Welcome to the Wing Commander Combat Information Center's 12th annual birthday bash! If you aren't on IRC chatting and winning trivia prizes... well, why aren't you?
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the original Wing Commander--that's a concept so huge I can't get my head around it... so I'm not even going to try. Let's just enjoy a good time with good friends who make up one of the truly great online communities.
This year we decided to do updates 'my way'--they're all things things I completely dig about Wing Commander's history. I'm giving you thousands of pages of scanned documents, hours of archived video, hundreds of now-preserved photographs. If you're anything like me you'll have a lot to look through in the coming weeks.
Of course we have the usual updates, too, and some other surprises--greetings from the community, some impressive fan art... even a particularly awesome game you can play. Join us in #WingNut and read on as we travel back in time through the series...
Ever wonder how the latest Wing Commander game got its start? Now you can see more of the earliest concept drawings... and the first screenshots of the game's original 'top down' look. Be sure and look closely--they include early models of the two abandoned heavy fighters, the Centurion and the Gothri! View them all here.
In the past we have talked about the story mode planned for Wing Commander Arena (then "Conflict") and how there were two versions--the initial 'burning battle' pitch that was apparently written by someone who had never heard of Wing Commander... and another elaborate plan created in response to our criticism that involved a crazy amount of Wing Commander minutae. It's about time we let you read them for yourself:
The future is here! AD has managed to extract all of Wing Commander Arena's audio and 3D model files. Time for the modders to start playing... and everyone who likes looking through folders of beautiful textures should take a gander, too! One fun note--the ship wreckage believed to be a Pelican is, according to its internal filenames... a Pelican!
AD has zipped all of Arena's audio files up into a single package and converted the game's music into mp3s. The music may seem odd--they were designed to loop and some have a few-second intro and then a looping main body. He's also produced an Arena medley, included in the package!
When I was originally planning today's updates I had hoped to pick out one great 'present' for each game, walking back through that series. Now that fell apart as we found more and more cool stuff that had to be included, but right along side my list of official games with possible updates was one important note--make sure Wing Commander Standoff is represented. They came through with an awesome new trailer, available below. Here's the official word, from Quarto:
The trailer was actually created as a form of musical presentation, providing a visual backdrop for the music from Standoff, which Michael was presenting as part of one of his final university assignments (that's right - working on WC mods does get you good grades!).
While putting together the trailer, I found that most of the team thought it was excessively long, with too much story and the action starting much too late in the piece. This is a reasonable argument, and ever since finishing this piece, I have in fact been trying to find the time to re-cut it into a shorter, more action-oriented version. However, there are good reasons for the way the trailer was put together.
Firstly, I wanted to give Michael enough space for his music to unfold - just action, action, action would have meant that the whole piece would be, obviously, action music. This would help much to show off all the different themes of Standoff. A second consideration was the audience. I had to assume the people watching Michael's presentation would have no idea what Wing Commander is. The story of Standoff (which can be confusing even to WC fans, if they haven't read Fleet Action) therefore needed a lot of explanation. And finally, as great as the action is in Standoff, we always tried to emphasize the story - so it made sense to do so here, too.
All in all, we think the trailer turned out very well - but hey, judge for yourselves!"
An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is a tape sent to television stations and other multimedia outlets put together to make producing a story on your product easier--they include stock interviews with cast members, film footage that can be narrated over, trailers and other background material. We've digitized a new copy of the 45-minute Wing Commander movie EPK for anyone interested in seeing interviews with Chris Roberts and Freddie Prinze Jr. or a copy of the movie's b-roll.
We can't leave the movie out of the document updates! Check below for a scan of the 'Set Book', which will tell you all about where and when the Wing Commander film was... filmed.
As always, Prophecy gets the most new documents--we have a press clipping binder (from a professional pull service-swanky!), a set book and some designer notes on weapons.
One of our Twitter teasers promised many pictures of German rapper Smudo in a Prophecy flight suit... now, thanks to Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum, we can deliver! You can see them all here (also includes pictures of David Downing showing off Prophecy at ECTS... but we know you're here for Smudo).
Please find enclosed a fantastic one-page Privateer 2-era interview with Erin Roberts conducted by "CGR". Unfortunately that's all we know about the origin--full color copies were included, unattributed, in press kits put together by Origin in the United States to sell the game here!
