A Discord discussion a few weeks ago resulted in EmuMusicFan drawing a Simpsons version of Prince Thrakhath and I have to share it because it's just great.
A Discord discussion a few weeks ago resulted in EmuMusicFan drawing a Simpsons version of Prince Thrakhath and I have to share it because it's just great.
Alright it's 1 AM and there's no action on Twitter so you're pretty much stuck with this post about the news mechanic that was from Wing Commander III. That's right, I've got... BARBARA MILES TO GO BEFORE I SLEEP!sixteen that were shot for the game! Here's an example: These videos were supposed to be accessible by the 'screen' next to the bar in the Victory's rec room (just to the right of the escort ship's drive plume). Like the midgames in the original Wing Commander, the stories would differ depending on your performance.
The short story is that late in development the number crunchers decided that WC3 needed to unofficially support first generation CD-ROM drives. These drives could only read 63-minute CDs instead of the now-standard (and I guess defunct) 74-minute ones. So a fair amount of intended material needed to be cut late in development, which included the infamous Hobbes explanation and these videos... since the entire newsbrief system could be dropped without really touching other parts of the game.next clip) Even here, though, you can see some of that Chris Roberts attention to detail. Barbara Niven gets three different costumes in a game that dresses all the leads up in hot glued garbage man outfits! Here's the draft if you love colorful sheets.
Origin's Official Guide to WC3 prints a bunch of the 'cut' scenes between missions and I used that for reference as part of the process (it also has the text of the Hobbes message).
Hello. I switched out some parts on the Hornet and Scimitar. After looking closer at the blueprints I noticed the slanted “hood” of the back fuselage on the Hornet and going back and looking at the Scimitar I saw how far up front the canopy and cockpit should be. Moving the pilot up was a no-go so some new bricks, a new canopy which resulted in some ground up reconstruction and some dark green to add to the dark gray.
I want to rework that Avenger a bit too. Don’t worry, I have at least two models I’m working on. Need to get back to one and a few more parts for the other. Please enjoy.
The image comes from GOG's EA sale, which is still going for a couple more days! Grab the WC series for 75% off here.
There’s a new Comcast commercial where it really seems like Ed Helms is flying a Tarsus.Side profile of the ship:
In this file we stay in the ambience of the flight deck of the TCS Tigers Claw. Intended for radio plays or playing in the background while working or falling asleep. Where you want to let your imagination run wild.
Show time. Time to start. Quickly onto the flight deck. The pilots are ready. The mission begins. And everyday life for the technicians on deck. After the pilots have started, the daily routine continues. Repair, prime and prepare the other fighters. Attention, another flight returns. Clear the deck...
Congratulations to Electronic Arts' 40th anniversary! 🥳— GOG.COM (@GOGcom) May 23, 2022
We celebrate the long-standing publisher with a special sale 🎊
Save 75% on great classics 👉 https://t.co/lFK2bTQgVs | #GOGsale pic.twitter.com/EOzAWBUssY
Bitmap Books is proud to present The Unofficial SNES Pixel Book. Created in collaboration with German publisher Elektrospieler this lavish, 272-page volume celebrates the golden age of 16-bit gaming on Nintendo’s ultra-popular home console.
The book, which has been painstakingly translated from the original German text, features in-depth articles exploring the major genres to be found in the SNES’s huge portfolio of games. These are accompanied by tens of thousands of screenshots, specially taken, composed and selected for this volume, comprising a combination of single images, cut-outs, sprawling montages and gigantic level maps.
"New attack ships and weaponry are included with a new flight interface that makes it easier for novices" is some very heavy lifting. The attack ships are NPC capital ships, there's no new weaponry for the player and the new interface is just a mode lowering the damage NPCs take.
And if you like the look of that Secret Missions ad, be sure to follow @70sscifi’s ongoing yearlong thread of space helmet reflection art:
Seeing this has reminded me of a film. It is a film from 1994 called Children Of The Dark. The story revolves around two girls who have a genetic condition that means exposure to the sun is fatal for them. They are forced to leave their town, but during their travels they can be seen playing on an arcade machine. Check out what they are playing!
