Dad holograms are the rage right now which means it's time to talk about Merlin! There are a lot of takes on Wing Commander but one of the most most unexpected is that it would've been better with a holographic wizard talking you through the plot. And that wizard was… Merlin!
One: the first act opens on Merlin and Blair conversing on the Diligent where he explains the situation (replacement headed to the Tiger Claw on a merchantman).doll they used on set is readily available today! He's a 'Hands Up!' Action Man police toy which would've been new in Europe at the time of filming in 1998. color coded a copy of the shooting script that shows you what was removed and moved around here:
In the movie, the conversation between Blair and Maniac seems to imply that Blair programmed Merlin himself. But the novels establish that Blair's programming genius father created Merlin for him when he was five, just before dying. They also establish that Merlin's appearance is based on a physics professor named Jebiah Omans and that he's particularly special because he has "chips that were manufactured with protein from your father" which as far as I can parse… extremely yuck?
As described in the novels, Merlin is clean shaven with a waist-length gray pony tail. He wears a black tunic and breeches in the novelization, a tan tunic and breeches in Stars and a black silk robe with matching slippers and he smokes meerschaum tobacco pipe in Truth. (The book also says his processor is embedded in Blair's wrist, which seems like a lot to go through for a desktop theme of a wizard.)
Did you ever wonder why the Wing Commander IV shuttle is slightly different from the Wing Commander III shuttle? Of course, we all have!
The reason is... they built a physical shuttle set for Wing Commander IV and adapted the 3D models to match it!
... but then they remove the forward struts for certain shots! It’s especially noticeable in the intro once you’ve seen it.
The shuttle only appears in cutscenes in WC3 but there is a 3D model (complete with damage states) stored in the game assets [pictured below]. Wing Commander III has a lot of cut models!
There are two more shuttle meshes in Wing Commander IV. The camo version is used for the Tyr and Masa boarding missions and the Border Worlds version is what Eisen leaves the Intrepid on a little later. WC4 did a LOT of cool subtle variant texture sets!Twitter:
MeatballNonner: Hey I gotta ask, the BWM bomber (Avenger?) in WC4 looks like an up-armed shuttle. Was that the design intent?
LOAF: Good question! The lore is that it is a former shuttle but that’s actually a retcon, the design brief for WC4 was just to design a clunkier counterpart to the Longbow.
metoxos_: Lonbow design also came from a shuttle made by McCall Industries, right? McCall was someone from the development team ("Primate" is named Dean McCall, right?) or just a made up name?
LOAF: That’s another retcon because it shows up on Wing Commander Academy as a search and rescue ship. It was built originally with a bomber in mind. Dean McCall was the artist who built the ship for WC3. Primate was J. Allen in Wing Commander IV, named after the J. Allen Brack who is now running Blizzard! (or: he's Tony Salvaggio in the Playstation version, which changes many of the redshirt names.)
Also, for those who hunt unicorns, here it is from last night... the Kilrathi mine drop!!
I have a shot from an early test but it pre-dates the cockpits. The SDKs change relatively frequently (and now it ideally wants depth data too for re-projection) so I'll probably only come back to it around launch time.It's not really news per se, but it's been fun to see the WC4 Fan Remake project take off recently in the German space sim sphere. It's not a surprise, since the game was always very popular in Germany. Here it is popping up in a recent gaming news recap at GameStar.de.
The gist of Chpter 3: TCN is producing a historical documentary program. A presswoman and a intern Firekkan cameraman interviewed a retired Kat pilot, Haga Kaligara...
As for the character, I would design him like this: Rarely does a young Firekkan, who has left home, come to TCN as a trainee cameraman. His race talent allows him to be more flexible for many filming assignments. By completing this documentary work on Pasqual with other staff members, he would be able to turn into a full member soon. But after actually coming to Pasqual, he was still scared.
Port Hedland and Hubble's Star are done. (Saved both Drayman (Draymen?)... eventually.) The missions themselves are nothing new to anyone here most likely, but the peculiar humour and freakish intros are, like this one:
This particular stream is by the Japanese Youtube channel retronome. Japan is the only country to get an alternate language translation of the game, so this provides a neat glimpse at this port of a port. The main cutscene/briefing speech is still in English, but Japanese subtitles are included throughout. Small bits of spoken Japanese are included for the game flow narration. One final neat fact about the Japanese SWC is that there was also a neat promotion that resulted in some official Japanese SWC stickers. That's Paladin with the eye patch there!
I was organizing some things into a new cabinet recently and thought you might like to take a peek!
