Wing Commander lives! The Wing Commander fandom is as active today as it was fifteen years ago, and that's just astounding. Against all odds, companies continue to release Wing Commander products like the Academy DVDs and the movie BluRay. GOG has released the bulk of the series digitally and is now poised to publish the rest. The IP continues to be discussed at Electronic Arts. And least we forget, much of the original development team is building a new space sim today! A lot of things we never thought would happen now are.
I can't wait to see what 2014 brings for Wing Commander. Tonight, enjoy the new material we're releasing today and the other news updates and join us in #WingNut for trivia, prizes and chat in #WingNut. Tomorrow, plan to keep being part of the greatest (and now possibly most storied!) fandom on-line.
Thank you to my lovely wife for baking her first Wing Commander CIC birthday cake!
In just over two months, the Austin Symphony Orchestra will be performing music from Wing Commander live in concert… and you can bet the WC:CIC team will be there! The event is October 18th at 8 PM in Austin, Texas, the birthplace of Wing Commander and current home of Cloud Imperium Games. Tickets will go on sale August 12th at midnight CST, so pick up your pass to the show and let us know you're coming - we'll have a variety of other Wing Commander activities during the week leading up to the concert!
Update 8/13: Wing Commander will not be part of this program afterall. Details here.
The Austin Symphony will open its Pops season with a night of iconic music from your favorite superhero film and television shows. Your spidey senses will be tingling and you will be at the edge of your seat when you hear music from some of your favorites, such as Batman, Superman, Captain America, The Incredibles, X-Men, and much more! In addition to the music there will be visuals on a big screen to enhance your experience. All concertgoers are invited to come dressed as their favorite superhero. There might just be a contest with a special prize for the winner!
We are pleased to announce that we have confirmed with Electronic Arts that they have licensed four more Wing Commander games to GOG! Academy, Armada, The Darkening and Prophecy should be available through the service later this year, completing the PC run of the series. Proof positive that it will be an amazing year for Wing Commander!
When Wing Commander Prophecy came out in 1997, it was common practice for companies to create an additional SKU that was somewhere between a downloadable demo and the full game. The specialized OEM version of the game would be then offered to manufacturers for bundling with graphics accelerators, sound cards or other upgrades. For years, the OEM version of Wing Commander Prophecy was thought lost… until now!
Prophecy OEM was bundled with the appropriately-named Real3D Starfighter graphics card as the third disc of the install software (an odd choice for Real3D, as the Starfighter was not a 3dfx card which would take advantage of Prophecy's other major commercial tie-in.) The disc is identical to Prophecy's first CD, including all the FMV and missions. It differs only with a final splash screen informing gamers that they can finish the story by picking up the full copy of the game. Download it here:
Wing Commander Prophecy OEM (645 mb, .iso)
NinjaLA has a special treat for Wingnuts this year! He's working on a new Wing Commander comic. We'll let him explain:
Introducing my Wing Commander comic series!
I know I have been promising this for quite some time now, but I have an outline, a story and a whole bunch of pages roughed out.. so for this CIC birthday, I thought I would launch a weekly two page comic and keep it going for the foreseeable future.
You can comment on the comic over at the Chatzone thread.
Lt. Overload has been hard at work on a Secret Ops mission pack. As a bonus for today's big day he has released a bonus teaser mission to give everyone a taste of what he has in store. I'll let him tell you about it:
An alien factory is constantly building drone fighters, classified as "Cuttlefish." The TCS Midway, working to eliminate the alien threat from the Tartarus system in the Border Worlds, must destroy this factory to stop production of these deadly drones. However, jamming technology is preventing the location of the factory from being found. Your wing will destroy the source of the jamming, a field of alien probes, to allow us to find the factory. Once they are destroyed, the path to the factory will be clear. You will return to the Midway to pick up a bomber wing, then attack the factory. Destroying this factory will deal a deadly blow to the alien forces in this system. Includes a new custom sector, and two new alien ships.
