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PC Games (Games) Real Time Strategy (Games) Entertainment Games

Total Annihilation's Spiritual/Actual Sequel Planned? 67

Thanks to IGN PC for its article discussing hints from Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games regarding a possible follow-up to seminal RTS Total Annihilation. Apparently, at a recent gaming career day, Taylor, the original designer of TA, informally confirmed "...that Gas Powered Games was working on 'an RTS follow-up to Total Annihilation'", but IGN note "it's not exactly clear yet [from his brief comment] on whether or not the game will be a true sequel... or simply a new RTS in the vein of Total Annihilation." Although Gas Powered Games are currently working on a sequel to Dungeon Siege for Microsoft, their jobs page confirms they're also looking for RTS genre artists, and an earlier GameSpy interview discusses this long-under-wraps strategy title. Taylor also mentioned the publisher of this new title is "a big one... one that doesn't also publish operating systems [like Microsoft]" - it seems Atari own the rights to Total Annihilation 2, and previously asked Korean developers Phantagram to develop a sequel before that deal allegedly fell through, though Taylor's game could still be a sequel in concept only.
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Total Annihilation's Spiritual/Actual Sequel Planned?

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  • Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iq in binary ( 305246 ) <iq_in_binary AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday February 08, 2004 @01:49AM (#8216664) Homepage
    This is quite exciting. TA was by far the best RTS to come out of the 90's. Being (practically) abandonware now, a sequel is the holy grail for many gamers who enjoyed the original.

    Being an earth shattering game in the first installment, hopefully the second installment will raise the bar again for RTS games.
    • hell yeh... I just hope they release a mac version in a timely manner, cos I don't want to go out and buy a PC.. the original TA only runs on Mac "classic" OS which is complete arse.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @02:05AM (#8216705) Journal
    I can't even remember the story. Something about robots and space and fighting someone else with robots.

    Best thing about the game was that it had a huge selection of different weapons meaning you didn't have the rock-siccors-paper style gameplay of the Command & Conquer series. Add larger maps, better use of 3D terrain and you had a very enjoyable game. The only one where you could actually fight an airwar against a land army.

    Lets just hope it is not like the original "sequel" eh? The magic version? Boy did that one bomb.

    Here my wish list for the perfect RTS game.

    • Great AI that can actually defend itself a bit. Meaning not stand there and get hammered by artitarrly or soldiers attacking tanks and thanks attacking soldiers.
    • True 3D terrain and the use of it. Make hills and valleys important
    • Large maps. You know I can hardly think of any military engagements in wich it took the soldiers a few minutes to run from one end of the battle field to another.
    • Frontlines. Call me silly but it is usual practive to have rings of defence around the homebase. I want to be able to make a line on the map that troops will defend.
    • Proper artilary. Strange as it may sound artilarry does not target tanks. It targets an area. TA allowed this and it was devastating against the computer as it would constantly march its troops accross the same line and you could just pound any assault with a few guns.
    • Great AI.

    Oh who am I kidding. Judging by the sales of Command and Conquer vs Close Combat I think it is clear were the money is. It ain't with me. Sigh.

    • by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:04AM (#8216883) Journal
      I can't even remember the story. Something about robots and space and fighting someone else with robots.

      Galactic civilization develops the ability to pattern thought into computer memory. Development polarizes society. Half leave to form rival civilization (Arm), while the rest are converted into digital form (Core). War ensues. Both sides nearly annihilate each other.

      In the expansion, the Arm have won. But a single Core Commander that lay hidden on a remote world (thus "Core Contingency") activates. Core seeks to destroy the galaxy by some kind of doomsday machine, save the remaining Commander at ground zero; the Commander would then manually rebuild the whole galaxy. Don't know what happens after this. Anybody played Battle Tactics?
      • by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:22AM (#8216916)
        AFAIK Battle Tactics never expanded on the storyline, it was just a big mess of multiplayer maps and some units.

