Hornet Reimagined in Academy Concept Model Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

This one's not quite a ship from Wing Commander Academy, but it may as well have been! We don't see this light fighter in the television show, so NinjaLA sketched up a concept and DefianceIndustries turned it into a toonscaped model. There's both a red team and green team livery in keeping with the Academy palette. Defiance isn't quite sure yet what he's going to do with all these beautiful Academy models, but he's got some ideas cooking...
This one was a lot of fun. I was working with NinjaLA on a fictional WCA-ized Hornet might look like. The excellent concept art he cooked up is attached along with model renders I did. It was a fun experiment and I like the results.

The State of the Art (on Paul Hughes' Wall) Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Wing Commander veteran Paul Hughes has posted a shot of some fabulous wall art he's had made. They're Photobox canvas prints designed to commemorate Starlancer, Elite and Privateer 2. The '90s space sims are based on the straight European box art while the Elite cover comes from the fancy Acornsoft release. Modern print-on-demand services make cool projects like these relatively easy, and the results are super sweet!
Final home office canvases. Really chuffed how well they came out. Space games and I have a bit of a history. :D So many tales to tell... It was a fun project.

We were lucky; the cover art and manuals were done in house by a member of the Dev team - Mr Paul Chapman. The Elite one is a Photoshop retouch of the artwork that I did, the other two come from the original hires artwork and were all printed on Canvas by Photobox.

Loved Wing Commander (especially WC3) I was a tad star struck when I ended up working for Chris' brother at EA.

Enhanced WC4 Intro Gets the Oldziey Treatment Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

ODVS has something slightly different for his latest video test. He's taken his enhanced video and edited in snippets of sample material from George Oldziey's Wing Commander tracks filmed by a live orchestra. It's the best of both worlds - incredibly high fidelity audio and video. George actually took his own stab at jazzing up the intro with his new music several years ago, but now we can enjoy it with the new 1080p visuals. A wholesale remaster with amped up audio isn't coming any time soon, since it's both time consuming and expensive to create, but this is a great teaser of what such an epic project would be!
A first experimental effort at mixing George Oldziey's fantastic orchestral recording of his original Wing Commander IV score into my AI HD Remastered video.

It's slightly wonky in places. While I do have the 5.1 channel audio to work with, I can't remove the original synth music entirely, so it's still there in the background and doesn't QUITE line up with the orchestral recording. It's most noticeable when there's other audio in the left and right channels (comms dialogue, ship SFX etc) and I had to raise the original channels so they could still be heard.

Still, I thought you guys might like to see it. :) You can learn more about his wonderful work in bringing his Wing Commander scores in line with his original orchestral vision here.

Get the Absolute Territory Demo While It's Hot Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

There's now a playable demo for longtime Wingnut centaurianmudpig's space sim Absolute Territory. The project has come a very long way since the first prototype a few years ago. As you can see from the new gameplay trailer below, the game's engine is shaping up with respectable graphics and solid action. There's an especially nice crackle to the gunplay. You can find out more and grab the demo here. The full game will be coming to Steam later this year.
The thrill of space combat with infinite replayability:
Absolute Territory takes inspiration from classic space combat simulation games from the '90s and '00s and adds features for modern gameplay and offers expanded replayability with Steam Workshop support.

Singleplayer Campaign:
Download and play to enjoy the first 3 missions from the Absolute Territory campaign (all 100% created with the in-game mission editor). Before jumping in, be sure to familiarise yourself with the basic controls of your ship by trying out the two tutorials and/or reviewing the reconfigurable keybindings. In the campaign demo, you will fly patrol, raid an enemy depot, and strike down enemy transport.

Space flight simulation a step above others:
As there is no drag in space your fighter wouldn't normally fly where you pointed it after a turn. The on-board Reaction Control System (RCS) will attempt to compensate for your direction changes and maintain manageable speeds using the ships' thrusters and main engines. Each ship in Absolute Territory has it's own mass and thrust power and won't handle the same.

Rotational thrusters will rotate your ship and attempt to compensate for any outside forces (collisions) which would turn you off course, and be mindful of oversteer as these fighters can turn fast. Hit the afterburners and perform huge drifts while keeping your guns on your nimble opponent, or disable RCS and slide past large and slow targets while you pummel them into scrap metal.

Academy Achilles Covers All Destroyer/Transport/Carrier Needs Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

DefianceIndustries has yet another hot new capships based on a design from Wing Commander Academy. This one is the Achilles, which is an interesting design that seems to serve several roles in the Confed navy. He's addressed the larger variants by making a nifty modular hull that potentially detaches from the main body. I'm surprised we don't see this concept more often, since it seems so useful. Speaking of Achilles, that underside is sure light on turrets...
Another WCA ship for your amusement. The Achilles destroyer/transport/fighter carrier (CVE maybe?). It looks like a Durango and a Wake had a naughty, naughty evening; the kind where they both had a bit too much Vak'qu and in the morning the Wake quietly slipped out the back without leaving so much as a piece of dry toast for the poor Durango - and this happened a few months later. Since the carrier is kind of a different bird (but the artists just added another rectangle to the bottom) I kind of figured that the carrier configuration is a pre-fab pod of some kind, something that can be attached or detached from the destroyer with an appropriately supplied shipyard and a week or two.

