FEATURES: Roundtable Discussion #4 – January 2008

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It’s the fourth edition of the Roundtable Discussion, and first of the new year, here on CNCNZ.com. Listed below are the people participating on the panel for this month.

Question 1) What do you think was the biggest C&C related highlight in 2007?

Sonic: The biggest highlight for me was BattleCast Primetime and the continued development of the C&C TV concept. Simply due to the fact that it was unexpected, we had no idea EA had this planned. When EA posted that small teaser everyone had there guesses as to what it could be, a lot of people, myself included, said it was going to be the announcement of the expansion pack for C&C 3. In the end we were all wrong and BattleCast Primetime was born. I think I’ve watched more of C&C TV than I have actually played C&C 3.

Saracen: For me, it was the C&C 3 Community Summit. It was great fun to be able to be one of the first to play C&C 3 before it went Gold. Despite the fact that I now dislike the game for its many shortcomings, it was certainly a summit I won’t forget. Meeting Joe Kucan being the biggest highlight of anything I’ve done in the community. And I’d still like to give many thanks to Aaron Kaufman for the invite.

Zee Hypnotist: Honestly, the release of Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars. Regardless of how well it did, it was the biggest thing to come out for C&C in several years, and I believe it was a really noticeable highlight. It pretty much kick-started EA into gear, and now we’re already hearing of an expansion and a new FPS.

Lion: I’m excited about the announcements of Kane’s Wrath and TIBERIUM, but as far as one specific highlight for 2007, that would be Command & Conquer TV. It turned out to be a huge success with the fans, and APOC and staff delivered on their promises for the shows. Very innovative and entertaining. Let’s hope they keep delving out the goodies for 2008.

JohnWE: Battlecast Primetime. That was a joke. C&C3 release definitely takes the cake. If it was the biggest highlight for me, it’d be the Kane’s Wrath community summit, but I think most people were awesomely affected by the release of the first C&C game since Renegade.

Cypher: That really is a tough one, what with all the C&C related things to happen the past year. But I’d have to say that the most important thing to hit the community in 2007 was the entirely new approach EALA have taken with regards to the community. Of course not without its drawbacks, the C&C team at EALA, lead by Apoc, has really taken it upon itself to listen to the community and make it much more a part of the game, as well as itself more a part of the community. Be it with Battlecast Primetime and the whole C&C TV thing, or the C&C3 tournaments in WCG and the likes. As I said, some things still remain to be tweaked and improved, like how much really they should listen to the fans and in what areas – listening to select content experts (balance or modding, for example) or the popular vote (read: loudest vote) on the forums (bringing back mechs just for mechs sake). Some of these things will be proven only in the future, for how well they work out.

Chickendippers: Well really it has to be the release of Tiberium Wars, a proper return to the C&C series. I don’t think things get much bigger for a fansite than the release of a new game!

Banshee: That’s a hard question, but for me it is the announcement of Tiberium, in the very end of the year is the biggest highlight for me. There were other great things such as Kane’s Wrath announcement, Battle Cast Primetime (which was a positive surprise for many people), the Mod SDK, KW Community Summit, etc. But, as a new game, and as a return to the FPS genre, I think Tiberium has beaten them all. And EALA marketing team did an awesome job with C&C in this year, specially in the second semester.

In the community side, there were some interesting things to highlight. One is the Renegade mods became standalone games and Red Alert: A Path Beyond had very successful releases. In C&C3, the modding name of the year is jonwil. Without him, we would only have EA tools. Jonwil did an amazing job by decoding a big set of game file formats and making a nice set of tools to extract and even create some of these files. Also kudos for Mastermind and his job at EALA (and the mod SDK, which he was partially responsible for). For Red Alert 2, Future Crisis is a quite impressive released mod. Not just with its amazing graphics, but the game play is great as well. Also, the TMP Builder should increase exponentially the amount of custom terrains created for both TS and YR. The other highlight for me was Tiberium Legos, which was a great piece of work from Zee Hypnotist. I had a lot of fun with it.

TheBlackout: I think the highlight was the announcement of Tiberium. We saw the video that hinted at it, but most everyone dismissed it as being test footage or something. Well when Tiberium was announced, I was pretty surprised. A new C&C FPS was definitely the highlight of the year.

