Etherium Is An RTS, Like In The Old Days

By Alec Meer on January 17th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

A real-time strategy game, eh? [A bushy eyebrow raised cautiously, revealing a tired but interested eye.] We don’t get many of your kind around these parts. Not since… [A silence. A stare towards the horizon.] Well, we don’t like to talk about it. Those were hard times. Dark times. [Another silence. Another stare, this time at nothing, or at least nothing anyone else can see]. Anyway, used to be you couldn’t move for RTSes. Tanks everywhere, all commandin’ and a’conquerin’. Feels… feels like a lifetime ago. Were they better days? I don’t rightly know. [A gnarled finger reaching up to a suddenly heavy-lidded eye, to wipe away - dust? A tear? A memory?] Different times, that’s what they were.

[A sharp intake of breath, a straightening of the spine, a gleam in the eye.] Any road, here you are, an honest-to-god real time strategy game, stood right there in front of me. Etherium, they call you? Ah, you’ll be one of those science fiction ones then, eh? All robots and deathrays, eh? [A hearty chuckle]. Well, don’t just stand there, let’s take a look at you.

[Another, even heartier chuckle.] Yes, yes, that’s the kind of stuff they did. Somebody’s still at it somewhere then, are they? ‘Tindalos Interactive?’ Can’t say I’ve heard of ‘em. Oh, French are they? Mayhap the dark times didn’t hit ‘em quite so hard over there. Not like… not like – no, no, no time to worry about that now. What else have you got, lad? Three factions, right you are. No-linear campaign, eh? Set across seven planets, some fancy dynamic weather system and [the kind of chuckle a giant would make; it feels as though your teeth will leave their gums] ‘gigantic colossi of war several meters high.’ Oh-ho, that takes me back, that does take me back.

Well, good luck to you, lad. You’ll be needing it. It ain’t like it used to be out there.

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65 Comments »

  1. mukuste says:

    Alec: I think I love you.

  2. Rollin says:

    Hopefully it will be more Dawn of War 1 and less Starcraft, squad based RTS are so much more tactical than the awful single unit clickfests.

    • Lev Astov says:

      I got a distinctly Supreme Commander-ish vibe from the short video. Hopefully they plan to compete with Planetary Annihilation.

      • DarkFenix says:

        Visually it certainly gives a SupCom vibe, let’s hope gameplay will be more SupCom 1 than 2.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          Hear hear! I checked twice but was dissapointed to find that the big flying ships were carrying bombs instead of units. Still, there’s definately some SupCom in that mix.

    • Corb says:

      why no one love Ground Control? *sadface* (GC2 can rot in a pit, we don’t talk about that one)

      • Solgarmr says:

        Ground control is still on the top of my Strategy game list. Why oh why is there nothing else like it…

        • KDR_11k says:

          I never played Ground Control but I heard World in Conflict is similar.

          • Ringwraith says:

            World in Conflict is more similar to Ground Control II, but still all the same developers.
            Interestingly they apparently helped on AssRev and Far Cry 3, and The Division is their actual next game.

          • Werthead says:

            WORLD IN CONFLICT is reasonably entertaining, but GC1, the DARK CONSPIRACY expansion and GC2 are all much stronger games with much more emphasis on tactics and strategy.

            That remainds me, I still need to play the Russian expansion for WiC.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Once you get into WiC, it’s hardly even a real-time strategy game, anymore. You might as well be playing Wargame, which would at least have a shred of authenticity.

            I love that RTS means nothing anymore, since Real-time tactical has taken over the world.

      • Werthead says:

        GROUND CONTROL was magnificent.

        And GC2 was perfectly fine. Different and perhaps less hardcore (you can save during missions! You can get reinforcements!) but they tailored the difficulty and maps to cope with those changes and it was a perfectly decent game, not to mention a tremendously good-looking one. It still looks more than great today.

        GC1 did have the best artillery in any game ever, however. GC2′s was gimped too much.

        GROUND CONTROL, HOSTILE WATERS and HOMEWORLD are my holy trinity of underrated-turn-of-the-millennium-offbeat real-time tactics games. That’s why I’m looking forwards to HOMEWORLD: SHIPBREAKERS: the HOMEWORLD developers making a GROUND CONTROL-esque ground combat game? Yes, please!

      • Skiddywinks says:

        Wargame: Airland Battle is an excellent cross between GC and SupCom. I highly reccomend you check it out. Scale feels like SupCom but gameplay feels like GC or WiC

    • secuda says:

      I am all for RTS, as long as its not another blody moba game.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      I’m noticing how they seem to be centering everything around the single structure. I’m thinking maybe they’re going with a one structure omni-base ala DoW II and up.

    • Christo4 says:

      yeah i think so too.
      sometimes i don’t really get all this nostalgia, imo Dawn of War one was one of the best RTS’s i played.
      if it just had less troop cap (cus at the end you could fill up the screen and a half) or bigger maps and some terrain modifications (as in before your base you could make some terrain where the enemies are at a disadvantage and your soldiers would stay in the part where they had the advantage, making the game a bit more tactical) i think it would have been even better.

