https://www.openra.net/ OpenRA - News Feed 2018-08-25T21:00:00Z OpenRA developers https://www.openra.net tag:www.openra.net,2018-08-25:/news/playtest-20180825/ Playtest 20180825 2018-08-25T21:00:00Z 2018-08-25T21:00:00Z <p>We are today releasing a <a href="/download">new OpenRA playtest</a> with fixes for various issues reported in <a href="https://www.openra.net/news/playtest-20180729/">playtest-20180729</a>. Thank you to everybody who reported bugs or provided other feedback!</p> <p>Notable changes in playtest-20180825 include:</p> <ul> <li>Improvements and polish fixes for the player accounts system</li> <li>Improved asset detection for community-patched versions of “The Ultimate Collection”</li> <li>Fixed incorrect infantry death screams</li> <li>Fixed crashes related to text input and bots in the lobby</li> <li>Fixed the AI harvester control</li> <li>Fixed units not always returning after being Chronoshifted in RA</li> <li>Fixed crashes in several campaign missions</li> <li>Fixed AppImage compatibility with Linux Mint</li> </ul> <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180825-badges.png" width="600" alt="Updated Badge Selection" /></p> <p>We are now also starting to award special profile badges to players who meet certain criteria.<br />See <a href="https://forum.openra.net/viewtopic.php?f=82&amp;t=20613">this forum thread</a> for more information.</p> </div> <p>This playtest removes a couple of features that were not ready for prime-time, including the threaded renderer performance optimization on Windows. We found that this feature mysteriously interferes with the ability to restore minimized windows from the task bar, but don’t understand why! If you are a programmer with experience in multi-threaded OpenGL and SDL on Windows, please get in touch and help us debug this.</p> <p>See the <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/wiki/Changelog/122c13bd912f00d4e0c75dc6cbb0e0efd4e424d3">full changelog</a> for all of the changes in this playtest, and head on over to our <a href="http://www.openra.net/download/">download page</a> to try it out! We hope that this will be the last playtest before the next OpenRA release, so please report any other issues you know of via <a href="https://forum.openra.net">our forum</a>, our <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/issues">GitHub issue tracker</a>, or in the comments below.</p> tag:www.openra.net,2018-07-29:/news/playtest-20180729/ Playtest 20180729 and other news 2018-07-29T14:00:00Z 2018-07-29T14:00:00Z <p>Hot off the presses, we are pleased to announce a new OpenRA playtest series. With your help, we hope to find and squash any lurking issues and produce a refined release version in a couple of months time.</p> <p>The leading feature in playtest-20180729 is the integration of player accounts using our new <a href="https://forum.openra.net/">OpenRA Forums</a>. This optional feature allows players to:</p> <ul> <li>Confirm their identity to other players without revealing your IP address or location</li> <li>Connect to private clan- or tournament-specific servers without using passwords</li> <li>Add some flair by displaying badges that show their achievements or preferences</li> </ul> <p>Anonymous players continue to be identified by their IP and geo-location.</p> <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180729-profiles.png" width="600" alt="Player Profiles" /></p> <p>Players can add badges to their profile to show their favourite mod, OS, or community achievements.</p> </div> <p>A selection of default badges are available for selection in your forum <a href="https://forum.openra.net/ucp.php?i=232">User Control Panel</a>, and we will individually award badges to players who have contributed to OpenRA’s development or participated in special community events. We hope to extend the profile system in the future to add more features and improve security.</p> <p>Other improvements to the lobby UI include an improved color chooser, the ability to select in text-fields using the mouse, and the game returning to the skirmish/mission/multiplayer panels instead of the main menu after leaving a game.</p> <p>Changes on the battlefield in Red Alert include:</p> <ul> <li>Fixed Iron Curtain and Chronoshift effects being lost when a MCV deploys</li> <li>Added the ability for fake structures to be built next to other fake structures</li> <li>Kill Bounties have been removed from the campaign and disabled by default in MP</li> <li>Tech structures and walls remain on the battlefield when their owner is defeated</li> <li>A collection of <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/wiki/Changelog#ra-balance-changes">community balance changes</a></li> </ul> <p>Kane has also been busy, with changes in Tiberium Dawn including:</p> <ul> <li>Comprehensive changes to reduce the effectiveness of APCs</li> <li>Changes to streamline the power usage of low-tech structures</li> <li>Reduced the amount of time that Jeep, Bike, Buggy, APC wreckage lingers on the battlefield</li> <li>Tech structures and walls remain on the battlefield when their owner is defeated</li> <li>A collection of other <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/wiki/Changelog#cnc-balance-changes">community balance changes</a></li> </ul> <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180729-chronovortex.png" alt="Chrono-vortex" /></p> <p>Chronoshifting MCVs opens strategic options, but beware the chrono-vortex if you cause a paradox!