Remember Wing Commander 2 SNES, the most exciting lost Wing Commander project? Lead Designer Billy Cain (who went on to fill the same role on Wing Commander Prophecy) was kind enough to answer some questions about the game! Check out the interview below -- it really does sound like it was a very unique project rather than a simple port. If you're part of the SNES community then be sure to keep spreading the word - this game exists... somewhere! You can find our original WC2 SNES article here.
Who are you and how did you become involved with Origin?
I think you can find this somewhere else! :) [Ed: here]
What games have you worked on?
It's on www.criticalmassinteractive.com
What was your role with Wing Commander 2 SNES?
Lead Designer / Project Director
Can you give us some background on Origin at the time of WC2 SNES?
We were completing a series of game contracts for FCI Pony Canyon. WC2 SNES was the last of these. It was completed, but never shipped.
Who else worked on the game?
Axel Brown, Julian Alden-Salter (JAZ), Chris Primozich, and many other people, but we were also working on two other games at the same time so I am not 100% sure who did what on each game. I apologize for not being able to remember.
Do you remember how it differed from the original PC title?
Gameplay was significantly different, but we spent a majority of our time ensuring that the movies were 100% accurate. Story was huge on that game and we wanted to give it the respect it deserved. Since there was no real 'backup' of the original art, we wound up getting art from the FM Townes version that was either still in production or just completed production. It was quite a feat finding everything!!
Did you build off of WC SNES for the game, or did it have a new engine?
We did everything from scratch. It would have been very nice to have had that other engine to start from.
The magazine scans of WC2 SNES show some new artwork - different cockpits, full color Kilrathi VDUs. Who was responsible for that?
I want to say Eric Lund and other amazing artists we had on the team. Hey - write in guys and speak up if you can help fill in the info here! :)
The original Wing Commander SNES ports were done by Mindscape. When did Origin switch to in-house SNES development?
It was before I got there, but I worked on Ultima IV SNES, that was eventually renamed Ultima: Black Gate. I had a mint copy until I lent it to a friend that promised to keep it in mint condition. He finally gave it back to me after it rode in his backpack for about 6 months, when he told me that he never got around to playing it. These are the things that make me wish I never lent things out. But back to the story... We then took the engine for U7 and did some quick conversion tools to create Savage Empire. I still don't have a copy of that. Then we did Metal Morph on a whim and FCI published it. I'm not particularly proud of that game, but it helped Origin make its quarter with EA, so there was "much rejoicing." After that, we started on Wing Commander II, but the SNES market was drying up. I think FCI made the right decision to not release it financially, but obviously it would be great to have it as part of the canon.
Was WC2 SNES a fun game in its own right, or an attempt to simply reproduce the PC WC2 experience?
It was a fun game in its own right, but the truth is that by the time we were in QA, I had been asked to help on Rugby World Cup '95 in EA's England office in Langley, so I was doing data files during the day in England (fixing bugs), they were being implemented at Origin during the day in Austin (my night), and I did not have a way to burn SNES EPROMs there. I could have done it if it was Sega... :) The person to ask if it was fun would be our intrepid tester Chris Primozich. He really did the hard work of getting through that game time and time again.
The game was finished, shipped off... why didn't it come out?
Financial risk in the market would be my only answer.
Do you have any idea where the prototype could be today?
What was your favorite project at Origin?
Wow. I don't think I can really say because there were so many. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Wing Commander: Prophecy because I was responsible for guiding the game's design and I'm an action fan. The QA group was obviously helping tell all of us in development whether we were making mistakes and I believe that we did a good job of listening to them. There were many games that I thought would 'make it' but they didn't ship. There were also games that I liked a lot, but they weren't exactly my favorites like WC.
What are you up to these days?
I try to use my experience in the industry to help other games better, either as a consultant or a supplier of talent (contracted), or as a complete game developer for all platforms. And I spend time with my friends, wife, and two kids!