        It would be cool to see how a sequel would fit into the story though. Did the core contingency work? Or did the Arm stop the Core commander in time? Personally I think it'd be the case where the Core win... you never actually see what happens after the artifact is set off. IIRC you just see a blinding flash of light and thats it. Something tells me the machine didn't actually work as planned (eg: collapsing the entire universe into a single event, and then reexpanding in another big-bang). It was an "ancient alien artifact" after all - and lord knows those things NEVER work like they're supposed to ;)
        The other case, where the Arm win, just doesn't leave enough loose strings to form a conflict laden future. Unless of course, they do the old prequel thing. Which would be kinda cool in and of itself - remember that TA actually took place AFTER galactic armageddon. They were pathetic, shattered remenants of a once mighty empire. The thousand unit slaughterfests in TA would be micro-skirmishes compared to the utter mayhem of the 'real' war.
        Then again, I did kind of enjoy the blind rage of the post-armageddon TA atmosphere. You fought not for land or power or even your own survival. You fought for the sole purpose of destroying each and every single one of your enemies, and neither side would stop or surrender until every last trace of the enemy was eliminated. Like the announcer said: the only acceptable outcome was Total Annihilation.
      • Galactic civilization develops the ability to pattern thought into computer memory. Development polarizes society. Half leave to form rival civilization (Arm), while the rest are converted into digital form (Core). War ensues. Both sides nearly annihilate each other.

        The thing I always loved about the storyline was that, the humans (Arm) were vehemently against the idea of transferring their consciousnesses into machines, like the Core did. They thought it was unnatural. However, they were perfectly OK w
    • I think one of the major downfalls of TA was its graphics. Yes, while modern gamers may be awe-struck by lens flares, rag-doll physics, and near-Hollywood special effects; the idea of simple blocky 3D graphics being the rage at one time is quite true. Games like Mechwarrior 2 with its 3D environments and units were considered state-of-the-art at one time (compared to modern graphics, Mechwarrior 2 models and textures coulda been done by a college student half drunk during Spring break, yes they were THAT bl
      • Close Combat having a slower gameplay pace and a more individual unit system,

        Somebody else that loves Close Combat? Wow! Not many people seem to play that game...

        Just out of curiosity, anyone manage to get Close Combat (any of them) running under any version of WINE? I've come close, and even sat down once to try implementing some missing code, but never finished.
    • Lets just hope it is not like the original "sequel" eh? The magic version? Boy did that one bomb.

      That's because Chris Taylor had long already left the company.

      Make no mistake - TA *IS* Chris Taylor's game, just as DOOM is Carmack's or Grim Fandango is Schaefer's.

    • The story (Score:5, Funny)

      by M3wThr33 ( 310489 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @05:56AM (#8217337) Homepage
      I'm sure you'll get better explanations, but it boiled down to this:
      Humans in robot suits vs. Robots with human brains.
    • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @06:44AM (#8217430) Journal
      Great AI that can actually defend itself a bit. Meaning not stand there and get hammered by artitarrly or soldiers attacking tanks and thanks attacking soldiers.

      Yeah, TA wasn't perfect here, though it compares well to what other computer RTSes can do.

      True 3D terrain and the use of it. Make hills and valleys important

      TA does this. Probably to an unrealistic extent (are future engagements even likely to use artillery?) but it really is more fun with a lot of emphasis placed on terrain.

      Large maps. You know I can hardly think of any military engagements in wich it took the soldiers a few minutes to run from one end of the battle field to another.

      True, true. TA does this. It'd be interesting to see what it'd be like with even *longer* range weapons. The ranges in TA are *much* larger than in most other RTSes (how many games have weapons that can shoot at things seven screens away?), but it's still, frankly, relative small-scale compared to what a real game would be like. And is there some reason that buildings need to be scaled down? From a gameplay standpoint, it seems like accurately-sized buildings are feasible.

      Frontlines. Call me silly but it is usual practive to have rings of defence around the homebase. I want to be able to make a line on the map that troops will defend.

