Alright, who remembers #Raptorcalloftheshadows ? Ok, take that and make it about a Morningstar in the #Wingcommander universe.
Raptor was a BIG hit for Apogee in 1994, a vertical scrolling VGA space shooter/shmup. Superb game music too. We have a remaster in the works by the original dev, Scott Host. And tomorrow I'll post the actual keyart/painting that's in my office. Here's a magazine ad.
This is part of a series analyzing newly discovered Wing Commander IV continuity photographs. You can find the previous posts collected here.
Our Polaroid research continues to produce surprising stories: this time, we've found a justified star. Or at least... the star of Justified! While the label on the photograph reads "BW Pilot Garret 'Moose'", the actor in question is none other than Walton Goggins (credited as Walt Goggins). Moose appears in the Peleus jamming scene, one of the three Border Worlds Banshee pilots that are ambushed and shot down by a flight of Excaliburs. The Polaroid gives us a great look at a Border Worlds flight suit, which the production dyed grey from the original tan Confederation suits with some minor alterations (like the Union of Border Worlds patch on his left shoulder).
Credited as Border Worlds Pilot #3, Mr. Goggins would quickly go from nearly faceless tertiary character to major star, one of the more recognizable actors working today. In the last decade he has conquered both television with lead roles in Justified, Vice Principals and others and film with appearances in movies like Predators, The Hateful Eight and the recent Tomb Raider. While his face is never seen in Wing Commander IV, his distinct ice blue eyes are easy to pick out!
So why haven't you noticed Walton Goggins before? It's not because of his blink-and-you-miss-it, visually obscured role... it's because the game and it's associated media have told you to think of the person beneath the Moose helmet as a large bald man! Unlike the other two 'jammer' victims, Hacker and Bob-O-Matte, Moose appears as an option on the Intrepid's roster of wingmen up until his scripted death which means you can pick him from the screen below where he is clearly not Walton Goggins.
That's because the 'redshirt' pilot portraits on the selection screen aren't from the film production at all... in fact, they're the Origin developers identified in the listed names. Here, Moose's face is Wing Commander IV's assistant product manager Patrick Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw worked in Origin's marketing group and served as product manager for Wing Commander IV, Kilrathi Saga, Privateer 2, Prophecy and other familiar titles. He may be best known to players, though, as the model for the four-page Christmas-themed Origin advertisement which appeared in magazines around December 1995. Origin held an open casting call for this campaign at the office and several developers appeared in related ads. Talk about putting everything into the job!
If you're a veteran of the Playstation version of the game then you may be confused by all this; the Playstation team kept the original portraits but used the names as an opportunity to tuckerize their own team members... Patrick "Moose" Bradshaw becomes Brian "Moose" Adams, credited as PlayStation Data Manager on the title. It's also interesting that Moose's canonical biography from Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander IV further reinforces the idea implied by his callsign that he's an imposing, tall man despite this never being visible in any way in the game:
You also don't hear Goggins voice when you fly with Moose. That's because most (but not all - more on that in a future update!) of the redshirts don't have unique videos and their voiceover work was done by local voice talent in Austin rather than actors from the film shoot. Instead, the second unit shoot recorded loops of a pilot with an unlabeled helmet. Since the clips don't show the characters' mouths, any set of responses could be played over these clips. That's why Moose has a helmet in the film clip above but when you fly with him you simply see this:
You may recall that we've previously covered Border Worlds Pilot #1, "Bob-O-Matte", who was played by Mauricio Mendoza. That leaves one more credited Border Worlds pilot from the jammer scene... and we'll learn more about his surprising life next!
One new addition this year is the MT-32 Archival Edition of Team Fat's classic Wing Commander 1 audio album. It's a super sized sampling of some stellar WC tunes. I also can't recommend a physical copy of Academy on DVD highly enough. They're dirt cheap and preserve you ability to watch the show forever!
CIC Drink Coasters are also 25% off today!
|Games ($1.49 each)|
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The crew ready for a final strike on the Zhelnar tactical carrier. This is the final mission of the Nitir Campaign. If the pilots manage to destroy the carrier, the kilrathi presence in Ragnarok will be destabilized to a point where ISS can safely protect the colonies.
Printed up, and assembled the parts for a Longbow heavy bomber. There is something I really like about of the Longbow. Sadly the printing process was somewhat uneven resulting in some warping and deformations. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do about it. I could make new parts, reprint the original parts with different settings, or maybe create new files to be printed. On a side note, I need to do some number crunching but I think this might actually be close to being in scale with the Devastator I printed last month.
