This issue of The Point of Origin represents a time most of us remember fondly - the release of Wing Commander III! The rare Origin product that shipped on time, Wing Commander III completely changed the face of gaming -- with effects which last to this day. But how was the launch felt at Origin?
by John McLean
After eighteen months of development, during which more than 140 people worked some 125,000 man-hours, Wing Commander III is finally heading out the door. And not a moment too soon. At a cost of $4 million, Origin & EA's biggest-ever Interactive Movie will need to kick ass and take names in retail outlets this Christmas in order to repay the company's investment.
Fortunately, advance orders and early public buzz are encouraging. In the inimitable words of Marten Davies, "We're going to blow the doors off worldwide!" The completion of this massive project also marks the beginning of a new era in the computer game business.
Although live-action video isn't suitable for every title, an increasing number of producers are discovering that real actors can add significantly to the impact of their projects. "Computer games will never be the same," says Chris Roberts. "And we're there to lead the charge."
Yet blending traditional art, programming and audio requirements with a live-action component complicates a project enormously. Alliances between computer game companies and Hollywood actors, agents, unions and crewmembers were unknown a year ago. Now they're becoming a regular part of the interactive landscape.
While landing Hollywood veterans for a production costs money, if Wing commander III is any indication, the results are worth it. An experienced crew and cast bring professionalism, name recognition and high-quality work to the dance. Though the film community doesn't even pretend to understand the technical nature of creating computer games, they're fascinated by our industry and, in the end, their goal's the same as ours--to entertain as many people as possible with each new project.
Producing a movie of any size is difficult under the best of circumstances. When you add to the equation the programming challenges of topping the popular Wing Commander game and the enormous art hurdles of generating hundreds of objects, sets and animations, the result is nothing short of a logistical nightmare.
"Damn, that was a lot of work," says Art Director Chris Douglas. "But we pulled through and hopefully managed to set a new standard for the rest of the artists in this industry."
Generating the tremendous amount of art, code and audio was one thing. Keeping track of it all to make sure everything fit together and nothing fell through the cracks was another. At the peak of production, four separate people were engaged full-time in tracking and routing the constantly increasing amount of material.
Right up to the end, the sheer size of a game packed onto 4 CD-ROMs created new challenges. "The hard part about this project is that we have essentially two gigs worth of data,' says Director Frank Savage. "The fact that we can even keep track of that two gigs of data and not have each version totally screwed up is something of a miracle."
Simultaneous with the final stages of development, Origin's marketing department has been banging the drum for the title at events in New York City, Austin, Los Angeles and numerous points in between. Meanwhile our sales department continues to pull out all the stops to make Wing Commander III the must-have hit of this Christmas season.
As to what's next for his development team, Chris Roberts will only say, "You haven't seen anything yet." Who knows, maybe there'll be yet another multi-CD Interactive Movie under Christmas trees around the world for next year?!
Back in this country, Tom McDonald is jumping on the Wing Commander Armada bandwagon. In the December issue of PC Gamer, Tom listed Armada as one of his favorite modem games. "One of the best arcade titles I've ever played head-to-head," Tom writes. "Armada has it all."
And speaking of the December issue of PC Gamer, the cover has the Wing Commander III cover art on it. The guys at PC Gamer did an excellent job previewing the game. They even included the WC3 demo on the CD that comes bundled with the mag. Bill Trotter did a marvelous write-up inside. "Drop-dead gorgeous graphics," he wrote about Wing III. "The integration of digitized and computer-generated images was utterly smooth and convincing in every respect. The acting here is some of the best ever in a PC game." And that's not all, but space limitations prohibit me from going on.
It seems there are many others sitting up and taking notice of Wing III. Bernie Yee had an excellent article on the game in USA Today in the November 2 edition. That was a result of a Wing III press day in New York City last month put on by ORIGIN's Media Relations Dept. While Chris Roberts and Frank Savage demonstrated the game, cast members Mark Hamill, John Rhys-Davies and Ginger Lynn Allen talked to the media. Other media who stopped by to have a look included The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, Billboard Magazine, Fortune, and Forbes.
Meanwhile, other gaming magazines are singing the praises of WC3. Bill Meyer of Electronic Entertainment writes, "Hold on to your joystick, because Wing Commander III is about to redefine the genre once again."
Bill Kunkel of Electronic Games, not to be outdone, writes, "The world of interactive entertainment has taken a quantum leap forward."
Charles Ardai, one of those who attended the NYC event, also appears to be in the WC3 fold. "ORIGIN's Wing Commander III heralds a new era in interactive cinema," he exclaims. "Chris Roberts has pulled off the impossible yet again; he's topped not only himself, but the entire industry of which he is a part." And Wing III apparently was music to Charles' ears. "You can hear the soundtrack loud and clear, and it's a beaut: a symphonic overture full of dread and mystery that would do John Williams proud."