For the 2006 CIC Anniversary, we launched the Holovids video archive as the central repository for trailers and previews, original cinematics, behind the scenes material and deleted footage. The section contains dozens upon dozens of downloadable movie clips, collected over the CIC's long history. For the 2007 Anniversary we added convenient streaming through a Flash video player, which was all the rage at the time. Today, Adobe Flash is on the way out as a means to deliver online video, in part due to the rise in mobile browsing. Modern browsers can now stream video and audio without the use (and overhead) of third party plugins. And so today we relaunch an updated Holovids section that will stream video on any recent browser, on desktop or mobile, on Windows, Mac, Linux or Android. You can also still download the movies outright if you want to keep a copy in the best possible quality. Get watching!
It's been a bit of a quiet year for WCPedia, however that hasn't stopped contributors from continuing to work on aspects of the project. Wingnuts can now access each game's documentation from the respective landing pages. The complete game list is available here. Wing Commander manuals are some of the greatest sources of background information for the series and excellent reads to boot! Be sure to check them all out!
WCPedia is always looking for more contributors to help us build the ultimate Wing Commander resource. If you are interested, be sure to sign up over at WCPedia, drop by #wingnut, or post a note to the Chatzone!
After a four-year break, the CIC Mail Bag is back with questions and comments from you! Cpl_Hades and I take some time to share some of the feedback we've received and respond to the community. Check out the special 15th Birthday edition of the CIC Mail Bag here!
The CIC's Facebook page audience has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year! Right now we're just about two dozen people away from 1500 followers. Can we get there with a little 15th Birthday push? Liking the page keeps you in the loop when breaking news develops, and there's some bonus Wing Commander trivia sprinkled in too. We want to be able to reach all of you when the next big thing arrives! Twitter users can also follow us here, and there's even a CIC RSS Feed.
Presenting the most exciting document we've recovered: the collected documentation generated during the production of Wing Commander I in 1989-1990. You'll find snippets of source code, design notes, internal memos, schedules and more that went into creating the greatest PC game of all time!
This collection of early product flyers should be of interest to anyone who loves Origin's promotions department. From a multi-page press pack on Wing Commander to the one-page slip on Origin FX, it's all here!
Today we have DRM... and in the day we had password protection. Instead of a special CD key, Origin had to send reviewers a 'cheat sheet' for logging in to Wing Commander I, scanned here!
This is one of the most fascinating documents we've released: EA's sales data for all Origin SKUs after their first year of stewardship. Some of these numbers may surprise you! Note that this is not lifetime and does not include games sold before the 1992 buy-out.
This internal profile created by Origin in the mid-1990s is another great look at the company, featuring executive bios and history. The best part, however, is the page with cool Wing Commander III ship rendering artwork!
This is a short but interesting PC Games Plus preview of Wing Commander III (with the added bonus of some 1990s Ultima artwork on the cover!) Check out the logo artwork, clearly derived from Wing Commander II.
This is a collection of photocopied reviews which Origin distributed to show that Wing Commander I was a major success. In this instance, they were sent to "The Fatman," who was likely looking for pull quotes to promote his game audio business.
In 1992, Origin Systems put together a glossy booklet to pitch upcoming products to retailers. It includes information on their inbound projects as well as executive bios and a company history. This version, for Egghead Software, is a great look back at the Origin of yesteryear!
This collection of "The Fatman" George Sanger's files from Wing Commander I and II is especially interesting. It includes notes on the music itself and the contract issues that came up after the scope of the project became apparent!
Earlier this year, I visited EA Mythic's Origin archive to take a second fast pass at the Wing Commander production slides they had stored. The previous archiving effort had missed several as the slide scanner failed to recognize them or created garbled results. Here, for the first time, is the full set!
What you see here is the wall chart from the original brainstorming session for "Alien Commander." Conceived as a spinoff of Wing Commander in which you play an alien, Alien Commander eventually became the first game in the lauded System Shock franchise. This is where it all started!
Did you ever call Origin for help with a game? If so, you probably spoke to a member of an elite brotherhood of CS agents. It's part of game development we don't usually think about, but it's absolutely essential to a successful product. Here are mid-1990s CS policies at Origin!
As Origin FX, the Ultima and Wing Commander-themed screensaver, was in development, Warren Spector collected ideas for minigames and additional modules. Some of them are even Wing Commander-themed... check it out!
