It's been 20 years since Wing Commander Prophecy arrived in stores! Longtime fans may remember some of the original games being released in the early to mid '90s, but Wing Commander Prophecy represented the first game to come out after the initial internet boom. Yes, it was possible to find WC4 information online in late 1995, but a huge influx of fans throughout 1996 and 1997 completely changed the landscape of this internet community. The Wing Commander Home Sector, precursor to the CIC here at wcnews.com, was up and running and you can still go back and read the excited news posts from December 1997. It's a bit surreal for me to go back and read the news from decades ago and see my name mentioned.
Prophecy was a big deal in so many ways. It was the first game post-Chris Roberts, the first to feature hardware 3D acceleration and the start of a new saga with a new enemy, which broadened the franchise considerably. It was the first game to be made with real time fan input online when fans contributed to the creation of the glorious universe map. At one point it was even supposed to feature "intense multiplayer scenarios," which sadly didn't make the final cut (check out 1:13 in the video below to hear this mention). And the Vision Engine it ushered in still serves as the foundation for some incredible fan mods out there.
Wingnuts have taken the engine to new heights with upgrades like the stellar OpenGL patch, but there's one nifty demo that we'd still like to highlight. The game's regular demo, which has a series of supplemental missions, has been upgraded, but the Prophecy 3DFX Test is unique and originally required the special 3DFX hardware. It was a relatively simple gauntlet mission, but it was another way for Origin to get early feedback on the game and was the first sneak peek many of us got to share with our fellow fans. Released in November of 1997, the people who had upgraded to a 3DFX card in anticipation of the game were able to enjoy an early look at the Midway and some of the best Wing Commander effects ever. Those of us without the gear to make it work eagerly anticipated reports of people experiences, pored over occasional screenshots and stood on the sidelines as elite pilots one-upped each other's kill scores. Now it's possible to give it a spin with a relatively simple glide wrapper, which itself is a technique more than a dozen years old! We've come a long way - Happy Birthday Wing Commander Prophecy!