FEATURES: Roundtable Discussion #14 – November 2008

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It’s Roundtable time again. This is the edition number 14 of our Roundtable Discussion here on CNCNZ.com. Saracen heads the Panel this month. Listed below are the people participating on the panel for this month.

Question 1) We’ve heard that EA is considering giving Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 fans “portions” of post-release content that focus on one particular part of the game, instead of a single, all-encompassing expansion pack. Do you like how this sounds, or would you be for the traditional expansions we’ve become used to?

Saracen: “Portion” packs is why (for example) I’ve not payed a heavy amount on the Playstation Network for extra golf courses in Tiger Woods 09. Why should I pay 25% of a full expansion price for a single extra golf course. When a full priced hard copy and “all-encompassing” expansion to the game could give me 6 extra courses, 8 new golf pros, a host of extras and a new game mode? Buying all this separately would cost 2-4 times as much! The same therefore applies to RA3 segments. Give us a decent expansion package that works out as good value instead of us having to spend extortionate amounts on smaller chunks.

Sonic: I’m not sold on the whole idea of the expansion being released in portions. I’d rather have the traditional expansion done like Kane’s Wrath. On the other hand I’d like to find out more about EALA’s RA3 expansions plans before making mind up completely.

Lion: From the little bit of info we have on that topic, it looks like it would work out ok, and the time it would take to produce that type of content will be a lot less than a full blown expansion pack. I think if I remember correctly, EA wants to do something like separate content for Multiplayer (more maps, etc.), Campaign missions, and a Co-op expansion. I’d rather have something like that than the traditional full blown expansion.

Chickendippers: I’m not convinced by the add-on idea. After all if I chose not to buy the new units add-on, that would instantly exclude me from all the games created by commanders who have bought it. I’d also be concerned by the value of each one, presumably a story add-on would require the expense of creating cinematics whereas a new maps add-on would be easier to produce – would they be priced accordingly?

Banshee: That doesn’t sound good at all. The content they will sell will compete with community modders and mappers, which should dismotivate the production of fan content. Or… their support for this kind thing, which wasn’t good at all on Kane’s Wrath. Also, that wouldn’t increase the replayability of the game, like a true expansion does. But, if they decide to create another expansion, they’ll certainly outsource it again, since they have a team already dedicated to the next C&C game that should be announced soon and other unrevealed projects. Outsourced expansion should provide future problems for their Live Support Team. But for me, Expansions are still better. We have more new features with a proper price.

HeXetic: I find it difficult to imagine how this’ll be pulled off. It can’t really be multiplayer content like units because that’ll just fracture the player base, and maps transfer automatically so that’s out too. But it’s also hard to see them making mini-campaigns that people are going to want to pay for, because they obviously won’t have the experienced acting talent for cutscenes and that’s the best part of the campaign. It’s even more far-fetched to consider people paying for something like C&C TV, so I just don’t see what they think they can monetize at a level less than a full expansion pack.The only games this has worked for so far are FPS games with a lot of players in one match (e.g., Battlefield) where the “upgraded gun for $$$” advantage kind of “smooths out”, and singleplayer type “doodads” like new skins and horse armour — but then, largely on consoles. So I guess I can see them selling stuff to RA360 owners, but not PC gamers with access to a Worldbuilder and Mod SDK.

Personally, I think this idea is still embryonic over at EA, if it is even still alive.

Mighty BOB!: Unless the “portions” are free then no (otherwise yes unless they are distributed over EA Link which I refuse to install on the grounds that Steam is better). Why? Because they’ll certainly spell death to modders, who want to use content from the portions, if they aren’t redistributable freely. Not to mention version mismatches. With an expansion it is very cut and dry, you either have it, or you don’t, with multiple “portion” releases you could get all kinds of version mismatches and problems with matchmaking I imagine.

Hagren: If we’re talking about downloadable content or booster packs then no. They’d be overpriced for sure, and I like to own a hard copy of a game I bought. If it means multiple expansion packs with a plethora of content at a reasonable price, I’m not much against it, but I do not see any necessity to change the way of how expansion packs are released.

Zephyr: A traditional expansion pack, of course! If EA wants to copy Blizzard with Starcraft 2 who is selling games like IKEA kits, well, my answer to that is that it’s not a good system. Blizzard is even criticized by their own community and, as a result, Starcraft 2 seems like it will have much less of a sucess with the fans. Most fans will probably just buy their favorite expansion out of all 3 and will still be able to play online with the other 2 races. It’s just really a bad system. EA is already criticized for the DRM system they’ve put in place for their games and if they do this, they will be certainly hit hard by their fan base!

