Nmenth’s Research Lab: Particle Cannon, Orbital Strike, Vacuum Imploder

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It is the first Monday of April, so it is time for one last Nmenth's Research Lab. This month we will look at some of the more powerful weapons in Command & Conquer, including the Particle Cannon, Orbital Strike, and Vacuum Imploder to see how these compare with reality.

This will be the final edition of Nmenth's Research Lab as, unfortunately, there are a finite number of technologies to explore in Command & Conquer, and it is preferable to quit while they are still interesting.

Fundraiser for General Sheppard’s Actor, Eric Martin

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While most of you have never heard of the name Eric Martin, you will definitely remember the line "Are you picking this up?" from the beginning of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn. Well, the connection is that Eric Martin is the actor who played General Mark Sheppard in the game.

Through Frank Klepacki social media profiles, we've learned that Martin is in a bad medical condition and that his sister-in-law launched a fundraiser campaign to help cover the costs of his treatment and everyday bills alike, as his insurance company is not being at all helpful in the situation.

Let's help him out, even a little bit!

W3D Hub’s Intense Update for 2019

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On Friday, W3D Hub posted a pretty intense update on what they've been doing behind the scenes lately. Apart from a new intro that goes with their logo inspired by Westwood's 1998-2003 orb logo and a run-down of what they've accomplished from their 2018 roadmap, they've announced that the W3D Hub launcher now supports the regular C&C Renegade with the option of installing the latest version of Scripts, an announcement for the W3D Kit that will accomodate many needs of Renegade modders, a new wiki for W3D engine development called the Tacitus, and last but definitely the most, the first public release of W3D tools for 3D Studio Max 2017 that is meant to support model formats from C&C Renegade, C&C Generals/Zero Hour and the Battle for Middle-earth titles. More details can be found in their official post.

Nmenth’s Research Lab: Gatling Guns, Flamethrowers, Ramjet

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It is the first Monday of March, so it is time for another Nmenth's Research Lab, this month we will look at a few of the less-fanciful, but still unconventional weapons in Command & Conquer, including Gatling Guns, Flamethrowers, and Ramjet Rifles and see how these compare with reality.

New technologies will be explored on the first Monday of every month, so return next month on the 1st for more from Nmenth's Research Lab.

Louis Castle Interviewed by Game Informer

Westwood Studios co-founder Louis Castle is doing quite a few interviews lately. The latest one in this spree of retrospective conversations is for Game Informer, where he spoke about the Command & Conquer series, but also many other periods from his long career. Definitely worth a watch!

Louis Castle on Ars Technica’s War Stories: How Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Solved Pathfinding

Over a year ago, Ars Technica launched an amazing video series called War Stories, in which they interview developers of classic video games and ask them about a major problem they faced during development and how they tackled it. The most recent episode features Westwood Studios' co-founder Louis Castle, who talked about the issue of pathfinding in C&C: Tiberian Sun, which had already had a lot of other development issues. This is Castle's second feature on the show, as he discussed the influence of the 1997 Blade Runner game on the adventure genre in the preceding episode that you should also watch.

Remasters Update: Audio and Soundtrack

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True to his apparently monthly reports on the Command & Conquer remasters, EA producer Jim Vessella posted on Reddit just now:

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Fellow Command & Conquer fans,

Our pre-production work on the Remaster continues to push forward, and one of the exciting areas now ramping up is Audio. As you know, Frank Klepacki will be driving the audio for the project, and he is currently putting together proposals for how to approach the sound effects and music. The best part is these proposals are being inspired by the comments which have already been posted here on Reddit over the past several months.

In fact, we feel the soundtrack is a great opportunity for the community to provide even further input on the project. With that in mind, Frank would specifically like to know your thoughts on the following:

“As you may be aware, the PC game originally didn’t include voice samples in a handful of the songs, but later the OST was released with these samples in the songs. I originally wrote them this way, but they were removed for the games initial release because the thought was they interfered too much with unit responses. Interestingly, these voice versions were still used in the later released PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions. So the question is, which ones should be heard in the Remaster?”

In addition to the topic above, we then have another proposition for you. Alongside this post is another Reddit post / poll asking for your favorite music tracks from Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert (Including expansions). In case you need a refresher on the specific track names, you can hear the majority of tracks on Frank’s website at www.frankklepacki.com. At the end of a week the votes will be tallied, and while we cannot get into specifics, we will aim to do something extra special with a few of the top rated tracks for the Remaster.

We’re eager to hear your thoughts on the items above, and any other comments around audio for the project.

Cheers,

Jim Vessella

Jimtern

The poll is in a separate Reddit thread that you can upvote individual tracks on, but not reply. Get voting for your favourite tracks, Frank is sure to do something super-awesome with them, whatever that something may be.

