FEATURES: Roundtable Discussion #12 – September 2008 (Special Fan Only Edition)

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In this edition of our regular Roundtable feature we have changed things just a little bit. For the first time ever we have opened the Roundtable up to the fans, no webmasters or staff from other C&C fan sites for this one. Listed below are the people participating on the panel for this month.

Question 1) How do you feel about Red Alert 3’s SecuROM/DRM copy protection methods and will it influence your decision to purchase the game or not?

Gben: Well it won’t stop me from buying the game, but I don’t really know how else to voice my complaint. I agree with the sentiment that DRM is something extra and should be fought against specifically… and refusing to buy the game just strikes me as misdirected… friendly fire even.

It’s a tricky thing software, strictly speaking we buy a license to play the game, we don’t own it… well at least as I understand it. This means the companies are within their rights to set whatever limits they like as ‘fair use’ for the license. That should be determined by the ‘market’ forces… and right now the 5 installations does not seem a reasonable amount for a full price game… perhaps if this was increased there would be less outrage. Unfortunately, it seems the legitimate users who seem to suffer. Which is the ultimate issue here.

But short of boycotting or resorting to piracy (both options fail) what else can I actually do that will make a difference?

Silverthorn: The DRM methods are simply no good, it’s a terrible blunder which many companies tried, they’re just wasting their time trying to protect their games. In this point of view, it won’t stop piracy in its tracks. And for my decision of buying the game? Nope, I’ll still buy the game, well, it’s the game I’m aftering, whether if it’s DRM-protected or not.

recover: I definitely feel that this is heading the wrong way. History has proven again and again that DRM like this always end up hurting the ones that actually buy the game legally, the pirates will find their way around the copy protection in a matter of days. I’m also concerned about what will happen when EA eventually stop supporting RA3… will I still be able to install the game in 10 years? I still think I will buy the game though, but if there was a rally to boycott RA3 because of its DRM, I would join it.

rEdaSbLood: Personally, I am against copy protection. I see it as useless. If the people want to pirate the game, they will find a way. And besides, EA can literally put a lock straight on the disc and I’d still buy it. It’s RA3! Unless, of course, I find a cheaper means = jk. kinda.

Alex06: Honestly, this is the biggest ick right now. Although I really like how RA3 is shaping out to be, this new SecuROM DRM version is really a downside. I am honestly reconsidering buying Red Alert 3 because of it. Of course, I’m probably still gonna go and pre-order the Premier Edition 2-3 weeks before it ships, knowing myself…But I really hate this new DRM method. I don’t get why EA is forcing their developpers to sell games with this new DRM. And how can the devs put up with this? Where they threatened with their lives or what?

All that this DRM has done so far is make EA lose profit. And it didn’t even stop pirates from leaking out Mass Effect and Spore. (The latter which was leaked FOUR entire days before the game was released officially) Sony and many others learned from the mistake of restrictive DRM that makes customers feel like potential criminals and untrustable, dishonest people. This DRM does nothing but force customers to be limited in how many times they can use a product. Pirates were still able to play the game illegally and all. They were unrestricted. It didn’t stop them and made more people pirate Spore and not buy it instead.

And the price for calling customer support is too pricey (and they waste your time purposely so that you have to pay them alot), so you end up paying for a new copy of the game anyways, but only getting 1 new install…You’re just better off buying the game again.

Finally, I mostly don’t seem to get why EA cannot simply refund your installs when uninstalling the game while connected to the internet. It worked with Spore and Mass Effect, after all. It seems either we get 5 installs or 3 installs with the ability of being refunded each of them. Installing a copy on a friend’s PC was never a problem before, and LAN worked better when you didn’t have limits. Apoc even said “Now you can play LAN with 1 disc only!”. Yes, but we could install it on 20 PCs before, all we needed was daemon tools or a crack. (Nowhere is it said it’s illegal to have those as long as you own a legit copy of the game)

It’s so obvious to me they did this to gain more profit. (Or they aren’t getting enough people calling customer support) They think we’re hungry enough we’d buy a game a thousand times over if we needed to to keep playing. Those kind of people play WoW, actually.

