Humanity still needs a hero, now more than ever, and you are still the best pilot in the galaxy. You have one opportunity to demonstrate what it takes, one more chance to avoid the fall of Earth under the huge might of the Kilrathi Empire.
Humanity still needs a hero, now more than ever, and you are still the best pilot in the galaxy. You have one opportunity to demonstrate what it takes, one more chance to avoid the fall of Earth under the huge might of the Kilrathi Empire.
Today will be a paid holiday for all Canadian employees of Electronic Arts Inc. That includes about 2,000 video game makers in Burnaby, B.C., Vancouver and Montreal. A senior executive said the company wants to inspire employees to take more time for themselves.Thanks AD!
"Have fun, hang out with family, hang out with friends, because we don't do it enough and it seemed like a great day to do it," said Rory Armes, vice-president of Electronic Arts Canada.
Armes said company employees were delighted to get a paid day away from the pressures of making leading-edge video games. The next leap year isn't until 2012, but the company is trying to come with a reason to give its employees another day off in 2009.
If you like to get a printed copy of the 2nd novel from the "Erwachen" series of books, here is the way to do so:
Send an email to email@example.com
Please include the following info:
- your (real) name
- a fully functional mailing address (!)
- ..including your town/land, state/province and country
After dozens of updates on the subject we finally reach the last issue of The Point of Origin - October 30, 1998. It features a particularly apt spotlight story: "Ultima Online Takes Over the World." Indeed Origin would last for another five years -- but without Wing Commander or (apparently) a newsletter.
We hope you've enjoyed these features. I started doing them largely to force myself to study all this material... and so I could better understand what a special place Origin was. I think exactly that has come across over the last few months worth of Point updates, and I hope we've preserved some of their world for the future to appreciate.
Most of the treats have been showing up in relation to Wing Commander and Secret Ops. USA Today writer Tom Ham wrote, "The graphics of Secret Ops are nothing short of brilliant. The intuitive interface lets beginning wing commanders, as well as veteran pilots, jump right into the action. Tight controls and great use of stereo sound round out this truly engrossing space adventure."
Many publication elected not to review the game because of the segmented availability of the product. However, those that did had high praise for ORIGIN. Hot Games.Com gave Secret Ops a score of 5 out of 5. "Secret Ops is one of the greatest blasters you can currently get on your PC, it's as simple as that. Stunning visuals, furious action and an overwhelming sense of atmosphere really draw you in."
Another strong review came from Games Domain Review. "Whatever Origin's reasons are (for giving it away free), Secret Ops is a windfall for any space combat fan."
Voodoo Magazine (the official 3Dfx magazine) said this about Secret Ops, "If you've been a dedicated Wing Commander player, now's your chance to get something back from Origin."
Even the Austin American-Statesman was getting in on the act. "Light years ahead," said business writer Omar Gallaga. "Origin breaks new ground again with its free gaming saga. The company has proved it can change the way software works."
The good news wasn't just limited to Secret Ops. Computer Shopper magazine, which reaches more than half a million readers selected Wing Commander Prophecy as among its Top 100 Products of the Year. WCP was among 13 games and game gear products selected in the Top 100, among them Unreal and The Curse of Monkey Island. Editors wrote this about WCP, "You'll need a fast CPU and a late-model 3-D accelerator to see the game at its best, but if your system has the horsepower, you won't believe your eyes."
Point of Origin
Vol. VIII, No. 2 (2) - October 30, 1998
ContentsUltima Online Takes Over the World
Look, Ma! I'm a Fighter Pilot!
News From Your Entertainment Committee
Customer Support Knows No boundaries
Hot Wheels Spin Out of Control at Grand Prix
As always, enjoy.
The penultimate issue of The Point of Origin, June 13, 1998, includes only a single mention of Wing Commander. Can this really be the end? Tune in next time to find out.
Point of Origin
Vol. VIII, No. 2 - June 13, 1998
ContentsSpotlight: Views From the Floor at E3
You're just a buncha troublemakers
Jane's PR On Assignment
The EC Wants You!
Eat Yummy Chow, Play the Free Games, Get Back to Work
Product Support Hijinx
Who's the New Guy??
So in thinking that Charon was an dead being. I used elements of the Orion Fuselage, like the wheel and bars a little bit behind the cockpit (the bars are a lighter color), "he is commonly depicted as a living skeleton in a cowl, much like the Grim Reaper" [wikipedia] (which isn't that far off at least that's how I thought of this character) It would almost make it seem like the cockpit could be lowered when you land to touch the ground. So in thinking of this theory I tried to make the Transport, look as if it had bones, of sorts, it may sound corny but eyyy. You guys named the Buccaneer!!! Also Charon is a system in the Epsilon Sector which would seem like a main link between (2) Arena time frame important systems (Midgard, and Corsair systems) I made this transport pretty heavily armored but not heavy with weapons, also I had trouble putting a turret on it too. I was thinking that instead of meson guns for this to just have 2 plasma guns on it and call it a day. Also within the game I have taken the refire delay action of the Plasma a little less only reason being was to make it a little more close to Privateer type Plasma guns, and a little less damaging because of that fact. But in any even enjoy the screenshots, and any comments questions or concerns by all means I'd love to hear them, the more information and accurate information I can get in doing this mod the better.
We've now gone an entire year without an issue of The Point of Origin - and this February 20th, 1998 issue is the first of three available for this year. What's more, 1998 is the end of the line... but at least we get to see some reaction to Prophecy!
Meanwhile, Wing Commander: Prophecy is racking up its own share of honors. Computer Gaming World awarded WCP Space Sim of the Year. "The in-flight action looks better than the cut-scenes in most other games. With 3Dfx support, you'll hardly believe your eyes," CGW said. Gamespot added two awards -- Best Action/Simulation and Best Graphics for 1997. "From the varicolored lighting effects in the numerous locales to the amazing green ripple effect of an explosion, Prophecy sets a new standard for computer game graphics," Gamespot wrote.
... What can you expect from the press in the days to come? Strategy Plus magazine is planning a cover feature on Privateer 3 for its May issue. Expect that article to hit the magazine rack during the first week of April.
Welcome Back... to the Wing Commander universe! Privateer 3 is "in full tilt development" according to Executive Producer Rod Nakamoto. Scheduled for ship in the fall of 1998, Privateer 3 takes gamers back to the Wing Commander universe and lets them take on the rebel persona they loved in Privateer 1 and 2.
The team was given a clean slate in a familiar universe. They could incorporate the ebst elements of the first two Privateer titles and build in their own ideas to make it the best yet.
"We're happy to have the opportunity to bring Privateer back to ORIGIN," Nakamoto said. "ORIGIN's people like to have control over their own destiny and we'll do our best not to disappoint!"
A recent brainstorm session with development and marketing generated a long list of reasons it's fun to work on the P3 team. The group cites great chemistry within the team as well as great working relationships among development, QA and marketing.
"What I like about this team is that they're very self-motivated," Nakamoto said. "They have a great understanding of this product and they know what kinds of products the ORIGIN consumer likes to play."
The team faces several challenges in development; the most ominous is probably the multiplayer aspect. The press and customers are eagerly anticipating a multiplayer action game within the Wing Commander Universe and it is a challenge to deliver it well.
"We're addressing the challenges with multiplayer by doing the hardest parts first. If we can get multiplayer up and running for E3 we'll have plenty of time for play balancing before we ship," Nakamoto said.
Nakamoto has faith in the team and credits their ability to fit in to a new environment and work as a team.
"This is one of the tightest teams I've ever worked with. The people who came over from Sega have integrated very well with the existing team to become one tight, very focused development team," Nakamoto said.
By brainstorming with designers, artists, producers and marketing team members, PR has identified a number of "key messages" or selling points that will put Privateer 3 in a class by itself. Among them are the extensive exploration, the unpredictability of the gameplay and the 2000 locales the player can visit. Also, everyone is asking about multiplayer. When the multiplayer aspects are playable, the media will be impressed.
Marketing and PR are planning a comprehensive promotional effort including preview coverage in all of the major gaming magazines, an extensive online program and even a couple of consumer promotions like contests and events. Privateer 3 is also slated for a major presence at E3 in Atlanta in May.
1. Keep hitting "C" key to talk to people.
2. When using your Dustbuster, you pretend it's the Marine LC.
3. You "autoslide" when walking.
4. When you see a roach, you start looking for its wingman.
5. You make afterburner noises when passing cars.
6. When pulling into a parking garage, you wait for the "auto" light on your dash.
7. You use the power mirrors in your car like turrets.
8. You get upset when you can't get a torpedo lock on a truck in front of you.
9. You think Mark Hamill is a darn fine actor.
10. You end every conversation with "break and attack!".
Point of Origin
Vol. VIII, No. 1 - February 20, 1998
ContentsSpotlight: The Point Presses Those Two New Suits
ORIGIN's Holiday Awards Ceremony and Festivities
ORIGINites Love to Eat
10 Ways to Tell You are Addicted to Ultima Online
Privateer 3 Team "In Full Tilt"
ORIGIN's First Annual Hot Wheels Grand Prix
Happy Days Are Here Again, So Let's Take The Day Off
Pics from Picnic '97
Ten Signs that you are addicted to Wing Commander Prophecy
Jotunheim 2: The Kats are setting up an ambush and Halcyon wants to spring it, but on our terms. Sounds promising. Even though we are racking up victories, people are still tense about surviving this campaign. Maniac's mental state has gotten to the point where the discussion is raised in the middle of a briefing by Paladin. Maniac's defense is typical Maniac and Halcyon dismisses everyone with no decision.
Jotunheim 3: The Johann is adrift after being attacked by the Kilrathi and is in need of assistance. This mission has a ridiculous amount of fighters.
The last encounter is 8 more fighters (4 Krants and 4 Gratha). I was pretty banged up by this point so I had to be careful not to be blown out of the sky.
Upon returning even Halcyon is surprised by the story. I'm amazed I survived the damn mission! That Raptor is going to be in the repair bay for quite a while. For my actions I receive a Bronze Star. It feels well deserved.
I'll finish up the other missions later in the week! I can't wait to keep taking out the Kats!
The lens begins to cloud - the February 14 issue of The Point of Origin is the only one archived for 1997... and indications are that no others exist. Luckily for Wing Commander fans, it includes an article specifically on the status of Maverick Productions.
An interview with Rod Nakamoto, Dave Downing and Adam Foshko
Point: So Rod, how do you feel about being here at ORIGIN?
Rod: Austin is a great town. I like the fact that it has a smaller population than Los Angeles which is where I used to live. I like the fact that I can actually breathe the air without having to worry about my lung condition. I also like the fact it has a much lower crime rate - sometimes in LA, you get lulled to sleep by the sound of police helicopters.
As far as ORIGIN is concerned - the primary reasons for me coming here were the people and the culture. I think there are very few companies like ORIGIN that have developed a unique culture among its employees. It's something of a magnet. There is a high degree of initiative and creativity, and the work ethic is probably far above any other company I am aware of in this industry.
I had to get over my doubts about Texas to come out here for an interview. But once I met the people and saw the process by which they worked, I was extremely impressed. Another "big carrot" for me was my role overseeing Wing Commander and Crusader, two of the biggest products that ORIGIN has.
Point: What about Wing Commander?
Rod: We have, for all intents and purposes, a new team. Yes, many of the members have worked on previous Wing Commanders. But everyone has new leadership, new goals, and new focus on what the product is in terms of quality.
Point: Any hints?
Rod: Wing Commander is still a spectacular single player product, but it has an appropriate multi-player component that will relay bring a much larger audience to this particular product.
Point: What's the working title?
Rod: Wing Commander: Prophecy is the working title - it can still change, but it's not being called Wing Commander V.
