Happy New Year's Eve! (A Look Back at 2021) (December 31, 2021)


Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Here we are again - another year down. It was yet another very rough year in many ways, but today we won't focus on that. Month after month, Wingnuts made the best of difficult circumstances to build another solid year in Wing Commander.

It wasn't a round number itself, but 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of Wing Commander 2 and the 25th birthday for quite a few 1996 releases: Wing Commander 4, the Customizable Card Game, Academy television show and Privateer 2, to name a few. To recognize the P2 milestone, Jayden Morris remade the Anhur landing scene, which was totally unexpected. There was also this intro audio remaster - P2 got a lot of love this year!

Less surprising perhaps was that it was a big year for streaming and virtual collaboration. Bonkus_Maximum had some fun WC livestreams, and the Gemini Sector RPG had tons of wonderful play sessions. These two even had a crossover livestream/RPG event, which was perhaps a first of its kind. Mac's Mac's Lore channel really took off with a variety of historical WC videos, and YouTube even briefly made Wing Commander a free streaming movie over the summer. Justice played through Standoff, which was really nice to see. The MK Podquest did some great retrospective on Academy's Warrior King Saga. And we wouldn't want to forget Docteur J's many French language WC clips.

Speaking of videos, ODVS shared a number of impressive enhancements once again this year. WC3 got new language options, next generation AI techniques improved realism, there were 4K experiments and he even dabbled in WC2 and P2 upscales. Although I don't have a hundredth of the video editing skill that ODVS has, I also did my own 4K grab of the Secret Ops trailer and posted it so it's more easily accessible (especially now that Flash is deprecated).

The WC4 Fan Remake team had a number of updates to share this year, and even Wing Leader was intensely active for several months. A new version of wcdx for Kilrathi Saga was released. We also read about how the WCP/SO model upgrade pack is inching towards a 1.0 release, and Flight Commander 2 got a big new demo release.

Modding of the oldest WC games continues to be a surprising trend. WC1 was translated into German (along with the Kilrathi Saga manual), and both WC2 and P1 got Spanish translations. Privateer also got invisible cockpits. Even the core WC1 English game got cleaned up text. Polish is also under development, and work continues to port speech back into DOS WC1.

We got to hear a bit more from George Oldziey on Wing Commander music, and the 2018 Royal Marines performing Wing Commander Theme video finally got out. There was a nice interview with WC1 sound designer Marc Schaefgen and one with WC3 programmer Frank Savage. Freddie Prinze fondly remembered Matthew Lillard on the WC set, and Matthew Lillard did a huge April 1 WC spread - plus a live table reading of the WC script! There were lots of autograph opportunities this year from Prinze to Malcolm McDowell to an upcoming Tom Wilson send away.

LOAF did a number of insightful analyses this year, including a close look at P2 ending ships, a Dralthi rundown, Krant rundown, comprehensive Rapier history, a count of the Tiger's Claw engines, solving the mystery of the Vesuvius' guns, all of the Dune references in WC, trivia on the WC3 Kilrathi aces and a look at all the Steltek fighters hiding in the derelict carrier. We also got a bead on one of the surviving Rapiers.

It was another good year for physical models. I'm very excited to see how elend's Dralthi turns out in 2022. We got new 3D printed options for the Centurion and Morningstar, which are popular designs along with the Excalibur. And this is probably the best Lego Tiger's Claw I've ever seen, but Christian Klein's Epee is a close contender for top Lego designs. Also in the semi-physical realm, Admiral Maverick's tabletop game got new legs, and DefianceIndustries' virtual TacOps is looking incredible.

Speaking of Defiance, he did a lot of art. Just a lot, on all manner of subjects from tabletop, animated series inspired work, this tremendous Excalibur, a bunch of Arena art to lots for the WC4 Fan Remake. He wasn't the only one active as Klavs was also back in the saddle with a few projects. CCG artist Alan Gutierrez released more concept art, FekLeyr Targ finished his Armada intro remake, EmuMusicFan sketches a whole lot of Kilrathi, we got a gorgeous Heretic and even a Jincilla Veldor. And I'm still fond of this ephemeral Ferret.

There were a few Kickstarter highlights, including the final delivery of all the cool Moongate stuff as well as the successful funding of the challenge coin project. As I wind down here, I'd also like to give a shout out to the many collectors continuing to find rare and exotic WC merchandise. Dennis Mull and Christian Klein are just two of the fans out there doing great work to hunt down hard-to-find relics - and sharing the gorgeous pics with all of us!

And that was 2021! The length of this rundown was primarily limited by my time and not the amount of material that fans generated or found in the last year, and I could go on for twice as long - but you get the picture! Wingnuts continue to make the most of what we have and keep each other inspired through tough times. I'm cautiously optimistic about 2022. Happy New Year!

Original update published on December 31, 2021