Supreme Commander Q&A - Factional Conflict

Get the ins and outs of the three distinctly different sides vying for dominance in Gas Powered Games' upcoming large-scale strategy game.

The real-time strategy genre has been mired in micromanagement for years now, but famed designer Chris Taylor and the team at Gas Powered Games are seeking to deliver strategy on a much grander scale with Supreme Commander. The game just recently went gold and will be available on February 20, at which time you'll be able to lay waste to entire continents with one of three competing factions all at once. To find out what distinguishes these three warring groups from one another, we went straight to Taylor himself.

GameSpot: Give us a brief overview of the factions in Supreme Commander. Who are all these people?

The game's three factions will present different strategic opportunities that allow for a variety of play styles.

Chris Taylor: There are three factions, the United Earth Federation, the Aeon Illuminate, and the Cybran Nation. Each faction has a very unique leadership structure, but each believes that what they are fighting for is "true and just." The UEF is doing what it thinks is best, which is reuniting the galaxy under its original rule. The Cybrans are simply trying to free their enslaved brothers and sisters, and the Aeon are having a hard time coexisting with the other two factions because the UEF and Cybran are constantly waging war. The Aeon intend to "cleanse" them if they won't join "The Way."

The three key characters are the leaders of the three factions: President Riley of the UEF, Princess Burke of the Aeon Illuminate, and the ingenious and very old Dr. Gustaf Brackman. Brackman's brain is suspended in a fluid and connected to the computer that projects a holographic image of him. This lets his followers interact with him on a more personal level.

GS: Tell us about the UEF faction and its units and development strategy. What kind of strategy player will gravitate toward this faction--aggressive players, defensive "turtlers," or hit-and-run-style players?

CT: The UEF is the most traditional faction, and most players that are just starting out with the game might want to try this faction first. The factions are carefully balanced, but if you like a straight-ahead-style approach to battle, the UEF is a good choice. My favorite unit is the gunships, both at Tech 2 and Tech 3, as they move around the map quickly and can be used to wipe out your opponent's economy if you can sneak them in the back door.

GS: How about the Cybran Nation? Give us an overview of this faction's armies and the kinds of strategies that work best for it. What makes the Cybran faction stand out from the rest?

CT: The Cybrans are what I like to call the "can do" faction. They have some odd units like the Cybran destroyer, which can sprout legs and crawl up onto land. And then there is the biggest and baddest unit of the whole faction, the giant monkeylord, an experimental unit. The Cybrans are a little trickier to learn than the UEF but are a lot of fun to play and have a cool and somewhat more ominous look to them.

Sometimes bigger really is better.

I think a good strategy while playing as the Cybrans is to master the use of the armored command unit (ACU) in frontline battles and how to properly use the stealth units. In other words, learn what each unit can do, and think of new strategies before you begin each game.

GS: Finally, tell us about the Aeon faction, its armies, and its strategies. What kinds of players will get the most out of playing this faction? What are this faction's most distinguishing units and abilities?

CT: The Aeon are probably the hardest faction to master, and it has the most "out there" look. The cool thing about most of the assault units is that they can hover and get across bodies of water as well as land, which makes water maps a good choice for Aeon players. The galactic colossus usually makes an appearance and can devastate your opponent, but the thing to be careful of is antiair support, as the GC has no antiair defense systems. I think the Aeon are very powerful, and they can be underestimated in terms of their destructive capability.

GS: Tell us about the role each faction plays in the single-player game. How does the story unfold, and how will players interact with each faction?

CT: We take the player through a story arc where they start as a new supreme commander and ultimately win the Infinite War. We put in some extra twists and turns to mix it up, but for the most part the player plays the role of the hero and saves the galaxy...at least for their side. I don't want to spoil too much!

GS: How do the factions stack up in multiplayer--which factions get the quickest start, and which has the most decisive finishing strokes?

CT: All three factions are very balanced at the lower tech levels. It's not until Tech 2 and Tech 3 that they start to diverge, and are completely different at Tech 4. I think both the Aeon and Cybran have the most devastating assault units for game-ending devastation, but the UEF's experimental nuclear artillery battery (the mavor) is pretty outrageous too, which makes them all equally good choices to learn and master.

GS: Tell us about the process of balancing the three sides out in such a huge game. Can you share some particularly exciting or memorable moments in game sessions (which may or may not involve nukes) that you expect players will experience with the final game?

A unique storyline will drive the conflict between the UEF, the Cybrans, and the Aeon Illuminate.

CT: Game balancing is one of the toughest parts of a game's development. And as close as we try to get this balance, we know stuff will come up down the road and we'll need to address it. A game of this size is never really done; it just gets closer and closer over time. And we intend to keep making adjustments as we watch more and more people play.

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

CT: I would suggest that new players start with the UEF, but also give the other factions a try before ultimately making a final choice about which faction they will stick with. And check out GPGNET (the game's matchmaking service) and try out a ranked game and see how well you can do. The system is designed to pit each player against someone of equal skill, which will hopefully make playing those ranked games a ton of fun and more fun than just playing against someone randomly. And we are always very interested in player feedback on all aspects of the game--even those with impassioned opinions. It's all good as far as we are concerned!

GS: Thanks, Chris.

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Discussion

97 comments
Phoenix73nj
Phoenix73nj

Sick of Fin's revenge... played demo 8bazillion times... need supcom now... must... have it... can't wait another day... bahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ok back to fins revenge :D

Deyyhayederaned
Deyyhayederaned

This takes on almost identical game principals as Total Annihilation, the key difference is a more involved storyline better graphics gameplay and options for the player. TA was brilliant and a real large scale battle was an image of total war if any, if Supreme Commander is the same which I can only imagine it is. This game will be absolutely ultimate incredible amazing beyond words to describe it. Go SC make us proud

DrekNaZuhl
DrekNaZuhl

Man,can't wait to get this game.I especially love the idea of resource gethering and the ability to salvage unit wrecks for cash or to put thouse of your enemy back online and send him a little greeting :D ...I do hope that the anti-nuke protection system is well thought out...well I'm a turtler (some call sleeper tactics player)and I just hate to wach when my builded up serious defences are being nuked away....or demolished in any other way with an unstoppable long range super weapon...but anyway this game is going to be a blast :) and I do hope it will replace w3 :D

Vorlin
Vorlin

Same here...they've got a great concept and while it'll be a bit daunting with the size of maps, the idea of hundreds if not more units on-screen fighting it out will be great. And I loved Dune 2! Played that game countless times, haha!

KingOfRust
KingOfRust

looks like a really great game, and i only read this review, im definetely buying it as soon as possible, a game reminding the old-school dune 2 that i'v spent hours and hours playing in the past surely gets my attention...i hope it has a great multiplayer/mp community as well, single player is essential but what makes a game survive in time is its multiplayer (like starcraft for example)

xatman911
xatman911

I am already sold... Pre ordered.

Vorlin
Vorlin

I can't wait for this....I've done a ton of RTS games and this will definitely be a different "ploy". Personally, I think I'll be doing the Aeon class. I've always loved the hardest ones to master like the Protoss in Starcraft and such...can't wait! For those who want C&C 3, I'm sure they have their own forums...this is a different "RTS" in that aspect.

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

This isn't the place to discuss EA's next crappy re skinned rehash guys, keep it to Supreme Commander talk.

Mrglorp
Mrglorp

looks good. You people do know that C&C3 comes out in March?

e1337prodigy
e1337prodigy

Was just going to say the same thing. Although I don't have beta. Lucky you

Glordit
Glordit

DEMO! DEMO! DEMO! we want a completed demo some people can't get the beta :P altho iI am one of those lucky ones!

dr_jashugan
dr_jashugan

I hope they'll inform us soon of the requirements of this game. 8)

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

Struggle to get people to buy it? CnC good reputation? lol maybe before Generals, but once EA bought it the reputation dived, you can tell by the fact that Generals couldn't even sell half of what the previous CnC game did. In pre-orders thus far Supreme Commander is out selling CnC, sure it comes out sooner, but CnC was pushing it's pre-order sales even before Supreme Commander was, I'm not saying Supcom is going to outsell CnC, if it did that would really be quite pathetic on CnC's part seeing it has much lower system requirements/is an established IP/Isn't doing something radical that might scare people. Despite that Supcom will still sell fantastic if the hype and pre-orders are any indication sources at THQ (and they know a bit dam more about this then you and I ) from their research are expecting over 1.5 million within 2 years. Also Total Annihilation, despite having no marketing/ publisher to push it/ or much of a personality managed to sell nearly a million going up against the beast that is starcraft. So it likely won't sell as many, but to say it will struggle to get sales is just flat out an ignorant foolish remark. Maybe you and I have different definitions on what alot is, but I think 1 million is a big number and this game will easily surpass that if THQ's research branch and marketing team aren't mentally retarded.

ht894aee46qmj1
ht894aee46qmj1

i think this game will rock but they are releasing it only a few weeks before Command And conquer comes out so they will probably struggle to get lots of people buying the game (only really coz CAC has had such a good reputation for its Games) but still im gonna by Supreme Com and CAC so well see which one comes out on top =)

tab1257
tab1257

Seriously... this game is/will be the best strategy game to date, hands down. I am also in closed beta. This game owns.

benny32
benny32

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

WarGrad
WarGrad

www.gamestop.com has some system requirements listed, not sure on accuracy though. You better have a system that is better than recommended. Here they are: Minimum Microsoft WIndows XP Service Pack 2, Vista 1.8 GHz processor 512 MB RAM 8GB available hard drive space 128MB video RAM or greater, with DirectX 9 Vertex Shader/Pixel Shader 2.0 support Sound card, speakers or headphones 56.6 Kbps Internet connection required Recommended 3.0 GHz Intel or equivalent AMD processor or better 1GB RAM or better 8GB available hard drive space 256 MB Video RAM, with DirectX 9 Vertex Shader/Pixel Shader 2.0 support (Nvidia 6800 or better) Internet connection with Cable/DSL speeds

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

Kazie said I'm also in the closed beta, this is singly the greatest Strategy game of the last 6 years, sorry relic, but they did alot more than change the look of the game, with the ease of play, the extremely simple waypoint system, and que system i love this game, base building is easy and intuitive, the depth of managing the economy is great, i love so much about this game, oh yeah and the presentation is clean, no company of heroes, but no sloucher either, and at the scale i think it looks perfect. _____________________________________________________________ I agree :)

Darth_Panther
Darth_Panther

Really good game but my PC can't handle it since it is a Single Core but lets wait for it and see if I can run at the minimum system requirements

Omihalcon
Omihalcon

if i could run it i would get it...

hex_ten
hex_ten

Remind anyone of Atreides, Harkonnen and ....Ordos?

Thewtfpwner
Thewtfpwner

Looks pretty fun. The maps look kinda bland though.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

i'm also in the closed beta, this is singly the greatest Strategy game of the last 6 years, sorry relic, but they did alot more than change the look of the game, with the ease of play, the extremely simple waypoint system, and que system i love this game, base building is easy and intuitive, the depth of managing the economy is great, i love so much about this game, oh yeah and the presentation is clean, no company of heroes, but no sloucher either, and at the scale i think it looks perfect, yeah it is a beast of a game and takes the comparable machine to run well but even with the lag i get i love it passionately.

Haloferret
Haloferret

I'm in the closed beta and the game is really really fun. It took me a long time to get good at it, but now I win almost all of the ranked matches I play. I will probably be pre-ordering it, and I suggest everyone else to do the same.

jedipy
jedipy

supreme com roxxx!!!!

AFWorm
AFWorm

It looks awesome, but my only qualm is whether or not it'll have enough personality to attract enough people to play... even me.

Maizel
Maizel

The minimum specs aren't that steap. I think they;re on wikipedia.com. And that's only for the beta

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

Supreme Kommander ... your army za red-E ! *salute from Borat-looking grunts*

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Perhaps our definitive stratedegy game for 2007?

thehip81
thehip81

Woot woot! Be ready to bring it this February! Been looking forward to this one for a long time.. Wonder how steep the minimum system specs will be :P

icecoldkilla78
icecoldkilla78

him let me see... this is coming out soon, so is crackdown (360), and i know im gettin another sims expansion soon... ima be broke and kicked out of school by may

F22_Pilot
F22_Pilot

I bet the Pee Wee will be one of the first units to download for Supmre Commander, lol.

Atomic_Mutant
Atomic_Mutant

total annihilation for the 21st century, hopefully. that doesn't sound right, somehow.

halo24me
halo24me

*argh* My birthday is the 19th... and i cant decide what to get. This ore crackdown. ive been looking forward to this game a lot longer than crackdown but the demo for crackdown was sick. argh.. i guess ill just ask for this and if i'm lucky i might be able to get crack as well! :D:D

sonictank
sonictank

this game looks AWESOME! i must have it!*takes a peewee out for a ride and destorys anyone who gets in line first!*

Mohamed_h
Mohamed_h

hmm .. actually the more I read about this game the more I am getting interested .. still I'll wait for the review for a final decision .

