FEATURES: Roundtable Discussion #6 – March 2008

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It’s Roundtable time again. This is the edition number 6 of our Roundtable Discussion here on CNCNZ.com. Listed below are the people participating on the panel for this month.

Question 1) After a long break we finally return the Red Alert universe with the announcement of Red Alert 3. What are your initial thoughts about this new Red Alert game? And were you surprised by the announcement?

Sonic: I think its great we are venturing back into the Red Alert universe, while I have always enjoyed what the Tiberium universe has to offer, the Red Alert universe has always fascinated and intrigued me just a little bit more. And yeah I’ll admit I was caught off guard by the RA3 announcement. I knew it was coming but I didn’t expect it to be announced so early in the year.

Saracen: Well firstly, I have to say it was inevitable. Like the Tiberian Universe it holds a place in everyone’s hearts, and there’s no doubt people are glad to see it back in action. My thoughts (suprisingly) are one of simple content, I’ll say that much and that’s all really. Red Alert is not made up of Canon, just staple facts and foundations. So this game is open wide to any crazy, nutty stories that can be introduced to it. Sure there will be some RA2/YR fans who will scream “canon!” Because of the distinct lack of Yuri and such. But personally, (unlike C&C 3) I think that the community should only speak on the Balances and certain issues with gameplay in the Beta. Leave the rest to EALA, this is their game, and they do not deserve the community to bully them into making choices this time around.

Zee Hypnotist: I can honestly say I was surprised by the announcement, not that Red Alert 3 would be announced, but how quickly it was announced. I mean, I don’t know how this will go through with Marketing, I’d honestly think that three games being announced without a single one yet being released could be dangerous for marketing in general, but at the same time, it’s probably a good idea because it keeps the fans wanting more. I gotta say, it’s got my attention, that’s the game I’m looking forward to the most.

Lion: Bring it on I say! The Red Alert Universe is my fav and has been since the early days of Red Alert. I wasn’t surprised by the announcement so much as the timing of it. I had thought EA would wait until after the release of Kane’s Wrath before announcing a new RTS game so as not to take away the spotlight from the expansion for C&C3.

JohnWE: I was actually expecting them to announce Red Alert 4 first. Seriously, I’m not too surprised. With all the referring to Kane’s Wrath as the ‘first’ expansion pack for C&C3, I guess not enough people bought C&C3 for there to be a second expansion pack for it. I highly doubt a second expansion would come now because everybody love RA3, yay! My initial thought is to brush up on my C&C3 skills so I’m set to play the beta!

Chickendippers: I will admit the announcement took me by surprise. Following the announcements for Kane’s Wrath and Tiberium, Red Alert 3 wasn’t what I was expecting. Although we’ve only seen very early screenshots it does sound like they’re going for the full-on wackiness factor. I’m not sure if it’s entirely appropriate for a war game, but I did enjoy RA2 so perhaps everything will be alright.

Banshee: The official announcement did not surprise me, but the magazine cover from the PC Guru and PC Gamer magazines indeed surprised me. I was aware that they were working on a RTS game although I didn’t know anything about it, but I thought it was quite early to announce it. But considering that the strategy is to make people buy KW expansion to get a beta teaser of RA3, the announcement actually came into the right time. My initial thoughts about the game are that I’m excited about the co-op campaigns. That’s something that really excited me. The graphics are looking interesting and the game concepts are looking as crazy as I’d expect for any Red Alert game. Unlike Tiberium related games, I usually have no expectations or ‘demands’ for RA series. The campaign usually has a stupid story, the units are wacky, but playing these games is usually a very fun experience.

Hagren: Initial thoughts? Awesome! You should know that it’s precedessor is one of my classic favourites I still like to play sometimes, thus my reaction was a blend of happiness and speechlessness. Wasn’t surprised, though. I knew that development of RA3 was halted for TW. I’m more than content that it’s back, but this time around EA has a far more difficult job of pleasing me with the final product and marketing. I’m positive, however. Not about every aspect though πŸ˜‰ (This wink goes to Apoc!)

HeXetic: Personally, I’m enthusiastic about RA3. It’s clear that EA is shooting for another Red Alert 2, and as far as I’m concerned that’s a good target to be aiming for. I feel that RA2 was the most entertaining C&C game to date, with by far the most engrossing campaign. I do appreciate the “dark” C&C games – the original C&C and the first Red Alert can actually be spooky at times – but I’m up for more gratuitous zaniness. I’m sure many people will also be applauding the return of true naval warfare, especially with Japan supposedly centred around it. As for the announcement, it’s not really a surprise; after Mark Skagg’s little faux pas in 2004, everybody knew they had RA3 on the back-burner.