Dave: We've decided to drop the numerical sequencing of Wing Commander because we want to be able to focus on each game and not have to compare this game with future iterations or past iterations. This is Wing Commander, today and now, and we're going to make it the best game it can be. We want to allow ourselves some latitude and flexibility with each Wing Commander. We also want to open up the Wing Commander franchise to different genres of games.
Adam: We want people to know that this game has a new face and that this is a new coalescence of the team. With that in mind, we also want to be unfettered about the past. This is a fresh perspective. Why put a number on it?
Rod: In the past, ORIGIN, and other companies have used sequels as a way to leverage the marketing. Although, I think using numbered sequels was appropriate at the time. Now, a coming of age has come about for this team and this product. We're looking at what Wing Commander could become. There is a great deal more of the Wing Commander universe that has yet to be explored. And we're the guys who are going to do it.
Point: Any other tidbits of information?
Rod: It's going to be more spectacular than any other Wing Commander released. Yes, I know that sounds like a bunch of empty hype, but actually, we don't want to come off that way. People want to know what more can be put into Wing Commander. My response is, "A Lot."
Dave: This is the most well-designed Wing Commander that any of us have ever experienced. Before we ever started to actually script the missions or write the story, we sat down and designed the kind of game we wanted to build. We developed a structure for how each of the missions is to be played out and that drove the writing of the story, which added the flesh to the bones that the structure was composed of. Every element of game play - promotions, medals, how you log into the computer, has been well thought out, well designed, and integrated into an overall game design, rather than being added on. This is how it's being designed from the ground up.
Adam: Wing Commanders III and IV were both great products, but they are more like unequal halves. This is a much more synergistic product. It's very team drive - it's not one person's vision and I think it shows.
Point: What is the makeup of the team's leadership?
Rod: The thing that's always made Wing Commander exciting is the live production element. Dave Downing and Frank Roan are in charge of the entire production of Wing Commander, making sure all the pieces by different individuals come together into one product. Because of their experience in previous Wing Commanders, they will make sure that it lives up to the name. Adam Foshko is director of the live production element. His experience with Hollywood plays a great factor in the quality of the production.
Point: Who else is part of the key staff?
Dave: Mark Day is producer of the movie shoot, Frank Roan is the project director, Mark Vearrier is art director, Billy Cain is lead designer, Pete Shelus is lead programmer, Jeff Grills is lead technologist, and Stretch Williams is the audio director.
Point: Sounds like there are lots of veteran members of Maverick Productions. It's not like you've just fallen off the turnip truck.
Rod: No, these guys are driving the turnip truck.
Let's move on to Privateer 2, which is starting to reel in its fair share of high scores and great reviews. The news is especially good from across the pond. Here's a quick rundown of European reviews:
* What Personal Computer (UK): 5 out of 5 - Award for Best Space Game of 1996
* PC Player (Germany) 5 out of 5 - Gold Player Award
* Edge (UK): 9 out of 10 - "The Darkening bears the hallmarks of a classic."
* PC Format (UK): 90% - "An utterly engrossing game that combines for the first time, a rich and interesting story, with compelling and fun gameplay."
* PC Review (UK): 9 out of 10 - "Probably the most plished PC game ever and the most rewarding, ambitious and addictive computer game for a good few years."
* PC Gamer (UK): 85% - "It's much, much better than Wing III or IV but disappointingly still not as good as it could have been."
In the states, reviewers are, for the most part, equally impressed. PC Gamer gave P2 an Editor's Choice Award and a grade of 92%. "The most fun you can have in a starship. The long-awaited sequel to ORIGIN's space-smuggler game tops Wing IV in just about every way." From Boot magazine the report card reads 9 out of 10. "3D Studio-rendered cut scenes mixed with live-action FMV invoke a cinematic experience that would even make Lucas do a double take." And from Computer and Net Player, Privateer 2 scored a 9 out of 10. "If you like your space battles fast and furious, chances are Privateer 2 has a mission for you."
One downer has come from Gamespot,which rated P2 at 6.8 out of 10. Greg Kasavin wrote, "An aesthetically pleasing space flight sim seasoned with high budget full motion video and garnished with more bugs and glitches than this reviewer has ever seen in a product boasting ORIGIN's seal of approval."
Still, the bad is completely outweighed by the great press on Privateer 2 coming from such national publications as Entertainment Weekly, CNN (see accompanying picture), the New York Post and the Hollywood Reporter.
There's good news for Wing Commander IV, which also won an award from PC Gamer for Special Achievement in Cinematics. Calling the movies in WCIV "top-notch," editors wrote, "ORIGIN managed to exceed expectations and extend beyond the tiny confines of the computer screen tow eave the game's tale of intrigue and deception, propelling the story line and providing us with this year's finest cinematic performance."
Dear ORIGIN Product Support I would like to take just a little bit of your time to speak to you about Mr. Chris Errett.
As an owner of two Origin flight sim games (AH-64D Longbow and WIng Commander IV), I was having a problem running these DOS based games on my Windows 95 based computer. Chris was kind enough to spend all of the time I needed (1 hours and 25 minutes!) to get these games up and running. If it were not for his knowledge and assistance, I would have had to return both games. Something I did not want to do, and I'm thankful to Chris that I did not have to.
Ms. Williams, valuable employees like Chris Errett do not come along every day. You would be well advised to do what ever it takes to keep him happy. Losing him to one of your competitors could be a major blow to your company. He is by far the BEST product support technician I have ever dealt with to date. Thank you for your time.
Point of Origin
Vol. VII, No. 1 - February 14, 1997
ContentsSpotlight: Point Exclusive: What the hell is up with Maverick?
Math is Hard
Product Support Spotlight
Game Design Winners
The recent announcement that EA is returning to one of its "most acclaimed classic franchises" has got Wing Commander fans wondering what it could be. In combination with recent rumors and comments made by EA's CEO, some Wingnuts think that Project RedLime could be the code name for a new Wing Commander title. There are a lot of possibilities, but some are better bets than others. Vote now to let others know what you think.
Our last poll asked Confederation defenders which Transport was their favorite to escort. The classic Drayman came in first with the alternate Diligent configuration boosting it even further. Wing Commander 3's Clarkson class was also popular, as was the powerful Monolith from Privateer 2. P2's Ogan was a bust with just 3 votes out of nearly 900.
We are approaching the end of The Point of Origin - this (December 19, 1996) is the last regular issue (in Origin's archive, anyway.) After the end of 1996 there are only one or two each year... and they disappear completely by 1999.
ORIGIN has a couple of titles in CGW's space sim category. Privateer 2 came in at number two and Wing Commander IV was number five. "The Darkening looks like a fantastic game," editors wrote. "What great action -- the combat will surely satisfy any space sim fan," they exclaimed about Wing Commander IV.
... Meanwhile PC Gamer is out with its Top 40 Games article. (Essentially it's a holiday gift guide). Wing Commander Iv, Crusader: No Regret, AH-64D Longbow and Cybermage made the final cut. These were all games that scored 88% or higher in PC Gamer this year. Take notice of this because it means that every PC game that this studio released this year mad it in the Gamer's Top 40. Congrats to all the development, QA and marketing teams behind these products.
Additionally, PC Gamer listed a couple of ORIGIN titles in its holiday season previews. Kilrathi Saga was one of those. "Here's your chance to enjoy some of the most popular and enduring space shoot-'em-ups around the way they were meant to be played." Another title in the preview category was Privateer 2. "If you enjoy the Wing Commander universe, it's a sure bet this will be right up your alley."
Speaking of Wing Commander, the just-released Consumer Guide's Computer Buying Guide listed Wing Commander IV as a "Best Buy" and gave the game a final score of 10. "Playing Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom is like stepping inside a movie. A perfect mixture of movie sequences and combat missions."
Privateer 2 is getting its coming out party in Taiwan. Check out the accompanying picture with this article from Soft World Magazine. The Chinese publication sent one of its writers to Austin a couple of months ago for at two-part cover story on ORIGIN. You may recall the cover of Lord British in the last Point of Origin. This month it's Privateer 2 featured on Soft World's cover.
... Next time we should have some reviews on Flash Point Korea and some of what the early reviews are saying about Privateer 2.
Wondering who that new guy is in the corner office on the fourth floor? Why it's none other than Rod Nakamoto, the new executive producer of Maverick and Loose Cannon Productions.
A pioneer in the hardware and software industry, Rod comes to ORIGIN by way of SegaSoft. However, his first introduction to EA was way back in 1981 when he introduced the BockingBoard sound and synthesized speech board for the Apple ][.
From 1984 to 1992, he was president and owner of Interactive Designs. Working with a myriad of companies, he developed products primarily for the PC, but also for the Apple ][, Amiga, and Commodore 64. His successes range from the 1984 release, Ikari Warriors, one of the first games to utilize EGA graphics technology, to Sega's 1992 release, Eternal Champions, the division's first million unit seller.
He says, "I'm excited to be a part of Origin and hope that my efforts will be both fun and successful."
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 9 - December 19, 1996
ContentsSpotlight: ORIGIN Honors the Best
Product Support Spotlight
Who is this guy?
Pocas veces un programa nos ha sorprendido tan gratamente como lo ha hecho la ultima produccion de Mindscape, Wing Commander, un simulador de combate espacial que nos hara vivir las mas emocionantes aventuras y combates galacticos, claro esta, sentados enfrente de nuestro ordenador.Mindscape and DRO SOFT published Origin games for alternate platforms/countries.
Seldom has a program so pleasantly surprised us as the latest production of Mindscape, Wing Commander, a space combat simulator that will make us live the most exciting galactic fight possible sitting in front of our computer.
It's a spooky Halloween issue of The Point of Origin - October, 1996. Well, no, it isn't - but it does have some details on one of the great legends of Wing Commander development... J. Allen Brack's yelling at Chris Roberts!
Another ORIGIN title getting PC Mag's Top 100 attention was Wing Commander IV. "Wing Commander IV virtually explodes, with six CD-ROMs of pulse-quickening action."
Wing Commander IV Macintosh got a thumbs up from The Mac, a Macintosh publication out of the UK. Editors gave WC IV Mac 4 out of 5 stars. "Exactly what makes this game so engrossing is the seamless way it has melded an action movie and a shoot-'em-up. A stunning experience and it stands as powerful monument to the potential of multimedia. This game is simply on a different planet."
... Check out this month's Computer Gaming World and you'll see that Ultima games are all over the mag's 150 Best Games of All Time article... Other ORIGIN titles listed in the big list were Wing Commander (No. 7), Crusader: No Remorse (No. 38), Wing Commander III (No. 54), System Shock (No. 98), AH-64D Longbow (No. 100) and Ogre (No. 130).
... Meanwhile, Privateer 2 continues to grab its share of headlines as a November ship date looms on the horizon. The October issue of Computer Player has a three page preview on P2. Jeff Tschiltsch wrote, "Never before has a PC game looked so much like a Hollywood special-effects extravaganza. P2's attention to detail and state-of-the-arts space-combat simulator will no doubt impress."
And believe it or not, P2 already has been reviewed by a magazine in the UK. PC Zone has scored Privateer 2 at 94. Chris Anderson gushed, "The Darkening is by far and away the best space combat sim ever to grace the PC. Not only outrageously good-looking, but also incredibly addictive to boot." Hey, that works for me. Let's hope American editors are ready to agree. Stay tuned.
"I've played games forever," says November's employee of the month, J. Allen Brack, "beginning with the Pong machine my dad brought home when I was around six." In fact, J. Allen played all sorts of games before discovering the one that eventually would have a major influence his in life. "The first time I played Wing Commander, I felt my life was complete and it just couldn't get any better. Then came Wing Commander II, and Privateer, and I eventually realized that there was a direct correlation between ORIGIN, Chris Roberts, and my happiness."