We've located 'Tape B' from Origin's Privateer 2 video archive, which adds most of the videos not already in our archive (except, somehow, the introduction). Here's the roster:
- Uncle Kashumai 1 (24M, .m4v)
- Uncle Kashumai 2 (8M, .m4v)
- Uncle Kashumai 3 (23M, .m4v)
- Auntie Maria Gabriel 1 (12M, .m4v)
- Auntie Maria Gabriel 2 (2M, .m4v)
- Auntie Maria Gabriel 3 (6M, .m4v)
- Auntie Maria Gabriel 4 (6M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 1 (3M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 2 (3M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 3 (3M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 4 (6M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 5 (6M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 6 (4M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 7 (5M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 8 (8M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 9 (4M, .m4v)
- Joe the Bartender 10 (6M, .m4v)
- Melissa Banks 1 (17M, .m4v)
- Melissa Banks 2 (13M, .m4v)
- Melissa Banks 3 (9M, .m4v)
- Melissa Banks 4 (12M, .m4v)
We have updates of two familiar Privateer documents--the concepts for Privateer 3 and Privateer Online. These versions feature maps and other charts which were missing from the previously archived versions.
Here is the third and arguably least interesting of the photo galleries from Origin's archives. These pictures show Mark Hamill promoting Wing Commander IV at a signing session at New York's Virgin Megastore. It's still pretty neat to see Wing Commander (and Star Wars) fans excited to meet the man! Could you be among them? Find the whole set here.
Wing Commander IV documents, too! These are only for true hardcore crazed fans--production books that show the smallest aspects of the game's shooting schedule.
We've decided to burn bandwidth like it's going out of style... by posting all of the movie files from the Wing Commander IV DVD! Now you can see Wing Commander IV's film segments better than they were meant to be seen--and I feel confident fans will soon create an 'upgrade patch' for the CD-ROM version of the game...
Since we posted the entire run of videos from the Wing Commander IV, we decided we also needed the scenes that for one reason or another didn't make it onto that project... so here they are, extracted directly from Wing Commander IV PSX! The download pack includes the "Bearcat factory" scene mysteriously missing from WCIV DVD and the three alternate 'space' versions of the Tyr briefings found only on the Playstation release.
Another great update from Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum! How much work goes into making something almost no one will ever see? A lot! Check out these documents which cover the 'making of' the Wing Commander IV development team patch.
We have three awesome galleries of 'behind the screens' photos from Origin's archives to show you today, and this is the first: 101 photographs that show how the animatronic Kilrathi in Wing Commander III were constructed! Check out the full collection here.
This is my favorite update being offered today--behind the screens photos of the Wing Commander III cast and crew at work (and play) during the game's film shoot. If the candids of Jason Bernard don't bring a tear to your eye, I don't know what will. View them all here.
Ever want to see Hobbes speak Japanese? Thanks to Joe Garrity and the Origin Museum, you can! He has provided a wonderful 9-minute Wing Commander III Playstation promo video made for the Japanese market. If you speak the language it's probably very interesting, seemingly introducing the entire concept of the series... if you don't, it's a pretty good trip!
How do you sell a new Wing Commander game? Every which way you can! Check out these newly scanned advertisements which prove that it takes everything from awful puns to promising players a ride in a Soviet jet!
When the ESRB rates a new game, they don't necessarily play it themselves--instead, they ask for a video sample they can just play. These days I'm sure it's all done with DVDs and e-mail--but in 1994 that meant Origin needed to cut a special tape of Wing Commander III material to send off to the rating board. Here, for download, is a copy of that tape. It consists of just over an hour of FMV footage--not everything, but a significant amount. The video quality is a touch better than you have seen before, although the sound is awful. Surprisingly, it even includes some of the 'lost scenes'...
That's right, new Wing Commander 'making of' documents... for all of the FMV games and beyond! Rarely represented Wing Commander III steps up with two cool scanned books: a large notebook of information about props, including details on uniforms, ranks and... chairs, and Origin's collection of press clippings for the game.
Here is an excellent high-resolution scan of the Heart of the Tiger subtitle font. That's all I have to say about that.
AD and HCl have coordinated to create a new tool capable of extracting the video files from the Playstation Wing Commander Games... and then they've gone one step further and extracted everything from Wing Commander III to post here! Because of advances in compression between 1994 and 1995, the Playstation video looks a little better than that seen on the PC. It's worth a look!
Ever since I saw these pictures in Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander III, I've dreamed of being able to get up close to that wall. It looks like this is as close as we'll ever get! It's really a shame that photos of the software development aspect of Wing Commander are so much less common than those of the film shoots.
As promised on Twitter, here are scans of the liquor receipts from Wing Commander III's (film shoot) wrap party. They're from a folder of Chris Roberts' petty cash reimbursements--part of a whole mess of Wing Commander budget information we scanned and archived but didn't feel comfortable posting.
Here we have a set of random slide scans that the completist in me couldn't leave in a folder somewhere... or is there something more? Look closely at some of these images--the Super Wing Commander ships have VDU images from the original game! The Morningstar seems to be carrying two Maces! What's going on here? (The implication that Super Wing Commander is actually built on top of the original game is fascinating to me.)
