BluesNews is reporting that Electronic Arts has filed a new trademark registration for Wing Commander (as well as Populous, Theme Park and Road Rash). You can find the filing status/information here.
EA already holds the copyright to the Wing Commander IP, which gives the company long-term ownership of the series as a whole. Unlike copyrights, trademarks specifically guarantee the right to sell a product under a particular name. Trademarks must be reregistered regularly alongside proof that they are in active use.
The "Wing Commander" trademark was first registered by Electronic Arts in 1992, following their acquisition of Origin Systems. They renewed the trademark as required in 2002 -- which would ordinarily maintain it through 2012, indicating that today's application is of an irregular nature. In short, it's not proof that a Wing Commander relaunch is in the works... but it is a very positive sign.
Jetlag has put together a fascinating collection of scans of the original trademark filing and updates, which is available here (5 MB). (This does not include the new request.)
Tonight we celebrate the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's eleventh birthday, which means thanking all of you for allowing us eleven years of hosting the best community on the internet. I'm going to keep my usual introduction brief--see the last post for some thoughts on the future of our endeavor--because we have introductions from a pair of special guests who set the mood so much better than I ever could.
I will note, however, that we are also celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Wing Commander movie. I would be lying if I claimed that everyone loved the movie... but I would also be lying if I said I didn't. I think it's a wholly unique film, the only time in history when the creator of a game has had any say in the Hollywood adaptation. If it isn't perfect, it's still beautiful--please join us in half an hour for a group viewing and commentary. Ten years. Can you believe we were ever this young?
Now, without further ado, I'm proud to present the men behind the universe:
We are extremely honored to have the man himself, Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, kicking off this evening's festivities. Here is a man who needs no introduction to Wing Commander fans:
Wow! It’s been 11 years since WC news started up. Time flies! It’s all the more amazing since there hasn’t been a “real” Wing Commander since Prophecy in 1997, which is a testimony to the appeal of the universe and characters of Wing Commander and the dedication of all the fans. I never would have guessed back in late 1988 when I first started tinkering with something I was calling “Squadron” that it would turn into something so enduring. I have the many talented people that worked with me in creating the first four Wing Commanders and their various mission packs and spin offs to thank for helping to create something that has captured so many imaginations. But most of all I want to thank everyone that upgraded or bought a new PC, a sound card, a CD drive or any of the other things that Wing Commander needed to play properly. I want to thank everyone that spent hours playing through the games and now still keep the world alive with home grown games, mods to skinable games, cool paper models, user created fiction and movie projects. But most of all I want to thank WC News for keeping the torch alive in the Wing Commander Universe. So thanks to Ben and the rest of the WC NEWS staff for spending a so much of their spare time keeping everyone, including me, connected to the Wing Commander universe.
Mr. Roberts' latest film project, Outlander, is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray.
It’s been a while since I’ve actively participated in the universe but I still check out WC News to see what everyone is doing. Wing Commander is very dear to my heart. And it is something that I feel l haven’t finished with yet. So watch this space!
And happy anniversary WCNEWS!
- Chris Roberts
One of the best things to come out of the Wing Commander movie's release was author Peter Telep's magnificent novelization (and its sequel). Mr. Telep, the man behind four Wing Commander novels and nearly forty other books, was also kind enough to send birthday greetings to help us honor ten years of our wearing out our copies of his books:
When I was first hired to adapt the Wing Commander screenplay into a novel, I was thrilled and frightened out of my mind. I knew there was a huge fan base, and I knew that some well-respected novels had already been written and published. I also realized after reading the screenplay that Chris Roberts was making changes to his own universe, and I was wary of how fans might react to those... so what did I do? I went straight to those same fans and asked for help. The guys at WCNews and others provided me lots of great research, insight, and suggestions for what I could do with the book, and between them, the screenplay, and my own imagination, I think we created something that bridged the gap between the film universe and the known and beloved WC universe of the games and previous novels. It was no easy task, trust me. Despite the film's reception, I was quite proud of how the books were received and am still getting fan mail to this day asking for that unpublished final novel, Pilgrim Truth. That it's been ten years and fans are still hungry for more WC is a testament to the quality of the work that's been produced over the years, and I can only tip my hat to every other artisan who came before me and helped pave the way. I'm very proud to be associated with Wing Commander and truly loved the experience! Happy Anniversary!
Peter Telep's latest novel, Special Forces Afghanistan: Critical Action, was releaed in July.
