Wing Commander: 20th Anniversary Proposals

J "Phantom" D

2nd Lieutenant
Okay, this thread grows out of the "Kilrathi Saga Bad Rep" thread. As some of you have seen in that thread, I have some ambitious ideas for a re-release of the collection. In fact, my ideas extend far beyond just that collection, and with the impending 20th Anniversary of the release of the original WC (2010) arriving very quickly, now is the time to start throwing ideas out there into the open.

My idea is rather large, ambitious and appeals to WC fans and (I hope) casual gamers as well.

Wing Commander: Remastered

My proposition begins from a simple concept, recreate the Wing Commander games for the present. This includes WC-WC:p and all of their add-ons.

With sci-fi in a bit of a resurgence, now is the time to strike the iron. I propose that these games be recreated using modern technology, but not straying at all from their original forms. That is to say that all missions would be the same, the branching and stories would all be the same, the dialogue the same (except expanded, that is to say that the characters would talk of the same subjects but just have expanded dialogue to flesh things out a little more), etc.

Now, I also propose that cutscenes return to computer animation instead of being actual filmed sequences (WC4 and WC:p looked fantastic, but the backgrounds in WC3 stood out like a sore thumb, and all three cost a fortune to make). I also believe that the models should be based (somewhat) upon the models from the original games and be aged from there. That is to say that Blair should look kind of like his WC and WC2 counterparts, just older.

I am not advocating that cutscenes return exactly as they were in WC1 or WC2, instead those could be enhanced with dialogue from Blair (The name would be necessary to facilitate dialogue between the characters, though you could still choose your own callsign), more movement, different settings (although the characters you would talk about the same things you would encounter them in different areas of the ship). Give the between game a lot more cinematic feeling, perhaps even with choosable dialogue (ala WC3 and beyond).

Enhance the character development a little bit and really start to build relations between the pilots. That way the inevitable death of some of these characters could have even more of an impact on players. While all of us choked up at the death of Angel and Spirit, I think if both characters were built up from WC1 with strong backstories and relationships with the main character, it would have been a real punch in the gut to loose them (The players would wince and feel like Angel did being eviscerated). Loosing Bossman in the Secret Missions felt awful, but not as devastating as it should have been.

The games would include all missions from the main campaigns as well as all of the expansions (and in the case of WC1, it would also include the SM 1.5 missions).

In the case of WC3, WC4 and WC:p, all of the dialogue recorded for the videos could easily be reused, and no further recording work would be recorded. However, dialogue would have to be done for WC and WC2. Pull back in the actors who voiced the roles for WC3 and beyond (Tom Wilson as Maniac, Mark Hamill as Blair, Malcom McDowell for Tolwyn, etc) and pull in good voice actors for the other roles (and make sure their accent fits their background).

This could be released in 3 different iterations:
Games alone: Individual releases of all the games.
Collector's Edition: Includes all 5 games in one package
Deluxe Collector's Edition: Includes all 5 games in one package, the 5 original games (fixed to run on modern hardware) and various other collectables.

Personally, I think that this would be the best way to commerate the series that didn't fear to tread new ground in the computer world.

I know that it's a lot, and it more than likely won't happen (Each passing year without a WC game like the previous ones dwindles my hopes that we'll ever see any more). However, I would like people's thoughts on this. Would you buy such a package?
 

Iceblade

Admiral
The idea of such remakes has already be discussed to a point in this thread:
http://www.crius.net/zone/showthread.php?t=21997

Here are two key posts from the thread though:
Originally Posted by Bandit LOAF:
The basic concept is a positive one, but I'm not sure it's actually an achievable goal.

The Wing Commander community's only real experience has been with the nasty Privateer Remake mess... but groups like Ultima and Sierra adventure game fans have longstanding relationships with these kind of projects which are, by and large, very negative. The team deciding that it either needs to 'redesign' the game in some basic way or deciding that they've done so much work and deserve to profit on it somehow seems to be constant outcomes. It isn't your job to decide that Ultima I needs a different story (and no spaceships!) and it isn't your right to sell Space Quest 2 to anyone no matter how nicely you redraw the graphics.

