C&C Remasters – Update on Multiplayer

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After a good while, we have another update on the C&C remasters. The project has since reached the Content Alpha milestone, meaning all assets have been remastered to at least some degree. EA producer Jim Vessella touched on the topic of multiplayer in the latest update:

Fellow Command & Conquer fans,

We hope everyone had a great holiday season and their New Year is off to a positive start. For those of us on the Remaster project, we’ve been hard at work over the past two months since our last update. In terms of development progress, we just completed our Content Alpha milestone. This is a huge moment for the project, as it means there are no longer any legacy / placeholder pieces of content in the game. Every frame of animation, every tile of terrain, every second of audio, and every piece of UI has received a remastered pass. This allows us to play both games in a completely remastered fashion, and identify areas we’d like to continue polishing based on feedback from the team, colleagues, and the community.

Now, since the announcement of the project, many of you have been asking how Multiplayer will function in the Remaster. So for this update, we wanted to take a deep dive into the components of Multiplayer and describe how we’re approaching this beloved part of the game.

At a high level, Multiplayer has effectively been rebuilt for the Remaster. Starting with the backend, Multiplayer now runs on dedicated servers based on Petroglyph’s architecture, with a goal of providing reliable connections and prevent misbehavior. We’ve been playing multiplayer games for several months with our QA teams around the world, and feeling confident about the stability the architecture is providing. Now let’s jump into the actual modes and features.

When navigating to the Online portion of the menus, players will first have the ability to host or join custom multiplayer games. Once players join a game lobby, they can choose their team setup, select maps, and set game rules. In terms of rules, we’re aiming to support the most relevant multiplayer options, from starting resources and units to flagging Crates or Visceroids. (Yes, the Visceroid has also been remastered and is as weird as ever) We’re then looking into some additional options based on guidance from the Community Council. You can also chat with other players in the game lobby, and ensure you get the perfect setup for your custom game.

Alongside custom games is the introduction of 1v1 Quickmatch for Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert™. Quickmatch will focus on competitive play and utilize an Elo-based matchmaking algorithm. Games will pull from a filtered map pool with set game rules to reduce luck and randomness (For example, no Crates in Quickmatch). To highlight the results, 1v1 Quickmatch will be supported by an in-game leaderboard to track a player’s wins, losses, and points. We’re looking forward to watching the most competitive players go head-to-head and see who can become the top ranking commander in each game. I fondly remember being one of the best C&C3 players in the world for about 2 hours when the game launched, only to be quickly humiliated when competitive players began to learn the game, haha.

In a further effort to help modernize the online play experience, we’re also introducing replays into the Remaster. Players will be able to watch replays from their custom and quickmatch games, and we’re currently iterating on the available controls within the replay system itself. In conjunction with the replay system is the addition of Observer mode into both games. Through the Observer mode, players can spectate on live games in-progress (with a small time delay), which we hope will be a valuable tool for shoutcasters and viewers alike.

There are then several other multiplayer oriented features which have been requested by the community over the past year. We’re in the process of evaluating these features and will aim to share more in the months ahead. As always, please continue to provide your comments in the thread below.

As you all know, 2020 is the 25th year anniversary of Command & Conquer. We expect this to be an exciting year for C&C, and we’re looking forward to celebrating this anniversary with all of you.

Cheers,

Jim Vessella

Jimtern

The original post is here.

Assimilator, SAGE Animation Extracting Tool Out Now

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As a New Year’s gift, @Lauren (a.k.a. Darth Jane) published an entirely new tool called the Assimilator. The way it works is that it loads any .skudef of a late SAGE game (Tiberium Wars, Kane’s Wrath, Red Alert 3, Uprising, or Tiberian Twilight), and then it lists all the W3D animations contained in that game. You can then select any animation, and in the right part of the window, you’ll see the XML output of that animation. This way, you won’t have to resort to custom art packs to get the animations you need.

The tool can be downloaded right here on CNCNZ.com (relevant download pages have been updated). Note that you require Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 build 1607 or newer with .NET Core 3.x installed.

