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Planetary Annihilation

Planet Hulk: Planetary Annihilation enters Gamma phase tomorrow, adding multi-planet spawns

Planetary Annihilation Gamma Phase

Planetary Annihilation is entering Gamma phase tomorrow, which sounds very serious. It won’t be Hulking out and smashing buildings in a blind range, but Uber is planning some big additions to the growing Early Access RTS.

It’s been a while since I last took a long look at the game, and the plans for Gamma phase, which includes multi-planet spawns, is making me eager to jump back in. 

“Planetary Annihilation has always been about incredible scale and features that let you make entire solar systems your playground,” Uber says. “We’re going to push on this idea even harder in the game’s gamma phase with a new suite of features focused on giving you more options, more control, and even more epic experiences.”

The two main ways Uber plans on expanding Planetary Annihilation in Gamma phase are multi-planet spawns and picture-in-picture.

Normally players all begin on the same world, eventually building up to the point where they can launch into space and conquer new worlds, or even turn moons and small worlds into planet-crushing weapons of mass destruction. The multi-planet spawn battles will see adversaries begin on different worlds within a solar system, driving the conflict into the interplanetary scale quicker. The system editor, which allows players to design their own solar systems, customising worlds and their orbits, will also see some changes systems can be designed with this style of play in mind.

Planetary Annihilations picture-in-picture (PIP) is an extremely versatile mini-map that allows players to have a second window into the battle. It can be zoomed in and out, and rotated, and there are plans to allow for PIP customisation. A mini-map might seem like a no-brainer for an RTS, but because the battlefields in Planetary Annihilation are all spheres, standard mini-map designs couldn’t be used, hence the extra thought that needed to go into it. Updates to the PIP will add unit tracking and a notification feature that snaps the map to where an alert occurred. 

During the upcoming phase, Alliance Mode will be implemented. It’s going to allow players to set up alliances before a match starts or during it, and allies will share vision and excess resources. A dynamic version is also in the works, where you’ll be able to cancel alliances whenever you want.

Chromocam, Planetary Annihilation’s video streaming tech is also getting an update. Replays will become instantly accessible when a match ends, and players will receive a link that takes them straight to a video of their last match. Additionally, Uber is planning on implementing sharing, so you can fire your replays over to mates.

You can check out the new features tomorrow, when the free update drops. Hulk smash. 

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subedii's picture
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Development on this has really been sprinting over the past month or so. It seems every week is getting more and more significant changes and updates.

What I'm really digging is all the little features implemented to save the player's time and focus, stuff that other devs simply haven't thought of or didn't want to do. Everything is geared towards the meta-scale of combat.

Factories can be set on auto-repeat queues. Building instructions can be queued up basically as far as you want, and stretch dragged to build multiple structures in a line.

Telling your units to attack a specific target, and then telling them to move, will result in them _continuing_ to fire on that target until it's destroyed or out of range.

Area commands are a simple yet REALLY powerful context sensitive control. Basically you click and drag a circle in which the command applies.

- Want to build on all the metal spots in an area? Select your engineer(s) click-drag command extractor creation in a circle containing all those metal spots. The engineer will build on all the metal spots in that zone, and will intelligently plot out the most efficient route to hit them all.

- Want your planes to scout an area without giving specific waypoints? Area command a large circle, they'll randomly fly around it patrolling. Applies to other units as well. Engineers will repair anything that needs fixing.

- Want to attack an army with your air units without massively overkilling individual units? Area command attack and your units will pick individual targets instead of all focusing on just one at a time (really big improvement from SupCom)

There's other things I'm probably forgetting. It's a pretty heavy contrast to games like Starcraft where they would never allow you such controls because it detracts from the 'skill ceiling' micromanagement, PA uses those tools to _expand the scope of the conflict_ and increases the skill ceiling that way (not to say that one is necessarily superior to the other, but I'll admit to having my preferences). You'll still frequently find yourself taxed for attention as things heat up, but not over minutiae like timing larval injects or individually queuing SCV production on the clock. Instead your attention's split across your planet and bases, orbital, other planets, and keeping your resources / production in check.

Personally I'm most hoping to see the further evolutions of picture-in-picture. The ability to keep tabs on all your other areas of your match is probably going to be the biggest game changer in how you manage things. As it stands, they've already shown you can use to PIP window to control and issue orders as if it were the main screen.

SupCom had something similar as well, but it was rarely used by most (very system intensive and largely unnecessary since Strategic Zoom took in the whole view). Here it's way more valuable since you're not just on one planet, but potentially several, and even zoomed out you can't see everything at once.

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Tim Edwards's picture
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Does the PIP mode support multiple monitors?

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subedii's picture
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Not sure, only got the one :)

Although IIRC they've been talking a fair amount about multi-monitor support, so I presume that it will do if it doesn't right now. At the moment, PIP is still a bit raw in implementation.

Actually I literally just received an e-mail update that they're going to be talking over the features in a livestream on Thursday, might be the best place to find out.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/659943965/planetary-annihilation-a-next-generation-rts/posts/760302

And on a separate note: just to re-iterate a key point, a LOT of the game is still raw. Graphics, models, lighting, sound, music, those are all up for updating (even the unit roster isn't fully fleshed out yet. Obviously balance is shifting with every update). One thing they have said is that in this update they're going to (hopefully) finally be implementing the orchestral score.

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Tim Edwards's picture
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Man! Playing SupCom on many monitors is one of the great joys of PC gaming.

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subedii's picture
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Not all of us were super-rich games journalists with 17 gold and jewel encrusted monitors sitting atop our ivory carved desks. :)

I don't think my PC at the time could have managed it anyway, SupCom was a way system intensive game for its time.

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Kriptanik's picture
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I'm excited. I hope everyone else is excited.

As soon as they fix all the game breaking bugs I'll get this on early access for sure.

I've watched x2 30min+ gameplay videos on youtube, both ended in glitches. That's expected in an alpha and apart from that the game looks great!

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