Command and Conquer Red Alert: A Path Beyond (usually referred to in the community as simply APB) is an extremely extensive modification to C&C Renegade. The overall design of the game follows that of the popular 90's RTS game, Command & Conquer: Red Alert. This leads to all units and maps being redesigned and remodeled into accurate C&C Red Alert counterparts. A game of APB will typically include two factions named Allies and Soviets fighting against each other on a map based off of the RTS game. Each team has 30 minutes to use their factions' strengths (Allies are more covert and specialized while Soviets are more powerful yet slow and expensive) and ensure the complete destruction of each other through their bases or by earning points. The game as a whole has been widely praised for its extensive modifications, community, and gameplay as being one of the most popular mods for Command and Conquer Renegade in it's history.
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Red Alert: A Path Beyond has a long and complicated history, spanning since mid 2003. At its start, RA:APB was known as Renegade Alert, and was founded by members l3f7h4nd3d, Dante, and Agent Gibson in 2003. In the summer of 2003, the first public version of Renegade Alert was released: version 0.90. User Aircraftkiller was involved in map-making.
Version 0.90 was an odd beast, with a lot of charm, and a lot of bugs. First of all, the V-2 was arguably the best unit in the game at this time -- it has the longest range by far and could kill any tank in two to three shots. Super-soldier Volkov could jump about three times as high as any other infantry class, and as such he could easily get to the top of most buildings, allowing him to rain death upon his foes. The only unit that could beat the Soviets at any time was the Phase Transport, which could take a Mammoth Tank head-on and be the victor, mainly because of its very strong missiles. Rifle Soldiers often failed to do any damage to enemy units at all. The Artillery could kill someone inside a building if the shell hit 50 feet away. There was only one map -- an old prototype of the current Keep Off The Grass, and it featured what may have been the ugliest buildings to ever grace a video game. 0.90 was in .pkg format, which means that it was not a standalone game like it is today -- it didn't even have its own executable yet. It was also susceptible to a bizarre bug where players would randomly lose all of their points and money and would be unable to damage any unit. Nevertheless, 0.90 is remembered fondly, and is a testament to how far we've come since then.
In September of 2003, version 0.99 was released to the public. A giant step from 0.90, 0.99 had its own executable, and shipped with three maps: Forest of Illusion, an infantry map; Zama, a map with helicopters that spanned a river; and DM_Isles, a deathmatch map where infantry picked up weapons in crates on a series of islands. Helicopters were the game's most popular unit, and for good reason: they had unlimited ammunition and could easily kill infantry, vehicles, and buildings alike. Both the Hind and Apache had rockets and machine guns, but the Apache had stronger rockets while the Hind had... a really bad machine gun. They were also completely immune to machine gun fire. The only way a basic infantryman could damage them was with grenades, three of which were issued to Rifle Soldiers at spawn. (Good luck hitting a helicopter with grenades.) Forest of Illusion was likely the most-played map, as the numerous bushes, multiple pathways, and darkness forced players to strategize. Fun bugs and features include the Flamethrower's ability to destroy buildings in under a second, two Rifle Soldiers with different health values available to each team depending on whether you had just spawned or had repurchased, really expensive Snipers, a completely missing interior in the Soviet Refinery, and a Tesla Coil that would shoot down aircraft.
Amazingly, in a single week, version 0.991 was released to fix some of the problems that 0.99 had, including Pillboxes that would fire through their rooves at aircraft. The Hind's machine gun was considerably improved; so much so, in fact, that you were basically dead if a Hind pilot so much as looked at you if you weren't inside a vehicle. Interestingly there was a bizarre issue with the installer that prevented many people from playing the game; in about a month a hotfix, dubbed 0.9915, was released to fix this issue. People often refer to this era as the 0.9915 era because of this, even though the hotfix did nothing to the actual gameplay.
At around this time, l3f7h4nd3d became busy with the rest of his life and left. Agent Gibson followed suit.
