Total Annihilation:Twilight

Welcome to Total Annihilation: Twilight

Features of Total Annihilation: Twilight

Why should you play Total Annihilation: Twilight? The list below, while certainly not comprehensive, details some of the more notable features.

Original Total Annihilation Feel

Naturally, there have been many changes to existing units and many new units added into TA:T, but I have tried very hard to keep the same OTA "feel". First of all, you won't be finding World War II bombers or Starcraft units in TA:T. The units are kept within the TA universe and feel. What this means is that most units will work very closely to the way you expect them to.  For example, the Arm Peewee may have had some adjustments in cost, but it doesn't fire nuclear rockets, or fly, or have the range to hit things from a screen away. It is still the standard Arm Infantry KBot. Where there are more noticeable differences, the changes were usually done for the sake of balance; helping a unit to be worth building and not so useless (If a unit was really crummy and never used before, isn't it a good thing for it to be changed and now viable?). Some changes, such as making Arm Defenders and Core Pulverizers Anti-Air only (cannot fire on ground units), were done for the same reasons other mods, such as Uberhack, may have done them; with solid tracking and long range on the missile towers, lasers were rarely used.

Well Balanced Units, Structures, and Overall Gameplay

This is probably the biggest reason to play TA:T. I have spent almost two years working and playing on this mod, and more before that playing OTA, Absolute Annihilation (From version 4.0 to 6.0), Uberhack, and other mods. It has been a long struggle, and it isn't over, but I have really worked hard to make sure that all of the units are useful, and that none are too powerful to the exclusion of other units. While I try and make TA:T look nice, the solidity of TA:T's balance and gameplay is my number one priority. If it's ever a choice between looking good, or playing well, gameplay wins (Although ideally I try to make it look good *and* play well!).

I use flexible algorithms and ratios to adjust the stats for each unit, so if Unit X and Unit Y cost the same amount of metal and energy, you won't see Unit X having 3 times as much armor as Unit Y unless Unit Y has much better speed, range, firepower, or something else. You get what you pay for. Naturally, some of the more basic units like the Arm Peewee or Core A.K. will be "more powerful" in your average situation than a highly specialized unit, but that's because it *is* specialized. This doesn't mean that all units will do equally well against all other units. Artillery will be great against static defenses, but will fall quickly to attacks up close from skirmish units, for example. You are expected to use your units strategically.

Of course, I realize that balance is somewhat subjective (And discussion, suggestions, questions, etc, are very much encouraged on the TA:T Forums), but every unit should have a solid role, and overlap with other units should be small. For instance, I *didn't* want to have two (or three, or four, or...) Arm units that were almost the same, except for a 5-10% difference in armor and speed. In those situations, either one unit ends up always being a better unit in all situations, and so always gets built, leaving the other one(s) unused, or they all feel about the same with any difference too small to be very noticeable, in which case why have have multiple units that are virtually the same? This seems to be a trap that some unit packs have fallen into, with "more" units replacing thought for "significantly different and viable" units.

Great Strategic and Tactical Depth

TA:T, in spite of, or perhaps because of, all of the balancing and thought that has gone into it, has a great amount of strategic and tactical depth available to the player. Players of Total Annihilation should already be familiar with this compared to many other games, but TA:T makes it even more pronounced. TA:T is very much about giving the player strategic and tactical choices.

For example, compare the Core Exploiter with the Core Metal Extractor. The Metal Extractor is relatively cheap, but also fairly easy to destroy. The Exploiter, on the other hand, costs substantially more, and only extracts metal at 90% of the rate a normal Extractor would, but it also has more armor and is armed with a laser, allowing it to defend itself. However, it also draws more power to operate than a regular Extractor. This means that the player can choose to build normal Extractors, realizing that while cheaper, they are much more likely to be raided and therefore require rebuilding, or they can build Exploiters, which are likely to be more self-sufficient, but also bring in a bit less metal, cost more upfront, and require more energy to keep going. Neither choice is right or wrong, and they both have different trade-offs and strengths and weaknesses depending on your playing style, and that of your opponent.

TA:T is filled with examples like that, where you have several options and reasons to use any of the choices, as well as reasons not to. Making sure that there was always another way (or three) of handling the situation ensures that there is a wonderful amount of replayability to the game. When watching replays of my games against other people, I am constantly thinking "Oh, I could have done that!" or "What if I had tried that, instead?". Each game should be filled to the brim with potential, with different ways it could go every time.