Anyway enjoy - I was playing a bit with the shaders as well to add a bit more definition to the edges.

A Preview Behind the Green Screens Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

LOAF has scanned a great article on the making of Wing Commander 3. It appeared in the August 1994 issue of Computer Game Review and followed the game's film shoot. The author talks about the experience with the CGI backdrops as well as the Kilrathi animatronics. There are also sidebar conversations with Chris Roberts and Mark Hamill. It sounds like filming all of the different angles and plot choice variations was as tricky as you might imagine, but they pulled it off well! Oh, and here's Zephyr, which came out at the same time as WC3 yet somehow had worse graphics than WC1...

Return of the George Oldziey Blog Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Former Origin composer George Oldziey is back again with a new blog post! If you don't recall his last one, that's because it's been three years since he formally penned his most recent column. He's back in the groove now though and ready to kick off a new chapter. Despite the craziness of 2020, George has settled in in California after his move from Texas and is working on a lot of cool projects. He's done some (virtual) musical teaching and even has a Netflix production in the works. The Oldziey Store has also been cleaned up with proper links to his recent WC works. It's still possible to grab an autographed orchestral WC CD or even a digital download of the Wing Commander jazz album! A few samples are below. Check out the blog here and WC album rollup here. George will try to update with additional writing much more often going forward!
I recently had my website updated, and in so doing realized I hadn't blogged in three years! Not going to save the world, but I'm back on that horse again. :) Hope all are staying safe and healthy!

Thanks so much,


Polish Timeslot Marks Continued Wing Commander Broadcasts Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

It's been interesting tracking the evolution of Wing Commander Movie rights over the last few years. Elements of the franchise relating to the film reverted to Chris Roberts a couple years back, and this was timed with its removal from Netflix as well as the FOX DVD/Bluray going out of print. The movie disappeared from digital storefronts for purchase as well, but they have been slowly relisting Wing Commander more recently. AD spotted the film returning to European television this week with a spot on Polish TNT. We don't just pore over foreign TV listings, so it's entirely likely that we missed other showtimes in different places at different times, so this is by no means a first, but WC had been in frequent rotation through the mid 2010s. It's good to see it still making the rounds! If you'd like to check it out, tune in June 26 at 9:50 am.
Ekranizacja gry komputerowej o tym samym tytule, bijącej rekordy popularności. Rok 2654. Kilrathi - obcy, którym udało się zdobyć urządzenia do nawigacji komputerowej, przygotowują się do inwazji na Ziemię. Do walki z nimi staje trójka młodych pilotów pojazdów kosmicznych. Jest wśród nich Christopher Blair, który właśnie skończył szkołę, ale brak doświadczenia nadrabia niezwykłymi umiejętnościami nawigacyjnymi. Jest też jego najlepszy przyjaciel, pewny siebie i uparty Todd. Dowodzi nimi piękna komandor Jeanette. A film adaptation of a computer game with the same title, breaking popularity records. Year 2654. Kilrathi - aliens who managed to get devices for computer navigation are preparing to invade Earth. Three young space vehicle pilots are fighting them. Among them is Christopher Blair, who has just finished school, but the lack of experience makes up for his extraordinary navigational skills. There's also his best friend, confident and stubborn Todd. They are commanded by beautiful Commander Jeanette.

Fralthi Bolsters Animated Kilrathi Forces Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

DefianceIndustries has continued down an exciting path with his digital fleet. He's built on the phenomenal renders from Wing Commander Academy with another majestic capship. The magic of these ships is twofold: they're incredibly creative designs that are both heavily based on the craft from the original game yet imbued with a dash of flair. Defiance described both this new Fralthi model as well as his recent Tiger's Claw as having a nautical spirit about them. The there is also the toon shaded texture which makes them look hand drawn despite being fully manipulable 3D objects. The gorgeous results are below!
The more I play around with it, the more I realize that Academy is kind of an unappreciated field of endeavor. Today's entry into the catalog of "Defiance really needs a life outside of conference calls and Blender" is the WCA Fralthi. It only shows up in one episode and gets mis-categorized as a destroyer but it was fun to do nonetheless. It looks like the artists got ahold of Claw Marks and either by accident or design, omitted all the negative space in the original and we ended up with this oddly nautical version which in many ways resembles the Academy 'Claw - though without the random cat-paw extrusions on the sides. It's not ugly in my view - just well like everything else WCA - different. Comments and Criticism is always welcome.

