Roundtable Discussion #19 – April 2009 (Command & Conquer Modding Special #2)


Its Roundtable time again. And for the first time since April 2008, we are dedicating all the questions to modding for this month’s edition. Listed below are the people participating on the panel for this month.

Question 1) What do you think of the recently released Red Alert 3 Mod SDK (v2) and what kind of mods do you expect the community to produce with it?

Banshee: It looks better than the one from C&C3. I must admit however, that I couldn’t use it really much. The mod build tool with a proper interface was a great improvement and the caching feature might be helpful. The documentation is fantastic, really, although it could cover the AI as well. I could check the XML files and they are getting more complex. The AI ones received a lot of new options, from opening movies to things that I couldn’t understand very well yet. Except for the very first Renegade W3D Viewer, no W3D or W3X viewer ever worked opened a W3X file on my machine. This RA3 one was no exception, but the failure happened on the asset builder and now it closes so fast that I cannot catch the error. I’ve never had any new 3ds max here, so I cannot post any comment on the W3X exporter either. So, yes, my interest on modding RA3 is quite low at the moment and the pressure I’m getting from work and university doesn’t help me much with that.
I believe that the community will develop mods in a similar fashion than what we’ve seen so far with C&C3. Several balance mods or mods that expands the game with a couple of units (more units than new structures). Total Conversions should be rare, because the game is quite complex, specially the AI.

Mastermind: I’m really happy to have gotten the RA3 Mod SDK out to the community, and I can’t wait to see all of the cool things that people do with it. I’m expecting a little of everything, from balance mods, to insanity mods, and a total conversion or two.

Koen: The Mod SDK looks like a solid piece of work. So far I have been unable to spend much time with it, because of a lack of free time. I expect there to be two kinds of mods: small balance mods with some new units and abilities, and very large mods with many new units, maps and abilities. However, the latter take a lot of time to produce, so I don’t expect them until the summer.

Blbpaws: I think it’s always good to have an SDK, and this SDK shows a clear effort to improve upon some of the very apparent failings of the last one. So that’s definitely a conscious effort by EA to continue to get better, which is good to see. At the same time, EA repeated their largest two mistakes: a high learning curve and a late release date. As long as those mistakes continue to be repeated, there won’t be many mods finished. I’m not sure many mods for RA3 will get done. I know we are working on The Red Alert, but I haven’t seen many others that have shown a lot of material off to the community so far.

Mighty BOB!: I don’t have Red Alert 3 myself, nor do I plan on getting it or modding it, but it is a good thing to see that the SDK is out finally. jonwil and others are giving feedback on the official forums as to bug fixes and improvements which is great.

I’m very disappointed that Uprising will not receive any modding support however. I swear that EA had damn well better rectify the no-mod-support-for-the-expansion problem with their next title. As I understand it Kane’s Wrath was built around code from TW build 1.0-ish which is why 1) it didn’t have mod support, because mod support wasn’t built into TW until 1.07, and 2) why KW had legacy bugs when it shipped that were fixed in TW patches, but not ported to KW.

They have had two titles and their expansions now to work out how they want to do their SDK code, how their workflow is going to work, and how their pipeline is going to work, there’s no good reason why it shouldn’t be integrated into the next game in build 1.0 and transferred to the expansion. If it isn’t, then it will be a very poor showing on EA’s part and they’ll lose modders to other engines that DO offer support for their expansions.

As for what kind of mods we’ll see, I believe that they will be limited by the existing art style of RA3. Modders will face 3 choices: either they must conform their mods to the cartoony art style (not a problem for balance mods or simple partial-conversions), completely redo all the environment art and shaders, or quite simply they must pick a different engine to work on.

jonwil: I think that the RA3 SDK is a good start however I do wish EA would provide more technical documentation and especially more source files (such as source files for the stock maps, files related to music editing, some stuff related to shaders and more). I also wish EA would acknowledge the bugs in the SDK and provide some details of their plans to fix these bugs. (i.e. which ones they plan to fix and which ones the community will have to solve somehow). I expect we will see a lot of smaller mods but I do not believe we will see any major Total Conversions unless EA corrects some of the deficiencies in the SDK.

Smurf Bizkit: My prediction for RA3’s modding scene is that we’ll see small tweak mods released for RA3, not total conversions. The number of mods will be less than C&C3 (and that scene never exactly took off).

