - other than his name, both here and in the final version, do we have any idea of his actual ancestral background?

Tolwyn: I didn't really see the 'fully supports his officers' in the final version other than his regular public criticisms against Blair at all opportunities contrasting so sharply with his treatment of everyone else. We never really see a proper apology from him at the end, although I suppose a promotion to Colonel sort of counts. He does appear more cordial in Special Operations but his relationship with Blair turns frosty again in WC3.

Paladin: Any idea what Merchant Marine is? (I'm probably not familiar with American terminology.) Interesting that they seem to have made this a cover for his Special Operations activity later.

Sparks: Aside from her rank, she seems pretty close to this in the final version. Another case of Blair having a good female friend for support and not jumping into bed with everyone (figuratively speaking)!

Lt Edmond: Bumped to Major in the final version, I thought it was interesting to try to give her some personality with her back-story in SO1. Had no idea with her professionalism in WC2 that she disliked Blair so much.

Captain Laramie: Would have indeed been a stark contrast to Tolwyn on Concordia! But I suppose we already had a 'nice commander' in Halcyon on the Claw.

Dr Sayers: Like Dallas, he only gets an off-screen appearance, as the one who classifies Spirit unfit to fly.

Thrakhath: All those nicknames/honorifics would have sounded interesting! But I suppose it might also sound rather tacky - the ridiculously-long-list-of-honorifics-for-a-villain trope. Also interesting to make him 'ethical' and 'honourable' (presumably in Human terms), I think we see Kilrathi have a very different idea of honour and ethics in the final version, at least when dealing with 'unworthy' races like us 'apes'.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
This is great!

Iceman in WC2 would have been interesting. Most likely an extra ally for Bluehair amid all the hostility. I wonder which pilot slot he'd have replaced if any - and would he have been the best pilot on the Concordia instead of Jazz? But he couldn't replace Jazz outright because there's no way he'd be the traitor.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Iceman as the traitor... interesting thought. Both had a hatred for the Kilrathi. But I suppose it wouldn't be logical for Iceman to become a Mandarin in the way Jazz did. IIRC, Jazz's justification for 'using' the Kilrathi for revenge was on the basis of the Claw failing to save Goddard. Iceman was a part of that action, Jazz was not.
 

Mekt-Hakkikt

Mpanty's bane



I've been staying busy with a little CIC housekeeping. Enjoy a newly-transcribed Wing Commander II development document featuring very early (December 1990) character descriptions! You can find the whole document here.



--
Original update published on April 15, 2020

Wow, that's very interesting stuff. Partially sounds much more involved than what we got in WC2 at the end (which was still good of course). I like the ideas very much. Also - ignoring for a moment that Hobbes was only a construct -, I am torn whether I like the idea better that the Kilrathi renegade is a noble or a commoner...both have merits.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Well spotted on the commoner vs noble characterisation for Hobbes, I missed that. It seems to me the idea that Hobbes was a 'false defector' or sleeper agent only came with WC3. From reading this, it very much appears that Hobbes was intended to be firmly on the side of the Confederation for the WC2 story.

Contrasting with Jazz, I suppose it's a bit unfair since we see relatively little of him in SM2 (we only talk to him in the bar twice, actually) - and perhaps because I played WC2 before WC1 - but I felt I could see him as the future traitor of the WC2 story. Perhaps they genuinely intended Jazz to be a loyal character too, when writing SM2, but that smirk of his gets to me... 'I think my experience here [on the Claw] is going to change my entire career.' Whether or not that was intended as a hint for his future role in the plot (I'm sure this has been discussed many times over the years), I never got any such similar feeling with Hobbes in WC2 (and perhaps that's what makes the revelation of his true nature so crushing in WC3 - again, something that's been discussed many times).
 

bsmith1702

Rear Admiral
Contrasting with Jazz, I suppose it's a bit unfair since we see relatively little of him in SM2 (we only talk to him in the bar twice, actually) - and perhaps because I played WC2 before WC1 - but I felt I could see him as the future traitor of the WC2 story. Perhaps they genuinely intended Jazz to be a loyal character too, when writing SM2, but that smirk of his gets to me... 'I think my experience here [on the Claw] is going to change my entire career.' Whether or not that was intended as a hint for his future role in the plot (I'm sure this has been discussed many times over the years), I never got any such similar feeling with Hobbes in WC2 (and perhaps that's what makes the revelation of his true nature so crushing in WC3 - again, something that's been discussed many times).

Jazz's line in SM2 does seem to be intentional foreshadowing. What would make the most sense is that Jazz's role ended up being changed after the WC2 design doc was written in December 1990 and since SM2 wasn't released until April 1991, there was time for the script to be written to fit the new WC2 plot.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Overlapping development! So it really seems, then, that Jazz's and Doomsday's appearance on the Claw was a result of WC2 design and not 're-use of existing assets'.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Overlapping development! So it really seems, then, that Jazz's and Doomsday's appearance on the Claw was a result of WC2 design and not 're-use of existing assets'.

