Supreme Commander Updated Q&A - Progress Report

We catch up with Gas Powered Games founder Chris Taylor to get an updated on one of the biggest strategy games of 2007.

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Even though it's not due out until the first part of 2007, strategy fans everywhere are eagerly looking forward to Supreme Commander, the epic-scale real-time strategy game from Gas Powered Games and THQ. Billed as the spiritual heir to Total Annihilation, one of the most popular RTS games ever, Supreme Commander is set in a far-off future where three factions of humanity wage war against one another.

Like many real-time strategy games, Supreme Commander has an economic aspect to it, as you must accumulate resources (in this case, energy and mass) and use it to churn out war machines. What makes Supreme Commander different, though, is its enormous scale. Battlefields will be hundreds, and even thousands, of square kilometers in size. Don't worry about it being too big, because the quick pace of the combat will have you busy directing armies, navies, and air forces around the map. To get an update on the game, we caught up with creator Chris Taylor.

GameSpot: It's been a few months since we got an update on Supreme Commander. Where's the game at currently? How much work is left?

Chris Taylor: Supreme Commander is getting very close to being complete, but as we approach the finish line, some of the toughest challenges remain. These include tuning and balancing, debugging, optimizing the game for performance, and, lastly, we are finalizing the code to run on DirectX 10 in Windows Vista.

Supreme Commander is one of the most anticipated games on the horizon, thanks to its epic scale.

GS: The trailer for Supreme Commander generated an incredible amount of buzz. What was the reaction like to the reaction to the trailer? Does the buzz make you a bit nervous now that all these expectations are out there?

CT: We were very happy to see the reaction, and like you suggest, it made us work harder because we certainly don't want to disappoint those who are excited to play. Nervous, heck yeah, this whole process is pretty hard on the nerves, but we love it.

GS: What can you tell us about the campaign structure? Are there three campaigns that allow you to play as each faction? Will you have a linear set of missions that take you from planet to planet? Or will there be some kind of top strategic layer to link the battles together?

CT: We do indeed have three campaigns, where the player can choose the United Earth Federation, the Aeon Illuminate, or the Cybran Nation. Each campaign is quite huge and follows the story to the conclusion where the player plays a key role in ending the Infinite War.

GS: We've covered the histories and units of the three factions in the game, but could you describe to us just how they're different from one another? How do they play in comparison to one another? Are they essentially the same, but with different appearances?

CT: We struggled between two extremes early on when designing the units. On the one hand we wanted each faction to be unique, but we also wanted to balance them. We finally decided that early on in the game, where each side is using the lower tech levels, we made it so that each faction had access to similar units, and if not in form, close enough in function so that we could balance them. However, as the game progresses, and as the player increases in tech levels, the three factions start to separate more and more on a functional level so that by the highest tech level, what we call experimental, no two units are alike.

Unlike in most strategy games, you can pull the camera back as far as you'd like, to get a big picture of the battlefield.

GS: How's work on the artificial intelligence progressing? Will the AI know how to use all the space you're giving it to maneuver its forces properly on the battlefield? Will it ambush you, flank you, or surprise you in any way?

CT: The AI has come a long way, and we are very excited about where we ended up. We had grand designs about allowing the player to choose different personality archetypes, and it wasn't looking like we were going to get that done on time, but in the last stretch, this did in fact make it in, and we love how it takes the whole experience to the next level. Oh, and yes, you can expect the AI to play extremely well, and be sure to protect yourself on all sides. And build some antinukes!!

GS: Of course, no AI is as smart as a human being. What can you tell us about the multiplayer at this point? Will multiplayer be one-on-one, or will there be team play, so perhaps two-on-two or even higher? How are the multiplayer matches in the offices, and can you tell us some cool war stories?

CT: Multiplayer allows you to do all of the above. You can play up to eight players, in any configuration, mix and match AIs (and like I mention above, those AIs can be of different personality types), and you can play on teams, with or against the computer AI. The matches here at Gas Powered Games have been insane, and we really have to stay focused on the development side and not get too carried away playing it!

GS: There's going to be a considerable amount of automation in Supreme Commander to reduce micromanagement, particularly since there are so many units spread out over such a huge area. There's also some concern that the game might be too automated, so that you, as a player, don't do a lot. Where do you draw the line, and how much automation do you put in? Though, isn't the point of all of this so you can focus more on the "big picture" rather than the mundane minutiae?

CT: You would be surprised how the whole experience changes, and yet it is strangely familiar. For example, as the map size increases and the automation kicks in to assist the player, the size of the whole theater draws the player back in at a different level...a level where they spend the most time thinking about the next big move, the strategy, the big picture. This is where Supreme Commander really steps away from the typical real-time strategy experience and gives the player the feeling that it's not just about who can click the fastest, but about who has the best strategy for a given map or opponent.

GS: A lot of people are wondering about what sort of PC you'll need to run the game, especially since the battlefields are so large, there are so many units, and everything is modeled.

