FEATURES: CommandCOM 2013 Trip Report: Alex06

August 2013

The famous yearly gaming convention, gamescom, was celebrating its 5th year in this 2013 edition. This event is a great opportunity for gamers all over the world to try out the latest upcoming games before their release. This year was no different. With EA having a massive presence at the event, it was no surprise that Command & Conquer, EA’s upcoming AAA RTS, would feature. Surprising was the fact that not a single exhibitor came close to EA’s presence. With a massive booth, featuring a constant live stream showcasing each game, epic life-size props, and the possibility for all gamers, fans, trade visitors, press and developers to try out 6 of EA’s most highly-anticipated titles this year on the show floor, not one other exhibitor has managed to steal the show. Whereas many demos from other exhibitors limited the gameplay sections or actually limited the visitor to only watching a live demo or playing a really short match, EA’s Battlefield 4, Command & Conquer, Fifa 14, Titanfall, The Sims 4 and Need for Speed Rivals all managed to shine through. Additionally, EA’s Community Lounge had rooms set up to allow EA’s fansite community leaders and Community Teams exclusive access to all of these games Thursday all the way through to Saturday.

Cologne’s famous cathedral

Cologne’s famous cathedral

Given that Command & Conquer was being featured at this event and that tradition would have it to host a CommandCom event, everything came through for us community veterans to attend. I was invited to attend to the event alongside CNCNZ.com’s Koen and Nyerguds. Having prepared my tickets and travel plan through e-mail with Eric, the Community Manager and arranged my schedule over the course of the week, I was prepared to leave. Given that most of us were flying out on Wednesday and Thursday, we missed the exclusive Press Day at gamescom. I prepared my bags the day before and managed to watch the EA press conference and Wednesday live stream for C&C. Wednesday, I woke up at 10 AM and left for the airport around 1:30 PM, making it for 3:00 PM, giving me 2 and a half hours to eat, check in and board my flight to Frankfurt. Everything went rather smoothly, and the plane left on time, at 5:35. Not managing to sleep at all, I watched 2 movies (One of them was, fittingly, Wreck-it-Ralph, an animated CGI movie about video games) before arriving at Frankfurt at 6:30 AM on Thursday. Checking through customs and printing my plane ticket was relatively easy, and I managed to take the train for Cologne an hour later. Managing to catch a power nap on the train, I woke up slightly refreshed 30 or so minutes later – My train had arrived in Cologne after barely an hour.

Arriving at the station in front of the Cathedral in Cologne, I took off for my hotel. Taking roughly 20 minutes to ask around which precise way to take, I finally get directed towards the city train. I get off at the right station and start exploring the street, not realizing that I had unfortunately gone in the wrong direction. After asking at a restaurant which street I was on, I easily managed to make my way to the Pullmans hotel where I was supposed to stay, but my room wasn’t ready and I had realized that I had not redeemed nor printed my gamescom tickets yet. How unfortunate. So I leave my luggage at the reception, get on the hotel’s wi-fi internet connection and try to redeem the tickets, but to no avail. The free internet at the hotel is slow and the gamescom website is overloaded. Cue me running around the city trying to find an internet café whose Wi-Fi isn’t overloaded – Success, the nearest Starbucks has fast, free wi-fi. I manage to redeem the tickets, head back to the hotel, print them, and am told my room is finally ready. I leave one card at the reception, since I’m told my room mate is not there yet. Recognizing the name quickly enough, I realize my room mate is none other than Banshee from Project Perfect Mod. “Sweet!”, I think to myself. I get to my room, leave my luggage and head out for gamescom, but not before waving to NodSoldierGirl, who’s waiting in the lobby, but fails to notice me.

Day 1 – Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

After managing to get in, I head out to the most logical spot I could think of – The C&C booth. Dropping Eric’s name, the booth staff let me pass through and I get to try the game for 20 minutes, at the end of which I met none other than Melonie Mac, famous YouTuber and a very positive and energetic gal. Now to find the EA Lounge! Getting redirected because I do not have all my passes yet, I have to take a detour to get back in and finally get lost in the crowd. Asking around at the information desk, I am told where to find the EA Lounge: at the very back of the Convention Center. Not so hard to find, after all, huh.