Then one day, to his great surprise, J. Allen was offered an opportunity to be a tester for Wing Commander III. Although he was going to school at the time, he decided that while school would wait, Wing Commander III would not! Although he believed this was definitely his "dream job," he was riddled with fear on how he could prove himself worthy of working on a project of "the man, the myth, the legend, Chris Roberts." What he did was throw himself into the project to the point of perhaps being overzealous. In a memorable moment, J. Allen delivered what he refers to as "an impassioned speech" about a potential problem with the game to his idol. Unfortunately, his emotions got the best of him, and he will forever be remembered for yelling at Chris Roberts, "THREE POSSIBLE PATHS!! THREE POSSIBLE PATHS!!"
Nonetheless, it's that tireless drive for excellence and quality that earns the respect of his peers. As the project leader for Privateer 2: The Darkening, J. Allen has indeed proven himself "worthy." Said one co-worker, "Through is verve and inexhaustible esprit, he has concurrently maintained high morale among his testing team." Added another, "J. has gone above and beyond what anyone would be expected to do." And finally, "His devotion is unquestionable, and his dedication unmatchable."
It's a very good thing that you weren't fired by Chris Roberts, J. Allen! Congratulations, and keep up the good work!
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 8 - October 31, 1996
ContentsSpotlight: What the Hell?!... is up with Product Development?
Mr. Smarty Pants
On the Road with the Skunks
PS Spotlight Letter
I've gotten a fair way along on the Exeter class destroyer. Key points: the triple-laser battery, the small landing bay behind the bridge for the 18-strong fighter complement, and those two weird cylindrical things forward of the bridge. So, this will be done shortly - I just have some random tightening up to do.
This issue of The Point of Origin (September 20) represents a high water mark for Wing Commander fandom -- with a whole host of amazing spinoffs getting ready to appear. Who can forget the anticipation as we read these very articles about Privateer 2, Wing Commander Academy and Kilrathi Saga?
Two months ago, PC Gamer editors made their way to Austin to see what was cooking. The result was 12 pages of pictures and articles in the latest issue featuring all of our upcoming products from Privateer 2 to Ultima IX to the Wing Commander Academy animated series... As for products, Garry Whitta and Michael Wolf were obviously impressed with what they saw... Whitta, Gamer's Editor-in-Chief, was given a full demo of Privateer 2 during the visit and he too came away with plenty of positive impressions. "Fans of Privateer are in for a treat," Whitta wrote. "The British design team based in Manchester, England, and led by Erin Roberts has pulled out all the stops to make The Darkening ORIGIN's most impressive space opera yet."
There's even some interesting support articles regarding Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga, Wing Commander Academy (the animated series which kicks off tomorrow on the USA cable network) and former ORIGINite Chris Roberts, who had some eyebrow-raising quotes about his departure from EA/ORIGIN.
After you've read PC Gamer, you can check out the October issue of Computer Games Strategy Plus, which features Privateer 2 on its cover. Editor Steve Bauman also flew into Austin two months ago to do research on his cover story (check out the other picture with this article). "It (Privateer 2) looks like it has the depth, beauty and gameplay to win over a new generation of gamers, one which has grown accustomed to being blown away with each ORIGIN release. Once you enter battle you get a superb 3D engine, faster than Wing Commander's, with high-resolution graphics and a series of little details setting it apart from the pack."
... Look for more feature stories on Privateer 2 in October's PC Games, Computer Gaming World and Computer Player.
I would like to recognize one of your tele-support technicians, Anthony Salter, for the outstanding support provided with a problem encountered with the installation of Wing Commander IV. As a former employee of a large computer manufacturer selling and supporting systems over the telephone, I am familiar with the heavy requirements placed on these members of any organization supporting hardware or software in today's market.
The support provided was outstanding through the entire process, including the front-end phone system. I smoothly worked through the menus and was quickly greeted by Anthony moments after being placed in the queue. It was apparent to me from my experience that the system provided to Anthony was well designed to support me as well as capture the relevant data to support me on future calls. Anthony guided me precisely to a solution and waited to assure that the solution worked. It is not always the case that the consumer receives such prompt and accurate support, but it was a pleasure to receive this for the purposes of loading a game and not a business application for once.
I take the time to write this letter as I hear my son blasting away at oncoming intruders from another planet, or something like that. I commend Anthony and your organization for exceeding my expectations from a software vendor. You can count on our continued business.
Robert, Matt, and Brian W.
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 7 - September 20, 1996
ContentsSpotlight: Crusader: No Regret Ships!
From the "Uh, Whatever" Files
Ultima Goes Hollywood
News In Briefs
The London Report
Product Support Spotlight Letter
... and a fun cookout was had by all...
EA Partners to Publish Upcoming Title for PLAYSTATION 3, Xbox 360 and PC
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 21, 2008--EA Partners today announced that it has teamed up with Starbreeze Studios, the award-winning developers of The Darkness and The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay to reinvent one of EA's most acclaimed classic franchises. The title, with the internal code name Project RedLime, is being developed for the PLAYSTATION(R)3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360(TM) system from Microsoft and PC.
"EA Partners is thrilled to hand over the keys to one of EA's most acclaimed franchises to Starbreeze Studios," said David DeMartini, vice president and general manager of EA Partners. "Starbreeze's pedigree is undisputed and we could not be happier to welcome them to the EA Partners family. The team is creating an incredibly innovative take on a classic property and EA Partners is poised to deliver a blockbuster launch on the global stage."
"EA Partners gives independent developers like Starbreeze access to EA's unrivaled global publishing infrastructure, letting us focus our energy on what we do best - making incredible games," said Johan Kristiansson, CEO of Starbreeze Studios. "We're already deep in development on Project RedLime and the team at EA is giving us the time we need to perfect our vision. We're excited to bring a new perspective and gameplay innovation to this beloved fiction."
Additional information about the Starbreeze project will follow in the coming months. For more information about other EA games, please visit http://info.ea.com.
Developers interested in working at Starbreeze can search available jobs at http://www.starbreeze.com
About Starbreeze Studios
Starbreeze is a videogame developer based in Uppsala, Sweden. The studio was founded in 1998 and currently employs a staff of about 75. The team has developed action/adventure games including 2004's "The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay" (Xbox and PC) which averaged a 90% Metacritic rating, and 2007's "The Darkness" (Xbox 360 and PS3) which averaged an 82% Metacritic rating.
One thing that should be clear in this August 9, 1996 edition of The Point of Origin is that the heart and soul of Origin certainly isn't dead - check out their company-wide assassination game and their award winning raft race rafts... not the only impressive Squid they'll be designing this year!
According to Evan, the funniest bug recently was in Wing Commander III as part of Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga at this point in the game:
Gunnery : Movie 117
The movie where Blair talks to Eisen about shaving is full of bad acting. The only way to bypass it is to process [ESC].
Right now, PS is working on Crusader: No Regret, Gene Wars, Longbow Mission Disk, NATO Fighters Mission Disk for ATF, Privateer 2: The Darkening, Syndicate Wars, and Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga, as well as EA Classics titles BioForge, CyberMage, and Ultima VIII. They soon will be working on Crusader: No Remorse Playstation and Saturn, Dungeon Keeper, U.S. Navy Fighter Platinum, Wing Commander 4 Playstation and are doing ongoing support for Ultima Online and Ultima IX.
Of course, because they're on ORIGIN's front line every day, Customer Service gets to hear plenty of feedback from our customers--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Fortunately, they hear a lot of good, such as this following letter:
Dear Mr. Garriott:
As a long time customer of ORIGIN and an avid fan of your games, I felt I needed to write you directly concerning a recent incident I had with ORIGIN technical support. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, and must say I was having a great time playing it when at one crucial mission, the game crashed. Being an experienced gamer and a professionally employed systems analyst, I went about the standard system checking and configuration tweaking that often solved the majority of errors. To my chagrin, I still had no luck.
I decided to call ORIGIN Technical Support. I believe it was February 19th (I could be wrong), in hopes ORIGIN's staff could help me. Not only did I receive excellent technical support at a short time wait, I am specifically writing to commend the help of one Jay Allen, the tech who helped me out. I realize it is the job of tech support reps to deal with users' problems, but Jay did much more than this. I gather from our discussion about my system and its configuration he realized I was somewhat experienced as a user. Rather than treating me as, quite frankly, an imbecile, as many game companies' reps do, he treated me with respect and intelligence, humor and a friendly manner.
I understand, again, that it is the duty of a tech support representative to help solve my game problems. It is not, however, his obligation to be friendly to me, to comment on my cool Windows sound files (playing in the background), or to treat my technical problem as a cooperative effort that made me feel more a part of the process. In short, Mr. Allen was the nicest and most helpful person I have ever spoken to in over four years of dealing with computer industry vendors, and I felt he was owed recognition for such conduct.
Privateer 2: The Darkening
Strategy Plus: "The interface is wonderfully stylish, with menus which grow and shrink, and animation on nearly every screen. Here it is in all its multimedia splendor."
Computer Gaming World: "The SVGA space combat engine was one of the most impressive we saw at the recent E3 show."
PC Gamer: "With a new space flight engine and a big-budget style, ORIGIN's foothold in the space combat market is sure to remain firm with this baby."
...There are more reviews cropping up for Wing Commander IV for the Macintosh. Joel Enos at Mac Home Journal called WCIV Mac, "An amazing blend of adventure, arcade and flight sim action."
Michael Dixon writes for the Mac Gamer's Ledge, an online magazine for Macintosh gamers. He graded WCIV Mac at 9.5 out of 10. "I praise ORIGIN Systems for getting this well-polished game to the Macintosh platform as quickly as it did. One of the best space combat simulators I've played."
... Finally, a couple of things to look forward to. The October issue of Strategy Plus will feature Privateer 2 on its cover with a preview of the game scheduled for inside. And the October cover of PC Gamer will focus on ORIGIN. Inside, editors are planning a 12 page feature on the company with interviews and pictures from Ultima IX, Ultima Online, Privateer 2 and Crusader: No Regret.
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 6 - August 9, 1996
ContentsSpotlight: Origin Brings Home the Gold Again
Kat's Korner of Phun Pfone Phacts
Visit the Company Store
Off the Clock
What the hell is up with... Product Support?!
New Hires & Promotions
Venice 2: Shotglass is just as happy to hear that I killed Khaja as I am that I'm going to get another shot at Bhurak. Try to run away from my Rapier now! I wonder what type of carrier the Kyoto is....Check out these other threads if you're just starting Wing Commander 1. There's plenty of time to catch up and hunt down the Sivar.
Those Kyoto pilots are good. Toasted the Fralthi with ease while Hunter and I annihilated her escorts. The Fralthi never even stood a chance, probably why they had comms open to the starbase, screaming for reinforcements.
Venice 3: Things are on the up and up, the Kilrathi are pulling out and the Tiger's Claw is part of the boot to kick them out of Vega. I'm not enthused by Hunter's thinking, it makes sense, but I hate dogfighting in minefields.
In retrospect, I really should have expected those Jalthi in the minefield. About the worst type of ship to take into a minefield dogfight, though, especially compared to the Rapier. I think the Tiger's Claw is down to 8 lives now after the pounding she was taking on our return.
Damn, that mission was a rush. Hunter & I decided that leaving a Fralthi at our backs while we pressed against the Star Post was a dumb idea. One Fralthi and it's escorts later, we pushed on. I obeyed the Colonel's instructions and used nothing but guns against the seemingly endless hordes. Hunter got into trouble while we fought some Salthi. I ordered him home, but wasn't able to make sure he got out safe. Dogfighting 4 Jalthi by myself was hair-raising. I'd be confidently tailing one, pouring fire into those vulnerable engines when I'd hear his three wingman open up on me from behind. I eventually whittled them down. Taking out the Star Post seemed almost anti-climatic. I think the best bit was getting to the debriefing to see Hunter standing next to me, bright as a feather.
So, what's next, Boss?