</p> </div> <p>Significant work has occurred behind the scenes to fix crashes, improve performance, and extend capabilities for our modding community. <a href="/news/devblog-20180610/">Our recent news post</a> discussed these topics in much more detail. We encourage modders to view the <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRAModSDK/releases/tag/20180729">SDK release notes</a> and <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRAModSDK/wiki/Updating-to-a-new-SDK-or-Engine-version">update instructions</a> for instructions on how to take advantage of these improvements.</p> <p>This playtest also marks the shift to <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/wiki/Appimages">AppImage</a> releases for our Linux builds. We have also repackaged the last release version as an AppImage, and will update this alongside future playtests if any packaging bugs are found.</p> <p>As always, we suggest you read the <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/wiki/Changelog/c4a2b3411de6c1daf521efe20ba9cbae195fb4f6">full changelog</a> for details on all of the changes included in the playtest. We make these playtests available to get feedback from the community about the future direction of OpenRA, and we value your feedback on <a href="https://forum.openra.net/">our forum</a>, our <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/issues">GitHub issue tracker</a>, or in the comments below.</p> <p>Playtest releases do not overwrite the OpenRA release version, and you can automatically switch between the two versions when joining a multiplayer server. Head over to our <a href="/download/">download page</a> and give it a try!</p> <hr /> <p>In other news, we’d like to congratulate the Shattered Paradise mod team on their <a href="https://www.moddb.com/mods/shattered-paradise/news/shattered-paradise-has-been-released">first public release</a>!</p> <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180729-shatteredparadise.png" alt="Shattered Paradise mod release" /></p> <p>Shattered Paradise pits GDI and Nod against C.A.B.A.L, the forgotten Mutants, and the Scrin invaders.</p> </div> <p>Shattered Paradise is an ambitious mod that transforms OpenRA’s work-in-progress Tiberian Sun mod into a completely new experience – they chose to remove many unfinished and unwanted features, added three new factions, and rebalanced the game with a goal of fluid and fun gameplay.</p> <hr /> <p>Finally, the OpenRA team was <a href="https://motherboard.vice.com/de/article/gy353m/deshalb-sind-gamer-auch-nach-23-jahren-noch-von-command-and-conquer-besessen">recently interviewed by Vice Motherboard</a>, along with Twisted Insurrection and Project Perfect Mod as part of their coverage surrounding the upcoming C&amp;C Rivals game.</p> <p>Due to space constraints only a small portion of our remarks could be included; we make our <a href="/news/vice-interview/">full English responses</a> available, which contains a look back at some of the history of OpenRA.</p> tag:www.openra.net,2018-07-26:/news/vice-interview/ C&C Community Projects Featured on Vice.com (Germany) 2018-07-27T03:00:00Z 2018-07-27T03:00:00Z <p>As part of the coverage surrounding the upcoming C&amp;C Rivals game, <a href="https://motherboard.vice.com/de/article/gy353m/deshalb-sind-gamer-auch-nach-23-jahren-noch-von-command-and-conquer-besessen">Vice Motherboard recently surveyed the various C&amp;C community projects</a>, including OpenRA, Twisted Insurrection, and Project Perfect Mod. Due to space constraints only a small portion of our remarks could be included; our full responses in English are shown below:</p> <h3 id="could-you-introduce-yourself-how-old-are-you-where-do-you-live-whats-your-name-whats-your-role-in-the-openra-project-etc">Could you introduce yourself? (How old are you? Where do you live? What’s your name? What’s your role in the OpenRA project? etc.)</h3> <p>CF: My name is Chris Forbes, and I’m one of the three founding members of the OpenRA project. I’m in my early 30s. I’m originally from New Zealand (the early team were all at university in Wellington together), but currently living in the US.</p> <p>PC: My name is Paul Chote, and I am currently the lead maintainer for OpenRA. Like Chris, I’m in my early 30s and originally from NZ, but now living in the UK.</p> <p>CS: My name is Christian Sattler (known as ‘reaperrr’ in most C&amp;C/OpenRA modding places) and I joined OpenRA gradually in the 2013-2014 time-frame. I’m from Germany and in my early 30s (kind of the standard here, it seems).</p> <p>MBD: My name is Megan Bowra-Dean and I’m another of the founding OpenRA members. I’m also in my early 30s (surprise!) and live in Wellington, New Zealand. I’m not involved in the project at the moment but it is still near and dear to my heart.