Welcome to the third issue of Point of Origin, Origin Systems' internal newsletter. This issue was published August 7th, 1991 - right as the company was gearing up to release Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. It opens with a wonderful four-page 'rant' by Dallas Snell which has to be read to be believed. It really gives you a feel for what the company meant at that time - and it touches on a few interesting pieces of Wing Commander history. Here's an excerpt:
Approximately one month ago, I was sitting in a meeting of upper level management discussing the status of projects currently in development. The primary product being discussed was Wing Commander II (WC2). For many reasons that I won't go into now, WC2 was inaccurately scheduled for shipment in June of this year. As early as April, the WC2 team began to feel the pressure, a nd the beginning sensations of failure and abuse associated with missing our schedule. Because of this schedule, major pressure was applied to the team in early May. During every single week of May and June, we had to continually deal with our awareness, and the awareness of others, that we were failing at getting our product out as scheduled. And we have had to continue to deal with this awareness during the entire month of July. And now it's dragging into August! But as I was saying, I was sitting in this meeting with a large group of people staring at me silently because I had just informed them, again, that WC2 was going to miss yet another schedule. I felt about as good as a worm in an antbed. I was consumed with all the exhausting, depressing feelings of failure I outlined above.A side note: the three FM Towns ports were developed but they do not feature any additional digitized speech (Ultima VI FM Towns is famous for adding full speech to the game).
But, as I sat there, something within me shifted focus. A strange, objective awareness of what I was feeling came over me. I became consciously aware of my feelings of failure, AND WHAT WAS CAUSING IT! I asked myself, "Am I, and my entire PD group a failure? Have we EVER done anything GOOD? Have we ever accomplished ANYTHING?"
That started me thinking about what could possibly be viewed as GOOD concerning the efforts of Origin's PD group. After only a few minutes of thinking, my feelings of failure begin to melt away like ice in the summer heat, and left in their stead a feeling of SUCCESS, of ACHIEVEMENT, of extreme PRIDE, for the truly MIRACULOUS achievements of what I KNOW is the DAMNED BEST PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT GROUP EVER ASSEMBLED IN THE HISTORY OF THE INDUSTRY!
It was literally overwhelming when I began to think about what Origin's PD group had accomplished in recent years! Let me just share a few of those thoughts:
...Additionally that year, we shipped Bad Blood, Wing Commander, and Savage Empire. In addition to all these games being 4 to 6 times the size of any game we had ever done before, in addition to this being the first time we had ever done initial development on the MS-DOS platform, in addition to these projects doubling the number of personnel required to manage/coordinate, THESE PROJECTS WERE DONE IN 12 CALENDAR MONTHS, OR LESS, AS COMPARED TO THE 20 TO 30 MONTH TIME FRAME THAT PREVIOUS PROJECTS WERE DEVELOPED IN! And one of those products, Wing Commander, SET NEW INDUSTRY STANDARDS FOR ACTION/COMBAT SIMULATORS!
...This year, we will have produced another 4 major M S-DOS products. Those products are Martian Dreams, Wing Commander II, Ultima VII, and Strike Commander.
... Wing Commander II is 15 MEGABYTES IN SIZE. It ships on 8 high density disks. It required a f ull staff of 1 project manager, 1 director, 3 writers, 6 programmers, 4 artists, 1 TDA, and various members of our sound department. The project also included, f or the very first time in any product in the history of our industry, an additional 5 megabytes of voice actor digitized speech! AND THE ENTIRE PROJECT WILL HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED IN 8 CALENDAR MONTHS!!!
... Additionally, we are currently gearing up to develop both the English and Japanese versions of Ultima VII, Savage Empire, and Martian Dreams for the Super Nintendo, a sequel to Ultima Gameboy, and Wing Commander I, Secret Missions 1, Secret Missions 2, Wing Commander II, Special Operations 1, and Special Operations 2 for the FMTowns CD computer with digitized speech. ADDITIONALLY, we are going to be developing the French and German translations of Wing Commander II, Ultima VII and Strike Commander. These new projects will require approximately 15 new PD personnel.
- Marketing reports on an award for the original Wing Commander: "CONGRATULATIONS to the Wing Commander team and Martian Dreams team! Wing Commander won the award for the Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1990 at the Origins National Gaming Convention and Exposition."
- Product Development updates on the status of Wing Commander II: "An update on WCII software completion: right now, it looks like a late-August release is the best we'll achieve, unfortunately. The entire team continues to scramble madly to wrap-up the project and QA has its hands full with loads of cleanup work on bugs they are trying to resolve with the programming staff. The product looks absolutely sensational... it's turned out to be even BIGGER and DEEPER than anyone expected, which is why it's tracking several weeks behind schedule right now. Completion is critical... not only because we have an unprecedented backlog of buyer demand stacking up at retail stores around the world, and a first-day rollout rapidly approaching 50,000 units... but also because we are racing to beat our flight simulator Fall competition to be the first on the shelves! Also expected to release in the next few weeks: 'Secrets Of The Luftwaffe' from Lucasfilm, 'Falcon 3.0' from Spectrum Holobyte, and 'F-117A Stealth Fighter' the F-19 sequel from Microprose. He who gets there first 'wins' for the largest and fastest early sell through at retail, a momentum-building that is hard to replicate. So, if you see any members of the Wing II team crawling bleary-eyed around the offices, give 'em a few words of encouragement and support (and THANKS!) for the effort they are making to get WCII launched onto the charts in the No. 1 position."
- International also presents a letter from Origin's UK distributor, Mindscape:
Europe Awaits The Second Coming Of The Commander
(The following is a repring of a letter received from Mindscape - U.K.:)
Thank you for sending us Wing Commander II beta version.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dallas, Chris and the rest of the team on another superb creation - on behalf of everyone here at Mindscape, please pass on my congratulations to everyone involved (which I guess is going to be pretty much the whole company!)
STOP PRESS: The Wing Commander II expanded demo came in and went straight out as the star performer on the Origin Roadshow - a three day trek around the country visiting all of our key account distributors and some key retail outlets. We took a suitably equipped PC installed with WCII and the other current Origin titles - everyone who has seen it in action is totally amazed and very impressed by what they have seen. This looks like good news for the sales figures... as I'm sure MArten will be delighted to hear!
So once again, well done to all involved. I think this is going to be a wonderful summer!
With all best wishes,
Product Development Manager
Mindscape International (U.K.)
- Finally, the issue reprints the September 119 Computer Gaming World's Top Ten Rated Computer Games list: "... Wing Commander continues to soar as the #1 rated Action game." (and the number one game overall).
Point of Origin
Vol. 1, No. 3 - August 7, 1991
Feature Story - Our Cup: Is It Half Full? Or Half Empty? by Dallas Snell
Sales - Bulldogs Cleaning Up on Christmas... From Canada to California and Cleveland
Marketing - "Pro Gamers" Rag on Designs, Bestow Awards
Product Development - Racing to Beat the Competition
Customer Service - Martian Dreams 'A Dream' on CS Support
International - Rob Makes Another Sushi Run; Brings Back the Beef
International - Europe Awaits the Second Coming of the Commander
Entertainment - Cookin' Up Lunch, Picnics, and Parties!
Help! (Wanted) - Job Openings...
Help! (Granted) - New Assignments...
Random Bits - Answers Later
Random Bits - Garb Check
Computer Gaming World's Top Ten Rated Computer Games