MiGMan's Flight Sim Museum < www.migman.com >

Exhibit: Strike Commander

Chris Roberts on the development of Strike Commander.

" Recently, I watched the film Heart of Darkness, which chronicled the tremendous struggles that Francis Ford Coppola went through in creating Apocalypse Now. In many ways, the creation of Strike Comniander has helped me identify with his plight.

It was two and half years ago, just after the release of Wing Commander, that I started out on what I then estimated to be a one-year project. I set out to create an industry shattering flight simulator that would encompass a revolutionary new 3-D system, a system that I planned to use for Wing Commander III and hoped would form the basis of a whole new generation of ORIGIN games. This system, which we later named RealSpaceTM, became the heart of Strike Commander.

To make RealSpace truly revolutionary we decided to gamble on two major graphics techniques: Gouraud shading and texture mapping. Both of these techniques are used extensively on high-end military flight simulators costing millions of dollars. Their application gives rendered 3-D images a much more realistic and fluid appearance appearance. "

Because of the power needed to implement such a 3-D system, nobody had previously dreamed of doing so on a PC.

For us to pull this off in software, we knew we had to make some risky assumptions. First, that the power-to-price ratio of PCs would continue to decline, thereby delivering affordable PCs of adequate speed to our target market. Second, and more importantly, that the same forces that had created a demand for Wing Comniander - those power-hungry 386 owners - would generate a demand for games that exploited the next generation of PCs, the 486.

When creating Wing Commander, there were many who doubted the game would sell because of their lack of faith in the high-end PC market. This time, however, everyone believed in the market and, as time went on, the doubts revolved around our ability to create the engine.

In the spirit of wanting it all, we set out to design a game that would have more realism than the best flight simulator, better storytelling, more fun and more accessibility than Wing Commander, and the best sound effects, music and graphics of any game ever created. Our biggest mistake was thinking that we could achieve all of this in a single year. Our biggest setback was the realization that it would take more than two. But our journey had begun and there was no turning back.

" And now, a little humbler, we've reached the end of our long and arduous journey. We look at Strike Conunander and see a game that every member of the team can say, "Yes, It was two years of hell, but at the end of it we've created something that is very special and I'm proud of it."

I have never seen such selfless dedication from such talented individuals as the team that created it. Strike Commander is the game it is because of them. Each time I think about the dark circles under eyes, the unshaven beards, the late night pizzas and the neglected spouses and girlfriends, I wonder what it is that makes us do this.

One reason might be that the entire Strike Commander team, which has grown to as many as twenty people, are all avid computer game players. We buy and play all our competitors' games, looking forward to the latest developments in our field. If we weren't writing games as a profession, we would be hating our day jobs and writing them at night. I hope this makes us as demanding and discriminating as anyone that plays our games. Although it sounds cliched, for us it is much more than a job.

I can think of no greater pride it would bring a team member than to have someone approach him at a computer store and tell him that

Strike Commander was the best game they've ever played.

We hope you'll agree.

Chris Roberts "

From the Strike Commander manual.