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Command & Conquer 4 - CommandCOM 2009

Day Three – Final Day - Page 4

I woke up barely after setting two alarms one of my last alarms finally woke me from my slumber and I hastily head down to GameCOM for CommandCOM as I had missed breakfast *whoops*. I checked back into CommandCOM and was once again ushered into the presentation room by Apoc.

C&C Lore with Sam Bass

As I’ve mentioned previously C&C4: Tiberian Twilight is the epic conclusion to this saga of the Tiberium Universe. The Tiberium Universe will not end but this will be the end of the Kane, Nod and GDI Saga. Which had me thinking whats next? Perhaps mankind united against the Scrin? Well who knows time vill tell anyway back onto C&C4 with Sam Bass.
Sam went through the goals he had for C&C4’s story and one of those was to do it as best as he possibly could. What inspired me a bit about C&C4’s story was he has been collaborating with Cypher from PlanetCnC The Community C&C lore expert. One thing that became evident as his presentation went on was that quite a bit of inspiration had been taken from Tiberian Sun for the style and atmosphere for the way the story is told which to me is a good thing as Tiberian Sun is my personal favourite C&C.


Anyway C&C4’s story takes a more serious and darker tone then previous C&C’s and one of the bigger changes is instead of you just being a still camera watching events. The FMV’s will now be shot from a first person view camera which will move interact with characters and equipment on the set. Which to me sounds like an excellent direction for the FMV’s to evolve to, as it will defiantly add another layer of immersion to the game and make you feel part of the world a bit more.

The Story

Tiberium has changed and evolved a bit after the Ion Cannon blast that hit Temple Prime during Command & Conquer 3 which rapidly accelerated Tiberium’s growth across the Earth. The Earth will be entirely uninhabitable for human life by 2068. Kane has been immersed in study on the Tacitus Data Matrix since recapturing it at the end of Kane’s Wrath. He has approached GDI directly with a plan to save humanity. As we have seen in the C&C4 Trailer which this occurred 15 years before the beginning of C&C4 where your role begins in the Fourth Tiberium War. Kane has designed a system enabling the global control of Tiberium into a power source for mankind. Which Sam explained is something you cont construct during a war or when say GDI is actively attacking all your efforts espically since its a global effort. So Kane has approached GDI with a plan to save human kind . Sam put am emphasis that Kane was saving human kind and not GDI I noticed. So it appears Kane is co-operating with GDI only out of necessity to save the species. So a GDI and Nod alliance is formed and people on both sides are uneasy about this after 80 years of war and trying to kill each other peace wont occur overnight.  Your role in C&C4 begins in 2062 for the Fourth Tiberium War.
There has been agitation from extremists on both sides over the years but the alliance has held despite this but remains uncomfortable. There’s mistrust and escalation on both sides, building new weapons and demonstrating them but still the alliance has held. The world is on the cusp of a Golden Age with the Tiberium Control Network offering unlimited energy to mankind. The Tiberium Control Network is on the verge of completion.

Whats Kane Up to?

What caused Kane to turn his back on his beliefs and his goals with Tiberium? The real question we should be asking is what does Kane want in return for saving humanity? Dealing with Kane is like a deal with the devil there will a price. (Perhaps a gift basket with complimentary soaps & shampoo for Kane’s to shave his head with)

The GDI Campaign was originally subtitled “The Men Who Killed Kane” but as the main character for GDI is female Sam decided to settle for “To Kill Kane”. The GDI Campaign is a little more inclusive then the Nod campaign and the focus of the GDI campaign is on dangerous fanaticism behind enemy lines. Sam gave an example as “going Jack Bauer (as in from the TV Show 24)” going off the grid and with the mentality “I know what I’m doing and I’m not listening to anyone”. Sounds like the GDI Commander is going to go a little ‘Renegade’ pun intended we shall see if GDI is a bit more shoot first ask questions later like Havoc. The endings where shot about 2 eeks ago from CommandCOM so the FMV’s shooting are finished I’d imagine they are now being edited.