Oh absolutely, you can tell just from looking at them that they're new art by a different artist. Secret Missions 2 was not planned at all when the original game came out... that's why it has a separate executable instead of being a campaign that unlocks in the base game like the original Secret Missions. (I believe the only piece of 'left over' art in Secret Missions 2 is the Snakeir, which started life as the Kilrathi corvette dropped from Wing Commander I.)
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I wonder if the TCS Peel is a reference to Sir Robert Peel. And from Maniac's brief, it looks like it was supposed to be a second carrier for Blair at some point... on second thought, maybe Peel was supposed to be the starting point for Blair - makes sense if Peel is supposed to represent a police force and Blair is stuck in ISS. Funny idea originally making Maniac a morale officer rather than a test pilot. Shadow 'not classically beautiful but has attractive strong features' - I'd say the artist/s conveyed that really well.

I am sure by now you know you were right on with the TCS Peel reference. Would have been interesting to have Blair spending the whole first act with different characters… and you can certainly see how the Maniac side plot was revised into what we see in Special Operations 2.

(As for Shadow, I'm pretty sure her head model is literally Bettie Page!)

Dallas: was 'c lean' a typo on the original document? Him viewing Blair as a hero seems to be revisited with Catscratch in WC4.

Typo in the transcription. I fixed this one but if you're ever curious you can compare the original doc linked at the top right of the page (and since it's a Wiki anybody can fix my dumb errors :)!)

On other pilots like Cirocco: I'm glad identity politics wasn't a thing in the 1990s! There's no end to certain groups demanding representation in media.

I remember Jeff George saying that basically the only time the Wing Commander I team wo uld stop working was to gather around the TV for a new episode of Star Trek TNG… I think the diverse casts are probably a straight shot from the crew of the Enterprise.

(More fun: most of these characters likely match up to the 'background' heads that wound up in the final game. Someone else can do a better job of guessing those!)

Paladin: Any idea what Merchant Marine is? (I'm probably not familiar with American terminology.) Interesting that they seem to have made this a cover for his Special Operations activity later.

It's essentially civilian sailors, the people who crew American-flagged freighters. The term comes up more during stories like this because the Merchant Marine can activated to provide logistical support for the Navy during wartime (as in World War II).

Lt Edmond: Bumped to Major in the final version, I thought it was interesting to try to give her some personality with her back-story in SO1. Had no idea with her professionalism in WC2 that she disliked Blair so much.

This is one that gets dropped in Wing Commander II but which is revisited in Special Operations 1's Ghorah Khar half where she suddenly starts getting short with you in debriefings and then reveals it's because you remind her of her own backstory with the TCS Kirsk.

On Bear's background - other than his name, both here and in the final version, do we have any idea of his actual ancestral background?

Yes, the novels fill in quite a bit… especially End Run, which retains the idea that he enlisted at sixteen. (He's the son of an Australian mother and a Russian father and he grew up on Razin, a Russian colony at Alpha Centauri. When his father was killed in the war he fabricated a birth certificate and enlisted. We also hear a lot about his brother, who died a few years later fighting with the marines.)

Tolwyn: I didn't really see the 'fully supports his officers' in the final version other than his regular public criticisms against Blair at all opportunities contrasting so sharply with his treatment of everyone else. We never really see a proper apology from him at the end, although I suppose a promotion to Colonel sort of counts. He does appear more cordial in Special Operations but his relationship with Blair turns frosty again in WC3.

I think this is still there in Wing Commander II. Remember Blair tries to feel Sparks out about him and he's not really happy to hear he's a "damn fine commander"... then later he gets into an argument with Angel because she won't side with him over Tolwyn about the stealth fighters. (And he's also surprised that Paladin has so much respect for Tolwyn.)

Thrakhath: All those nicknames/honorifics would have sounded interesting! But I suppose it might also sound rather tacky - the ridiculously-long-list-of-honorifics-for-a-villain trope. Also interesting to make him 'ethical' and 'honourable' (presumably in Human terms), I think we see Kilrathi have a very different idea of honour and ethics in the final version, at least when dealing with 'unworthy' races like us 'apes'.

The honorifics get a return on Wing Commander Academy where he first introduces himself to Blair as "Thrakhath nar Kiranka, Prince of Kilrah, the fang of Sivar, destroyed of worlds". While not much is made of Thrakhath's honor in Wing Commander II, I think the idea was intact through at least End Run.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
I think another 'name drop' in Secret Mission 2 was Tolwyn, at least in the paper documentation if not in the game itself.

Snakeir originally being a corvette? That's almost as interesting as the Crossbow originally being a corvette. Maybe they adjusted the sprite sizes, but I didn't get a a sense of 'wrong scaling' when seeing the Snakeir.

Perhaps they felt the game would be too long (or too costly to develop) to have a separate arc before Blair transferred to the Concordia.

I wasn't familiar with Bettie Page, but after seeing some pictures I can see the resemblance. That would fit the 'classic beauty' description.

