We've got a couple of impressive mega enhancements from ODVS to share today. His big video upgrades for WC4 & Prophecy take the high quality DVD editions and magically transform them into HD resolution. These are more than just upscales as new digital material is being generated to create crisp upgrades, but there's still a limit on what can be done. Nevertheless, ODVS keeps trying to push the envelope and reach even greater heights. The first video is another experiment at taking the low res 160p WC3 footage and cranking it all the way up to 1080p. Then he builds on these same techniques to grow a 360p WC4 clip all the way to 4K. The YouTube version doesn't quite do it justice, so you can also download the sample here (70 meg mp4).
I thought I'd apply some of the new techniques I've figured out working on the Wing Commander IV remaster and revisit the Rollins scene from Wing Commander III to see if they improve matters at all.
Unfortunately, it hasn't helped much with the eyes. I don't think there's much hope of improving that. The original footage is only 160p - so the eyes take up a total of maybe 5-10 square pixels each. It's not a lot for the AI to work with. Rollins' teeth do look far less freaky now, though! This version has a far cleaner 30fps conversion from the original 15fps source, though, so motion is much smoother.
Overall, considering this is an upscale of 675%, I don't think it looks that bad.
This, I think, is definitely a noteworthy improvement over what I've managed before. We've now upscaled from 360p to 2160p 4K - an upscale of 600%!
I've introduced a digital 4K 32mm film grain to give the eye more detail to absorb. Sadly, YouTube compression fuzzes out this extra detail. If you'd like to see the full 4K glory, you can download the pre-YouTube file here. Please note - do download it and run it on your computer. If you view the One Drive in-browser preview, it just introduces the same kind of detail-quashing compression as YouTube.
SpaceX made history today by being the first private company to launch astronauts into orbit. We love looking at all of the fantastic sci-fi space ships that frequently appear in the news, but it's worth pausing for a moment to appreciate just how special it is when those ships are real. The CIC has been following the incredibly ambitious SpaceX plans for ten years since we first reported on their ground breaking unmanned launch in 2010. Now it's 2020 and there are people in space right now flying the Dragon capsule. That's just fantastic. The exciting liftoff was streamed live to millions of people, but the crew is still up there beaming back tremendous footage. You might have missed this fun clip where they show off the interior cabin below. Feel free to drop by the #Wingnut Discord tomorrow morning as we watch the ship dock with the International Space Station!
Here's a nice recap for anyone who didn't see the festivities earlier today:
If you had fun watching Wing Commander composer George Oldziey perform jazz live a few weeks ago, you’ll be excited to hear that he’s got a live piano set planned for tonight! Just hit up this Facebook event and join the fun! Sorry for the short notice, but he’ll be going for a good 90 minutes. The party should be automatically archived as well. There should also be a virtual tip jar if you’d like to support Mr. Oldziey as an artist that’s been affected by a lack of live music gigs due to the coronavirus.
Hey guys. This isn’t terribly Wing Commander-ish, but I thought I’d let you know that I’m doing an hour and a half of solo jazz piano music tomorrow on FB live from 5 to 6:30 PM PDT. Here is a link in case you want to share with the Wing Commander universe.
Shout out to this outer space pineapple person who appears in multiple Wing Commander Academy episodes. Like many of the show's supporting characters, he's voiced by Mark Hamill! Further research has revealed that his name is FALCON. The other pilot is TRIPOD, which is probably one of the better callsigns to get.
agiar2000 posted a neat video of what happens at the end of the TrainSim in Wing Commander 1. Everyone plays at least one short-lived round just prior to Enyo 1, but a lot of pilots never go back. There's a high score board you can place on, but you can also get to the end after four missions. Running through them all nets a score of more than one million points, which would put someone in first place with plenty of room to spare!
The clip should start at 9:30 so you can see the happy conclusion.
Did you know that it is possible to win in the training simulator in the 1990 DOS game "Wing Commander"? I didn't until I accomplished it. I only recorded the last 10 minutes because I was using a 10-minute "instant replay" recording feature that constantly records a rolling 10-minutes.