The sequel appears a lot more technical than the original, basically because of all the options and choices on offer. The amount of onboard information you can punch up with a slight slap of your joy pad is staggering.
Blaster Indicator, Auto Targeting, Left VDU, Right VDU, it all gets a bit confusing after a while. If you enjoyed the first in the series then you should love this. Big improvements have been made all round and there's a lot more depth to it than the original. But definitely one for the flight sim freaks.
This is part of a series analyzing newly discovered Wing Commander IV continuity photographs. You can find the previous posts collected here.
Today's polaroid led us to several interesting stories. Pictured here as "Confed Cap #3" is actor Charles "Chip" Esten. Since appearing as a featured extra in Wing Commander IV, Esten has gone on to a considerable amount of success including appearing as a series regular on ABC drama Nashville, playing Josh Porter on The Office and on multiple iterations of Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Mr. Esten is very active today and even retweeted our request to help identify his polaroid!
The polaroid gives you a good look at a Terran Confederation Navy jacket complete with a name and rank that aren't visible on screen (JARVIS and Lieutenant Commander, respectively). Wing Commander Prophecy would later establish a different canonical rank for Lieutenant Commander (three squares). As a featured extra, Esten is credited in the game as "Generic Cap #1". While there are multiple claims online that these credits belong to the voice actors responsible for capital ship comms, that is incorrect. The 'Generic Cap' characters are the background Navy and Space Force officers who appear throughout the TCS Lexington scenes, mostly in the briefing room, rec room and during the game's series of elaborate transition videos. While it's difficult to be absolutely sure, we believe Esten is most visible as a communications officer who appears in several of the briefing scenes and in the initial ready room meeting with Captain Eisen. The numbering of the polaroid itself indicates that it was taken during a second unit shoot of transition scenes (where multiple Navy officers are visible though none clearly enough to confirm their identity).
We don't have any polaroids for the other three Generic Cap credits so we thought we'd go ahead and look them up for this story. Unfortunately, some of what we learned ended up being very tragic, but in a way that we thought it would be important to report.
Generic Cap #2 is credited to "Michael Haplin" which turned out to be a complete dead end; Haplin has no other credits and no picture available online... nor is there any other mention of him in public archives. As a credited extra, though, he would have been a Hollywood professional rather than someone stepping in for a background cameo. Further searching suggested that Haplin is actually a typo and that it should be Michael Halpin. Sure enough, Michael Halpin is a succesful actor on both stage and screen who has since gone into production. You can find his biography here at The Unusual Suspects, a theater group he manages.
Generic Cap #3 is Carolyn "Cookie" Carosella who is visible in the background of rec room scenes and during the Lexington transitions; she's the taller blonde pilot with her hair in a bun. Her character's nametag is not visible but she wears a Space Force pilot's uniform with a 2nd Lt.'s rank badge. Ms. Carosella went on to success not only as an actress but also a casting agent and producer. Unfortunately, her story ends very sadly: she battled cancer for several years and ultimately passed away in 2021. In her final years, she told her story through a now defunct website hoping to inspire others who were also battling the disease. You can find a video interview of her discussing her fight here. It's terribly sad to lose anyone to such a horrible disease, but there's also an added melancholy here knowing that someone that helped make our universe was publicly suffering and we didn't even know who she was. At least Wing Commander IV will keep a little part of her alive off in the Epsilon Sector... and we'll remember her here.
Generic Cap #4 is Jeffrey Arbaugh. He's visible in the background of briefing room scenes (see below) and transition videos. Like many of the other background performers we've researched, he's still working in film and on stage today, with a host of credits. You can find a recent newspaper profile about him here.
I've gone back to the mod and am adding some further features. The release being targeted is an open-ended sandbox, so without the original game's campaign. I've added a small chance for military-grade equipment to drop from destroyed military fighters, with the understanding that the player will not be allowed to buy them in any circumstance whatsoever, thus providing a long-term end-game goal rather than quickly becoming utterly overpowered.
The other thing I am working on right now is capital ship patrols: destroyers and corvettes that will patrol core sectors for each faction and protect major jump points. These will be dangerous, attacking a Confed DD up front being suicidal without torpedoes and a very good fighter. Game design-wise, the intent is to make piracy in core sectors a stressful activity as well as give a raison d'être to the hidden jump points around the sectors.
For reference, the anti-matter bolts will one-shoot most fighters on impact, like in the original games, and each laser projectile is more powerful than the military-grade equivalents mounted on military fighters.
