Interview: Supreme Commander 2’s Chris Taylor

March 3, 2010

Chris Taylor, CEO of Gas-Powered Games, set out to create a big shiny new RTS with the original Supreme Commander, and most believe he succeeded.  With this week’s release of Supreme Commander 2, we took time to hear a few thoughts from Taylor about the sequel and why it’s time for you to start smashing robots to pieces again. 

Snackbar Games: What are the 3 biggest changes in Supreme Commander 2?

Chris Taylor: First, we introduced a brand new concept, the Tech Tree.  This takes the whole concept of strategy to the next level. Our map designs are unlike anything seen in an RTS game. Incredible vistas, and terrain that stretches out to the horizon with clouds that circle incredible mesas, are where these battles now take place.  Last, but certainly not least, our unit design.  Supreme Commander 2 is more asymmetrical than any of our previous games, which means you’ll have to carefully study each faction to learn the strength and weaknesses of each.

SB: Is SupCom 2 running on the same game engine as the original?

CT: We started with the original SupCom 1 engine and have made some huge changes.  First off, we completely rewrote the rendering engine, and with that have introduced all the latest and greatest in rendering techniques, including a global illumination model with point cloud lighting.  We completely replaced the UI system, and take up less space than ever on the screen.  And finally, one of the most important changes in the RTS genre to come along, have adopted a far more sophisticated pathfinding system, what we call Flow Fields.  Pathfind is on an exciting new path, and we are leading the charge!

SB: Tell us a bit about the new faction.

CT: The Illuminate are the Aeon, re-imagined.  We wanted to improve upon the old design to make it easy to identify the units from a functionality perspective.  From a story perspective, the faction still has its roots in the original Aeon Illuminate, but has grown to adopt a new culture and philosophy, and has chosen to keep some of the old name for political reasons.  The new faction has been designed to focus on teleportation and hover technology, and still has a “zealot-like” overture to it.

SB: What are your most favorite units in the game? Why do you love ’em?

CT: It does change, but lately, I’m loving the Noah Unit Cannon (or NUC) because it’s so insanely fun to use.  It’s not the most powerful, but it very fun to play with.  When I play Cybran, it’s the Cybranasaurus Rex, because it’s an intimidating and powerful unit, and it’s a very refreshing visual. 

SB: How long will 1v1 MP matches last, on average?

CT: It does depend on the map size, but on average maybe somewhere around 30 minutes, add 20 minutes for a larger map, subtract 10 for a smaller one.

SB: What does SupCom 2 offer the more hardcore competitive RTS players?

CT: It offers a game experience that is seemingly straight forward, but under the covers, it can be very deep… the kind of game that changes week to week, as you learn the subtleties of it.

SB: How is Gas Powered Games updating/upgrading the online component for multi-player matches with SupCom 2?

CT: We’re on multiple platforms so we are starting off with 1v1, and then as time goes on we’ll look to expand the options.  We do like feedback and want to make sure we’re expanding in the right areas.  You can send me your wishes to [email protected].

SB: What’s something that you didn’t feel worked as well in SupCom but that you were able to vastly improve in SupCom 2?

CT: I think we’ve achieved a better overall balance in the way the game plays.  For example, in SupCom 1, the game can start very slowly, but moves very quickly in SupCom 2.  We’ve got better factional diversity, and we’ve got great asymmetry… and we’ve tidied up the gameplay for a game that is easy to get into, but hard to master.  And this philosophy touched almost every part of the design.  It’s a brand new game, but veterans will still be able to jump right in.

SB: What are the primary differences between the 360 and PC versions of SupCom 2?

CT: Would you believe not very much at all!?  That’s right, we’ve been able to pack the 360 with every feature available on the PC.  The first major difference is the UI, as we’ve designed a custom UI from scratch for the 360, and it plays beautifully… you’ll be blown away.  Lastly, we support 8 player MP on the PC and 4 on the 360.

SB: As far as downloadable content goes, how does Gas Powered Games plan to support SupCom 2?

CT: We’ll support the game with tuning and balancing updates as often as they are required, but we aren’t yet ready to make any announcements regarding DLC quite yet!