Melonie Mac, bunny-eared C&C fan and YouTuber

Melonie Mac, bunny-eared C&C fan and YouTuber

Getting in, I leave my name at the desk to receive my passes and badge, only to be welcomed by none other than the Tiberium Alliances Community Manager, David Erhard, AKA Rhiordd! After walking around in the room and meeting everyone (notably Sybert, DJ_Chill, Ang3lic, Vivo, AnNo1935, SanAndreasP, Schrocki, Tony, Dusterr, Seraph and Cypher) I get down and start a match or two of the latest Command & Conquer build, more seriously than the fooling around against the AI from earlier that day. The difference is noticeable since the last build. The game feels a lot more polished. I play a little bit of EU and APA, and then leave my spot to the others who want to play. I meet my CNCSaga team shortly after at the Community Lounge and we try the latest Battlefield 4 build together. After that, I manage to finally meet NodSoldierGirl, who’s there with her mother, and Eric, who’s been running around constantly, managing everything. I head back down at the convention to try Diablo III: Reaper of Souls and to the C&C booth to talk to Jason and Matt from Victory Games, but get back to the Community Lounge to play one more C&C match and talk again to the other community leaders and some of the developers, who hint of a special September balance build we might try the next day.

Afterwards, we head back to the hotel, where I meet up with Banshee, DenFrizer (RTSWorld.ru) and TRON (CNCSeries.ru). Banshee, DenFrizer and I head out to the Cathedral, where DenFrizer has to meet up with a friend. We split into two groups, Banshee and I heading out to eat with Community Network (of which CNCSaga.com is a part of) at a nearby restaurant. I eat some veal or pork, with potatoes, which was absolutely amazing, especially given how inexpensive it was. Banshee falls asleep a little bit and I fool around with the rest of Community Network. We talk, crack some jokes, drink beer and have fun. Around midnight, Banshee and I decide to head back to the Pullmans hotel.

Day 2 – Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Getting up pretty early, I head out for breakfast. Then, I go back up to get ready and head back down, eventually deciding to hang out with Cypher, the GameReplays team and the Official Forums Moderators as they take their breakfast, before taking 2 cabs to gamescom. I go in, leave my stuff at the Community Lounge with DJ_Chill and Cypher and head back downstairs to pick up a press pass from EA, then down to the main hall to try Assassin’s Creed IV on PS4 and see live demos of Killzone: Shadow Fall, Infamous: Second Son and Destiny. DJ_Chill goes to film some footage at the EA corner and Cypher goes out to try some games on his own, while I head out to the Sony booth. While playing ACIV, I notice the PS4 controller feels very natural in my hands, much better than the PS2 and PS3 controllers, closer to the Xbox controller, although the touch screen in the center felt awkward and I didn’t see a point to using it. Feeling satisfied, I head back up to the Community Lounge, where I meet up with the rest of the C&C Community Leaders once again (and meet up with fellow CNCNZ.com staff members Koen and Nyerguds for the first time), play a match or two and discuss the game a little with some of the developers.

The GameReplays and United-Forum guys are playing a GR vs UF tournament. I see Sybert film some footage with some new video recording device that’s attached to all the PCs in the room, while recording live commentary for a match that’s been played between Ang3lic from GameReplays and Moby3012 from United-Forum. Bryan Farina admitted how he had been waiting to meet the fans, feeling burned out due to having to explain to press who aren’t familiar with RTS games and the C&C franchise what this game is all about. Heading once more back out on the main convention floor, DJ_Chill, Sybert, Cypher and I take some photos at the C&C booth and then head out to the press area for a while, trying to find Eric at the same time. After having a few energy drinks, we head back to the Community Lounge for a Q&A session with the developers. After a short presentation detailing the community’s feedback and how it has affected the game and the developers’ timeline for the next 6 months of development, much of the tension and unease is seemingly addressed and we understand that the developers are very much listening to the community.

