BREAKING NEWS: Fatman Releases Wing Commander Music (August 2, 2007)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!

The moment you thought would never come is has finally arrived: six years after our original petition, George "The Fatman" Sanger has started to post tracks from his Wing Commander album, "Wing One", on the Amie Street music service. Here's the official word:
This is the soundtrack to the first Wing Commander game by Origin Systems. I was asked by the game's producer, Chris Roberts, to write something that sounded something like Star Wars and Star Trek the Motion Picture. My Team Fat writing partner, Dave Govett, had this little tune (the fanfare/theme) in his head already. It took him about a day to get finished music to me--and with that one tune, game music took what is perhaps a bigger step than it had taken before or has taken since. If you don't believe me, do the research. Try to find a soundtrack with stronger musical sensibility, better composition, or better arrangements. This game supported the then-new MT-32 sound card--this was pre-General MIDI, and most games had just used the internal FM sound card--which was considered high-quality at the time! In addition, Chris Roberts insisted on making the soundtrack interactive. There have been other soundtracks before and since, but this one stood out. Wing Commander was the hit of the CES show that year. These days, game soundtracks that attempt to imitate John Williams are commonplace. I don't like to do it anymore. But to my knowledge, this is the first one, and compositionally remains one of the better ones. I believe that for several years after this, game composers were still not asked to imitate John Williams. They were asked to imitate David Govett and Wing Commander.

You will hear the authentic, original MIDI files, playing back on a Roland MT-32 sound module, as you would have heard if you were playing a Brand New Wing Commander game on The Best Game Sound-Equipped Computer Available At The Time. A touch of Roland Sound Canvass (in MT-32 emulation mode) was added just because it was easy to do and made the tones just a tad-bit richer. Other than that...Welcome To The State of the Art in PC Audio, circa 1990!!!!
Amazing! The service is a little strange. You can listen to music at any time or sign up and buy downloads like iTunes... but until a track is popular the songs are very cheap (or, in this case, free)! I was able to download all three of the current pieces after registering but without entering any sort of payment information. Get in there and make this music popular!

A very special thanks to LeHah, who has shepherded this thing from day one - he's gone above and beyond to make sure this music is released. He, in turn, forwards this message from The Fatman:
Govett is now a full-time cop. Perhaps he will do the full orchestration someday, but let's let fly with this for now:

Three little tracks posted. I'll try to add a track a day or so until it's all up. There are about 25 tracks total.

Please apologize to the Fans for our tardiness, and let them know that they have our deepest, most heartfelt THANKS FOR THEIR PATIENCE--and especially, THANKS for their interest in the music that we tried very hard to make as good as we could...for them, at a time when it was considered kind of, well, silly to put effort into game music.

Thank You For Listening!!!!
You can find The Fatman's entire Amie Street portfolio (which includes several non-Wing Commander albums) here or the Wing One album here. He's also created some amazing cover art -- look at the image closely, it isn't what you think! We'll keep you updated as soon as new tracks are added! I sure hope there's a way to buy physical copies of this thing someday...




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Original update published on August 2, 2007
 
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J

Jesse

Guest
I must say, that I am also not impressed. The tracks are still not free and you have to buy them (even the sum may be low at the moment.)
Considering that this is still only Midi played through a dated sequencer of a just average soundtrack - nothing to be happy about.

Mind, that in my opinion, the soundtrack of Wing Commander is not bad, but it is not very special or good either. Fatman seems very overconfident of himself and is bragging somewhat about the "absolute greatness and superiority" of his work.

At that time Sierra already had used the MT32 in many of his adventure games - starting with King's Quest IV in 1988 and (especially composer Mark Seibert) did a much better job than Fatman - in my own humble opinion of course. ;-)
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I must say, that I am also not impressed. The tracks are still not free and you have to buy them (even the sum may be low at the moment.)
Considering that this is still only Midi played through a dated sequencer of a just average soundtrack - nothing to be happy about.
Yeah, it's really terrible that he requires you to pay for his work.

...And it's even worse of him to try to sell you the music the way he intended it to be heard.