C&C Remasters – Update on EVA Announcements

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After his suspicious silence in November, Jim Vessella posted on the C&C subreddit a short while ago about the announcement voice lines in C&C and Red Alert 1. It turns out that the original recordings could not be found. However, the voice actress of the Tiberian Dawn EVA, Kia Huntzinger, will reprise the role and has already re-recorded her lines in a professional studio. Alas, the voice actor of the Red Alert announcer, former chief of Virgin Interactive Entertainment Martin Alper, passed away a few years ago, but it was decided his voice lines will stay as they are, while Frank Klepacki will try to clean the audio as much as possible.

Here is the full statement from Vessella:

Fellow Command & Conquer fans,

First we would like to say thank you for all the feedback on the gameplay teaser reveal back in October. We’ve made an effort to read every comment that came through on Reddit, along with feedback posted in Discord and other media channels. We’ve been categorizing the feedback into various buckets, and exploring which items are feasible to tackle within the original source code and our overall production schedule. Alongside this effort, the team has already been addressing some of the low-hanging fruit items, such as the team color inaccuracies called out in many of the comments.

For the update this month, we wanted to share the approach we’re taking for one of the most important characters in the franchise: EVA. We wanted to start with a behind-the-scenes story of what it was like to record the original voice over, and then describe how we’re planning to remaster this iconic character. Below is an overview from Frank Klepacki on this experience:

“Because C&C Tiberian Dawn was breaking new ground for us at the time, and the first game in the series to kick things off, our audio department was really experimenting with trying to see what would work well. We only had just begun acquiring improved gear, but we were making do with whatever limitations we had to work with, such as average microphones, preamps, and the not-so-practical rooms we recorded in. It was the wild west of development – we cast people within Westwood Studios for various voice roles. One larger voice role however, was the part of EVA. Kia Huntzinger worked at Westwood, and our Audio Director Paul Mudra thought she might be a good fit based on hearing the recorded voice messages she left on our phones and paging she did over the intercom system. In many ways, she was the unofficial voice of the company once you made it past the front door because we listened to her throughout the day. She was excited to give it a shot, and the original voice session was recorded in a padded closet! Everyone liked the quality of her voice in that role, and the rest is history.

Unfortunately the original tapes of Kia’s performance were not found – but that being said, there is definitely inherent noise, and noticeable rumble throughout the original games files, which would have needed a lot of clean up. So we did the next best thing – we hired her to reprise her role, this time in a professional recording room! And fortunately for us, she still sounds very close to the way she did years ago.”

On a personal note, I’m so excited that Kia is reprising her role as EVA in the Remaster project. As with many of you in the community, Kia’s voice has been embedded in my subconscious after playing Tiberian Dawn over the past 24 years. In the same spirit as Frank and Petroglyph themselves, Kia has brought an authenticity to the project which just couldn’t be achieved in any other way. Kia wanted to do this for the fans and approached the recording full of passion and eagerness. We’re forever thankful to Kia for contributing to this remaster journey, and hope everyone in the C&C community will appreciate her performance. As a sneak preview of this content, Frank has compiled a sampling of Kia’s original and remastered audio lines for your listening pleasure. And of course, if you do want to play the Remaster with the original voice over for nostalgia sake, we’ll have that as an option too.

Now, some of you may be asking how we’re going to approach the “Announcer” for Red Alert. In terms of history, the Red Alert announcer was performed by Martin Alper, who also happened to be the President of Virgin Interactive Entertainment at the time. Sadly, Martin Alper passed away a few years ago, and we didn’t feel it would be the same to replace his performance with another actor. So therefore we’re going to keep that in its legacy form for the Remaster, and Frank will do his best to clean up the original audio.

We know you’re eager to see more gameplay details as well (especially around Red Alert), and will aim to share more of that content in the new year. Please continue to provide your comments in the thread below, and we hope everyone has a great holiday season.

Cheers,

Jim Vessella

Jimtern

You can read the original announcement and hear the new EVA voice samples here.