After the closed beta phase, there will be an open beta phase, after which, campaign, new game modes, ranking, clans and tournament support will be added to the game. Some of the important feedback that was mentioned by the developers included simplifying the confusing tech trees, adding more freedom of movement for the players, making battles last longer, adding a campaign, removing the secondary resource, fixing the camera distance and removing StarCraft II elements. These have all been taken into account, including the need for reverse move and infantry crushing, both of which are in the process of being implemented. Counters will also be made clearer and starting with a Command Center (which is currently a Supply Center instead) is being considered, but not assured, because although it may allow for more diverse and risky build orders, it will mess with the current scouting and build order mechanics. Scouting is in fact an issue and since people do not scout as much in the alpha version, now you can see through the fog of war what your enemy is building (removing the need to scout).

Building a Command Center will hide the rest of your structures through the fog of war from your enemies (while also creating a small baffle around the Command Center, which prevents players from casting their support powers inside this circular area, although it does not apply to super-weapons, which we are now also limited to 1 per player). Most of us thought this was an awkward feature and suggested starting with the Command Center, but then that means having to tweak scouting among other things or adding an upgrade to block the structure visibility or moving it to another structure altogether. We originally thought this was a bug, actually, until we were told it was a feature. You can still hide your build order by directly building a Command Center as you start, but this causes certain limitations, such as taking a set amount of resources off of your starting resource count. (1000 or 2000, I believe). Our feedback on this strange feature was heard and it is likely that it will be changed, as per our request. We were told and could tell the developers are absolutely committed to bringing back the “C&C feel” of the first Generals. As a result, things such as tech buildings, late-game economy, capturing buildings and 360-degree building rotation are all planned.

At the end of this session, we try a 3v3 match alongside a 2v2 match, with the new balance patch (which was a balance tweak created by none other than AGMLauncher), and it feels just like Generals. Feedback is mostly positive. Once we’ve finished, we head out on a 4-hour cruise across the Rhine. Not only did the C&C Community Leaders attend, but so did the developers and Melonie Mac. Even the BioWare Community Manager, Jessica Merizan, joined us, alongside some of her co-workers from BioWare. Going around, I set up a large table where most of us sat down together with the developers and talked about the game with them. We had dinner, a few drinks, interviewed each other and took a massive amount of photos. I meet official C&C forum moderator Stephanovich for the first time. I got Tchutch from CNCSaga to give Melonie some faction logos from the next C&C to iron on clothes and she did a few shout-outs to CNCSaga as a result – Zephyr was very thankful. I asked Rhiordd if he might end up working at the LA studio, given that EA Phenomic has closed down; He said it was a possibility.

Talking with Jason Savopolos, Tim Morten and Bryan Farina, I managed to learn a few things….

  1. All maps will be free of charge. If new maps are released, they will be free.
  2. If there are any units that we’d like to see return, such as the Scud Launcher, we have to tell the developers, and they will make a return under new Generals for each respective faction.
  3. The Dead Space armor was actually inspired from Tiberium, the cancelled FPS. Much of the similarities between the two games are not a coincidence. Many elements from Tiberium made it instead into Dead Space, so it’s very well possible some of the artists that worked on Tiberium also worked on Dead Space.
  4. Infantry crushing had not been implemented due to bugs with infantry ‘teleporting’ across the map and not appearing properly at the place where they are being squished, which looks awkward when a tank drives by and the infantry next to the tank gets crushed without touching it visually (the unit clipping and pathfinding issues are still present in this game, but are being worked on).
  5. Sam Bass has started to work on figuring out what specifics need to be planned for a Tiberium universe game on the Frostbite 3 engine, as in, what kind of elements will be needed and how they would have to be coded, to get a better idea of the feasibility and speed of developing a Tiberium game, which would be the next universe to be introduced within the C&C Free to Play service. This game would also have Tiberium fields, Tiberium harvesting and proper base building.
  6. We were told the developers want to support at least custom map creation, if they cannot support custom mod creation, so they will push for it, but said they could make no promises.
  7. When I asked about having a potential $60-70 one-time buy for the game that would allow you to access all premium features and not have to pay insanely large amounts monthly, the developers loved the idea, but mentioned that their EA bosses would be unlikely to go through with it, preferring to have a monthly payment fee for premium features.
  8. I learned there is a plan to include several factions, if possible, and there are already plans to make each of them unique. One example that proves the developers are willing to head towards that direction is that they’ve created these “style guides” that explored many different factions.