Right now, the capital ships are finished and can be spawned in squadrons in the desired areas. I've established simple protective forces around major planets, border gates and at the entry of each capital sector.
Playtesting the thing using my weapon/equipment reconfiguration reminded me of the difficulties. TLDR, the gameplay kinda sucks and I'll probably have to rethink the entire balance and design before even considering doing beta releases for testing.
IT IS DONE!!! :D Ladies and gentlemen - May I present you:
The F-86E "Hellcat V refit". With the help of a very talented 3D-artist from Israel called "lexa6ix" I was able to finalize my vision. :)
It was a blast to work with him - especially because I was able to present and discuss my ideas, which he then knew how to make real. And because of that - I was even able to realize my idea of a new "all-in-one" engine. It looks great - and I hope you like it as well :)
Zounds: the sketchy Chandrilan banker on the latest Andor is played by Richard Dillane... who was Hunter in Wing Commander! I did not notice this at all, credit to AD!TheSpaceshipper can tell us more about the Star Wars ship.
Wing Commander IV DVD edition works on Linux! Set this in winecfg. If that box is ticked it fails. Also run regsvr32 Mpeg2DecFilter.ax and regsvr32 ac3filter.ax to make sure the codecs are installed.
It also works with the HD re-encodes by ODVS. Just drop them into the vob folder.
This update is part of a series covering Wing Commander content from Computer Game Review magazine. You can find the introductory post here. This update covers the magazine's reviews of Wing Commander games from 1991 to 1996 which were, by and large, very positive! It's a fascinating leap back in time...
October 1991 - Wing Commander IV
August 1992 - Special Operations 2
October 1993 - Wing Commander Academy
December 1993 - Wing Commander Privateer
December 1994 - Wing Commander Armada
February 1995 - Wing Commander IV
May 1996 - Diamond Multimedia Kit (with Wing Commander II)
May 1996 - Wing Commander IV
Aside from the miniscule resolution of the source material, another major problem is compression. In order to fit all those thousands of frames onto the game’s CD-ROMs, they were quite heavily compressed using mid-90s techniques. The unfortunate side-effect for us is that they’re blocky even for their tiny resolution. Lots of chunky pixels and harsh right angles are baked into the image – which our AI models and routines then try to maintain when upscaling. To combat this, I added a CRT-scanline-style effect over the top and some intentional digital-corruption-looking effects. I hope you’ll agree they’re an effective way of making the ugly compression artefacts from the original material look more like they should occur natually in-game. We can consider it headcanon that these glitches are a side-effect of whatever future-tech Confed and its contemporaries use to send signals across the vasts of space.
Computer Game Review (later Computer Game Review and 16-Bit Entertainment and then Computer Game Review and CD-ROM Entertainment) was an American gaming magazine published from 1991 to 1996, covering much of Wing Commander's heyday. A sister magazine to the better-known console-focused Electronic Gaming Monthly, CGR was on friendly terms with Origin Systems and their editorial content frequently defended their high system requirements and delayed games. The Internet Archive has recently added almost the entire run... and we've combed through it for Wing Commander content!For those curious: the missing issues are 11/91, 12/91, 2/93, 4/92, 2/93 and 4/93 if anyone has copies in their collection!
What follows are Computer Game Review's 'previews' of Wing Commander games. These articles were typically the result of a reporter visit or a press junket covering a game in development. As Origin and the games industry rapidly grew in size, these junkets became much larger and more comprhensive... resulting in longer articles with a great deal more content. Preview articles are especially interesting because they often include bullshots, screens from early builds, concept art, generally unpublished photos and more. The Privateer 2 preview (then for simply 'The Darkening') is especially fascinating as it contains all of these things!
Special Operations 1
Ultima VI/Wing Commander CD-ROM
Wing Commander Academy
July 1994 - Wing Commander Armada
August 1994 - Wing Commander III
December 1995 - Wing Commander IV
September 1995 - Privateer 2
This is part of a series analyzing newly discovered Wing Commander IV continuity photographs. You can find the first post in the series' introduction here.
Fans of behind the scenes trivia likely also know Bob-O-Matte's namesake: the FMV games' compositing was enabled by a system called Ultimatte which was operated by a company called BlueScreen LLC owned by Bob Kertesz. Ultimatte + Bob Kertesz = Bob-O-Matte! Although much of his face was obscured in Wing Commander IV, Bob-O-Matte was played by an actor named Mauricio Mendoza in both productions. Mr. Mendoza has had a very succesful career in the decades since Wing Commander, appearing constantly on both stage and screen. His agent has posted a detailed IMDb biography and you can find him on social media.