Question 2) In BattleCast Primetime Episode 7, Chris Corry said past cast members are returning for Red Alert 3. Who do you expect to return and not return?

Sonic: I really don’t care if any cast members from previous Red Alert games return. Just as long as the acting is decent (as in better than some of the wooden performances in C&C 3). Don’t even bother shelling out the big bucks for famous actors or actresses. Its all about the storyline and how the actors portray their characters in it. But I won’t complain if they can some how mange to bring back Kari Wuhrer as Tanya.

Saracen: Everyone should agree Kari Wuhrer!? The sexy and saucy Allied Combat commando. But alas even her official site says “Lots of buzz on the Net about a major announcement coming at the end of this month regarding C&C. While I’d personally love to see Kari reprise her role, it is not happening at this point in time. Sorry Tanya Fans.” so I’m kinda guessing…. maybe not, unless EA have told them to keep it on the quiet for now. As for other acts? Well pick anyone from the RA universe so long as they haven’t kicked the bucket in the first Red Alert or real life. As for not coming back… well no-one really. However I’d like to see EA free up the budget a little more for FMVs, they felt rushed in C&C 3, and they look a little shaky in Kane’s Wrath. Time and money is a luxury in life, but quality shouldn’t be, that’s more essential. So who-ever comes back should be allowed to do more than just reel off an entire script in just a day or less.

Zee Hypnotist: I hope to see a lot of the ‘important’ characters make a return, not actually those important to the storyline itself, but those who would make sense to be back, such as Kari Wurhur, Maybe the actor who played President Dugan, or General Carville, and more importantly, yourself, the commander. I would rather leave out the cheesy acting of Einstein, and I feel there is no need for Romanov and Yuri considering they were banished to god knows where.

Lion: Hmmm, tough question. Age is catching up with those past cast members. Perhaps Kari Wuhrer could still play the part as Tanya. Athena Massey may return again. Both still look great, and of course makeup does wonders. I suppose it depends on who’s available and if they can be hired at a reasonable price.

JohnWE: I expect Joe Kucan will be reprising his role as Kane in RA1. (Joke) I bet Kari (Tanya) will be back. (No Duh)

Chickendippers: I really couldn’t speculate, I suppose it makes sense for the storylines to tie in. I wouldn’t expect to see Kari Wuhrer reprise her Tanya role, but it would be nice to have Athena Massey (Brink and Lt. Eva) a regular face for C&C.

Banshee: He said the actress who performed Tanya won’t return, so it is still possible to see the people who played the president, General Carville (he might be a strong candidate), Eva to return. Romanov won’t return either, because the actor died sometime ago.

Hagren: I guess that everyone could return except Romanov (The actor who played him, Nicholas Worth, sadly passed away), Yuri (Won’t play a part in the main game) and Tanya (Well, Tanya will, but Wuhrer won’t, she’s a mommy now).

HeXetic: It’s hard to say. The Red Alert series certainly has some memorable characters, but aside from expansion packs they’ve never spanned games before. I thought Ray Wise did a good job as a B-movie US President, but it’s hard to picture him as the megalomaniac that RA3’s El Presidente supposedly is. A lot of people liked Barry Corbin’s General Carville, so maybe he’ll come back to harangue us with his Texan drawl and talk of smushed “armadillers”. Otherwise, we’re left with Udo Kier as everybody’s favourite bald goateed villain who isn’t Kane, Kari Wuhrer as Tanya Adams (I wasn’t a fan of RA2’s more girly-pop Tanya; call me crazy but I liked the darker original), Lt. Eva (isn’t this joke worn thin by now?), or Lt. Zofia (PVC, good times). Just don’t bring back RA2’s bumbling Einstein.

Who knows, maybe it’ll just be that one Korean admiral played by Richard Narita. He was probably spoiling for a rematch after I terror-drone’d his MCV; gosu, kekekekeke.

Question 3) Do you find it fair that you have to purchase Kane’s Wrath or the C&C Limited Collection to participate in the RA3 beta?

Sonic: Not really. Its a clever marketing move on EA’s part yes, but I think many people who pick up their copy of Kane’s Wrath later this month are getting it for the actual Kane’s Wrath content and not the RA3 beta key. Its a bonus feature not the main selling point. And kudos to EA for a having an RA3 beta in the first place.

