C&C Labs News Wire

— Wednesday, May 30, 2007 —

Posted By: Blbpaws at 2:35:53 PM ET

No Patch Until Next Week

Community Manager Apoc has posted news saying the patch has been delayed. In part:
So, I know it's been a bit of continued ruckus here late in May and everyone has been anticipating patch 1.05 just about more than Kane himself appearing at your doorstep, though, if you could get both at the same time, i'm sure that would be amazing. Patch 1.05 has been an enduring process, primarily because it is a massive patch with tons of technical fixes, a myriad of game-changing balance fixes, new UI features like alternate classic C&C mouse-setup, and a competitive multiplayer collection of new maps that are bound for success and popularity amongst the community. I think historically we've been known to do big patches, and while we are trying to move away from such epic patches, it was imperative that patch 1.05 included everything which it has.

To that extent, I know we initially said "later this month", but we have had to test this patch to infinity and beyond to ensure it is 10000% clean, especially because of its size. The last thing we want to do is release a patch that affects your game negatively and does not simply fully enhance it in a 100% technical manner. We were on track to release patch 1.05 in late-May, however, last week we hit some technical snags before the Memorial Day Holiday weekend which set us back a number of business testing days within our QA department. This was not our intent but had we released patch 1.05 with these issues, it would not have been a very positive situation.

Because of this, we are moving the patch 1.05 release to next week. A little producer bird tells me the 1st half of the week is the better case scenario, but as all things go, we'll keep you posted. We feel very confident on release next week. Our QA department is about to sign off (barring the Apolocalypse) and then the patch will be put through the final CQC and ECG approval routes (they are just a final testing gate that any EA game or patch must go through). Standard testing fare as always.
Producer Chris Corry chimes in as well about patching and future updates:
Great games require great support, and we have a lot of stuff in the hopper. The Mod SDK has been in development for quite some time and is looking good. Our plans for a quick 1.06 follow-up patch are starting to take shape, and then we’ve got some stuff coming in July that I think is really going to rock your world.

There can be a tendency amongst the cynics to think of EA as the huge, monolithic Borg, with boundless resources and insatiable greed. This is not the EA I work for. Our teams are autonomous, largely responsible for our own community engagement, and composed of gamers – real people, just like yourself – who are passionate about playing and making great games. We make mistakes just like everyone else, but at the end of the day we make our games for you and won’t be happy until you’re satisfied.
In general, I don't think something like this is surprising. The patch is, after all, huge. Yes, it is in large part huge because the game never went through a full beta, according to the Executive Producer, Verdu, but it's still not reasonable to expect EA to magically be able to avoid bugs. On the whole, though, I think Chris's statement is telling: development teams might be passionate, and indeed are becoming more responsible, but the shots at EA are called by the higher level managers, and its their duty to the shareholders to make profits trump all else. As C&C 3 develops, don't forget that.

— Sunday, May 27, 2007 —

Posted By: Blbpaws at 7:10:55 PM ET

New Tiberian Dawn Mod Blog

The fifth blog of the Tiberian Dawn mod has been posted, and it shows some nice models and gives some info about the mod. For those who aren't familiar with the mod, it aims to faithfully recreate the universe of the original Command and Conquer in C&C 3. They've gotten a bit of a jump on C&C 3 modding, and already have some models and concept art done.

You can read the blog here.

— Saturday, May 26, 2007 —

Posted By: Blbpaws at 7:46:25 AM ET

Comments From EA

First, Greg Black, the lead balance designer, commented a bit more about the shared ground control being implemented in patch 1.05:
Greg Black (EALA): I can confirm that players will only be able to share ground control around each other's Construction Yards (or Drone Platforms in the Scrin's case). This means, if you and I are on a team, you may build a War Factory (or any other structure) near my ConYard if you wish. Then you could place additional structures around that War Factory as desired. However, if I built a War Factory on the edge of my base, you would not be able to build anything on the additional ground control provided by that War Factory--you'd still be limited to the radius around my ConYard. In other words, only three structures will provide shared ground control in team matches: the GDI Construction Yard, the Nod Construction Yard, and the Scrin Drone Platform. Players can build additional MCVs or Drone Ships to gain additional areas of shared ground control, but their "Mini MCVs" (Surveyors, Emissaries, and Explorers) will not provide shared ground control when unpacked.

