Battle of the AIs Plays Across WC3 Stage Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

ODVS is back with some new enhanced video samples. This is another test with an exotic combo of AI neural net techniques to drastically fix up the video. In this case, he's attacked the especially old school WC3 footage and improved the frame rate, color depth/texture quality and facial/environmental resolution. There are some definite pros and cons to working with each set of tools, so this is just an experiment to see what's possible, but it produces some fascinating results. It's amazing what he's been able to do with such low quality source material! Owen explains some of the process below, but you can read more on the topic of these magic AI-boosted apps here.
I've been quiet for a while, but I have been tinkering away and experimenting.

Specifically, I've experimented with using alternative AI methods. I know I've mentioned using DAIN (Depth-Aware frame INterpolation) AI models to increase the frame rate of the WC3 PSX videos - but recently I've been combining that with ESRGAN (Enhanced Super-Resolution Generative Adversarial Network) AI for the upscaling process.

If you haven't heard of ESRGAN before, it's the Neural Network AI tech used by a lot of game remastering enthusiasts to upscale textures in older games. If you've seen any of those original Doom mods with higher res textures or the Final Fantasy VII fan remaster that was doing the rounds a while ago, they use ESRGAN.

It's really best suited to textures and individual images rather than video enhancement - but being open source it does give me consideably more granular control over how it's actually implemented than Topaz Video Enhance AI does. I'd say the results are a mixed bag. It does a far better job of enhancing the CGI backgrounds and things like uniforms and hair, but it's not as good at faces. Prepare for the return of the crazy eyes!

Unfortunately, it's a far slower process, too. Not just from a processing perspective, but as a workload. I unfortunately can't automate the process as much as I can with the Topaz workflow - I have to manually select and process each video file, then leave it running. Given that there are 471 individual video files in WC3, it would take a very, very long time to create an entire HD pack using this process. If I left one per night processing, for example, that's about a year and three months - and most of it would be dead time, just waiting for me to kick off the next file.

Given that fact and the mixed results, I think this is something to return to later - but it's a very promising experiment, none the less.

I've also modified my AVIsynth scripts for the WC3 workflow to alter the brightness and contrast a bit. The PSX footage (in my opinion) is quite overblown on brightness, so I thought I'd address that moving forward. Demo below, as usual. I decided to re-do some scenes I've used before, so you guys can get an idea of the difference between this workflow and my previous one.

Kilrathi Pilots HATE This One Trick! Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

The original DOS versions of Wing Commander I and II included a handy debugging feature for instantly killing your current target (alt-delete) or every enemy on radar (alt-insert). You would activate these special keys by passing Origin as an argument to the game executable. Also passing -k would activate invincibility without changing your pilot name to CHEATER. Playtesting certain aspects of the game would have been a lot easier with these keys at your disposal.

When the Windows 95 ports came out as part of the Kilrathi Saga box set, this method no longer worked. Eventually, players figured out that you had to put Origin -k -b in Wingcmdr.cfg and WC2.cfg. This made sense, since passing arguments to the executable would have been a little less straightforward in Windows 95, and would have required players bypass the Kilrathi Saga launcher menu. For the next 23 years, we assumed that these "finger of death" keys were not carried over to the new versions.

Nudged by ghost wolves, Stinger did some research and found that the alt-delete combination was remapped to ctrl-delete in the Windows 95 port! He also figured out that you have to create an empty file named ctrl.del in the directory where the game executable resides. We don't know if there is an equivalent combo to kill everything on radar. If it follows the same pattern, creating ctrl.ins in the game directory and pressing ctrl-insert might do it. Let us know in the comments how that turns out!

While the Kilrathi Saga versions are arguably not the ideal way to experience the original games in 2020, it's amazing that talented fans are discovering new ways to cheat more than two decades after release!

Funky 3D Magenta Font Headlines Enthusiastic Preview Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Here's an oddity from the August 1994 issue of Gamesworld magazine. Wing Commander Armada is previewed alongside System Shock, and while the text has little new info, that logo sure is unusual! It's certainly a very similar typeface to the real Armada logo, but has a 3D quality we don't normally see, and we've seen a lot of Armada logos. Either they got this cool design from a press distribution or had a very keen eye for making up their own. As for the prediction that "Wing Commander Armada is bigger and badder than it's (sic) predecessor and jam-packed with improvements and enhancements," sure.
LOAF: Get ready for a weird logo. BRACE BRACE BRACE

