Supreme Continuation

If I'm going to waste prudently invest so much time on this game, I might as well get another blog post out of it.

First: Quick and dirty frame rate improvement tips.

SupCom has a long list of rendering options. You can manually turn off pretty much every single thing on the screen, giving you a magnificent frame rate provided you have the ability to perceive the action by mental telepathy. You access all this via a neat command-completion console, which you activate with the traditional "`" key (the tilde key on English keyboards, something else on others).

The render options all start with "ren_", and are toggles - enter them again to reverse the effect.

The "ren_decals" command is the most useful, I think. It removes static and animated overlaid texture effects, for a significant frame rate improvement without making the game hideous.

"Ren_water" removes water rendering entirely, so ships appear to levitate (and submarines are undistorted). If you're playing on a map with water but nobody's building ships, you might as well use ren_water whether you care about the look of the game or not.

"Ren_splats" affects scorch marks from explosions and such. "Ren_bloom" affects the glow effect from various landscape features, making everything darker but, once again, a bit faster.

View frame rate with keypad-slash. Turn off vertical sync in the standard video options to get the most frame rate possible - nothing moves fast enough for tearing effects to be noticeable, anyway.

There've been a couple of patches for SupCom already, the most recent of which, as I predicted, turns off the obnoxious SecuROM disc-check copy protection (well, for most countries' versions of the game, anyway).

So it only took about a week after the retail release of the game before they ditched SecuROM. I hope they didn't pay much for it.

The patches seem to have mopped up the few disconcerting crash problems the original version had. For me, those glitches amounted to the ability to play exactly one multiplayer SupCom game per Windows session. Fixed now.

And, in a credit to the developers, very few kinky and abusive game strategies have surfaced so far. Actually, there's only one that I know of, and it's rather obscure.

Apart from that, and lousy frame rates when a lot's going on, the only broken thing in the whole game right now seems to be the hard-to-see "ferry" icon, which is sometimes VERY hard to see.

(Gas Powered Games would probably get sued if they made the pale purple icon bright orange.)

Supreme Commander's GPGNet chat/matching system also has a number of points in its favour. It is, for instance, not a vast bulky reinvention of Steam, which means it's not a big deal that you have to launch and quit the game every time you play.

GPGNet also lets you easily submit your game recordings (SupCom records every game you play, though by default each new game overwrites the last) and download other peoples'. Thus may you armchair-quarterback to your heart's content.

There are a few minor hassles in the GPGNet client, like modal windows that needlessly stop you from being able to reply to a private message without closing the game list you're looking at. The SupCom matching system also, according to ancient tradition, tends to match newbies with experts in "ranked" games, to the detriment of both. That's because the matcher first tries to find you an opponent of similar skill, but then it just tries to match you with someone, no matter how more or less 1337 that person may be.

Supreme Commander is so young that the rating system doesn't have a good idea of peoples' skill yet anyway, and by far the most common ranked game is the one-on-one type, which is always a slapfest on a small map that's an exercise in Tech 1 unit rushing and requires a specialised subset of overall SupCom skills.

But I'd still like to see an option to not play at all if there aren't any opponents available who seem to be similar to you in skill.

Oh, and the Cybran destroyers that can sprout legs and walk very very slowly on the land are, for this reason, awesome. Regrettably, they also have the exact same pathfinding code as every other amphibious unit, which is to say that they do not know that they move with the speed of continental drift when on land.

You therefore have to waypoint Cybran destroyers around any island or isthmus that may get in their way, unless you want to see them lumbering across it. This isn't hard on the common multiplayer maps, but those who take the mellow and easygoing single player Campaign path will soon grow to appreciate the Cybran destroyer's irresistible attraction to even the tiniest patch of dry land.

3 Responses to “Supreme Continuation”

  1. Rixmat Says:

    Do you still play games? Sheesh fella :O

    I bet you love the Wii toys. I reckon the remotes for those have potential for mayhem (shush) Playing with NSA at the mo.

  2. chiefnewo Says:

    Whaddaya mean still? I wasn't aware there was an age cutoff where you weren't allowed to play games any more.

  3. Anthony Hersey Says:

    The publishers are the ones who insist on SecuROM (or SafeDisc, or any of the other scumbags), I believe. I've forgotten how many legally purchased games I've cracked so I can get past annoying copy protection or even worse the ones that won't run if Nero is installed on your system.

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