The team would never put a patch out that quickly again. 0.992, released in February of 2004, had many new changes, and six maps instead of three. The new maps in this version were North by Northwest, a snow map; an updated Keep off the Grass which looked and played much better than the original, and The Woods Today, the largest map at this time. This is the point where the gameplay became more refined -- Allied main battle tanks could hold their own against the Soviets, and the V2, while still powerful, could not destroy all other units singlehandedly, nor could the Phase Transport. Also of note was the addition of our most popular feature to date -- nuclear bombs. Any unit could purchase an A-Bomb Signal Flare for $2400, which would call in a giant nuclear missile approximately 45 seconds later. Many a game would end with 10 or more nukes being planted simultaneously inside an enemy installation. Tanya and Volkov were similar in function in that they both had C4, but Tanya had a powerful pistol while Volkov had a long-range tank gun. A popular tactic at the time was to put Tanya inside an invisible Phase Transport and destroy buildings without being detected. Once people caught wind of this tactic, it was almost the only one used by the Allies, unfortunately, and the games became predictable. Fun bugs in this version include a new map, Fjord, being rigged so that all units always aim straight up, making fighting near impossible, and places where A-Bomb Signal Flares could not be disarmed by Engineers. Pretty cool, eh?
Dante eventually got married and was too busy to continue with the mod, making Aircraftkiller the executive producer. The leader at this point was Chronojam, who had been working behind the scenes, providing feedback with his near-encyclopedic knowledge of Red Alert and many video stills and complete map tilesets ripped from the game.
0.9925, released in March of 2004, set out to fix some of these issues by giving the Soviets some upgrades to counter this threat. The APB team at this point erred on the side of recklessness, however, and made the Tesla Tank incredibly powerful -- easily the strongest unit in the entire game, capable of annihilating vehicles, infantry, buildings, anything, with grim efficiency similar to the V2 of old. This did little to discourage Tanya and Phase Transport tactics, although 0.9925 remained popular.
0.993 came out in June of 2004, and featured several new maps, the reintroduction of aerial units (which use the current limited-ammo model) and naval combat, as well as several new maps and a complete graphical overhaul of almost all of the vehicles in the game. Volkov gained a neat hand cannon that he currently uses, but it was much more powerful against infantry than it is now, and he was nearly immune to Tanya and sniper rounds. Missile Subs were also the preferred naval unit, because they were at this time capable of attacking ships. Nuclear missiles now were launched from the Missile Silo, as they are now. As for the Tesla Tank -- it was relegated to being a slow, large, weak, and poorly-armored vehicle, a knee-jerk reaction to its carnage in 0.9925. As a result it was rarely purchased, and only often by a new player with cash to blow.
0.9932 was originally intended as a quick bug-and-balance fix to 0.993. It was released in August of 2004, but unfortunately a lack of communication between our coders caused it to ship with many game-breaking (and familiar) bugs, including causing Tanya's C4, Demo Trucks, and MAD Tanks to crash the game, and the infamous "Jesus Ranger" bug, where player models would stand inside the ranger in a crucified-looking pose rather than sitting normally. A few balance issues were fixed, but these bugs overshadowed any gameplay tweaks that were made. As a result of these issues, fan servers were unusable entirely, and the public lost interest as the number of fresh bugs combined with existing issues (combined of course with being unable to host your own server) was just too much to stomach after a couple months.
A few months later, Half-Life 2 came out, and much of the dev team fell in love with it. Plans were made to abandon the Renegade engine and begin work on the "spiritual successor" to Renegade Alert. This is where the current name comes from -- Red Alert: A Path Beyond. Aircraftkiller and Sir Phoenixx created many high-poly models which looked very pretty.
No one ever learned how to actually do anything in Source, however, so no real progress was made toward anything that was even remotely playable. When Battlefield 2 came out, Aircraftkiller decided it might be worthwhile to try that instead. The W3d version of the project was officially cancelled. In an odd decision, he tasked PointlessAmbler to figure out how to use the BF2 tools. Unfortunately, the BF2 tools were very poorly-documented and nearly impossible to work with when they were first released. No real progress was made for several months.