A Near Miss! Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Due to a bug involving missile launchers this Kilrathi tank and Confederation frigate were cut from Wing Commander III. The frigate would be resurrected for WC4!
That's why they call them missiles. They always miss!
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CCG Trade List Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

It's been a quarter century since Mag Force 7 announced that they had acquired a license to create and distribute a collectible card game based on Wing Commander III. Even if you have no desire to play the game, you may still want to collect the cards for the fabulous artwork that was commissioned by Mag Force 7 from talented artists like Alan Gutierrez and Barclay Shaw. You can still find starter decks and booster packs for sale on auction websites, but a better way to get those missing rare and uncommon cards is to trade with other collectors. A few Forums posters have used the extra spare time they have of late to list the cards they need, and what duplicate cards they could part with. It's a hassle to organize your collection and mail things out, but it should be more effective (and cheaper) than scouring auction sites only to end up with another seven McGoos. If you've been sitting on an incomplete collection, consider joining the discussion here and get the momentum going!

Curious WC2 Article Stands Out in Hindsight Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

People have been finding a lot of fascinating old magazine articles lately, and here's an interesting one from Computer Games Strategy Plus. FredDude found this Wing Commander 2 review in the December 1991 issue. It's interesting for a professional review - the author seemed to lack a powerful enough PC necessarily for decent performance, and he encountered a couple of bugs right off the bat that game developers today would have quickly worked to mitigate for a high profile print review. He calls the number of Tiger's Claw survivors "implausible" and the speed of the cutscenes "infuriating." He also never played far enough into WC2 to fly a Sabre nor even experience a bombing run in the Broadsword, which was a marquee feature. All in all, it doesn't quite seem like he was ready to review the game. If I was the editor, I likewise would not have considered this ready to go to print. Maybe this gives you an idea about the state of the industry in the early days.
A nice feature is a 'replay mission' option, used if your character is killed or ejects. This lets you bypass the funeral or reprimand that would normally follow, and go straight back to the start of the mission after the briefing.

Overall I'm very impressed with the combat sections of this game, but disappointed by the narrative passages.

Explore the Physical Origins of Wing Commander with 8-Bit Guy Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

The 8-Bit Guy has posted a neat video of a recent road trip to Austin to explore the area's rich tech history. He checks out places like the Dell headquarters and the building where they filmed Office Space. There's a fun stop at a Globe Theater reproduction sponsored by Richard Garriott. Of course, he also had to highlight Origin's old offices - both campuses - which is very fun to see (start at the 13:30 point to jump ahead). Extra bonus points for making the trip in a Chevy Bolt EV! Thanks to Rustic Dragon for the tip, who also makes an appearance. Check it out below!

Space Game Junkie Covers Armada Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Here's a streaming miniseries from a while back that we entirely missed. SpaceGameJunkie took his followers through a big overview of Wing Commander Armada. The game can be a tough one to get into these days, so kudos for SGJ for toughing through it for four episodes. With that being said, Armada has some absolutely fantastic features, so I try to make sure to highlight it whenever I get a chance. The big selling point is multiplayer. It was way ahead of its time in 1994 with split screen local play, modem hookup and network support for up to six players. With some modern DOSBox tricks, it's not even hard to simulate a network for play on the internet today. There's also a major strategic element where players explore a sector, build mines/shipyards and hunt the opposing carrier. This mode doesn't have a ton of depth, but it's high on replayability. The story-based gauntlet adventure is conveyed via text, but it's the first (and only, so far!) WC game to have built-in cooperative multiplayer missions. In order to try something different in the Wing Commander universe, don't miss it! You can also watch Dundradal and I battle it out after last year's CIC Birthday party here.

Fantastic German P2 Preview Includes Several Treats Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

LOAF made a great find recently in the October 1996 issue of Power Play, the German computer games magazine. It starts off with a wonderful cover featuring Lev Arris, an Icarus and a Heretic. Then on the next page it stuns with another gorgeous Heretic with green accents. It almost looks like the color scheme to Wing Commander 1, which gives me some crazy ideas about what fans could do to touch up the P2 ships. That leads into a three page spread that touches on the game highlights, all the star actors and the story. That fancy green Heretic resurfaces too. We were around in the lead-up to Priv 2, but didn't have nearly as much reach in those early days of the internet. After all these years, it's wonderful to see what was going on everywhere else!
Bandit (LOAF): the perfect magazine cover doesn't exist

the October 1996 issue of Power Play: [left]

Bandit (LOAF): I want that printed on every physical surface in my life. Woah woah woah what's that green Heretic?

