Charting the Evolution of the Vega Sector Update ID

Welcome to the Vega Sector! Here's the original star map sketch that became a page of Wing Commander's Claw Marks manual. The map was redone for several ports and even included as a poster in the FM Towns release (the blue one). The only problem: it's supposed to be to scale but the distances change in each version! Note that "Hell's Kitchen" becomes "Apocalypse" in the SNES version because Nintendo.

Vintage Wing Commander IV Video Review Found Update ID

This is the last in a series of interesting video features published in the mid '90s by the CD-ROM "magazine" Interactive Entertainment. Their Wing Commander 4 review appeared in issue 23. The CD-ROM interface displayed screenshots from the game and overlaid them with low resolution videos. That experience has been recreated here rather than displaying the videos full screen. Again, while it looks pretty dated today, the setup was really cool for the time. The vast majority of internet access out there was still dialup, so this was the only practical way to experience something like this!

Text article that accompanied the video review on the CD:

The Commander Returns to Battle

A rogue band of pilots from the border worlds descends upon an innocent civilian transport and its escorts and destroy them by unleashing a mysterious device. Cut to our hero, Christopher Blair, once again played by the seemingly ageless Mark Hamil (though it must be said that for a hero, he is a bit on the dull and dumpy side). He's taken up farming ("Luke, come in for dinner. . . Luke") and is picked by his wacky old friend Maniac, played by the "why doesn't he get cast in real movies" guy Tom Wilson. Blair's been reinstated to active duty by his occasional foil Tolwyn, once again played by the magnificently coifed Malcolm McDowell.

Blair keeps trying to get out, but they keep pulling him back in. He's reunited with some of his old crew, but something is amiss. The war isn't going the way they intended, suspicions begin to grow, and at one point the player, as Blair, is forced to choose between loyalty to friends or to the Confederation. Once that choice is made, the game takes one of two divergent paths that lead to multiple endings.

So goes the storyline to Origin's Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom. From its 30 minute opening cinematic to its eternal credits listing everyone and their favorite pets, there's little question that all involved really want to make movies. There is an actual game here, though, a fact that's all too easy to forget. To many players, the space combat of the Wing Commander series isn't the equal of X-Wing or TIE Fighter, two programs that have the distinct advantage of having that little Star Wars tie-in. Wing Commander IV isn't likely to change the opinion of those folks much; the combat engine is a virtual carryover from Wing Commander III, except for an improved, albeit glacial, terrain model for the land-based missions. There are a number of subtle improvements, a few new ships, better AI, better graphics and more variety to the missions, but there's nothing, game-wise, that you haven't seen done here and elsewhere.

What ends up happening, though, is that the combat almost seems inconsequential and irrelevant to the game, as the cinematic pretenses of the movie make you want to avoid the damn battles and just get on with the show. Drama is, in part, built through control; no movie would interrupt the viewing for extended periods of time to allow the viewer to muck around (and some of the missions are complex enough to engage the player for a while). It's a flaw this particular interpretation of the "interactive movie" concept shares with others.

Since the designers have chosen this particular movie route, they have to answer primarily to the inadequacies of the filmed bits in the game: the dialogue is stale and clichéd (Blair's speeches are eternal and yawn-inducing, filled with all sorts of philosophizing yet revealing little insight), the plot is predictable, bit players are stereotypes rather than three-dimensional characters (you have the crusty mechanic, the burned-out veteran pilot, the idealistic rookie, and so on), and certain staged action scenes appear to be just that – staged. The film making has yet to reach the level of polish that even most film school graduates can attain with more meager budgets than this.

The price of freedom may indeed be eternal vigilance, as a few people in Wing Commander IV seem to agree upon, but the real question the game doesn't really answer is whether or not a $12 million budget makes for a better game. It certainly makes for better press coverage (how many times have you heard how much the thing cost?), and there's no question that the non-interactive "movie" parts of the game, flawed as they are, are still technically and visually superior to everything that's been produced by Silliwood thus far.

Hollywood producers, though, have little to fear from a little project like this. $12 million ain't chump change to most mortals, but by film industry standards it wouldn't even pay for Arnie, Sly or Bruce's limo rides to the set. However, the far-ranging effect of the series may be the demise of a number of companies now trying to replicate the production values of the game, but with far worse results. Gamers always judge each subsequent effort based on the new standard (see Doom and Myst for recent examples), and there's little question that Wing Commander IV has set the new standard for interactive movie experiences. Even Origin is painting itself into a corner: will gamers settle now for anything less than Wing Commander IV quality, from even the most innocuous projects?

Despite the fears and reservations such a project may have induced (and let's face it, when you first boot it up your first response is, to quote Kurt Cobain, "Here we are now, entertain us"), you have to admire the way the game manages to succeed. It does so by utilizing every cliché known to cinema: really, really nasty villains (who dress in black, no less), lots of spaceships flying around blowing things up, moral dilemmas, acts of unspeakable violence and betrayal, a hero with a rebel streak in him (of course the "him" is all important), a wacky sidekick for comic relief, numerous, stern-faced extras as cannon fodder, some good old fashioned angst and, believe it or not a dramatic court scene at the end. All it lacks is that tacked-on hackneyed love story (hello Wing Commander III) to make it really pass "Generic Adventure Movie 101."