Tchutch: The return of the Tiberium universe with the release of Tiberium Wars. Because for years, after Generals, BfME and BfME 2, I thought that this universe would not be coming back any more. And now, my favorite universe will have two more games/add-ons – Kane’s Wrath and Tiberium -> great time!

Question 2) As we enter 2008 and from a C&C perspective, what are you looking forward to the most in the new year?

Sonic: My expectations are set to an all time low for C&C in 2008. Sure we have Kane’s Wrath coming in March or there abouts but when your not exactly interested in Tiberium Wars the expansion seems like just another game. But I will admit, some of the recent Kane’s Wrath news has been more interesting to me. I hope the story is better executed in the expansion than it was in Tiberium Wars, it just bored me and never inspired me to keep playing it. I do expect to see more community interaction in 2008, I feel its been somewhat lacking in the past few years. Plus I’m expecting (or is that hoping for) an announcement of a possible Red Alert 3 in December 2008.

Saracen: Community wise the thing I’m most looking forward to is the continued growth of the community and the relationship it has internally with its members, and externally with EA. We’ve seen quite some change (mostly for the better) within the C&C community. There’s less bickering, and hatred like there was before C&C 3 was announced, and it’d be great to see that continue. C&C wise, what else but Tiberium!?

Zee Hypnotist: Well, I don’t know what I want to see more… Kane’s Wrath, or Tiberium. For some reason, I just can’t picture playing another Command & Conquer FPS, not because I don’t like the idea, but for some reason, I just can’t see it. I constantly think of Halo when I look at Tiberium. But Kane’s Wrath, I believe that will actually do good.

Lion: Because I was such a big fan of Renegade, TIBERIUM gets my vote. I’ve been hoping for a new C&C fps since I stopped playing Renegade on a regular basis in 2005. Up close and personal with C&C is my cup of tea. Should prove to be a most interesting year.

JohnWE: Kane’s Wrath. My answer would be Tiberium because I do enjoy Renegade multiplayer, but I do know how KW plays out, and I don’t know how Tiberium will be. I’m looking forward quite a bit to playing that game. It’ll be all sorts of fun online with all the different sides.

Cypher: Personally I’m really looking forward to seeing how well EALA handle Kane’s Wrath and Tiberium in terms of canon. They’ve had some issues with mistakes in C&C3 and (unfortunately I can’t not mention it) the Tiberium Wars Novel, but they also have some real opportunities to fix them with KW. However, most importantly, with the commitment they seem to have undertaken, they have now the chance and opportunity to once and for all establish a real canon – something that Westwood has never been able to do, or rather was only in the very early stages of finally compiling when it was consolidated – be it even a retcon of what has been established before, as long as it is logical and something to finally and conclusively say this is it….

When I wrote my own canon, I took the games (RA, TD, TS and Renegade) and laid out their events and stories, while filling in some gaps with scientific or logically flowing explanations (like the parallel universes theory with the original RA intro) and ignoring what seemed to be typos or simple cases of overlooking (like the 2020 date in the Renegade manual). Unfortunately, the internal C&C Bible that Westwood had compiled before consolidation, did not iron out such mistakes, and was yet at the stage of simple transcribing of the printed material. Maybe this also explains where EALA originally got the idea of TD taking place in 2020 or so (that’s the date Renegade took place in, according to Westwood’s own internal bible). But now comes EALA, with a real internal Bible, for Tiberium, for the entire history, and with the announcement of this new FPS by the same name, are promising to deliver something definitive and for once, finally create a canon for this saga that has deserved one better than what I’ve written, from the start. And yes, even at the cost of forgoing some of the niches and nuances of the original games. Some, mind you! So that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.

Chickendippers: I’m really looking forward to Tiberium! Although Kane’s Wrath is shaping up to be a good expansion, it is essentially more of the same, a change of pace to something completely different could be fun.