</p> <p>CA: Caleb Anderson. I have been an on-again, off-again (mostly off lately) contributor since 2009/2010. I kind of exist to spout opinions occasionally and chase people off my lawn. I’m in my mid 30s and am originally from the USA and still live there.</p> <p>JAL: Jonas Abraham Lind, known to the community as SoScared, living in Oslo, Norway. Community fanatic since 2011, organizer of various tournaments, and owner of the Red Alert balance work from 2015 to 2017.</p> <h3 id="what-do-you-do-when-you-are-not-working-on-openra">What do you do, when you are not working on OpenRA?</h3> <p>PC: In the real world I am an astronomer, where I develop and operate robotic telescopes to help discover and characterise objects of interest across several research areas (including exoplanets, compact stars, transient events, and space debris).</p> <p>CF: Outside of OpenRA I’m a software engineer, working on tools and driver quality surrounding the Vulkan graphics API.</p> <p>CS: I’m a tax clerk in real life, dealing with the atrocities of German tax laws (and with people not willing to deal with those themselves, understandably so).</p> <p>MBD: I’m a senior programmer at a mobile and console game studio called PikPok based in Wellington, currently working on a multi-platform title due for release later this year.</p> <p>CA: I run a small software team that builds a whole-slide analysis digital pathology system.</p> <h3 id="what-was-your-first-encounter-with-the-command--conquer-series-and-at-the-time-what-made-the-games-special-for-you">What was your first encounter with the Command &amp; Conquer series? And at the time, what made the games special for you?</h3> <p>CS: In early 1997, my dad bought C&amp;C95. I just saw him play it and instantly fell in love with that game.</p> <p>PC: C&amp;C95 was one of the first PC games that I bought for myself as a kid, and I remember being engrossed by the game and infuriated with the difficulty of some of the missions. I rediscovered the series years later after I stumbled across Red Alert 2 through a friend. After spending far too much time with that game, I went back to fill in the gaps, and continued to follow the later games in the series.</p> <p>MBD: C&amp;C95 was also my first taste. At the time, my family had just upgraded from a 486 to something a bit more modern for the era, and C&amp;C was my first RTS game. We didn’t have a sound-card so I wasn’t able to enjoy the amazing soundtrack and wonderfully cheesy live-action videos until much later, but the gameplay had me hooked.</p> <h3 id="which-of-the-games-is-the-best">Which of the games is the best?</h3> <p>PC: My favourites were C&amp;C3 and RA2.</p> <p>CF: I’m most fond of Red Alert 1.</p> <p>CS: Objectively, the games got better over time. I still like the factions and overall feel of C&amp;C1 (Win95 version) best, though.</p> <p>MBD: I have the most nostalgia for C&amp;C95 and the lore with tiberium at its center was great, but I think RA1 was always the most fun for me. Both gameplay-wise and story-wise.</p> <p>CA: I didn’t chase the series very much after C&amp;C. In fact, my first introduction to multiplayer in C&amp;C was OpenRA. Needless to say, I’m terrible.</p> <h3 id="why-is-the-command--conquer-series-still-important-for-you-today">Why is the Command &amp; Conquer series still important for you today?</h3> <p>CS: There was always something about the 3 oldest entries (C&amp;C1, RA1, TS) that gripped me. The combined ‘package’ of gameplay, music, story presentation and mission design always just felt more fun and enjoyable to me than any other RTS, regardless of the shortcomings they - objectively speaking - have in some areas.</p> <p>MBD: Nostalgia is definitely part of it but the gameplay still holds an experience you can’t get from many games these days. Even Starcraft has died a rather unceremonious death and the strategy market is dominated by simplified mobile titles and Japanese tactics games. I think there’s still room in the market to capture a new generation, whether from a C&amp;C inspired title or from something new.</p> <h3 id="why-not-any-other-modern-rts-game">Why not any other modern RTS game?</h3> <p>CS: I did enjoy WarCraft 3 and the StarCraft 2 trilogy, though more for the story and presentation than the gameplay. Other than that, see my answer to the previous question.</p> <p>CF: At times we’ve considered doing support for other titles from the same era; the first candidate would be the Age of Empires series, but it’s already well-served by other open source projects (0 AD as an open spiritual successor, and OpenAge as an engine rebuild). Blizzard’s titles would also be interesting, but they’re famously protective of their IP.</p> <h3 id="how-many-people-are-working-on-openra">How many people are working on OpenRA?</h3> <p>PC: There are currently four core maintainers for the game project and web infrastructure, plus five or six regular contributors. A lot of the development comes in the form of one-off contributions from people who want to fix a specific bug or add a feature that they feel is important; in total, about 300 people have directly contributed to OpenRA through GitHub.