If anyone fancies a moment of pure nostalgia, in the run up to this party, I also re-created the original WC4 Cinematic Trailer with footage from the V5.0 remaster. So again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY WING COMMANDER CIC and HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY WING COMMANDER FRANCHISE! Here's to many more decades of fun times with this vibrant community :D
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Wing Commander we invited the developers of the Wing Commander IV - Remake Project. We had a nice little chat about their project, the franchise, Star Citizen and Star Trek. The project is a fan attempt to allow owners of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom to enjoy a more modern experience by loading the files from the original game into a new engine, complete with specially created, high definition assets.
I was a big fan in the 90s. Discs with Wing Commander were not sold at all. With great difficulty I was able to buy this pirate disc. But considering the Wing Commander legacy, I was eventually able to buy the official box.
Because people on the CIC forums kept asking, I did an experiment remastering Steve Hilliker's footage from his Beta SP Master Tapes.
While it has an undeniably better frame rate (I don't need to interpolate up from 12fps) and colour depth, this really highlights my concerns about attempting to remaster footage from analogue sources. Sources like VHS/Beta tapes soften the edges around objects, and the AI routines maintain that softness during upscale - so we lose a lot of image definition.
Ideally, it's best to work from a source that was digitally captured or scanned directly from film.
The planets aligned and I was able to get Wing Commander running on my Tandy 2500 SX / 25 Hard Drive model computer - a 25mhz 386 running DOS 6.2 with Sound Blaster audio. RadioShack pro tip - add EMM3686 to your config.sys file!He's got an in-depth review of the machine here that's also a fun watch! My first computer was a 1987 era Tandy 1000 that ran at about 4.77 MHz, so I find this fascinating.
Hi Everyone, I have edited some special Kilrathi Saga art. Hope you like them.
Video is kind of a retrospective. They approach it from the angle that WC isn't that well remembered, which I don't agree with though I do feel that it could be slipping out of people's consciousness in later generations.
It starts off briefly mentioning a few other games like Mass Effect, X-Wing and No Man's Sky before saying that the video is going to talk about Wing Commander 3. They briefly point out some of the Chris Roberts influences in making the series and the basic setup of the story. They run throught the cast (Ginger's porn thing gets a mention) and the budget gets brought up. Gameplay gets discussed for a bit and they compare the PC version to the console version. WC4 gets a bit of a mention, and they talk about how the games were pushing the technological boundaries. The extented universe gets some time near the end with the CCG, Novels, Movie and Animated Series getting a nod. I wouldn't say it's necessarily in depth, but it's a nice overview of WC3 from guys that sound like fans. They use a lot of footage from the making-of video throughout too which is kind of nice.
One of our primary aims with this remaster is to create a version of the gameplay which matches the FMV as closely as possible. This means creating new models based on the FMV. That said it is fairly standard practice for these kinds of projects to offer a classic mode where you can play the game unaltered.
Likewise when the remaster is eventually released you will be able to switch between Defiance Industries' beautiful models and the originals (which are still impressively highly detailed given their age) with a single button press. This of course applies to room images as well as models.
Super cool to see the original artwork for this!
The terrible punch line also kind of happens on Wing Commander Academy.
- You can identify five distinct ships from Wing Commander I in the strip: Rapier, Hornet, Bengal, Dralthi and Krant.
- With two drawings of Kilrathi this comic strip technicality has more art of them than the actual SNES port (where they only show up on the VDU).
Well, for some reason I promised to look into remastering the Privateer 2 in-game FMV during the CIC Birthday party (I'm sure excessive amounts of beer had nothing to do with it) - and boy, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
This one's going to be... challenging.
I've once again used DAIN to increase the frame rate and Topaz Video Enhance AI to upscale the video to 1080p. However, there's no DVD source material like there was for Wing Commander IV and Wing Commander Prophecy - and the footage ripped from the PC CD-ROM version of the game doesn't play as nicely as the footage from Wing Commander III on the Playstation.And on to experiment number two, which I do think looks quite decent:
While this comparison shows a definite improvement over the source footage, it doesn't exactly look good. I'm going to have to do extensive experimentation and refining of my processes.
If anyone out there in the community has better quality source footage, I'd love to get my hands on it. Sadly, the VHS rips in the CIC Holovids don't help matters much. The problem with upscaling from analogue sources is they're too fuzzy - you end up with something that doesn't look any better than just using a standard non-AI BiCubic upscale.
As I say, this one's going to be a challenge...
Well, I switched to a different AI model in Topaz Video Enhance AI:
While it has gleaned some minor improvements, I still don't think it looks that great. The major hurdle here is that the source video is actually even lower quality than WC3 PSX: only 130p at 12fps. Until there's a major improvement in the technology or someone manages to rustle up some higher quality footage, I think this is as good as it's going to get. So, I thought I'd open this up to the community:
What do you guys think? Is it worth forging forward with a full pack at this quality, or should I wait until it's possible to do a better job? Personally I'm leaning towards the latter, but I'll move ahead if there's enough interest.