WC3 Tribute Follows Blair's Difficult Path Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Cloud_Man has created a neat Wing Commander 3 tribute trailer. He's put in quite a bit of work to edit the clips in such a way as to create a slick mini narrative. It's great to see people still experimenting with these elements and having fun like this more than twenty-five years later. Check it out below!
Wing Commander 3 - Heart of The Tiger (1994) - Tribute Trailer. Squadron 42 is currently my most anticipated video game. The said game is planned to enter beta stage later this year, and probably scheduled for full release sometime next year. In its anticipation, I decided to go through previous games made by the same team. Wing Commander 3 is easily my most favorite of em all. Played the whole game again and recorded footage to create little tribute trailer that covers some aspects of the story. For full experience of this timeless classic and emotional roller coaster ride, find the game on GOG.com. While you're at it, try other games in the series too. They have aged really well, as Tolwyn says in the end "I'm very impressed you haven't lost your touch."

Hamill Leading Campaign Event Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Origin founder Richard Garriott has posted about an upcoming event hosted by Wing Commander star Mark Hamill. He'll be talking with presidential candidate Joe Biden about hope and democracy. It will be a virtual town hall style event in observance of safety protocols necessary due to the coronavirus. Participation isn't cheap and it's not clear if any public recording will be made available, but it would be an interesting discussion to listen in on. And I always get a kick out of Hamill being introduced first on his Wing Commander merits...

Early '90s Clip Art Flies Into the Future Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

LOAF recently made an amazing connection through an unlikely source. As an avid follower of the 1994 Corel Gallery Clipart Bot, he saw the June 9 "Falcan.bmf" and immediately zeroed in on its relationship to Wing Commander. This early '90s file obviously forms the basis of Hunter's movie nose art. Do kids these days even know what clip art is? Do they still make new clip art? Each of the pilots in the film got a unique emblem based on their callsign. Here's the full spread! You all knew that Rosie's callsign was Sister Sassy, right? EDIT! LOAF found the rest of the source!
UPDATE! I found the missile: it's ASAT.BMF in the same Corel collection.

Check out the Japanese PSX Gameflow Manual Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

EmuMusicFan has another cool Japanese scan to share. This time it's the "Exploration Guide" that covers the gameflow portions of Wing Commander 3 PSX. Emu previously scanned the Combat Guide that details the spaceflight portions. Both are in full color, and even if you're not likely to play the Japanese port of a Playstation game any time soon, it's pretty neat to see how the menus and interface slightly differ. Japanese readers will also get some fun flavor text about the characters!

Instructions Available for Kilrathi Lego Fighters Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Bricks With Wings has released the digital instructions for their five Kilrathi fighter designs. These are the step-by-step blueprints only, and you will need to source the bricks from a place like Bricklink. You can find them at the BWW Store for $3. The previously released Confed set is also available for $8, down from $12. We saw these come together back in February, so it's nice to see the instructions finally released. Bricks With Wings is really good at coming up with authentic Lego creations, and it looks like these would be pretty fun to build!
Serve your emperor! Get ready to beat back the Terran infestation with the Kilrathi fighter pack.

These are custom Lego instructions for the Kilrathi Empire space fighters as experienced in the hit 1990 PC game Wing Commander. Models are great for display, or could be used as war gaming miniatures. This set includes the instructions and the parts list for the following fighters:

  • Krant
  • Salthi
  • Jalthi
  • Gratha
  • Dralthi
113 parts total. Instructions are full color and in PDF format.

The parts lists are XML files, suitable for uploading into BrickLink.com so you can order what you need. Instructions for this are provided as well.

There are no physical parts included in this sale. This is a digital item only. A link to download the zipped file will be automatically generated during checkout.

Prophecy Video Enhanced to 3.0 High Quality! Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

It was just last week that ODVS released version 3.0 of his enhanced WC4 video pack, and now Prophecy is ready too! The stock video of WCP originally had some harsh interlacing, but deinterlacing the footage just made it kind of blurry. His fantastic upgrade techniques don't just upscale what we had before - they use advanced AI/machine learning techniques to add pixels where none previously existed to boost the game's original (and unreleased in the case of WCP!) DVD quality footage into a solid 1080p rendition. Instructions on how to upgrade your copy of Prophecy to accept the new clips are available here. Download links to the updated files are below these two nifty comparison videos. Both English and German editions are available!
WCP HD Video Pack V3.0 is ready

The WCP DVD videos are a challenge to work with. The interlaced NTSC format combined with the choice to shoot on digital and the... budget-conscious lighting choices from the original production all conspire to make these videos far more difficult to remaster than the WCIV videos.

However, this time around I did a lot of remastering and cleanup work in AVIsynth prior to even running the AI Upscale routines and managed to clean up most of the major issues and pitfalls that were throwing the AI models off. They'll still never look as good as the WCIV remasters simply because the original production quality/budget wasn't as high - but this is a definite improvement over V2.0.

