FEATURES: Roundtable Discussion #32 – December 2011

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We haven’t done many Roundtable Discussions in 2011 so we thought we would do a CNCNZ.com staff only edition to finish of the year.

  • Sonic – CNCNZ.com Webmaster
  • Zee Hypnotist – CNCNZ.com Forums Admin
  • Doctor Destiny – CNCNZ.com Forums Admin
  • Luk3us – CNCNZ.com Forums Mod
  • Nmenth – CNCNZ.com Forums Mod
  • gben – CNCNZ.com Forums Mod
  • Plokite_Wolf – CNCNZ.com News Team
  • Alex06 – CNCNZ.com News Team
  • nathancnc – Command & Patch Staff

Question 1) So the secret is out. Generals 2 is the next C&C game. Happy to see the return of Generals?

Sonic: Pretty much happy all round to be honest. I was not a big Generals fan but I did appreciate that General was one of best balanced RTS games for multiplayer, only let down in the single player area in terms of content and storyline. So for Generals 2 this is what needs to improve. Some people would argue that going with Generals 2 in favour of a new IP is the “safe” option, that maybe the case, but we are long overdue for a Generals sequel and now it seems to be the right time. Well 2013 will be the right the time. And that’s another positive. A C&C game is finally getting a developement time spanning multiple years.

Zee Hypnotist: I’m rather indifferent about seeing Generals. I’m happy and all, but I’m not excited yet because the release is so far away. I look forward to seeing how it develops over time, though!

Doctor Destiny: In all seriousness, yes. Generals was such a fun game. It had that arcade style that I find a lot of games lacking. Barring its lacking story, it really needed more attention since there was so much potential there for an interesting universe rooted in present day politics. Should make for an interesting sequel to say the least.

Luk3us: Yes in my humble opinion Generals had one of the more interesting and challenging multiplayer experience’s that EA/Westwood have made to date. That is of course assuming they hold true to Generals roots and not create some bastardized version. *cough* Tiberian Twilight *cough*

Nmenth: Yes. Although I always liked the first Generals, I used to hold a grudge against it for cashing in on the C&C name. However, I eventually realized two scenarios: If Generals 2 was never made, it would be proof Generals usurped the C&C label and would remain a blemish against the series for all time; or Generals 2 is made and proves Generals is the official third C&C universe.

gben: Yeah for me this is a natural and obvious choice. While the game misses some iconic C&C elements, it replaces them with solid game-play. I was able to put the lack of C&C elements aside and enjoy the game on it’s own merits. I look forward to another go at the universe. I think the new Developer has the best opportunity to make it’s mark with the General’s universe since we’ve only had a peak into it’s potential. It’s funny but I feel no loyalty to any faction from the previous game, so I was surprised at the attempt to keep them in Gen2. And what’s with the mysterious new faction – another classic EA storm-in-a-teacup marketing campaign? I really wished someone would make that attempt at the evil US world dominating force that was mooted a while ago. That doesn’t mean that something like the GLA would become the heroes. If only the prime market could handle the switcheroo…

Plokite_Wolf: It sure looks great and the backstory impressed me, but I’m still cautious. BioWare Victory is on really thin ice. One wrong decision might destroy what was left of the community after Tiberian Twilight hit the shelves. Also, if they really do follow the original C&C/Generals formula, they will redeem for EALA’s mistakes in my eyes.

Alex06: I’m fine with anything so long as they stay close to the C&C formula, with resources and bases. I’m not “happy” if a return to Generals means a return to terrible story-telling. But it looks like that might not be the case, this time, seeing what was said in the interviews.

nathancnc: I thought that the original Generals game was a good RTS game, but it just never had the Command & Conquer “feel” to it. I am sitting on the fence for this one. On one hand, it’s great that this is coming out, as it will help revive the community, on the other hand, if it still has the “Generals feel” to it, I will be disappointed. I really hope that they can make this a good addition to the C&C Universe.

Question 2) Generals 2 sees the franchise officially switch to a new developer. Is the change to the BioWare label a good thing?

Sonic: The BioWare name commands a certain level of quality. You only have to look at their other franchises to see that. BioWare games feature full on story driven single player campaigns. It remains to be seen how feature rich the Generals 2 story will be, all we have right now is the basic plot line. Its now up to BioWare Victory to deliver and I’m confident they will.

Zee Hypnotist: Unfortunately, I know very little about Bioware, but seeing their lineup of games on their website, it seems like they’re capable of handling many different types of games. Seeing other big names, including the Mass Effect series, is quite a respectable leading. Seeing as how they’re developing several other games though, I don’t see this as one of their primary projects though; I suspect Victory Games alone is still leading the development, with Bioware overseeing everything.