Wing Commander III has also been featured on television quite a bit lately. This past weekend VH1 included a story about the game in its movie preview show "Flix." In recent weeks some of the WC3 cast have been plugging the game on national talk shows. Ginger Lynn Allen did just that while she was a guest on the Howard Stern show. And just last week, Malcolm McDowell did the same while he was on the Jon Stewart show. Last month, "The Computer Man," a nationally syndicated computer show, turned the spotlight on WC3.
And WC3 isn't the only Wing Commander drawing the headlines these days. In case you missed it, Computer Gaming World inducted Wing Commander II into its hall of fame. Calling it "one of the most popular games of all times," WC2 joins Wing Commander and three of the Ultimas in the CGW Hall of Honor.
Bill Trotter, who wrote the previously mentioned WC3 article in PC Gamer, was impressed with other games currently under development at ORIGIN... Meantime, the reviews keep coming in from several older ORIGIN titles. Trent Ward gave Privateer CD a four rating out of five in CD-ROM Today. "Stunning graphics, crisp digitized sound, and totally absorbing game play."
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 61 - November 23, 1994
ContentsSpotlight: Wing Commander III and beyond
Last Saturday's Arena Tournament was a blast! The Wing Commander community has some great players. A few photographs and score totals are below. Dundradal won a one-year XBox Live subscription for taking first place. SX Glory was second, FrankyDrake/MartySheen was third and LeHah was fourth to round out the finalists. They each won a 1600 MS marketplace point card. Mr Freight/Jacob, Goku, WCNohbody/Death and MeadHall01/Overmortal rounded out the rest of the top eight. They won a choice between a CIC Glass or Eisen Hat. Email us with your address to claim prizes. Thanks to all who participated, and hopefully we see you online again soon.
Your next chance to catch a familiar squadron online might come this Saturday. Crius.net member Zeriam is trying to organize a 16-player match around 8:00 pm Central (6:00 pm Pacific, 9:00 pm Eastern and 2:00 am GMT). This could be a great opportunity for anyone missing the TCS Tiger's Claw achievement. Keep an eye on this thread for details.
|Semi-final score totals
(three rounds cumulative):
|Final round score totals:
This shows early work on the '3D' aspect of the 3D avatars - in this case, a Kilrathi warrior. You actually saw him earlier in the rough 'lounge' artwork!Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
Warning - the October 7th, 1994 issue of The Point of Origin contains a photograph of a man kissing Wing Commander Armada... so download it quick! The drought of Wing Commander references is ending -- nearly every article mentions the series in some way!
It's been two weeks since Wing Commander Armada and System Shock shipped, however it's taken less time than that to realize we had two gigantic hits on our hands. Within hours after the games hit the store shelves, gamers from all over the country were talking about both products online.
'Gonna spend some time today and make some real raunchy taunts so I can finish this head to head game....My wife is gonna sue ORIGIN over this game,' wrote one Armada player. 'Wow, fantastic game!' wrote another. 'My brother and I love it! We've been kicking butt from dawn to dusk, and it's endless slaughter! The taunt files really add a lot to the game; a moment of hilarity is always added by an appropriately timed Clint Eastwood, 'Make my day,' or a Terminator, 'Hasta la vista!'
... We're back in a big way,' says ORIGIN sales vp Marten 'Bulldog' Davies. 'With Armada, we've listened to our customers and given them a sci-fi oriented, head-to-head, modem game that they can play at their leisure when they want to.'... Just look at what happened at local stores and you'll get an idea of the success for both of these games. 'Babbages was completely out of Armada on day one and they had something like 17 units in the store,' according to Marten. 'At Best Buy, they were already on their second order of System Shock on the day after the product shipped.' He said it was much the same story for Armada. Kind of a nice problem to have, eh Marten?
'It feels really good,' says Armada director Jeff Everett. 'I guess I'm kind of surprised that people were as excited about it as they are. I always liked it and the people in QA liked it, but you never know if a game is going to be perceived good or bad until it's out there on shelves. I just wasn't going to let myself get to the point where I thought everybody's going to love this game regardless of what happens. But now, everyone seems to like it.'
... 'Bottom line,' says Marten, 'more power to Jeff Everett and his team and Warren Spector and the guys at Looking Glass. Two great products.'
