There's been a lot of hype about EA's new 'RTS-as-a-Sport' features for C&C 3. While I still think that the vast majority of C&C players won't use any of the features, they're interesting nonetheless. Now that the Non-Disclosure Agreements from the community summit have expired, you can look forward to reading more about the event, including from our own MicScoTho, who attended and who is working on the follow-up to his first day in LA
piece. Steppo, from PlanetCNC, also attended, and wrote a bit
about the commentary and replay features.
We all know about the traditional observer mode. Eight players start a game, and one lowly shmuck gets to watch it from afar, without any real interaction. EA's taken care of that now with the new Commentary Mode. With this, they're trying to usher in the new "RTS as a Sport" era, making RTS games more apt for "mainstream" tournaments such as CPL and CGL, where games like CounterStrike and Unreal Tournament once reigned supreme.
Here's how it works. The Commentator starts up a game, with all settings aplomb. The participants in the match then join that game, and then the observers afterwards. The observers have the option of viewing the game from multiple perspectives. They can view the game as if they were any of the eight commanders, watching building placement, camera location and rotation, etc. They can view the game in "traditional" style, viewing whatever, whenever.
They can view the Commentary. This streams audio to your PC from the Commentator's microphone via VOIP, and the commentator can actually draw on the screen like some haphazard telestrator from a broadcast of Monday Night Football with John "Grab the hamburger" Madden. You can draw in upwards of six colors, and erase at will.
The matches can be observed by hundreds, if not thousands of gamers, and the bandwidth is supplied by GameSpy directly. Thusly, you don't need to get an "HLTV" server set aside for each game.
While that much has been mentioned so far in articles, it's good to see that those features have actually made it into the game, since such ambitious projects are often cut. You can read more from Steppo in PCNC's forum topic