Electronic Arts has announced that Ultima Forever will be shutting down effective August 29, 2014. Some fans may have seen the end coming when Mythic Entertainment began closing earlier this year and ongoing development was not offloaded like it was for Ultima Online. Existence of the game was first leaked in May of 2011 and it finally released in May of 2013. Closures and shutdowns are always disappointing - it seemed like they did try to do the franchise justice within their purview. It's also a testament to the sustainability of UO that the original Ultima MMO is still going after nearly seventeen years!
Strangers, Seekers and Avatars all,
While the past year has certainly been quite the adventure – in Britannia and beyond! – that adventure is now drawing to a close, as the time has come for us to say goodbye. As of Aug 29th 2014 (11:00 AM EDT), Ultima Forever will be shutting down its online services, and will no longer be available to play.
This was a very difficult decision for us to make. We’ve seen the game through ups and downs, and hope that you’ve enjoyed playing it every bit as much as we had making it! Through it all, it’s been players like you who’ve made it all worthwhile.
To thank everyone for their loyalty and support, for our last month of live operations, the following changes will be made to the game:
- Significantly boosted Virtue and Reputation rewards
- Equipment degradation to be disabled (no damage to worn/equipped items)
- Increased drop rate of Gold keys
- The in-game store will no longer sell premium currency (Silver and Gold keys)
We invite you to visit our Facebook page to share your favorite game memories with us. We’d love to hear from you: facebook.com/UltimaForever
From Lady British, the Gypsy, and all the other citizens of Ultima Forever’s Britannia: Thank you for your time spent in our world; we’re going to miss you very much!
Remember and uphold the Virtues, always!
- The Ultima Forever Team
There were originally rumors of a questing involving a downed Kilrathi ship. Did anyone ever find it? With the final month's boosted rewards, there's still time!
Electronic Arts has announced EA Access, which is a new way for gamers to play a variety of the publisher's titles. For $5 per month or $30 per year, selected games will be available for free. Even better for fans of their series, all digital purchases will be discounted 10% and members will have five-day early access prior to official launch days. Some have asked, "What's the catch?" but this actually seems like a pretty decent deal. The selection of free games may be limited, but the service would entirely pay for itself for anyone who might buy five new EA games in a year. Someone could also subscribe for just one month and take advantage of multiple discounts - perhaps even tied to early preview of a particular game.
EA Access is currently only available on XBox One, and Sony has come out saying that the deal is a poor value. What may be more of a factor is tomorrow's launch of Playstation Now, which could be a competitor in the streaming/digital game space. Both Sony and Microsoft also offer Playstation Plus and XBox Live Gold subscriptions which include free games on top of online multiplayer. The new program is already in beta testing for people in the XBox Dashboard Preview program. Is anyone out there planning to sign up?
I'm still doing this. My reasons escape me. Why I continue to punish myself after 6 years is beyond me. But here I am, flogging that dead horse...
Wing Commander Saga : Pilgrim Legacy
There. Now it has a name. It's up to the rest of you to shame me into completing it.
Congratulations to Origin founder, second generation astronaut and Wing Commander fan Richard Garriott and wife Laetitia de Cayeux, who welcomed their second child into the world yesterday. Ronin Phi Garriott de Cayeux was born yesterday on the 41st anniversary of his grandfather, Owen Garriott's, launch to the Skylab station. What an out-of-this-world family!
The Jalthi is now up, in the Beat Hazard Workshop, which means that the WC1 fighters are done. I also put them together in a collection that should let you pick and choose which fighters you want to subscribe to. I've thought about doing another pass on the Raptor, because it was the first one I did and I learned a lot of little tricks as things went by. Anyway, bask in the glory of the Jalthi.
Whistler reports that BadNewsBaron is in the process of broadcasting a play-through of Wing Commander 1. The Baron is known for live streaming Star Citizen footage on Twitch, and he's turning back the clock a bit to see where Chris Roberts got started in space sims. If you're not familiar with Twitch, it take a concept like YouTube a step further by integrating live video, real time viewer interaction and a heavy emphasis on video game content. It's become very popular on the Playstation 4 and XBox One, but PC users also have many options, including built-in support for broadcasting games from EA's Origin platform. Wing Commander fans have embraced this concept before on multiple YouTube channels, but the primary difference here is the interactive element. When the pilot can't figure out how to land on the Tiger's Claw, viewers in the chat room direct him to request clearance and fly to the front landing deck. The introduction is embedded below (mobile browsers may have to follow the hyperlink if the vid doesn't render), and past clips are available here. He typically streams on weekday mornings and afternoons, US central time, but the content schedule can vary.
LOAF was catching up on some early '90s issues of CGW this morning and came across several sound card advertisements that exemplify the times. It's been many years since people have had to spend much thought on the particular sound card for their new PC, but back in 1992, the market was on fire. Over just a couple short years, the industry converted from simple beeps & boops to dynamic music and digitized speech. Wing Commander 1&2 were at the forefront of this revolution and so were often highlighted in various ads such as these. To underscore the fact that this was largely a new thing for people, all of the hardware mentioned here came with free speakers. And when we got a pair of cheap 3-inch speakers, we actually used them!