      • Werthead says:

        To be fair, DAWN OF WAR didn’t have much in the way of tactics. It was more: max out Space Marine cap, upgrade their stuff to the best and then just steamroller everyone. Later on you just added Terminators and a few Predator tanks with insaneo-upgrades and you were fine. I know everyone hates on DoW2, but its focus on micro-managing small squads and focusing on upgrades in the field was really just a natural outgrowth of how the Space Marines worked in DoW1 anyway (the other races I can’t speak to).

        COMPANY OF HEROES (1) probably remains the gold standard for traditional RTS games with a focus on tactics and positioning, whilst STARCRAFT (2) remains the reference point for build orders, counters and fast reactions.

  3. Chillz says:

    I just started reading immediately without noticing who the author was and I see this:
    “A real-time strategy game, eh? [A bushy eyebrow raised cautiously, revealing a tired but interested eye.]”
    And i was like, Alec? :D I dunno why it makes me so proud to have guessed who this is from but it does so 3 cheers.

  4. HallowedError says:

    Looks inspired by Total Annihilation and/or Supreme Commander. I’m excited.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      As an RTS game you could do worse than “French Supreme Commander”. France has some mad RTS cred (Eugen), some hopefully that’s what it’ll turn out to be.
      The orbiting drones and mention of weather system makes me think Perimeter somehow.

      • Scroll says:

        That trailer looked kinda perimeter ish as well. Hopefully the weather system really is interesting.

        • KDR_11k says:

          I hope it’s not like the later games of the Perimeter devs (factions that flood the map with water are a shit idea, especially when most units can’t cross water). Well, in fact I hope it’s not too much like Perimeter either, the unit morphing system in that game was total garbage and terraforming was mostly about paving the whole world over.

  5. Armante says:

    If the intro movie is any indication of unit types, and therefore the kind of dune 2/c&c RTS it looks like, I’m sold.

  6. FriendlyFire says:

    Anything with giant walker robots is good in my books.

    That it’s an RTS is just icing on the cake.

  7. DatonKallandor says:

    Oh God it’s that Tindalos studios. They’re the Stellar Impact people.
    Hopefully they’ve learned from it. Making this singleplayer first suggest they have.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Stellar Impact was fun. Of course the online community didn’t last forever but that’s the fate of any less-than-million-seller. I feel that I got my money’s worth of matches out of it.

      • 0positivo says:

        Fun fact: some of us still play SI. The community is really small, but every now and then gather together and organize matches.

        we even figured out how to go past the limit of players. Ever wondered what it would feel like to have a 20 on 20 lane pushing game? (Hint; chaotic fun)

        • KDR_11k says:

          My biggest beef with SI was the ship leveling, I hate persistent upgrades in competitive games and it sure didn’t help that anyone trying a new ship would not just suffer from inexperience but also sub-par gear.

  8. 0positivo says:

    Really looking forward to this. Stellar impact was my absolute favorite game of 2011, something in it just felt *right*

  9. JackMultiple says:

    TraileRater Checklist:

    1. Minimum 45% of trailer composed of opening/closing credits… CHECK.
    2. Contains no actual game-play footage… CHECK.
    3. Inception- and War of the Worlds-like soundtrack (low bleating klaxon horns, etc.)…. CHECK.
    4. Electronic Dance-like stuttering effect… CHECK.
    5. Low audio diarrhea-inducing sub-bass descending tone… FAIL!
    6. Young girl whispering company name and/or game technology… FAIL!
    7. Gratuitous display of crates or boxes… FAIL!
    8. Explosions… FAIL!

    Final Score: 50/50 wait and see

  10. dorn says:

    What’s up with this article? We get RTS’s all the time still. Maybe nothing as great as Homeworld but it’s a far cry from how bad RPG’s have become.

    • Xocrates says:

      How young are you?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_real-time_strategy_video_games

      According to that page, 2013 had 4 RTS, 2003 had 15, 1997 had 28. Even admitting that the list is noticeably incomplete, there is a large discrepancy between the 90′s and the 2000′s

      We still get some really good noteworthy RTS, but in the 90′s you could barely move for the things.

      • bills6693 says:

        Tis indeed a very incomplete list. However you’re not wrong that the pool of RTSes seems to have dried up significantly.

        I myself am actually only 20, a 90s lad myself, but I remember when I was younger RTS was my staple game. I didn’t really play anything else much, bit of magic and a bit of baulders gate/icewind dale and some arcade games on the PC… but mostly Age of Empires, Empire Earth, and a great assortment of other RTSes of the time.

        It just seems that in the last 10 years the number of RTSes has been declining, and in the last 5 its all but vanished. There’s a recent revival due in part to Kickstarter, but not nearly as much as… well, pretty much every other genre possible.

