Supreme Commander 2 Updated Q&A - Gameplay, Units, Technology, and More

Gas Powered Games frontman Chris Taylor updates us on the units, gameplay, and technology in this highly anticipated strategy sequel. Exclusive trailer inside.

The development studio Gas Powered Games is perhaps best known for 2007's Supreme Commander, a remarkable and gigantic real-time strategy game that offered enormous real-time strategy battles and impressive technology that let you zoom way, way, way-way-way out in real time to view the game from an abstract, strategic view or let you zoom in tight on your armies of mechanized machines as they smashed each other to bits in your name. Now, the studio is working on the sequel, which will be released in early 2010, and GPG's creative director (and the designer of the acclaimed strategy classic Total Annihilation), Chris Taylor, has some new answers and updates on the game's progress.

GameSpot: Give us an update on the game's development. What aspects of the game is the team working on now?

Chris Taylor: As we head for the finish line, our focus turns mostly to a few key areas of the game. First, we are working to eliminate all remaining bugs and to make sure the game is tuned and balanced. We also do a lot of work on performance optimizations to make sure the game loads quickly and will maintain a high frame rate.

GS: We understand the sequel will add to all aspects of the previous game, in terms of story, gameplay, and technology. Could you give us an update on the technology optimization that's being worked on at present? How low of a spec does the game currently scale to?

CT: Well, the game has a brand-new rendering engine that has been designed to be extremely efficient for this kind of game. The engineering team has done an outstanding job of identifying the key graphics requirements to produce a visually stunning game that performs incredibly well. I can't say for sure these days with PCs all over the map, but if you bought a slick gaming rig five years ago, and perhaps upgraded the video once, you should have no problem at all.

GS: We understand that the sequel will not only bring back our good friends the Cybrans and the UEF, but will also debut a new faction, the Illuminate. What can you tell us about this group? How will they perform on the battlefield?

CT: The new faction is an interesting group, because they sort of grew out of the old, original faction, the Aeon Illuminate. They play a little differently than the other factions, because most of the units hover above the ground and the water. This means that the Illuminate don't have or need a navy. This decision gives the faction a lot of asymmetry, but it fits well with the overall design and really changes the way you interact with them. It was important for us that they look cool, however, and have a much more identifiable form than previous games, making them much easier to use in the heat of battle.

GS: From what we've seen, it also seems like there's an overall focus on giving battles more of a fluid, give-and-take quality. For instance, upgrades now take place along a skill-tree-like system that keeps even lower-tier units useful for longer, and there will be a way to launch units across the map to get them into the fray faster. Tell us about how these features affect the pacing of the battles. Do SupCom 2's skirmishes seem to heat up faster? Do they end faster?

CT: We definitely wanted to see the game move along at a faster clip, but all the design changes in the world won't make up for how the map size affects gameplay--meaning, if you want a short game, play on a small map, a longer game, play on a huge map. Having said that, you will have the ability to deploy experimental units much more quickly--we call these "minor experimental units." These units aren't quite as outrageous as the big, major experimental units, but they are pretty awesome and can have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.

GS: Tell us about the decision to incorporate unit experience during battles. What does this add to the game?

CT: Well, as you probably know, we've done it before, and it's a pretty important part of a strategy game. Incorporating unit experience is a significant reward for players who don't sacrifice their units in battle without giving them much thought. It follows a real-life parallel--the more battle experience a unit has, the higher its survivability. We feel this is one of many things that give Supreme Commander 2 its depth.

GS: Tell us about the enhancements being made to the resource gathering and economic aspects of the game. Now that units can't be queued unless you can afford them, does this add more of a micromanagement layer to the game in practice as expert players wait for the precise moment they can afford their next tank or ship? How is the economy otherwise being designed and tweaked to encourage fast, smooth gameplay without too much rivet counting?

Expect to see all-new land-sea-air conflicts in Supreme Commander 2.

