Planetary Annihilation Getting “DRM free offline play” Oct 9

A lot of people are down on planet-slinging RTS Planetary Annihilation, criticising its recently out-of-Early-Access release for missing important features. One of those features was the ability to play offline, as currently even singleplayer matches against bots require you to have an internet connection. That’s going to change on October 9th when offline play is added to the game, as announced on the Uber website.

The post explains:

We’re happy to announce the release of the offline server. Coming in an update this Thursday (October 9), offline server allows you to take over the galaxy in Galactic War without connecting to the Internet. You can also battle against your frenemies or the AI over a LAN.

This news comes just a few days after developers Uber launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new strategy game, called Human Resources. At the same time, Uber re-assured Planetary Annihilation backers that support for that game would continue.

The addition of offline play is obviously well-timed, deliberately or not, both to counter some of the criticisms that have popped up in reviews this past month and to follow through on that promise. A lot of backers of the game had been disappointed with certain mooted features failing to appear before release, though when he reviewed it Brendan still saw something worthy in its vast and bombastic battles.

As for Human Resources, Adam spoke to the team, and there were signs that the game of warring apocalypses had learned a lot from Planetary Annihilation, both in terms of its design (flat surfaces are easier for players to navigate than globes) and in terms of how much money you need to get a game across the finish line in a good state (more than last time).

49 Comments

  1. Wyrm says:

    Hallelujah!

  2. morbiusnl says:

    I can remember the headlines when this was first kickstarted. It would be bigger and better then TA. Now its just a TA lite with planets.

    dissapointing

    • Crafter says:

      TA lite with planets is a very good description. Also put in random bugs that make you need to restart your battle (disconnection, units falling out of the map, …).
      If PA gets its Forged Alliance and sort out its numerous issues, it might be a very good supcom successor. I am still not convinced by the interplanetary battles + autogenerated maps. Right now it is a gimmick that needs way more game design.
      In the meantime, PA just made want to replay FA some more. I did and I had a ton of fun. There are a couple of things that PA actually does better. For example the battlefield is more legible in PA (it might be due to a bad resolution / screen density setting on supcom though, but still) but not in the areas that really matter.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Having not played TA, what makes PA “lite” exactly? What features are missing?

      • JarinArenos says:

        Despite having planets to work with, the battles feel small and cramped. There’s no factional unit differences, the “tech tree” is a shallow and artificial thing, locking gameplay away behind RNG. There’s nothing even vaguely resembling a campaign. Procedural maps are fine and all, but they lack the wide variety of TA’s sculpted maps… There may be some elements of rose-tinted glasses here for the nostalgic, but having gone back and played TA rather recently, it’s really difficult to see what PA has over TA. Honestly… the different-planet thing just ends up being a gimmick that makes it harder to navigate.

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        BlueTemplar says:

        Unit diversity is appalling, especially since bots and ships don’t seem to have real uses when there’s no real 3D terrain on planets and water units are almost useless on the overwhelming majority of maps for obvious reasons.

      • Cinek says:

        Play Balanced TA: link to balancedannihilation.org – it’s a free game running on a Spring Engine, basically a copy of original Total Annihilation with better graphics, interface, and some small fixes.

        It’ll give you a good idea what you’re missing.

    • ordteapot says:

      Supreme Commander + FA expansion (“Gold”) is in a current Humble Bundle for $1 or more, depending on how cheap you’re feeling. I haven’t played SupCom or its expansion, so don’t know whether you’re better off with it or the Spring engine mods.

      edit: this was supposed to reply to someone that just wanted a newer, shinier version of TA

  3. Cinek says:

    Getting this on a release day would cut good half of the complains people had.

  4. shinkshank says:

    God they fucked up by slapping the 1.0 on before they added all the big features. Like, I love PA, and I still support them as devs, but jesus christ was it a bad idea. Other great games have suffered similarly from a gung-ho supposed ” Release “, even though they were still actually working on it. Most recent example I can think of would be Cortex Command, which also went out of early access even though the dev is like ” Oh goodness no, it’s far from done “. It makes me really sad to see good-but-not-yet-done games get completely destroyed by such a stupid and arbitrary decision.

