As you have heard, ace, Chris and I are in Austin, Texas looking at the University of Texas Videogames Archive. This museum collection includes the personal papers of Origin luminaries including Richard Garriott, The Fatman, Warren Spector, Gordon Walton and Billy Cain. Thanks to donations from our collections, there will even be a WCNews archive available soon! We don't have time for a full analysis yet, but I wanted to share with you some of the highlights:
- The original, 1991 Wing Commander movie proposal and outline. This version was written by G.P. Austin, of Privateer fame, who left Origin around 1994. It is based largely on the original game, with many familiar characters (including Colonel Halcyon)... but is also a distant relative of the eventual movie, with characters like Forbes.
- The original story outline and character list for Wing Commander II, which includes a much more elaborate, cinematic version of the story (which opens on the Tiger's Claw) and many different characters.
- Warren Spector's collection of Wing Commander I production documents--everything from daily status updates to ship specifications to the agreement with Baen to release Wing Commander novels.
- The Fatman's contract and notes on the Wing Commander I score.
- A new, 300-page "Wing Commander: Privateer Online" proposal for the 1999 attempt. It is more detailed than ever, including the team's bucket list of concepts being discussed. Richard Garriott's papers also included an earlier, preliminary Privateer Online outline focusing on the budget and market.
- Several 100-page Privateer 3 design documents, alternate versions of those already in the CIC archive.
- The original "sell sheet" sent to retailers for WingLeader, which includes never-before-seen sketches and information about the Wing Commander universe. Sell sheets for every other game were also included.
- Warren Spector's short proposals for many, many games, including "Alien Commander" (a Wing Commander FPS) and "Privateer 2 Cyclone Alley" a Wing Commander-based racing game.
- Ultima fans will be interested to know that Garriott's papers include a wealth of information on the classic games and Ultima IX, with complete development plans for that game starting in 1995. We also saw large production binders for an Ultima RTS (Battlecry) and a 1997 attempt at Ultima Underworld III. Warren Spector's papers include concepts for dozens of Ultima titles, especially scenarios for further 'Worlds of Ultima' releases. Most shocking was a 'Savage Empire' pen-and-paper RPG--which was actually released in a limited printing for Origin employees and local gamers in Aaron Allston's circle! Allston also has a proposal for an Ultima paper game developed in the late 80s.