-Peter Telep (August, 2009)
Here's the news you're all here to read: Episode Five of the Wing Commander Standoff fan mod is now available for download. I don't think I'm overstating this: Standoff is, perhaps, the single grandest achievement of the Wing Commander community -- a more than fitting tribute from a team of more than talented people. Here's the official word and download links:
Start by downloading
Standoff Prologue + Episodes 2, 3 and 4 Bundled (270 MB). Then download the Episode 5 upgrade (173 MB)! The combined Episode 1-5 package will be released later this week, but it will be the same as the separate 1-4 & 5 packages that are available tonight.
August 10th, 2009 - Standoff Episode 5 released!
Well... it's been a long, long time coming, hasn't it? And just like Episode 4, this is another one that only barely made the release date. We'll be honest - we really, really wanted to make this release date, because it's the Wing Commander CIC's birthday. Had the release date been set to any other day, however... we would have chosen to delay this episode for another day.
We'll start with the bad, to get it out of the way: the game crashes. Big time. There's a major memory issue in there that we've been going crazy trying to fix... and failed. For now. But in the meantime - basically, if you play two or three missions in a row (especially the kind of huge missions you have in Episode 5), the game will most likely crash in the middle of a mission. You can avoid these crashes simply by quitting after every mission. It's not fun, but it seems to work. And we are working on it...
Two other small bits of bad news - first up, with all the new features in the game, we did not have time to finish testing the simulator missions. Rather than releasing something half-done, we've decided to hold off on releasing any new sim missions at all in this package. In about a week or two, we'll hopefully have them all polished and ready to go. As it is, the sim missions are unchanged from Episode 4 - all of them are functional, but only some are enabled for the scoreboard. And the other thing is - we didn't get a full Episodes 1-5 package done for tonight, only Episode 5. However, all the additional content for previous episodes is present in this package. If you have missed out entirely on the previous episodes, we suggest you wait until the big package is available - but if you absolutely must play Standoff tonight, simply download the Episodes 1-4 package, install it, and then install Episode 5 on top of that.
Enough with the bad, let's talk good news :-). First up - we've got a new website, the old layout was... well, old :-). And the other good news, obviously, is that we've released the final episode of Standoff :-D. It's a big package this time, over 180 MB in size - more than twice what the previous episode had taken. Apart from the big damn finale, this episode also contains a lot of fixes for various issues in previous episodes. And new cutscenes for Episodes 1 and 2. And all those great graphics improvements we mentioned in the last update. In short - it's the best damn Standoff release ever!
Back in 2006, Paul Hughes made our birthday party a huge success by providing a wealth of Privateer 2 material in honor of that game's 10th anniversary -- and it turns out he's still watching out for us! Paul e-mailed me, out of the blue, last week: he had found an old backup of Privateer 2 material and would Wing Commander fans be interested in taking a look? You bet we would - and the material is fantastic. It has some 300 'source' images from the game... hundreds of sound files... and 300 3DS-format 3D models! You can get a close look at every ship, gun and station in the Tri-System by downloading the archive here (12 MB).
We hear you, we hear you -- you're tired of broken links in our ships section. You go to look up the Kilrathi dreadnaught and staring at Blair and Hunter instead. Well, no more! Every ship link now works correctly and in most cases we've added beautiful 'five view' images of each ship to their respective pages (exceptions: Wing Commander Prophecy and some ground-based targets).
What's more, we are now adding 'ship updates' to our daily queue -- we'll be completely outfitting one ship at a time with a full history and correct specifications per update, sprinkled in alongside our regular Making the Game feature updates.
What's more, though, the CIC now has one of these. Draw your own conclusions.
One of the most interesting stories about the Wing Commander movie is the sheer quantity of cut scenes -- a large 'traitor' subplot and a number of other things were edited out of the film very late in its development. These scenes can all be found in Peter Telep's novelization, which went to press before the final cut of the movie was completed -- and hinted at elsewhere (a 'Pilgrim Traitor' action figure, for example, was released. AD has gone through the script and taken some pictures to go with it to show you exactly what was removed between the workprint and the finished version of the film. You can read it all here.
Missed the party but still want to win a prize? You're in luck - we have an annual latecomers trivia tradition. If you couldn't make it to #WingNut tonight, just find the answers to these five questions (all of which are hidden somewhere at the site). The first person to e-mail them to us wins a brand new copy of Wing Commander Prophecy for the GameBoy Advance!
Q1: What is the mass of Wing Commander III's Kilrathi dreadnaught?
Q2: What unusual symbol has been discovered in a scene cut from the Wing Commander movie?
Q3: Who was the Executive Officer of the Pegasus Naval Base?
Q4: Name the four Wing Commander books written by Peter Telep.
Q5: What novel is Wing Commander: Standoff's storyline derived from?
One of our birthday traditions is finding out exactly when you joined our ranks... because from where I'm sitting it seems like the replacement pilots are just getting younger every day. Have you been around since this was the 'Wing Commander Home Sector', or did you join us for Wing Commander Arena last year? Cast your vote in the poll!