Daz: I think it’s a joke of release, there’s been a massive delay in its arrival, EA dubbed it the best SDK ever and it’s turned out to be the TW SDK with a UI for compiling (from what I’ve read, I’ve just tried to confirm it by downloading it but I couldn’t install it). I’m not expecting much to be released at all considering the fractional uptake of modders TW had, there’ll be a fairly small number of well done total conversions and the obligatory balance mods.

Golan: Like the TW SDK before, the RA3 SDK is a solid tool for making mods but also suffers from similar shortcomings – it can be very frustrating for beginners due to its apparent complexity and lack of proper documentation, while at the same time experienced modders are restrained by its limited capabilities. The SDK is a good start but insufficient in the long run. Taking the whole RA3 situation into account, I guess we’ll probably see lots of minor balance mods, a couple of “enhancement” mods (like Tiberium Wars Advanced and Shockwave for earlier C&Cs). I’m very sceptic about total conversions though, RA3 has a very, uhm, “unique” graphic style that is unfitting for many projects and would require a lot of work to be changed. This will probably limit TCs to the usual C&C remakes (RA1 and RA2 mainly) and the occasional fun mod (like Granatball for TW).

Question 2) Both Worldbuilder and the latest mod SDKs have been known for having a ‘high learning curve’, being hard for newbie modders to learn how to use them. With the RA3 mod SDK, EA’s approach to reduce this issue was by providing a better interface for the build mod tool. What do you think of this approach and what would you recommend for future games?

Banshee: I think it was a good shot from Mastermind, making the compiling part easier and faster, since the thing that every modder will have to do after making changes and that part was scaring a lot of people with C&C3. Of course there are many things that could also be improved in future editions. First point is to cut any bureaucratic procedure. The automatic creation of the skudef was a good start, but it is not enough. If you look at the art samples, you’ll notice that every texture needs an xml file. Can’t the build mod tool itself deal with it? Why should I waste my time by cloning a XML file everytime I create a new texture? A similar thing applies to Mod.xml. Simply make the tool automatically include every XML in the mod directory, the basic references and job done. The second is to improve the organization of some files, which are definitely not easy to be understood. AI directory for instance is a very complex area. There are lots of files related to a lot of random AI procedures, where the name of things are not very clear. AIData.xml is one of the few files that are properly documented there.

Regarding the world builder, I must admit that I’ve never used to Red Alert 3 one and I currently don’t have enough disk space to install it. So, based on what I’ve seen from the C&C3 one, I think that the concept of variables could be expanded to create group of objects, regions and more on variables and array of variables. It would allow much more complex scripting maps, including mod maps that change entirely the purpose of the game, which is already allowed, but it is not something that is seen in the same level of Warcraft 3.

Mastermind: The GUI was my biggest personal project for the RA3 SDK. I think that it really is a great step in the direction of better usability for the Mod SDK. It makes it a lot easier to use the SDK, and gets rid of the annoying batch files which a lot of people had trouble with. I’m definitely interested to see what suggestions people have for simplifying the SDK for the future, and maybe people can create some tools to help with that for the current SDK.

Koen: There are two parts to this. In C&C3 and later, there is an additional compilation step to a mod, which can be confusing. However, EA has also improved the mod user experience (although typically >4 months after release): C&C3 introduced a Mod Browser in the game launcher, and now the RA3 SDK has a build GUI. For the people who haven’t made mods for C&C3, this means it is much easier for them to get started. For the advanced users, there is not much difference. For me, the most significant addition to the RA3 Mod SDK is that it supports incremental compilation. If you only make a small change, only a small part of the mod has to be recompiled, greatly speeding up the process.

And a message for everyone who wants to get rid of the compilation step: this is never going to happen. The build step catches errors in your XML files and it ensures that the game starts in a timely manner. Users will not accept 5 minute loading times for the modded game if the game itself would compile the mod.

Blbpaws: The better interface will definitely help, but I still think the curve is too high. The biggest problem is that the Mod SDK requires that new modders face a lot of new, sometimes difficult or poorly-explained, concepts at once Because of the difficulty in learning these all at once, they simply give up. Even though I think modding, particularly as a member of a team, is very rewarding, I certainly wouldn’t want to be learning the related concepts for the first time now. A simple practical way to look at how effective EA is in lowering the learning curve is this: look at how many new modders are joining the community. Virtually every mod finished or far along in development today is being run almost entirely with experienced modders who modded Generals or the games before. That’s not sustainable in the long run.