The Wing Commander III juggernaut is starting to roll, folks. The latest issue of Strategy Plus is out and features WCIII on its cover. Steve Bauman, who made a trip to Austin in late August to get a first-hand look at the game, obviously came away impressed. Listen to these comments, 'Origin may have actually accomplished their goal of creating the first truly interactive cinematic experience, an action movie where you get to be the hero and one where the long-promised marriage of Hollywood and Silicon produces something that both can be proud of. Of the numerous current 'interactive movies' that use live actors with computer rendered backgrounds, none come even close to Wing Commander III's level of integration.' And what about that music, Steve. 'The sound of a space opera is like this is of utmost importance, and once again Wing Commander III delivers in spades.'
Plan on seeing at least one more cover story on WC 3 in the December issue of PC Gamer (on the stands in mid-November). Bill Trotter, a self-avowed Wing Commander addict, travelled to Austin last month to see if all the hype on the game is true. Let's just say Bill's addiction won't be cured anytime soon. In addition, PC Gamer and its sister publication, CD-ROM Today, will be including the just-finished WC III demo on a CD that will come packaged with the magazines.
But wait, there's more. WC III has popped up in other publications across the country. Axcess magazine, kind of a new wave/movie/entertainment publication, wrote, 'Wing Commander III takes the concept of the interactive movie to new limits. It's Hollywood's biggest interactive experiment to date.'
There also were nice previews in the new Cinescape magazine from Sendai Publications and in Sci-Fi Universe. Closer to the release date expect stories on the Today Show and on VH-1. Watch for dates and times on your e-mail.
It's a little too early to see what most reviewers are going to say about ORIGIN's latest releases, System Shock and Wing Commander Armada. Gamestar magazine in Australia, though, has gotten a bit of a head start... Armada came in with even more kudos. 'The graphics are just totally mind blowing with the best bitmap graphics I'd ever - and I mean ever - seen in my life. A totally awesome game.'
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 60 - October 7, 1994
ContentsSpotlight: Back on Top
Off the Wire
"It's Time for a Focus Group"
Quality Entertainment Dept.
Will we see our third Wing Commander release in three years in 2008? A plurality of WC fans had their doubts, but with all the excitement that EA Replay and Wing Commander Arena generated, don't forget that this could be a record year for community activity. Look no further than our recent fan project nominees for a reminder of the awesome Wing Commander things cooking right now. And keep an eye on the front page for news throughout the year. No matter which option you picked, there's sure to be tons of surprises in the year ahead.
Wing Commander created the Firekkans with Secret Missions 2 and then promptly ignored them for fifteen years as being too hard to do 'seriously' in a modern graphics engine. Well, the guys at Gaia were up to the challenge - and they created this beautiful, elegant Firekkan character concept.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
Surfer Girl Reviews Star Wars, a credible and industry-respected game rumor blog, is reporting something that we've all been waiting to hear: "That epic space game from EA [referring to an earlier rumor] is a new Wing Commander." This is only a rumor at this stage, so we do not want to overstate anything. It does match some other unofficial talk heard in recent days -- this could be the big one. Surfer Girl does seem to be the real deal - we can confirm that the information she posted on FreeLancer 2 several months ago is absolutely genuine. The original report is here. Thanks to Hexx for reporting this!
Edit: The wording on Surfer Girl's page has changed. It now reads "That epic space game from EA is not a new Wing Commander, but a new Wing Commander is in development." No change in intent on her part - just a suggestion that EA has another separate major space games in development. It seems to have been sparked by this exchange in the comments area:
Comment: Lastly, why are you contradicting yourself? In the first post mentioning the "epic space game," you said in the comments that it's NOT Wing Commander. You have little credibility as it is, so be mindful of consistency.
Surfer Girl: Oh...that game, yeah, that is not Wing Commander.
September 9, 1994 and the release of Wing Commander III is getting closer! We're also starting to see the first mentions of Crusader, another future-classic currently in development. In terms of actual WC mentions, though, it's the calm before the storm...
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 59 - September 9, 1994
ContentsSpotlight: A GENCON State of Mind
With all the new threads popping up, it got my mind going. We are discussing and analyzing all aspects of WC - why not refresh all of our memories?
What I'm proposing is that we have a weekly replay. We'll start with WC1 and play each week, then log onto the CZ to discuss those missions. Depending on what people think we could also extend it to a two week period or whatever works. I figure this way we could replay the main games in several months' time and all enjoy playing them in unison by sharing war stories and tactics.
CIC Game Guides.
After you've completed three systems, come back here and make your posts. The format for the posts are completely left up to the individual, so feel free to express your experience in any way you like. I'm curious to see what you guys can cook up, as I'm still thinking about how I want to do my own.
So get your copies of Wing Commander, Kilrathi Saga or whatever format you have WC1 in. Make sure it's installed and ready to rock tomorrow!
