Posted by Paul Chote on

Playtest 20190825

We are thrilled and relieved to finally announce the first public playtest for OpenRA’s second 2019 release. This playtest brings significant technical changes, so we felt it important to delay the “summer” release until we could be confident that the worst bugs and gameplay regressions had been fixed. With some help from our Forum and Discord community, we are now ready to release playtest-20190825 for wider testing and feedback.

The Summer Release Preview article outlined several of the new UI features, including savegame support, a new spectator UI, and a long planned Tiberian Dawn interface overhaul. This playtest adds a much improved hotkey configuration UI and many smaller UI fixes and polish improvements.

The new Tiberian Dawn sidebar
The Tiberian Dawn in-game interface has received a long-awaited redesign.

The savegame load screen in D2k
Missions and skirmish games can be saved and restarted later.

On the gameplay front, the main focus for this release was to rewrite the logic that controls how units behave and respond to orders. This was a major task that spanned several months, more than 90 Pull Requests, and more than one debate about bug vs “accidental feature”.

Many of the changes will not be immediately obvious, but on closer inspection you should find that many long-standing quirks and annoyances in unit behaviour no longer occur.

The ability to queue commands using the Shift key has always been an important part of OpenRA’s gameplay, and this has received a major overhaul with this release. Part of the overhaul has moved the familiar targeting lines that display when you command units into the “Waypoint Mode” (Shift) overlay by default. The previous behaviour can be restored through the Settings menu (Target Lines: Automatic) if you prefer.

Waypoint mode
The improved waypoint mode allows you to plan your attack strategies.

Other noteable changes to watch out for include:

  • Force Move (Alt) can be used to undeploy Construction Yards and land helicopters
  • Aircraft respond to Scatter orders from the Command Bar (Ctrl + X)
  • Significantly improved behaviour for harvesters, aircraft, attack-move, and unit repair
  • Aircraft-based support powers can be given an attack direction
  • The controversial Allied Hind helicopter in RA has been replaced with the Black Hawk
  • Two new-to-OpenRA missions from the RA Counterstrike expansion
  • The D2k Death Hand missile now works like the original game
  • A collection of Red Alert and Tiberian Dawn balance changes

As always, the full changelog is available with more information on the changes and fixes.

Directional powers
Aircraft-based support powers can be given a direction by dragging the mouse while targeting.

As a .NET application, OpenRA relies on the Mono runtime for our Linux and macOS players. Unfortunately, the Mono packages provided by some major LTS distros are several years out of date and incompatible with the modern .NET standard. Worse, the new Debian Buster and Ubuntu 19.04 releases shipped with a serious Mono bug that causes unavoidable crashes OpenRA and other .NET applications.

Our solution for these issues is to package the parts of Mono that OpenRA requires inside the AppImage and macOS app releases. This means that you can finally play OpenRA without having to install any system-level dependencies. For players or packagers who prefer to compile OpenRA from source, Mono 5.4 or later and msbuild are now required.

Updating our base requirements has allowed several further improvements:

  • Windows releases are now 64 bit by default (32 bit releases remain available)
  • A fix for the macOS black-screen startup freeze after Mono or macOS upgrades
  • Future support for the .NET Core runtime (this work is still in progress)
  • Improved development tooling and IDE support for OpenRA and the Mod SDK

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 download page and give it a try! This is your time to get involved, play games, and let us know what you think! If you discover a bug or have any other feedback, please let us know in the comments below, on our forum, Discord, or GitHub.