Mighty BOB!: It’s a great thing that EA is trying to make it a bit easier for beginners. The data structure and dozens of files might be a bit daunting at first for them, but at least the build process should be easier. I for one will stick with the .bat files.

What is most needed is just good documentation; I’ll even say extensive documentation! A few of the things that were documented for C&C3 are not documented in RA3 for some unknown reason, possibly just a slip of the mind. A lot of starting modders just want to edit a few price or armor values and the new way of doing that (closed source, see #5) is a little convoluted for such simple changes. .inis were easier for them to ease into.

I can’t really recommend any approach that EA would actually want to back and implement, as evidenced by their past showings (or rather lack thereof) of full support and budgetary considerations.

jonwil: The XML editing itself is not significantly harder than INI editing for Generals IMO. The new “mod build studio” does help make it easier to build the mod and as time goes on and people customize the SDK and studio further to automate common tasks and stuff it will only get easier.

Smurf Bizkit: From what I’ve seen, the tool is a great addition to the SDK. For future games, I cannot stress how important it is to get the SDK out earlier.

Daz: I can’t see it getting them any brownie points from the people who complained first time around – mods still need to be compiled and some people just won’t put up with that because they’re used to the older, idiot-proof method of dropping files in the game folder. It’s not about how easy it is to compile (there were custom batch files for TW so you could compile a mod by clicking a shortcut, no command prompt required) it’s about people not wanting to compile at all. I think art assets are a big stopping point too, voxels and shps are a lot easier to make than textured models and there are very, very few public release resources.

Golan: The RA3 SDK GUI sure is a well-intentioned change from the TW SDK but doesn’t address the core problem of the so called “compiler modding” at all. First of all, it really isn’t something that EA should have wasted their time on; by and large it doesn’t add any special functionality, in fact there were numerous programs and tweaks for the TW SDK with comparable features – it would probably have been better if EA used the time to talk to the community instead in order to allow us to improve those custom made programs. Secondly, it only simplifies a process that was already very simple in the first place. The main problem for most beginners is that the Mod SDKs for TW and RA3 allow for an extremely customizeable mod architecture compared to earlier C&Cs, which in return requires modders to come up with their own mod structure, do quite some administrative work and use a seemingly unstandardized syntax; while not much of an issue for experienced modders, such tasks can easily discourage beginners. This issue however is not addressed by the GUI at all. In order to make modding more user-friendly, there’s IMO two things that should be done: First, the documentation of the modding tools must include a basic step-by-step tutorial on how to get a first mod done. Second, the tools must have a “beginner mode” that automates most of the tedious organization tasks.

Question 3) Which game do you think that will receive more mods in this year and which game has more potential to receive the best mods?

Banshee: I think that Red Alert 2/Yuri’s Revenge is the C&C game with the best potential to get more mods, since it has survived the eras with a very simple engine and with more features than Tiberian Sun. Not everyone enjoys 3D modelling and it’s a game where we can test it very fast and there are interesting tools to track coding problems. As far as I could look the XML from Red Alert 3, I think it provides much more features than YR ever will and, it has the most complex graphics system. So, if it is proven that RA3 is a mod friendly engine, I guess RA3 would be the game for the best mods. Otherwise, the game would be either Generals or Yuri’s Revenge with NPatch or Ares.

Mastermind: I don’t know what game will get the most mods, the community seems to be really good at putting out mods for every C&C game. I think there’s the possibility for great mods for all of the C&C games, from Tiberian Sun to Red Alert 3.

Koen: I think it will be RA3, although the balanced mods will come for C&C3. I find the gameplay of RA3 very goofy and all these multi-functional units and powers make the game too complex for my taste. I don’t know all units in RA3 by heart, let alone the counters to each one and the subtleties when you put them into their auxiliary mode. Therefore, I believe it is easier to develop balanced mods for C&C3.
However, all people starting on a mod today will pick RA3, because it is a lot newer and there is still some influx of new players into the game.
So, RA3 wins by being newer and shinier.

Blbpaws: In terms of high-profile mods, RA3 might get the most, but I don’t think either C&C 3 or RA3 will get all that many, because the tendency is to work on larger mods in bigger teams. But I don’t think you can measure mods in terms of quantity; rather, you should examine overall quality. Some mods completed truly do bring new experiences and use the commercial game as a platform for creating a lot of fun times for players.