</p> <h3 id="what-is-the-purpose-of-openra-and-why-did-the-project-become-necessary-for-the-command--conquer-community">What is the purpose of OpenRA? And why did the project become necessary for the Command &amp; Conquer community?</h3> <p>PC: OpenRA started off as a small hobby project without a grand purpose, but over time it took on a life of its own and now tries to fill two roles within the community: preserving the best parts of the 2/2.5D era games, and providing a platform for the modding community that grew around these titles.</p> <p>The original first-generation games (C&amp;C and RA1) show their age, both in a technical sense (they require extensive binary patching or emulation to run on modern systems) and in their gameplay. OpenRA tries to remain faithful to the spirit of the original games while introducing gameplay elements (such as production queues and the fog of war) from the later titles that make the game more enjoyable and interesting to play. Support for modern operating systems comes as a matter of course from being built from scratch using modern technologies.</p> <p>CS: We also wanted to create a flexible platform for the modding community, as mods often used to be made on existing, closed-source game engines with all the limitations and issues that come with them. There aren’t any other ‘classic’ 2D RTS engines that I know of that are both open-source and can compete with OpenRA in terms of sheer number of features. Although there aren’t any finished &amp; released examples yet, OpenRA already allows for quite a few neat things that not even RA2YR + Ares supports, and adding even more features is comparatively easy.</p> <h3 id="could-you-summarize-how-the-project-developed-since-its-beginnings-what-were-major-milestones-and-obstacles">Could you summarize how the project developed since its beginnings? What were major milestones and obstacles?</h3> <p>CF: We started off in 2007 with 3 of us in a basement, still playing a lot of LAN games of RA1, and tweaking the original balance to its limits; at some point asked “how hard can it be to rebuild this in a way that would give us more flexibility.” We built loaders for the various original file formats, a map renderer, some basic unit behavior. There was no multiplayer, and we were tied to Windows as a D3D9 game at that time. It turns out it was actually hard, and we eventually lost interest and shelved it.</p> <p>In 2009, Git and Github were exploding in popularity, and we decided to migrate all the good bits of what we’d written as students from an aging server box we’d had in the basement onto that service. As part of doing that we got excited about working on the project again and built out most of the core RA mechanics. The freeware release of Red Alert in 2008 helped with this motivation by dramatically increasing the availability of the original game assets. By the end of 2009 we had a crude multiplayer Red Alert.</p> <p>PC: It was around this time that I got involved, and brought along some new goals for the project. I was the first team member to not be running Windows, and, coming from a background of C&amp;C modding, wanted to be able to build more than just Red Alert 1 on the growing game engine. We migrated from DirectX to OpenGL and SDL, and took advantage of the Mono runtime to support Linux and OS X.</p> <p>Many of the core OpenRA gameplay features were implemented during the following couple of years, including the decision to move away from the original RA1 file formats for maps and the game rules to custom and much more flexible formats, and the introduction of the C&amp;C (Tiberian Dawn) mod.</p> <p>CF: Toward the end of 2010, Reddit discovered OpenRA, and overnight we gained a player base beyond our group of friends, operational challenges in supporting it (which we were completely unprepared for), and also a large number of new contributors. New faces brought with them new goals – support for Dune 2000, an AI system, single player missions, and new ideas about what the multiplayer experience should be, beyond just “like RA95, but less tank-rushy”.</p> <p>CA: This overnight jump in popularity brought my first real contributions. (It was actually during the day for me, but the rest of the team, living in NZ, were blissfully unaware.) I propped up the website with new hosting, we moved everything over to it and tried to figure out how to deal with a large influx of interest. This prompted several reactionary development efforts that, with time, eventually found the right responses.</p> <p>MBD: At this point most of us had finished our studies or were doing postgrad and were thus less able to contribute as we once had. It’s a small miracle that it didn’t go completely off the rails. I learned some pretty harsh lessons about community management, but luckily this was before the kind of toxic blow-ups many game developers face today. We were pretty firm about leading with the vision that we had and I think that saved both our enthusiasm and the integrity of the project.