CT: That's a great question. When we started development, we prototyped the exact system you described, but what we discovered is that we wanted to be able to set up a "repeat queue" just like in the first game, so we added that. How this works is that the player can queue up a series of units, in any amount, in any order. Then they can press the repeat button. If there are enough resources, the units are all built again, and the appropriate resources are deducted at that time. If, for whatever reason, that can't happen, the factory is paused, and when resources are available, the player can continue construction. This captures a lot of the same benefits of the old system without the downside of many players getting the "stalled economy" syndrome we saw before.

GS: Tell us about the "stretch cursor" interface in the console version of the game. With a game as complex and huge as Supreme Commander 2, how will the interface ensure that players will be able to get around quickly and take care of everything they need to? Is the expectation that the Xbox 360 version will be paced exactly the same as the PC version?

CT: The key to the whole game is the strategic zoom, and the stretch cursor, our new addition to the mix, really makes the game very playable, whether you are zoomed in close, giving commands to a single unit, or zoomed way out, ordering around a large battle group. The stretch cursor gives a very clear visual indication of what will be selected. This is a huge improvement over a simple proximity-style cursor that highlights the closest unit. The player gets very specific visual feedback, and it allows them to make faster decisions that are more precise. The pacing on the console should be exactly the same as on the PC, but that depends on play style more than the game.

GS: Give us an update on the game's multiplayer. How is multiplayer shaping up so far? What are the significant differences between console and PC multiplayer?

CT: Multiplayer is shaping up great and is a huge part of the whole RTS experience, especially for a game like SupCom 2. We are providing a lot more variety in the map size and configuration, giving the player more choices for the kind of games they want to play, especially if they want to play a quick game on a smaller map. The biggest difference between the two is that you can play four players on the console and up to eight on the PC. Each platform has a different matchmaking backend that is tailored to the platform, which we believe really maximizes the experience. Oh, and we also support voice chat too.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about Supreme Commander 2?

Things will still go up in flames, and nukes will still very much be a part of the sequel.

CT: Sure. We're very proud of the game, because we are not only delivering a huge leap forward in technology; we're doing it in so many other areas of the game as well. For example, we've really seen a tremendous synergy in the collaboration between Square Enix and GPG, especially with our storytelling. We're doing so much more with characters, taking the player behind the scenes, into the lives of these people caught up in the war. In other areas, we've taken the concept of an RTS "map" and knocked it into a new dimension. We take the player on a wild ride, from fantastic futuristic cities, to playing on an alien artifact that is in geosynchronous orbit. We've pushed almost every aspect of the game, and have made it run on more hardware than ever, and have taken the visuals on the unit designs up at least a notch, maybe two. And lastly, everybody's favorite units, the experimentals, are now more outrageous than ever.

GS: Thanks, Chris. We can't wait to try it.

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76 comments
kyle__whitehead
kyle__whitehead

I'm a big fan of this game but i have to say that i'm largely dissapointed with the game. i thought that the experimentals would be even more awe in spiring but it didn't. the this games seems more like a prequel to the original rather then the sequel that it should have been.

KO3085
KO3085

I'm very looking forward to this game. I like games that stick with me like SUPCOM/FA, and I like robots so that's a plus, hehe. Skirmish games, to me, are all about getting up to T3 and experimental units. I like the FA campaign as well. While some of you battle your opinions I'm gonna be making robots...

Daniel8888
Daniel8888

Well @Zendric, What a Funny think that I find in gamespy. The link you send is valid but, I saw another article which enlisted the TOP 50 GAMES OF ALL TIME (not limited by genre) , and you know what? While total Annihilation whas at the botton (50th place) of the list, Starcraft was in 9th place, isn´t that strange? Se for yourself: http://archive.gamespy.com/articles/july01/top501aspe/ You know, I won´t vangloriate about that (as I should do) I rather prefer just to disconsider such a site that has this kind of contradiction. That´s why I also use the recent list made by IGN, since they made the fewest mistakes in comparision to any other.The credibility of gamespy parameters are, at minimun, just as dubious as you say about gamespot. Let´s make this way them: I give away gamespot ratings, and you giveaway Gamespy contradictions, and we keep the recent and unquestionable IGN list. Since if you pick Gamespy criteria, you could say that TA was the best in it´s genre, but SC is in top ten of the best games of ANY genre, while TA is at 50th place. You people can try but, nevertheless, Starcraft/Warcraft III gameplay supremacy stands as I sad in first place. Don´t try to argue. Just deal with it.