Here's a couple of unboxing videos for Wing Commander Movie action figures by Nerd4Life. These are Blair in his flight suit and the Kilrathi General. YouTube has a pretty good real time auto translate option now, so if you blow up the videos and turn that on, it's possible to get the message behind what he's saying. I have to say that I almost jumped out of my chair when he ripped the plastic shell off. Not everyone is as terrified about tearing the cardboard it seems, and perhaps the glue has lost some of its stick after twenty years. I'm not sure I ever had the heart to open any of my own figures. At one point I did separately purchase opened ones on eBay to avoid violating my originals!
Earlier this weekend we reported on some collaboration to integrate ODVS' significantly enhanced video with the upgraded WC4 game engine that Pedro and team are working on. This was a test to see how 60 FPS video would work to sync with the high frame rate of the gameplay. I think it looks pretty good. Some people find the hyper real sensation off-putting, but I think it fits better here than in other places. The team says it's unlikely that they'll go with the high motion cutscenes, but it's still pretty cool to see here. And this is one fantastic scene to rewatch!
This came off the back of a conversation with Pedro - he said since I've been remastering some of the WCP CD-ROM videos and upping them from 15fps to 30fps, could I up the WC4 DVD videos to 60fps? So I thought I'd give it a go :)
It's certainly interesting - but it possibly falls prey to the dreaded "Soap Opera Effect". However, in doing this, I figured out a few more improvements to the overall workflow that might make the newer process I came up with for the Vagabond scene less time consuming. It's all an evolving process.
Of course, the thing that would really help is if I could finally build my dream Threadripper video workstation. Anyone feel like starting a Kickstarter? ;p
EmuMusicFan has a new teaser for a spinoff effort from his graphic novel project. Much of his previous work was to artfully recreate the Action Stations story, but we also knew he was working on a Melek character. Based on his latest sketch, fellow Wingnuts have successfully guessed that he's experimenting with WC4.123106, a fantastic piece of fan fiction released in 1996-1997. He's added a few characters as well as poses that will help him illustrate it further. You can let him know what you think at the CIC Forums!
After an original part used in tandem, a test part from The Price of Freedom novel version was added. The part depicts something that happens after Melek asked Blair for help and got a response, and Blair was invited to board the Kilrathi ship.
For my level, Melek's bowing pose is a little difficult to draw. But there was a real sense of accomplishment in actually drawing it. His talons are retracted, so they look shorter than in the original game.
Development on the WC4 Fan Remake has been generally slow of late, but Pedro has a few neat updates to report. He's done some testing with ODVS' fantastic enhanced video with great results. It'll be a perfectly complement to the gameplay updates that have been at the forefront so far. There has also been some discussion on new features like modern gamepad controller support as well as improving some of the development tools as well. There's still quite a bit of work to go, but it's good to hear the team is still on it!
To be honest development paused for a while, but I came back to it last night, did a few fixes; tested it with ODVS' AI upscale. It looks good, don't worry we'll be incorporating the best possible video when the time comes. I did make some progress on a particle editor, but Rear Admiral Tarsus is offering to help out with tools (which I am super grateful for). We have a potential volunteer for 2D work, we'll see how that works out. We're also always discussing how to modernize it for gamepads etc. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a good source for inspiration there.
Teepublic is a site that makes custom shirts, hoodies, mugs and other goods with contributed art. It's mostly intended for things like corporate giveaways or a venue for selling indie art, but occasionally some unlicensed merchandise slips through - and boy, does it deliver today! Once a piece of art is uploaded, the site makes it easy to translate that imagine onto something else like a sticker, phone case or pillow. And with the coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, they've now added face masks! A handful of fairly random WC designs is available, which includes a Kilrathi taunt face, a couple famous logos and even the Hot Wing Commander. They're $15, which is on the higher side, but not bad considering how shortages persist. The company also donates a medical grade mask for each novelty one purchased. Links to the ones we could find are below - let us know if you see any other good ones. And please send a photo of you wearing the mask if you get one!
