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Feature - Q&A with Chris Taylor
SupremeCommanderHQ.com talks to Chris Taylor

Supreme Commander is the spiritual successor to Cavedog's Total Annihilation, the brainchild of Chris Taylor, with whom this interview was conducted. I'm very fortunate to have had this Q&A session with Chris Taylor and hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I have. Chris answers many of the questions that intrigue the grassroots fans of the game, so read on and be enlightened!

I would like to thank Chris Taylor for making time in his busy schedule to answer our questions, and to Jeremy Snook of GPG and Ms. Verdon of THQ with whom this interview and its accompanying screenshots would not have been possible otherwise.

What have been some of your biggest hurdles in the game design of Supreme Commander thus far?

Chris Taylor – One of the biggest challenges has been finding a way to create three different factions that are all different in one way, but similar in others… i.e. each faction needs a well-balanced force that covers land, sea and air, but can’t all have the same look to their tanks.  When we get up to the huge experimental units this is easy because these units are way over-the-top, and have crazy weapons and create massive amounts of destruction.

We have heard the maps are big, even huge.  Can you demonstrate or explain the actual size of the maps in terms that people can relate to, or comparatively speaking, to another game?

CT – I wouldn’t want to make any absolute statements here, because every RTS game is different and has a different scale, so I would just guess that the average map in SUPCOM is anywhere from two to eight times larger than the largest maps of most RTS games today.

As ardent fans of the game and it’s development, we know you’re holding back on certain details on the game and for good reason, but would you be able to confirm if Gas Powered Games is going to be implementing an in-house Multiplayer system, or will you be using a 3rd party portal and can you elaborate a bit?

CT – I would love to unveil our multiplayer plans, but I’m told someone will toss me off the roof if I talk.

We know how you like lots of units and many future players are very curious to hear what the max unit cap will be for the game.  Hardware limitations come into play but can you give us a planned target of unit cap limit, and if it will be adjustable?

CT – This is usually something we aim for early, but we lock down near the end of the project, so if I tell you my goal, you can’t hold it against me! J  Our goal is to have between 500-1000 units per player, but that number is likely to go down in MP games with more than two players.  We are making every effort to keep that number high.  Modders with phatty systems will likely be able to create mods to jack that number up as high as they want… or until their computer melts down.

Every aspect of a game adds to its immersion and sound is definitely one of them.  We have heard and are excited that Jeremy Soule is doing the music but what are you planning for the sound effects in the game to build immersion with oooh and ahhh factor?

CT – We are very fortunate to have Frank Bry, an industry veteran, working with the team, onsite here at GPG, to pack the game full of unique and hand-crafted sounds.  Without a doubt SUPCOM will have the most sound effects we have ever developed for a game.

How are things going with the UI design and are you still hard at work on it or have you gotten to a point where your satisfied people will be able to control the massive scale of the game?

CT – We have been working on the in-game UI from day one, as it is a critical part of the new design.  Our first efforts were comprehensive working prototypes, and each new revision gets us close to final.  We have a huge list of innovations here that we hope to surprise players with.

This question pertains to the flexibility and mechanics of the technology in the game. Is the technology available to the player merely limited by the availability of construction units (as per Total Annihilation) or is there an actual tech tree with research and discovery involved?

CT – My design philosophy is to make the units available through construction units and upgrades… but more importantly, to tie the acquisition to cost (Mass and Energy), and not to a research paradigm.

Are players constricted to a linear strategic path (build order) according to their faction’s specializations, or will players be allowed the freedom of pursuing their own strategy that isn’t overly mandated by the faction they play? For instance, how feasible would it be for a player playing a typically ground-, or air-dominant faction to depend on a naval armada?

CT – Each of the factions have capabilities which cover land, sea and air, so this should never come up as a major issue.  The goal of the design is to allow players to pursue different strategies, and not feel locked into a particular build sequence, but rather change-up that strategy as new information about their opponent becomes available through intelligence gathering.

We know you really like RTS game design, so how does it feel to be wearing that hat again and putting into concretion things you have been thinking about for years?

CT – I love the RTS genre and am having a great time on SUPCOM.  It feels great to finally get these ideas out there… or at least out of my head!

People are hungry for more information as is evident at the Gas Powered Games Garage and at dedicated fan site forums, so will E3 be a big reveal for more Supreme Commander info at the THQ booth and are you planning to show a video, in engine demo, or more?

CT – That’s definitely the way it looks today, but since all the show details aren’t finalized, I want to avoid making any statements.  I’m pretty confident there will be an abundance of info made public though, I just don’t know whether it will be from press releases, demos, or a combination of both… oh, and there’s a good chance we’ll release a video and some gameplay footage too, but again, give me some wiggle room on that last one.

Do you have any features that you are personally excited about that you would like to share with us about Supreme Commander?

CT – I’m excited about the scope and scale of the game from top to bottom, whether it’s the size of the maps, the over-the-top experimental units, the full-zoom view, the state-of-the-art rendering engine, and just as important, the command and control UI, which makes controlling large armies pretty darn easy.  It’s all stuff that I am excited about.

I there anything you want the expectant players to know or is there anything they can do while patiently anticipating the release of Supreme Commander?

CT – I just want everyone to know how much we appreciate all of the support, whether it is via positive energy in the Gas Powered Garage forums, or patience shown throughout the long wait to release.  Have a great holiday season from everyone here at GPG and the Supreme Commander Development team!


You can check out the accompanying screenshots here.

There you have it! Feel free to contribute your opinions to this thread.

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