I bet the EA CEO will pop up the excuse that it’s all to defend themselves from all the economic problems in the US and prevent them from going bankrupt. Trust me, if it is, I’m not buying one EA game again, because it’d so obviously be a lie.

Nmenth: I don’t like it. Anything designed to stop illegal activity, but that interferes with honest gamers is a real nuisance. I do not support illegal activity, but making games harder to crack only gives them more enjoyment in doing so. Games need protection, but when it crosses that border into creating annoyance for everyone, I think it could be the wrong move. Yes, I will still buy RA3, because I don’t think it will effect me and it don’t think it is a severe enough insult yet to skip a game I want out of just principle. I would warn all game companies though, and for all games, ticking off honest players while attacking the dishonest is not a smart business plan.

FLSH_BNG: have no real reason to care about this. I have bought every single C&C game ever released.

Chr1st14n: Quite honestly, I haven’t been keeping up with RA3. I’m not planning to buy RA3 at all at the moment, but if I were to become more interested, I don’t think this would be a big factor.

CnC-Fin: In fact, I have no-idea. I haven’t thought that very much. But I think it’s good thing. And I’ll buy RA3 anyways, nothing won’t stop me!

Question 2) Have you been actively participating in the Red Alert 3 Beta test? Describe some of your likes and dislikes.

Gben: Yes I’ve played a few games, but not as many as I was hoping due to real life and technical difficulties. As a result it’s been hard to get a true feel for the game due to my lack of game-time. Especially in a MP environment where the pressure is on to win the match, not explore the game. I really didn’t have any doubts about whether I should buy the game, but participating in the Beta has confirmed I will enjoy the game. I’ve made a point of just playing one faction in my few beta games – to help me nail down one faction – and also to save some surprises for the retail version. No strong likes other than the falling Soviet satellites but I still dislike the ore mining mechanism (ie. oil derricks)

Silverthorn: Well, I wish I could get into the beta, but sadly, I was too busy with my university studies, so I could not get in in time to join in the fun. I hope you beta testers enjoy it so far. πŸ˜‰ Hmm, even if I did join in, I can still say something. Likes? it’s fun, even if there might be some bugs and new adjustments to face. The dislike? The biggest one I heard, is the disability of LAN play. πŸ™

recover: I am in the beta but I haven’t played it that much. I found that some people were using tactics that were difficult to counter, which made the beta less fun, but that might have changed in the latest patches.

rEdaSbLood: I have not been actively participating. Though, I have been actively JEALOUS.

Alex06: Of course I have. It’s been quite fun. My only pet peeve is now Oil derricks give out only 500 after patch 1.05, which is a shame, really. However, I dislike the fact that the Allies don’t have an appropriate counter to subs. (They should make the Riptide’s torpedoes more useful) Oh, and not to mention that the Assault Destroyer could use depth charges or torpedoes to attack subs, not its cannon. Maybe also fixing the Shogun would be a good idea…

Nmenth: No, unfortunately, I haven’t. I bought Kane’s Wrath in April and signed up to participate. However, I never received my Beta key. When File Planet was giving away free keys, I did acquire one, but then I had some trouble downloading it. By that time, the Beta had already been going for so long it lost its appeal to me, so I gave up. I decided I could wait a little bit longer to buy the real thing. It looks to be fun for those that did get in though.

FLSH_BNG: Unfortunately I have not been able to participate in the RA3 beta.

Chr1st14n: Nope, KW FTW!!!

CnC-Fin: Yes, I’ve been playing RA3 Beta with my buddy. It’s awesome of course! My personal favourite faction is Allies, with their British tank drivers and technology. But as I don’t have the ultra high graphics, it makes some small bugs for me, but it doesn’t affect my gameplay. This testing has been worth it.

Question 3) The Red Alert 3 Premier Edition will include a beta key to a future C&C game. What do you think this game will be and why?

Gben: You know I have no idea… but I’m hoping it’s Tiberium just because I like what I’ve seen so far. (Ignore all the fuss about C&C in the title!)

