Happy 10th Birthday, CIC! Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

We're the old men, ace.

I think the question on all of our minds is: can it really have been ten years? It seems impossible to me that we first did this a full decade ago. Wing Commander fans have grown up, created amazing things and stuck to the series throughout everything we've gone through since Secret Ops launched ten years ago today. I find it impossible to wrap my mind around it - I'm not ten years older than I used to be, and it sure doesn't feel like the site and the community is. Still: happy birthday, everyone!

As always, you get the presents. Unfortunately, the offerings are somewhat subdued this year - but we have a good excuse... our chance to archive the Origin material held at EA Mythic interrupted the time we ordinarily gear up to produce new birthday features and sections. We think it was worthwhile, though, and we went all out to get the job done. You'll learn more about that story today -- and you'll see more of the amazing collection in the weeks and months ahead. And hey, it's not like we won't be doing this for our eleventh birthday.

Now, let me repeat what I say every year: you're the best damn community in the world and worth all the blood, sweat, money and sacrifice that our team has put into this project. You deserve more than we can offer, really -- but we'll keep fighting for Wing Commander and Wing Commander fans everywhere... and we'll see you at the twenty year reunion.

If you aren't already in #WingNut, come on by! We're giving out prizes, arranging multiplayer games and having a big trivia contest!

We've Got a Secret Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

I'm putting you back in the cockpit, Colonel, where you will be reunited with an old friend: the thrill of battle.

Nine years and ten months ago Origin withdrew the limited-time episodic release of Secret Ops to promote Wing Commander Prophecy Gold -- and we've spent that time staying true to Mike "Boomer" McCoy's request that the files not be passed around the Wing Commander community. That all stops today, because we've finally been given official permission to distribute the entire Secret Ops package again! The free-to-download episodic Wing Commander game is free to download again!

Mythic Briefing Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Readers already know the story of how we came to be given access to Electronic Arts' archive of Wing Commander and Origin data at EA Mythic -- now we're proud to show you some of what we saw. This is just a tiny sample - our team took over 4,000 pictures, 8,000 scans, transferred three-dozen tapes and 25 SyQuests, digitized 100 VHS tapes and imaged 700 CD-ROMs.

Thanks to Paul Barnett and the rest of the team at Mythic we were able to spend five days working with this material in a dedicated conference room. From 7 AM to 7 PM we worked on site and then spent our evenings searching for missing equipment and backing up data. We truly lived like software developers for a week... it was exhausting and incredibly rewarding.

Please read on to see learn more.

The Ships of Privateer 3 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

This is the first of our 'Mythic Sample' updates - this one shows off press images of ships rendered to promote Privateer 3. The first set shows the Demon-class fighter with various engine upgrades. Then comes the Dralthi V (finally!), the Drayman (another design?!), the Fury, the 'main boss' Kilrathi station, the Manowar-class Cruiser, the Traket and the Vaktoth.

The Bases of Privateer 3 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

And here's where you would have kept those ships! These gameflow screens would have been where pilots upgraded their ships, traded, fought in arena battles and interacted with bartenders and fixers. In order: Augustus, Furnace, G-tok, New Damascus, New Parris and Yena.

Privateer 3 HD Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Here are three 'high resolution' images from Privateer 3. These promotional renderings were created for publishing in magazines or to be used in advertising material. From left to right: a Fury-class fighter, the commodity center on Augustus and an intense combat scene.

Privateer 3 Errata Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

... and here's one more piece of unused Privateer 3 artwork (for now!). It doesn't fit with the other categories, but it was too cool not to pass along - this Kilrathi skull was the logo created for the new Kilrathi military which would have been central to the game's plot:

Privateer 3 Manual Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Can you believe that Privateer 3 made it far enough in development to have its own manual? While this certainly wasn't the finished version, it's pretty cool -- check out the ship specifications for several of the classes seen in the screenshots above! Unfortunately we're missing several of the fonts, so the layout hasn't quite rendered correctly... but we'll fix that as we learn more about regenerating Origin's old Quark files. Special thanks to Standoff's PopsiclePete for growing this file! Download it here:

Star*Soldier Gloss: Cover Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

... and here's our new daily feature which will carry us through the next two months! We'll be offering commentary from the writers and designer of the Wing Commander Arena Star*Soldier manual for each page. Have a question you'd like answered about this or a future page? Post it to the forums and we will pass it along! Just think, this is a fairly short entry -- this is just the notes about what's going on on the cover...

