Supreme Commander Updated Q&A - Nukes, Scale, and the Supreme Commander Itself

Designer and creator Chris Taylor gives us the latest news on this highly anticipated sci-fi real-time strategy game.

There are a number of promising strategy games looming in 2007, but perhaps none quite so anticipated as Supreme Commander, the sci-fi real-time strategy game from THQ and developer Gas Powered Games. As the spiritual successor to 1997's Total Annihilation, one of the most popular real-time strategy games ever made, Supreme Commander has a lot to live up to. You will be able to command three different factions of humanity as they battle for galactic supremacy, but what differentiates Supreme Commander from most real-time strategy games is its enormous scale. You can have armies, navies, and air forces maneuvering and fighting on maps that are hundreds, if not thousands, of square kilometers in size. For the latest on the game, we caught up with creator Chris Taylor.

GameSpot: Could you give us a quick update on where Supreme Commander is right now in development?

Chris Taylor: We are getting very close to the end, and since we passed beta, [we] only have bug fixes, optimizations, and some tuning and balancing left to do. We also have some last-minute touches to do on a few of our full-motion video sequences.

Missiles will fly when Supreme Commander arrives next year.

GS: The beta test is under way, and there are a lot of reports coming out of it, so is there anything you want to say about what will be changed or fixed in the final version?

CT: We get a lot of valuable information out of the beta. First, we are finding problems with people connecting to games through firewalls and such. Next, we look at hardware compatibility issues. And, lastly, we pay very close attention to the game tuning and plug holes that players find with regard to game "exploits."

GS: We want to learn more about the Supreme Commander unit itself, which is the main battlefield command and construction unit. For instance, could you cover the upgrade system for the Supreme Commander, like how you can add new capabilities to it? And are the Supreme Commanders for each faction essentially the same, or is there some variation in their powers and abilities?

CT: The player is the Supreme Commander. The player is housed inside the armored command unit (ACU). It's all part of how the fiction is held together. We wanted to give the player flexibility to use the ACU as a base defense unit (especially early on) and also as a unit that can be deployed in the field. In order to use the unit in the field, we added a bunch of upgrades. They are not cheap, but they are also very powerful, so it is a key decision with important trade-offs.

Giant artillery pieces can hurl shells across even the largest of maps.

Most of the ACU's have similar features, including shields, teleporters, and weapon upgrades, as doing anything else may severely unbalance the game. But we did do a few things to make each faction unique. Examples include having tactical nukes on the UEF ACU [while] the Cybran ACU has full cloaking and radar stealth. And, the Aeon ACU has a stun-field generator, to name a few. We really like asymmetric design, but when you look at something like a strategy game, asymmetry is something you have to be extremely careful with.

GS: Is it truly "game over" if your Supreme Commander is destroyed, or will there be a way to recover from such a devastating loss? Can the unit be used offensively in any way, or will you want to keep it safely defended in your base for the most part?

CT: The game has an option, which you can set, to make the game end if your ACU is destroyed. We have several options that specify victory conditions that can be selected from the skirmish and multiplayer staging areas.

Going Nuclear

GS: We understand that there are different kinds of nuclear weapons in the game. Could you go over them, and could you also address the deal with potentially outfitting your Supreme Commander with nukes?

Death comes from above, thanks to speedy troop transports.

CT: There are two different kinds of nukes: strategic and tactical. Strategic nukes are delivered using a large missile-delivery system and can hit targets across the largest maps; whereas tactical nukes, like the kind the UEF ACU fires, are of a much shorter range and have a much smaller explosive force, although [it's] still very devastating. The only other exception is nuclear artillery, which can fire a tactical payload across the largest maps. [It] seems like a contradiction but makes sense when you think about the payload in an artillery round. We took most of this from real-life weapon systems. Lastly, the units that fire these weapons include both static structures and submarines, but submarines have a much shorter range than traditional nuclear silos; however, they have the advantage of being water-based and easily hidden. The UEF ACU is the only unit which can fire a tactical, short-range nuke, but you never know what sneaky things the other factions will do to counter this in the future.

GS: How does the map size affect the pace of the overall game? If two players battled it out on the largest map, how long would the game last? Flipping the question around, if you put them on a small map, the battle will be fought much faster, but will there be enough time to really exploit the entire tech tree?

CT: The size of the map is almost a direct correlation to the length of the game, but the relationship is not linear. For example, if you play on a map twice the width and height, the game time might increase by four to six times. However, if the larger map is mostly water, then the time will reflect this. In my estimate, if two players played on the largest map, it could be anywhere from six to 12 hours (with a healthy amount of water on the map), and the game would end with nuclear attacks all over the place, massive invasions, and experimental units aplenty. It would be insane, to say the least.

