While Square-Enix is all about hyping Final Fantasy XIII right now, they’re very close to publishing a slick RTS by the name of Supreme Commander 2. Developed by Gas Powered Games, SC2 is looking to make a splash ahead of that OTHER SC2. To discuss the game, we’re here with head of Gas Powered Games, Chris Taylor.
MyGamer – For the readers who aren't familiar with Supreme Commander, could you tell us what really differentiates it from other games in the genre?
Chris Taylor – Supreme Commander 2 is about huge battles, with powerful units and big powerful weapons. Like nukes! Instead of a close-in, small scaled game, we allow the player to pull the camera way out, to what we call, "strategic view", and this allows the player to make big strategic decisions, really putting the “S” into “RTS”.
MG – How long has SC2 been in development?
CT – We started pre-production in late 2008, so we're hitting about eighteen months right now.
MG – Will players that didn't play the first one come to grips with the game's story?
CT – Absolutely, we don't rely on any sort of story knowledge to allow the player to jump in and enjoy this next chapter.
MG – How long do you figure the single-player campaign to be?
CT – Our numbers range anywhere from twelve to fifteen hours, but this is highly dependent on the player’s skill level.
MG – RTSs are always a tough sell on consoles, even ones that are designed specifically for the platform. Have you been at all concerned about the 360 version of the game?
CT – This has definitely been the feeling, but let me assure you, Supreme Commander 2 plays really great with a controller. Call me crazy, but I feel like the RTS/Console barrier has finally been surpassed!
MG – Could you go over the new upgrade system for your units.
CT – The idea here is that you acquire research points. You get them from building research stations and from gaining combat experience. You spend them on one of five tabs; Air, Land, Naval, Structures and the ACU. Each tab has a series of dependent technologies. The price to unlock these technologies varies, and is different for each faction. When you unlock the AAA guns for your RockHead tanks, all deployed tanks receive them. The tree plays a key role in your strategy, as you want to think about how you'll unlock each item in sequence, long before you start your game.
MG – Design-wise, what makes a good map in an RTS?
CT – I like a little water, with a good amount of room on land to build a decent base. Small maps can be fun too, but they are mostly useful for playing a quick game, perhaps over lunch hour. Like I said though, I like the naval, so I really like those maps which have a little of everything. But some of our maps without water are insane visually, and so I like those ones too.
MG – The UI seems to have been changed. What was the thought process behind it?
CT – We wanted to make it as unobtrusive as possible, but still give the player all the functionality they are looking for. You can optionally bring up the minimap, for example, but with our strategic zoom technology, and dual monitor support, it's not really needed anymore. In our play tests, very few players even ask about it. But it is there!
MG – Any specific plans for multiplayer? Leaderboards or Ladders, different game types?
CT – We have included Leaderboards already for the 360, and as I write this, we are busy putting the finishing touches on them for the PC.
MG – Any words for the guys who played the first title? What is there to look forward to for everyone who was pumped up about the original?
CT – We hope they really enjoy it, because it's got a lot of new stuff for them to explore and test out. The factions are more diverse than ever, and the tech tree is a great change in the genre overall. The maps are outrageous, huge and varied. The visuals are stunning, but the game runs on more hardware than ever. We've really gone all out on this game.
Supreme Commander 2 is slated for a March 2nd release on the PC, with the 360 version hitting two weeks later on March 16th. You can check out our full preview here, and keep an eye out for a review once the game is unleashed.