Additionally, resources are valuable. Of course, everyone knows that, but as part of the balancing act I tried to make resources count for something, instead of something you could just set up for the first 15 minutes and then ignore. Most of the time metal extractors will be more efficient than using metal makers. This encourages people to capture and hold territory, especially if it contains many metal deposits. You can use Fusion Power Plants to power Moho Metal Makers while holed up in your small corner, of course, but don't expect to have the upper hand, resource wise, against an opponent who has focused on holding territory and building metal extractors. It's about choices, as stated before. It's viable to use metal makers, but unless the map is very energy heavy and light on metal, there will be disadvantages. Yes, you won't have to expand and hold areas. However, you also won't be bringing in as much metal as someone who is. On the other hand, despite being less efficient, you can build energy production and metal makers anywhere you want, and keep your base small and easy to defend, whilst the other player can only build extractors where there is metal to be found, and must defend his holdings, or risk being raided heavily before his expansions have had a chance to pay for themselves.

Hundreds of Carefully Balanced New Units to Fill Strategic/Tactical Roles

This overlaps with the depth and balance sections above, but *many* new units have been added in. As mentioned, the idea was to give every unit a solid role (or roles) and reasons for being built. Some of these may be somewhat similar to other OTA units, but much stronger, faster, or with different abilities or costs (Remember, we don't want very similar units without solid reasons to choose one or the other, depending on the situation, desired goal, and other trade-offs). Others fill tactical/strategic niches that were left open previously, such as level 1 light gunships, or combat engineers, or cloaking spy cameras, or a Fortification Turret (see Fortification Turret further below) that can build fortifications and mines at a distance, or the Amphibious Complex, a completely underwater factory that can build amphibious/underwater units and support an entire base and economy under the water, and so on.

There are currently 510 types of units/structures in TA:T, which is just about at the limit of the TA engine. Despite that number, as mentioned previously, much effort to make all units very worthwhile, but not too useful or too useless, has been and continues to be made. That number does include some duplication for the multi-directional factories (see Multi-directional Factories further below), and there are some units I could consolidate to free up room for more units (Such as merging the normal EMP mine and the Naval EMP mine, for instance), but for now I continue to tweak the units we have. If you have been playing original Total Annihilation previously, you are very likely to experience numerous incidents of "That is *just* the kind of unit I need for what I was planning!" or "I've always wanted to do X, but couldn't pull it off with the existing units. Now I can...". The new units and the adjusted old ones should blend right in and feel natural, as though they were units and tweaks that Cavedog would have released themselves, eventually.

Improved Models

Some of the units have had their models replaced with higher-polygon versions (Such as the Evolva models). This has only been done on some units, and was done to improve their visual appeal and reduce "blockiness" without changing their basic "look". The Core Krogoth is probably one of the units that has gained the most here, changed from looking like the Commander's big brother to a towering and fearsome monstrosity.

Newly Added Sounds

In keeping with the TA feel mentioned above, virtually none of the OTA sounds have been removed. What I have done is try and add a greater variety of sounds to the game. In many cases, the sounds already existed in the TA data files, but were for some reason not being used anywhere. For example, where previously you had most lasers making the same firing sound, I let one laser keep that sound, and used existing but unused sounds already found within the TA data files for the rest. Where you had the very large Core Sumo KBot making the same KBot sounds as the relatively small Core Storm, now they sound suitably different, as befits their large size and speed difference. Overall there should be all of the old familiar sounds you love, with many new ones added in to really flesh out the soundscape while playing.

Errors and Bugs Fixed

Many of the bugs that were in the original TA, and even some of the mods for it, have been fixed where possible, and otherwise reduced as much as could be. This includes many of the errors found and fixed in Switeck's TA Bugfix, for example. Some of the bugs fixed were very small errors, such as the "turning off" sound for the Core level 1 Radar Tower sounding the same as the Arm Radar Tower, despite the fact that their "turning on" sounds are very different. Many of these will not be noticeable by their absence, and that's just fine by me. Details count.

Single Player Campaigns Enabled

Total Annihilation: Twilight allows for the single player campaigns (The original TA campaign, Core Contingency, etc) to be played through, with access to all of the additional TA:T units. I haven't done anything to ensure the balance on the single player missions, but in playing through some of them, I found that since the AI will sometimes build the new units in a mission, and the "original" units in each mission are already balanced against the new ones, the missions are still play reasonably solidly. Some will be easier than in OTA, some will be relatively unchanged, and some will be substantially more difficult.

