Articles: Red Alert 3 Community Summit 2008: Part 7: Community Presentations

Community Presentations
By: Me, Mastermind, smurfbizkit, JohnWE

Next it came time for the community presentations. There were to be four community presenters: I would go first, Mastermind would discuss Asylum second, smurfbizkit would discuss his mod MidEast Crisis 2 next, and JohnWE would close out with another one of his videos. Unfortunately, I had to catch my plane home, so I had to leave right after my presentation ended and didn’t see the other three. I did see John’s video the night before, but because I know he plans on releasing it to the community as a whole in a few weeks, I will not spoil it or comment on it.

My presentation title was “C&C, Creativity, and the Community.” In essence, it was part promotion, part appeal. I was promoting and highlighting some of our projects, including C&C Labs, C&C All Stars and The Forgotten. I was also aiming to explain to the development team the benefits of an engaged creativity community and how they could foster one. I have had some experience speaking to big crowds before, so I was not too concerned about that part. I was more concerned that it was 5:15pm on a Friday at the end of a long work week for everyone on the team—they probably would be pretty tired and bored. Throughout the presentation, I tried to keep them engaged by making things mildly humorous. I hope I succeeded. Ask them or ask other community members if you want to know if I did, because I sure do not know.

The dev team at the end of a long work week, waiting for us to arrive

A lot of what I talked about will be revealed to you very soon as we continue to roll out features for C&C Labs, so I will not spoil it. But in essence, my broad points for the community were that we should aim to get people into doing creative things with C&C, then try to move them to more advanced levels. This means providing tutorials for all levels of interested people, and, more importantly, it means providing feedback, both staff-to-user and user-to-user. In addition, we should develop utilities for community members, such as Mike’s excellent Map Manager (which was a big hit with the dev team, it seemed). This will be a big focus for us going forward at C&C Labs.

For the dev team, I tried to explain how increased creativity is directly tied to increased profitability (plenty of corporate overlord jokes included here) and how they could support it. In essence, this means releasing tools on a timely basis, generally on the game’s release day. Also, documentation of those tools is a must, as is intuitiveness (no more hiding maps in Application Data, please!). C&C 3 and more so Kane’s Wrath is the archetype of how not to support creativity, with a five-months-late Mod SDK in the former case, and no Mod SDK and a buggy Worldbuilder in the latter. EA knows how much damage they did with this sort of support—and, if they did not, we certainly told them. It is just a matter of whether or not they dedicate the time and resources to correcting it in the future. Red Alert 3 was not off to a great start from what I could tell.

The dev team as the community members entered the room

That is all I’m going to say about my community presentation, because I don’t think it’s fair for you to hear me critiquing myself. I’m sure others will write about it and mention it and they will have a more neutral point of view on it. I do know that someone, I believe from France, was videotaping the entire thing, so it’s possible a video could surface online at some point for the two of you who really care very much about what I said. If you have questions about community creativity though, or on how it can better be fostered, feel free to send me an email.