Derelict Studios is based on modding though, thus this’ll be a much more serious look at C&C3’s modding, what we may see for RA3 and what we should see for RA3.
C&C3 has a robust SDK, and has had strong community support (largely due to Apoc’s efforts). Why then, is its modding community nowhere near as healthy as Generals’s (which never had an official SDK)? There are two reasons;
The first was that by the time there was an SDK, many of those who’d have been interested in using it…would’ve moved on to other games. In fact, we didn’t even see a C&C3 SDK until nearly half a year after C&C3 was released.
The second (and much more important) reason is that the SDK has a very high barrier to entry which blocks the majority of new modders from even attempting to tweak the game. In order to even make a simple “all units cost $1” mod, players have to know how to use the command prompt to compile the mod. Not only that, but in order to use the SDK, you had to hunt down several essential files that weren’t included with the SDK (due to legal reasons).
All of this means no newbies, and little potential for growth.
Kane’s Wrath SDK
First off, let me make it clear that I’m in the camp that doesn’t want a Kane’s Wrath SDK. Instead, if EA got the resources to create one, I’d prefer them to be spent patching some of KW’s features back into C&C3 (such as the improved APC logic).
Why is the KW SDK taking so long? EA didn’t make Kane’s Wrath. Oh sure the box says EA, the videos show EA employees but take a look at the credits. Notice the disproportionate amount of EA employees to those under the section titled “Breakaway Games”. This is the company that EA farmed out much of KW’s work to (and who also did the BFME2 expansion).
If EA made KW, then updating and releasing the SDK would’ve been much easier. However, they didn’t and it takes a great deal more work for them to re-patch in the SDK features they made for C&C3.
Red Alert 3 SDK
At the summit, a few things were mentioned about the potential RA3 SDK. The main thing is that EA is already stating they are aiming to release it “around the launch window”. This means after the game is released, and keep in mind…they said the same exact phrasing months prior to C&C3’s release. However, the difference here is that RA3 itself does seem to be much further along than C&C3 was at this point in its development.
One of the developers mentioned that they had a couple of ideas how to get around the need to compile.
Mastermind (longtime community modder) has also been hired by EA recently, and part of his duties will be in doing mod-support related work. It’s unknown what this means exactly, but it is a very good sign.
A wishlist for the RA3 SDK;
- Everything that C&C3’s SDK has
Include all the dll’s this time
Allow modders the option to run uncompiled XML’s (as well as compiled)
Include the ParticleFX editor
Allow for some sort of debug mode
Include the UI editor (which is unlikely to happen, due to legal reasons…)
Red Alert 3 World Builder
The World Builder presentation at the RA3 Summit was enlightening, in fact it very clearly brought home the point in how all of the flaws the C&C3 World Builder could’ve been caught before it left EA. All that was needed was for someone at EA to;
- Load the World Builder on a non-developer PC.
To me, the most interesting part about RA3 mapping is how much simpler it is than C&C3’s. Most RA3 maps seem to be started by importing heightmap textures (simple grayscale painted textures) which determine the overall look of the map. RA3, due to the grid system…doesn’t use many hills, so you are left with most maps just being a series of flat plateau’s.
Here is a wishlist for the RA3 World Builder;
- Allow for the imported heightmaps to be bmp files (in addition to the existing tga format)
Allow for certain brushes to paint sections up to a certain height (eg. one that paints terrain exactly to 50 increments high, one to 150, etc.) [to give users a viable alternative to the heightmap option]
List the wall/endpeice height values inside the World Builder (next to each item).
Include an auto-minimap maker with the World Builder.
Allow for users to pick which volume texture, cloud texture, etc. they want from a dropdown scroll menu in addition to the pre-existing file selector.
Have a handy “compile the map” button, inside the World Builder.
(not really world builder) Allow compiled maps to be auto-transferred online.
(not really world builder) Let RA3 load maps from the mydocuments/ra3/maps folder instead of the ultra-hard to find folder that C&C3 uses.
If you have anything to add, or any questions, please reply.