We have purchased a little bit of Wing Commander history and are passing the information on to you! Artifacts from the Origin Museum are currently being auctioned on eBay which has the excellent effect of revealing some interesting Wing Commander material we did not know survived! In this case, a set of twenty seven polaroids from Wing Commander IV's Second Unit shoot which are full of fascinating behind the screens and lore information, including some better-than-ever looks at some of the game's different costumes and never-before-recorded identities of various background characters! We're studying each polaroid and collecting what we can about how it relates to the game and will be updating one at a time. Wing Commander IV's Second Unit shoot took care of things like shipboard transitions and comm videos. In the case of the latter, actors were typically filmed in front of a single small backdrop intended to imply a larger space station, military bunker or capital ship bridge. Our hope is to identify as many of the actors and roles as possible and then tell you all we can about them.
Our first snapshot was the easiest to identify: this is Todd Covert who the game credits as "Bluepoint Traffic Control". Players will immediately recognize him from one of the first comm videos where he welcomes you to Bluepoint and gives you permission to land at the end of the first mission. We can see from the polaroid that he is wearing a "Tiger" nametag, which is something we will find on a number of Wing Commander IV extras (the nametags could be easily swapped so that one costume could be used by multiple characters). Here's an in-game shot of his appearance:
In the polaroid he seems to be standing in front of a MIP, giving us a close look at that set. In the game itself, his backdrop seems to be one of the same 'computer walls' used in the Lexington's briefing room (a logical choice as the Lexington and Bluepoint would share similar systems and aesthetics). Where are they know? We were excited to learn that Mr. Covert is still acting! He has had a lengthy and well respected career, largely on stage rather than film. You can access an interview about his career here and you can find his official website here.
Last week, we decided to spend some time looking into the details of how some of Privateer's gameflow systems work. One of these was the Repair and Upgrade bay screen, which displays a unique render of your ship that can change based on your purchases. Four types of upgrades can make visible changes to your ship: sensors, engines, weapons and guns. The game stores these in a sort of 'paper doll' which pastes the appropriate graphic over the base image of an empty ship. Other upgrades, like turrets or repair droids or shield generators, do not alter the appearance of the ship. Righteous Fire does not add any new graphics to this system: the higher engine upgrades repeat their previous highest settings and the fusion cannons reuse the plasma gun art.
As we extracted all of the game's component graphics, we made a fascinating discovery: the Centurion had not the available two but four upgrade graphics for each of its weapons. That is, there were two extra 'outer' mounts capable of carrying torpedo launchers, missile launchers or tractor beams. This indicates that the Centurion was once intended to have four weapon slots instead of two which would have likely significantly impacted late game balance. The fact that these graphics made it into the final game further suggests that this change was made very late in the balancing process. Many 'cut' Privateer weapons and ships have been discovered over the years but very few are referenced in the game itself because the reality of shipping on 3.5" disks meant the team had to be very careful about every single bit. Freeing these six extra postage stamps would have been welcomed!
Additionally, we learned that the Centurion has only one visual engine upgrade, despite the base game allowing for up to three. This was likely another late change in the other direction, with the designers deciding to offer Centurion pilots more power than had been initially desired. Eagle eyed Privateers will also note that there's a hint of these late missile changes in the game itself: when mounting a launcher on your Tarsus you are offered the "port" or "starboard" slots while mounting one on the Centurion (or Galaxy) lists "inner port" and "inner starboard" as the options.
Interested in getting a closer look at Privateer's ship upgrade graphics? We've collected every single one here. One last fact: the reason the yellow car is part of the ship doll instead of the background was because the game originally planned to include an animation where your craft was towed into place. Like a lot of content designed for the game this was ultimately cut for disk space. Just think what Privateer could've been like if it had shipped a year later on CD-ROM!
This poster-style image is a famous advert that actually predates WC - the earliest versions promote the game as Wingleader with the famous words, "What you SEE is what you PLAY!" Other iterations exist, including variants in different languages. Although this minor wording tweak may not seem super exciting, from a collector's point of view, it's fascinating to see just how many versions exist!Here's a few other versions:
A few days after the release of their demo in August, we had a nice little chat with the team about the project and it's future.
The project is a fan attempt to allow owners of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom to enjoy a more modern experience by loading the files from the original game into a new engine, complete with specially created, high definition assets.