The jaggies are gone, the weird halo/ghosting images around illuminated characters in low-light environments (read: almost every environment in WCP) are gone, and the annoying dot effects over the credits and star system text overlays are mostly cleaned up.

On top of all that, I also applied all the processes I figured out for the WCIV remaster workflow in the production of this new pack. The best news of all is that the improved compression/optimisation techniques have knocked the file sizes down massively. So there's only a single, ~2GB file to download the entire pack!

The pack also includes the requested missing videos that have been remastered from the CD-ROM source (you'll notice them when you hit them. They're better than the CD-ROM videos that the game defaults to if they're not present, but they're noticeably lacking compared to the rest of the pack).

There's also a refreshed ODVS released version 3.0 of his WC4 comparison video!

Space Sim First Look: Star Wars Squadrons Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Electronic Arts has announced a new space sim set in the Star Wars universe, Squadrons. It's set at the end of the original movie trilogy and follows both Rebel and Empire pilots in first person space combat. There's a story rooted in the events of that era as well as a big 10-person multiplayer component. It comes to all major platforms in October at just $40.
Hopefully this does well. We have to wait a few more days to see the big gameplay reveal, but what's visible in the trailer looks pretty sharp. Games where you fly spaceships are obviously fantastic by default, and it seems like they might have a winner here. At first glance, it might seem like Wing Commander is even further pushed to the side with EA taking full advantage of the Star Wars license, but it's more complicated than that. If they can find a particular angle to slightly differentiate a series, the modern EA doesn't seem to have an issue with 'competing' franchises in a genre (Battlefield is a traditional shooter compared to Apex Legends' free-to-play battle royale model versus Anthem's RPG-shooter style). And with the Mass Effect series being mostly sidelined lately, Wing Commander isn't too far down the chain of sci-fi properties that they own. Command & Conquer Remaster also seems to be doing quite well, which is another win for classic '90s franchises.
Buckle up, take full control of starfighters such as the X-wing and TIE fighter, and feel the adrenaline of strategic first-person 5v5 multiplayer dogfights alongside your squadron.

In a fateful campaign set near the conclusion of the Galactic Civil War, learn what it means to be a pilot in a thrilling STAR WARS™ single-player story. The New Republic fights for freedom. The Empire demands order. We need you to join the galaxy’s finest. STAR WARS™: Squadrons is available October 2, 2020 on PlayStation®4, Xbox One, Origin PC, Steam, Epic Games Store, and Virtual Reality (VR) on PlayStation 4 and PC with cross-play support.

Tune in to EA Play on June 18, 4PM PT to watch the gameplay world premiere of STAR WARS™: Squadrons.

About STAR WARS™: Squadrons:

ALL WINGS REPORT IN – Plan skirmishes with your squadron in the briefing room before taking off to the evolving battlefields across the galaxy. Compete in intense 5v5 multiplayer dogfights or unite with your squadron to tip the scales in monumental fleet battles. Together, you’re the galaxy’s finest.

MASTER LEGENDARY STARFIGHTERS – Take control of different classes of starfighters from both the New Republic and Imperial fleets – including the agile A-wing and the devastating TIE bomber. Modify your ship, divert the power between its systems, and destroy your opponents in strategic space dogfights.

GET IN THE COCKPIT – The cockpit is your home. Use its dashboards to your advantage and – with just a thin hull of metal and glass between you and the perils of space – feel the intensity of combat from a first-person perspective. Take off in thrilling multiplayer modes and a unique single-player Star Wars story, which covers a key campaign near the conclusion of the Galactic Civil War. Immerse yourself in the pilot’s seat completely with the option to play the entirety of Star Wars: Squadrons in Virtual Reality on PlayStation 4 and PC.

THE MISSION IS CLEAR – Star Wars: Squadrons is a fully self-contained experience from day one, where you earn rewards through play. Climb the ranks and unlock new components like weapons, hulls, engines, shields, and cosmetic items in a clear path for progression that keeps gameplay fresh and engaging.

Buy George a Coffee, Download WC Jazz Track! Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Former Origin musician George Oldziey has set up a Ko-Fi page with a neat perk. The main objective of the page is to facilitate easy music compositions that fans would be interested in commissioning. It's also possible to simply tip a $3 "Ko-Fi" and get a track from George's awesome Wing Commander Jazz Album! You can find more info here.
Greetings all! I created this Latin Jazz arrangement of my iconic theme from Wing Commander 3 and recorded it with live musicians! If you buy me a "cup of coffee" you will automatically be rewarded with a download of the track!

