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Classic Games (Games)

Wing Commander 3 Reaches Ten Year Milestone 104

An Anonymous Reader writes "The Wing Commander CIC is reporting on the tenth birthday of the classic PC game, Wing Commander 3. "Much like Wing Commander 2 with the sound card and Wing Commander Prophecy with the 3d accelerator, Wing Commander 3 encouraged a legion of PC gamers to go out and buy a CD-ROM drive for hundreds of dollars. In little over four years we went from a handful of floppy disks to a stack of CDs. Once computers had their CD-ROM installed, systems with only 8 megabytes of RAM sufferred 5+ minute load times before the missions. Still, we happily waited for one of the most incredible gaming experiences ever." Though the game obviously looks dated by today's standards, it's held up remarkably well as a vehicle of adventure and storytelling. It's amazing that it's already been ten years."
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Wing Commander 3 Reaches Ten Year Milestone

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  • The Memories (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Razman ( 223616 )
    I cannot believe it has been ten years already!

    I hope some games, like movies and music, are remade, with better graphics and such, hopefully without destroying the game we all came to remember. ;)

    though it seems like space flight sims are not a popular as they used to be.

    Wing Commander/Mech Warrior have all died off it seems.
    • Re:The Memories (Score:2, Informative)

      by sick_soul ( 794596 )
      There's a remake project [] for WC game "Privateer". Seems open source.

      Wing commander 1-3 have been remade (but long ago) by Origin into the Wing Commander - Kilrathi Saga [] product. Seems they did not much more than slow down the game for less ancient machines though.

      • Alternately, DOSBox [] has gotten a lot better at running Privateer since 0.62 was released (current is 0.63). It went from really choppy and stuttery to playable at a frameskip of 3 on my P4 1.7 GHz machine. Since the game is designed to run at 20-30 fps, not much difference can be seen, especially since I played the game at slower framerates on a 386 originally.
    • I hope some games, like movies and music, are remade, with better graphics and such, hopefully without destroying the game we all came to remember. ;)

      I think the reason we remember a lot of those games is because of the great job they did with limited graphics like the original Wing Commander (1990?) at the time. Games like Beam Rider on the Atari were also pretty special because of the involved and busy graphics. Given today's multi-million dollar investments in a single game, high speed/resolution gr

  • so anyone know where i can download that shizzle?

    i downloaded a copy of dune 2 [] recently and was surprised that i was able to play it on a modern computer. no sound tho.

    • Dune 2 plays very well on Dosbox []. I should know, i tried the game not too long ago to see if it was as good as i remembered and spent a couple of hours playing, nonstop. I should've known better...
      • HAWT! now i just need that copy of wing commander and i'm good to go!

        but oh man playing dune 2 in a window with sound...i might not get any work done again EVAR.

      • I find DosBox slow for most old apps, even on my 2ghz machine. As such, I always try with VDMSound first, since usually the soudn is all you really need to emulate.

        Oh, and Star Control II will always be the best space fighter evar.
  • It's nice to remember games that make people upgrade, lest we forget how we can fall behind. Games like Far Cry, World of Warcraft, and Half-Life 2 have DVD options: the more high profile games that make the switch and don't go back, the less we are going to have to swap 6 discs when we install. Come on, everyone! DVD drives in your computers already! They're only like 20 bucks for a cheap one.
    • I think in Europe DVD only games are a bit more common, I don't think CD versions of Far Cry or Half Life 2 are availible. World of Warcraft comes on neigther, it's not out until next year.
      • and you are in which country?.... It was released 2 weeks ago in Australia... of all places

        Of course its completely sold out... reminds me i need to go put a deposit down on a copy or i'll never have it for Christmas

        But WC3.... now that brings back memories... played it on my macintosh powerPC 100mhz with 17inch trinitron av monitor, only game that ever made me really scared (when the kilrathi ace stabs his girlfriend in the stomach and lifts her up with his claws, the game cuts back to the mission, sel

  • Elite (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kardamon ( 54123 ) on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:52PM (#11073105)
    My favourite classic space sim remains Elite [], which is 20 years old this year.
  • by eviltypeguy ( 521224 ) on Monday December 13, 2004 @12:53PM (#11073112)
    Oh, the horrible acting...