This is the avatar concept artwork for a Terran pilot - note the Wing Commander III style uniform! They really must have done a lot of research before putting digital pen to screen on this project.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
This is a short one - the August 12, 1994 issue of The Point of Origin doesn't have much about Wing Commander... but it's chock full of company culture! Coming up with all of those funny sports team names sounds like a full time job in itself...
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 58 - August 12, 1994
ContentsSpotlight: Threepeat In Ink
Off the Clock
One of the most unfortunate 'time and budget' cuts from Arena was the game's avatar system. It would originally have had a character generator which made 3D avatars for individual players... which would then appear on comm screens, Wanted posters and in other places. A lot of concept art was done to create Terran, Kilrathi and even Firekkan characters! First up is a drawing of a typical Kilrathi 'talking head':Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
The Point of Origin has an all-new look -- it's more professional, more fashionable and less home-spun. Is this the first sign of things to come? Let's see what's inside... (Actually, the honest reaction to Pacific Strike seems fairly interesting to me.)
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 57 - July 15, 1994
ContentsSpotlight: Summer CES: Back to the Future
Galen's Best & Worst of CES
A Bad(ge) Story
Off the Clock
We saved the best for last when it comes to environments: this is concept art for a mode which would have impressed a lot of people... a Nephilim wormhole map! Nephilim ships (seen here) would have emerged from the wormhole to do battle with human players. It would have been pretty neat to team up with friends against alien AIs! Our last set, characters, starts next!Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
The June 3, 1994 issue of 'The' Point of Origin has even more from the set of Wing Commander III -- and a few references to things happening behind the scenes, like the cancellation of Pacific Strike CD. The sad thing is that the voices were already recorded -- are they still out there somewhere? With the absence of an Origin flight sim community there's no one to fight for such things...
(Ed note--John McLean has been in Los Angeles for the past five weeks, working on the studio production segment of Wing Commander III. He files this report on the goingson when the lights came on at the Wing III set.)
(Los Angeles) Origin's most ambitious interactive title to date, Wing Commander III, has just completed principal photography at Hayvenburst Studio in Los Angeles.
Under the direction of Chris Roberts this live action portion of the game promises to inaugurate a new era of cutting edge entertainment, both for ORIGIN and the entertainment industry as a whole.
Some 60 hours of footage were recorded on two adjacent sound stages during the 25-day shoot. What's more, for the first time in cinematic history not a single 'real' set was used in the production. Instead, every angle of every background was created from scratch on ORIGIN's own computers. The WC3 art department under the guidance of Chris Douglas and with the assistance of Silicon Graphics workstations and Alias software generated the dozens of impressive sets in which the story takes place.
The production involved more than 80 experienced film professionals who put in 12 to 18 hour days in order to realize Chris Roberts' vision of the final chapter of the Terran-Kilrathi struggle. The name talent includes the likes of Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies, Tom Wilson, Jason Bernard, Courtney Gaines and the ever popular Ginger Lynn-Allen.
Without exception, the actors were fascinated by the process of interactive moviemaking. After mastering the technical requirements of playing their roles while moving around an 'empty' stage, the talent began to take an active interest in the technology used to create Wing Commander III. This ranged from simple Hardware Envy of the formidable array of equipment the Origin team brought to LA (including an SGI Indigo, a Pentium, two Quadra 950s, two 486s and our ubiquitous lap-tops) all the way up to hands-on tinkering with our state-of-the-art AVID 1000 digital editing system.
Although always intense and frequently frustrating, the shoot progressed without any major complications thanks in part to a close monitoring of contracts, budgets and schedules by resident 'suits' in both Austin and San Mateo.
Taking advantage of a well-budgeted, live-action production is the free publicity the project attracts, and Wing Commander III was no exception. Due to the persistent effects of Origin's marketing department, the computer press turned out in force. Besides being dazzled by our technological feats of high-tech entertainment, they were visibly wowed by having the opportunity to sit down with household names such as Mark Hamill and fire off questions about the future of this new medium. But our press didn't stop there. Among other visitors to the set were representatives of the Today show, VH-1, the Los Angeles Times, Premiere, the Associated Press and USA Today. And if their reactions were any indication, the buzz on WC3 is that it's gonna be the hit software title of the year!
Meanwhile back in Austin...
Origin's programmers, led by director Frank Savage, have made rapid progress in building the backbone of the game itself. They've faced hurdles involving image compression, mission design and building a game that lives up to the hype--no mean feat.
In the weeks ahead, the live-action footage will be edited down to a tight 90-110 minutes of dramatic material. Final compositing will take place at Electronic Arts' D-suite in San Mateo and then brought back to Austin to be married with the remaining components of the game.