        I’m just glad there’s also a few good ones still going that I really enjoy, especially the Wargame series. And a lot of the older ones have aged well – Supreme Commander (1), Dawn of War, Homeworld (for me, 2), and I still love me some Empire Total War mixed RTS/TBS.

        I say that we have to cling to every one we can get now. And I don’t see the genre making a big revival in the near future, with the greater ties with console (easier porting), VR technology (doesn’t really help RTS at all), living room focus with steam machines and controller (again, not really RTS suitable) and people generally seeming to care less about it.

      • dorn says:

        I was old and played Dune II when it came out and knew it was the birth of a new genre. That has nothing to do with this though. Something like 90% of the RTS’s in those “glory days” were horrible anyways.

        We get less of them now, but we still get a few AAA pure RTS titles a year. Compared to traditional AAA RPGs and Adventure games it’s quite good.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Really? RTSes are extremely sparse these days, I see more major point & click adventures than RTSes.

  11. Fox89 says:

    I want a real time strategy where I play as a guy in a bunker who says things like “Move the 5th regiment to the Eastern border” and then three weeks later you get a note that says the 5th regiment were wiped out and the nation has fallen under the iron fist of communism.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      I think there was a Flare Path article with something like that, actually…

    • bills6693 says:

      Yep, that kind of game would be awesome. Very much a game of top-level management where you make all the strategic decisions. You might also do things like plan general fleet movements and deployments, army garrisons and positions, rules of engagement/standing orders etc.

      Then it turns out because you made monetary cutbacks and only had three escorts with your carrier the carrier was sunk by a submarine and morale is at an all-time low, and the army fighting in the nearby country has lost their carrier-borne air support and are cut off from help and all die. Then you are forced to resign.

    • frightlever says:

      There’s a TWINE game just waiting to be written.

  12. Gap Gen says:

    I’m waiting for a true real-time strategy game, in which a game takes months and you have to preside over a military staff controlling the logistics of an entire nation’s manpower while never seeing any explosions or gunfights. Either that, or you sit in a windowless bunker figuring out what happens if Saudi Arabia declares war on Latvia even though it will never happen.

    • nkarpovich says:

      *points you to the lovely lurid lands of conquest known as paradox interactive rts games*

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Play Europa Universalis and only press next turn once the actual time of the turn has elapsed. There ya go!

    • bills6693 says:

      Ha I love the latter proposal. A game in which you make contingency plans. But as you make plans to cover possible scenarios, you have to come up with situations which are more and more bizzare/unlikely to keep doing something. You then have to convince your commanding officers that these do need planning for. If you fail to convince them there are more things that need planning, or you fail to come up with any more possible scenarios you can still convince them to let you plan for, your job becomes redundant and you are fired.

  13. jnqvist says:

    This article is perfect.

  14. Thrippy says:

    There’s another French RTS developer besides Eugen? But only one French RTS publisher maybe… Focus Home Interactive. I’d be tentatively, catiously willing to see a post-Stellar Impact follow up because FHI with a broader RTS lineup can only be a good thing. The one fault of the Wargame franchise is that it isn’t much of an entry level RTS.

    I don’t perceive any RTS dark age once you look beyond absent large US publishers, something every regular RTS gamer has been doing for several years now.

  15. Laythe_AD says:

    I see sand and stomping. Vague vibes of Emporer: Battle for Dune. Yes please.

  16. iseemonkeys says:

    I am hoping for another RTS game like Warcraft 3 with great online community and custom maps. I played the custom maps of Warcraft for years and still play them today. Blizzard went down hill and destroyed the community with the new battle net and restrictions in starcraft 2. Which is a shame considering the map editor you could made impress maps to surpass the simulators, rpgs and first person shooters people made for Warcraft 3.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      It’s funny that you say that because Warcraft 3 is what ruined Warcraft for me. I haven’t enjoyed a good classic RTS since the Tides of Darkness.

  17. callumdarke says:

    my buddy’s step-aunt makes $82/hr on the computer. She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $18010 just working on the computer for a few hours. read this….
    http://www.dub30.com

  18. Bobka says:

    I have to admit that I’m not too hot about yet another ambiguously-futuristic RTS game. SupCom felt artistically bland to me, but at least the gameplay was fun, and PA has a bit of style to it, but there is another indie RTS out there now the title of which I can’t remember, and now this…

    What ever happened to RTS games set in a setting other than the distant, lasers-and-robots-filled future? We have the eternal open-source project 0 AD, but not much else I can think of. I wish we had more fantasy, post-apocalyptic or interestingly different sci-fi RTS games (as well as just more RTS games in general).

    • DatonKallandor says:

      You’ve also got World War 2 RTS that are awesome (Company of Heroes), Cold War RTS that are awesome (Wargame).
      APOX wasn’t that bad but very low-fi if you want post-apocalyptic RTS.

  19. Mittens89 says:

    Those units flying around that central pillar thing are all like “I have no idea what im doing”

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