Flight Decks Get Major Makeover Update ID

DefianceIndustries took a momentary break from his many other projects to share a bit about the Wing Commander 4 modeling that he's been up to. He's got a high quality WC4 Depot about wrapped up, and he's spent a considerable amount of time differentiating all the different flight decks. A major focus has been to draw up some of the differences between the Yorktown class TCS Victory and Concordia class TCS Lexington - these are getting touched on both the inside and outside to make them slightly more visually distinct in line with their depiction in WC3/4.
...I've been busy. Firstly doing work for Pedro's WC4 remaster project. I've sent over some fighters but for the first mission we also needed Bluepoint/Orlando. It still needs some details but it's coming along nicely.
The next item is something of a pet project. The Yorktown vs. The Lexington type carriers. In WC4 the Concordia-class fleet carrier is supposed to be a larger and different ship (even though the model is a redress of the Yorktown). The stats state that the Concordia is 80M longer than the Yorktown but also carries double the number of fighters. In the franchise, it's not really an issue as the only time we see the Yorktown (TCS Victory) is in the FMV movies you never see them side by side. But I wanted to do both models and make them contemporaries, but give them a certain level of visual distinctness, while trying to keep them as close to the FMV and in-game shots as I can get.

So in order to achieve this here goes:

The Lexington is a blockier design the conning tower (bridge) isn't as swept and while the overall lines are the same, the Concordia has fewer nautical lines about it. Additionally, the Concordia has a lot of additional exterior trussing and fewer windows. The blockier shape is required for (in my mind anyway) the additional fighter storage and crew requirements. The Yorktown by comparison is a smoother shape, the look is slightly more "aerodynamic" and the trussing and hull framing are assumed to be internal. Additionally the Yorktown three decks visible between the upper and lower armor panels.

Hangar Decks - while we see a number of different interiors, the hangar decks differ significantly in the details. The Yorktown for instance is roughly 3 decks tall but has two entrances on the flight deck (visible to me at least), the staircase leading down from the ready room, and the doorway onto the flight deck from the briefing room (where we see ol' Blair come out and slap on his helmet - incidentally I haven't added that particular detail yet) The Concordia by contrast has a simpler layout. It's roughly 3 decks tall as well by my reckoning, but only has a single entrance onto the flight deck, the interior stairs leading down from the ready room. (my own second set of fighter cubicles aft not withstanding) the Concordia layout is actually simpler.

Yorktown:

Concordia:
Ok this is maybe a bit nerdy even for me, but I wanted to create two models that when you see them side by side you can easily point and say "oh that's a Concordia" by looking at the ship not the paint job. :)

Goodbye, Micael Priest Update ID

We are again sad to bring you news that another Wing Commander veteran has passed. Artist Micael Priest died on Tuesday, September 18. Mr. Priest was an Austin legend who began drawing concert posters in the early 1970s. His artwork and connection to the music scene is recognized as a major factor in the 'weird Austin' sensibility that defines the town to this day. It should come as no surprise that Mr. Priest was also an employee of Origin Systems during the company's heydey. He worked extensively as an artist on the Ultima series, including Ultima VII, Serpent Isle, Ultima Underworld II, Runes of Virtue II, Ultima VIII and the first three iterations of Ultima Online. True to the all-hands-on-deck spirit of the era, he even posed as the model for Remarro Monik in Bioforge, one of the potential identities the player must discover (pictured.) Wing Commander fans will best know his work on the multiplayer spinoff Wing Commander Armada and the Origin FX screensaver.

Micael's loss has been felt especially hard in the Austin music community and other Origin veterans have spoken particularly highly of him. Fans should know that he represented the best of what Origin did in the 1990s: tapping the talent of all sorts of artists beyond professional game developers to create unique, unforgettable worlds. I would encourage any Wing Commander fan to read the Austin Chronicle's full obituary which details his fascinating life. An earlier feature on his life is available here. Raph Koster has posted his thoughts here. I don't think it's a stretch at all to say that the true heart and soul put into our favorite game worlds by people like Micael Priest that is what continues to make them so appealing. The Chronicle calls him "a walking, talking, real-life cowboy hippie cartoon character artist," which is as great an epitaph for a truly creative soul as any I've ever heard. Thank you, sir.

