Janne Rautiainen tipped us off about a really cool July 1992 article on the development of Wing Commander for the Amiga platform. The piece was originally published in Britain's The One magazine and is saved at archive.org. What's really interesting is the challenge that the lead programmer, Nick Pelling, faced in porting the technically demanding game to the relatively underpowered 7.16 MHz Amiga computers. In contrast, a 386 PC running at 16 MHz was recommended. In the end, the color palette had to be scaled down, but the result was very impressive. Interestingly, they note that the dynamic music would remain intact, although rather than license Team Fat's tracks, all new music was put together by Mark Knight. They even toyed with the idea of including speech, but ultimately that only appeared in the Mega/Sega CD port. It's just amazing what they were able to do with the hardware of the day, and it's crazy to think how far we've come since then!
Wing Commander: The Game
To call Wing Commander a 3D space war game is a bit like describing a Rembrandt masterpiece as a good painting. After Wing Commander, spaceflight simulations are never going to be the same again. Gone are the bland polygon constructions typical of the genre. In their place are realistic ray-traced models, their surfaces festooned with authentic-looking markings and details.
Between missions, new plot developments are presented using beautifully-animated graphics. The player can do things aboard his mothership such as visit the pilots' bar and catch up on gossip or hone his dogfighting skills with the bar's video game. Animated briefings from the squad's leader explain the next mission's objectives in full, followed by a question and answers sessions from the player and his computer-controlled buddies. Effectively, the player is the star in his own movie!