Ultima remakes especially fall apart in droves, often to the point of being shut down by EA. Note that well, prospective remakers - you need to be *very* careful... literally reusing all the same FMV and sound files is a lot more likely to get you and the community in trouble than Saga just copying WC3's 'look' (though I imagine even this team already knows to tread more lightly given EA's future plans for the franchise).

(Quick addition - there should also be a *reason* to remake the game. The Privateer group actually lost theirs early on, as DOSBox allowed anyone to play the classic game easily during the course of their development. With EA getting ready to sell Wing Commander 3 through services like GameTap and the PS3 Home service, a fan made remake doesn't seem appropriate.)

Loaf also stated this major issue:
I have had my doubts about the 'movie projects'... but we have recieved permission to host them (with some limitations - they can't have *all* the video from the game, for instance.) They also don't really compete with the games - with all respect to Queeg and company, nobody cares about the Wing Commander IV video if they haven't already played the game.

Actually, the one where we ran into the most trouble was the Wing Commander Prophecy DVD materials.... since they included *all* the video from the game. I felt very strongly that we had to get that out, though, because there was no other way to have it available (EA doesn't even have the game in their archive, so it's unlikely to appear in the future). Nevertheless, we had to develop them as a 'patch' for the CD-ROM game rather than just extracting an image of the DVD.

PS: I could have summarized the main points, but Loaf's original posts were better than I would say on the matter.
 

Mekt-Hakkikt

Mpanty's bane
(...)
Wing Commander: Remastered(...)

If I understood your post correctly, you're not proposing that fans should recreate the WC games in the way described but that EA should act in that way and whether we liked this idea and would buy the package.

The answer to the last question is obvious I think: yes I would, gladly so. But the problem is probably not to make avid WC fans buy another WC game or compilation but to make EA think that it'd be a financially viable strategy.

Sadly, I am not knowledgable enough about what makes WC-like games unpopular these days. All I see is that every few weeks some blog or gaming site praises space shooters like WC and TIE Fighter as being some of the best games ever and shouting at the top of their lungs that these franchises should be revisited. Either they are just a very vocal minority or the feeling that space shooters are not popular is some kind of rumour that sprang out of nowhere and is thought to be true without ever put to the proof.
 

J "Phantom" D

2nd Lieutenant
Good points, but I wasn't talking about fan remakes, but EA should be doing it.

However, Mekt is right, there needs to be some kind of proof to EA that this would be financially viable for them to undertake it.

Regardless, I am hoping for something, anything for WCs 20th Anniversary next year (Even if it is just an upgrade of Kilrathi Saga to run better on modern machines, remove the bugs, make it available and affordable to the average fan and include the SM and SO packages)
 

Flashpoint

Rear Admiral
My plans for making SM 0.5 have been shelved due to a heavy workload this last 12 months.
I shall be returning to it though and have already written most of the campaign structure and mission outlines.

I just need a good chunk of 2-4 weeks free so I can get down to the dirty business of completely mapping the WC1 data files (missions/briefings/debriefings/story/campaign) and organising how to construct the editor.
It's the sort of thing I can't do bit part, my brain just doesn't work that way.
 

J "Phantom" D

2nd Lieutenant
My plans for making SM 0.5 have been shelved due to a heavy workload this last 12 months.
I shall be returning to it though and have already written most of the campaign structure and mission outlines.

I just need a good chunk of 2-4 weeks free so I can get down to the dirty business of completely mapping the WC1 data files (missions/briefings/debriefings/story/campaign) and organising how to construct the editor.
It's the sort of thing I can't do bit part, my brain just doesn't work that way.
Hey! Awesome to hear mate!
 

AKUMA1

Spaceman
remake as well as the bonus news of having a NEW Wing Commander game come out would be good, some say it should follow a similar path of the recent Mass Effect series which I also found to be kool, but if EA have no plans to revive the series let alone do a remake even though they should because it could be an EQUALLY as successful a brand as Mass Effect if not more so...then all of this is just Pipe Dreams... more than a remake a new installment should arrive!
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Good points, but I wasn't talking about fan remakes, but EA should be doing it.

However, Mekt is right, there needs to be some kind of proof to EA that this would be financially viable for them to undertake it.

There's a lot working against remakes. Remaking games is much harder to do than making new games, since you're limited by so many things - mission structure, story, characters, design, whatever. Invariably you'd have to change a lot for the game to work today, which then runs afoul of it being "true to the original." For all the time and money you'd spend on a remake, I really think that effort would be much better spent on a new game where the team would have the freedom to make the best game on their own. If anything, a rerelease makes the most sense, but then it should be tied in with a new game to make that effort viable.