The portrait of Micael Priest included here was painted by Sam Yeates, who was both a contemporary in the Austin art scene and the artist behind the Wing Commander III and IV posters.

Help Support a Trip Through the Moongate Update ID

Author Andrea Contato has a crowd funding project you may be interesting! He's written an in-depth history of Richard Garriott and the Ultima series and is raising the money to translate and produce a physical print run! Here's the introduction:

Greetings, traveller!

If you have played a computer role-playing game (CRPG), chances are Ultima played a part in its inspiration. Created by visionary Richard Garriott, and produced by his company Origin Systems, Inc., Ultima is one of the most important and influential CRPG series in the world. Through the Moongate illuminates the path of the Ultima games' history and the creative people behind this landmark series. It also covers some of Origin's other games, especially Wing Commander, and touches on several contemporary titles. Many of these tales have never before been told.

Are you ready to step... Through the Moongate?

The entire book sounds wonderful... but the coverage of Wing Commander is obviously especially exciting for our community! And it sounds like Mr. Contanto has done his homework: Origin veteran Siobhan Beeman, Director of Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi tweeted "I had a great time chatting with the author, Andrea Contato, about my time at Origin--Ultima VI, Savage Empire, and Wing Commander 2. I know he got a lot of material from other old-timers too. I'm definitely looking forward to reading this book when it's available!" You can learn more and back the project here. Who knows, if it's a success then maybe 'Through the Jump Point' could be next!

Happy Birthday, Wing Commander! Update ID

Can you believe it's been twenty-eight years? The original Wing Commander officially shipped on Friday, September 26, 1990! Wing Commander was one of the most complex game productions ever attempted and its impact continues to shape the medium today. From the game's immersive touchstones to the still-engrossing pulp sci-fi storyline to how development processes and gaming technologies adapted to support such a project, it's not an exaggeration to call Wing Commander one of the most important game releases of all time. Want a more in-depth history lesson? Check out the 'making of' article about the game from The Wing Commander I & II: The Ultimate Strategy Guide here.


Goodbye, Christopher Stasheff Update ID

We are sad to report that Wing Commander author Christopher Stasheff passed away June 10, 2018 after a battle with Parkinson's Disease; he was 74. Mr. Stasheff was an extremely talented writer and anthologist known for blending science fiction, fantasy and humor together. He was responsible for several long-running, well known novel series including Warlock of Gramayre, Wizard in Rhyme, Rogue Wizard and Starship Troupers. You can read his complete obituary here.

Mr. Stasheff is best known to Wing Commander fans as the author of Milk Run, the novella which precedes (and prologues) Dr. William Forstchen's End Run in the book of the same name. He was brought in to work on the series by frequent collaborator Bill Fawcett as part of a 'soft reboot' that took it in a harder military science fiction direction. Milk Run is a joy to read as it both captured the contemporary spirit of the Wing Commander universe and wove in Mr. Stasheff's distinct wit. The resulting adventures of the corvette Johnny Greene are, without question, the most literary single piece of Wing Commander fiction ever published. You can read the entirety of Milk Run online here for free, courtesy of publisher Baen Books. Thank you for your contribution to our universe, it won't be forgotten!

WC1 Modding Efforts Improve Invisible Cockpits Update ID

UnnamedCharacter has achieved another very cool technological milestone in the digital exploration of Wing Commander 1. Kilrathi Saga introduced invisible cockpits to the original games, but they were not particularly smooth implementations. Unnamed's advancements allow for properly overlays so that indicator labels are retained and the radar isn't transparent to the background. Compare the KS versions up top to the enhanced versions below! Along the way, he encountered some targeting issues due to where the game wanted to put the reticle, but those have already been resolved as well.
The Kilrathi Saga version of the game provides the option to remove the cockpit. This is done by simply not displaying the cockpit image, but it does have some negative side effects: all labels are missing, the radar is transparent, and there is no location highlighting on the radar sections when taking a hit.
We can replicate the effect in the DOS version by "erasing" the cockpit and adjusting the mask as well. But it does have an unexpected side effect: the crosshair is shifted down. It turns out the crosshair position is not hardcoded, but centered in the view (mask) area. We can improve the situation if we lower some of the cockpit instruments. We can also "cheat" by reducing the height of the mask with little noticeable impact since the bottom of the screen is filled with instruments.