Before Mankind Was Locked in a Deadly War Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Shot97 has snapped a fun preview from a 1990 edition of Dragon Magazine. At this point in time, the game was still sporting its Wingleader title after Squadron was nixed due to potential copyright concerns. Ultimately Wing Commander was selected over all. I love how the Kilrathi are called "vicious militarists" and the Friend or Foe missile is held up as a "deadly" weapon. And thirty years later, we're still trying to make ray tracing a thing!
Also coming from Origin is Wingleader. Mankind is locked in a deadly war with the Kilrathi in the 27th century. Battling these vicious militarists are the daring pilots of the Terran Confederation. With his faithful wingman flying at his side, the fearless Wingleader battles with Kilrathi aces in heated deep-space dogfights. The game features Panaview, 3-D technology that employs highly detailed, ray-traced, bit-mapped images modeled in 256 VGA colors. You select from four different star fighters and use such weapons as heat-seeking missiles, neutron cannon, and the deadly Friend-or-Foe missile. The price for PC/MS-DOS machines is $59.95.

EA Expands Origin Access - New Name, Still Includes Wing Commander Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Electronic Arts has relaunched its Origin Access and EA Access services as EA Play. The big change is a unification of the subscription across four platforms: Xbox, Playstation, the Origin storefront and Steam. There are two tiers: Play for $5 per month and Play Pro at $15 per month or $99 per year. Both give varying levels of access to specific EA Games with the more expensive level obviously granting more and newer content. As far as Wingnuts are concerned, both tiers include five Wing Commander games in their library: Wing Commanders 1 through 4 and Privateer. Most people reading this probably already have these titles at their fingertips, but this is a major boon to more casual players. As EA has upped the value proposition and reach of the service, an even greater number of people now can easily try out the WC series. Chances are that you already know someone who's a subscriber but doesn't know they could be playing Wing Commander right now. Let them know and help spread the series around far and wide! You can find more info here.

Mike Winterbauer Launches New Art Campaign Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Mike Winterbauer is back with another Kickstarter based on his famous Wing Commander art! There are some old favorites in the mix as well as a set of new high end metal prints to add to your collection. In the lower tiers of the campaign, there is another chance to get his softcover book on video game cover art (fewer than 25 left!) or his hardcover Wing Commander portfolio. A larger 14x20 inch giclée of his original Hornet cockpit painting is available, or you can pledge to receive an all new 16x24 inch metal collage of the piece and how it's been used across multiple printings. This is a great opportunity to grab some of the earlier collector's items or add another showpiece to your wall. I know where I'll be hanging mine! Some of the smaller/lighter prints are $34-35 plus shipping, and the large aluminum spread is $150 (plus $30 for shipping). Read up on all the details here.
Wing Commander Limited Edition Signed Metal Print Pledge!

Pledge $150 and get the amazing signed 16 by 24 inch Limited Edition Signed Metal Print and a letter of authenticity address to you! These stunning metal prints are ready to hang out of the box and are signed! This is a very cool collectible that is a Limited Edition signed and numbered! There will be only 500 of these awesome prints. This stunning collectible shows the cool Wing Commander original painting, logo painting and the cool box and advertising of Wing Commander!

WC3 Ad Hypes Japanese Market Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Here's another glorious pair of scans that LOAF just made. It's the advertising slick from Japan. This sell sheet would have been circulated to stores and other outlets in mid 1996 to promote the Japanese language conversion of the game for Playstation. It was apparently scheduled for a September 13 release (compared with March 27 for the English version). There's some absolutely gorgeous Excalibur art here along with plenty of text highlights. This would have certainly hyped me up for the game!

The live image Google Translator on this is pretty wild:
A huge story that takes place in space. A dogfight fighter that flies in galaxies. Bring your life to life with SFX Creatures that show strange movements... If only I was able to participate...

Make Time for Fun in Gemini Sector RPG Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Rear Admiral Tarsus wants to remind everyone that the Wing Commander Gemini Sector RPG is alive and kicking! The group transitioned to Discord a while back and conducts most of their activity in real time chat rooms. A new event calendar has been added to the game's official wiki so players can stay on top of upcoming role playing events. There's also tons of background information at the site that you can read up on before joining yourself! Reach out and introduce yourself if you want to try something different - engaging with your Wing Command buddies is always tons of fun!
In the distant future, mankind is locked in a deadly war…

The year is 2659. War between the Terran Confederation and the felinoid aliens known as the Kilrathi has raged for twenty years, with no end in sight. Seeking to break the stalemate, the Kilrathi have launched a surprise offensive through the edge of Terran-controlled space in Gemini Sector. A tenacious counteroffensive has pushed back the first wave of the Kilrathi assault, but a second wave has washed over Confed's forces and placed the Majestic deep behind the frontline. For the pilots and crew of the Majestic, survival is not the only goal as the current circumstances offer them a prime opportunity to cut the Kilrathi offensive off at the knees.