INTRODUCTION: Hello, and thank you for reading this text commentary! Star*Soldier was a gift for the Wing Commander online community and it was honestly just a joy to put together. This is, without a doubt, the single project that I am most proud of working on. The real credit should go to Producer Sean Penney for seeing the book through to release (and into print, which was no one's plan) and to the guys at Gaia who designed a very fun game (and provided the noticably superior pieces of art in the manual.) We wanted to archive some perspectives on the 'making of' the manual and also provide a catalog of the various references and in-jokes. If that's the sort of thing you prefer to find for yourself then... you are a very cool person and I would like to buy you an ice cream sundae... and you shouldn't read on.

CONCEPT: I spent several sleepless nights trying to come up with how to do a new take on the classic Wing Commander manual concept - Claw Marks was the shipboard magazine, Voices of War was the scrapbook, Victory Streak was a strange ostensibly-computer... I wanted something in exactly that vein, but different. The first concept was that it would be a 'shelf' of books that you could select from: a FODORS-style travel guide for the planet, a JOAN'S guidebook for ships, a newspaper and so forth. We even did a mockup of this concept... but ultimately ended up just ripping off Strike Commander and doing a magazine for mercenaries instead.

NAME: The name was basically a placeholder, too - I expected to come up with something else but never did ("So, Poochie okay with everybody?") It grows on you! I later found out that there was an original Nintendo game called Star Soldier - I hope that isn't a lawsuit in the making. For my money, the correct way to write the name is with an asterix: "Star*Soldier." Special kudos to Electronic Arts for not insisting that the manual had to say 'Wing Commander Arena' on the cover. Even Claw Marks said 'Wing Commander Special Edition' on it! (And I distinctly remember someone at Origin taking issue with Crusader's promotional newsletter for suggesting that Origin was releasing a mech game called TopLine...) It would have been a reasonable request here, since it's technically a piece of advertising material rather than something you see after you open the game's box...

IMAGES: The background image for the cover is cropped from one of the earliest released screenshots of the two battlecruisers fighting. I had hoped to replace it with a special rendering or some 2D artwork or something, but it seemed to fit the feel I had for the game by the end of the project. The inset image is more interesting. It was originally a perspective 3D rendering of the Mass Driver Cannon from Wing Commander: Privateer (salvaged from Origin's 3DS file archive.) Somewhat late in development, Gaia Industries provided us with a big fat ZIP folder of concept art and I made it my mission to include all of it somewhere. Out went the mass driver and in went... this thing.

REFERENCES-

  • "Antares issue" - the Antares Quadrant, formerly the Antares Sector, was the location of Secret Missions 2: Crusade. We didn't choose the location. Arena's Producer insisted on picking a known time and place for the game very early in development. Antares was chosen because it was on the frontier between the Confederation and the Kilrathi, because it had several familiar star systems and because it was home to the oft-ignored Firekkan species
  • "Spacedock" - In retrospect, I'm not sure that this word exists outside the context of Star Trek. That should tell you my background!
  • "January 2701" - the year was established by the Wing Commander Arena team (the requirement was that it be long enough after the last released game for the Nephilim War to be over - and yes, Privateer 2 was discussed) but the month was my choice. I went with January because I liked the idea that this was the very start of a new century (it also gave me something to reference once or twice in the text.)
  • "10c/1600k" - As many Wing Commander fans know, humans use credits. We came up with a stylized 'c' to represent that. The Kilrathi character is from the Terran Confederation Handbook, which provided a chart of Kilrathi characters used in the Wing Commander movie's subtitle scenes (which probably means it was originally designed by an artist at Digital Anvil.) This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time we've seen Kilrathi money... they use Confederation credits in Action Stations. Maybe it's kind of a cheat, giving an alien species an economic system that seems to work just like ours, but it seemed like too cute a reference to exclude. Note that the exchange rate between human credits and Kilrathi {somethings} is fixed throughout the booket at 1c/160k. My basic concept here was that the post-war Kilrathi fulfilled the same role as the Japanese or the Italians in the 1950s, with both a wrecked economy and a reputation as a source for especially cheap goods.

  • The bar code doesn't mean anything, in so far as I know. Has anyone tried to scan it?

Then What Didn't Happen? Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

After the Maverick Team finished with Secret Ops, several projects were considered and even worked on - Strike Team, Privateer Online... Privateer Online again. Thanks to the Mythic project, we've learned about another one: Shadow Force, a followup to Secret Ops which would have put the player in charge of a team of mercenaries charged with impossible missions. Sound interesting? Then you'll want to read the entire original design document, available for download here (58 mb PDF)!

Background in Black Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Our minor theme today is focusing on new beginnings - focusing on what we're going to do instead of what we've done. With that in mind, Kris has updated the Secret Ops page of our Background section as an example of that site's planned overhaul. The goal is to add more information, background, trivia, links and other resources to create a comprehensive reference for each game - somewhere new users can start and old veterans can learn something new. Please let us know what else you'd like to see, because we'll be updating the entire section over the next few months... and giving it a new color. We've also updated our award-winning books section with spiffy new cover scans so detailed you could print your own copies! Check that out here.