Look for Wing Commander III to hit retail outlets everywhere for Christmas of 1994.
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 56 - June 3, 1994
ContentsORIGIN GOES HOLLYWOOD
EOM - Evan Brandt
Dear Point Man
Here's a more detailed look at the 'lost station' map. It was replaced 'in game' with the TCS Port Broughton map... you can see how it would have worked here, complete with bordering shield emitters to contain the action.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
May 6, 1994: This isn't Point of Origin... it's The Point of Origin, now edited by David Swofford. What do these changes mean? A lot more Wing Commander, apparently!
(Ed. note: Adam Foshko gives us his first hand account of how the Wing III shoot is faring after one week.)
(Los Angeles)-In an immense area of stone, there is something evil afoot; a single razor-sharp talon caresses the young woman in the battle-worn fatigues. It removes a single blonde hair from her face, and plays dangerously close to her blue eyes. She remains frozen. The Kilrathi prince peers at his captive like a hungry cat stalking a mouse. He salivates at the thought of blood. She remains defiant, spitting in his face. After a moment of surprise, he regards his prize with renewed lust... his eyes dilate in anticipation and with a great roar, he strikes...
"Cut..." is heard from the mass of people, huddled around the playback monitor. Chris Roberts removes his headset and has a word with his Director of Photography, Virgil Harper. After conferring for a moment, a light is refocused on the character of Angel, (Yolanda Jilot). She smiles and nods as Chris adds a few more comments for her character. With that, Chris returns to his monitor and the Assistant Director, Harry Jarvis, again calls to roll tape.
Elsewhere in the large soundstage in Los Angeles, there is more activity: Blair, played by Mark Hamill, is sitting under the shade of a large umbrella running lines with one of his costars, Ginger Lynn Allen, who plays Rachel. A call from wardrobe comes down to them; it's time for them to change into their costumes for the next scene. They retreat back inside the facility, joined by Jennifer MacDonald (Flint), who also must change for an upcoming scene.
The editing room (from where this account comes) is abustle with the cutting together of segments from the day's shooting. Roberts comes in for a moment to look at some newly assembled footage on the AVID. He likes it and makes a couple of suggestions for pacing. With that he is gone. He has to get back to the stage for a rehearsal. Donna Burkons, Line Producer, steps in to see how we are doing, followed by Pam Auer, the Production Manager. 'This footage looks great', says Phil Gessert (Editor), I have to agree. We stop for a moment to check a technical background question with Mark Vearrier (who, with Chris Douglas is supervising the SGI rendering for compositing on set). Richard Johnson, in the company of Mark Day from EA, also stop in on their way to the stage. We show another clip, during which another roll comes in fresh and hot from the set to be digitized and cut.
There is lots of action going on here, soon we are to expect other cast members: Tom Wilson (Maniac), John Rhys-Davies (Paladin), Malcolm McDowell (Tolwyn) and others to arrive. With 18 more shooting days planned and another stage for second unit work to address, we have a lot to do. However for now, as Michael Hood from Precision Effects (who built the Kilrathi creatures for the shoot) reminds me with one beclawed index finger, 'That's show business...'. Wrong, Michael, that's the interactive business.
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 55 - May 6, 1994
ContentsCover to Cover
On the Road
Bulldog Bytes from Marten Davies
A Note From Down Under (EA-Australia)
SEARCH and FIND, SHOW and TELL
Sharon on Email Etiquette
Lights, Camera, Kilrathi...
Dear Point Man
Everyone has seen this splash image in-game, but now you can make it your desktop! It was originally a gameflow screen which would have presented information about ship upgrades, available missions, etc. It's a beautiful image, regardless of what it's doing.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
The March, 1994 issue of Point of Origin is full of interesting Wing Commander references, including a mention of 'trial' versions of Academy and Origin FX that I had not heard of before. The most interesting thing, though, is another passing mention of 'Bounty Hunter' -- here called "our most futuristic product." What was it?
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 54 - March, 1994
Off to Market
EOM Whitney Ayres
On the Clock
Dear Point Man
This space station shows up in a lot of early concept art but was ultimately replaced with the Perry-style base seen in the game's intro. It survived well into a working build of the game, though - when Chris and I first saw Arena the original station was in place.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
If you like to get a printed copy of the 2nd novel from the "Erwachen" series of books, here is the way to do so:
Send an email to email@example.com
Please include the following info:
- your (real) name
- a fully functional mailling address (!)
- ..including your town/land, state/province and country
The release is set for late January. We just want to see how many copies we should order overall. If you want more than one copy, please let us know! We can not yet tell you how much the print will cost. Our goal is anything under 16 € per book...