I also added commissions option to my page where you can commission me to compose music for YOU to your very own specifications! I will compose music specifically for your personal use (casual listening, video game playing, etc. Each piece will be composed to your specifications regarding length, style and instrumentation and delivered as a high resolution audio file (48 kHz, 24bit wave file. All of the works will be created by computer generated samples. Commissions are $500 per minute with. Minimum length of 1 minute.

Those of you who know me know my history of music for video games as well as film. I'd love to compose music for your very own personal use that no one else will have!

Thanks for your support!


Snug as a Bug in a Rug Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

We've got a new poll up today that asks what ship you felt the best defended in. There's a lot of bombers on the list, although the options aren't exclusively limited as such. From time to time we might find ourselves in a heavy fighter or even merchant ship that feels extremely secure, and there are some good options for those tough craft! What's your favorite?

As many people seem to be growing tired of social distancing, it seems our old poll has run its course. It asked about the best way to get away and stay away from anyone who might be carrying a nasty virus. Of course, in the future that could take the form of anything from Watson's Disease to the Nephilim bio rash that might make you want to self quarantine. Signing on with the Exploratory Services to chart the frontier seemed to be the most popular option, and it was followed closely by being tucked away on a quiet ISS station for a few years. The Lexington's self-sufficient one-way trip got quite a few votes too, as did Angel's covert mission to the Kilrah asteroid belt. All potentially seem like better options than joining the crowds out there today!

Enhanced WC4 Video Released in German & French! Plus English Fix Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

ODVS is on a roll this week! Hot off the release of version 3 of the enhanced WC4 video pack, he's provided German and French translations as well. This is wonderful news for Wingnuts in Europe who get both high quality video and slick dubs as well now. Pedro has helped tweak the pack to make it easier to turn on alternate language support. There is also a fix for the English 3.0 files. The new 3.0.1 release corrects some aspect ratio issues that could potentially create problems on certain hardware. If you did encounter these issues, be sure to grab the new files (there is no patch - a full redownload is necessary). Even if you had no issues, we recommend unzipping the latest update into your video folder to ensure things run smoothly going forward. There's also a cool video that shows off the different languages in action. Note that the hot swapping between English, French and German is just an effect for this clip. In the actual game, you'll need to boot up fresh for the version you want.
Just a quick update - there's a minor bug in the WCIV HD Pack V3.0 release that might cause playback and performance issues on some CPUs and chipsets (so if anyone's been having playback issues with it, this might be why).

Trying to cut the long story as short as possible, I forgot that the aspect ratio of the FMV in WCIV is a little all over the place - some sequences are just a little wider than others, leading to very small letterbox bars appearing at the top and bottom. Unfortunately, when I bulk compressed/encoded all the remastered sequences to the final files, the routine I was using detected those black bars and clipped them out of the frame. So while most of the sequences are a standard 1920x1080 resolution, some have weird resolutions like 1920x1076 or 1890x1080. We're frankly stressing the VOB container to be holding an HD image in the first place (since it was the standard used for DVDs back in the day) - and these non-standard aspect ratios can cause issues with some hardware.

This wouldn't be a problem if the game used hardware acceleration for video playback but it actually routes it all through the CPU - hence the problem. You might not experience any issues (I don't on my system, which is why I didn't catch this bug straight away), but I've replaced the V3.0 pack anyway.

Part 1 of both the German and French packs also contain a .BAT file (wc4dvd_DE.bat and wc4dvd_FR.bat, respectively). If you copy these into the same location as your wc4dvd.exe file ("C:/Program Files/GOG Games/Wing Commander IV", for example) and use them to launch the game, they'll activate all the German/French text, interface etc. Thanks to @Pedro for providing the command line extensions that activate the language localisation :)

Paul Hughes on Privateer 2 Development Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Privateer 2 developer Paul Hughes has posted some neat anecdotes about the development of The Darkening almost twenty-five years ago. He was inspired to revisit the game by director Steve Hilliker's recent release of the video footage in high quality. There's some interesting recollections on the resolution and compression limitations that they faced back in 1996, and he's also got a soul-crushing anecdote about Christopher Walken's credits.
25 years since Privateer 2 - thanks to GOG.COM I can fire it up on my turbo nutter PC. Yeah, the movie compression hasn't quite held up as I imagined... The resolution and pixel doubling certainly helped hide a multitude of sins with bits of latex peeling and what have you. Be very proud! Given the hand we were dealt at the start, miracles were made!

Privateer 2's movies were 320x132, blown up to 640 x 164 with 22KHz stereo sound. It was a VQ codec running with a 256 colour adaptive palette. Lossless Key and Delta frames made up of 4x4 VQ blocks, motion compensated and truncated colour blocks (like S3TC but years earlier!). Its killer feature was its decode speed it would happily decode a P2 movie on a 486-33 on an x2 CD-ROM although P2 needed a minimum of a Pentium 60 as we used the FPU extensively. The chaps at EA Canada really, really knew their stuff - TGV, for the time, was incredible.