Saracen: Yes and no. I’m divided and don’t really have any major thoughts on that issue. It is however a good incentive for people to buy rather than buy pirate or torrent. So if you look at it from that perspective rather than the “zOMG CASH COW!!!!111oneoneeleven” perspective, it all works in good proportion. To be honest, more developers/publishers need to deliver such incentives since almost every developer facing the threat going under seems to be screaming about pirates and the so-called dying PC market these days!

Zee Hypnotist: In all honesty, I think the beta is going to either be ripped and put online for everyone, or EA is eventually going to just throw in the towel and release it for public download after the first wave of Kane’s Wrath buyers subsides, so I really don’t think it’s that big of a problem.

Lion: It’s not a question of fair. EA is under no obligation to even have a beta test for Red Alert 3. Sure, there’s a bit of a marketing thing going on, but I assume the majority who buy Kane’s Wrath is doing so to play the game. The RA3 beta is a bonus for those who purchase Kane’s Wrath. I personally see nothing wrong with that.

JohnWE: No, I think they’ll probably give beta access away other ways. And it doesn’t bother me too much, because most people that will be picking up Kane’s Wrath will definitely be getting RA3 anyway. And hey, I just might have the chance to test it out at EA which is what I’m more concerned about now.

Chickendippers: It seems pretty fair to me, at least it ensures that genuine C&C players get into the beta and not just ‘greedies’ who apply online.

Banshee: It is a marketing strategy that favours themselves more than anyone else. I’d love if they did the same thing they did with Battle For Middle Earth 2, allowing to community leaders to distribute keys for their site staff and friends, but selling a RA3 beta key with the expansion is very dangerous for us, community leaders. First because they’ll prioritize those who acquire the game earlier. Point for the USA people. Second the game will sell millions and the number of beta keys is limited only to few thousands. Many people will buy the expansion and will not be able to actually play the beta because of that. Anyway, that still doesn’t give me the right to say if this is fair or unfair. It is a strategy that may not nice to me being low on money right now, but it will be interesting for other people who buy the game exactly in the release day.

Hagren: It’s not fair, but it’s a deal I gladly will undertake πŸ˜† We shouldn’t forget that EA hold no public beta tests for 99 percent of their games, so KW purchasers should be thankful for this complementary feature. It’s unpleasant for the RA-only fans, though.

HeXetic: While I think having long pre-release beta programs are a great tool for quality control on multiplayer RTS games (*cough*Blizzard*cough*), I just don’t have the time to invest into them myself. I don’t see anything wrong with bundling a beta key with KW or “Repackaged C&C Collection Number 328,291”. It’s not like they’re asking you to buy “Def Jam: Icon” or some other completely unrelated and terrible game. Besides, anybody who really, really, REALLY, wants to be in the RA3 beta without paying a dime, probably can, especially if they’re an RTS player of renown.

Question 4) Do you think the Red Alert 3 news has stolen the spotlight from the likes of Kane’s Wrath and more importantly TIBERIUM?

Sonic: I did at first but over the past few weeks the EA marketing machine and APOC have done a good job keeping Kane’s Wrath as the focal point with plenty of features on the Official C&C 3 Site and a good supply of trailers. TIBERIUM has fallen off the community radar just a bit though, I don’t even have it listed on our mage page’s Game Tracker anymore.

Saracen: Yes, without question. But Kane’s Wrath is going to get its spotlight since Apoc has more control on the floodgates with the 2 titles. As for Tiberium… well ZoneRunner has his work cut right out. General opinion in our site poll and around the forums suggests that Tiberium is far on the back-burner right now. So there’s a lot of pressure on our other Community Manager to slam home some really enticing goods. I love First Person shooters, they are a dime a dozen unfortunately, so hopefully there’s something unique and engaging yet to come out. The problem is that everyone is expecting Renegade 2 and C&C mode… so this isn’t helping matters of community interest itself.

Zee Hypnotist: I feel that, yes, Red Alert 3 has stolen the spotlight of Kane’s Wrath and Tiberium because apparently even I haven’t been paying attention to any of the news of those two games. I’m more interested in RA3.

Lion: No I don’t. Red Alert 3 news peaked quickly and then virtually disappeared. The majority of attention is on Kane’s Wrath currently and will be at least until late spring of this year. The marketing bandwagon will kick in high gear for the new games in due time.

JohnWE: Yes, undoubtedly. I am wondering if they didn’t have enough people interested in Kane’s Wrath, so they had to pull the beta out of their sleeves to get people to buy it. I think that unfortunately Tiberium will be left by the wayside. Under-marketed and not with the attention that it deserves, this is a bad sign for Tiberium.

