Exactly fifteen years ago today, Origin Systems, Inc. made history when they shipped the original Wing Commander. On September 26, 1990, after ten months of development, the world's first interactive movie shipped to software stores and changed the world. At 5:00 PM CST on that day, during the release party outside Origin's old Wild Basin office, Richard Garriott announced that the game's creator, Chris Roberts, had been hired as Director of New Technologies.
In the fifteen years since that day, the Wing Commander saga set the high bar for quality in computer and video gaming. If your favorite video game today goes out of its way to make you feel like a participant instead of an observer, it is because of what Wing Commander did to gaming. If your computer plays sounds on a Soundblaster, reads games from a CD-ROM drive or makes use of 3d accelerated graphics, it is because Wing Commander pushed the envelope and made these things the standard.
Wing Commander is as alive today as it was in 1990 because of the fandom it inspired. It has been over two years since the last Wing Commander game, Wing Commander Prophecy for the GameBoy Advance, was released.
It has been just over seven years since the last completely original title was released. Despite these daunting numbers, this website receives more and more visitors every single month. Despite this, people play new Wing Commander fan games and read new Wing Commander fiction and argue tooth and nail about new Wing Commander ideas every single day - all because of our community. There are Wingnuts today who weren't even born when the original game first reached store shelves. Take a moment to reflect on this - even if you are nothing else, every one of you should be incredibly proud of this accomplishment.
The importance of the original Wing Commander can not ever be understated. For the industry it was a new way to make computer games, one that continues fully unabated today. For the fans - us fans - it was the most exciting adventure we ever experienced. Never before did a computer game offer such emotion and such interaction.
We have a lifetime of war stories from that simple computer game: we struggled to save the Ralari, we were thrilled to fly the new Rapiers and any wingnut worth his salt will chew your ear off about the time he lost both his guns and both his VDUs and still made it home in that Hornet, given the opportunity.
We loved the characters -- we followed Colonel Halcyon to hell, laughed at Maniac Marshall, had a not-so-subtle crush on Angel Devereaux and we hated the furballs for what they did to Iceman's family.
We pored over the blueprints and Joan's. We memorized Claw Marks. Show a Wing Commander fan a Scimitar or a Dralthi today, and he'll have true feelings about what flying them and fighting them were like.
Wing Commander was the greatest game ever made; it is entirely appropriate that to this day it has the greatest group of fans ever assembled. I'll see you all for the thirtieth anniversary.