Independent specialist of two-dimensional game assets and member of the Higher Eclectic network since February this year, Paul Evans, has joined hands with developers Secret Reality to aid in the production of their upcoming mod of Electronic Arts’ 2007 real-time strategy game Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars.
Titled Tiberium Secrets, the mod will see Evans playing the role of a Texture Artist within its team here from as he works towards the creation and manipulation of texture assets for various 3D models that are to populate its universe. The collaboration was initiated by Higher Eclectic Ground back in the month of June, when the network responded to Secret Reality’s job opening by introducing to it Evans’ portfolio of work.
The weeks thereafter involved an evaluation of his quality of style and compatibility by corresponding representatives, following which an agreement was finally signed between both parties last month.
‘I’m hoping to gain significant experience of how mods and games are put together,’ he states. ‘I will be thoroughly pleased when I finally see my textures come to life on a model within Tiberium Secrets.’
The Command & Conquer franchise was first conceived by Westwood Studios’ genre-defining real-time strategy game of the same name in the year of 1995.
Unfolding against a backdrop of resource gathering and base building, the saga centred itself on a global war between two playable international entities — the United Nations’ Global Defense Initiative and the militants of The Brotherhood of Nod — that witnessed them contend for control over a viral extra-terrestrial substance called Tiberium.
Greeted with widespread acclaim, the PC, PlayStation, N64 and Sega Saturn compatible game would quickly proliferate into a decade’s worth of game-based universes, their constituting sequels, prequels, spin-offs — among which has even been a first-person shooter — much after Electronic Arts’ acquisition of the Las Vegas, USA based studio in 1998.
This culminated in Victory Games’ first proposed instalment of what would have been a series of free-to-play games set within the Command & Conquer universe that only ended up being cancelled by Electronic Arts in the fall of 2013, causing the saga to descend into an as of yet unannounced future as a result.
And yet regardless it has continued to thrive by means of the vast array of community initiated modifications to its existing instalments, which Secret Reality now aims to add to by means of Tiberium Secrets.
Based within the Tiberium universe — the series of Command & Conquer games that constitute the plot established by the original — Tiberium Secrets is an ongoing partial conversion of Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars that attempts to create a parallel universe of lore, structure and game-play mechanics that will stand in conjunction, if not independent from that of the main game.
While Tiberium Wars dealt with the warring factions of the Global Defense Initiative, The Brotherhood of Nod and the extra-terrestrials of Scrin, Tiberium Secrets brings to the forefront a biological experiment of infectious beings known as The Colony,
artificial intelligence set on global dominance in the form of The Artificial Systematic Intelligence (ASI) and remnants of a shadowy division of the United States military called the Special Strategic Lunar Division (Dream 51).
With their inspirations lying in the cancelled Tiberium projects of Electronic Arts & Westwood Studios, each of these playable factions will also arrive supplemented with unique play-styles, new story-lines and aesthetics that strive to push the limits of both the game’s engine and its existing canon. It would be natural to assume then that the mod’s development team is composed of enthusiasts inherently reverent towards the franchise.
As Secret Reality divulge though this is not entirely the case — ‘Two-thirds of our team have consistently been made up of those who are new to, or who are returning to the franchise after some time’, they state.
‘Yet although the motivations of our individual members naturally vary, with most doing this for their respective portfolios, the core leadership strives to pose a possible future for the Tiberium universe, and potentially the franchise as a whole, which has had limited official support from Electronic Arts for some time.’
‘We strive for quality across the board, to honor this franchise that revolutionised and started the genre of Real time Strategy (RTS). We do this to show just how far passion projects can go, and how innovation can come from unexpected places.’
The team further differentiates itself from other Command & Conquer mods by emphasising its focus on designs and perspectives that are futuristic to the canon as opposed to being nostalgia driven.
Tiberium Secrets commenced development circa September 2010 at the hands of Seth Brown (ModDB persona Umbrella Secrets) who independently helmed the project’s coding and art departments up until the Summer of 2011. Joined by community veterans Eric Chou (GeneralJist) and Matt Ross (Fandore) that took the lead on administration and Art respectively thereafter, Brown would go onto develop plans and core structures for each of the new playable factions before departing from the project due to personal concerns by 2012.
Progress would stay at a tentative low for an astounding two years, before Chou would go on to recruit John Netzel (CommieDog) as the project’s Lead Coder in the month of November, 2014;
Given his experience working on successful Command & Conquer mods The Forgotten and All Stars previously, Netzel proved fundamental in restoring Tiberium Wars to full pace alongside Tim Cerny (CCH Audio) taking over Audio controls.
With Chou playing project coordinator/ producer, PR Lead and Lead Writer all at once while Ross functioned as Creative Director, work on the Artificial Systematic Intelligence faction’s SFX, animations, soundtrack and infantry has taken priority ever since, with help drawn from various independent professionals both within and outside the Command & Conquer community periodically.
Also noteworthy is the fact that feedback from said community continues to stay rampant; having garnered over 360,000 views, a standing of 121 among over 27,000 projects within 2015’s Mod of the Year awards and a regular ranking among the top with every progress update.
‘We are currently at the threshold for Closed Alpha’, the team now evaluates. ‘Our plans were to run through the phases of Closed Alpha in these coming months, and to be ready for open Alpha in time for mod of the year 2016, which typically begins in the end of November.’
‘Delays however are anticipated due to historic flooding in the state of Louisiana, where Mr. Ross resides. Threat assessment is in progress.’ Tiberium Secrets’ first release will consist of all functioning Artificial Systematic Intelligence structures, defences, SFX, soundtrack, along with the corresponding first portion of its written and audio canon for the parallel timeline.
The collaboration with Secret Reality is the first Higher Eclectic Ground has helped effect for its member Paul Evans, a Tipton, United Kingdom based artist with over four years of experience in varietal material and 2D texture creations.
Independently operating under the moniker of CraftyTextures and currently employed as a 2D artist at MACH 2 Simulations, Evans’ work process has concurrently been in the midst of a metamorphosis over the past couple of months —
— as he gradually transitions from a once predominantly Adobe Photoshop based approach to using Allegorithmic’s Substance Designer in his pursuit of realistic textures.
While the results of this along with all portfolio-relevant details continue to be documented on his Higher Eclectic Space, Evans’ forthcoming contributions to Tiberium Secrets and the mod’s overall progress per se can be kept track of by means of its ModDB page.
Details pertaining to various other openings currently available on the Secret Reality team are also present within the same.