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Chris Taylor Interview about Supreme Commander

Interview with Chris Taylor, CEO and Creative Director of Gas Powered Games, by Kester

Transcription of an interview conducted January 23rd, 2007 at the Games for Windows Launch Event in San Francisco

Kester: What was your inspiration for Supreme Commander?

Taylor: Well, after completing Total Annihilation back in '97, many, many people would email me and say to me, 'Chris, when are you going to make another RTS game?'. And I said, "Well, there's going to be a time when I'll do that. Once Dungeon Siege is done, when the time is right, we find a publishing partner that wants to do the title with us. There are a lot of elements that have to come together to bring a game into the world. And in time, the elements did come together, and the time was right. But it's something that I'd been thinking about for a lot of years, and really wanted to do, and to be honest, when it went gold, it took me a few days to realize that we completed a journey that started somewhere to the tune of four years earlier, which is pretty amazing.


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Kester: So it's been in development for four years then?

Taylor: Well it's actually been in development three years, but I had started to work on the going around talking to publishers, and putting together the design documents, and doing all of that work, which takes a full year before production even begins on the game, believe it or not. So actual production for three years, work - for me - four years.


Kester: What's special about this game? What sets it apart from other RTS games?

Taylor: Well first of all, the number one thing that people will just hopefully get a huge kick out of is the full strategic zoom, which is the ability to zoom out to see the entire theatre of war, and to really take it all in by being able to see it all, and then being able to put the cursor someplace, and zoom in right under that cursor, to be able to see something up close, to make decisions up there, to pull back, zoom, pan, whatever they want to do, and that strategic zoom really makes that possible. And that's the biggest thing right off the bat. Now as they dive into the game further, and they play it, they'll find out that the size of the maps are huge, or small, depending on the time it takes that players have to play. The number of units we can support in the world is huge, depending on the game you're playing. It's something that can be set up, when the host sets up the game, you can set 500 or 1000 units. The experimental units which are these crazy big over the top units - the monkey lord, the galactic colossus, strategic artillery, which can fire a nuclear projectile across the entire theatre of war - crazy units like that, that really take the game out of the ordinary and into new places that frankly people have never experienced before.


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Kester: What are the possibilities for modding this game?

Taylor: From day one, architecturally when we created the engine, we made the engine moddable so that players can create their own UI's, create their own units. Now, this is not easy stuff to do, this is not for just anybody, this is for people who really know their stuff. The mod community is very capable of doing this - they have in the past. Already before the game is even out, we've seen a map of the world. We've seen a fourth faction begin development. It's really impressive. The mod community - those guys are the best - they just do great things for the longevity of the game, and we love them, and want to support them every way we can. We built a mod manager right into the game, so they can turn on and turn off mods. This next year is going to be really interesting, because we're going to continue to refine and polish that system, and support it as best we can, and really embrace that part of what's going to make Supreme Commander hopefully a game that will be around for years and years.


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Kester: That sounds really good. Is there also a map editor?

Taylor: We will very likely release a map editor after the original game, i.e. v1.0, goes out, off of our website as a tool that people can download and play with. But it's not going to make it into the shipping version of the game, just due to time constraints on our part. We don't want to hold the game up for the tools. Most people are just going to have fun with the game for the first few months anyway, so the tools will come after the fact, and we'll get them out there.


Kester: Our community at HeavenGames will be happy to hear that. We're really into making maps and modding also. Is there anything else you'd like the community to know about this upcoming game?

Taylor: Well, it's certainly a labor of love. The whole team is into it. We love building it, we want to keep building, keep working on the game, and keep adding cool stuff to the game. We love the support we've got, all the great feedback I've received from all the people in the beta. It's going to be a fun couple of years here. Until the next ice age comes, we are really going to have a party and enjoy the hell out of PC gaming, and enjoy all the cool stuff coming down the pike, you know, the GeForce 8800, and Vista, and the Games for Windows initiative. And it's just going to be a fun time for PC gaming in the next few years, and I'm really excited about it.

Kester: Sounds fantastic, thank you for your time!

Chris Taylor and Kester