Nearly a full year later, Chronojam sought to revive the Renegade version which had been left stagnant. New development directives were thought up and lists of bugs and new content to introduce were laid out, despite some initial hesitation; and new tester and staff assignments were looked into. The goal was to be an interim balance patch and quite frankly sought primarily to make the game finally playable again. Numerous bugs that had been left in 0.9932 were slated for correction, including the famous double-damage Radar Dome bug. As work once again moved forwards, Aircraftkiller abandoned the pipe-dream of a Battlefield 2 mod and returned to take the lead of what was to become 0.9935.
Around this time, it should be noted, we were bitter with C&C Reborn still and eventually lost our hosting at Gamespy. That was a barrel of fun. We ended up shacking up with n00bstories, who have since proved to be a far more agreeable and reliable host; not to mention a long-time source for support for our gameservers and IRC needs.
Unfortunately, the release went very roughly. A majority of the critical bug fixes were cut, including that dreaded Radar Dome bug. The Sergeant-class infantry which were planned for inclusion (and which were even present in test builds) were cut as well, despite the intention for them to serve as a semi-surprise introduction to the unit roster to fulfill building raid/defense niche roles and to provide a cheap alternative to the Officer class for close quarters. The Tesla Tank, luckily, felt "right" in this version, finally. Careful balancing and design made it the premier Soviet anti-air vehicle and a threat to lighter Allied armor. Heavy Tanks were unfortunately not as popular anymore, however. A number of the older maps expected for inclusion were also cut. Remakes of popular "classic maps" such as Classic Zama (a throwback to the 0.990 days, this was eventually released to the public) and a redone Forest of Illusion were planned but did not get too far altogether.
After this point, there was a period of internal and external turmoil for the team. The exact history of these events is prone to a lot of speculation and those involved all have a slightly different story, but many considered this to be the end of Aircraftkiller's modding career and it at some points it appeared to nearly be the end of the mod. The site was effectively held hostage, along with the bulk of the unfinished content, with the community effectively revolting against Aircraftkiller's leadership which was only strengthened when controversy over allotment of hundreds of dollars in donation money came up. Personal details regarding his current relationship also arose, with his then-fiancee relating scandalous tales to the public.
Eventually most of the clamor died down, but not until several lasting marks were left on the project, the staff, and the community as a whole. A popular meme that arose at the time (and was further popularized by being featured on Planet CNC's front page) was that of "starving cats," an expression that still comes up today and refers to an assertion that donation money was used to fund neglected pets. In the end, the development continued on, sans Aircraftkiller, with Chronojam taking a leading role in the project and the drafting of what was then known as 0.994.
Around this time, and immediately prior to the tumult, relations with C&C Reborn (the Tiberian Sun mod for Renegade) had brightened up for once. In no small scandal of their own, the Reborn leadership had been fractured and all hope of a merger shattered with it; at least, for the forseeable future. However, with Aircraftkiller out of the scope, diplomatic negotiation between the two projects reached new heights and a merger was initiated that lasted well into the development of 0.994, while the community watched on with amazement and (at least initially) some degree of disbelief.
This time also marked the beginning of EA's community outreach efforts; finally, after years of neglect, the C&C community was given a chance to be heard as EA warmed up for its development and release of C&C3. Early versions of the current Reborn and APB internal copies were shown off in Leipzig , Germany at a large games convention on 2006 thanks to EA, with Renardin in attendence. Later, he had a chance to demonstrate once more at a C&C3-focused summit. Later on, Chronojam and Steppo were able to attend another one, with much ground covered toward securing the future for A Path Beyond and also ensuring that C&C3 would have the right kind of support that the community needed.
0.9935 continued to be played with amazingly growing support despite its age and known flaws. Oxi and Zunnie from Mp-Gaming launched an amazingly well supported server with innovative statistics and moderation capabilities that are largely to thank for this version's longevity. Several issues and new features were addressable server-side, negating the need for new patches between 0.9935 and the next. The development and release of several fan maps over the months also enhanced the playability of this version beyond its official support.
In the year between 0.994's inception and public changelist and the first release candidate, numerous advances were made with regards to the rendering technology of the game. Saberhawk and Jonwil (the former a relatively unknown C&C modder Chronojam dug up while searching for solutions for APB; the latter the foremost expert in Renegade's engine despite being shunned by the APB team due to early indescretions) were given the freedom and encouragement to create amazing new scripts and display code that give A Path Beyond the functionality and aesthetics that are now possible, which weren't even dreamed of in the past; indeed, many of this was outright discouraged and ignored.
