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In this section of the Wing Commander Saga webpage, you can find historical details about development of Wing Commander Saga.

A Look Inside WC Saga’s Beta Testing (Part 2)

FROM: Colonel IceFire, TCN ONI
DATE: 2011.24.12

Hello fellow fans! I am back again with another Beta Testing update. This time I will be mentioning some of the progress made to date as well as talking about the “Green Lighting” process.

Beta Testing Progress

The beta testers and the WC: Saga team are as busy as ever as all of the crucial come together.

The latest round of testing takes us into the back half of the WC: Saga campaign featuring both small and large scale engagements. Larger numbers of fighters and sometimes epic capital ship battles are just some of the treats in store.

The increase of scale also means that testing is vital to ensure that the gameplay experience works well. If the player will be called on to make meaningful contributions to every mission and objective and that has to work no matter what is happening in the mission.

The last couple of weeks have seen a new build released to testers including several new missions featuring the Excalibur. The elite Confed heavy fighter is truly a fantastic weapon and players will enjoy flying this space craft when it becomes available. The WC: Saga Excalibur features everything from aim assisted guns to auto-slide and a judicious number of missiles – just what is needed to complete the next set of missions.

A couple of new issues to share since the last update:

  • One of the capital ships in the game had a missing floor on an observation deck inside one of the launch bays. Geometry fixed and model updated.
  • Your wingman on one of the missions decides not to fire on remaining Kilrathi fighters after achieving a main objective. Problem solved.
  • During a convoy escort the Kilrathi tend to ignore some of the transports. The solution was to add some additional bombers to beef up the attack. This will force the player to take action to defend the convoy.

Green Lighting

As testing continues there comes a time when the content has to reach a completed stage. For WC: Saga this process is called “green lighting”. When a mission reaches a certain level of polish then testers check the fine details to look for any lingering problems.

Here are just a few things that testers are checking:

  • All objectives are present.
  • Wingmen are behaving appropriately to the situation.
  • Voice and message text match.
  • Autopilot cameras work correctly (i.e. no ships fly through the camera for example).
  • The debriefing is correct and matches the end scenario.
  • Your wingmen don’t bump into you while taking off.

There are many more hurdles that must be completed before a mission has been fully checked out. Once a mission has passed all of the checks it can be green-lit and considered finished barring any last minute adjustments.

The Saga Continues

Progress continues on WC: Saga as testers continue to fly missions and discover bugs. Sometimes that means replaying the same mission over and over again to expose bugs or take different actions to test the mission outcomes.

That's it for now. Enjoy some great new screen shots and I'll be back with a third update on beta testing progress in the near future. Until then!


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Proper Widescreen Support

DATE: 2011.18.12

I think it's about time we brought you up to date with one of the changes that have been added to the engine recently: proper widescreen support. This means, that the game will no longer render HUD elements in the hard-coded 1024x768 resolution and then stretch the result to make the elements appear wider. Unlike its predecessor The Darkest Dawn does scale properly at screen resolutions that don't have a 4:3 aspect ratio. From now on HUD elements will be rearranged on the right and the left if you have a widescreen monitor, and look like the image below.

Another feature we are really excited about is the support for more cut scenes. Originally implemented two years ago, this allows the game to play movies before or in place of briefings, debriefings, etc. You all know that Saga does use this to some degree. Whether we were crazy enough to drop text based briefings completely and go for only cut scenes before each mission is another matter.


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A Look Inside WC Saga’s Beta Testing (Part 1)

FROM: Colonel IceFire, TCN ONI
DATE: 2011.07.12

Tolywn is hard at work coordinating the next stages of the Wing Commander Saga development so I thought I would give him a break from writing the latest news update.

Some may recognize my old call sign. I've been around the Wing Commander fan world for far too many years (I mean that in a good way). I was introduced to the original game back in 1991. I had to fight to make it to work on that now ancient computer but the effort was well worth it and I have been a fan of the series ever since. I played an extremely small role in getting the Saga team started but I can take very little credit for the hard work has been done by the core team of developers for the last several years.

Beta testing

Most gamers are familiar with the concept of beta testing. Up front it sounds glamorous and exciting to test the latest game and see the latest features. The reality is that the interesting parts are offset by the need to be precise and to test over and over. When something is (or isn't) found, the need to be precise and report the problem in as much detail as possible is vital.

