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Total Annihilation is the highest point of RTS games. By no means is it perfect (we'll get back to you on that one!) but it's a helluva lot better than anything else.

1) The interface
The interface is simple but so much more powerful than anything else. First you can stack commands by holding down shift. This works on anything, including setting up prearranged orders for any unit to leave a factory. It was one of the first games to introduce modes to automatic movement and firing, between standing ground and chasing anything that moves for instance. It allows any building to build any sequence of any number of units.

2) The interactivity between units
A patrolling construction bot will automatically: suck up metal if you need it, suck up energy if you need it, repair anything it comes across. Units can be set to guard each other, and you can for instance form clouds of fliers around your wonderful SkippingKrogoth?. Construction bots can be asked to guard a factory and they will both repair it automatically and help build its products.

3) The building system
Based on nanolathing, the system is wonderful. Your commander is the only unit you start with, who builds things that build things ad infinitum. There is none of this silly pop-up building affair, and you're not stuck with one unit building - other units can help and frequently do. Once a building is complete other construction units can be told to guard and help out (as above). Buildings can be placed anywhere on the map.

So, basically, you're saying that actual player interaction in the game is limited? I prefer a game where I get to _choose_ what my stuff is doing, thanks. - GreenOpal
In Total Annihilation there are so many units in play you have to think about overall strategies rather than micromanagement - having units which do obvious things for you is very useful - Hawk
Well spoken young grasshopper. And well I remember the solid metal ceiling of bombers you once provided to show Snut? the door. Indeed, a well-controlled TA army grows exponentially and the single unit becomes (usually) expendable and ill-deserving of TheThirdResource. I would also point out tho that any unit is explicitly under your control unless you give it autonomy. However, I'm sure my friend SunTzu would agree that the wise general does not plan the movements of his tea-boy. - DuncanIdaho
Player interaction is not limited. The command-queueing and patrol/guard modes are all options you enable per unit. If you want to individually control each unit's movements and firing then you are free to do so, if you think that will enhance your chances of winning. --Bobacus

I'll make my position clear on a few rivals too:

Bring on the flames!
Just one. It's not strategy; it doesn't even cover the operational level. It's pure tactics, and thus somewhat limited for my tastes (yeah, I've finished the ARM and CORE campaigns, and can beat 3 AI opponents allied together on Hard in about three-quarters of an hour, so I guess I like it too. I'm no match for people on the net).
What's the difference between strategy and tactics?  I thought they meant basically the same thing.  Do you mean that you can come up with a set formula that if you execute it fast enough will always get you a win?  If so, then I partially agree with you - though there are different set formulas, and you can generally come up with counter-strategies.  Admittedly I haven't played this game for a number of years though.  Hawk
To quote the manual for "The Operational Art of War", "If you can't smell the smoke, it's not tactics; if your primary focus is the battlefield, it isn't strategy." Most "RTS" games make some token move towards being "strategy" by including a greater or lesser amount of resource management (but also see GroundControl). In some games, there's enough resource management (notably AgeOfEmpires? and its ilk) for the game actually to count as strategy. TA is not one of these; since resources and production do not, generally, have to be managed to any great extent (as you noted above, one of the coolest things about TA's interface is that most of that can be automated); just fought over occasionally (and on some maps, not even that). The majority of thinking in TA is tactical - what set of units to produce, best use of terrain, achieving suprise etc. In AgeofEmpires? and other 4X RTSes (also Homeworld), resources are far more limited, the player has to devote thinking time to the best allocation of resources to meet the current enemy deployments, protect their own resource collectors and interdict the enemy; whilst simultaneously providing allocations for repair, maintenance and R&D. In TA all are possible (relatively easily) at the same time.

Out of interest: in your opinion, how does TA Kingdoms compare?  Apart from the rubbish story line for the single player game, annoying voices and stupidly hard AIs, I mean.  --FR
Kingdoms bored me sufficiently I couldn't muster the interest to finish the demo. I think you can extrapolate from that that my opinion is somewhat uninformed and rather low --SF
Kingdoms, though pretty, sucked. --Requiem

A [remake] now exists.  --Vitenka


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