Zendric
Zendric

@Daniel8888 you quote IGN not putting TA in the best games of all time list but ignore Gamespy naming Total Annihilation as its BEST RTS of all time, ahead of starcraft. http://archive.gamespy.com/top10/february04/rts/index11.shtml And please do not use Gamespot's number ratings as any major reference on a game's quality, take a look at what they gave the first Age of Empires if you need an example.

BLaZe462
BLaZe462

@Daniel8888 ur pretty good at jibberish

camdean5
camdean5

Looking forward to the second part of the most exiting and massive strategy game ever made, I have played them all, hoping for better, but since 2007 when I tested Supreme Commander, nothing has even touched the sides. Looks awesome, I just hope the dumbing down of the economy isn't as bad as some people are thinking, it is a strategy game, not a point and click and scroll after all. Supreme Commander wasn't the most common game, hardware requirements and the old 'C&C' till I die attitude held some people back, unlucky for them. Can't wait, pity there isn't a beta testing this time though. If it lives up to it's expectations then it will be the next best strategy game of all time, I doubt Mr.Taylor will let it be anything less.

Daniel8888
Daniel8888

@djtim_3000 I would recommend to you to find the definition of "comparison". But I will save you the trouble: Establish a parallel between: compare ideas. Your suggestion to me to not compare two games from the same genre because they "play" different is, at minimun, awkward, since what motivates me to compare them, is EXACTLY the reasons of why they play so differently despite the fact that they are both RTS. There would be no reason in comparing if both titles were similar. But if comparisions is sterile as you say, them, why exists game awards to reward the best ones? I think, they base those choices on what? ummm...comparison maybe? And also, "you could easily extend this analogy to movies, music and almost all of consumer culture." (Oscar, Grammy, did you heard of them?) You say my comparison betwen the games is based on popularity, not merit. Them, let me use a professional opinion: Gamespot score for SupCom - 8.7 Gamespor score for SC - 9.1 Gamespot score for WC - 9.3 I think is clear that althought they play different, the supcom style is no match for SC/WC style of gameplay. Not enought? Let me say that IGN has made a list of the 25 best games of all time. Starcraft was there, but, I didn´t saw Supreme Commander, nor Total Annihilation on the list. I also saw Call of Duty, but not you´re ArmA game. Maybe is not my way to see things is limited? I recommend to you who don´t like comparisons to look in a mirror.

djtim_3000
djtim_3000

@Daniel8888 You may think to win, but you obviously don't think before you post. Or at the very least your thinking is very limited. Comparing WC/SC to Supcom is like comparing ArmA to Modern Warfare 2. Yes, technically they are both RTS (or FPS in my example) but even a rudimentary comparison would show there are vast differences in how they play. Compare them apples to apples and saying (for example) ArmA is crap becuase its hard and too easy to die and enough sh*t doesnt blow-up compared to MW2 and most people would look at you funny and say, "so, you know, thats the point". They are two different games, yes MW2 is far more popular but that doesn't make ArmA a bad (or inferior) game by any stretch. Its just different. You could easily extend this analogy to movies, music and almost all of consumer culture. Also you should look up the definition of 'strategy' and 'tactics' to become a bit more clued up on the major difference between supcom and games like SC.

yuyuyu6
yuyuyu6

The special abilities for units are more tactics than strategy. Not that I mind though. For SupCom 2, the thing's I'm liking are more factional differences, like the idea of the Aeon not needing a navy as much. What I do not like however are some of the unit models, the Cybran units are obviously cybran but don't have the creepy spikes and such, and that it seems we will not have the massive amounts of engineers.

Daniel8888
Daniel8888

@SteveQ_basic, @Giglioroninomic You prefer SupCom because it has a limited gameplay made for limited players. You people just don´t get it. Quantity does not mean quality. What you criticize about SC/WC it´s is emphasized in SupCom. Since the majority units in Supcom doesn´t have any specific abilities (like in Blizzard games), nor the factions have any distinctive general differences themselves, is left to the player just two strategic choices: make more units than the other player, or purchase greater tier units. Where´s the strategy here? Strategy is about beeing smarter than the other player, not click faster to build more units or evolve faster. Anyone can come to Tier 3 and use brute force to win. Unfortunately, ALL RTS games have this issue on some level. but at least, WC/SC games TRY to balance things making distinctive differences in each unit and faction, and also, taking care to make the earlier units become useful even in the end-game (terror drones, zerglings, Griphon Riders). In fact I won most of games I play because I know how to use tier 1 and 2 properly along with tier 3 ones. I THINK to win. Saying this, that´s no argument to overcome the fact that SupCom 1 is an inferior game. If it wasn´t, the developers themselves would not make changes to turn SupCom more similar to Warcraft and CnC, such as the upgrade and experience system already present on the mentioned games. (see Chris Taylor video above). SupCom players like it or not, but, it´s the truth. Deal with it.

Baldies12
Baldies12

@Giglioroninomic Everyone has their own opinion on things. Minority of people like SupCom... and Majority of people like SC/WC series. Who really cares if you're in the minority. The point is that SupCom2 looks absolutely amazing, as was the SC/WC series. They're good games in their own respect and bashful haters need to gtfo

SteveQ_basic
SteveQ_basic

@ Giglioroninomic I agree with you 100%. I never understood why ppl liked the warcraft series that much.

Patad
Patad

@mathi4s: Getting from one side of the map to the other in less than 10 minutes: build transports....sorted. Sure they can be shot down, but, that's a risk you have to take.

GoodGuy729
GoodGuy729

SupCom Forged Alliance was an excellent sequel to the original, and as long as GPG made a similar leap forward here, then this game will definitely be worth getting. The "unit experience" concept is a perfeect example of the kind of progression that will keep this game fresh. Also, I am glad to see that they are looking for ways to speed up the gameplay, it did get a little tedius on the larger maps.

krawk_ck77
krawk_ck77

I want some units to transform plz lol

krawk_ck77
krawk_ck77

Nice graphics, bigger Bots, better maps can wait for this one to come out :)

mathi4s
mathi4s

I must say i really looked forward to the first Supreme commander but when i finally got a chance to play it it fellt like kick in the balls. It involved like a ton of zooming that just was annoying not to mention that the units needed like ten minutes or more to get from one place to another. I totally misunderstood the key elements of the game at first. I took another look at it and it looks like the Production buildings and economics are the main factors that deside the outcome of every battle so I said to my self OH so thats how it goes, thats totally BORING anyway.

TheHotSam
TheHotSam

If we go more in the terminology of words. Most games we call real time strategy games should be called real time tactic games. This is a true strategy game where we look at the bigger picture in the engagement (except for early game where we feel the opponent's weaknesses with a few skirmishes). If we really need to compare the 'crafts and Command and Conquer to Supreme then the best one might be that your production facilities in Supreme Commander are the soldiers of the others. And what they produce are their abilities or attacks. And for those complaining about the cheer size. Getting a second screen to hold the mini map was an incredibly well though out feature possible in the first one. Or if you wanted you could have a screen watching your base while the other focused on the front and change this on the go very easily. I got a 20$ used 15' extra screen just for this. I truly hope this is included in this one.

waterdragon222
waterdragon222

BTW, In the first part with hte "The units are, yes," I mean Supreme COmmander

waterdragon222
waterdragon222

This is all a matter of opinion. To be frank, no one will really change their opinions until they are utterly crushed. Honest. The units are, yes its true, very small, sometimes. But, to the people who are saying that's annoying, just don't zoom out! Other than that, zoom in and enjoy the graphics! Also, Warcraft 3 is a decent game. There is not that much strategy involved: there is no rock-paper-scizzors- as in no This kills That, and this kills that. Etc. Nothing like that. Unfortunately, I thought it was decent, because it has nice graphics, it has a leveling up system, and the recource mechanics are good for the humans. The elves can't gain enough recources fast enough, and their buildings have the ability to uproot themselves and walk around as trees. Problem is, they suck. They are huge trees, but they can't do that much. 6/10-Warcraft.