The Kilrathi aces were known for their stinging verbal barbs as well as for their skill as fighter pilots but their propensity to become distracted by ship to ship communication during engagements became an advantage for sharp-tongued Wing Commanders.
We've got a fun documentary about our favorite genre of video games today. space.games.film was put together to explore the history of these types of games and how they evolved around the turn of the century. It also touches on the recent resurgence of the space combat sim and where they're going from here. Chris Roberts was interviewed for the production and his quotes are used throughout. There are also numerous German space sim developers/fans on camera, so I'd recommend blowing it up full screen and taking advantage of the closed caption translations. I haven't finished it yet, but I like what I see so far! Here's the trailer, and the full film is below:
Hi Wing Commander CIC team!
I'm Dominic, filmmaker and computer games nerd. With my colleague Patrick I made "space.games.film", a documentary about the history of space games and the passionate developers behind them. For this film we shot with Chris Roberts, Rob Cunningham (Homeworld 3) and Michael Schade (Everspace), among others (Trailer).
The protagonists tell about the most important milestones of the genre and how they connected to it. Starting with the moon landing, on to Wing Commander and Elite, all the way to Star Citizen, the film takes a cross country journey through digital space.
The film is certainly interesting for space game fans, but also for computer game fans in general, as it shows the minds behind the games and the passion that goes into making games.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Very exciting news today that we just can't wait to share: Privateer 2 director Steve Hilliker has posted over an hour of footage from the game's FMV shoot to YouTube! The footage is sourced from a Beta SP tape and has been further restored by a genuine professional... resulting in a better look at the Tri-System than we've ever seen before! You'll see beautiful sets, props, extras and more for the very first time. You can access the footage here.
25 years ago I directed live action film sequences for the first interactive movie in Europe. Originally it was called 'The Darkening' but became better known as 'Privateer 2 The Darkening' for Electronic Arts.
We had a great cast including Clive Owen, John Hurt, Christopher Walken, David Warner, Mathilda May, Brian Blessed, Jurgen Procknow, David McCallum, etc.
Recently I discovered that all the master tapes were sadly destroyed many years ago. Using only my surviving domestic Digital 8 copy (rescued from the loft) which was recorded from a 2nd generation Beta SP I have used DaVinci Resolve Studio Super Upscale 'AI 'software to save and regrade what I can. Obviously this can never match the original masters.
As most of the cast and crew never saw a single frame of the original (they weren't gamers!) and there was no press screenings or premiere of the footage I thought it was fitting after all these years to try and put something together. I haven't included any gameplay, only movie footage with one interactive 'short' pathway.
Pure Nostalgia - I had a great cast and crew! So this is especially for them and any one else who is interested in what we got up to on four stages at Pinewood during those very hot months of April and May 1995!
But wait, there's more! Mr. Hilliker has also posted fascinating nine-minute 'making of' segment containing more clips from the game. (Warning: includes holographic nudity.) It's available here.
Again, I rescued this from my Loft! Bradley Borum gave me this VHS way back in 1995!
Bradley made 'The Making Of The Darkening'
Hope she doesn't mind me uploading this now!
ODVS has another fantastic video sample to show off. After releasing his massive enhancement to WC4 and Prophecy video, he's continued to research and perfect the craft. This has produced some impressive results from the very low res WC3 footage, and even more advanced methods for manually improving video quality further have been discovered. The results from that testing have been amazing! Check out a new sample below. This one minute clip took several hours to produce, however, so ODVS is looking for feedback on how much an improvement fans think this is over the last release. Let him know what you think at the CIC Forums!
I've been experimenting with a new AI model and overall video workflow technique and I thought you all might like to see the results.
This new process is far more time consuming than the previous one. As well as the new AI model, I'm actually upscaling to 4K (2160p) then downscaling back to FullHD 1080p, on the basis that this improves overall visual fidelity (in much the same way NVIDIA Super Resolution does for games). The down side is that this doubles the AI rendering time.
