Michael Hardy Formal Evaluation CIS487, Fall 2007 University of Michigan-Dearborn Supreme Commander Evaluation
Supreme Commander • Distributed by THQ (L.A. Based) • Developed by Gas Powered Games • (Near Seattle, developer of Dungeon Siege series) • Chris Taylor, Lead Designer for GPG • Known for Total Annihilation Series, of which Supreme Commander is “spiritual successor” • Type of game: Real Time Strategy • Price: $29.90 @ GoGamer.com • MSRP: $44.95
Game SummaryQuick Overview • A futuristic Real Time Strategy game where three factions battle for dominance. • The scale of many missions (levels) is considerably larger than similar games of the genre. • Over 250 different units cover air, land, and sea warfare/construction over four tech levels. • All units are individually controllable (unlike games like Command & Conquer which utilize squads of troops) and each player can have hundreds of units.
Game SummaryStoryline • Three factions have fought for over a thousand years in the Infinite War. Interstellar distances can be traversed by means of a Quantum Gate Network. One faction, the UEF are creating the Black Sun project, a planet killer. Each faction attempts to use Black Sun to win the war. • UEF - The United Earth Federation wants to control the universe following the collapse of the Earth Empire. The UEF’s goal is militaristic reconquering of the former colonies. • Cybran Nation - Symbionts (Cyborgs) who have left the UEF by overcoming their loyalty programming. Dr Brackman is their designer and leader who started the movement after their gradual enslavement. The Cybran Nation’s goal is to free all Symbionts. • Aeon Illuminate - Worshippers of the Seraphim, a race (presumed) destroyed by the Earth Empire. The Aeon Illuminate’s goal is to convert everyone to their religion.
Game Summary • Player's role: Player plays as each faction as a Supreme Commander, a pilot of an ACU (Armoured Command Unit) which can construct only basic buildings. • Installation: • Standard windows installation from DVD • Online patches and matchmaking through GPGNet • An early patch removed SecuROM copy protection and DVD in drive requirement
Game SummaryUser Interface • 3D overhead view with controls familiar to regular RTS players. • Click to select a unit, double click for all units of similar type, drag click to select rectangle of units. • Shift to add units to group, function key unit groups, and standard keyboard controls. • Building and unit commands are located in a panel. Panel and screen organization can be changed but only to preset locations. • Game supports two monitors where the second monitor shows another view of the battlefield that can be zoomed in and out. • An innovative feature is the scroll wheel can be used for quick, smooth setting of the overhead view distance. • Images of units change to icons at large distances.
Game Summary • Game Play • Real Time Strategy • Units have basic AI to control movement, production, and fighting. • Create buildings to mine mass and generate energy • Used to build units and power buildings / defense • User must make bases, assign units orders, and accomplish the mission goal. • Scoring • Single player • Game based on completing mission goals to go on to the next mission. • Skirmish and Multiplayer • Multiple victory modes • Score based on units constructed/destroyed and energy/mass created/utilized.
Game Summary • Artwork • All units have a fine level of 3d detail • Ground view allows rotating around units to see all the detail • Land maps have destroyed buildings, trees, fire effects • Land, air, and sea show decals of moving units (footprints, contrails, and wake respectively) • In Game Video consists of game engine and 3D prerendered sequences • Sound and Music • Units all have sounds that provide feedback to the action • Music is Cinematic • Voice actors supply voices for characters • Special features • Smooth zoom from individual unit to entire map • Large number of units help create many strategies • Save and replay missions
Game Summary • Example of statistics used for one unit: TITAN - SIEGE ASSAULT BOT Tier: 3 Armor: 2200hp Shield: 2500hp (size: 2.5 (48.8m), regen rate: 167, regen start time: 45, recharge time: 60) Abilities: Shield Cost: M480, E3840 (-25), T1200 Intel: sight: 25 (488m) Physics: max speed: 2.9 (56.6m/s), turn rate: 146 Transport class: 3 Veterancy: 30, 60, 150, 300, 600 kills veteran level 2: +550 hp, veteran level 4: +550 hp, veteran level 5: repair 2 hp/s Weapons: Heavy Plasma Cannon (Direct Fire): 100.00 dps, range: 25 (488m) projectile weapon: 50 damage rate of fire: 2 (every 0.5s) veteran level 1: +13 damage, veteran level 3: +13 damage
Game Summary • Manual • Covers story, controls, and units. • Bugs • Most bugs are related to unintended unit combinations (shield generators units enabled while being transported by gunships) but have been fixed in patches. • GPGNet distributes regular patches needed for online play. • Patches have added features including a streamlined UI option and 3 new units.
Game Review • Good (fun) and Why • Hundreds of units create astronomical amount of combinations to try • Large scale allows epic games • Strategy played can be different each time even if it is the same mission • Skirmish mode allows for quick games • Network/Internet play allows human players and varied game play • Replays allow watching both sides of a game to learn new strategies • Official map editor allows expandablility, game designed for easy creations of mods
Game Review • Bad Points • Too much micromanagement • Bases must be placed one at a time • Mod allows for standard bases • Unit formations are limited • Sometimes need to move units around to annoying degree • Line of Sight Issues • 3D terrain allows a defense placement to be blocked even though the effective radius guide doesn’t indicate this
Game Review • Comparison to games of the RTS genre • Starcraft • SupCom has a greater variety of units • SupCom has 3D graphics and terrain • Equal level of storyline • Shares fundamental controls, SupCom adds more queuing • Starcraft runs on all systems, SupCom needs a powerful CPU and Graphics
Game Review • Comparison to games of the RTS genre • Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars • CnC units seem less balanced • CnC has more varied “scenery” (buildings, level backgrounds) • Both have 3D graphics and terrain • Full motion video cutscenes of CnC series are b-movie while SupCom is 3D rendered movie level • Both have advanced level of control features • CnC doesn’t require as powerful of a computer system
Game Review • Audience • Rated for 12 and up • Strategy favors older players more than other games, less fever pitched control issues compared to a warcraft like game because of queuing • Few humans killed during game • Only ACUs (supreme and support commanders) contain humans, all other vehicles are robotic • Storyline has death of individuals mean something • Player unseen in ACU (mech) means no age/gender bias • Personal view is it should be Teens and up, agree with rating • Design Mistake • Nature of the missions are pass/fail, creating a linear single player story. A flexible story structure would put the player in the action better.
Summary • Strengths • Supports both massive games and minor skirmishes • Strong storyline • Play from all three sides • No one side is “bad guy” • Replayability • Variety of units each with specialties and different abilities • Easily try new strategy • Network / Internet Play and Mods enable the game to be played for years
Summary • Weaknesses • Needs high end system, enabling some people to have a poor experience • Can also be seen as a strength as the game will not age as poorly graphically • While games can be saved, even minor skirmishes take 45 minutes • Replay mode (VCR like replay of completed games) does not allow rewind
Summary • Is the game worth purchasing? • Main campaign is 40-50 hours of gameplay • Great value because of online and AI games • As successor to Total Annihilation, loyal fan base to create mods (already made) • Expansion pack will continue story • Patches have further tweaked balance and even added features • Definite Yes, with PC system caveat
Summary • Improvements • Better AI • Allow mods to be installed by a menu and preloaded prior to internet play, like Steam games • Allow custom base fabrication presets • Allow custom unit formation presets • Better air ferrying interface • Sea units to ferry ground units