Articles: March 2007 C&C 3 Community Summit Impressions: Of Mice and Walls

By Mike, Generals World Founder

It is currently 5:30am and I am writing this report on the EALA March 2007 C&C 3 Community Summit.  I am either incredibly dedicated to my website, an avid C&C fanatic, or I am currently sitting in Atlanta awaiting my 7:00 flight back to Boston.  Did you know that the Homeland Security threat level is currently at orange?  Let's begin.

The Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton, in all its glory.

Sunday, March 4, 2007
Abstract: The sun rose over the Atlantic and set over the Pacific.

Departure and Arrival
Awaking at a not so bright and early 3:30am, I took a 4 o'clock cab to Logan International Airport in Boston for my 6:00 flight to Los Angeles – via Atlanta.  I could go on about the wait at the AirTran ticket counter, but let's just slip over the next 9 hours of travel (and the lady who called AirTrain customer support to complain while we were taxiing on the runway) and say I arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina Del Ray around noon, Pacific Time.

Upon arrival my bags were taken from me and I proceeded to check in.  I was promptly offered the choice of hot apple cider or pomegranate juice.  A bit dumbfounded, I simply took a water because saying “no thanks” appeared to be an incorrect answer.

After some relatively painless technical difficulties checking-in, a bellhop brought me to my room.  Article continues below the pictures.

The Ritz-Carlton
Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton
Our Room
Our room: there are 4 pillows on each bed
Our Room
Observe the pretty television
Shoe Polish
Apparently shoe polish comes standard
The View
Balcony view looking out over the marina
The View
California hills in the distance

The community representatives invited to this event would like to take this moment to declare that the decision of Electronic Arts to put us up in the Ritz-Carlton for 2+ nights in no way affected our opinions regarding Command & Conquer 3, or Electronic Arts, Inc.  We swear.

Having survived the flight on pretzels, Sprite, and – well – more pretzels, I was growing a tad hungry, and so I took the initiative to hunt down some food.  I wandered by the marina's beach and ended up at a little place by the water.  Ate some kind of interesting open-faced croissant sandwich with avocado, bacon, ham, cheese and leeks.  Ah California.

The Marina Beach
The Marina Beach
Boats in the Marina

Returning to the Carlton, I was still unable to find any fellow C&C fans.  (I was one of the first ones to arrive at the hotel, as it were.)  I decided to pass the time by taking a walk down to the beach (why not?).  Starbucks also took this opportunity to seduce me with a Caramel Frappuccino.  Any form of coffee is good, especially when it’s not even 5 o'clock and you already feel you've been up for altogether too many hours.

Seven rolled around and I found myself in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton.  It wasn't hard to miss the conspicuous group of Command & Conquer community members this time.  Community Manager Aaron Kaufman showed up (on time, more-or-less; I'm told he's known for being a bit tardy for these things).  We all piled into taxis to a Mexican restaurant down the road. 

Sunset from the Balcony
Sunset from the Balcony

Of Mice and Walls
Down at the far end of the table sat me, my late-arriving, luggage-losing roommate James "chronojam" Brodeur of A Path Beyond, popcorn2008 of, and a guy from Planet Company of Heroes whose name I unfortunately cannot quite remember.  Our initial discussions included some admittedly elitist jabs at the good fellows over on the Official Forums, RE: the cries of distress over the lack of buildable walls (a more proper note about this follows).  We did, however, agree that the presence of a right-click move interface is somewhat troubling.

The point I made was this: aside from the obvious fact that every previous Command & Conquer game (even Generals) has had a left-click move interface, the main thing that bothers me about the mouse setup with C&C 3 is that it is inherently inconsistent.  The right mouse button is the primary button for moving units; the left mouse button is the primary button for using powers.  Put a different way: you left-click to deselect units, but right-click to cancel the use of a power.  It doesn't take long to remember this, however.  I imagine that a new player gets the buttons straight pretty quick once he left-clicks to "cancel" firing the Ion Cannon – better yet if the cursor just so happens to be over his base.

Aaron was later asked why the team chose to go with the right-click interface.  His response: "I hate to say it: but mostly because that’s how it was done in BFME2."  There are also some technical reasons behind why this was chosen, but he didn't immediately recall what those were.

The good news: the team is indeed seriously considering adding the option for a standard left-click-move interface in the first or second patch.  The first patch is already being worked on.

For fans out there who are seriously concerned about the lack of buildable walls, the news is less rosy.  Aaron said that while the team is going to look at adding buildable walls back in with a patch, odds seem a lot less likely than those of adding the classic mouse interface option.  The game has gone through months of testing without walls, and adding them back in could have a number of unintended consequences.  Walls are included in some singleplayer missions however, so for those of you who must-have, I'm sure there will be a mod released that enables them.  For the online players, here's a tip: if you're concerned about engineer rushes and you’re playing as GDI, build a watch tower near your construction yard – it'll be enough to keep lowly engineers at bay.

Time for Some Introductions
Our local banter about walls and the mouse interface gradually died down, and Aaron decided we should go around the table and introduce ourselves.  This summit had quite a variety of people present.  There were representatives from not only longstanding C&C sites (Steppo from PlanetCNC, C&C King of CNCNZ) but also community leaders and fans of other RTS games (Xiphoid of Planet Age of Empires; a major Starcraft player; Paul, the winner of the Biggest Command & Conquer Fan contest; Nate, the lucky fellow who preordered via EALink; amongst others).  A number of guys from German fansites including were present as well.

Introductions having been made, our meals arrived, and we sat back to enjoy.  Awesome enchiladas.

Hotel Gardens
Hotel Gardens
The Marina As Night Falls
The Marina As Night Falls

That about wrapped it up for day one: we all loaded back into our 4-or-5 different taxis (an amusing sight as we effectively conquered the parking lot - this would become a recurring theme throughout the summit) and headed back to the Ritz-Carlton.  A few of us hung around in the lobby, but after a day of travel, most went right to bed to prepare for the day that lay ahead.

C&C 3 Community Summit Impressions