GOG Briefly Slashes EA Prices Update ID

It's been a while since the GOG's last major sale, but they're holding an EA-specific this weekend. Wing Commander once again clocks in at about 70% off, but there are a few Origin games that come in even higher. The Crusader and Ultima games are 80% off, so it's a good time to round out your collection!

Spoony Streams Space Sims: WC3 Update ID

Popular video blogger Spoony recently dedicated his live stream gaming show to Wing Commander 3. He's dabbled in Wing Commander stuff over the years, so it's interesting to see his take here. Perhaps even more interesting are the live reactions from the audience. It's a credit to WC3's engaging FMV and spaceflight engine that it still holds up remarkably well nearly 25 years later. This also speaks to the pace of advancement in the early '90s. This came just a few years after WC1&2, yet it's often a significantly easier point of entry to the series due to how much more it resembles a modern game.
We can also help clarify one mystery in the vid. At 1:30:30 he encounters a 'bug' where he appears to be zooming away from his target backwards. It looks like what happened was that he accidentally engaged auto slide (with the / key), which temporarily disables the atmospheric flight style and throws your weight in the directions of your momentum while you continue to maneuver. It's a very cool trick that they offered expert pilots, but I don't think very many people used it very often. And thanks to Heart of the Tiger for the tip!

A Glimpse of Old New Constantinople Update ID

Found a nugget tonight: an tiny uncatalogued Privateer pre-release screenshot in a 1993 Mindscape catalog! An earlier version of the New Constantinople landing pad.

Wing Commander Art Portfolio Campaign Announced Update ID

Video game artist Mike Winterbauer has shown off the first images of his latest project, a Wing Commander Art Portfolio! Mr. Winterbauer was the person commissioned in 1992 to hand paint the box art for the SNES version of Wing Commander, among many other cool contemporary pieces. These were showcased last year in a book launched via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Next month he plans to launch a followup that specifically focuses on the process of creating his well known WC design. Along the way, there will be opportunities to have your name included in the book as well as pick up a very slick metal reproduction. Stay tuned for more info as the campaign approaches!
Hello backers of Classic Game Covers! I hope you all are doing great.

Be sure to look for my up coming Kickstarter campaign call Wing Commander Art. It will feature a beautiful hard cover portfolio art book showcasing the art process of my Wing Commander 1992 painting and all the advertising that used the painting. Also, there will be exceptional print rewards all signed like the stunning metal print shown below. ... Cool backers who get the beautiful signed Wing Commander hardback portfolio will get their name on the second page as shown below!

Shown here is the cover and some interior pages of this super beautiful Wing Commander Art Portfolio.

Thanks,

Mike

Intrepid Enters Spacedock Update ID

Spacedock has profiled another Wing Commander vessel! The BWS Intrepid is the star this episode of "Sci-Fi Ships You've Never Heard Of." Daniel, the author, has a huge soft spot for the WC series, and he's especially fond of this one. He pulls from a mix of high res original renders and fan project shots for gorgeous exterior imagery, and he even goes inside to highlight the FMV sets built for WC4. While Spacedock is known for its videos on Star Wars, Star Trek and other mainstream media, they've recently kicked off a weekly Wednesday livestream of the WC series. They've just started WC3 and will move on the The Price of Freedom after that! Check them out on Twitch!
I break down a ship I'm very fond of that might have escaped your attention.

Sienta la Ciencia y la Ficción Update ID

Christian Klein marches ever closer to having a complete set of Wing Commander games translated for Spain. This looks like a pretty thorough job with everything from the box to disc to manuals in Spanish, although no in-game audio has been revamped. The front doesn't have the big Midway flap that opens, but the static front and rearranged rear screenshot collage make it its own unique collectible! Compare to the original packaging here.
This Wing Commander Prophecy version arrived today, and now my Spanish Wing Commander collection is almost complete. \o/

Homeworld Mod Locks & Loads Update ID

The Homeworld Remastered Mod has gotten another update to more fully implement the fuel & ammunition mechanics that L.I.F. has been working on for some time. There have been some intricate coding hurdles that had to be scaled, but the results seem to add a nice dynamic to the fighter/bomber versus capship style of play. The game still looks great as well! You can grab the update via Steam Workshop here.
The Steam version of the main mod has been updated to the 2.5 version of Flag Commander, which is defined by complete rework of the ammunition and fuel management system.

