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You read it here first…

February 7th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 8 Comments · Gas Powered Games, RTS

Six months ago, I hypothesized that Supreme Commander‘s use of a super zoom could lead to players’ ignoring all the artwork and animation so they could look at the big picture strategic zoom. Why deprive yourself of more information in real time combat by sticking close to ground level?

Now, Gamespy’s Allen Rausch is saying pretty much the same thing.

As the campaign missions went on, the map got larger to the point where (except in a few specific cases) it became a waste of time to zoom in close enough to actually watch the battles.

It’s a pretty helpful hands-on look at the demo, for the most part. He repeats the canard that there is too little strategy in real time strategy games (HINT: Economics and build orders are strategy, not tactics.) Rausch admits that he wasn’t a big Total Annihilation fan, but says that maybe Supreme Commander will “show us a whole new way to play the RTS.”

The demo is widely available now, and hopefully it won’t take me ten hours to download it today, like it would have yesterday. Since I’m not a Total Annihilation veteran, I may just wait for the reviews to come in. (PCGamer and its UK sister mag, as usual, get the first reviews to print and they are apparently glowing.)


8 Comments so far ↓

  • JonathanStrange

    Heh. I’ve often felt that all those amusing, interesting, clever animations on RTS games often go to waste: we’re too busy grabbing troops and sending them to their virtual fates, managing resources, checking for threats, researching techs and trying to gain the big picture to really appreciate the little details. Alas for the artists whose work inspires us in the first place to buy the games.

  • Krupo

    Funny you mention PCG – it had a policy, in the US version, to never review beta/gold copies but to wait until the retail version was out.

    The speed of recent reviews has led me to believe that they must’ve silently dropped that policy, eh?

  • Troy

    I think it’s more likely that publishers are getting reviewable builds out faster to certain outlets for the big “EXCLUSIVE” tag. They’re more likely to offer exclusives to a giant like PCGamer than either of the competing magazines, though there are exceptions.

    Given the polished state of many betas now, reviewable builds usually aren’t that far removed from the final product.

  • Bruce

    PCG has reviewed beta and gold copies for a long time (years). I think you may be thinking of CGW.

  • Krupo

    I recall PCG explicitly saying that – it might’ve been 3 or 4 E-in-C’s ago, though.

    The reasoning was interesting – they got burned once with a build review for a game that turned out to be nothing like what they either 1. saw, or 2. were promised.

    Although it’s possible for development to degrade, I’m willing to bet they probably had a review in the very early days that assumed certain things would be fixed but they weren’t, and so they got burned.

    If I could dig up that old editorial (which I doubt I have lying around my basement) I could confirm that for sure. ;)

  • Bruce

    Oh, sure – 8 years ago. I thought you meant recently. That policy was dropped a long time ago.

  • Philippe Tetreault

    I just play the 2 of the first map of the supreme commander demo, and I have to agreed with you, you play almost all the game zoom out!!! The units are too small to see much around you. you build the base zoom in but after 5 to 10 min. when you’re pumping gizzillion units at a time you can not play zoom in.
    And not just zoom out a little, but all the way up the map are big!
    By the way, the game is pretty good, not excellent but pretty good. I did not play the original TA, but I play the open source version of it TAspring (google it) and it’s very similar in play.
    P.S.: how do you automated the transport units so that they drop and pick up new units and go back to the drop zone… is it possible? With the numbers of units you have on the map, it’s the new micromanaging of the future…well mayve not ;-) I do hope there’s a easier way.

    Keep up the great blog, for a fan of pc gaming it’s a must read!

    P.S.S try http://www.travian.com I play the french version and it’s pretty cool(same as the english version), It’s free and I think a new way of gaming that you will enjoy. Before you begin a game read the faq in the forums. It’s persistent world on the web, but you don’t play 8 hrs non stop like WoW. email me if you have questions!

  • Troy

    Thanks for the kind words, Philippe.

    I already play Travian, actually. Still messing around on my first village in a tiny alliance on Server 7. It’s the kind of game you can have running in the background while you get work done.