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The Unofficial *F*requently *A*sked *Q*uestions list for
Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger
Wing Commander III FAQ, revision 1.10
Released October 24, 1994 Compiled by James Hogan (email@example.com) Copyright (C) 1994. All rights reserved.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Any sections which are new or have been updated since the last significant (1.x) revision are marked with asterisks (i.e., *7.4.* Revision history).
*0.* FAQ v1.10 Preface – A Word from the Author
1. FAQ Introduction
1.1. Purpose of the FAQ 1.2. Trademark information 1.3. Disclaimer -- READ ME! 1.4. Spoiler warning 1.5. Acronyms *1.6.* Obtaining the latest version of the FAQ *1.6.1.* Accessing the FAQ on the World Wide Web *1.6.2.* The WC3 FAQ Mailing List
2. Background of Wing Commander III
2.1. What's this whole "Wing Commander" thing about? 2.2. What were the previous Wing Commander products? 2.2.1. Wing Commander I *220.127.116.11.* Super Wing Commander 2.2.2. Wing Commander II *18.104.22.168.* The Wing Commander I & II CD-ROM 2.2.3. Privateer *22.214.171.124.* The Privateer / Strike Commander CD-ROM 2.2.4. Wing Commander Academy *2.2.5.* Wing Commander Armada *126.96.36.199.* Will there be an enhanced Wing Commander Armada CD? 2.2.6. The Wing Commander novels *188.8.131.52.* What are the ISBN numbers of the WC novels? 2.3. Who's this "Bluehair" guy?
3. Technical questions
- 3.1.* What will the system requirements for Wing Commander III be?
- 3.1.1.* How fast will my processor need to be?
3.1.2. What kind of video card do I need?
3.1.3. How much RAM do I need? 3.1.4. Do I need a CD-ROM drive? How fast? 3.2. Will Wing Commander III take advantage of a math coprocessor? *3.3.* What kind of frame rates can I expect? *3.4.* How big (in terms of disk space) is Wing Commander III? *3.5.* Will Wing Commander III support both a VGA and SVGA mode? At what resolutions? *3.5.1.* When can I switch between VGA and SVGA modes? *3.6.* What's the sound support like? *3.6.1.* What sound cards are supported? *184.108.40.206.* Will the digital sound capabilities of the RAP-10 be used? *3.6.2.* Will WC3 support multiple digitized sound samples being played simultaneously? *3.7.* Does Wing Commander III use bitmaps or polygon-based graphics? What's the difference?
4. Gameplay issues
- 4.1.* Is the flight model in WC3 the same as in previous WC games?
- 4.2.* What will capital ships and capital ship combat be like?
- 4.3.* What will the planetside missions be like?
- 4.4.* How many different ships comprise the Terran and Kilrathi fleets?
4.5. What new technologies are the Terrans armed with that the player
can use? *4.6.* How much control will the player have over the missions they fly (e.g., their ship, wingman, weapons loadout, etc.)? *4.5.1.* How will the weapon selection work? *4.7.* How good is the computer AI in WC3? Compared to Armada? *4.8.* What other notable game features are present in Wing Commander III? 4.8.1. The 3-D navigational map *4.8.2.* Power management *4.8.3.* More "intelligent" weaponry *4.8.4.* Will there be a "virtual cockpit," as there was in Strike Commander and Pacific Strike? *4.8.5.* Will there be a VCR replay mode? *4.8.6.* Will you be able to go back and replay specific missions? *4.8.7.* Will the comm screens be in color? *4.8.8.* Can you transfer characters from Wing Commander II? 4.8.9. Will Wing Commander III have multiplayer modem or network support?
5. Cinematics / storyline
5.1. What distinguishes the cinematics and storyline in Wing Commander III? 5.1.1. In what ways can choices made during the cinematic sequences affect the storyline? *5.1.2.* Can your wingmen actually die during an average mission, or are there safeguards built in to prevent this? 5.2. How is live acting being integrated into Wing Commander III? *5.2.1.* How much live acting is contained in the cinematic sequences? 5.2.2. Why don't some of the actors look like their characters? 5.2.3. How is the acting for the Kilrathi characters accomplished? 5.3. Who are the characters in Wing Commander III, and who are the actors and actresses portraying them? 5.3.1. Col. Christopher Blair (Mark Hamill) 220.127.116.11. Do I get to pick my player's name or callsign? 5.3.2. James "Paladin" Taggart (John Rhys-Davies) 5.3.3. Todd "Maniac" Marshall (Tom Wilson) 5.3.4. Melek (Tim Curry) 5.3.5. Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn (Malcolm McDowell) 5.3.6. Rachel (Ginger Lynn Allen) 5.3.7. Flint (Jennifer MacDonald) *5.3.8.* Col. Eisen (Jason Bernard) 5.3.9. Rollins (Courtney Gains) 5.3.10. Flash (Joshua Lucas) 5.3.11. Hobbes 5.3.12. The Emperor and Prince Thrakhath *5.4.* Will any other members of the Wing Commander cast (Angel, Doomsday, etc.) make an appearance in Wing Commander III? *5.4.1.* What happened to Angel, anyway? *5.5.* How good do the final cinematic sequences look? 5.6. What is the basic plot of Wing Commander III? 5.7. How do the events in the Wing Commander novels fit into the storyline?
6. Other miscellaneous questions
- 6.1.* What is the current estimated release date?
- 6.2.* What's this I hear about a "Premiere Edition"?
- 6.2.1.* What does it contain?
- 6.2.2.* Will there be a Premiere Edition for the 3DO version?
6.3. What platforms is Wing Commander III being released on?
6.3.1. How will the 3DO version differ from the PC version? *6.4.* Will there be different versions of WC3 available for different languages? *6.5.* Are there any screen shots available? *6.5.1.* What do the screen shots contain? *6.5.2.* Are those screen shots from playable sequences or cinematic scenes? *6.5.3.* Where can I find the screen shots? *6.6.* Will a demo be released before the game comes out? *6.7.* What is the list price for Wing Commander III, and how can I reserve a copy? *6.8.* What is the budget for Wing Commander III? 6.9. Who is developing and filming Wing Commander III? 6.9.1. Who is involved with the cinematic side of the project? 6.9.2. Who is involved with the gameplay side of the project? *6.10.* Other Wing Commander III-related merchandise *6.10.1.* Will there be a Wing Commander III Playtester's Guide? *6.10.2.* Will the soundtrack for Wing Commander III be released on CD? *6.10.3.* Will any of these extra items from the Premiere Edition be sold separately? *6.11.* Will WC3 be the last installment of the Wing Commander series? *6.12.* What other Wing Commander products are scheduled to be released in the future? *6.12.1.* Super Wing Commander for the Mac *6.12.2.* Privateer 2 *6.12.3.* Wing Commander novels *6.12.4.* Wing Commander: The Motion Picture?
7. In conclusion…
- 7.1.* Credits / sources
- 7.2.* Where to find out more
- 7.3.* Contacting the FAQ author
- 7.3.1.* The WC3 FAQ mailing list
- 7.4.* Revision history
* 0. FAQ v1.10 Preface – A Word from the Author *
Well, after two months of telling people "It'll be ready within a couple of weeks," version 1.10 of the WC3 FAQ is finally here. :) I apologize to all of you who have been waiting so patiently for this to be released. Hopefully I'll crank out future revisions a bit quicker than this one. At least the wait hasn't been for nothing – this revision of the FAQ is significantly larger (about 50%) than its predecessor!