Based on the 'Wing Commander' series of games, Wing Commander: Gemini Sector offers space opera fun in a bureaucracy-light atmosphere. The game is set aboard a single Terran Confederation carrier, the Bengal Class Strike Carrier TCS Majestic. Roleplaying will be GM-driven at first, but if enough people join, I hope to move in the direction of more free-form RP. Roleplaying events may take place across various locals such as other capital ships, installations, or planets.

Character creation is fairly simple and alts are allowed. You can create a character who is a pilot, a technician, a marine, or a naval officer/enlisted man. Combat is handled by a custom-coded program that appears on the Combat-Bot on the Discord Server. You enter commands and the bot responds to them, changing your action and stance for the current round. Player death does not occur without consent. The main plot is driven by one of the GMs, but there will be opportunities for players to engage in their own subplots. Event sessions (posted on particular channels on the Discord) will be a mixture of combat-focused and social/RP-focused sessions. New players are welcome without requiring Wing Commander background or knowledge of the MUSH events beyond what can be gleaned from Ship Wide Messages and After Action Reports. The rules are light, just be respectful to other players out of character and you are good. The player-base is very friendly and mature.

Overall, the guiding principle is 'We are all here to have fun'.

All the WC CCG Info Fit to Print Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

We've got some delightful new artifacts to share today! LOAF found these WC CCG scans in a pair of vintage copies of InQuest. First up is a December 1995 advertisement featuring a Vaktoth unleashing a deadly salvo against a Hellcat. The art was made by Barclay Shaw and is featured on the Going Ape Kilrathi Maneuver card. The tagline is especially cool: "FLY A VAKTOTH IN THE KILRATHI IMPERIAL FLEET!" The January 1996 issue also includes a nifty review of the game and a price sheet.. Despite how ahead of their time Mag Force 7 was with getting information online in 1995, this was before many gamers had internet access or knew how to find the Wing Commander communities, so magazines like these were an invaluable way to get the inside scoop!

Streaming Wing Commander Academy, One Month Later Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Now that we've had a little time to explore the Peacock version of Wing Commander Academy, LOAF has put together a report on the show's audio/video quality, missing footage and other errata. The results are pretty good! Based on the sound alone, this is probably the current definitive edition for your next watch party. Read on for more findings!
I've finally had a chance to take a close look at Wing Commander Academy streaming on Peacock and can provide some nerdy details as it compares to other ways to watch. My verdict: good but not perfect!
Here's a comparison, the DVD and then the Peacock stream. For my money, the DVD seems compressed and looks slightly better, though Peacock's higher resolution source files might be better if we could ever access them directly.
Another visual comparison, DVD then Peacock. Audio is another story: several parts of the DVD suffer from BAD mixing where the music drowns out dialogue. The great news is that that is not the case at all on the Peacock version. Clear audio throughout.
Now into the weeds. The broadcast version had an audio bug in "Word of Honor" that made certain parts of the GI Joe-style Repleetah flashbacks hard to hear. This is fixed on both the DVD and the Peacock versions. Drill tanks, baby, drill tanks!
Additionally, the material cut for the Arabic localization in 2003 IS present here and on the DVD. Which is to say, the shot of Archer's pajamas and the whole scene where Dr. Singh wears a bikini (you know, the worst possible things in a story about a genocidal scientist).
Captions! I was excited about this but am only half pleased. The DVD has no captions so this is automatically an upgrade... but while they're mostly pretty good, they are someone doing them by ear today and NOT the original broadcast captions. Most errors are Kilrathi names:
Here's the most interesting/unfortunate one: when we did the DVD I had to track down a broadcast tape of "On Both Your Houses" because about 20 seconds (shots of Archer in her cockpit) were missing from act 3 of the master. You can tell from the slight quality dip on the DVD:
Apparently our work DID NOT make it back to Universal because they replace the missing shots with this goofy looking still of Blair, which is very noticeable in the middle of the climactic dogfight! But that does tell us the Peacock version is from the master and (not) ripped from DVD.
Strangely, the most exciting thing about Peacock for Wing Commander obsessives may be that it also includes SAVAGE DRAGON. Savage Dragon is a monster who is also a cop, which is the precise opposite of how that works in real life.
Season 2, Episode 8 is part of an insane crossover in which Michael Dorn played a space viking named the Warrior King who visited four different cartoons on the same day. The Savage Dragon episode has only been available as an off air VHS dub until now!
That's everything I've found so far! I'll leave you with what you came here to see; the Warrior King and the Savage Dragon chowing down on some Chicago hot dogs:

Minecraft Builder on a Path to Victory Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

LonewulfAH has shared the first couple shots of his new Minecraft TCS Victory build. It still needs some time in spacedock, but the interior shot does a great job of conveying the massive scale and amount of work already complete. It's interesting how the Victory is the crafting community's go-to ship of choice. Maybe it has something to do with how boxy and modular it is. We're anxious to see how this one turns out!
In 2014-2015 during MastersCraft Season 1 I began to build the TCS Victory from WingCommander III: Heart of the Tiger, a mega-build. Five plus years later on Limlight SMP Server I have started it once again. This time I'm going to finish it.

Wing Commander Stars in 'Guardians' Spinoff Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

LOAF found a neat little Easter egg in one of Margaret Weis' novels. She penned Robot Blues in 1996 with then-husband Don Perrin as a spinoff to the Star of the Guardians series. The duo is famous in Wing Commander circles for creating the Wing Commander Customizable Card Game that same year. In the novel, a character reflects on playing the space sim game "Wing Commander MCIII" and flying the "Claymore" bomber. Sounds like a winner!
One of Jeffrey Grant's favorite space simulator games was Wing Commander MCII, in which he flew a Claymore bomber on various glorious missions to keep the galaxy safe for commercial traffic. Grant had played this game a few hundred times and had won every time except the first, which he counted as just learning. And here was teh Claymore--a real Claymore--not fifty meters away.

Graphical Project Adds Audio Component Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

EmuMusicFan was recently inspired by an old forums thread to delve into a largely unexplored aspect of the Kilrathi culture, its music. He's put together several tracks that are heavily inspired by Kilrathi themes to add to the atmosphere of his interactive graphical novel. The first track gives off major WC2 Kilrathi vibes. The second and third need a little context to understand how they'll fit in, but I'm excited to see and hear how everything comes together!

This track is used in my visual novel as the BGM of Imperial Court Conference at which the Empire decided to wage war upon Terrans. Honestly though, I just wrote this track to have a quick BGM. But after the draft came out, I felt it was acceptable and could do the job of atmospheric rendering.
This is actually a BGM I wrote ten years ago for a fan fictional Phoenix Wright - Ace Attorney story, and the form is a reference of Phoenix Wright Cross Examination Moderate BGM, but it is my original work. After remixing, it is now used as the BGM for the Imperial Military Meeting episode of the McAuliffe ambush.
The title of the track is taken from a line by young Jukaga in Action Stations:

"Yes. Strange, many of his maxims of war are nearly the same as the writings of Xag. Yet there is much of their writings I find odd. The poets of their first global war are filled with disdain for war and seem like the ravings of old widows. But so much of their effort has in one way or another been war, either real or symbolic."

Fan fictional background story: She is a mother who could not be accepted by her own hrai anymore because she persisted in following a warrior of another hostile hrai. With the warrior's death in battle, she had no hrai to live in because this warrior's own hrai rejected and even hated her, but wandered with her female cub. Once she arrived a planet which was just attacked. The chaos caused by the raid separated a newborn male cub from his birth mother, so she adopted the cub and then settled in a noble-owned livestock-breeding planet.

Time flied... In one year of Terran calender early 2660s, as the war continued, she and the two cubs, together with the other poor Kilrathi here, could only eat some simply cooked low quality meat left over from the livestock hunting industry to get by. One day, the cub got information that the hunting ground was holding an event similar to livestock mustering. He knew it was picking up potential recruits from the bottom class poors, but all he cared about was the prize for the top 10 this time: owning the livestock. He was doing well, making the top ten. While some of the other winners couldn't even resist enjoying their tasty prey on the spot (finally, fresh raw meat and blood), the cub just took the prize home and tamed it, regularly drew some blood as nutritional supplement for his foster mother and sister.

However, when the foster mother saw him return with the livestock, she was very worried that he would be taken away for showing his talent, or even sent to war. The cub was very confused by his foster mother's strange thoughts. At this time the foster mother explained nothing to him, but went outside and sang a song....