GenTool Version 7.9 Available

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GenTool, xezon’s extension for Generals and Zero Hour, has received a new update, version 7.8. Here’s what’s new:

New features:

  • Added player rank (*) and experience points (XP) to Money Display
  • Enabled Money Display for match observers
  • Enabled full access to Camera Height and Camera Pitch feature for match observers

Fixes / improvements:

  • Fixed a crash on game shutdown caused by the use of a DirectX 8 to DirectX 9 wrapper
  • Fixed an issue that would show Money Display for players sometimes
  • Fixed an issue where Camera Height feature could be exploited in LAN matches
  • Fixed non-functional ranked maps if game client was started without internet connection
  • Removed observer player entries from Money Display
  • Removed cnc-online.net popup message when launching the game with GameRanger
  • Reworked GenTool key input manager
  • Improved Match Timer to show the actual match progress instead of passed time
  • Enabled full compatibility with Zero Hour Contra Mod
  • Upload Mode: Fixed a directory issue when uploading files
  • Upload Mode: Fixed errors 23, 35, 56 at begin of upload session
  • Upload Mode: Increased quality of uploaded images
  • Upload Mode: Decreased upload session retry wait time from 120 to 60 seconds
  • Upload Mode: Removed minimum replay size limit (5 kb) from upload session
  • Upload Mode: Improved contents and formatting of replay text information
  • Upload Mode: Improved upload session success message to show full upload url
  • Updater: Fixed broken patching of Window.big or WindowZH.big for some game installations
  • Updater: Removed broken map.ini from [RANK] Australia ZH v1
  • Updater: Disabled installations of ReadMe txt files
  • Updater: Implemented new *.dat format for generic patch files

If you already have GenTool installed, you can update it by simply running Generals/Zero Hour and exiting. If you want to do so manually or you do not have it installed yet, you can download it from the GenTool website or from here at CNCNZ.com.

DBolical’s Mod of the Year and Indie of the Year 2019 Awards Started

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It’s December, and PC gamers know what that means – DBolical’s annual Mod of the Year and Indie of the Year awards! The voting process is the same as always – simply go to the ModDB/IndieDB profile of the project you want to vote for, click on Vote Now, and you’re done! You have until 11 December to do so, at which time the Top 100 mods and Top 100 indies will be unveiled, which will have their own voting process afterwards. On the 22nd, the Editors’ Choice will be published, followed by the Players’ Choice for unreleased projects on the 27th, and on the 29th, we’ll know the Players’ Choice for released projects.

To reminisce 2019 in modding and indies, DBolical has prepared Year in Review articles on ModDB and IndieDB.

Also, voters are eligible to win some games! So get voting, help your favourite C&C mod/standalone game get to the top, and you might just go home with an extra game!

CNCNZ.com Is Online for 22 Years

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27 October is when CNCNZ.com observes its anniversary, this time number 22.

But alas, if you have visited this site at any point over the past year or so, you will have noticed that our activity has not been what it once was. Due to private obligations and shifting focus to other projects and ways of contributing to game communities in general, combined with a lack of enthusiastic staff who would push content and news, those of us who remain have left CNCNZ.com on the backburner for a while, although we do cover official C&C remaster news and news regarding former C&C developers whenever we catch wind of them.

However, once this “quiet” phase ends, I would like to announce that CNCNZ.com will change its scope in the foreseeable future to better serve the series and the community as a hub for C&C info, in which a greater stress will be the aspects that you usually need multiple clicks to reach. What that will exactly look like, we can’t and won’t reveal right now, but watch this space in the coming months.

Until then, we’re still available to talk on our Discord server and our (currently asleep) forums.

C&C Remastered Gameplay Teaser and Website!

We finally have first video footage and a website with a before-and-after comparison for Command & Conquer: Remastered!

Here’s what Jim Vessella had to say:

 

Fellow Command & Conquer fans,

Crazy to believe it’s nearly been one year since we formally announced the C&C Remaster and began development with Petroglyph Games and Lemon Sky Studios. To celebrate this milestone, today we’re excited to showcase one of our biggest reveals on the journey so far – a first teaser of the game in action!

And with this teaser comes an answer to one of your key questions from the past year:

“Is the Remaster going to be in 2D or 3D?”