Silverthorn: Hmm, beta key for a future C&C game? Not sure, hopefully not the RA3 expansion, it might just waste time & possibly the key code itself. Generals 2? No, to be honest, I personally don’t like the universe since Generals 1, I’m fine with the storyline, but I just don’t like the gameplay such as the lack of MCV, no sidebar, etc.. I don’t recommend of reviving that universe if I were one of the EA devs. If it revives, I’m expecting them to do something about the controversies we knew and we had in the past such as in Germany & China. Let’s see, Tiberium universe? Not sure. Another Red Alert universe? Also not sure. Brand new universe? That may sound interesting when the time comes.

recover: I have no idea what it could be, perhaps C&C4. I don’t think it’s Tiberium since it will be rated M for Mature and doesn’t even have C&C in its title. I really hope it won’t be for an expansion since I don’t think they even qualify for betas. I got a gut feeling that there will be other games or collections that will include more beta keys to this future C&C game.

rEdaSbLood: Hmm. Tough guess. What I’d like to see is another addition to the Tiberian saga. It was always my favorite. And with Tiberium coming out, another FPS is highly unlikely even though I think that’s where developers like to spend their money. All that makes sense is either Generals 2, or another expansion for Tiberium Wars. MAYBE even an MMO addition to the series. Although I prefer the Generals universe is put to rest, I admit it was a decently fun game and I would definitely give it a whirl.

Alex06: Honestly, I have good reasons to believe it’s a new C&C Generals. In a recent interview, I think Chris Corry mentionned the “Generals universe”, so obviously they aren’t done with Generals and will make a sequel eventually. Since Tiberium is not officially considered a C&C game (but the story is canon) and since C&C3 and RA3 have been the last 2 C&C games that EA has released, it leaves out only space for Generals 2 or a new universe. (But then I doubt they’d do that AND call it C&C) Then again, I admit it could be a beta key for the RA3 expansion, but since they mentioned “the next C&C game”, I figured it would be Generals 2.

Nmenth: I do think it will be another Generals. I doubt they would be already giving away keys to C&C 4 or Red Alert 4, and since Tiberium doesn’t bear the C&C label, Generals is the only storyline left. Unless they plan on opening up a forth storyline, but that would be stupid. I can’t say I approve though, although I did like Generals, I didn’t like them creating the third storyline, which also wasn’t well presented and lacked a C&C feeling or connection. A vast improvement on the Generals storyline and maybe even a link to the tiberium or Red Alert lines would make me more receptive.

FLSH_BNG: I think that it will be the FPS game “Tiberium.” Simply because it is the next game I have heard of in the C&C series.

Chr1st14n: I think it will be Tiberium, simply because C&C 4 is too far into the future to have a Beta soon. Although it is worthwhile to note that EA probably wouldn’t want to put a beta key for a “M” game in a “T” game.

CnC-Fin: I think its Tiberium. For being discussed more than Generals 2. And I’m pretty sure fans are more waiting for “Renegade 2” than “Generals 2”.

Question 4) From your point of view. How do you see the C&C Community today? Is it always improving or spiralling toward it’s bitter end?

Gben: I’ve really only been a short time, and mainly really here at CNCNZ.com, so I can’t really speak about the community. I have no bad ill to anyone, I’m enjoying the familiarity of certain fellow weirdos! I think EALA is really doing a good job at providing new stuff to discuss. I’m a happy fan and love my time-wasting hobby!

Silverthorn: In my point of view, today, it seems it’s ok. Since the revive of C&C with the release of C&C3, the community’s spirits rise beautifully. For the current time, not sure. So far, if EA listens to us more, our spirit may who knows, even beats rivals such as Blizzard gamers’ communities.

recover: I definitely think that the C&C community has improved since EA announced C&C3. I remember voting at a poll at some fan site long ago that read something like this: “Do you ever think we will see a sequel to Tiberian Sun?” While it continues to improve, EA is moving very fast with C&C, maybe too fast. It’s very difficult to predict if releasing C&C games at this rate will be good or bad for the community in the long run.

rEdaSbLood: I don’t get around much nowadays with my busy schedule, so I’m content here with CNCNZ and I find it stable. Sonic does a great job running the show. Great news updates and plenty of fresh ideas for improving the site keep me content here. As long as there are people interested enough in the C&C universe, there will be a community. At this point really, I feel comfortable here with these people. Its become second nature to check the site and chat with my fellow C&C fanatics.;].

