Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Graphics Games

Reverse-Engineering a Frame of "Supreme Commander" 40

An anonymous reader writes: When Supreme Commander was released 8 years ago, it redefined the RTS genre, with its real-time strategic zoom and its epic battles involving several thousands of units at once, while bringing a whole generation of PCs to their knees. Today an article revisits the process of rendering a frame of the game by reverse-engineering the API calls made to the GPU. All the techniques and algorithms are explained in detail, many of them still used in current video games.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Reverse-Engineering a Frame of "Supreme Commander"

Comments Filter:
  • The easiest way to kill the enemy commander is have a large force storming the front line, drawing away the forces surrounding the enemy commander, and then send in a specialized force from behind to take out the enemy commander. After doing that a few times, I lost interest in the game.
    • by Eloking ( 877834 )

      I'm surprised that you summarize this awesome game like this. Except for a few small and open map, you can't really use this strategy (and it's easily countered by any equally skilled player).

      My personal favorite was always a map called Drake's Ravine (http://supcom.wikia.com/wiki/Drake%27s_Ravine). Basically two elevated base separated by a huge ravine that favour defense and where you need to control that ravine and it's resource to gain an edge. Again a skilled player the game almost always reach end-ga

      • by creimer ( 824291 )
        I only play against the A.I., not human players. Otherwise, I'm the guy who gets wiped in the first 15 minutes of the game.
        • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
          That's something you failed to mention in your initial post, giving the impression that the game had very flawed balance or mechanics and that there was no depth to the gameplay and strategy beyond this one, simplistic method. That it works against AI should surprise precisely nobody, but you've only demonstrated that you're smarter than your computer (and even then, only a tiny bit, for you repeated the same strategy over and over instead of attempting other fun strategies).
          • by creimer ( 824291 )
            Good point. I thought I mentioned the AI. Then again, I only play against the AI in single-player mode and I never played multiplayer mode. As a professional video game tester for six years, the game is broken if I can use same strategy over and over again to defeat the AI. (i.e., not enough variety to keep the player off balance). Since I'm no longer being paid to play video games, I'm not obligated to slug through levels after levels of the same AI behavior.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 26, 2015 @12:22PM (#49995511)

    How young are you? It was Total Annihilation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] (a close to 20 year old game) with nicer graphics.
    Total Annihilation made the RTS world what it is. It was one of the very few Real Time STRATEGY games, in a world of misnamed Real Time TACTICAL games. You look at Star Craft and it is entirely about tactics.

    • Mod parent up. TA (done by the same people as Supcom) was the Ur-game in this genre. Still one of the best games of all time, IMHO.

    • Mod parent up. Supreme Commander is a shadow of TA's greatness (and the recent remake is very VERY distant 4th, I'm counting TA:Kingdoms as 2nd).

    • First thing I thought of. "It redefined the RTS genre, with its real-time strategic zoom and its epic battles involving several thousands of units at once"? Total Annihilation did that, years earlier.

    • by CaseCrash ( 1120869 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @12:59PM (#49995939)
      I guess it would be stupid to say "Did you even read the article?" on slashdot.

      "Total Annihilation" are literally the first two words in the article.
    • Yeah, TA was what everyone was already playing when Starcraft came out. I still think Starcraft can't really be touched in the genre though. It has elements of both large-scale macro strategy and small-scale micro-tactics. They couldn't even make it any better with Starcraft 2 like 15 years later.

    • Total Annihilation took RTS to a whole new level back in 1997 and Supreme Commander is more than just it's spiritual successor: the same designer was behind both games as well as the Dungeon Siege series - Chris Taylor ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] )
    • If you think Starcraft has no strategy, you should watch this strategy guide [youtube.com]. That link really helps to see the depth of strategy involved, between units that are quick but weak (like cavalry), and an army that is powerful but slow. Different army compositions, etc.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      How young are you? It was Total Annihilation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] (a close to 20 year old game) with nicer graphics.
      Total Annihilation made the RTS world what it is. It was one of the very few Real Time STRATEGY games, in a world of misnamed Real Time TACTICAL games. You look at Star Craft and it is entirely about tactics.

      Those of us who are old enough to remember know that SupCom was essentially a modern day remake of Total Annihilation.

      TA suffered from some huge, glaring UI problems (specifically around hotkeys, which are essential when playing an RTS). However for proper stratergy you need to look beyond RTS to turn based strategy. Games like Civ make SupCom and TA look minuscule in scope.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you liked Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander, check out SpringRTS (springrts.com). It's an open-source engine that has a number of games, several of which are very similar to the original TA (e.g., Balanced Annihilation and Tech Annihilation), and a few others that are a little different (e.g. Zero-K).

  • by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @02:09PM (#49996679)

    C&C was my bread and butter series, Red Alert 2 and Generals are among my favorite games of all time. Red Alert 2 in particular was pretty well balanced multiplayer, and I'm sure there's still a community out there playing it competitively.

    Warzone 2100 [wz2100.net] is a game you must check out too sometime, it's got an extremely interesting history behind it. Once a Playstation (not Playstation 2 or Playstation 3, just Playstation) game, it became an open-source PC game after the devs gave out the source code; I can't recall another game that's ever gone that route. Although it's in a bit of a slump in terms of development right now, it's got a small but dedicated community that's doing some fascinating work. In particular, since the game makes it so easy to change out the AI for an opposing side, it's got some extraordinary AI addons that actually play really well, and I haven't seen another RTS with the same focus on AI. I highly recommend you check it out if you ever feel bored on a weekend or so; it's definitely worth it.

  • Forged Alliance Forever is a multiplayer mod and update to the Supreme Commander standalone expansion Forged Alliance. It gives the old game new life with community support, balance patches, and an online multiplayer lobby (the only one I'm aware of after the death of GPG),

    Also, you can watch casts of some of the more interesting matches on YouTube. My favorite caster, who introduced me to FAF with his videos, is Gyle [youtube.com].
    • Having been on the GPG forums I don't know if I trust them any more than the original developers to put out balance patches. They're as obsessed as TFC and Tribes 2 players were with their arbitrary "gentleman's rules" about how the game ought to be played.

  • Tried SC, tried FA.

    Was somewhat disappointed, and in a sentimental rush came back to the original - TA (and TA Kingdoms) - which are still are fantastic games even by modern standards.

    P.S. Also, proportional unit sizes suck.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

Working...