The Nod campaigns sub title is “All Things Must Dead” its about the truth, who Kane is, what he wants and why. So there will be no mysterious ending for Nod like in Command & Conquer 3 where he fades into a flash of white. C&C4 will reveal the answers we’ve been seeking on Kane since the beginning of Command & Conquer. So we finally get to see whets going on behind the scenes with Kane for once and you will get to know Kane.

The FMV Sets

The mobile Point of View or First Person shooting the team had to completely rethink their shooting style for C&C4. Sam wanted this to be a mobile environment so you can move from place to place which again was something inspired by Tiberian Sun. The key set for the GDI & Nod Campaign’s is the Global Stratospheric Transport or GST. Set design started with concept art, then they had their 3D artists create a mock-up of how the set would look, further concepts were done to flesh out the details and then the sets were created for shooting.
Sam Bass showed us a video of a tour through the C&C4 Set, which featured himself giving us a guided tour of the main set of C&C4 the Global Stratospheric Transport. At the beginning he quickly explained that C&C sets usually consisted of allot of Green screen and blue screen work, however as he walked through the set in the video. The majority of the set is very real as opposed to mostly green screen work in past C&C’s. So this is a cool step and should add a depth of realism especially the seats on the GST are very uncomfortable Sam added. The set contains the Bridge, the Cargo Bay where the Crawlers are kept and various hallways and rooms.
Sam also showed us some test footage from Command & Conquer 3 starring the EA dev team instead of the cast starring Chris Choraz as Kane and I got to say he did it surprisingly well a fun test. Then by comparison Sam showed us test footage for Command & Conquer 4, walking through the halls of EALA. It was a Nod cinematic that was test footage of the new Point of View shooting.
Sam then went on to show us a video that was fairly polished video and may or may not end up in the final game. It started off in a jail cell with someone from GDI who I recognised giving me orders in the single player mission we played the day before. He informs us that someone important wants us out and its better than being down here where you don’t exist. He dismisses GDI personnel nearby and leads you out he’s setup a gap in the security rotation to release you. What I deduce from this video is that it might continue from Tiberium War’s GDI ending  where you used Boyle’s Tiberium Missile on the planet and you’ve been locked up for your crimes and now you are being smuggled out by GDI extremists who want you to work for them. This is only my personal thoughts EA did not confirm any firm story details for C&C4.
They’ve tried to incorporate a real world view to the game, in the missions you have the holograms of your commanding officer’s as well as ground troops reporting things to your attention and adding extra immersion to the game.

The Mission’s

There’s a lot more depth to missions in Command & Conquer 4, there’s the usual primary, secondary objectives but there will also be allot of optional or bonus objectives that are bit more in-depth then C&C3’s bonus objectives. There’s allot more thought going into all the map design’s and Sam also mentioned your tech tree / level is not limited for any levels you play so the design will be taking this into account. The new design philosophy for C&C4 is the choice rests with the player not the game designer, so their trying to give us allot more freedom so the game plays allot more dynamic in the way the objectives are played out and there are multiple solutions. Missions are allot more open world in design too their trying to get away from the linear game play of previous C&C missions. Some improvements to realism in C&C4 is the AI respects visibility, e.g. it has to find you rather then knowing your position, everything you have to do the AI does essentially which sounds a bit fairer.


Design with Jason Bender

Jason Benders talk on game design was taking a hard look at the Command & Conquer series and he talked about the new direction with C&C4. One of the goals of the design focus for C&C4 is game play clarity. Jason used an example of a given map in C&C3 and asked how many refinery’s do you need and where do you put them to do well. Now only players who have played the map and the game allot will have any idea on this, newer players  might not even build more then one refinery. Jason referred to this as one of the pitfalls within the existing C&C franchise which I’d agree it takes a long time for new players to get good at C&C. So the thinking with Command & Conquer 4 is, how can we make C&C more available to newer player’s and still keep it enjoyable for the existing fan base.