Since I feel the need to print all the coolest models from the community, here's how DI's Banshee and Lance look like, with minimal work done to make them printer-compatible. Thanks again, mate, for all the help you offered during these years working together!
Do you crave around-the-clock realtime Wing Commander chat? Sign up for the official WC:CIC Discord server where you’re welcome to join our chill squadron of wingmates!
In this file we stay in the ambiance of the TCS Tigers Claw Briefing Room. Intended for radio plays or play in the background while working or falling asleep or even barbecue party. Where you want to let your imagination run wild.
Time to work Early in the morning and off to the briefing room. The Colonel is already waiting. Sit down quickly. The computer is operated and we see star charts and detailed enlargements of the targets. Uh really now...? The comrades are already whispering whether this isn't going to be too heavy.
I like to occasionally highlight videos like this from other languages to share what WC appreciation is like around the world, but I've never personally run across one in Filipino Tagalog before. Even more, this one is narrated in a hybrid of both English and Tagalog so that speakers of either should be able to easily follow along. I would struggle to make this in just one language, so it's very impressive to see something like this presented bilingually!
I unbox my old copy of Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger. And I talk about other Wing Commander games.
So we all know the story of the little fuel truck that was cut from the Oxford landing screen in Privateer…
Here's an unusual oddity. AD found an emulation cabinet that purports to play the Sega CD version of Wing Commander. Upon further investigation, it's not really clear if Wing Commander is actually included. Due to the dubious legality of these types of setups, the mix of games is always a little questionable. Nevertheless, the visual of WC in an arcade type box is pretty cool. The variable title header that displays the Wing Commander name is also a wonderful touch!here. At $1400, it may be cheaper (and more legit) to build you own! AD looked up the base cabinet hardware here and digital display upgrade here.
In this file we enjoy the ambiance of the TCS Tiger's Claw bunkroom.
A long flight? Rest yourselves. It's not a five-star hotel. A water pipe has been dripping for ages, and announcements from the bridge can still be heard in the corridors. Don't be disturbed that a comrade has just come out of the bar and is now going to bed. After all, you are on a carrier ship that has seen its best days and has no single berths. Enjoy your sleep.
Still some issues getting the Rapier to work in the slicer, but in the meantime, here's a print of Klavs' gorgeous Morningstar (although nowhere even close from LYP's print of it), with a Switch for scale.
Okay let's come up with a listicle for Mother's Day: moms in Wing Commander. Who do we have?
- Devi Sousing, Blair's mom who we see on Academy
- Elizabeth Norwood, Shadow from WC2
- Graham's Mom, who presumably packaged up Mr. Kat for the Lexington's Commander in Armada
- Graknala nar Kiranka, the Dowager Empress from Vukar Tag
- Kree'kai, Firekkan mother of Rikik
- Kylie Sarah Casey, Lance Casey's mother
- M’rathka, mate of Mar’buk, also from Voices of War
- Mingxing Chen, Bossman's wife and mother of their daughter born in March 2654
- Mrs. Rodriguez, recipient of Jason's notification letter in End Run
- Patricia Drake, the CAG from Prophecy
- Pris Santyana, from the novelization epilogue and Pilgrim Stars
- Rhonda Jamison, Foreign minister from Fleet Action
- Saranya Carr, star of Luna Jones and mother of Morgana Carr from Star*Soldier's No Mercy advert
Today we've updated our front page poll to ask what kind of Wing Commander stories people like. A lot of common themes emerge from the main games, books, movie and TV show, and we've simplified them into six categories. "Covert missions" are like the expansion Secret Missions/Special Operations or portions of End Run/Fleet Action. "Epics" are life-or-death struggles for the fate of all civilization in games like WC3/4 or Fleet Action. Even Armada qualifies. Other games like WC1/2 could be described as "grinds" where you see some of the dog days of the war. At multiple points we get to explore the "mysterious threat" like the Nephilim or Steltek. "Rookies" are stories like the WC Movie or Academy TV show (or even games like WC1 or Prophecy) that show under-experienced pilots learning the ropes. Finally, there are special personal adventures. Very different types of things fit here from the Freedom Flight novel to Privateer 2. Pick your selection below!Xilerks, who almost got beat by the repair power-up from WC Arena...