Naval warfare is also modeled in the game, and you'll command huge capital ships as well as smaller escorts.

CT: No question that a game of this nature will require a PC that is well suited to pushing lots of juicy visuals and has a beefy enough CPU to handle the advanced AI, but as we have seen in the past, machines are getting more powerful all the time, and by the time Supreme Commander launches, the average PC sold will likely run the game quite well. I will say, however, that this was a tough decision, but an important one, because we wanted to create a truly next-generation experience and wanted to fully utilize the latest in graphics and processing technology to make that happen.

GS: What's the greatest moment that you've had in the game so far, and could you describe it to us so we can get a better idea of how Supreme Commander is different from most other real-time strategy games?

CT: Ah man, there have been quite a few, but in general the great moments happen near the end, or happen to be the end, when something crazy and over-the-top is going down. Examples range from the massive experimental units meeting on the battlefield like a Godzilla movie, or where a massive wave of units is chewing into a base and the whole screen is alive with explosions, or when a player's Armored Command Unit (ACU) is running from his exploding base to save his own hide and suddenly explodes in a massive nuclear fireball. This stuff happens all the time.

GS: Thanks, Chris.

Discussion

102 comments
darth-revan
darth-revan

i have a radeon 9800 all in wonder pro, 2 gigs of ram, amd 2800+, and a 4 year old asus motherboard, can i run the game? i mean run it in a good detail with no slow down?

igorcepro
igorcepro

I've tried Beta too and must say the AI have overloaded me in the same time with huge spider and the nuke so my poor base simply gone in a smoke. My defenses simply gone. Special effect are amazing, graphic, shadows and the rest it's awesome, and all that on my 9600Pro, AthlonXP2000+, 2x512MB Dual channel, Epox8RDA3+, Maxtor SATA2 300GB 16MB Cache works axceptable, frame rate is ok, no slow motion or something, sure on faster comps works much better, but I am pleased.

gsk_spurs_rule
gsk_spurs_rule

Iv played the Beta, and it really does pwn! Theres nothing more fun than building up your army of bots & experimental unites and annihilating the enermy.....o and the AI is HARD! even on easy! i cant quite understand the statment "Of course, no AI is as smart as a human being." because they are much smarter! My computer (1gig RAM, 3.0ghz CPU, nvidia 6600Go graphics) can handle the beta....but the beta doesnt seem to be the same level of graphics as the actual game.....so i think anything better than my PC should be able to handle the full game......1 last thing, the actual Supreme Commanders arnt as good as i hoped....you can upgrade them but they arnt as good as the experimental unites......anyway, i cant wait for March.....

grope2
grope2

i watched the trailer and the movie with Good ol' Chris and i had a panic attack, i want this game so bad...screw my exams, im going to be a supreme commander :D LOL

saintcarrot
saintcarrot

cant wait sounds sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo gd

ZeshiO
ZeshiO

"Q: I hear SupCom requires DirectX10 and Vista. Is this true? A: No. Supcom does not need or require Vista (DirectX10 is built into Vista and will not be available to Windows XP). The game runs fine on Windows XP and DirectX9, including features like split/dual screen mode and spiffy special effects). Vista and DirectX10 may just have spiffier effects." ( gas powered games garage@http://garage.gaspowered.com/?q=supcomfaq) I pulled this right off the website. You are correct vash. This does prove that XP and direct x 9 or whatever should be good to everyone else.

vash-ht
vash-ht

To everyone thinking this is only DX10, its not. The beta right now is running only on DX9 machines of course. Mor elikely it will have something like Crysis is going to, with different paths for DX9 and DX10. btw, I doubt DX10 will ever make it to XP, MS would do something like this to force people to move to vista for sure.

ZeshiO
ZeshiO

There will be Direct X 10 for other systems such as XP, don't get your panties in a bunch. It will probably be optimized for Vista, as well as XP. Trust me, from a marketing perspective, they aren't going to just sell to Vista users, that would be a castastrophe.

scopexxx
scopexxx

I remember the time i played StarCraft alot. I Loved that Game soo much.I still do,but I know that Supreme Commander is going to Awesome and better than any RTS game I have ever played.I am sure of it ! I have watched the preview movies about 10 times now. All I say is OMG, I can't wait for this game to come out.it's going to be worth every penny. Thx GameSpot for all the good info.

cannuck38
cannuck38

Awesome. Can't wait till 2007

The_Warhammer
The_Warhammer

Well this is a problem you need Windows Vista as for DirectX10 you can Download it at www.windows.com/directx/ but it probably not release until new years day.

Bednyx
Bednyx

Hmm this game have the same style like Earth 2150

paulo_rosa
paulo_rosa

Amazing! I just hope my pc can handle it!

Enterprise-E
Enterprise-E

This game is going to awesome when it comes out. Also everyone knows that this is Total Annihilation 2.

