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.