For the first time since 2010, we bring you a year in review feature! Here we’ll look back at what happened in the world of Command & Conquer in 2017 in a summarized fashion. It’s nice to look back at the community’s accomplishments, and we can safely debunk everyone who says the community is dead and nothing ever happens. Without further ado, let’s fire up that time machine… hey, how did that T-Rex get in here?!
The year started with yet another record being broken over at CnCNet: there were 801 players simultaneously online on January 2nd already! This month also marked the start of Discord servers for both CnCNet and C&C:Online, both of which are still highly active.
Arcade Attack caught up with our favourite composer Frank Klepacki and interviewed him on his early days, work for Command & Conquer games, and his portfolio from the years since. The French C&C Saga managed to uncover even more concept art from the cancelled Project Camacho, too! On the 19th, we got version 7.4 of GenTool, which added ranking support for more community-made maps.
The biggest surprise came on the 15th, when the community came to know of yet another cancelled Command & Conquer game. This time, it was Red Alert Alliances, which was to be an improved version of Phenomic’s Tiberium Alliances, but which was cancelled when the studio was shut down by EA in July 2013. Interesting pieces of concept art were uncovered.
On the 18th, the competitive multiplayer community got their chairs heated as the third annual Kane’s Wrath Free For All tournament lasted for six whole hours. In the same weekend, Nyerguds released a hotfix for Command & Conquer Gold that fixed a compatibility issue with CnCNet.
The YouTube channel GVMERS, which focuses on gaming history and cancelled video games, released their first C&C-related video, which was focused on the cancelled TIBERIUM, showing never before seen footage of the game in good quality. Shortly thereafter, we even got to see some more concept art from the game surfacing.
The first half of March went quite uneventful.
However, on the 14th, we got to see an interesting project announced for OpenRA – an original space mod called Nomad Galaxy, which would feature mobile fleets instead of conventional bases, four ship sizes, and announcements of spatial objects that would serve as obstacles and hazards.
Not long after the controversial Mass Effect: Andromeda was released, we discovered that a cutscene in the game recycled the “Light Infantry” track from Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, showing how someone at EA still knows Command & Conquer is a thing, and how EA is still recycling their existing assets.
On the 24th, TheMachine from the Generals Gentlemen invited Monolithic Bacon, IISpartacus, and FiveAces for an interesting podcast on Command & Conquer and RTS in general. All of them except for Monolithic Bacon (who is a Company of Heroes 2 map maker) are well-known commentators, so we got to hear well-argumented discussions.
Around that time, we replaced our forum infrastructure which was on InvisionPower Boards version 3 with InvisionPower Services version 4, which, in hindsight, broke more things than it fixed, but we eventually restored the forums’ connection with the main website and brought a new, albeit short-lived theme along. Sadly, we still haven’t resolved some of the issues since.
March 26th marked the 10th anniversary of Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. It makes one feel old when a game that is often referred to as a “more recent” or “newer” title in the series gets double digits in its age.
On the 29th, TaxOwlbear dived in to the obscure side of the C&C franchise by playing the very rare Java mobile version of Tiberium Wars… for better or worse.
Our Throwback Thursday feature got its 100th entry on the 6th!
We got to see another less frequent peek at the development of Red Alert 2: Apocalypse Rising. GameReplays also celebrated the 10th anniversary of Tiberium Wars with an anniversary tournament that had a $650 prize pool, which also lasted over 6 hours.
A popular StarCraft II and Hearthstone commentator, Day, featured Command & Conquer: The Covert Operations in his “Day Off” video series, which is an interesting choice as it was a mere mission pack to the original game. At least it got a wider audience remembering the game.
In a Reddit thread, a former developer of the cancelled Command & Conquer (2013) under the username phpdevster (believed to be GameReplays’ CEO AGMLauncher, who was a multiplayer designer for the game for a short while before the game was cancelled) shed some light on the game’s development problems, which were clearly abundant.
On the 22nd, OpenRA was updated with a maintenance release that fixed the balancing, crushed bugs, and brought some new features.
On the 23rd, GVMERS released the video “Rise and Fall of Command & Conquer”, which is part of their “Rise and Fall” series where they observe the histories of game series that were once popular and prosperous, but fell from fans’ grace or were abandoned by developers. However, it had quite a few factual errors as a result of researching in a few wrong places, which I publicly listed. GVMERS acknowledged the mistakes and quickly started a script revision.
Finally, we got news that Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight was one of the lowest-rated games on Steam with the percentage of positive ratings being only 18%. Considering the number of asset flips, fake games, and outright scam software that infests the platform in recent years (Steam Direct not helping), this is quite an “amazing” achievement.
May was another slow month.
The team at W3D Hub was featured on Kotaku UK, showing the history of Renegade and its modding scene. Later in the month, they released version 188.8.131.52 of Red Alert: A Path Beyond, which was the first major release since the Delta build was published, and featured Soviet planes among other things.
Oh boy, this month still hurts.