I forgot I still have access to WCPedia, I made some corrections to the recent news article about the professional music magazine covering WC4's audio development.

I vaguely recall Talon looking similar to a background head from WC2... but I might be wrong on that.

Yep, I had hoped Edmond and Blair would have more cordial relations thereafter but it seems she is ever the professional (closest she gets is a 'thank you, sir').

I re-read the novels some months ago, but I forgot the extra details around Bear's ancestry, thanks for the quick summary.

I also forgot the bit about Sparks showing perhaps the better side of Tolwyn. I really did like it when Tolwyn and Blair got along better in Special Operations even if they weren't immediately 'best friends'.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I think another 'name drop' in Secret Mission 2 was Tolwyn, at least in the paper documentation if not in the game itself.

That's right! I think he's just on the box and in the manual, they don't add him to the actual dialog until Super Wing Commander.

Snakeir originally being a corvette? That's almost as interesting as the Crossbow originally being a corvette. Maybe they adjusted the sprite sizes, but I didn't get a a sense of 'wrong scaling' when seeing the Snakeir.

The biggest giveaway on the sprite is the blue wraparound cockpit at the front:



From there, imagine a little Kilrathi gunboat! (Originally called the Spikeri.)

Almost all of the ships in the mission disks for WC1 are reused from material cut from the base game (mostly for space). The Venture and the Sivar are essentially unchanged (a Confederation corvette, seen in Claw Marks, and a Kilrathi battleship mentioned more broadly).

The Diligent and the Lumbari were intended to be tanker and freighter (respectively) versions of the Drayman and Dorkir. That's why Claw Marks mentions multiple configurations of those ships and why mission briefings will usually specify you're facing a tanker or a transport. You can see they have the same 'cab'... just a case of the sprites being cut for space since all they did was add some visual variety to missions. So they chose to keep the freighter form of the Drayman and the tanker form of the Dorkir and drop the others to the mission disk as new-but-very-similar ships. (Also why the Diligent appears pretty much nowhere; there wasn't a place for it in SM1 but they had a free ship...)

The Hhriss is the exception to all this, it was rendered by the WC2 team (and in fact it has its own credit in the SM2 manual). That's also why there's no Claw Marks-style line art of the Hhriss... those drawings were the original concept art that were sent to an outsourcer to create the WC1 models.

I forgot I still have access to WCPedia, I made some corrections to the recent news article about the professional music magazine covering WC4's audio development.

Much appreciated! I'm trying to get more content in there.

I vaguely recall Talon looking similar to a background head from WC2... but I might be wrong on that.

Crossbones and Talon both started life as WC2 background heads (which in turn likely started life as cut characters):








Bear comes from this guy (who was probably the original Bear!):




... and here's Major Edmonds:


 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
I forgot about the 'cockpit' window on the Snakeir. If one looks at it that way, then yes, the scaling does look more appropriate for a corvette.

Good comparison on the heads. Definitely see it with Talon and Crossbones. Bear looks more differentiated. Other than the hair colour I didn't really see the Edmond connection. We do see her in a comm video so she wasn't completely an unknown face before seeing her in person in SO1.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
I think another 'name drop' in Secret Mission 2 was Tolwyn, at least in the paper documentation if not in the game itself.

Snakeir originally being a corvette? That's almost as interesting as the Crossbow originally being a corvette. Maybe they adjusted the sprite sizes, but I didn't get a a sense of 'wrong scaling' when seeing the Snakeir.

Perhaps they felt the game would be too long (or too costly to develop) to have a separate arc before Blair transferred to the Concordia.

I wasn't familiar with Bettie Page, but after seeing some pictures I can see the resemblance. That would fit the 'classic beauty' description.

I forgot I still have access to WCPedia, I made some corrections to the recent news article about the professional music magazine covering WC4's audio development.

I vaguely recall Talon looking similar to a background head from WC2... but I might be wrong on that.

Yep, I had hoped Edmond and Blair would have more cordial relations thereafter but it seems she is ever the professional (closest she gets is a 'thank you, sir').

I re-read the novels some months ago, but I forgot the extra details around Bear's ancestry, thanks for the quick summary.

I also forgot the bit about Sparks showing perhaps the better side of Tolwyn. I really did like it when Tolwyn and Blair got along better in Special Operations even if they weren't immediately 'best friends'.

Speaking of background heads, I wonder if this one was designed with Iceman in mind before it was decided he wouldn't be in the game:

 

Sylvester

Vice Admiral
Reading the script - man there are some cool ideas in there. I actually really like the idea of the first mission of the game being a mission off the Tiger's Claw in a WC1 Rapier (maybe it could be the WC2 Rapier as another prototype like the Rapiers in WC1 originally were). That seems like a great intro but I can understand how limited disk space was 30 years ago.

Was there any ever concept art developed for what the Peel was supposed to look like? I had the idea that it might be something along the lines of the Intrepid from WC4, a boxy, small multi-role ship that could fill the role of "Police Carrier".
 
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