We’re ready to share the Remaster has been developed in the classic 2D visual style, unlocking our ability to stay as authentic as possible to the original games. Below we’d like to provide more details on how we’re approaching these visuals, and why we felt the 2D style was the best fit for the project.

As you may remember from one of the first posts, our plan is to remaster (not remake) the classic games. Creatively, this means our guiding light has always been to remain authentic to the original feel, and we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to achieve that goal. When we recovered the source code to C&C Tiberian Dawn and C&C Red Alert, this gave us a viable avenue to accurately match the core gameplay, feel, and signature look of the legacy titles. We felt the 2D style was the best way to bring all these elements together, and ultimately achieve the authenticity we were looking for.

It’s been wonderful to see the passionate, artistic care taken by Lemon Sky and the team with this creative approach. Lemon Sky has re-concepted, re-modeled, and re-animated every gameplay asset from scratch – examples of which you’ve seen with the Construction Yard and Tesla Tank. Once it reaches the final stage as seen in those previews, we render and export the assets in 2D so they lineup frame for frame with the original visuals. In some cases like the Grenadier, this can mean over 600 frames for a single unit. This creative process has allowed us to modernize the game assets as you originally imagined them, and stay true to the gameplay you’ve known and loved for 25 years.

In addition to the authenticity, we’re excited to reveal an extra benefit of this 2D approach is that Petroglyph has been able to utilize their deep familiarity with the source code to enable the real-time switching of Legacy / Remastered graphics in Campaign missions. This means at any time when playing a Campaign mission, you can tap a single key to smoothly toggle between the original assets at 320 x 200, to the Remastered assets up to 3840 x 2160. Playing with this toggle over the past several months has been a true joy, and we believe will be one of your favorite features in the Remaster. Along with the real-time toggling, you’ll have the ability to zoom the camera to take in all the high definition detail, with an effective zoom distance between the DOS and C&C Gold camera heights.

You can see an example of these features in action in the associated video above (just in case you made it this far and haven’t watched it already). To get an even better feel for the visual difference, we encourage you to visit our new website site at:

https://www.ea.com/games/command-and-conquer/command-and-conquer-remastered

Here you can use an interactive component to see the Legacy / Remastered visuals playing side by side. Keep in mind some of the assets you’re seeing in these videos are still in progress (I’m looking at you, Tiberium Silo), as we’re continuing to fix bugs and polish items based on feedback from our colleagues, the Community Council, and all of you.

We’re eager to hear your thoughts on everything you’re seeing in this post, so please share your comments in the thread below. Thanks for your support and participation, and looking forward to sharing more game assets in the months ahead.

Cheers,

Jim Vessella

Jimtern

Red Alert 1 Beta v0.09c Found and Verified

 

A most unlikely event has just occurred – beta version 0.09c of Command & Conquer: Red Alert has been discovered. The exact source and date of this build is unknown, but the person who found it is Siberian_GRemlin, whom Russian fans may know for his translations of earlier games in the series. Here are some of the differences:

  • there are no countries (subfactions) yet
  • some previously unseen cutscenes appear, including the long-lost shipyard one
  • certain removed voice lines appear, including “It is done” and “Time for a little five-finger discount” which we would only hear in the track Radio 2 Remix
  • rudimentary skirmish AI
  • dev build of the map editor with debug keys
  • a sprite believed to be the cut commando Megan is present

TaxOwlbear got the build early while it was being verified by CCHyper, Nyerguds, Tore and Chad from CnCNet, which is what you see above. More information can be found here, and the download link is here.

GenTool Version 7.8 Available

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GenTool, xezon’s extension for Generals and Zero Hour, has received a new update, version 7.8. Here’s what’s new:

New features:

  • Added new ranked maps to GenTool updater
  • Added custom map list size patching to GenTool updater to list up to 1200 maps
  • Added player money display in replay and observer modes
  • Added text size toggle on [Numpad +] and [Numpad -] keys
  • Added player name and player id information in uploaded replay txt file

Fixes / improvements:

  • Fixed tick threading issue that would cause wrong timers
  • Changed folder structure in uploaded data to separate online and network matches
  • Changed text in GenTool menu
  • Improved code in Upload Mode

If you already have GenTool installed, you can update it by simply running Generals/Zero Hour and exiting. If you want to do so manually or you do not have it installed yet, you can download it from the GenTool website or from here at CNCNZ.com.

