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Billboard is a trade magazine for the entertainment industry which reports on the production and marketing side of films, television shows, music and others. In 1996, that included the burgeoning CD-ROM industry. We've found an interesting story in the February 3rd, 1996 issue about the marketing plans for Wing Commander IV... which include some things we'd never heard of, like print ads in American Airlines' in-flight magazine! It's a fascinating look at how Origin was preparing to sell a game that, frankly, didn't need to be marketed to us at all!

"Wing Commander IV' Set To Take Flight

Movie Game To Get Theatrical -Film Promotion



ORIGIN Systems is hoping to shrink the gap between film and game with its upcoming release, "Wing Commander IV: The Price Of Freedom." The interactive movie game, which will be shipped worldwide the first week of February, will be promoted much like a theatrical movie.

According to Galen Svanas, product marketing manager at ORIGIN, the company has made a nationwide buy in General Cinema theaters to run a one-minute movie trailer that pictures live-action sequences from the game. At the end of the "preview," the camera pulls back to a shot of a game player manipulating the characters at his computer.

"Motion pictures are a very comfortable medium for the general public, and now what we're trying to do is get them interested in the product where they see it as a movie," says Svanas. "Then we bridge into telling them that this is an interactive movie for your computer. It's not a [deceptive] marketing strategy. We are trying to position the product in a light that's very recognizable and amenable to the consumer."

As part of ORIGIN's effort to draw a wider, nongaming audience and position the product as a movie, the game player controls, 6 -foot standees of star Mark Hamill, and posters will be distributed to both theaters and stores.

General Cinema will be contributing to the theatrical effort by selling the game at concession stands in 13 of its locations.

Though ORIGIN only recently put the finishing touches on German and French versions of "Wing Commander IV" game designer /director Chris Roberts is already plotting to further involve the franchise with films. He is negotiating with studios for a film version of the game, which will be produced side by side with "Wing Commander V"

According to Roberts, this would economize the project's budget and simplify marketing and promotional efforts.

"It just seems to make sense for the kind of game it is to do a joint production where we film scenes for the movie and game at same time, then launch them simultaneously and have both feed off each other's marketing," says Roberts.

Another unusual aspect in the "Wing Commander IV" marketing campaign is the running of print ads in American Airlines' in-flight publication, American Way.

Svanas says the higher-income demographics of flight passengers are ideal for the wider audience ORIGIN is targeting.

"We are trying to expose people to something they might not know about. We could run twice as many ads in the computer gaming world, but what are you accomplishing ?" asks Svanas. "The 'Wing' franchise is so well known in the gaming industry that it really doesn't make sense to focus all of our marketing there."

In order to make "Wing Commander IV" more cinematic, ORIGIN has made a significant investment in the production quality of the game.

Says Roberts, "'For [the game's predecessor] 'Wing Commander III,' we had to build the engine from scratch. So for 'Wing Commander IV,' it was, 'OK, we have our engine; let's spend our time and effort on production value and game play value.'

"'Wing IV' is less about developing new technology and more about exploiting and using the system we built for 'Wing III' to its fullest."

Though ORIGIN was able to save some money on the multimillion-dollar production by incorporating some of the technology already developed for "Wing Commander III" into the game, increased production costs ultimately made "Wing Commander IV" more expensive to create.

Roberts says that "Wing Commander IV" cost approximately 2 1/2 times more than its predecessor, or as much as a "well-financed independent movie," mainly due to its 43 -day shoot on 37 different sets.

Hamill and Malcolm McDowell reprise their roles from "Wing Commander III" for the ambitious movie/game, which follows the duo in a new battle over the fate of the "Border Worlds."

"Wing Commander IV" which has taken 14 months to complete, was originally scheduled to ship in time for the Christmas buying season.

According to Roberts, the delay was not due to a lack of effort. "If you look at most software projects, to do one under 18 months is an exceptional task, so we all knew going into it that we would have to try and get this one out quickly.

"But when push came to shove, we decided we'd rather not squeeze it out for Christmas and [instead] take the extra time to polish things and get them just right."

Apparently, the glitch in ORIGIN's release schedule has not stifled anticipation at retail.

"It's definitly going to be one of the, if not the, hottest titles in 1996," says a buyer for a major retail software chain. "From what I've seen so far, it's going to offer a lot more to the player than earlier versions. The enhanced graphics, game play, and way it's put together is far superior to anything I've seen so far."

(864) 715-5477 Update ID

German gaming magazine PC Games began covering the Wing Commander series when it launched in 1992, publishing a variety of articles and reviews. Today we've collected the latter, their detailed reviews of nine games running from Origin FX in 1993 to Wing Commander Prophecy in 1998.