All this means players would not easily be able to team up on base-creeping tactics. This is similar to how the feature worked in previous C&C games, where you could build off of an ally's ConYard, but not off of his other structures. I previously suggested in this thread that players may be able to "hop-scotch" with their structures, so I wanted to post this as an update, clarification, and correction. We'll be keeping an eye on your feedback about this feature once you've had a chance to play with it; we think you'll like it and wouldn't have added it otherwise.

Second, Community Manager Aaron Kaufman commented on the patch's release date:
I don't want to commit to a date until our QA has signed off, and right now we're on track with that and are looking good for later this month. Sorry guys, I've burned this bridge once and won't do it again. I'll tell you the date when I am certain, but what I am confident of is, later this month (May 2007).

UPDATE: We are still on track for later-this-month which does translate right now to late-May. I will do my best to give you guys a concrete update by Monday (May 28) on the exact day and timing.

— Monday, May 21, 2007 —

Posted By: Mike at 8:38:27 PM ET

Article: An Intro to Game and Mod Design

Blbpaws, the Mod Manager here at Generals World and Lead Designer of the CnC All Stars mod, has written an in-depth article that provides perspective on the basic design process of a mod, or indeed any game.  The article covers not only each step of the design process - the role of the designer, the initial design document, and the need for playtesting-induced revisions - but also delves into some of the theories underlying game balance and design. 

Blbpaws uses the All Stars mod and Command & Conquer 3 as case studies to illustrate important points: the need for variety and the effect of product goals on design. Here are a couple clips from the article that I felt deserved special attention:

On All Stars Slave Miner rushes...
It is only through consistent testing, breaking your own design by pushing it to its limits, that you can discover things you might want to change. For instance, in All Stars we tweaked our design for nearly two years based on games we played while we were finishing some art. Many of these changes came about because people tried things that were unexpected but that we wanted to know about and address — for instance, I once used a Slave Miner rush to control a map and win a game!
On balance...
A term I like but rarely hear used in game design is equilibrium. It, too, conveys a sense of equality, but also, at least scientifically, implies a state of constant change or motion. Essentially, what it means is that in one circumstance, something might be slightly unbalanced or tilted in favor of one extreme, but in another circumstance, it might be slanted in the other direction and then everything will even out in the long-term. A skilled player, therefore, is not just a person who can click very quickly and micromanage (though, good game design definitely brings that out in players), but one who can tilt the existing system to gain an advantage, meaning that they win more games...
On the design of C&C 3...
It's perfectly reasonable for someone to look at All Stars, think it’s too complicated or not for them, and play something else. As a designer who's not in it for money, it's mostly irrelevant to me whether All Stars get X thousand downloads or X + 5 thousand downloads. The team is creating the mod for fun, and as such, will create what it wants to create. The designers of C&C 3, understandably, are in a different boat. They do it for a living, which is at once empowering and restrictive. They are paid to make games that sell, not necessarily games that are fun. It's two different types of game design, and if you look at the design of quality mods in development across the community and the design of C&C 3, in my view, it shows.
You can read the article in it's entirety here: An Intro to Game and Mod Design. It's broken down into sections, so you can jump to a relevant section of interest if you wish or you can read it in parts - enjoy!

An Introduction to Game and Mod Design by Blbpaws
Part One: An Introduction to the Elements of Game Design
Part Two: An Introduction to Balance
Part Three: Creating Variety: All Stars as a Case Study
Part Four: How Goals Affect Balance: C&C 3 as a Case Study
Part Five: The Art of Playtesting

— Monday, May 21, 2007 —

Posted By: Mike at 10:58:32 AM ET

Content Updated

We've updated a number of content pages over the past week and have even added some new ones. Here's a quick overview of what's new at Generals World.

