Supreme Commander Updated Q&A - Army Size, Strategic View, and Nuclear Warfare

Creator Chris Taylor returns to talk about the scale of this humongous real-time strategy game.

If you've ever felt that the maps in most real-time strategy games were too small for your ambitions, then you'll most definitely want to keep an eye out for Supreme Commander, the upcoming RTS game that will redefine the concept of scale. Set in a distant future, Supreme Commander boasts battlefields that are thousands of square kilometers in size, which means that you have room to let your imagination go. For instance, instead of launching a head-on attack against an enemy position, you might secretly move battle groups behind enemy lines to launch a coordinated attack from the rear. And for good measure, you can soften up enemy defenses with waves of air strikes, artillery barrages, and even nuclear weapons. With the game due to arrive in February, we caught up with creator Chris Taylor to find out more about Supreme Commander.

GameSpot: How many worlds are there to fight on, and what are the different environments? Does environment have any impact at all on gameplay? For instance, is there any substantial difference between fighting it out on snow and fighting it out in a desert?

Supreme Commander is about futuristic warfare on a gigantic scale.

Chris Taylor: We have seven different environments, and although the environments' art styles don't impact the game, the way the maps are laid out topographically does. The most important aspects of the terrain that players will want to consider when playing is high mountains, cliffs, and water. It's a good idea to scout the map early on, especially if you haven't played on it before, and be especially wary of where units can access the water. For example, units like the Cybran destroyer can't crawl up a sheer bluff, and you'll need to find a less extreme grade.

GS: Just how many units can be onscreen at once (land, sea, and air)? How is the game being optimized to scale these massive battles for computers with different specifications?

CT: Currently, we have set the unit maximum to 500, but we never expect to have all those units on the screen, rendered at the highest detail, at once. We expect the number to be lower in the typical gameplay situation. The easiest way to manage the extreme differences between fast PCs and slower ones is to allow for a lot of different rendering options. Those who have the more powerful PCs will be able to crank up all the shader effects and turn on the higher-detailed shadows, to name a few of the options.

GS: There are maps that are thousands of square kilometers in size. Are you afraid that some people might be scared by that? Do you have to wait a lot for units to cover large distances? Will there be any kind of time acceleration to speed up parts of the game?

CT: Those extremely large maps are included to give players a taste of what is to come in the future. I believe that a truly strategic game needs to take place on much larger maps than what we typically see today. I think most players will quickly get used to the larger map sizes of Supreme Commander, where they can truly "spread their strategic wings," so to speak. Additionally, we have added a new feature, called the ferry system, which allows players to use air transports to move units around automatically. This really changes the dynamics on those larger maps, as well.

Armies, navies, and air forces are all at your command.

GS: Tell us more about the strategic view in the game, which is used to keep an eye on the big picture. It sounds like the minimap is dead and the strategic view is now king. Can you play entirely from this view? And it sounds like you can customize this view in all sorts of interesting ways.

CT: Well, you can do quite a lot from the strategic view, but it's not where you want to play the whole game. However, over time, there are some players who may master that mode of play, despite the fact that we never really intended for the whole game to be played that way. In terms of customizations, we have a few interesting things going on. We have the customizable position of the user interface (bottom, left, and right sides of screen), and we have the ability to split the main view and to hide the minimap so that you can save a little processing power. You can also run the dual-screen mode, so there are a lot of ways to set up the game.

GS: Will we get day and night cycles in the game? Will you be able to use darkness to hide units? Or is everything going to be fought in the light of day?

CT: I made an early decision not to design a day and night cycle, but we might do something with that play mode in the future.

GS: Tell us about what sorts of tools and features players will have to manage these battles, especially ones that involve mixed forces of land and sea troops. Will players have to constantly zoom in and out of the larger map views?

CT: Zooming is a big part of the game, but it's really something that each player does on a personal basis. Some players zoom in and out constantly, whereas others use it much less often. But in each case, it's easy to watch how each player does it seamlessly. It takes someone about 10 minutes before they have mastered this interface. The game's overall interface is very familiar to most RTS players, so we really haven't introduced any concepts that are alien or hard to comprehend.

GS: The ranges on some of the biggest artillery pieces are truly frightening. You can hit any part of the map with some of the biggest guns, which raises the question: How do you counter something like this? What's to prevent you from sitting back behind layers of defenses and pounding your opponent?

CT: If you allow your opponent to build a massive gun, like the mavor, for example, then it might be a good time to launch a counteroffensive with your own experimental weapon! However, if you aren't quite ready to hatch your master plan, you definitely will want to build lots of shield systems to protect your base.

GS: Everyone loves a good nuclear explosion, but is there any downside to nuclear warfare? Is everything basically a race to get to the nukes first? Do nukes basically represent the end-stage of a game?

CT: Nukes are truly awesome, but they are only a game-ender if you don't build any kind of protection against them. And also bear in mind that they are very expensive and make for a very interesting late-game resource-allocation decision. For example, while you are building nukes, which may or may not win you the game, what has your opponent been building all this time?

Get ready to go to war in February.

GS: OK, let's say that you're playing on a huge map but losing. The other side has numerical superiority, along with a larger economy. In this case, is it all but inevitable that the strong side keeps getting stronger? How is the game designed so the losing player can turn things around?

CT: I have heard some great stories about players coming back from the brink of destruction, but it is a rare occurrence. Here's a situation that's not far fetched: Your opponent launches a massive attack and almost wipes you off the map, but you were moments away from completing an experimental unit that manages to survive the assault and gets completed before your opponent can execute a final attack. You unleash this behemoth and inflict enough damage on your opponent to "even" the playing field, giving you more than enough time to come back from the edge or take it all the way home and put the other player away for good--all very real possibilities when playing Supreme Commander. In a nutshell, the experimental units make anything possible.

GS: Thanks, as always, Chris.

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100 comments
Helraz0r
Helraz0r

Runs alright on both my comps its a pretty ez game, not for people who are just coming to RTS, Settings set to full on a am2 4400 wif a 7950gt 2gig ram( runs fine ) an also tested on my other comp on med grafics amd 3500 7900gt 2gig ram ( abit choppy ) My advice to people up ur CPU power. Game seems abit unbalanced like with the range of some of the units in the game an also there damage. Hope when the full version comes out they will send out some patches for it so they can balance the game out abit.

poppey78
poppey78

Many good games are coming out this year on PC and for an RTS player this one would come as a new taste. Usually RTS games are not that much Graphic Card dependent you can usually play most recent ones just by turning some settings off. This one needs a Good CPU and plenty amount of memory. The question is can you skip adding a geforce 7 or 8 GC to this combination? Answer: I don't think so.

sneaky_badger
sneaky_badger

but what are the system specs :P joke i got a beta key but i never used it.... ma Main PC PSU packed up so i just left it im stuck with a geforce go 7300 atm cant wait 4 the game though

csnavalingam
csnavalingam

Anisotropic filtering in english makes stuff (graphics of units for instance) loog good from a distance... U wont see much difference with trilinear in close ups.. Basically what he meant was u can disable a lot of graphical features to be able to play the game (any game for that matter)..If unsure just get the demo when it comes out...tinker with the graphical settings...and if ur happy with the performance then get the final game..

generaljw
generaljw

well demonger, for all of us who arent as computer illiterate you, please some up what it is your trying to say. Dont just give us a web address.

demonger
demonger

"quote" Do you even know what you are talking about?! btwillett2003 ****Copied from my previous post**** If you have any questions, ask and I will try to answer in a timely manner. As too ppl asking about system reqs: My computer is a AMD 3800+, 2gigs of ram CAS# all 2, Nvidia 6800 gt. It runs fine. I have it on medium with no shadows and runs fine but when the unit count gets into the high hundreds close to the thousands my CPU cant keep up, it will drop to about 10 fps, and even if I had 4 gigs of ram and a nvidia 8800, it wouldnt matter. You need a dual core or core 2 duo. You might be okay with an extreme edition P4 but I don't know. Dual core AMD and Core 2 duo will be perfect for the game. The CPU is what enables you to have so many units on the map. So get a good CPU and go from there. 1 gig of ram will run the game but you will see a drastic performance increase if you have 2 gigs, not to mention it will run smoother and wont be choppy. The video card, you dont have to have a high end card to max the settings. If you want to run AA and antiscopic filtering you will need series 7 or 8 geforce card ( or ATI equivalent ). With all the units and trees even 2X AA will make or break your system. I have the beta and I skirmish all the time, so just ask me if you have a question and I will try my best to answer it. "quote" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anisotropic_filtering Give us all a break and rest your keyboard.

demonger
demonger

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

Fable_Lord
Fable_Lord

what are the specs and can we get a demo? :(

Ahson_Khan
Ahson_Khan

Hey silent... ur groanin like the games comin out of ur butt! LOL :P just kidding man...

GuMMie_101
GuMMie_101

I dont care, as long as people enjoy the game all is well! Any1 who says they dont play games are losers, games like this just let us know how much they missing out! Im sure they still think doom1 is like the only game out there! Games like SC will push your skills to the ulimate! Brain power will play a huge roll im sure(well practice aswel!!) and its going to be cool to see how people play against eachother on large maps like this! As for the specs, games are made to be played on most mechines just not with all the eye candy(but its always nice to c all the bits and pieces!!). Gamers really have a great future if 2007 is any indication of whats to come, titles such as crysis-SC-C&C3..... cant wait to get my hands on these games! I take my hat off to all the developers and i say thanks for all the hard work! MUCH appriciated.........

blackleather223
blackleather223

Well try this I have a AMD Athlon daul core with 1 gig of ram soon I'll have 3 and a nvidia geforce 7600 gt oc with 256 mb. Now I'm assuming that this will be ok sence I plan on getting more ram. Now I don't plan on putting all max cause I'm sure that will put any machine out there in a bog. I'm sure this game along with C&C 3 will be goregious that is what I think and if you have time zoom in on a unit and see the details on them like in Earth 2160 I just love the details on the units and all.

Ahson_Khan
Ahson_Khan

will this game run on a :( Celeron 1.8 (oc'ed to 2.15) 512MB RAM and a FX5200 LE??? :( :(

Ahson_Khan
Ahson_Khan

If any of u want to see somthing cool... Give me a shotgun and watch me blow my own bloody brainsees out :D Seriously... PC gaming has been eating so much of my bank account... i'm not a very rich person and the new systemz to run these beutes are well in the stratosphere... Let me give u an example... $1 = (Pakistani) Rs.60. Average Paki Income? RS.20000. Cost of new PC RS.150000 (MIN) Now theres a reason why im changeing my thinking about PC gaming because the X-360 costs just RS.24500. Tell me my beloved PC Gamers... What should i do :( do i betray my gaming roots and go to the damned side of the consoland or rob a bank and get a new PC???

btwillett2003
btwillett2003

****Copied from my previous post**** If you have any questions, ask and I will try to answer in a timely manner. As too ppl asking about system reqs: My computer is a AMD 3800+, 2gigs of ram CAS# all 2, Nvidia 6800 gt. It runs fine. I have it on medium with no shadows and runs fine but when the unit count gets into the high hundreds close to the thousands my CPU cant keep up, it will drop to about 10 fps, and even if I had 4 gigs of ram and a nvidia 8800, it wouldnt matter. You need a dual core or core 2 duo. You might be okay with an extreme edition P4 but I don't know. Dual core AMD and Core 2 duo will be perfect for the game. The CPU is what enables you to have so many units on the map. So get a good CPU and go from there. 1 gig of ram will run the game but you will see a drastic performance increase if you have 2 gigs, not to mention it will run smoother and wont be choppy. The video card, you dont have to have a high end card to max the settings. If you want to run AA and antiscopic filtering you will need series 7 or 8 geforce card ( or ATI equivalent ). With all the units and trees even 2X AA will make or break your system. I have the beta and I skirmish all the time, so just ask me if you have a question and I will try my best to answer it.

voxtex45
voxtex45

Okay this is my only peeve about this game. My friend and I have been looking forward to it since it was first announced. In trying to gauge whether our current systems will support it we've been unable to get the system requirements for running the game not even the main website for the game has this information. Can anyone out there help with the necessary system requirments that are going to be needed at game launch?

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

I think the E rating is because all the violence is between machines and there is no violence against "humans."

thisisasignin
thisisasignin

Really looking forward to this one. Too bad I will have to wait a very long time to be able to play it.

Greywind88
Greywind88

I have to say I am very excited about this game. Though I know for a fact that this game will chew my computer up and spit out the outdated remains, I look forward to seeing how this works out. It sounds like they had to make some strategic cut backs with the limited environment effects. I am all for designers not biting off more than they can chew, but I hope this choice doesn't come back to bite them later. If the game blows people's minds like it seems like it will, no one will care about the environment effects, but if it tanks, then everyone is gonna wonder about these sort of things. It’s a gamble, but personally I think it will still work out for them. Anyway, I hope it goes well and I can find some money to upgrade my rig.

SP33doh
SP33doh

skateaj, this game will not be compatible with physx. Because the game centers heavily on physics, and the units will operate using true Newtonian physics, I'm guessing that they needed to use their own proprietary physics. Though, the game supports, and you'll definitely want a dual-core processor. (though it's not necessary, it'll definitely be good for performance.)

slater3
slater3

So my question is, an E rating? Does that mean the combat and carnage is watered down? Or has our society just become more accepting of violence and such in movies and games? Both are really disappointing reasons.

skateaj
skateaj

You realize that Chris Taylor was the guy that made Total Annihilation. He left Cavedog and started his own company. This is his masterpiece that he has been working on for ages. Also I don’t know if he owns the name Total Annihilation anymore since Cavedog was bought out.

btupa3000
btupa3000

Its "Cavedog's" game program "Total Annihilation" just revamped, upgraded and repackaged for sale. They should have just called it "Total Anihilation 2".

skateaj
skateaj

I hope this game is compatible with the PhysX card. I'm sure that when you have 500 units on screen that cards would take a lot of load off the CPU.

Eararaldor
Eararaldor

This whole C&C vs Supreme Commander thing reminds me of the great Starcraft vs Total Annihilation Flame war of yesteryear. Fast click fests with good story Starcraft C&C 3 Strategy and depth (More options than just rush the fastest) Total Annihilation Supreme Commander In the end, I was in the bottom group, but I must admit Starcraft did have it moments. But in the end you just cant beat massive armies that TA and Supcom supply. I'm making a guess here younger players will go with C&C3 while older players will go with SupCom

btwillett2003
btwillett2003

Haha, well about the aircraft...well. On all 3 factions they seem a little neglected. But as this is only the beta and not the demo or full release, we can't be 100% sure that these are the final skins or unit features. As far as gameplay goes. There are only tech 1 and 2 transports. I think there should be a tech 3 transport ( some sort of mega-transport) becuase the tech 2 transport only can fit two tech 3 assault bots on then only one or two more tech 1 or 2 units. The tech 1 fighters are pretty much usless as with almost all tech 1 units. The tech 2 gunships can wreck havic on almost anything in mass numbers, even just one or two units can take out a specific target of the same tech. The spy planes are self explanatory but I have not used them since I play with no fog of war. The tech 2 bombers are good but my advice is to go for the tech 3 bomber. It flys over and in one bomb take out a tech 3 mass extractor. Or can take out a cluster of point defense or AA turrents. Get a couple of the tech 3 bombers you can give orders to each bomber to kill a specific set of units by holding down shift and clicking each target. Once the first target is destroyed the bomber will go to the next. The shift click goes to all units and also goes to building units.

generaljw
generaljw

thanx for informing us btwillett2003. Can you tell me what the aircraft are like. So far everything about this game looks good, but the aircraft on all 3 sides looks as its ben done lazily. I could be being too cynical but if you take a look and some of the Aeon aircraft and UEF aircraft in the screen shots, it doesnt look as if much creativity was put in to showing us players fantastic aricraft. The shapes of them are just like half moons etc. But if anyone thinks I'm wrong, be sure to say. Also could you tell me how good the Ai is and how long do skirmishes usually last. I like the idea of this being a game where you can really wage a war of attrition.