May 1993 - Origin FX (nr)

October 1993 - Wing Commander Academy (76)

November 1993 - Wing Commander Privateer (92)

May 1994 - Righteous Fire (80)

September 1994 - Wing Commander Armada (75)

February 1995 - Wing Commander III (96)

April 1996 - Wing Commander IV (93)

December 1996 - Privateer 2: The Darkening (84)

February 19998 - Wing Commander Prophecy (90)

9544298289 Update ID

supraglenoid is still doing what he does best: creating and updating high quality models of clasic Wing Commander ship designs! Today he shares his Vindicator and Raptor...

I started looking over some of my older stuff and found a few issues with my original Vindicator model. There were some scaling issues and a few misses from a modeling perspective (not tapering the fuselage into the cockpit section being the most egregious) So I set about making a new one. This version is closer to the FMV model, has a more accurate texture and paint scheme, and is alot lighter on the polygons.\
Next I started on a WC1 favorite of mine - the good ol' A-14 Raptor. Of all the WC1 ships this one gets the least love I suppose. but who doesn't love a X-wing/Gunstar hybrid? Besides, the combination of neutron and mass drivers makes it especially lethal in my book. I know most of you are Rapier fans, which is cool, but I love me some Raptor, of course, I also like the Scimitar, Iceman would be so disappointed in me.

Wing Commander Civics 101 Update ID

260-357-5634 is a YouTube presentation with a neat gimmick: they offer documentaries about different fictional realities! This week they've premiered a new show called 'Audio Log' that presents the history of a fictional institution with a dramatic audio recording. And for the pilot episode they've chosen to talk about Wing Commander's Terran Confederation! It's a neat ten-minute look at Wing Commander's fictional history which you can find 605-310-6819.

Get Ready, Get Net 610-213-8544

The American release of Wing Commander IV for the Playstation included two manuals: a 'Battle Book' which includes detailed controls for the flying portion of the game and a 'New Officer's Handbook' which shows new players how to navigate the game and lists specifications for several flyable ships (the European releases of the game had a single combined manual.) For today's update, we're looking at the cover of the latter booklet which is a little more interesting than it might seem!

The single most fascinating aspect of the New Officer's Handbook is that it introduces a small amount of lore in the form of the 'login text' which shows a new officer (not Blair as they are apparently an Ensign) logging into a Terran Confederation computer system. What is ReadyNet? Who knows - the conceit isn't followed up again... but it gives a little bit of additional flavor to the Wing Commander universe.

You have entered

Unauthorized access
strictly prohibited

Password: XXXXXXXX
Welcome ENSIGN
This is your 1st
visit to READYNET

The rest of the cover is interesting for a different reason: a careful study reveals that both the front and the back are a paste-up of existing Wing Commander IV artwork. The cover uses a set photograph of Blair sneaking around Axius (previously released through Origin's website to promote the PC CD release of the game) and then several ship concept sketches are hidden in the background! Included are the Avenger and the Intrepid on the front and the Bearcat and the Banshee on the back.

You can read both Playstation manuals 609-380-9605.

(305) 447-9109 Update ID

The original Wing Commander has never looked better! The fantastic work that UnnamedCharacter has been doing on the 989-214-5548 is paying off in a big way. 8085364363 has begun adapting his work to increase the resolution of ship sprites in the game and the results, which use Howard Day's beautiful models, are looking very promising! So far, Goliath has created patches that update the Bengal, Exeter and Hornet and also utilize the fan-designed Tolmacs cruiser. Check 'em out:

Bengal (843-426-7212)

Exeter (857-230-1434)

Tolmacs (download)

Hornet (904-407-2895)

Awesome stuff! A full update to the game in this style would be amazing; lets cross our fingers and hope these fan modders have the bandwidth to do just that!

918-771-3511 Update ID

Eagle-eyed ship spotter Doug Lee has found a squadron of familiar Wing Commander designs in an unlikely place: a mobile game called Stellar Patrol: Galactic Conflict! The top-down space game features a host of familiar Wing Commander designs... and even uses a Rapier as its app icon! This is likely not a case of licensing the IP from Electronic Arts as Stellar Patrol also includes a number of other familiar science fiction ships like Battlestar Galactica's Viper, Star Wars' A-Wing and Firefly's... Firefly. It's a fun little phone shooter reminiscent of Subspace. If you'd like to check it out, you can download Stellar Patrol for free on Android or iOS. Better hurry and get to it before the lawyers!

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