As you can see in the screenshot above, there is a new feature appearing in the unit screen on bottom-left. In the vanilla game, you can see three stats items, the speed (green arrow), average damage per second (red target) and HP (blue shield). From now on, however, there are two more items for fighters and bombers, the remaining fuel indicator (radioactive sign) and the torpedo indicator (small torpedo below the fuel sign).

Most fighters/bombers have limited fuel, in different amounts, with crafts like the Arrow being able to patrol for a long time compared to other ones, for example. Now, however, you'll be able to see much more effectively the remaining fuel in a given plane (I'll try to have a fuel bar present at all times in a later update). The big change was in the way torpedo launches are accounted for, given that there is pretty much no built-in feature in the game to allow this.

The new system is currently only for the Wing Commander III and IV factions, the I and II waiting a bit for some feedback. You'll notice that some crafts do not have limited fuel, such as the Excalibur, Dragon, Asteroid Fighter, Sorthak, etc., which give them another tactical use compared to cheaper alternatives (note the "N/A" on the second picture). Oh, and since I was on a streak, I went back on the solo mission I made a long time ago and updated it to work again before uploading it in the main mod (the upload should be online in a few minutes from the time I post this). The whole ammunition schtick should be really interesting for campaign editing.

The Edge of The Darkening Update ID

We've unearthed a fascinating piece of pre-history: a detailed preview of Privateer 2: The Darkening from the August 1996 issue of Edge magazine... written when the game was still just called 'The Darkening!' The article includes a beautiful two-page gallery of artwork, plenty of pre-release screenshots and a surprising amount of technical detail about the game's development team. "Owen Roberts" is a first, though!

Sticker Shock: Cross Promotion Update ID

eBay find: as part of the marketing for the Wing Commander movie in 1999, they sent out little promo stickers retailers could add to their existing stock of Wing Commander games... so you know this copy of Prophecy was still on the shelves about 18 months after release!

YouTuber Volunteers as Tribute Update ID

Wild Aces has cut together a nifty tribute to the Wing Commander series in the Star Citizen engine. It features a variety of spaceflight, atmospheric and pilot sequences set to the main soundtrack theme from the Wing Commander Movie. Good stuff!
Star Citizen 3.2.2

Musik from Wing Commander Soundtrack by Kevin Kiner & David Arnold

Customize Your Difficulty with Wing Hard Update ID

Sheppard has expanded on his patches that neutralize asteroid damage with a brand new tool. Wing Hard is a nifty app that modifies WC1&2 ship damage values in order to allow players to customize the difficulty just to their liking. Rather than making yourself invulnerable or killing enemy ships with the push of a button, you can carefully tweak everyone's armor values to balance the right amount of challenge and fun. As an extra bonus, his asteroid knowledge has also been included so you can adjust the radius of impact and increase or decrease how deadly the rocks are. Grab the app here (3.3 meg zip) and run it in your game folder to get tweaking! You can learn more about exactly which files to modify at the CIC Forums here.
This program lets you fine tune WC1 and WC2 (GOG releases) difficulty to what you feel is correct.

Basically, I programmed in all the offsets for Terran Confederation Ships/Craft's shield/armor values, along with their stock base values. So for example, if you enter a multiplier of 1.5 for difficulty for Terran Ships; the game becomes easier because you now have more armor.

  • WC1's Hornet has 40 stock value = 4.0 cm front shields stock.
  • Multiplying that, it becomes 40 * 1.5 = 60 (or 6.0 cm in game).
  • Likewise, entering a multiplier of say 0.8, the game becomes harder because you have less armor.
Over in asteroids; difficulty is changed via changing the radius of asteroids in the game via a multiplier. Radius is effectively the size of the in-game collision hitbox. Stock Asteroids have a radius of 100 in both WC1 and WC2. You can now adjust how "hard" asteroid fields are -- eliminating them entirely, if you enter 0.05, it computes a radius of 5, effectively removing them as a threat in the game.