Stay tuned. More soon!
The promised 1994 'Valentines Day' issue of Point of Origin doesn't have much romance... but it does profile one past and one future Wing Commander developer. All in all, though, 1994 seems pretty quiet - with all the talk about Bioforge and Super Wing Commander, there's little to suggest the sheer size of currently-simmering Wing Commander III.
The editors of PC Entertainment got together and selected their top games of 1993 and Ultima Underworld II was among four ORIGIN games that made the honor role.
...William R. Trotter put Wing commander Academy among the best of 1993. 'One intense battle after another,' he said. 'Every afternoon I take a 'Wing Commander break' instead of a coffee break--it's cleansing, cathartic, and better for your heart...'
Do you think he liked it?
... And of course, what's a 'best of' list without Privateer? Once again Bernie Yee has the lowdown. 'General MIDI and Wave-Blaster support make for a state-of-the-art soudntrack, and the graphics are up to Origin's high standards.'
Speaking of Privateer, Compute magazine gave the award winning game a big thumbs up in its February issue. David Gerding proclaimed, 'On a fast 486 system, the animation can look downright gorgeous. A real accomplishment. ORIGIN has turned out a real winner.'
... In Japan, they like what they see of Wing Commander Academy. In Popcom, a Japanese gaming magazine, Toren Smith writes, 'Wing Commander Academy is like a dream come true for hardcore WC addicts.'
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 53 - February 15, 1994
Off-the-clock: Adam Foshko
EOM: Bruce Lemons
3DO to sharply cut Multiplayer prices in 94
Another awe-inspiring space vista. The crystals are a dead give-away; it clearly became the 'Boneyard' map. Interesting side-note: the folks at Gaia confirmed that the 'sunken ship' located in that map is intentionally a Pelican transport.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
January 28, 1994 - the first Point of Origin of the year! This one includes a big story from CES, where both Super Wing Commander and the Interactive Movie line were officially launched. There's also an interesting note in the In Print section... about an appearance by Privateer in the TV show Viper. The episode was apparently called "Ghosts," in the show's first season -- anyone have a copy?
And the good reviews keep coming in for Privateer. In January's edition of PC Entertainment, Scott Wolfwrites,'Privateer pulls you in gently, then holds you with an iron grip.' Wolf gives Privateer a 4.5 rating out of 5.
Al Giovetti likes what he sees with Privateer. Giovetti writes for Electronic Games and gives Privateer a 90 percent rating. Giovetti says, 'Graphics, sound effects, music and speech are all entertaining. Privateer may be the best Wing Commander yet.'
Speaking of the best, the writers of Computer Game Review liked enough of what they heard on Privateer to rank it number one for Best Sound of the Year in the mag's rundown on the best games of 1993. CGR wrote, 'What makes the voices so great in Privateer is that they don't sound like they were done by the same people that show up in a lot of movies they show on late-night cable. In other words t hey were right on as far as acting ability and intensity.'
And in case you missed it, Priateer made it's network television debut on the NBC program 'Viper.' Several months ago, program producers asked ORIGIN for a Privateer box that could be used as a prop. It finally showed up in the January 14th episode. One of the characters even mentioned Privateer by name.
.. COMPUTE magazine starts off the new year with nothing but good things to say abotu ORIGIN products. Several titles were recognized in the magazine's special section, 'COPUTE's Getting Started.' Wing Commandergames were listed among the article'stop 10 arcade games.'Dynamic space combat wrapped around acinematicstoryline,' the author writes. 'Ferocious action scenes, featuring in-your-face 3-D dogfights.' Concerning Wing Commander Academy, the same author writes, 'Nothing but pure adrenaline-pumping action.'
... The same magazine [PC Games Plus], which is published in Australia and distributed in Asia, Canada and the UK, alsohad some good things to say about Privateer. Michael O'Brien proclaims, 'Privateer is one of the most addictive games that I have played in a long time.' O'Brien closes by saying, 'To all the players who want a space game above the ordinary, Privateer is an excellent choice.'
Point of Origin
Vol. IV, No. 52 - January 28, 1994
EOMs: The Marks of Excellence
LOOK! NEW TRAINING CLASSES!
On the Clock
Dear Point Man
The Top-10 Things I've Learned While Working at ORIGIN
A Word from Sharon
The cancelled game was our primary project and we have a complete MMO engine w/ networking infrastructure, tools suite, and next-gen rendering engine. The company remains extremely committed to the IP and once all mutual obligations have been completed between the publisher and ourselves we intend to explore every possible avenue to see that our team’s collective vision come to fruition.