Chickendippers: It has rather. I’d say the buzz on the official message boards has been more geared towards Red Alert 3 than Kane’s Wrath…despite Apoc’s mammoth efforts to stir up interest with all the information that’s being released. EA’s marketing machine is pretty slick so I’m sure creating a stir about Red Alert 3 and then announcing that Beta Keys will only be available in KW is very cunning. Tiberium seems to have gone very quiet recently, ZoneRunner hasn’t said anything for a while.

Banshee: Yes, from Tiberium and not from Kane’s Wrath, where APOC has been doing a strong campaign to keep it interesting. I must admit that I have much more interest on Red Alert 3 than Tiberium, specially because I prefer RTS games. Kane’s Wrath is also interesting for me, since it is the fun of a RTS game with (possibly) a good storyline.

Hagren: Yes. Just look at these Roundtable questions for instance! πŸ˜› But seriously, it did and will. But EA still delivers plenty of KW news. It’s awfully silent about Tiberium though, however, ZoneRunner (Tiberium Community Manager) stated the website will be updated soon.

HeXetic: Yes. I find it surprising that EA announced two franchise games within a couple of months of each other. I guess they’re going for a kind of media blitz, but RA3 does sort of steal the thunder because it’s something a lot of people have been craving for a long time. As for Tiberium (rename plz kthxbai), after its initial blast back in December, it’s kind of fallen off the radar. Personally, I think it might have been announced too early; some of the initial screenshots looked like the player & vehicle models from Battlefield 2142 decided to take a stroll around the phong-shaded dystopian streets of Deus Ex — in other words, the models looked fine, but the environment didn’t.

Question 5) EA have been promoting their C&C 3 mobile game for the last month or so, do you have any interest in it?

Sonic: No interest at all, I hate cellphones, a fact made even worse that many of them play games now.

Saracen: I’m not someone who really plays games on my phone. The only one I play on my phone when I’ve got time to kill away from home is World Poker Tour. If we’re looking at portable gaming, then I’d rather have C&C on my PSP. I play the original Red Alert and Dune 2000 on it, and it’s great when I’m at a Wi-Fi hotspot. I usually leave one of those PSone games in my PS3 when out and about. So using remote play, I’ll use my PSP and the internet to switch on my PS3 at home and get C&C action on the move that way. To be quite honest RTS gaming on the portable consoles is a niche that needs to be filled amongst the many turn based counterparts. I’d certainly buy a C&C PSP game without question!

Zee Hypnotist: Well, C&C Mobile is an easy way to make 5 bucks a download, but I really don’t think it will wind up being that popular. Hopefully it doesn’t cost too much to code though, but lately, the way they’ve been putting Joe Kucan into all these advertisements makes him look REALLY, REALLY cheesy, and I think it’s really causing a problem for his appearance in general.

Lion: I’m not into the mobility scene…so I have no interest in it.

JohnWE: I was only aware of it through a trailer that I had been let know about. I don’t know much more about it, but I think it’d be a handy addition to my phone. I’ve already customized my phone quite a bit to be a C&C3 phone (ring, buttons, changed cell company logo to C&C3) as some of you can attest to, so I think it might be pretty cool to have as well.

Chickendippers: Nope, I don’t see the attraction of playing games on my mobile phone when I’ve got a powerhouse at home.

Banshee: It would be an interesting game to play on my mobile, if my mobile ran anything better than a pong like game. Considering that I bought the cheapest cell phone of the shop two years ago and never replaced it… but… I also have a Palm Zire. If this C&C3 mobile runs on it and it is sold here (in Rio de Janeiro), I’d be interested on buying it and play it in the vans I take to go to my university and return from it. I usually spend about 50 minutes per trip… more than enough time to play the game.

Hagren: I’d like to play th game, but rather out of curiosity than interest. Just want to know what the mobile team did with the concept, generally I’m not a mobile anything freak.

HeXetic: Even though I work at a company that develops software for mobile telecoms, I don’t actually have a cellphone. Sad, I know. The iPhone has yet to (officially) grace Soviet Canuckistan.

I’m sure C&C3 Mobile will be a reasonably un-boring way to pass the time on a bus or plane or whatever, but it’s about as blockbuster of a title as Bejewelled 3: Now With Octagons. EA’s already admitted they missed the boat with Nintendo’s runaway hit consoles, so how about something the fans are really interested in, like online multiplayer C&C for the DS? There’s only like fifty bazillion of those things out there.

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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