Banshee: I know what most people would answer on this one: Tiberium. But, as a modder, I’ll spot something different and very interesting, specially for the hardcore modding fans. The current name of the beast is Rock Patch 2. It is a community patch for Yuri’s Revenge that will finally allow any C++ code monkey to actually add features to the game, through DLL files. It will certainly revolutionize the YR modding, which still has a lot of energy. Modders will not rely on few heads to write new features for the and won’t be stuck with their bugs as well. The possibilities are endless. Imagine a superweapon that would show a mini game and the damage at the enemy would be accordingly to your performance in this game? Or… the possibility or your new superweapon turning your mouse into a machine gun to fire at your enemies with no mercy? And don’t limit your ideas into new superweapons. It would be much easier to create new factions, new armour types, new ways to collect money and much more. For those wondering if this is illegal, my answer is simple: EA’s instance won’t differ from any existing mod, since they won’t support it at all (it wouldn’t make sense to support them either) and you would be adding code (not modifying the current executable). So, it violates the EULA like any other mod, where you would be responsible for whatever damage it causes to your computer (if it ever causes any). EALA allowed Renegade mods to become stand alone games, which is a higher level than what RP2 proposes. There is also the possibility to some criminals use this kind to hack somebody’s computer or cheat online. Most of cheats would cause the game to go out of sync and problematic DLLs wouldn’t be endorsed by the existing community either.

TheBlackout: The work of mods continuing to develop this year. Whether it is the ever continuing development of A Path Beyond, the progress of Mideast Crisis 2, Tiberian Sun Rising, or the Reborn mod, I will be looking forward to seeing how they progress.

Tchutch: Difficult question… At first : Tiberium and the next C&C RTS… but I would like to see the community make more common actions/events. Maybe with CNCNZ.com’s two great ideas, Video Podcast and Roundtable Discussion, we can do “the Community Battlecast PrimeTime”. I think that all fansites, mods, clans do brilliant work and that it would be really epic to make something all together.

Question 3) So Tiberium, the new C&C FPS, has been confirmed, what is your initial reaction to the C&C franchise taking the FPS road once again?

Sonic: Not really sure how I feel about Tiberium. Its a new franchise and I’m sure whatever EA come up with for this game will be great. I’m not going to hype myself for it I know that’s for damn sure, I’ll let things develop and take what’s given, you know, go with the flow. Like I said before, this is a new franchise so who cares if Tiberium doesn’t stay “canon” or even if it’s considered a chapter in the epic C&C storyline. In all honesty EA can do whatever the hell they want with it. Right now Tiberium looks like parts of other popular FPS franchises all rolled into one package.

Saracen: To be honest with everyone, I’m very much looking forward to this one. Sure I’ve said that before with other C&C games, but despite the reviews and such Renegade had, it’s still my most “played-to-death” First Person shooter and C&C game. There is nothing better than running around as a commando in the C&C universe. And no matter which direction EA takes this game, I know for a fact that it’s one I’m going to be playing a lot when it’s released. So naturally I’m glad that it’s taking this road once again.

Zee Hypnotist: I can honestly say I support it, but, I am kind of afraid of the road it is taking. For some reason, I dislike the idea of GDI using robotic mechanisms, after seeing the problems that cyborgs caused, and, well, once again, it reminds me too much of Halo, and I don’t even know why.

Lion: Bring it on! As long as EA can do the game justice, I’m ready for TIBERIUM. There’s been a few good FPS games released in 2007, and some coming in 2008 that it will be judged against, so EA does have it’s work cut out for them. They do have the resources and talent available to develop a great game, and I look forward to seeing how things progress through the year 2008.

JohnWE: I do not know much about the game. The pictures, which might be screenshots look pretty good. I think many people including me are expecting a Renegade 2. Seeing that this game will be squad based is somewhat of a disappointment. I can see why they did that, with C&C3 having squads and many modern games going that route. I can only hope that I’ll have a chance to give some feedback into the game design process and “keep it Renegade.”

Cypher: Well, it’s definitely something new. And that’s good. Unlike most of the responses on the forums, where people cry about the lack of C&C Mode, I’d much rather focus on the new things this game will bring. And from the preview on GI, it looks to bring lots of new gameplay – at least new for C&C. But perhaps it’s that mix of this new gameplay and C&C that will bring something really special. Just like C&C Mode did before. And for those wanting C&C Mode – there’s always the chance for modding, as well as the legacy Renegade and its mods. And, most importantly, the Command & Crysis The Dead Six project, which promises to bring C&C Mode; enhanced, refined and improved.