      Agreed. I think TA came closest in terms of overarching orders, but I'd still like more. "Defend this area" "Ambush anyone coming through this area", "repair any damaged units in this group when not in combat", "attempt to fall back from any enemy units at 80% health", etc.

      Proper artilary. Strange as it may sound artilarry does not target tanks. It targets an area. TA allowed this and it was devastating against the computer as it would constantly march its troops accross the same line and you could just pound any assault with a few guns.

      Hmm. I agree, but while not realistic, it may be good for gameplay. Conventionally, it is pretty difficult to maintain the integrity fixed positions, if both sides have advanced weaponry. Buildings are pretty much sitting ducks. Tanks can chew buildings to shreds. TA let bases be *built* and construction occur, which is not realistic for the immediate vicinity of battle, but which is traditional for the RTS genre. Ensuring that buildings are a bit tougher to wipe out than in real life is pretty much necessary -- you wouldn't have your aircraft factory half a mile away from enemy ground units supported by aircraft in real life (or if you did, you wouldn't for long), but TA tries to allow you to do so.

      Yeah, Close Combat is fun too. Man, I wish Blizzard had never started the whole micromanagement dumbed-down-gameplay kick. I'd like a slower-moving but more complicated game, closer to a traditional strategy game.
  • Brawlers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 08, 2004 @02:05AM (#8216706)
    As long as they incorporate the "open-endedness" that TA first gave us, then I will be glad to play their RTS.

    I've played using nothing but planes, commander duels, 10+ bases, huge maps that would make even the best among us lose track of where we set those 100 annihilators.

    So many strategies, man I hope they use the same philosophy on the new game.

    It wont be TA, Cavedog still owns most of the rights. Now a purchase, that would be interesting..

    --
    Posting Anon, cause I just rambled on..
    • Re:Brawlers (Score:5, Informative)

      by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @02:43AM (#8216826)
      Cavedog's dead, GT Interactive owned the rights to TA. Infogrames bought out GT, and after purchasing Atari, rebranded themselves as such. So now Atari (formerly Infogrames) owns the rights to TA.
      But since this Phantagram deal fell through... well, if GPG can get onboard with Atari, i'm sure both parties would be more than happy to strike a deal.
  • Total Annihilation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sloppyjoes7 ( 556803 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @02:09AM (#8216717)
    It was only about a week ago that Gamespy named Total Annihilation the best Real Time Strategy ever. That's quite a claim. I really wanted this when it came out, but didn't have the money, and my computer wouldn't have played it anyway.

    http://www.gamespy.com/top10/february04/r ts/index11.shtml

    If the link doesn't work, (by inserting some spaces or something) there's a link to the top ten list right at Gamespy.com

    • I really wanted this when it came out, but didn't have the money, and my computer wouldn't have played it anyway.

      I am only mentioning this because the game is no longer being sold, but isohunt.com is your friend. I had to regrab TA again just a few days ago, because I can't find my legit CDs. Seriously - bought it at release...anyone else remember those awesome magazine ads? Completely sold me on the (great) game, though I still don't think it is as perfect as many of its fans say.
      • I also bought a copy and then lost my CDs and had to get a copy from a friend.

        I went back and played it through (single-player) last month. It's still a blast to play, though I *do* wish they'd update the graphics.
        • Yeah. Things are just too damn small I found, especially the font. And I was surprised how much I missed the more modern isometric view, though I understand why they didn't do that (the terrain isn't really 3D, per se, so having things behind mountains wouldn't have worked). I also missed some of the more common interface niceties I am used to, like double-clicking to select all of that unit.

          Fun game, but not as cool interface-wise as I remembered. I am finding it really hard to play through again. :(
          • I also missed some of the more common interface niceties I am used to, like double-clicking to select all of that unit.