In this file we stay in the ambience of bartender Shotglass on board the TCS Tiger's Claw. Talk to other pilots, fly a lap in the simulator. What's the news today? Maybe a little snack? And how does the flight list look today? Rest because the next mission is coming soon
Two days ago, ETPC reported some interesting news to the WCCIC Discord: prolific retro tech tweeter Foone had successfully lobbied to open source BRender, a licensed 3D game engine used in the making of many titles including Privateer 2: The Darkening.
So I have some really cool news:— foone (@Foone) May 3, 2022
I just got approval from Jez San, former CEO of Argonaut Games, to open source the BRender engine.
That's the engine used in Microsoft 3D Movie Maker, Argonaut's own Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, and the first two Carmageddon games. pic.twitter.com/3aKiuZkK5b
What exactly is BRender? In the late 1990s, game developers began increasingly to license third party technologies to streamline their increasingly complex work. Instead of spending time developing a unique 3D engine, developers could purchase an 'off the shelf' solution that gave them a head start by providing common needed features and support out of the box. The Privateer 2 team licensed Argonaut's BRender and toolkit and continued development from there, unlike earlier Wing Commander games which either premiered new engines or updated others developed in-house at Origin. BRender was used in many high profile games of the era including Carmageddon and I-War. Here's a review of Privateer 2 from the March 1997 issue of Boot magazine which includes a sidebar all about Brender:
The power behind Privateer 2
The 3D muscle behind Privateer 2 lies with a highly customized and optimized version of Argonaut’s Blazing Renderer (BRender) Power Rendering System. BRender provides game developers with 32-bit hand-optimized assembler code, and a host of developer-definable options that rival anything Microsoft promises with Direct3D— BRender’s ready to meet the challenge of real-time, software-based 3D polygon rendering.
Eighty-six thousand texture-mapped, perspec-tive-corrected, smoothly lit polygons per second; and up to 122,000 lit, flat-shaded polygons per second are among the published BRender specs; while 16-bit Z-buffers, hidden-surface removal, and fully-programmable colored light sourcing are among its other talents.
In this day of 3D accelerators, BRender may seem a bit dated, but fear not— the latest version (vl.2.1) supports hardware-accelerated BRender solutions and all the hot technologies (bilinear filtering, mip mapping, 16-bit color depths). Currently, the only consumer chipsets supported by BRender is S3’s ViRGE, and Yamaha’s RGV2. MMX support is forthcoming with newer drivers, so BRender will still live on after the MMX bomb drops.
If you expect to pick up Argonaut’s latest BRender tools and make the next kick-ass space sim, you’d better be ready to sweat, as Origin burnt many a candle customizing and optimizing the basic BRender engine to render those inter-galactic objects in The Darkening.
For more info: www.argonaut.com
If you look closely at the back of a Privateer 2 box you'll find the BRender logo in the bottom corner!
The version made available was 1.3.2 from November 18, 1998, sometime after Privateer 2's development. We reached out to Privateer 2 programmer Paul Hughes to find out if he knew how similar this version might be to the one used to create Privateer 2. He surprised everyone by not only remembering but revealing that he had an archived copy he could provide for release! He also noted that "IIRC it was completely standalone - we used it as a black box, just making a couple of bug fixes / tweaks specific to P2". True to his word, the version of BRender used in Privateer 2, 1.1.2 from September 1995, was released the next day:
OKAY, it's time for BRender source release #3! This is a much earlier version, dating back to September 1995, and targeting MS-DOS. This version was used in the game Privateer 2. https://t.co/Dpra0IAe6S— foone (@Foone) May 5, 2022
This should be pretty exciting for anyone interested in learning some of how Privateer 2 works under the hood (and for game development historians in general). You can follow foone's entire, ongoing BRender thread here, which has already collected and released several other versions of BRender. We look forward to learning more!