As you can see, our commitment to Generals remains strong even as we cover Tiberium Wars more and more. If you're interesting in contributing to Generals World, click here to learn how you can.

Last edited by MicScoTho on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 4:34:28 AM.

— Thursday, May 17, 2007 —

Posted By: Blbpaws at 6:28:31 AM ET

Greg Black Interviewed

Our affiliate GameReplays has interviewed the Lead Balance Designer for C&C 3, Greg Black about the upcoming patch. Here's a snippet:
Gamereplays.org: Some of the more general changes you have promised for 1.05 involve making the economy boom less severe, making the tank rush less severe, and getting infantry in the mix. Now that you've had the chance to watch hundreds of replays since then, do you have a better idea of how you're going to go about implementing each of those changes?

Greg Black: Having already completed the balance part of the balance patch, yes I have a pretty good idea about what we’re going to do. So far our internal testing shows a lot more unit mixing and diversity of strategies, even on maps like Tournament Arena. I’ll hold off on citing specific changes for now.

Gamereplays.org: Can you give a firm(-ish) release date for the patch?

Greg Black: We are targeting mid-late May, but you’ll need to get APOC’s firm word on the exact release date. Trust me when I say that I’m as anxious as anyone for this patch to come out. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll go yell at the producers right now.
You can read the full thing here.

— Thursday, May 10, 2007 —

Posted By: Mike at 6:59:58 PM ET

Upcoming Patch 1.05 Change Notes

Community Manager Aaron "APOC" Kaufman has posted a list of the changes slated for C&C 3 Patch 1.05 on the Official C&C Forums.

I should emphasize that these are major changes to the game and that for many of the changes we'll have to see how everything interacts before we can fully judge the balance implications. In terms of exploits, I know many of you will be happy to see that all known exploits (to my knowledge) will be fixed as well. Here are a few of the broader noteworthy changes:
  • Many significant balance changes
  • Classic Command & Conquer left-click orders mouse setup option
  • 4 new multiplayer/skirmish maps have been added, two of which are tournament maps
  • Online map transfer bug for certain custom fan maps fixed
  • Online multiplayer loading screens now show a snapshot of the selected map and statistics for each player
  • In team-based matches, allied players now share ground control, allowing them to build structures in each others' bases
  • Fixed an error that will now make it easier for certain structures to be placed
  • Some campaign missions tuned and rebalanced
Patch 1.05 is going through QA testing at EA and is slated to be released later this month. I've posted the patch changes here on the Generals World Forums for your discussion.

» Upcoming Patch 1.05 Change Notes
Last edited by Mike on Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 11:32:41 PM.

— Thursday, May 10, 2007 —

Posted By: Blbpaws at 5:09:39 PM ET

New Poll and Poll Results

I updated the poll today. Here are the results of the last one. It seemed to be a dead heat between GDI and the Scrin, yet most of the top C&C 3 players use Nod's rush tactics.
If any, which side is strongest in C&C 3?
The Scrin
Total Votes: 1026

— Thursday, May 10, 2007 —

Posted By: Mike at 1:45:26 PM ET

C&C 3 Map Manager v1.0.1

I've released a new version of the C&C 3 Map Manager today. Version 1.0.1 fixes a couple bugs that prevented fans who had maps with invalid mini-map files installed from using the program. The complete change-log can be found here.

» Download C&C 3 Map Manager (0.6 MB)
» Download C&C 3 Map Manager w/ .NET Framework 2.0 (26.9 MB)

Users who have already installed C&C 3 Map Manager once only need to download the small 0.6 MB file listed above, not the full version with the .NET Framework.

» Map Manager Discussion Thread

— Thursday, May 10, 2007 —

Posted By: Blbpaws at 2:37:36 AM ET

Some More Details on 1.05

Planet CNC has some more details on the 1.05 balance patch due out later this month. It will include the following changes:
  • Fix to make maps transfer correctly
  • Fix to keep mouse in C&C3 window on dual-monitor setups
  • "Classic C&C" mouse control option
  • Various crash/bug fixes
  • Huge balance changes
  • New Maps
  • Engineer & Observer exploit fixes
  • Strict disconnection policy
  • Fixed stats issues
  • Special unlockable salacious wallpapers featuring Kane, Gen. Granger, & Foreman 371
More about the patch in this forum topic.

