Nmenth’s Reseach Lab: Magnetism

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It is the first Monday of September, so it is time for another article from Nmenth's Research Lab. This month, we will examine the weapons employing Magnetism in Command & Conquer and see how it compares with reality.

A new technology will be explored in Nmenth's Research Lab on the first Monday of every month. Return next month on the 1st when I take a closer look at Mechs.

Command & Conquer Wiki’s Move to Gamepedia Complete

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As an overdue follow-up to our initial announcement, the Command & Conquer Wiki (EVA Database) is now officially open on Gamepedia. With the only active administrators (myself and Ssskoopa, here called SuperFeatherYoshi) moving to here, the Wikia version will no longer be managed and everyone is advised to use the one on Gamepedia. We've also been cleaning up some higher-tier articles in the meanwhile, such as Global Defense Initiative and Scrin, so we aim to become the definitive source on anything and everything Command & Conquer in the coming months.

Note that moderation here will be even more rigorous against fan fiction, which has damaged the reputation of the wiki in the past. We have already cropped many articles and there's still more to go. We will be posting in the new admin noticeboard in the coming days to help you help us in that endeavour.

And finally, in the name of the administration at the EVA Database, I would like to thank the Gamepedia/Curse staff for their immense help and patience, as well as their readiness to bring us to their platform.

Arcade Attack Interviews Joe Bostic

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A few days ago, the website Arcade Attack, which focuses on retro gaming, sat down with Joseph Bostic, one of the three key people behind the idea of Command & Conquer (the other two being Eydie Laramore and Brett Sperry), and who is now at Petroglyph Games. The interview is quite insightful on the happenings at Westwood Studios way back in the day. Here is an excerpt:

AA: Westwood quickly gained a reputation of producing some of the best games in the world. How do you reflect back on your time on this iconic company and how did you ensure your games were always so consistent?

JB: The magic to creating those games was probably due to small teams with great passion. In those days, the lead programmer had a big, and often primary, influence on the game’s design which led to a measure of consistency.

AA: You worked at Westwood when EA took over the company. Did this takeover impact the company while you were working there and can you describe the atmosphere when the company sadly closed down in 2003?

JB: When EA acquired Westwood, there was very little disruption. I credit Brett Sperry (co-owner of Westwood) for being a champion of keeping the corporate culture of EA separate from Westwood's culture. This was key as it allowed us to continue to work as we always had. The Westwood of 2003 however, was very different. At that time, Westwood had eventually succumbed to the corporate "every game must be a big hit" mentality and that affected the size of the projects as well as the internal culture. This shift from passion to profit took its toll.

Click here to read the rest.

News on Rivals and the C&C Community – Mid/Late August 2018

Let us now catch up with what's been going on on both the official and community fronts while we were inactive.

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Command & Conquer: Rivals, despite still very much being in the so-called "pre-alpha" stage, is now nominally at build 1.0. Redwood Studios have added new social features (one of them called Command & Conquer TV for some reason), two new units (GDI Juggernaut and Nod Giga-Cannon), and just five days ago, Brazil became the third country (alongside the United States and Canada) to receive access to the game on Android. The French CnCSaga attended the recently finished gamescom event with a business pass, and managed to take pictures of the Rivals stand on the first, second, and third days. For some reason, it appears that the Rivals stand was not available to those without a full business pass.

Now on to what the community has been up to:

  • Our good friend @Nyerguds has released his latest tool - the Engie File Converter. Originally intended for converting files from the Nintendo 64 version of Command & Conquer, this tool now supports some of the usual C&C file formats like SHP and WSA, and is able to optimize their compression.
  • W3D Hub has published an update on the development of Red Alert 2: Apocalypse Rising, including screenshots of several structures, but more importantly, a prolonged showcase of the new interiors and recently added features in the game in the 16-minute video shown above. They've also shown a render of the upcoming MiG-29 unit for Red Alert: A Path Beyond.
  • OpenRA has a new playtest version - 20180825. It improves the experimental multiplayer account system, improves support for installing through copies of The Ultimate Collection that have community patches applied, fixes AI Harvester control, fixes AppImage compatibility with Linux Mint and some other fixes and optimizations.
  • MrTimm (known to older community members as Taxikiller) now streams his in-development Tiberium Wars mods every Thursday at 22:00 CEST on his Twitch channel.
  • Finally, on our side, we have removed the C&C Radio link on the front page. It was too much effort to maintain using its admittedly rudimentary technology for the indeed few people who ever tuned into it.

That's it for now. Starting this week, we will resume standard news coverage as we seek it out or the information comes to us. Thank you for your patience during the move.