Question 2) Since Red Alert 3 has come out, we’ve been flooded with reviews on the game. What is your General impression of them, and how do they compare to your thoughts on the final product?

Saracen: I look at my CNCNZ review that I spent typing, and it was fair. What it wasn’t however was correct on the score. I admit, giving it 94% was laughable. The reviews that have been out, that put it around the 80-85% mark, are more correct in my opinion. I will be honest here…. Red Alert 3 is EALA’s best studio RTS to date. What it isn’t however, is excellence. Why? Well that’s the answer to the next question…. However, I’ll stand by my statement that it is better than most of its Westwood counterparts.

Sonic: Most of reviews are right on the mark. For the reviews that scored the game poorly I feel they simply missed the whole point. One of them criticised the over the top cut scenes, as we all know they are meant to be like that. And the other thing that annoyed me was the all reviews always use the same screen shots that we have all seen over and over during the development process. Whatever happened to taking your own.

Lion: Well, opinions do vary, and that’s all reviews are actually. The bottom line comes down to if YOU enjoy the game. Generally speaking, Red Alert 3 faired rather well in the reviews from all of the BIG websites like Gamespot, Gamespy, IGN, etc. Personally speaking, and from playing the campaigns, skirmish mode, and some online play, the game seems to be well balanced and stable, with the expception of a few issues with online play. My biggest gripe…I would like to see an option where you can turn off that iritating blue outline around the units you select. Who’s idea was that anyways?

Chickendippers: Love it! It’s coming close to beating Red Alert 2 as my favourite C&C game of all time, if it proves to have the longevity then it will be all good! The reviews seem to be pretty positive, although they don’t usually have much negative to say about C&C (maybe EA suitably lines their pockets *wink*).

Banshee: I haven’t read any of them, except for the CNCNZ one, which was too much optimistic for my standards. Don’t take me wrong, I like the game. But I wouldn’t give such a high score for it. And I haven’t played many features yet, since I’m far too overloaded with real life issues. I’ve finished the soviet campaign and played a bit of the allied one. The missions are surprisingly well designed, the music rocks… but the story is very weak, specially the dialogs. Look at the vocabulary of the US president and the british general. I mean, they say things like “let’s kick some commies butt because they hate freedom and apple pies!!!111 OMFGz!”. I don’t think presidents uses this kind of vocabulary on international conferences. Ackerman is lame!

HeXetic: I’ve seen reviews all over the place but I think they broadly fall into two categories. On the one hand, there’s the mainstream press (IGN, GameSpot, 1Up, etc.), and the problem I have with reading a review of a game I already know almost everything about in a mainstream publication is that they spend almost the whole time describing the game rather than actually critiquing it. The mainstream press has been pretty placated, but then you have to foul up pretty bad to get something less than 75 from IGN — I mean they even gave Daikatana a 58%.On the other hand you’ve got the couple of indie reviews and these have varied wildly from angry fanboy frothing-at-the-mouth hatred to sappy fanboy slobbering-at-the-mouth love. Sometimes there’s a coherent sentence in there but they’re often just not worth the trouble to read, because I never feel like I’m really learning anything other than “this guy hates/loves the game”. Tell me *why* in an informative way, damnit.

My own impression of RA3 is that it’s about on par with C&C3: better in some respects, worse than it in others. Certain parts, particularly the graphics and the interface, feel very polished, but I’m not enjoying the cutscenes and I’m finding the campaign missions a bit of a let-down. It sort of feels like the stuff that EA typically does right, they did really right, and some of the stuff they usually get wrong, they actually got right this time (like the technical aspects; no crashes, no installation headaches), but as for the stuff they’ve been getting wrong since Generals, well, I think they’re still basically getting wrong.

Mighty BOB!: I do not have RA3, neither did I play the beta, and I haven’t been paying too much attention to the reviews, although I have noticed that among the plentiful reviews there are opinions on both sides of the scoreboard about different aspects and that is nice to see.