JLCrogue
JLCrogue

I can't wait to play this game and use dual moniters, so I can always have the entire map pictured on one of my moniters! :)

esrra
esrra

i Like to turtle. (leave me alone).

152389
152389

Look at the screenshot of the winter landscape at the top of this article. Does anyone else think that looks exactly like the terrain in Delta Force Landwarrrior? It's funny how RTS is getting so nice looking visually I am staring to mistake them for FPS!

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

March 2007 issue PC GAMER! Supreme Commander scores 91% Quotes from the magazine :) "This is all-out war on a scale we've never seen before, and it's glorious!" "I'm already dreading playing the next RTS that doesn't let me zoom like this" "Supreme Commander is one of those games that I'll be playing again and again for a long, long time."

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

If you zoomed out all the way you could EASILY order even 5 different armies to take 5 different routes with multiple points along the way in less then 10 seconds even if you have only a merely decent click rate, the feature you speak of you want seems to me like it was neglected because it really isn't needed and while it may have been nice just to have you can say that about a billion other things you could think of, in a development process you have to set priorities and that sounds like a very low priority to me. You hate playing with dots? THEN DON'T ZOOM OUT THAT FAR! What would you rather the game not have the dam ability to zoom out just so you could view the detail more? To be honest I don't know how you and others play zoomed out so far, I mean I zoom out only when I have to move my camera to a new location for the most part so I would say that at least 90% of the time I am zoomed in fairly close and I am regarded as one of the elite beta players so I'm no noob :P 45 minute games? What are you talking about dude? The only map MADE for 1 vs 1 is Finns Revenge and in that map I find the typical game is 15 minutes with 30 minutes being an extremely long game. To bash the game length times on maps that are meant for four, six or eight players is just ridiculous! This is only the beta man, theirs only like what 5 maps? The final game has over 40 and my connections at GPG tell me that I will have plenty of 1 vs 1 maps (over 10) in the final game. Turtling players aren't that hard to deal with, artillery or building mini bases for artillery/ missile launchers near their base can make quick work of them, since you have the greater resources you can quite easily begin these or many other measures to lead to the fast demise of anyone that turtles given it's the proper map. Quite simply the main reason turtling players are giving you problems are due to the maps you are playing are made for many players and in maps like setons your opponent can turtle and have plenty of fuel. My guess is though most of your frustration comes from Isis, well thats just one turtle friendly map buddy! That map was designed for turtling and if you don't want to deal with a turtle don't play that map! I quite frankly can't stand Isis for that reason so I just don't play it. Isis is thankfully one of a kind! Just wait till you get the final game with the 40 plus maps, you will no doubt find maps of the size, player number, resource placement and game length that fit your wants. Personally theirs only two maps in the beta I even care to play, but theirs only a few maps so I have no worries that their will be many maps to fit my liking in the final game and thats not even noting the mod community which will likely pump out hundreds of high quality maps before year ends (thousands if you count lesser quality ones) Remember this RTS is going to have the most active RTS mod community in history, Total Annihilation has the biggest one to date and that game only sold around 750k, Supcom will likely sell at least double that so it's going to be insane.

Plan6
Plan6

Um...beyond, I did know you could que up commands. The power of the shift key is great. My problem is that you can que up 3 sets of commands and have them all on hold, then tell them all to go at the same time. This feature was talked about by the devs months before the beta. The ability to plan out attacks then make them happen with the click of a button. But sadly, it is no where to be seen in this game. The game is neat, but I dont like seeing dots fight eachother. And I cant get behind the small screen that you view all the action from(it takes up less then half of your total screen). There are things to like in this game, but right now Im in a love/hate relationship with it. The good games I play are a lot of fun, but the ones where people turtle are horrible and not fun at all. Really I think games are better when you have to go out and fight over resources. Although you will still lose if you dont get map control, you dont lose fast enough for my taste. 45 minuits is to long to play a game where Im clearly in the lead.

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

To hell with Cybran! AEON FTW!! masterlu the monkey lord is the giant spider unit with the big red laser gun on his back :P