Starman has found one last piece of news for us before the launch: AceyBongos, the British Major Nelson, has updated his blog with an interview with Wing Commander Arena producer Sean Penney. It's a great overview of what exactly the game is about... and at times it goes into exactly what we need to hear:
How will Wing Commander Arena be true to the Wing Commander series?
Now that's my kind of ellipses! You can read the whole thing here.
Sean Penney: First through the game play. The 18 player ships, drawn from WC favourites, are true in function and form to the originals. Of course, things change in 20 years and out on the frontier it's important your ship have some special upgrades. And some other old favourites will make an appearance as well, and we will introduce you to some new friends. Wing Commander fans have long wanted a multiplayer experience. Arena offers classic Wing Commander combat online with 16 players. For the fans who remember Armada, a dogfight in Arena is like a dogfight in Armada.
Second is our attention to detail. We are very cognizant of the Wing Commander continuity and brought members of the thriving and vocal Wing Commander community into the development process. We bring back classic ships and work in flavour from the original game to the movie. Arena has always been intended as an homage to the Wing Commander franchise and we very much wanted to do it justice.
Third is innovation. Wing Commander has always pushed the envelope. Every WC game set new standards in tech and design and changed the way we play games. Wing Commander Arena is doing the same thing with Live Arcade - from 16 player online game play to the number and depth of our modes to the beauty of our environments Arena is far and away more impressive than anything XBLA has had available before.
Are there any plans for more Wing Commander games?
Sean Penney: Time will tell...
"You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you."
In all seriousness, this is the big night: Wing Commander Arena will be released tomorrow morning on or about 5 AM EST. I do not have to remind you that it has been nine years since Wing Commander: Secret Ops, the last original Wing Commander release. Through all this time you, the fans, have kept the faith. The home fires have burned brightly through this long, cold winter as you have produced amazing fan games, written engrossing fan fiction, created magnificent fan artwork and done the hundreds of other things that have proved your devotion to this great series so many times. Let Wing Commander Arena be your reward - surely the first of many!
Many of you have had your doubts about Arena. This is perfectly reasonable - I have, on occasion, shared them. Powerups instead of upgrades? Frags instead of kills? Arena is not like any other Wing Commander game made before. There is no grand cinematic story, space combat is on a different sort of plane, it was built for a console rather than a PC... we have all turned over these facts in our brains endlessly. However: it is amazingly fun, it pushes the boundaries of Xbox Live Arcade, it maintains an utmost respect for Wing Commander's continuity and fans and most of all playing it feels like playing a classic Wing Commander game.
Arena is fun; more fun than I can express. Enjoy it for being new and precious rather than damning it for being strange and different. Sixteen player team matches to destroy massive capital ships? Dogfights amidst massive fields of space debris? Enormous space stations filled with tunnels and hiding places? A giant crater for the personal duels we've all been wishing we could fight? A massive Midway class carrier for us to defend? Who needs FMV, we have a universe to explore! There is ten times as much material here for us to discover than there has been in any other XBLA game, ever.
More games are on the way! Wing Commander Arena is groundbreaking for an XBLA title. Arena will sell and it will prove the franchise's viability to those cautious executives. The suits today are not the same ones who abandoned the series in 1998. Men like former Origin President Neil Young, who was instrumental in personally helping us establish this site a decade ago, are in charge of the company now. EA's Producers - fans themselves - are ready and willing, awaiting the go ahead to return to our universe. As First Decade begat Command and Conquer 3 so will Arena will lead to Wing Commander 7. I will stake my very reputation on it.
You are all the best of fans: you have personally kept Wing Commander alive and saved the series - just like we always promised you would. What's more, you've become my closest friends. There is no greater group of people in the world - and no one could ask for more from you than I have. You have my deepest thanks and my eternal gratitude. We've come a long way, and there's more work to be done... but today is our day. Enjoy Arena; you've earned it.
Now let's hit the flight deck!
We're just hours away from the online release of Wing Commander Arena... and I, for one, am like a kid on Christmas Eve. There's no chance I'll be sleeping tonight, so I've stocked up on caffeinated drinks and am spending the night Wing Commandering it out in #WingNut!
To pass the time we'll be watching (and commenting on) all thirteen episodes of Wing Commander Academy and Chris Roberts' Wing Commander movie. What better way to get in the mood for tomorrow's momentous release? If you're in the same boat, feel free to join in - festivities will start around 10:00 PM EST. You can learn all about connecting to #WingNut here.
Is your ship recognition up to par? Can you tell the difference between these three Dralthi?