There are even two more Point of Origin scans to post, thanks to the Origin Museum! We have not only a previously unposted 'Point of Origin Special Edition' featuring the results of a company-wide survey... but also the original internal memo which created the newsletter in the first place! Pretty cool.
Video game anthropologists take note, this may be Wing Commander's cave drawing! Here we have the earliest known piece of Wing Commander artwork: an action mock-up used at COMDEX which would eventually go on to become the basis for the game's box art.
The most obvious difference is Spirit, sans helmet and labeled "Lt. Sakara"--but the rest is actually very different as well. The hand is different and the entire cockpit is parallel to the viewer instead of angled. It lacks cross-hairs and laser fire, the Kilrathi ships sport different markings... well, see for yourself:
For our final update of the night we are proud to present, in honor of its incredible 20th anniversary, the game that started it all--the original Wing Commander, available for download!
If you're new to the original Wing Commander, be sure to check out our online copies of the Claw Marks magazine and blueprints posters... and if you're looking for an additional challenge you can pick up the Secret Missions.
Please note that this is adapted from the Kilrathi Saga version; although DOSBox and related developments would make the original easier to run on modern computers, we are only permitted to post the specific release included on a 2000 PC Gamer coverdisk. I was able to play the game easily on a Windows XP machine while Kris had trouble with the speed limiter in Vista. I am confident that the Tech Support will rise to the occasion and help keep this version of the game running--so give it a try and post your problems so we can work it out.
Finally, to other webmasters and magazine editors: this is not a freeware release of the game--anyone wishing to include this download at their website or in their publication must contact the rights holders themselves.
NinjaLA is back for another year of awesome Wing Commander fan art, starting with an awesome 'Fleet Action' drawing! He says:
A friend of mine gave me an amazing compliment when I showed him this drawing, he thought it was so symmetrical it was a cell shaded render, I promise though, it is 100% hand drawn on real paper.. only the brightness and contrast have been adjusted.
The Hakaga has one of the most interesting and unique looks of all the kilrathi carriers and make up one of my favorite book covers of all time. this is a tribute to that cover.
All around stand-up and Standoff guy, PopsiclePete, reached far into the dark depth's of Wing Commander fandom's history to create... an e-book version of infamous parody fanfic Wing Commander 4.123106. You read it here first--or in alt.games.wing-commander in 1996.
It seems impossible to me, but it's time to tell some of my own 'behind the screens' story. One of the first 'serious' Wing Commander things I ever did was advise Peter Telep and an editor for Baen about continuity for the movie novelization and False Colors, respectively.
I recently discovered that I had saved an old mailbox with a record of this correspondence. Reading these e-mails is a great way to see the amount of work that goes into something that seems so simple--how much unappreciated effort and passion people like Mr. Telep put into making their corners of Wing Commander just right. Check it out here.
We've invited Dundradal, who has taken the lead on the project, to report on the status of the WCPedia:
“Welcome to the great experiment!”
Three years ago today the CIC launched WCPedia with these words. The
project’s goal was to create the authoritative database of the Wing
Commander Universe. Every piece of canon and every aspect of the universe
would be uploaded into one place so that some future work (fan or
otherwise) might build upon the information contained within. This goal
was to be accomplished not by a massive gaming company with vast
resources, no this project was to be completed by the Wing Commander
community itself. The great experiment indeed…
In three years we’ve uploaded almost 1,100 content articles, uploaded 700
files, made 10,600 edits and had over 1.3 million views. We’ve got
detailed character entries looking into our favorite pilots lives as well
as articles that provide immense amounts of information on the game series hundreds of missions and of course everyone’s favorite, ship entries. This project will be, perhaps, our crowning achievement. It is without question a labor of love as any contributor will tell you. By this time next year I hope to have doubled the size of the project at a minimum. We’ve made some huge strides in the last three months alone and I know in the next twelve we can easily meet this goal.
We are always looking for more people to contribute. You do not need to be a WC expert or own every game and product. We have a variety of projects that any fan can do, one just need ask.
To quote Ben Franklin, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
Obee (of WingCenter fame) was kind enough to give us a whole pile of tokens to download his album, Anker! So quick, grab a code from the list below and enter it at this site to get the download--before they're all used up!
It's that time again--if you missed our party because you had somewhere else to be, we still want you to have a prize! All you have to do is be the first to answer these difficult trivia questions and you'll win yourself a copy of Freedom Flight autographed by Mercedes Lackey! Good luck!
Q1: Name a Wing Commander II character used as reference during the construction of Wing Commander III's Kilrathi creatures.