GS: We understand that the tidal-wave attack (which creates a devastating tidal wave by exploding a nuclear device at sea) was dropped from the game. It's normal for features to drop during development, but has the game lost many such features, and are any of these things something we can look forward to in a patch or a future product?

CT: You are correct that the standard game development process drops a lot of features, but since Supreme Commander had too many to start with, I doubt anyone will notice. Most every single idea that we have developed on paper is kept for a future release, be it an expansion pack or a full-on sequel.

GS: How are the system requirements shaping up at this point? Do you have a clearer idea about what sort of machine you'll need? We know that the team is using dual-core CPUs, but how will the game scale to the much more prevalent single-core machines out there?

CT: Optimizations are an ongoing process, and though we hope to reach down to a lower minimum spec, time is the gating factor, and we need to release the game. I don't know that we officially have a minimal spec, but regardless of what it ends up being, to play on the larger maps, with large unit counts, will require a pretty beefy rig.

GS: Finally, are there any more details on the multiplayer in the game? We know of cooperative and competitive modes, but what are the plans for leaderboards or rankings? And there have been rumblings about some kind of overarching meta game to link the online matches as well. Do you have anything to say about that?

Beware of giant mechanical spiders arm with lasers.

CT: If you have seen the beta, we have a system for matching 1V1 (and soon 2V2) for what we call ranked-ladder games. This is coming together nicely, but what's important about the way we developed our online matchmaking and multiplayer component is that we can update it anytime without affecting the main game, which will allow us to react very quickly to feedback and problems encountered. It's the part of the game that is simple in principle, but the specifics of implementation are quite complex. We also see this as something that will continue evolving for years to come, especially when you factor in what's possible in the mod community. It's going to be an exciting place to hang out. Oh, and we also have clan support, which means you can create and manage a clan all within our matchmaking system.

GS: Thanks, Chris!

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96 comments
rangeraa
rangeraa

baha mark_this is a fool...no way you NEED 3gb of RAM to play it...someones been smokin a little too much on the crack pipe

mobius-12
mobius-12

this game just looks totally awesome man! can't wait for the demo! Only thing I'm worried about is if my computer can run it!

stooven2
stooven2

*worried that PC won't run it* *wondering if CnC3 would be a safer buy* *laughing at the idiot who said it'll require 3gb of ram*

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

TA game clone? The game takes what TA does and completly reinvents it with the games many innovations. In almost every possible way the game takes what TA did to a whole new level and colors? There are like 10 colors you can choose from for any race just like every other RTS game buddy.

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

Sad becaue unit colors ar so simple , only two colors for each race, looks very sux!!!

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

Total Annililation game clone ! Cant see anything new, only new look !Anyway very good because lack of old scool RTS :/. hate new one,s wher u not build anything ,just got units and fight grr crap!

dzej
dzej

mark_this, you're a very stupid guy... 3gb of ram ?? Gosh, you're really very stupid...

mark_this
mark_this

If the news reports are accurate, this is definitely going to be the biggest strategy game every made. However, big is the key word for anything here: I think it'd be reasonable to expect to absolutely have to have 2.5, maybe 3 GB RAM, maybe more, in order to even come close to being able to run it. Hopefully its not so big that only a state of the art pc will be able to run it without all the settings turned down.

Citan76
Citan76

Total Annihilation was freaking awesome, if this game is kind of like that then it is worth checking out.

fahad2mail
fahad2mail

I think it will be the best game of 2007 in pc era.

Destroyeron13
Destroyeron13

Eh, I don't think it'll be as good as everyone says.

xatman911
xatman911

Awesome. Please release it soon.

BlaMMoRD
BlaMMoRD

nice to see some people with reason argueing for this game (beyonditall) keep it up mate, and btw this game rocks your socks and yes it got alot of depth and its extremly fun

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

To RBR yes there are aircraft carriers and they hold like 40 aircrafts! Also the UEF have a submarine Aircraft carrier that can hold like 150 aircrafts! This game does have as much depth as I claim and then some pan and actually it is the exact opposite of what you said you think it is which is who spams the most units the fastest, the game requires you to think and plan stratagies unlike most RTS games, on the bigger maps at least, on the smaller maps you have more a bit more tatical like gameplay, but it still holds much of the stratagy. So this game basically gives you the best of both worlds.