The ball has dropped - Chris Roberts and Warren Spector are gone. Richard Garriot and Mike Grajeda address the company about future plans in this June 28, 1996 issue of The Point of Origin. It also talks about one of Origin's saddest 'lost game' stories -- Technosaur, a game developed entirely by a team which worked its way up from QA.
Meantime, the reviews for Wing Commander IV keep coming in. David Busch at Home PC gave WCIV a score of 3 1/2 out of 4. "This cutting-edge CD-ROM's sharp live-action sequences combine with arcade thrills that pin you to the edge of your seat, blurring the line between game and movie entertainment.
"Origin raises the stakes--again," exclaimed Mike Ryan at PC Magazine. Ryan gave WCIV a 4 out of 5 score. "A six-CD-ROM space epic that combines spectacular action with a movie-quality, interactive storyline to provide a memorable and thrilling gaming experience."
And from Next Generation, 4 out of 5 stars for WCIV. "The special effects are spectacular, the acting superb and the story gripping."
Computer Shopper's John Marrin wrote in his review of Wing Commander IV, "If you have a hit, stick with it. That's just what Origin Systems has done."
...Some of the early reflections on the E3 show are beginning to appear from writers who attended. Steve Kent already has given Privateer: The Darkening his accolades. In the E3 wrap-up inside the Seattle Times, Kent called Privateer "The Best Battle Simulation" at the show. "The best flight mechanics and gameplay graphics Origin Systems has ever made." Based on writers' comments at the show, expect more of the same in coming months.
...Last, but certainly not least, we have honors for three ORIGIN products. Check out the July issue of CD-ROM Today. (It's that pub's last issue. Imagine Publishing is closing it and launching Boot in August.) Inside you'll find an article on the 100 Best Discs Ever. Making the cut were Crusader: No Remorse ("Guiding your red-armored assassin from room to room and blowing just about everyone and everything away provides hours of enjoyment."), CyberMage ("Impressive game play, hot graphics and enough weapons to satisfy an arms dealer, CyberMage is one great game.") and the Wing Commander line ("This series combines the best elements of movies and games."). Congrats to everyone involved in making those games.
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 5 - June 28, 1996
ContentsSpotlight: What's Up?
What' the hell is up with... Translations?!
Raft Race Update
Well while working on the Charon, I also figured that I was working on far too many confed, and the like. So I figured I should probably start working on some of the Kilrathi ships. which by the way is much harder for some reason of another. But here are 2 ships that I've been working on. Both haven't gotten to the vision engine yet but will in due time. These are renders of the ships. Which I've tried to stay true to the Arena type shapes of the fighters.Jason followed up on this with screenshots of the same designs, as they appear in Prophecy's Vision engine. More pictures are available here.
The first is the Shank type fighter. I'm still working on the cockpit area and also on what seems to be the intake/engine areas too. Then I'll start working on the textures more and more. The second is the Dralthi Striker, which is basically the same as the shank minus the extra wings. As always leave comments, and I will take them into account while making any changes.
The May 17, 1996 issue of The Point of Origin has all sorts of news from one of the first big E3 trade shows... and lots of information about the changing (?) corporate culture at Origin. Check out that article on 'the flow'...
Wing Commander IV for Macintosh is off and running!
And hopefully, this port of the popular PC title should prove to be one of ORIGIN's best Mac titles yet.
Ana Moreno, the game's Associate Producer, is very pleased by all the support ORIGIN and EA are giving to the title. "We're seeing more marketing and sales support - in fact, this is the most support I've ever seen for a Mac title," she said. "There has been increased internal support from people like Rich Hilleman, Alex Carloss, Patrick Bradshaw, and Teresa Potts. We have a good working relationship with the out of the house programming source, Lion Entertainment, which is here in Austin. The staff at Lion, who also did the Wing 3 port, have been very reliable in that they've actually met their software deadlines."
Ana said that because of differences in the way Mac products are marketing (most are through catalog sales) there will be some challenges ahead, but she is encouraged. "It'll be really interesting to see what happens," she said. "Advertising in catalogs can get expensive, but we have a lot of factors in our favor, such as strategic placement in specific accounts like Mac Warehouse. The software ship date is closer to the WCIV PC release and we released demos in a timely manner - a 50MB version for compilation CDs and a 7MB version for online. WCIV Mac will be featured in one of ORIGIN's meeting rooms at E3. Best of all, as far as competition goes, there is nothing comparable to Wing Commander IV on the Macintosh market except for Wing Commander III."
QA Supervisor Evan Brandt assigned seven testers to the WCIV Mac project: Chris Primozich, Project Leader; Tom Godsey, Assistant Project Leader; Bryan Hill, Hardware Tech and Tester; Todd Bailey, Lead Tester; Lee Gibson, Paul Sage, and Richard Zinser, Testers.
According to Chris, the team was given a really solid Alpha version to work with, which helped speed things right along. "The main difficulty with the Mac version was memory," he said. "WCIV for PC was slated for 8 megs of RAM. The Mac operating system takes up 2 or 3 megs, which meant the code had to be crammed to fit. Players with memory problems will be prompted to use virtual memory, which is any easy check-box item."
On the other end of the coin, Chris sand the Mac version had a couple of advantages over the PC version. "The frame rate is much better on the Mac, if you're using a comparable PC machine. The Mac version will allow players to custom define any buttons on their joysticks. Also, players will be able to load any saved games or change their options from any place on the carrier, while in DOS, players have to be at the terminal."
At the last Product Review, Richard Garriott gave WCIV Mac two thumbs up. This summer, we will find out if the public agrees.
Wing Commander IV is drawing most of the headlines from reviewers these days, so let's jump right into what they're writing. Let's start with PC Gamer, which gave WCIV a 90% rating and an Editor's Choice award. "ORIGIN's latest science fiction spectacular is even more impressive than its predecessor," wrote Dan Bennett. "WCIV looks and sounds incredible."
PC Entertainment gave WCIV five out of five for gameplay, graphics and value. Shane Mooney wrote, "Not only is it likely to be the biggest game of the year, but Wing IV will undoubtedly become a benchmark for future games of this sort."
Computer Game Review graded WCIV at 95. "One of the best space combat/flight sim games I've ever played," gushed Scott Gehrs. In the same mag, Ted Chapman wrote, "The ORIGIN production team has done a superb job developing the game around a storyline that would be fraught with disaster in the hands of lesser developers, and the balance of sweat vs. fun is nearly unmatched in the gaming world to date."
In the Washington Post, John Payne said about WCIV, "Plot, acting, scenery and effects rival, and even exceed films made for the big screen. Incredible space combat coupled with a complex interactive plot makes this one of the best games since, well, Wing Commander III."
And from the land down under, another great review of an ORIGIN product from Hyper Magazine. Julian Bures and Jason Serda scored WCIV at 95. It was on the cover of the magazine and received the editor's "Big Stamp of Approval." "The most stunning action, combat, mystery and interactive movie magic ever put together," wrote Bures and Serda. "This is the jewel in the crown of the Wing Commander series. If you don't play it then you don't really own a computer."
There was a nice article on the WCIV music and sound team in Mix magazine last month. A 4-page article featured interviews with George Oldziey and Stretch Williams. Writer Chris Michie said, "The latest (Wing Commander) is a series that has set new standards in production values for the PCCD format."
And finally congrats to several members of the Wing Commander team, which carried home some hardware from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences awards. Chris Roberts won for Best Director and Best Producer. Editor Phil Gesser won for Best Editor and Terry Borst and Frank DePalma won in the Best Writer category.
Speaking of Wing Commander, the Macintosh version of WCIII continues to get some notice. Paul Boone in Mac Home Journal wrote, "Everything is so well rendered it will fool you into thinking you're in a Star Wars-style sci-fi film." Boone gave WCIII a score of 4 out of 4. Bob Levitus, in MacUser, gave WCIII a 4 out of 5 rating. "A grand and epic drama on four CDs, it combines live-action video with one of the most enjoyable simulators I've every flown."
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 4 - May 17, 1996
ContentsSpotlight: Newsflash! Straight off the E3 Show Floor!
What the Hell is Up with Wing Commander 4 Mac ?!
Shiver me timbers
Go with the Flow
Kat's Korner of Phun Pfone Phacts
I've added a simulated detail mapping pass into the texture. This is something we'll do to the model when you get really, really, really close. Keep in mind that these shots are far closer than you'll most likely get in-game and at a far higher resolution. Also, these were just a test, so they don't interact with things like windows and greebles properly.
April 5th, 1996: Wing Commander IV is out and Wing Commander Prophecy is 18 months away... what do we have to look forward to? The Darkening, Kilrathi Saga, Wing Commander Academy, a variety of ports... 1996-97 was actually a golden age for Wing Commander!
This is actually a very important issue of The Point of Origin. Be sure to read the 'Maverick' article, which sets the stage for Chris Roberts' exit from Origin, as well as the 'real spacecraft' joke which is why we continue to celebrate April Fools Day here each year.
Have you seen a strangely familiar long-haired man with shades wandering around the 4th floor lately? It could have been Billy Cain during his infamous Rich Hilleman impersonation.
More likely, however, it's actually been Rich Hilleman in the flesh, because he's been here in Austin.
Formerly general manager of what was known as EA's Entertainment division, which included ORIGIN, Rich has been in town just about every other week for the last couple of months. His mission: To find someone to run Maverick Productions on an ongoing basis. After recent talks between Chris Roberts and EA, the question of the team's leadership has been in a state of limbo.
"Maverick needs a morale boost and ORIGIN needs staff to carry out the day-to-day management of the team." says Rich. "Since Chris' capacity with ORIGIN has changed, I've been called in on a temporary basis. I don't know how long it will take, but it's been hard to fill Chris' shoes. What I want to do is replace myself as soon as possible."
Company sources reveal--and you know who you are--that contract negotiations with Chris Roberts continue, things are expected to be settled very soon, and his future role will be new properties.
Rich said he'd like there to be some middle management in the Maverick team and/or a director of development. "I also feel like Maverick's members should feel like they have the ability to work on other ORIGIN projects if they want to. Most of all, I want ORIGIN and Maverick to be happy with whatever decisions are made."
No stranger to the Wing Commander universe, Rich is a zealous interactive movie supporter, and was instrumental in getting funding for Wing Commanders III and IV. He is looking forward to leaving Austin with confidence that Maverick and ORIGIN will be happy and Wing Commander V will reach new technological heights.
"Right now, there are seven story ideas being considered for Wing 5," he said. "Once we have that settled, we'll seek a writer who we think can work it all together. Rather than design Wing 5 based on the storyline, we're basing it on the gameplay technology, which is being completely rebuilt. The Ace Engineering Group, which consists of Maverick's tools group, has recently been renamed to build a new central technology and tool base."
Other future titles for the team include Maniac Missions, Wing Commander V for PlayStation, which will have custom designed gameplay but will share linear content with its PC counterpart, and Wing Commander Universe. "Wing Commander I and II are unplayable on current systems," says Rich. "We want to fix them--not recode them-- so they can launch out of Windows 95 and will release them as part of the Wing Commander Universe package. When we really get back to redoing Wing Commanders I and II, we may redo them with live action footage."
In other Wing Commander-related news, Rich said The Darkening is in the process of being reworked to be Privateer: The Darkening and the title which has tentatively been called Darklight may become another Wing Commander Academy title in conjunction with the release of the Wing Commander Academy cartoon on the USA Network this fall. The cartoon, being produced by Universal/MCA, will star the voices of Malcolm McDowell, Mark Hamill, and Tom Wilson, who already have begun doing some of the work. Although it will appear on Saturday mornings, the cartoon won't be the typical low-tech Saturday morning animation, but instead will have high end production values similar to the FOX Network's "Batman" series. Stay tuned to future POINTs for the latest information on this and other juicy topics.