About the song: It's not a war song, nor is it a typical melody celebrating war heroes. It's just a folk song sung by females to males and other family members, and perhaps a sort of thing despised by mainstream Kilrathi Empire culture.

It is still a draft, so please forgive the overly simplistic harmonic texture and arrangement as well as passage articulation. The piece is divided into two themes with two variations on each theme. I haven't written lyrics to this song yet. If any of you are interested in lyrics, that would be really appreciated.

Academy Test Highlights Deep Learning/AI Potential Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

ODVS has something new and a little different on the video enhancement front. He's put together a quick test cut of the Academy intro transformed into 1080p. He stresses that this isn't a carefully curated version to maximize quality, but even the quick and dirty experiment is pretty slick. He won't be able to actually remaster the show due to copyright considerations, so it's not worth the effort to painstakingly clean this up much further. Nonetheless, it's very cool! Note the embedded view below is sharpened, but still low resolution. Grab the actual 1080p file here (16 meg mp4). You can right click to download, but many browsers will play it natively as well. You can buy the show on Amazon for $8 or watch it streaming on Peacock. Maybe someday one of the official NBC Universal-authorized sources will go HD!
I've actually got several Wing Commander projects on the go at the moment, but I got side-tracked by an idea I had last night that I thought I'd tinker with this evening.

This is a very rough first experiment using DAIN AI (Depth-Aware video frame INterpolation) to smooth out the animation of the intro sequence for Wing Commander Academy. As well as doing my usual Deep Learning/AI upscale on the footage, I've used DAIN to attempt to smooth out the duplicate frames that were so common in budget-conscious 80s/90s Saturday Morning cartoons, which make the animation look choppy.

I'd call it a partial success - several sequences are considerably smoother, but since this was really a quick first experiment, there are many interpolation artefacts and other glitches that would need to be ironed out. There isn't much depth for the AI to latch on to - also, this was a really quick test run. I didn't optimise the settings or test multiple methods - I literally chucked it through on the defaults to see what would happen. This is really just a proof of concept.

Set Photos From a Different Perspective Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

While popping in to explain what's going on with the watches in the Wing Commander Movie, Jordan Reeve also shared some fantastic photos from the film set in Luxembourg. He got a chance to visit during the making of the movie, which included some fantastic up-close encounters with the Rapiers and Kilrathi. There's a lot of envious folks in #Wingnut right now!
Most memorable.. being 7 years old and “flying” the Rapiers.. totally imaginary of course but to a 7yo it’s pretty powerful! My father made that film with Chris, together they could have made an incredible movie but there were too many other cooks in that kitchen..! I used to have a load of stuff, props and clothing from set.. no idea where they are now but I still have fond memories of walking up and down the flight deck!

Happy Birthday CIC! Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

It's another wonderful milestone in CIC history. Today marks 22 years since the CIC opened its doors at We're thrilled to still be here reporting the latest in Wing Commander news every day. In the background, we're always researching the rich history of WC, helping out fan projects where we can and looking forward to the next big thing in the community. The best part is that we can do it all while having fun with you! As we recently mentioned, we'll be combining our annual CIC Birthday celebration with the 30th anniversary of Wing Commander on September 26. That event will be a blast, but you don't have to wait to join the fray. Stop by the CIC chat room #Wingnut on Discord any time!

Here's a fun throwback all the way to our 13th birthday in 2011. That year we got the opportunity to combine the birthday party with an archeological trip to the University of Texas Video Game Archive. After a long day of researching Wing Commander artifacts, we were able to celebrate the anniversary together. We might have to be virtual this year, but we still can't wait for our next get together!

Wiki Overhaul Exhaustively Covers WC Collectible Trading Card Game Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

We've got an exciting update in the WCPedia to share today! LOAF has spent weeks carefully compiling everything we know about the Wing Commander Customizable Card Game and putting it all together in one massive article. It starts out with all the basics on what the game is, where it came from, what it looks like and even has news clippings from when it was released. LOAF has exhaustively re-scanned each card so there's a beautiful new capture of every single one. Card pages have all the stats and even the classic '90s CIC card-of-the day reviews. There's also a close look at the gorgeous art that was created just for the set. A number of Wingnuts have recently been getting back into the game, so these resources should be a big help! You can find it all here.