Mighty BOB!: I suppose that depends on the context of the question. Brand new mods? That will probably be mostly evenly split between all of the games. People are always making lots of small first mods that only alter a few values or other small tweaks. Larger conversion projects always come in smaller numbers and at longer intervals. While Red Alert 3 already has several good mechanics built into the game that can be attractive to new mods, such as 3 different structure building mechanics, and people will always want to mod the newest game (proportionally higher numbers), I think Generals still has the best potential. It was the last of the open-source C&C games, has a thriving modding community (just look at Fallout Studios [formerly E-Studios/RenEclips]), and has many well-established mods that are now seeing more releases in the past year after their development cycles.

jonwil: I think RA3 will receive quite a number of smaller mods (such as ballance mods) simply because its the “new thing”. I dont see any major TCs being developed for RA3, most TC authors are going to stick with Generals or Tiberium Wars. Those TCs that do spring up for RA3 are ones that will benefit from the style of RA3 (for example, there are already some efforts underway to port the first 2 red alert games to RA3 in some form I believe).

Smurf Bizkit: Provided its released before to December, Starcraft 2 will have far more interesting mods than all of the the mods made this year for the C&C franchise combined. Of C&C games, I’d put my bet on Generals having more mods… but really, if we’re limiting it to C&C the question is like asking “ok so which of these dying plague victims will survive the week?”

Daz: Well RA3 will probably get the most announced mods, but the most released mods will either be TW or RA2. RA2 is constantly getting new mods and TW has been around long enough that big projects should be releasing around now (case in point, MEC2). I would expect TW to get the better mods, but there’s no reason a dedicated RA3 team couldn’t churn out something very good before the end of the year.

Golan: Speaking of the SAGE C&Cs only, my bet is on Red Alert 3 receiving the most mods this year, simply because many people will give it a try now that the SDK has been released. The best mods will probably be released for Tiberium Wars, compared to Generals the engine simply is superior (a lot!) and there are already many high-quality mods in development while the RA3 top-quality mods are still in their infancy. Still, there will probably some nice mods for RA3 as well but I guess that most (if not all) will make use some of the RA3 graphics and I simply don’t find them very appealing.

Question 4) Games like Generals, Renegade, Red Alert 2 and Tiberian Sun still have a large modding base. What keeps these games attractive and what EA could learn with them when producing new games?

Banshee: What keeps Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2 attractive is that both games are very simple to mod. You do not need any major game design/programming/modelling knowledge to mod these games. Generals get a bit more complex mainly because of 3D (modelling and art coding), although the way the files get organized somewhat affects it. YR and older games have a couple of ini files where you’ll find most of the things related to the behaviour of a unit or of anything at rules.ini and the artistic part on art.ini. Generals mixes both things in the same unit file and makes the art part much more complex and divides everything into loads of files. So, at some point, to create a single unit, you need to edit loads of different files and you may forget something or get lost, specially when you are not familiar with theway the engine works, which usually happens when you are new with it. The newer C&C games are even more flexible and brings several innovations, such as files inheriting from other files. The problem is really the complexity of the art part inside the unit XML, while the game object itself is very simple. You even have some graphical details that you can only find values by using external softwares, specially when you are editing buildings. It’s also amazing the amount of settings of art things that nobody would give a damn at them. Once again, Tiberian Sun was simpler for having automatic settings on them and feature a grid that makes them easier to be visible. It’s cool when your unit’s art code is resumed to Voxel=yes, PrimaryFireFLH=0,0,100 and the engine does everything else.

If there is something that could be learned with older games is exactly that you can be flexible, as long as you have smart default settings, specially in the art area. Of course it is hard to create an engine that will guess these settings easily, but I guess that the exporter could server for a purpose like this as well. Since I couldn’t use it for the latest years, I don’t know if it finds some of its values, but, as far as I could look at the documentation, it doesn’t seem to be helpful with that. So, yea, games should be more flexible, but it must deal with its flexibility in a smart way, allowing users to focus on what they really want to change instead of changing every stupid detail to get something working.

Mastermind: There’s definitely a well established knowledge base for all of those games, and unfortunately games continue to get more complex. It’s getting harder and harder to make games, and so it gets harder to mod them as well. However, as C&C 3 mods show, a dedicated team can create amazing work.

