Appreciating the little things

A couple things escaped my notice when I first got SupCom2 and wrote up my initial impressions. In SupCom2, as in life, you learn to appreciate the little things, the things that SupCom2 quietly improved over its predecessor in ways that don’t leap out at first but that make measurable strides towards greater enjoyability.

I love how engineers have been upgraded with initiative chips. Like Chuck Norris, an “idle” engineer is never actually idle — he merely lies in wait. Whenever an enemy dies close by and leaves a reclaimable hulk, or a nearby friendly building receives damage, the engineer instantly swings into action, doing what he does best. Thus, engineers effectively have patrol functionality even while stationary. Now you don’t have to go to the added trouble of setting up a pointless patrol route; just send the engineer into the middle of a cluster of your buildings and he’s on the job. And this also leaves the engineer less vulnerable. Park him inside the small confines of a factory’s shield and he won’t ever step outside of it to risk personal danger as he fulfills his duties. Patrolling engineers, on the other hand, seem to have a kamikaze death wish.

I also really like the factory upgrades. At first I derided them for adding yet more pointless micromanagement, but in hindsight, that’s not true at all. They don’t add any more micromanagement than the construction of any other building (actually they add less, because you don’t need to worry about sending an engineer to the site to start the construction of upgrades). Combining anti-air, tactical missiles, shields, and radar into one building, all of which would otherwise be separate utility buildings, was a really smart move.

I like how the factory upgrades are cheaper than their stand-alone counter-parts. That gives a good incentive to build more factories, especially front-line factories. A factory built on the front lines in the early part of the game (before the research points accumulate for actual TML unlocks) is the only way to get tactical missiles within range of the enemy early on. And likewise, the factory shield is the only way to get access to early game shielding. Combine that with the anti-air upgrade on the factory itself and some point defense buildings within the shield radius and you have some pretty potent early-game forward base defense.

And despite the protestations of some people that SupCom2 has added a lot of micromanagement over its predecessor, it has removed some as well. I love how tactical missile launchers no longer need to have each missile built individually and launched manually (granted, in the previous game, you could have it build/launch automatically, but that was a huge waste of resources, since target selection was not very intelligent). Actually, I never built TMLs in SupCom1 because I didn’t enjoy all the extra micromanagement. I preferred artillery for that reason. But in SupCom2, I can build TMLs all I want and not have to worry about any added aggravation from micromanaging them.

Perhaps my favorite concession to greater enjoyability, strangely enough, is the removal of Support Commanders. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the power and rapid-buildability of Support Commanders, but they were such a huge hassle. Each one had to be upgraded individually, and getting a large number of them required the thoroughly annoying many-assisting of your Quantum Gateway with all of the SCUs you had already built up to that point (each one first upgraded with the resource upgrade, of course, so that they would only be using resources they themselves made). Don’t even get me started about how much fun having to manage an SCU farm sapped out of the game.

Now it’s your turn — what’d I miss?

9 Responses to “Appreciating the little things”

  1. Fingolfin Says:

    Auto-grouping is cool, and path-finding is sensational. The GUI all-round is just the best thing out there by a clean mile. Although they could make some of the unit icons clearer in the queue bar, and adding a drag-n-drop reordering system would be sweet.

    Zoom smoothness and sounds effects rock, I think, although I’m ‘meh’ about the music so I turn it down.

    They need a rewind function in the replays.

    I think the most important thing missing for the SC community right now is live replays. Dammit we need Quadv and the gang doing awesome commentary and live tournaments!

  2. Gryphyn Says:

    Rewind in replays – Agree!

    Multiplayer save would still be a great perk, even though the speed of this game removes most of the need for it.

    Music is usually turned down for me as well. I don’t see going into battle with an ipod, so it helps me believe I’m in the game without the music.

    Still really wish I could set up my own formations. Auto formations is cool, but give me the option of control as well please.

  3. MeDDish Says:

    TLM never had auto fire in Supcom 1 OR FA (please correct me if im wrong, but im sure im not!)
    as for Support Coms, there was a UI mod that auto upgraded them for u! either into Combat COM or Engineer COMS
    and the easiest thing i found is i told my ACU to assist the ground around the gateway, then when the coms where upgraded let them assist him 2….
    means either he was busy upgrading support coms, OR if there where none upgrading he would be supporting the building pumping them out faster! and after u had 10-20 helping him it made a massive difference!

    yes factory upgrades have been a improvement… BUT… it seems there are bugs with them, the cybran radar upgrade doesnt seem to work on factories so u HAVE to build a stand alone one, the Illiumate’s radar ability can only be used one stand alone radar! etc etc
    also u cant AIM ur factory’s TML, so rather then getting 4 factories to TAKE out a building they could be all firing @ separate buildings :(

    if they just added a right click to abilities to auto turn them on (i know starcraft again) it would be great! who DOESNT want their Disruptor cannon to use its ability? only time i dont want it to, is if i want to aim @ the ACU with 2-3 cannons all @ once!

    oh also keep the ‘idle’ engineers in the ‘idle’ task bar, even if they are busy doing something pointless? the amout of times ive had to wait and wait for a engineer to re-show as being idle is annoying!

  4. Gryphyn Says:

    I agree with MeDDish’s idle engineer comment. I’ve also noted the commander doesn’t behave the same way the engineers do, you must put him on patrol to get the same effect.

    There isn’t a stealth aspect to the game anymore, which on one hand is fine because it doesn’t work against the AI, but on the othe hand it was sure fun to try to hide things from friends.

    I’m still loving the tech tree. Nothing like watching all of your units simultaneously get shields.

    I never liked the support commanders. Glad they’re gone.

  5. Luke aka Fingolfin Says:

    Also is there a way to keep Build Mode (B) on permanently? I can’t see how. It’s completely ridiculous to have to turn it on every time you want to use the Build Mode hotkeys! Defeats the entire point of hotkeys. I want to click a unit (or select via period/comma) then press the required hotkey and slap down the building with my mouse. “Too much mouse clickage make slow!” :)

  6. Gryphyn Says:

    Yeah, I can’t count the number of times I’ve built one mass extractor and then queued up a move command to the next mass spot because build mode went away.

  7. MeDDish Says:

    Luke and Gryphn its the same as starcraft and warcraft and others, i still remember from my warcraft 2 & 3 days (B)uild (F)arm
    i think to many letters would overflow with other commands built into the game already

  8. quicksilverus Says:

    Rewind in replays would be cool, but I’d rather have the ability to see player resources, and research tree.

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