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» RA2's First Birthday: The State of the Community

Preface: Well, I was once again lured to the dark, cross-genre dressing world of Deus Ex by a 128 Mb RAM upgrade my friends. But, now that the novelty of actually having more than one character on the screen without it freezing up has become less amusing, I have come back into Red Alert 2's loving and open arms just in time for it's first birthday.

The huge success of the previous three Command and Conquer games gave some preview of just how successful Red Alert 2 would be. Despite predictions of flopping, the revamped Tiberian Sun engine, combined with the usual Westwood touch of magic boosted Red Alert 2 into No. 1 at charts world-wide.

With the previously huge TS community winding slowly down, Red Alert 2 picked up the baton. In the weeks before and just after release, new Red Alert 2 sites popped up all over the shop; One such site was our own noble Red 2 World. The cream of these sites would go through metamorphosis until maturing into the core of today's community.

But how is the Red Alert 2 community doing 1 year into its existence? In my opinion, it is stronger than ever. With the launch of Yuri's Revenge, and the inevitable release of the Red Alert 2 and Yuriâ's Revenge combined, our community seems set to grow. While this will mean an alarming influx of newbies, (I know, I know, just tolerate them…) as well as a number of turtles, the end result will be a larger player base, and thus by extension, a larger and more active community.

One way in which we can measure well our community is doing is through the number and quality of mods that are being released. In this regard at least, Red Alert 2 is booming. Notable examples such as Eagle Red and DeeZire stand out as shining examples of this, but there are countless smaller ones, take a look at the list over at Red Alert 2 Mod Makers. For example, there is “Bombing Run”; a small .ini mod that make the Harrier drop bombs in a line rather than fire a pansy missile. Simple as it may be, the ability to download extras for and to customise your game as you please can only be for the better.

The fact is that you don't need to be a genius to do that “ini editing thing”; even I have dabbled in this realm, (Granted the Black Eagle with 10 missiles slightly unbalanced the game my way…) and so anybody can have a go. You may only get as far as giving yourself the Kirov that moves as fast as a harrier, or the Yuri Prime that can mind control a building from the opposite site of the map, but always consider that the makers of the “Pro” mods started out like you. Amidst all of this there is the underlying fact that there is demand for mods, and as long as there is a demand, my business studies education says there will always be a fresh supply of mods to satisfy.

Westwood themselves have done an excellent job in helping Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge both prosper; they have organised numerous events, competitions and kept the official site updated with both fan maps and fiction: another job on which they must be congratulated is that of the release of the official map editor Final Alert 2; which has proved to be a great success - allowing maps to flourish across the community. The official site is updated regularly; this shows the level of activity that is currently going on in the community - and with Yuri's Revenge now out, we can only look to more competitions and events (such as Westwood Vs. The World) in the near future.

Those who cry out that our community is getting old and repetitive, have obviously never attended one of the numerous Westwood chat events, logged onto any of the forums, or bothered to see that most RA2 sites update damned near everyday. The number of new maps, mod updates, features, competitions, fan fiction, as well as general community gossip, is phenomenal. This goes to show not just that there is a large base of RA2 fans out there, but that there are a growing number of “active” members. This is further reflected in the numbers of people on WOL. While I don't possess figures, there are always a large number of people wanting a game - at any time of day. The release of Yuri's Revenge has undoubtedly boosted this number, and, with the implementation of tournament games only being quick match, you can now log on without fear of playing a wondrous new tactic, only to lose and thus harm your perilously high rank.

This new and growing player base can also be seen throughout the many fan sites that are about. The forums of these sites are always buzzing, and with the release of Yuri's Revenge, old and dying features such as tips of the day are up and alive again. The fact that articles like this one are still being written is testament to this fact.

All things considered, we're doing pretty darn good, and long may it continue!

» Jim

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