The response to the initial revisions of the FAQ (1.0 and 1.01) have been tremendous… much more so than I expected. Download counts on America Online, CompuServe, and GEnie have easily numbered in the thousands, which doesn't even include the number of people who have gotten it from newsgroups or FTP sites on the internet. I've received over a hundred e-mails from WC fans living in every corner of the globe, from Australia to Hong Kong to Russia and elsewhere, who asked me questions, gave suggestions, or just wanted to voice their support for the FAQ, so I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone out there who took the time to write. Your mail means a lot.
Unlike the previous two FAQ revisions, a lot of people have contributed to this version of the FAQ in one way or another. Probably half of the new questions that are in this version are here because they were suggested by someone who e-mailed me, so your mail _is_ appreciated! Every question that I was asked that I didn't know the answer to I tried to find out about so I could answer it in this version of the FAQ. If you asked me a question that you don't see answered here, don't accept my apology. E-mail me and complain! *grin*
Again, thanks to everyone who sent mail to me, and I encourage everyone to keep sending me comments and questions! Rest assured that if you send me something, you'll get a reply. (If you don't, mail me again.)
Enough of my rambling, though. Like I said, there's a lot of new info in this one, and as usual, much of it hasn't yet been published elsewhere. So read on, and start counting down to November 21st!
1. FAQ Introduction
1.1. Purpose of the FAQ
This FAQ was created to answer some of the more commonly asked questions about Origin Systems' upcoming release, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, and to keep the online community informed about the latest developments pertaining to this latest installment in the Wing Commander series. Even if you've been keeping up with all the magazine articles and previews on the game, there's probably be some things in here you haven't yet heard, so read on!
Please be sure to read the Disclaimer (section 1.3).
1.2. Trademark information
Origin, Wing Commander, the distinctive Wing Commander logo, Secret Missions, Special Operations, Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heart of the Tiger, Privateer, Wing Commander Academy, and Wing Commander Armada are trademarks of Origin Systems, Inc. Origin Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Electronic Arts.
1.3. Disclaimer – READ ME!
This FAQ is not a paid advertisement, nor is it even officially endorsed by Origin Systems. When reading this FAQ, please remember that Wing Commander III is a game which is still in development. As such, the game design (and hence, the contents of this FAQ) are subject to change at any time – even those at Origin do not yet have a crystal clear picture of exactly what form the final product will take.
All information in this FAQ has, unless otherwise specified, been verified by a reliable source (e.g., a preview in a professional gaming magazine, an official Origin representative, etc.). Keep in mind, however, that it may very well be outdated by the time the finished game is released.
1.4. Spoiler warning
Some sections of this FAQ contain plot spoilers about certain Wing Commander products (i.e., games and/or novels). Since Wing Commander II has been available for several years, it is assumed that all FAQ readers have played the first two Wing Commander games and all expansion disks; if you have not yet done so, and wish to avoid plot spoilers on these games, then continue reading at your own risk.
The Privateer games and the Wing Commander novels are new enough so that it is _not_ assumed all FAQ readers have played (or read) these. Sections of the FAQ that contain plot spoilers for these will be marked with a "SPOILER" label in the header.
The following acronyms will be used throughout the FAQ, some more often than others:
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions list OSI: Origin Systems, Inc. WC: Wing Commander WC1/2/3: Wing Commander 1, 2, or 3 SM1/2: Secret Missions 1 or 2 SO1/2: Special Operations 1 or 2 WCA: Wing Commander Academy Armada: Wing Commander Armada (I know, it's not an acronym; so sue me)
*1.6.* Obtaining the latest version of the FAQ
The FAQ has five official distribution sites, at which the latest version will always be available for downloading:
* The Origin BBS – (512) 331-4446. Modem settings are 300-14400 baud,
no parity, eight data bits, and one stop bit.
* America Online, in the Origin support base (keyword ORIGIN).
* CompuServe, in the Game Publisher's Forum A (GO GAMAPUB), section 12
* GEnie, at Scorpia's roundtable (type "M805;" at any "?" prompt), section
* On the internet: The wuarchive.wustl.edu FTP site, in the
- 1.6.1.* Accessing the FAQ on the World Wide Web
If you have access to the World Wide Web, then you can take a look at the
FAQ in HTML format on the Games Domain WWW site, at the address http://wcl-rs.bham.ac.uk/~djh/index.html. Note that at the time of this version's release, only v1.01 is available here; v1.10 will not be posted for a week or two, possibly longer. Please be patient.
- 1.6.2.* The WC3 FAQ Mailing List
I maintain a mailing list of people who are interested in receiving updates
to the FAQ via email as they become available. If you'd like to be put on this list, just drop me a line (see section 7.3).
2. Background of Wing Commander III
Admittedly, if you're reading this FAQ, you've probably already played the other Wing Commander games and know pretty much what they're about; but there's probably some Wing Commander newbies out there, too. Besides, even if you are a veteran of the Wing Commander world, a short refresher course can never hurt…
2.1. What's this whole "Wing Commander" thing about?
Wing Commander, first released in 1990 by Origin Systems, is a simulation- style action game interwoven with a cinematic storyline set in the 27th century. It does not attempt to model real-world physics with a completely accurate simulation of space flight, but concentrates instead on providing a fun, intense, first-person space dogfighting experience. Several things distinguished it from other games upon its initial release: the graphics, music, and sound were all revolutionary, surpassing most (if not all) other competing products in the industry at the time. The storyline, of which a short segment unraveled after each mission the player flew, had many plot devices rarely used before in a computer game of its type: character development, interpersonal conflict, ethics, and more. To date, the series has sold a total of over 1.5 million units worldwide.
2.2. What were the previous Wing Commander products?
2.2.1. Wing Commander I ------------------------ Wing Commander I is the game that started it all. In this, the player takes the role of a young Lieutenant who has just been assigned to the carrier ship Tiger's Claw, the pride of the Confederate Navy. The main plot of WC1 is the Confederation's campaign to take Vega Sector from the Kilrathi, which eventually succeeds.
WC1 had two add-on disks – Secret Missions 1 and 2. SM1 focused on a
new Kilrathi secret weapon, and the Claw's attempts to hunt down and destroy it. SM2 told the story of how the Confederation made an alliance with the avian Firekkan species, and also introduced two new characters: Doomsday and Jazz.
- 18.104.22.168.* Super Wing Commander
A revamped version of WC1 was released for the 3DO system,
incorporating completely redone hi-resolution graphics, full speech during all the cinematic sequences, and more. SWC follows the plotline of the whole WC1 series, including SM1 and SM2.
2.2.2. Wing Commander II
The game begins with the Tiger's Claw being destroyed by three Kilrathi
stealth (cloaked) fighters, and you are accused of allowing the carrier to be destroyed because of your negligence. Your claims about the stealth fighters go unbelieved, your career is ruined, and you are assigned to a space station in the backwaters of the known galaxy.
Ten years later, through a strange series of events, you end up on the
flagship of the Confederate fleet (imagine that), the Concordia, where you meet up with some of your old pals who survived the destruction of the Claw -- Angel, Spirit, Paladin, Doomsday, and Jazz. Eventually, you defeat the heir to the Kilrathi throne in a one-on-one dogfight (though he ejects to survive to fight again another day), destroy the Kilrathi headquarters in the sector, and find evidence that the stealth fighters exist, proving your innocence and restoring your career.