</p> <p>PC: I bowed out of the project for a couple of years so that I could focus on my PhD research, but returned in 2013 after I built a toy format parser and renderer for the Tiberian Sun voxel format that I thought would be cool to include in OpenRA. This inadvertently triggered a new goal and a major overhaul of the game engine in order to support Tiberian Sun. It turns out, not surprisingly, that rebuilding Tiberian Sun was much harder than Red Alert, and so this work has still not been fully completed.</p> <p>A surprisingly positive review from TotalBiscuit in 2014 gave OpenRA’s multiplayer scene a needed boost. Since then, the community has been active with organizing events and actively (and sometimes intensely) debating balance and gameplay ideas in order to improve OpenRA as a game and as an e-sports platform.</p> <p>JAL: OpenRA began adding features dedicated to spectators and game replays starting around 2014. These extra tools made it easy for tournaments and game-casts to sprawl through the community, fostering yearly events like the Red Alert Global League, which is now coming up to its sixth season. For a niche game that’s pretty good! Expert Shoutcaster ‘FiveAces’ producing weekly YouTube videos since July 2015 is a testament to that development and is still on it this very day.</p> <p>CS: A few years ago, the engine still had lots of elements that were not very flexible or even completely hard-coded with the C&amp;C/RA mods in mind, but over time we’ve gradually improved or rewritten those parts.</p> <p>By now, OpenRA has developed into a very moddable, flexible engine with some very interesting non-C&amp;C 3rd-party projects under development, both projects porting other RTS games to OpenRA as well as a few projects with new, unique IP. There’s still work to do to support those projects better, but it’s an important enough milestone that multiple people are seeing and using the engine’s potential already.</p> <h3 id="openra-focuses-on-multiplayer--how-important-is-the-story-and-the-singleplayer-experience-of-command--conquer-for-you">OpenRA focuses on multiplayer – how important is the story and the singleplayer experience of Command &amp; Conquer for you?</h3> <p>PC: I’m not a big multiplayer gamer, so I consider the storyline and single player experience to be very important. OpenRA tries to cater to players like myself by including a skirmish AI and so far about half of the campaign missions in each mod. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of work to port the missions and improve the AI, so these areas have developed at a much slower pace to other parts of the project.</p> <p>CS: Same as PC, basically. If I didn’t have too many other things on my plate already, I’d try to get our remake of the C&amp;C1 campaign finished. Improving the skirmish AI and making an AI that can be used in missions without too much scripting is high on my personal priority list, but it’s easier said than done.</p> <h3 id="what-is-your-opinion-on-command--conquer-rivals-dont-hold-anything-back">What is your opinion on Command &amp; Conquer: Rivals (don’t hold anything back)?</h3> <p>PC: I’m not interested in that kind of mobile gaming, so honestly I haven’t paid it much attention. It is a bit disappointing to see the C&amp;C universe used without concern for the series’s lore, but this kind of thing seems to be standard in the mobile gaming space so I don’t fault Rivals specifically for it.</p> <p>CS: While I’ve actually started to play a mobile game recently (normally I’m a PC gamer through and through), I don’t feel any real interest towards Rivals. I don’t really mind that it uses the C&amp;C brand, but it doesn’t look like the kind of game I’d play on a mobile platform.</p> <p>MBD: I’m actually optimistic about it. I would love a new PC game in line with the originals, but from what I’ve seen, Rivals looks like a great adaption of RTS gameplay for the limited control mobile devices give. It’s a shame we won’t be getting the rest of the C&amp;C experience with it though, in terms of the ham acting and out-there plotlines.</p> <h3 id="and-last-but-not-least-what-would-be-your-wishes-for-a-new-official-command--conquer-game">And last but not least: What would be your wishes for a new official Command &amp; Conquer game?</h3> <p>PC: I would like to see the series return to its roots by putting an emphasis on story and world-building as part of the core game design and experience.</p> <p>CS: In my opinion, the games became more complicated and multiplayer-centric over time (map/faction symmetry and pacing over diversity and creativity), slowly driving away more relaxed/casual players. A new C&amp;C should try to get back to something closer to the first games, just with better balancing (but with as asymmetric factions as possible) and modernized graphics/UI (and more creative mission design + story).</p> tag:www.openra.net,2018-07-05:/news/map-design-contest-2018/ Map Design Contest 2018 Announcement 2018-07-05T20:00:00Z 2018-07-05T20:00:00Z <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180703-mdc2018.jpg" width="600" alt="Map Design Contest 2018" /></p> </div> <p>Attention, all map designers and modders!</p> <p>It is your time now to show everything you’ve got at the coming Map Design Contest! Between grinding and thoroughly testing competitive 1v1 maps, unleashing artistry and entertainment in casual maps and implementing highly intricate scripting in modded maps, you will have pretty much anything that is possible to be inserted into a map file to be put up for a competition!