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Total Annihilation Redux

By kpaul in Culture
Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 01:26:31 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

I was in the store the other day, looking for a new computer game in the less than ten dollar range. I stop in every once in a while to see which old favorites now had cheap jewel case versions. This month I got very lucky and found a copy of Total Annihilation for six dollars.

Sure, the game is now seven years old, but it is still a classic in the RTS (Real Time Strategy) genre. I've gotten burned out on Galactic Battleground and Age of Empires II lately, which are the same for the most part, except for different graphics. Total Annihilation was a leap forward in the RTS evolutionary chain.

You see, Cave Dog Software, who released Total Annihilation back in 1997, set-up the game so that they could later add new units, new AI and maps. Yes, other games have been hacked into 'new' games, but the makers of TA made it a lot easier. As a result, even now, seven years after it was released, there are still communities out there making changes to the game. (Kinda reminds me of Unlimited Adventures in that respect).

Unlike the 'new graphics' in Galactic Empires not changing the feel of the game much, the ability to add new units helps the longevity of the game. By changing just a few units, you suddenly have a totally different game and need a new strategy to win. Following are some of the mods for TA I have tested and some others that I'm looking forward to testing. Some of the mods also take care of some of the bugs in the game left after Cavedog stopped releasing patches.

The game itself is your typical RTS; gather resources, construct buildings, create units, destroy the other side. It has a lot of the features found in newer RTS games as well; build queues, way points, etc. The two teams in the game are Arm and Core.

Arm units are generally weaker but a lot faster. Also, it's usually easier to get an Arm economy up and cranking out units. Core takes a longer to get started because its units are bigger, stronger and slower. Even with the two sides being different, the game provides very good balance and gameplay.

Some Utilities / Files:

TA:Mutations is a custom mod switching utility for Total Annihilation. I haven't actually tested this myself yet, but I'm hoping it will make it easier to change from mod to mod without having to uninstall/reinstall or keep different versions of the game in different folders.

TA:Commander is a newer version of the same concept. The last time the webpage was updated, though, was in 2002.

TA: Conflict Crusher is a handy tool. The problem (at least for multiplayer games) with having so many possibilities for adding units is that conflicts arise between different versions. All the units are assigned numbers, of course, and if two different have the same id number in two games trying to play with each other, the game crashes. So, people came up with utilities like this one to resolve the conflicts.

Cavedog's official 3.1 patch is an essential file that is available in several locations around the web.

Absolute Annihilation 4.2:

Absolute Annihilation was the first mod I tried. The last news entry on the site was from the end of April this year, but that's still good taking into consideration how old the game is. The mod was put together by Caydr and his crew.

This mod (and most of the others) require you having the two official TA expeansion sets installed; Core Contingency and Battletactics. As old as the game is, you can't just go down to your local software store and pick them up. Sure, there's EBay, but who wants to wait a few weeks for it? Luckily, kind people have put emulated copies of all the needed files on the Internet.

The FAQ/Readme that came with the mod was a little helpful but not really. The author tried to stuff it with his own brand of humor which didn't really help much. My first attempt at installing it was successful, though. Although later, after having uninstalled it, I tried to reinstall and it kept crashing the game. So, be careful. Unfortunately, TA AA is not compatible with either TA: Mutations or TA: Commander utilities.

UTASP: Ultimate Total Annihilation Super Pack

The UTASP mod doesn't have as many new units as Absolute Annihilation, the units which it does have are balanced and fun to play with. It also comes with good bug fixes, and beautifully redone graphics for most (if not all) of the units. From tiny scouting units to behemoth mechs, there are a lot of new units that change the gameplay a lot. The mod creators recently released their own custom AI called Banzai AI v3.0.

The install on this mod was a lot easier than Absolute Annihilation, imho. I had to use the Core Contingency data files, but it was basically just a matter of dropping some files into the TA game folder.

Note: I haven't tried the below mods yet, but I thought I would include them.

TAUCP:Total Annihilation Units Compilation Pack

TAUCP is yet another TA mega mod, this one comes with a lot of new units, mostly ground based. It was put together by CyberCewl. Unlike some of the other mods and the original game, the Arm and Core sides are generally similar, with comparable units available to each side.

Genetically Modified Total Annihilation v3

This mod adds around 240 new units to the game. There is a forum for the mod, that seems to still get ok traffic considering the game is seven years old. Glancing around the forum, it appears they're still releasing new units for the game.