Hagren: Most of the reviews I’ve read lacked depth, as if it would not have received enough attention, time and care. There also were some which completely missed the point, respectively misjudged the game entirely, to my mind. I especially disliked how they did not focus on the improvements and innovations of the game, resulting in disappointingly low scores. Why almost no one mentioned the soundtrack or map design, particularly, is beyond me. As for my opinion, I think quite highly of the game, and You’ll see why when I post my review at CnC-Files. It’s not perfect, mind, but damn much better than those “reviewers” made it out to be.

Zephyr: On the French websites (yes, I admit, I didn’t look much at the English or German reviews), the score is usually around 17/20, which is relatively good. But I’d have expected a higher score and better marketing on their side, since RA3 is pretty much the first RTS with a co-op campaign. This totally revolutionizes the gameplay, especially with the fact that we’re no longer “alone” behind our screen but really with a living teammate that can communicate with you. Personally, I’d have given a score of 19/20 to RA3.

Question 3) With your previous answer in mind. Do you think the C&C Franchise is lacking in any way?

Saracen: There are 4 problems with the modern C&C in General. I did write an article on this, but to save certain people moaning at me for being negative. I haven’t published it in direct public view.But anyway, the 4 problems are: Three Factions; I miss dual faction wars. Having 3 factions is cliché and it’s growing tired… Secondly is Campaign Length and Story; Despite an extra faction these days, they are just too damn short! This also means that the story suffers a lack of depth… Thirdly is something I call “Click-2-Win”; Mass a small army, click the mission objective (usually a structure) poking out of the fog of war with a giant arrow over it, and win the mission…. Lastly, Strategy; Command School is for the Multi-player gamers out there, strategy exists. C&C Single player campaigns are not RTS, there simply is no need for strategy in them at all any more!

Sonic: I wouldn’t say its lacking but I think it’s time for C&C to move ahead show something innovative in the next game. But what else can be done with RTS to make it different? So I would really like them to explore the FPS genre, because you could make something innovative with that I’m sure.

Lion: Hmmmm…maybe lacking in fresh ideas. But that could be said for just about any RTS game no matter who the developer is. As far as the C&C franchise goes as a whole, a new FPS game would be nice. Since TIBERIUM was cancelled, hopes for another C&C FPS game have been diminished greatly. I’m quite sure C&C fans would welcome something along the lines of C&C: Renegade, keeping the popular C&C mode of gameplay. Renegade 2 works for me.

Chickendippers: I think the main criticism is that there are “more strategic” strategy games out there. Personally I don’t have a problem with it, I love C&C’s pick up and play-ability. If it turned into something like Company of Heroes I think I’d have to give up playing.

Banshee: Yes, it is lacking proper storyline for at least 9 years (Tiberian Sun). In terms of gameplay, I’d still remove the crane. I loved the way buildings were valuable back on old school C&C games (Red Alert 2 and older).

HeXetic: Yes, “seriousness” is what is lacking, and that and “tension” in particular is lacking from Red Alert 3. Everybody in the campaign is so emotional and worked up (except for the experienced actors, who know better) that it just wears thin. The music is too blasty, the missions are too easy (or when they’re hard, they’re hard in a magical bullshit “gotcha” way), and even successes feel unsatisfying sometimes.

I know EA wants their “fast, fluid, and fun” approach, and that sounds good to me too, but I think with the singleplayer experience they’ve strayed a bit too far into “frentic, facile, and frustrating”.

Mighty BOB!: I think I’ve made my opinions about the directions the franchise has been going in clear in past Roundtables I have participated in. (Speaking of which congratulations on a year of successful discussions!) I don’t agree with a lot of the decisions that have been made.

Hagren: Let me see…the only thing I miss from the franchise is more complexity when it comes to building upgrades and/or economy options. And for the next entry, especially if it’s a more realistic game, they really should throw the engine out of the window. There are some impressive effects and it fitted the comical look very well, but a more dramatic title would definitely benefit from better models/textures and realistic scaling/colours.

Zephyr: An add-on for RA3? …Though the end of each faction’s campaign doesn’t really leave much of a possibility for a follow-up, except for the Allied one, maybe. Then again, there’s a high risk of it being hard not to go yet again back in time and change everything.

Question 4) What direction could C&C go so it’s not considered “another run of the mill RTS” in the future?

