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Real Time Strategy (Games) Entertainment Games

Red Alert 1 Released As Freeware 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the that-was-left-handed dept.
Ciaran_H writes "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 1 was released as freeware on C&C's 13th anniversary. The Soviet and Allied CDs are available for download on EA's site. With the freeware release of the original Command & Conquer: Tiberium Dawn having taken place last year for the 12th anniversary, two of the most popular RTS games are now available completely free." EA is also offering a free download of Red Alert 2 with a pre-order of the upcoming Red Alert 3. The above link has a trailer for the new game, which includes appearances from George Takei, Tim Curry, Jenny McCarthy, and others.
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Red Alert 1 Released As Freeware

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  • C&C: Total Failure (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:15PM (#24852777) Homepage Journal

    Oh failure, let me count the ways:

    1. The Tiberium Dawn link does not render correctly in Webkit. (Read: Google Chrome)

    2. The Red Alert download link uses HTTP transfers rather than Bittorrent for 2x500MB files. And it was just posted on Slashdot.

    3. I just purchased the C&C Collection Pack, you insensitive clods!

    ...

    (Checks packaging)

    Whew. Never mind. The C&C Collection Pack only has RA2. So thus I avoid the typical Slashdot failure!

    Err... other than purchasing a "collection" that's missing the most defining games of the series that is. Hey! It was on sale! (pause) You know what? On second thought, let's just forget about the collection thing, shall we? It will be our little secret, Comrade. Da?

    In all seriousness, I'm glad to see EA take this step. Old games are easily lost to the sands of time, the trials of moving, the march of operating systems, and the bateria that eats CDs. Embracing the "abandonware" mentality legally means that the game is preserved both physically and in the hearts and minds of the new generation of players. It also limits the ability of companies to continually repackage old works, thus forcing them to move forward with new titles rather than backward with the old. So kudos to EA!

    • by Ostracus (1354233) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:19PM (#24852817) Journal

      Point noted but collection packs are nice ways of legally getting all the old games and having a complete collection that doesn't take up a lot of space. Some even update the game to run on newer operating systems.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Releasing the game as freeware is also useful for those who bought the game when it was first released and lost the CDs.

        It really would have been nice if they'd also released it via BitTorrent. I guess they dont want to do that because its easier to sue BT tracker websites if it doesn't have as many legal uses.

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          Not everyone is out to get you and sabotage the new economy (though the RIAA is).

          It's possible that they just want to collect data on how much demand there is for old "classic" games. This is one thing you absolutely cannot reliably get from BitTorrent or other p2p, and I can think of several ways the data could be useful. Getting marketing data for the cost of bandwidth is practically free.

          • by risinganger (586395) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:18AM (#24855531)
            Eh? The BitTorrent protocol specifies [theory.org] a completed message that is to be sent to the tracker once the torrent has been fully downloaded. What more do you need?
            • by retchdog (1319261)

              Thanks for the link, it was interesting.

              Still, they probably want to have a clear click-through agreement before the download, giving them legitimacy to C&D anyone else offering the files.

              Another possibility is that EA themselves doesn't want their downloads slowed/blocked by overzealous ISPs thinking they are music downloads. How ironic that would be in face of this conspiracy theory.

              In short there are many, many explanations more reasonable than EA wanting to sabotage the bittorrent protocol by not of

          • ... Getting marketing data for the cost of bandwidth is practically free.

            and getting marketing data for the cost of other people's bandwidth is practically free-er!

        • by maglor_83 (856254)

          Releasing the game as freeware is also useful for those who bought the game when it was first released and lost the CDs.

          That would be me. They're not also releasing the audio CD with all the music on it as well are they?

      • by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:02PM (#24853255)

        Some even update the game to run on newer operating systems.

        Freeware doesn't necessarily mean you have access to the source code. Just try running some ancient Linux games released binary-only on a modern system. If I recall, Sim City 3k was one of these. Lost to the abyss.

        To save a game for history, source needs to be out there. Dungeons of Daggorath [wikipedia.org] is a fine example of this. Originally released in 1982, and still going strong in 2008. Well, "strong" being relative to it's sales back in the day compared to number of folks who don't have a problem compiling a game nowadays.

        • Thats why we also have to keep a backlog of old OS's

          ...and old hardware.
           

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Just try running some ancient Linux games released binary-only on a modern system. If I recall, Sim City 3k was one of these. Lost to the abyss.

          Crappy solution to the binary problem, but shouldn't it be possible to run it in an old distro virtualbox or similar? I don't know if any of the current VMs do it, but with open source on both sides of the VM it should be possible to "patch it through" to modern hardware for graphics acceleration, if that's even needed on the old games.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by risinganger (586395)

          Freeware doesn't necessarily mean you have access to the source code.