Also on their website is a very extensive set of pages, detailing all the units, with pictures of the units.


From what I've been able to gather on the web, UberHack is the mother of all TA mods. It became so popular over time that many subsequent mods had two versions, one for a regular install of TA, and another for an UberHack version of the game.

This mod also changes some of the rules of the game. For example, unlike the original, anti-air units can only target air units. As you can imagine, this changes the early stages of the game dramatically.

Another neat thing it changes are the menu buttons on the build menus. In the original game, when you create a troop producing building, you can position it. With UberHack, you can construct the building so that the troops come out in whatever direction you want.

Total Conversions:

As with other games, TA fans have used the game engine to create entirely new games. For example, there is a Command and Conquer conversion, a Star Wars conversion, and a Dune conversion to name a few.

Not only do you get new units, you get a whole new feeling to the game.

Custom Races:

In the original game you have a choice of one of two sides in the conflict, Arm or Core. Several people, though, have figured out ways to add new civilizations to the game or change the existing ones.

Invasion 2213 changes the races to the Kaje and Xenoclones. While there's not much of a story behind the two new races, it may be interesting to play TA with the two sides constructed a little differently.

(Note: The author of the site recently said he might take the site down as he was finally tiring of 1997 graphics and thought TA fandom was dead. ;)

A race that's available in addition to Arm and Core is The Lost Legacy. This race addition has a story behind it for those who are into those kind of things.


Yes, it's an old game, but it's a classic that is still fun to fire up every now and again. With a player base that is still somewhat active after seven years it's easy to install a mod and play a somewhat different game.

I couldn't find any abandonware versions of the game on the web, but I'm sure they're out there if you look. Or, you could check the sale rack at one of the big chain stores or try your luck at EBay.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


favorite game genre?
o RTS - (Age of Empires, Total Annihilation, etc.) 22%
o Flight Sims - (Century of Flight, etc.) 2%
o RPG - (Baldur's Gate, Might and Magic, Ultima, etc.) 25%
o MMORPG - (EverCrack, Star Wars Galaxies, etc.) 2%
o turn based strategy, war - (Panzer General, etc.) 14%
o turn based strategy, other - (Chess, Othello, etc.) 2%
o FPS - (Duke Nukem, etc.) 15%
o Platformer (Mario Bros., etc.) 4%
o puzzle games - (Tetris, etc.) 2%
o sports games - (Football, Soccer, Racing, etc.) 0%
o card games - (Poker, Blackjack, etc.) 1%
o other (see below) 4%

Votes: 121
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Total Annihilation
o Real Time Strategy
o Cave Dog Software
o Unlimited Adventures
o TA:Mutatio ns
o TA:Command er
o TA: Conflict Crusher
o Cavedog's official 3.1 patch
o Absolute Annihilation
o CyberCewl
o forum
o releasing new units
o detailing all the units
o UberHack
o Command and Conquer conversion
o Star Wars conversion
o Dune
o Invasion 2213
o The Lost Legacy
o story
o abandonwar e
o Also by kpaul

Display: Sort:
Total Annihilation Redux | 77 comments (62 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
Anyword on XP compatibility? (none / 1) (#1)
by CtrlBR on Sun Jun 20, 2004 at 04:30:35 PM EST

Last time I checked under Windows XP there was some issues with Direct X and the game was limited to 640x480, which sucks. I keep a Windows ME handy just for this game...
If no-one thinks you're a freedom fighter than you're probably not a terrorist.
not sure. (none / 1) (#2)
by kpaul on Sun Jun 20, 2004 at 04:39:21 PM EST

i'll look into it.

and yes, i have an older machine ;)

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

hm. maybe this? (none / 1) (#3)
by kpaul on Sun Jun 20, 2004 at 04:58:30 PM EST

have you ever tried this?

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

Recently worked for me (none / 1) (#29)
by bgalehouse on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 11:27:58 AM EST

I recently had TA 3.1c vanilla running fine at 1024x768 on a couple of Dell XP Home Edition machines. The machines happened to have the latest patches from Windows Update and Nvidia, but otherwise were nothing special.

It even runs under a non-administrator account. Haven't tried add-ons and patches yet.