A shocker came in the wee hours of the 11th, when Sonic abruptly announced that CNCNZ.com was shutting down in the matter of days. This was not signalled beforehand to the other staff, not even Nmenth and myself, who were the effective administrators of the site after Sonic took a back seat. The reasoning was his life changing in multiple ways, so CNCNZ.com became too much of a financial burden for him.
The entire community was left in panic, and there was even a thread on Reddit’s r/games about this. Many people reached out to take over, and I tried to pull a few strings myself. By the end of the day, Zee Hypnotist offered to take over the site and host it on his DreamHost account (which already had his personal blog on it). Sonic finally responded that night, after he managed to get to an Internet connection, finding all those messages left for him in the meantime. Having accepted Zee’s offer, he turned in his lead admin role for the first time since 1997, and helped Zee transfer the entire contents of the site and forums from the admittedly overly expensive MyHostNZ to DreamHost. Zee was now the lead admin, while the existing admins (Nmenth and myself) were to carry on with our previous positions, and Sonic was there in a nominally supportive role. Zee was now also in charge of maintaining and fixing our WordPress-powered website and the forums.
We are grateful, though, to all community members who offered to help out, and who donated for the site’s expenses – we’re still using those donations which should alone keep us afloat for another year and a half (and counting)!
In other community news…
On June 1st, a revised version of GVMERS’ “Rise and Fall of Command & Conquer” video was released, with the script revision done by myself and Cypher (former moderator of the official C&C forums). This version had all factual errors fixed, and was in general more descriptive of the games and the situations behind the scenes, even briefly referring to the ties with the Dune and Battle for Middle-earth games. It ran for 10 minutes longer than the original version.
Early in the month, a new server for Red Alert 2 and Yuri’s Revenge called NGWOL was published, but it wasn’t popular and shut down silently after a few months.
C&C Communications Center finally relaunched, with impressive galleries of images from Dune II to Firestorm, many of which were not publicly visible for quite a while, or even at all, all thanks to generous donations of a few anonymous ex-Westwood developers.
We finally published our very own tech guides for setting up every Command & Conquer game (including Sole Survivor!) on modern systems, for all versions – retail, The First Decade, Steam, Origin, and The Ultimate Collection, in order to finally end the confusion on how to get these shamelessly unsupported games running on today’s Windows operating systems. As of that moment, there’s been no excuse for not being able to play C&C!
Also, W3D Hub posted more updates on Tiberian Sun: Reborn and Red Alert 2: Apocalypse Rising.
On the 1st, C&C:Online celebrated its 3rd anniversary.
On the 3rd, an interesting mod was released – Eastern Loong. Not only was it one of the rare Red Alert 3 mods, but it also brought the new Chinese faction, with its own way of building construction and art style.
On the 4th, TaxOwlbear continued with C&C obscurities by finding and playing the Java mobile version of Tiberian Twilight, which turned out to be the only instance where one could say Tiberian Twilight was better than Tiberium Wars… if we’re talking about mobile versions of both.
Early in the month, we started our very own Discord server for the usual chit-chat and to coordinate and talk during game nights (which we failed to organize for a while).
An update to Origin’s infrastructure affected the Command & Conquer Ultimate Collection in such a way that the previous versions of Bibber’s fixed launchers were incompatible. A week later, Bibber released an updated version of the launchers, even though he couldn’t give a 100% guarantee that they would work for everyone. Still, this showed how inherently broken The Ultimate Collection is, and how little EA cares about the games they sell on Origin that haven’t been released in the past few months.
In modding news, Mental Omega APYR was updated to version 3.3.2, with yet another injection of quality additions and changes, and W3D Hub announced that the Expansive Civilian Warfare (ECW for short) standalone Renegade mod was now under their roof, and gave us more peeks at Tiberian Sun: Reborn version 2.0.
Also, Sonic wiped the dust off our Articles section once again to explain his previous month’s decision to close the site.
The changelog for the much-needed community patch 1.12.6 for Red Alert 3 was published. We also got to see yet another product of the resourceful Chinese modding community – a sort-of implementation of Archon mode in Red Alert 3, where one player was in charge of building a base, and the other was controlling units. The Tiberian Dawn Redux team announced that they were nearing completion on the singleplayer campaigns.
I’ve made my first article in 5 years, this time introducing the wider C&C community with Dune and Battle for Middle-earth games, technological cousins of C&C, both in an objective set of information and my personal view on each one.
On the 9th, Zee graced us with another episode of C&C LEGO: Expansion Pack.
The Red Alter mod resumed production, and even released its prior assets to the public, which is always nice to see. Also, an unofficial hotfix for the ever-popular Zero Hour mod Shockwave was released to fix a broken Pathfinder texture and the AI of generals Kwai and Tao in the Generals’ Challenge mode.
Rampastring’s Tiberian Sun client was updated to version 5.40, which included the two missions which are otherwise exclusive to the game’s demo version.
