We're going to kick things off with a bang thanks to Fek'Leyr Targ! "For the CIC's 20th birthday, I felt that a simple 'happy birthday' was not enough for an occasion of this magnitude. So I decided to take the opportunity to improve my animation skills by creating this small gift for all of you to enjoy as a mean to show my appreciation for this awesome community as well as saying 'happy birthday' and 'thank you'."
Meshes, Textures and Sound Effects: Origin Systems (Privateer 3D Archive)
Music: Nenad Vugrinec
Production and voice: Fek'Leyr Targ
Legendary Origin composer George Oldziey also popped in to share a kind birthday message. We also appreciate all the work he's done to help bring Wing Commander music back in a big way! A lot of people are familiar with his major crowdfunding campaigns over the last few years to bring WC to a live orchestra, but George has actually been very supportive of the CIC since the very beginning. Way back in September 1998 when we were just a few weeks old, Mr. Oldziey was actually the very first external interview we did in our old Infoburst show. Thanks for 20 years of support!
Happy 20th birthday, Wing Commander CIC!! Thank you SO much for all your devotion and enthusiasm over the past 20 years! I also want to personally thank you for all your support for me and my music. I’m sure I speak for all the other WC fans when I say you guys are the BEST!
To celebrate twenty years at wcnews.com, we're taking a look back at some of the visual layouts used here at the CIC. Kris has carefully recreated each of them as best as possible in our webmirrors area. A lot has changed over the years, but lots has stayed the same. Do you remember some of the original designs?
- 1998b - In these early days, the site sections that we had were rapidly evolving, and those little menu graphics weren't as easy to make as they would be today. So not long after we launched, we switched over to a simplified menu that had a nice header graphic and text links to the various sections.
- 2000a - Over the next year or so, we'd also added an Up and Coming space right above the news to highlight all the real world and fictional events that were approaching on the calendar. Below the first day's news we added an eBay ticker to highlight the next five auctions based on ending dates. Today there's all manner of calendar software and tracking apps that would easily allow people to customize and execute these types of functions, but that kind of stuff was still in its infancy here, so we were providing a useful service.
- 2000b - By late 2000, some WC game cancellations prompted us to add an inspirational quote (first from Tolwyn, then from Chris Roberts). We added a news search for the growing news archive as well as a login for the Crius.net email service we briefly provided. The staff list continued to grow, and this shot shows the funny melting snowman we featuring during the winter. This was also the last layout designed specifically to support 640x480 resolutions. By this time, 800x600 and 1024x768 were becoming more popular, but there was still a segment of the audience that was on the lower res. This is why so many old web designs appear to be pencil thin against a wide background today.
- 2001 - In 2001 we introduced the dual side menu layout. This is when we added the new forum post menu (which we still have today), although back then the forums were hosted at our Crius.net spinoff site since it was more practical to have several different domains/servers to balance the load back then. This general design persisted for more than a decade, so a lot of visitors grew very accustomed to it even as web standards changed and got flashier over the years.
- 2012 - Our current layout! In October 2012 we rolled out one of the biggest redesigns with an emphasis on a top flyout menu. This allowed us to showcase more content while simultaneously cleaning up the main front page look. We initially introduced this without a side menu at all, which was jarring to some, so several familiar elements were moved over to the right like our original design. The later addition of the GOG & other Where to Buy graphics provided a nice bit of art and color while drawing people's attention to the newfound ability to buy many products digitally. We also started dabbling in social media, and these buttons took several forms over the years (and have just been tweaked again!).
The latest version of the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack is here! As previously mentioned, this update includes the TCS Midway, Comm Relay base, initial glow emit maps and more. Download it from the link at the CIC Forums.
Music_Guru has packaged up a treat to share with fans today. He's built a collection of the music made for the Sega CD edition of Wing Commander 1. This version is known for having full speech, but it also has unique audio tracks for the rest of the game as well. While different than the originals, they do a great job of carrying on the the Wing Commander atmosphere. Definitely check them out! Grab the MP3 pack (53 meg zip) for easy listening or the VGM files (1.5 meg zip) for a more authentic feel. Music_Guru recommends VGMPlay, but there are winamp plugins and other resources out there as well. For a quick sample, watch the YouTube link below, but then go back to add the mp3s to your collection!
