Total Converts: SupCom 2 Revamp Expansion Mod

By Graham Smith on May 15th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

This week's mod column is not all I hoped it would be.

This is not the mod I intended to write about when the day began. I had great plans to write about “kitchen sink” mods, which abandon narrative coherency in favour of cramming borrowed ideas into a joyous, lunatic mess. Then I couldn’t get my key example to work, and spent four hours stumbling over error after error until I was forced to give up. I’m telling you this now because it seems like a worthwhile lesson if you’re going to attempt modding beyond the safe boundaries of the Steam Workshop; sometimes it requires patience, sometimes it creates nothing but frustration.

Quick pivot. What can I get running now which will be fun? Think, think, got it: the Supreme Commander 2 Revamp Expansion Mod. Wish Gas Powered’s robotic RTS sequel had been more in-line with its predecessor? This is the mod for you.

Supreme Commander 2 is a frantic, mentally taxing game. It requires high actions-per-minute if you’re to expand your base to match or beat the economic expansion of your opponent, be they human or AI. It requires a lot of multi-tasking, if you’re going to deal with battles at your base, on the frontlines, at sea, on land and in the air. It requires quick decisions, if you’re going to walk a path through its research trees as efficiently as possible and reach its game-ending, sun-blocking experimental units.

It’s great. Except that it was a child’s game compared to the original.

It's not my fault - a game got updated and broke all the mods I wanted to write about.

SupCom 2 was my entry point to the series and I love it, but I graduated from there to Supreme Commander 1. The original game had far larger maps, greater unit counts, and a more complicated economy system that was more flexible and less forgiving. Its expansion, Forged Alliance, is my favourite strategy game.

Some of the changes SupCom 2 made were designed to bring in new players – the introduction of a tech tree with routes through it unlocked via research points simplifies the game in a way that arguably makes it more fun, as the game’s best units can be reached in 15-20 minutes instead of 45-minutes or not at all.

But other changes were made because the game had to run on consoles, and the consoles of the time weren’t powerful enough to run Supreme Commander 1′s absurdly vast maps or absurdly complex AI calculations. Your PC can though. There’s a good bet that, four years after release, your computer can run vanilla SupCom 2 without breaking a sweat.

At least I'm still writing about something cool.

The RVE mod aims to change that. Most significantly, it changes the speed and scale of the game’s units so that they’re smaller and so that maps feel consequently larger. If you thought Seton’s Clutch felt dinky in the sequel, this helps. It then increases the unit cap, so that each team in a battle can have up to 3000 units, instead of the previous cap of 500. (This smaller mod goes further, letting you set the unit count as high as 10,000. I haven’t tested it.)

It also ports features and units from the previous games, such as allowing every faction to build a mass fabricator, or adding UEF’s untouchable Novax Satellite from Forged Alliance. It adds wholly new units too, like a Cybran Heavy Tank and something I haven’t yet tried called a “Quad Anti-Air Defense System Skystalker.”

Lastly, it makes dozens of small changes behind the scenes, tweaking balance and AI in ways which, to be honest, I haven’t noticed in the few games I’ve played.

And this time it's something you'd actually want to go play right now.

When you play, you do notice the scale and unit cap changes. Supreme Commander 1′s battles could feel epic like no other game. The distance between bases on some of the larger maps forced you to set up ferry points to move your units to the frontline, and to be constantly pushing out to set up new, forward bases. SupCom 2 traded that in for a faster pace, which made it far easier to play during a lunch break but lost what was unique about the game.

RVE feels like a mixture of the two. The maps still don’t as big as the original, but it does allow for and demand larger battles than in the base game. If you’re looking for an excuse to return to SupCom after some time away, this is it.

Here’s a video of a game I played earlier this afternoon:

You can download RVE from its entry at ModDB. It’s a straightforward extract-to-install job, but check the included instructions for details of a few files you should back up before you go overwriting things.

And I’ll be back next week with something less panicked.

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27 Comments »

  1. Mollusc Infestation says:

    Alternatively there’s always Forged Alliance Forever, which started as a replacement for the retired multiplayer client and ended up as a dedicated community of SC:FA players. It even includes continued development and balance changes and stuff.

    http://www.faforever.com/

    • QSpec says:

      Came to say this. Supcom 2 was an abomination and needs to die a very quiet death. FAF is the sequel it should have been and is still alive and kicking (check out some Gyle’s matches).

      Need another reason? Supcom: FA doesn’t have a fucking unit called the “Sooperizer”, “Weedoboth”, or “Buhbledow”.

      I’d either stick with FAF or go to Planetary Annihilation, but for the love of all that is holy, let this one go.

      • Scroll says:

        I am keen to agree in regards to sticking with SCFA. But Planetary annihilation? Currently a little wonky and quite dull.

        • QSpec says:

          It is definitely wonky, though I don’t know about dull.

          It is an imperfect game for sure (which to at least some extent is to be expected given it is still in beta), but it has promise.

          I’m actually a tad excited about its mod potential, but time will tell.

      • Flatley says:

        Seconded on the Gyle recommendation. I haven’t installed FAF yet, (I play the odd FA comp stomp with some of my friends) but I do check his page routinely because the matches are massively entertaining. The precise, professional atmosphere you get out of a StarCraft or DotA match doesn’t hold a candle to the glorious, unrestrained insanity of SupCom.

