the Andrew Bailey

The LOUD Project

It's been a while since I've played Supreme Commander regularly, or any RTS for that matter. On a PC Gamer article, someone mentioned this LOUD Mod for Supreme Commander. I started looking into it, then played it almost non-stop for weeks. This article is sorta a condensed version of what I discovered.

Screenshot of Supreme Commander, showing the dual screen functionality.

Although I wrote a note about SupCom way back when, it's nowhere near the quality of more modern game articles on this blog. (Though to be honest, I don't think this one will be either.) To recap, Supreme Commander is a traditional real time strategy (contrasting with the last game I wrote about). You pilot a large, bipedal Armored Command Unit (ACU). You start off by teleporting to your starting location (making a nice blast), then start building a base, collecting resources, and fielding an army. You defend your base, and expand it. You upgrade your base to collect resources faster and to build better units. At some point, you spot the enemy base on the other side of the map, and plot how to destroy it. Sometimes, the maps are huge, so that base might be a continent and/or ocean away! You attempt to eliminate it, and refine your strategy if needed. Destroy everything over there to win, and enjoy the explosions.

I'm glossing over a lot of specifics, like how the economy is rate-based. Instead of a unit costing 300 resources, it costs 3 resources each second over 100 seconds. If you aren't extracting/generating enough resources, the build rate slows to compensate. To cover shortfalls, there are buildings dedicated to storage, so you can save up. You upgrade your buildings by tiers (over about 4 tiers: tier 1, tier 2, tier 3, and "experimental"). Each tier is about a magnitude more powerful (and expensive!) as the last. Your command unit has upgradable parts, too.

As for the LOUD mod itself, it's not a total conversion. It doesn't radically alter the game into something completely different. It optimizes the AI and other parts of the game to make it run smoother. You can have more units and players running around before the simulation speed slows way down. The AI seems to be mildly more aggressive than the stock or Sorian AIs. I generally like what I see, except that despite which faction, map, or starting location the AI has, they all structure their base identically. Factories, power plants, anti-air, and shields are placed in the same pattern every time.

The mod shakes up the experimental units quite a bit. The Paragon, an experimental infinite resource generator, could only be built by one faction in the base game. The mod substantially nerfs the resource output. In return, the resource requirements just to build the thing is slashed, and each faction has a version. The AI's base layout template includes this nerfed Paragon, though it switches which corner it's built in.

The mod disables the single player campaign. I guess it's safe to assume that you've already played it if you have this mod. It includes and disables some existing maps and game modes.

Since I haven't played a game of SupCom in years, I was pretty bad when I fired this up. I swore that I would never be able to go toe to toe with the normal level AI. Turns out that I was just rusty. After brushing up, I've adapted my strategy to kill off up to 4 enemy players around my starting location during tier 2 to secure extra resources. In a 12 player game, things will slow down quickly, so it helps to knock out a few early, just to save loads of time.

I'm assuming this mod expects you to have the Forged Alliance expansion, but I haven't tested it with the base game. If you're a fan of SupCom and you want a bit of nostalgia, you need to play this. Don't worry, you'll certainly have the time. It's not like we're going anywhere fast.

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