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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.

The Journey

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!

EA Bound

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 McBurger Kong civilian structure is in!
  • There are over 12 different locales throughout the game – much more diverse than the Red, Yellow and Blue zone concept.
  • Rain and Snow weather effects are present, however they are purely for aesthetic purposes.

The First Match

The first non-EA employees in the world to play Red Alert 3 were Sonic ( and JohnWE ( 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.

Unit Design

Then back downstairs to the theatre were Greg Kasavin presented on Unit Design.

  • The units are the stars of the game, not the actors so the design team have worked hard to come up with memorable lines and give each unit a distinct characteristic.
  • They didn’t want the Allies to be portrayed just as ‘the good guys’, rather as a level-headed side to contrast with Soviet patriotism. The unit voices will also feature more international voices e.g. In addition to the Spy’s Shawn Connery’s 007 accent the Guardian Tank has a gruffer Vinnie Jones voice.
  • The team created an 87 page unit design document, dedicating an entire page to each unit. In addition to the obvious information on the unit’s function it also included a picture that captured the unit’s characteristic, some possible quotes and amusing animations.
  • The unit rollouts on the official website are based on this document, although greatly elaborated.
  • The unit voices and sound will be added to the unit profiles once they’re added in game.


  • Red Alert 3’s music will have a light, breezy tone in stark contrast to Tiberium Wars, but that’s not to say it’s without tension in the right places.
  • There is no Jukebox
  • Builds upon the context specific music from Generals and TW; they played distinct music for building/exploring early game and different tracks for combat later on.
  • Red Alert 3 will have orchestral music – a first for C&C – resulting in a sneaky music style whilst in the building/exploring state.
  • Switches to a rock style for combat situations, themed per faction whilst staying true to Frank’s style. The Empire will have ?????? style music, Soviet’s take a Dark-NuMEtal approach whilst the Allied sound has yet to be decided, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more traditional rock.
  • Music will be played in by the engine when certain conditions are met, for example if you destroy 5 key structures triumphant marches will start to play indicating your impending victory. Conversely if you loose these key structures you’ll start to hear saddened ‘impending defeat’ music.
  • Campaigns will also have scripted sound in certain points to add emphasis.
  • There were 7-8 composers pitching to compose the game, in the end the team chose 4:
    1. Tim Wynn,
    2. James Hannigan,
    3. Mikael Sandgren (also scored Generals and Kane’s Wrath),
    4. Frank Klepacki.
  • It was this point Frank’s announcement video was played, initially to a stunned silence followed by clapping and cheering from the room! Check out the announcement below:


Even Chen gave us a presentation on producing unit sounds for Red Alert 3 using the Apocalypse Tank as an example.

  • M60 Patton Tank recorded by the Allied Assault development team
  • Combined with the sound of the Staten Island Ferry using a piece of software called a Vocoder.
  • Emphasised the bass to make it sound very heavy, et voila!

SAGE Audio

This presentation by Michael Patriana showed off the power of the SAGE engine’s audio capabilities.

  • Focused on a comparison between BFME2 and Age of Empires 3
  • In the SAGE engine the sounds vary depending on the size of your squad; 5 horses will sound different to 50 and 50 knights sound much more like a crowd than a small group.
  • The unit sounds have echo and reverb added to make it sound like they’re talking to one another and they’re actually on the battlefield – distanced from the commander.
  • Compared with AoE3 in which the unit sounds have little processing and sound like they just came out of the studio.
  • Furthermore games in the SAGE units have a wide variety of quotes whilst AoE3 only has 3.
  • 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).

    • There are definite plans to move away from Jive forums, first they need to work out a migration plan and a way to integrate with the EA login system, so there might be a bit of a wait.
    • In August the C&C team are looking to launch a new ‘franchise portal’ that will better house Tiberium Wars, Kane’s Wrath and future Red Alert 3 content. The current website is very Tiberium orientated.
    • This new website will be owned by the C&C team themselves and hosted by EA rather than Gamespy (as it is now). This is unprecedented within EA!
    • A new (final) Red Alert 3 website will be launched in October.
    • Your C&C persona registered for Tiberium Wars will move forward to Red Alert 3.
    • Due to time restraints the statistics and matchmaking for Red Alert 3 will remain with Gamespy.
    • The next C&C game will use EA’s own system.
    • The guys have some big plans for the new website; making it much more interactive, expandable, and giving you more reason to return:
      • Send messages to friends in-game from the website.
      • Create your own ladders using ‘groups’.
      • A matchmaking service for gamers to help you find a suitable ally for the co-op campaign and to meet like-minded gamers.
      • XML export allowing fans to display statistics on their websites.
      • Integrate Xbox 360 statistics with the website.
      • Comment and rate blogs, news articles, videos, screenshots etc.
    • All these features will be added gradually over time, and I’m sure they’ll come up with more ideas, but it certainly sounds promising!


    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!

    • The maps have a very clear, concise style withy neat roads, cute gardens etc – very little dereliction.
    • Heights are level based, there aren’t any lumps or hilly mountains stopping you building, the difference in terrain level is handled by cliffs and ramps much like Red Alert 2.
    • The grid build system also transfers into WorldBuilder with art pieces snapping onto the grids.
    • Adding water has been greatly simplified as it is to be used much more frequently, although flowing rivers can’t be used.
    • The water level is always 200 units high with base-level terrain at 210.
    • The Open from TGA heightmap tool has finally been fixed; you can create a basic map layout with different heights using Paint by specifying different hues.
    • They’re working to release WorldBuilder and the RA3 Mod SDK as soon after launch as possible. Having Mastermind on the staff in a dedicated mod role should help.

    Feedback Session

    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.

    Fun Stuff

    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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