Atari Auction Implies New Chris Taylor’s Total Annihilation

By Jim Rossignol on July 21st, 2013 at 8:37 am.


Everything is in place for Chris Taylor to make a sequel to Total Annihilation, thanks to Wargaming picking up the Total Annihilation IP in a recent auction of Atari properties. Taylor, of course, came under the armoured umbrella the World Of Tanks company when they purchased Gas Powered Games earlier this year. By connecting the inevitabilities, we can see what needs to happen here. Wargaming also picked up Masters Of Orion, while Rebellion got Battlezone (I predict a speculative nostalgia Kickstarter there) and Stardock got the Star Control IP.

Thanks, Kevin.

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46 Comments »

  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Stardock got Star Control?

    YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

    • Noviere says:

      Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I loved Star Control II so much as a kid. I had no idea Atari even had the rights.

    • LintMan says:

      I’ve lost a lot of faith in Stardock over the last few years, and I never really thought of them as a humor/action/adventure developer, so I’m not particularly inspired by this despite my love for Star Control 2.

      What Stardock SHOULD do is hand the IP to Toys For Bob, and let the original creators get another wack at it. The last thing we need is another Star Control 3.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        While I agree, I’d love Toys for Bob to have the IP, I think Stardock having the IP is million times better than someone like EA or Gearbox having it.

  2. jon_hill987 says:

    But haven’t most of the other people who worked on it moved to Uber Entertainment? As far as I am concerned Planetary Annihilation is the sequel, regardless of the name.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      Aye, people really need to stop this personality cult-ish application of Great Man Theory to videogames except in cases where a notable work really was exclusively or at least mostly the product of one person, and where the same applies to their upcoming works.

      This is not such a case.

      • Shuck says:

        Yeah, there aren’t a lot of “auteurs” in the video game industry. Games are usually very much group efforts, and it’s hard to identify the contributions of any individual. To make matters worse, whoever does PR and talks to the press gets to be one whose name is associated with the product, even if all they did was PR, not development. I know of at least one person who is credited with the creation of a number of games on which he actually did nothing. (Ironically those games didn’t seem to, in reality, have any one person who made a more significant contribution than any other person, but the need to have a central author was so great that the games are credited to someone who didn’t work on them at all.)

    • subedii says:

      Some did, some didn’t. It’s more the case that those guys have a history with the series, stretching back through SupCom 1 and 2, to TA.

      To be honest, my reaction is largely that it could be hit or miss. It’s good that Chris Taylor has probably got his hand on the TA franchise again. But whilst I agreed with some of the design decisions he took with SupCom 2 (I’m basically treating all these games as being on the same franchise “line”), I didn’t really agree with others. It’s very telling that Forged Alliance still has a community going in Forged Alliance Forever, but SupCom 2′s been largely left by the wayside. I think the necessity to make the game runnable on a 360 did have some adverse effects on scale if nothing else, which is a big part of what SupCom was meant to be all about.

      Seriously, FAF still leads to some epic huge games

      http://www.youtube.com/user/felixlighta/videos
      (What’s amazing to me is that SupCom is 6 years old and it still looks pretty awesome by modern standards).

      He has a history of hyping up things like the “story” in his games that ends up being, well, pretty bad (anyone remember Space Siege?). And he tends to think “random goofy” is the same as “funny” (at least that’s what I took away from his Kings and Castles videos). At the same time, I think the weirdness in the later games came about more from the limits they had to work within than anything else, and the desire to push for a larger audience that didn’t always pay off.

      Basically I think there’s a chance that a Total Annihilation 2 could be a great game. But I think CT needs to think long and hard about the form and style he wants it to take. The direction that Planetary Annihilation is going is certainly a logical, possible path of progression, but I wouldn’t say it’s the path.

      The multi planet / system idea of something like PA presents its own unique problems and challenges to gameplay design compared to single map warfare like most RTS’s. And unlike what I suspect a future TA would be, PA is clearly a product of its limited Kickstarter budget (the original SupCom took something like $10 million to make). No campaign, no multiple sides, and the necessity of a more constrained (though not necessarily worse) art style.

      It’s debatable whether the first two really have an impact on what the fans want. If we’re honest, linear campaign was never the series strong point, and the two (or three) sides never had enough to differentiate them in the way that other RTS’s do. Especially in TA, they were basically clones of each other with different art styles and altered stats (Generally Arm = Lighter / Faster, Core = Heavier / more powerful), functionally most of the units shared the same roles, and in both TA and SupCom, far too many T2 / T3 units were simply linear “better” versions of their earlier tier counterparts. So in that respect, “one” main side split into factions and with unique commanders feels like a more logical streamlining of the process.

      If nothing else, I’m interested in seeing how this all ends up panning out. Because of the weird way that things have worked out over the years, we’ve now had two “spiritual” successor franchises to TA (SupCom and Planetary Annihilation), so CT returning to the original and with the backing of Wargaming.net behind him, gives the idea a fair amount of potential.