Of course all of this would actually matter if we all didn't love this sort of thing. Many would be more upset if a game or movie didn't follow these rules, as set in stone (or celluloid) by the great philosopher Lucas. Part of the charm of the things is their familiarity. Besides, the game is such an event and a bigger-than-life experience that criticism becomes somewhat futile. Yes, it could have been made better with a bit more attention to film basics and story and less to hiring name actors and building fancy sets, but it remains a must-have for anyone interested in state of the art gaming experiences. On its toughest levels, gamers will find a serious challenge and some hardcore gameplay. If you want to watch a movie, set the difficulty to lowest and go along for the ride. You won't regret it.

Wing Commander VHS Previews, Part 2 Update ID

Several years ago we reported on a video that just contained the previews attached to the front of Wing Commander on VHS. It was an oddity at the time, but apparently there's a market for everything. Fast forward to 2018 and that clip has nearly 15,000 views on YouTube. His similar segment for Toy Story has more than 700,000 views and here's a Lion King II version that's pushing a million. So apparently this is a real thing. As such, a competing YouTuber with a similar idea has just posted the WC VHS previews again. This time it's a shaky cam recording of a CRT television that blurs in and out of focus. This is even worse than the earlier version, so there's no need to watch it, but I'm just amazed it exists. Maybe check out the swanky flair involved as he slides the case into view right at the beginning. That's art. He has 1300 subscribers and 1.6 million total views, so while still an up and comer, there's probably some decent side income involved. Maybe we're in the wrong business! (we are not a business :p)

WC3 Reviewer Has Lots To Say About Doors Update ID

It's Friday, so listening to some grumpy gripes seems like a fitting end to a rough week. Gray Ghosts Old Grizzled Gamers has written a quasi-review of Wing Commander 3, and as you might expect, they have some strong thoughts about it. The author is actually harkening back to the 3DO version of WC3, which has some exciting differences compared to the PC and Playstation editions. He starts off making fun of all the repetitive transitions, and while most of us quickly turned these off, I don't actually recall off the top of my head if this option was readily available on consoles. Of course, even those transitions were jaw-dropping back in 1994. Despite a few other aspects that haven't aged particularly gracefully, it's clear that they have a soft spot for the game and all its everlasting charm. Check out the full article here.
The space combat is what made the game engaging, but it isn’t what made the game special. Special is, of course, a relative term, but unless you were around for the golden era of green screens, it’s difficult to convey exactly how immersive those FMV sequences were. Between missions, you can gaze at fuzzily rendered stars rush by from the bridge of the SS victory while Flint reminisces about her homeworld. Or watch Captain Eissen try to remain stoic during panicked missions briefings. It makes the game’s branching mission structure and potential plot changes feel more vital than they should considering how hammy the acting can be. If you fail, you’re not just failing a bunch of pixels – you’re contributing to the deaths of people you’ve come to care about, or at least to more worry lines on Eissen’s forehead.

Miniature Exeter Looks Stellar Update ID

Michael Dürr makes very cool science fiction and fantasy sculptures, and his latest design is a Wing Commander classic. He's crafted the Exeter destroyer in pewter and then painted it with acrylics. There's a lot of wonderful detail here in everything from the hull plating and gun turrets to the windows and lights. There's even a starry black stand. It would fit right in to any collection alongside some of the higher end 3D prints that people have had made. Fans in the EU can actually make this happen and order a kit for themselves from his website here. Even if you're not located in the EU, check out his site for some of his other awesome designs!
This is my take on a model of a Exeter-Class-Destroyer. I sculpted it from green-stuff and casted it from pewter. It is made in the scale 1:5000 giving the model a length of 7,2 cm. The model consists of eleven parts. Once assambled I coloured it with acrylic-paint.

In case other Wing Commander fans would like to get their hands on one of these little ships, they can order a kit at skulpturenkammer.jimdo.com as long as they live inside the European Union.

Greetings from Germany

Assemble & Disassemble WC2 Now With New Tool Update ID

UnnamedCharacter's latest creation is an assembler/disassembler app for Wing Commander 2. He provides examples of disassembled code and how the program works in practice. It all looks way more advanced than my simple mind can comprehend, but there is one cool demonstration of the possibilities. After digging in, tweaking the text at the right point allows for manipulation of the cutscene subtitles. Although it would be no small undertaking in the least, really cool hacks like this make you visualize how some really cool Wing Commander 1/2 mods could be possible one day. Grab the new program for yourself here.
I put together a simple assembler/disassembler. Although it lacks the sophistication demonstrated by lskovlun, it does have the basic functionality of managing jump targets. Unfortunately, it does have problems with two files, when disassembled they will not re-assemble:

  • SERIES.S00-ContainerBlock005-ContainerGroup-SequenceGroup-ScriptGroup-OffsetChunk.asm error: undefined symbol: _08b2
  • SERIES.S00-ContainerBlock013-ContainerGroup-SequenceGroup-ScriptGroup-OffsetChunk.asm error: undefined symbol: _2442​
The problem are jump values that appear to be too large, they jump beyond the end of the file. For the time, avoid these two files.