    • Crafter says:

      I suspect that they might have been in dire need of a cash influx but it is pure speculation.

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        I can’t see how that’s the case here, this game was on Steam’s top selling list pretty consistently. Unless the problem is they’re just not using their money wisely.

        Kickstarter, creating a hundred little Ion Storms.

  5. Gap Gen says:

    Did they ever add a save function to skirmish games (or whatever games against the AI are called)?

    Also “(flat surfaces are easier for players to navigate than globes)”. Well, yes.

    • Colthor says:

      Save’s not in yet, alas, but there is a pause function now at least.

      Could do with more UI to keep track of things too. SupCom and SoaSE were much better in that regard.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, I found my play of an early beta quite confusing in terms of tracking everything. One thing I like in SupCom 2 is how metal extractors lock onto metal patches rather than making you pixel hunt, but I guess that kind of thing may have been added by release.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          It’s already been in for a while, and few people do that anymore anyway. You can use area commands to drag an area in which all possible metal extractors will be built. Much faster than manually building every one of them.

          Area commands in general are a fantastic addition.

          • Premium User Badge

            BlueTemplar says:

            Guess where Area Commands come from?
            link to forums.uberent.com
            link to springrts.com (post date : Mar 18, 2005 )

          • Mezmorki says:

            @BlueTemplar – I appreciate that link :)

            I love ZeroK’s interface and command – so much so that I find it exceedingly hard to play any other RTS games!

          • Premium User Badge

            BlueTemplar says:

            Yeah, same feeling here. After I tried Zero-K, among pure RTS only Starcraft 2 : Hearth of the Swarm managed to pull me in for non-negligible amount of time, thanks to its very well made campaign. But then, after finishing the campaign, when I tried the HotS multiplayer, I realized all the things I missed, and got back to Zero-K.
            (For some reason Balanced Annihilation, circa 2007, even if it caught me for awhile, didn’t quite manage to keep such a pull on me. Might be a question of polish, or unit diversity.)

        • bonuswavepilot says:

          Yeah, I think this aspect has got better – I believe you can even do a drag select over an area and have your builders put the extractors anywhere in that zone which has metal.

          [Edit] Ninja’d!

  6. Metalhead9806 says:

    This is good news. Hopefully the support continues.

  7. Wowbagger says:

    I just want a new pretty version of Total annihilation, that would be ‘shut up and take my money’ worthy.

    • Mezmorki says:

      My mouse keeps hovering over PA every time it is on sale, and then I decide not to buy it.

      The reality is that I already HAVE a more modern TA alternative.

      One is the Spring RTS Engine “mod” Balanced Annihilation:\
      link to balancedannihilation.org

      The other is Zero-K, also a spring engine TA derivative that is also going through Steam Greenlight last I checked.
      link to zero-k.info

      Both are FREE and available right NOW. And both of them have been a sheer blast to play. Exceptionally well done, doubly considering its a hobby project for the most part. Great gameplay and faithfully builds on TA’s legacy and style.

      • Crafter says:

        I am curious : why aren’t you mentioning Forged Alliance ?
        For what it is worth, I don’t think that PA is the TA successor people have been asking for. If they they add tons of content, improve automatic map creation and probably revamp interplanetary gameplay, it might have a chance though.

        • Premium User Badge

          BlueTemplar says:

          Probably because you’ve already mentioned it a post over this one?

          • Mezmorki says:

            I have to admit I was never much of a SupCom fan – and FA by extension. I’m not sure why. I think SupCom felt too cluttered and complex in its presentation and UI compared to the relatively cleanness of TA, and also the SpringRTS derivatives. I know … heresy …

          • Premium User Badge

            BlueTemplar says:

            One thing that somewhat bothered me with FAF last time I tried it, is that while individual units are made with great detail, as soon as you’re not completely zoomed in they don’t look very distinctive, so you’re pretty much forced to rely on icons most of the time. The scale makes it worse.
            So you end up in dot wars pretty quickly – what was the point in very detailed unit models then?