Saracen: C&C severely suffers a lack of depth in all areas. As an RTS goes, this is nothing more than an entry level RTS, which makes it appeal less to experienced strategy genre fans. Even long time C&C fans like myself. So C&C needs: Longer campaigns. This will also mean a longer, stronger story. Tonnes more strategic and tactical depth in Single player Campaign and Skirmish missions. I cannot put enough emphasis on Strategy especially. The ‘Click-2-Win’ missions with uncovered FoW and arrows over the top especially have to go… Improved mission design would also improve all above points, no end!To be honest, C&C and its mechanics need to change dramatically. C&C has been like this for over 13 years now, and has remained true to the original with very few dramatic changes other than Graphical and Interface tweaks. It’s a great game for newbies, but for anyone with experience in the RTS genre, the franchise is no longer relevant in a modern day market. The franchise as a result has become “Run Of The Mill” because strategy gamers now wish to see more variety and challenge in their games. Ramping up how much the AI cheats in this case, is not the answer! Forget the fans shouting “This is not C&C”… Developers have to remember that the games industry never progressed dramatically through the 90’s because of narrow-minded fanboy input!

Sonic: Well I’ve already touched on this in question 3, like I said another C&C FPS would be great. A Renegade 2 set in RA universe like it was always meant to, update it so it fits in the new storyline created by Red Alert 3. Mix in an updated version of C&C Mode and you’ve got a real winner I feel. But if you have to have “the next big RTS”…. I don’t know, what can be done to making RTS any different than it is now.

Lion: First off, let me say I did like the added co-op play for Red Alert 3. But going forward, I’m sure it’s not going to be an easy task for the EALA RTS dev team to come up with new, innovative ideas or even possibly re-define the RTS genre. Perhaps start with dumping the Sage game engine, and work on a much smarter AI. I’m still waiting on an ‘almost human’ AI for RTS games. I would keep the co-op play in any future C&C RTS games, and maybe improve that with more options for players. More options for skirmish play would be a good idea. Players like to be able to customize their games to their liking, such as handicapping, the ability to turn off super-weapons, give options for the game’s zoom function, some control options for AI allies, etc.

Chickendippers: Who knows…that’s what the developers get paid for. Personally I’d like to see a new level in modding/mapping support, history has repeatedly shown that the easy to mod titles last the longest.

Banshee: The RTS genre is already overused. So, you either refine the existing concepts or reform it entirely. Command & Conquer franchise is the ‘spam to hell’ type of game. This is not bad, if there is time for some tactic behind this spam, otherwise, it becomes a mechanic game. I’d slow down building production speed, cut cranes, to give such time for tactic. Spam with responsability… does it make sense?

HeXetic: I think the cutscenes alone already basically elevate C&C to above run-of-the-mill, but with RA3 we’re almost at a point where you might as well just slap up a picture out of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in the background and have some scrolling text on it, and you’d basically have a Red Alert 3 cutscene. The missions I’ve played so far are also nothing to write home about, and that’s troubling for a singleplayer fan like myself, especially considering how memorable the missions in Red Alert *2* were.

My understanding of the EA RTS campaign workflow (and this may be incorrect) is that they break down the campaign into a series of missions and then individual senior team members get to design a mission or two each. I don’t how other RTS companies do it, but I don’t think that EA’s approach is resulting in very high-quality missions.

Mighty BOB!: Space? Oh wait Yuri’s Revenge already did that. I don’t know then.

Hagren: The RA universe should be even sillier, whilst the other two should increase complexity and realism. And I’d really like someone to pull off either a heavy-weight skirmish like Rise of the Legends had, or a global domination campaign done well.

Zephyr: We know that EA wants to develop other type of C&C games (FPS, MMORPG, MMORTS?), but personally, the idea of a C&C FPS has been long-awaited amongst players, most of which follow the videogame bandwagon and are used to games such as Battlefield and Counter-Strike. The cancellation of “Tiberium” has disappointed quite a lot of people, but personally, I think that the next C&C will be something like a “Sole Survivor 2” and will be an MMORTS.

Question 5) What did you think about the “Conquer This Life” and “President Ackerman” Marketing that was released prior to RA3 hitting the shelves?

Saracen: ‘Conquer this life’ was just pure genius in my opinion. It was legitimately camp, corny, and funny. David Hasselhoff could never be taken seriously in the first place, and this just made us laugh more at his expense! I would have loved to have seen more stuff like this in RA3. The game took itself seriously at times and lost the tone that this campaign was seemingly trying to portray. But nevertheless this was truly great. The ‘Ackerman’ campaign was also a clever marketing tactic. It was almost perfectly timed, but could have done with starting a little earlier and being more drawn out.

