Origin’s motto was “we create worlds”, an accurate statement when describing the imagination bursting from 1990’s Wing Commander. Created by Chris Roberts (who’s currently working on the behemoth kickstarter project Star Citizen), it raised the bar for storytelling in space. It wouldn’t be topped until 1993’s X-Wing used realistic 3D polygons to outclass Wing Commanders modest bitmaps. But those bitmaps were still incredible for the time.

WC’s appeal extended far beyond visuals. The graphics were engaging enough, but the narrative stole the show. The story was told on many fronts. Colonel Halcyon set the table with mission briefings, while the human element was regaled in the ship’s bar with other pilots and old Shotglass the bartender.

The pilots had distinct personalities and would fly uniquely when paired with you. A friendly kill tracker hung up in the bar, providing a little healthy competition for the aces.

The enemies had aces up their sleeves as well, detailed in the Ship’s Onboard Magazine: ‘Clawmarks’ (included in the instruction manual (those were great)). Learning about Kilrathi pilot Bakhtosh “Redclaw” Nar Kiranka and how “he is an excellent marksman but a mediocre flier” breathed life into the universe and heightened the experience when you finally ran into him.

The information in ‘Clawmarks’ about pilots, tactics, and the political climate could have been written as a dry instruction manual, but going the extra mile to ‘create worlds’ is why Chris Roberts had an army eagerly support Star Citizen.

Missions felt realistic as you traveled through several nav points, sometimes, not seeing enemies at all. It made you feel like a pilot living on a Carrier, putting in your shift, chatting with wingmen, and potting the odd Kilrathi ship in between grander events.

Contributing to the realistic feel was the ability to lose missions and continue the story (if you survived of course). The story would branch positively or negatively depending on the outcomes. Lose a few missions in a row and morale would be low in the ships bar, but you could always have a string of great missions and turn the tide.

Based on your performance, you’ll earn promotions and the privilege of flying better ships. Even the ships are discussed the first time you meet ‘Iceman’ and ‘Knight’.

Maverick. They call me Iceman. Don’t let Knight here fool you about the Scimitar. It’s a gun-heavy slug. Forget finesse in a Scimitar.Just head straight in, guns blaring. Give me a ship that lets me use my skill… A Raptor, even a Hornet… …or one of those new Rapiers! If half of what they say is true, the Rapier’s a true artist’s ship!”

Knight “Maverick, right? I’m Knight. Welcome to the Killer Bees. You’re flying a Hornet right now, right? Ever flown Scimitars before? I think you’re going to like them. A Scimitar isn’t quite as fast or nimble as a Hornet, but she’s got twice the armour, as well as heavier guns.”

Iceman “And she handles like a Centaurian mud pig.

Knight “Iceman here’ll try to tell you speed and handling’ll save your butt, but I’ll take an extra three centimetres of durasteel plating any day!”

Speaking of which, the flying used a great momentum mechanic that let you boost, cut the engines and powerslide past enemies, firing as you went.

Wing Commander came together perfectly as each of these extra bits of polish and lore helped build an incredibly engaging experience. Alien and Star Wars were sci-fi worlds that felt lived in, Wing Commander felt like you were doing the living.

If you’ve never checked the series out I can still recommend both Wing Commander and for the classic experience. III and IV went crazy with FMV but do have unbelievable casts (Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, Biff from Back to the Future and more).

If Star Citizen can evoke the same personality and passion alongside the visual spectacle, it’ll be well worth the millions pledged so far.

  • Joe_Blober

    Thanks for this nice refresh. Knowing from where Chris Roberts comes explain why he gathered so far 146 M$ in less than 5 years. The all journey stated end of Nov. 2012 at the end of SC kickstarter

    Also a dynamic schedule of all patch to be released till end of 2017:
    https://i.imgur.com/Faeo0Y7

    SQ42 Chapter 1 (solo ala Wing Commander) in mid-2018 and many major patch to Star Citizen.(MMO) as well. Patch in June/July will bring this: From Pupil to Planet

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yLTm8DZ8s4

    • Mathew Falvai

      Wow! So Star Citizen but with things to do.
      I’m rooting for Roberts to pull this epic production off and would love SQ 42 to be great.
      This is the most important gaming kickstarter and will set a precedent moving forward based on its success.

  • Tom Wilson. The actor’s name is Tom Wilson.

    Guy actually made Maniac likable, if you can believe that.

    • Mathew Falvai

      Thanks for that.
      I agree he did a great job providing a deeper characterization than a flat character who’s ‘crazy’. His role was surprisingly important, providing a foil to Blair’s seriousness, suggesting different ways to deal with situations, and of course comedy.

      • I still remember the opening of Wing Commander IV where he mimic’s Hamill’s “Let’s Go,” and feeling like he’d made that character his own. Pretty sure I straight up murdered Maniac in the original WC1, but by III/IV thanks to Wilson, he felt like the last remaining ties to your origins on the Claw and (shockingly) a desirable wingman.

        • Mathew Falvai

          Definitely, Maniac in 1 was as obnoxious as a popular youtuber playing a horror game, yelling nonsense and looking like a young, charmless, Dr Emmet Brown.
          Wilson’s Maniac was a clever commentator, making witty remarks and looking like an older, much more charming Bif.

    • Mathew Falvai

      I dig your stuff at DF

    • Mathew Falvai

      I dig your stuff at Digital Fiasco.

      • Thanks! We do our best to make Dandr0id’s frustration amusing.