_Sam_
_Sam_

well I'm planning on getting Vista ;)

jimbobb23
jimbobb23

DirectX 10 only???? If so, dud city since that will only be on Vista, and I (and I think most people) are going to be holding off on Vista for a very long time.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

wow i'm still gunning for this one, can't wiat. hope it's perfect.

ghasek
ghasek

submarine aircraft carrier!

neonblueshadow
neonblueshadow

This is an RTS game, you can easily skip on the graphics, play it at low settings and still get all the essential gameplay elements. Rejecting a game just because you cannot enjoy all the eye candy and decorative effects, especially when its not an essential part of the gameplay is pretty stupid. Playing the game at low gfx settings will remove most of the lag and any hefty system requirements, and shoudl still provide an enjoyable RTS experience. This isn't an FPS, the graphic detail doesn't matter so much, its just a luxury. And with the gameplay elements going into the game, this game should be tons of fun.

usedboyi
usedboyi

Yeah there was a crap load of lag i noticed. Lol can't wait to be amazed with all the lag. This is going to be Battlefield 2 special forces lag x3

Franknight
Franknight

I want this game. !! It seems it will be a bestseller.

Mrglorp
Mrglorp

Whats so bad about upgradeing your pc. you could probably upgrade your pc for less than a xbox360 or a ps3. so if you like the newer pc games ether upgrade your pc or stop complaning. (my pc could probably run it & I upgraded my pc for less than $350}

paladinvn
paladinvn

I pop in the game... and my untrustworthy PC overheated... repeat... my old untrustworthy overheated... This game is definitely make me purchasing another PC. I love Total Annihilation. Love it so much... Dont remember how many hours of my life being wasted on that game. Hyped.

Elemeninki
Elemeninki

WOAH that looks like a great game!!! I think i'ts going to be the worst game of the year. ... ... Why? Coz no-ones pc is gonna run it. i'd agree storngly with all the other people who've posted replys about it.

Mrglorp
Mrglorp

I like c&c and this game. this game looks cool. it looks like you don't really need to worry about running out of resources,because u gather mass & energy. I hated running out of stuff to gather on most RTS games & need to move somewhere else. looking forword to playing this

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

A fantastic game. Let's hope my PC will be able t o handle it.

XBASX
XBASX

I thought Tom Cruise was freaky

XBASX
XBASX

I thought Tom Cruise was freaky

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

yeah i agree with you guys, this game is the reason i'll be getting vista, and some new vista supporting hardware, yeah. games like this make hardware manufacturures happy.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

after playing double agent, i feel confortable saying this, though i want to play the game, i would rather they release a demo, and proceed to polish and finish the game, rather than rush it out with the seems showing. if it takes two more years, i'll wiat, i want a game i'll be playing for five, not two months. like star craft, warcraft 3, dawn of war, and company of heroes, i'll be playing those games long after they are old news. i never played total annihilation, but i really feel that it would be awsome if they bundeled that game in with a collectors edition, even though i know chris doesn't have the liscense any more.

SWEToryu
SWEToryu

This game i want...now today oh ok have to wait then... :P

Hikiera
Hikiera

I can see my future in this game. First: I load it in. Second: Sorry you can't run this game. :cry:

Toasty64
Toasty64

The screens for this are amazing. I'd definately get this if my outdated PC could run it.

Tebbit
Tebbit

Oh wow, it certainly has progressed! But "screw C&C"!? I don't think ill ever be ready to do that, Generals or No Generals

HailEnki
HailEnki

Dam straight snake! Gamespot really needs to update their screenshot selection for this game, the textures are now better and the water far far far>>>>>>> beyond were Gamespots old screens show, I'm talking water on a Crysis level. Also I'm sure many of you have noticed the crap pixelated mess of shadows, well those have now been fixed too!

snake_6483
snake_6483

I'm going to buy this game!!! SCREW C&C!!!!!! SUPCOM WILL DOMINATE ALL RTS GAMES FOREVER!!!!!!!!! LONG LIVE CHRIS TAYLOR!

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

doesn't seem to be any fog of war....which i like. looks like i'm going to get more ram and a better vid card before i get this game.

Zonelezz
Zonelezz

lol hmm all i can see is lag

Sheiko
Sheiko

This will be one heck of a good game. Too bad beta isn't widely released.

HailEnki
HailEnki

VDrakula Chris Taylor said in one interview the company rented out super computers to vigorously test the balance of the game, so :D

Banglaman
Banglaman

Cant wait for it to come out i think i will be the first few people who will buy it or the last few if my exams are delayed

Glordit
Glordit

I read about this is NAG in 2004 and Im still waiting :o

GaaraZanta
GaaraZanta

This game looks really good as of now, I can't wait for it to come out. One of the reason why I will probably upgrade my computer for vista, mines running on an Intel graphics card so I'm due in for an upgrade. Couple other nice looking games coming out for Vista, can't wait.

audioust
audioust

This looks very cool. Can't wait!

ut40755
ut40755

theres 2 seperate numbers on my calendar, a countdown to this game and a countdown till i can get a new video card....no ones gettin christmas gifts this year :P