Nov. 17, 2006
A LITTLE ABOUT TIBERIUM
My last blog was about the state of military technology in the year 2047. I wrote in detail about the underlying game fiction, but indirectly I was also addressing the design aesthetic for the units and structures in the game – the choices we are making when it comes to the look and feel of the tanks, aircraft, and other military hardware in Command & Conquer 3 (C&C 3). The game fiction and design aesthetic should come together to create an internally consistent world for the C&C 3 player.
The reaction from the community was interesting. Many of you understood and agreed with the choices we were making. Others were unconvinced. Intense debates and discussions erupted on the various forums that we monitor. Some of the arguments I read were emotional, the rest rooted in interpretations of the fiction. A number of opinions were expressed in very strong terms indeed.
All of this is good. I admire the passion that fuels the C&C community, because we share that passion on the team. I’m totally cool with the idea that some fans disagree with some of our choices. I respect that. We’re not going to be able to please everyone all of the time.
But I did read something that concerned me. A few people expressed the opinion that we were completely ignoring the community, that we’re just determined to do our own thing regardless of the feelings of the fans. I can take criticism - even harsh criticism - but I’m saddened by the idea that people in the community think we’re ignoring them. I’ve addressed this before in blogs and interviews, but it’s important enough that I feel like I need to bring it up again.
We may not agree with everything we read, but we do read – and we pay attention to the opinions and suggestions that are expressed. We care a great deal about what you think. Often we take inspiration from you. In other cases, you help us realize that we’ve made mistakes. Over the last several months we’ve made a number of important changes to the game story, the background fiction, and the way the game plays based on feedback from the community. We’ve taken some great ideas from you for new features and functionality. We’ve also added, removed, or modified features or elements of the fiction for C&C 3 because we’ve encountered constructive criticism or well-reasoned arguments.
For example, we brought back Blue Tiberium in good part because the fans wanted it back. We’re including mutants and Visceroids in the game world. We changed the appearance and size of our Tiberium crystals after reading reaction to our first screenshots of the green crystal. We’ve updated our fiction describing the formation of GDI based on fan feedback. We added the Surveyor vehicle (a "mini-MCV") and the Crane structure (which gives you building options) after a collaborative interaction with some of our most passionate fans who wanted to make sure we preserved early-game strategic options as we brought back the classic C&C side-bar and build system. These are just a few of the changes we’ve made because of your feedback.
Again, we’re not going to change everything just because we read strong opinions on the forums, but we take what you say very seriously.
So… with that preamble, I wanted to talk a little bit about Tiberium itself. The alien crystal is at the center of our fiction, so it’s not surprising what we’ve revealed about Tiberium in C&C 3 has drawn scrutiny from our fans. Especially because Tiberium in 2047 has some properties that are new and different from what you’ve seen before.
Early forms of Tiberium were almost organic, sprouting out of the ground in what seemed to be plant-like pods, leaching minerals out of the earth and emitting clouds of toxic gas. Over time, Tiberium showed it had the ability to evolve and change as new forms of the alien substance appeared - like Blue Tiberium.
Tiberium has continued to transform itself. By 2047, Tiberium has become a self-replicating proton lattice that turns any matter it touches into more of itself, giving off powerful radiation in the process.
On the team, we wanted a strong scientific underpinning for this new, highly evolved form of Tiberium - which is why we turned to two MIT scientists to help define how the alien crystal accomplishes its feat of alchemy, efficiently transforming the Earth into a Tiberium world. We now have a believable and internally consistent science for Tiberium, one that informs our fiction and our game play.
Is Tiberium terraforming the Earth into a planet suitable for alien life? Is it a weapon? Is it a creature of some kind? Maybe some form of consciousness resides in the crystal lattices, a quantum crystalline brain that grows ever smarter as it grows and grows. There are many theories about what Tiberium actually is… and why it is here. You’ll find some of the answers that you seek when you play C&C 3.
One thing I can say for sure. GDI has not given up on trying to contain the spread of Tiberium. With Tiberium infestation reaching critical levels and new, more sinister variants of the substance turning up, things look pretty grim for planet Earth from GDI’s perspective. However, GDI has found a vulnerability in the green crystal that they have begun to exploit. GDI engineers have found the resonant frequency for Tiberium… and they have created sonic resonators that are capable of breaking up Tiberium crystals.
Ironically, sonic resonators use vast amounts of energy, requiring Tiberium to power them. GDI leaders see some poetic justice in using Tiberium to destroy itself.
During the lull between the Second and Third Tiberium Wars, GDI deployed sonic resonators to slow down the spread of the crystal in key Yellow Zones. GDI has even managed to reclaim some territory almost completely… to the point where small areas in a German Yellow Zone have been transformed into Blue Zones. This patchwork of reclaimed territory has been dubbed "New Eden" by the GDI leadership… and this amazing feat is being celebrated in the early months of 2047.
When C&C 3 opens, GDI has restored some sense of hope for the future. Unfortunately for them, Kane and the Brotherhood of Nod have other ideas about the spread of Tiberium, the fate of the planet Earth, and the destiny of the human race.
That’s it for this time.
Command & Conquer 3