[ Parent ]

Custom unit AI (none / 2) (#4)
by Urthpaw on Sun Jun 20, 2004 at 05:16:32 PM EST

I read a comment on Slashdot that implied that it was possible to write customized AI scripts for units.  The example cited involved scout-ships that had special instructions to zig-zag to avoid missiles.  Is this possible?

DAMNIT!!!!! (1.00 / 14) (#9)
by undermyne on Sun Jun 20, 2004 at 11:36:28 PM EST

I actually read this story, decided that it was okay, +1 section.

Then I saw who wrote it! ARGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-1 in spirit.

"You're an asshole. You are the greatest troll on this site." Some nullo

But the most important question of all: (2.25 / 4) (#13)
by esrever on Sun Jun 20, 2004 at 11:53:51 PM EST

does it run under wine?

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
hm. not sure. (none / 1) (#14)
by kpaul on Sun Jun 20, 2004 at 11:56:58 PM EST


2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

WineX (none / 1) (#17)
by ixian on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 01:15:08 AM EST

It definitely runs under WineX.


I actually installed it today myself, and it runs fine. However, I don't know if it runs under pure Wine, as I haven't tried it.

[ Parent ]

Wine has been able to run TA for a long time (none / 2) (#22)
by ClassicG on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 07:38:33 AM EST

TA was the very first game that I tried run under wine back when I started playing with Linux five or so years ago. Even back then, it ran almost flawlessly, and the only real limitation then was the same as it is now: lack of multiplayer. There's been talk for quite some time of Transgaming getting multiplayer functional - it's frequently on the list of monthly polls where users decide what TG should be focusing on - but so far it hasn't gotten enough votes to get worked on yet.

[ Parent ]
re:poll (none / 3) (#16)
by eudas on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 12:46:16 AM EST

My favorite games that I've played so far have been Thief, System Shock 2, and Deus Ex, the first being a first-person-sneaker and the latter two being fps/rpg hybrids.

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat

thanks for reminding me (none / 1) (#19)
by Fuzzwah on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 02:10:43 AM EST

The simple fact that in the poll your example game for the FPS genre was Duke god damn Nukem reminded me how passionate I am about the FPS market. Surely you could have selected Doom or Quake, you know... like a good example of the genre!

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris

no such critter (none / 1) (#24)
by codejack on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 08:33:19 AM EST

sorry, only fps I can even stand to play anymore is america's army, and only 'cause it's free :P

Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
what about Bungie games? (none / 1) (#33)
by anon 17753 on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 06:23:04 PM EST

Have you tried Oni or Halo from Bungie? Halo really just feels like it's Marathon 3, but the vehicles add a nice dynamic in both the campaign and multiplayer.

For my money, Oni was the best FPS campaign game. The levels were designed so that you had to use hand-to-hand combat and stealth very often - there simply wasn't enough ammo to shoot your way through. The real improvement over previous FPS games was the wide variety of physical movement available (flips, slides and a wide variety of hand-to-hand combat moves). The only detriment is that Bungie was bought out by MS before they could finish the game - there's no mulltiplayer (huge minus, I know), though the capability to choose characters with their special moves is available through cheat codes.

Bungie integrates good gameplay with well-developed story lines which makes the campaign play interesting compared with some others like Doom or Duke Nukem.

[ Parent ]

Yea (none / 0) (#59)
by codejack on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 10:32:53 AM EST

I liked Oni, but it got boring almost as quick as Quake/2/3 or unreal/UT/UT03/etc. I played Halo a couple of times, but then I saw Red vs Blue, and I can't play it without laughing anymore (especially the vehicles, "SHEEEEIIIII-LLLAAAAA!!")

Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
I agree some what (none / 0) (#37)
by Fuzzwah on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 07:57:58 PM EST

Personally I'm totally with out an FPS to play right now. I find this kind of alarming because I've dedicated a large slice of my life to Quake, Quake 3, Q3Fortress and Return to Castle Wolfenstien. I dabbled in Enemy Territory and more recently Battlefield 1942. I've only ever really been into competitive multiplayer gaming in general; while considering myself a very hardcore gamer I've only ever played completely through 4 games. I've spent months (talking total time actually played) playing competitive mutliplayer.

However, being a cynical and picky hardcore gamer who dislikes the "realism FPS" sub-genre, I've kind of been with out a decent game to get addicted to. UT2003 and 04 held my attention for small chunks of time, but (seemingly tiny) issues really suck the fun (for me) out of these games after only a very short honeymoon period. Basically it's the movement physics system which only id seem to have ever gotten anywhere near correct. Games like Counter Strike and America's Army don't do anything for me.