    • Lemming says:

      Yep. Supreme Commander just left me cold. Planetary Annihilation has that sense of fun that I’d expect from a sequel to TA.

    • Celt says:

      This is the breakdown for the original TA team;
      Clay Kauzlaric is at MGS, Jacob McMahon and Kevin Pun were last at GPG, Jeff Petkau is at Google, Brian Brown is at Intel, Nathan Doster and Richard W. Smith got out of the gaming industry after TA and Clay Corbisier did the same in 2004.
      Jonathan Mavor is at Uber, Mike Fisher seems to be also out of the industry and Ron Gilbert is off having KS adventures at Double Fine.
      I’m excited about Planetary Annihilation, but I don’t see the links people are drawing trying to state that it’s some sort of spiritual successor to TA, especially considering the only link between the two is the guy who largely developed the graphics engine!

      • subedii says:

        Because the games didn’t just end at TA, and there’s some interesting people on-board for PA who worked on SupCom 1 and 2 as well.

        Steve Thompson started off at Cavedog, eventually went on to be art lead at GPG where he worked on SupCom.

        Elijah Emerson worked on what was probably the most useful engine change to SupCom 2, Flow Field pathfinding.

        Sorian wasn’t actually a developer original. What he was was an AI modder, and his SupCom AI quickly became the community standard. He’s currently working on PA on the AI.

        And really in general, I think you’re way dismissing Jon Mavor’s role on the franchise, he was effectively one of the lead devs from SupCom onwards.

        So yeah. I’m happy saying they’re basically making a spiritual successor. But like I said, it’s not the only path to take. The most frequent complaint I see (and I’m not saying you’re making it), is that it can’t be a successor, spiritual or otherwise, because Chris Taylor’s not on-board. But he’s just one dude, and frankly, after what happened with Space Siege, SupCom 2, and Wildman, I’m more inclined to give Uber a greater chance of succeeding in that department right now than GPG.

        • Celt says:

          Sure, but being involved in SC has little to nothing to do with making a spiritual successor to TA! Total Annihilation began and ended with Total Annihilation, unfortunately. TA:K went a more traditional path, and SC tried to be completely new and different – there was never a real concerted attempt at making a true evolutionary sequel.

          You’ll also see that the comment I was responding to was someone stating that most of the people who worked on TA are now working at Uber and that thus, PA is the true sequel to TA. This is undisputably wrong.

          • subedii says:

            Sure, but being involved in SC has little to nothing to do with making a spiritual successor to TA!

            I don’t see how you can say that. Supreme Commander was very much a spiritual successor to TA as well. It was made because the crew from GPG had left Cavedog and didn’t have the license for Total Annihilation. And in terms of design it’s very much from the same school. Same focus on large scale, rate based econ, reduction in Micromanagement to place a much greater emphasis on the larger scale strategic sweeps of the gameplay. The mechanical differences between SupCom and TA were fewer than the similarities, and quite a few of those were flat out improvements in UI and design.

            Saying it was trying to be “completely new and different” is stretching to say the least.

          • crinkles esq. says:

            @subedii There are other things that make a game a true sequel, or even a “spiritual” sequel, than just playing around with the same game concepts. SupCom didn’t have the secret sauce that TA had, didn’t have the charm and personality and whimsy in the unit designs. It was all business. Maybe we’ll never get a TA sequel, even if Chris Taylor does one, but for sure SupCom was not it, in spirit or form.

            PA…maybe, but I reserve my judgment until I play it. I do think Chris Taylor played a role, and PA might be missing whatever he brought to the table in TA.

    • Cinek says:

      Uber tried to bid for TA, but they lost it.
      That’s a shame.

  3. wu wei says:

    $10 says it’ll be a F2P MOBA.

  4. prudislav says:

    please please no Free2Play Total Annihilation :-(

  5. trout says:

    If TA had the strategic zoom from SupCom, & maybe some terrain destruction just for looking fancy, it would most likely be the best RTS type game ever! looking forward to this!

    • KDR_11k says:

      You mean kinda like what Spring RTS added? Dynamic terrain sounds nicer than it is, all it does is create craters that you can’t get past and thus chokepoints get chokepointier.

  6. Nickel says:

    Considering Wargaming.net’s history when it comes to non-free2play games and Chris Taylor’s history when it comes to sequels to beloved RTS games *cough* supcomtwowasabsolutegarbage *cough*… well, I’m rather unexited about this.

  7. PatrickSwayze says:

    If its free to play i’ll be suffering Wallet Annihilation.

    Can’t say I won’t be excited if by Christmas we have TA & PA going up against each other.

  8. Choca says:

    Can’t say that I trust Chris Taylor’s ability to make a good game these days but if someone’s going to have the rights to TA, it might as well be the company he’s working at.

  9. PatrickSwayze says:

    A graphical update to Battlezone would be absolutely amazing. Battlezone was completely underrated, and plays well even now.

