SID MEIER'S ALIEN CROSSFIRE
*Sea Borders: coastal
bases now extend borders into the sea for all squares
adjacent to the base. Nearby water bases do not affect
NOTE: Alien Crossfire now contains all the additions/enhancements and fixes to Alpha Centauri 1.0 that were contained in the downloadable updates, V2.0 through 4.0.
CHANGES IN ALPHA CENTAURI VERSION 3.0
The v3.0 update to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri includes several additions and enhancements, largely in response to customer feedback, as well as a more small fixes. A complete list of v3.0 changes is included below.
CHANGES IN ALPHA CENTAURI VERSION 2.0
The v2.0 Update to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri includes several new features to enhance the Alpha Centauri gameplay experience as well as a host of small fixes. Most notably, v2.0 includes Hotseat and Play-by-email multiplayer modes. A complete list of v2.0 changes is included below.
If you are experiencing performance problems, try some of the following tips:
* Included in the
Alternative Art folder on the CD-ROM is a Low Res Caviar
folder. Copy the contents of this folder to the directory
you installed the game to. The default is c:\program
files\firaxis games\sid meier's alpha centauri. These
files reduce the detail in the units, but can improve
* Right click on a Pact Brother from commlink menu to end a pact.
This install size copies the very minimum files to the hard that are required by the game to operate. It also alters the default game preferences to improve over performance.
This install copies the entire contents of the CD-Rom to the hard drive. It requires 360 megabytes of hard drive space.
GAMMA CORRECTION / "IF THE GRAPHICS SEEM TOO DARK"
We've added a Gamma Correction feature to allow the customer to adjust the brightness of the palette without adjusting their monitor. It is accessible from any of the preference menus. The default value is 1.0.
Almost all features of SMAC should work under Windows NT 4.0. You'll need to obtain NT Service Pack 3 or higher from Microsoft and install it, which includes DirectX 3 or higher support. Note: Sound support under NT currently requires us to use emulated drivers; this can in some cases produce poor sound results, including static and sound breaking up.
If you experience random crashes and you are overclocking your CPU (especially with AMD K-5 and K-6 processors), try returning your CPU speed to it's original setting.
If your computer has problems playing some of the in-game movies, verify that you are not using any 16-bit real mode drivers for the CD-ROM drive. You can check this by opening the Control Panel and choosing the System settings. Under the Performance tab, there is a line for File System. This should read 32-bit. If it has anything else in that line, contact the manufacturer of your CD-ROM drive for updated Windows 95/98 drivers. If you still experience problems playing movies, try adding 'DirectDraw=0' to the Alpha Centauri.ini file in the install directory.
Once the game is installed, a file is created called "Alpha Centauri.ini". This file contains various settings and preferences for the game, but can also be edited by the user. The following commands will allow you some control over the look of various parts of the game.
Video Mode=800 or Video
TROUBLESHOOTING - If your computer has problems playing the game (crashes, returning to desktop, etc.), please try the following:
1. Reinstall DirectX 6.1. This can be found on the CD in the \DIRECTX folder.
2. Rename the SOUND.DLL to SOUND.DL_. While disabling the sound, it may correct your original problem.
3. If you receive the message "CPU Not Supported", and you have a non-Intel processor such as an AMD K-5, try to run the game anyway. Many AMD processors show up as a 486 in verification tests, but if your machine is 'Pentium Compatible', it shouldn't be a problem.
4. Increase amount of free hard drive space on the C: drive, especially if you have 16 or 32 megs of memory. Defragmenting this drive will also often increase the amount of space available for Windows to use as Virtual Memory. Also keep in mind that larger maps require more memory. Try a smaller map.
5. Let Windows handle your swap file size. This can be adjusted by running the System Control Panel, selecting the Performance menu tab, then the Virtual Memory button, and selecting "Let Windows manage my virtual memory settings".
6. Update the Windows 95/98 drivers for your Video card, Sound card, and Monitor.
7. When running the game you return directly to the desktop, you may not have your monitor setup correctly. Try to manually set your desktop to one of the resolutions the game supports (1024x768x8bit (256 colors) or 800x600x8bit). If you cannot manually set the resolution, you will need to contact your computer's manufacturer for details on how to do so.
8. If you are using an TNT2 based video card (Hercules TNT2, Diamond Viper v770, etc.) try setting your hardware acceleration to 0 in the system control panel.
9. If the game's volume has changed since installing Alien Crossfire, try setting those values in the audio/visual preferences.
10. Some Plextor CD-Rom drives have been reported to cause movies to stutter when played off the CD. Contact Plextor for a BIOS upgrade which solves this problem.
11. If you're experiencing crashes in the sound.dll, perhaps your sound card is having difficulty supporting the Alien Crossfire's 3D Audio. Try setting the EAX and DS3D entries in the 'alpha centauri.ini' file to 0.
12. Any 'Unable to allocate draw-buffer' errors most likely relate to DirectX not being installed. Try reinstalling DirectX 6.1 from the \DIRECTX folder on the Alien Crossfire CD.
NOTE: Encrypted MP saved game files from Alpha Centauri won't work with Alien Crossfire.
* Change symbol next to faction name in 'commlink' menu to 'null' (zero with a slash through it) by clicking on it to ignore all messages from a player.
A feature we added is non-simultaneous movement in multiplayer games. Benefits of this mode include significantly less packet transmission (to improve performance), the ability to execute diplomacy without your turn clock running out, and the luxury to fine tune your bases while other players complete their moves. Disable the Simultaneous Move option on the Multiplayer Setup screen to use this feature. The game plays essentially the same as the simultaneous move game, except when other players are making their moves, you maintain control. Except for actually moving units, you can access any base, any report screen, initiate or participate in diplomacy, and many other actions.
RESTARTING MULTIPLAYER SAVES:
Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire both support the saving of multiplayer games in order to play later. Have the host of the game save as in a solo game. In order to restart, have that player host the game. On the main Multiplayer Setup screen, under Type of Game, select load. Load that save, have the other players select their factions and begin play.
VOICE OVER DATA TROUBLESHOOTING:
One of the features of Alpha Centauri is the ability to use a microphone connected to your sound card for real-time voice communication during multiplay games. Below are some troubleshooting techniques you may try if you're experiencing difficulty using this feature.
VOICE LINK TIPS:
1. Before attempting to use the voice link feature in Alpha Centauri we recommend testing the recording functionality of your sound card with the Sound Recorder the comes with Win '98 / '95. If you can get that working then the voice link will most likely work.
2. Keep in mind this feature is designed to work using as little bandwidth as possible so quality will be marginal. However you should be able to understand the person who is talking. If not, try experimenting with microphone volume , mic placement, and speech volume. It may not be pretty but it sure beats typing messages.
3. If you're unfamiliar
with the Windows record settings here is how to access
them: First open up the "advanced mixer" by
double clicking on the volume control icon located on the
Windows task bar (looks like a speaker). If this icon is
not present you need to enable it by opening the control
panel, multimedia properties and checking the "show
volume control on taskbar" checkbox. By having the
volume control on the taskbar you can adjust the settings
while you're in the game.
5. Use the voice link like a walkie-talkie. Press down and hold the '\' key, talk and when finished let it up. Only talk in turns because the system is half-duplex (It can't transmit and receive at the same time). Avoid using it during the upkeep phase in multiplayer since during that time it's possible to let up on the key and not stop the recording. You know it's working when the games sounds stop. If the games sounds don't return after letting up (during upkeep) then wait till upkeep is finished and press and let up on the key again - the sound should return.
1. During the upkeep phase in multiplayer recording may get stuck causing game sounds to stop. just press the '\' key till the sound returns.
2. General poor sound quality of voice over data.
3. We decided to leave game sounds on during voice link reception and incoming messages can sometimes get garbled with voice stuff in the game.
1. Some users may experience problems when playing Alpha Centauri using America Online (AOL) as their connection to the internet. Please consult the web page (www.firaxis.com) for updated information concerning this issue.
2. Modem TCP/IP games with more than 2 players may degrade game performance on some networks. We will keep updated information on TCP/IP game performance on our web page.
There are a number of
pre-generated scenarios provided with the game in the
*The last scenario, "SP--7 PlayerA" puts the factions arrayed around a central continent in a struggle for territory.
The Firaxis Games Team
I had a conversation some months back with Jason Coleman, Firaxis' Senior Programmer, where he talked about the overwhelming importance of an entire team's contribution to a game. At the time I agreed with him, but I only fully realized what he meant once we were deep into Alien Crossfire. I had an amazing experience working with everyone on this project, and it also brought home how fortunate we are to have the kind of collaborative, friendly, and open team environment here at Firaxis.
The lead programmer and lynchpin of the whole Crossfire effort, Chris Pine, was the newest addition to the Firaxis programming team. Chris was full of exceptional talent and promise, but there was some question as to whether we had overextended ourselves (and him) by throwing him headlong into Brian's code with little guidance and with his only professional experience consisting of Alpha Centauri's report screens. Chris's schedule required him to complete tasks at twice the estimated rate in order to have a prayer of making our September ship date. The first month I watched, amazed, as he not only met his goals, but exceeded them, allowing us to commit a team to the expansion with full confidence of success.
Throughout this process, Greg Foertsch and Jerome Atherholt anchored the art for all the additions: portraits, bases, icons, and all the other stuff needed to fit the expansion into the game. Over time, Greg's exceptional leadership and vision made him the natural choice as Art Lead on Alien Crossfire. In addition to his organizational duties and oversight of all things art, Greg lovingly crafted the new bases in the game. Greg also came up with a ton of great game ideas during the design phase, many of which were adopted wholesale for the final version. His partner in crime, Jerome Atherholt, conceived and designed all the faction leader portraits, with the same high quality and attention to detail he used on the original SMAC 7. Jerome also found time from his new duties as Firaxis Art Manager to handle many of the cool new map icons, including the Unity wreckage, the Spore Launchers, and the Battle Ogres. He showed astounding patience in the face of several 'group feedback sessions' on his initial designs, and the final portraits are a testament to his exceptional painting skills.