Doctor Destiny: In all seriousness, I have no idea. I’ve honestly never played a Bioware game so I can’t say with any certainty how that will effect the game itself. I’ve heard good things about Bioware so I’m hopeful, but my expectations are still rather low. However, if EA doesn’t rush things, there’s a good chance Generals 2 will turn out nicely.

Luk3us: Depends on how much creative control Bioware has over Generals and how much pressure EA puts on them to push it out the door. A good example of this is the VAST differences between Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2. DAO was a more traditional and ‘old school’ RPG which was well received, whilst DA2 was more of a; ‘Push a button something awesome happens’ – David Silverman, kind of game that was universally panned.

Anyways moving along, now if I were to say that Bioware had one major strength it would be their ability to create interesting characters and put them into beautifully crafted worlds and tell a story (even if it follows the same Bioware formulae over and over.) that draws the player in. I would also say their major weakness is their developers aren’t the most imaginative in the world which results in their games being, functional but not necessarily interesting, their game’s gameplay is cookie cutter in its complexity. Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2 are two of their most recent creations, neither are all that impressive gameplay wise. Mass Effect is a generic cover shooter without any imagination (Mass Effect 3 has grenades, shields and omniblades and they’re calling it revolutionary, bitch please…) and Dragon Age 2, well its a button masher, a bad one at that.

But both of those games are RPGs or as ‘action adventures’ as the marketing monster would call them. To my knowledge Bioware doesn’t have much experience if any in designing RTS games, so I really don’t know how the game will turn out. Honestly I’m half expecting a thrilling global conflict of massive proportions driven narrative, ruined by a generic paper, scissors, rock gameplay that is ten years too late, peppered with flashy graphics.

If the original team that made Generals was still around I’d give it right back to them. I think handing over the ‘franchise’ to Bioware is a risk. But hey, it can’t possibly be as terrible as that abortion that just never happened, despite how much it should have, called Tiberian Twilight.

Nmenth: It can’t hurt. I haven’t played any BioWare games, but they do seem to be quite popular, so I will take that as a positive sign.

gben: Well there are quite a few new elements here – not only are we adding the BIOWARE label, but we have a new head with Jon Van Caneghem and a new developer studio. But EA seems to be saying all the right things… proper preparation prevents poor performance. So I’m upbeat and optimistic about the future. If Bioware has no experience as a RTS brand, they *do* have great experience for the Story and SP experience. These are the obvious shortcomings from the GEN1 series… and some might argue for recent C&C games. So with this pedigree of gaming experience I’m looking forward to this game.

With recent titbits indicating that the SP experience is getting equal treatment with the MP – my expectations are high.

Plokite_Wolf: I didn’t play any BioWare game except MDK 2 from 2000, so I don’t know what’s on BioWare’s mind.

Alex06: Well, we can’t say for sure. But from what I hear, it’s still the majority of the original EALA C&C team that’s working on the game, so the BioWare label mostly seems to serve for “brand recognition” and promoting the product better. That, and the fact that it will likely have to follow the BioWare rule; To be a quality game with an importance put into story-telling.

nathancnc: I was really disappointed in C&C4, it had some good playtime to it, but it got old really quickly. I find myself choosing C&C3 over it, when I have time for a game or two. With that said I had lost almost all faith in EA, so switching to a new developer couldn’t hurt.

Question 3) Your thoughts on using the Frostbite 2 Engine for Generals 2?

Sonic: The Frostbite 2 Engine is probably the best one right now. It has proven its flexibility as an FPS engine for Battlefield 3, as a racing engine for the most recent Need for Speed. With Generals 2 it will be the first time it has been used for an RTS game. Yes it means higher system requirements, people will have to upgrade. Its time to move forward, time to drop support for the likes Windows XP and old hardware. The SAGE/RNA engine has served us well and should be remembered as a very successful engine with a rich development history.

Zee Hypnotist: Frostbite. Wow. All I can say is, I guess I’ll need a new computer to play this one.

Doctor Destiny: Hard to say since I haven’t played on a Frostbite 2 powered game yet. The visuals and sound will be stunning for sure, but it will make for a much higher barrier of entry for those with lower end PCs. But you have to take the good with the bad in the end. Though, to be fair, companies can’t stay with archaic engines forever. Inevitably, old or underpowered systems have to bite the dust.