    But, it had John Rhys Davies, that makes it good right?

    Oh, and Mark Hamil too!

    But, the worst line from an actor in this game:

    "Disintegrate me, so I may join my comrades..."

    *dies laughing*
    • Yeah, but Tom Wilson (aka "Biff" from BTTF) was great in his role as Maniac in WC 3-5.
    • JRD is awesome with his accents. He can do an arabic accent (Indiana Jones) to his scottish accent from WC3, to being a surly dwarf in LOTR (which I suppose is based on the scottish accent). Malcolm McDowell played a cool evilish admiral (Interestingly, he did WC3 during his apparent sci fi phase, where in 1994 he also did Star Trek Generations and the amazangly unpopular Cyborg 3 - The Recycler. [] As for Hamil, lets face it, he was as good an actor in WC3 has he was in Star Wars, but a story that good can
  • Prophecy (Score:2, Informative)

    I didn't play wing commander 3, but i have many fond memories of WC Prophecy. The missions and space dogfighting were great, and an added bonus, Mark Hamill! Heh well the gameplay was still good.
  • I don't think it was III. I'm leaning towards II, but whichever one opened with an Origin "symphony" being conducted. Man, that put my Sound Blaster to the test. Actually it was the original Wing Commander, after checking out some of the info [] WCNews has on the game, it all comes rushing back: the Tiger's Claw... ah, the joys of youth.
  • ...look damn nice. Not that it's a surprise, since it's based on the Freespace 2 [] engine, a sadly underrated game, which looks incredible on modern hardware as well. I'm eager to try that one...
  • If you hadn't gotten Mark Hamill to play Blair, would the final mission still have had the player flying down a canyon to drop a world-destroying bomb on a small target?
  • The game that caused me to buy a CD-ROM drive for the first time was "Return to Zork." Man, I had so much fun with that game... and the awesome graphics and movies... Wow. Memories... :-) I think my second CD-ROM title was "The 7th Guest." Things seemed more fun back then...
    • Heh (Score:3, Interesting)

      I actually bought "Return to Zork" on floppies. Rather than real full video, you just had these strangely animated pictures.

      Want some rye? 'Course you do!

      • OH MAH GAW.

        that 'want some rye' line, you just awoke a part of my long-buried psyche man, that is awesome. god that makes me feel so old, i'm gonna have to see if i can find that cd tonight.
        • In Zork Grand Inquisitor, when you're playing as Lucy, read the bartender's mind. On the first click he says "want some rye" and on the second one he says "course ya do!"
        • If you play it, remember not to use "!" in the saved game name. On my copy, it exited directly to DOS. I later met one of the beta testers in collge and gave him some grief about it. ;)

        • I figured that was bound to get at least one reaction. :-)

      • Every day I would ask my friend, as we walked out from classes...

        "Want a ride? Course ya do!"

        And then there's the toast...

        "Here's to us! Who's like us? Damned few! And they're all dead!!!!"

        I don't think I've been to our local pub and NOT toasted at least twice to that one. Oh Zork, how you defined the lives of geeks.
    • Mine was for "Rebel Assault" and "King's Quest 6 Multimedia Version" (same as floppy version but with voice acting)
      • The CD version of King's Quest 6 had a lot more than just voice acting - there was some pretty sweet CGI FMV for the time - I watched the opening movie over and over again - hi-res headshots (with lip-sync, no less) and interface, a full-length CD-quality song at the end, etc. A superb early CD-ROM title.
        • Oh yeah... I think I remember that too. It's been a while though, of course... All I remember for sure was the shopkeeper in the England-like middle ages land had a heavy Jamaican accent:

          Good daaaaaaay Preeence Alexander!

    • I don't think it was Return to Zork, that came a few years later after MPC systems were pretty common. It was Zork Nemesis (and I just reinstalled it the other day to play it again) IIRC.