On top of that, I'm also dropping the upscaled footage into Adobe After Effects and adding a simulated 32mm film grain, which tricks the eye into thinking there's more detail in play than there actually is on a pixel level (our stupid brains can be easy to fool that way). YouTube's compression actually smooths that extra shine out, so if anyone would like to download the pre-YouTube video, you can grab it here.
Overall, it's a very resource-intensive workflow, with far more manual tweaking than any of my previous efforts. To put it in context, this single one-minute video took me around 3 hours to remaster.
I'll look forward to everyone's feedback. If the consensus is that this looks like an improvement over the current WC4 HD video pack, I'll consider following this new workflow through to create a WC4 HD video pack V3.0. If you guys think that it's just kinda "meh" in comparison to what we already have, do let me know. This would be a major drain on my time!
Today marks forty years since the eruption of Mount St. Helens. On May 18, 1980, the ground shook and thick ash rained across the Pacific Northwest. Hundreds of square miles of forest were wiped out in minutes. But we're here to briefly talk about the mountain's namesake, the TCS Mount St. Helens featured in Wing Commander 4.
While the eruption has slightly faded from the public consciousness in recent years, the event was still fresh in developers' minds as WC4 was made just fifteen years after the volcano blew. The St. Helens in WC4 was the sister ship of the TCS Vesuvius that plays a commanding role as Tolwyn's massive flagship. Fortunately, when all hope is lost, Captain William Eisen emerges from a jump point with the second heavy carrier to the rescue. She was repaired and served for nearly a decade before being lost during the second Nephilim invasion. Sadly, underlying code revealed in 1998 that the Vesuvius class ship destroyed in Secret Ops was the St. Helens.
The TCS Mount St. Helens was a massive heavy carrier and the sister ship of the TCS Vesuvius. Like her sister ship, it was designed as a highly-advanced, self-sufficient carrier that could hold its ground without the need for escorts on the front lines. She was one of the largest vessels in the Confederation Navy at the time of her construction. She was constructed at the shipyards of Orion Station at Earth's L5 Lagrange point, where Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn oversaw her progress alongside the construction of Vesuvius.
By 2673, the Mount St. Helens was approaching her final stages of construction. Her sister ship the Vesuvius was the first to be commissioned and was immediately pressed into active service. The Mount St. Helens remained in drydock as it finished construction.
During the final days of the Border Worlds Conflict, Captain William Eisen, who had defected to the Union of Border Worlds, received word that Colonel Christopher Blair on the BWS Intrepid was pursuing Tolwyn and the Vesuvius in order to stop him from securing a war declaration from the Confederation government on Earth. Eisen and his allies within the Confederation commandeered the Mount St. Helens during trials at [[Sirius[[ in order to assist the Intrepid. Many of the weapons and shield systems on the Mount St. Helens were not yet fully operational, making her vastly inferior to the completed Vesuvius. Captain Eisen was aware of the situation, but chose to continue with the interception.
The TCS Mount St. Helens jumped into the Talos System and attacked Vesuvius as she was engaged with Intrepid, allowing the Border Worlds vessel to escape to the jump point. Eisen and Blair pursued the Vesuvius to Sol, and by this point had badly damaged Tolwyn's flagship. The Mount St. Helens was then forced to retreat after sustaining critical damage, leaving the Intrepid to pursue Tolwyn alone. Despite this setback, the actions of the Mount St. Helens proved instrumental in the eventual destruction of the Vesuvius and the aversion of a Confederation war declaration against the Border Worlds.
The WC4 novelization is where the "Mount" in the name comes from, and it also confirms the CV-70 and CV-71 designations for the craft. In the engine, they have an 01 and 02 hull number, which gets mixed up a bit in the cutscenes. The St. Helens appears frequently in fan projects where multiple Vesuvius class carriers are needed or the creator just wants more variety. Here's the ship in the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack, Homeworld Mod, Invasion mod, Operation Serpent, Empire at War mod, Sins of a Solar Empire mod, Freelancer and WC Saga - just to name a few... It really gets around!