Warren Spector left Origin in 1995 to found Looking Glass, the company responsible for System Shock 2, Thief and other titles. This is his company-wide goodbye letter, which is a great look back at the culture at Origin at the time.
Wing Commander III, like any Hollywood production, had a massive number of storyboards created during preproduction. Thanks to David Downing, we now have photos of all of them! Download this massive find below.
Every aspect of Wing Commander III's production is chronicled in this binder, from the set catering information to camera positions to the shooting schedule! If you're interested in the nuts and bolts of interactive movie production, this is for you.
This binder of information is the edit companion for Wing Commander III's barracks scenes. Every scene shot on the green screen for the barracks is tracked, measured and recorded here!
In the 1990s, everyone gave away mousepads. Origin was no exception, giving away these Wing Commander IV and Prophecy mousepads at trade shows to promote the games. The "Wasp" item is especially cool, with 3D hexagons all over the image.
In 1995, Paul Steed pitched a game called Cyclone Alley to Origin. Cyclone Alley was a futuristic racing game set in space that was ultimately abandoned. At one point, Warren Spector attempted to merge Privateer 2 and Cyclone Alley into one project... and these are his notes!
The Darkening is still a sore subject in some areas today, owing largely to the conflict between EA UK and Origin in Austin over the game's release. This post-mortem document was created in 1996 by the team in Origin responsible for supporting the game... and it's safe to say that no love was lost.
This collection of assorted Prophecy-related documents was discovered in a folder in David Downing's archive. It has some interesting notes, including the outline for a speech he gave on the game, the decision to change the capital ship names and some execu-speak from Electronic Arts!
This glossy pitch for Privateer 3 was crafted in 2000 for the eyes of Electronic Arts executives. Printed in full color, this massive document was signed by the entire team. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to convince EA that the team with ten years of space combat experience was a better match for building an online space game than the team responsible for Command and Conquer.
In contrast to the Privateer 3 pitch available above, this is an internal document. Passed between the project lead and the executives at Origin, it was intended to create the broad vision for an MMO, Privateer Online: what it would do, what it would accomplish, how it would make money.
Here's another entry in our collection of Wing Commander movie script drafts. This version of the second draft is Kevin Droney's personal first attempt at scripting the movie. Droney was brought in to rewrite the film, owing largely to his experience with the Mortal Kombat film.
Wing Commander ships borrow names from ships of all ages and nations. To celebrate the CIC’s 15th Birthday, we take a look at four Wing Commander ships and where their names come from.
HMS / TCS Ark Royal
I'll order Rear Admiral Dayan with Task Force Twenty-one to deploy from Tangier. She's got two battlewagons, the carrier Ark Royal, and some damned good cruiser and frigate commanders. That'll push our assets out there. Hell, if it's a typical Cat fleet, we'll have more than double their strength in battlewagons. If they come in, we'll put a real twist in their tails.
The TCS Ark Royal is referenced in three Wing Commander products. She was part of Admiral Dayan’s Task Force 21 in Action Stations. She appears near the end of Fleet Action as one of the two carriers, the other being the TCS Lexington, brought online to fight in Sol during the Battle of Terra. She’s also one of the carriers found in the CCG where she is home to the Marine fighter squadron, Hell’s Archers. It’s unclear whether it is the same carrier in all three sources, but it is a good possibility.
The five ships to bear the legendary name Ark Royal. The last image shows the last Ark Royal berthed next to USS Nimitz. Ark Royal is on the left.
The original Ark Royal was a ship originally ordered by the famous Englishman, Sir Walter Raleigh in 1586. During construction, the ship was purchased by Queen Elizabeth I and command was given to Lord High Admiral Charles Howard. Ark Royal served as Admiral Howard’s flagship during the campaign against the Spanish Armada in 1588. Her career spanned 50 years and numerous battles before she was lost in 1636 when she hit her own anchor while being moved.