  • And I would tend to agree. Myst had a wider customer base and you didn't have to have the sound on so your boss wouldn't know you were playing.
  • Ah, the classics - this was right at the advent of the cd-rom revolution, of course, a time when games had just started to push the big-budget envelope.

    They were actually offering a lot more at the time, too - the box not only had the game cds, but separate install and game manuals, which introduced your character to the TCS Victory, as if it were written in the fictional universe. The original games even had fold-out blueprints of the ships, complete with fictional statistics and flight characteristics.

    • Yeah, I miss all of that. They could even fit stuff like that in the microboxes too, but no one seems to want to write anyhing like that. I remember games like battle of britton and secret weapons of the luffwaffe coming with huge spiral bound books talking about the history of the war and the planes and menuvers.

      I especially loved thumbing through the field guides for wing commander when I didn't have time to get on the pc to play (was my dad's pc).

      Now a days you open up the box and you get paper slip co
  • by Qrlx ( 258924 ) on Monday December 13, 2004 @01:35PM (#11073482) Homepage Journal
    I'm pretty sure it was Windows 95, and the 20-some-odd floppies required to do a clean install, that had people buying CD-ROM drives. The fact that the floppies were guaranteed to fail on disk 6, 7, or 8 after you used them a few times didn't hurt either ;)

    I mean, I'm sure there are a few people out there who bought a CD-ROM drive just to play Wing Commander III, this is the same small yet profitable sliver of the market which buys GeForce 6800s to play DOOM III. But for the mass market, it was Windows 95 that led the consumer, grumbling, to the realm of the 2x Mitsumi.
    • Back in the day Origin always pushed new technology. You could always bet that any new Origin game meant you needed to upgrade.

      Wing Commander was one of the first games to require Extended (Expanded?) memory to get extra in flight graphics. Wing Commander II pushed digital audio forcing (laugh) many gamers to buy digital sound cards. The same can be said with the Ultima series.

      Lucas was often pushing the performance envelope too.
      • Remember the problem back in the day: you can only address memory up to the 0xFFFF (65535) address space, so in order to add more, they added a "page frame", which was a chunk of space taken from the empty B7FF to EFFF (or therebouts) area and paged in and out. The memory manager for doing this was (natch) QEMM, or MS's EMM386.EXE.

        Extended memory is simply memory added after 0xFFFF, but DOS couldn't get at it, being only 8 bit. In order to get at the extended memory, the CPU had to switch to protected mod

        • Didn't all the DOS games that needed XMS use the DOS/4GW [] DOS extender?
          I didn't run my DOS games in Windows, and I still don't. I've got a K6-2 hanging around for the occasional blast from the past.
    • Windows 95 wasn't out.
    • Heck yeah. I had OS/2 2.1 on 24 floppies for the longest time and only got to install it once. I kind of wish I had it back, I've got a couple more modern machines here I'd have liekd to experiment with it on.
  • When I think of the CD-Rom gaming age, I think of that HUGE company 'Rocket Science'. They had directors and modelers that helped make movies such as Alien. Wired even did a big story on them. What ever happened to them? I guess when they tried to jump on the FMV bandwagon they missed.
  • random trivia: The first game to ever come on PC-CDROM was Loom from LucasArts. Also wasn't Wing Commander IV the one that came with a pile of CDs? I thought that 3 just had one or two.
    • King's Quest V may have beat Loom to the punch.

      Wing Commander IV came with 6 CDs... Wing Commander III came with either three or four.
    • WC3 had four CDs. WC4 had six, possibly seven, or it came on one DVD. WCP came on 3 CDs (better video compression, don'tchaknow.)

      • WC4 was six. There was a DVD version of WCP made, but not released. It was to be bundled with one of the Creative Labs DVD kits, but Creative ended up going with a different game for mass production.
        • I'll also point out that, if you can find them, some of the novels by William R Forstchen are good reads.

