Chris Roberts is amidst the Swiss Alps in the lakeside city of Locarno for the world premiere of Outlander this week. A press conference for the film was held around noon today. The event coincides with the 61st Film Festival Locarno. Chris sat on the panel along with director and co-writer Howard McCain, co-writer Dirk Blackman, and stars Jack Huston and Sophia Myles.
If you need your memory refreshed, Chris acted as producer for the film. The premiere itself was held later in the evening in the Piazza Grande which is an amazing outdoor venue with seating for eight-thousand people! They (including Chris) also did a lot of interviews, so keep your eyes open for those in the future.
This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the second letters page:
CONCEPT: See the previous post!
- "Letter of the Month" - Now, obviously what this letter is about is the fact that the Wing Commander III capital ships never get names. I understand that it was done for gameplay reasons, but wasn't it frustrating as all heck? The fan community only made it worse, giving each ship a whole host of increasingly improbable names that no one really accepted. So solving that old problem (which admittably had nothing to do with Wing Commander Arena or its gameplay) was the first thing I realized could be done as flavor text with a 'letter to the editor'.
- "'69 Thunderbolt" - this would be the T-bolt variant we flew in Wing Commander 3. This is one of several attempts to suggest that space fighters are treated as similar to cars (Privateer does this, too)... and also to remind readers that we consider the original Wing Commander ships to be classics!
- "Cpl. Almond, Hades' Hellcats" - this is the first nod to a Wing Commander fan. Barrie "Cpl Hades" Almond was a member of the WC:CIC staff. "Hades' Hellcats" is also an attempt to suggest how the mercenary community organizes itself... in a manner similar to Strike Commander (and the alliterative squadron name is straight out of Starship Troopers). Finally, I thought it was funny that there was a Thunderbolt pilot from a group called the Hellcats.
- "torpedo-boat" and "gunship" - I used these (new) alternate classifications mostly just to play with the minds of everyone who insists on using this kind of text as the be-all end-all for classifying ships. Expect to see "Kamekh-class Corvette/Torpedo Boat" on the community ships list someday soon. I also like the idea that there might be a functional difference between the Kamekh and the Kamrani rather than just that they're different vintages of corvettes.
- Note that we left off the big ships that a mercenary wouldn't see in 2701 (fleet carriers and above) and included one or two that already had names (since they wouldn't have been identified under the fictional circumstances here). I made sure I gave the WC3 dreadnought a class later in the text. In all honesty, I felt some reservation about this in the end - since they weren't really my ships to name. The Armada/III/IV teams designed, built and used them... and they were happy with just the classes. But practicality won out.
- "Evansville" - I have a brother who lives in Evansville, Indiana. The citizens abbreviate the name as "E'vil"... it seemed appropriate for the sinister Black Lance transport. We processed the WCIV VDU to make it look more like a WC3 screenshot.
- "Clarkson" - I don't want to tell you what this is named after. It was originally going to be 'Clarksville', after my hometown, but then I realized that would be two 'villes in a row... and 'e-vil' was a better joke.
- "Belleau Wood" - some people didn't catch this... it's the rarely seen Confederation transport from Wing Commander Armada (the Kilrathi ship is on the opposite side). We converted the line art VDU image into something that looks like it was from Wing Commander III. It's named after a World War I battle and a Wing Commander Aces Club destroyer from years and years ago.
- "Southampton" - WC3 destroyer. The other examples we see are the Victory's escorts in Wing Commander III, the Coventry and the Sheffield. Since those two ships were named after British Type-42 destroyers lost in the Falklands War, I resolved to simply pick another ship of the same class for the name. I believe I picked Southampton because one of the CIC staff members lives there (now that I look back on the list of options I regret not picking Nottingham. Robin Hood lives there!)
- "Tallahassee" - WC3 cruiser. Everyone had assumed it was Tallahasse-class, after a reference in False Colors... so here's the confirmation.
- "Yorktown" - WC3 light carrier. Okay, this was probably the most discussed ship name in Star*Soldier (which is something, since I had a transport named after Kelly Clarkson... whoops). Here's the deal: compared to all this trivia, the one 'empty' WC3 ship name which has most frustrated fans over the years has been this one. Sure, it's annoying not knowing the escorts... but not knowing what the ship you're on? Madness, cats and dogs living together, Russians and Americans on the same space station. This will give you an idea of how long I've been around: when Wing Commander III came out, we called it Victory-class because of a reference to 'Victory class transports' in Fleet Action. The assumption being - for whatever reason - that the Victory must be a converted transport. Years later we adopted 'Ranger-class' after a reference in Action Stations. I was all set to go with that here... but then I checked it. The novel doesn't mention a Ranger light carrier, it mentions a Ranger carrier. The intention of the passage was different than I had thought - the ship was supposed to be old, not small. So I named it after the aircraft carrier that came one after the original USS Ranger, the USS Yorktown.
- "Caernaven" - WC4 frigate. This one was already (somewhat confusingly) stated in the Wing Commander IV novelization. The book claims the pirate/Black Lance base frigate from the Hellespont series is a Caernaven (so far, so good) but also that the Confederation has retired them... and since we see them in Confederation colors later in the game, something isn't right.
