Welcome to the CIC's 23rd Birthday Party! When we opened our doors here at WCNews.com in August 1998, we never imagined we'd still be here now. The pandemic still looms and did directly affect a few items we had planned. This has not been the year of recovery that we'd envisioned, but I'm happy that we managed to still pull together a few fun things to share. Like you all, we're still making the best of it and having a blast hanging out (digitally, per social distancing guidelines) with friends. If you're not already there, stop by Wingnut and join the party!
Form up, Wing Commander fans! Tonight we're taking a look at some spaceships that never were: the ones that were being built for Privateer 3 when it was cancelled in 1998. Thanks to years of game archaeology, we know quite a bit about them!
The CRUSADER (sometimes called FURY) was shaping up to be the big hero ship, equivalent to the Centurion:
Here's a shot of the Crusader in the game engine (a development of Prophecy's Vision technology):
The Crusader is actually 'canon' since EA reused its artwork for a recruiting ad in Star*Soldier. The concept artist, Ruben Garza, also submitted it to an art book called Spectrum 6 where it was printed as "Privateer--Black Star". (Available on Amazon!)
I should also mention the origin of the name! Privateer 3 was being developed by Origin's Loose Cannon team which had previously develoed the Crusader series of games.
Next up we have the VAKTOTH which is slotted here as a Kilrathi light fighter. This ship was by Art Wong and the final render with the planets is called "Space Odyssey".
It's certainly different from the Vaktoth heavy fighter from Wing Commander III, though! Part of that is the fact that the playable ships were intended to visibly change as you customized their equipment (something the first two Privateers did not do).
Here are a pair of concepts for a modular Border Worlds fighter by Ruben Garza. You can see how different sections could be easily changed out.
Speaking of the Border Worlds, here's their ALTAIR class light fighter. You know I love the twin cockpits and you can really see the Banshee influence.
This bulk freighter is alternatively called the DRAYMAN or the SARTHORI in different drafts.
It wouldn't be the first time Wing Commander redesigned the Drayman, though!
Here's the NEMESIS heavy fighter which would've been roughly equivalent to the Crusader seen earlier.
Some of the potential customization options for the Nemesis, including different liveries!
And what were those Nemeses attacking? The mighty Confederation MANOWAR battle carrier! (Fans would have absolutely been obsessing over whether or not this was 'Omega' from Fleet Action...)
Here's HYPERION, one of the game's space stations. That's the last ship we have lore for but we have surviving concept art of several others...
Here's the Kilrathi DEMON fighter along with livery and weapon customization options.
And here's how the mesh would change based on what type of engines you have installed (ion, pulsar and SD pulsar in these examples).
A single render survives of the DRALTHI V, which would've joined probably the most storied series of ships in Wing Commander history. We don't have space for every previous Dralthi here but you can find them all in this post.
Rounding out the Kilrathi fighter force, this is the TRAKET heavy fighter:
The furballs also get a carrier/battleship called HADES which would've been part of the game's story missions.
This Kilrathi science station, KRONOS, would've been central to the game's plot as it was (sigh) where a Kilrathi warlord was trying to use a Steltek time machine to resurrect Kilrah.
You can spot this one in the background of several of the other renders. It's called the AURORA and it seems to be a light freighter similar to the Galaxy from the original game.
Finally, the ships here under attack by Trakets in this in--engine shot remain unidentified. Some sort of nimble light fighter, by the looks of things!
I lied! The smaller transorts in this composition (two astride the center Drayman) also haven't been identified. You can see they were also reusing the Piranha mesh from Wing Commander Prophecy.
That's the post! If I could leave you with one closing thought it would be: Privateer 3 looked amazing and I hope the jerks that cancelled it get eaten by birds. I leave you with one crazy Drayman render:
Here's another slate of fantastic ships (and more!). These originated the Wing Commander Movie's conceptual style book. It was sent out to merchandisers potentially developing WCM-related products. We've pulled out a few of these images here and there over the years, but here's the full book!
Summary and background:
"Good Guys" cast:
Patches, weapons and Pilgrim Cross:
Kilrathi armor, bodies and equipment:
The Rapier (model and sketch):
The Diligent (model and sketch):
The Broadsword (model and sketch):
The Tiger Claw (model and sketch) and missile sketch:
The Dralthi (model and sketch):
The Snakeir (model and sketch):
Ship identification chart:
One of the less visible - but perhaps most important - updates we have this year is a massive server upgrade. The previously dedicated hardware and connection date back to early 2014 and were starting to show their age. KrisV has been laboring nonstop over the past couple weeks to get the CIC moved over to a brand new host and system. Individual elements have been briefly brought down and restored nightly, and the disruption has probably gone unnoticed by almost everyone.
The highlights are listed below, but the net effect is that the end user capability is some ten times as powerful in the areas that count hardware-wise. The operating system side has also seen a nice boost, which supports general web browsing plus services like the Forums and Wiki. It's hard to convey just how critical this kind of maintenance is, but we couldn't keep the CIC going without all of Kris' technical expertise in this area!
- NVMe storage (was SATA HDD)
- 32GB memory (was 4GB)
- 1Gb/s uplink (was 100Mbit/s)
- Improved CPU
- A fresh OS install with a long support horizon
- HTTP/2 should make for faster pageloads
- IPv6 (soon)
It's not often that we make a new piece of CIC merchandise, but birthday parties give us a good opportunity to finally pull something like this together. It only took us four or five years to make these finally happen. We'll be giving some out at the party tonight, so we wanted to share the link for anyone that might want a set. We make no money whatsoever on these or any other items. They're just presented here as a novelty for folks who want a set of their own.
The photo on the left is from a pre production batch that was testing out sizing. The actual size is depicted on the right (picture courtesy of DaveO!). The coasters are available on Zazzle here for about $25. There is a 20% off coupon code ("AUGUSTSAVING") good for this weekend that brings the price down to $20 plus shipping. And thanks again to DefianceIndustries for the graphics!
This year Lacey and the kiddos made CIC-colored cupcakes!
And now it's time for our annual poll! Our history in the Wing Commander news business stretches back some 25 years, with 23 of them here at WCNews.com, and looking at all those date ranges is pretty mind boggling. How long have you been with us?
The old poll asked which ship had your favorite briefing room. The Tiger's Claw was the unsurprising winner, but the Victory came in a very strong second. All of the options managed to pull in a pretty decent minority of the votes this time around!
And that's a wrap! It's a bit on the lighter side as far as front page updates go, we know, but we're having a great time in the party happening in #Wingnut right now and hope you are too! In prep for today's festivities, we talked with a number of talented Wing Commander fans and they have lots of fun stuff in the pipeline that just wasn't quite ready to share today. Lots of folks are still dealing with the direct impacts from the pandemic, and our thoughts continue to be with everyone on that front. But stay tuned for a great year going forward into the future. We're optimistic that we'll finally start to shake off Covid, and we'll be here to bring you the Wing Commander news along the way!