Red Alert Online Announced Update ID

A teaser trailer was leaked/released this week that shows off a new chapter in the Commander & Conquer series, Red Alert Online. The game is designed for mobile devices, and amazingly, this it's actually not the first time this has happened. C&C3 was first released for mobile in 2008, and a version of Red Alert came out for iOS in 2009. A ton has changed in the past decade though, and iOS/Android games can now compete with modern consoles or PCs in many cases. With the right hardware, they can even be streamed to large screens. The developer of the new Red Alert is Tencent, which is the Chinese studio behind the highly acclaimed mobile version of Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. The internet's reaction has been mixed so far, but it'll be very interesting to see how this turns out.
But holy cow, if ever there was a gaming franchise with nine lives, this is it! We've followed this series over the years for a number of reasons. For starters, most of the CIC Staff has been playing these games since the mid '90s, including playing the original Red Alert via dial up modem together in 1996. There are also some strong parallels to Wing Commander. C&C was highly regarded for its video cutscenes, and the developer was also bought by Electronic Arts. It kept going well after the RTS heyday and EA doubled down in 2007 with its Battlecast streaming C&C themed sports show. EA kept supporting live actor FMV as late as 2009 in Red Alert 3 and 2010 with Command & Conquer 4. Malcolm McDowell starred in RA3, and there was an official advertisement for that game that entirely focused on his performance in Wing Commander 4. In addition to these games, the series was most recently rebooted as a browser game in 2012. A couple of first person shooters and a sequel to C&C Generals were also in work over the past number of years, but were canceled. Still, it's remarkable how many times the series keeps coming back. I'm truly happy for C&C fans. The RTS genre and space sims both seem to be making a bit of a comeback these days, so seeing a classic EA franchise return like this helps give Wingnuts hope that Wing Commander could still make a resurgence someday.

Origin's Legacy Lives On Through Vast Industry Influence Update ID

TechRaptor has published an article on the history of Origin Systems. It's a rather in-depth piece that focuses on many of the notable developers who joined the company in the early days and then went on to influence the industry for more than three decades. Wing Commander is acknowledged as the powerhouse alongside Ultima, but there is also due credit given to how ground breaking Ultima Underworld was and how it then also went on to directly feed games like Doom and System Shock. It's a good refresher for fans who might just be familiar with how Wing Commander came to be. The tone does shift quite a bit at the end when they talk about an "aggressive takeover" by Electronic Arts that led to the company stealing its innovations. We've been outspoken when it comes to EA's series of mistakes that resulted in the cancelation of numerous promising WC games in the early 2000s, but that's only half of the story. Origin was a standalone company for less than a decade when they began struggling with the costs of scaling up to large multi-disk games. EA resolved that crisis and funded everything after WC1&2, so it doesn't seem quite fair to just cast them as the villain without considering that context. Check out the full article for yourself here.
With the Ultima games becoming progressively bigger and more complex, Origin also began to pivot to other genres and niches. It was at this time that Chris Roberts joined the company and directed the RPGs Times of Lore and Bad Blood, which became mere footnotes to the 1990 release that defined the company’s identity as much as Ultima… Wing Commander. There were space combat simulation games before Wing Commander, but it raised the bar for the whole industry in terms of production value and realistic simulation.

Wing Commander was a great commercial success, and the demand for expansions and sequels didn’t diminish for most of the 1990s. Origin Systems was fully established as a powerhouse of both RPGs, simulation games, and first-person 3D technology.

Twenty-five Year Old Richard Garriott Video Interview Discovered Update ID

Here's another video article from the Interactive Entertainment digital magazine hybrid. This one goes all the way back to the first issue's included CD-ROM where they interview Origin founder and Ultima creator Richard Garriott. They cover a lot of ground and discuss what projects Origin was currently working on, what was in the cards for upcoming Wing Commander projects and why Origin made so many sequels. The first Interactive Entertainment was published February 1994 although the content appears to have been recorded probably somewhere in the middle of 1993. The ISOs for these issues can be found on archive.org.


This was billed as an "interactive interview" which meant that to watch the interview you first had to choose the question you were interested in from a list and then the answers would play in video format. For this reason, putting this into video format necessitated that the questions be placed in order and title cards added.

Questions answered in this video:

  1. How do Origin's and EA's' product lines mesh ?
  2. What's this Pacific Strike I keep hearing about ?
  3. How is Pacific Strike improved over Strike Commander ?
  4. Anything new planned for the Strike Commander engine ?
  5. Will there be any new Wing Commander products ?
  6. I've played Wing 1 and 2. Why should I buy Wing 3 ?
  7. How will Wing 3 be better ?
  8. How would you describe the first Ultima trilogy ?
  9. How would you describe the second Ultima trilogy ?
  10. How would you describe the third Ultima trilogy ?
  11. The “dark side of the Force” ? How so ?
  12. What does the Guardian do in Ultima 8 ?
  13. How will the third trilogy end ?
  14. How did "Lord British" get credit for writing your games ?
  15. Are your products created in-house or by outside developers ?
  16. Do you plan to develop all your new products in-house ?
  17. Why do you prefer to keep product development in-house?
  18. So, no plans to use outside developers?
  19. Which product lines are you supporting ?
  20. What new technologies are you exploring ?
  21. What do you mean by “Interactive Movie” ?
  22. What are you developing in the Interactive Movie line ?
  23. Why do you do so many sequels ?
  24. Will you continue to do sequels ?
  25. How has the merger affected your standing in the industry ?
  26. So who do you see as your major competition ?
  27. What do you think actually sells a game ?
  28. What prompted you to found Origin ?
  29. Didn't you have a sickening amount of money to start Origin with ?
  30. So what was it like back in the early days ?
  31. What's the scoop on your logo ?
  32. Weren't most of your early games written for the Apple II ?
  33. Why did you stick with the Apple for so long ?
  34. What prompted you to move away from the Apple ?
  35. What platforms will you support in the future ?
  36. How does Origin carve a niche for itself on a given platform ?
  37. Where do you get the ideas for your games ?
  38. Do you enjoy running a computer game company ?
  39. How is producing a game similar to producing a movie ?
  40. What's the really exciting part of being in the game industry ?
  41. What's the dangerous part of making games for a living ?

Catch Up On The Movie's Cast Update ID

The website Arcade Sushi has put together a "Where are they now?" feature on the cast of Wing Commander. This is probably something we should have thought of first, but they beat us to it. Unfortunately the piece starts with some trite commentary on the talentless cast - before immediately proceeding to detail the acting prowess and storied careers of people like David Warner, Saffron Burrows and David Suchet. So the text is a bit disingenuous, but it's still fun to see how everyone's aged in twenty years! Check out the article here.

Flat Universe Downtime Over - Play On! Update ID

Prospective players who were trying to register for Wing Commander Flat Universe recently may have encountered an error while trying to set up their email/callsign. The Maslas Brothers dug into the issue and believe they have it fixed now. The team is working on some exciting multiplayer plans for the near future, so now's a good time to dig in and hone your top-down Wing Commander shooting skills. Try it out here.

P2 Ad Highlights Stylish British Prose Update ID

Here's a pretty slick Privateer 2 ad from the UK that LOAF recently ran across. Overall, advertisements for The Darkening are some of the most unique and clever out of the whole series. The left page is headlined by a more traditional "Trips worth taking" tagline, but the right side is a bit more tantalizing with extended text and pre-release screenshots. Check it out below!
Turn on, Tune in and Bug out.

Welcome to the Tri-System, where your life is only as precious as your cargo, and your future only as bright as your piloting skills. In search of your lost identity, you'll have to bargain like Shylock, explore like Sherlock, and fight like a Warlock if you're ever to escape the threat of the mysterious Kindred.

It's a trip not to be missed.

Playstation & 3DO Square Off In New Video Comparison Update ID

3dokid has put together a neat comparison that shows both the Playstation and 3DO versions of Wing Commander 3 playing side-by-side. PC players who might not be as familiar with the console variants might be surprised at the differences. The PSX game was a relatively faithful recreation of the DOS version. Ground missions were cut, but the larger discs allowed the inclusion of some awesome cutscenes that didn't make it in the computer release. On the 3DO, the engine was redone so it might not look quite as flashy as the original, but all of the missions were updated for a newer action-oriented experience. The weapons were tweaked with the Vampire missile replacing the Leech, and new UI/story elements were also added.
As a bonus, they also put together a "Top Five 3DO Games" feature a while back and Wing Commander 3 made the cut! There's additional footage of the game being placed with the full cockpit in place, which is still gorgeous. Jump to the 3:50 mark if it doesn't autoplay at the WC3 sequence.

End Run eBook Rollout Begins Update ID

As promised earlier in the month, the first half of Wing Commander End Run is now available for owners of the July 2018 Monthly Baen Bundle! This first release includes the entirety of the novella Milk Run by Christopher Stasheff and the first three chapters of End Run by William Forstchen. You can start reading here. The full eBook is also now available for pre-order via Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Nobles' respective eBook stores; we'll update once it's added to Kobo. The full novel releases July 3, 2018.

High Tech 1995 Preview Covers Wing Commander 4 Update ID

Here's another cool CD-based review from the Interactive Entertainment magazine. We shared Episode 19 with a Privateer 2 preview last week, and here's Episode 20 on Wing Commander 4. Like the previous clip, their 'articles' came on disc in audio format acompanied by a slideshow (and advertising). In these early days when few people were yet online, this was a tremendously cool way to see footage of the new game and hear about what it had to offer.

These previews also included a text article that differs a little from the audio/visual preview.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .

. . . a guy named Chris Roberts, a game and movie fan, thought to combine his hobbies into a new sort of interactive entertainment experience. Fortunately, he worked for Origin at the time. The culmination of this wish was Wing Commander, which went on to become one of the most successful and highly-recognized PC game products in the history of the industry - and the first of a fruitful series for Origin.