    I hope it remains as complex and isn’t dumbed down to play on a pad or be some kind of run of the mill FPS.

    Sniping a Russian scout pilot through the hull of their vehicle was dead good fun, the sensation of speed as you blasted along the surface of the moon was exemplary. Battlezone was a completely unique game and deserves to be shown to modern audiences.

  10. guygodbois00 says:

    “Wargaming also picked up Masters Of Orion”. What? Who?How?What?. General (ret.) Confusion and Dismay.

  11. bill says:

    Aawww Rebellion.
    They used to be a nice game developer, then they bought a cool comic with some great properties for games…. and since then they’ve just made a lot of really average games. Sigh.

    Why on earth are they not making new Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper games? Why aren’t they making games based on the other properties? Why aren’t they making decent games anymore?

    Open-ish world Dredd game with an aesthetic based on the movie. Ride bikes, chase perbs, stop block wars. Sale.

    Battlezone… meh.

    • Nickel says:

      They’ve also been sitting on the Evil Genius IP for years now and all they ever did with it was a shitty little Facebook game :(

  12. pertusaria says:

    Any word on who got Darklands, or is it going to be in another auction? I can’t see any hints in the linked document.

    Glad to hear of some of the IPs going to good-ish homes (at least homes that seem likely to let them stay on GoG).

  13. AlmostPalpable says:

    TA has always been one of my favourite RTS games, I must have put a thousand hours at least into it. All this business about remaking old classics just doesn’t appeal to me. None of them have been any good so what makes anyone think TA will be any different? People are weird, they cling to nostalgia to their own detriment. Remake this game in HD blah blah HD blah blah remake. Just make good NEW games, lazily cashing in on nostalgia is the worst thing to happen to gaming since gaming stopped being a nerdy pursuit and so all games now have to be “moron compatible”.

    • subedii says:

      There’s a difference between “cloning with no improvements and better graphics”, and “taking a logical progression of the gameplay of the first title”. A sequel to TA could go either way, but it would be silly to dismiss it out of hand straight away.

      TA, like most games, still had its flaws, and interesting ways in which it could develop. Frankly, the game lineage was massively improved by the addition of “Strategic Zoom” alone, and things like Commander Upgrades added some nice extra depth to the gameplay. Then you’ve got other additions like the Experimentals (closest TA got was Krogoth), and generally a much improved interface (transport routes).

      So yeah, there’s worse things that I can think of than revisiting TA and taking a fresh look at its mechanics and interface.

  14. Iskariot says:

    I own TA and everything remotely related. Everything in its original box. Never threw it away, because to me TA is a revolutionary milestone in RTS, but so is Supreme Commander!

    Supreme Commander Forged Alliance is my favorite RTS of all time. I love the scale of the battlefields, I love the wonderful base building, I love the variety of units and options that gives the player, I also love the lumbering super units…. and lets not forget the incredible artillery pieces. No other game has artillery like Supreme Commander. But no other game has scale like supreme Commander either, not even SupCom 2. No other game features fully developed land, sea and air armies like SupCom, not even SupCom 2.

    I would love to see a true successor to SupCom Forged Alliance that honors everything that made it such a revolutionary game that after all these years still has no equal. First point of attention would have to be an improved engine that does not bog down.

    I was horrified when Taylor released SupCom 2 mostly because to my surprise it made it clear that he had no idea why SupCom FA was actually such a great revolutionary game and why it was loved by many.
    SupCom 2 destroyed Taylor’s legacy for me and made me lose trust in him as an RTS creator.

  15. The Ultimate Clone of The Ultimate Warrior says:

    THE WARRIOR WOULD MOO TO THE MOON IF HE GOT A MASTERS OF ORION SEQUEL. MY MILK IS FILLED WITH DESTRUCITY HOAK HOGAN!

  16. Berserkben says:

    Dammit! Give me some news on Master of Magic!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Sidewinder says:

    Master! Of Orion. Master! Singular! There can be only one! Why is it that no one understands this?

  18. MeestaNob says:

    InbeforeTAbecomesaMOBA.

  19. NeutronSoup says:

    Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, had some interesting things to say on this over at the Ur-Quan Masters forum. The potential for involvement by the original creators sounds promising to me.

    Hi guys!

    Brad from Stardock here.

    We have connected with Paul and Fred. Fingers crossed but things look hopeful. The copyright to Star Control 1/2 is owned by Paul Rieche directly, not Toys for Bob so I think there is reason to think that they might be able to participate in the creation of a new Star Control game.

    None of this changes the status of the Ur-Quan Masters or Star Control on GOG.

    Our core team involved at Stardock (myself included) have been huge fans of Paul’s work since the Archon / Star Flight days.

    By an XCOM like reboot we don’t mean XCOM game mechanics but rather creating a new Star Control game that brings in the fun and game play we all know and love. The *campground* is looking *flavorful*.

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