- "Jakhari / Dukara / Sha'kar" - The Kilrathi transports from Armada, Wing Commander 3 3DO and Wing Commander 3, in order. My original plan was to have all the Kilrathi ships be given WC1/2-based names... and there's an earlier version where all three transports start with 'Dork'. Late in the project I decided I'd rather "canonize" the various ship names created for cancelled games.. so these are the light, medium and heavy freighters mentioned in the (first) Privateer Online proposal. (Actually, I had named the Armada ship Targu II at one point, following Standoff's designation for their frigate... but that bowed to Privateer Online in the end. I do explain the difference in class names here later in the manual, though.)
- "Kamrani" - This was the name used by the Unknown Enemy fan project, the first major Wing Commander 'fan game' ever released. I wanted to credit them for that reason alone, of course... but also because they deserve recognition for bothering to give the ship an original name (with some thought behind it!) instead of an existing one (the old 'we know one of these is named Lexington, therefor it must be Lexington class!' fallacy).
- "Ralarrad / Ralaxath" - The 'scout' and 'heavy' destroyers from Wing Commander III. These are completely made up, derived from "Ralari" and "Ralatha" destroyers seen in Wing Commander I and II, respectively.
- "Fralthi II" - The Wing Commander III cruiser. This name is given in Wing Commander Prophecy. It hasn't ever sat right with me for some reason. I guess it just seems like an odd name for a ship (we have one cruiser named that, why not two!). Also, it brings up a debate I never want to have: whether the Kilrathi ships are named by the Kilrathi or by the Confederation military (like the Sivar dreadnaught).
- "Wake and Harrier CVEs" - same concept, giving names to the Confederation's two classes of escort carriers... but we didn't have a WC3 VDU image for them.
- "Landreich" - here's an early example of one of Star*Soldier's alternative purposes. It's a short few sentences that suggests (but doesn't state!) the current status of the Free Republic of the Landreich from the Wing Commander novels.
- "taking down a former Lancer" - sorry, StarLancer fans, I turned your name into a slur! I'm just kidding around; aren't we all StarLancer fans?
- "Fish in the Water" - References real torpedoes. I just wanted to point out that I think we did a great job coming up with pointless little header titles for all the letters, just like a real lifestyle magazine. This particlar question is probably the most blatant explain-continuity-for-me instance in the manual.
- "Octavio Gourami" - Named after an alt.games.wing-commander poster (Octavio Motta) and a kind of fish (which I suppose goes with the header, though it was subconscious).
- "email@example.com" - A futuristic email for University of Texas students, a school whose alumni include many Origin veterans. Hook 'em!
- "nations" - I really like normal-sounding names for futuristic space hegemonies. So sue me.
- "... McAuliffe Ambush..." - The events of Action Stations. This article is explaining the seemingly contradictory story of torpedoes (which were originally supposedly new in Wing Commander II, but then were used as a plot point in the prequel novel).
- "Advanced Phase Shielding" - Weasel words to cover up for the fact that on several occasions now (including in Action Stations) capital ship shielding was called Phase Shielding before the appearance of the new technology in Wing Commander II.
- "m/am shipkillers" - Matter/Anti-Matter torpedoes (the topedoes used in WC2, WC3 and various novels).
- "Proton bombs" - The "dumb fire" torpedo technology which appears as an oddity in the original Privateer. Since Arena includes torpedoes that cause damage and look similar to the main-series weapons but which do not require a lock (and which damage shields), I included this cross-over by means of a slight explanation.
- "VN Day" - This is the strongest indication yet that the war with the Nephilim has ended in some way (presumably VN is Victory over Nephilim day). Apologies to the letter writer, but nobody celebrates VE or VJ Day today... it's likely no one in 2701 is celebrating VK Day, either.
- "Confederation Day" - The 4th of July-style day which celebrates the founding of the Confederation. It was a major plot point in Action Stations.
- ".222 and .236" - the latter is Confederation Day, while the former (supposedly VN Day) is... August 10, the WCNews birthday event!
- "TCS William Eisen (CV-74)" - Another kindness, to canonize the information presented on the WCNews TCS Eisen hats.
- "Cheryl Johnson" - ... is not named after anyone.
- "Correction" - How do I explain this one... it is, essentially, a favor for a friend. Back in 1997 when the original Wing Commander Universe map was created they wanted to include all the members of the Wing Commander Home Sector website staff. If you've ever talked to Chris Reid or Ben Lesnick I'm sure they've bragged about this honor. However, there was another staff member on the roster - "Nigel Miller". This was in actuality a pseudonym for for Brandon Strevell, aka "ace-1". No one at Origin knew this and so his honor was somewhat odd. Given the opportunity I simply blew up another star (the one belonging to WCHS' unpopular founder, Dan "Akkbar" Hardwicke) and restructured the map a little. The idea for jump lines being affected after a supernova comes from the WC3 Bible/Confederation Handbook treatise on jump theory... plus a reference in Action Stations to the Yarin System being a humanitarian disaster because of a similar event.