The TCS Mount St. Helens was eventually returned to the Terran Confederation after the Border Worlds Conflict was resolved, where she was repaired, completed, and finally commissioned. The Mount St. Helens would not see any major fleet actions until 2681, when the Nephilim War broke out along the Kilrathi frontier. She served Humanity proudly through to her destruction by the Nephilim shortly after the second Nephilim wormhole in Proxima was discovered.
Origin composer George Oldziey tipped us off about a virtual jazz festival he'll be participating in this afternoon. Today is the grand finale of the Austin LuluFest. Due to virus limitations, the entire set is being livestreamed, so anyone can watch. George will be performing with his wife, Suzi Stern, at 1 pm Pacific US time / 4 pm Eastern US time / 8 pm GMT. Watch the live stream via Facebook if you're interested. An archived version will also be available later. It should be a quick fun thirty minute set. See you there!
Hi guys! Hope you are staying safe. This is kind of last minute, but I’m just doing a little shameless promotion to let you know that Suzi and I are performing live on FB as part of a jazz festival this coming Sunday at 1 PM PDT. The festival is called “LULUFEST 2020” and we’ll be doing a 30 minute set from our living room with our new/old Steinway O! I’ve spent a bunch of time experimenting with streaming good sounding audio, and with a combination of OBS and some nice mics, mixer and interface we’re getting really good production values with live streaming. In case you have nothing else to do at that time we’d love to have you “join” us.
Classic PC game publisher MicroProse is making a return. The company was a major force in the '80s and '90s with series like Civilization, X-COM and Master of Orion under their belt. Like Origin, they also had roots in the Austin, Texas game development scene, but waves of industry consolidation caused the name to go under in the early 2000s. An Australian megafan and software developer has been steadily following the rights and buying up assets for the past 15 years in order to relaunch the brand. Original co-founder "Wild Bill" Stealey has also signed on as a consultant to advise the new CEO. You can find an interview with him here. They've officially kicked off this month with the announcement of three historical combat sims by teams that partially include former MicroProse developers. The new titles look pretty slick in teaser trailers, and we're excited to see how this venture pans out. It's also great to see the classic name and logo back!
Today our first three games have been announced:
Task Force Admiral, a single-player experience centered on the command of an early Pacific War US Navy carrier task force that puts you in the nerve-wrecking role of the admiral in charge .
Second Front, an accessible WWII turn-based tactical game sporting all the depth of a paper wargame and the ease of a computer simulation.
Sea Power, a deep modern naval combat warfare simulation that pits Nato and Warsaw Pact against each other in a tense, hide and seek-based, confrontation. From the lead designer of Cold Waters.
But these are only the beginning of our comeback. Other announcements will follow, giving shape to our vision for the future of the strategy and simulation genres. Stay with us, MicroProse is back, and we mean business.
Mr. Freight was scrolling through Facebook and something caught his eye. Peeking out of a box in this advertisement for Country Living Magazine is the Wing Commander VHS. It's the poster child for an article about "garage sale finds worth a ton." They credit the picture as just a stock image from Epics/Getty, but little do they realize the WC Movie is actually creeping up in value! Since the distribution rights reverted to Chris Roberts from Fox a couple years ago, physical copies have been out of print. While the VHS is decidedly still affordable, DVD and Blu-ray editions can be pricey. Fortunately digital copies are starting to be made available again for as low at $8.
Lieutenant Lance Casey may have defeated a Nephilim invasion fleet, but now he's facing his biggest challenge yet: the novel coronavirus. The actor behind Wing Commander Prophecy's main character founded Steven Petrarca Events after transitioning out of acting about fifteen years ago. He's built the company up into a high end event planning business with some major customers in West Hollywood, California. Like many other industries, however, COVID-19 has severely impacted their ability to operate. Until the threat subsides, SP.E has published a line of at home tips and today advertised that they're gearing up to provide safe service when restrictions start to lift. I don't envy anyone trying to plan a wedding right now, but it's good to see that they're starting to adapt!
We're ready when the timing's right. Our service team will be following all necessary protocols to make sure you and your guests are safely entertained.