Sonic: Both marketing campaigns were brilliant. The Ackerman stuff really capitalised on the whole US election events, It was cleverly done. The real gem is by far “Conquer This Life” with the Hoff. I loved the humour, Hasselhoff making fun of himself, the infomercial like approach was really well thought up and executed flawlessly. It would great if they can continue with it for the expansion next year.

Lion: Very amusing, and the timing was spot on. I’m sure it helped somewhat to bring more attention to Red Alert 3.

Chickendippers: The Ackerman campaign caught my attention more than the Conquer This Life scheme…I only saw it mentioned during the Battlecast Primetime Live episode, although it was pretty funny. The Ackerman campaign was pretty conveniently timed, I’m not sure if it’d have worked without a presidential election though.

Banshee: Attack dogs on Ackerman’s discurses! It was funny, but that president is really lame, as I said. I really enjoyed that Ackerman girl thing and Conquer this Life was perfect! EALA has done a nice job with marketing. I had a lot of fun watching it. It surprised me in a very positive way.

HeXetic: Amusing, but honestly RA3’s marketing machine was really in overdrive this time around. They had the star power, the “T&A” factor, the UFC connection, then The Hoff and these other little “ad-lets”… Are they advertising a game, or a film?Whoever is in charge of marketing over there needs to realise that hey, we’re gamers. We find games exciting all on their own. The most interesting RA3 marketing material I watched was not the cutscene teasers or the Hell March 3 reveal or any of that — it was the gameplay demonstration videos, the matchup videos showing people playing the game. Those made me want to play the game too.

Mighty BOB!: The average American consumer is exposed to somewhere between 300 and 3,000 advertisements per day… and it is REALLY annoying. As a result I’ve been conditioned to ignore advertising so I didn’t really pay any attention to the RA3 marketing at all.

Hagren: Excellent, on both accounts. There should have been more though, be it for our amusement or better sales.

Zephyr: They’re excellent. The fact that EA just went into auto-derision mode and did such marketing must’ve made the sales go up for sure. Besides, I notice it well on CNC-Saga; there is, at this moment, on our website, a tournament which is meant to last for about 3 weeks. And with C&C3, we never had more than 20 to 25 participants (And that was on the 2nd or 3rd tournament). And now, we already have 50 participants for the VERY FIRST Red Alert 3 tournament on CNCSaga. So, I think that this is all mainly because of the fact that the game automatically connects online and that people have more of an easy time to start playing online. …Or maybe it’s because RA3 has beaten a sales record for a C&C game in France.

Question 6) We’ve finally heard Frank Klepacki’s full contribution to the RA3 soundtrack. Has his work been to the high quality you expected?

Saracen: Hell March 3. In my opinion this is the best, most refined version of Hell March and was a joy to listen to from beginning to end. Grinder 2 isn’t particularly great. The live orchestra just ruined it in my opinion. A more stripped back studio performance would have been best. Nuclear Death is my favourite of the Klepacki contribution. The tone is purely heavy, the guitar riffs are powerful, and there’s an excellent aggression to the track. This, especially is what Klepacki is about. I love it!

Sonic: It’s just good to hear Frank Klepacki’s music in a C&C game again. I hope EALA can bring him back in future games. As for his contributions to the game soundtrack, they are great! Hell March 3 is still basically the same, but changed just enough to feel new. Grinder 2 is a new twist on an old favourite, and finally The Red Menace (track 32 aka Soviet up yours) is really heavy, just the way I like it! The RA3 soundtrack just works.

Lion: Yes it has. Frank IS the music guru for Command & Conquer…period. How could any C&C game be complete without Frank’s music? ’nuff said!

Chickendippers: It’s difficult to say without knowing his brief. HM3 and Grinder 2 bear a striking resemblance to their Red Alert 2 counterparts, just with more guitar. Nuclear Death isn’t particularly remarkable to me; more drums and guitar. My favourite tracks off the OST are “For Mother Russia” and the Credits.

Banshee: Hell March 3 is awesome because it was made from the awesome Hell March 2. But I prefer the original Grinder. This new one had some parts that sounded weird and there were a way too many vocals, which quite doesn’t fit with the music itself.

