Supreme Commander Lite

I mentioned TA Spring in a passing link in my Supreme Commander post, but it deserves more. It kind of looks the way you'd expect Total Annihilation 2 to have looked, if that had come out in about 2001.

(That's the original TA intro music; TA had a proper orchestral score, played by a proper orchestra. And saved in a perfectly legible format, so it was easy to convert it to a 10kHz 8 bit mono WAV so it'd fit on a floppy, copy it onto someone else's PC, and set it as their Win98 startup sound. Ah, good times, good times.)

There was, of course, no actual TA2 if you don't count Kingdoms; Atari bought the rights to the TA brand and did nothing with it. Hence, Gas Powered Games straight-facedly claim Supreme Commander to be "all-new intellectual property", despite the fact that it's self-evidently a jazzed-up TA for the 21st century.

Spring lets you have a very flexible viewpoint - much more flexible, in fact, than SupCom. SupCom lets you zoom out to see the entire battlefield, but all you can do is zoom in and out and move your camera in the X and Y dimensions - you have no manual control over camera heading.

There's a good reason for that, of course; lots of viewpoints that look cool are useless for controlling a game, not to mention quite confusing. SupCom's puzzling enough for beginners without adding the possibility of moving your viewpoint inside a hill.

Spring's developers are unconcerned with such things, so the Spring engine allows you to fly your camera anywhere you like, or even use a first-person view from a unit.

The old TA units don't have nearly enough triangles in them to hold up well in close examination, of course. But Spring is all open-source-y and extensible, so prettier units, or other features, can be added to it at will.


TA was, of course, also highly extensible; people made lots of mods and tweaks and new units for it.

All of which can be seen in all their close-up magnificence in the Spring engine, too.

The old TA sounds are still perfectly decent, though.

I'm still going to be playing Supreme Commander, but there's no point even trying to play SupCom on a five-year-old computer. As long as you've got a 3D card that people actually wanted to buy back then, though, Spring should be pretty darn happy.

And you can't beat a price of "free".

2 Responses to “Supreme Commander Lite”

  1. O.G.N Says:

    You can tilt and pan in SupCom by holding down the spacebar. It will hovewer revert to the standard top down display as soon as you let go of the spacebar.

  2. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Yeah, I've actually read the manual now :-). Control-V gives you a completely free camera view, too, including the ability to end up underground and confused :-).

    V by itself resets the view.

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