Each style guide consists of several pictures of real-life vehicles, structures and fictional concept art pieces glued together on a giant sheet to create a “style guide” that helps give an idea of how a faction would look like. Each faction has its own style guide. Apparently, there are several unique style guides in the studio, notably for the original factions, USA, China/APA and GLA, but also for new ones, such as The EU, South America, Russia and India. Funnily enough, Bryan and Tim asked me if I didn’t “think it odd that there is this global war raging all around them, yet the Russians aren’t doing anything”, at which point I was pleasantly surprised. They mentioned it wasn’t confirmation they would include any of the factions they had just told me about, but that they were all ideas they wanted to explore if possible.I say, why not, Russia and USA sound both pretty interesting, and suggested USA as the first faction to be released, due to the lack of drones, lasers, Auroras, Paladin Tanks, Microwave Tanks and Tomahawk Launchers. Supposedly, The USA and Russia are indeed the most popular choices for a 4th faction.

Eric told me how they’re looking into potentially reopening the C&C store. Finally, the old storyline was scrapped alongside campaign development when the game went free to play. The story and Generals are a little different because the development team didn’t want to go back and re-open that old wound. Having scrapped all this massive amount of work left a rather sour taste in their mouths and they decided at the time that they weren’t going to think about it.

When they started working on the Generals, some of them were inspired from old ones from the original Generals 2 game, such as Cleaver, Junkyard and 1000 Suns. Bulldog was inspired from Pierre Legrand and there is an EU Artillery General that is in the works that’s based on Aghembe. Additionally, some of the original plans and elements for the story will in fact be revisited, though not all of them (There is apparently corruption running by in the EU ranks, for example). I had also heard that each campaign will contain 17 missions during this boat trip, but can’t recall if it was confirmed or merely rumour, although I did recall talking to the guys from CNCSaga about it. In any case, in each of these missions, you can choose to use whichever General you’d like from that faction. I networked for a while, took some photos and talked with almost everyone. The boat trip was amazing!

We also finally figured out why Eric had been running around a lot. It turns out that not only were they rushed with making the entire event work out and doing interviews, there was also a politically-sensitive issue running about. Certain events in Syria had made it difficult for EA to keep the public appearance of the Dr. Thrax cosplayer up. It had also become risky to keep distributing Dr. Thrax t-shirts to all C&C booth attendees. We CommandCom attendees were even supposed to get some with our names on them, but it turns out that it would not be possible due to the political sensitivity of this issue. So, apparently, all of the remaining shirts were destroyed. What a shame. After the boat arrived, most of us started walking back towards our hotels. The developers had their own hotel, but the C&C Community Leaders that were not from CNCSaga and Melonie were staying in hotels near a specific area, so we all walked back together.

Day 3 – Saturday, August 24th, 2013

I wake up again early and head out for breakfast. Meeting with Koen, NodSoldierGirl and some of the GameReplays staff, I eventually head out for gamescom with Cypher, Sybert, DJ_Chill.

Knowing how much of a Tiberian universe fan he is, I talk to Cypher and it turns out that most of what was made for Incursion, Westwood’s first two original versions of C&C3, was pre-production material and concepts. None of it really had been in stone and it was all pretty much still work-in-progress. Continuum hadn’t gone quite deep into production either before being put on hold. The developers from the original Westwood Studios discussed the games on the Petroglyph forums in a manner that sounded as if all they said was at least partially completed and in-game, but it was apparently due to poor choice of words (You can’t really take the time to create a press release for information on a forum post and make it sound like it really is), as the game was far less into development than it sounded like, despite Cypher saying there were some novel ideas that he liked. Most of the “in-game screenshots” were actually just mock-ups done by artists.