EA had a great localisation team - the teams from France and Germany came to Manchester and worked in house with us for a week - super professional, totally knew the subject inside and out - it was a very smooth operation. It could’ve been so much more; alas they burned a whole year going through a couple of different programming teams. We essentially had a year to code up the whole thing from scratch. It was alright I guess. I loved the trading aspect (the UI design was lovely).

The Credit sequence was rendered out by one chap - Mark Goldsworthy - as this was well before After Effects and the like, after rendering the city fly through, each frame was then manually distorted in photoshop one frame at a time and then manually comped together with the credit text. This was a labour of love and took and age to do. Then Christopher Walken's people vetoed it and demanded it re-rendered as his name wasn't as big as stated contractually (X% bigger than all other actor's credits!). Not a fun day!
Last, but not least, here's a brief YouTube conversation between Mr. Hilliker and Hughes.
Paul: Cheers for this Steve - I was lead programmer on Privateer 2 in Manchester. It was a wild ride for sure. Gotta add (to defend my most learned colleagues in Manchester, Slough and Canada) that the video compression, for that time, was as bleeding edge as it got - as you say, before P2 everything was locked off shots with little to no movement - we had to come up with some pretty radical techniques at the time to deal with whip-pans, tracking shots, sudden lighting changes) I was pretty proud of it, but can totally understand for you and the crew it wasn't anything like the (at the time) state of the art Mpeg1 - which required custom PC hardware to decode. If memory serves it was running at 640x480 (320x240 under the hood) at 15 fps with stereo audio, with an adaptive 256 colour palette. I do remember all the outtakes from Brian Blessed - I wish we still had them - I laughed apoplectically for days watching those sweary takes back. Thanks for this - it brought some great memories back. - Paulie.

Steve: Hey Paul, brilliant to hear from you. I do remember you all working flat out in Manchester to get the game as good as possible. The enthusiasm was absolutely amazing. I had to learn so much in a short space of time about gaming and that magical word 'interactive!'

You were all so helpful to me. What surprised me was how small the crew was in Manchester. Incredible what you all achieved. Yes I laughed with Brian on the shoot through 'those takes'. It wasn't in the script to come out of character either - we just did it for a laugh! Still love that sequence today - it was great seeing it again. It was amazing we only had Brian for six hours on set. Mega regards to you Paul and all the team in Manchester 1995-1996.

Paul: So many tales to tell ! :) What a wrap party we had at Pinewood! Dodgems galore! A few of us went for a sneaky peak at the 007 sound stage too. Hope you're safe and well - they were great days. Clive was the consummate professional. Quite amazing what you pulled off on such a small budget - Wing Commander IV got 10 million to play with after Privateer 2!

Steve: OMG Paul - Yes I remember those Dodgems at the end of shoot party - were they 'super charged ?!" I heard that extra voltage may have juiced them up a bit or was it the alcohol! What I couldn't tell anyone at the time was it wasn't the end of shoot - we still had another day to do on Kronos! We never used all the explosives on that set - they were wired to go but we ran out of time. Yep, I sneaked onto the 007 set as well - they were shooting 'Mission Impossible' with Brian DePalma ( one of my heroes). So jealous- they were shooting only three setups a day!

Paul: It was a fantastic night. Man, that final Kronos sequence gave me nightmares for weeks trying to get it to compress without turning into a blocky mess of Ceefax like artefacts :o) Things like this gave way to better and better video playback to the point where just dropping in H.265 video is a walk in the park nowadays. You were a pioneer! I'm sure I have an article from Variety or something similar about the whole approach taken for Wing Commander and Privateer 2 - working with real directors and real movie companies. I'll have to see if I can dig it out.

Steve: Hi Paul, I can't imagine how tough it must have been to compress that Kronos sequence. Most of the sequence was shot on film - much higher dynamic range than tape. Thank goodness we lost loads of shots over the two days on set and didn't let off tons of explosives that were all wired to go. A blessing in hindsight! Mega regards!

Paul has been an absolute wealth of information on the development of Privateer 2 for nearly twenty-five years. Deep in our archives, you can find a January 1997 IRC chat on the game's release that LOAF saved. Additionally, he did a wonderful Q&A for us in 2006 to celebrate P2's ten year anniversary.

Eisen Sketched for a Good Cause Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Peony is doing a fan art promotion where people can commission fun little character sketches. The money will go towards bail bond funds associated with recent protests. One of her first drawings is a super charming Captain Eisen! It's a warm and confident take on the captain, and the framing does a good job of capturing the iconic WC3 style uniform too. If you're interesting in supporting the effort (and potentially generating some more WC goodness!) visit her Ko-fi page.
Headshot Commission - CHARITY FANART

CHARITY COMMISSION - all proceeds from these commissions will go towards BLM related bail bond funds/charities. **For simplicity, please leave these commissions to generic fanart or character requests as opposed to original characters.**

Lineart - $10, Colored - $15

For more information of where these donations will be going and if you'd like to contribute more, see the following link. Thank you for supporting a great cause!!