WC2 also had two expansion disks – Special Operations 1 and 2. SO1
introduced the character of Bear, the protagonist in the second two Wing Commander novels. SO2 reunites you with Maniac, with whom you team up to destroy Ayer's Rock, an asteroid which a band of human traitors are using as a base.
- 22.214.171.124.* The Wing Commander I & II CD-ROM
Origin has recently released the first two Wing Commander games,
including all expansion sets (Secret Missions 1 & 2, the WC2 Speech Pack, and Special Operations 1 & 2) on a single CD. WC1 must be installed to your hard drive, but WC2 can be played off the CD to save drive space.
2.2.3. Privateer (SPOILER)
Privateer puts you in the shoes of a different character – a privateer.
This game, which takes place in the Gemini sector, is essentially unrelated (in terms of plot) to the main Wing Commander games. As a freelance trader and mercenary, you undertake various missions to earn yourself enough credits to upgrade your ship and advance in the plotline. Eventually, you discover an old alien derelict, and take a working cannon from it and mount it on your ship. After this, an alien drone begins to chase you; in the end, you team up with Confederate ships to destroy the threat the drone presents to the sector.
One expansion disk has been released for Privateer – Righteous Fire.
This begins with your alien gun being stolen form your ship, and concentrates on your attempts to retrieve it.
- 126.96.36.199.* The Privateer / Strike Commander CD-ROM
Another recent release of Origin's, this CD contains the enhanced
versions of both Privateer and Strike Commander on one disc. Both games come with their expansion disk (Tactical Operations for Strike Commander, Righteous Fire for Privateer) and full speech. Strike Commander also has an expanded introduction sequence.
2.2.4. Wing Commander Academy
A game with no plotline whatsoever, WCA was designed to appeal to the
straight-out action gamers who prefer the dogfighting over the storyline. With all the ships from WC2 plus a couple of new ones and a mission builder included, this product is a great way to pass time while waiting for the next installment in the Wing Commander series. :)
- 2.2.5.* Wing Commander Armada
Much as WCA was designed to appeal to those who wanted to be able to create
their own missions, Armada is aimed towards those who want a multiplayer Wing Commander game. Like Academy, there is no storyline to follow, but several new features not found in previous WC games are present... not only can the player fly in "Gauntlet" mode, a straight shoot-'em-up where wave after wave of increasingly powerful enemy ships is thrown at them, but a new "Armada" mode is present, which is a strategy game requiring the player to manage planetary resources and build up a fleet to hunt down and destroy his/her opponent. Battle sequences in Armada mode place the player in the cockpit so they can directly affect the outcome of each battle, creating an interesting mix of strategy and action.
Most players agree that Armada's strengths lie in it's multiplayer
capabilities. Using a high speed modem, NetBIOS-compatible network, or a split-screen mode on a single computer, two pilot jockeys can both climb into their own fighter and play head-to-head or cooperatively. Needless to say, the two-player mode adds a dimension to the game not found in previous WC products.
- 188.8.131.52.* Will there be an enhanced Wing Commander Armada CD?
No. The project has been scrapped. A patch to allow six-player
network play may still come out, however.
2.2.6. Wing Commander novels
Three novels set in the Wing Commander universe have been written to date:
_Freedom Flight_, by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon (the head writer for WC2), takes place during SM2, and has Paladin and Hunter as the main characters. The novel goes into detail on the Kilrathi defectors who were briefly mentioned in SM2 (and of which Hobbes from WC2 was the leader of), and gives the reader a good look at Firekkan culture.
_End Run_, by Christopher Stasheff and William R. Forstchen, features
Jason "Bear" Bondarevsky (SO1) as the protagonist and tells the story of how he is assigned to a new ship, the Tarawa, which is sent on a suicide mission into Kilrathi space. Other WC figures which are major characters in the novel are Paladin, Hunter, Sparks, and Admiral Tolwyn.
_Fleet Action_, written by William R. Forstchen, is a direct sequel to
_End Run_, picking up where its predecessor left off. The Kilrathi launch a major counteroffensive against the Confederation, who must come up with a last-ditch plan to try to avoid annihilation.
- 184.108.40.206.* What are the ISBN numbers of the WC novels?
A few FAQ readers have asked me for more details on these novels so
that they could order them through their local bookstores. Here's the authors, publishers, and ISBN numbers for all of the WC novels published to date:
_Freedom Flight_, by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon. Published
in 1992 by Baen Books. ISBN 0-671-72145-3.
_End Run_, by Christopher Stasheff and William R. Forstchen.
Published in 1994 by Baen Books. ISBN 0-671-72200-X.
_Fleet Action_, by William R. Forstchen. Published in 1994 by
Baen Books. ISBN 0-671-72211-5.
2.3. Who's this "Bluehair" guy?
Bluehair is the name by which Origin originally referred to the character
the player takes the role of in the Wing Commander games... it comes from the fact that the character has dark blue hair (hence the name). Since then, it has become a common term that gamers of the online community use to refer to the main character in the first two Wing Commander games.
* 3. Technical questions *
*3.1.* What are the estimated system requirements for Wing Commander III?
Please note that these are only ESTIMATES – the best guesses that can be
made at this stage in the game's development. These specs may very well change upon the game's release.
- 3.1.1.* How fast will my processor need to be?
A 486SX/25 will probably be the slowest processor which will run the game
at a playable pace in VGA mode. The former requirement (as of about two months ago) was a 486/33.
3.1.2. What kind of video card do I need?
The game should technically run on any VGA-compatible graphics card,
though a fast VESA or PCI local bus card will help matters greatly. Of course, an SVGA card is required to play the game in SVGA mode.
3.1.3. How much RAM do I need?
8 megs are required; anything above that is optimal.
3.1.4. Do I need a CD-ROM drive? How fast?
Since Wing Commander III will be a CD-ROM only release (no floppy version
is planned, either before or after the CD-ROM release), yes, a CD-ROM drive is required. It's not suggested to even try the game on a single speed drive; you'll want a doublespeed or higher to play it at an acceptable pace.
220.127.116.11. Will the game always need to load off the first CD?
No. Once you're finished playing on a CD, you'll be able to run
the game off the following disc every time thereafter.
3.2. Will Wing Commander III take advantage of a math coprocessor?
No. If it did, then the game would not run on 486SX or SX-2 systems, which still represent a significant market share of Origin's target audience. The only other option would be to write two separate versions of the game, one for 486SX systems and the other for 486DX systems; unfortunately, this would add too much time to the development cycle.
*3.3.* What kind of frame rates can I expect?
These estimates, of course, are still preliminary and may change by the time the game is complete; however, here's a chart (officially released by Origin) detailing how fast, in fps (frames per second), WC3 should run on your system:
VGA SVGA SVGA (Local bus)
486/33 12 4 10 486/50 17 10 15 486/66 20 13 18 Pentium/60 24 15 20 Pentium/90 24 15 24
These numbers are averages for space combat with other fighters. Around capital ships, the game will run about 3-5 fps slower.
Cinematics should be no problem. They should run acceptably in 640x480x256 on a 486SX-25, and easily hit the 20-25 fps mark on faster systems. The reason is that their performance is mainly dependent on your system's memory rather than processing power; that's why Wing 3 requires 8 megs of RAM, and is also why slow systems should be able to run the cinematics so effectively.
*3.4.* How big (in terms of disk space) is Wing Commander III?
The game is currently slated to ship on FOUR (4) CDs, so probably somewhere between 2 and 2.5 gigabytes. At the very most, ten megs or so will need to be installed on the hard drive… probably much less.