I want fast paced action, a simple premise yet a long learning curve due to complexities in the underlying movement and control systems. The more fantastical and unrealistic the better.

So while I and the rest of the gaming addicts wait patiently for Half Life 2 and Doom 3, I'm also putting my money (well, time and effort) where my mouth is and working on a total conversion which will be released for Half Life 2.

It's called Dystopia and I say with out too much ego that it's one of only a handful of FPS games that I'm eager to play.

Before you tell me to buy an ad, let me say that I already plan to. It'll be a while though, even in our biggest dreams we're still only seeing our chances of first release being inside 2004 as slim.

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris
[ Parent ]

Subject (none / 0) (#68)
by one4nine4one on Thu Jun 24, 2004 at 02:29:30 AM EST

try operation flashpoint

[ Parent ]
Quake 2 mods (none / 0) (#77)
by Dyolf Knip on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 09:59:33 AM EST

Anyone ever play the WoD mod for Quake 2? Weapons of Destruction. God I loved that one, especially on unlimited ammo servers. Favorite weapon was the 'Streetsweeper'. Basically a chain gun that fires shotgun rounds. If I catch you in a hallway with that thing, you are simply dead.

If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Heretic (1.40 / 5) (#20)
by SanSeveroPrince on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 05:48:43 AM EST



Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think

starcraft (none / 2) (#28)
by eudas on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 11:21:49 AM EST

i dunno, i loved starcraft, too, but nowadays, i just can't work up the energy to want to play it. it's got brilliant gameplay and game balance, but... i guess it's that i've played it a million times before. i'm kinda tired of it... and looking for something "new". but as far as it being an example of the RTS genre, yeah it's pretty much the pinnacle of excellence in that genre.

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

-1, kpaul (1.00 / 14) (#21)
by Green Cup on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 06:40:39 AM EST

We've got Freeciv, why no FreeTA? (2.75 / 4) (#25)
by waxmop on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 08:58:34 AM EST

Civilization and Total Annihilation are the only games that have really held my interest over the long run. I was really happy when I found the freeciv project, but I haven't found an open-source RTS game of any kind.

Are these games just much more difficult to write?
The threat of losing all of your shiny possessions is what keeps us slaves to the machine. --

I think they are (none / 0) (#32)
by esrever on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 05:21:35 PM EST

I've been thinking about it for some time; mainly because my wife is such a fan of AOE II.  I'd like to get her to move off Windows, but as long as she can only multiplayer AOE II in Windows, it's a no-go.

So, the two obvious solutions are either:
A) Improve Wine to such a point that DirectPlay works (yikes! big job...)

B) Write a native Linux RTS game.  TA would seem to be a great model to base this on (extensible, flexible etc).

I think you will agree that neither (A) nor (B) are trivial tasks.  Personally, I think (B) is definitely the superior long-term solution.  Maybe once I get all my other projects out of the way I'll start looking at it (one day in the distant future :-)

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]

open source RTS... (none / 0) (#34)
by kpaul on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 06:42:51 PM EST

Boson is one, although I haven't played it and can't attest to its quality...

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

Thanks! I hadn't seen (none / 0) (#38)
by esrever on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 08:06:53 PM EST

Boson before.  I know that there is the Battle Isle clone out there (I've forgotten its name) and there's also Battle for Wesnoth (its really less of an AOE-style rts than a D&D strategy type game)...  But I'd never seen Boson before.  It looks very promising...

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
freecraft... (none / 0) (#41)
by kpaul on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 08:13:22 PM EST

freecraft was the one i remember from a couple years back.

again, not sure of the quality of the game.

would love to hear if you try them out, though.

maybe the better k5 story would be open source rts games?

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[ Parent ]

ooh. another one too... stratagus... (none / 1) (#42)
by kpaul on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 08:15:04 PM EST


it looks like it's still being updated...

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[ Parent ]

that looks quite promising... [nt] (none / 0) (#45)
by esrever on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 09:32:22 PM EST

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
looks like there's a few projects w/the engine... (none / 0) (#46)
by kpaul on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 09:48:52 PM EST

a warcraft ii clone among others...