            Select the unit - then press ctrl+z and you get all of that one kind of unit. I think ctrl+s also let you select all units on a single screen, which was a wonderful feature if you had your different factories moving finished bots/vehicles to the same area. I kind of prefer the ctrl pressing to double clicking since I might accidently double click sometime and not want all of them select

            • That is a good point about the accidental thing, but I just wish it also supported the more common method that I am used to. Would help the learning curve a bit, since it has been many years since I have last played it.

              Thanks for the tip though. I think I will dig up a FAQ or whatever on the hotkeys, print it out, and maybe give it another go.
    • You should get it. It's on ebay quite often, so try there. Seriously, it is STILL the best RTS ever. And yes, I have Generals. I would say Red Alert/RA2 are a close second.
  • untimely demise (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SurgeryByNumbers ( 726928 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @02:58AM (#8216869)
    Cavedog simply wasn't big enough to absorb the loss from the (horribly) failed TA:Kingdoms. It's sad, really, because TA given a decent multiplayer server browser, more modern UI, and a couple touchups would be grand. Cavedog really never got the chance to make it happen.
    • Re:untimely demise (Score:3, Interesting)

      by n.wegner ( 613340 )
      I don't understand how Kingdoms failed. Its models were more detailed, and its terain was beautiful. Its story was a lot more interesting than TA's, because the missions had more plot, and the missions for each side were mixed in with missions from the others. Each side had very different units, unlike TA, and Zhon in particular had very unique production methods, unlike almost every other RTS out there. The only bad thing I can say is that it is fairly slow (but fast enough on newer computers), and it does
      • In my experience was that it just couldn't run well enough in multiplayer. My friends and I tried it on a network a few times, and we never got satisfactory performance on any of our machines. They had really upped the polycounts on the units, far more than the average computers of that era could handle well. I am curious if it would play a lot better on a modern computer.

        I also recall the game design itself being rather flawed, but it has been so long now that I couldn't share any details on it.
      • Re:untimely demise (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @06:29AM (#8217395) Journal
        Two things:

        * First, the original game featured characters that were mechanical. They had flat surfaces. They were easy to model well with few polygons. TA:Kingdoms did not, and *nobody* had a computer that could run it well at the time of release (I didn't even *remotely* come close and couldn't even try to play it.J)

        * Secondly, nobody seemed to get excited about the game. It's hard to describe. TA matches had someone screaming and laughing at the same time "you *bastard*" as someone pulled off a slick tactical manuver. The people I watched playing TA:Kingdoms just kind of sat there and mechanically clicked away.

        The vast unit count, as you pointed out, may have been an issue. The control of sizeable forces was a neat part of TA.

        I don't think Starcraft's story was an issue. TA did well, and had little story. It didn't have fleshed out characters, and it didn't have Kerrigan's sultry voice or lots of character art. All the TA production resources went into gameplay-relevant things. The only potential exception was the fantastic John Williamsesque music that got much more frantic and rapid during battles -- but it had so much impact on the mood of players that I'd still call it significant to the in-game enjoyment.
        • TA:Kingdoms did not, and *nobody* had a computer that could run it well at the time of release (I didn't even *remotely* come close and couldn't even try to play it.J)

          i ran it just fine on a 266mhz k6 w/ 32mb of ram and a 4meg ati. played about halfway thru till it became unplayable. and loved it also. i finished it later on when i upgraded.

          nothing is really impossible if u dont overdo it.

          • i ran it just fine on a 266mhz k6 w/ 32mb of ram and a 4meg ati.

            I've never owned a computer that slow personally (used some at work) and while TA:Kingdoms played on my home computer at the time, it did not play well.