— Monday, May 7, 2007 —

Posted By: Mike at 9:46:00 AM ET

EA RTS Servers Back Online

EA Community Manager Aaron "APOC" Kaufman reports that the C&C 3, Generals, and BFME servers for online multiplayer matches are back up and running.  You can read his post in the Official Forums here.

Yesterday late morning we had a very unfortunate outage that required our development team and EA tech assistance to fix together. Admittetedly a Sunday is likely the worst possible day for such an outage to occur when most of us are away from the office or off e- mail.

That said, the problem that was occurring had to do with patch text server being temporarily inaccessible. Our RTS games rely on a number of servers, one of which has to do with the correct patch revision number for all titles. NO, that does not mean a new patch is available, it just has to do with the overall back-end process that you never see when you connect online :o)

I wanted to give a brief technical explanation for those interested. We fixed this immedietly this morning and will ensure that in the event of an emergency such as this, we are on standby. Most often our 24/7 tech support is able to handle a server issue withour assistance, that was not the case this time. Our EA tech service was monitoring the situation as expected, it just took some added help from us to close the issue.

Sincere apologies for the server breakdown, lesson learned, and we will make sure this does not happen again for an extended period of time. Sorry about this guys.

— Sunday, May 6, 2007 —

Posted By: Blbpaws at 1:18:27 PM ET

C&C 3 Servers Down

Just a note to those of you looking to play C&C 3: the servers appear to be down, and have been all afternoon. As expected EA's been all over the issue, clearing it up as soon as possible.

Just kidding. :) There's been no response whatsoever as of now, except to delete posts on the forums that speculate about the patch. For those of you who think the patch is coming out today, I doubt it, because most EA patches are released on Mondays or Tuesdays. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, looks like no C&C 3 online.

Edit: Sources also indicate that Generals Online and Battle for Middle Earth servers are down as well.

Second Edit: EA is now aware of the issue, as indicated by this post on the official forums. I should point out that Generals, Zero Hour, BFME, and C&C 3 severs are all powered by GameSpy, so it would seem that this downtime isn't strictly EA's fault. Online play servers for these games have been down since Sunday morning.

Last edited by Mike on Monday, May 7, 2007 at 11:34:14 AM.

— Tuesday, May 1, 2007 —

Posted By: Mike at 8:03:49 AM ET

Map Manager for C&C 3

C&C 3 Map ManagerGenerals World is proud to announce the release of the C&C 3 Map Manager. Map Manager allows you to manage the custom C&C 3 fan maps you have installed for Tiberium Wars. C&C 3 Map Manager streamlines the process of installing custom maps: now you can install maps from fansites without having to delve into your computer's folders to find just the right place to put them. Just select the downloaded map's .zip file, and Map Manager installs the map for you.

Map Manager also provides detailed information about the maps that you already have installed. A mini-map view lists each map with its mini-map image, so that you can easily identify maps visually. A details view shows your maps in a list format along with information about the maximum number of players for each map, each map's dimensions, and whether or not the map is an official map released by EA.

Downloaded a map you don't like? With one strike of the delete key, Map Manager will remove unwanted maps from your system.

For more information about C&C 3 Map Manager, including screenshots of the program, click here.

» Download C&C 3 Map Manager (0.5 MB)
» Download C&C 3 Map Manager w/ .NET Framework 2.0 (26.8 MB)

Map Manager requires the Microsoft.NET Framework v2.0, freely available from Microsoft.

  • Two Views: Details View & Mini-Map View
  • Imports maps from .zip files and folders
  • Deletes unwanted maps
  • Displays details about maps that are installed
  • Open maps directly for editing in Worldbuilder
  • Show map's on-disk location in Windows Explorer
  • Windows Vista compatible
Last edited by Mike on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 12:18:21 PM.