A new version was released in Circa 2006 and the game was reverted into another naming protocol after the Greek alphabet. "Beta" as it would come to be known gave many of the features and models that are seen in APB today. Extensive updates were given to textures along with models and the game was given its own launcher which featured various news and information pertaining to the game before start-up. A primary server continually hosted multiplayer games around the clock and at its most busiest (in the afternoon and weekends) multiplayer games of 30-40 players were not uncommon. Naval warfare also found its way into the game and despite some imbalances and bugs it was widely considered the "Golden Age" of APB. Along the way of Beta, multiple patches were released that in turn fixed some of the previously mentioned bugs (such as typical Infantry being able to out range Defenses) along with a new map or redesign every patch. A constant problem and issue with the game was the constant threat of "BlueHell". Essentially, a vehicle would collide into another and then one vehicle in rare cases would be sent outside of the map spinning at 1,000 MPH in a Blue Screen unable to escape. A issue that constantly brought games to a standstill was the inclusion of what was deemed a "MedMech" (Medium Mechanic). Allied players would purchase a mechanic and medium tank and then go into combat however, when taking damage the allied player would hop out and heal their tank in a millisecond and then jump back in creating a virtual indestructible tank most of the times. Patches were released later on to address some issues but these in the process did not fix major balances that plagued the game. During the release of a patch called "Cold Fusion" Tesla Tank range became higher than almost any non artillary unit in the game leading them to be the primary unit for Soviets and in effect virtually unstoppable in groups.
Come Circa 2011-2012 a much anticipated major release for A Path Beyond was released that hoped to deviate from typical gameplay and implement new features to increase gameplay. "Gamma" as it was called forced allied infantry to rapidly click the mouse for auto-fire, put in a Tech-Upgrade limit where players would have to wait for Tech Levels to increase during the match (The last 10 minutes finally allowed you to use your best technology), Snipers (Considered a problem in Beta) were removed completely, Artillery was given a smoke round option, various Nerfs (Decrease of damage) to units, Mechanics would auto heal any vehicle, Crates appeared as in Renegade for a short while, multiple people could enter a vehicle and the Soviet Commando Volkov got a C4 Bomb that could 1 hit a building. Needless to say the version was not well received as a whole, some staff moved on into their lives, returning to a game from 2002 was not appealing, and the community started to drop numbers/suffered as a whole.
Quoted from Pushwall (Current Lead Producer of A Path Beyond)
"Here's the history of Delta's pre-release"
"Chronojam (the brains behind Gamma) was slowly working on Delta quite some time before 2015, though I'm unsure of how long ago; I (re)joined the testing team in January/February 2014 and the Delta project was clearly in a very early stage, basically all of the unit resistances/weapon damage types were busted and there was only a small handful of functional maps; the primary thing being worked on were new scripts features, some of which couldn't even be tested properly on account of the broken unit stats. It was evident that the balance model of old had been dropped, and would eventually be rewritten from the ground up.
So I got to thinking: how would I balance APB if I could do it from the ground up? As one of the most prolific players of APB even in the downtime of Gamma (along with Pyryle who was working on balance refinements for the public Gamma version), I felt I could provide a solid base for CJ to work with. Messing with the data files for my own use, I eventually created something that I felt CJ and the rest of the testing team might be interested in: an actual balance model taking heavy inspiration from Nuclear Winter (Beta 1.4), the very first version of the game that I had played back in 2010, and combining it with the few good parts of Gamma and the new stuff CJ had planned. Pyryle and I exchanged notes on a lot of matters which helped refine both of our experiences further. Both of our projects were run by the testing team once they were playable, and they were both heartily applauded.
