Supreme Commander 2 Interview

Article

posted 1/21/2010 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: 360 PC
The RTS genre seems to be influx now a days.  With developers trying to figure out how to bring the genre to consoles a lot of people think we've seen an end of the old time RTS game.  We decided to ask Chris Taylor where the genre was headed as he's one of the big figureheads in the industry.  We also asked a lot of annoying and somewhat prying questions about the new RTS game his company is working on and why he decided to switch publishers with the game.

Can you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project?

Chris Taylor – My name is Chris Taylor, I am the Lead Designer of Supreme Commander 2. My role is to guide the high level design, come up with new ideas, and figure out where we think the RTS genre is going.

What's the backdrop for the game in Supreme Commander 2 and how does it tie into the first game?
The story picks up after the events in the first two games. The three united factions, having just defeated the Seraphim enjoying 25 years of peace. This is shattered when the President of the coalition is assassinated, throwing them back into a three-way war, neither side willing to trust the other.


How important is story to a RTS game? Has there ever been the thought of "Here are a bunch of units, go forth, multiply, and destroy anything that doesn't belong to you?"
Over the years I have come to believe that the story is very important, it's what holds the whole package together. Video games as an art form have really evolved, and it’s clear now that story has become an essential part of the experience, and with SC2 in particular, we wanted to take the story right into the lives of the characters.

Could you talk about the lessons learned from Demigod and how you applied them to Supreme Commander 2?
In Demigod we took the visual level of detail up several levels from what we had achieved in the first two Supreme Commander games. We also worked harder to create really compelling visual designs on our characters. The biggest take away was the outrageous terrain that was developed, the way over-the-top locations that were way more fun than flat square gameboards. We went all-out in SC2, to really push the limits of what we can do with this terrain system.


What do you think is the most important new feature of the game?
That's a very tough question, because we've done so much. If you made me pick just one, I would say the new tech tree system. It takes everything that is great about upgrades in an RTS game and makes them so useful and manageable. It has given the game a new kind of depth and a huge amount of replayability. The way the player approaches the tech tree is key to the strategy of the game.

Gas Powered Games has been in the RTS business for quite some time..What's been the biggest change you've seen in the genre? What kinds of things do you expect to see from the genre in the future?
I think we know more about RTS now than ever, and we understand what parts of it are fun, and what parts aren't. We now know that resource gathering is an important part of the game and you can't just remove it and expect the strategy part to hold up... but having said that, the strategy and combat are still the main event, and we'll see designs evolve to focus on that part of the game more. We think that new game modes will emerge, giving the player something other than the SP campaign, Skirmish and MP. And we'll see more aspects of the game's moving into the online space as these new modes of play develop.
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