EA Believes C&C: Rivals Perfomed Below Expectations

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In EA's official quarterly earnings call for Q3 of the current fiscal year that was released two days ago, the company touched on the performance of Command & Conquer: Rivals.
With our latest release, Command & Conquer: Rivals, we had positive soft launch results. But since global release, it is not driven in stores organically at the levels we anticipated. We are now working to bring more players into that game. We continue to be committed to mobile. We believe in the value of our franchise in the marketplace, and we are doubling down on these games through live services. We are also putting our best teams on bigger projects and exploring additional ways to create and iterate quickly. We have always focused on profitability in mobile, and we are evolving to better position ourselves for growth in the future. (...)
And on mobile, we moved one of our titles out of the year. C&C: Rivals is also ramping slowly, and we made changes to Madden Mobile that reduced monetization. On top of this, unprecedented competition for players' time impacted the growth of our titles.
EA seems to lament every single release as "below expectations" and try to hunt for a scapegoat for that outside the company (e.g. the same earnings call blamed the "poor" performance of Battlefield V on the "competition" of Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption II) instead of their own shortcomings. It would appear that the level of attention given to Rivals from its own separate fanbase, which surprised in size even myself as someone who immediately prepared a casket for it as soon as I heard about it, is not enough for the once overconfident publisher whose stocks have taken an insane dive in the past several months, and which fell even further on the day the earnings call was released alongside the stocks of many other publishers. On a personal note, I'd just like to share my disbelief at the lack of self-reflection executives and select developers within major companies have, taking absolutely no responsibility of their own and blaming everyone and everything else for their own failures. If EA manages to survive the year without major blows, we are looking at an upcoming C&C remaster release which brings hope that at least someone (you know who you are) recognizes that their own customers matter more than shareholders in the long run, but time will tell sooner rather than later whether that will be properly put in deeds and not just words.

Nmenth’s Research Lab: Mutants, Cyborgs, Clones

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It is the first Monday of February, so it is time for another Nmenth's Research Lab, this month we will look at special infantry in Command & Conquer, covering Mutants, Cyborgs, and Clones and see how these compare with reality. New technologies will be explored on the first Monday of every month, so return next month on the 4th for more from Nmenth's Research Lab.

C&C Remasters Update: Status of the Source Codes

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Mere minutes ago, EA producer Jim Vessella posted an update regarding the status of the original C&C source codes and what engine they will be using for C&C Remastered and Red Alert Remastered.
Fellow Command & Conquer fans, We hope you had a good holiday season and that your New Year is off to a positive start. On our side, pre-production is continuing in earnest and we completed our first Milestone about two weeks ago. This Milestone included many of our documentation plans for how we want to build the game, and effectively laid the foundation for the rest of our pre-production cycle. Our next step is to begin translating those plans into a first playable prototype, which will hopefully help validate many of those initial concepts. One of those key items is how we’re going to approach the game from a technical standpoint. We know one of your core questions has been around the game engine, and we’re ready to reveal some of those details below. Now, it’s worth noting that as with all software this early – plans can change – so please understand this is a snapshot of our thinking in January 2019, and does not necessarily guarantee how the game will eventually ship. To kick things off, one of the most important questions from the community has been the following:
  • Do we have access to the original source code?

We’re excited to say the short answer is “Yes.” Over the past few months we have been able to acquire the majority of the source code for both the original C&C and original Red Alert. I say majority, because what we have is not a complete archive, and it’s going to continue taking some work to validate the full re-usability of the code. Thankfully, there is no better team than the individuals at Petroglyph to go on this R&D journey. So what does all this mean? Well, it means we’re aiming to re-use parts of the source code to try and keep the gameplay feel as close as possible to the original games. Again, our goal is to Remaster the original gameplay, not remake it. That being said, there are many areas where the original source code just cannot deliver the quality or functionality we’re looking for in many of the supporting elements. That’s where the second piece of the puzzle comes in. In addition to Petroglyph’s unique familiarity with the original source code, they have also spent the past 15 years optimizing their own proprietary RTS engine called GlyphX. This engine has been used to power Petroglyph’s RTS titles, and comes with many of the recent standards the community would expect from a modern RTS engine. So with that in mind, our goal is to utilize both GlyphX and the original source code to gain the combined benefits towards the Remaster. To provide a quick example (Not guaranteed but purely for illustration purposes), imagine using the original source code to determine the charge-up behavior of the Tesla Coil, but utilizing the GlyphX Audio system to ensure the Sound FX are fully enhanced for when that Tesla Coil fires. As you can predict, there are more details which we’ll learn as we begin to execute upon this plan. But we hope this provides some clarity in the meantime as to how we’re approaching the Remaster from a technical perspective. We’re eager to share more as we begin to prototype the software, and looking forward to hearing your comments in the thread below. Cheers, Jim Vessella
Jimtern
This debunks a long-standing belief in the community that the source codes of Westwood-era titles have been lost, which is definitely good news!
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