There's a lot more to consider - nothing but a massively multiplayer WC title (and maybe not even then) could be PC exclusive anymore. The market is for console games, so a remake or even rerelease on the PC might not be viable on those grounds alone.
 

J "Phantom" D

2nd Lieutenant
There's a lot working against remakes. Remaking games is much harder to do than making new games, since you're limited by so many things - mission structure, story, characters, design, whatever. Invariably you'd have to change a lot for the game to work today, which then runs afoul of it being "true to the original." For all the time and money you'd spend on a remake, I really think that effort would be much better spent on a new game where the team would have the freedom to make the best game on their own. If anything, a rerelease makes the most sense, but then it should be tied in with a new game to make that effort viable.

There's a lot more to consider - nothing but a massively multiplayer WC title (and maybe not even then) could be PC exclusive anymore. The market is for console games, so a remake or even rerelease on the PC might not be viable on those grounds alone.
Well, undoubtedly releases anymore HAVE to be multi-console to warrant the work (unless, as you said, they're MMO (a MMO WC title would be nothing short of amazing!)).

Like I said later on, it would be nice to see even just a re-release of the KS (perhaps with WC4 and WC:p/SO included as well) to fix a few bugs and make it run smoothly on modern machines. Tie this in with a completely new WC Title, and then we're talking!

I'm just feeling a little down because of the fact that with each passing day it seems more and more unlikely that we'll see anything next year for the anniversary.
 

MartySheen

Rear Admiral
Id definately go for a Wing Commander 20th Anniversary Collection if it were released.

Wouldn't xbox live be perfect for at least WC1&2?
 

ELTEE

Vice Admiral
I think that for a new WC MMO to be successful, it would have to employ a few key concepts.

1. Have to have an effective co-op campaign. Players have to be able to fight through a campaign together, on differing scales from two ship flights to fleet engagements. In my opinion, you just cant sustain the interest in space dogfighting with friends with few objectives other than every-man-for-himself destruction (although there's always a time and place for that too.)

2. Dynamic environments. We need to fight in environments that really alter the standard deep space mission experience. Nebulae that blind sensors and hide enemy carriers, asteroid fields that drive combat and force compromise, planetary bodies that alter strategy and present new challenges.

A new Wing Commander has to push the boundaries and exceed what has come before it. Otherwise, it will have little chance of truly capturing new fans. It needs to maintain key concepts that made the original franchise great - involved story, excellent gameplay, characters you can identify with, etc. - while incorporating new technical achievements that reinvent the genre. The 'space sim' genre is an excellent platform to showcase this kind of cooperative campaign - I think it would really support a wide scale revival.

If you are developing this, then re-releasing the originals makes sense - if they can economically be ported to additional systems. It's about the exposure, expansion, and evolution of the Wing Commander concept.
 

J "Phantom" D

2nd Lieutenant
I think that for a new WC MMO to be successful, it would have to employ a few key concepts.

1. Have to have an effective co-op campaign. Players have to be able to fight through a campaign together, on differing scales from two ship flights to fleet engagements. In my opinion, you just cant sustain the interest in space dogfighting with friends with few objectives other than every-man-for-himself destruction (although there's always a time and place for that too.)

2. Dynamic environments. We need to fight in environments that really alter the standard deep space mission experience. Nebulae that blind sensors and hide enemy carriers, asteroid fields that drive combat and force compromise, planetary bodies that alter strategy and present new challenges.

A new Wing Commander has to push the boundaries and exceed what has come before it. Otherwise, it will have little chance of truly capturing new fans. It needs to maintain key concepts that made the original franchise great - involved story, excellent gameplay, characters you can identify with, etc. - while incorporating new technical achievements that reinvent the genre. The 'space sim' genre is an excellent platform to showcase this kind of cooperative campaign - I think it would really support a wide scale revival.

If you are developing this, then re-releasing the originals makes sense - if they can economically be ported to additional systems. It's about the exposure, expansion, and evolution of the Wing Commander concept.
You've got it down perfectly for a new WC game.