Tough, eh? Luckily the answers are all somewhere at the CIC! The first person to e-mail us the answers between midnight EST tonight and noon tomorrow wins the prize. E-mail your responses here and please do not post the answers in public.
Kevin Caccamo has birthday missions, too--for two different games! Take it away:
Q2: How many music tracks are there in Wing Commander Arena?
Q3: Name one asymetrical spacecraft from Wing Commander Armada.
Q4: What type of jet could you win a flight in by buying Wing Commander III?
Q5: What is the logo on Freddie Prinze Jr.'s hat in the "Sneak EPK" update?
Happy Birthday, CIC! Here's what I've been working on for the past few days: An update/mod for Wing Commander Saga with stuff from Hostile Frontier and a small mission for Standoff.
To install the WCSaga mod
1. Create a folder inside your WCSaga Prologue folder and call it "3612mod"
2. Download the mod and extract the files into the "3612mod" folder.
3. Download the 3.6.12 Inferno build and Launcher 5.5f from here, and extract the EXEs into your WCSaga Prologue folder.
4. Open up the launcher and click on the "Browse" button at the top right. From there, select fs2_open_3_6_12_INF.exe.
5. Go to the MOD tab, press "Select MOD", and select the "3612mod" directory.
6. Run the game.
To install the Standoff mission
1. Download the mission here.
2. Extract the TRE file into your WC Secret Ops folder.
3. Make a back up copy of stan_1.cfg
4. Open up stan_1.cfg in notepad and add "all stdfmsn.tre 5" before "end"
5. Run the game, enter the simulator pod, select MISSION 2, and enjoy.
I may not have had enough time to fully test these, but if there are any issues that come up, I will try and fix them.
Lt. Overload has built a Wing Commander Secret Ops mission in honor of the birthday. Here's the, ah, description:
COMBAT INFORMATION SYSTEM
TCS Reid Plunkett-Class
Several hours ago the Murphy-Class TCS Lesnick sent out a distress call, stating it was under attack by unknown vessels and most of her fighter complement was destroyed. Meet up with the Lesnick at NAV 2 and escort her to the Reid.
Happy birthday, CIC. :)
Good news, everyone! Team CIC is going back... back to Dragon*Con! This Labor Day weekend you can join Chris, LOAF, LeHah, Frosty, Death and presumably some surprise guests at the east coast's largest sci-fi convention. More importantly, if there is interest than we will conduct a makeshift screening of the Wing Commander movie rough cut--so let us know in the forums if you would be interested in attending! As always, those at home will be able to follow our adventures right here...
We always start the 'Wing Commander year' off with the same poll question--how long have you been visiting the CIC? Since the pre-history WCHS days or did you just start today? Let us know how long you've been hanging in there!
The last poll asked for everyone's favorite console-based Wing Commander--a surprising majority said the utilitarian Playstation ports of Wing Commander 3 and 4. I guess it's the most familiar console! Do yourself a favor, though, and splurge on a used 3DO Interactive Multiplayer... Super Wing Commander and WC3 3DO are something else.
Well folks, you've just lived through history: a new record for number of CIC updates in a single day! We've smashed through 2007's birthday, which featured 35 stories. What will we do for an encore? As always, I would like to end by singling out some extraordinary folks for special thanks.
I'll start this year with the CIC Staff. If there's a more dedicated, competent group of people in the world then I don't want to hear about it. I can't take credit for putting this team together--magic did that--but damned if we don't make each other look good every day.
Of that group I would be remiss if I didn't take a minute to honor KrisV in particular. You guys may know Chris' obvious dedication or LOAF's personality or AD's quiet competence... but in truth the CIC stays alive because of Kris' constant, underacknowledged effort.
Dundradal deserves an enormous nod for taking over the WCPedia project when I wasn't available. I can't tell you exactly what I was doing, yet, but I couldn't have asked for a better replacement on the wiki.
A big shout out to Joe Garrity, who actually provided a lot of material this year (he just doesn't remember doing it!). Joe's a hell of a guy and I want to archive video game errata with you forever.
On a personal note, my good buddies Frosty, Trelane, ace and LeHah. These guys have been with me through tough times in the last year and I can't thank them enough for being my friends. Even if they're jerks. Which they are.
And hows about all the folks who keep fan projects alive, whether they're single sketches on cocktail or elaborate impossible games? The good news is that there's too many of you to list right now, so I won't even try. You know who you are.
See you next year, everybody!
Okay, one more! Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum comes through with a last minute set of scans... which is the record-shattering 45th update of the night! Here's high res PDFs of a September 1994 Powerplay Wing Commander III preview article in German and a long French piece with a dreamy picture of Mark Hamill: