Comanche 4 Legacy Project

The History Of Comanche 4 and the C4 Community 

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Novalogic game support, Game problems and how they affected the community
Authored by Reaper

While C4 is fun to play, the game has some programming problems, general game issues and player complaints.
Some of the problems were addressed by Novalogic with game version V1.0.1.20, others by the players
in the C4 community, while many problems still exist today.
This page takes a look at those issues , how they effected the game, the community and
what the game developer should be responsible to fix,  

3 hit vs 8 hit in Multiplayer :
3h vs 8h was the first problem players encountered, The strength setting of easy in the coop game hosting options set a players health so it took 8 direct hits to kill them. When players made the coop/easy selection then backed out of coop, they could play dm/tdm game types at 8 hit health, where the normal health setting for players was 3 hits. Nova never addressed the problem, released a patch or fixed the programming when game version V1.0.1.20 was released as part of the Armed Forces Pack.

Community reaction:
There were 2 schools of thought, the first felt flying 8h was a cheat. The other perception was if itís in the game we can do it, or because there is no way to stop it let everyone use it and the game players would have an even playing field. In game the result was lots of accusations of players being 8h and general augments.

The first sign of relief came in the form of a player created anti-cheat called Auto explode made by Inso a member of Deep Strike Squad. Released to the community so anyone could run it, Insoís anti-cheat ran server side scanning each players health, when it found a player with health higher than 3 hit it killed the player. While there were some minor problems with new players who were 8h by accident exploding and not knowing why, things calmed down and most servers ran AE, many players refused to play a server or squad match with out it.

When game version V1.0.1.20 became available, a large number of players wanted to play it because of the No count scoring in game version V1.0.1.15. Problem was AE only worked on V1.0.1.15. Inso had been inactive for some time and the 8H issue for game version  V1.0.1.20. became a problem. A period of time passed before Inso became involved again and created a version of AE for game version V1.0.1.20.

When looking at the 8h problem ( Coop host setting that caused it ) and why NovaLogic never fixed it brings up an interesting side note. When Novalogic released Black Hawk Down using the updated Comanche 4 game engine, They didnít include COOP in the game. Was it because they could not fix the problem in C4 or just another poor decision by Nova regarding their fan base, many Delta Force fans were angry there was no COOP and modded it into the game.

Either way Nova had the chance to address the problem in some type of patch or give C4 some type cheat protection. If Inso was able to create anti-cheat with out access to the game engine code then NovaLogic should have done something. The 8h problem was discovered soon after game release and NovaLogic should have still been trying to fix and support the game at that time.

Error scored crashes in version V1.0.1.20 :

Crashes effect the score in V1.0.1.20 costing players a point, the error crashes happen after a player is killed, the attacking player has scored the kill. The player then hitís the ground (they didnít crash they are already dead) the game then scores the player as a crash.

Community reaction:
Given the choice between splash damage kills scoring no point, and being killed and losing an extra point the majority of the community would rather live with the error crashes. The error crashes remain the biggest problem today with the scoring. Since Nova didnít released version V1.0.1.20 as a patch or as a update to game version V1.0.1.15 by the time the community started using V1.0.1.20 C4 was long
past the point where their was any chance Nova would fix the problem.

EFAM bug  in Multiplayer :
The EFAM bug is a glitch were players can farp while dropping EFAMS and by timing the key stroke enable the glitch. Once the glitch is enabled the player has a full weapons load out with the profile of a player with minimum load out. The speed and radar signature of a no-EFRAMS player makes them harder to lock with radar while they maintain faster flight speed of a player with no EFRAMS

Community reaction:
Typically when most of the community found out they complained about it. However it didnít have the same anger the 8h problem did. Inso included a fix to address it in Auto Explode for both game versions. The fix scanned for no EFAMS, when detected the extra weapons were deactivated so only the first 12 stingers were active, the rest were dedeactivated making them dummies.

TD command :
The TD command line switch was hidden in the game exe programming. One of many listed, the rest were harmless when used by players and some where common used commands players had a legitimate reason to run, particularly for mod and map creation. When enabled TD would place information on the players screen so they could track the location of other players.

Community reaction:
TD received the same type of response 8h did years earlier with most players calling it a cheat. A number of players claimed it was programmed into the game and it was there to use. However to find the command a player had to read through the exe file line by line to find it. Then not knowing what it was, test it in game with other players to find out what the command did. 

In reality NovaLogic blow it, that type of command is typically used during game development for testing then removed as the game is completed. The fact Novalogic left it in there was a sign of sloppy work completing the game. They could have hidden or disabled the command in a few seconds with nothing more than a hex editor. By the time TD was made public the community was already long past it's glory days and the number of players who would have been affected by it was relatively small compared to 8H. The end result was TD was never fixed, no anti-cheat was created to stop it, and players can still use it today.

No counts in game version V1.0.1.15 :

The commentary required to cover no counts and itís effect on the c4 community demands itís own article.
see the complete article here : No Counts a community divided.

Invisible players :
Players becoming invisible after re-spawning, being stuck in the game or experiencing ciís is a common game error. The typical way to fix it in game version V1.0.1.15 was to crash to kill yourself. Most of the time you would be visible after re-spawn. Since game version V1.0.1.20 takes points for crashes players type ~resetgames to reload the map to fix being invisible.

Community reaction:
Since it happens to nearly everyone frequently Most players chalked it up to a bug nova never fixed and explained to new players how to fix it. A hand full of players would take advantage of it and continue to kill players who couldnít see or hear them. If they did it often enough pub servers would punt them the first time then ban them after that.

It is hard to believe as often as it takes place Nova would not have experienced it often during testing. Either they couldnít find the cause to fix it, or thought they had. Either way it was never fixed and happens often.

Game freeze from Desk top/game screen resolution conflict :

When game resolution and the desktop resolution are set the same, then players window key or alt/tab out of the game the screen will freeze, Often the player will need to hard boot to recover.

I donít remember if this was a Windows 98 issue or not, but it is with every other operating system. Even if this didnít occur with Win 98, Win XP was released so close to C4, Every C4/Win XP graphics conflict should have been corrected, particularly a error that happens because a player window keys out of a game, a common action used by most players. With the video cards being used at that time a common conflict would have been players using a resolution setting of 800 X 600 on both the desk top and the game, a setting Nova should have checked. This was just more example of poor support.

Blurry  illegible game lobby screen :
This is a problem caused by the game being developed prier to Windows XP. Comanche 4 was not optimized for the new appearance settings for Windows XP. To Novaís credit they did address the problem on their support page and explained how to fix it.

Scoring complaints What no crash deduction ? :
The first complaint about scoring wasn't the no counts or error crashes, those would come later. The first complaint was about no points being deducted for players who crash. Viper one of many players who had played Comanche 3 and had what was probably the first Comanche 4 fan site, expected the same type of scoring they used in C3. Nova changed it and those players were not happy about it..

Community reaction:
A number of players agreed that just scoring kills as the winner took the skill out of the game. However many players had never played C3 and really didnít care. Nova must have took the complaint to heart because they changed the scoring for version V1.0.1.20.

No Anticheat support :

Comanche 4 never had anti-cheat deployed by Nova, many players believe that some kind of anti-cheat should have been provided. Nova didnít provide any, C4 was hacked and players cheated in C4. Over all the programming issues were worse than the hacks and If Nova would have fixed those, cheating would have played a much smaller roll in the community.

NovaLogic's Game Support :

It should be noted, C4 was released when many players were still running Windows 98, and Me, whose operating systems were not as stable as Windows XP released in October 25, 2001 just pryer to Comanche 4. Nova would have developed C4 using a operating system prier to Windows XP, This would effect how later operating systems run the game and would explain some problems players would have later with Windows XP, Vista, ect from the newer technology those systems would use

The first place to look when discussing issues that plagued C4 and stirred up discontent over the years is support from the game developer, in this case NovaLogic. It is understandable there would be a finite period of time where the company supports the game. They need to make game sales profits in a reasonable amount of time, then move on to the next project to stay in business. All games have programming errors just as all software does, and no company is going to make every player happy. So the question is, What is reasonable game support.

Game support should include interaction between the developer and the paying customer base to fix glaring program faults and game play  related problems once reported. Particularly if the problem may cause the game to crash, run poorly or adversely effect game play. The developer needs to correct the problem, then release a patch for the players. NovaLogic made an attempt to do that. Comanche 4 was patched after release to fix game problems. (
game patch development Notes ). They did not fix everything they should have !.

Support Overview :
The Comanche 4 game engine has been hacked to death by cheats for every game it was updated for. The two games released after C4, BHD and JOTR had obvious hacks as soon as the demo was released. Nova has never made a serous attempt to create a fair play environment. 

Over all NovaLogic did listen to what the players were saying. They changed the game scoring to score splash damage kills as a point and deducted points for crashing. However the scoring change was not announced or communicated to the community. We had to found out about it by accident, when some new players hosted a game using it. In fact to play the updated version the game host had to buy a new game ( version V1.0.1.20 ), sold in the Armed Forces pack. The scoring was implemented server side so players did not need the new game version.

Nova has a reputation for lack of communication with the fan base of all itís games. Those of us that played , BHD,  JOTR and DF Extreem experienced many of the same problems and complaints the C4 players did. Those of us who frequent the NOVAWORLD forum and stay up to date waiting for the next game to be released are aware nova has not interacted with the community in about 3 years at this point.

NovaLogic released the game, made a-half assed attempt to fix it and moved on. The question is did you get what you paid for ?. You got the original game release, a patch to fix the problems Nova either could fix or were willing to spend the time to fix, The NOVAWORLD game service (game lobby), and the game play you experienced over the years.
Was it worth it ?, thatís a question each player must answer for themselves.