We want to stress that there are no bad feelings with NCSoft. There is a tremendous amount of mutual respect between our companies. They have conducted themselves with honor and integrity, and we would work with them again in an instant.
We are still here, stable and strong, and running a little bit lighter while we figure out our next move. What does not kill us makes us stronger said the philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. That may be true, but it isn’t pleasant. Wish us luck and good fortune.
Here's another gameflow concept. This would have been the where you bought upgrades and selected munitions for your fighter, similar to the Ships Dealers in Privateer.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
Issue 51 ("December") marks the end of 1993 for Point of Origin -- and marks the start of some changes. From this point on the newsletter will be published monthly... so there will be fewer issues a year from the point on. That's good news for those who are eager to see Wing Commander III and IV's releases. That said, this issue is interesting for a few reasons - including being the surprisingly early first appearance of the beautiful Wings of Glory box artwork. Who knew that incredible game was in development for so long?
Point of Origin
Vol. III, No. 51 - December, 1993
ContentsViva Las COMDEX!
Print and Prizes
Dear Point Man
Employee of the Month
Most Popular Compuserv Cheat Programs
Changes in Store for Point of Origin
This is part of a series of beautiful Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
3DO! 3DO! It's funny to look back at all this positive press about the 3DO - because in retrospect it certainly feels like the initial pricepoint doomed the system before anyone even had a chance to try it out. Nevertheless, it gave us two excellent Wing Commander games... and this Point of Origin (November 8, 1993) raises the 3DO hype to a fever pitch!
Point of Origin
Vol. III, No. 50 - November 8, 1993
Contents3DO Does Dallas
Hire and Hire
Just a reminder...
Well, this started off as just an experiment to tag a couple of the TNC Infoburst segments from WC3 together, yet as things progressed it took a bit of a detour. After trying to flesh out the Infoburst with some file footage, intro titles, stock tickers, etc I thought about temping out some snippets of other 'Holovid' programming that might fit in with the typical television/holovid environment circa 2669 -- assuming it actually exists in such a form -- using a bunch of Wing Commander related stuff.
Anyway, I had a blast doing it; perhaps too much fun, so don't take any of the items or references too seriously! I definitely plan to revisit this idea at some point, but not in the 2669 time frame and have already secured one 30-second spot for the next video, luckily not from the Galactic Frungy League!
P.S. A word of warning to a sneaky cat whose name begins with T: you know what they say about curiosity!
This is the second of four paintings which show potential map hazards. This one shows yet another view of the 'black hole' concept, which would have drawn unobservant players into death at its core.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
I spent some time over the last weeks combining 2 of my favourite occupations - one is Wing Commander, the other one is Lego. :)
Happy Halloween! This spooky issue of Point of Origin celebrates the release of Shadowcaster... will this unconventional 'not quite Origin' release live up to the company's past standards? In a word...
Point of Origin
Vol. III, No. 49 - October 22, 1993
ContentsShadowcaster Signs Off While Privateer Keeps Flying
Of Costumes, COoking & Christmas
Big Bump in Profits
Off the Clock - Trey Hermann
Humans & Resources
This version features entirely new com and audio messages, a few new ships, two new missions and a new briefing that takes full advantage of Flight Commander 1.5.
This is the second of four paintings which show potential map hazards. This spaceborne lightning would randomly strike and cripple fighters during dogfights in a nebula-style maps - a real reversal of fortunes.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
Privateer has been released! At this time, October 13, 1993, it's too early to tell how it will sell or how it will be reviewed... but the early signs are positive!
Point of Origin
Vol. III, No. 48 - October 13, 1993
ContentsMore from the Road
HR Puff and Stuff
Dear Point Man
Start the Presses
Bucks per Bodies
Employee of the Month: Prem Krishnan
I've released one final version of DXMCI and the sources under GNU GPL. The latest version adds support for Starfleet Academy DVD (maybe not so interesting here) and an option in the configuration for forcing mpeg2dec (so dxmci can work alongside PowerDVD, forcing mpeg2dec to be used). I don't have time to work on it anymore (haven't had time in a while, but WC4 seems to have worked pretty well, mostly just DirectShow and codec problems), but this way somebody can improve it or fix it in the future (Vista and beyond...). I still enjoy reading the wcnews site and this board, so I'll still drop in occasionally. :)
This is the second of four paintings which show potential map hazards. This one is a cloudy nebula which would obscure enemy fighters, weapons and other obstacles. Although nebulae show up in the background of the finished game, they do not act as hazards.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
Sin embargo, Roberts no concibió esta película sólo para los seguidores del juego de ordenador - que pueden debatir - y así lo harán - el aspecto y atmósfera de la cinta comparada con el juego en todos los numerosos canales de conversación (chats) de Internet - y más teniendo en cuenta el hallazgo verdaderamente apreciado de imágenes digitales referidas a los decorados y personajes que ya se hallan en circulación. "La película ofrece toda la acción, impactos visuales, y personajes provocativos que millones de seguidores de todo el mundo de Wing Commander esperan"- según promete Roberts. "Sin embargo, la película WING COMMANDER atraerá a las masas porque hemos elaborado una historia totalmente nueva; la gente que va al cine no necesita estar familiarizada con el juego para entender o disfrutar la película".
