We’ve posted a lot of interesting articles recently about George Oldziey’s Wing Commander Orchestral Recording Volume 2 Kickstarter. No matter the occasion, it is always a joy to collect the bits and bobs that make up Wing Commander’s history, and doing so in support of this noble project has felt right to me. I hope you’ve enjoyed the old interviews, magazine scans and in-universe references. But tonight, I’d like to do something a little different: I’d like to tell my own story and explain to you why I think this project matters.
I will never forget the first time I heard George Oldziey’s Wing Commander score. It was 1994, I was thirteen years old and already a Wing Commander fanatic. Like most suburban teenagers at the time, I was already an ardent mallrat. Regular trips to shopping Meccas provided that first thrilling whiff of adulthood, safe places within which my brothers and I could leave our parents, chart our own courses and spend our own money. There, I would make a regular rotation to my favorite stores: Suncoast to look at movie posters, Sam Goody to flip through movie scores, Kaybee Toys to search for elusive Playmates Star Trek Figures, Beyond Comics for the latest geek news. And in all this there was no stop more essential Babbages.
Babbages! There, I could drool over the latest Sierra Quests and Spectrum Holobyte simulations, gaze up at the rows of consoles my parents would never let me have… and there, most importantly, I could ask when the next Wing Commander was coming out. I will break from the story at this juncture to tell you something very important which you may have already surmised: I was a very, very annoying child. In fact, some months prior one Electronics Boutique clerk had become so used to my constant asking about whether Armada was out that he had begun simply shouting “no, go away” the moment I would enter the store. So, if you, gentle reader, are one of the poor employees who had to deal with me at the time, I will conclude this break by humbly asking your forgiveness.
On this particular day, however, I did not make it in the door. I arrived the Babbages at Lakeforest Mall (lower level, just off the central hub) to find a sparse but noticeable crowd outside the store watching something intently. I approached to find that out front of the store had been placed a television on a pedestal. And at that very moment, the screen read: WING COMMANDER III: HEART OF THE TIGER. Now, I will never forget my first thought, because it may have been the most embarrassingly stupid thought that anyone, before or since, has ever had. And that thought was: oh my God, they’ve really done it… they have a new font.
When I had recovered from my truly idiotic (but I would stress also truly genuine) initial reaction, I settled in for the most exciting two minutes and forty-four seconds of my life. I say two minutes and forty-four seconds because that is the duration of the trailer. In reality, however, it was being played on a loop. And so I watched it again and again and again… and again. I watched it until the tape rewound itself, and then I counted how many plays it had so I’d know how many times I could watch it. Ultimately, I watched that looping trailer so many times that I missed my scheduled rendezvous with my parents. Eventually a concerned sibling was dispatched and found me standing there in the mall staring at the TV outside Babbages to tell me to come to the car this minute. “Okay, okay,” I begged, “but check this out first.”
The Wing Commander III trailer may have been primitive compared to anything like it cut today, but at the time I could not believe what I was seeing. Live actors? Ships that looked better than the models on Star Trek? Dialogue delivered by real actors, quotable from the first. REAL Kilrathi? And then there was that music. I remember concentrating so hard that I constricted the muscles in my head, as though this would help the write head in my brain better record what I was hearing for future playback. This was not video game music, it was art! Chris Roberts had found his John Williams and, my vindication, they were giving the game universe I loved so dearly exactly what I had always known it deserved. It was epic, it was stunning, it was beautiful.. And from that moment on, it was mine.## insert WC3 trailer here
Here’s one of the the great thing about communities: what’s mine is ours. The scores to Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy our ours. They are our shared experience, they are our call to arms and they are a great object of our affection. Can anyone deny that these notes are etched on our souls? I can describe an action in the game--enemy destroyed, missile hit, nav point cleared--and that interactive music starts playing, doesn’t it?
That moment you first saw Wing Commander III and you understood, innately, that the thing you loved had been lavished with the attention you thought it deserved… we can do that again. We can have this incredible music, reorchestrated and recorded with a real orchestra. It’s music that DESERVES to stand alongside Zelda, Halo, Pokemon and anything else that so easily received that treatment today. And if the cynical market will not give us this thing we so richly deserve then we must come together and make it happen!
Why do I think that this project, specifically so special compared to so many other crowdfunding efforts? At the end of the day, it’s altruistic. It’s seeking to make something better, to create an enhance art with no expectation or even possibility of a reward. George Oldziey is not making a CD to sell; he’s not even making a CD he can ever sell… he’s making an album to preserve this music the way it deserves to be heard. There’s no fortune or glory in this, just the creation of something that we more than anyone will be able to appreciate.
"War is not simple numbers, it is blood," Vak snorted.
"Four more carriers at Vukar is a simple number, Vak and that number is the difference between your first born still floating in space, his body unclaimed, versus his living and breathing this day."
I will be honest with you: as it stands tonight, the numbers aren’t looking good. Unless the rate of pledges picks up significantly, the funding will fail. Now, you will tell me that numbers aren’t everything and that we can beat the trend. We have passion and a cause and we will keep fighting. And I agree. The Wing Commander community doesn’t give up, we don’t surrender and we will do what we can to the bitter end. We’re not here to make money for Electronic Arts (as much as we’d dearly like to!) we’re here to preserve the franchise we love and I’ll quote Mr. Smith to my dying breath; lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.
Here’s the second part, though: you don’t need to pledge more money. This is not a battle that can be won by two hundred people giving more than they can… it’s a victory we can only achieve if we can spread the word beyond our small community.
The single most important thing you can do today is to share the link with your other communities. Post it on Facebook, tweet it, Instagram a photo of your copy of Wing Commander III with the link. Call up your old friends who loved Wing Commander, tell your kids what it meant to you, play the music for anyone you know who appreciates a great score. This is your starbase attack, this is your dogfight with the Prince, this is your trench run. And I know that no matter how unlikely it seems today, we CAN make this happen. Now pilots… SCRAMBLE!
Finally, I’d like to share some of your memories about George Oldziey’s Wing Commander scores in this space. Please share your experiences in the comments, on our Facebook or send them directly via e-mail.