The reason for the huge file size (for what it does) is because it's written in Python v3.x; and if you want to make a distributable executable for python scripts, the packager puts EVERYTHING IN, i.e. an entire python distribution is scrunched into the executable. Filesize issues are offset by the fact that Python is much more pleasant to program for as a hobbyist doing hobbyist things, and there's more tutorials or answered questions for things I want to do in Python.

WC Toolbox Adds Privateer Support Update ID

UnnammedCharacter has released another big upgrade to the WC Toolbox. This update adds preliminary support for WC Privateer, which opens up a whole new sector of possibilities! Through a variety of screenshots and tutorials, UnnammedCharacter goes through how to access the core game assets, manipulate in-game text and pick apart the graphical elements. I can't wait to see what people do with this! You can grab the latest download package here.
Work on the toolbox has continued and this release begins support for Privateer 1.

This update adds the ability to create or edit many of the Privateer file types: IFF, PAK, PAL, PFC, SHP, TRE, VPF, VPK; it expands the number of image formats supported: BMP, GIF, PNG, and TIFF; and also provides the ability to create compressed files where appropriate. All of this new functionality is specific to the Privateer tools.

There are major changes introduced in Privateer, such as the extensive use of files within files, the use of many different color palettes, and the move toward the Interchange File Format (IFF). With all these changes, I ended up taking a completely different approach for the Privateer tooling; it is actually modeled after the Prophecy development tools. I am leveraging the overall design approach used in the Prophecy tools such as the use of custom script files to guide the creation of new files. I am also making use of the existing Extended MakeIFF compiler (XMIFF) an old DOS program from the Prophecy tools for creating IFF files. All of this has the obvious benefit of saving me the effort of creating similar functionality.

See below for a series of posts describing each command, the custom scripts, and how to use the Extended MakeIFF compiler (XMIFF).

Prop ID: Bob-o-Matte's Tarot Update ID

At the end of Wing Commander Prophecy's first act, the tone of the story changes dramatically. We open act two with a CG sequence representing Dallas' funeral and then transition to a the TCS Midway's rec room where Bob-o-Matte is doing a tarot reading for communications officer 2nd Lt. Anderson. The large cards have stunning, unexpected art… were they created for the production or are they a commercially available tarot card?

But first, we're going to answer your big question: who the heck is Bob-o-Matte?! You likely know that Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy use a 'green screen' system for their computer generated backgrounds (Wing Commander IV and Prophecy use more real sets but still feature many composite shots.) The 'green screen' technology used by the games is a compositing system called Ultimatte. And the people hired to provide and operate this system in the film shoots was a Los Angeles company called BlueScreen LLC run by Bob Kertesz. Mr. Kertesz was apparently a favorite of the film crew and for Wing Commander IV he was tuckerized as BOB-O-MATTE, one of the Banshee pilots shot down at the start of the Peleus series. He's back as a tarot-dealing redshirt in Wing Commander Prophecy (and according to this continuity polaroid is a full Colonel with three distinct campaign ribbons!)

Back to the tarot deck: it is, in fact, a commercially available deck that was especially popular at the time. The deck is called the Rohrig Tarot and it was designed by artist Carl Rohrig in 1991. The designs are ultra modern, mixing imagery like race cars in with more traditional tarot features. Original Rohrig decks like the one seen in Prophecy go for several hundred dollars today but a variety of replica versions are readily available today. For your reference we've tracked down the artwork to all nine cards visible in the game. Warning: some of the card details are not safe for work On the left, from the bottom going up: Princess of Cups, Interference and Prince of Disks (sideways.) On the right: Death, Strength and The Fool, Temperance, The World and Pleasure (sideways.) Just what this tarot reading might read… we'll leave to the experts!

Prop ID: Hawk's Knife Update ID

We've seen Cobra's Explora and Seether's Dual Shadow… today, we conclude the trilogy with Hawk's knife. Lieutenant Colonel Jacob "Hawk" Manley seems to have picked up a new habit between Wing Commander IV and Wing Commander Prophecy. Like Cobra in Wing Commander III, he repeatedly brandishes a large survival knife in various cutscenes, alternatively sharpening it or using it to threaten Maniac. After his death, Spyder bequeaths the blade to the player. Wing Commander Prophecy's script expressly introduces the tool as a hunting knife: "FEATURE big hunting knife as Hawk enters and walks towards table" Later stage directions repeatedly ask Hawk to sharpen or otherwise focus on the knife.