Digital Discounts Across the Wing Commander Lineup Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

The Wing Commander Movie is seeing a rare digital discount this week. The Blu-ray and DVD went out of print after the film rights reverted back to Chris Roberts, and digital copies were slow to pop back into the various storefronts. It's starting to appear again more now though, and Microsoft has it on sale for just $8. It's then playable on Windows PCs and Xboxes. There are different storefronts for different regions, but it appears the discount applies in multiple countries. VUDU, Fandango Now, Google Play, YouTube and Amazon also carry it once again for $10 now.

On the gaming side, Solstice may be a few weeks away yet, but the GOG summer sale is in full swing. The Wing Commander series generally gets about a 75% discount, but there's a small bump to 80% if you buy three or more games at once. That's a whopping $10.24 for all of the original DOS and Windows Wing Commander games, including expansions and upgrades such as the WC4 DVD edition that will work with ODVS' enhanced video. Retro games are as hot as ever, and you definitely know someone who needs to play Wing Commander. Get them started with a WC gift for just a couple bucks!

Artist Profile: Glen Johnson Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Let’s take a moment to recognize an often forgotten Black artist whose incredible work influenced a lot of us: Glen Johnson, who was responsible for a lot of the look of the original Wing Commander! Mr. Johnson was a veteran of the comics industry and would be called a concept artist in games today. Love the wingmen? He created them! He drew 11 potential character portraits and the writer then chose 8 to develop into the wingmen you know. He also did the animated ‘talking heads’ pixel art you’re familiar with! But that’s not all! He also concepted all of the ships. His art was then sent off to an outsource contractor to be 3D rendered as game assets. And this is a case where there was so much good art that it was hard to pick four favorites. ... and don’t forget the Kilrathi! The original pitch for Wing Commander called only for the bad guys to be ‘alien mutants’... his concepts for the enemy aces made them cats! And yes, he also did the ship blueprints!
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Fantastic WC4 Video Upgrade Gets Even Better Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

ODVS has done it again! Today he released version 3.0 of the enhanced Wing Commander 4 video pack. Despite how impressive his release was back in April, even my untrained eye notices a really nice quality bump in this new edition. What's even crazier is the downloadable file size is some 40% smaller! If you'd like a sample before setting things up for yourself, ODVS has remastered the WC4 trailer below to show everything in action, although the downloadable copies are even slightly better than YouTube's compression! Grab them from the links below. All you have to do is drop the included VOB files into the movie folder of a WC4 DVD install (such as the one from GOG).
Here you go, everyone - WCIV HD Pack V3.0

I've now worked out methods to automate every step of the remastering process - none of it is manual any more. I write code, I execute the code, and the various stages of the workflow handle themselves. No more messing around doing cleanup in After Effects and Premiere Pro!

I've improved the efficiency of compression considerably with this release, so there are only two Zip files at around 3.9GB each (even though video quality has been improved). Just to celebrate the launch and as a bit of a teaser and a bonus treat, I've recreated the Wing Commander IV Original Theatrical Trailer with the new HD footage! Enjoy :)

Second Chance: Kevin Droney Talks Wing Commander Script Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Christian Genzel reached out to discuss a recent interview he did with Kevin Droney, the original screenwriter for Wing Commander. We indirectly linked to this conversation back in March, but we wanted to highlight it again. So much fascinating stuff happened during the development of the Wing Commander Movie, so it's always interesting to hear another angle. Mr. Droney talks at length about how a swap in the producer led to numerous changes in his script that disrupted the flow, especially in the beginning. Had he been given the opportunity, he'd have gladly gone to Luxembourg to help smooth over scenes. The general tone is disappointment rather than bitterness, and Kevin mentions that the original payment basically put one of his kids through college and he long got generous residual payments as a testament to the success of the film on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. You can find the interview here or here. Fast forward to about the 43 minute mark if you're just interested in the half hour Wing Commander segment.
In our interview, Kevin discusses how he created the story for MORTAL KOMBAT, a game that didn’t really have a plot, and how he focused on the mythological aspects of the game’s background. He talks about how Linden Ashby kept adlibbing lines and confusing his fellow actors, and he also talks about how his love for the Bruce Lee movies influenced the script. Kevin also shares his memories of developing the WING COMMANDER script together with Chris Roberts and exploring his sci-fi universe, and he discusses how the script got rewritten without his involvement and why the finished film doesn’t really represent his original script. We also talked a little bit about another film that Kevin wrote, a drama starring Raul Julia and Laura Dern called DOWN CAME A BLACKBIRD, a captivating, serious story about a clinic for survivors of torture that shows Kevin’s versatility as a screenwriter.