If the early reviews are any indication, Wing Commander IV is well on its way to megahit status. Here is what the scribes are writing about the latest success story in the WC line.
Scott May with Computer Gaming World gave WCIV a score of 4.5 out of 5 in the April issue. "A ground-breaking cinematic experience," he wrote. "Curious about so-called interactive movies? This is one of the few that works, and it works well."
Some of the major national consumer magazines are also getting on the WCIV bandwagon. In Newsweek magazine, N'Gai Croal wrote, "The game skillfully integrates live-action video with computer-generated graphics and sophisticated gameplay. Has saving the universe ever been this much fun?" And from Entertainment Weekly, Bob Strauss wrote about WCIV, "A movie game that takes CD-ROM warfare into the next generation. EW's report card for WCIV was an A-.
And the good press doesn't stop there. The major newspaper dailies are starting to sing WCIV's praises. Kim McDaniel writes for The Salt Lake City Tribune. She gave it 4 out of 4 stars in her review. "A cast that would make any TV-movie director jealous--and more than a few feature-film directors as well. While many games tout themselves as interactive movies, Wing Commander IV is truly deserving of the title--a pure joy to watch and to play."
Vox Day writes for The Pioneer Press in St. Paul Minnesota. His final score for WCIV was 4.5 out of 5. Day said, "With the Dolby surround sound on, it really is like watching a movie. It's nice to know that in a fast-changing world, you can still count on good games from ORIGIN."
Also weighing in was Mike Floyd, who writes for The Detroit Free Press. "At times, it was like watching an episode of a science fiction show."
And it goes on and on. Here are even more comments from writers who are impressed with what they've seen of WCIV:
"The best outer-space shooting game I've ever seen."--3.5 out of 4, Mike Langberg, San Jose Mercury News.
"Graphics and sound have always been ORIGIN's forte, but Wing Commander IV goes above and beyond the company's standard.--Peter Bartholow, Dallas Morning News.
"ORIGIN's simulator remains the best on the shelves."--Andy Grieser, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Wing Commander IV delivers an arcade-style experience--razzle-dazzle space-flight graphics on a color monitor and gratifyingly percussive explosions on stereo speakers."--Joseph Gelmis, New York Newsday.
The game's also getting tons of coverage from the electronic press. A press tour in New York City last month saw Mark Hamill interviewed on CNBC, FX Breakfast Time and more than 10 morning drive programs at many of the top radio markets in the country.
Meanwhile, WCIV isn't the only ORIGIN game getting hyped in the press these days...
(Editor's note: With the spirit of April Fool's day in the air, Computer Gaming World recently ran the following article describing ORIGIN's plans for Wing Commander V. Reaction has been mixed, ranging from light chuckles to frantic fans wondering how long it'll be before they can blast Mark Hamill into orbit....)
With Wing Commander IV barely a month old, ORIGIN has already announced incredible plans for the next game in the highly successful series. In another first for a computer game company, ORIGIN says it will design small working models of highly maneuverable drones which can be launched into space, piloted remotely and filmed. The craft will enable Wing V to have "unprecedented space flight realism and true star appeal" says a company spokesperson.
Although the next game in the SF series sounds more like fiction than science, ORIGIN's Chris Roberts says it's the next logical step for his six-year-old creation. "If you think about it," he says, "Wing Commander was the game where we learned the mechanics of space fighting. We made lots of changes and improvements to the overall design in Wing II. With Wing III, we raised the bar considerably with better graphics, more realistic action, full motion video and big name stars in video segments. In Wing IV, we upped the ante again with real sets, more video, and, in my opinion, a much better story. We've reached the point of using real stars and real sets--now it's time to take our act on location: real space."
Analysts say it's nearly impossible to estimate the cost of such an undertaking. Some put figures between $100 million and $10 billion, just to deploy a small number of remotely pilotable vehicles beyond Earth's atmosphere. Despite this, ORIGIN's Lord British (Richard Garriott) claims that he has much of the necessary financial support from investors. Says Garriott, "When we told (investors) what we wanted to do for Wing Commander V, they were amazed. We're talking about one of man's deepest desires--to break free of the bonds of Earth.... We know it seems costly in comparison with other games, but this is unlike anything that's ever been done. I don't see any problem getting the financial backing for this project, and we expect to recoup the investment in the first week. You're going to see a worldwide release on eight platforms in 36 countries--it's going to be a huge event. It'll dwarf even Windows '95."
For those who still remain planted on terra firma, Garriot counters that ORIGIN doesn't have to create everything from scratch. "There are now six separate countries which can launch satellites into space, and we're talking with all of them. We're also engaged in ongoing discussion with NASA, whose aeronautical engineers have been sharing a great deal of technical information with us in exchange for our latest releases."
Both Roberts and Garriott declined further questions, but they did say that most gamers don't have the necessary hardware for such a game. Leaving the press conference, Garriott flashed a quick aside. "If you haven't already," he said with a smile, "now's the time to start thinking about that upgrade to a super-cooled mainframe."
Reprinted by permission from "The Fool," (April, 1996).
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 3 - April 5, 1996
ContentsSpotlight: Ultima Online is a Hit with Pre-Alpha Testers!
What the hell is up with... Maverick?!
Origin To Use real Spacecraft in Wing Commander V
Bites & Bytes
Industry Party a Success!
It is now possible to connect a Wii-mote to the PC (using a Bluetooth connection) and use the motion sensor inside the Wii-mote to fly the ship (roll/pitch) and of course use standard button actions (shoot, full guns etc.). In our project we use the Wiiuse API to obtain data from the Wii-mote. We think this is a fun addition to the WCA project. Let us know what you think of this Wii-mote feature!
How to connect the Wii-mote to your PC:
Before running 'Wing Commander Arcade' perform the following actions:
1 - Make sure your PC is able to send and receive Bluetooth signals (USB dongle or integrated Bluetooth).
2 - Install the latest Bluesoleil Bluetooth driver / connection tool.
3 - Open "Bluetooth places" by clicking on the Bluetooth icon in the system tray.
4 - Press (and hold!) buttons 1 and 2 of your Wii-mote and click on Search Devices in the "Bluetooth Places" window.
5 - After a few seconds the device should be recognised as a 'Nintendo RVL-CNT-01', the status should be Idle.
6 - Now again press and hold buttons 1 and 2, right click on the Nintendo RVL-CNT-01 and press Connect. The status should change from Idle to Connected.
7 - Release the buttons 1 and 2 and start Wing Commander Arcade by running wca.exe
NOTE: Steps 1, 2, 4 and 5 only need to be performed once. When you want to run 'Wing Commander Arcade' in Wii-mote controlled mode again, only perform steps 3, 6 and 7.
What's still to be done?
A lot. In the end Wing Commander Arcade should at least contain 10 playable stages and 5 playable ships (as the game progresses). Furthermore we would like to have some ground missions to get the typical Tyrian look and feel. Also we will implement a shared highscore database in which all player scores will be collected. As the game progresses we will release more test builds and hope to have a larger test group which may give us some feedback. We will also develop a user friendly terrain/map editor, so you will be able to create your own stages/backgrounds/etc.
Wing Commander IV is launched -- as is the Origin website which many of you may remember from way back when. There's even a picture... it certainly brings back memories of my misspent youth. Speaking of pictures, be sure to look at the actual PDF - it's chock full of Wing Commander IV and Darkening development team snapshots.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA--It was a first for Wing Commander, a first for ORIGIN and a first for Hollywood. Wing Commander IV was launched successfully Thursday at the new Planet Hollywood in Beverly Hills amidst flashing lights, scribbling writers and rolling video cameras.
CNN was there, so was NBC's Today show, HBO and Delta Airlines' in-flight TV show. Axcess, Insider Magazine, Knutson Syndicate, Associated Press, the LA Daily News and other Los Angeles media were also there. They came to witness Wing Commander IV and see Malcolm McDowell and Mark Hamill donate their costumes from the game to Planet Hollywood. The costumes represent the first memorabilia from a CD-ROM game to be donated to the internationally famous restaurant. Within a few weeks, restaurant management will determine which of the 30 PH locations will become the permanent home of the Wing IV costumes.
After the presentation, the press got a first hand look at the new game. Many actually sat down to play it themselves while others just watched in amazement during the expert product demos from ORIGIN's own Frank Roan, Tony Morone and Patrick Bradshaw. Those who wanted to see WCIV in all its grandeur watched one of the game demos in a mini-theater complete with large screen projection system, plush theater chairs and outfitted in surround sound. George Oldziey's musical score never sounded better.
And they thought it was just another computer game. Let's just say that after last week's WCIV launch, there's a new found respect in Tinsel Town for the kind of movies you play on your computer.
Don't look now, but the Wing Commander IV media barrage is about to begin. Check out the article on the Planet Hollywood press launch on page one. Meanwhile, Mark Hamill has been busy drumming up hype for the game. Last week alone he made appearances pitching WCIV on Jay Leno and Mike and Maty. In the January issue of PC Entertainment, editors honored Hamill for his acting in interactive projects with a Lifetime Achievement award. Also, in the new PC Ace magazine, Steve Kent added more praise on the man who plays Col. Christopher Blair. In a WCIV preview, Kent wrote, "Mark Hamill has emerged as one of the first real stars of interactive motion pictures."
Believe it or not, WCIV's first review is out. EAUK send out a beta copy of the game to PC Zone magazine in England back in December. Thinking the game was going to sign off the day after they sent out the beta version to the magazine, PR folks in that office were stunned to learn instead that the game had been pushed back two more months. Despite the average score of 85, the writer of the article did manage to say some good things about WCIV in the cover article. "The most impressive cut scenes ever seen. The most cinematic gaming experience you will find." Bottom line, he says, "Great movie, so-so game." We'll see what he says when he gets the final version.
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 2 - February 12, 1996
ContentsSpotlight: Stop the Press!
Across the Pond
Warren's Wacky Web
The Baltimore Connection
Kat's Korner of Phun Pfone Phacts
The most interesting fact in this January 15th, 1996 issue of The Point of Origin? The City Council of Austin declared December 14th, 1995 to be Paul Baker and George Oldziey Day. Someone make a note so we can celebrate this year...
Wing Commander IV garnered yet two more magazine covers. The first was the December issue of Interactive Entertainment, where editors exclaimed in their preview, "Bigger explosions, more detailed texture-mapping, and cleaner background music. An experience that really gives you the feel of watching a movie."
The second cover can be found on PC Game, a gaming magazine in South Korea. We can't read it (can anyone translate Korean?), but there are pictures of several on the WC4 team: Tony Morone, Jason Hughes, George Oldziey, Chris Douglas and Frank Roan.
The international copy doesn't end there. WC4 was featured in a story about the Hollywood/Silicon connection in Der Spiegel in Germany and in a special preview in Australia's aforementioned Hyper magazine. "Wing 3 was the best looking space combat sim ever, Wing 4 is better still."
Meanwhile, back on the home turf, Russ Ceccola wrote a novel (at least it seemed that way) in Fusion about his trip to the WC4 set this past summer. "Chris Roberts and ORIGIN clearly took brave new steps toward a bright future for the Wing Commander series and the production of WCIV. The important thing is that they (ORIGIN) did it right, from the professionally-built sets and the camera equipment to the rehearsals and intense drama."
And don't forget about Wing Commander III for the Macintosh. Peter Lewis of The New York Times didn't. In his column on December 19, he included it among four Mac games recommended for this holiday season. "ORIGIN spent several million dollars making this one," Lewis wrote, "and it shows."
... Finally, we combed the wide world of gaming magazines for some interesting reader comments to close out this article. We think we outdid ourselves this time. The December issue of Fusion magazine has this from Peter Hobbs in Springfield, Ohio, who writes about the rehabilitative powers of Wing Commander. "That game got me through some hard times back when I was on drugs and had no direction in life to speak of. In fact, my main goal every day (back then) was to get stoned and battle Kilrathi until my mom would beat on my bedroom door fuming. Now I'm a productive member of the working world." Next patient, please.
