Interview

Chris Taylor on Supreme Commander 2

Gas Powered vet talks up his new sequel

We recently had the pleasure of a few hours hands-on time with Gas Powered's new Supreme Commander sequel, and duly impressed with this Square Enix-backed title we thought it apt we spend a few minutes grilling veteran game designer Chris Taylor on his latest take on RTS perfection.

Chris, you've been working in the RTS genre for well over 10 years now. What's changed and what's stayed the same?

Theres a lot of the core experience that has stayed the same, like the command and control of units, and the overall mechanics of the game, but lots has changed as well. I think weve seen more change in the production value, the design of the single player campaign, and the story telling (including back story and world fiction). Weve made some big changes via the introduction of Strategic Mode, which for many is a must-have in the genre, and now even more advanced Strategic Mode control systems (in this case eliminating the need to use control groups). I think that were on the eve of seeing another quantum leap, and it will happen in this next generation of games.

What have you learned from rival genre IPs, like Command & Conquer and Company of Heroes?

We always learn a little something with each new title that comes out. These are two very polished games, and the quality of the single player is very good. Sometimes when a competitive game tries a new idea and it fails, we know what to avoid, but when they succeed, we can take that idea and make it even better all of us RTS makers are all on the same team after all, and share a great love for the genre.

Do you worry about piracy on the PC platform?

Sure, everyone worries about it. The question is; what can we do about it?

How important is the Xbox 360 version of SC2, and what concessions have you made to make the control scheme work?

I think its a very important version, and you would be surprised with how few concessions weve made. Its an amazingly huge game and it runs very well on the 360 you too will be very surprised how awesome it turned out!

Would you ever like to revisit Total Annihilation, in any form?

Sure, it would be fun to make another one.

Where do you see the RTS genre heading in the future, especially when it comes to alternative business models and the importance of online?

Well, we have lots of ideas on how to explore new business models, but the question is which one will be successful? And we have to be careful to avoid the pitfalls of fads or sudden gold rushes, where everyone begins to make games on a given platform. I think online play is very important, and will play a key role moving forward.

Is story important in a game like Supreme Commander 2?

Oh yes, its what carries the single player campaign. If you arent a story person, you will do fine in multiplayer and skirmish, but it is the story that really makes the game great in single player.

Visually, the new title looks stunning - what kind of ambitions do you have for the world in which the player will be immersed?

We had very competing goals when creating the visuals for Supreme Commander 2. For example, we wanted to create a world that was more beautiful, and more detailed, but we wanted it to run on a wider range of graphics hardware this was a challenge, and now we have some great results to show off. And yes, it does immerse the player more, and really adds to the experience in a very positive way.

What role have Square Enix played in the development of the game? They seem very keen to partner with Western developers now

We worked closely with our Producer, and he pushed us to deliver on the story front, and to take the story into the lives of the individual characters. Its not a story about war, its a story about people who are caught up in war and this was a very key difference that we now understand much more deeply.

What next for Gas Powered Games beyond the release of SCII this spring?

We always have something cooking, but arent quite ready to announce anything just yet keep an eye on our website in the weeks and months ahead!

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