If Tiberium really does bring us closer to the Tiberium infested ground in this again apocalyptic world after the first Scrin invasion, as well as give us the chance to control strategic C&C-like powers from the ground as the Battle Commander – hell, think of it as being McNeil in that Tiberian Sun mission where you had the Kodiak grounded in a storm and had to protect it – only this time you’re controlling your forces from McNeil’s own view point, and not from high above, remotely via some EVA uplink. This isn’t just the commando running and gunning around. It’s much more and it sounds intriguing.

Chickendippers: Renegade really had some great gameplay mechanics, but was let down somewhat by the graphics, but judging by what other FPSs that have come out of EALA look like, we will be in for a visual treat! Perhaps I’m getting myself over excited, but if the same team that made MoH:Airborne (definitely in my top 5 games list) are working on Tiberium then it could be something special. It’s interesting to note the lack of “Command & Conquer” in the game title, but perhaps this’ll silence the pedants who squabble over every letter ofthe backstory for inconsistencies – something that annoys me intensely.

Banshee: I am not any FPS fan, but I’m happy to see more FPS games under the C&C brand. My only surprise was that Tiberium is a new franchise and not part of the C&C franchise. What does it means exactly isn’t clear, since it is still based on the C&C3 story and has several elements of the C&C3 book. Will Tiberium be part of the C&C tiberium storyline? In this year, I’m sure we’ll find more answers for these questions.

TheBlackout: I am a bit weary. The name is pretty… bland and uninspired. I will not be hyped about this game; I will judge it when I get my hands on the full game itself. It’s not a Renegade 2, so already it cannot live up to the expectations of me that I had for the next C&C first person shooter.

Tchutch: I thought the same as a lot of people did, Renegade 2. But this game will be very different and I really want to play it. I am not like many other fans against change. I want new games, new ideas… (in tiberium universe).

Question 4) Following on with Tiberium, what do you expect from Tiberium modding wise?

Sonic: People like to change things and developers know that modding adds a longer life their game. So at the very least I would expect EA to make sure Tiberium is supported with some form of Mod SDK or other similar tools. In the end I guess its modding potential will be determined by the game engine, which is apparently the Unreal 3 engine.

Saracen: Renegade was clearly a winner in the modding department for a couple of teams. A Path Beyond and Reborn have shown enormous promise, and both are stronger than ever. I think we can see some great mods come out for Tiberium without a doubt.

Zee Hypnotist: Honestly, considering the lack of small time Renegade modding, and the fact that there are still many Renegade mods in the works, I don’t see much of a future for Tiberium modding. I see maybe one or two large mods that will take a few years to complete, but nothing small time. I don’t think EA will release any major modding tools either.

Lion: I’m not much into the modding scene, as I deal mainly with maps, but I’m sure there will be some interest in modding TIBERIUM, as there seems to be in all C&C games. C&C has a very active modding community. I’m sure some modding team may want to create a mod where Renegade left off (Renegade 2?), or perhaps bring back the original Renegade in the new game engine.

JohnWE: I bet C&C Reborn will switch to this engine! Just kidding. If we get a modding SDK, we’ll definitely see a bunch of new mods for it. With deathmatch, ctf and C&C multiplayer modes, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of crazy mods will come out of it. I would expect fewer past-C&C mods and more original mods.

Cypher: If it’s the same engine, then anything that can be done with it. This question is kinda irrelevant, cause the engine is already out there and is being modded. So it’s really up to everyone to go look around and see what can be done with it. Question is, what will EALA allow, modding wise, and will they close off some or any of the original engine’s capabilities for modification? Or maybe that’s not up to them even, but contracted by the licensee.

Chickendippers: Mod support is difficult to judge; it really depends which engine they use. If it’s the Unreal or Source engines, which I hear have a host of mod tools, it could be pretty straight forward if Tiberium modders can use all the existing documentation.

Banshee: Tiberium is being created by Electronic Arts Los Angeles, the same creators of Medal Of Honour: Airborne, which uses a heavily modified Unreal Engine 3. While EA has a CryEngine 2 in home, they decided to go with their Unreal 3 engine. CryEngine features better graphics but it’s heavier than Unreal Engine 3. Anyway, as far as I’ve seen the crude graphics from the scanned magazines, the quality doesn’t surprises me, although ingame renders released by EALA will look better than that. Unreal 3 engine offers plugins for Maya and 3ds Max, which shouldn’t limit modders from creating graphics for it. However, all W3X made for C&C3 and W3D from Renegade and Generals will probably need to be converted to this new format. My only issue with it is that the level editor is a licensed technology, which means that EA wouldn’t be able to pass it to the fans. Renegade used to have level editor, which you won’t see in Tiberium. At least, I’m not aware of any level editor that EALA made for Medal Of Honour games.