This year, inspired by the recent efforts to bring the later WC titles into 4K, I'd like to present a small teaser for things to come. :)
wcdx version 2.2 is here! After years of empty promises and unmet expectations, I can finally present to you the next official release of wcdx!We have mirrored the package here (900 k zip).
What's that, you say? Version 2.2? But what ever happened to 2.0 and 2.1? Last anybody knew, there was just an alpha that kinda-sorta worked for WC2! What gives?
For those who haven't been keeping up (and with my terrible release cadence, I don't blame you): wcdx is a patch for the Kilrathi Saga versions of Wing Commander 1 and 2. The Kilrathi Saga was released for Windows 95 way back in 1996, comprising Wing Commander 1, 2, and 3, along with the Secret Missions and Special Operations add-on packs (each available as separate download). These versions contained some nifty enhancements over the original DOS versions, such as invisible cockpits (Wing Commander 4 style!), a frame limiter to keep the frame rate nice and steady (don't fly without it!), and perhaps best of all, a pre-rendered enhanced digital score based on the original MIDI soundtrack, courtesy of George Oldziey! Unfortunately, it also came with a lot of brand new bugs, including (perhaps most infamously) that planets and other space backdrops would no longer render, and one particularly short piece of victory fanfare music would just loop forever if it ever played. There were also numerous Windows compatibility issues that would not become apparent until several years later. wcdx fixes many of these issues, making the games enjoyable again on a modern machine with a steady, reliable frame rate and without the need to fiddle with DOSBox configurations.
drop on by the forums for instructions on how to download it and get it running! If you don't have the Kilrathi Saga, you can still download the PC Gamer coverdisk release along with the Secret Missions add-on to get started! If you want to play Wing Commander 2 with wcdx, and don't have a copy of The Kilrathi Saga, then I'm afraid I can't help you there; KS is not presently available for purchase from EA or any other official venue, though you may be able to find copies for sale on the secondhand market.
Lastly, this release of wcdx has some additional bonus goodies -- tools that you can use to examine the game's data files, and listen to the soundtrack! Read all about it here!
Flight Commander 2 is in the works. It's still very early, but here is the first demo. You can walk around on foot on your carrier. Fire guns, missiles, and fly a simple mission and see briefings and a landing cutscene. Press enter to perform an action while on foot.
The upcoming Wing Commander IV - The Price of Freedom: Remastered mod is a fan preservation project; it was created for experimentation, education & research, is completely nonprofit, and should be considered fair use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. To install this mod you must own an original, unaltered, retail-release of the game. Please, respect the rights of the copyright holders and purchase a copy of the original product if you do not own one already.
Here's a treat you've never seen before! This is the trailer that was created to test Digital Anvil's ability to produce a Wing Commander Movie. It was quietly shown at the 1998 SXSW in Austin, Texas. Thanks to Banjo, now you can see it too!
In order to raise interest in a Wing Commander feature film among prospective partners and raise money for production by selling future distribution rights, Digital Anvil produced a short one minute trailer featuring an action scene.
Astute fans will notice that, while the Kilrathi capital ship is visually very similar to the Concom seen in the final movie, the space fighters are more detailed versions of ships in the games themselves. The human pilots are flying WC1 and 2 style Rapiers, and the Kilrathi appear to be piloting Vaktoths (previously seen in WC3). Shot in 1997 not too long after WC4 shipped, the cockpit sets and costumes are left over from the game's FMV shoot as well.
Overall, the short action sequence is very reminiscent to the scene in the theatrical cut of Wing Commander where Blair and Angel fly a reconnaissance mission shortly after the Tiger Claw makes a jump to the Ulysses Corridor.
To celebrate Wing Commander CIC's birthday and the thirtieth anniversary of the Wing Commander franchise, I'm proud to release Wing Commander III HD Video Pack V2.0.
As well as improving remaster quality over V1.0, V2.0 contains the following improvements:
- All FMV footage remastered to 1080p Full HD using Machine Learning AI
- Original low frame-rate of 15fps remastered to full 30fps using Machine Learning AI
- Improved contrast balance in all footage
To celebrate Wing Commander CIC's birthday and the thirtieth anniversary of the Wing Commander franchise, I'm proud to release Wing Commander IV HD Video Pack V5.0 - the Definitive Edition!
As well as containing the highest quality remaster I've yet managed to produce, V5.0 contains the following improvements that make it the Definitive Edition:
- All FMV footage remastered to 1080p Full HD using Machine Learning AI
- Low frame rate sequences remastered to full 30fps using Machine Learning AI
- Aspect ratio of all footage fixed to standard 16:9
- Missing audio from various DVD-version sequences restored (in full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound where possible)
- French and German packs available (Stereo audio only)
- Custom batch file launchers for French and German packs included - translate the in-game User Interface
To celebrate Wing Commander CIC's birthday and the thirtieth anniversary of the Wing Commander franchise, I'm proud to release Wing Commander Prophecy HD Video Pack V4.0!