Any gameplay features seen in those were purely mock-ups as well. We also discussed the Tiberium Bible. Apparently it didn’t dwell much into Kane’s origins, but rather, into the science behind Tiberium itself (well, the variant we got from EALA’s Tiberian games, anyway) and, strangely, into the religion of Nod. The religion of Nod was apparently well-thought out and quite original, but it felt strange and misplaced within the Tiberium universe, given that there were many contradictions with lore that was already considered canon by then.

We all arrive at the C&C booth, take some pictures and then split up to try different games. I head out to the Xbox section to get my hands on the Xbox One. The Xbox One controller’s vibration function is far more complex and dynamic than other controllers and the controller itself feels amazing in my hands. The joystick, triggers…Everything feels right. I manage to try Forza 5 and Killer Instinct (Glacius is mad fun to play as!), and then explore the other exhibitor booths, but the lines are too long, so I head back to the EA Community Lounge. After playing a game, I am told I can stay, but must play more games, as EA will film a short C&C tournament for the live stream from our Community Lounge room. I stick around as an extra player to fill up the last seat for the camera and play 2 matches against the AI, but almost fell asleep several times over the course of 20 minutes during the 2nd match, due to my lack of sleep (Luckily, I was playing APA). Dusterr and Seraph notice me and we have a good laugh about it. It fortunately turns out I wasn’t seen falling asleep on camera. Now that would’ve made a pretty hilarious story.

I decide to leave my bag that contains my laptop in this room and head out to check a live demo, only to be called back by one of the German community leaders, I believe, who runs into me and tells me the Q&A session is about to start. I grab something energetic to drink (It turns out they’ve run out of energy drinks in the Convention Center, so I get a Coca-Cola instead), and head out for the EA Community Lounge. Arriving just in the nick of time, I sit down and Jason Kokal, the new assistant Community Manager that will help Eric Krause, begins discussing about our feedback on the game. Eric takes our feedback and answers some of our questions. Directional armor was suggested (mostly by me), but the developers mentioned how it might overcomplicate the game for newbies and casual players, and how it didn’t make sense anyways for a tank to have directional armor, as it is always supposed to be equally armoured on all sides. Asymmetrical maps were suggested, as were weather effects and cyclical or random weather (like in Battlefield 4).

The main resource will no longer be called “Gold”, but rather “Credits”, as with past C&C games, even though we all thought it was too petty to be worth the amount of focus it had gotten from the developers. We were reassured that quite a few features will not make it in just yet because they take a lot of coding and would disable certain important core features of the game while they’re being developed (not having units fire for an entire build so the firing code can be modified to allow a new feature to be implemented is absurd), so there’s a hierarchy of priorities that needs to be filled before such new features are undertaken. Zephyr from CNCSaga asks if there will be some sort of BattleLog or AutoLog, and how it will affect the French community, at which point I utter “CommandLog” and Jason mentions that “CommandLog” has indeed been thrown around quite a few times and that it will support multiple languages.

A few other points were made clearer, such as that the pricing of premium mode not being final and that some features are not yet finalized. Thus, more features might make it in to premium mode, and others might become normal features, available for every player, such as choosing your map and player color in a custom game lobby. Most of us expressed that these latter two needed to be normal features, not premium ones. The open beta was mentioned as being planned for this year, but no real date was given. The servers are being slowly upgraded and more and more people are being brought in, but this slow exponential raise is to avoid a launch event similar to Sim City. eSport features will be implemented next year in 2014, with the usual ones, such as replays, clan support, telestrating, tournament support and perhaps even Battlecast features. Given that eSport is an important selling part of this game and that they have done live streams and commentary of matches, it seems probable we might see BCPT return. Formation Preview may make a return. More features for match setup will be available over time (A starting credits slider, a tech slider, superweapons slider (Off/Limit to 1/Limitless) button and random crates button were all suggested). Burning trees will be implemented, and an animation for it exists already.