Ok, look - I know, in this day and age, music composed for the MT-32 and played on the MT-32 can be underwhelming. But you gotta put this in context - this music was written in 1990, for a sound card that existed in 1990. Today, hardly anyone has this sound card any more, and the cards that people do have are much weaker when it comes to playing MIDI files. If you want to experience Wing Commander 1 visually, you just run it through DOSBox, and it will look exactly the way it originally looked (albeit it won't be at quite the right speed). But if you ever wanted to hear what Wing Commander sounded like when it was originally released... well, you can't. Not unless you happen to have that MT-32 sound card lying around somewhere (and I sure don't). You can only hear its closest approximation on an ordinary MIDI card.

...Until now, that is. Thanks to The Fat Man, I can finally hear Wing Commander music the way it was always meant to sound - something I could never experience before, and something I certainly wouldn't experience with an orchestral version. Sure, that orchestral version might be more pleasant to listen to overall... but it would be much, much less valuable from my point of view. What's more, there's always time to do an orchestral version - there will always be orchestras, after all. But an MT-32 version? Equipment breaks, wears out, and they don't make MT-32s any more... sooner or later, this collection The Fat Man released would have become impossible to produce - and that's why this is so great.

Mind, that in my opinion, the soundtrack of Wing Commander is not bad, but it is not very special or good either. Fatman seems very overconfident of himself and is bragging somewhat about the "absolute greatness and superiority" of his work.
Well, the bragging thing is an image he's worked on for years - he's literally made his name by being an over-the-top character. It's not something he expects - or even wants - people to take seriously. That said, Wing Commander remains one of my all-time favourite computer game soundtracks - so it really comes down to personal taste.
 

Dyret

Super Carrot!
Actually, the card that was built into my new motherboard played MIDI really well... until it died. :(
 

Spertallica

Rear Admiral
I don't know how you can say this is crap if you gamed at all in the 90's- or even today (I die a little inside every time I play a game that has a soundtrack consisting of pop rock)- this was original, catchy, atmospheric music- even more so then George Oldziey's work (though that was good too). On top of that, some of those tunes carried over into the newer games- (Scramble, anyone?) I actually think being forced to come up with musical arrangements on a midi device created some of the best musical creativity in gaming!
 

sirjorj

Rear Admiral
I thought the music brought back all kinds of great memories. I can't wait to hear the escort mission song with the catchy little snare drum part.

If I buy the album now, will i get the rest of the songs free after he releases them, or will i then have to buy the rest separately?

jorj
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
I definitely would have proffered some updated tracks (but then I'm one of the few who prefers the Kilrathi Saga versions, it having been my first play of WC1 and 2).
Having said that I've not made the time to replay any of the titles except 4 and Prophecy in yeeeears, this brought back memories and a desire to replay the first ones, and since I got the tracks while they were free I definitely won't be complaining :)
 

CataclysmX

Rear Admiral
How much is an Xbox 360 + Arena these days? I actually got a chance to try this game out, and it is pretty fun. Not as Wing Commander-ish as I am used to, but fun in it's own right.

Really kind of reminds me of what a true successor to Armada would be like.
 

Eder

Mr. Standoff
I simply expressed my disappointment at the final product, especially since the Origin Audio CD, which contains most of these themes, is already available for download on the CIC. I am disappointed that 6 years of waiting have resulted in such a trivial and unimpressive product, which I know exactly how long it takes to make out of the original compositions.
I think the problem is that you didn't simply show up and say "Hey, I'm disappointed. I was expecting more than just subtly changed versions of how the music sounds on a MT-32, so I'm not buying it" - which would be stating an opinion.

You showed up saying that The Fatman didn't put any effort into these tracks, that you could have done a better job at it and that you have already done so, that you can get pretty much the same thing from your MT-32, that whatever he did enhance is not to your liking (I thought there was no effort put into it?), and that you felt insulted by it.