Hello Wing Commander CIC and congratulations on the 20th anniversary!
The master of the VHS strikes back! Jim Leonard has restored a copy of the Wing Commander III ESRB submission tape to give us some of the clearest Wing Commander III footage ever preserved. Mr. Leonard has previously restored the Wing Commander III 'Behind the Screens' documentary from a copy of the commercially released VHS. This time around, Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum was kind enough to provide him with an original copy of the ESRB submission tape that Origin produced for Wing Commander III.
I have put together a release of VGM and MP3 music from the Sega CD version of Wing Commander. The music in this version is much different than the tracks used for the PC version and other ports. The music was composed and arranged by Noriyuki Iwadare along with Isao Mizoguchi, Ken-ichi Ookuma, and Masaki Tanimoto from music production company Two-Five.
Gens/GS r7+ was used to capture the VGM music as it is able capture RF5C164 data unlike other Genesis emulators. In order to capture the VGM files without sound effects, a disk image was created from an original copy of the game and hex-edited in order to force certain tracks to play. The tracks contained in this release should be all the non-CD music tracks from the game, including a couple unused tracks. In order to play the VGM files, a list of VGM players is available here.
The track names are based off the names used in other versions of Wing Commander. One notable feature is that each mission type (Patrol, Escort, Strike, and Defend) has its own combat music. Even though the music has been completely redone, it still feels true to the Wing Commander musical themes.
This is my gift to the Wing Commander community that continues to thrive today. Thanks for all the years of hard work and dedication!
The ESRB tape includes roughly one hour of Wing Commander III's FMV footage which was cut together so that the game could be content rated. The footage covers most of the game but does not include every branching path or optional decision. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a voluntary video game content rating organization widely recognized by consumers in the United States. The ESRB was created in 1994 and launched its ratings system just two months before Wing Commander III was released for MS-DOS. The initial release of the game was not rated; the first port to carry an ESRB rating was the 3DO release which was published some seven months later (in June 1995) followed three months later by the Macintosh port.
You can download the full video here. (2.3 gb)
Think you own a copy of pretty much every Wing Commander book out there? The truth may shock you! LOAF is on a mission to acquire a copy of every book in existence, including all those crazy, unofficial German guides. More than eighty books have been added to the Background section, covering both novels and game guides (official and unofficial) and their translations into Czech, German and Russian. We've even included some unrealized projects (did you know that author Andrew Keith had planned to pitch a pair of follow-up novels to False Colors?) and some interesting odds and ends, like the Polish Honor Harrington novel that reuses the cover art from End Run. Please get in touch if you own something we've overlooked, or if you have a copy of that elusive Italian guide and would be able to provide us with a scan or additional information.
The rolling demos for WC1 and WC2 have been around for as long as the games themselves, and have always been a part of the CIC's downloads section. But when was the last time you watched them? Thanks to modern technology, it's now possible to run the demos within DOSBox right here within your web browser! It is quite a power-hungry process so unless you have a very fast machine you are likely to experience a bit of stuttering sound, but there is no easier way to revisit the demos that got us so excited all those years ago. Give it a try!
The Document Archive is where we try to collect and categorize all the neat finds related to the development history of the various Wing Commander products so you can more easily research your favorite titles. These might include storyboards, early product shots, art sources, and draft scripts that we've featured in one of our daily updates, but otherwise risk falling by the wayside. With Secret Ops turning twenty this year, the time was right to expand the archive's coverage of that game. The project was more limited in scope than Wing Commander: Prophecy, but we've still uncovered a few interesting items over the years:
We've also made a first effort at properly categorizing materials related to Origin projects that were cancelled in the early stages of development. For now, we've focused on two titles: Shadow Force, a followup to Secret Ops which would have put the player in charge of a team of mercenaries charged with impossible missions, and Prowler, a 1995/1996 MechWarrior style game for consoles.
- Secret Ops Scripts: 30 items added, including the lost web fiction.
- Secret Ops Artwork: Six art pieces added, including the backstory of the Plunkett design.
- Secret Ops Ads: A contemporary print article providing some fascinating insights on the impact of a burgeoning internet.