Alex06: Honestly, it seems to be going both ways. Usually, there would be 100+ active people on most fansites’ forums, now there’s only between 20 to 50. Sure, now we have an offical forum at EA for that, but I see so much negativity going on over there, sometimes. But I’m keeping my chin up! It seems to be getting better slowly. As for the sad thing, I find it kind of awful that people stopped making new mods and maps for C&C3 and KW.

Nmenth: A couple years ago, I would say the entire C&C franchise and community was heading for its grave, which was probably the popular opinion of that time. Now, I’m not sure, I think everyone is waiting to see Red Alert 3. It could very well be the separating point between whether people will find renewed hope or admit demise. If EA is willing to properly support their game and fans after release, it will surely help. I really think RA3 is going to be the deciding factor though. Personally, I think I would be one of the last people to give up on the series.

FLSH_BNG: Not having spent too much time doing anything other than playing the games, I cannot say for sure.

Chr1st14n: I think more than anything it’s ticked off at the lack of support for KW. But when people can look past that and stop trolling, it’s pretty kewl, and usually improving. I just wish it had more people.

CnC-Fin: I think the community is bigger than sometime ago (years?). For news, C&C TV and many other things that have been made on most fansites. And of course RA3. I think community is improving itself all the time.

Question 5) How can fan sites improve their coverage of C&C games and the community? What would you like to see more of?

Gben: I think this fan-only roundtable is a great step. To grow a community you need to be able cause lukers to de-cloak and engage in the conversation. Which is what I saw in the thread launching this edition. I really enjoy reading through the perspectives of the wise old webmasters and community leaders, but hearing noobs and lukers speak up is cool… it also means I can tell all the same old jokes again!

I would like to see fan sites take advantage of the live, real, in-person contact that community summits provide. By this I mean, the attendees should try to make time to run their own activities with members of the community present, and not rely on APOC to set the agenda for the entire trip. Like the aborted Roundtable attempt for instance or an infamous JohnWE video with other ‘actors’.

There has got to be so much dormant potential that needs to be harnessed and funneled in new and different creative areas when a whole bunch of you-people get together.

Silverthorn: Well, since I don’t look around in fan sites quite often except dropping in at CNCDEN, RADEN & CNCNZ themselves. So far, everything seems ok. The best ones I love to look into are the updates of the units, structures, characters section (Profiles, images & even screenshots). New things equal to new appeals. πŸ™‚

recover: The fan sites could get Apoc to send them the latest C&C news, but I think that is already happening. I would like to see more community driven tournaments and contests in official C&C games as well as in C&C mods like A Path Beyond, EA could offer to sponsor with prizes. Fan sites can also try to give the visitors more reasons to become involved, offer their opinion and discuss things related to C&C.

rEdaSbLood: I don’t see any issue with the job fan sites are doing. I’m sure the staff is dedicated enough and anything more is unnecessary. What would be cool, if anyone really wants an idea, is some inter-community relations. Maybe some playful competitions or discussions of some sort between two or more fan sites.

Alex06: Good question… I don’t really know. Maybe if some of the big fansites (Like CNCNZ, PlanetCNC, CNCDen/RADen, CNC3.CC, CNC-Addict and so on) managed to appear in BattleCast (like, they could feature 1 or 2 fansites every new episode and rotate), it could be fun. Honestly, what most fansites need is to keep themselves more up-to-date with info. I see some websites forgetting some updates or skipping them or missing out on tons of new info, which I’d find shameful sometimes, were I in the place of any of those fansites’ owners.

Nmenth: I don’t really feel the need for more coverage. Everything EALA lets out gets posted, reposted, discussed, and argued on who-knows-how-many sites out there. People could guess what they are up to, but otherwise, are pretty much limited by what news EALA is willing to release. The community is well interlinked and anything big that happens is quickly known by everyone. If a fan site wanted to grab my attention, I think mini C&C-themed games would be a fun novelty, albeit not canonical to the storyline, it would convince me they were diehard fans and give me something to play with between the actual games.

FLSH_BNG: I would like to see more screen shots of player(s) v. player(s) games that managed to reach truly epic proportions.