        • Mollusc Infestation says:

          I’m a really big fan of this guy’s casts. He doesn’t quite match Gyle for professionalism or presentation, but he certainly knows what he’s talking about. https://www.youtube.com/user/praisegugleourmaster

        • Sardaukar says:

          How do you get matches against the AI to remain enjoyable in FA? Last time I played it, the bug where the longer a match with AI run, the slower the simspeed got crippled it. After thirty minutes you were left with a permanent state of slow motion.

      • Graham Smith says:

        Really? SupCom 2 might not have been the Supreme Commander sequel people were hoping for, but it’s by no means a bad game. It was my route into the series and I enjoyed the multiplayer and co-op skirmishes I played in it immensely. It’s still a tight, spectacular RTS, with a lot of the silliness and bombast and interesting decisions that make 1 and Forged Alliance so great to play.

        • WinTurkey says:

          I guess it depends on whether you play SupCom 1 or 2 first. People were immensely disappointed with what 2 had after the divine intervention that was Forged Alliance.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            I would concur with this. If I had never played Supcom 1 then Supcom 2 might have felt like finally getting a breath of fresh air in a genre that generally considered starcraft the height of the form. As it was it felt more like somebody had decided that what Supcom 1 really needed was to be more like starcraft.

            As somebody that still kind of prefers vanilla supcom 1 over FA, it felt almost like I’d paid $50 to be kneed in the groin.

        • Slazia says:

          SupCom2 was cool. It was a casual version of SupCom. Good for short games.

        • QSpec says:

          It isn’t that it is a bad game. It is that it is a bad game relative to Supcom: FA.

          Starting at Supcom 2 and going to FA, you got the sequel experience that we expected going from FA to Supcom 2. What we got is a game that is ‘less’ in just about every single way.

          I think that is likely the source of most of the frustration.

    • Cinek says:

      Alternatively there’s Spring RTS: http://springrts.com/ and Planetary Annihilation: http://www.uberent.com/pa/
      Both are much better than Sup Com ever was. (apologies to all butthurt Supcom fanboys)

      • Walsh says:

        PA is booooooooring as hell. It’s not even finished, how can you declare such a thing, knave?

        • QSpec says:

          I think it is likely an attempt to stir up an argument.

          I’m actually pretty supportive of PA, but I think it is clearly false that it is a better game (at least right now) than FA. Hell, I don’t think the dev’s would call it a better game.

          It is still finding its footing as to the role of T1 vs T2 and balance in general.

  2. TheRaptorFence says:

    Good God, the amount of projectiles on screen is almost seizure-inducing. Will have to check this out.

    Love your Total Converts pieces, Graham. Keep it up. Make sure to put a nudge in there for a STALKER mod in the next few months ;).

  3. BebopBraunbaer says:

    love the hidden dota2 advert in the video

  4. Gap Gen says:

    For some reason I liked Total Annihilation the best out of the series (as it were). That could just be nostalgia, but I liked the dynamics of having no superunits (Krogoth aside) and relying on massed assaults to break lines of defence. I once played a 5-hour game with the AI where no unit could make it across the No Man’s Land without being annihilated by long-range cannons; I eventually won by sneaking forward bases into position with radar blockers and pushing the enemy back.

    • Naed says:

      Oh yes

      The marathon sessions that happended because “I just need 10 more minutes to get across this no-mans area (and its now 3 hours later)” are among some of my better rts memories :)

    • Cinek says:

      Superunits IMHO were a game-breakers in SupCom. The only positive value they had for a gameplay was in introducing people to more sophisticated games like the original TA as it’s always easier to get people toy with big robots than learn deeper strategies right away.

      • hotmaildidntwork says:

        The “strategic zoom” was introduced with supcom, right? I was given an install of TA to try by an acquaintance and I ultimately shied away from it after the first few missions partly because I feared the prospect of having to manage supcom scale battles with a Red Alert 1 UI.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Yeah, on one hand I like the fixed scale because it feels more visceral than floating above some icons, but yeah, the zoom in Sup Com is nice to get a sense of the whole battle.

      • QSpec says:

        Each race has one Experimental (super unit) that sees pretty constant use. These typically don’t last super long as T3 can shred them.

        The others are niche and can hurt you more than they help. Lose a Seraph bomber and your enemy just got an immense mass present.

        The last experimentals are literal game enders. They almost never see use except in the rare case in which a person is clearly ahead but can’t crack the defense. They are simply too expensive to be expected to use regularly.

        Check out the Gyle’s casts. I think you’ll find that the experimentals are far less effective than solid mass T1-T3, and they supplement the army rather than replace it.

  5. BlueTemplar says:

    Seems nice, but why would I play this when I can play Zero-K ?

  6. mickygor says:

    I take it this doesn’t fix the economy? ‘Cos if not I’m still longing for a refund. SupCom2 is quite possibly the biggest disappointment I’ve ever had in gaming.

  7. Iskariot says:

    The day Gas Powered Games would decide to make a true sequel to SupCom Forged Alliance would be the best day in the life of an RTS gamer like me. I sooo love that game.
    A true sequel should build on its awesome features instead of ripping them out and dumbing them down.
    I think GPG never truly realized what an unique revolutionary RTS they had made.

  8. Gargenville says:

    Just a heads up that the preview image for this in the featured article box on the top page says ‘Totan converts – Supcom 2′.

    edit: fixed now!