How much effort was put in this? You don't know, and it's not an issue in itself. You could already get the same quality from your MT-32 six years ago? That's no reason not to release MT-32 versions of decade old MIDIs to the general public. Your versions of these MIDIs are better and have been online for ages? That's your opinion, everyone is free to listen to both and compare. You have no right to be "insulted" by this work. Do your versions of someone else's work insult anyone? At the very least, he is the original composer.

As others have stated, this release may be exactly what some people did expect, while others may have been disappointed - you're free to like it or not, but you can't base your arguments on "There was no effort put into this! I could have done better! This is insulting!" and expect not to be treated like a jerk.

(By moderators, or whoever - I think there's no rule that says moderators have to be nice to everyone that is not breaking a forum rule, even if they're being jerks).
 

Frosty

a full fledged GF
Nah, you guys are stupid. Most people here got the tracks for free, and even I, who came late to the show because I found Amie Street incredibly frustrating, only paid 56 cents so far.

I'm pretty sure I got 56 cents' worth, so I don't see what we're complaining about. This has nothing to do with ultra-fandom, it has everything to do with speaking intelligently. There's no basis for feeling "insulted," and we're simply not going to tolerate such universal negativity no matter how internet-chic it may be.

You'll find, from examining other threads wholly unrelated to WC that this kind of behavior is never tolerated. It's about the quality of Chat Zone discussion, not enforcement of some mindless party line. Your persecution complex is confusing you.

We're completely willing to entertain discussion of legitimate complaints, here are some: I'm irritated that this is on some weirdo website and not something normal like iTunes. I'm irritated I have to wait as individual tracks become available to download the whole album. I'm also kind of amazed this took so long to show up; I'd basically forgotten how long ago we asked for this. All of this is minor and none of it bears voluntary mention in a thread announcing these tracks' release.

To come here and start bitching about the free stuff you've been given is just threadshitting. Don't do it.

If you can't handle the way we run things around here, go start your own forum, and fill it with all the retards you want. I certainly won't miss you.
 

Eder

Mr. Standoff
Actually I did this and still got flamed by some Ultra-Fan, who isn't capable of tolerating other opinions.
- You complained about having to pay for them - I find it hard to believe that you or anyone else who has internet access on this planet can't spend one dollar to buy something they might like... you just tried to raise an issue where there are none.

- You classify it as an "average soundtrack". That is an opinion. It's also the reason you didn't like the re-release. You probably wouldn't like it if it was played by an orchestra either, instead of being "Midi played through a dated sequencer" (which is still better at MIDI than most people's soundcards). So, the sound quality is not really the problem for you, but you still tried to argue that it was somehow a problem.

I didn't like King's Quest IV, that's why you won't see me complaining about the quality of any eventual remakes. I don't like Gone With The Wind, so I couldn't give a damn if people come up with a HD DVD release or a re-shooting with Eminem playing the lead role.

Yet, you didn't like the WC1 soundtrack, and you posted in a Wing Commander forum complaining that it costs money and that the sound quality is lousy.

It's not really a big deal, I doubt you realized that this could seem like trolling to some people, and it certainly doesn't warrant being flamed... which you weren't - what LeHah said is the same thing I'm saying here.
 

Drakon

Spaceman
Hmm... on another note, what else has Fatman released over the years? Did he go on to make any other WC music? :)
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Hmm... on another note, what else has Fatman released over the years? Did he go on to make any other WC music? :)

Yup! Fatman is one of the most famous video game music composers. He has a list of things he's worked on in his FAQ here: http://www.fatman.com/faqs.htm#faqtop (along with some fun 'tall tales'). His most famous scores are probably those for the original Wing Commander and The 7th Guest.

Team Fat went on to do the music for Wing Commander 2... but he doesn't retain ownership of that music and so can't release it for us. George Oldziey replaced him as composer for Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy... and then others did the various spinoffs and ports.
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
As I've explained to many friends of mine - the reason soundcards became standard was because of Wing Commander and the reason that people bought them when they weren't standard was Fatman's music.

His influence (and the influence of Team FAT as a whole) on the PC industry cannot be understated. It follows in the footsteps of such important media as 1927's The Jazz Singer.
 
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