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[ Parent ]

Yes, wargus caught my eye... (none / 0) (#47)
by esrever on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 10:07:59 PM EST

I may have to brush up my artistic skills and start coding - Stratagus looks like as good a place as any to start building on top of...

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
lemme know if you do... (none / 0) (#48)
by kpaul on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 10:13:53 PM EST

and i'll interview you for an article on open source RTS ;)

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[ Parent ]

heh, (none / 0) (#49)
by esrever on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 10:18:52 PM EST

that'll be a looong way off :-)

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
the article too ;) [mt] (none / 0) (#50)
by kpaul on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 10:30:23 PM EST

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]
Freecraft I've poke around with a bit (none / 0) (#44)
by esrever on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 09:31:28 PM EST

It didn't overwhelm me, probably because I was using the 'home-made' graphics rather than using the old WarCraft original graphics...  (I know, I know, it's shallow to judge a 'book' by its cover...)

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
hopefully (none / 0) (#30)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 12:01:49 PM EST

the game is somewhat better looking than the website.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
TA kicks ass. (none / 1) (#31)
by bhearsum on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 02:55:11 PM EST

This is my favorite RTS game ever. You don't get burned by tiny unit limits, or only being able to select 12 units a time. That's a big part. Also, on most common skirmish maps resources are not a problem. I'm sick of these games where the big strategy is find a way to get resources, *grumble*. Anyways, great game :D.

game dynamics (none / 0) (#35)
by Fuzzwah on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 07:33:34 PM EST

I had the most enjoyment when playing TA with a couple of buddies against a bunch of computer oppersition. We'd each take on a role; offence, defense or resources. The highlight of TA, for me, was the simple resource sharing system, which at the time was well ahead of any other RTS game.

While I do agree that TA's leaning towards large numbers of units and generally no requirement for a bleeding edge resources micromanagement was a good thing, I must say that a game of TA played right on the resource limit is a whole new experience. When you've got enough fingers to click quick enough to burn through as much resources it's a whole new game.

Other RTS games use limited resources to force the players into confrontations. My favourite WarCraft 2 maps always had enough initial resources to bootstrap your forces into a decent army, then run out and force the players into confrontations. TA kind of leaned away from this kind of forced confrontations, ultimately meaning that games could go on for hours and hours.

It was both a plus and a minus. Any player knocked out early would have to find something else to do for a few hours (during my TA days I was a LAN gamer). The upside was of course when you were right there until the end.

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris
[ Parent ]

Longest TA game I ever saw (none / 3) (#52)
by ZorbaTHut on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 03:56:11 AM EST

was at a LAN party.

I got there pretty early, noonish, and a group was just setting up a ten-player game of TA. I went off to play video games for a while and came back, oh, six hours later.

"You playing another game?"

"No. We're still playing the first one."

Only five people were left, but it was still going strong.

I think it lasted about fourteen hours - by the end there were two players, both sides with ludicrous defense, trying attempt after attempt to crack through without leaving themselves vulnerable to an attack.

I got into another game like that myself once - someone who realized he wasn't very good at attacking and just decided to turtle. I set up a bunch of defense outposts around his base to weaken him up if he tried to get out . . . then built no less than 36 nuke silos.

And obliterated his base in a single fiery maelstrom.

"But I had nuke defense!"

"I had more nuke silos."

"I had FOUR nuke defenses!"


". . . Oh. I guess you win."

I think the thing I loved about that game the most was the SCALE - I mean, those Starcraft players had their semi-effective nukes, and they had, y'know. Cruisers. They were big. Sure. Whatever.

Meanwhile, we were playing with Vulcans and Krogoths . . .

[ Parent ]

re: the poll... (none / 0) (#40)
by kpaul on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 08:09:01 PM EST

i now wish i'd spent more time on phrasing it as it's gotten (i think) the most votes ever for any of my polls.

interesting to see RPG with a lead. i woulda thought Civ type games...

2014 Halloween Costumes

real t-1me strategy (1.09 / 11) (#43)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 09:18:01 PM EST

This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
A bit off topic (none / 0) (#51)
by Armada on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 01:15:17 AM EST

I don't want to steer off course, but I figure this is a good place to ask TA and Starcraft fans what they really think of Warcraft 3.

When it first came out, I thought it looked good but the gameplay got boring really quickly. I thought the hero system was pretty cool, but the game just lacked the appeal that the first two Warcrafts and StarCraft and its expansion had.

