Supreme Commander 2 Interview

Recently I got the chance to speak with Chris Taylor about the upcoming Supreme Commander 2 which is poised to take Real Time Strategy gaming to a new level. I want to thank Chris for taking the time to answer my questions and for Barandon at Mav PR for arranging the interview

GVK: What is the background and setting for the game?

Chris Taylor – The game takes place thousands of years in the future. The
old Earth Empire that has ruled for so long became split into three
factions, fought the Infinite War and then joined forces to fight the
Seraphim. But this peace didn’t last, the Coalition leader is assassinated,
and hostilities are renewed. You take turns playing one of three
Commanders, each one, old friends, and how this friendship impacts the
decisions they make while fighting on the battlefield.

GVK: In games of this type, A.I. is often critical for the success of a
game. How has the A.I. for the game been setup and what features will it

CT – Each game we do, we advance our AI, the way it works, etc. This time
we’ve introduced Neural nets, which adds a little extra spice to the game.
What we provide is a wide array of AI: Easy, Normal, Hard and an extra hard
AI we call Cheating AI. If you beat Easy, you an work your way up to
Cheating AI, but then, you can take on multiple opponents, so there’s no
limit to how far you can test your l33t skilz.

GVK: What are some of the units featured?

CT – Oh boy, that’s a gigantic question. We have more than 25 Experimental
Units in the game, and they cover a wide array of specialties. We have the
Proto Brain Complex, the Space Temple, and the Cybranasaurus Rex, to name a
few. Each Experimental unit is very unique and has a very special use.
However, the player’s own ACU is decked out this time around, with upgrades
available like the jump jets (teleport if you are Illuminate), anti-air
weapons, torpedoes, overcharge gun, and artillery.

GVK: The scope of the game sounds amazing. What are some of the biggest
obstacles you see in creating the game for a console and what are your
biggest goals for the game?

CT – Easily the biggest challenge we faced on the console was making the UI
really intuitive to use, and making sure we gave the player a fully
functional, large scale RTS experience. I am very happy to say we’ve done
it, and the game plays beautifully. For Supreme Commander 2 we want to
really widen the audience, allowing more people than ever to jump in and
enjoy the full glory of RTS gameplay.

GVK: Are there mega weapons and if so, how do you balance giving players
the destructive power they want, yet maintaining a balance in the game?

CT – This is key to the tuning and balancing part of game design. If you
want the player to have nukes (which we do), then you have to make sure you
balance that by providing a defense (in our case, you build anti-nukes).
You also have to tune the units to make sure the cost is in line with the
power. If you want to build nukes, you will have to first research them,
then you build an expensive structure, and then you build the nuke itself.

GVK: How is resource gathering handled for the game?

CT – The player must locate special Mass locations or sites that are
scattered around the map. The player will also need Energy to combine with
Mass to form units. Energy can be produced with special Energy production

GVK: What forms of multiplayer will be featured?

CT – Multiplayer can be played in many configurations. You can play against
a friend, 1v1, or you and a friend could play two others, 2v2. You can play
against AI opponents cooperatively, or in pretty much any configuration you
like. On the PC you can have up to 8 players, and on the 360, up to 4. We
also support observer mode so that you can study someone while they play.
And you can save out the replay file and watch it again to learn new

* Weather has played a large part in strategy and battles in the past
strategy games. How do you plan to implement weather conditions in the game and
what can players look forward to?

CT – As strategy enthusiasts, we have not been a big fan of the randomness that
weather brings to the game. For example, if you lose a game because you
have low visibility, or a meteor shower wipes out your base, you would not
think your opponent beat you fair and square.

* Do you have a favorite unit and strategy when playing, and if so,
what is it?

CT – I love all the factions for all their unique qualities, but for the
sake of an example, let’s talk about a strategy I have been enjoying lately
with the UEF. Just when my opponent has built up a lot of shields to
protect against all my incoming artillery, I switch to the Noah Unit Cannon,
and I bombard them with actual units. This strategy usually includes
building four at once, and the visuals of these units flying across the map
is nothing short of fantastic. you’ve never seen anything like that before.
And I always remember to build some nuke defense!!

GVK: What sort of missions and campaigns will players face?

CT – We include a big SP campaign, which can be broken down into three
separate parts, each part tells a chapter of the story. Each chapter has
six “operations”. As the player works through the overall campaign and
story, new units are revealed and the player has a chance to try them out.
By the end of the SP game, most players will have chosen a favorite that
they will likely master in Skirmish and MP games.

GVK: What sort of musical score will the game have?

CT – Our in-house composer, Howard Mostrom, has done a fantastic job
creating a nice mix for each faction. To quote Howard, “the Cybran are more
Avant-garde and the Illuminate are classical, almost renaissance, with some
choir in the background. The UEF are more traditional military with
orchestral elements and driven by percussion”.

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