HeXetic: To be honest, I’m disappointed with the Red Alert 3 soundtrack. The audio quality is great and, when everything’s blowing up it really fits well, but when stuff’s slower… the music keeps going at its insane pace. I don’t know if it’s a bug in the music system or what, but during the Allied campaign the music just *will not* drop out of its annoyingly aggressive metal state, and I’ve actually had to *turn off the music* during Allied missions because it makes me want to chuck my mouse at the wall in a fit of bad-music-induced rage that would scare The Incredible Hulk. As soon as the mod SDK comes out I think I might edit the game so that the “Shock and Awe” track (its name, according to the RA3 soundtrack CD) never comes on ever again. EVER.I just did an informal count in my Red Alert 2 music folder and by my reckoning there are 12 slowish, “groovy” pieces to only 7 fast, “headbanger” metal tracks. Red Alert is supposed to be about getting into the groove with your crazy tanks and boats and crap, and I’m finding it hard to do that with the RA3 soundtrack, though the Soviet stuff seems less offensive than the rest. It just seems like even the slow, “infiltration” tunes are really just “massive epic battle” tracks in a weak disguise.

But this is all rather beside the point. Of Frank K’s three tracks in Red Alert 3 (Grinder 2, Hell March 3, Nuclear Death), if I had to choose one as my favourite, I’d cheat and pick “Zap” from Universe at War, which had a much better soundtrack overall.

OH, SNAP!

Mighty BOB!: I was kinda let down by Grinder 2 compared to its predecessor, but all 3 of Frank’s tracks have high production values.

Hagren: HM3 is a great track which I prefer over HM2, hands down. Grinder 2 is bland at places, but still solid enough. Definitely inferior to the UaW soundtrack though, but I don’t see him as the culprit. I do have to point out though, that the soundtrack on the whole is one of the most varied and sophisticated audio work I had the pleasure to listen to. Which I do every day when I go to sleep

Zephyr: Yes, Frank Klepacki is a truly amazing artist and he has not once disappointed us.

Question 7) The new CommandandConquer.com has been online for a short while now. What are your thoughts on the changes?

Saracen: Well, the site is faster, more organised and a better surfing experience than before. But I don’t visit enough to make a comprehensive statement. Visually it doesn’t look much different from the previous version. But I can see where the changes have been made, and I’m sure the real meat is within the nuts and bolts mechanics behind the site. But I will never use that part since I’m not a fan of the online base building RTS. If C&C offered an online Real Time Tactics game mode *hint, hint, cough* like the gameplay of World in Conflict and Endwar, then maybe I could give a full account.

Sonic: Its better than the old site, loads faster and the new forums are a huge improvement over the old ones. Even I’ve posted a few times there. It’s still early days for the new CommandandConquer.com though, because based on what they told us at the RA3 Community Summit back June, there is still more to be added to the site.

Lion: Great idea combining all three C&C Universes into one website with portals. Hopefully it will be kept up-to-date on a regular basis…that remains to be seen.

Chickendippers: I know for a fact that the improved backend makes Apoc’s life a hell of a lot easier when it comes to updating the site, and I also know that any missing features from the old site will be added in time, along with new ones. However it does seem a shame that there has been the initial step-back in features, particularly the clan management side seems to be lacking.

Banshee: The site loads faster, it is lighter and cooler. The concept of splitting it in 3 storylines was very wise, but… meh… Generals is not Command & Conquer. Even APOC has said that. Now they need to sell the future Generals 2 (I know it is Generals 2, so don’t bug me with that), so they are using this change to force us to call Generals a C&C game to sell it more, because the C&C name sells millions per game. Nonetheless, even with this detail, I’m very satisfied with the look of this new site. I’m just unhappy that they are not bringing the old news, interviews, dev blogs, content that were in the old C&C3 official site into this new site. There were a lot of interesting things there that are gone.

HeXetic: It’s not as Flash-based, which is a great plus, and it’s actually readable and wider than a hair pin, so on the whole I have to give it the thumbs-up.Their forums software still refuses to put more than about five measly posts per page, though. It’s 33% less than what you get at the Blizzard forums, where fanboys *really* know how to bitch the hell out of each other.