There have been lots of tweaks under the hood lately. By recoding and enhancing the project’s debugging tools, significant memory overload issues have been mitigated and the mod is more stable than ever. There are just a couple star systems left to go before the main campaign audio is linked up. Although this is very exciting, there are still secondary items with things like comms and the script font that need to be worked through.
It’s possible that we could see a preliminary release in the next few months, which would be quite a treat! You can find a more detailed breakdown of the latest info here. Stay tuned for more updates as they come.
More stable that ever! - With all the changes it now works very well and in my testing has not had any real issues with not linking to WC1 or anything like that.
Progress - I am half way through Venice and only Hell's Kitchen remains!!!!!!!
Com's - For enemy and confed ships they all use the same dialog but have different names. (Franthi, Ranthi, Tigers Claw, Transport etc...) I have tested a way to delete the Names off the com and just read the line itself but have yet to implement it. Plus the com's have a lot of audio editing to do so I'm going to hold off until Phase 2 for those.
Testing - I have stopped testing as much as it is getting hard to try and play the missions to get every line of dialog to test for every contingency, especially now that I'm in the endgame. Plan to just push through and update accordingly as people report issues.
Have you ever seen one of these?
I think there were only a few of these custom made for the team, but I don't have confirmation yet.
The price is insane, but it's to raise funds for our anti-human trafficking nonprofit. We start high and drop down. The opposite of an auction, but the price usually gets to the right place! And people can make offers! :)
After the Intrepid captures Admiral Tolwyn in Wing Commander IV's Peleus series, Blair tells him that he hasn't defected because the Union of Border Worlds isn't officially at war with the Confederation. Tolwyn replies: "We weren’t ‘officially’ at war with the Kilrathi either, but there were two sides. And defection was the only possible movement between them." But… is that true? Let's look at all the references to how the Terran-Kilrathi Wars were 'officially' declared.
What is a Declaration of War?
A declaration of war is a formal statement from the government of a nation that a state of war exists between it and another party. Depending on the government, declarations of war typically give a leadership greater emergency powers, especially dealing with how they are allowed to use their military forces. In the United States, declarations of war must be approved by Congress in order to grant the President such powers. There have been very few formal declarations of war since World War II, largely a result of changes in the legalities of war.
The process by which the Terran Confederation Senate votes on a declaration of war was seen in some detail in Wing Commander IV, where whether or not they choose to declare war on the newly-formed Union of Border Worlds is a major part of the game's story. The novel Fleet Action also shows some of the limitations of not having a state of war declared: during the 'false peace' period in the novel the Confederation is unable to legally launch any offensive operations, preventing them from striking the inbound Kilrathi fleet before it reaches Confederation space.
Wing Commander (1990)
Claw Marks is the first source to mention that the Confederation declared war on the Kilrathi. The short timeline breakouts explain that war was formally declared by the Terran Conferation on the Empire of Kilrah on July 5, 2634. It's interesting to note that the declaration of war precedes the Kilrathi attack on McAuliffe by about two months; the Confederation has declared war because of ongoing piracy rather than a Pearl Harbor style attack.
On 2634.186, war is formally declared by the Terran Confederation on the Empire of Kilrah for countless acts of piracy and unwarranted assault.
A nearly identical entry is included in the timeline in Wing Commander Armada's Voices of War (1994).
On 2634.186, the Terran Confederation officially declares war on the Empire of Kilrah for committing countless acts of piracy and unwarranted assault.