Koen: The mods come with their source code for TS/RA2 and Generals. Sure, the big mods who have spent many months developing their art don’t like it when people copy their work. But other modders can look under the hood of these mods and copy parts and good techniques. The DeeZire mods for TS/RA2 were a treasure trove for cool hacks and fixes to the game. Plus, creating 3D models for Generals/C&C3/RA3 is more difficult than the old voxels and pixel art. The example units by EA are a start, but how many unit models are available for download today for C&C3? I couldn’t find more than a handful after 18 months of SDK availability.
For mods made for personal consumption, I would love to have a few dozen unit models I can throw together and mess around with, just for the fun of it. I can do that today for Generals, RA2 and TS, but not for the later games.

Blbpaws: Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. All of those games are simple to mod, and don’t require large, coordinated operations. It’s pretty near impossible to create a mod for C&C 3 or RA3 that adds a lot of new material (either an entirely new faction or a new storyline, for instance) with only a small group. The possibility of working on significant projects with a smaller team and the straightforward nature of modding earlier games is what keeps them alive. That said, I don’t work on them because I prefer working for the biggest audience of more modern games and working with more powerful technologies.

Mighty BOB!: Well the most simple answer is probably just because they’re easier to mod. They require less art production, the .inis are a simpler form of code to work with, and of course they’re open source; they don’t require recompiling to test new assets or get mods working (again see #5). Many modders cut their teeth on these games which gives them reason to stick with them since they understand them thoroughly. And finally of course these games are fun for various reasons and fun, moddable games have longer shelf lives.

jonwil: Generals and RA2 and TS are popular because people started modding them early on. RA2 was modded almost from day one because 99% of the data formats were identical to TS. Generals was modded early on by people using the Renegade GMAX plugin to create new 3D and working with the familiar INI files. Also, Generals included the WorldBuilder map editor right there on the CD which allowed mappers to get started right away. As for TS, it also had text based INI files. It took a while for the graphic formats to be figured out (I was the first person to figure out the compression for the SHP files of TS in fact)

Smurf Bizkit: None of EA’s recent games (BFME2, CNC3, RA3) have created the same devoted fanbase that past C&C’s did (TS, RA2, Gen). Make better games, and more people will mod them.

Daz: The thing that keeps them attractive to modders is .ini files and folder-drop modding. I don’t think EA would gain anything by attempting to revert to these systems and I believe it would make their development harder and the game less efficient. I feel that, contrary to what some modders say about extra sales, they don’t make money out of supporting modding. The C&C modding community is a blip in their sales counts so they quite rightly concentrate on making games rather than modding platforms.

Golan: All of these have one thing in common: they are easily accessible and basic changes can be made without much effort. This makes it easy to tinker with them just for fun, which attracts lots of people and keeps the community going. So what is there for EA to learn? Make it easy for people to get started – once they got hooked on it they will put up with lots of work, but it’s the first impression that counts the most.

Question 5) What is your opinion about ‘Closed Source Modding’ which started with C&C3, where nobody can get the source code of a published mod?

Banshee: I do not enjoy Closed Source Modding at all. When I was working on Final Dawn, I wanted a lot of things and features to be exclusive to my mod. So, I understand that those who enjoy it, they usually want features to be exclusive to their mods, so their mods could be special or unique in some way. The problem of the closed source modding introduced on C&C3 is that we only have the code samples provided by EA and by one or other random tutorial. I do not need to rip someone else’s mod, but getting an idea on how a certain trick is done in a mod and adapt it for my needs is something interesting. It is community learning with community.

Mastermind: I’m torn about closed source modding. On the one hand, it makes it harder for people to get into modding by taking existing mods and tearing them apart, learning what makes them tick, and building on them to gain experience modding. On the other hand, it does help to prevent ripping of assets, which has long been a concern of the community. I think it’s got benefits, and detriments. And just because the mod is compiled, doesn’t prevent the author from sharing the source along with the mod.

Koen: I think closed source modding is a threat to the growth of the modding community. Every beginner needs to start experimenting away on some non-trivial mod and figure out how everything is put together and what is changed. Having the source code allows you to learn things – of course there will also be discussion about techniques being borrowed by other mods, etc. So while it may not be worthwhile for individual mods to release their source code, it would serve the interests of the community as a whole. Unfortunately, the status quo will probably remain. While we are on the topic of ‘Closed Source Modding’, let me bring up TibEd. It is a closed-source tool to help develop mods. The version for C&C3 is very rough and there is no version for RA3. It is closed-source because it depends on non-free software. Without a paid license to these non-free user interface controls, you cannot modify TibEd even if you had the source. Whether there will be a TibEd for RA3 is undecided. I have limited free time and there are other things in real life which are more important. If you feel you’re a potential user of TibEd for RA3, send me an e-mail. I would like to know what kind of things people plan to do with it.