*3.5.* Will Wing Commander III support both a VGA and SVGA mode? At what
Yes. WC3 is being made, first and foremost, as a VGA game, which will run at standard 320x200x256 resolution. A 640x480x256 SVGA mode is an optional feature that you'll need a Pentium or higher to run.
The user has the option of running the gameplay and/or cinematic sequences at either 640x240x256 or 320x200x256, depending on which is best suited for their system. No one should have any real problems here, though – even on a 486-25 with a slow video card, the 640x480 mode should run okay. See section 3.3 above for details.
It should also be noted that if the system can't keep up with the video at the resolution the user has set, playback is not slowed down – frames are skipped so that game time still passes at the same rate. In other words, it will get choppier, but not slower.
- 3.5.1.* When can I switch between VGA and SVGA mode?
Any time you want. You won't be limited to doing it only between missions
or anything like that; it can be done with a single keypress at any point during gameplay. The game will even (optionally) switch between video resolutions for you automatically, dropping down to VGA if the frame rate gets too slow, and then jumping back to SVGA when it climbs back up.
*3.6.* What's the sound support like?
- 3.6.1.* What sound cards are supported?
Right now, the plan is to support the SoundBlaster (and all its
variations... SB Pro, the SB/16, etc.), Pro Audio Spectrum, Gravis UltraSound, Ensoniq Soundscape, Logitech Soundman Wave, and General MIDI devices (the Roland SCC-1, RAP-10, etc.) *18.104.22.168.* Will the digital capabilities of the RAP-10 be used? ---------------------------------------------------------------- If there's time to put in the code before the release date, yes.
3.6.2. Will WC3 support multiple digitized sound samples being played
simultaneously? ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Wing Commander III will be able to play 32 different digitized sound samples simultaneously.
*3.7.* Does Wing Commander III use bitmaps or polygon-based graphics?
What's the difference?
WC3, like all of Origin's flight sim games since Strike Commander, will use texture-mapped polygons instead of plain bitmaps (as the first two Wing Commander games did). For those of you who aren't familiar with the advantages of a polygon-based graphics engine, allow me to explain…
The first two Wing Commander games use bitmaps to represent the ships and other objects in space. The ships themselves are actually centered at a single point in space, and their boundaries are defined by an invisible box surrounding that point. Note that their boundaries are defined by a 3-D _box_, rather than the shape of the ship you see on the screen… that's why gun shots that come really close to an enemy (but don't actually hit his image on the screen) explode in the space next to him and still do damage – they hit the invisible box surrounding the ship. As this box flies around space and tries to shoot you, a 2-D image of a spaceship is placed on it that changes depending on what angle you're looking at the box from. Thus, all of the ships in the first two WC games are actually flying boxes that just have _pictures_ of one-man fighters slapped on them.
Still following? Good. Now, a polygon-based engine – the kind WC3 uses – is much different. Rather than having their boundaries defined by an invisible box, objects are made up of geometric shapes… a cylinder might represent the body of a plane, two triangles could represent for the wings, and so forth. These boundary-defining shapes _are_ visible to the player, unlike the flying boxes of WC1 and 2. Since a ship made up of plain polygons can look a bit ugly (take a look at some flight simulators from four or five years ago), various techniques are used to improve the appearance. WC3 uses "texture mapping", which means that a texture (a texture being a picture of anything from a sheet of glass to a certain color of metal to a picture of a pilot in a cockpit) is placed on these bare polygons to give them a more attractive appearance.
The final result? Ships that still look really cool, but that are much more clearly "defined." There are many more advantages to this than just not having your gunfire hit the space next to your opponent and still do damage… check out section 4.2 for some examples of what is made possible by the use of the polygon-based flight engine in Wing 3.
* 4. Gameplay issues *
In some ways, WC3 scarcely resembles its predecessors; the SVGA graphics make everything like four times as sharp, combat moves at a faster pace, and some aspects (such as the capital ship and planetside combat) are an entirely new experience altogether. If everything comes together the way Origin plans, WC3 should play better than any previous OSI sim to date. Read on…
*4.1.* Is the flight model in WC3 the same as in previous WC games?
Yes and no. There are two flight models available in WC3 that the user can choose to use: the traditional WC flight model that was used in WC1 and WC2, or a new flight model (similar to the one used in X-Wing) where your ship will roll whenever you yaw (turn left or right).
*4.2* What will capital ships and capital ship combat be like?
This is perhaps one of the biggest improvements over previous WC games. The days where all capital ships were little more than big, ugly-looking, sluggish fighters that shot out a cloud of flak while waiting for you to fire your guns and blast them to kingdom come are gone. In WC3, the capital ships are huge – several screens long, in fact – so that when you fly up to one, you really are struck with a sense of awe rather than a sense of boredom. The detail on them is tremendous; you'll be able to make out things like a capital ship's flight deck, the Confederate or Kilrathi insignia painted on the side, or dozens of little windows dotting the hull.
The really neat thing is, these aren't all just for decoration, either… you can actually fly around _inside_ of a ship's hangar (this is made possible by that wonderful polygon technology talked about in section 3.7). Theoretically, the game engine should allow you to fly into an airlock on the side of the ship and negotiate your fighter through a maze of twisting, turning passageways… that particular example would probably be of little use in actual gameplay, but it gives you a feel for what exactly what the game is capable of. The primary constraint is how much time the artists have to draw everything before the game's release.
Actual combat with capships is much more involved, as well. Destroying a carrier in the earlier WC games often involved little more than a few strafing runs, unloading your guns each time, until you broke through the shields and armor (or, in the case of some of the ships in WC2, sitting there until you got a torpedo lock and _then_ firing). Either way, it was fairly monotonous and generally not very challenging. In WC3, this is no longer the case. You know those flak bullets that capital ships kept shooting at you while you were trying to get a torpedo lock? Target the gun turrets and blow them up. Need to stop the ship from reaching the jump point? Shoot a couple missiles at its engines to disable it. Destroying the flight deck will be a vital step in dispatching a capital ship, as well.
*4.3.* What will the planetside missions be like?
There will be four ground missions in Wing 3, all of which are vital to the plot. Planetside combat was designed with playability rather than realism in mind, so there aren't a whole lot of real-world physics to worry about. Your ship's "repulsors" negate the effects of gravity; you also don't have to worry about g-forces, engine stalls, and other similar considerations present in most flight sims. These same repulsors limit you to an altitude of 1000-2000 meters (a limitation imposed by the WC3 team because the terrain looked better from there than at higher altitudes).
For all practical purposes, planetside missions handle just like space combat, though you've got terrain to avoid crashing into. Mission objectives will also vary, and will including bombing and strafing runs on ground targets.
*4.4.* How many different ships comprise the Terran and Kilrathi fleets?
The Terran Confederation has five fighters and five capital ships at its disposal; the Empire of Kilrah has eight fighters and eight or nine capital ships. None of the old WC1/WC2 ships are used.
4.5. What new technologies are the Terrans armed with that the player can
In addition to the five new types of fighters in WC3 that the player will have a chance to fly, the Confederation has also discovered the secret of cloaking technology, so you'll be able to fly stealth ships as well in this one. Missile technology has improved, too – see section 4.8.3 below.
Each of the fighters available to you is designed with a different purpose in mind, so there won't be one single fighter more powerful than the rest which you'll want to fly every single time. The best ship to take into a big dogfight, for example, will NOT be the best ship to fly when you're planning to take out a capship.