Skip forward a few years, to the third game in the series. Incorporating digitized video of live actors (some of them QUITE well-known already in the film industry), computer-generated sets rendered on Silicon Graphics machines, and a state-of-the art space flight game engine, Wing Commander III set yet another benchmark for the gaming industry.

So what do you do for an encore?

In Roberts' own words, "Polish." You take the tools you've developed and spend more time exercising your craftsmanship than you were permitted while you were inventing the wheel. From a technological standpoint, this means honing the tools you've already built. On the gameplay side, Wing IV should play faster and cleaner than Wing III, with bigger explosions, more detailed texture-mapping, and cleaner background music, thanks to the game's use of digital streaming audio. On the cinematic side Origin's code-wizards have cooked up a new compression scheme which allows for more cinematic techniques, like moving camera and zooming, as well as reproducing more colors and detail, permitting players to better appreciate the actors' performances.

From a storytelling standpoint, the developers were able to invest more time and energy in creating an experience that really gives you the feel of watching a movie. The game uses real sets ("practical," as they say "in the biz") to give the actors a better frame of reference, thereby enhancing the realistic atmosphere. It was shot on film, giving it a much more "movie-like" look and feel (Wing III was shot on Betacam, which doesn't reproduce quite as nicely, but is an order of magnitude cheaper).

Wing IV's script is bigger and more complicated than Wing III's (500 and a bit pages to Wing III's 400), and involves a more mature and emotionally-involving storyline. This time around, you're forced to make some serious ethical choices, which will drastically affect the course of the game.

Once again, you play Col. Christopher Blair. The Terran-Kilrathi war is over, however, and you've settled down on a quiet backwater to live out the rest of your days as a humble farmer. It's not destined to be, though. None other than your old pal Maniac appears on your doorstep one day to inform you that you're being pressed back into active duty. It seems a coalition of Border Worlds, demanding rights the Confederation was not ready to grant, is threatening civil war. Ships on both sides have been attacked. Things are getting hairy. Trouble is, Blair's not certain who's in the right. And then, there's the possibility of a hidden third party being involved . . .

Mark Hamill reprises the role of Col. Christopher Blair. Also returning are Malcolm McDowell as Admiral Tolwyn, Jason Bernard as Captain Eisen, John Rhys-Davies as Paladin, and Tom Wilson as the irrepressible Maniac. Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom should be available around the time you are viewing this episode of IE.

Saitek Profiles Recovered Update ID

During Wing Commander's heyday, companies like Thrustmaster and Saitek sold higher end programmable controllers that could be configured for a variety of different games. We've been doing some research on this vintage flight hardware, specifically trying to determine which joysticks, throttles and other equipment offered 'official' support for Wing Commander games in the 1990s. In the process, we've also started to recover some of the digital profiles that hardware manufacturers used to have available at their official websites. For today's update, we've recovered a selection of downloads that Saitek provided to add support for Wing Commander Prophecy for their original 1997-98 product lineup.

The Cyborg was Saitek's range of programmable game controllers which began with the Cyborg 3D Digital Pad gamepad and the Cyborg 3D Stick joystick. The updated Cyborg Stick 2000 also supports these configuration files.

The X36 was Saitek's HOTAS setup, comprised of the X36F stick and the X35T throttle (sold separately or together.) The X36F was fully programmable and Saitek offered a profile for Wing Commander Prophecy through their website.

The PCDash was a special keyboard billed as a "graphical command pad." The PCDash could be configured for different games by using printed 'Command Sheets' which would arrange different keystrokes and combinations in a manner specific to the chosen title. Command Sheets were available in a number of different ways: some shipped with the PCDash itself, others were included with games and still more were available for download through Saitek (players were also able to create and share their own.) Saitek's page offered both a simple 'text only' and a graphical version for Wing Commander Prophecy.

Note that these files are only compatible with the gameport versions of the listed products; Saitek did not include support for any Wing Commander games with their USB releases (which began in 1998.)

Relive Privateer's Ending Update ID

Privateer's been making the headlines recently not just as a memorable Wing Commander game but also a milestone in PC and space sim gaming as a whole. Everyone who plays has stories about upgrading their Tarsus and saving up for an Orion, Galaxy or Centurion. The actual campaign was completely optional, and occasionally you hear about fans who never made it through to the end. It's easy to find a list of the major fixers and their locations online, but it could be time consuming for someone playing in a vacuum. ytdlder is here to help with a recording of the final showdown between the Steltek Drone and Commodore Reismann's fleet (and your Steltek Gun). As a special bonus, he's also included the ending conversation with Admiral Terrell. It's a little anti-climactic compared to the epic conclusions to the main Wing Commander games, but it has a really clever presentation of the end credits. And I love Terrell's office!

Covert Ops & Piracy Smoothed Out in Homeworld Mod Updates Update ID

A number of various Homeworld Remastered Mod updates have been released since the big Black Lance edition came out last month. These have patched out bugs that fix crashes, update mothership code, correct Black Lance resource collection and even squash a new bug created by the aforementioned updates. This version also includes the new convoy resource mechanic, fuel/ammunition management for strike craft, hero fighters and ships from WC1-4. Prophecy era designed are still planned for a future update! Check out the Steam Workshop or ModDB for the latest.