Wing Commander III (1994)
Wing Commander III's Victory Streak manual continues the story introduced in Claw Marks and adds a fair amount of detail about the attacks that led to the July 5, 2634 declaration of war including the specific attack that finally moved the Confederation to act, the destruction of the Anna Magdelena. It also mentions some of the diplomacy that preceded the war, including failed attempts to meet with the Kilrathi government.
The Terran Confederation receives numerous reports of unwarranted assault, space piracy, kidnapping and interplanetary plundering, all taking place at an increasingly expanding distance from the planet Kilrah. Frequent attempts to meet with Kilrathi High Command are rejected without explanation. In retaliation, the Terran Confederation Congress votes unanimously to enforce a strict nonaggression policy by the Kilrathi. The leaders of Kilrah are warned that their next transgression could lead to military reprisals.
The Anna Magdelena, a refitted transport ship ferrying orphans to their new homes on Dieno, is openly attacked by a pair of Kilrathi fighters. No one survives. In retaliation for this and the five-year string of equally heinous abuses of all known laws of civility, the Terran Confederation officially declares war on the Empire of Kilrah.
Wing Commander Prophecy (1997)
Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander Prophecy offers a similar take on the beginning of the war, although it adds some small details about the lack of diplomacy between the Confederation and the Kilrathi leading up to the war.
The Kilrathi were first encountered by the Terran Confederation scout ship Iason in 2629. About 20 minutes after first contact, and without previous communication, a Kilrathi ship destroyed the Iason. For the next four years the Kilrathi refused -- violently -- all offers of trade (other than the occasional ransom) or diplomacy, while steadily expanding their piratical operations into Confed Space. In 2634, after the unprovoked destruction of an unarmed transport filled with children, Confed formally declared war on Kilrah.
Wing Commander Action Stations (1998)
The novel Action Stations, which tells the story of the first days of the war, includes a news release announcing that war has been declared. The Action Stations story follows the original Claw Marks timeline exactly but in order to make the McAuliffe Ambush, which is the centerpiece of the novel, more equivalent to Pearl Harbor, Dr. Forstchen significantly downplays the initial declaration of war as a limited action targeting only those responsible for piracy in frontier sectors. We are also told when the announcement was made, at 6 PM GMT.
CONFEDERATION NEWS NETWORK
DATELINE: OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OF THE CONFEDERATION
This evening at 6:00 p.m., GMT Earth, the President announced that a state of war now exists between the Confederation and the Kilrathi Empire. Elements of Task Force Twenty-three have crossed into Kilrathi territory in the Facin Sector on a punitive expedition against supposed centers from which Kilrathi raids had been launched into Confederation territory.
When asked about the scope of the war the President declared that the war is limited in scope and that it is not the intention of the Confederation to seek what he called "a battle of annihilation which can only serve to destroy both sides." When asked to clarify this point, the President stated that it is believed that the attacks along our border were not necessarily actions directed by the Emperor but rather might very well be the activities of rival clan or family leaders seeking to provoke a general war. Our actions, therefore, will be directed solely against those sectors from which verified attacks have previously been launched. Due to the limited nature of this conflict the President made it clear that he does not wish to bring about a general war and has conveyed such sentiments to the Emperor in an open message on a frequency known to be monitored by the Kilrathi. He closed by declaring that the war can be ended at any time when the Kilrathi make a clear effort to bring these provocative factions under control.
Wing Commander (1999)
The opening credits to the Wing Commander movie tell the story of the series' future from the 1960s to the start of the movie in 2654 through a series of stills and audio clips. One of these clips seems to be a news story adapting the original war declaration story: the Confederation is attempting to end Kilrathi attacks diplomatically but ultimately announces the declaration of war instead. The only thing that stands out is that it specifies the war begins at 6 AM instead of the 6 PM stated in Action Stations, though this is easily either a different time zone (New Zealand if it's on Earth!) or a case of the war having formally started at 6 AM but not having been announced by the president until after Task Force 23 began their maneuvers in the Facin Sector.