Co-op multiplayer is an absolute must, as are interactive environments. Specialized online missions would also be a must IMO (i.e. Huge fleet engagements with hundreds of combatants, those in the bombers would be lining up the cap ships while escorts protected them and other fighters went after the enemy bombers). With the modern technology we can really have the types of engagements we've only heard/read about. Hell, you could have a "Battle of Earth" (from "Fleet Action") online scenario that would just be crazy.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
What would be great in Co-Op is to come online for a strike, log the mission time and join in time to launch from a carrier with your friends and duke out a BW/Confed/Kilrathi Battle. Not unlike WoW when players perform a Raid. You would need some sort of "Dungeon Master" to keep track of Carrier recources(you can't launch with 250 Heavy Strike fighters with capship-killer loadouts out of the fast, stealthy, double-jumping Gamal Kan or Bonnie Heather for example, but can amass over that number in defense of a slow Vesuvius class, tht only fits through certain jump points, that sort of thing.
 

J "Phantom" D

2nd Lieutenant
What would be great in Co-Op is to come online for a strike, log the mission time and join in time to launch from a carrier with your friends and duke out a BW/Confed/Kilrathi Battle. Not unlike WoW when players perform a Raid. You would need some sort of "Dungeon Master" to keep track of Carrier recources(you can't launch with 250 Heavy Strike fighters with capship-killer loadouts out of the fast, stealthy, double-jumping Gamal Kan or Bonnie Heather for example, but can amass over that number in defense of a slow Vesuvius class, tht only fits through certain jump points, that sort of thing.
Going off of this, battles could be held in a constant stream. That is to say that you log on and wait a short time for a battle to begin (battles would begin at specific times, and are not dependant on how many players there are. Empty slots would be filled with AIers).

Thus at 10:00 one battle would start, 10:10 another would start, etc.

Players would get into the first battle they're in line for (If you join at 10:01 you'd get into the 10:10 one for example). All online battles would be fleet engagements, pick your side, and what role you want (Bomber, escort, interceptor) and go at it until either all enemy cap ships are destroyed (all cap ships are AI controlled) or a time limit is reached (just to keep things moving).
 

ELTEE

Vice Admiral
Yeah, I can see two formats evolving together - the scripted campaign missions that support a minimum of one player up to x players, and exactly the kind of missions that Mace describes above.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Thank you for the adressing, ELTEE.

I am a frequent player of the game "RUNE", not to confuse with runescape, but not unlike runescape, you team up and make a "quest", the difference in Rune lies that you are in Realtime control of your character, and instead of putting spells on eachother, you are like in quake2 resorted to will and skill to survive(manouvering your sword with the mouse, and a direct hit with the default weapon to the back of the neck can kill an opponent(like a headshot), so there is no super-duper godlike entity nor an eternal loser, a walking in stranger could kill a beserker, but when two equals face it out, it's a sight to see. Let's just name it WCO(Wing Commander Online) for ease, you could take the history of the game without a remake, and just take a simple patrol out to make cash to buy better armor or guns, and take that into the fight with you when your carrier is under attack by an enemy "clan", for a 11 year old game the details on modern systems still raise eyelids, it's based on the UT engine and has been upgraded to UT2K3 without altering any mechanics or textures.

Remakes are always bad, really, really bad. To get back to the remaking issue, everyone at everytime would complain because his/her favorite bug exploid would not exist anymore.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I'm just feeling a little down because of the fact that with each passing day it seems more and more unlikely that we'll see anything next year for the anniversary.

I wouldn't worry about it.

Wouldn't xbox live be perfect for at least WC1&2?

I, of course, would personally agree, but WC1/2 wouldn't exactly be perfect for XBox Live. XBox Live does not sell straight ports/rereleases of classic games. Every game on the XBox is made/remade to play in at least 720p high definition. WC1/2 as they are would not meet the minimum requirements for the service. On top of that, the SNES versions of the early WC games would be the actual games available for a direct port as they are designed to be played with a controller, but they have even (slightly) more basic graphics. On the other hand, WC1/2 would be an absolutely perfect fit for the Wii downloadable game store.
 

Delance

Victory, you say?
Every game on the XBox is made/remade to play in at least 720p high definition. WC1/2 as they are would not meet the minimum requirements for the service.

Unless they were remade to play in at least 720p high definition. OK, it's a dream...
 
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