Then I started to think maybe I was being a bit too harsh. I mean, most of my arguments were about 5 races being overkill was unfounded. After all, this is Blizzard, who made 3 races work out with Starcraft. And the Diablo games were both solid and didn't stray from their genre.

Now, however, I've had a good extensive look at it, and I'm quite certain the game really is crap. Upkeep is probably the dumbest thing I've ever seen. The Hero system that I thought had an interesting aspect is too centric to the game.

I like to think of myself as a middle-school RTS gamer. I'm not a beginner, but I'm the kind of person that has played plenty and can spot duds quickly. I still like the idea of overwhelming force. The guy that gets resources pumping the quickest and is on his toes with the assaults should win.

I guess I've gotten burnt out on gaming so badly that the only RTS that I'll even consider is one with FPS fighting like Natural Selection. I know it's a sort of cross-breed, but IMHO, this is the future of the RTS genre. Games should be more like NS, with enough of a learning curve to weed out fanboys.

What do the rest of you think? Do you think Warcraft III revives the RTS genre or proves that point-and-click gaming isn't enough to keep true gamers enthralled?

RTS died the moment AOE2 came out (none / 1) (#53)
by Anjin on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 04:21:31 AM EST

Age of Empires was the last pure strategy game to hit the market. Somehow, I'm stuck on the appeal of mediocre graphics that get the job done. With the new flashy units in WC3 and AOE2+ I feel bogged down with trivial matters. It was inconsequential for me to send in 75 Chosen Legions on an intense raid against an enemy base because the units were nondescript and uniform. A lot of the game was left to your imagination and allowed you to focus on strategy, not the pretty scenery or how well a units hair was rendered - it's just too god damn distracting and forces you to acknowledge a personal level with an individual unit.

I'll never again be enraptured in a game like I was with AOE, unless they produce a full-immersion, three dimensional MMORTSRPG in which I can yell a battle cry with a rusty sword thrusted in the air and the leather straps on my sandles creak and groan with every flexed muscle and body movement. Where I can breath air tainted by the spray of blood, and that same misty cloud of red spills over my body, painting me a darker shade every time I kill.

My gamers heart is wounded into an indefinite buffer period that will not heal until that level is met. I either need distant, sub-realistic graphics, or absolute realism.

I wish there was a larger player base for AOE... sigh, what a classic :')

"The problem of whether invisible men exist is a thorny one. We simply don't know, because they are invisible." - Morkney
[ Parent ]
rise of nations... (none / 0) (#58)
by kpaul on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 10:17:28 AM EST

looks pretty interesting with country boundaries and what not. i haven't tried it yet, though...

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

kill-o-byte (none / 0) (#60)
by eudas on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 10:54:44 AM EST

i'm still waiting to play Beirut. :)

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

.... greatly exaggerated (none / 1) (#67)
by JonathanJ on Wed Jun 23, 2004 at 08:16:17 PM EST

AOE2, particularly with the Conquerer's expansion is one of the most enjoyable and long-lasting games I've played.

At my work we would play a game at least once a week for the last three years, we tried to move on to Age of Mythology, tried to move on to Rise of Nations but kept coming back to the simplicity but also the wealth of strategies and tactics that we'd built up over the time.

I would also agree with the above poster that Warcraft 3 didn't have a whole lot going for it. The upkeep system and importance of heroes doesn't really do it for me.

** JJ **
[ Parent ]
Ahh yes (none / 0) (#54)
by 0xA on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 06:12:48 AM EST

I actually pulled this game out a while ago and started playing. Best RTS I have ever played. I found that I got back my old skill level fairly quickly though and that's where I got bored. The AI in this game is so focused on rushing you that it becomes really easy to beat. You just have to put up a defence that can hold the rushes and then use artillery or air units to pick off it's resource units. The AI never tries anything but a steady stream of mixed units, once you can contain that you've got it won. I wish I could pry some buddies away from other stuff to give this a try. Have any of the mod improved the AI at all?

*First* RTS game? (none / 1) (#56)
by revscat on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 09:55:43 AM EST

I think the first RTS game was Utopia for the Intellivision, but there has been some debate about this. However, this is the earliest RTS I can find.

It was a fun game, and impressive for its day. I don't think the infamous Atari 2600 ever had anything comparable to it.

- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.

when/where did i say the first? /mt (none / 0) (#57)
by kpaul on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 10:11:50 AM EST

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]
I was under the impression (none / 1) (#64)
by Ward57 on Wed Jun 23, 2004 at 10:14:22 AM EST

that dune2 was the first.

[ Parent ]
The normal answer is Herzog Zwei... (none / 1) (#66)
by jmzero on Wed Jun 23, 2004 at 02:56:27 PM EST

For the Genesis - it's probably the first "modern" RTS.  It depends on your definitions.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
Total Annihilation, How Do I Love Thee? (none / 1) (#61)
by EXTomar on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 05:39:29 PM EST

I've told anyone who asks about this game that TA was truly a game ahead of its time and I think it suffered from it. It was too advanced and brought the bleeding edge machines of the day to its knees. These days it shows its age but man there are still some stellar things about it (the fact it has true terrain handling even though the terrain may not be rendered as such). It was so bold and different even in face of the most advanced RTS at the time Warcraft 2 (Starcraft came out around the same time as well). It kicked ass in almost every way imaginable yet it hasn't exactly faded in obscurity.

So how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

  • Advanced controls: And I mean advanced. The best you could hope for in Starcraft was quick group selecting. In TA you can select all units on the screen, all fliers, all walkers, all vehicles, and a bunch of combinations thereof. Just the fact you can center over a target, selected all units on that screen, and order them all to FIRE on that target is extrodinarily complex compared to what Starcraft could do. A unit was also semi-aware of what it was built to do. A builder unit told to "patrol" would scavenge resources and repair damaged buildings and units instead of trying to fight.
  • Advanced Production Controls: The best you can hope for in Starcraft was rally points. In TA you can tell your units to come out of the factor and start patroling or walk a certain path or find another target. You can queue up far more units than you have resources banking on future production. Both of these meant you could macro-manage your army leaving you to concentrate on fighting instead of doing the constant click fest that plagues games today. The only problem I found with the production model is that you couldn't just do "produce this unit forever".
  • An unlimited production model: You'll never run out of resources. You can continually harvest energy and metal. But if you need to kick it up a notch, you can reclaim stuff on the map (destroyed vehicles, trees, etc.) turn off energy draining devices (defensive batteries can suck a lot of energy...if you aren't being attacked turning them off is a big savings) and other things to shift your production.
  • The graphics: Although dated now, the graphics were very advanced for their day. Models had weight and motion. A aircraft shot out of the sky would scatter debris in the direction it was flying. Forests would catch on fire if a fire fight broke out near one (causing damage to buildings and units there). Vehicles moved appropriately: walkers moved differently than hovercraft moved differently than boats moved differently than tracked vehicles. A battle field really looked like a wasteland once the battle moved on. It all looked very impressive as the fight developed.
  • The music: If you played it you know what I'm talking about. Enough said.

The game wasn't perfect. There were bugs and exploits like the infamous "commander hijack" and "poisoning by metal makers" but still playing the game multiplayer was interesting. Too bad it was in the days before the prevalance of solid UDP serving like battle.net.

I don't play Starcraft or Warcraft 1/2 any more. But I have the disk for TA: Core Contengency sitting in the rack by the desk. Every once in awhile I pull it out to play the Krogoth senario. Oh the beautiful battlefield carnage.

Advanced^2 (none / 0) (#69)
by Handyman on Thu Jun 24, 2004 at 07:05:54 PM EST

Also, you can build groups by selecting a number of units and hitting a key combination (I think it is Ctrl+[0-9]). Then, you can reselect that group by hitting Alt and the appropriate number key. This is handy for asking for all the build units near to a particular sub-base, without calling all of the build units on the entire map. And once the group is selected, you can hit the letter "T" to traverse the group members and transfer screen focus to each one in turn, to issue specific commands within the grouping.

I don't play many RTSs, but the range of control that Total Annihilation allows, from micromanagement of each unit's specifc build or patrol paths, all the way out to self-destructing every unit you control with two simple keystrokes, is the best I've ever seen. No other game comes close. =)

Never be afraid to be the first one on the dance floor.
[ Parent ]

Elaborate, please ... (none / 0) (#72)
by dougmc on Fri Jun 25, 2004 at 12:00:22 PM EST

The game wasn't perfect. There were bugs and exploits like the infamous "commander hijack" and "poisoning by metal makers"
Never heard of these, and google doesn't help much. Explain?