With escalating tension in the Vega sector... the whole Confederation is on a knife edge. Will these unprovoked attacks continue? Will the diplomatic probes be successful? We can only hope...
I regret to report... that all diplomatic avenues with the Kilrathi... have been exhausted. It is now clear they have no interest... in coexisting with us or any other race. It is my sad duty to inform you... that as of Six A.M. this morning... we are formally at war with the Kilrathi. God help us all.
Wing Commander Confederation Handbook (1999)
Things become somewhat more confused in the media associated with the movie. The Wing Commander Confederation Handbook includes an excerpt from an in-universe encyclopedia on the history of the Terran-Kilrathi War which claims two other dates for the start of the war: January 7, 2639, following attacks on two human colonies, and January 9, 2641 in the introduction. Which might make you say… huh?! First of all, it's extremely likely the fact that there are two dates is simply a copyediting mistake that missed that the two dates on different pages needed to be the same. But in either event, that's one or two declarations of war that are half a decade or more removed from what was already established.
On the surface, that is because the Confederation Handbook decided to shift the Kilrathi conflict several years to make room for the Pilgrim War in the early 2630s. Many have wondered why this 'change' was made to Wing Commander's well-established history when nothing in the movie itself seems to necessitate such a reset. The answer has to do with when the Confederation Handbook went to press. One major element of Wing Commander's post production were the introductory credits, which Chris Roberts wanted to use to set the scene, explaining the background of the Confederation, Pilgrims and Kilrathi. But developing that idea took quite a while, with attempts that ranged from a Star Wars style opening crawl, a monologue from Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Blair introducing the setting and then ultimately the more subtle collection of quotes and sketches played over a map of the galaxy that appeared in the final film. Development of the credits was still continuing when HarperEntertainment needed the book to be finalized and printed (some months before the release of the movie). At the time, the plan was for the movie to begin with this introduction read by Blair:
The Pilgrim wars ended 20 years ago. Nobody knows how they started. The history books describe it as the civil war to end all wars. 3 Billion dead and the destruction of the Pilgrim home worlds. All that was left was hate. I should know. My mother was a Pilgrim. My name is Lieutenant Christopher Blair and today I'm off to fight in a new war. This time it's not about territory or independence. It's about survival, for finally we've encountered a race that makes our ability to wage war seem primitive: the Kilrathi, two thousand years of uninterrupted conquest until they met us. Because we have something they don't - The Navcom A.I. a computer with the capacity to chart and navigate black holes and quasars. It's the equalizer - the tool that allows us to travel through deep space, keep the Kilrathi off balance and away from the Confederation homeworlds.
Ironically, this was soon after replaced by an updated version in which twenty was changed to forty, which would've made it very easy to keep the original timeline intact.
History of the Terran-Kilrathi War
The Terran Confederation and the Kilrathi Empire first came into contact on 2638.229, and conflict ensued immediately. On 2641.009, Confed formally declared war. From that day to the present, conflict has continued unabated, and the Kilrathi have uniformly refused any offers of cease-fire, truce or negotiation. At present, neither side possesses any clear-cut strategic advantage, and there are no signs of any abatement of aggression.
Following the Iason incident, Confed interdicted all non-military exploratory, trade and colonization activity beyond the Vega sector frontier. At the same time they began a coordinated covert scouting operation to determine the extent of Kilrathi dominion. By the end of '38, Confed analysts had determined that the Kilrathi sphere of influence was at least equal to, and possibly greater than, that of humanity. Four separate envoys (under heavy escort) were sent into Kilrathi space in an attempt to at least open up lines of communication, but all such efforts were met by armed aggression. (All four missions were able to retreat under fire back to Confed space.)
The conflict escalated on 2639.006, when a Kilrathi carrier group attacked and destroyed the agricultural colony on Hellespont, an unarmed settlement of assimilated Pilgrims. 82,000 humans were either killed or enslaved in that attack. About 12 hours later, a similar force attacked the shipping port of Tartarus, but that colony was able to hold out until reinforcements arrived from Brimstone Naval Station, and the Kilrathi withdrew after 48 hours of heavy fighting. On 2639.007 less than eight hours after news of the attacks reached Terra the Confederation Senate passed a formal declaration of war against Kilrah.