            Of course, there’s also the lack of all the (usability) features, most critical probably being area commands, draw line formations, drawing on map and text markers.
            Though I hear there are mods that might implement some of these in FAF in the near future.

          • Mr_Blastman says:

            @ Mezmorki

            Heresy! Supcom was incredibly intuitive and simultaneously complex. Forged Alliance ruined the economy unfortunately. Yeah, I know, people liked FA but I hated it. I loved the economic complexity that vanilla Supcom brought us.

        • Cinek says:

          Forged Alliance is basically a castrated Balanced Annihilation with totally f*** up gameplay flow comparing to what BTA has.

  8. SkittleDiddler says:

    Weird how a fantastic game like Last Knight successfully pulls out of EA, yet scam-trash like Planetary Annihilation gets all the coverage. You “journalists” live in a different world.

    • Baines says:

      A much larger number of people care about Planetary Annihilation, whether they actually want the game or want to see complaints about it. So sites carry a decent amount of Planetary Annihilation news, just like they do Destiny news at the moment.

      Last Knight has a much lower name recognition factor, which kills its chances of popularity coverage. People just aren’t looking for Last Knight news. It also has a fairly high dismissal factor, which kills its chance of sites covering it because they feel it deserves more coverage. It is an endless runner style game, and it uses decent cartoonish 3D models instead of abstract art or lo-res sprites.

    • shinkshank says:

      Yes, yes, report on the dime-a-dozen infinite runner with above-average production value. That’s what “journalists ” need to get respect from the kind of person who uses phrases like ” scam-trash “.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        You must have bought into the PA Kickstarter, eh? You poor, misguided soul.

  9. rusty5pork says:

    Yeah, I’m still worried. They said the whole “separate teams” thing about Super Monday Night Combat, too, and guess what hasn’t been updated in a year?

  10. Iskariot says:

    I have been a backer of PA and it has some things I like and it is reasonably fun to play, albeit somewhat chaotic due to the spherical battlefields, but it is not nearly as fun as Supreme Commander Forged Alliance.

    Forged Alliance has it all, except for the fact that it can bring even the most powerful PC’s to a grinding halt.
    All I really want is a Forged Alliance 2 that runs better in big battles on big maps with several AI players and with a few visual upgrades and perhaps some new ideas and refinements added and perhaps a few extra factions for variation.

    For me Supreme Commander Forged Alliance is the ultimate RTS. Nothing compares to it, nothing comes close.
    It has wonderful base-building. It has huge battlefields, it has a great variation of units; land, air and sea fleets, incredible artillery guns, monstrous super weapons, and a great customizable interface, superb moddability etc. etc.

    I hope one day GPG realizes what a jewel of a game they created and will return to SupCom FA and build on that foundation.

    • Crafter says:

      Forged Alliance has it all, except for the fact that it can bring even the most powerful PC’s to a grinding halt.

      I played to FA with my last computer, I have not tried crazy 6vs6 battles, but I have been unable to make it slow down noticeably. That’s a brute force solution (I also dev on that machine, so 16go of RAM and SSD are needed), but it works :) .

      The problem with SupCom is that I don’t think it got very impressive sales. Unless you are Blizzard, RTS seem to address a small niche :( .

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        BlueTemplar says:

        According to IGN, it was the 5th bestselling game of 2007 :
        link to uk.ign.com

        • Crafter says:

          I don’t know where they got this figure though. AFAIK, the editor never published anything, I have been only able to dig this up : link to gamereplays.org
          One million is not bad though, except if it includes FA.

          • Premium User Badge

            BlueTemplar says:

            Supreme Commander was released in February 2007, Forged Alliance in November 2007, this interview is June 2008.

            Wikipedia says IGN got these numbers via the market research NPD Group (that’s only for North America though).
            link to en.wikipedia.org

            It’s also in the list of best-selling video games of all time… but the 1 million copies number coming from the same source as yours :
            link to en.wikipedia.org

      • fish99 says:

        On the bigger maps, with lots of AI players, it can definitely have performance issues. Worth noting here that performance issues doesn’t mean framerate, rather the simulation slows down and the game becomes slow-motion, while the framerate and UI remains fine. Depending on the severity of the effect you may not even notice it since it’s quite a slow game to start with.