However, Roberts conceived this film not only for devotees of computer game - they can discuss, and do, the appearance and atmosphere of the film compared to the game in numerous channels on the Internet -- by taking into account the images relating to props and characters that are already in circulation. "Wing Commander offers all the action, visual impacts, and provocative characters that millions of followers around the world look forward to" - as promised Roberts. "However, the film WING COMMANDER appeals to the masses because we have developed a completely new story, the people who go to the movies need not be familiar with or understand the game to enjoy the movie."
This September 24, 1993 issue of Point of Origin is interesting because it includes a firsthand account of displaying Origin games at a tradeshow; you can find relevant portions quoted below. On a sad note, this is also the Point of Origin which includes an article on Brian Smith and his amazing spaceship model.
First of all, I would like to thank Dallas and Jean-Marc for letting one of the Privateer team members go with me to the San Diego Computer Fair. I feel that it was a valuable tool to let someone from the PD group see what occurs at one of these shows.
In my opinion, the show was extremely successful. There were approximately 30,000 attendees from all walks of life. We took 1000 copies of sales fliers for Strike, WCA, Shadowcaster, Pacific Strike, and Privateer and they were gone the first day! We, of course, were the loudest group in the building and were requested several times to please turn down the volume (which we politely declined to do). While Ben Potter would demonstrate Tactical Ops, I would have another customer play WCA. For the younger crowd, I would lock-on missiles and destroy ships for them. For the older group, I would turn the guns down when an approaching ship got within range. This was the only way to ensure the line waiting to paly would move!
When we would demo Privateer, the crowd would go nuts. They didn't really like the intro that much, but once they got into the game, they got mad when we would change back to Strike. The sound effects were a real crowd pleaser... The two most asked questions at the show were: 'When is Privateer really going to ship.' and 'when is Ultima 8 going to be available?'
Point of Origin
Vol. III, No. 47 - September 24, 1993
"Bueno!" San Diego
New Hires, Departures
Off-the-clock: with Brian Smith
Dear Point Man
Happy new year!
The success of Ep 4's release, which I mentioned above, is not something I made up during my delusions of grandeur. No sir! It is evidenced by the fact that we've been voted best fan project of the year at the Wing Commander CIC's annual awards, once again! This year we tied with Wing Commander Saga, like in 2003! That's right, 2003 - this is also a sign that we've been taking too long to finish Standoff, but I'm rambling again already... here's our nifty award graphic: Thanks to everyone who voted! I should point out that the award for this year means more than ever for us, because Standoff went through a period in which it almost died off in 2006... and also because the number of amazing WC fan projects has been steadily growing over the years! Everyone should definitely head over to the CIC right now and check out all of the other contestants... you really don't want to miss out on the new life fans have been breathing into WC!
In other news...
Now for an actual Ep 5 progress report - I know we haven't updated the website in a long time, but this was one of the good silent periods, not one of the bad ones. We have done a fair amount of work on Episode 5, with more than half of our voiceover lines already processed, about a third of our talking head scenes already rendered and ready to be musicized, and three new scoreboard-enabled sim missions (out of a total of 6 which still weren't score enabled in Ep 4) undergoing testing and balancing. So even though we still have a long way to go for our final episode - specially considering it is our final episode, and we will want to perfect the game as much as possible - progress has been steady and at a good pace!
This is the first of four paintings which show potential map hazards. This one is a comet field which ultimately became the 'Meteor Storm' single player mode.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
Our last poll asked what game had your favorite asteroids. Some people like a challenge and picked the toughest asteroids to navigate, while others can't stand them and picked games where rocks were fewer and far between. There seemed to be a similar split between the two camps, but the classic asteroids from WC1/2 finally won out over WC3/4. Privateer and Prophecy, which are similar to WC1/2 and WC3/4 respectively, also received a good number of votes, but the unique environments presented by Proving Grounds, Arena and the CCG came in last.
We've got contest winners here today too, so let's jump to it.
Thanks again for all of our nominees for contributing significantly to the community throughout the year, and good luck on all your undertakings in 2008!