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In the belly of the Beast


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#1
Jarett

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Back in December of 2006, Geoff and I received an unexpected invitation from EA to visit their LA studio for a "community summit" and check out Command & Conquer 3 a few months prior to its release. I won't deny my hesitation towards the offer; not only was I questioning their motives but I had recurring visions of their entranceway being adorned with goat heads. In the end, a free vacation to check out an unreleased new C&C game was something we could just not pass up. It turns out the entrance looks like this:



Most of our time there was spent learning about the creation of the game and the cinematics, or discussing the technology used and community features... generally stuff I don't much care about but most people do. Then we had a few hours of hands-on time with the game in multiplayer and were asked to provide our feedback - stuff like "does it feel C&C?" "is it fun?" etc. What they got from us was a full page of UI, gameplay and balance suggestions.

Fast forward one year to December 2007 and I receive an email inviting me to "balance test" the upcoming C&C3 expansion "Kane's Wrath". This time there will be no presentations or mentions of single-player anything - just straight up "play the shit out of this game for 4 straight days against great players and give us your feedback". Now a probably unnecessary confession here: I'm a "fan" of the Command and Conquer series. It was the franchise that made me fall in love with the RTS genre and I'm forever attached. I also happen to enjoy multiplayer RTS at the competitive level. So when asked to stay a week in L.A. in a 5-star hotel, during sub-zero weather at home, to play a new C&C non-stop for 4 days with the world's top players, there really wasn't a choice to be made.

Here was my "office":



We'd play from about 08:00 to 17:00 every day, then have a one-hour discussion amongst ourselves followed by a one-hour discussion with the devs. After being fed for the 12th time that day, we'd retire back to the Hotel du Pimp and play SSBM until exhaustion set in. The next morning we'd arrive to discover a new build of the game incorporating our suggestions. By weeks end, we had done our job and cured the game of many "OMG IMBA!!" strats.

A month later I received another email inviting me back for round 2. So off I was again to L.A. to spend more time in the room of pwnage:



Another 50 hours of Kane's Wrath gameplay (and another 12 hours of SSBM) later, the game was in a shape that put its earlier incarnations to shame. I can't speak for the single player aspect, but as it stands (or stood when we left it) it's definitely an improvement over the original in multiplayer. As someone who's spent a ridiculous amount of time throughout their life dissecting gameplay for nothing but fun, the opportunity to work in that environment and help improve the quality of a new C&C game was just super fucking cool.



left to right: WCG USA champ "ReLaTiViT", embedded QA tester "Jason", embedded QA tester "Nate", "AGMLauncher" of gamereplays.org, WCG USA runner-up "KhuFu", me, the infamous "fox333", and WCG World champ "d.Apollo"

#2
UDP

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1st. Sounds like you had a pleasant surprise to me.

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Yeah, he doesn't understand. It's not your post count, it's MAKING YOUR POSTS COUNT!

 


#3
Killswitch571

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Great Post!!

Looks really awesome

#4
Tree_

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But the real question is... Did you hold your own against all those guys? icon_lol.gif

#5
Blackened

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What i'd give to have that invitiation. Sounds like a good time.

The game was good I hope?

#6
slapcorn

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I hope you know (as you probably do) that you are living a DREAM.
:]

#7
3dozerbuild

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Thats really cool, its amazing how EA comes to the people who started hating on them icon_razz.gif

#8
Anth0ny

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QUOTE (Jarett @ Feb 18 2008, 11:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
After being fed for the 12th time that day, we'd retire back to the Hotel du Pimp and play SSBM until exhaustion set in.

Another 50 hours of Kane's Wrath gameplay (and another 12 hours of SSBM) later, the game was in a shape that put its earlier incarnations to shame. [/size]


FUCKING AWESOME

You really are my hero. icon_biggrin.gif


But seriously, nice article. Sounds like you had a really great time. Also, I'm loving all the articles you and Geoff have been posting recently. Keeps the homepage moving.

I beat Jarett in Tetris. Once. Then he beat me four times straight. But still, I beat him once!

#9
Darkapoc

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QUOTE (Tree_ @ Feb 19 2008, 03:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But the real question is... Did you hold your own against all those guys? icon_lol.gif


What Tree said,

I would like to know ^_^


QUOTE (Master C @ Feb 16 2008, 10:57 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If a girl ever tells a you what to do, regardless of the circumstances, you should totally back hand her across the face.

Just to remind her of her place.

#10
Tuffins

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Nice to know the expansion will have PurePwnage integrated right into it icon_biggrin.gif

#11
pickupstix60

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Jarett, that's reallyfuggincool! Pretty ironic how "suckin mah balls" EA asked you to do all this fun stuff. icon_wink.gif

btw thanks for all the blog posts, I really enjoy reading them.

#12
AlbenoEpiX

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QUOTE (Jarett @ Feb 18 2008, 11:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Another 50 hours of Kane's Wrath gameplay (and another 12 hours of SSBM) later, the game was in a shape that put its earlier incarnations to shame. As someone who's spent a ridiculous amount of time throughout their life dissecting gameplay for nothing but fun, the opportunity to work in that environment and help improve the quality of a new C&C game was just super fucking cool.


Game balance tester sounds like the best job, honestly I am dripping with envy.
Did you get payed for all the work you did though? Or was it sorta voluntary.

QUOTE (Tree_ @ Feb 18 2008, 11:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But the real question is... Did you hold your own against all those guys? icon_lol.gif


Yeah, how did you go against them, I'm interested to know.



#13
KragNaroK

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very pro man
did u get to keep the XPS?
and which testicle did u fork over for the privilage?

#14
ovt123

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What an awesome story jarrett, It's great to hear that you had some input into C&C3 and somewhat sculpted it icon_smile.gif

#15
talok iv

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Nice!

Hopefully you got to take home one of those badass comps icon_wink.gif

#16
Gillz

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Wow, excellent!

Glad to see they took the right path to their expansion. I was shocked to see they brought in good competitive players (As well as yourself) and worked with the game to make it a lot better.

I'm waiting for ID to do that for their next Quake game, it's a shame Epic didn't make the same move with UT3, but epic can suck MY balls when it comes to that.

Looks very clean and professional there. Nice =)

#17
DethFanatic

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It'd be cool to think that Jarett held his own against those people..wow top players like Relativit, Khufu, and d.apollo wouldve been great to meet, tbh.

How did the new sub-factions feel? Did they finally balance Beam Cannons icon_razz.gif ?

How did the new units add fresh depth to the gameplay? Were the vanilla factions buffed to still be useful?

#18
Atholon

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Thats fucking awesome! I Can't wait for the game! Its nice to know the game was fixed by the pros.


On a side note..
They should get you to help design RA3

#19
KuroFalcon

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So this ball is E and this ball is A, their pretty big balls.

QUOTE (Mares @ Aug 22 2008, 08:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
kuro is MY LOVABOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


#20
Lord Panzerfaust

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dayum another blog...did you l2makeblogs all the sudden? icon_razz.gif



anyway, that is great to see you and the other pros help make game companies make better games because i think i will speak for everyone that if there weren't any good games then we wouldn't be gamers, also vice versa to EA. I use to be a 'EA is evil' type company but now i see that they 'sorta still' care for their games to be good.


Im a big n00b at CnC3 and pretty much RTS in general but hopefully with the expansion i hopefully make it fun for me and make me better in RTS i will thank you for doing that for me plus all the other things you have done.....o shi- i forgot geoff icon_razz.gif




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