*4.6.* How much control will the player have over the missions they fly
(e.g., their ship, wingman, weapons loadout, etc.)?
You're allowed to choose who your wingman will be, what ship you'll fly, and your ship's weapon loadout for each mission. You won't be able to choose which pilots fly on the other wings – that's a predetermined part of the plot.
- 4.6.1.* How does the weapon selection work?
The guns on your ship are fixed and can't be changed, but you always
get to allocate the rest of your equipment however you like. Unlike the weapon selection in Strike Commander, you have an unlimited supply of missiles to use, and a heavy payload won't affect your flight dynamics, either. This doesn't, however, mean that you'll want to load up your ship with as many Friend-or-Foe missiles as you can each time you fly a mission. A cloaking device, for example, takes up a missile slot -- you may want to sacrifice a few missiles if you think stealth flying will be to your advantage on a particular sortie. Heat-seeking and image recognition missiles are also _better_ than Friend-or-Foe missiles in certain situations; you might damage a Kilrathi's cloaking device so that it no longer masks the heat from his engines, enabling you to lock on to him with a missile while you can't see him on your radar; or maybe your wingman's communication systems are damaged, and you opt to use an image recognition on your enemy to avoid hitting your partner. Choosing the appropriate weapon loadout for the task at hand may make a significant difference in your performance in battle.
*4.7.* How good is the computer AI in WC3? Compared to Armada?
The AI in WC3 is very dynamic; each pilot has a wide range of maneuvers at his/her disposal and won't use exactly the same techniques over and over. Ideally, you should never feel like you're flying exactly the same mission twice. There should be a bit of unpredictability involved each time through.
The biggest problem some people have with the AI in Armada's single player mode is that it can get monotonous… it's very hard to maneuver behind and tail a Kilrathi, so combat can often end up being a series of head-on volleys of cannon fire until someone is destroyed. It sounds as if the AI in WC3 will certainly be more varied than that in Armada, so that should be a welcome improvement.
*4.8.* What other notable game features are present in Wing Commander III?
4.8.1. The 3-D navigational map -------------------------------- The first two WC games used a two-dimensional navigation map to show the area surrounding the player. The obvious failing of this system is that it could not show Z coordinates; the map could show the player's ship directly on top of a jump point, when in reality he/she was a hundred thousand clicks _above_ his destination.
WC3 employs an actual three-dimensional nav map to give the player a
better idea of his/her surroundings. The map can be rotated on all three axes and zoomed in and out so that the environment may be viewed from any angle and any distance.
- 4.8.2.* Power management
Yes, you can allocate your ship's power as you want in this one,
moving energy between your guns, damage control systems, and possibly other parts of your ship.
- 4.8.3.* More "intelligent" weaponry
Missiles and missile decoy pods will now report back do you when
they're finished and tell you if they were successful or not... one less thing to keep track of in the middle of a chaotic dogfight. *4.8.4.* Will there be a "virtual cockpit," as there was in Strike Commander and Pacific Strike? ------------------------------------------------------------------- No, the primary reason being that it slowed things down too much in SVGA mode and became more of a hindrance than a help. The usual left, right, and rear views are present, plus some new fun and useful external camera angles to observe the action from.
You can still turn the cockpit off altogether, however – the WC3 ships
all have a HUD, so all vital information is still on the screen when the cockpit graphics are off. *4.8.5.* Will there be a VCR replay mode? ------------------------------------------ Time allowing, yes, though nothing is certain at this point. *4.8.6.* Will you be able to go back and replay specific missions? ------------------------------------------------------------------- Nope. *4.8.7.* Will the comm screens be in color? -------------------------------------------- No. They tried, but the space color palette didn't support flesh tones very well.
- 4.8.8.* Can you transfer characters from Wing Commander II?
4.8.9. Will Wing Commander III have multiplayer modem or network
support? ----------------------------------------------------------------- No. If you want multiplayer Wing Commander, then give Wing Commander Armada a try (see section 2.2.5.).
5. Cinematics / storyline
5.1. What distinguishes the cinematics and storyline in Wing Commander III?
There are two fundamental differences between the cinematics in WC3 and those in WC1 and 2. First, the live acting; all of the cinematic sequences are played out in full motion video by live actors, rather than being hand- and computer-drawn as in the first two games. This has led to several new filming techniques being used, as well: A wider variety of camera angles is present, rather than the frontal face shots that were used nearly exclusively in WC1 and 2, plus pans, zooms, etc.
Secondly, the cinematic sequences are no longer completely passive. The player can now choose how he/she responds in certain situations be selecting one of several choices from a list of possible dialogue responses. This, in turn, alters the way the story unfolds, so two people who play the game with different dialogue choices may experience quite a different plotline. (A normal movie script is about 120 pages; the script for WC3 was 300 pages long so that all of the different outcomes and dialogue choices were covered.)
5.1.1. In what ways can choices made during the cinematic sequences alter
the storyline? --------------------------------------------------------------------------
First and foremost, it can affect your relationships with your shipmates,
and being the squadron commander, this can affect morale on board ship. Telling a pilot "That flying was horrible -- whose side are you fighting for?" obviously will be perceived more negatively than "Well, kid, it was a tough mission. Let's hope we can do better next time." (Of course, in some cases, maybe the pilot _deserves_ to be chewed out; it's a judgment call you'll have to make.) You also get to choose a love interest for the game, which will have a major impact on the plotline.
In the end, your flying skills and storyline decisions will combine to
finish the story in one of three different ways -- one grand, victorious ending, one mediocre, and one not-so-grand.
- 5.1.2.* Can your wingmen actually die during an average mission, or are
there safeguards built in to prevent this?
In Wing Commander I, it wasn't only your life at stake when you went up
against the Kilrathi -- your wingman were constantly in danger of getting killed, as well. If the Kilrathi nailed your partner, he/she was gone. Permanently. Taken off the flight roster. You even got to attend their funeral.
In Wing Commander II, this was not the case. The writers wanted more
control over who died and when, because otherwise the branching storyline was too hard to write; there were just too many variables. Some of the characters in WC2 still died from time to time, but it was always at a predetermined time when the writers wanted it to happen -- not just because the Kilrathi got a few lucky shots in during one of your sorties. If the cats did destroy your wingman's ship, the victim would always manage to eject first. You'd be without help until you got back to your carrier, but the person would always still be alive when you got back.
Unfortunately, this will still be the case with Wing 3. It tends to make
the plot slightly more linear, but it's a necessary evil to make the various permutations of the plotline manageable for the game designers.
5.2. How is live acting being integrated into the cinematic sequences?
All acting is done in advance in front of a green screen – which is, as the name suggests, a cloth backdrop spray painted green. The backgrounds are rendered on a Silicon Graphics workstation (the same ones used in the making of Jurassic Park). After the acting is done and the backgrounds have been generated, they backgrounds are overlaid over the green backdrop in the film footage. The result is a video sequence with live actors in front of a very realistic-looking computer-generated setting.
- 5.2.1.* How much live acting is contained in the cinematic sequences?
About three and a half hours of footage was filmed for the game. Of
course, you won't see all of this playing the game through just once, since it has a branching storyline.
5.2.2. Why don't some of the actors look like their characters?
During the casting for Wing Commander III, the primary concern was finding
actors who could accurately portray the Wing Commander characters' personalities; physical appearance was secondary. While it was certainly nice to find an actor or actress who not only was able to play the role well but looked like the character in mind, this wasn't always possible, as in the case of the actor taking the role of Paladin (John Rhys-Davies).