Do More Tinkering with Command Line Switches Update ID

UnnamedCharacter has made great strides with his WC Toolbox application, and he's learned a ton about Wing Commander 1 in the process. Now he's started a thread to collect all of this useful knowledge. The first topic is an extensive command line summary. Most people know about the cheats that are enabled by starting the game with "WC Origin" but there are actually quite a few different triggers that can be enabled. You can jump to missions and even play cutscenes! Read about how below:
With all the work for the WCToolbox, I have observed and learned quite a few things about the inner workings of Wing Commander. I thought I would do a series of post highlighting this information. I suspect some of this information will be old news to WC veterans; and some will have no practical application as they are just curiosities.

Command Line

Let’s begin with starting the game itself: executing WC.EXE.

There are many posts online detailing the command line options and cheat codes available, but I don’t think I have ever seen a post highlighting some of the following options:

  • e|t|v selects the video mode: EGA | TGA | VGA; the appropriate files must be installed (you can have all *.EGA, *.TGA, and *.VGA files in the same GAMEDAT directory since they have unique names)​
  • a#|p|r selects the audio mode: AdLib | PC Speaker | Roland (for AdLib look into your CFG file for the number)​
For example:

"WC e p" - starts the game in the EGA video mode and using the PC Speaker for audio
"WC v a904" - starts the game in the VGA video mode and using AdLib for audio​

The following options are probably familiar to most and only activated if the Origin switch is specified:

  • s# select specific series (e.g. s8)
  • m# select specific mission (e.g. m0)
  • as# select specific action sphere (e.g. as1)
  • w# preview cinematic scenes (e.g. w3), scene numbers range from 1 to 22 (to 25 with SM1 installed). Mission specific scenes require that s# m# also be specified
  • l launch single mission, no copy-protection question
  • -k unlimited shields​
For example:

"WC Origin s1 m1 as1 l" - launches series 1, mission 1 (S01M1) from sphere 1 (Nav 1)
"WC Origin s2 m0 w8" - views series 2, mission 0 (S02M0) from the bar​

Note: From the command line, series starts at 1 (S1) instead of 0, skipping the training simulator series.

Cinematic Scenes

These are the cinematic scenes which can be previewed from the command line:

  • w0 cockpit death
  • w1 takeoff
  • w2 briefing
  • w3 running sequence
  • w4 cockpit canopy closing
  • w5 landing, no ship
  • w6 cockpit canopy opening, with full damage
  • w7 intro
  • w8 bar
  • w9 [none]
  • w10 debriefing, colonel angry
  • w11 funeral, our hero
  • w12 hangar deck, bronze star
  • w13 barracks
  • w14 cockpit canopy opening, no damage
  • w15 office
  • w16 closing animation, success
  • w17 closing animation, failure
  • w18 midgame.v00, both success and failure
  • w19 midgame.v01, both success and failure
  • w20 midgame.v02, both success and failure
  • w21 midgame.v03, both success and failure
  • w22 funeral, all wingmen
  • w23 midgame.v04, failure only (if SM1 installed)
  • w24 midgame.v05, both success and failure (if SM1 installed)
  • w25 midgame.v06, success only (using SM2)​

High Tech 1995 Privateer 2 Preview Found Update ID

In the mid nineties, Interactive Entertainment was taking the idea of gaming magazine cover CDs to the next level by having their 'articles' on disc in audio format that would play synchronized with a slideshow of game art. The end result was something more akin to a radio interview. Designed to run in Windows 3.1 and Win 95, the concept was certainly a novelty as most people's internet connections meant that they didn't immediately have access to these sorts of photos or even audio interviews with developers.


This preview of Privateer 2 - which features an interview with Erin Roberts - appeared on episode 19 of "Interactive Entertainment" and dates from when the game was not yet known under the Wing Commander label and was simply "The Darkening," although the interviewer notes clear similarities to the Privateer franchise. You can download the ISOs for these disks from archive.org.

A particularly interesting element of this preview is the pre-release art that features placeholder names for ships and possibly even a few hulls that don't appear in the game itself. These previews were also accompanied by a text article that covered more or less the same ground ans the audio/visual presentation but that still had some significant differences:

Can an interactive movie really be a game or vice versa? Player control seems incompatible with the kind of pacing and suspense that make the best films worth watching again and again. But many computer game companies stand firm on the idea that the industry must look to Hollywood for redemption. Perhaps the most successful of these determined companies is Origin Systems in Austin, Texas, who have, arguably, come up with the best Interactive Movie to date, Wing Commander III. But the self-proclaimed "world creators" are never content to rest on their past merits. The Darkening is currently in deep production, and it promises to provide a thoroughly unique play experience, as well as a level of film quality rarely seen outside of art-house theaters.

The mind behind The Darkening is Erin Roberts, brother of Chris "Wing" Roberts. Does this mean that Origin practices nepotism? Well, it's not quite as bad as it might look. Erin's worked for Origin for the past five years. He put his hand in on all the Wing Commanders as well as Strike Commander and Privateer before being given a chance to head up his own project.