- Secret Ops Design: Various bits of source code and a CD-ROM with development tools like the internal mission editor MED.
Here's a new news feature! Kind of. Thanks to some back end enhancements of our content management system, we can now more easily assemble News Collections to package up thematic series of news posts. This will allow us to assemble these stories into an automated type of article for easy consumption or research later. Here are a few examples!
When your website is made up of nearly 15,000 news articles, over 2,000 static pages, hundreds more dynamic pages, all of them interlinked, some upkeep is required. Rarely-viewed content that looked fine in Internet Explorer 4.0 may not render as elegantly in modern, standards-abiding browsers. Reorganizing that one section may have broken some of the crosslinks from another section. This is a super-condensed overview of some of the fixes and improvements that we've made since last year's anniversary. Much of this was behind-the-scenes work that won't be immediately noticeable to visitors, but will hopefully result in a better overall experience.
- Visual improvements:
- Improved styling of the Games and Universe flyout menus.
- Dozens of articles and other pages converted to the new layout.
- Multitude of minor tweaks to navigational elements and page templates.
- Additional metadata to improve visual appearance when sharing CIC updates on social media.
- Functional improvements:
- Mandatory HTTPS for the CIC website, optional HTTPS for SolSector hosted sites.
- New search engine for news archives, quick search box improvements.
- Hundreds of news updates, ships pages and game guides edited to fix broken links, malformed HTML and misspellings.
The CIC Forums have also recently crossed another threshold. We're happy to report that fans have just hit 400,000 posts! Fun fact: our original message board was actually one of the few victims of the Y2K bug, and we started over with new software in January 2000. This has been carried forward through a few different iterations to today. (From WWWBoard to Ultimate BulletinBoard to vBulletin to Xenforo) It's a reasonable number when spread across 18.5 years, but it's still hard to fathom that you all have posted so many times!
We've leveraged our new News Collections feature to organize all of the memorials we've put together over the years. It's surprising how many there've been actually, but that's what the decades will do. But far from being a depressing subject, we wanted to highlight this as a celebration of all the great folks who've come and gone and had a positive influence on the CIC. There are some pretty interesting linkages that connect these influential people to us, each other and the Wing Commander series. Check them out in five categories below:
With twenty years on the books, that's a lot of people coming and going over a huge span of time. It's always interesting to get a little perspective on when everyone showed up - and encouraging that there's fresh faces continuously arriving! Vote below to tell us when you got here!
The old poll asked about fans' guilty pleasures. It included several pastimes that were satisfying but ranged from goofing off (Blasting Asteroids) to human rights violations (Pilgrim Stars' Force Powers). Tractoring in Ejected Pilots won out - it's possible some people considered this to be wingman pickup in WC2, but the nefarious version included picking up wayward humans in Gemini. And then selling them into slavery at the commodity store! After that, intentionally losing missions to play through the losing path was popular, as was buzzing the flight deck. Sadly, not one person voted for Prophecy Multiplayer, which does not happen very often (that comment stands for both a choice getting zero votes and people playing multiplayer in Prophecy Advance). Hooking up with friends on the Gameboy required an unwieldy web of cables to execute, but it sure is a blast!
It's a CIC party, so there's cake! This one has special 20th birthday flavored frosting!
Two cakes for two decades!! Music_Guru made this gorgeous cake as well. AND IT HAS A DRALTHI ON IT!
Will wonders never cease?!
And that's what we have for today! Thanks again to all of the people who contributed to making our 20th Birthday a success, and thanks to all of you who have stuck with us for all these years.
Several people have helped source quite a bit of news this year, which helps a lot. Pix & Christian Klein/Pixel Engineer have found tons of great archeological content. Unnamed Character's has done great work on modding WC1 and Stinger with Kilrathi Saga. Music_Guru, Adm_Maverick & Fek'LeyrTarg have both contributed quite a variety of different subjects. L.I.F., DefianceIndustries & the Maslas Brothers all have large scale projects that have been pretty exciting. And both George Oldziey & Raph Koster showed that Origin vets haven't forgotten their role in everything. And there's a whole lot of people working in the background here and there to keep things going, including but not limited to, the rest of the CIC Staff.
There's plenty more Wing Commander news in the pipeline, so we'll be back at it again soon with the latest!