Software Toolworks Introduces Vivid Interactive 3-D Space Simulation Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Earlier this week we posted a neat Deluxe Edition of WC1 on CD. That spurred LOAF to dig up this classic ad from late 1992. It's a Software Toolworks catalog with Wing Commander on the cover. In this case it's the Super Nintendo version of the game on display. Flipping through these booklets was magical back in the day - they were full of so much potential fun! While the world frets about whether retail prices will bump up to $70 on the Playstation 5/Xbox Series X this fall, check out that $69.95 MSRP here! That would be like $127 today (and that beats the PC version's $79.95 MSRP two years prior!).
Put yourself in the middle of unmatched 3-D space battle, fighting against the forces of the Kilrathi Empire. An advanced Artificial Intelligence system tests your reflexes and strategic skills. Move up in the ranks, piloting four unique Terran star fighters in increasingly vital missions against a deadly array of Kilrathi ships. Trust only your skill, your experience, and your wingman. Humanity's future is in your hands.

SNES Wing Commander 110503 $69.95

Extract Even More With WC Toolbox Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

There's another nifty release of the WC Toolbox for all of the tinkerers and modders out there. Today UnnamedCharacter took the wraps off some new extraction abilities. The package now lets you extract raw video footage from Wing Commander 3's game files. There's also enhanced support for the WC4 subfiles embedded in that game's archives as well. This adds on to the long list of incremental features that have been steadily added to a number of WC games. You can grab the latest update here and learn more at the CIC Forums.
More extraction support for WC3, this time adding the ability to extract movies. The result is in the AVI format using uncompressed frames; therefore the file sizes can be quite large, especially for the opening movie: about 1.5 GB.

This release also includes all the reversed hashes for WC4 tree file names. Thankfully, the hashing algorithm used for WC4 was improved, and therefore greatly reduces the number of collisions; making my life a lot easier.

The tree format for WC4 is identical as WC3, so you can use the WC3ToolsCmd console application.

What Exactly Is This Video Enhancing AI? Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

We've posted a number of fancy video packages this year that feature the enhanced cutscenes ODVS has managed to create. We're careful to not refer to it as just "upscaling" since actual bits of new data are being added to create detail where none existed before. How is this accomplished and what are the limits? What do we mean by saying it's run through an AI routine? ODVS explains all this and more in a new article. You can learn about modern computerized neural networks and all the work ODVS does to manually pre-process the footage before he can turn the crank here.

In my case, I use a Neural Net-trained application called Topaz Labs Video Enhance AI. The application has been loaded with several AI models that can be applied to source materials of various quality with varying results.

Almost as a case-in-point of why “Artificial Intelligence” is a misleading term, the classic programming adage GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out – really applies here. The application itself is not actually intelligent. It can’t look at a piece of footage like we can and think, “oh, that’s a ball. I imagine if it were bigger, the curve around the edge would look like this and the light would fall across it like that”. It’s still software, and software is stupid. It can only do what it’s been specifically programmed to do – it’s just that in this case, it hasn’t been entirely programmed by people.

The result is that you’ll always get better upscale results from higher-quality source footage. Lucky for us that Wing Commander IV’s FMV was all filmed on high-grade 35mm film, under professional lighting and, crucially, eventually released as DVD video. While the resolution of the DVD footage isn’t up to modern standards, the quality and visual fidelity of the footage is relatively high. So GIGO doesn’t apply – our low resolution footage is quite high quality.

Check Out This Deluxe Edition Wing Commander Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Christian Klein posted some cool pictures of a Wing Commander box, and I thought this one was definitely worth sharing. There are many variants of the original "black box" Wing Commander, and most fans are familiar with the Deluxe Edition (with expansions) that come in a blue box. This particular copy, however, is the Software Toolworks Deluxe Edition that comes in a black box on CD! I added a copy of the blue floppy version for comparison. Most of the internal contents will be pretty familiar, but the CD holder itself is a pretty cool artifact! It's by no means the only version of the original game on CD, but many of those are part of other exotic compilations or OEM releases. Check out more of Christian's finds on Twitter.
You can find the Software Toolworks version in a number of forms including with either a blue or a black box with the same red labels. If you look closely you can see the 'red' of the box is actually stickers... Origin provided Mindscape/ST with a supply of unsold stock which they converted into these CD editions.

Hi-Yo, Centurion! Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Here's a fun sketch from Simon James on Instagram. It features a bounty hunter behind the green screen of a comm VDU. It almost looks like he's artistically chosen to jazz up the eyewear as a Lone Ranger-style mask. I always figured they were just sunglasses, but either way, they're definitely there to convey a certain look! If you like this one, you can find more of his art here.
A quick one... portrait of a bounty hunter that'd appear in your comms in Wing Commander: Privateer - my first space game.