5.2.3. How is the acting for the Kilrathi characters accomplished?
Think "Darth Vader", and you'll have a pretty good idea. An actor wears
an elaborate set of costumes and makeup (made by the same group who did the masks for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, by the way), and acts out the motions and lip movements for his character. Voices are dubbed over later by a separate voice actor.
Apparently this combination works pretty well. A "behind-the-scenes"
article about WC3 in the August '94 issue of Computer Game Review said that "The Kilrathi, while having occasionally over-exaggerated movements, do not look at all unreal."
5.3. Who are the characters in Wing Commander III, and who are the actors
and actresses playing their roles?
5.3.1. Col. Christopher Blair (Mark Hamill)
In Wing Commander III, the player takes the role of Colonel Christopher
Blair, a veteran Confederate pilot who commands the fighter squadron on his ship. Throughout the course of the game, you not only fly dozens of missions against the Kilrathi, but deal with intercharacter relationships with your shipmates as well -- you even get to choose your own love interest. Blair is portrayed by Mark Hamill, best known for his starring role as Luke Skywalker in the "Star Wars" movie trilogy. He has also been seen in "The Guyver," "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," "Britannia Hospital", and others. Voice acting work includes playing The Joker in the Batman animated television series and "Mask of the Phantasm" motion picture, and a role in Sierra's interactive adventure game, "Gabriel Knight."
22.214.171.124. Do I get to pick my player's name or callsign?
Your name (Christopher Blair) is assigned to you and cannot be
changed. You will be able to pick a callsign for yourself, though it will not be used during the cinematic sequences, since the spoken dialogue cannot change to reflect the callsign you choose. The callsign will instead be used in places such as the flight roster posted on the ship, while during the cinematics you are referred to by your "real" name (Blair).
5.3.2. James "Paladin" Taggart (John Rhys-Davies)
Veterans of the first two Wing Commander games will certainly remember
Paladin, the Scottish officer who has been serving in the Navy for several decades. Taking this role is John Rhys-Davies, who has appeared in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "The Living Daylights," "Firewalker," and others. He is currently starring in "The Untouchables" TV series and is the host of the Discovery Channel's "Archaeology."
5.3.3. Todd "Maniac" Marshall (Tom Wilson)
Another character from the earlier WC games, Maniac is a brash,
unpredictable pilot who has a stubborn "to-hell-with-the-rules" attitude that has put himself and his shipmates in danger countless times. He is, however, a highly skilled flier whose talents are desperately needed in the war against the Kilrathi.
Maniac is portrayed by Tom Wilson, who you've probably seen as Biff in the
"Back to the Future" trilogy. Wilson has also been in "Blood In... Blood Out," "Action Jackson," "April Fool's Day," and others. 5.3.4. Melek (Tim Curry) ------------------------- Melek is a Kilrathi warrior, and the right-hand man of Prince Thrakhath.
Tim Curry, probably most easily remembered as the transvestite in "The
Rocky Horror Picture Show," is doing the voice acting for Melek in WC3. Curry also did voice acting in Sierra's "Gabriel Knight," along with WC3 co-star Mark Hamill.
5.3.5. Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn (Malcolm McDowell)
Those who only played WC2 probably remember Tolwyn as a hard-nosed, strict
commander who never really seemed to care about much besides making the player's life difficult. Those who read the WC novels should have a more positive impression of him; that of a just, honorable officer who places morality and ethics above authority and discipline. (Yeah, it sounds cliched, but true.)
Whatever picture you have of Tolwyn, he'll be present in WC3, played by
Malcolm McDowell. McDowell has been in movies such as "A Clockwork Orange," "Time After Time," "Cat People" (too bad he's not playing a Kilrathi...) ;), "Britannia Hospital" (with WC3 co-star Mark Hamill), and others. He is also playing the role of the villain Soran in the upcoming "Star Trek: Generations" motion picture.
5.3.6. Rachel (Ginger Lynn Allen)
Rachel is a tech officer on the ship on which Blair serves, and is one
of the two potential love interests for the player. The actress who plays her, Ginger Lynn Allen, has starred in "Young Guns II," "Skin Deep," "Leather Jackets", and other "adult" films. TV credits include "Silk Stalkings," "Sunset Beat," and a current recurring role on "NYPD Blue."
5.3.7. Flint (Jennifer MacDonald)
The other possible love interest for the player, Flint is a member of
Blair's flight squadron whose dynamic character is hidden underneath a cool, calm exterior. Flint is played by Jennifer MacDonald, who has been seen in "Terminal Force," "The Collector," "Shades of Black," "Dream On," "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.," and others.
- 5.3.8.* Col. Eisen (Jason Bernard)
Eisen, the commander of the TCS Victory, is another newcomer to the Wing
Commander saga, played by Jason Bernard (currently starring in the TV series "Herman's Head.") Bernard has also appeared on "The Cosby Show," "St. Elsewhere," "Knot's Landing," "Night Court," "The Flash," and others. Film credits include, but are not limited to, "War Games," "Paint It Black," and "Blue Thunder" (with WC3 co-star Malcolm McDowell).
5.3.9. Rollins (Courtney Gains)
Courtney Gains takes on the role of Rollins in WC3. Gains has been seen
in "Memphis Belle," "The 'Burbs," "Colors," "Can't Buy Me Love," and "Back to the Future," among others. TV credits include "Seinfeld," "Tales From the Crypt," and "In the Heat of the Night," and more.
5.3.10. Flash (Joshua Lucas)
Joshua Lucas, the actor playing Flash, is a regular on "The Man From Snowy
River". On the big screen, he has been seen in "Alive" and "Class of '61."
Originally assigned to be a bridge officer on your ship, you pull some
strings to get him placed on your fighter squadron, where he again takes the role of one of your fellow wingmen. 5.3.12. The Emperor and Prince Thrakhath ----------------------------------------
Yup, it's been confirmed that they're both back for the grand finale.
That, however, is all that's been confirmed. :)
5.4. Will any other members of the Wing Commander cast (Angel, Doomsday,
etc.) make an appearance in Wing Commander III?
Since nothing has been announced, probably not. They may be mentioned in the dialogue, but an actual appearance is unlikely.
5.4.1. What happened to Angel, anyway?
Since Angel (who, in case you forgot, was romantically involved with Blair
at the end of SO2) isn't one of the WC3 regulars, the question of what became of her is raised. The only thing known for certain is that she was _not_ killed on the Concordia (see section 5.5 below). Origin didn't just forget about her, but they aren't saying what happened to her, either. This will be revealed in WC3.
*5.5.* How good do the final cinematic sequences look?
This is obviously a difficult question to answer, not only because it's hard to define in words, but also because it's largely a matter of opinion. Most people I've talked to who have seen some of the actual cinematic footage agree that while it isn't "Star Wars" caliber, and has it's small share of bad acting, most of it is fine and some of it is actually quite good. Though the Kilrathi are fairly easily identifiable as puppets/machines, they have quite a wide range of facial expressions and the lip synching for them is very well done. In any case, it's probably a significant step above other interactive movies on the market today, and should be something to look forward to.
Again, note that these are the opinions of the people I spoke with and are subject to your own whims and preferences. Personal mileage may vary.
