To get it out of the way: Privateer does take place in 2669. In fact, it's the first word in the game's introduction: "2669, Gemini Sector, Troy System..." Similarly, the assumption has always been that Righteous Fire must take place in 2670 because of its introduction: "Jolson Pleasure Base... One Year Later..." 2669 plus one year is 2670.
Now, to answer the next question: yes, this is problematic. In addition to importing Privateer's game state (that has hostile Kilrathi and bartender conversations with war news and so on) it also makes reference to the war, present tense, in the new dialogue--Terrell and Goodin talk about it, we fight a Kilrathi fleet commander, the plot revolves around a Kilrathi special operation and so on.
Now one argument was always that "one year later" isn't an exact figure--maybe Privateer takes place in early 2669 and Righteous Fire takes place 'almost' a year later. The problem with this is that the war ends in late September--which means that even if the events of Privateer all take place in early January (or if the 'one year later' is from the Privateer intro instead of the end) then 'one year later' could mean, with that understanding, no more than eight or nine months. Doesn't quite fit the letter or the intent of the law...
Star*Soldier, which is simply reusing an unpublished timeline update Origin created for a theoretical Wing Commander 4 manual in 1995, bludgeons the issue in an interesting way--it implies that *both* Privateer and Righteous Fire (dated 2669 and 2670) after the end of the war and that the war being fought may be against local Kilrathi raiders (note that it doesn't *state* this in the case of Privateer, it just places this entry after the surrender in the timeline). It also implies another possible-but-awkward assumption which has long been a fan theory: that Gemini Sector is so much of a frontier that news of the war wouldn't necessarily reach them in real time, like in 19th century worldwide conflicts on Earth ('reports filter in').
The Terran Confederation assigns eighteen reserve marine units to civilian trade bases in Gemini Sector, where reports filter in concerning contraband activity. Gemini has long been a problem area for patrolling forces due to the large number of Kilrathi inhabitants and the localized Free Trade Agreement. The move sparks unrest among the Merchant’s Guild after over half the trading force relocates across enemy lines. Military officials step up patrols along the Kilrathi lines as attacks on civilian merchant ships reach an all time high. A team of sociologists and archeologists en route to Gemini Sector are captured and vid-transmissions of their torture beamed back to Sol. News leaks out to the general public, who become outraged and demand reprisals on Kilrathi P.O.W.s. The four men aboard had been undertaking the dangerous trek to investigate rumors of a Steltek alien “Rosetta” stone believed to contain valuable information about uncharted sectors.
Mordecai Jones, leader of the Church of Man temple, is exposed as having headed up an attack on a Terran super-weapon tested in a nearby sector. The church, which vehemently preaches antitechnology measures, denies responsibility for the attack, which was led by several squadrons of Kilrathi ships. All 25 technical assistance crew members that were working on the weapon’s components were killed when three squadrons of Kilrathi fighters ambushed the light fleet. Six months later, Jones is reported as missing by his Retro church followers, and his temple is bombarded. Following his death, TCN officials inspect the remnants of Base Gaea and find detailed accounts of over 35 attacks on orbital guns and scientific research outposts.
(By the by, I love how this was written (not by me!) as what the galaxy saw happening during Privateer rather than exactly what Brownhair did... which touches on his personal story to the degree that anyone else might have known it but mostly adds a big picture never saw.)
Now, that out of the way (?):
Although Privateer-as-published takes place in 2669, I would bet a fine quality hat that at some earlier point it was to take place in 2670. In addition to the reference in the timeline linked to above, 2670 was also used in some ad copy for the game (I have a one-page UK magazine ad at home that uses it in the action description) *and* it actually appears in the manual. On the 'Options Screen' page: "Weapons in 2670 do not fire hard ammo so much as..."
Which brings us to an even more interesting topic of discussion--the truly fascinating question isn't so much when games take place (we have comprehensive, canonical timelines today) but when we *knew* they took place then.
To the best of my knowledge the *only* games that include an internal date are Wing Commander I, Wing Commander II, Privateer (and Privateer 2, however hidden). For all the importance we fans put on the fictional year, the majority of the games were created without stopping to consider them. In many cases the year is added at the very end of the project in the manual (Armada, Wing Commander III, Wing Commander Prophecy) or up to several years later by some other tie-in product (Wing Commander IV, Wing Commander Academy).
Isn't that amazing to think about--Wing Commander III was made with no specific plan that 2669 was the year the Kilrathi war ended. The decision that the game would 'start' in the same year as Privateer wouldn't have been made until late 1994 when Victory Streak was put together and the fact that that was also when it ended wasn't official until the Kilrathi Saga calendar three years later!
Take a look at this precious oddity, extracted from Wing Commander III's inner guts: https://www.wcnews.com/articles/art52.shtml
These ship specifications were likely going to be displayed on the selection screen at some point in the game... but look at the years! The Excalibur doesn't even enter service until 2676. (Aside: "Kelly Chance Todd" is an GREAT name for an aerospace designer; very Lockheed Skunk Works). All of which is to say that no one had any idea that the war wouldn't be going on in 2669 and 2670 when Privateer and Righteous Fire were created in 1992-1993.
Some other stray thoughts:
- Wing Commander II's dates are really ramrodded by later material. The oft-forgotten ingame text starts it at 2665.110, *exactly* eleven years after Wing Commander I, which more or less matches up with the time skips in the introduction. Kilrathi Saga decides the game ends in 2667, though, which means it takes place over the course of two years... which sure doesn't feel right.
- The only novel that was ever written with a date in mind was Action Stations (...okay, and the movie books) and that was only because it was expanding on an existing date. End Run and Fleet Action were all 'relational'--happening after certain games and before others. This became a huge problem in False Colors which wanted to be both five years after Fleet Action *and* before Wing Commander IV... and without an expanded WC3-forward bible decided that Fleet Action was in 2666 and that the war ended in 2671 (I managed to fix the references to the war's end, but I didn't have the actual manuscript to edit... and so we wound up with odd dialogue where characters say years have passed when it's only been a matter of months).
- Wing Commander IV has always been extremely shy in terms of dates. It used to be a vehement debate in the community when it happened, usually falling between 2672 and 2673 since all we would have were quotes like "a few years ago" in the novelization. I don't think it was ever even cleared up official (... until S*S!): the Wing Commander Prophecy Official Guide mentions 2672... but, more solidly, Origin's WCIV PSX website had a 'hidden' email from Captain Eisen dated 2673. I remember Chris Reid and I arguing quite seriously about this at the Worlds of Origin chat board back in 1996, the first time we'd ever met.
- I don't think there's an official date for Wing Commander Academy (the game) to this day.
- Wing Commander Academy the show is another weird one--similar to Privateer it's another case of "obviously they meant..." but said something else in printed material. When the show started out development the plan was to retell Secret Missions 2 with the cast of Wing Commander III. A lot of that changed (Flint became Archer, Cobra became Payback, Ralgha became Gharal... other characters stayed the same but the relationship is never mentioned--Hyena is still Vagabond's brother) and the story was changed to a different year's Sivar ceremony. Never the less, the original blurb about it being set in 2655 appeared in various places... then it also went too far the other way, listing 2653 as the date in some places so that we would know it was a 'prequel' to Wing Commander I!
- The Wing Commander movie material has a frustrating typo (yes, along with Towlyn, Tiger Claw and so forth) that makes a lot of promo material give the date as 2564 instead of 2654. It appears in the weirdest places... including, very briefly, in "Paladin's letter" at the official website. In one of my very very very small victories in 1999 I remember managing to bluff the site's webmaster into thinking that I was someone working on the movie who needed the correction made immediately.