Red Alert: A Path Beyond brings the exciting storyline and epic clashes from the classic Westwood Studios game, Command & Conquer: Red Alert to realm of first person shooters, with a twist. We've remained loyal to the style and feel of the 1996 classic, while integrating content from its expansions Counterstrike and The Aftermath with a bit of updated history to add to the mix. Built off the W3d engine Westwood Studios built for classics such as Earth & Beyond and Command & Conquer: Renegade finished up in 2001, we help bring the fight to you as you play out your role as any one of a number of infantry classes participating in team-based combat that often involves land, sea, and air combined-arms clashes that just don't happen in any other game. Oh, and did we mention it is FREE?
Another update with a technical bent to it, since the first part was well-received. More information on the launcher, code changes and bugfixing that's taking place, changes to the rendering engine, and more.
Posted by Chronojam on Apr 14th, 2013
We'll continue this week with a bit more technical chat and information on what's going on under the hood.
Before that, let me point you to a general Q&A thread about the new launcher. Hopefully it can answer some of the questions people have had, and it's a great place to ask some more. It is in fact going to be an integral part of the new cross-game stats system, allowing you to track your time in a Harrier just as well as your time marching around in a Titan or playing a Thief. You will need to create a forums account if you don't already have one to benefit from this, since it shares your forum account information, but there is no requirement to post.
That turrret AI glitch that was mentioned last week has been fixed, and turrets should no longer appear to continue firing at you once you leave the area. Leafing through recent changes from the engine guys, there is a lot of focus on stability and performance increases. Crash fixes here and there, including some LevelEdit related crashes (so annoying!), client crashes, and server crashes. There was actually a crash (on exit) caused by the beam-type effects, things we use for lightning and lasers. That's fixed too, now.
Some memory leaks plugged up, too; I remember some players liked to restart periodically just in case a while ago. To quote Jonwil on that one, "This may impact on the 'hey, Renegade keeps using memory over time and eventually crashes due to running out' problems people have complained about."
There are now changes to attempt to make the server and client more similar to the scripts code; this is important because during development we always run into glitches that happen in LAN, or only on the test server, etc. That makes it harder to fix.
Something really neat is the introduction of SSE to replace old crap in oft-used functions that tend to be computationally expensive. You can read up on it if you're really into this technical stuff. The gist of it is, things you need to call a lot on a lot of objects can be sped up quite a bit.
Saberhawk's been doing a lot of interesting rendering code improvement recently, and unfortunately, a lot of that you can't see beyond a higher framerate in-game. But he's also implementing some other neat stuff we'd talked about a long while ago that you definitely will see. We're adding a new surface effect for helicopter downwash, so that you can kick up grass and sand or sea spray when you're flying around, close to the ground :) It's hard to say if I'm happier about that, or about LevelEdit being less crash prone.
You might remember that changes to how things get loaded has improved, or at least changed, somewhat. Pre-loading of some assets and all that. There were still "micro stutters" when things are loaded, although Saberhawk pretty much just put out a new test build to correct that.You might also know, especially if you remember Renegade's lagthrowers or caught a ton of particles in the face, that the engine doesn't handle overlaid particles.
Senor Hawk has some improvements for that, too, that makes it a lot less intensive to handle overlapped particles, particularly those that share the same textures. That's great news, since a lot of them do (especially ones that are generated in bulk) and many of the new effects Fabian made for the latest version share materials. You might've noticed that a lot of effects in the original game used one single "effects master" file, e_master.dds; doing so will now have increased performance benefits.
Alright, so TT is also adding support for a lot of per-map settings. One of these is per-map surface effects files, so if your map takes place on Mars or needs some custom effects, you can add them in. We'll be releasing an updated Maps & Mods SDK soon, maybe concurrently with the next project release. Included will be a newer version of W3DView with stability improvements, W3D renaming utility, and maybe a couple more things. And, if we do put it out concurrently with the next release, some new sample stuff so you can have a better idea how to make things.
Here's another mystery console (made by ChopBam) for you to think about. It should look familiar if you remember some of the cutscenes from the original game, which is also why the last mystery console might've called up some Red Alert memories. They're both for new buildings, which is why this one is clearly Soviet and the last one was an Allied theme.
There's actually a whole pile of work that's been done for new gameplay mechanics for Tiberian Sun: Reborn that I could've excitedly posted about, but we'll let that wait for their own next update for now. Some of it's more atmospheric than the rest, but it's all great stuff.