</p> <p>Well respected representatives of community are induced into the map judging jury that will decide the best of the best submissions in the contest among the categories. Forum attendants are also encouraged to participate in selecting the most popular map of the competition through the Popular Vote which will be held after map submission period is over.</p> <p>The contest starts on July 7th; you will have just more than a month to submit your works for it. Be sure to check all the rules and time regulations at <a href="https://forum.openra.net/viewtopic.php?f=83&amp;t=20573">OpenRA’s new forums</a>.</p> <p>Don’t hold on your creativity, and may the best map win!</p> tag:www.openra.net,2018-06-10:/news/devblog-20180610/ A few development topics 2018-06-10T13:00:00Z 2018-06-10T13:00:00Z <p>Development has slowed down a lot recently, but OpenRA is far from dead. I wanted to write something to bridge the news gap until our next official news post, so here’s a brief update on a couple of recent projects. We hope to ship these plus many other changes in a new playtest series starting in a few weeks.</p> <p>One big change affects how we package and distribute our “official” OpenRA builds on Linux. For many years we have automatically generated a deb package, but then relied on downstream packages for other distributions. This has worked well in most respects, but sometimes delays in updates would strand players on older versions, stopping them from playing online. Another long-standing issue on many distros is the (lack of) support for installing playtests and releases at the same time, as players are able to on Windows and macOS.</p> <p>Our solution to these problems is to adopt the <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/wiki/Appimages">AppImage</a> packaging format, which allows us to distribute a portable version of OpenRA that should work on most modern Linux distributions. AppImages can exist alongside normal distro packages and even other versions of OpenRA, which makes it perfect for trying out playtest versions without overwriting the stable release. We will be retiring our deb packages and OBS repository as part of this change, but fear not because stable OpenRA releases are also available on <a href="https://flathub.org/apps/details/net.openra.OpenRA">Flathub</a> if you prefer a “proper” installation that integrates more closely with your system.</p> <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180610-download.png" width="600" alt="OpenRA Download page" /></p> <p>A sneak-preview of the new download page featuring Linux AppImages.</p> </div> <p>Our modding community has continued to be a major focus, driven in a large part by active discussions with and Pull Requests from the modders themselves. We have recently achieved two major modding milestones which we are looking forward to support from the next playtest:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Feature parity between the Mod SDK and the main OpenRA mods</strong>: the Mod SDK can now package Linux AppImages alongside the existing macOS .apps and Windows installers. Mods now also integrate properly with the online and in-game server lists (no more "Unknown Mod (id)"), and modders can define their own acknowledgements text to be displayed in the in-game Credits dialog.</li> <li><strong>Improved tools and documentation for mod updates</strong>: Updating mods to a newer OpenRA engine has historically been difficult and prone to errors. We have developed a completely new OpenRA.Utility command that significantly improves on the old command for semi-automating the update procedure. More information about this tool and how to use it can be found on the <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRAModSDK/wiki/Updating-to-a-new-SDK-or-Engine-version">Mod SDK Wiki</a>. </li> </ul> <p>Another major project over the last few months has been identifying and eliminating performance bottlenecks in the graphics renderer. These changes have roughly doubled the FPS that can be achieved on many systems, which is great news for for Tiberian Sun and some of the ambitious community mods where modest systems previously struggled to achieve a stable 60 FPS. It is useful for our default mods too, because less time spent rendering the game means more time is available to smooth over other performance hiccups that can occur during large battles, resulting in a smoother play experience.</p> <p>The main driver for this work has been a project to improve OpenRA’s performance on the latest Raspberry Pi devices. These changes have improved performance from a painful 10 FPS during large battles (using the Red Alert main menu as a test case) to a more tolerable 20 FPS. We are still not happy with performance on the Pi, and have identified several areas in the game code that could be targeted to improve performance further. We hope to be able to officially support a Raspbian release in the future once performance has improved to an acceptable level.