5.6. What is the basic plot of Wing Commander III?
The year is 2669 (two years after the end of SO2), and the Kilrathi again have gained the upper hand in the Galactic War. Your old carrier, the TCS Concordia, has been recently destroyed, and you are reassigned to the decrepit TCS Victory. It is here that your adventure begins.
The Terrans have developed a weapon of terrifyingly destructive power called the Behemoth, which they are hoping can tip the scales back in their favor – but before they can use it, a human traitor hands the plans for the weapon over to the Kilrathi. The scientist who designed the weapon is taken to a Kilrathi prison, and you, of course, have to rescue him. As the war draws closer to its climactic finish, you volunteer for a final, desperate suicide mission which is guaranteed to end the war one way or the other.
5.7. How do the events in the Wing Commander novels fit into the storyline?
First off, let it be said that the novels _are_ considered "official" material – that is, the events that transpired in them are assumed to have happened in the "real" (i.e., computer game) WC universe. Among these are the death of Hunter, the adventures of the Tarawa, and the Kilrathi fleet's attack on the core Confederate worlds, including Earth. (A very brief summary of the events in the third novel can be found on page 12 of the WCArmada manual.)
The second and third novels take place in the two-year gap between WC2 and WC3.
* 6. Other miscellaneous questions *
*6.1.* What is the current estimated release date?
November 21, 1994. This is (obviously) subject to change. Filming was completed several months ago, so all that's left now is on the technical end. The 3DO version (see section 6.3) is scheduled to be released in January '95.
*6.2.* What's this I hear about a "Premiere Edition?"
A special collector's "Premiere Edition" of WC3 is being produced along with (and will be released at the same time as) the normal game. While the game itself will be exactly the same as the one in the regular edition, the Premiere Edition contains several extra items you can't get elsewhere. There is a limited number of these being produced, though Origin isn't saying what number that is – so if you want one, get your order in soon! :)
- 6.2.1.* What does it contain?
The Premiere Edition will contain all of the items found in the regular
Special Film Canister Packaging: As the inauguration of the ORIGIN
Interactive Movie (TM) line, only the Wing Commander III Premiere Edition will be packaged in an authentic motion-picture film canister. The Making of Wing Commander III: A video documentary chronicling all the production aspects of the game, from ORIGIN to Hollywood. This video features exclusive interviews with all of the stars and key product development team members.
Wing Commander novel: Fleet Action, by William R. Forstchen. The
third in the successful series of Wing Commander novels by Baen Books. Wing Commander III t-shirt: Featuring the Terran Confederation insignia and classic movie poster cover art created by ORIGIN's Sam Yeates.
ORIGIN Audio CD: Volume 3 of the ORIGIN soundtrack series with award-
winning music from games such as Wing Commander III, ULTIMA VIII: Pagan, Wings of Glory, Pacific Strike, BioForge and Wing Commander Armada. Wing Commander III calendar: A full-size calendar with scenes lifted directly from the game. Something to use all year. Plus more!
- 6.2.2.* Will there be a Premiere Edition for the 3DO version?
Nothing is absolutely certain yet, but probably not.
6.3. What platforms is Wing Commander III being released on?
Both an IBM and a 3DO version are planned. The PC version should run reliably on OS/2 systems with 16 or more megs of RAM. In-house testing is currently being done on this at Origin.
6.3.1. How will the 3DO version differ from the PC version?
The 3DO version will be optimized to take advantage of the 3DO's better
graphics and sound capabilities -- this includes true 16-bit color, a full stereo soundtrack throughout the game, and Dolby Surround sound effects. There will be no installation program required (obviously), so you should be able to just jump in and start playing. CD delays should be shorter, as well.
Ideally, the 3DO and PC versions will ship as close to simultaneously as
*6.4.* Will there be different versions of WC3 available for different
Versions are planned for French and German, with different voice actors re-dubbing the voices in the appropriate languages. Subtitled versions of the game will be simultaneously released with the English version; the actual French and German dubs will come at a later date.
*6.5.* Are there any screen shots available?
Yes; two sets of screen shots have been uploaded onto several major online services by Origin. The first were from some fairly early stages in game development and did not accurately represent what the final product would look like, so they were taken down. The second batch was uploaded within the past few weeks and is still available for downloading.
- 6.5.1.* What do the screen shots contain?
Some external shots of a Confederate Arrow (a light fighter) flying in
space and near a capital ship are present. There are also some images from the cinematic sequences, including a scene with Blair and Paladin standing planetside, Rachel (the flight mechanic) on the flight deck, and Admiral Tolwyn leaning over the desk in his office. No cockpit shots or enemy fighters are present in any of the images.
- 6.5.2.* Are those screen shots from playable sequences or cinematic
Yes, the external shots of the Arrow flying by the Kilrathi capital ship
are from the playable portion of the game. It is obvious which of the pictures are from the cinematic sequences and these also reflect how the game should look on your screen.
- 6.5.3.* Where can I find the screen shots?
You can get them from the official Origin support forum on most online
services, or from the Origin BBS. See section 1.6 for details.
*6.6.* Will a demo be released before the game comes out?
Yep, and what a demo it will be. It wil be fully playable – the first mission will be included, so players can take a look at the new engine and see how it runs on their machine. There won't be any cinematics directly related to this mission included (an intro sequence, mission briefing or debriefing, etc.), but there will be a full-motion video trailer for the movie portion of the game, much like any other trailer you'd see on TV for a movie at the local theater.
The demo is going to be distributed on CD-ROM, and will be included free with the December issues of PC Gamer and CD-ROM Today (which should both hit newsstands on November 8). You'll also be able to buy it at your local software store at about the same time.
*6.7.* What is the list price for Wing Commander III, and how can I
reserve a copy?
List price is $69.95. You can reserve a copy by contacting your local software dealer or Electronic Arts Direct Sales at (800) 245-4525.
Pre-orders for the Wing Commander III Premiere Edition began October 1st. To reserve your copy, call Electronic Arts Direct Sales at (800) 245-4525. The price is $99.95 plus shipping and handling (within the U.S.) Orders received before November 1st will be shipped to arrive by the first day that Wing Commander III hits retail store shelves.
*6.8.* What is the budget for Wing Commander III?
No official figures have been released, but estimates are that it's approaching the area of four million dollars ($4,000,000) – the largest budget ever for a computer game.
6.9. Who is developing and filming Wing Commander III?
6.9.1. Who is involved with the cinematic side of the project? -------------------------------------------------------------------
Over 50 professional filmmakers are on the WC3 team to help bring together
the cinematic portion of the game. Here is a partial list:
Director/Executive Producer Chris Roberts
Producer Donna Burkons Screenwriters Terry Borst Frank DePalma Cinematographer Virgil Harper Art Director Chris Douglas Music George Oldizey
6.9.2. Who is involved with the gameplay side of the project?
Following is a list of the programmers working on the PC version of
the game: Project Director : Frank Savage o Spaceflight engine conversion o New technologies (i.e., Capital ships)
Programmer : Frank Roan
o Spaceflight object system and weapon systems o Artificial Intelligence o Mission system
Programmer : Anthony Morone
o Cockpit/HUD displays and interface o 3D Navigation Map o Communication system and sound effects programming
Programmer : Chris Todd
o Gameflow programming o Cinematics integration
Programmer : Jason Yenawine
o Full-motion video compressor and player o Memory management
There is a second team of programmers in charge of the 3DO version:
Programmer : Peter Shelus
o 3D spaceflight and object systems o Artificial Intelligence
Programmer : Brent Thale
o 3DO conversion of video compressor and player
*6.10.* Other Wing Commander III-related merchandise
- 6.10.1.* Will there be a Wing Commander III Playtester's Guide?