Flame weapons are burst weapons instead of constant streams because of the amount of particles being rendered on screen. It is not only confusing and blinding, but it also eats up a lot of power. Improving readability of garrisoned structures was proposed. Jet aircraft will return eventually, and Daedalus will have exclusive air units once that is implemented (So far he only has all 3 EU helicopters, which isn’t very unique). Victory Games wants to push for custom map support, but EA and DICE have locked up Frostbite and it is, as a result, difficult to play around with the engine. It’s EA and DICE’s baby, and they want to hide it from prying eyes. I was the first to mention out loud how ironic it was, since DICE was mostly started by modders. It is also very inefficient, as other game engine developers have made more money by allowing people to develop games using said engines and selling licenses to developers, while letting the modders create free mods and indie games. Finally, we learned that veteran units will gain boosts, but that their weapons will remain the same.

After this event, I head out to see a live demo of The Division, making new friends in the process. In The Division booth, I meet Kate and Niklas, two students from England, and invite them to try out C&C at the EA booth, and we exchange contact information. At the end of all this, I head back to the community lounge to pick up my stuff and leave for the hotel. Too late, they already left! I ask around, and the guys packing up the lounge make a call and tell me Seraph has the bag with him and that he’s leaving it at reception. I take the train to Pullmans and as I get out, I run into Seraph and Dusterr, who give me directions for the EA party at the km 689 Cologne beach club. I get my bag, drop it in my room, and head downstairs, running into NodSoldierGirl and her mother, whom I take the train with. We make it to the beach party just in time as Eric and a few others join up. The guy at the entrance takes our names and lets us in, but not before repeating Eric’s famous line, “So Enjoy!” I meet up with everyone. The C&C fans have two tables, one for CNCSaga and the second for everyone else.

I talk to David a little, who suggests a great beer, then walk around talk a bit with everyone else for the next few minutes. As the remaining Victory Games employees arrive (Tim, Bryan and Jon all had to fly back), we all pick a table and get up to pick something to eat. As it’s just rained, the seats are all still pretty wet, as are the tables. We take off some of the water with our hands and some of the developers use their sweatshirts as seat covers. Fortunately for me, some employee from the beach club comes by and cleans the seats and table we’re at. Melonie finally joins us and as she is about to sit, Jason Kokal and Matt warn her that the seats have water on them, which she hadn’t realized just yet. I follow with “Awww, why’d you have to tell her?” As we all eat and go by for seconds, we discuss a little bit of e-sports and C&C, but mostly end up talking about League of Legends and other games we play.

I learn that Dustin Browder left C&C’s team shortly before Zero Hour started development because they were given 8 months to make the expansion and he thought it was an absurdly short time frame. David and CNCSaga.com’s team head out early (around 11:00 PM) to the Sony party, which is being held at the convention center. AnNo1935, SanAndreasP, Koen, Nyerguds, TRON, DenFrizer, Banshee and the CNCSaga.de team found a box with lanyards and C&C VIP passes at the beach club – Memorabilia that Victory Games distributed to us. Cypher, Eric, Melonie, the 2 Jasons, Jimmy, Matt, and Andrew all have to leave early (they still have to be on the main floor tomorrow, and Cypher has to head back home early), so there are a few of us left.

As Eric is leaving, NodSoldierGirl dares me to give Eric a hug. Not being able to back down from a challenge, I run towards Eric, nearly tackle him as I wrap my arms around his torso and start shaking him furiously. Thus is born the CIRE hug. Koen, Nyerguds, TRON, Banshee, DenFrizer and I all decide to head off to the Sony party, taking the time to stop for a while near the convention center and talk a little, we say farewell to the CNCSaga.de guys, AnNo1935 and SanAndreasP, to NodSoldierGirl and her mother and wish them all a safe travel. We continue to talk for a little while and reflect on our weekend at gamescom before parting ways. Turns out we all agree that we’re going to miss each other and that everyone we met feels like family, so we decide to stay better in touch after we all get back to our respective homes.