TaxOwlbear got hold of an almost undocumented Java version of Red Alert Mobile and on the 12th, he started publishing gameplay videos on it for everyone to see what it was like.
In the middle of the month, we officially said goodbye to Sonic after some internal creative differences perpetuated by his stress. We’ve also made major updates to the site, from a new theme and logo and a WIP downloads section to SSL implementation (meaning we finally adopted HTTPS site-wide).
I stirred the pot in the community for a bit on the 22nd with my article “Totally Not Angry Response To Stupid Community Comments”, which I used to vent my years-long frustrations while interacting with the thicker side of the community.
The 26th had our news feed overflowing! The Tiberian Dawn Redux mod reported the completion of all campaign missions, version 1.0 of the Ares DLL for Yuri’s Revenge announced save/load support, and we received a strange transmission, which was quickly decoded.
Remember that strange transmission from September? It related to our new feature that was officially published on October 1st: C&C Radio. It’s a non-stop stream of C&C music from all titles combined with clips from the games or recordings of our own staff after every 3 tracks. We even had brief news roundups, but after we noticed people avoided them, we phased them out.
The unofficial 1.12.6 patch for Red Alert 3 was finally out on the 3rd, with an expanded changelog that even included the squashing of one banned exploit.
On the 16th, OpenRA had a major update that separated all of its mods to independent executables and included lots of new content. On the same day, we got a new C&C LEGO episode, this time in a more musical form.
On the 26th, we published our interview with Frank Klepacki himself, on his prior and current work, and what it was like to compose then and now. This was one of multiple interviews which were supposed to lead up to our anniversary, but our other contacts did not respond in time.
On 27 October 2017, CNCNZ.com was officially 20 years old, still clinging to its title of the second-longest running C&C fansite on the Internet (the first being the French C&C Saga, which launched in 1996). This could even be seen as mocking fate, as mere months earlier, we were this close to shutting down. 20 years for any website, let alone one run by amateurs and enthusiasts, is no small feat. To celebrate, we finally managed to launch a game night in Tiberian Sun, and although the numbers were few, we had a lot of fun.
A big question mark was raised by the community when we broke the news that Greg Black, former multiplayer designer at EA Los Angeles, left his cosy position as a StarCraft II designer at Blizzard Entertainment to return to EA in late October. Considering he had a bittersweet stance on EA after he voluntarily left it in 2009 amid the internal uproar when higher-ups ordered the C&C team to make Tiberian Twilight as it ended up being, which was shown in his interview (mirrored here), there must be a very good reason for that, and the community is full of speculations based on that.
FunkyFr3sh discovered DDrawCompat, another edited DirectDraw renderer which can be used for Tiberian Sun, Red Alert 2, and their respective expansions to fix graphical issues, and early reports claim that it even improves their performance.
GameReplays announced the Kane’s Wrath Decade Tournament which will span the first three months of 2018 in celebration of the game’s upcoming 10th anniversary, with a prize pool counted in thousands of dollars, aiming to be the largest since the EA-sponsored Ladder Season 3.
The venerable modding tools OS Voxel Viewer and OS HVA Builder were updated with some useful fixes.
Towards the end of the month, the Generals Evolution mod for Red Alert 3 aired an impressive trailer, Dawn of the Tiberium Age was featured on PC Gamer, and the TiberiumRim mod for RimWorld was updated to Beta 18.
We closed the month with our second game night, also not very populated but still quite fun.
On the 2nd, we launched our special advertisement program, which only ever features projects and websites within the C&C community, so none of that crap we’re accustomed to with Google Ads.
Twisted Insurrection was updated with version 0.7, with a new neutral faction, 14 new tracks (one of which is Frank Klepacki’s remix of an existing TI track), new and improved graphics, and more. It was also announced that Mental Omega APYR will use Ares 1.0 as of version 3.3.3, which would mean that the mod would once again support saving and loading.
- Editors’ Choice: Tiberium Secrets (MOTY, Continued Legacy Award)
- Players’ Choice – Upcoming: Tiberian Sun Rising (MOTY, 5th place), Red Alert 2: Apocalypse Rising (IOTY, honourable mention)
- Players’ Choice – Released: Twisted Insurrection (MOTY, 3rd place), Dawn of the Tiberium Age (MOTY, 8th place), Mental Omega, Contra, Rise of the Reds, Tiberium Essence (all MOTY, honourable mentions).
To end the year, W3D Hub released the Expansive Civilian Warfare (ECW) standalone Renegade mod on the 30th.
So, that is pretty much it for 2017. Mods are still taking up the bulk of the news, but now we have one shred of hope of a new Command & Conquer game now that Greg Black, a person whose portfolio has only had real-time strategies so far, is back at EA and is visibly eager to show off what he is working on. Personally, I anticipate 2018 will awaken the C&C community, but if it doesn’t, we can put a trademark on the “we still have mods” claim. Happy new year to all, either way!
- Date: Sunday, 31 December 2017 | Author: Plokite_Wolf