Hawk is carrying a United Cutlery Bushmaster Survival Knife, the same general type of knife as Cobra in Wing Commander III (and from the same company as Seether's Double Shadow!) The Bushmaster Survival Knife is a 10" stainless steel blade and like the Explora features a survival kit hidden in the hilt which includes sewing needles, band-aids, matches, a surgical blade, magnifier, fish hooks and compass. The sheath (also seen in Prophecy) also features a can opener, sharpening stone, animal snare, snakebite kit and flashlight. The Bushmaster Survival Knife is still manufactured today and is readily available for $25-$50.

More Ships Hold the Line Update ID

Deathsnake has expanded on the last few recent updates to the Last Line of Defense project with a new video. This one features three of his prime capships in formation with the cruiser launching a mixed squadron of fighters. It can be kind of hard to distinguish the Venture in the foreground against the Exeter behind it, so we’d recommend you blow the video up large when you take a look. It makes it easier to see the cool fighters launch too!
It is a lot of work to launch several fighters, but it could be possible to launch 16 fighters from the 2 tubes. Imagine 3 Tolmacs launching fighters - 48 fighters = 48 Scripted Events. :D

I'm not limited to Rapiers. Tarawa's loadout is a mix of Ferrets, Rapier and Sabre possible. WC1 Loadout - Hornet, Scimitar, Rapier. The big playes - Raptor and Broadsword not possible. F-44 Rapier A dont' work - wings too big. :/ So here's a WC1 Group: Exeter, Venture and a Tolmacs launching 13 Fighters - Hornets and Scimitars.

Wing Commander IV Cockpit Reference Update ID

It's common knowledge that Wing Commander IV doesn't have cockpits, famously dumping them in favor of displaying the UI on the previously optional 'invisible cockpit' (an option popular among players at the time.) But it turns out the game isn't completely without cockpits! The production built multiple physical cockpits for the full motion video sequences (including one extremely detailed Confederation shuttle set) which give us a look at what the 'real' world of Wing Commander IV is intended to look like. We've collected reference screenshots of these cockpits and the various control surfaces seen in brief cuts. Together they make up a few seconds of screen time… but seeing them together really gives you a better appreciation for what went into Wing Commander IV.

Several angles of the Terran Confederation Hellcat V's cockpit are seen during the game's introduction, including views of the flight stick, throttle and forward and right cockpit instrumentation. The Hellcat cockpit seems to be a fairly complete construction.

The F-107 Black Lance (or "Dragon") fighter also appears in several shots during the introduction. There are several good shots of the interior instrumentation as Seether fires first the flash pak and later performs his mine trick.

The Union of Border Worlds Banshee cockpit appears briefly in the cutscene which introduces the jamming crisis in the Peleus system. Only the rear of the Banshee set seems to be distinct, with the missile launch panel being reused from the Lance.

Wing Commander IV famously budgeted for a full sized Terran Confederation shuttle set. The shuttle is seen during the introduction as Blair and Maniac travel to Earth and then again when Seether executes Paulsen. The introduction features one extremely cool shot that reveals the extent of the work done to create the set, showing Blair and Maniac's conversation looking up from behind their seats.

Finally, the game features an all-CG ejection pod cockpit for the 'chewout' cutscenes which sort of explains the gap between the invisible cockpit view and the real world: a physical communications VDU folds out to play an unhappy message from Eisen, Paulsen or Pliers.

Prop ID: Seether's Knife Update ID

Character-defining knives are a theme in the FMV Wing Commander games. We've learned about Cobra's Marto-Brewer Explora from Wing Commander III and now it's time to take a look at Seether's significantly more distinct knife from Wing Commander IV. Depending on your choices, Seether can use his knife twice: during the introduction he will threaten Blair with it if you choose to rescue the man he is roughing up and then he uses it to execute Captain Paulsen after the Lexington is destroyed or crippled. The close-up shot of the knife slitting the Captain's throat was censored in the German release of the game.