Chr1st14n: I don’t care that much about news, I prefer to play the game. So, I’d like to see more stuff for actually playing the game: more custom maps, more mods, etc.

CnC-Fin: Fans should post more fan art and ideas. So EA would make future C&C games, that fans appreciate. I’ve been reading that some people won’t buy RA3, because of the Empire faction, and candy/cartoon colours. And I’ve been thinking of a CNCNZ kind of fansite, but only with Red Alert 3 coverage. Fan art, files and that kind of stuff.

Question 6) What C&C based mods (for any game) do you actively follow?

Gben: APB, Reborn, Renegade X… are ones I visit to find out the latest info… but I’m interested in everything. I desire most of all mods that deliver SP content.

Silverthorn: Well, I used to be a fan of mods, but I turned down my fandown since Generals came in. Even with the resurrection of C&C such as C&C3, haven’t been playing much. But I’ll look more into Deezire’s mods, which is my favorite modder teams. For any mods I’m looking to, are RA3-based & the Unreal’s “Renegade X” (If only that mod can also be played as standalone like “A Path Beyond” did).

recover: I follow A Path Beyond, C&C Reborn and Renegade X. I can’t wait until Renegade X is released or until the next patches for APB and Reborn is released. πŸ™‚

rEdaSbLood: I haven’t been into mods since my Tiberian Sun days, but I love knowing that they are still in the works. In my opinion it’s the strongest part of the community. Right now my computer cannot really handle the newer C&C games otherwise I’d be mod crazy. I was always interested in any kind of total conversion. A Renegade or Kane’s Wrath total conversion would probably be the best direction modders should take. Can’t go wrong with total conversions. Renegade because of it’s outstanding structure of play, and Tiberium Wars/Kane’s Wrath because it is the strongest engine out of the C&C’s. Red Alert 3 will provide a lot of more options for modders and that is actually something i look forward to.

Alex06: Hmmm…not many, really. I used to follow Red Alert Revolution for C&C3 alot, but it was cancelled. Mods that I follow today are Middle East Crisis 2, Tiberium Essence and Tiberium Wars Advanced all 3 being made for C&C3. I’ve even done some infantry icons for TWA, but I’m not 100% sure if they will be used, though I’d be really proud if they do end up being used. Anyways, those are the current mods I play and follow the development of closely. Oh, and Tiberium Oddyssey for TS. (Which seems to be taking forever D: ) I might also try Rise of Omnius for TS if and when it’s released, but I’m not as interested in it at the moment…I have yet to see new updates for that mod, too.

I also used to follow Reign Of Steel, YR squared, Robot Storm and Mental Omega. Squared and MO both got released and I played them, they were both great mods! RS and RoS (not to confuse) haven’t been released yet. The last RS version was released quite a long while ago, while RoS has been in the works for 3 or 4 years and nothing has been released (except some unused assets). Holy_Master, the creator, has always started from scratch with his ideas. Not that I blame him, but I’m still curious if he’ll ever release his mod for any other reason than having gotten tired of working on it.

Just a note, I love how it looks artistic when you kill infantry in the Tiberium Essence mod with a GDI MRLS. It looks pretty epic!

Nmenth: I don’t follow any one specifically, but I do look at all of them I hear about. I like to look at what alternate ways people have seen the C&C universe and took it. I have only downloaded one mod before (Yuri’s Revenge) and was unimpressed, but I am thinking about finding some others to try out. At this time, I care more about the impending RA3 than mods, so it is unlikely I will play any until after I beat RA3. One I was particularly impressed by though, was C&C Reborn, Renegade with TS units… how could it get any cooler than that?

FLSH_BNG: I am following the “Tiberian Dawn” mod for C&C 3. To me it looks looks very promising, the creators have been putting a lot of work into it.

Chr1st14n: I don’t usually even play mods, let alone follow them, but I am looking forward to CnCGeneralsWorld’s Forgotten mod. I’m also gonna help synthc out sometime with his balance mod for TW. Renegade X for Unreal Tournament looks sweet, too bad I don’t have the game.

CnC-Fin: Mostly Red Alert: A Path Beyond, as I’m playing it myself too. But also other Renegade mods, like Apocalypse Rising.

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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