The player takes the part of an amnesiac, the victim of too much time spent in a cryogenic capsule. When he is finally awakened, he has spent over ten years in sub-zero slumber, and has no idea who he is or how he arrived. On one level, the game is a story of self-discovery, as the player goes off in search of his true identity. But the game is considerably more flexible than you might guess. Rather than following the linear motif of the Wing series, The Darkening is more in the free-form exploration and trade mode of Privateer and the Elite series. While traveling around the universe, you may encounter people who can give you clues to your true identity, but you don't have to follow them if you don't want to. And if you do follow them to the answer, that doesn't mean the game is over.

You start the game with a very basic ship (kind of the galactic equivalent of a Yugo) and limited resources, but you can hire yourself out to accomplish missions for whoever you choose, and thus increase your funds. With more money, you can buy a better ship or upgrade the one you have, which gives you more resources for accomplishing more missions. And there's lots of opportunities for diplomacy and trade.

But, as mentioned before, this galactic game is also very film-intensive and stylish. Instead of imitating Hollywood at its most overbearing and obnoxious, The Darkening takes many of its cues from world cinema. It's funny how long it has taken for the international scope of the game industry to make its presence felt in the style of the games. The most prominent American in the cast is Christopher Walken. Now that's no small thing, but the rest of the cast includes John Hurt (Alien, Elephant Man), David McCallum (The Man From UNCLE), Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), David Warner (Time Bandits, Wild Palms), Amanda Pays (Max Headroom, The Flash) and Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot, Judge Dredd). Less well known to American audiences are French actress Mathilda Mae and Clive Owen, the British actor who plays the lead. The video sequences were recorded in England's Pinewood Studios, a venerable facility that has provided space for many top-notch films including Raiders of the Lost Ark.

While this is not entirely the first game of its type, it is the first time that digital video has been used so prominently in the genre. With so many different planets and cultures to visit, a lot of attention has been given to the issue of making each world feel really, well,...otherworldly, as well as different from each other. Each planet has a different terrain, a different architectural basis and a different musical style. And let's not forget, this is from the company that brought the Kilrathi to life. Expect each world to have it's own theology and morality system, as well. And you've got to negotiate with these people!

Erin Roberts and the design team have particularly kept new players in mind in creating the interface. The design is very instinctive and user-friendly, with the hope that The Darkening will be picked up by film fans eager to see the latest thing Christopher Walken & company are in, as well as die-hard Origin fans. Expect The Darkening to hit the shelves this February.

Capships Get Another Upgrade in Next MUP Update ID

Plans for the next iteration of the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack are now coming together. New capships items are being tested, and the very cool Nephilim CSM we saw last week will make an appearance. DefianceIndustries is targeting late May since there is a lot yet to do, but here are some neat photos to share some of the latest.
Hello Wingnuts! I wanted to take a minute and read out a status check on the next release. The team is targeting the end of May for the next release, we've filled our tester role and are currently working on the capship assets as those take the most time, but also on some smaller, but no less important additions like the alien cap ship missile and the mine. The package is shaping up with all the assets and features listed in the last post and, if time permits, we'll try and add in at least one Confed station - most likely the Commfac.

Space Game Junkie Overdoses On Wing Commander Update ID

Major space sim hub Space Game Junkie has kicked off a big replay of the Wing Commander series. As we've mentioned previously, lots of people are doing things like this, so we just highlight a few of the higher profile ones where the author has insightful commentary regarding the series' backstory or another unique take. SGJ has dabbled in Privateer recently, but this is intended to kick off a full series retrospective. He even has plans to cover Academy and Armada, which will be a treat since these don't get nearly the attention they deserve. I get chills just hearing him talk about the chills that the game's music and atmosphere inspire. The first five episodes are linked below (click the icon in the top left are starting the video to display the menu of other clips). If you don't see the playlist dropdown, find them here.
Welcome to Wing Commander, my friends! In this series, we'll be playing all of the Wing Commander games, from this one to Armada to Prophecy and everything in between. This week we start with the first game, and in this entry, we do three missions, two patrols and an escort mission. I do pretty well, as I get promoted and move up on the leaderboard! Yay!

Pick Your Own Golden Age of Wing Commander Update ID

Today's new poll asks what your favorite year was for Wing Commander. Rather than looking at a particular product, this survey examines which cluster of items at a given time you think was best. The groupings are approximate. For simplicity we didn't list everything, such as how Secret Missions 2 falls into 1991 for example. A few years are highlighted by ports where they are particularly noteworthy, but we skipped most of them. The GOG and Baen releases are also spread out over quite a bit of time, so we just highlighted when the bulk of them came out. If there's a case to be made for something else, let us know in the comments!

The last poll asked what platform you'd be most interested in for a new Wing Commander game. The Quine has been an option in most of the previous iterations of this question, but it never got all that many votes. It's interesting how popular it was this time around. Last time, the PS4 narrowly edged out the Xbox One, but the Xbox One X came out ahead this round. The PS4 Pro and Playstation VR combined to have a comparable percentage, but PS Vita was also removed.

