April might have been a long month for fans awaiting the Prophecy Multiplayer Patch, but it probably seemed even longer for HCl. He has been tied up on a major work project lately, but some progress has been made on the Vision Engine upgrade. After another round of testing and analysis is finished this weekend, we'll hopefully have a better idea for an updated release window.
News is good however, since I did manage to finish the project I was involved with, and with that milestone out of the way I will have a couple of days off that I will be able to divert to MP patch development. Some fault tolerance mechanisms and improvements I had planned to introduce into the network code were actually finished today, and the network packets were optimized enough to allow modem players to participate in 8 player battles (in theory).
The Escapist Magazine has written an article about the transitional era of games between Atari and the original Doom. They chose this period for a variety of reasons, but the core of the matter is that along with Mario, Tetris and Zelda, they consider Wing Commander one of the cornerstones that launched today's modern gaming genres. It gets right to the point, and WC1 is even followed by Origin's Ultima Underworld. You can find the full article here.
When will the first version be released? Well, there will be a testing session this weekend where the latest code will see some action. I will be able to tell more by then, either way.
Here then, year by year, are the most influential games of that era:
1990: Wing Commander, designed by Chris Roberts and published by Origin Systems. Wing Commander combined space simulator action with cinematic storytelling, pioneering the use of cut scenes in games.
1991: Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, designed by Warren Spector and published by Origin Systems. UU revolutionized RPGs with its "simulation style" 3D graphics engine and free-roaming world environments. While not a financial hit, UU's breakthrough technology inspired John Carmack to create Wolfenstein 3D and thus indirectly birthed the 3D action shooter.