EALA also wanted to explore the Tiberium World a bit more, and also create a game play that expands and keep new experiences occurring allowing for longevity for C&C4. So the world of customisation for RTS has been explored thoroughly for C&C4 and quite a few comparisons to RPG were made throughout this process. They also wanted to have people playing together so Co-Op makes a return for C&C4 however it wont be enforced like Red Alert 3. Instead of a AI Co-Commander the Co-Op is Opt-In. So you ether play by yourself or with a friend which I prefer as a personal preference I see this as an improvement to the Co-Op for C&C.
The Factions, GDI vs Nod there is a strong focus on GDI and Nod fighting each other in this fourth Tiberium War and they want to get this right. Now as for a third faction will there be the Scrin? Jason mentioned they are defiantly giving the Scrin consideration for C&C4 but could not reveal if they make will make appearance or not in C&C4.

Making C&C more visually user friendly was another design change. For instance GDI and Nod there are distinct looks for Lasers, Rocket Launchers, Cannon’s etc. So the aim here is because C&C4 has so many units and customisations. Just by looking at a unit you will be able visually see what weapons/armaments it has before it even fires. Which I think is important for a game with allot of unit choices and customisations like this.
The Crawler is essentially the MCV 50 years in the future with a War Factory built in but it also does more for example when its deployed it heals units within its radius. Because Crawlers are customised to suit your play style there will also be visual differences between most of the crawlers giving a player’s identity onto the crawler their avatar you could say. Upgrades there are dozen of upgrades for units, structures and your crawler and there are support powers as well. Resource’s time is your resource in C&C4 and Tiberium is more your victory condition you could say so this makes build time, command points and player attention important in C&C4.

Interestingly early in C&C4’s design there were originally 5 class’s instead of 3 there where the: Assault, Support, Heavy, Defence and Raider. Raider was like a stealth class that would have sneaky tactics clock & dagger hit and run stuff. Which was modelled after the play styles of player’s but after testing these class’s aspects of each where rolled into the three class’s. Essentially the game play was tested and boiled down to three distinct class’s the Offense, Support, Defence.
Domination Mode 5 vs. 5, interestingly Jason mentioned Battlefield and Team Fortress when explaining domination mode which was exactly what I was thinking of when I played C&C4 Multiplayer mode. The aim of domination mode is to allow every player to enjoy the game but still have a decent impact on what happens in the game. So if you have 2 good players and 3 players that are new to the game you can still win that match and the 3 players can enjoy themselves. Whereas if you had 2 vs 2, if you got teamed with a new player you are doomed. So Domination mode was well thought out with the player’s fun in mind.

Custom Match

This is a multiplayer mode where EALA will be taking feedback from the Community and be creating new game play modes to try out in Custom Match. So lets say you wanted a Tower Defence mode or something it can be created and tested out in Custom match area. If it proves popular it will stick around. Custom Match is like an experimental playground for C&C4 after its release to offer players new things. So if you got ideas hit up C&C4’s forums now.
Respawning the idea behind respawning and launching a new crawler to the battlefield stemmed from the fact that when you play a game and you die your done. If your playing a team match and you lose then you have to wait 30mins or an hour just watching for your team mate to finish. But in C&C4 you wait your respawn penalty time and respawn to try and turn the tides of battle keeping C&C4 action packed to the last minute of the match. Which I found very true indeed when I played multiplayer later.

Career Mode

Now as you should know if you’ve been following C&C4. You earn experience by playing single player, skirmish, multiplayer etc. Anytime you play you are earning experience to unlock and customise your faction with new stuff. However one new thing Jason revealed was that each faction has a separate experience meter. So if you play GDI and unlock all its experience by playing heaps but if you play as Nod it will still be level 1. I think this is fair since experience should reflect how well you know the faction your playing rather then the game as a whole I think this is a good move and also gives people something to do when they max out one faction’s experience.
Player matching is based on levels so you will be paired with people of a similar level to you. Players can also be matched with AI players if they choose to XP grind or comp stomp as a team. EALA will be focusing allot more on map quality in C&C4 then ever before and I think this defiantly shines through in what we’ve seen of the maps so far both in game play and visual appearance/detail. The environments in C&C4 are the best I’ve ever seen in Command & Conquer. Its nice to know EA is putting allot of focus on the auto-matching and improving it.




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