Souljack, one of the admins of BHP at the time, asked the APB team if they could take us on board to help with balance. He first reached out to Pyryle, but Pyryle didn't have the spare time to commit to more of this. I was swimming in free time though so I got the job, and from that point I was keeping the balance fixed to a point where gameplay features that required some semblance of balance to test were testable. There was soon very little of that to test though, as Chronojam had begun to drift further away from us due to real life issues. By the time W3D Hub sprung up (end of Jan 2015), CJ wasn't even working on the game anymore, and by about March, he decided to entrust full control of APB to me and TruYuri, though TruYuri had no interest in developing; at this point the APB development team was mainly me, ChopBam, ICE and Aprime, along with one or two others I've forgotten because their contributions and presence were so infrequent compared to the main four.
While I was initially unhappy with W3D Hub for the split, over the year I started to see the reason for their disdain for BHP's admins. In October/November, we ran into our own irreconcilable issues with said admins, and began preparations to move to W3D Hub, where we would later be welcomed with open arms. Most of the active APB staff took no issue with this maneuver (though we did have to part ways with a few), and by January 2016, almost a full year after the opening of W3D Hub, both our move of home and the initial release of APB Delta were complete, and the community gap was bridged."
End Quote from Pushwall
In 2015 a multitude of longtime staff and players started to split off from Bluehell Productions and form a game that they wanted based also on what the player feedback was. In this process www.W3Dhub.com was proudly created with the goal and intentions of being to continue listening to the player base on what should go into the game. A Path Beyond along with hosting games based on the W3D Game Engine (What Command and Conquer Renegade uses to display/render everything and the heart of any game based off of it.) With a new site created, W3Dhub wasted no time polishing APB to what it claims will be the "Final Major update to APB". A Path Beyond "Delta" was since released and as told by the community took a "Return to Forum" that made the game great like in Beta. The graphics were updated and pushed the W3D engine to limits it has never seen before, multiple issues with lag were addressed, the game now gives points fairly to each team, advanced A.I. was introduced for some maps, a small accuracy penalty for jumping or running was implemented and new previously considered impossible units such as the Crono-Tank and MIG Jet Engines were added.
To celebrate the importance of APB Beta, a server dedicated solely to a version of Beta was created by staff member "Einstein" on Jan. 28th and major bugs (Such as bluehell) were stamped out.
A game of A Path Beyond almost always starts out with being randomly placed on one of two teams. Allies or Soviets. Each side has their own strengths but it is widely regarded that being on Allies will lend cheaper, weaker, more multi-use units while Soviets lend their technology to slower, more powerful units. Game play for most maps follows typical Renegade style of base destruction or point accumulation for winning. In the 30 minutes from the game starting the player will be presented typically with a base offering the options to buy vehicles or infantry. Purchasing becomes a very important aspect as units are not as flexible as they are in Renegade. Only one unit and one building can repair a vehicle, while only one unit or purchasing a refill can give your character full health. While utilizing each side for what it offers, along with the features of the map, will give a player a better chance at victory, the most important aspect of A Path Beyond immediately becomes clear where the team must work together to help make up for firepower or skills that their unit cannot accomplish by themselves. A defense can easily destroy a tank, however a whole entire base can easily be overran by simply five tanks working together. Whether or not your team works together and how they do will determine who emerges as victorious.
Despite the obvious importance placed on teamwork each team also has a mine layer which is tasked with single-handedly helping to hold the front. Allied Mine Layers have Anti-Tank Mines while Soviet Mine Layers have Anti-Personnel Mines. These vehicles can stop an attack in its tracks. Another important unit is the Allied commando, known by the name of Tanya, that holds very heavy firepower and can single-handedly destroy a building by herself. However, she must first bypass landmines and has no offensive capabilities against vehicles. There are of course other units that directly copy their RTS counterpart such as Mammoth Tanks or Tesla Tanks that can be used to great effect against other units. Typically games that do not end with base destruction will come down to the final minutes for point accumulation and be determined by which team has more, thus increasing the pressure as time counts down.
The game is monitored and updated by the staff at www.W3Dhub.com. The game is also being developmentally lead by staff member "Pushwall" and in a consistent state of being updated for better gameplay based on feedback from players. As of recent the game has had a lot of new units and features added to it which were previously thought impossible for the Game Engine to handle. Graphics have also been extensively refined to the point of an almost modern take on Renegade where special effects and lighting that the game engine can use has been pushed to the absolute max.