Much of Alien Crossfire's detail and play balance came courtesy of Doug Kaufman, a recent Firaxis hire but a 16-year game industry veteran. His sagacious advice, support, and encyclopedic knowledge of all things game-related proved invaluable, and Crossfire is a much richer product as a result. Doug was part of the original team on Alpha Centauri, as well as Sid Meier's Civilization II, Sid Meier's Colonization, and far too many other games to list here. Doug was instrumental in keeping the vision of Crossfire focused. Not only did he offer outstanding ideas, but he always had the wisdom to ask "What are we trying to accomplish with this feature?" And when I would wander into his office and say something like "Uh do you mind rewriting all of script.txt to reflect an alien viewpoint," he was up for the challenge. When those thankless writing chores were done, he also hammered out the manual in record time.
Several other Firaxians made their mark felt on Crossfire by lending their art skills in between other projects. Rising art star Brent Alleyne came up with the great alien character design, and then implemented it in 3D. He also worked out quite a few of the animations and other necessary art, and has been one of the fastest learners I've worked with. Rarely has a new hire fit so well into an existing team as Brent. Mike Bazzell, animator of the units in the original Alpha Centauri, graciously lent many of his evenings and weekends to the new unit components. And when Brent's final alien design was just too darn cool to keep the human 'look and feel' of the original units, Mike uncomplainingly went about redesigning most of the old chassis and modules. And last, but certainly not least, Steven Chao upheld the glorious Firaxis intern tradition of producing outstanding work over the summer, and was rewarded with a permanent staff position. Steve undertook all the new icons in the game, handled many interface chores, and designed the alien scout ships seen in the opening.
Jeff Morris, our office champion of just about every game he tries, designed and programmed the faction editor. After mastering the intricacies of the JACKAL library, Jeff also co-ordinated our testing effort with the skill and experience of his five years in the game industry. As if those tasks weren't enough, he also handled quite a bit of miscellaneous programming, including the install and autorun, managed all disc duplication and distribution, and kept our internal network running. He also kept track of our beta test team, who provided some of the most valuable feedback of the whole process.
On the multimedia front, Producer Michael Ely, longtime friend and sounding board, once again directed all the new movies and voiceovers in the game with his cinematic eye and ear. Mike is an outstanding example of an industry renaissance man, providing not only the movies, but also backstory, blurbs, plot advice, and suggestions for avoiding cliché. He also penned the new chapters in the web story seen at www.aliencrossfire.com . Somehow he wedged all this in between his leadership duties on Sid Meier's Antietam and the new, top-secret Sid project.
Dave Evans, the best all-around sound man in the industry, designed and programmed all the sounds you hear in Crossfire, along with the ambient music, movie effects, game sounds, and voice processing. Dave squeezed all this in on a very tight schedule, even taking time to tutor me in the finer points of field recording prior to a couple of Moxy Fròvous shows. Also handling music chores for the movies was Jeff Briggs, our ever-versatile CEO, President, and composer.
Last but not least on the development side were a pair of lifesavers: Brian Reynolds and Senior Programmer Jason Coleman. Brian, of course, created the original Alpha Centauri world and consented to let us play with it for a while. Then, when time was at a premium, he stopped work on his OTHER project to add in all the new missiles, the alien victory condition, and some spruced-up AI. Jason helped out on several multiplayer and library-related issues, also taking time away from his other projects. Many thanks to both for their time and effort!
On the Electronic Arts side, we had outstanding support from the marketing, production, and QA departments. Producer Hunter Smith kept us on the semblance of a schedule, while Jonathan Harris and Chris Plummer whipped a marketing program into shape. These three individuals possess an exceptional grasp of games and the marketplace, and we were very lucky to be able to work with them. Translations were headed up by two veterans from Alpha Centauri, Christina Vollmer and Jean-Luc Chabrier. This pair stands head and shoulders above all other translation teams I've ever worked with, for their professionalism, commitment to quality, and technical aptitude. David McCormick did an excellent job as QA Lead, ferreting out quite a few bugs that were in the original product. He made the often arduous process of playtesting from 3000 miles away go as smoothly as I could have imagined. And of course we owe a huge debt to Bing Gordon, EA co-founder, Firaxis booster, and Alpha Centauri fan, for his suggestions and support throughout the entire design process.
Several other people at Firaxis supported or contributed directly to this expansion, including Susan Meier, Master of Miscellaneous, Lindsay Riehl, Director of Marketing and PR, Jennifer Bass, Director of Finance, Dan Magaha, Webmaster, and Stephen Lee, web intern. And of course, to Sid Meier, for teaching all of us how to make these god games in the first place!
In short, Alien Crossfire is a proud reflection of each team member's unique talents and perspectives. Thanks to all of them for their time, creativity, and good-natured personalities. By now this is a cliché for the gaming industry, but I sincerely hope you have as much fun playing the game as we had making it!