Point of Origin
Vol. VI, No. 1 - January 12, 1996
Kat's Korner of Phun Pfone Phacts
It's the last issue of The Point of Origin of the year - and you won't find a year with this many issues again. Now... where's Wing Commander IV? Old fans well remember the awful two-month shipping delay announced at the beginning of December... but there's surprisingly little note of this important delay here.
Meanwhile, the Wing Commander IV juggernaut continues to roll. Three magazines on the shelf now have WC IV on their covers (we told you about Strategy Plus last month). Overall, Terry Coleman, with Computer Gaming World, has perhaps the most thorough coverage. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that he spent an entire day with the team one month ago. Though he inflated the game's price tag a bit ($12 million) and had a couple of other questionable points, overall it was a good preview. Terry had high marks for the game's acting, story and interactive elements. "There's no doubt of the technical brilliance involved in WCIV," he wrote.
CGW also listed WC IV among its Holiday Hot 100 games. George Jones wrote, "No series to date has managed to capture such a Hollywood feel and successfully combine it with such quality action."
In Computer Game review, where WC IV is also front and center, Steve Honeywell writes, "ORIGIN takes games to a new level." The cover article included interviews with several from the WC team, including George Oldziey, Chris Douglas, Tony Morone, and Chris Roberts. Honeywell says, "Wing Commander III broke new ground in the technical arena and its stronger, bigger sibling, Wing Commander IV looks to do the same thing in the artistic realm."
BTW, Wing Commander was one of the featured games in a recent article in Business Week. In Paul Eng's article about interactive movies, WC III was cited as "one of the better examples" of games that make extensive use of digitized video footage and Hollywood production techniques to create a new level of game realism. Eng wrote, "While the gaming sequences were enjoyable, I was so intrigued by the game's story line that interacting with the other actors became more compelling."
Did someone mention holidays? ORIGIN is well represented in all the holiday gift guides you'll find in practically every magazine this month. Computer Gaming World's Holiday Hot 100 included the already mentioned Wing Commander IV, Crusader, and Cybermage.
PC Gamer has its 40 Can't Miss Games for the Holidays... Also included were BioForge ("It's an amazing hybrid: part graphic adventure, part arcade game, part movie-and all entertaining."), System Shock ("As close to virtual reality as a PC game has ever gotten.") and Wing Commander III ("Still the reigning champion of space shoot-'em-ups, and it belongs in every gamer's collection.")
... Finally, hats off to the Wing Commander III crew for some top honors. Games magazine recently named WC III as the Best New Simulation Game of 1996. Also, WC III received nine nominations for the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences awards. Nominations include Best Computer Game, Best Sound, Best Action, Best Director (Chris Roberts), Best Editor (Phil Gessert), Best Producer (Chris Roberts), Best Composer (George Oldziey), Best Writer (Frank DePalma & Terry Borst) and Best Marketing campaign (Your very own ORIGIN Marketing Dept.). WC III received more nominations than any other game, according to an article in the Hollywood Reporter. The winners will be announced at a special award ceremony on national television next month. Check out the AIAS web site at http://www.interactive.org. Good luck!!
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 11 - December 11, 1995
ContentsSpotlight: Our Best... And Our Baldest... Are Honored.
Off the Clock
Bits and Bytes
Kat's Korner of Phun Pfone Phacts
As promised, we are releasing new models. This time it's two simple ships from Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom and Wing Commander Prophecy/Secret Ops.
The first is the beautiful Panther fighter of the Terran Confederation Navy. For me it is one of the most elegant ships in the whole saga. The model is 1/200 scale and very simple to build with some patience and a couple hours. In the file there are two versions. One is a PDO file blocked to serve as instructions that can ONLY BE OPENED IN PEPAKURA VIEWER 2.
The other ship is the opposite of the sleek Panther: the Assault Shuttle of the Navy of the Union of the Border Worlds. This very ugly ship in 1/100 scale. It is used by the Space Marines Corps of the Border Worlds for approaches to larger ships. This model is simple, and it too can be done in just a few hours.
Good assembly! Until next time!
Introducing the Origin logo you all remember! That's right, the familiar blue and white 'marbled' starbust didn't show up until November 1995! All the details of its lengthy creation process can be found in this issue of The Point of Origin...
The December issue of Strategy Plus magazine (check out the picture accompanying this article) is the first of four magazines that will spotlight Wing Commander IV on the cover. Ben Chiu, who traveled to Hollywood in June to cover the production, wrote the feature article. "The amount of detail put into the sets and props, combined with the very capable and professional abilities of the crew, puts the overall production on equal terms with some of the best movie productions. Wing Commander IV has all the markings to be another big hit for ORIGIN."
During November, look for Wing Commander IV to be on the covers of Computer Gaming World, Computer Game Review and Interactive Entertainment, too. Thanks to Chris Douglas on the WCIV team for his work in getting most of this art together. Oh and, by the way, it's pretty spectacular looking art, to boot.
... Finally, they're still talking out there about ORIGIN games that have been on the shelves for a while. Joe Blenkle who writes for the Orangevale News in California had plenty of good things to say about Wing Commander III for 3DO. "Probably the most satisfying game I've ever played. The best title out there for the 3DO."
And ORIGIN had a couple of games listed in a new book out about multiplayer, CD-ROM Buyer's Guide from Signet publishers... About WCIII Sengstack wrote, "Wing Commander III achieves that perfect balance of arcade action and dramatic tension. It doesn't get much better than this."
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 10 - November 3, 1995
ContentsBrave New Logo
Points to Ponder
"Ultima Online: Mudders of Invention
Bits and Bytes
Kat's Korner of Phun Phone Phacts
Here's the jpeg image for the Princeton hat if anyone wants to use it at a local embroidery shop. I was wearing the Eisen one and someone asked me if I served on a submarine. I told him it was a new type of carrier.
The big news in the October 6, 1995 issue of The Point of Origin is the release of Crusader -- which seems to be a surprise hit. It's interesting how little attention the game has seen so far -- it kind of makes you wonder which of Origin's similarly original cancelled titles might have had the same impact.
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 9 - October 6, 1995
ContentsWay to Go, Cru Crew!
Creative Services wins awards
Heard and Overheard
Kat's Korner of Phun Phone Phacts
Monty, I'd like to pick freak number 3...
Staff Pick Up Butts
Edit: Image has been updated to reduce blur and improve the main logo.
Thanks for the responses and the new ones to come. I added the Logo Bryn provided and did some minor editing to it and boom here it is. Hope everybody likes this one better and thanks again.
The September 8th, 1995 issue of Point of Origin has a lot of CyberMage and a lot of Longbow... but not much Wing Commander. It's interesting that we don't hear anything about Privateer 2 beyond the monthly collections of press clippings.
In case you missed it, WCIV was featured in Newsweek magazine in July. "Wing Commander IV director Chris Roberts used real movie sets to create an immersive live-action environment," stated editors in the mag's Cyberscope section. CNN also aired a feature on Wing Commander IV and the Hollywood production also received a write-up in Daily Variety. Rex Weiner called WCIV "The most expensive nonfilm tie-in CD-ROM production ever." Meanwhile, the WCIV hype continued this month in Computer Gaming World. In a news brief resulting from a visit to the WCIV set, writers for CGW said, "If Wing Commander III was like Hollywood, this game is Hollywood."
Speaking of wood, The Darkening has wrapped up its production at Pinewood Studios in the UK. The first glimpses by writers who visited the set appear to be positive. Ben Chiu of Strategy Plus writes, "From what I have seen, The Darkening has the potential to take non-linear format interactive games to the next level in a highly polished package." Douglass Perry, from Next Generation, also visited the set. "While The Darkening is only 15% complete and has the Wing series to live up to, it's got everything to make its forebears shiver in their knickers." Douglass gets our award for coming up with the Point's Quote of the Month. The quote didn't come from Douglass, but instead from Erin Roberts drawing comparisons with Wing Commander III. "The technology we're using makes Wing Commander III look like a dinosaur," said Roberts. Ouch!
Finally, let's close with some honors. The UK's PC Gamer recently released a special edition listing that publication's top 50 games of all time. ORIGIN had six products on that list. They were: Ultima VII (Parts 1 and 2) #42, Pacific Strike #41, System Shock #29, Ultima VIII: Pagan #14, Ultima Underworld II #6 and Wing Commander III #2. In case you're interested, Doom II was listed #1, Tie Fighter #3, Monkey Island #4 and SimCity 2000 #5.
Other ORIGIN products were listed recently among Flux Magazine's 15 Essential CD-ROMs. Flux is a comic book/music/entertainment magazine based out of New York City. Editors had Wings of Glory listed at #15, System Shock #12, Wing Commander III #3 and BioForge #2.
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 8 - September 8, 1995
ContentsSpotlight: It's a Cover Up
Get out your crayons... it's Picture Pages!
I’ve been working out how I want to organize the weeks for the SM1, and I’m going to drop it to 6 missions a week for 2 weeks, then the last 4 in the 3rd. I’m thinking that 6 missions a week might be our benchmark as it’s still a good chunk of the games and still manageable to post about. I’ve found it easier to break the posts into chunks because it takes time to double check your game memory against CIC resources to make sure you are getting it right in the posts. Just a side effect of combat. :)
We all know what has to be done here. Save the Ralari and bring it back to the Claw.
Whatever happens on my first try is what I’m going with so let’s get to it.
On returning to the Claw I’m awarded another Silver Star for bringing the Ralari back. A Silver Star never felt so deserved and so good as it does now. No Rostov and asteroids for me! Shotglass gives us the first mention of CNN (Confed News Network). I wonder if they are in competition with TCN. I wonder what Barbra Miles thinks about this. Looks like I’ll have my 2nd favorite character on my wing soon. Can’t wait Hunter. A little background for Iceman, his family was killed on Vega VII and he’s still pretty pissed about it. Watch out furballs!
Future Origin historians looking for a specific 'everything changes' point need look no further than the July 28, 1995 issue of The Point of Origin. It's all there -- from the move to the final building to the addition of the Jane's and Origin UK lines to the first mention of the game that will change everything (Multima.) Another interesting thing to note is how quickly the amount of press for Wing COmmander III has disappeared, compared to previous product cycles where reviews and awards and best-of lists were still rolling in years later.
ORIGIN's endeavors across the great pond are starting to filter through the media. Jennie Evans and Brian Allen hosted three American journalists on a trip last month to catch the production of The Darkening at the UK's famous Pinewood Studios. Strategy Plus was the first to publish some initial impressions. "While this game's structure is similar to the groundbreaking Privateer, The Darkening improves on the strong points and fixes the weak areas found in that game." Ben Chiu called The Darkening "the most expensive interactive game ever produced." I guess he hasnt' rapped with Chris Roberts at Wing Commander IV, lately.
Speaking of Wing Commander IV, it just finished a nine-week production schedule and already has been seen on E! Entertainment's E! News Daily. The show on July 8 featured a story on WCIV and interviews with Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell. The game is also featured in this month's issue of Joystick magazine from France. That magazine visited the set of WCIV early in June and featured the sure-fire blockbuster on its cover.
It looks like the press just can't get enough of the Wing commander line. In June, Home PC magazine named Wing Commander III among it's top 100 computer products. "Hollywood magic and computer artistry combine to give you the ultimate science-fiction battle game. An all-star cast, gripping video and dazzling effects make for a roaring good time."
Wing Commander III 3DO is becoming a real hit among video gamers. In Video Games magazine, Chris Gore gave WCIII 3DO a grade of 9 out of 10. "The best flight sim available for 3DO. The story and special effects are breathtaking and the gameplay addictive. Wing Commander III is absolutely a must-play." And this from Electronic Gaming Monthly on WCIII 3DO, "The graphics are awesome, and the full-motion video is the crispest, cleanest I have ever seen."