            One interesting point about Kingdoms, though, is that they included a system through which it would drop animation frames if your system was slowing down to try to keep up the framerate. Unfortunately, this backfired on them as many people saw this as jerky animation rather than a slowdown, a
      • I don't understand how Kingdoms failed.
        I don't like "fantasy" (dragons and the like, or magic and the rest of that nonsense many RPGs get into). Give me cold hard steel any day.
    • One of the big issues with TA:K is that it tends to stalemate. Defenses are very strong, armies build very fast. Even if you completely decimate your opponent's army when he attacks you, and you go in for a counter-attack, chances are not very good that the game will end. They'll have another gigantic army readied before you destroy their stationary defenses, they'll slaughter you back, and then they'll unsuccessfully counter-attack as well.

      I think what prevented this in TA was good artillery. Plain
  • by ophix ( 680455 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:30AM (#8216949) Homepage
    TA was the only RTS game i have EVER liked. I really hate RTS style games, but TA just totally rocked. i especially loved it after the core contengency pack and with 3rd party units from a group called TADD. It would be awesome if someone could come out with an RTS worth of the TA legacy.
  • TA Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by apocamok ( 196093 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:40AM (#8217182) Homepage
    Total Annihilation at Mobygames (lists places to buy)
    http://mobygames.com/game/sheet/p,3/gameId,9 04/

    TAUniverse (long-living TA news site)
    http://tauniverse.com/

    TAMEC (lots of extra maps)
    http://www.planetannihilation.com/tamec/

    TADD (some of the best 3rd party units)
    http://www.planetdungeonsiege.com/merciles screatio ns/sections/ta/units/

    Uberhack (popular total conversion with altered unit stats and better AI)
    http://www.tauniverse.com/forum/showthread.ph p?s=2 9cb49943e6051bf7685211d17398bf7&threadid=18855

  • by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:58AM (#8217225) Journal
    TA is not only the best RTS game perhaps ever, but its style of gameplay hasn't even been attempted again.

    Everyone churns out simple rock-paper-scissors RTS games a la StarCraft (not that there's anything wrong with those - they can be great fun - but they're much simpler and smaller). Nobody has had the balls to even take a stab at TA's epic scope, open-ended nature, and complex play mechanics.

    Those of us that played TA a bunch back in the day were often wow'd by some of the strange and off-the-wall strategies we would see. Thanks to the Commander unit, "home base" was wherever you wanted it to be. Wanna go set up somewhere else? Leave. You leave the buildings behind, but can very quickly set up camp elsewhere.

    TA also had a VERY unique gameplay feature, in that after a certain period of time, all sides in the game would have enough firepower to level a small planet. The game then ceased to be an arms race, and turned into a cat-and-mouse game of finding a way to get one's firepower around the other's and put it to use. The typical RTS strategy of pounding away on the outskirts and eventually trying to break through enemy lines was often ineffective, or would at least take hours to complete.

    Maybe you try and build nukes, but your opponent may be building missile defense (probably is). But does he have complete coverage of his base? Maybe you can hit the outskirts. Or maybe you can build more missiles than he builds anti-nukes, and overrun his missile defenses. But that takes a lot of resources, and becomes a high-stakes guessing game. Maybe you'll fly a plane out to a nearby island and build a plasma cannon that can shell his base. But that's a lot of resources too, especially if you try to defend it. Maybe you leave it undefended. Make those first few shots count. How's your intel? Got radar coverage of his base? Fly some scout planes in to get visual targets to go along with those radar blips, but you may need to send 10 of them in just to have 1 make it deep enough into his base to locate that fusion reactor that will EXPLODE if you hit it. Try a strategic bombing run on the power plant? Your bombers will get shredded by those cheap-to-build missile towers. Maybe pound away at them with gunships? Dude, figure out what you're doing already. And HEY, he's attacking you too!

    No other RTS game comes even close.

  • On Thursday I saw his name on the presenters list in that room. Unfortunately, he was talking to the freshman, and I'm a sophomore. I brought Core Contingency to get it signed, but just missed him, but this DEFINETLY makes up for it.

