Questions For A Returning Wing Commander Player

Ramp83

Spaceman
Folks,

Now that the kids have all left the nest I have time and inclination to revisit a number of games. Wing Commander is among them!

I had played ALL of the WC games as they came out, beginning with WC1 in 1990 on a 75Mhz Pentium I!

I still have KILRATHI SAGA, WC IV, and PROPHECY GOLD, but they are all older, original issue copies.

Should I try to get those going, or it is GOG a better way to go?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of going the GOG route?

Are there problems running the games on modern computers, with modern versions of Windows (7, 8.1, and 10: I have a lot of hardware options <grin>).

Thanks!

Ramp83
FW, TX
 

Whiplash

Commodore
I'd suggest the GOG route since a) they have added cool updates such as HD quality movies for WC4 and Prophecy, and b) it takes care of the compatibility issues. You would have a hard time getting many of the original versions to run on a modern Windows PC.
 

Ramp83

Spaceman
Thanks!

ALSO: Is FLAT UNIVERSE a complete project, or it is an add-on/mod of the original game files?

THX!
CHK 6

Ramp83
FW, TX
 

Mindcrime

Commodore
Gog is great, cheap, and convenient. If you wanna do some patching then you can still go the WC Kilrathi Saga route. Check out the enhancements you can use from this website. And also when you decide you want something different then check out Standoff and Wing Commander Saga in the fan projects area. Those are completed WC fan games and are great. There are more in that section too so check it out. Welcome back to the WC universe.
 

FredDude32

Rear Admiral
I agree with the majority: You cant really go wrong with GoG. I've re-purchased all the WC games including Privateer 1, 2.

But! I'm also a big fan of the Kilrathi Saga versions so while I own the GoG original versions I usually play WC1, WC2 on modern patched versions of Kilrathi Saga.
 

Mindcrime

Commodore
I agree with the majority: You cant really go wrong with GoG. I've re-purchased all the WC games including Privateer 1, 2.

But! I'm also a big fan of the Kilrathi Saga versions so while I own the GoG original versions I usually play WC1, WC2 on modern patched versions of Kilrathi Saga.
Are there any benefits to playing the Kilrathi Saga version of 1 and 2? Its been so long since I've had that box I have forgotten. Also do they still work on windows 10?
Thanks!
 

FredDude32

Rear Admiral
Well...I cant speak for Kilrathi Saga (KS), and the later patches working with Windows 10...But in general I loved the KS for the improved music and the better graphics. (I never played the first Wing Commander on PC. I played it on the Amiga Computer first).
The Commodore Amiga had superior sound/music in the 80's and early 90's. Then the PC got dedicated sound and graphics cards which turned the tables...
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
I second (third...fifth...Nth?) the GoG recommendation. When I revisited the games, I used the GoG versions and they all worked without a hitch. Well...almost. Had to tweak a few settings to optimal, but it was fairly painless.

I also second the idea of looking at some of the excellent fan-made games. I enjoyed Standoff in particular. It's learning curve is a bit steep, but once you've practiced a little, its gameplay is some of the best in the Wing Commander universe. (And the mission design is top notch).
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
There's a few other KS enhancements other than just the digitized music. There was a bit better support for fancier and newer joysticks, as well as you could turn off the cockpits IIRC. The KS versions also introduces some new bugs but projects like the WCDX I believe are trying to fix those.
 

Stinger

Vice Admiral
I guess I might as well pitch in here. I'm biased because WCDX is my project, but that's where my recommendation goes. The GOG release is great, but there are a few aspects about the default configuration that make it (in my view) suboptimal:
  • No frame limiter. This means that the game's frame rate slows down and speeds up proportional to the amount of stuff that happens to be going on, so intense combat tends to get pretty jerky. The KS version, on the other hand, does have a frame limiter, so the game runs at a consistent speed no matter what's happening. This is even more important than it might first seem, because game logic is tied to the frame rate; the action literally slows down or speeds up with the draw speed.
  • The aspect ratio is wrong. Old VGA games like Wing Commander used non-square pixels. The screen resolution was 320x200, which (with square pixels) would imply an aspect ratio of 16:10, but on a CRT monitor the pixels are vertically stretched to match the display's 4:3 aspect ratio. The game was designed with this stretching in mind; it's meant to be played at 4:3 with tall pixels. You can fix this in the GOG release by adding the line aspect=true to your dosbox.conf.
  • Terrible MIDI. The GOG version installs with Sound Blaster-compatible MIDI enabled by default, which doesn't sound particularly good. You can get a much better experience by using an MT-32 emulator (such as munt), but that can be a rather complicated process. For an example of the difference in music quality, look to YouTube. KS provides what I think is the best music quality; the game shipped with pre-rendered music that was re-orchestrated by George Oldziey, and this sounds quite a bit better than even the MT-32 music.
These are the reasons I felt compelled to update the Kilrathi Saga version with my WCDX patch (which greatly improves compatibility with modern Windows and fixes various bugs that were introduced in the original Kilrathi Saga release). You need the original KS release to apply my patch, but the first game (along with its add-ons) is freeware; it was released on a PC Gamer game disc, and that release is still available here. I recommend you try it out.
 
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centaurianmudpig

Rear Admiral
TL;DR
There is no right or wrong method. Just what you prefer to do weighing up time and money.

Should I try to get those going, or it is GOG a better way to go?
Just two add my opinion it comes down to: Do you want quick entry in to play with minimum of fuss and don't care about paying extra?
YES = Buy GOG releases (if cash is on your mind and time is not a problem wait for a sale for super bargain price).
NO = Use the existing posts in the Tech forum to help get your originals running in DOSBOX and/or with the various patches.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of going the GOG route?
However, WC3, Prophecy, Privateer 2 (that I can confirm from experience so far) have various fan made patches to improve upon the original GOG releases.

GOG provide an up and running experience. That experience can be improved with patches you need to apply which can also be applied to the original releases.

Some caveats I've experienced:
  • Originally GOG WC1 used an inferior sound option (think the jingling of Christmas bells for laser fire), since been fixed.
  • GOG WC3 needs the CPU cycles adjusted to a faster rate to avoid video and audio glitches in cutscenes.
  • GOG Privateer 2 has slow down when viewing planets from space (last I checked)
  • Getting the original WC2 to work in DOSBOX requires a specific config (modefix?) to get past the second level without crashing.
  • Original Kilrathi Saga has better sound but various glitches, especially an annoying music repetition loop
  • The Secret missions for KS are buggy in cutscenes and some other places, yet still playable
  • Various patches are available for KS to improve the experience.

Are there problems running the games on modern computers, with modern versions of Windows (7, 8.1, and 10: I have a lot of hardware options <grin>).
I have Wing Commander 3 running on Windows 10. Both the naked GOG version and the improved W95 patch.
 
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