Look Behind the Screens Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

Here are two CDs that don't come from Mythic - as a grand finale to the 'Making the Game' series, Captain Johnny has provided ISOs of his Wing Commander Prophecy and Wing Commander Secret Ops development CDs! They're full of useful information and tools - everything from ship specifications to a copy of the MED internal mission editor. Can you get it to work?

Making the Game - Part 97 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

And here's an ending! Making the Game Part 97 features Wing Commander Prophecy's "losing" mission series. This is (for now!) the last update in the Making the Game series - we hope you've enjoyed this chance to study the development of Wing Commander Prophecy. Special thanks to Billy Cain, Jorg Neumann, Adam Foshko and John Guentzel for donating materials. We'll do it again real soon!

Bible 27 - Series L
Download (5.6 MB)

Date: Unknown
Project: Wing Commander Prophecy
Donated By: Billy Cain
Pages: 11

Still Don't Call It That Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

This update isn't a new feature: it's a mea culpa, and a necessary one. Last year we started the WCPedia and asked that everyone help us develop a world-class Wing Commander Encyclopedia... but then life got in the way. In short, we screwed up -- so let's try it one more time! I'll start work on the project tomorrow at 9 AM and this time I promise it will be my #1 priority. All the same rules apply... and I hope we have some of the same good people working as we did last time around.

Standoff, Speed Up Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

The Standoff team has a very cool birthday present for everyone -- a small mod for the game that changes the Raptor into the unreleased 'speeder' ship planned for Privateer! They say:

You can head on to the downloads section to check out this new ship, which we've dubbed Artemis-class, and which will be present in Standoff's next episode among the many civilian ships that fell to the Kilrathi offensive in orbit around Mars. This patch will replace the Raptor in Standoff's simulator with the Artemis, and will temporarily disable sending your scores to the online scoreboards (for all ships), but it can be uninstalled through the Windows Add/Remove program control panel.
Grab it here (300kb).

Poll - Who's a Lifer? Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

We have an annual tradition 'round these parts - polling the audience about how long they've been part of our community. Did you board the ship for Arena or have you been privateering since WCHS days? Cast your vote and let us know!

... and as for our last poll, it looks like the TCS Tiger's Claw had the most popular briefing room. Good to know, in case... well, I'm not sure when that will ever be important. Nevertheless, good job Colonel Halcyon - you run a tight ship.

Trivia Redux Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

This is another annual tradition: the latecomers trivia. If you weren't able to make it to the birthday but would still like the chance to win a trivia prize then just be the first to email the answers to these five questions to us! You'll win yourself a CIC polo and Eisen hat. As always, all the answers are hidden somewhere at the site!

Q1: What three models of Dralthi appear in Wing Commander Arena?

Q2: What percent of people thin Redlime will be a Cybermage game?

Q3: What Wing Commander game has never appeared on an official soundtrack CD (multiple options)?

Q4: Name one type of Kilrathi fighter which had been planned for inclusion in Privateer 3.

Q5: What was the first fan project mentioned in the CIC's news?

Welcome Aboard, Newbee! Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

The Wing Commander Combat Information Center is proud to announce a rare occurrence -- the addition of a new staff member! Aaron "AD" Dunbar joins the team as a staff writer as of this update. He cut his teeth running Outlander.solsector.net - by himself - to great success (and we define success by posting news stories that manage to eat all of our bandwidth for a month in a matter of hours). We're lucky to have him!

Preserving Origin's Legacy Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

And least but not last, Joe Garrity of The Origin Museum has a video that... has to be seen to be believed. Fair warning, it's called "catsexy1.wmv". Fairer warning: the number leaves room for a sequel! (In all seriousness - it's hilarious):

Last Word: Thanks! Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

As always, we would like to thank everyone who attended or contributed to our birthday party this year. A special thanks to PopsiclePete who helped square away many of our last minute posts - Standoff is lucky to have him.

Thanks to everyone involved in creating Wing Commander over the years, especially the many talented developers who are still willing to spend their time helping our community. We couldn't do it without you guys, for any number of reasons!

Thanks to the fan project teams - Standoff, Saga and all the rest - for keeping the series alive between official releases. I always say this and it's only true half the time, but I expect big official things in the near future... and I know we can expect big unofficial things!

And a great big thanks to the other "Technosaurs": Charlotte Lesnick, Dan Chisarick and Joe Garrity were all there to help when we needed them. In addition, everyone at Mythic who took the time to make sure we were able to do this - Paul Barnett, Chris Weakley and everyone else who treated us like professionals. Thank you so much!


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