SaDiZTiKStyLeZ
SaDiZTiKStyLeZ

the Dual monitors is interesting me the most, too bad SLI doesnt support multi-monitors yet

panpeter84
panpeter84

BeyondItAll, I seriously doubt this game has such depth you claim it does. It seriously seem like most other RTS games, in which players who builds massive army first gets to win, and minimal strategy. This game just has larger scale. If the battle becomes too large, all you'll be watching will be that big radar screen, which isn't a bad thing if you can still enjoy it without watching all the action. :P I just don't think this game will meet the hype it is getting. For my defense, I did play Total War, and I still play it. And my bad for saying it's RTS, not Strategy game (gosh). -_- and I like it because it makes you think, not just run up and get slaughtered. (This game, as well as other RTS games makes puny little bullets so powerful. They blow up tanks! They raze buildings!! WTF?!)

rbrtmcqueen
rbrtmcqueen

do they have aircraft carriers? if so it would be even better

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

Best RTS of 07? Thats a given, it deserves more creid then that! It may be the best game of 2007 I mean thie is a sequal to the Gamespot 1997 Game of the Year here!

robertcamel
robertcamel

May be the RTS OF THE YEAR!!! [2007] ========================================================= Surely! How many games that could let you build a Giant Spider-like Robot and had it stepped on the pathetic opponents ?

Mcevil
Mcevil

May be the RTS OF THE YEAR!!! [2007]

Mcevil
Mcevil

May be the RTS of da year!!

Ben905
Ben905

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

jwsoul
jwsoul

BeyondItAll agreed makes me laugh watching prats judge a game on CGI.

R3VOLV360
R3VOLV360

haha! Dual Core utilization! Excellent

digitalmel
digitalmel

Damn i need 2 upgrade ma PC for this! good thing it's chirstmas :D

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

Halo Wars? I can't believe th console kids think that game is going to be so great based of a CGI trailer, seriously what the hell are you thinking? HaloWars will revolutionize the genre? If your thinking that you got some screws loose because the game is being made by ensemble and the last time I checked their last game flopped and while they make good RTS games, it can hardly be expected that they will make an RTS that stands out above all others. Oh I'm sure HaloWars will be the best CONSOLE RTS, but compared to the PC RTS games it will probaly at best be OK. I'll wait for some gameplay before I judge the game anymore and I think you should to before you talk about it as if it's like garunteed to be better then the sequal of the only RTS game to EVER win Game of the Year at gamespot.

swe_hotshot
swe_hotshot

This game will be great! Good mix between star wars, c&c with enormus maps.

diabl0joe
diabl0joe

it kinda looks like star wars command and conquer. heh it still looks cool. i doubt it will beat halo wars though.

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

You might be experiencing firewall issues or something, as I've heard the game has issues also with some routers. Most of the games I have played have been lag free, but one thing you need to keep in mind is people from all over the world are playing this game right now. Is your connection very good? . One thing you should always check especially in games with more then 2 people or even an observer is that every single one of you are seeing a good ping from everyone else as the other night I was playing this guy and their was a spec who was going to watch, his ping looked fine to me, but later I found out the guy I was playing had a bad connection to him as the game was a lag fest, I mean lagging really bad, but the moment the spectator left the game became silky smooth. Also the game has quite high requirments t the moment so you might want to run fraps and make sure it's not your framerate lagging you :D

slade24
slade24

BeyondItAll said "The game has more depth then any RTS game ever made, so it has an endless value and the battles are a ton of fun once you get good at the game." Somehow I don't see the revolutionary difference. It still "follow[s] the traditional RTS formula," it just does so on a much larger scale. Given, this opens up new possibilities for strategy (unit range, speed, and the path taken come play a much greater role), but its still an RTS. You still need certain resources, some of which are scarce; you still need to build lots of infrastructure in order to pump out units, etc. I do like the game. I've played the beta, and the gameplay itself is fun and addictive. However, the fact that the beta gives me so many connection/lag problems makes playing it too aggravating. When I get 3 hours into a 1vs1vs1 match (played as a no rush game I might add) just to have both enemies lag out, I get frustrated. When I then try to join a new game, and every attempt to connect for the next half-hour fails miserably, I want to throw my monitor through a wall. This is what I mean about the beta being crappy. If the "real" game is so close to completion, I'm wondering why the beta seems like such a piece of crap (connection-wise). The beta has the ability to update itself, so it seems a dire prediction of the final product.

Linkin_Park28
Linkin_Park28

Since i have no hope in hell of playing this game, I really hope gamespot holds tournaments for it like the BFME II tournament. I wouldnt mind just sitting through someone else's game when it comes to supreme commander.

BeyondItAll
BeyondItAll

Pan is completely wrong, I don't even think you played the game, total war? This game was never meant to be like the total war series buddy, hell as far as I am concerned the total war series isn't even an RTS series as it has no base building. This game follow the traditional RTS formula IE you build up a base and army and destroy you opponent, but it is much much better then any other RTS ever made. The game has more depth then any RTS game ever made, so it has an endless value and the battles are a ton of fun once you get good at the game. The noobs tend to just throw a ton of the same unit at their opponent to death and then say the game has not enough micro, but if you have a well rounded army basically every single unit type really needs it's own grouping and microing to be used to maximum effect. . . To those crying about the 6+ hour games did you not see him say on the BIGGEST MAP? The map you have been seeing in the latest video, the Taylor interview video and the E3 video Seton's Clutch is already bigger then any RTS map ever made and that map is only 1/16 the size of the biggest map in the game, so basically that gigantic map would make up a small corner on the games biggest map. Games on the only 1 vs 1 map currently in the beta last on average of 15 to 20 minutes and the focus at least for the retail games will be more towards the smaller maps (even though the smaller maps on this game really shouldn't be called small =P ) This game imo is the best RTS game ever made!

panpeter84
panpeter84

slade24 seems to see what I see. The game doesn't seem so well cut out at this point, aside from it's main design focus being in a wrong place, imho. While others were overjoyed with the massive scale of the battle, I put that aside and looked at the game itself. And there isn't much into it. If you are RTS player who enjoys creating massive army and overrun enemies, but not much else, then I guess this game will satisfy you. But if you are more like Total War player, like I am, I doubt it will entertain you for long.

rangeraa
rangeraa

umm is this one turnbased? cuz if so that totally kills it for me...if not..looks awesome

rotnem
rotnem

Hey, keep the features! We will so notice! But if you drop them, don't you dare put it into a sequal, expansions I can handle.

Cicciolino
Cicciolino

What about the hardware requeriments?

j_bulmer
j_bulmer

Looks very impressive. Can't wait for a demo to emerge so i can try before i buy. Been disappointed in RTS's before, and i hope this one isn't the same.

genji_glove1
genji_glove1

Nice. The sea and air combat will definitely add some more tactical dimensions to the game. What faction do you think you will play as? I like the sound of the one with the tacticla nuke... mwa ha ha... ;)

thestrateger
thestrateger

it is a very good game, you don't thinks so?

slade24
slade24

Have any of you guys played the beta? It's only multiplayer, but as I see it now it needs a LOT of work before going public. I've had days where it works...ok.... and others where I spent an hour trying to connect to games without having all the players lag out. I'm also hoping that the architecture currently used in the beta to connect to games is completely redone. As it stands, you can run Supreme Commander's executable and access the standard game menu (which is mostly non-functional due to it being beta), but if you click multiplayer, it exits the game, runs a separate program that provides a chat room and searches for games, and then reloads the game when you try to connect to a match. This wastes lots of time, looks ugly, and increases the chance of the game locking up as it constantly opens and closes the programs. The game itself, once going, seems to run fairly well. The game gradually slows down over the course of play as more and more units are added to the field, though. I've been running the game on an older Athlon XP with the (still amazing) Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card, and it plays nicely at low and even medium graphical settings. Right now, I think the slow downs are more to do with internet/network connection and lag time between players. Now, is it just me, or does it seems like Chris is talking like they are rushing the game into production? Between the wiping of the numerous ideas (ex: tidal wave) from the game, the messy beta, and the fact that they are "almost done", I'm wondering if this game is going to turn out as another "well, it could have been so great..." I guess we'll see when GameSpot reviews the final cut.

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

Certainly seems to be a surge in rts games lately.

audioust
audioust

looks like fun. didnt play the beta, but ill for sure check out the full release.

archeon_1
archeon_1

id love to try it, but it seems like the type of game that'll get you very frustrated the first few times around. Also, 12 hrs sounds more draining than fun... looks cool though

BlaMMoRD
BlaMMoRD

Too all those people that keeps saying omgz 12 hour games oh my gods this is teh suck oh nooes, my life is completely out yf teh windoowzz..... Well anyway, im in the beta and i have never played a real game (not like a nubbarse sandbox game) that lasted more then 1 hour.. or well maybe more then that but that was on big maps and on the small maps a game can be very short, or very long it all depends on the players. I mean really.. Of course a game CAN take that long but the chances a game WILL take that long is not very big... I have never experienced it... And i´ve never heard of a 12 hour game in supreme commander..

semperfi3
semperfi3

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

semperfi3
semperfi3

haha wow. 12 hours. that is a very long match. Im hoping theres some intermissions in there for some bodily functions. haha. www.PlugComputers.com

Mercenary19
Mercenary19

who has time to play a 12 hours match. My god.

sedgwammer
sedgwammer

Guys, the LARGEST maps for a 1vs1 WITH WATER can take up to 12 hours. The small maps can be decided in under 20 minutes....have no fear.