By: chickendippers, June 2008
Between the 11th – 13th of June 2008 EA held the Red Alert 3 Community Summit, in which community leaders from around the world were invited to the C&C headquarters in EA’s Los Angeles studios to preview the latest instalment in the Red Alert series. A community summit has become somewhat of a custom and CnCWorld has been in attendance at the previous two; Battle Form Middle Earth 2 and C&C3: Tiberium Wars, this time however I was able to make the trip and had an awesome time.
As with previous events everyone has signed a Non Disclosure Agreement that prevents us from revealing anything about what we saw, I am now able to tell you about the event (we didn’t just play RA3 for 3 days), but I’ll be able to release information about the game itself in about 3 weeks time.
I was actually flown out to LA a day before the event started; this was somewhat of a surprise being the only guy walking around in a t-shirt and jeans surrounded by business types. But I did not waste my day; I spent my time exploring the area around the Ritz Carlton Marina del Ray and nearby Venice Beach:
By the evening everyone had arrived and we headed off to ‘The Terrace’ for a welcome meal and a chance to get to know the people behind the nicknames! It wasn’t terribly exciting so onto the juicy stuff!
The second day started bright and early with convoy of taxis 5 minutes down the road to the LA studios; I can’t deny I was psyched to see the people hard at work making our beloved games!
I didn’t take that many photos of the studios as Cabal took a pretty exhaustive portfolio on his last visit and you can browse them here suffice it to say it looks like a pretty cool place to work.
Into the theatre that was to be our base for the summit, for some introductions and an explanation of the ground rules from Apoc we were introduced to Chris Corry, Greg Black and a few others (my apologies for forgetting your names guys) who introduced us to Red Alert 3, its aims and talked us through the design process of the new units. We were then given a live walkthrough of the game; details will of course come in my second report, but here’s something to wet your appetite:
The First Match
The first non-EA employees in the world to play Red Alert 3 were Sonic (CNCNZ.com) and JohnWE (CNCFiles.com) who were randomly chosen to face off in a network match. It was interesting to see JohnWE emerge victorious as neither player had any experience with the factions or units!
Greg Black then faced off against JohnWE, rather predictably Greg was the victor as he actually knew what the units did rather than any lack of ability on John’s part.
Where It Happens
We were then taken on a tour of the forth floor, which really is the C&C floor; one half houses the Red Alert 3 development team and the other half is where the Tiberium guys are based. Unfortunately this was strictly a no pictures area, but it felt pretty relaxed and well laid out; instead of cramped cubicles everyone worked in rather spacious hexagons.
Then back downstairs to the theatre were Greg Kasavin presented on Unit Design.
Even Chen gave us a presentation on producing unit sounds for Red Alert 3 using the Apocalypse Tank as an example.
This presentation by Michael Patriana showed off the power of the SAGE engine’s audio capabilities.
Command & Conquer Online
The C&C guys know the forums suck (as a moderator I gave a little cheer, having to deal with them on a daily basis is a pain).
In the next presentation we were shown WorldBuilder for Red Alert 3 and we really gave the team a roasting because the Mod SDK and WorldBuilder are both notoriously un-newbie-friendly, they really did leave with their tails between their legs!
At the end of our last day we all gathered in a meeting room along with a bunch of the developers for a feedback session in which they grilled us for our opinions on what we’d seen, what we thought of everything and any weird bugs we’d encountered.
We weren’t sat in a theatre playing Red Alert 3 and being lectured to for 3 days solid, Apoc laid on some fun stuff to keep us amused.
First was our evening trip to Medieval Times, a medieval-themed restaurant with ‘knights’ putting on a show of jousting, sword fighting etc. It was certainly a novel experience and with David Silverman acting as cheerleader for the Red Knight it was a blast!
We also got to take part in a voice competition; recording a bear growl, death sound and Tesla Trooper voice line for the campaign. This was documented by the BattleCast Primetime guys and hopefully you’ll get to see my attempts in June’s episode…we don’t know who won yet, but HeXetic certainly looked the part with his many Russian hats.
We also had a look in the Command & Conquer TV studio, as with all TV studios it’s actually much smaller than it appears. The studio is located just outside the theatre in the room that had held previous summits; it’s a permanent setup and I was very impressed. Apoc’s corner is not so permanent, I can let you in on a little secret that it is in fact a very portable Ikea shelf combined with liberal lashings of C&C memorabilia that means Apoc can bring you the latest community news on the road!
During the event David and Raj also had their C&C3 rematch; I stepped into the studio to take a look and it was the funniest sight to behold; hearing David trash talking constantly (although I think he needs some lessons because he wasn’t doing a very good job), Raj was concentrating intensely with a definite game-face not saying a lot. I can’t spill the results, but I don’t think there are any surprises.
That’s All Folks
That pretty succinctly covers everything that I saw and did during the Red Alert 3 Community Summit. It was a truly unique and enjoyable experience, if anyone has the chance to attend one in future you simply must go – it’s a blast!
Stay tuned next month for the full lowdown on our hands-on gameplay time, including full details of the Empire of the Rising Sun faction!
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