Luk3us: RTS games are about gameplay first, second, third and four hundred and fifty seventh, or least as far as I’m concerned. You can get away with **** gameplay and flashly graphics in other genres (FPS especially), but it quickly becomes apparent how boring the game is in an RTS if the gameplay is shallow, (Tiberium Wars multiplayer before patch 1.09 is evidence of this). Having played BF3 I know the graphics will be great, but I don’t think its that big of a deal. But the marketing machine will latch onto anything it can I guess.

Nmenth: The scenes we’ve seen so far look very high quality, and that’s a good thing. The high quality comes at a significant cost in high-end hardware, and that could be a problem if your current set up is lacking. The new engine is apparently very complex and could mean no modding support for Generals 2, and that is a bad thing. Therefore, there are both good and bad aspects, but progress is inevitable and should not be shunned, I just hope they can find a way to open this game up to the modding community before it is released.

gben: I have no experience with the engine, but I guess change is overdue. RA3 looked great to me though, and really, I don’t buy RTS games for their graphics. So the question is will the new engine enhance functionality? Will we have NAVY? I think something in favour of this move is that the engine has not been developed specifically for this engine, there will be a team of developers who know the engine pretty well… so I give this new engine the benefit of the doubt.

Plokite_Wolf: The Frostbite 2 engine will bring some awesome graphics to Generals 2 (and make me say goodbye to my current configuration), I’m sure of that. But the lack of mod support isn’t the best idea ever, as the previous C&C games relied in part on the modding community. However, I’m not the kind of guy who puts graphics above everything. If the game turns out well, the no-mod policy won’t look that big a mistake either.

Alex06: I’m going to have to upgrade my computer, but I’m looking forward to it. The graphics are top-notch and I was getting tired of SAGE. I like the details on the units, the destruction and how the player color doesn’t glow and isn’t an eyesore. My only ick is that it won’t support modding and mapping, especially since they have made it clear they want to sell DLC units, factions and campaigns instead of making a full-fledged all-in-one expansion pack. Mapping & Modding are what kept the C&C games alive. Though I can understand that EA might not want to get such a powerful and top-of-the-line engine in anyone’s hands, to remain at the top. (Which I think is a shame, because they didn’t worry about that with CryEngine 3.)

nathancnc: Frostbite 2 is an amazing engine. I was really impressed with the destructible environment in Battlefield 3, and even NFS The Run was awesome on it. I have no doubt that the game will be very good, at least graphically.

Question 4) What is your initial impression of the new C&C Tiberium Alliances browser game?

Sonic: Well at first I was surprised EA were actually making this. Its essentially a free game. I think it has its place. But on all honesty it only appeals to niche style of gamer. And sadly I’m not one those. But I look at C&C Tiberium Alliances for it is, another C&C game, a game that is really a side project, no official connection to Tiberium Universe. I get the feeling that C&C Tiberium Alliances is going to rather popular though, the free factor will draw many gamers in first of course.

Zee Hypnotist: Haven’t played Tiberium Alliances yet. I’m curious, and I want to give it a try, but what impresses me most is that it’s a free to play game. Lots of people flaming it, sure, but who isn’t mad at something C&C related these days?

Doctor Destiny: It’s an interesting spin on the Tiberium universe. Should be fun for those who decide to play it since all you need is a browser.

Luk3us: Indifference, if they added boobs I might take interest, but then this isn’t Red Alert 3. 😉

Nmenth: It is more or less a curiosity at this point. Although I signed up for the beta, I have not gotten access yet, and so have not yet been able to experience it. I have heard there are some murmurings against it though, ruining C&C and whatnot. It is free to play and not canonical, so I personally don’t care how well it represents C&C. I’ll play it, and if I don’t enjoy it, I’ll stop playing it, simple as that.

gben: Confusion. But free-to-play means no reason to complain.

Plokite_Wolf: I was really excited when I saw the trailer and got a beta key. Free-to-play, Third Tiberium War-era, even 2D graphics… This all were signs of a good game. Some other top-secret aspects ruined it for me.

Alex06: Can’t tell much; So far we’ve seen little of it. It looks ok, and a good way to “waste time” when I only have my phone with me or during ads, when I’m watching TV.

nathancnc: Honestly, I’m not impressed. I was invited to the beta right away, and it just isn’t my cup of tea. I have put a few hours into it, and I don’t think I will put any more. It was a good idea, but it didn’t come together very well.

Question 5) In your opinion, what was the biggest or best C&C related moment this year?

Sonic: How can I not pick the Generals 2 announcement. The way they kept everyone guessing. The mystery screen shot about the VGA awards teaser. Then of course the big reveal and everything becoming official. Even though we kind of found out and were convinced a couple days before hand.

