News and announcements

Ares 0.D is finally here

Written for Ares by AlexB on 2017-06-10

Finally, after about a year, a new version of Ares is ready for download, and finally it is another feature release, not just a minor service release.

With Ares 0.D, mouse cursors can be customized for weapons to give special attacks an immediately recognizable appearance. But not only that: units and structures can have custom cursors for moving, entering, deploying, and more. This way, ejecting passengers or occupants can be distinguished from triggering an area attack, and entering a Grinder can have another cursor than bunkering a tank. For this to work, Ares now has a centralized section to define mouse cursors, which as a bonus also allows to edit the original cursors in the game.

Mechanics as known from The Aftermath and Ambulances like the ones in Generals are now possible. This means the limitation that infantry was only allowed to heal other infantry and vehicles were only allowed to repair other vehicles has been removed. No longer is the workaround with positive Damage and negative Verses needed, and targeting and putting repair units in guard mode just works as expected.

AI players can be made to build more than one building of a type, which previously was only possible for special buildings like refineries, or using building clones to emulate this. Ares adds new options to support this directly, for each difficulty level, and also with some element of randomness. Pimp your AI by letting it build more War Factories. Also, the buildup and sell time of structures can now be customized, thus making slowly deploying buildings possible.

Not only can starting units be defined for a country using one central option, it is also possible to have a country start with a deployed Construction Yard instead of an MCV. This allows for new game modes with fixed starting positions or no MCVs at all.

Ares implements Death Bombs for the Crazy Ivan, which were apparently cut from the original Red Alert 2. With this special mode, bombs will not detonate after a certain amout of time, but will keep the bomb active until either disarmed, destroyed, or manually detonated.

That's not everything, though. As always, there is a bunch of smaller features completing this release. A plethora of bugs has also been fixed, both in the original Yuri's Revenge and in Ares. Several of Ares' features have been reworked and inefficient code has been updated to decrease its footprint. That's it for today.


Ares 0.Cp1 has been released

Written for Ares by AlexB on 2016-12-19

As a service release, Ares 0.Cp1 does not add new features. Instead, it focuses on stability by fixing nine issues that could not wait for a next proper version. These are issues like a memory leak, using stale pointers, and some logic bugs. Seven of these could cause crashes, so it is recommended to update Ares.

Most notably, this fixes a crash on some machines when starting a single player mission that was due to some very hacky code, even by Ares's standards. Other fixes apply to Temporal weapons and Gunner logic, as well as Abductor weapons.

A not as important fix is for rectangular SW.Ranges which were one cell too wide in each dimension, thus affecting more cells than intended. Essentially, that's it for now.


Ares 0.C is ready for download

Written for Ares by AlexB on 2016-06-18

Like its predecessor, Ares 0.C is yet another smaller release, not as feature-laden as the earlier releases. But it comes with a long-awaited feature.

Bounty finally has been added, in a simplified form. It allows units to get money for killing enemy units, either by shooting at them or crushing them. The value is customizable per veterancy level, so destroying an elite tank could give more money than a rookie fresh from the factory.

Particles have been optimized heavily: railgun and spark particle systems will no longer cause the dreaded lag known from the original games for almost two decades. The graphical particles -- gas, smoke, and fire -- now support custom palettes, supporting more detailled graphics, and gas particles can now damage an area, not just the very cell the particle is resides.

The effect of Factory Plant buildings like the Industrial Plant can be changed per TechnoType, allowing to modify the cost bonus for specific units and structures, or completely exempt them from getting a bonus.

Several existing features have been revisited also. For example, NodAdvancedPower is now again considered as default power plant for the soviets, while previously only the regular power plant was used. Spotlights and alpha lights have been reworked to support units cloaking, burrowing or being deactivated. Ivan Bombs can now be detonated even if a unit is deactivated or berzerking.

There's a handful of other new assorted features, like NoAmmoWeapon, which makes units switch to a less powerful weapon that might not need ammunition to fire while the primary weapon reloads. Warheads can be made to suppress the Unit Lost EVA message, which could be useful for silent killers and mutating weapons that don't really kill a unit. The sounds and EVA messages when a unit is promoted can be customized fully, as well as the number of frames the unit is flashing -- now even for the veteran level.

That's about it for this release. There's still a bit more to be discovered, and also a lot of internal changes as always.


Ares 0.B is finally here

Written for Ares by AlexB on 2016-03-29

Back to the normal three month release cycle, Ares 0.B has been released today. This is again a smaller release compared to the last one, and it focuses on prerquisites and ammo.

Yuri's Revenge had a special logic to handle the Slave Miner, so the undeployed vehicle version also satisfied the refinery prerequisite. This logic has been extended to all Generic Prerequisite Groups and extended to not only support more than one item but also support infantry and aircraft.

Weapons may now require more than one round of ammunition to be fired, or none at all, and units can reload custom amounts of ammunition when reloading, also depending on whether they still have ammo left. The reload rates can now be customized for each individual aircraft, allowing for easier balancing of aircraft armed with few powerful missiles and aircraft armed with weaker machine guns with plenty of ammo.

Spies can now steal the plans for super weapons, which then will become available either permanently or for single use. Also spies can reveal how much power or money a player currently has. As a classic defense, Ares also now allows to recreate building fakes known from Red Alert, which is a purely cosmetic feature.

A few minor features and bug fixes complete the release. For instance, self healing is now customizable to recreate Mammoth Tanks from Tiberian Dawn, warheads can now be made to damage units in the air even if detonating on the ground, and waves will now get interrupted if the target moves out of firing range.


Updated on 2016-03-29.

Ares 0.A available

Written for Ares by AlexB on 2016-01-01

It is the beginning of a new year, and it also starts with the release of Ares 0.A, the first new version of Ares since almost a year. Ares 0.A does not only add new features and bugfixes, it also improves performance of older features.

The Firestorm Walls have been reworked and expanded. All animations have been made customizable and active Firestorm Wall sections can now be damaged and will reduce the Firestorm Defense System's charge. Most importantly, the performance has been greatly improved: not only when a Firestorm is active, but also when not even using the Firestorm Wall in the game.

Likewise, Solid Buildings have been recoded to support invisible projectiles and different levels of solidness. Units will see Solid Buildings as obstacles they have to go around for firing, though they can be made to ignore them and just tear them down trying to shoot at objects behind.

The new super weapon targeting in Ares 0.9 also made the game slower, but also some earlier features like EMP and Radar Jammers were not as efficient as they could have been. These issues have been addressed. Common functions have been unified, which got rid of a lot of needless code while making Ares run faster, and by removing overhead, Ares' memory footprint has been reduced by a fair amount, too. Another focus was on eliminating memory allocations where possible. There's more to be done in the future, though.

Ares 0.A improves audio support: Loose wave files can be in any supported format, not just the one PCM format that didn't compress well. Mod creators will now also have the option to deliver new sound effects in additional bag files, thus the need to distribute the original sound files together with the new pieces in a huge single bag is gone. This means that mod download packages can now be much smaller.

New features include the Troop Crawler logic known from Generals, Saboteurs and Crush Damage from Dune 2000, buildings degrading while a player is low on power, Stealth Tanks holding fire unless in area guard mode, and several more. Some more enhancements focus on passengers, like transports accepting only certain infantry units to enter.

Several bugs were fixed, like the exploits regarding selling Construction Yards that would give free crew or make a player undefeatable when the MCV couldn't be placed. Players can again select the airport aircraft will dock at. The graphical glitch on large shp graphics using compression 1 is fixed, too.

Even with all the new features added, thanks to all these optimizations, Ares 0.A is still the most compact and most efficient version yet.


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