TheBlackout: I’m not really a modder so I can’t name specifics that I’d like to see, but I hope that of those on the scale of Crysis and Battlefield 2. Both seem to have great potential for modification and I would expect the same with Tiberium.

Tchutch: I do not have definite answer to this question… I do hope that the game and mods impress us as always by their talents.

Question 5) We finally got the details about the Scrin sub factions for Kane’s Wrath, Reaper-17 and Traveler-59. Are they what you expected? Perhaps something else would have been better?

Sonic: I’ll be very blunt, short and to the point with this one. Their alien looking, the seem powerful, their love affair for all things Tiberium remains, they are Scrin.

Saracen: I’ll be honest, I’ve been too busy focussing on Petroglyph’s Universe at War to even care about Kane’s Wrath. So I can’t really comment hugely on the specific sub-factions. But I’ll make an effort here and take a quick read….. Right OK, these Scrin Sub-factions, based on how powerful the Scrin were anyway as a late-game faction, are going to make the faction as a whole extremely badass. It seems to be that Reaper are going to pack GDI’s punch, and Traveller Nod’s weaker yet more stealthy approach. But from what I can also gather, the hard hitter and stealth sub-factions are the same across all 3 sides. And it still doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of variety between the factions. This just cements in my mind that Kane’s Wrath is going to be the same cut and paste inter-faction gameplay that we got from C&C 3. Let’s just hope the story, and the music is actually good this time around.

Zee Hypnotist: Considering the fact that I’ve already played with the two factions at the recent summit, I believe the factions work excellently, and you can see a well-established difference between the two in game play. The names confuse me a little bit, as I still don’t understand the point of them, and they don’t seem all that threatening, but the factions themselves work rather well.

Lion: I’ve read up on them, and it’s about what I expected with an alien race..the Reaper Tripod walker sounds like fun, and the ‘new version’ of mind control units should add some new strategies to the game.

JohnWE: We had the sneak preview info from G4W magazine a while back about them. It had no confirmed info, so I wasn’t really expecting anything. The first time I got to learn about them was at EA, and I think they do have very different roles (Mega Land Destruction and Sneaky) and they’ll be quite fun to play. As for different options, I can’t think of any. So watch out for my AOE Mind Control!

Cypher: I personally think that Kane’s Wrath is really more about Nod and Kane than anything else. So for a first taste of the Scrin enraged invasion, those two are more than ample. The question is, are those really the forces the Scrin promised to send to Earth? Are those really the forces that constitute the “prepare a full invasion force” threat?
Now with the advent of Tiberium the new FPS, it seems unlikely – especially since Tiberium is talking about 11 years after TW, and the towers remained dormant…..Questions. Questions. So many questions… This coming year, some of them are bound to be answered. And more to be asked. 😉

Chickendippers: It seems pretty standard, all the factions have a “powerful” and “weak but stealthy” sub-faction. It’s hardly original, and seems to contradict the main balance of the game; i.e. GDI powerful, Nod weak but stealthy. Anyway, I’ll wait ’till I’ve played before passing judgement.

Banshee: I had no expectations on Scrin. As a new faction, EALA had the freedom to create what they want. If they want this, then we should be happy with it. So far, it looks fine for me. The way Scrin was designed was to have complex structures and simple communication. So, at this perspective, I think it matches my expecatations about it. Anyway, I’m satisfied with it and these two subfactions should be very interesting, strategy wise, in game.

TheBlackout: I have not really been hyping up or getting myself thinking about Kane’s Wrath. After Tiberium Wars, I have tried to keep myself away from thinking this game will be that much better. I hope the sub-factions work out and add a depth of multiplayer that Zero Hour had, but I had nothing expected or anything in my mind that would be better.

Tchutch: To have played Kane’s Wrath at the community summit, I am very happy with these two sub-factions particularly Traveler-59. But I am sad that there will not be a Scrin campaign. (I saw live action videos, the scenario for Nod is perfect).

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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