Commander hijack ... is that when you pick up somebody's commander with an Atlas? GOD I loved that -- it was hard to pull off, but when you could do it and take it over his base and have his own defenses destroy his commander, that was the best thing EVER.

[ Parent ]

System Shock is the best game ever! nt (none / 1) (#62)
by iasius on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 06:22:48 PM EST

the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
SShock2 would be better (none / 0) (#63)
by Guybrush Threepwood on Tue Jun 22, 2004 at 08:04:36 PM EST

If they actually had finished the game instead of that ridiculous half-assed, POS, Rickenbacker (was that the name?) level. Nothing beats the good old "Look at you, hacker.." monologue, though :)
-- Dont eat me. I'm a mighty pirate!
[ Parent ]
F T S D (none / 0) (#65)
by UnConeD on Wed Jun 23, 2004 at 01:08:27 PM EST

Fallout, Thief, System Shock, Deus Ex.

And a dash of Master of Orion 2 as well. If only MOO3 didn't suck so hard.

Sorry, TA was just lame (none / 0) (#70)
by mjfgates on Fri Jun 25, 2004 at 12:29:47 AM EST

The AI was just too stupid, and too many of the units were too sub-optimal. They're supposed to be rock-paper-scissors loops, not Zoidberg-Fry-Leela chains.

TA is still my fave (none / 0) (#71)
by limivore on Fri Jun 25, 2004 at 01:37:16 AM EST

Ehhh, it's probably because I don't play games much. Me and a bunch of friends used to play it a shitload. Our lan parties got HEATED. A future version is on my development queue definitely. Needs real 3d terrain, terrain alteration, better ai, teleportation devices, improved interface and a bunch of stuff I can't recall. We're very scientific about it. TA impressed the hell out of me.

Works for me and all my friends (none / 0) (#73)
by UCF BullitNutz on Fri Jun 25, 2004 at 05:22:37 PM EST

We play it frequently on the MAN here at UCF. It never gets old, even if all you do is take your comm and D Gun everything in the enemy's base and let the explosion rip up the rest of it should they succeed in killing your comm.
" It ain't a successful troll until the admin shuts off new user registration for half a year." - godix
MAN = LAN (none / 0) (#74)
by UCF BullitNutz on Fri Jun 25, 2004 at 05:23:21 PM EST

yes, we play TA on the MAN. foo.
" It ain't a successful troll until the admin shuts off new user registration for half a year." - godix
TA - it's still the daddy, after all these years (none / 1) (#75)
by Lurkah on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 06:54:15 AM EST

I've played TA probably the entire 7 years old that it is now. One of the reasons is because of the expandability and that sense of utter carnage which can be experienced in TA. I also think that the idea of an RTS game without limited resources, that ramps up to a climatic conclusion, is the best idea for the RTS genre and works extremely well.

The 'modern' state of TA is a lot further along than the original game though. For a start, you'll be wanting one of the insane unit packs such as UTASPM. Unlike many of the other super-unit packs, this one is quite balanced. You've got everything from your level 1 kbots up to the absolutely insane Karganath which regularly racks up kills in the multiple-hundreds.

The numbers are the thing too. You need to get hold of the Core Contingency mission pack and slap in the three CC files from that. Then edit the totala.ini file and up the unit limit to 500. Something which just couldn't be conceived of when the game launched.

Vitally, that unit pack (as with some others), includes substantially better AI weightings than the original game and also fixes a very large number of bugs in the original game too.

The game still runs well today and on any resolution you like but the multiplayer stuff is a bit of a pain, needing to forward a bunch of ports through your firewall. You'll find that sort of thing on Google if the inclination takes you.

It still, to this day, has many lessons to teach developers of modern RTS games. Even when I'm playing Ground Control 2 and going 'ooo' at the lovely graphics, I'm thinking - now if it had /that/ from Total Annihilation.

Oh, are you aware that some Korean game developer has been working on a sequel for a good while now? The Koreans are mad for TA.

re: koreans... (none / 0) (#76)
by kpaul on Mon Jun 28, 2004 at 08:45:31 PM EST

did not know that. the south koreans, i imagine?

i still haven't worked up the courage to find players online yet. i want to beat the AI at hard level.

i'm used to a defensive AOE game, though.

i did create my own map over the weekend, though, which was kinda cool. it has the statue of liberty sunk like in planet of the apes ;)

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

Total Annihilation Redux | 77 comments (62 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
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