Introduction and Arrival
There are a few sounds that I do not like. For example, cats screeching, certain “artists” singing, and water incessantly dripping all fit the bill. In early June, I got the pleasure of adding a new sound to my list: alarms going off at 3:45am.
Indeed, that is how my trip to EALA for the Red Alert 3 community summit began, with an annoying beep-beep-beep coming from my watch in the wee hours of the morning. This was made all the worse by the fact that just forty-five minutes earlier, I was setting the very same watch alarm for 3:45am, just before turning out the light (more on why later). Yet, despite the facts that it was still hours from dawn, that my sleep time was best measured in minutes, and that I had nine hours of travel ahead of me, I was happy to be getting up, because I knew I would be visiting EALA, meeting the developers, and getting to play Red Alert 3.
Oh, you wanted an introduction that didn’t involve complaints about a lack of sleep? Very well. In the middle of May, I got an email from C&C Community Manager Aaron “Apoc” Kaufman inviting me to a Red Alert 3 Community Summit to be held from June 11th to 13th. Having obviously read about these before—and discussed a previous C&C 3 one at length with our webmaster Mike, who attended a previous summit—I was more than eager to go. While I was busy the first night of the summit, I wanted to catch the rest of it. With Aaron’s permission, I arranged to arrive very early on the first morning of the summit (hence the early alarms) and join them from there, missing only the welcome dinner. So it was thus that I found myself checking into the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Ray and getting personally driven from the hotel to EALA by Aaron. For those readers of other summit reports, Aaron and I did not, as far as I can tell, go through the emergency “Alarm Will [allegedly] Sound” door.
But we did learn a lot. I can tell you some, but not all, of it in this report (reports of hands-on gameplay experiences need to wait until the middle of July—sorry, not my rules). I’ve sectioned this report up for you; since I’m sure some of you will be drawn to certain parts of it and could not care less about others. Read what you like, and then be sure to come back in the middle of July for a full breakdown of each side in RA3. (Yes, I took copious notes for you guys. You’re welcome.)
Community Manager Aaron "Apoc" Kaufman, who invited us to the summit, and welcomed us once we got there
One final note before we jump into the presentations: in this article, I’m trying to do a bit more than recount exactly what happened. Rather, where possible, and particularly towards the end of this piece, I’ll try to analyze it a bit for you. In essence, I believe EA invited twenty-plus people so they could get that many points of view. So my goal here is not to relay everything exactly as it happened, but to also provide some context for it and analyze what it means for the final version of the game. I believe that EA didn’t invite me to be a cheerleader—there are plenty of people capable of offering encouragement that lived closer. My goal when I was there was to ask many tough but fair questions about things that weren’t merely superficial, but instead got to the core of game development in general, Red Alert 3 in particular, and items of interest to fans most of all.
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Adding Depth to the Game
Part 3: Sound Immersion and Music
Part 4: SAGE Audio and Medieval Times
Part 5: The Ritz Carlton (and its guests) and the C&C Website
Part 6: Worldbuilder and Modding
Part 7: Community Presentations
Part 8: Conversations with Developers and Conclusions