Rather than the typical "Playtester's Guide" that Origin has released with
all of their games as of late, they're compiling a larger strategy guide for WC3 similar to Mike Harrison's _Wing Commander I & II: The Ultimate Strategy Guide_. It should be out within one to two months of the game's release. *6.10.2.* Will the soundtrack for Wing Commander III be released on CD? ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Sort of. :) While a separate WC3 soundtrack may not be released, several tracks of the game's music will be included on the next Origin soundtrack (volume 3) along with selections from other OSI releases. This CD will also be included with the Premiere Edition -- see section 6.2. *6.10.3.* Will any of these extra items from the Premiere Edition be sold separately? -------------------------------------------------------------------- Some of them probably will be, but which ones they are, how much they'll cost, and when they'll be available are still up in the air.
*6.11.* Will WC3 be the last installment of the Wing Commander series?
There will certainly be other games set in the Wing Commander universe (see section 6.12). Whether there will be a direct continuation of WC3 (WC4, in other words), however, remains to be seen, though it seems very likely. Chris Roberts originally envisioned the Wing Commander series as a trilogy, and it sounds as if the story in WC3 will see the end of the Terran-Kilrathi war. If the series continues, WC4 may just be the beginning of a second WC trilogy, rather than a direct continuation of WC3.
Word has it that an actual motion picture may be developed in conjunction with the next installment in the Wing Commander series… wait and see. (Note that this is not based on any official word from Origin).
*6.12.* What other Wing Commander products are planned for the future?
*6.12.1.* Privateer 2 ---------------------
"Privateer 2: Darkside" will be the next installment in the Privateer
series. The project, headed by Erin Roberts (Chris Roberts' brother), is currently in the initial planning stages. Like WC3, it will utilize live acting for all of the cinematic sequences, and will use an updated version of the WC3 engine for the actual gameplay. Privateer 2 is being developed and filmed entirely in the United Kingdom. The current (unofficial) target date is Christmas '95. Origin is taking a lot of suggestions from gamers out there for this one, so if you've got some ideas you'd like to share, send them an e-mail (see section 7.2)!
- 6.12.2.* Super Wing Commander for the Mac
After several years, Origin is once again venturing into the Mac arena with
a port of the 3DO's Super Wing Commander. This will be a CD-ROM only release that should be available this March.
- 6.12.3.* Wing Commander novels
Three new Wing Commander novels are in the works, one of which will be a
novelization of the events in WC3. The "plot path" that the WC3 novel takes (remember, the game has a branching storyline) will most likely involve most of the harder missions from the game, and end with the victorious finish. It is being written by William R. Forstchen (the author of _End Run_ and _Fleet Action_) and Bill Keith.
The second novel will jump back in time and focus on Hunter (when he was
still alive). It is being written by Ellen Guon (co-author of _Freedom Flight_ and lead writer for Wing Commander II). The third novel has been contracted, but the content has not yet been decided; it might be take place over on the Privateer side of the galaxy... *6.12.4.* Wing Commander: The Motion Picture? ----------------------------------------------
There's serious talk going around of an actual Wing Commander movie being
made. We're not talking green-screen acting with computer-generated backgrounds, either, but a real, full-blown motion picture. Nothing is known about the content as of yet, though it may be a crossover with WC4. There has also been some talk of a WC TV series, though nothing is certain, and again, no other details are available right now. Stay tuned.
7. In conclusion…
*7.1.* Credits / sources
The Wing Commander III FAQ was complied and written by James Hogan, but I've had plenty of help…
Thanks to those Origin employees who have taken time from their schedule to answer my questions:
Tony Morone Frank Roan Frank Savage Galen Svanas Chris Todd
Mark Meytin is the person responsible for doing the HTML translation of the WC3 FAQ, which it a tremendous help to those people who access it over the World Wide Web. Thanks, Mark.
Richard Poffley provided me with coverage of the WC3 display at the ECTS (European Computer Trade Show)… thanks!
And a big thanks to all the other people who have forwarded me info, given me ideas, suggested a question or topic to cover, or otherwise helped me with the production of the FAQ… Nicholas Albright
Wayne Baker Ron Blancarte Gary Goodman Paul Fleming Pham Hoang Dieter Janssen Tommy McClain Richard Scanlan BenHerd@aol.com
Other sources include the following magazines…
Computer Gaming World, June 1994, page 14 Computer Games Strategy Plus, August 1994, pages 20-23 PC Gamer, August 1994, pages 8-11 Interactive Entertainment, Episode 3
Additional thanks to Wayne Baker at Origin for helping to answer all of my seemingly endless questions. :)
*7.2.* Where to find out more
There have already been several magazines and other periodicals that have had information on WC3 in them. If you'd like to check any of them out for yourself, here's a list:
AP Newswire June 23, 1994
Austin American Statesman June 20, 1994 CD-ROM Today August/September, 1994 Computer Game Review July, 1994 Computer Games Strategy Plus August, 1994 Computer Gaming World May 1994, June 1994 Daily Variety Magazine Electronic Entertainment April 1994, June 1994 The Hollywood Reporter May 17, 1994 Interactive Entertainment Episode 3 Los Angeles Daily News June 28, 1994 PC Gamer July 1994, August 1994 PC Format (United Kingdom) July, 1994 PC World (New Zealand) June, 1994
Have more questions about WC3 that aren't in the FAQ, or just want to find something out straight from the source? Ask Origin directly:
America Online: OSI GEnie: origin.mkt Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
*7.3.* Contacting the FAQ author
Did you find out another bit of information you'd like to see added? Did I screw something up? Have any questions you'd like answered in the next revision of the FAQ?
If, for these or any other reasons, you'd like to contact me, I can be reached in the following ways (note the change in my AOL screen name):
Internet e-mail: email@example.com (checked several times daily) America Online: JamesH42 (checked once per week) CompuServe: 70524,1343 (checked once per week)
If you contact me about additional information to include in the FAQ, please tell me your source. I'd like to verify all new info to keep the FAQ as accurate as possible.
- 7.3.1.* The WC3 FAQ mailing list
I also maintain a mailing list of people who would like to receive the
latest version of the WC3 FAQ when it is released. If you'd like to be on this, just drop me a line and tell me your name and e-mail address, and I'll see to it that you're added to the list.
*7.4.* Revision history
Version 1.0: Initial release. (8/5/94)
Version 1.01: A few minor changes, including the addition of the WC3 (8/11/94) periodical reference list and this revision history section.
Version 1.10: Revision history section heavily abridged so that it didn't (10/24/94) expand to five or ten pages upon this version's release.
FAQ grew by about 50%; most new info was in section 4,
including more detailed descriptions of what capital ship combat and planetside missions would be like. A basic explanation of what a polygon-based graphics engine is was put in section 3.7. Official information from Origin regarding estimated frame rates, and the WC3 Premiere Edition added to sections 3 and 6. Several other less significant changes too numerous to list.
Well, that's it for this release of the WC3 FAQ. Please write and let me know what you thought; was it useful? Had you already heard all of the information? Was it well-written? Even if you don't have any comments to speak of, please just drop me a line and let me know if you read through it.
Assuming I can scrounge up some more information, a new revision of the FAQ should follow within a couple weeks. (Now where have we heard that before…) Announcements will be posted on AOL, CIS, comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action, and comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.flight-sim.