Blbpaws: I don’t really have too much of an opinion on it. I think modders work should be respected, of course, and you shouldn’t just take another’s work and re-use it without permission. Closed-source makes this less possible. At the same time, it’s valuable to look at others’ work for inspiration and guidance. If I had a choice, I’d probably make it open-source. The reason it’s closed-source, I think, has nothing to do with modding and more to do with the pre-compilation necessary to achieve performance in the aging SAGE engine.

Mighty BOB!: I’m not a fan of it. I can understand why they did it –the game runs faster with compiled assets– but it does limit the transfer of knowledge. Some modders –especially the new guys– learn by example, and without the ability to examine and dissect other people’s code, it’s harder for them to gain a good understanding of it. Of course it does prevent the blatant theft of code by unscrupulous modders, and I’ll not name names but we have had some .ini theft in the C&C3 modding community (C&C3 still uses a few uncompiled .ini files for a couple of things). Of course the SDKs come with most of the uncompiled xml from the games which is helpful, but you can only go so far with it. More advanced things are not covered in the xmls and especially not in EA’s documentation. What really needs to be done is to have examples that show newbies the basic “modules” of the programming language and what they do, how they are related, and how you can string simple things together to get a complex-looking result.
In the absence of official guides it is up to the community to write tutorials for each other, but the harder it gets to mod each consecutive game, the fewer people there are around to help others and write said tutorials.

jonwil: C&C3 and RA3 mods are only “closed” because no-one has written a decompiler yet. I would write one but I have more important and usefull things to do :). As for not being able to see the source of mods, I do see a lot of people being willing to share info about how stuff is done. Mods for many other games are also “closed” in that you cant see the source for the mod and that hasn’t hurt those games.

Smurf Bizkit: ‘Closed Source Modding’ isn’t a big deal. In the couple times I’ve wondered how a mod did things, I just asked them how (which is just as good as having the source code). We do plan on releasing the source code for ‘Mideast Crisis 2’ at some point though.

Daz: It’s good in that it gives the modders control over whether their source code is available to people (they can release the raw code if they want to). I personally think that not open sourcing code is a bad thing in modding communities (excluding projects that are more like an interactive portfolio for people trying to get games industry jobs) but you have to respect what other people want to do with their own stuff.

Golan: It’s a bit difficult to give a short answer to this, mainly because the issue is a lot different depending on the point of view. From a technical point of view, the “Closed Source Modding” is a necessity simply because of how the games work today. If you compare both the vanilla games and their mods of TW and RA3 with older games, especially other SAGE games like Generals/ZH, you will notice a HUGE boost in loading times and performance. So, thumbs up!
If you are working on a mod, either you hate that you can’t just have a look at other peoples work or are glad that noone can just rip your work (which is by the way not true for graphical assets). Personally, I don’t dislike it at all. Most modders will share their knowledge anyways, releasing the source code either fully or partially so there’s no real loss here. If they want to keep the source files to themselfs, that’s their decission and people should respect it. Again, thumbs up!
The problem really is that just as mods are ‘Closed Source’, so are the games as well! This makes modifying the base game for partial conversion very frustrating as you have to do a lot of ripping, nagging, pleading and change your plans more often than your underwear. Yes, I’m also talking about the TW and KW Art assets and I know you are listening, EA. *hint**hint*

Question 6) What are the best mod releases of the past 12 months and which are the most interesting up coming mods?

Banshee: That’s a hard question, since it is being a while since I haven’t played a released mod, due to real life issues. The most graphically impressive mod would have been Middle East Crisis 2. There were other couple of interesting releases such as Granatball, Tiberium Essence, The Dawn of the Tiberium Age, Vietnam: Glory Obscured. From the upcoming mods, I’m interested on Tiberian Sun Rising, Asylum, The Forgotten, Tiberian Odyssey and there are many others as well.