A Separate Peace, Then Additional War
As mentioned in the introduction, the novel Wing Commander Fleet Action technically does introduce an additional declaration of war against the Kilrathi. The book centers around the Kilrathi asking for an armistice and then secretly dispatching a powerful new fleet to attack Earth during the peace. Towards the end of the book, as the Kilrathi carriers enter Confederation space, the Senate approves a new declaration of war.
The changes in the Handbook have always been one of my least favorite things introduced around the movie, which is a shame on the surface because the book is a wealth of amazing Wing Commander background lore. So is it possible to reconcile these disparate declarations in a single continuity (note 'possible' rather than 'necessary')? Yes! Consider that a simple American history of World War II might say that the war began with Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, or possibly that the war was declared the next day by Congress on December 8. But that's not the whole of it at all: in fact, the United States issued three separate declarations of war over the course of more than six months: Japan on December 8, Germany and Italy on December 11 and then Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary on June 5 of the next year. This last set of countries were allies of Nazi Germany and it was considered wrong at the time to engage in fighting in their territory without a formal declaration of war. And that's just declarations BY the United States.
Could the same be true of Wing Commander? Multiple declarations of war, potentially against multiple definitions of the Empire? Yes, but it might require a reconsideration of the history of the early war. Action Stations very clearly specifies the original July 5, 2634 declaration is "limited in scope" and is aimed not at the Emperor but at the raiders bordering the Confederation. Since the Kilrathi are divided into clans which control different regions, that might mean that the initial declaration of war that we're familiar with was specifically against only, perhaps, the Caxki who are known to control space adjacent to the Confederation. Additionally, it has been established that the Terran Confederation is just one of several allies in the war against the Kilrathi; the others may all have their own declarations.
Instead of throwing out the Confederation Handbook article, it could be seen instead as detailing the early days of the war in a way we had not previously assumed. Very little has ever been specified save the McAuliffe Ambush in 2634 and the Enyo Engagement in 2639. What if the first five years of the war differed from later engagements in some way? The Wing Commander Prophecy guide suggests exactly this:
The first five years of the war were perhaps the most hellish, with the Kilrathi unleashing massive blitzkriegs of suicide fighters at Confed fleets, and indiscrimnately employing weapons of mass destruction against civilian targets. Strategically, the first five years centered around the struggle for the Kilrathi-occupied world of McAuliffe, which was finally retaken by Confed in 2639, in a massive strategic ambush engineered by Captain Geoffrey Tolwyn.
There's a fair amount of history mentioned here that isn't repeatead elsewhere, especially the focus on McAuliffe for the first half-decade of the war. It's possible the battle centered around McAuliffe and random raids and strikes against frontier worlds while the Confederation attempted to establish diplomatic relations (as discussed in the Handbook). Perhaps the Empire waited until Enyo to launch another true invasion, which prompted the 2639 declaration. A functional timeline might work like this:
Is this interpretation necessary? No, but there are so few stories of the early war that it actually teeths together from known sources fairly well (there's also a date added to the Claw Marks timeline in the Super Famicom booklet which talks about a lengthy stalemate that starts in 2642). One added knock-on from this interpretation is that it explains both why different sources have different lengths for the war (generally ranging from thirty to thirty five years) and why some sources set later in the timeline, like the Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide, refer to 'Kilrathi Wars' rather than a singular Kilrathi War (though just the fact that Fleet Action involves an additional declaration of war in late 2668 alone could explain this).
If you know of another interesting reference to the Confederation's declarations of war against the Kilrathi be sure and let us know in the comments. Otherwise, the next time someone asks you how many times the Terran Confederation declared war on the Kilrathi you can decisively say between zero (Tolwyn in Wing Commander IV) and four (our count)!