Seether's blade is called the Double Shadow. The Double Shadow is a 5 1/2" stainless steel split blade "fantasy knife." It was released in 1991 and created by famed fantasy knife designer Gil Hibben. Seether's knife was almost MORE distinct: instead of a fantasy knife, the script calls for a futuristic one: "a mean looking instrument known as a laser-blade (a curved handle with a lethal thread of light that pulses from one end of the handle to the other)..." This detail was carried over into the Baen books novelization, confusing readers familiar with the game. The Double Shadow was originally concepted by Kit Rae for (but not used in) the movie Total Recall; you can read a very detailed first person account of its creation here.

Mr. Hibben's designs are readily available commercially (a Double Shadow will run you roughly $50 today) but they are also used extensively in film and television when an ornate or alien-looking weapon is called for. Seether's same Double Shadow can be seen everywhere from Time Cop to The Fifth Element to Babylon 5! Here's Praetor Shinzon providing a blood sample using a Double Shadow in Star Trek: Nemesis:

Cover Search Reaches a Turning Point Update ID

The first three German translations of the Wing Commander novels used the same Paul Alexander paintings commissioned by Baen as their covers. Starting with Heart of the Tiger, however, the publisher began using 'slush' artwork that they happened to own the rights to reuse. As a result, four books were published with covers initially used by (and created for) for other works. The first two unlikely sources were discovered in 2015 and now a third has been located!

The German cover to Heart of the Tiger (Book 4) is a painting by Romas Kukalis originally appeared in 1993 as the cover to Turning Point by Lisanne Norman, the first book in the Sholan Alliance series. The German publisher mirrored the image, making it more difficult to search for mechanically! With this discovery, the remaining unidentified cover is the translation of the Peter Telep film adaptation.

Prop ID: Maniac's Porno Update ID

Who says print is dead? In 2669, Major Todd "Maniac" Marshall, eternal teenager, still has a stash of printed pornography in his locker. When you chat with him in the barracks during the Blackmane series he takes a break from reading an issue of 'Playpen' magazine to tease Blair about flirting with Rachel. Is Playpen something created for Wing Commander III or is it the real 1980s magazine it appears to be? (And if the former is the case, why didn't they use the already-established Playboy parody "Plaything (tm)" from Privateer?)

Long story short: it's not real AND it wasn't created by the prop department. There are often legal issues involved with showing real products on television and in film. Take a close look at any popular sitcom and you'll find that what look like real groceries, magazines, books and posters are actually careful knockoffs that resemble (but are legally distinct from) familiar items. These fake products come from a company called Earl Hays Press, which has been keeping a ready stash of designs capable of suiting any production for over a century. In the case of magazines, productions can choose from a variety of already designed front and back covers and can even add real-looking prefab text if the interior needs to be shown. In Maniac's case, the Playpen he's holding's cover is a combination of the 1994 versions of MM-91 ("Centerfold of the Year Bobbi Brenner Reveals All") and MBA-32, an advertisement for "Nature's Champagne."

Issues of 'Playpen' appear in dozens and dozens of television and film productions from seaQuest DSV to The Partridge Family. In fact, Maniac's exact issue had a highly visible role in a 1998 episode of Friends. Hard to imagine it survived 671 years and made it from New York to the front lines of the Vega Sector! For more information on prop magazines and other items, you can find a catalog of Earl Hays Press' current offerings here which makes for a fascinating study!

Prop ID: Vaquero's Guitar Update ID

When Colonel Blair is first introduced to 2nd Lt. Mitchell "Vaquero" Lopez in the Orsini series of Wing Commander III, Vaquero is strumming a guitar and explains that guitars are an important part of his history: "But my family, they made guitars for many generations. I’ve got one that’s almost two hundred years old. The sound just keeps getting richer... Someday I’m going to open a cantina and bring in the best to play that guitar. A place for old fighter jocks like you and me."

There's just one thing odd about this: while Vaquero may have a guitar that dates back to the middle of the 25th century stored safely at home the one he's happily playing in the lounge is over seven hundred years old! The guitar used as a prop in the game is a Gibson SG Junior Cherry from the 1960s. The Gibson SG Junior is a solid-bodied electric guitar intended as a lower cost alternative to the Gibson SG. If you're musically inclined, vintage guitars of the same make and model are still available on the secondary market today for several thousand dollars. (As for Vaquero's specific guitar, it was returned to his family by Captain Eisen.) The prop team don't seem to have made any changes to the original guitar; in fact, Vaquero's scenes seem to be framed to avoid showing the head.

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