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 7 - July 28, 1995
New Hires & Promotions
Off the Clock
What Is Your Favorite URL?
Okay, so I've done some additional detailing, and gotten to the engines. Looking pretty good, I think. It's sitting at 30K polys - which is quite reasonable for the sheer scale of this thing.
New building! The June 9, 1995 issue of the Point of Origin chronicles Origin's final move - to the building most of our readers associate with the company.
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 6 - June 9, 1995
Off the Clock
Origin: The Good, The Bad and the Twisted
Based on the best selling video game, WING COMMANDER is a science fiction-war movie spectacle. In the mid-27th century, the Terran confederation is at combat with the Kilrathi Empire. After destroying a Terran base, the Kilrathi have seized a NAVCOM unit that can coordinate hyperspace to Earth. With Terran reinforcements planned to arrive two hours after the Kilrathi strike Earth, it falls upon the star fighter carrier TCS Tiger Claw to keep the Kilrathi distracted.
E3? Never heard of it... the May 5th, 1995 is the last issue before the first-ever E3 show! A lot of space goes to praising Bioforge, a very underappreciated 'interactive movie' title that maybe unfortunately was lost in all the excitement of Wing Commander III.
Of course, there's still plenty of press clippings coming in these days for Wing Commander III. Tom McDonald gave WCIII a grade of 5 out of 5 in the May issue of CD-ROM Today. "The age of interactive movies has arrived. Wing Commander III displays such a stunning virtuosity that, despite the familiar nature of the design, it will change how multimedia games are viewed."
In PC Magazine, Bernie Yee served up his comments about WCIII, while grading it 4 out of 4. "A unique mix of adventure story, dazzling space combat, and vivid Super VGA graphics make Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger the kind of game that redefines our entertainment expectations."
Meanwhile, writers at Playboy have taken notice of WCIII. "Until NASA arms the space shuttle and invites you on board, this is the closest you're likely to get to real shoot-'em'-ups in outer space. The promise of interactive movies has finally been caught in a box and put on store shelves."
And how 'bout another award for the WCIII crew. This time the honor goes to actor Tom Wilson (Maniac) who Computer Gaming World said gave the Best Male On-Screen Performance in Multimedia for 1994. "His scenes are crisp, comedic and convincing," editors wrote.
Finally, you've got to love the award given by Entertainment Weekly to Ginger Lynn Allen for her performance in WCIII. In the category for Most Convincing Performance by an Aging Screen Doxy, Allen beat out a list of nominees that included Margot Kidder (Under a Killing Moon), Grace Jones (Hell) and Morgan Fairchild (Celebrity Poker). Ty Burr wrote, "The winner is...ex-porn star Ginger Lynn Allen, proving there's more than one way to make a living out of interactivity." Ouch!
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 5 - May 5, 1995
Behind the Scenes: Technology Services
Off the Clock
Anyhow, here's something I was playing with last night - Kilrathi taunts. I figure it's always good to start with a fairly clear baseline for the comms - that way we can tune up the distortion in real-time based on the situation. And you wouldn't believe how easy those were to put together. You basically just talk in a growly voice into a microphone, and then run 2 filters and blend the result. Sprinkle with big cat noises subtly in the background. I think it turned out okay - any suggestions?
With the Arena artwork finished it looks like we're going to have to do one of these every day until the collection runs out! This is the April 7, 1995 issue of The Point of Origin -- and Wing Commander III is still on everyone's minds.
Meanwhile the Wing Commander III juggernaut keeps on rolling. On March 22nd, WC3 was featured in a 4 1/2 minute story on NBC's Today Show. Jim Brown, Our Man in Austin (as he's called on the show), put together a nice piece that included interviews with Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell and John Rhys-Davies. Jim spent a day-and-a-half on the set of WC3 last spring and finally put his story on the air. Better late than never, especially when you're dealing with the millions who watch The Today Show. If you haven't seen the program, drop by media relations in the marketing area and check out a copy.
And the WC3 report card continues to show high marks. In Multimedia World, Vince Broady gave Wing Commander III a grade of 5 out of 5. 'Wing Commander III is one of the most addictive games I have played. (It's) a triumphant achievement that delivers a gaming experience that will enthrall you for weeks. Awesome on every level.'
Julie Cohen gave WC3 a rating of 3 1/2 out of 4 in the April edition of Home PC magazine. 'Heart of the Tiger,' she exclaims, 'quickly earns its stripes-and raises the state of computer gamer's art. A fully orchestrated soundtrack makes John Williams' sweeping film scores sound like elevator music.' Kudos to George Oldziey.
What's this, a couple more honors for ORIGIN products??? Throw 'em on the pile. This month Computer Gamine World inducted Ultima Underworld into its Hall of Fame... Underworld joins Ultima III, IV, VI and Wing Commanders I and II in the CGW Hall.
And at ECTS in the UK last month, Wing Commander III received Login Magazine's Game of the Year Award. Login is a Japanese-based computer gaming magazine that is widely distributed in Europe.
The crowd gathered around the phosphor screen upon which the multi-colored images danced. Their gazes were transfixed on the characters on the screen, compelling them to follow stories that, like most well-presented productions, took them through a whole series of emotions. In short, they were entertained -- but more than that they were involved. However, this involvement went much farther than the passive watching of, say, the newest television rage or film release. These people were participating in an interactive movie, playing on an IBM -- and they loved it. This was the scene at the 1995 South by Southwest Multimedia Festival that was in action March 14th-15th at Austin's Hyatt Regency.
The scene described above was particularly evident at the booth that ORIGIN had set up in the exhibitor's room, where Wing Commander III and BioForge continued to attract curious conference attendees thirsting for an interactive, yet cinematic, experience. In fact, it was obvious from the onset of the conference that ORIGIN dominated the event, even though many other Austin and other nationally based companies were represented. From the keynote address by Richard Garriott to panel discussions led by Chris Douglas, Randy Buck, Jennie Evans, C.J. Taylor and myself, with topics that covered everything from digital music and interactive movies to marketing strategies for multimedia products, ORIGIN's presence was strongly felt.
As if this wasn't enough, another first for SXSW was the presence of an interactive movie panel at the film potion of the conference. ORIGIN once again let its presence be felt with the attendance of several members of the Wing Commander III team. Throughout the presentation (which, by the way, drew a fairly good crowd) Chris Roberts, Chris Douglas, John McLean, Frank Savage, Galen Svanas and Mark Day fielded questions that ranged from the scripting of Wing Commander III and the rigors of developing interactive products to the potential future of interactive production here and in Los Angeles.
All in all, it is apparent that Austin is quickly becoming a mecca for interactive and multimedia development. It is also abundantly clear from our presence at this conference, and from the response of a public that thirsts for creative and cutting edge entertainment, that ORIGIN stands on the pinnacle of this mecca, poised to take the next big leap forward.
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 4 - April 7, 1995
Spotlight: Geeks o'Plenty! Our Wild Robofest Weekend
Off the Clock
Another little ORIGINite
ORIGIN Goes to the European Computer Trade Show
30 Fun Things to Do in an Elevator
The 1995 SXSW Multimedia Conference, ORIGIN Style!
I present the HF-66 Thunderbolt Buccaneer. Leave comments and tell me what you guys think as usual. As you can see what kind of guns are on the ship based on the ones that are on the model. And as for those who don't know: the 2 inner most are Tachyon, the 2 middle are Ion and the outer most are Meson.
Finally, we have concept art of different Terrans... everyone from a college professor to a World War I pilot to a beautiful woman to a trucker. Space truckers? Brilliant idea. That's it for this series! We hope you enjoyed it - we will collect all the art in one place very soon.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
Enjoy, and please any feedback at all is welcome! Does anyone want to take a crack at naming and numbering this thing?
Bioforge is GO in the March, 1995 issue of The Point of Origin. Will Origin's second big-budget 'interactive movie' do as well as Wing Commander... or will the concept of CGI and gameplay-based cinematics be abandoned for another decade? The answers, right now: no and yes.
Interactive Gaming, the online magazine startup from Computer Gaming World-ex Chuck Miller has awarded Wing Commander III a couple of honors. The game was given an Editor's Choice award and was named Game of the Year for 1994.
Meanwhile a couple of ORIGIN games will be battling it out for one of CGW's Premier Awards. Both WCIII and System Shock have been nominated in the Best Action category. The winners will be announced in the mag's May issue. Wouldn't it be nice if one of those two could walk away with Game of the Year honors?
Okay, what's a coverage article these days without some Wing Commander III reviews. You want Wing III reviews? You got 'em. In the March issue of Electronic Entertainment, editors anointed the game as their "Game of the Month" and Al Giovetti called it "a bona fide phenomenon. This state-of-the-art game is a must-see and a must-play."
Reviewers at Interactive Entertainment, the CD-ROM magazine, had similar things to say about WCIII. "WCIII's movie sequences must be seen to be believed," they gushed. "The cast is superb, the movie sequences are some of the best you're likely to see for a long time, and the action is enough to make you fall out of your chair."
And right up the road in Dallas, Peter Bartholow, continued the WCIII love fest with his review in the Dallas Morning News. "Wing Commander III offers the best action and drama this side of the Ghorah Khar star system."
Meanwhile, the Hollywood connection continues to pay big dividends for WCIII. Rex Weiner had a nice feature on Mark Hamill in a recent issue of Variety magazine. Hamill spent plenty of time talking about WCIII and talked about how it's knocked his pal, George Lucas', game (Rebel Assault) off the charts. And in the March issue of Home PC, WCIII got a lot of attention in a story on the convergence of Hollywood and the computer industry.
But it's not just the star power that's winning points with reviewers on WCIII. ORIGIN's translations department got a big pat on the back from the editors at PC Player in Germany. "One can hear that the flawlessly translated German is being spoken by professional dubbing voices. This is the best dubbing ever done by a game company." Congrats are in order for Kirsten Vaughan and her translation crew.
Finally, if you haven't been reading the letters to the editor lately in some of the gaming magazines, you've really been missing out. Witness these two found in recent weeks. W.S. Corney wrote to Computer Gaming World and had this to say about WCIII and the state of computer games. "Now there are only two types of computer games: those before Wing Commander III and those after."
In Computer Game Review, there's an ongoing debate in the letters section on whether Wing Commander or TIE Fighter is the better game. I think Joe Folley has finally put this argument to bed. Joe wrote, "TIE Fighter has excitement, Wing Commander has fly-by-your-seat-while-dodging-the-bullets-going-one-thousand-miles -an-hour-strapped-to-the-seat-of-a-plutonium-powered-mega-machine -whiz-your-pants-and-scream-for-mercy kind of excitement. TIE Fighter was good, Wing Commander is one-hundred-percent-without-a-doubt-the-best-in-the-world -number-one-on-the-list-golden-triad-award-100,000-copies-sold -breaking-records-best-in-the-universe kind of game." Whew!!!!!!!! Thanks, Joe, but what did you really think of the game?
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 3 - March 14, 1995
ContentsSpotlight: Let Loose the Floodgates... Bioforge is Coming to Town
The Number You Have Dialed...
Don't Try This at IBM
Caught in the Web
How Software Companies Work
Etwas Anmutiges und zugleich wunderschönes lag in ihrem Gesicht – immer dann, wenn sie ihren kleinen Sohn nach einer kurzen Schelte wieder versöhnend anlächelte. Nein, sie konnte ihrem Kind noch nie wirklich böse sein…
„Es gibt auch Nachtisch. Also?“
Christopher zog eine schnelle Grimasse, legte aber umgehend sein Spielzeug beiseite und trottete seiner Mutter in den Nebenraum hinterher.
