Articles & Editorials: Generation VeXed

Over the couple of months I’ve decided to dig deep into the world of XWIS Online. This was not to try and see the differences between the hosts of past and present, but to once again, like I do every year, play a few C&C games online during my summer week off. I have been doing this every year since 1997 only to see it get worse as time goes on. What I found this year was quite frankly disturbing! With my faith of playing online RTS games restored from playing Empire-at-War, I was expecting a great gaming experience! Yet no sooner than playing a couple of games, I was plundered into the depths of C&C Multiplayer Hell once more. How come? Well, first let me take you back to the past where C&C Multiplayer all began.

When C&C multiplayer hit the Internet back in 1997 with Red Alert, fans were ecstatic. This was the seedling of the community we see today. Back then you knew almost everyone in the community, playing people was as common as playing your friend on direct dial-up 1Vs1 with your 28.8k modem or PC to PC Via Null Modem cable like C&C DOS.

Part of the fun in the gameplay was that back then, we were all mostly Turtling. Game etiquette used to extend to a 30 minute no rush courtesy, and tank rushing was something you only did in single player, Skirmish, or as a last resort. This was more a “real war” scenario. You built your base to max tech, scouted occasionally on the fly, then once the mutual ceasefire was up, only then would you proceed to batter your opponent. Bases were built like Fortresses, and were laid out better than those recently seen in the community “Pimp my Base Competition”

Massing hundreds of tanks was never even considered. Neither was building numerous low tech structures or arms racing to the superweapon. OK, that’s a lie, you wanted the superweapon cos this would turn the tide of battle. But what was important was the skirmishes in no man’s land, not attempting to annihilate your opponent as quickly as possible.

When the community began to grow, especially in late 1998 tank rushing was more common in Red Alert and bases would not be tidy. In fact they’d more represent the AI’s bases found in Skirmish mode, and what ended up being more important was the fact that the mutual attack time had been halved to 15 minutes and sometimes less. The small community of yesteryear had gone and C&C online was growing larger with the ever flooding news of Tiberian Sun! But without a doubt, tank rushing, as important as it had become never consisted of anymore than 20-30 tanks and a handful of other units. It was still good times.

Summer 1999. Tiberian Sun had hit the shelves. The previous 2 years were well and truly gone. The community online had boomed both in the Fansite and Multiplayer arenas. And so, followed the new species of online RTS gamer. The massacre masser! The First Generation wasn’t so bad, the ingredients that created this new player was a transitional effect from Starcraft where Zergling massing and rushes were the key to winning. But the 2nd and 3rd Generations who have evolved from these early massers are to be despised. And so let’s skip a few years and look at the modern day perspective of these massers, shall we?

I won’t bother you with the details of who they are, cos the product can be seen online right now. The 2nd Generation were new players (and most of todays community) who joined during Red Alert 2. The 3rd Generation (those who belong to the so-called hardcore and think C&C Generals and RTS Replays are the best invention since the wheel) are perhaps the worst offenders, and to be honest should be considered scum. They are a strange breed. They mass tanks and aircraft like there’s no tomorrow. They aim to finish a multiplayer game within 15-30 minutes and the worst thing about them. They Save the replay to show off to everyone who they destroyed and how they did it. Hell they even make sites these days just for replays so people’s show off fests can be rated, and Egos can raise through the roof! How friggin crazy is that!?

As I said at the beginning of this article, I’ve been playing recently online on Red Alert 2 and Generals. Why the hell did I bother? I have to say that not only do you have the 3rd Generation running riot, there’s a surprisingly large amount of games that no respecting veteran should even dare to play. I’ll be blunt. C&C online is a pile of steaming horse crap and I hate it to the core. XWIS sure are the best gaming servers since Battle.net, there’s no doubting that, and this article is not directed at them in any way. I want to make that clear.

So maybe you can call me a veteran who is out of touch with the modern day multiplayer scene. But let me be honest, Hardcore players who like single player and skirmish games are a huge majority. It is easy to see why these 80% of people do not set foot online to play a game. It’s full of these 3rd Generation idiots who want a quick buzz, a cheap thrill, and then get high on it! Well if these guys decide to treat their women in a good game of loving. I sure hope they don’t use the “get it over and done with quickly” Hardcore Multiplayer Strategy. Oh and for god’s sake, don’t save a replay of it to brag to your friends, because she will not be happy! You know what? This is King’s Fact of Life #1 for you people.

I don’t offer relationship counselling. But yes, I do like a long good hard “Game” as much as any man. Regardless of whether it’s a personal experience between myself and my wife, or against someone on the online battlefield, the same concept applies. It’s an art, and certainly more fun when it lasts. So draw from it, you might learn an important lesson!

So what does the future hold. C&C 3 is on the horizon. But “Hands-on” (HAHA innuendo puns! *cough*) gameplay previews have come out from the Leipzig gaming convention. Early signs of these previews do not agree with the Karma Sutra (somebody stop me!) of veteran multiplayer gaming here! EALA have done the worst thing they can do in my opinion with Multiplayer, and that’s to make it appeal to the 3rd Generation by designing the game for 15-20 minute spells!!

Other than modifications, multiplayer is supposed to extend a game’s life from 50 to an infinite percentage longer. So despite working on a kick-ass Single player campaign, how on earth is C&C 3 supposed to appeal to the majority of the masses when Multiplayer only keeps itself open to people who cannot satisfy their partners?

I’m not making appeals or asking for petitions on the matter. But shouldn’t developers be attempting to bridge the gap between the Skirmish and the online play? Shouldn’t they be encouraging more of the huge majority to try the online code that developers have been Beta Testing their butts off with? The game mode which costs significant amounts of money to run and make possible? I don’t care if it’s Gamespy or XWIS, how can you justify the cost when most people don’t use it!

All I know is that it frustrates, and more to the point infuriates me! And in the process has destroyed the planning I put into this article. It’s now just a mindless rant! But I’m not alone you know, the majority do agree with my so-called stereotypical view. Why? Because it’s true! They want to play online, but live in fear of over zealous 3rd Generation cyber punks who like to send “1337” replays into replay sites showing how they “pwned the n00b!” And they live in fear because one-track minded developers will only appeal on the short scale, instead of thinking outside the box and broadening the horizons to everyone who likes RTS games.

So fine. To the 3rd Generation, You suck. To the C&C 3 developers, What the f**k are you thinking about the 15-20 minute Multiplayer Timescale!! Seriously bad move guys. I can only laugh at you wasting your time, money and all other resources. The community will only continue to run away from Online play as long as the Online “Hardcore” community is your only target for Multiplayer!

I’m a part of the huge Generation Vexed, and I’m outta here!

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