PC Gamer Ticks Off Top Five Years Update ID

PC Gamer seems to be on a bit of quasi-nostalgic kick. They're not exactly retro articles, but like last month's Best Space Games piece, their new story on the Five Best Years in PC Gaming mixes a bit of new and old. The oldest year in their rundown is 1993, which was as good a year for games as it was for hip hop music. Turning 25 this year are Doom, Masters of Orion, X-Wing, Frontier: Elite 2, Ultima Underworld 2 and Wing Commander Privateer, which was coincidentally also the only WC game on make the other list as well. I think you might be able to make a case that there were better years for Wing Commander overall, but we'll take it. Check out the full article here.
Here's the thing about PC gaming: every year is great for one reason or another. Just for fun, though, we let the PC Gamer staff select the best years in PC gaming, through a vigorous process of putting a line next to the years they wanted to vote for, based on the games that were released in those twelve months.

The results below definitely reflect the respective ages of the team (most of us are in our thirties), so it's worth keeping that in mind. This process offered an interesting at-a-glance perspective of how quickly PC gaming changed, and how certain types of games would come and go. Let us know your choice for PC gaming's best year in the comments.


Apparently Wing Commander Figures Make Good Video Fodder Update ID

Who knew older gentlemen reviewing action figures was a thing? destructarr has put together a thorough review of the toys for the Wing Commander Movie. While he hasn't actually seen the film or is otherwise familiar with the series, this was his 85th episode, so he certainly knows what to look for. He quickly picked up on how the back of the packaging swaps the label of Marine Blair and Blair in the his flight suit, which is pretty observant. The lineup gets high marks, which is pretty cool given how many figures he looks at. You can find a older but similar clip from a different YouTube Hauler here.
This is an archive of the Wing Commander, Willow, and Monster Force action figure lines.

Exquisite Capship Missile Reach For Launch Update ID

Dark Sentinel has been working on perfecting his Nephilim capship missiles for several years, and his latest efforts are very impressive. The top example in the first image shows what we got in Prophecy, and then it progresses to version 1.0 that he developed way back in 2013. The middle image from 2016 shows another big leap forward, and now he's made an exponential jump in quality. It would be a beautiful level of detail for a ship, but this care for a piece of ordnance is especially impressive. Hopefully pilots don't get so distracted that they can't focus on taking this thing out!
Capship missile was enough of a challenge for my skills back then. But hey, I'm still learning new tricks and I hope I learned enough. Gentlemen, behold - Capship Missile v3.0, now trying to follow the (original) render, not the ingame mesh.

Card Art Malf's Off Update ID

Here's a treasure: digital copies of fifteen pieces of artwork created for the Wing Commander CCG from Mag Force 7. While much of the card art created for the game used traditional paintings, several of the contributors chose to work digitally with early 3D models. The result is a subset of cards with an extremely cool look distinct from anything else in the Wing Commander canon. These pieces were created by talented artist Barclay Shaw, who was kind enough send them to us. Mr. Shaw writes: "I’ve attached a zip file of what I have; the files were recovered from a hard drive crash in the early 2000s and two of them are very low resolution. The artwork was a combination of painting, digital painting and primitive 3D renderings – one of my early forays into the digital art realm, pretty rough by today’s standards (scanner lines are apparent in the backgrounds) but it opened up a whole new world for me." Amazing stuff, and wonderful to see in such detail. I had thought the Terran 'Malf!' card was some sort of turret as printed; now you can see clearly that it's the underside of an Arrow fighter!

BREAKING NEWS: End Run eBook Scheduled Update ID

Wing Commander End Run, the second novel in the Wing Commander series, will finally be available as an eBook starting July 3, 2018! Publisher Baen began releasing their Wing Commander tie-ins as eBooks in July 2016 as part of a larger effort to make their backlist available digitally. Due to a clerical error, the second book was not digitized alongside the others and has been waiting for a free spot in their distribution schedule ever since. This was especially unfortunate for those hoping to pick up the series for the first time, as End Run introduces many of the characters and situations that the rest of the books follow. But that's history now: starting in July, wingnuts will be able to relive the entire series as it was meant to be enjoyed... and we can introduce new pilots, too! End Run will be released electronically on July 3; we will update when preorders through the Kindle, iBook, Nook and Kobo stores become available. Want to put your money down RIGHT NOW? The publisher offers advance bundles that collect everything they publish in a given month. The July 2018 Monthly Baen Bundle is available here. It includes six eBooks for $18 USD and must be purchased by July 2nd. Bundle owners will be able to read the first half of End Run starting April 15th!

    End Run
  • Baen Ebook
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Apple iBooks
  • B&N Nook
  • Kobo

Happy CIC Easter! Update ID

Due to the great cosmic conjunction known as Easter Fools, our regular Easter programming was delayed until Monday. Hope you all had a great weekend!

CIC Right Sizes For Aging Population Update ID

This year marks twenty years of operation for the CIC at wcnews.com, and with that glorious history comes some subtle changes. There was a time when older Origin fans over age thirty could join the 'gray ghosts' club, but now it's probably fair to say the majority of our visitors are now eligible. To make sure everything is large enough to still be legible for all those mature eyeballs, we've slightly scaled up our text and graphics. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

Current Poll

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

Site Staff