          I find that the ones written to fill in parts not covered by the games are especially good; Action Stations and False Colors come to mind immediately. Fleet Action, I believe it's called, is another good one.

  • Back in 1994-95 I Was working at Walden Software (EB) and the store directive said they would phase out floppies over the next year and all merchandise would be replaced with CD-ROM. Although I had recently purchased a Tandy Single Speed CD rom drive ($400) I thought they were crazy to set such goals for the common public. It was about this time that Rise of the robots and a few other games hit the market and took a little over 40 1.4 MB disks to install. Sure enough a year latter the store was converted
    • Although I had recently purchased a Tandy Single Speed CD rom drive ($400) I thought they were crazy to set such goals for the common public.

      Jesus. Why did you spend so much money on a cd drive in 1994?

      I bought my cdrom drive in 1993 for not more than $150.

      Although I remember that this was before ATAPI, and I had to upgrade my soundcard. (Back then, your cdrom plugged into your soundcard, not your IDE controller).

      I remember buying the cdrom drive specifically to play 7th guest, and then being really
      • I think i had it for a long time. it was one of the first Cd-ROMS to come out. maybe it was 1992? It was a tandy drive and the Cd ROM woud slide in and out of the compuer's drive bay. I mean the WHOLE drive would slide in and out and you would lift a lid to put the cd in the top of the drive.
  • It's not such a great event. Wing Commander 3 heralded the death of the series, and the birth of video games like Metal Gear. They may have excellent gameplay, but when you have to sit through hours of dialogue to be able to get to the gameplay, it crosses from gameplay into interactive theater.

    <rant>I use to love the Final Fantasy series, but there's more CG video now than gameplay. I mostly play platformers nowadays so I don't have to deal with that crap.</rant> That's one of the things I

    • The old NES version required you to sit, read and TAKE NOTES on some of the radio sequences in the game. The gameplay was revolutionary but didn't win any awards with the masses. There was no help to call, killing any hostages accidentally or purposely would make it impossible to beat the game and if you missed a hint or radio number, tough. You can't call them back. If anything Metal Gear started the crossing of gameplay into interactive theater.
  • by Hollins ( 83264 )
    I remember playing the original Wing Commander on my Zerox 386/20 with 2MB of RAM and a 70MB hard drive. It used the PC speaker for sound.

    And we liked it.
  • by egarland ( 120202 ) on Monday December 13, 2004 @02:00PM (#11073711)
    How right they are about Wing Commander 2 and the sound card. I remember working to get a friends brand new SoundBlaster 16 working with Wing Commander 2. I listened to the opening enough that I now have engrained in my brain the phrase "How goes the war against the humans?" which almost always meets with puzzled looks when used. It's especially funny when talking to people who deal with desktop support.

    For those who don't remember it I found an mp3 of the opening [].
  • . . . was not the CD-Rom aspect. Most people had picked one of those up either for Myst or for Encylopedias. Rather, what WC3 brought to gaming was the first (attempt at) a truly cinematic experience in a video game. Sure, Cinemaware had done the same thing years prior, but it was hard to call those "cinema" when the characters only had 500 pixels. WC3 was more movie than game, yet it really did create an interactive cinematic video game. Something else a lot of people don't realize is that its blue sc
  • ...this was one of the first games I ever bought.