Vasot
Vasot

The units are so small that look like ants and are extremely expendable. That's annoying to me

Patad
Patad

Hicks_1 - Some people, including myself, love the scale and are happy to sacrifice the pretty graphics(nothing wrong with the pretty graphics mind you). Each to their own really. having no zoom out is very irritating to me. I still love the game that don't zoom out(yes, even red alert 3) but, SC does allow for the whole battle to be visible at once, which is fantastic in my view.

Patad
Patad

l3loodAngel - great reasoning there. "And that's completely ignoring any sense at all." - you gave no reason. "Anyways wc and starcraft have more strategy than any strategy game ever released" - no reason. "is named "Giglioroninomic" who cares what do you remember and what kind of gay name is that?" - great argument.....and your reasoning is just unmatched.

l3loodAngel
l3loodAngel

"The supposed balance of classes in WC3 is irrelevant to winning. All you have to do is have a diversity of units, it doesn't matter how diverse, and you win. That's completely ignoring the utter lack of balance in the game." And that's completely ignoring any sense at all. You should be proud of yourself. I felt dumber after reading that, maybe you should tell yourself that you are dumb and stop posting before more people get retarded.... Anyways wc and starcraft have more strategy than any strategy game ever released, but it's hard to argue with somebody who doesn't give reasons, but gives emotions and is named "Giglioroninomic". Who cares what do you remember and what kind of gay name is that?

Giglioroninomic
Giglioroninomic

I am here once again to tell people they are dumb. Warcraft is a horrible strategy game, there is no fun in it, and it INDEED is as you say, a battle to spam as many units as fast as possible. The supposed balance of classes in WC3 is irrelevant to winning. All you have to do is have a diversity of units, it doesn't matter how diverse, and you win. That's completely ignoring the utter lack of balance in the game. Supreme Commander was an excellent game, as was Total Annihilation in an age of retarded games like SC and (although it's better than WC3 by far) WC2, not to mention CC Generals. It required a supercomputer to play and still does, but the strategy and skill required are indisputable. I'll always have fonder memories of desparately trying to stop a max level experimental mech stomping through the armies of my friend and I with tens of units failing to bring it down, than i will of a bunch of stupid ghouls and abominations and frost wyrms and necromancers.

Hicks_1
Hicks_1

@TheReaper180 I understand your point, However, what is the point if all your units are little dots on the map all the way zoomed out? Might as well play risk the board game with a bunch of your cousins. One of the biggest draws of video game strategy is seeing your units that you have equppied interact with the enemy. Otherwise we might as well ditch the graphics and keep the board games.

TheReaper180
TheReaper180

@Hicks_1 If you think about it though, when you're trying to win in really any strategy game, you're not trying to focus on the little details of a little tank. You're trying to get as many units, as quickly as possible, to their destinations to overwhelm and overpower your opponent. Not to mention, the new Command and Conquers aren't worth much.

Hicks_1
Hicks_1

@waterdragon222 This game is a waste of space the only way to control all your units is to zoom all the way out???? These people yourself included had drank the kool aid if any of you think this game is as good as C&C or SC, even warcraft 3 is a better game by far

waterdragon222
waterdragon222

Srry for double post, but honestly. People who don't like this game, don't come to the forums here and just load all of your negative crap. You won't get any change of opinion. Don't waste your breath.