Zee Hypnotist: Well, there are a lot of big ones, I’d say. A Path Beyond 2.0 was a big hit in April, and I loved watching it develop very quickly from the start of the gamma. I guess we have to all agree that Generals 2 is making big news all around. On a more personal note, I was more than happy to bring back C&C Legos, or, well, Tiberium Legos as it once was known.

Doctor Destiny: The official announcement of Generals 2. It’s our next C&C game so I would say that tops the charts so to speak.

Luk3us: Generals 2 being announced obviously, but to a lesser extend that its being ‘developed’ by a Bioware team, division, whatever they want to call it.

Nmenth: The announcement of Generals 2, of course.

gben: Best moment of the year… return of C&C Legos 🙂

Plokite_Wolf: The very release of the Generals 2 trailer. I was getting really depressed when looking at the remains of the C&C community, and this came as a good wake-up call. Right now, it’s irrelevant whether the game will be good or bad. People are returning to forums and fansites, something is happening. That’s all we needed.

Alex06: Generals 2 announcement, definitely. Nothing quite like the announcement of a new game.

nathancnc: Clearly it was the announcement of Generals 2. It has brought hope to the C&C franchise, in a way that nothing else could have. Too bad we will be waiting until 2013, talk about a cliff hanger.

Question 6) We have heard your best, now what do you think was the worst moment this year?

Sonic: In a year dominated by modding coverage I really can’t think of anything that has been disappointing this year. So I have nothing further to add here.

Zee Hypnotist: Worst moment, hmm… Gimme a hint on this one? I don’t know, I try not to pay attention to the bad things. They’re usually so insignificant, unless it’s a game release that flops. That didn’t happen this year, so that’s cool.

Doctor Destiny: I haven’t paid much attention to news this year as bad as that sounds. But, really, nothing stands out in my mind that was really that bad.

Luk3us: That Generals 2 wouldn’t be out till 2013.

Nmenth: The time up until Generals 2 was announced. While we all knew there was another C&C game in the works, the community was so quiet and dead feeling. That was indeed the worst moment, even if that “moment” lasted for several months. I guess the upside to everything being deathly quiet is that there was nothing worse than the lingering silence in itself.

gben: Worst moment… C&C4. Yeah I know it doesn’t fit… but the stench remains.

Plokite_Wolf: Other than the cancelling of Red Alert Synergy and meaningless flaming of Tiberium Alliances on YouTube, nothing really bad happened this year.

Alex06: The drought of information? So, I’d say the summer months…

nathancnc: Worst moment, hmm. I can’t think of any big disappointment this year, most of the time it was just quiet.

Question 7) What was the biggest and best C&C mod of 2011?

Sonic: My pick goes to The Red Alert mod for Red Alert 3. What a fantastic job done by CNC Labs on this one. It brought back so many memories of the classic Red Alert. The familiar look and feel, the nostalgic sounds, its all there but this time around its in 3D. Even seeing the original Red Alert intro recreated was cool too. If you haven’t played The Red Alert yet your missing out.

Zee Hypnotist: Gonna stick to every mod being produced by Bluehell Productions. Even if they aren’t released yet, the mods and projects that those guys are working on are outstanding. Amazing. Impeccable.

Doctor Destiny: In seriousness, I don’t really pay much attention to mods since I develop my own. However, what I enjoyed most was C&C: Shockwave’s 1.1 release.

Luk3us: I haven’t followed the C&C mod scene as of late, but props to the C&C modders pushing out content in this vacuum of inactivity.

Nmenth: The same mod that has topped my list for a good while now; Renegade X. Now that they finally announced the release date for their first stand alone earlier this month, it’s almost as good as the announcement of Generals 2.

gben: Best or biggest mod… I’m not really sure but RA:APB is still my fav. 2nd choice, by game time, is probably OpenRA. 2012 will surely be Ren-X.

Plokite_Wolf: The Red Alert and A Path Beyond Gamma. I’ve said so much about them before, so I’ll keep it short – don’t miss playing them.

Alex06: Hard to tell, but Renegade X, Tiberium Essence, Tiberian Apocalypse, ShockWave, Paradox, MidEast Crisis 2, CNC Fallout, Dawn of the Tiberium Age and Twisted Insurrection all seem to be good contenders. I’d personally think Renegade X because of the hype around it and because it is the one I look most forward to.

nathancnc: Renegade X for sure. I used to put hundreds of hours into Renegade when it was new. I played that game for years. With the announcement of Black dawn coming in January….I just can’t wait!

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

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