Wing Commander models for ray tracing?


Y'know whenever people talk about the graphics for the original Wing Commander they talk about Ray-tracing. I've even seen some people go as far as to say that they actually built real models in order to do the ray tracing on... is that true? Is there even any evidence of that?

I'm guess I'm just interested in how they did the graphics in that game. Any ideas on how to get info on that? Thanks guys!


From the Wing Commander walkthrough by Kasey Chang (can be found anywhere online):

1.6 WC Graphics Engine

Back then, the graphics engine of WC was absolutely amazing. How
did the ships look so real on a simple 386, when all the other 3D
games are wireframe graphics? The answer is simple: Chris Roberts
"cheated" by using bitmaps. He "pre-rendered" the ships in
certain orientations, and have a software sprite draw routine
that can quickly rotate the bitmaps to any angle (though probably
only in 15 degree increments) and zoomed to any size. The ship
shapes are combined into a big file. The 3D engine then
determines which of the stored bitmaps to display, and how far to
zoom and rotate each one, based on the visibility and the angles


Well, see that's the thing. That paragraph sums up my understanding of how the graphics were created but it's not very... well, I mean Kasey Chang is who? I'm sure he just wrote that out of the vague descriptions that we've all been seeing about since WC came out.

It doesn't really explain what the ray-tracing (which is so often tossed in the advertising of WC) was applied to. Were they actually real models?

I've been looking up information about the Origin Museum and Mr. Garrity but it seems like any websites linking to an official site are down. I hope that doesn't mean that it has closed.

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
No, there were no real models. I've seen this claim a few times recently and it seems to source back to a single 'history of my favorite game' article someone wrote online that didn't quite understand what a 3D model was.

The ad copy comes from the fact Wing Commander I's ships were created with Amiga "raytracing" software (I want to say it was Sculpt 3D, but I do not remember for sure). We would call this just rendering today, but back then the fact that the Amiga did light sources (which you can see reflected in the final Bitmaps) lead them to brand utilities as being "raytracing" software.

The Origin Museum does still exist and Joe Garrity is out there but busy with real life. I talked to him a few days ago and he's doing well.


Excellent. Thanks, Loaf for the info. I was wondering where those rumors came from. I've been doing some hunting in the Amiga Magazine Rack recently just reading up on the articles about the conversion. Interesting stuff. :)

You wouldn't happen to know about any articles that go into depth over the development would you? I know that's sort of a crazy question with it being so long ago but since you've been privy to some first hand accounts I thought I might ask. Thanks!