The WC Saga Project's beta test operates on the same principles. The beta test for Saga started out with the first couple of missions in a very early build and subsequent releases have given the testers a deeper look into the game and each of its missions as the testing progresses.

Bugs, bugs, bugs

It is inevitable that no matter how good the developers are, there will always be some sort of error, problem, issue or artistic consideration that has escaped scrutiny. I was recently quoted as saying "I can't recall a time where Wing Commander Saga has been anything but completely stable in these beta tests." That would be true. Since the beta test began I've had absolutely no problems that caused a crash to desktop, a freeze, or other significant game-ending problems.

The kinds of problems you tend to have more on this project are gameplay related. Here are a couple of examples:

  • On one of the missions a Terran carrier arrives at a jump point along with its battle group. The carrier is last to arrive and unfortunately was following the same waypoints as an escorting destroyer. Due to game engine considerations the carrier arrives "through" the destroyer and proceeds to fly its waypoints unharmed. Fixed!
  • In another mission a group of AI piloted Thunderbolts is supposed to attack a couple of Kilrathi destroyers. The AI instead attacked any enemy craft. Order priorities needed to be altered to make the Thunderbolts do what they were supposed to do. Fixed!

Other problems include issues with the 3D model data resulting in problems with the arcs of turrets such as laser turrets firing through the ship they are mounted on. Identifying the problems is a huge part of the battle. Corrections are made, tested and introduced in the next build of the project.

Testing sometimes borders on the more artistic side as well. In the early beta tests, the mainhall music might have been described as "dramatic". Personally I had developed a habit of turning down the volume when the menu screen was about to appear, however, with some feedback and some fabulous work from the music composer, the theme now builds up brilliantly from a confident but slightly more subdued introduction into that dramatic theme I was talking about earlier.

Ongoing efforts

Testing continues for the WC: Saga project. It really is a monumental effort and everything is considered with a great deal of thought. This is a true fan project and a labour of love. I think that it will show in the final release.

I will be back next week with a few more sumptuous screen shots and a couple more peeks behind the curtain at the beta testing process.


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New Teaser available

DATE: 2011.24.11

Earlier this week, we announced on Twitter that a new teaser will be released very soon, which happens to be today. So, without further ado, we are happy to present to you the latest Wing Commander Saga Teaser.

It is a time of desperation and despair. Still reeling from the ghastly toll of the Battle of Terra, humanity finds itself pushed closer and closer to the brink of extinction at the hands and claws of the savage Kilrathi Empire. The Confederation is trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of defeats, and hope is slipping away. Already, the Kilrathi are making their final preparations to finish off humanity once and for all.

The end, it seems, is near.

In this setting, human drama is at its most extreme intensity. Hope, fear, desperation, courage, camaraderie, and loss are part of the daily struggle for the people who refuse to stop fighting, even in the face of seemingly inevitable defeat. This is humanity's greatest struggle, its defining moment. This is the Wing Commander Saga.

The teaser has been embedded for your viewing pleasure. While it does not depict an explicit moment in the Wing Commander Saga's story, we believe that it captures its tone. The teaser lasts for about thirty seconds and gives you a glimpse of our CGI animations. Click here, watch, and enjoy! There is more to come soon.


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New Media available

DATE: 2011.20.11

With the game getting ready to launch soon, we are working hard on ironing out remaining issues, so that you will get the game that you want and deserve.

Regarding our current progress: I will say the entire team is really psyched right now about the way things are coming together. We think that the energy and synergy we are finding right now will really show in the final product. So while you wait for the next chapter in the unique Wing Commander franchise, we've got some brand new screenshots to share with you. More after the jump.

In these screenshots you'll see some glimpses of various star system as well as our upgraded lighting and shielding system. For anyone hungry for more, we've also added some additional video material to our YouTube channel. Fans of the Wing Commander III designs will not be disappointed. Take a look!

Wing Commander Saga: Raw Gameplay Footage Wing Commander Saga: Raw Gameplay Footage Wing Commander Saga: Raw Gameplay Footage


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Meet the voices behind some of the characters in Wing Commander Saga!