btwillett2003
btwillett2003

As too ppl asking about system reqs: My computer is a AMD 3800+, 2gigs of ram CAS# all 2, Nvidia 6800 gt. It runs fine. I have it on medium with no shadows and runs fine but when the unit count gets into the high hundreds close to the thousands my CPU cant keep up, it will drop to about 10 fps, and even if I had 4 gigs of ram and a nvidia 8800, it wouldnt matter. You need a dual core or core 2 duo. You might be okay with an extreme edition P4 but I don't know. Dual core AMD and Core 2 duo will be perfect for the game. The CPU is what enables you to have so many units on the map. So get a good CPU and go from there. 1 gig of ram will run the game but you will see a drastic performance increase if you have 2 gigs, not to mention it will run smoother and wont be choppy. The video card, you dont have to have a high end card to max the settings. If you want to run AA and antiscopic filtering you will need series 7 or 8 geforce card ( or ATI equivalent ). With all the units and trees even 2X AA will make or break your system. I have the beta and I skirmish all the time, so just ask me if you have a question and I will try my best to answer it.

Fryzam
Fryzam

I've been waiting for a game like this to come out for a long time. It is new age starcraft and i can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

i really love this game, it is fanatastic, i've seen a loosing player with strong deffences weather three experimental units and and a nuke to turn around and win, in this game it is harder than any to turn the game around, but when you do it is fantastic. just enough beauty to make the battle visually pleasing and more strategy than anyone needs. the perfect game and a wonderful example of why computers are still the best gaming platform. ok i love consoles to but they don't have this kinda strategy.

Banglaman
Banglaman

I m going to get this game if it is the last thing i do

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

I have to get this game when it comes out. I've seen the beta before and it looks so awesome

Hikiera
Hikiera

BeyondItAll's right you know. Look at a certain game... I'm sure you've heard of it...STARCRAFT!!! I mean the first Xbox wasn't even thought of when that game was playing. Consoles are way behind pc's on this one. Also RTS is best suited for pc and that's why pc 's have been the instrument for RTS's since the dawn of gaming.

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

Umm mslocum hate to break it to you, but PC games were gaming online among the majority of PC gamers over a decade before it became mainstream on consoles and this game IS NOT coming to Xbox or any other console.

mslocum
mslocum

Sure, it will get better will all games move online and all you need is an Xbox to play them.

generaljw
generaljw

BeyonditAll, your right, an E6700 will be enough. It's just that i keep on hearing people say we need some serious rigs now that things like Direct 10 is out and vista and qaud core. It's just all getting ridiculous. I'm gonna gte a computer that is seriously equipped, however theres no point paying that big price tag for x6800. I can upgrade the E6700 in years to come if needs be. Unless of course in the next few years they make processors with 6 CPU's and games and direct X's that require 6 CPU's to run them. G wizz, will it ever end. Materialism and Consumerism.

GregoireA
GregoireA

This Game will hurt my brain and Computer. A new Generation of RTS MicroManagers Will arise and destroy us all.

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

Is a E6700 good enough? What the hell do you think? Of course it is! Make sure you demo cc before you get that game though because EA LA is known for making trash... The system requirements are in the forums, the game is CPU intensive so if you were thinking of upgrading for this game the CPU is the way to go, it takes major advantage of dual cores, major is probably an understatement :P

dgs1324
dgs1324

I am so getting this game when it comes out, I loved Total Annihilation and this has got to be better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

You people scare me. My PC, which is comparable with genji_glove1's, didn't have many problems running current games. And now I see people asking if a Core 2 Duo can run this game. :(

jwsoul
jwsoul

generaljw i think i will get both as well of course depending on Reveiws etc....To be honest tho both games you metion look great and most likley will be great. I just hope that both CC3 and SC are correctly Optimised and we have none of this crap, we as PC gamers seem to be suffereing more of latley. robbieboyd11078 good point some info on System requirments would help a lot to be honest or a Demo yes a Demo wld be great actually PLEASE?????????????????????????????????

generaljw
generaljw

When it comes to Rts, I'm a C&C MAN. And I'll think I'll continue to go down that path, C&C 3 LOOK'S SERIOUS STILL. But I am without a doubt going to have to buy Supreme Commander, and from what I've seen of Tiberium 3, both games will be completely different in terms of immersive story lines and scale of battle. So I'll have to buy both. does anyone know if the core 2 duo E6700 would be good for this game.

robbieboyd11078
robbieboyd11078

they really need to start giving us some info on the system requirements!

yacbos
yacbos

does anyone know the minimum requirements??