waterdragon222
waterdragon222

I don't know. I left a comment on another sup.com.2 page, but honestly I don't think my computer will be able to take it. It's a year old, and it also was built for gaming. I think they are exaggerating the minimum specs... I think its harder to play than they think. Because my computer is really soft, it is sad. It hardly ever does anything with large games... Only thing I can say is this:\ Looks like a WONDERFULLY AMAZING game... I just hope they aren't exaggerating. IDK my computer can run Rome-Total War, but that's not a really big game compared to Sup. Com. Can anyone respond? Another thing- hope they get the 360 version up and running. THey have no idea how many people would actually like it! PEople that got Halo Wars for 360 would almost definitely buy it plus those others that find out about it!!!

waterdragon222
waterdragon222

Please. If they are worried about the fact that computers might actually have a harder time playing this game than the last one, they should say it. As to the comment that "you could buy a game rig from five years ago and only upgrade the video once." That's absolutely BS. I am positive, my computer is built for games, as well as its only a year old, and it couldn't play this game. I am positive. Honestly.

death12323
death12323

this game gonna be good i have the all others except the 360 version

Soulsphere001
Soulsphere001

I was a little worried when he mentioned, in a video, not being able to stall your economy (like some other people), because I kinda like the aspect of that, having to be extra careful not to screw yourself up from the get-go. I'm not sure how I'll like that, but I don't think it'll be too bad a thing. I just hope that you won't be able to stockpile an unlimited amount of energy/mass, but I get the feeling you'll be able to do that.

gordos24
gordos24

i hope the 360 get a beter version this time!

marinesneverun
marinesneverun

I am worried too! Resource management was the top sparkle and sizzle of the original TA and Supreme Commander games. Too many RTS are becoming Star Crafty like, and I hated what they did to Dawn of War II... I don't care much for the zerg rush! The balance and steep learning curve of TA and Forged Alliance is what kept me coming back for more! I am not a whiny kid, I hope this game is for serious RTS and adults.

snake_6483
snake_6483

I'm getting worried... I loved Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander... this is scary because of the change in the resource system. It seems to me that they are trying to please too many people and are going away from what made the TA experience unique and in my mind way better than any other RTS. I really do hope the game does not suck with all these weird changes. I've preordered this game and i really hope this can live up to the legend of Total Annihilation

cybrcatter
cybrcatter

You'de think with SquareEnix's name associated with this that the cinematic or promo trailer would be a little less 90's generic SciFi. Nonetheless, I'm pretty pumped for this title. I hope its not nearly as CPU limited as SupCom 1 was, though. A game like this could make great use of DirectCompute, though I doubt that will happen :/

Captain_Tom
Captain_Tom

Ah cr*p I only just got a computer that can max out SupCom 1. I can't upgrade again!

DanGleeSack
DanGleeSack

What i really want is bigger differences in the factions such as different types of units and play style between the factions. There never really was much difference between the races in the first one. Hopefully they got alot more units and buildings.

jerryatricrejec
jerryatricrejec

Do all the maps have this style - I hope not. It makes the game look small and constricted. Hey everybody lets go fight in the parking lot outside on the cement. The original was awesome because it seemed big and it was big - this looks smaller. I hope I'm wrong.

mxero
mxero

I like the first one but it was very demanding on my PC. I hope the sequel will be well optimized.

KidRockNZ
KidRockNZ

I really hope they put a lot of effort into optimising the game, the first game was not optimised at all. I have a quad core i7 system with a nvidia 295 graphics card and 8gb ram. I get major slowdown on forged alliance with me and only 2 AI (500 unit cap). FA was a great game but the unit/faction design was very poor (that's why it never sold much compared to C&C etc) and the system requirements too steep.

Geek12
Geek12

@cake3000x Ohhhh yea, long live PC gaming!

Vasot
Vasot

I did not liked Supreme Commander. Faction units were all similar and the gameplay is like commanding ants.

Soulk
Soulk

LOL at Noah cannon taking RTS to another level Just a different way to do an VERY OLD mechanic (reinforcements anywhere)

SipahSalar
SipahSalar

oh great, a C&C resource system...why the hell do they have to please everybody, the end product might end up being useless. there was nothing wrong with the previous resource system...do they really have to please so many people trying to get everyone to buy the game.

KojiAce
KojiAce

Simply cannot wait, the cannon is EPIC!