DATE: 2011.08.11

Those of you that follow us closely will have heard the news that we have reached another yet another milestone. Last week we got the VO (voice over) work done. Our thanks to every voice actor that contributed to the development process. This milestone has inspired our new blog post: today we would like to introduce you to several actors behind some of the characters in Wing Commander Saga. Sitting atop the list of new voice talent is Sean Crisden as Sandman. Also joining the cast are (from left to right): Andi Kravljaca, April Lawrence, Danielle McRae, Edwyn Tiong Yung Ron, Jacob Barrens, Jamaal Ephriam, Jennifer Alyx, Jerome Santucci, Joel R. Putnam, Karen N. Kahler, Kevin P. McCulley, Kira Buckland, Kirby Kern, Lewis Roscoe, Mike Barton, Peter Sandon, Robert Benjamin Jr., Ryan Anderson (reprising his role as Ninja), Scott Stoked, Steven Richards, Ted Alexander, Tori Kamal, Zach Holzman...

Sean Crisden Andi Kravljaca April Lawrence Danielle McRae Edwyn Tiong Yung Ron Jacob Barrens Jamaal Ephriam Jennifer Alyx Jerome Santucci Joel R. Putnam Karen N. Kahler Kevin P. McCulley Kira Buckland Krby Kern Lewis Roscoe Mike Barton Peter Sandon Robert Benjamin, Jr. Ryan Anderson Scott Stoked Steven Richards Ted Alexander Tori Kamal Zach Holzman

...and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

It's been incredible to work with such a talented group and we can't wait for everyone to actually hear them in the game. Who was your favorite actor/character in Wing Commander Saga: Prologue?


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Saga has 11000 Lines of Dialogue

DATE: 2011.07.11

At the heart of fancy space combat action is always a good conversation - last week we got the voice over work done, and it came out fantastic. Wing Commander Saga will feature an incredible number of lines of dialogue recorded: between 10.000 and 11.000, versus Prologue's 700 lines. 11.000 lines of dialog sounds like a lot for a fan project. Voice recording ran for over seven months, amounting to nearly 100.000 words recorded – that’s almost 10 hours of dialogue.

The overall experience was amazing - as were the actors. These guys and gals just nailed it. I'm not going to pretend that my direction helped them - they really didn't need it.

One way in which Saga stands apart from any other Freespace SCP engine based game is the way we handle player's orders: any command issued by Sandman is fully voiced, making the overall gaming experience more immersive.

As a little treat, we're releasing new screenshots to go along with this news update. Enjoy!

As ever, tweet us or facebook us with thoughts and complaints. We need love.


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Latest beta update

DATE: 2011.18.10

Last month, we announced that the next phase of the beta test is about to start. Since then, we’ve been overwhelmed by the number of requests we’ve received to beta-test. We’ve invited a number of new testers in, but if we’ve missed you then don’t worry - we will continue to invite more testers as the release date draws nearer.

Over the months following the start of the beta test, we’ve continued to listen and monitor discussions and requests related to the game design. We are still quite open to ideas. As we are adding finishing touches and smoothing over any wrinkles the beta testers find, the game comes closer and closer to completion. As it stands we're about 67% through the beta test and we're close to mastering the first 18 missions.

We thought we would take a little time out to explain what we’ve changed, improved and added:

  • There are a number of small improvements, some are very subtle but all of them combine to make the game work smoother and faster.
  • Music is a wrap. The quality and effort our composers put into the production is to be commended.
  • Introducing new ships is always a challenge - a lot of game balancing had to be made to find the right gameplay dynamics.
  • We’ve also completely changed the way Saga handles player’s voice - his lines are no longer put through a radio filter to make them sound like they're coming over a low-bandwidth connection. This makes it easier to connect to Sandman and identify the lines which are spoken by “us”.  
  • We’ve redesigned the in-flight communication system. Everybody has commented on a marked improvement of immersion feeling by now. We’ll go more into detail in one of our upcoming update.

A nice side effect of the feedback from our beta testers is a collection of testimonials that we can use to keep you up to date with progress and gameplay mechanics. Here are a few random quotes from six different testers:

«Wing Commander Saga will surely deliver the best experience you can get in Wing Commander Universe. Considering it is a mod based on the modified Freespace engine it is amazing, how the developers were able to retain the feeling of the original, introducing exceptional visual and audio, storytelling and gameplay. Diversity is it's middle name - you will not get bored with this one. Each mission is different and has its own memorable moments and characters (jokes and easter eggs also included as well as few cameos). The game is well thought out in every respect. You can see that the team responsible for this one gave it their soul, heart, sweat and tears. You can bet on one thing for certain - it is worth the wait... it is a rough diamond that needs to be polished.»