Everyone's familiar with the Sound Blasters and AdLibs of the day, but the boards pictured below were not quite as popular. Despite branding itself as the "new affordable P.C. sound standard," the Sound Commander failed to make a lasting mark on the industry. The Sound Runner was out there "conquering the final frontier of truly realistic ear-blasting sound" and claimed to be the most compatible PC sound card with support for over 100 games! Finally, the Sound Galaxy NX was billed as "the only PC sound card you will ever need." It was the only sound card that supported four different competing standards: the Sound Blaster, AdLib, Disney Sound Source and Covox Speech Thing! Apparently it did not support the Sound Commander standard.
Thanks guys! Here's the Hakaga. She's a little light on red coloring, but I wanted to stay somewhat true to the End Run cover. I figure red accents get added with additional kills and victories, and the Hakagas weren't really 'blooded' until Sirius. She's a beast, 'nuff said! :)
Mark Hamill, who has returned to the role of Luke Skywalker after more than 30 years, has said it feels like an "unexpected gift" to be back on a Star Wars set.
He said he was there to lend his support and grow a "contractually-obligated beard".
He praised the new generation of actors, including Daisy Ridley, taking part in Star Wars: Episode VII, in his first TV interview about the new film.
For all their flaws, the mainline Wing Commander games hooked me by dropping me into the shoes of a hero that I found innately interesting. In Wing Commander 1 you're the rookie trying to prove themselves. In Wing Commander 2 you're a disgraced pilot trying to prove their innocence in the midst of a war that is going poorly. Playing as that person and in those roles motivated me. It made me want to kick more ass and see what came next. Playing as some guy trying to make a buck while searching for a random space object, just didn't do it for me. ...
For all my complaints, I will say that Privateer does do a good job of providing varied ways to play the game. You're given complete freedom from the word go to play as a law abiding citizen, a murdering pirate, or some shade in-between. You can make your money running cargo, taking on mercenary jobs, or blasting other trade ships out of the sky and stealing their goods. Doing that last bit will naturally make you enemies with the lawful authorities, but you can always just find a friendly pirate base to land at if the local militias become too much of a pest.
The Krant is now up and running in the Workshop. I kind of forgot about the Jalthi so THAT one will be the last one before I put together the fighters in a single collection. I was also toying with the idea of splitting the collection into two, one for Confed and one for the Kats, If anyone's interested in getting them that way. Anyway, here's the Krant, for now.
I get asked an awful lot of good questions at aerospace shows, and an awful lot of silly ones: What's your real hair color? Where's your eyepatch? etcetera, ad nauseum.
The folks who have seen 'Super Wing Commander' are the most confused, I think. There wasn't a lot of period accurate hardware available to them, so they had to use what they had on hand. Good on 'em for filming actual ships instead of using computer models, but can you imagine? A Lexington-class playing the Tiger's Claw! Banshees for Scimitars, Gladii for Raptors! At least they got some Super Rapiers to play the YF-44As, but Lordy! -If we'd had that kind of hardware in the 2650's, we'd have gone straight to Kilrah with it and won the war outright!
The most impressive thing was that they got some Kilrathi warlord to loan them a converted Shiraak class carrier to act as a 'Fralthi'. It was even more impressive when they blew it up!
Don't even get me started on the one- oh, what was it again? I knew the director, he was a good lad, and his heart was in the right place, but can you imagine? ME?! With a FRENCH accent?
Perish the thought.
-James Taggart 'Flyboy Magazine Interview August 2689.2'
Video Games: The Movie, a feature length documentary, aims to educate & entertain audiences about how video games are made, marketed, and consumed by looking back at gaming history and culture through the eyes of game developers, publishers, and consumers. The film is not just another film about the games industry, but attempts something much more ambitious; the question of what it means to be a 'gamer', a game maker, and where games are headed. Storytelling and the art of the video game medium are also explored in this first of its kind film about the video game industry & the global culture it has created.
It's almost that time again! We're just about a month away from the CIC's 16th Birthday at wcnews.com. All Wing Commander fans are welcome to attend our virtual party in the IRC channel #Wingnut. It'll be one of the most fun nights of the year with updated CIC features, trivia and prizes - all in the company of your fellow fans.
There is one major change this year! The CIC was founded on August 10, 1998, and our first fifteen birthday parties all took place on the actual anniversary. A specific date in mid August worked for us when everyone was in school, but we recognize that the vast majority of our visitors now have jobs, kids and other responsibilities that make certain nights of the week impractical. So this year we'll be observing the birthday on Saturday, August 16, 2014.
