Andrea Contato has a great surprise for everyone today. He's allowed us to share the Wing Commander 2 bonus chapter from his new book Through the Moongate, from Wing Commander and Ultima VII to Portalarium. It includes discussion about some of Chris Roberts' initial expectations for the game and draws heavily on extensive interviews with WC2 director Siobhan Beeman. The chapter provides some really helpful insight into how Origin and the game industry worked in the early '90s. You can grab it in PDF format and read for yourself here (350 k). And if you'd like to check out the rest of the book (or part 1 covering the pre-WC days), check out Andrea's shop here.
The Wing Commander II team was not satisfied, however, to simply improve on what they already had. Despite the limited timeline, there was also the intention to add features and expand the gameplay. Siobhan explains:
“We knew we wanted to add gunnery positions to the game, a la the famous scenes from Star Wars IV. What was necessary was an in-fiction rationale for why those positions would exist. Modern jet fighters after all don’t have turret gunners, because that weight is far better spent on additional speed and maneuverability. So we created bombers, a ship type that would be forced to fly slowly in a straight line and thus needed gunners if it was to have any defense at all. To give bombers an excuse to exist, we introduced torpedoes, a weapon that would be devastating against capital ships but required a period of slow, straight flight to ‘lock on’ and fire. This was of course another example of basing Wing Commander combat on World War II fighter combat, in this case torpedo bombers like USN Avengers and IJN Kates. I’d say that Star Wars and "WWII air combat" were the two cornerstones of Wing Commander, but Star Wars itself was also based on WWII dogfights, so really that’s what all of this comes back to.”