</p> <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180610-pifps.png" alt="Raspberry Pi Performance" /></p> <p>Renderer improvements (red and orange lines) significantly improve performance on a Raspberry Pi 3B+.<br />The next target for optimisation will be the tick_time (light blue line).</p> </div> <p>The upcoming playtest includes several other great features that I haven’t covered above as well as the usual set of iterative balance tweaks and bug fixes. Keep an eye on the <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/wiki/Changelog-(bleed)">development changelog</a> and <a href="https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/milestone/20">release milestone</a> over the next few weeks if you are curious about the full feature set and progress towards a release.</p> <p>At the end of May we made the jump to a new forum, splitting away from the old Sleipnir’s Stuff content. See <a href="https://forum.openra.net/viewtopic.php?f=81&amp;t=20549">this thread</a> for more details. This move opens up a number of opportunities, such as resurrecting our plans (which were prototyped and then shelved in 2016 due to lack of web developers) to include an in-game authentication system that can be used to securely identify yourself to game servers and other players, instead of relying on insecure passwords or IP addresses. This may not be completed in time for the next release, but if it isn’t then we plan to make it a priority for the following one.</p> <p>We still receive a lot of questions about a release date for the Tiberian Sun mod, and unfortunately the answer has not changed in the last year: we don’t know, but it won’t be soon unless we can attract new developers with the right skills to help. Progress is still being made on gameplay features (e.g. we recently merged support for placing gates on top of walls, and the special logic for tiberium critters), but a release is blocked by a handful of critical bugs and missing features that cut deep into some of the oldest and ugliest parts of OpenRA’s code. Resolving these issues takes a significant amount of work, and we currently only have one person (with very limited time) with the knowledge required to tackle them.</p> <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180610-tibsun.png" width="600" alt="Tiberian Sun mod" /></p> <p>Tiberian Sun progress has all but stalled due to lack of manpower.</p> </div> <p>While the mod is broadly playable, it is still missing some important features (e.g. super weapons) and other important features contain game-breaking bugs (e.g. subterranean units, cloak generators). We would have to disable these features if we wanted to release a public build now (like we did in the early days of Red Alert, Tiberian Dawn, and Dune 2000), and try to rebalance the rest of the game around their absense. This is not a path we want to repeat after our experiences with Red Alert.</p> <p>OpenRA’s Red Alert mod is well known in the C&amp;C community for including a collection of arbitrary gameplay changes that were not in the original game or series. Many of these changes were introduced in the early days of OpenRA to help balance the game and make it play well despite missing core gameplay features (back then these were things like like 5 infantry sharing the same cell or a proper implementation of the “classic” engineer behaviour). Over time, these changes became entrenched, for better or worse, as part of OpenRA’s identity. Many of these changes are considered almost universally positively (e.g. the fog of war, unit veterancy, Flak Trucks), but others have been much more controversial (e.g. Hinds on the Allies, Kill Bounties, re-usable engineers).</p> <p>This dichotomy between “Original Red Alert” and “Original OpenRA” has caused significant conflict among our players and contributors on the forum and the community Discord channels. These discussions were reignited last year by the change to building auto-targeting, and have increased in passion with recent discussions about finding a way to move Hinds back to Soviets and removing Kill Bounties as a default feature. On one side of the issue are thoughts that the RA mod should abandon some of the changes that don’t make sense in the world of Red Alert 1 (e.g. Kill Bounties, but not the Flak Truck) and instead double down on the things that made the Command and Conquer series memorable. On the other side are thoughts that it is exactly these changes that made <em>OpenRA</em> great, and that it is an insult to our community to discard these features motivated by misplaced nostalgia.</p> <div style="text-align:center"> <p><img src="/images/news/20180610-hinds.png" width="600" alt="Allied Hind" /></p> <p>The Allied Hind. Hero, or heresy? Let us know what you think about OpenRA’s gameplay changes below!</p> </div> <p>We would greatly value input from the wider OpenRA community on the topic, so leave your thoughts in the comments below or <a href="https://forum.openra.net">on our new forum</a>. The results of this discussion will steer the future direction of OpenRA’s Red Alert mod. Please aim to be polite and constructive; comments that insult or abuse others will be moderated.</p>