Mastermind: You know, as strange as it is for someone who worked on the C&C 3 and RA3 Mod SDKs, I haven’t played any mods in quite a while. I’ve heard good things about Mid East Crisis 2 though, and I’m sure I’ll get around to playing it sooner or later. Right now I’m keeping an eye on all of the new RA3 mods, TheGunrun’s new C&C Retarded mod looks like it should be pretty interesting.

Koen: The best mod released in the past 12 months: RA3 Uprising. The changes made to the game engine are minor compared to RA3: it is a single-player mod, developed by a large dedicated team. No-one in the community can compete with that budget.

Blbpaws: I think MidEast Crisis 2 definitely was an ambitious project that is far along, with a public release out. As for upcoming mods, Tiberian Dawn continues to be interesting, though they are moving pretty slowly I think. I’m very excited about both of the projects I’m involved in. C&C 3: The Forgotten has been a fascinating project to work on after C&C: All Stars, as we’ve really spent a lot of time working on creating a new storyline experience that will be familiar in style to C&C fans, yet comes from a different perspective. We haven’t announced some of the biggest things we’re working on with that project, and I think and hope people will be impressed when we do. “The Red Alert” is another mod I’m working with that should be excellent for Red Alert 3. It recreates much of the nostalgic world of Red Alert 1 in a way that both veterans and newcomers can appreciate.

Mighty BOB!: MidEast Crisis 2 is a very good mod. It plays rather differently, but it can be quite fun if you adapt to the play style. Rise of the Reds had a great release in December after a long time since their previous version. Cold War Crisis came out. Tiberium Wars Advanced had a couple of releases as well. There are too many good mods to give every one of them a shout out.

As for upcoming mods, well I think Tiberian Dawn –which just celebrated its two-year anniversary by the way– and Tiberian Sun Rising are going to be pretty awesome, but then again I’m on both teams so I get to see the cool stuff in development. 😛

jonwil: I think Mid-East Crisis is the best released mod of recent times, it really shows what is possible on modern RTS engines. The most interesting upcoming mods are Red Alert: A Path Beyond, RA2: Apocalypse Rising and Reborn all for Renegade, along with the brand new scripts.dll 4.0 (which brings a large pile of engine enhancements, bug fixing, performance improvements and other things to Renegade) that all 3 mods are currently testing preview releases of.

Smurf Bizkit: Its probably bad form to mention my own mod (Mideast Crisis 2) so instead I’ll mention Granatball, a mod for C&C3 that turns it into something similar to Unreal Tournament (including the announcer). For future mods, I hope that ‘Dune: Evolution’ gets a release, and has unique gameplay to back the nice art they’ve been showing off.

Daz: MidEast Crisis 2 is very impressive in terms of visuals and the additions beyond the standard TW gameplay but I didn’t find it much fun to play unfortunately. I’ve not really been tracking the community so I’ve not played anything else but I’ve had a look through ModDB and tried some stuff today (only twelve mods TW have updated their pages in the last twelve months, what’s up with that mod teams?) and there wasn’t really anything that I liked other than Granatball. In terms of upcoming mods Asylum looks good, I also like “The Red Alert” (the obligatory Red Alert remake for RA3) and Condition Red (the obligatory Red Alert 2 remake for RA3) but I like remakes so I would.

Golan: Well, if there is anybody who hasn’t played Middle East Crisis 2 for Tiberium Wars up to day – PLAY IT NOW! It is not perfect, but it is without doubt one of if not the best mod for Tiberium Wars. If you are more interested in partial conversions, Tiberium Essence and Tiberium Wars Advanced are the way to go; if you are looking for a more exotic gameplay, make sure to give Granatball a try. Now for upgcoming mods, I’m really looking forward to Asylum for TW, though TBH I’m not even sure if it’s still in developement; the last few media releases looked awesome though. Tiberian Sun Rising too is a bit on the quiet side ATM but it is the most promising of the “remake mods” in my opinion. Taking updates to mod into account as well, Middle East Crisis 2 and Tiberium Wars Advanced look like they will come up with some great changes in their next releases. One of the only RA3 mods that really interests me is R3D, the team behind that one is very skilled. Lastly, even though it’s not a mod for C&C, it’s a mod about it – RenegadeX. If you haven’t seen any of their media, make sure to check it out now and you won’t have to ask why it’s the mod I’m waiting for the most.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by each individual in the Roundtable Discussion are their own, and do not reflect the official view of, unless otherwise stated.

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