Sabre Reconfigured for Flight Ops Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

It's been quite a while since Klavs has shown off a new Sabre, but he's back in the cockpit and taking another crack at it now. At this point the design is still in the pre-texture phase, but the spaceframe is already quite solid and the fighter is looking well equiped with its particle cannons, neutron guns and healthy complement of missiles. The nifty version with landing gear deployed also reveals several internal bays for additional ordnance!
Re-kajiggering a lot of the old models, to optimize things and maybe make them a bit more realistic by relying more on texturing than all the overly-chunkified modeling I did to make them look better as 3d printed models. In many cases I'm having to re-model them from scratch, but thems are the breaks. Pretty happy with the Sabre's overall configuration, and she can even carry 6 torpedoes!
Klavs doesn't just make Wing Commander ships either. He recently put together this gorgeous late '40s/'50s F7U-1 Cutlass. It's a pretty good looker too! You can find more about it at Sketchfab.
Wing Commander has always been the perfect crossroads of Naval Aviation and Sci-Fi for me, probably why I love it so much. So, when working on this model of an early model of the the F7U-1 Cutlass, I was struck by how easily it could be turned into a Wing Commander ship! It's almost "Rocky Jones" in appearance, and it's easy to see how the shape would have blown people's minds in the early 1950's who were used to looking at Corsairs and P-51s. Only very peripherally related to Wing Commander, but there you are. Was there ever a WC Ship named Cutlass? Seems like there should be!

New Routines Tested on WC3 Footage Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

When we posted the first complete pack of enhanced Wing Commander 3 videos a few weeks ago, we labeled them as a "first cut" preliminary effort. They still looked great, but ODVS continues to find ways to create even more visual fidelity of the surprisingly low res/framterate originals. As he looks towards what a 2.0 update might be like, here's created a couple of test videos using more advanced AI/neural net methods to experiment with the next level of updated footage. Faces and hair look surprisingly good! Check the new samples out below.
I've been tinkering with my workflow for remastering the WC3 PSX footage. I've introduced a new AI method for interpolating the frame rate from 15fps to 30fps (which is far more accurate than the previous method), tweaked the AI upscale model and modified my AVIsynth code. So here's another comparison video. I think this bodes well for a WC3 HD Pack V2.0 :)
Another quick update on my new WC3 remaster workflow, which I continue to tweak to try to squeeze as much visual fidelity as possible out of the PSX source material.

I picked this scene because it has plenty of long, mid and short-range shots. A lot of the scenes in WC3 are mostly shot-reverse-shot dialogue sequences (most likely a limitation at the time of shooting with virtual sets). The process continues to improve :)

New Snap Ship Toys Reminiscent of Wing Commander Fighters Update ID Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Justin Flanery recently tipped us off about a new line of custom spaceship toys. PlayMonster's Snap Ships come in a variety of human and alien-styled designs, and the aesthetic could certainly be described as "Confed" or "Kilrathi. For example, the Scarab K.L.A.W. Interceptor gives off major Vaktoth/Darket vibes, and the Lance Scout partially resembles a Ferret. They even have a ship named the Sabre that would look quite a bit like a Wing Commander Sabre with just a few tweaks. These are customizable like Legos to an extent, so with so many space fighter-looking parts, there's some fun potential here. LOAF bought the Vaktoth and put it together below - it looks pretty snappy!
Justin: When trying to find some new toys for my son I found these awesome sets for sale on Amazon. They have an extremely “Wing Commander” sequence style to them and I think fans of Wing Commander could easily make some custom Kilrathi or Confed ships with their modular design.

I’ve always wanted some collectible ships and I think this could fit the bill for some.

LOAF: Is that... a Vaktoth?! A new series of modular spaceship building toys called Snap Ships lets you put together some pretty Wing Commander-y fighters! We picked up the “Scarab” for a closer look...
The box is full of tiny components and manuals! This is a bigger project that I expected.
It took no time at all to turn a pile of cubes into a deadly space fighter! It has a display stand, extra weapons you can swap out and even a tiny pilot in the cockpit! What a fun toy. We got the Vakto... Scarab for under $15 from Amazon. Stay tuned as we’ll check out the human Sabre when it arrives in a few days!
Justin just made this one... and it's a pretty close cousin to Privateer 2's Icarus.

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