    I remember that if you completed it, but lost the last mission, Hamill (Blair?!) got killed by the Kilrathi chap sticking his claw in to his guts and lifting him off the ground - at the bottom of the screen you could see someone's hands around Hamill's ankles to help lift him up!! :)
  • The 5+ minute load time mentioned is a bit high. I don't recall the low end spec for the game, but on the family 486DX2/66 with 8 megs of RAM I got it down to 90 seconds to load a mission. There was an 7-8 meg mission file that you could copy over on install that would speed it up considerably. If you didn't copy that file over it would be brutal (but I doubt even 5 minutes unless on a 486/33). And actually, compared to Wing Commander 2, this game was pretty weak in terms of gameplay and story, yet it w
    • No, that's pretty accurate from my recollection :) I played it all the way through on a bare-bones system (486DX/33, 8MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM), and the load times were excruciating. But worth it... what a game! One of the only games where I was at the local Babbages before the store opened on the day it was to be released.
      • Yeah, I did a dejagoogle search before originally citing that 5 minute figure. That seemed to be a common wait time back then, at least for most of the later missions. I recall it to be about 5 minutes from my experience, sometimes even longer. This instantly dropped when you played on a computer with 16 megs of RAM.
  • I remember that the switch to CD Rom fixed some of my complaints about the earlier Wing Commanders.
    Wing Commander II took nearly an hour to install on my 386, without the speech pack
    Speaking of the Speech pack, WC3 had it built in so no need to spend another $15-20 on an addon that only added speech to the subtitled text.

    I remember that Wing Commander 1 was the first program I had that required XMS and I had to get QEMM to play it. Shortly after that DOS 5.0 came out with XMS support built in.
    While I
    • Hah, that brings back memories of getting WCII installed on the family PC. I had problems getting the game to run because it complained of insufficient expanded and extented memory.

      This led me to read the DOS book, and my interest in computers took off from there.

      I thought WCII was a great game: "You cannot defeat the Dhrakkai!"

  • I can remember coming home from the bars and playing this until 3 or 4 AM then getting a few hours of sleep and trudging off to work again. WC 1, 2 and 3 lost me weeks of sleep.
  • I loved that series. I remember playing WC2/WC3 and hooking my PC up to a 700 watt PA amplifier with JBL concert speakers, shutting all the lights off and hearing the whole house rumble when I was fired upon in a dogfight. That was a cool game.

    I've been looking for something comparable to Wing Commander, but it seems the only space-combat title that continues to evolve has to do with the Star Wars universe, which I find a bit on the boring side and too diluted from being endlessly milked.
  • I think I remember paying about $350 american for mine.. good ole Mitsumi 1x CD drive, complete with pull out tray and 16bit ISA controller card!
    Hmm.. I wonder if I can find a picture of it..
  • Is it just me, or did anybody else feel cheated by Hobbes (If I remember his name correctly). I really liked the character during Wing Commander II, and in WC III when he turned - I never saw it coming. I was shocked and angry!

    I loved the Wing Commander series. I played WC2 on my "super fast" 386. Trying to get DOS games like that (and WC3) to work helped teach me enough about computers to help me get a job in IT straight out of highschool. :-)

    10 years later. I remember my flight mates fondly. Paladin
    • Re:Hobbes! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Slider451 ( 514881 ) <.slider451. .at.> on Monday December 13, 2004 @05:46PM (#11076132)
      I, too, was shocked and disappointed when Hobbes turned. He was always my favorite wingman.

      Looks like Origin is responsible for producing more than a few IT pros. Between tweaking bootdisks, soundcards, and CD-ROM drives for the WC series, and 10-base-2 and early 10-base-T cards (NetwareLite, anyone?) for Doom deathmatches, I was all set to start my IT career in 1994.

      Thanks Origin and id!
    • The PC version had the Hobbes explanation cutscene removed from the game. It was restored in the 3DO version. s.avi
  • There wasn't a quintessential game/software package that made me want a CD-ROM drive. I found a dual-speed drive at CompUSA for $150 and jumped on it. I didn't own a CD-ROM game until a few months later when I bought (ironically enough) the Wing Commander II Speech Pack.
  • My copy of WC Prophecy is messed up, i haven't the energy to set WCIV up on here, and WCIII is just a bitch without a dedicated DOS Box, i miss simulated piloting :(
  • Ah... good memories abound. Especially of the earlier two games, I would have to say they were my favourite. I could never really sympathize or connect with the characters in the later games - they often just seemed so one-dimensional and I think the FMV aspect ruined it for me. Granted, the later games were still great space sims, but I much preferred the look and feel of the cutscenes in Wing Commander 1 and 2. Privateer (the first one) was quite good as well. When the animated characters were replaced by

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.