The image below is the first screenshot of Wing Commander III's gameplay ever released to the public. An Arrow flies past... a triangular Kilrathi transport. It's a design you know... but it's NOT a ship that appears in the game! (Triangle transports do appear in 'Kilrathi fleet' cutscenes, but they are generally rendered too small to identify at 640x480.)
What happened? For reasons unknown, the Wing Commander III team opted to cut the triangle transport from gameplay and instead use the 'tanker' model that had been created for a specific Behemoth-refueling mission as the generic Kilrathi transport. These 'skeleton' transports became familiar targets...
The triangle transport then immediately started appearing elsewhere. The 3DO port of Wing Commander III restores these noble wedges to their proper place as the game's main Kilrathi transport and the Wing Commander CCG even includes a card of them!
One of the first screenshots released for Wing Commander IV again showed the triangle transport, prompting much discussion as to the role of the Kilrathi in the game. We now know the footage is Melek's 'evidence,' proof that Admiral Tolwyn has been attacking innocent shipping lanes. (Interestingly, transport again does not appear in the game itself... only in the cutscene!)
The triangle transport is still hidden in Wing Commander III PC's files. Here he is in all his glory:
There's even a 'destroyed' version included in the game; unlike other 'lost' ships, the triangle transport must have been fairly close to finished. (Though there's no apparent location for turrets.)
Finally, Star*Soldier managed to name the triangle transport "Dukara," following the 'D' style name for transports introduced with the Dorkir and Dorkathi in Wing Commander I and II (respectively.) Note that the VDU image used in the magazine is NOT the image included in Wing Commander III 3DO.
Here's another cool lost 'ground target' asset from Wing Commander III: a Kilrathi radar station! It's not clear why this didn't make it into the finished game, but it's possible it was hard to place a wide flat object... or there may have been issues animating the radar dish as intended.
What secret lurk in the heart of Wing Commander III's TRE files? Well, this Kilrathi missile tank, for one! The general design of this tank should be familiar to WC veterans… but you haven't seen it with a missile turret before! That's because while it's stored in the game files it is never used in a mission. Since a similar 'finished but unseen' model has been discovered of a Wing Commander IV-style frigate, it stands to reason that the missile turrets were either not functioning properly or causing balance problems… leading to multiple missile-turreted objects' removal late in development!
Yesterday, we reported on footage of an early build of Wing Commander II digitized by the University of Texas. Today, we have a second treasure from a VHS provided by Origin producer Warren Spector: early footage of Super Wing Commander in action! The video clearly shows an early, unfinished build that has a more elaborate 'loading' screen for the VDUs (and is still using some Wing Commander I art as placeholders!) But look carefully, there's another surprise: during the course of the mission being demoed, the player faces several Salthi… and then starts to fire on a capital ship. But it's not a capital ship available in the final game!
But wait, you think, I've seen that silhouette before. You have: the ship in question was found in a file dump of 3D source assets from Origin alongside the other models from Super Wing Commander. The file labels it the Fralthi, but it is not the Fralthi which appears in the finished game. The model itself is an edited and retextured version of Wing Commander II's Sabre mesh, which may sound odd but was not an uncommon practice during the creation of Super WIng Commander's menagerie.
Adding to the mystery, no mission in Super Wing Commander has you fly a Hornet with Spirit as a wingman against Salthi and a Fralthi together. In fact, the only time Spirit, a Hornet and Salthi are present with a capital ship it's a Confederation Drayman in Enyo 2. Was this ship intended to be a Drayman or a Fralthi? Or something else entirely? (Interestingly, the Super Wing Commander intro incorrectly identifies a Snakeir as a "Fralthi target"... so there may have been quite a bit of confusion about Kilrah's cruiser.)
Heavy CarrierAlso interesting--in every manual revision, the dreadnaught is 22,000km long, despite many other changes to ship specifications. Take what you will from that!
Length 1200 meters
Mass 35,000 metric tonnes
Max. YPR 1 dps
Max. Velocity 130 kps
Acceleration 2.5 m/s2
Here is another set of unseen Wing Commander Arena screenshots, showing the unused Centurion model in great detail. Also included are very early 'top down' shots of the game in action, which include both the Centurion and Gothri in action!
These updates are thanks to John "Captain Johnny" Guentzel, who provided several CD image archives of material used by the Wing Commander Prophecy development team!
Download (274 kb)
Date: October 20, 1997
This is the final update in our series of lost ships. Special thanks to HCl for teaching us how to extract them! Wing Commander IV features a lot of bases -- in fact, it has more space stations than the original game had fighters. What it doesn't have is a Border Worlds base... even when you're ordered to rescue the biochemist from the Border Worlds, you do it by landing marines on a Confederation space lab. It looks like they had originally planned to rectify that, though -- with the Union of Border Worlds Outpost seen below.
Now our lost ships feature moves on to Wing Commander IV. The model below may look like the TCS Lexington or the TCS Princeton... but look closely at the hull number: it's actually CV-42! The Lexington was 44 and the Princeton was 48... so who is this? Where could Wing Commander IV have called for another Concordia-class carrier?
Although Victory Streak gives 'frigate' specifications, they do not appear in Wing Commander III. The frigate, first seen by fans in Union colors in the WC4 Demo, was actually designed for the previous game! Check out the screenshots below for a view of a different looking Caernaven-class frigate. Strangely enough, WC3 actually calls for a frigate at one point. Paladin arrives on the Victory aboard one -- but it's just a standard destroyer renamed!
This is the second in our series of 'lost ships' found inside Wing Commander III and IV. Like the special Dralthi featured yesterday, this Vaktoth is the unused 'ace' fighter from Wing Commander III. It would have been flown by Kramm "Deathfang" nar Caxki -- apparently the nar Caxki clan was rather short-changed by WC3. It's a little more subtle than Deathstroke's bright red ride... but what isn't?
Thanks to HCl (of course), we've unearthed some exciting starships, hidden for over a decades in the bowels of Wing Commander III and IV. We'll be showing them off in a series of five updates -- so get ready to see some lost ships! The first of the five is a special Dralthi IV - one flown by Dakhath "Deathstroke" nar Caxki. Check out that stunning red paint scheme. While Deathstroke appears in the manual, he does not appear in the PC version of the game. He's in the 3DO port... but that version does not have special ace fighters.
As we reported several days ago, Quarto has reached into the guts of the Vision engine and pulled out a ship: the Copernicus-class Planetological Research Vessel. Well, the ship is now available for download for use with Wing Commander Prophecy. Head over to KillerWave's Wing Commander Site, where you'll find her in the Ships section. The Copernicus is completely unarmed and Quarto has constructed a new VDU image for her.
Copernicus-class Quick Facts: The model is named "Nautilus" internally. The ship's proper name comes from Wing Commander Prophecy's ICIS Manual. The only Copernicus-class ship ever seen in continuity is the TCS Devereaux, named for "Angel" Devereaux from Wing Commanders I through III -- though one wonders if the unclassified research ship TCS Tsiolkovsky, which played an off-screen role in Secret Missions 2 and Wing Commander 2, might be of a similar design. Introducing the Nephilim with the destruction of a research ship is an interesting mirror to the original Wing Commander, which claims that first contact with the Kilrathi occurred with the destruction of the Odysseus-class explorer TCS Iason.
I suppose I can upload it to KW's page if anybody's interested... but keep in mind, it's not something that I'd consider good enough to use in a mod or anything like that.