Here's one for the history books: the original four-page story premise for the tenth episode of Wing Commander Academy, "On Both Your Houses". A premise document like this was the first step in developing an episode of the show. Once it was approved by the show's producers it would be expanded into a three act outline and then a full script (which would go on to be boarded and then animated).
The final episode is very close to this initial premise although it does feature some differences, including setting Archer's robot fight at the Greenhouse lab, having Maverick ultimately be the one to shoot down the Kilrathi pilot and ending with an unused coda aboard the Tiger's Claw. You can download the PDF here; a full transcription is available in the WCPedia.
UnboxingHands has done an unboxing video for Wing Commander. I like these types of videos because Wing Commander arrived before modern YouTubing, and these are such fun games to open up! A couple things caught our eye in this case. It's the Amiga version of WC1, which isn't vastly different than more common iterations, but there are a few unique elements such as the styling on the floppy disks. It also comes with the nice single-sided fighter blueprints. It's got some funky music in lieu of a voice track, but I really like the video editing technique he employs: after zooming in on each screenshot on the back of the box, the clip cuts to an animated in-game version of that sequence. It's a nice effect!
ODVS has a new visual treat for everyone. Even though there's not currently a method to swap the videos into the game itself, he's taken a shot at upscaling the intro cutscene to Wing Commander 3. He recently had tremendous success performing a massive enhancement on the WC4 and Prophecy clips, and this builds on those techniques. Fortunately in this case, he did have the slightly higher quality Playstation clips to work with, although they're still only 320x160 res at 15 fps. It's not too clear if there's a path forward from here with The Heart of the Tiger, but it's still awesome to see! Definitely check out how much more detail there is with the ships and faces.
Hello all, it's been a while since I showed you all something (I've got another project on the go), but I just put this together this evening, tinkering around and experimenting - I thought you might like to see it :)
We've got an update on the exciting news that Peacock will be carrying Wing Commander Academy as a launch title. None other than DefianceIndustries happened to work on the service, but never thought to check for anything related to Wing Commander. He's been able to confirm the show will be included and answer some of our preliminary questions:
A simple X1/Flex voice remote search for "Wing Commander Academy" will bring the show up. All thirteen episodes are included with a generic series description for each. It's hard at this point to get a side-by-side quality comparison with the DVD, but it's definitely a big step up from some of the unauthorized downloadable/streaming copies available over the years. Resolution appears to still be SD and basic closed captions are also available. We can't wait to get our hands on this for ourselves - it's always wonderful to find a new way to experience Wing Commander!
Defiance Industries: It's also voice search enabled so if you have x1 voice remote just say 'Wing Commander Academy' and it comes right up. They didn't screw with the aspect ratio so it letterboxes on a wide screen tv. But it streams nicely.
NBC will be rolling out a new streaming service this year, Peacock, and early reviews have revealed a surprising addition to their content library! Although the system fully goes live July 15, Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex customers have access to a free preview. Videos that highlight what sorts of shows will be included have revealed that Wing Commander Academy made the list! It's right there between Will & Grace and World of Dance! NBC Universal owns the rights to the show and previously licensed the series to VEI for a 2012 DVD release. It's a steal at just $8 on Amazon, but availability can be sporadic.
While the DVD is great for collectors like us, widespread accessibility on a streaming platform has enormous potential to share this absolutely awesome series with more people - both to fans and people otherwise unfamiliar with Wing Commander. We saw a huge uptick in traffic here at the CIC when the WC Movie was carried on Netflix in 2015-2016, and we very much welcome the opportunity to bring new Wingnuts into the fold.
We also can't wait to see exactly what the episodes look like on Peacock. Is it possible that they will use their higher quality source material to make the show available in high definition for the first time? What episode descriptions will they use? Will they use the audio from LOAF's tapes to cover the audio glitch? Larry Latham's missing ten seconds from On Both Your Houses? I just spent an hour and a half on the phone with Comcast to get my account set up to watch this, so we'll let you know as soon as my Flex box arrives! Any current subscribers with X1 or Flex are also welcome to get in touch!