CNCNZ.com Has Moved To Croatia

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If you are reading this, this means that the DNS change has affected you and you have reached the new home of CNCNZ.com. We are now hosted at the more affordable (and more awesome) Croatian hosting company Avalon, which has, coincidentally, also been around since 1997. Yes, we are now hosted in the same country that held Nod Banshee prototype facilities, the same country your MCV got stuck in, and the same country the Scrin went to gather information on Kane from. Let's just say that GDI trash should steer clear. Expect large updates on both Command & Conquer: Rivals and the C&C community at large tomorrow.

CNCNZ.com Moving Servers Soon

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We would like to inform you that we will be changing our hosting again, since our current option was a rather transitional one. We do not know how long this will take, and there might be disruptions in access to the site. What we can tell you is that you can follow any and all related messages on our Facebook page, Twitter profile, and our Discord server.

EA Uses “Moral Compass” on Lootboxes, Contradicts Self

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As we all know, EA loves its lootboxes. While they are not the ones who first envisioned them, nor popularized them, they are taking the hardest backlash for them due to the way they monetize their games, even high-tier ones like Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017). And yes, if you already didn’t find out by now, they could simply not resist putting them into Command & Conquer: Rivals.

A few days ago, gamesindustry.biz interviewed EA vice-president of strategic growth Matt Bilbey on matters such as game streaming, VR, game-licensed movies, but what stood out was the last subject – lootboxes. Bilbey states that EA is working with entities such as the Belgian Gaming Commission, which lobbies for legal restrictions on such practices:

I believe what we’re working through with those specific groups at the moment is an education. Not meant in a patronizing way, but just helping them understand how we design the games and the notion of choice and our commitment to making the games fair and fun. We learned a lot from Star Wars: Battlefront.

Additionally, he says that they have an internal “moral compass” that would supposedly ensure “fairness”:

I ran a team internally with Patrick post-Battlefront to actually redesign our game development framework and testing platforms to ensure we’re giving our game teams the right guidance–we’ll call it an EA moral compass–at the beginning of development so that we’re designing our live service early, we’re testing it early, testing it with gamers who are giving us feedback so we ensure those pillars of fairness, value, and fun are true.

PC Gamer’s brief analysis pointed out EA’s self-contradiction. In May 2018, not even a full month after EA chief designer Patrick Söderlund claimed they wanted to avoid another Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) scenario, EA CEO Andrew Wilson stated in an earnings call that the company would “push forward” with lootboxes.

With EA refusing to take the hint from players and even some countries’ governments, the future of their games seems bleak indeed.

Command & Conquer: Rivals to Introduce Fair Play Changes

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Some hours ago, Redwood Studios announced some fair play features that will be added to Command & Conquer: Rivals before its worldwide launch. Players will be split to leagues (Bronze, Silver, Gold, etc.), and within those leagues, unit levels will be capped, so even if a player has a unit that is over the league's level cap, that unit will be brought down for the durations of the matches in the said league. Once players enter a higher league, they will not be relegated to the lower one again. 

Win streaks will be awarded in a way that after the third consecutive win, the player will receive twice as many medals until the first loss. If, or rather, when the matchmaker does pair two players who are not of a similar level, these matches will be marked as "challenge battles", in which lower-level players will not lose medals upon defeat but will gain double the medals if they win, while higher-level players in such matchups will gain and lose medals as normal. 

Finally, although it wasn't mentioned in the article, commanders will apparently have a change in art style, including the much-criticized design of Kane.

Redwood Studios also stated that they will activate premium currencies before the game launches worldwide, and likely even before these fair play changes. Before this, they announced that the progress achieved by currently active players (still only Android users from the USA and Canada) will not be wiped when the game launches, which even had some of the game's supporters up in arms. The priority choices are "interesting" to say the least.

Nmenth’s Research Lab: Cryogenics

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It is the first Monday of August, so it is time for another article from Nmenth's Research Lab. This month, we will examine technology of Cryogenics in Command & Conquer and see how it compares with reality.

A new technology will be explored in Nmenth's Research Lab on the first Monday of every month. Return next month on the 2nd when I take a closer look at Magnetic Forces.

Red Alert: A Path Beyond Patch 3.2.4.0 Released

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Earlier today, Red Alert: A Path Beyond received the 3.2.4.0 patch. While you might mistake it for a balance patch when looking at the changelog, it is a major thing - a new unit, the Allied Chrono Tank from Red Alert: The Aftermath from 1997, is now a purchasable unit, complete with the chronoshift ability! This is a version you do not want to miss, so update the game or download it fully from the W3D Hub launcher!

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