„Ah, sind wir also auch schon da, junger Mann?“
Christophers Vater saß wie an jedem Tag am Kopfende der kleinen Tafel und er legte wie immer eine helle Serviette auf seinen Schoß ab. Für den Jungen war dies der ultimative Beweis dafür, dass sein Vater kleckerte – was dieser natürlich immer aufs heftigste abstritt. Nun ja, das Kind wusste es natürlich besser… Seine Mutter hingegen verzichtete auf diese altmodisch anmutende Geste, sie hatte vielmehr mit ihrem ständig größer werdenden Bauch zu kämpfen, als sie am Tisch Platz nahm. Die Familie würde in etwa einem Monat Zuwachs bekommen und Christopher somit ein kleines Schwesterchen erhalten.
„Wann sind wir eigentlich wieder mal zuhause? Ich vermisse meine Freunde aus der Schule.“ Die leise ausgesprochenen Worte des Kindes erzeugte im Vater keinerlei Regung, stur sah er auf seinen Teller.
„Wir werden sehen. Es sind nicht mehr viele Termine offen. Also keine Sorge, du bist rechtzeitig zum Schulbeginn wieder auf Anhur.“
Eine höchst unbefriedigende Antwort, Christopher wollte es aber genauer wissen.
„Und wann ist das?“
This 'Terran Commander' image was drawn as part of a single player campaign concept. Wing Commander fans everywhere will know his name - Admiral Vance Richards.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
Here's the Dralthi I made for the webcomic. It's the version I'll probably end up using.
A computer virus hits Origin in this February, 1995 edition of The Point of Origin -- surely a sign of all that the newly charted information superhighway will eventually bring the company. Until that happens, though, there's lots of praise for Wing Commander III...
Welcome to the Wing III stampede, folks. Yes, the reviews are popping up everywhere. We start with the latest edition of Entertainment Weekly. Bob Strauss gave WCIII a grade of "A." "Hollywood sci-fi stars soar in 'Wing Commander III,'" he wrote, "but it's the game's sophisticated technology that leaves other CD-ROMs eating its space dust." Strauss applauded ORIGIN for casting Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill in the lead role. "It may be just a computer game, but it boasts an early sequence worthy of Star Wars series."
The high grades continued with PC Gamer, which rated WCIII 96% in its March issue. Tom McDonald wrote, "Finally, what everybody has been waiting for, an 'interactive movie' that's both truly interactive and a good movie. ORIGIN has produced a title that succeeds so perfectly and on so many levels that it must be considered the new benchmark against which all interactive entertainment will be compared."
Hold it, don't turn that dial. There's more, much more. Russ Ceccola, who writes for Electronic Games, gave it an "A+" to Wing III in the March issue. Russ clearly was blown away by the graphics in WCIII. "The space combat scenes look like they were filmed, although it is certain that they are computer generated. It is very easy for players to focus on the screen and get lost in the game's world as they watch the dramatic scenes and action."
Strategy Plus is out with its assessment of Wing Commander III. "WCIII is a graphically stunning, entertaining action game featuring perhaps the finest integration of film and game seen to date," exclaimed Steve Bauman. "The multimedia gaming event of the year."
Overseas, they are also singing the praises of the latest installment of the Human-Kilrathi war. "The quality of a major movie!" gushed Frederic Marie in Generation 4 from France. He gave WCIII a score of 93%. Editors at another French publication, Joystick, gave WCIII a 92% score. "We have never seen a game so similar to a movie," they wrote.
Perhaps the best accolades came from the UK where Gary Whitta, with PC Gamer, gave WCIII a 95% score. "Believe the hype - the most cinematic game ever," he wrote. "Undoubtedly the most elaborate and ambitious PC game ever created, and the first to stake a legitimate claim to the holiest of grails, the term 'interactive move.'"
Other mentions for Wing Commander III have come from TV Guide, which referenced the game in an article about Mark Hamill and his guest role on NBC's Sea Quest. Also, WCIII was demonstrated a couple of weeks ago during the popular PBS program, Computer Chronicles. Doing the honors was none other than Wing IV co-producer Mark Day.
And while there's lots of hype surrounding the release of WCIII, System Shock continues to haul in its fair share of kick-butt reviews... PC Gamer is out with its year-end awards and System Shock walked away with Best Adventure Game honors for 1994... in case you're interested, Doom was chosen Game of the Year and TIE Fighter edged out WCIII for Best Action Game honors. Huh?!?!?
Next Generation, the new mag from GP Publications, is now on newsstands... In the same edition, Armada was given a grade of 3 out of 5.
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 1 - February 10, 1995
ContentsSpotlight: ORIGIN catches the bug
Descent of a Champion
Personal Log, 2654.110, 1830hrs We jumped into Enyo today, and I was assigned to patrol duty in a Hornet. The colonel put me in charge of Alpha Wing, with Spirit alongside. Frankly, I was surprised. A rookie like me, flying lead with someone with the reputation of Spirit? I guess the colonel figured I could use the training and confidence boost. We had three nav points to hit, with a couple of asteroid fields scattered about.Most posts are far less detailed than this, so everyone can head over to Crius.net and participate.
Feeling somewhat elated with my first kill, I turned around, to find Spirit duking it out with one of the remaining Dralthi, while the other came straight at me. I settled my gunsight over him, and sent a few laser shots his way. Didn’t do too much damage. As the Dralthi flashed past my Hornet, I cut left as hard as I could, intending to get on his tail. Unfortunately, the Kilrathi pilot picked that moment to break right, and our ships collided. I was lucky – my shields had been at full strength prior to the collision, and we hit at a glancing angle. The shields took the impact, and started to recharge.
Shaken up, I maneuvered my way back onto the tail of the Dralthi. I don’t know if the pilot was injured in the collision, or if his ship had taken some kind of damage my targeting system couldn’t pick up. All I know is he made one very slight evasive maneuver, and then flew in a straight line. At first, part of me felt bad for vaping a foe that obviously couldn’t fight back. Then my mind flashed back to the story I’d read of one Lt. Dibbles. For all I knew, this Dralthi pilot was faking the damage…my target VDU still showed his fighter as fully functional. Giving my 6 o’clock a quick check to make sure this wasn’t a similar ambush, I tightened up on the trigger, and destroyed the damaged Dralthi.
This shows some more early work on the '3D' aspect of the 3D avatars. Here we see a Terran in various positions - it would have taken quite a bit of work to build an entire engine for 'personalizing' these heads.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!
There is unused material on my hard disk and a simple idea. A kind of "board game" playable with game cubes, some cards I've started to make, and a huge cardboard map of the Tri-System. That's my goal: to bring up the fans of P II together at one (okay, more than one) table, playing this one-on-one, face-to-face...
A friend called Madman started with the basics, he listened to me and he thinks that this may work... A computer version of this "idea" may be possible too, but I don't have the needed skills to do something like this. More still to come.
Could it be? After five years, the team behind The Point of Origin has learned how magazines are numbered! Vol. V, No. 1 of the company newsletter starts off 1995 in style -- with more positive comments about Wing Commander III than you can shake a cat at. We even have the first mention of Wing Commander IV...
Meanwhile the war between the humans and the Kilrathi continues and Wing Commander III appears to be everything that reviewers expected. In the latest issue of Computer Gaming World, Martin Cirulis gave WCIII a grade of five out of five. "A classic space combat game is mated with a competent movie -- and a new breed of gaming beast is born." Cirulis wrote.
In its February issue that was out for the Winter CES show in Las Vegas, Computer Game Review graded WCIII at 94, "Wing Commander III is obviously the biggest release of the year for ORIGIN; it also happens to be its best," wrote Kevin Perry. Ted Chapman summarized it this way, "The acting talent is nothing shy of stellar, and the sound and music are truly superlative. A must-have."
In the same issue the magazine named WCIII as the Simulation Game of the Year and also gave it an award for Best Full Motion Video of the Year. The only head scratcher game was when the magazine named X-COM as its Game of the Year. Go figure.
In Europe the early reviews show that WCIII is starting to mop up the competition. The magazines and their scores: PC Games (UK) 92%, PC Review (UK) 9 out of 10, PC Gamer (UK) 95%, Generation 4 (France) 93%, Games Machine (Italy) 96%, OK PC (Spain) 96%, PC Games (Germany) 96%.
Meanwhile, Wing III has been getting a lot of notice in the entertainment and general press in this country. It was included in a December 26 Newsweek article about new CD-ROM games. Adam Rogers wrote, "Even when the idea is to blow up bad-guy spaceships, as in the new Wing Commander III, the graphics still look better than the special effects on some current television shows."
USA Today listed WCIII third in its list of "Most Wanted Software Titles." It was listed behind Microsoft Bookshelf and Grolier's Encyclopedia and stood ahead of Iron Helix, Journeyman Project and Myst.
WCIII has been no stranger to television in recent weeks. It's been featured on VH-1's Flix, Entertainment Tonight, and CNN's Tech Guide. A feature on the game will air on Sci-Fi Buzz, a special segment that can be seen on the Sci Fi Channel. You can catch it when it hits the airwaves on January 22.
WCIII also has been featured in the New York Daily News, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, Billboard Magazine and of course the Austin American-Statesman. Harley Jebens wrote in the XL Entertainment section, "It's $4 million worth of interactive battles, stunning graphics and live action. Austin's computer game juggernaut is on the move again!" If they could just have done something better with the picture on the front.
... Let's hear it for Wing Commander Armada. Scott Wolf gave Armada a B+ in his review. "And the hits just keep on comin'," he wrote. "Multi-player is the option that kicks this baby in the butt."
Martin E. Curtius also wrote about Armada in Computer Gaming World, "Armada is at least the graphical equivalent of any space action game on the market, if not the best-looking starfighter sim around these days. Beautiful to behold and a hoot to play head to head.
Dean Evans liked what he saw of Armada. He writes for PC Games in the UK. "Not just split-screen, but network, modem and serial cable options. A round of applause for ORIGIN at least."
Finally, some awards and honors. Wing Commander II was rated 13th among the 36 top entertainment CD-ROM titles according to CD-ROM World magazine, and the editors of Games magazine listed Privateer among their top 100 board and electronic games. We've already mentioned the award for System Shock from Strategy Plus. That magazine also gave runner-up status to Ultima VIII for Single Player RPG of the year, Pacific Strike for Flight Sim Game of the Year and Armada for Fantasy Simulation Game of the Year. So who cares about what some editors think, it's the readers and gamers who really count. That's exactly what PC Gamer thought, so they asked their readers for their 40 top computer games of all time. ORIGIN game in with four titles in the list. Ultima VII: The Black Gate was 38th, Ultima VIII: Pagan was 28th, Ultima Underworld II was voted 15th and Wing Commander came in as the 4th favorite game behind Wolfenstein 3-D (3rd), X-Wing (2nd) and Doom (1st).
Point of Origin
Vol. V, No. 1 - January 13, 1995
ContentsSpotlight: CES: Stocks and Bombs
Off the Clock
The Ratings Game
Point Goes Electronic!
So here's the latest - I got the bottom superstructure to a good point - still have to do the rear turret mounts detailing. I think she's really starting to come together. The side gun pods still are WIP - there's a bunch of details and coloring missing from that area. Totally a work in progress, and I feel the need to point out that this is "a" Bengal class Strike Carrier, not "the" Tiger's Claw. As such the paint scheme is slightly different, and it's only 690M long, not 700M. The are some other structural differences, though this version is far more faithful to the sprites in the game than to the images in Claw Marks.
Here's the 2D to go with the last update: concept art as to exactly what a Kilrathi warrior should look like. I think we're all glad that they went with a classic Wing Commander II-style appearance rather than a puppet or a hairless rubber cat.Wing Commander Arena concept images graciously provided by Gaia Industries. You can find the original article here. You can thank the guys at Gaia by picking up Street Trace NYC on Xbox Live Arcade!