          I think if you re-read the post you'd see they were referring to the possibility of the original creators updating the games when they release a collection pack.

        • by KGIII (973947)

          >>To save a game for history, source needs to be out there.

          [[Citation Needed]]

          You provided a "fine example" of this, but I can still find ways to play all sorts of games (some of them are abandoned) and still enjoy them without ever once having had access to the source.

          I'm pretty pro open source but let's work on honesty.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Freeware doesn't necessarily mean you have access to the source code. Just try running some ancient Linux games released binary-only on a modern system. If I recall, Sim City 3k was one of these. Lost to the abyss.

          True that I'd rather have source, but binary-only doesn't mean gone forever. Most distros (I use Gentoo, which does this) have a Loki-compatibility package, much in the same way as you would have a Linux Standard Base package, which contains all the binary versions of libraries that you would need for the program to run. Then you write a shell script wrapper for the game (again, Gentoo does this for you) that sets LD_LIBRARY_PATH to where the compatibility libraries are, and everything runs smoothly.

          I've

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I've been playing Descent 3 like this on my modern laptop for the past 2 years.

            Thanks for backing my point up. Yes, it helps when the source code is released:

            The source code to the original Descent (minus the audio code, which was replaced with the Allegro project) was released in 1997. The source code to Descent II was subsequently released in 1999[2].

            from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descent_(computer_game) [wikipedia.org]

            The method you cite stops working the day Loki decides to close it's doors and the Linux kernel makes another step forward in it's evolution.

            • I guess that means the Linux kernel hasn't evolved in that whole time eh?

              Or you just don't know what your talking about. Or maybe you're trolling.

              Anyone else feel like adding more options?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:23PM (#24852855)

      So kudos to EA!

      My guess is this is the second least common statement on slashdot next to "I just got laid last night".

    • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:29PM (#24853533)

      >1. The Tiberium Dawn link does not render correctly in Webkit. (Read: Google Chrome)

      Renders perfectly in Opera, so who cares. Maybe you'll think twice before using the fruity browser next time ;)

      >2. The Red Alert download link uses HTTP transfers rather than Bittorrent for 2x500MB files. And it was just posted on Slashdot.

      Thankfully. This way I don't have to double the traffic through my slow DSL+WiFi link.

      >3. I just purchased the C&C Collection Pack, you insensitive clods!

      The First Decade includes pretty much every C&C game ever, so I guess you could say that your purchase just lost some value. However, you still get the game so the difference is negligible.

      I've played most of the the Tiberium C&C games soon after they were released, but somehow missed the first Red Alert game, only starting with RA2. I've gone back the to it with the First Decade, and aside from some frustrations with the controls, it was a fun experience. Giving old games away for free is a great idea, even if it was not started by EA. At the cost of perhaps some additional compatibility coding and hosting, they get lots of good publicity (see this story above) and talk about their games (these comments), while gamers get to play the old games they loved to play or wanted to pay but missed, from a safe source.

      • Renders perfectly in Opera, so who cares.

        For the love of web standards and all that is holy, I care!

        (/me jumps up and down trying to get attention)

        Thankfully. This way I don't have to double the traffic through my slow DSL+WiFi link.

        That's one opinion. Personally, I prefer using Bittorrent to download large files. The experience is superior in my mind to a straight HTTP download. (Which is itself, surprisingly, superior to an FTP download. I blame poorly configured servers for that one.)

        It wouldn't have kil

    • I run Linux you insensitive clod. but seriously why not open source it?
      *Its so old their competitors arnt going to use the code to beat them
      *It allows ports to other systems
      *It could be used in other open source games (like ufo:ai uses quake2)
      *It removes any need to support it

      But
      *They lose control
      *An open source competitor could draw users away (unlikely)
      *They have to clean up the code (no real need?)
      *They don't own the code (does this apply to their own game?)

      I realize i have a bias but with games this old

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *

        I run Linux you insensitive clod.

        Merry Christmas [dosbox.com], you insensitive clod!

        DOSBox is simply an incredible emulator. I never thought I'd see the day when DOS would be as well emulated as the classic computers of yore. :-)

        • by Ash-Fox (726320)

          DOSBox is simply an incredible emulator. I never thought I'd see the day when DOS would be as well emulated as the classic computers of yore. :-)

          dosemu is superior.

          • If we were talking about general x86 DOS emulation, I would agree with you. But DOSBox is tuned for video games. Which makes it superior for game applications. Of course, I have been known to be wrong. :-)

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Ash-Fox (726320)

              But DOSBox is tuned for video games. Which makes it superior for game applications. Of course, I have been known to be wrong. :-)

              I have literally /always/ had better performance with dosemu for games, with out it taking much CPU usage. Hence why I use it.

              • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:32PM (#24854573) Homepage Journal

                I have literally /always/ had better performance with dosemu for games, with out it taking much CPU usage. Hence why I use it.

                YMMV, I guess. I like dosemu, but it emulates DOS so well that I always end up revisiting my days of trying to get enough conventional memory going before I can start a game. DOSBox takes care of that. It's not dosemu's fault, it's a result of them being a full emulator. You can replace the freedos they supply with MS-DOS and it'll work.

                DOSBox has all the drivers you need (like sound blaster and mouse) already "loaded" without actually taking up any memory that the DOS applications can see. So 640k ends up actually being enough for anyone :)

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by TheRaven64 (641858)
                DOSBox is a full emulator. Dosemu is a thin virtualisation layer with DOS system call emulation. This means that dosemu is x86-only, while DOSBox allows me to run Worms nicely on a PowerPC Mac. Newer versions of DOSBox support x86 virtualisation when running on x86 (they only emulate interrupt instructions). Peripheral support in DOSBox is generally better - it emulates most things games want (joysticks and so on) and it lets you slow down the emulation easily so that you can run games written for the X
                • by Ash-Fox (726320)

                  DOSBox allows me to run Worms nicely on a PowerPC Mac

                  Okay, point. It lets you run applications on a dead platform and dead architecture.

                  Newer versions of DOSBox support x86 virtualisation when running on x86 (they only emulate interrupt instructions). Peripheral support in DOSBox is generally better - it emulates most things games want (joysticks and so on) and it lets you slow down the emulation easily so that you can run games written for the XT with fixed timing loops.

                  Dosemu provides this too actually. I

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Here's the link you really want: "Command & Conquer: Red Alert" [dosbox.com]

          Looks like someone has already mentioned some tweaks needed to get the EA-supplied rar running smoothly with dosbox.

    • by therufus (677843)

      Old games are easily lost to the sands of time, the trials of moving, the march of operating systems, and the bateria that eats CDs.

      Bateria? Oh noes!!!!

      Batman: Quick Alfred, we need some kind of gadget to get rid of bateria?

      Alfred: Aye commander

    • by loraksus (171574)

      2. The Red Alert download link uses HTTP transfers rather than Bittorrent for 2x500MB files. And it was just posted on Slashdot.

      Yeah, fucking morons. Clearly they should use a transfer method that is blocked or QoS'd to shit almost everywhere. Also one that requires you to upload a lot, which screws up voip, etc, on the line.

      If they can handle the load (they could and speeds were decent) and if they are willing to pay for the bandwidth costs, more power to them. Why are you bitching again?

  • I just* purchased "The First Decade [ea.com]", you insensitive clods!

    * well, okay, I've had it for over a year ... and it does have a few more C&C games than just TD and RA.

    • by Spatial (1235392)
      The only bad thing about that collection is inputting the CD-key for every game when installing. Christ, couldn't they just use one?
      • by smussman (1160103)

        Christ, couldn't they just use one?

        Out of curiosity, why are you asking Christ? I'm pretty sure he wasn't involved in the development of this collection.

        • by maglor_83 (856254)

          Well Christ is meant to be God, and God is meant to be omniscient, so despite the fact he wasn't involved, he should be able to answer the question.

      • by fyrewulff (702920)

        FYI, if you don't plan on playing online, the same key will work to install Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2. (I only say this since you are allowed 2 instances of a key online at the same time, and installing both games with one will end up with 4..)

        On the bright side, after installing from Decade a lot of the games don't require the disc to be in the drive anymore.

  • The game trailer for Red Alert 3 literally made me cringe at the screen.
  • I never played this game before but my son likes Rise of Nations so I may give this a try. Why is there a Soviets CD and an Allies CD? Do you need one to play as NATO and the other as the Warsaw Pact or something like that? Is there a manual somewhere?

    • by eddwee (1337699)
      Yeah, something like that. One CD has the Soviet campaign, and the other CD has the Allied campaign.
    • Re:two discs? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Constantine XVI (880691) <trash.eighty+slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:58PM (#24853209)

      Red Alert used a fsckton of FMV, so they split the campaigns over two discs. Plus, it made an excuse for Westwood to pack two discs, so a friend could play RA when they came to your place for a LAN party or something.

    • As eddwee said, each disc has a separate campaign. It was done as an early form of game sharing, long before the advent of downloading playable game stubs over WiFi. If you wanted to play a modem game with a friend, you could give them one of the two CDs and you could both play. Otherwise they probably would have crammed everything onto a single CD.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The real fun is the Rules.ini file. Google it and you will unlock an entirely new world in RA that was unimaginable!