Here's a nifty vintage scan from HotT. It comes from the November 1995 issue of Computer Player. At this point the game is still called The Darkening, and it's referred to as Origin's second blockbuster interactive movie since its Winter 95 release date puts it neck and neck with Wing Commander 4. The general references to places and setting are about right, but you get the vibe that they're still firming things up. As we mentioned last month, some of these previews that came before the Privateer 2 rebranding have gone under the radar, but there's always neat stuff to see. Just look at those crazy set pictures! They never get old...
EmuMusicFan has done another solid pass on his graphical novel demo. It now has an extra level of proofreading polish as well as extended/branching story compared to the last time we linked to it. Visit the live preview here. On top of all the glorious Kilrathi depicted within, the first Terran character has also been sketched out to further expand the range. Emu's asking for feedback on what you think of the demo as well as for ideas on how to experiment with this further. You can do that at the CIC Forums!
This is an original Terran character, a University professor. I would like to be familiar with the way Terrans are drawn through the portrayal of this character. The color of the suit is the one I specified. Apart from that, basically, the color scheme is automatically given by the AI, including the hair color. Hopefully I can start painting Blair in the near future.
In the next chapter, I am planning to discuss a topic: What was Melek's purpose in inviting Blair to his ship (in the novel) and why did the Kilrathi Shintahr come aboard (in the game)? I'd like to do something fun. ;) If you all have any ideas, please let me know.
Here's an interesting mod/map for the unusual RTS game Particle Fleet: Emergence. The enemy seems to be made out of red physics particulate, and friendly ships go wild attacking it. I actually can't find a whole lot of info on the project and how it came to be, but fortunately Josiah de Brueys made this nifty vid of him playing it. You can clearly make out Confed carriers and a Midway style design, among other ships. There are also easily recognizable Kilrathi corvettes and dreadnoughts from WC3. It seems pretty cool if you know what's going on, but the learning curve is scaring me away. If you manage to figure it out and have a review to share, hit us up!
Here's a nifty demo disc from LOAF's vast collection. It's similar to the Origin CD Shortplays sampler that includes Wing Commander 4 and Crusader: No Remorse plus Cybermage and BioForge. The latter two are missing here, but Wing Commander takes up an even bigger proportion of the disc art. The Wing Commander 4 demo was absolutely enormous for the time, so miscellaneous preview discs like this were one of the main vectors for people to try it out. A lot of Wingnuts obviously own the main game and didn't feel the need to hunt down the demo, but there is a really cool unique mission included. It even lets you pick up a stormfire gun in space! Fortunately you don't need to hunt down your own copy - download links to each of the three different variants are included below.
This was actually a retail product back in the day... you used to be able to buy this demo disc for $5 at Best Buy. (There was a sleeve which I haven't tracked down yet.)
Several versions of the Wing Commander IV Demo exist. The first included a cinematic trailer and was released on magazine cover discs (here - 43 megs). That was a huge file for an era when ordinary people didn't have CD burners or fast internet connections... so Origin later released a smaller internet version with the trailer removed (here - 14 megs). Even that seemed like an impossible download at the time, though! I remember sending 30-odd hastily-blanked discs to work with my dad in the hopes he could download it for me... but one was always corrupt! A Macintosh version was later released (here - 6 megs).
One secret to the Wing Commander IV demo--you can actually "pick up" a Stormfire to play with! Right after you take off, target Dekker's shuttle and follow it for about ten seconds... it will drop a new gun you can fly into (a la Arena) and then use!
Destro has an update on his impressive project to add speech into the original Wing Commander. He's carefully extracting the voice narration from the Sega CD edition of the game, but some unexpected challenges have arisen. Fortunately a workaround has been developed, although it's more time consuming than originally planned. The good news is that progress is back on track as he continues to march through the Vega Sector.
Quick update for you: I'm still here and working on it. I had some issues with the SegaCD and HCI's extraction tool. For one reason or another the debriefing audio for Gateway Mission 2 just isn't in the debriefing file. It plays in the game but couldn't find any reference in the Deb.dat file.