As well as containing the highest quality remaster I've yet managed to produce, V4.0 contains the following improvements that make it the Definitive Edition:
- All FMV footage remastered to 1080p Full HD using Machine Learning AI
- Frame rate standardised in filmed sequences
- Various scenes missing from the DVD pack have been restored and remastered from the original CD-ROM source
- Heavy DVD interlacing removed from all footage
- DVD MPEG compression artifacts removed to improve clarity
- German pack also available (Stereo audio only)
I've always wanted to hear a more realistic rendition of the main theme, but I couldn't find anything similar to what I had in mind -- which I guess was something in between Superman and Star Wars. 30 years later, I finally got around to making it myself.
My goal was to retain as much of the original MIDI as possible and match the overall voice, while expanding the instrumentation and textures to add variety, giving each section a different feel. Based on the Roland MT-32 MIDI tracks by Dave Govett / Team Fat.
It wouldn't be a CIC Birthday Party without cake, so here it is! This year Lacey made two mini cakes to commemorate the dual celebration of the CIC's 22nd and Wing Commander's 30th anniversaries!
It's time for our annual birthday poll! With the coronavirus keeping people away from outdoor activities, we've seen a few more folks than normal find their way to the CIC this year. Welcome! We know most of you have been coming year after year, and we appreciate your support as well! See where you fit in and vote below!
The old poll asked about the ship you felt the safest flying. The broadsword was the clear winner with a third of the vote. The Devastator and Longbow split the next third. All three are absolute powerhouses that can really take a beating! I'm surprised to see the Freij MK II beat the Galaxy though!
And that's what we have for tonight! While we're still digesting all of the wonderful things everyone put together for today, there's also so much to look forward to on the horizon. Since this is technically a birthday type of event, I've also got a birth of my own to share. We welcomed Georgianna Belle Reid to the family recently. Everyone is healthy and we are having a blast!
We show off a lot of Wing Commander-themed mail calls and loot hauls here at the CIC, but this one's extra special! After more than 21 years, LOAF's managed to track down an original 35 mm reel of the Wing Commander Movie. It seems to be in good shape and comes with the associated optical sound track. What a find!
HERE IT IS! I am now the very proud father of a 35mm theatrical print of the Wing Commander movie. I never dreamed I’d get a chance to own one! I’d love to play it at least once, maybe rent out a theater and hold a big Wing Commander party when the pandemic is over! I’m also interested in looking into having it scanned.And now, back to preparations for the CIC Birthday Party. See you tomorrow!
Leah looks every inch the Princess in a stunning stellar sweater from Vulcan Vinyl (£89). Radium Facegloss (Qurie Labs, £2.50 a gobbet) and Skintight Spaceflight Nitetights (Tinpins, £32).
The inspiration: Origin's Wing Commander III, a star-studded saga that combines Hollywood movie-making expertise with an adrenaline-packed space combat simulation, featuring the talents of Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies and Tom Wilson as 'Maniac'.
Hair by Maurice.
All Star One-Four – Christopher Blair from "Wing Commander"
He is fresh out of flight training but clearly has some natural ability. Like Skywalker, he is best suited as a wingman for now, but has the ability to rise through the ranks.
Fellow wingnuts: I once again wanted to thank those who could make it to the playthrough last week. I will be continuing the playthrough on Twitch (Tuesdays, 8pm - 12am Eastern). However, since we did finish the winning track, I did want to share a highlight showing both tries at Kurse-a-sawa 2. I look forward to seeing everyone soon!
As a reminder, we'll be holding our own annual online event, the CIC Birthday Party, this Saturday afternoon! Join us in #Wingnut on Discord by 7:00 pm EDT (4:00 pm PDT and 11:00 pm GMT) for the countdown!
Anyway... I think, well, machine learning can certainly do some amazing things, but then again, it can also be used for "silly" and interesting experiments, like this one.
Setting up a standard test environment can be pretty complex. Fortunately, a project called yanderify does the integration for us, so it's just a matter of downloading some files and putting them in the right place. If you have a decent NVIDIA graphics card, the process will be much faster.
First up... Crown Prince Thrakhath's version...
I have to say, I think it's Farmer Zeke singing in deep... I actually did some processing on the original screenshot to make his mouth move a bit more naturally.
Secondly, how could Maniac be absent from such a thing...
Hello cool backers! All rewards are shipped! Let us know how you are enjoying them! I am working on my new project which is pop culture paintings!
There is a nice bit about Mark Hamill, with reference to his role in Wing Commander. And a brief reference for Harrison Ford: “After Star Wars, Ford found difficulty finding acting work and sorta faded into obscurity." LMAO
Heavens knows what these were doing in a disk box. Some old pin badges from 3DFX and Origin Systems.