      For fun, change the soviet dog's attack type to the scud missile or tesla coil! It's hours of fun

  • sweet (Score:3, Funny)

    by spune (715782) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:46PM (#24853097)
    now I resume wasting hours of my life where I left off nearly a decade ago
    • by Gates82 (706573)
      I have been frustrated that my Red Alert install would not work on anything but 95/98. About a year ago I bought a bunch of surplus hardware; among the boxes was a 98 machine. I promptly whipped out my cds and started plaining Red Alert. I currently have that machine hooked to a KVM at my desk and anytime I need to kill an hour flip over and start playing. The machine just stays onto the skirmish setup screen. Easily the best game of the C&C series.

      --
      So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

  • I don't think RA2 is a download. I believe you get it with the game when it comes.
  • by WDot (1286728) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:15PM (#24853377)
    When EA releases C&C games as freeware, they really mean it. Back during the "12th anniversary" celebration, they released the Command and Conquer Gold. It's still free a year later.

    http://www.gamershell.com/news_41337.html [gamershell.com]

    C&C Gold and RA look about the same graphicswise, and they both require a little bit of configuration on modern machines to run smoothly (to run with sound and arrow keys working properly), but it's worth it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tacvek (948259)

      My only issue is that they Don't Release the expansions. Tiberian Dawn had 1 expansion an RA had 2. But there is no longer any way to buy those without also buying a copy of these now free games.

    • Trying to get Red Alert 2 working on a network is a bitch because it uses IPX and wasn't made in a time when PCs typically had 2-3 networking devices.

      Is Red Alert 2 any better, or (as I imagine) is it worse? Has anyone written a program to trick it into working properly via the Internet?

      • Has anyone written a program to trick it into working properly via the Internet? --

        Someone did that about a decade ago [kali.net], fortunately it is still available, for $20 for pretty much forever.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Has anyone written a program to trick it into working properly via the Internet? --

          Someone did that about a decade ago, fortunately it is still available, for $20 for pretty much forever.

          Man, that's the longest $20 (or less) that I've paid for shareware that's still available going forward... it's actually longer than a decade - close to a decade and a half! (And I still remember the initial requests for help with a Mac port in basically replacing MacIPX).

          Trivia: It was originally written to allow people to

      • by karnal (22275)

        I remember fighting this with Yuri's Revenge - you had to go in and set the MAC address of your card in the options somewhere. My mind is a bit fuzzy on this, but we got it working; maybe there's a dropdown?

        Everyone has to have their settings right, or random people either won't see the game or can't be a server etc.

        • Yeah, there are so many variables that it's nigh-on impossible to get them all right on every computer. For unknown reasons wireless seems to screw things up even more severely...

      • You just need to drop a dll into the program files: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=red%20alert%202%20wsock32.dll&hl=en&meta= [google.co.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I like playing these old games because they make my graphics card look huge.
  • I already own C&C Red Alert. Oddly, I owned it for several months before realizing I did. I do not know how that happened at all, but it's right there on my shelf, and I even remember finishing it. So I'm going to pass.
  • Installation Help (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The installer checks for 95/98, and I believe compatibility mode doesn't work (neither does DOS installer in W2K). There are two methods to get past this:

    1. Copy files from INSTALL directory, apply 3.03 patch, then apply registry patch (and no-cd):

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Westwood\Red Alert Windows 95 Edition]
    "Name"="Red Alert Windows 95 Edition"
    "Version"=dword:00030003
    "InstallPath"="INSTALL_PATH (i.e. C:\\WESTWOOD\\REDALERT\\RA95.EXE)"
    "SKU"=dword:000003ed
  • Good to see the game being given as freeware, but free software [fsf.org] would be better!
  • by XnPlater (1186661) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:32AM (#24855611)
    Option A: wine [wine.org]

    - use winecfg to set windows version to 98.
    - before installation copy the contents of CD1 (allied) to a local directory
    - use winecfg to configure a cdrom drive (F: for example) to point to it
    - further, in winecfg set the corresponding cdrom label to 'CD1'
    - run the installer;
    $ wine F:/SETUP95/INSTALL.EXE
    - copy the included PATCH.* from the XP_Patch subdir to the REDALERT installation folder
    - run the inlcuded update patch;
    $ wine C:/WESTWOOD/REDALERT/PATCH.EXE
    - run the game;
    $ wine C:/WESTWOOD/REDALERT/RA95.EXE

    Option B: freera [sourceforge.net] (haven't tried it though)

    Happy world domination!
  • It's so old and they don't want to support so that's why it's free which is cheeky considering it wasn't that long ago they included it in that C&C pack and charged you for it.

    Unless they've fixed it (I'm a bit clueless on it tbh) it runs like a million times too fast on modern PCs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cheapy (809643)

      I have the Win95 version from A Long Time Ago, and it ran fine under vista.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.

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