Also missing some other dialog like inflight comms and story narration. The files are there but just don't extract using the tool. So after some deep digging I ended up finding a program called SnacherPCM2Wav which basically converts binary files to WAV. It sucks a little because it also converts the code in between to broken audio and static, so I need to do edit them and separate the missing files manually. Though I have successfully found and extracted the story narration files that I was previously missing and looking for the others.
So basically converting all the SegaCD version code to WAV and scrubbing through them looking for missing lines. So lots of work but progress is being made. I've also had to work a little this last week and some family things going on but never fear I'm still on the case. :D Cheers
This has been a really good year for space toilets. AD managed to screen cap some really good shots of the toilets in the Wing Commander Movie a couple months back, and now LOAF has discovered the Wing Commander Academy equivalent. Or rather, since this is Damon Karnes' holding cell from the episode The Last One Left, these are borderline space holes-in-the-ground. He recently got ahold of a concept art piece which shows a pair of basins at the foot of their cell beds. From this angle, their purpose seems fairly obvious. They're actually pictured in the episode itself, but with all the other action going on, nobody has ever called these out as far as we can tell. Now you know!
This is a Wing Commander Academy concept painting. These were done in the US as reference for animators in Japan and Korea painting the production backgrounds. It's from The Last One Left and reveals the pirate prison has space toilets I would never have noticed!
Way back in 2005, we reported on the surprising find that the semi-official Wing Commander Movie website at wingcommander.gms.lu was still live and operational - albeit untouched since 1998. These days it's common to see corporate websites taken offline rather than sit idle for years in suspended animation, which owes to both the cost of maintenance and to avoid the appearance of stale content. Even if that doesn't happen, after five or ten years, somebody pulls the plug. But a few slip through from time to time, and the Carousel Picture Company and Global Media Systems' "Wingcommander Homepage" is one of them! You can visit for yourself here. It's a simple site that primarily focuses on photos taken from the set. This leads to some amazing shots of the Rapier fighters and Kilrathi suits. The cast list still lists Ken Bones as the "traitor," which was a subplot cut from the film, although the storyline remains in the novelization and action figure line. Lastly, there's a quaint list of Wing Commander links. Pointers to the Wing Commander CIC and Dan's WC Movie site make sense, but a random link to the unofficial Secrets of the WC Universe book by Mark Minasi is a bit strange. The list must have been updated at some point in the early days, since the CIC reported about the existence of wingcommander.gms.lu on our very first opening day back in August 1998! The Wayback Machine reveals it must have been done some time between August and December of that year.
There's already another neat addition to the high definition movie packs that ODVS released last week. While he was originally able to significantly upgrade the DVD quality movies for Wing Commander 4 and Prophecy, fans pointed out that there was also a small batch of clips excluded from the Prophecy DVD edition. This means that the source material we have for these few is only the lower CD quality, but Owen did his best to spruce it up anyways to make as complete a package as possible. In addition to higher resolution, the frame rate has been sync'd up with the rest of the game and brightness/contrast adjusted. If you previously downloaded the large Prophecy video packs, the extra clips can be added separately below. Everything has also been bundled into a "version 2.1" zip that has both last week's movies as well as these new clips. You can find instructions on how to patch WCP to the DVD version here. Visit the CIC Forums if you have any questions or comments to add. Here's an example of the CD videos upgraded from 160p to 1080p. They're not bad!
To clarify, these aren't meant to be a proper HD remaster or anything - they're just meant to be a step up from the CD-ROM footage that the game defaults to since these ones are missing from the DVD pack. They're pretty ropey looking, but they do upscale the footage somewhat and bring the frame rate up to 30FPS, rather than the horribly choppy 15FPS used in the CD-ROM video. I've also tried to clean up the the brightness/contrast, since the CD-ROM videos look terribly washed out. Just drop them in your WCP movie folder and they should play when required :^)
And here's a sample of the awesome DVD to 1080p upscales in case you missed them earlier. The enhanced WC4 videos can be found here.