Cloud Surfing Hornets Rendered in 4K Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

And just like that, right out of the blue is a gorgeous new wallpaper from Klavs! It features two slick Hornets cruising above the clouds at dusk. If you look really closely, there's some details like running lights and painted sections that make the scene look more realistic. The image below has been produced at 3840x2160 so it'll look crisp on your high res monitor!

Space Sim First Look: Elite Dangerous Odyssey Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

We haven't covered Elite Dangerous much over the years, but it's had a very good run since its release. The base game has sold more than three million units while a number of additional expansions have kept things going for more than five years. They've just announced another big upgrade for the game that will add planetary missions in early 2021. While not everyone is a fan of mixing genres and gameplay types like this, it seems like a practical way to grow a game that's managed to mature its core experience and is ready for something different. The game is available for PC and PS4/XBox, so it's also a good way to get players of all types interested in space sims. You can check out the new Odyssey teaser below and a fuller recap of the Elite game beneath that.
“Odyssey is our most ambitious Elite Dangerous expansion to date,” said David Braben, Founder and CEO of Frontier. “Extending coverage to the super-fine scale that is needed for on-foot gameplay while maintaining the vast raw distances measured in light years, is a huge achievement by the team, and greatly extends the already rich Elite Dangerous experience. We hope you will join us to continue this journey of discovery and adventure when Elite Dangerous: Odyssey launches in early 2021.”

More Academy Art Comes Together Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

We've got more WCA-inspired goodness to share. DefianceIndustries polished up and shared three new ships in his cartoon texture style this afternoon. The first is the Kilrathi capship model that gets used for numerous different roles in the series. We also get a gorgeous Dralthi and the exclusive Sabre. Every ship in the show looks so gorgeous - they're a dream to look at, and it's great to see the designs put to good use here!
A few more animated ships for the collection - First up is the Kilrathi Omni-ship. Regardless of the role it's playing, I think it's one of the cooler Kilrathi designs. I had to arbitrarily derive a scale for it since the source material is all over the place on it, so I estimate it's slightly larger than an Exeter for a small destroyer/carrier hybrid - at least that's what I scaled the windows to (assuming an average Kilrathi is around 8 feet) First - The Universal Kilrathi Capship. It's a corvette, a destroyer, a carrier, and a battleship all in one! What can't it do? Stand up to a few Scimitars I guess... :p
Ok I got lazy and retextured my old Dralthi model. It's probably the most different from the WCA source, but it is still line-art accurate from Claw Marks so there's that. Besides I think it looked cooler.
Last but not least it's everybody's favorite WC2 fighter (yes the one you wish you had on all those Crossbow missions), the WCA take on the F-57 Sabre. As always Wingnuts feel free to comment :)

Twirl Your Way Through '90s Nostalgia Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Big Box Collection is a really nifty website that has digitized hundreds of classic game boxes. Rather than just simply scan each side, they've created virtual 3D representations that you can spin around and examine from all angles. It's really cool! Some have appropriate backdrops like the Thunderbolt cockpit behind WC3. A lot of these, including the Wing Commander games that are featured, are the German versions so you might spot you've never seen before! Perusing your old games on a stroll down memory lane is a lot of fun too! Thanks to Space Game Junkie for the tip! Check out the gallery here.
You guys, this bloke put together an amazing virtual collection of classic PC big box games where you can look at a full 3D representation of each box. It's astounding.

Academy 'Toon Renders Make a Fantastic Scene Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

DefianceIndustries has some more gorgeous artwork to share today. In honor of Wing Commander Academy coming to the Peacock streaming service, he's created new versions of the WCA television ships. They even go one step further and have nifty cartoon style textures, despite being traditional three dimensional models underneath. It all comes together in a very cool new wallpaper image that's available in ultrawidescreen. A standard widescreen is also available at the CIC Forums - where you can also let him know what you think!
Ok so I spent some time devising a proper 90's style toon shader with some pencil lines. I'm oddly pleased with the results. I added an ultrawide render as well for those of you with more monitor than sense. ;)
I finished "Tooning" up my scimitars...get it? yuk! yuk!...Revel in the pure 90's cheese of it... I think the WCA Scim is probably the best version of it out there. The original is fun but the WCA streamlined it to make it look like less of a space potato. And of course - the WCA Bengal which is so odd. It looks a bit like a pre-dreadnought era battleship with some wings on it. Yet it kinda grows on you.
Speed modeling practice. I spend alot of time on conference calls...alot. Quarantine is good for sneaking in some multitasking. In honor of all the recent fun around finding Academy on Peacock, I figured I'd try a few WCA meshes for fun. I set timers for 4 hrs for each of these meshes (though I cheated on the 'Claw and rather than start completely from scratch when I borked it, I just reverted to a previous save and started from there). Naughty Defiance! Naughty! :)

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