«When considering this game is being developed in the free time of the devs its professional finish is that much more amazing. The textures and lighting are incredible and the backdrops are gorgeous. The missions are incredibly well put together and the in game communications between the pilots and to and from capital ships is prefect. What makes the game shine though, is its voice cast. They're the (shiny) icing on the amazing cake. The graphics and music make you feel like you're there. But when the in mission banter starts you ARE there. You can't help but wince when you hear someone's ejecting and you feel obligated to help out your wingmen when they shout for help. The love for Wing Commander truly shines through during missions.»

«As a standalone game, WC Saga pulls you into the Wing Commander universe with modern graphics, a believable storyline, fighters and bombers you were familiar with as well as the next generation of fighters and bombers. Are there differences in this game and the other Wing Commander games? This game is running on a Freespace-2 engine and actually has better graphics than the original games. Other than that, the differences are no more than the differences seen from between each of the other Wing Commander games and their successor.»

«Playing through the Saga beta gives me a similar feeling to the old school games, which is a great thing. The initial atmosphere when you boot it up SCREAMS Wing Commander loud and clear. I love the revised interface of the main hall, it goes a long way to removing vestiges of "Freespace" and making this its own game. The soundtrack that greets you is also something special, kudos to the composer.»

«I stayed up too late last night playing the Beta. Cheating a little, I skipped around the missions a bit (to the good parts... the parts that I'm in), but I must say this is a LOT of fun to play! Any fan of WC3 or WC4 should have a blast with this. Early congrats to the entire programming team!»

«How Saga works at the moment is fine for me. It refines the very essence of WC and adds a lot of modern features (more ships at once, nice fs2open gfx etc.) and an unbelievable amount of heart blood. To be honest: I did never expect Saga to be this awesome. So I don't care about features that "could have been" in the game. If you had the time and would get paid for it you probably would have programmed a new engine to do everything from scratch. What we have already seen in this beta is far more than enough to say that this is one of the most ambitious fan projects of all time and I'm sure you've got one or another ace in the hole.»

There are still a few hitches and we are going to continue the beta test for a few more weeks. Once again, we would like to thank everybody who’s been involved with Wing Commander Saga so far. As ever, we look forward to your questions and comments: tweet us, facebook us or send us some abuse via email. Let’s go blast some cats!

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Saga Stats

DATE: 2011.25.09

In its current state, Saga has the following

  • Over nine hours of voice dialogue.
  • Approximately 70 cut scenes for a total of about 90 minutes of pre-rendered footage (not counting in-flight communications and command briefings).
  • Over 60 voice actors, some of whom are actual professionals.
  • 221 voice acting roles.
  • 55 missions.
  • Achievements (mission performance is evaluated and rewarded)
  • 90 models created for Saga.
  • Download size of 3-4GB with an installation size of 8-9 GB

What is our status? The game is fully playable, and we are currently in beta testing. Our beta testers have access to 60% of the game right now. We are using an iterational approach to the beta test. Every 14-21 days a new beta is released to our testers which incorporates new assets as well as bug fixes and improvements based on the feedback received after the previous beta release.

Comment us, tweet us, or facebook us if you're happy or unhappy about anything.


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Apply for Phase Two

DATE: 2011.11.09

We anticipate the next phase of the beta will begin sometime next week. All players who had access to the first phase will retain access. To participate, fill out the beta tester sign up form.

Beta testers need to meet the minimum computer specifications – detailed on the "System Requirements" page – and have internet access.

Interest in games -- especially space sims -- is an advantage, as is any testing experience you might have. Applicants have to be aware that beta testing is not just about playing and having fun with the game, and that there is work involved. Testers will be asked to devote several hours per week to testing and will be asked to test certain missions, weapons, or ships. Testers will also be required to send in bug reports and answer the occational test survey to be able to continue their participation in the beta test.

We are looking for people that can communicate their ideas clearly and have an eye for detail. During the testing process, you will have to explain to us how you found potential bugs and problems in the game and how to reproduce them. We will also ask for your views on game design and playability in order to improve the game. This gives participants several opportunities to contribute to the creation of Wing Commander Saga.

We can't overestimate the value of fresh play tester eyes on the product. As developers, we look at the thing all day, everyday, and to be honest, we lose perspective. When we're able to watch a new "fresh to the game" player run through the game, we get to see the game play out in a whole new way. We get to see when things are good, but more importantly, with the aide of our new set of eyes we can't hide from something that's just not working. We're forced to face it and fix it -  which leads to a stronger product.

- Tolwyn

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