The fame of the original Ark Royal led the Royal Navy to name four other ships in her honor, all of which were aircraft carriers. The first was a merchant ship that was converted to an aircraft carrier during the First World War where it saw service in the Mediterranean during the Gallipoli campaign. The second was a purpose-built carrier commissioned in 1938 when the interwar naval treaties were still in effect. She was first carrier where the hangar and flight decks were an integral part of the hull instead of additions to it. The design limitations of the treaties had produced a number of design flaws that contributed to her loss at the hands of U-81 in November 1941. The third Ark Royal was the first carrier built and commissioned with an angled flight deck and steam catapults. These features drastically improved the pace of flight operations on carriers. The ship was commissioned in 1955 and served the Royal Navy until 1979. Interestingly, this Ark Royal actually spent more time undergoing maintenance and refit, 12 years, then she did in active service, 11 years. The final Ark Royal was light carrier that also served as the flagship of the Royal Navy. Utilizing the “ski-jump ramp” for take-offs instead of steam catapults, this Ark Royal’s air component consisted of the Harrier jump jet and several helicopter models. She saw active combat operations during the Bosnian War and the 2003 American invasion of Iraq.
USS / TCS Bainbridge
She ended up in cruisers—commanding a half-squadron on the Bainbridge as a major.
TCS Bainbridge appears in the novelization of Wing Commander IV. The reference is a passing one in a single sentence, but the name Bainbridge should be well known to anyone who has studied the early history of the United States Navy. Commodore William Bainbridge was one of the early heroes of the US Navy. One of his most famous actions was engaging and destroying the HMS Java off the coast of Brazil in December 1812 while captain of the USS Constitution. For his long and dedicated service to the US Navy five ships have been named in his honor. Admiral Wayne Banbridge, of the Wing Commander novels Action Stations, End Run, and Fleet Action is also nod to the American naval hero.
The five ships to bear the name Bainbridge.
The first was a 12-gun brig commissioned in 1842. She served in a variety of postings, including with the Home, Brazil and African Squadrons. During the American Civil War, the Bainbridge was lost off the infamous Cape Hatteras when she capsized with the loss of all but one of her crew.
The other four USS Bainbridges were all destroyers, although one was later reclassified as a “guided missile cruiser”. The second ship to bear the name was the first destroyer ever commissioned by the US Navy. Commissioned in 1903, the ship was the first in the long line of American “tin cans.” She served from 1903 until 1919, serving on patrol and convoy duties during the First World War. The third ship was a Clemson-class destroyer commissioned in 1921. She served during the Second World War in the Atlantic and received a battle star for her convoy escorting in the summer of 1943. She was decommissioned in 1945. The fourth ship was a nuclear-powered guided missile destroyer commissioned in 1962. Following an extensive refit and modernization in 1975, she was reclassified as a guide missile cruiser. During her service in Vietnam, this Bainbridge received eight battle stars. The latest American ship to be named Bainbridge is a Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer that still serves with the US Fleet today. Commissioned in 2005, this ship is most famous for its part in the April 2009 pirate attack on the MV Maersek Alabama. After failing to secure the vessel, the pirates who had boarded the Alabama took Captain Richard Philips hostage in one of the ship’s lifeboats. US Navy SEALs, who had parachuted onto the scene and boarded the Bainbridge, stationed on the fantail of the ship opened fire on the lifeboat, killing the three pirates, when one of them pointed an AK-47 rifle at Captain Philips.
IJS / TCS Soryu
“The carriers we do have, other than Concordia , were launched before I was even born. They're antiques, held together with spit and duct tape. Even though Soryu is listed as being on-line, the truth is she's nothing more than a floating stockpile for spare parts, which get stripped out to keep the other five like her going. The fleet spends nearly sixty percent of its time docked right upstairs to save on engine time," and as he spoke he pointed up to where the fleet was now docked at Alexandria.
TCS Soryu has a single passing mention in the novel Action Stations. One of the six carriers of the Confederation’s Seventh Fleet, she was docked at space station Alexandria during the 2634 McAuliffe Ambush that began the Terran-Kilrathi War. She was destroyed when the Skyhook and Alexandria were destroyed during the attack.
Soryu before the war, preparing to attack Pearl Harbor and circling to avoid B-17 bombers during Midway.