        Also, more people have quad cores these days. It was especially bad when sup-com was launched. If someone with a dual core joined a multiplayer game where everyone else had a quad, everyone would get slow-down.

        A good I5/I7 and it’s not an issue these days though.

        For the record, I agree with Iskariot, Forged Alliance is the best RTS I’ve ever played. Sadly the learning curve is too steep for some people, but that depth it has makes for a wonderful game once you understand it.

        • Premium User Badge

          BlueTemplar says:

          Well, quad cores were pretty rare in 2007, weren’t they?

          SupCom1 was one of the first games to really take advantage of multiple cores. Though it would seem that you still needed to give it a “push”:
          link to forums.gaspowered.com

          That’s why when I made my PC in 2010, I chose a relatively cheap tri-core processor, considering that very rare games could take advantage of more than two cores (and the third one for Windows and other background processes).
          My next PC, I will probably pick one of those overpowered i5/i7, since it would seem that it’s processor speed that is the limiting factor in the games I want to play with a better performance, like Zero-K and Sword of the Stars 2. And it would seem that AMD dropped the ball anyway… (and probably a GeForce this time since ATI doesn’t seem to be able to make proper OpenGL drivers (and Mantle doesn’t seem like it got many interested developers?))

          It will be interesting to see once the offline mode is in, how PA deals with multithreading and how many units your average PC will be able to handle!

  11. eggheaded says:

    Game performance is still horrible for multiplayer, impacting both wait times (still on average of 10+ minutes to load the lobby, wait for players, load the system again, then finally play) and general gameplay. I bought it once it hit 1.0, and I’m still disappointed with how rough it is.

  12. NotToBeLiked says:

    Too little, too late. It’s still buggy as hell (finally moving the AI locally will probably add even more bugs, instead of fixing the bugs the AI already has), still can’t save, still lacks promised features.
    And no, I don’t agree with the idea that this is a work in progress. They sold it as a completed game. It was very far from that. Fixing some of the bugs/problems weeks later doesn’t count anymore. And then I’m even overlooking the fact that the actual gameplay is just bad, since that’s maybe just an opinion…

  13. heyhellowhatsnew says:

    Oh my word, RPS finally criticized PA! Although this is more of a slap on the wrist in comparison to what you do to other games that have done half the things wrong with PA.

    Why don’t you report that this is the company that made Monday Night Combat (which they abandoned) and Super Monday Night Combat (which they abandoned even quicker), and now they are asking for money for a new game on kickstarter, with the same reassurances that they won’t abandon PA (We’ll give the offline because jeez it’s affecting our kickstarter scamgrab for our new “game”).

    Again, I love this site because you hold company’s feet to the fire. But you have not for Uber and like I said, the only reason I can think why is that you’re friends with them.

    You’ve reported on shady companies and shady kickstarters and how unhappy majority of customers have been, including the poor reviews that games has gotten from other gaming sites, but you won’t do it for PA.

    Why? I don’t care about non-RPS people answers. Y’all don’t work here, therefore whatever you say means nothing to me. Can we please get an actual RPS person to answer these questions?

    • Baines says:

      Going by past responses to such question, you won’t get an answer that you will find satisfactory.

      Yours is hardly the first time someone has been critical of RPS appearing to apply double standards to negative coverage based on who the target of the story is, and the response is largely either silence or a dismissive or defensive reply.

    • tormos says:

      I feel like the much more obvious answer is that the Hivemind doesn’t feel as ripped off as you clearly do? (although I do also seem to recall some significant bashing during the actual WIT as well)

    • psizeo says:

      Looks like uber has pulled this off before:
      link to forums.uberent.com

  14. Kayden says:

    Great where is the Multi-Monitor support that was promised for it? When do I suspect they will deliver? Close to never.