Mighty BOB!: It is SO much better than the old site. The code is better and everything is consolidated into a single location. The same goes for the new forums. Once some bugs are fixed and old content is re-added it will be pretty great. Although I still think the TFD site should have been consolidated into the new commandandconquer.com as well the same way Tiberium, Red Alert, and Generals got their own sub-sites. Also it is annoying that I have to create new accounts all over the place for EA forums and games.

Hagren: Unifying the hubs was a great idea, but before it’s filled with the content it’s supposed to deliver, it gets a “meh” from me.

Zephyr: Well, now they finally have a real forum! On the old one, I absolutely didn’t understand anything and I couldn’t even manage to get an avatar up on my profile. The new site is amazing and I noticed that there’s also much less lag on it than on the old version. Of course, I still always get connection problems; It doesn’t connect me automatically like on the old version and you have to register twice: Once on the website, and once on the forums, to be finally validated on the latter. I find this rather silly. And there are quite a few worries on clan invitations; characters such as “.” and “-” aren’t taken into account, only defeats are shown instead of both victories and defeat, and so on… All in all, they’ll fix this any ways…At least, I hope the will.

Question 8) David Silverman has confirmed that the Playstation 3 version of Red Alert 3 is “Back On”. Given the stereotype of console RTS games, and the somewhat mixed scores the 360 version received. Is this decision the right one?

Saracen: Yes and No. I’d argue in favour because a friend of mine has a PS3, but a pants PC that can just about run Generals on lowest settings. He likes C&C, but is not a PC gamer at heart, in fact all he has is RTS games for his PC, but does not care for an upgrade until it dies. As such he is dying to play RA3 on the PS3, and was glad of the news that it was back on. So for people like him and those who do not posess a PC for gaming, it’s great.However I would also say no because of the mixed scores. As ex-Westwood developer Adam “Ishmael” Isgreen has said in recent times about the 360 version. “I certainly want to check it out. Oh but there’s no Mac version, so that’s not going to happen. No, I’m not really sold on any console RTS game controls being worth my time. Mouse-like emulation mechanics = fail, IMO. Why can’t anyone see this? Even Halo Wars, which is ground-up a console game, is emulating mouse-like mechanics. I die a little inside every time I have to scroll a large map with an analog controller.”…… So read into that what you will. But I do have agree with him.

Sonic: It really makes no difference to me. All I can say is its good for the PS3 fans wanting some C&C action.

Lion: I suppose it is IF your a proud owner of a Playstation 3. I’m personally not into the console scene, so I don’t have an opinion on it.

Chickendippers: If EA can make some money off it, then I say go for it. As long as they have provisions to patch the console versions this time!

Banshee: I won’t say that RTS on console doesn’t work. Maybe the C&C ones weren’t that good, but Universe at War is more successful on console than on PC. Maybe it is because the pc version was some kind of an epic failure, but the fact is that RTS can be successfull in the console if the interface is user friendly. I haven’t seen or played Red Alert 3 on XBox360, so I have no clue if these mixed scores are deserved.

HeXetic: I think console RTS games are completely pointless, and this is coming from someone who owns a PS3 and who played his first RTS game on a Sega Genesis.

But then again, I also think console FPS games are completely pointless for the exact same reason — the terrible, awful, hideous controls. They cut Tiberium because it was turning out to be a huge waste of time and money. I guess porting a game is less work than making a new one, but I can’t see this as being worth the effort either…

EA astutely shut down their PC sports games franchises last year because they realised that gamers had realised that the PC versions were just really bad ports of the console versions. I think they need to do the same thing with their console RTS games as well.

Mighty BOB!: Some analysts predict that between 2009 and 2010 the PS3 install base will exceed that of the Xbox 360 and that the trend will continue to expand. So if EALA is really dedicated to porting RTS games to consoles they should go for it, even though console RTS games seem to fall behind their PC counterparts and the Playstation is notorious for being the most difficult of the big 3 consoles to develop for.

Hagren: No, not at all. Console RTS simply do not have the reputation to render RA3 for PS3 worthwhile, and I’m sure it would be inferior to the PC version and be glued to the shelves. EALA should rather concentrate on the PC platform, even if this sounds egoistic.

Zephyr: Yes, this is a great decision. Personally, I am rather pro-PC and anti-console, but it’s true that a game such as C&C should be available on Xbox 360 and PS3, because there are people who could not pay for a decent PC every few months (yeah, I might be exaggerating a little), when a new game comes out. So, in the end, EA did the right choice by developing C&C for consoles.

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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