C&C Remasters – Update on Soundtrack and Jukebox

 

EA producer Jim Vessella, true to his monthly schedule of remaster updates, has today posted about the in-game soundtracks and the jukebox feature, including some comments from veteran composer Frank Klepacki, and a sample of some of the remastered tracks – Act on Instinct, Demolition, and Fogger.

 

Fellow Command & Conquer fans,

I wanted to start this post by saying I’ve seen all the comments with the desire to see in-game footage, and thought it would be helpful to provide some context on the timing here. Essentially, we want to make sure we have all the supporting assets in place (like an updated C&C website) before revealing the in-game content. This will allow us to utilize some more flexible media components for the reveal, and ultimately help our awareness so we can get more gamers excited about C&C and the Remaster (which is beneficial for all of us). And while I cannot provide an exact date, getting all this in place is one of my top priorities and I’m crossing my fingers it can happen soon. But overall, our gameplay implementation is right on schedule, with Petroglyph currently focusing on getting the Nod campaign all stitched together.

In the meantime, we wanted to share some special content with you for this post. If you remember, earlier this year we asked the community to provide input on our approach for the soundtrack, including what versions of the tracks you wanted to see in the Remaster. All of us on the team listened intently, and we heard a general consensus for having the most variety possible. So with that request in hand, we pushed hard to include all the versions of the tracks. This means the classic low fidelity versions (without voices), the original soundtrack versions now remastered (with voices), and then of course the Remastered versions of all classic tracks. This will also include many of the rare / unreleased tracks, several of which have never been heard before in higher fidelity. But getting there wasn’t always easy, and here’s an overview from Frank describing the remastering experience:

“The process of going through every single piece of music and bringing it to a higher quality standard has been quite a journey back in time for me, and I’m really glad that all of these tracks will finally be heard in full high quality for the remastered game experience. After combing all possible archives, a handful of tracks were just nowhere to be found – this included ‘Snake’ and ‘Fogger’ from C&C Red Alert. One thing that I did back in the Westwood era, was mirror my home studio with the same gear I had at work, and fortunately I had kept much of it all these years. So I started there, and I went to painstaking detail and trial and error to track down and match as much of the exact original sounds and instrumentation I could find, to recreate these songs from scratch in order to have the best high quality versions once again for the remaster. Hearing these new versions, especially in stereo now, is a whole new experience.”

To add it all up, between the classic and remastered versions of the tracks, we’re clocking in at over 10 hours worth of music across 175 tracks!

Now, with that much music and variety, we figured players would need a way to organize all the music content. So we are excited to share that the Jukebox will be making a full comeback in the Remaster, and be more enhanced than ever before. The Jukebox will allow players to create their own playlist utilizing any combination of music to their desire. Easy to use filters help the sorting process, and for the first time you can listen to Red Alert music in Tiberian Dawn or vice versa. This feature was a labor of love for Frank and some of the original Westwood engineers on the project, who wanted to deliver the best music experience possible for the community. Overall we just can’t wait to put the Jukebox in your hands, and see all the unique playlists the community puts together.

As a special treat to celebrate this post about the soundtrack, Frank has put together a compilation of several Remastered tracks for your enjoyment. You’ll be hearing a sample of the Remastered versions of Act on Instinct (without voices), Demolition (which was never included on the OST), and Fogger (which Frank described above as being recreated from scratch in high fidelity). To help provide a comparison, each track also includes a short intro of the classic low fidelity version as heard in the original game.

And finally, you may notice there’s an unchecked box called “Bonus” in the Jukebox. Well, we haven’t forgotten about the voting you did earlier this year on your favorite tracks, and as such we’ll have a special surprise to reveal at a later date : )

As always thanks for your ongoing patience and support, and we’re looking forward to hearing your feedback on the soundtrack details, Jukebox, and the music itself.

Cheers,

Jim Vessella

Jimtern

 

You can read the original announcement and listen to the tracks on the C&C subreddit.

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