IJS Soryu should be a name familiar to any student of the Second World War. One of the four carriers that comprised Kido Butai (First Air Fleet) that launched the Raid on Pearl Harbor, bombed Darwin, Australia, raided British positions in the Indian Ocean and ultimately met their demise at the Battle of Midway. Soryu, which means “blue dragon”, was commissioned in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War where her air group first saw action. The first months of the Pacific War witnessed an unbroken string of victories for the Japanese, especially Kido Butai. Success at Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, and the Indian Ocean was broken by the defeat at Midway in June 1942. In was has been called “five glorious minutes” (10:20-10:25 am, 4 June 1942), three of the four carriers of Kido Butai were struck by bombs from American dive bombers. Soryu suffered direct hits from three one-thousand pound bombs that ignited fully armed and fueled aircraft in her two hangar decks. The catastrophic fires generated by the bombs led the ship to be ordered abandoned at 10:45 am. 711 men were lost with the ship, of her normal compliment of 1,103, giving the ship the highest mortality of the carriers lost during the battle. This was a direct result of the hangar fires that engulfed the ship.
Twenty kilometers to starboard he saw CVE-4 Sevastopol and heard the chatter of her pilots on the other carrier's channel. The ship had jumped through five minutes ahead of them and most of their fighter squadron was out.
TCS Sevastopol appears only in the novel End Run during the Invasion of Vukar Tag. Sevastopol’s fighters handle space-based threats while the TCS Tarawa’s fighters handled ground support for the marines landing on Vukar Tag. Following the successful invasion her whereabouts are not mentioned.
Three of the four ships to bear the name Sevastopol.
Four ships of the Imperial Russian Navy have been named after the city itself or famous Siege of Sevastopol (1854-55). The first ship was a 14-gun schooner commissioned in 1815 that was decommissioned in 1833. The second ship was a 32-gun ironclad frigate commissioned in 1865. Her entire career was spent with the Russian Baltic Fleet before her decommissioning in 1885. The third ship to bear the name was a pre-dreadnought Petropavlovsk-class battleship. Commissioned in 1900, the ship saw service during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. She was at Port Arthur when the Japanese launched a surprise attack and took light damage during the engagement. This ship also took part in the Battle of the Yellow Sea where she sustained several shell strikes before returning to Port Arthur. She was scuttled after the Russians surrendered the port to the Japanese where her hulk remains, to this day, just outside the entrance to the port.
Wingnuts can read the rest of the series in the WC vs History Archive.
Every year we like to give away one trivia prize to users who aren't on the live chat during the event. The first person to submit these trivia answers to firstname.lastname@example.org will receive a digital copy of the Wing Commander movie score via iTunes!
- Q1. What 3D card included the OEM version of Wing Commander Prophecy?
- Q2. Name three classes of Kilrathi ships which are named in the Wing Commander movie?
- Q3. What does Wing Commander III for the 3DO have instead of Leech missiles?
- Q4. When was Kevin Droney's first draft of the Wing Commander movie written?
- Q5. How many years have we been running a Wing Commander news site?
As you may recall, we begin every Wing Commander year by asking how long you've been following the site. Are you a new fan, or have you been part of the community since our pre-history as the Wing Commander Home Sector? As we approach two decades in operation, it's gratifying to see how many people are still around… and that Wing Commander can still attract new blood. Hear that, Electronic Arts?
Last month we asked what your favorite room on the carrier was and an overwhelming majority chose the BAR! The Flight Deck was a distant second… and there was no love for the Combat Information Center?! Just more proof that Wing Commander fans are a bunch of drunks!
I hope you have enjoyed all of the material available today. It has been a busy year for lots of reasons, but as the community continues to find time for Wing Commander regardless of the impact of real life so always will I. A genuine thanks to the thousands of Wing Commander fans everywhere who continue to make this the best community in the world. You are the series' legacy, and the friendships you continue and the content you generate makes any effort at running the CIC worthwhile.
WCNews.com could not exist without the best staff in the universe: Chris Reid's fiery dedication, AD's dogged determination, KrisV's technical genius and everything added by the rest of the team. And the group of fans who regularly contribute to the news and the community grows every year. Today we should pay special thanks to Sherlock, NinjaLA, Jetlag, bob and Whistler for making today's event possible.
And a final, perennial thank you to the developers at Origin and elsewhere who made the history we now celebrate. Their passion and kindness over the years has elated all this immensely. On to 2014!