    Now I'm going to reinstall the game and try to convince my roommates to play it. Any tips to get them to play a 7-year-old title?? ;)
  • by Mr_Blank ( 172031 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:58AM (#8218408) Journal
    I still bought Total Annhilation in 1997 and I still play it regularly. The game was great out of the box. The game was genuinely improved with the expansion packs. Cavedog made a great move in releasing its map development tools early. After Cavedog went under the gaming community did great work in improving the game in all the little ways that a version 2 should have. Releasing a true sequel will require a bit of innovation and a lot of commitment to quality to impress the many still rabid fans.

    This site [planetannihilation.com] has a great community created expansion pack for TA that I highly recommend. It includes a patch that improves key board short cuts, adds a lot of weapons and units, improves unit strength balance, increases the power of the top end units, and adds higher levels of difficulty for the AI. The high end units are super rocking: If you remember the Krogoth as the most powerful unit then you are out of date. There are units in this expansion pack that can eat 10 Krogoths, and the new bigs don't sacrafice play balance!

    TA2 should learn from these expansion packs and try to incorporate these features:
    - map creation tools, of course.
    - super large maps. If the high powered big bertha artilary cannons can fire a mile, then the maps should be able to reach several miles across. Modern processors can handle it.
    - At least 500 units per side should be available in TA2. In fact, there should be no hard limit - just a setting somewhere. When first released TA1's limit of 200 units per side made 133mhz processors of the time crawl. But over the years even 500 per side and 10 sides is handled quite easily by my 2 ghz processor.
    - Fully rendored 3d units rocked then. They rock now.
    - The music from TA1 could be reused. The score was awesome. Keep it or improve it; just do not give it up.
    - Smarter, larger, multi-functional factories. Maybe even make them mobile. Of course, fancier factories should be more expensive in resources and time.
    - Allow for more elevations. TA1 allowed for about 4 elevations: Flying, raised ground, normal ground / floating, and underwater. The game used real trajectory calculations to determine hits. Keep that, but do so from even more elevation possibilities. Flying units could occupy the same space and not collide - that might be an improvement area too.
    - Definitely keep the mutliple weapon types, even add some! Again see the community expansion packs for excellent ideas.
    - Release unit creation tools. Make creating home grown units even easier! Let the user select a walking kbot, or rolling tank, or flying, or floating, hovercraft, or even amphibious. Let the user select the weapon types, and how many weapons. Let the user select the number of guns, the unit size, and how much armor it has. Allow special functions to be added such as sonar, radar, cloaking, self repair, others repair, unit capture, reincarnation, etc. Then to keep the game balanced make the unit cost in resources what the requested features should require. Very Excellent!
    - Make the environment even more destructable. TA1 allowed for burning forests and that was cool at the time. Make the ground shaking weapons really deform the ground, and thereby potentially change the strategy of the map during game play. It is kind of annoying when a nuclear blast only leaves a black mark on the ground instead of creating a rough crater. Also, there should be units that allow strategic shaping of the envirnonment - Examples: build hills for cannons, extend coasts, or make smooth roads.
    - Make the game work well for a quick 30 minute skirmish or for a 9 hour megawar (not underheard of). TA1 did a good job of this.
    - Create a game mode where each side gets to pick a set number of unit types to play with (instead of making all units available all the time). Sometimes having hunderds of unit choices is Excellent (super war) and sometimes annoying (quick skirmish). Let the players pick. This feaure
  • I'm finally managing to get some housework done, walls painted, I'm even thinking about putting down wood floors...
    And now I have to get news like this. I swear, if they release this and I become addicted like I was to TA1, I'm going to shoot somebo...

    Mmm... Berthas.....
  • Ah, sweet TA. Is there any finer RTS?

    It makes me sad though... because I look at Generals. I look at Emperor: Battle for Dune. I look at Ground Control. And they all suck compared to TA. Seriously - I mean, I have/had all of these and they all blow.

    Generals is the worst of all. The buildings take up a quarter of the screen, and you can't zoom out far enough to make any tactical decisions. The performance is appalling even on a fast system. The maps are tiny. The units are unbalanced and there are so few t

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