Sunday, August 26th, 2013

The rest of us head inside the convention center, all while goofing around a little. As we get into the Sony party, which is surprisingly being held in the Sony section, we meet up instantly with the CNCSaga.com team and Rhiordd. We dance, talk, have a little fun and realize how an amazing job the cleanup crew is going to have to do for next morning. Props to them! We all leave around 2:30 AM, deciding to stop and take a few pictures. We all connect pretty well, and I announce that since next year I plan on visiting Europe, I’ll try to set something up so I can meet up with everyone from Europe once again. Talking with Zephyr, Xen Doka, Odd, Moody, Vodka and Eomer from CNCSaga, I lose Koen, Banshee and Nyerguds, who are at the same hotel as I. I decide to catch the train alone, waiting 27 minutes only to realize after 1 station that I’ve taken the train in the wrong direction, so I head back outside. I wait another 21 minutes for the next train, and arrive at nearly 5 AM at the hotel. Deciding it isn’t worth sleeping an hour, I pack up my stuff and head to the lobby.

I log onto a lobby computer for an hour, spend some time on Facebook and a half and then head off to breakfast, where I meet up with the CNCSaga.de staff and Sybert. Since Sybert and I have flights that take off early in the afternoon, we decide to take the train together at 8:30. We walk all the way to the long-distance train station next to the cathedral, but then Sybert tries to print his ticket from a terminal, only to realize he actually had to keep his old ticket, but threw it out, not knowing it was necessary for the full round trip. Neither did I, as I saw later, when Eric pointed it out to me, that both trips were written on the ticket, so it meant I had to keep the ticket. I was told that the ticket was only valid for the trip to Cologne at the information counter when I asked as I arrived in Frankfurt on Thursday, so it’s a good thing I decided to keep the ticket anyway, just in case. We can’t take the 8:30 train, because we have to find a way to get a ticket for Sybert. He says he wants to head back to the hotel as he doesn’t have enough money to buy a ticket. I calmly direct him to check the time the train departs and the terminal, and then we head off to the information center, to see if we can get Sybert his ticket back. We pick a number and Sybert is called after a short wait.

The lady behind the counter manages to print a form with his ticket information, as he still has the reservation number, telling him it might not get accepted, but being confident and calm as we were, we thought it was worth a try. We head up to the train terminal and meet up with Chase and his brother, Tanner, who work on the videos team at EA in Los Angeles. They’re the guys behind the trailers for each C&C game. We all take the same train, but Chase gets the train cars confused and heads off to the right one as the train gets ready to board. Sybert and I board the train and after a short chit-chat on the train, we arrive at the Frankfurt airport. We find our respective flight terminals pretty easily and he thanks me for saving his life. After walking through the airport to find something to eat, I get to my terminal. My flight is boarding, and it is full. They even ask some people to give up their seats, as some of them have tickets, but no seats on the plane. Luckily, the seat issue gets resolved and everyone is satisfied, and I board the plane to head home. In the airport in Montreal, after landing, I meet up with an Ubisoft Montreal developer that works on Watch Dogs, albeit the poor guy is extremely tired and we only talk for a short bit. Finally, I head home and unpack my stuff. Strangely enough, I am tired, happy to be home, yet mellow for such a short time spent in Germany, as I miss everyone already.

C&C Swag Alex06 received during gamescom, notably paper wallets, a USB drive with hi-res public assets on it and a VIP pass and lanyard. The iron-on logos are from CNCSaga.com and all members with 100 posts and up on their forums can receive these.

C&C Swag Alex06 received during gamescom, notably paper wallets, a USB drive with hi-res public assets on it and a VIP pass and lanyard. The iron-on logos are from CNCSaga.com and all members with 100 posts and up on their forums can receive these.

As I write this essay (because let’s face it, at over 6000 words, it really is an essay), I can’t help but think how lucky I am and what an amazing experience this has been. To everyone at Victory Games and EA that made it happen – Andrew, Bryan, Jon, David, Eric, Jason K., Jason S., Jimmy, Matt and Tim (and everyone else I might be forgetting), thank you very much! It was an awesome opportunity to meet you all. Same goes for all of you fellow C&C community members – It’s been a pleasure to finally meet you all in real life, it is the exact same feeling as when I met my family from Romania the first time in my life (I was born in Germany and moved to Canada when I was almost 4, you see). You guys are like a second family! Thank you all for this amazing gamescom. Until next time, Commanders, keep on commanding and conquering!

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