As for the last poll, it seems that a clear majority of players (nearly 50%) preferred the challenging 'lock and hold' torpedo runs pioneered by Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. Never let it be said that Wing Commander fans aren't up for a fight... that doesn't involve even slightly moving.
For years we've had requests for high resolution scans of the Wing Commander movie 'art book'. This 38-page manual was put together by Digital Anvil for the movie's licensors - HarperCollins, X-Toys, SciPubTech, etc. - to show examples of what the various ships, characters and weapons 'look like'. You can find every page here.
This time of year we usually bring the Fan Projects section up to date. Here, you can find general information, screenshots and contact data on all projects, past and current. We've added new pages for Wing Commander: Invasion, Havoc's multiplayer title and Wing Commander Legacy. The Collateral Damage, Privateer: Ascii Sector, WC4 Homeworld mod and WC Saga entries have been updated to include all the latest screenshots and artwork. Standoff has been moved up into the "Full release" category, where it joins Flight Commander, Unknown Enemy and Gemini Gold.
Since we're celebrating ten years of the Wing Commander movie, it only seemed fair to integrate the movie ships into the ships section; after all, one of the community's frequently asked questions is: what's the deal with those movie ships? Now you can know for sure whether the Wing Commander movie Rapier is the same as the one in the game (it isn't) or if the Tiger's Claw is (it is). Note that the Salthi and the Krant don't appear in the actual film--they were cut early in post-production--but their specifications appear in the Confederation Handbook. Check them out:
NinjaLA, winner of the CIC's 2007 art contest, has finished the first four pages of his Wing Commander comic in honor of the anniversary:
Starting things off on a high note for this (the 10th anniversary of the Wing Commander movie) I have re-launched the Wing Commander comic with weekly updates. This series deals with a sticky point from the Wing Commander movie, namely why Commander "Bossman" Chen is dead in the movie but alive when the story of Wing Commander 1 takes place. I hope to explain the 'how's and 'why's of his capture and explore some of his trials in captivity.
The Mail Bag is back this year with another issue full of mind-bending letters to the CIC staff. All of them are real! It's been four years since the last edition, and we've been itching to publish a new one. Guest commentator LeHah joins us this time around. Check it out here.
I'd like to take a moment in this space to talk about our community.
Let me be perfectly honest: two weeks ago, for the first time in nineteen years of Wing Commander, I had a crisis of faith. Why am I doing this? Do we need the CIC anymore? I write the occasional news update, I post to the Chat Zone, sometimes half heartedly, and that's it. I've seen so many friends go on, never to be heard from again--others seem to be fading away slowly into the damning responsibilities of adulthood. When I am with my friends--friends I met because of this community--I rarely ever talk Wing Commander anymore. And then there's one final classified and bitter truth: I had been consulted by Electronic Arts on no less than five failed attempts to relaunch Wing Commander in the past two years.
So it struck me: it is time to fish or cut bait. Either give up Wing Commander and move on to an ordinary life or rededicate myself to the community we have built. Over the course of several days I did a few things. I talked to some of the staff--could we throw ourselves into the job again? Do we want to? It was clear, there, that even when my friends are unable to contribute that they have a deep passion for Wing Commander and for our group. What's more, we are friends in the first place because of Wing Commander. The series is a common bond, the site we have built is a true achievement.
Then I looked at the community. It is, perhaps, common repetition that our fan projects are less active and less impressive than they were five and ten years ago, that the forum conversation is less interesting, that all efforts are subdued in some inexplicable sense. Bullshit! Have you tried Standoff? It's brilliant, it's magnificent. Play it. Show your friends. Show your kids. It should be the most popular game in the world instead of some fan mod; it has more love in it than a dozen Assassin's Creeds and more talent than a dozen Bioshocks. Look at how much dedication goes into everything from paper models to the community replay to the WCPedia.
Finally, I loaded the original Wing Commander. In five minutes it was just as thrilling, just as engrossing and just as much a work of art as it was the first time, so many years ago. Quit the Wing Commander community? I had to be crazy - we're the greatest fans of the greatest game in the world. Think about this: five failed projects in two years? That doesn't mean Wing Commander is necessarily doomed -- it means a lot of people are trying to bring it back, however quietly. Even if it doesn't, even if it takes a hundred years... it's ours. How could I give up on it?
I encourage you all to go through the same process. Take some time to sit back and recognize how great this community is, how important your efforts have been to building it and then how further dedication can only move it to even greater heights. Thank you all for your work - you have mine, zeal renewed, for another... oh, let's say eleven years. I'll see you for the big twelve next August--and tomorrow, in the news.