The event still takes place at 7:00 pm EDT (4:00 pm PDT and 11:00 pm GMT). We know this is still late for European time zones, but we hope that holding the party on a Saturday night makes attendance far more doable than asking people to join in at 1 AM during the work week. It also keeps the party at a decent time for Pacific Wingnut regulars in Alaska, Hawaii and Australia. Newcomers can easily get started here. Our web client even works on mobile phones for fans who won't be near a computer. We hope to see you there!
XXN-1927 System, 2662.034
The shuttle undocked from TCS Phoenix and started its descent towards base camp as Linus Rand looked over his map for the sixth time. The six mountaineers on board were all carrying large packs filled with the equipment necessary for their climb. This did not include oxygen; they didn't need that, but did include a good deal of cold weather gear.
"Right, people", Rand began, "We need to get 2,000 metres to the top and down again in four days... there is a major snow storm due and I do not want to be stuck on this thing when it hits".
Sorry I'm a bit late to the party :) I was one of the people that won that contest. I am attaching a picture of the winners. I was in the Army deployed in Bosnia when this contest happened. I emailed in my pictures and was estatic when I got back word that I was picked. Not that long after they emailed all the winners this group photo of our virtual characters. I'm in the front row all the way to the right. "Timothy A. Roy" Sorry for the quality. I printed the digital image at one point from my old school AOL account and then lost the email and saved image on a failed hard drive. At least I have the print out to scan :) If any of the other winners has the original digital version I'd love to get a copy of it.
What exactly is Wing Commander Saga Plus?
The first (and at the beginning the only) priority of WCS+ was to create a platform (engine) for our WCS German-Mod Project. For this I learned the basics of C++ after the WCS source code was published in November 2013. Then after I made all texts translatable, I became bolder and tried also to realize some of the ideas the pilots from WingCenter had after the WCS release. And this was also successful. A dream becomes reality: give WCS some changes and improvements. WCS+ is a slightly improved engine with some new features for players and modders and also a few bug fixes.
A: It's not easy doing a 3d reconstruction and threat analysis on these damn grainy images Taggart sent us. Couldn't he get in closer, or another angle for gods sake?
B: I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing them up close in a few weeks.
A: ... right. I'll do the best I can, then.
Welcome to OtherSide Entertainment! We’re a brand new game studio focused on rebooting classic game franchises. For our first title we’re bringing back the classic Ultima™ Underworld franchise, which we’re calling Underworld Ascension™. Our team include some of the folks who created the original franchise. When we made the original we looked to redefine the fantasy RPG genre. With the reboot we’re going right back to innovating, and our goal is to make the franchise more vital than ever.
Chris Roberts, Chairman, Roberts Space Industries: “Ultima Underworld was truly revolutionary for its time – it was the first fully 3D textured first person game. As such it influenced pretty much all first person 3D games that came afterwards and could be truly called the granddaddy of first person Role Playing Games.“
Richard Garriott, Creative Director, Portalarium: “For those of us lifelong gamers that go back to the early days the Underworld franchise, created by Paul Neurath, represents a watershed event on what an immersive 3D true role-playing game can be like. In these days, where we are seeing many of these greats return, I personally am as excited about Underworld as any game I can imagine.“
The Gratha is now up in the Workshop. This one came out pretty powerful without a high rank and very little finagling with the points system. Next, and final, will be the Krant. Once it's done I'll put them together into a fighter pack to help people find them and grab them all at once, although the Rapier has over 300 subscribers which is pretty cool. Anyway, obligatory screenshots here :)
After the fiasco above Terra, Prince Thrakath transferred the majority of the Hha'ifra's crew to the Hvar'kann as the new dreadnought came online. Curiously, those that remained aboard the Hha'Ifra included some one hundred ninety-six selected crew members, engineering and flight wing personnel, and the entire central bridge crew. These were all experienced and blooded combat veterans who, by all rights, also should have also been transferred to the new flagship. The skeleton crew were left to their own devices aboard the empty ship, parked in a polar orbit above the gas giant Igrathi.
No requests for supplies, repairs, shore leave or landing clearance ever came from the Hha'ifra, nor were any such orders issued by the Imperial offices. No regular fleet command was ever authorized to resupply or issue movement orders to Hha'ifa, under the auspices of Prince Thrakath, the ship remained far outside normal fleet channels. So it was that nearly two hundred veteran spacers and a thoroughly modern heavy cruiser became a mystery hidden in plain sight, easily visible from the surface of Kilrah by low-powered telescope.
-Clarice Freiboten, Marooned By Loyalty: The Mystery of the KIS Hha'ifa.
The highlight of the series, however, Wing Commander IV, a game that at the time just as much of a PC Crysis early as today. And even with an uber powerful Pentium 100 with 8 Megabytes of RAM (yes you read that right: Megabytes), the loading of each mission lasted a few minutes.
Today is the 238th anniversary of the founding of the American Republic. Many of our visitors and staff are out enjoying a long weekend filled with family gatherings, barbecues, parades and fireworks displays. To our international visitors, have a great weekend wherever you are!