Balanced Expressly for Multiplayer

This is not to say that the game isn't balanced for single-player. Far from it. However, my primary goal throughout all the development on Total Annihilation: Twilight has been to focus on making the multi-player experience the best and balanced that I can. I use feedback from multiplayer games, not skirmish games, for balancing. The reason for this is that players can use units in new and entirely unexpected ways that an AI could never hope to match. Multiplayer TA is so much better and a much more satsifying experience than skirmishing against the AI. Skirmishing or playing single player missions can be fun, but the real meat of TA, and therefore of TA:T, is multiplayer.

AI Built From the Ground Up

While it is still in the early stages, the AI for TA:T has been designed from the bottom up to be very dangerous, but also to use more of the types and combinations of units you would expect from a human player. The AI in the Total Annihilation engine is fairly limited, but you should be seeing more intelligent groupings of expected units, instead of the "Build one or two of *every unit in the game*!" behavior that some AIs seem to produce.

Customizable AI Profiles

Set the AI to use only certain categories of units. Do you want to fight a skirmish where the AI can only use vehicles? How about only level 1 units? Or perhaps you want to play against an AI that will only build and attack with aircraft? Maybe you want to play against an AI who specializes in level 1 KBots only? You can do all of these and more, all with only a few keystrokes to set whichever profile as the active one you want to. This can help set up the kind of battle you want to fight or practice on, custom-made to the kind of skirmish you feel like playing.

Multi-Directional Factories

You can build your factories so units exit facing to the north, or to the east or west, as well as south. This can really help with making sure your units exit the way you want them to, and avoid their getting caught up on the terrain or other map features.

Improved Loading and Unloading for Transports

Transports that previously loaded with the long metal arm that slowly reached over, grabbed the unit, and then slowly moved back over to put them inside now simply have units vanish and appear inside the transport, quickly. Unloading can be done all at once, meaning you can click the unload button, and click a spot to unload close to the transport, and all of your units will unload quickly in a nice formation at that spot. This makes using transports less cumbersome and makes them more likely to be used and useful.

Nano Turrets and Fortification Turrets

Nano Turrets allow you to build a structure that can assist with building or repair units, just like a construction unit or the Commander can, but do so from a large distance (About a screen length). Since they do not move, they are excellent for setting several to guard a factory and dramatically increase the rate at which you produce new units (And at which you use up metal and energy!). They can also be set to patrol (Even though they don't move), and they will automatically repair or assist any units in range, allowing you to rapidly repair a base or group of units without tediously clicking on each unit separately.

Fortification Turrets act like Nano Turrets, but can also build a small selection of fortifications from the same distance, including Dragon's Teeth, Light Laser Towers, Missile Towers, and mines. Although more expensive, these can allow you to quickly fortify an outpost and hopefully allow it to survive until heavier defenses are built or reinforcements can arrive.

Larger, More "Naval" Feel to Ships

The ships in your naval forces now feel heavier and more like an actual ship (And are correspondingly pricer than most other units at the same tech level). No longer will three or four Peewees or Flash tanks be able to easily take on a Destroyer. A battleship suddenly showing up on your coast should be a cause for serious alarm if you have not properly prepared. Of course, don't expect that battleship to maneuver nimbly and easily. Also, as powerful as ships are, they are naturally restricted to the water, and therefore contain their own instrinsic limitations. Still, just as you wouldn't allow an enemy to focus heavily on aircraft without expecting him to gain a significant advantage, allowing an opponent to gain naval superiority on a map that has a sizeable amount of water may be a mistake with fatal results.

Devastating Nuclear Weapons Worthy of the Name

Nuclear weapons are not cheap to deploy in Total Annihilation: Twilight, and they can be countered with anti-missile defense systems, but they have been designed to have more of the scale you might expect of nuclear weapons. Tactical nuclear missiles are somewhat short ranged, and are designed to take out an incoming enemy task force, a building or small cluster of buildings or defenses; in other words, a more "tactical" target. Strategic nuclear missiles have essentially unlimited range, and are designed for being used on a more strategic scale, such as obliterating a full-fledged incoming enemy attack, or wiping out an entire secondary base. They are not meant to be carefully aimed (Although they can be) so much as used on a general spot (That patch of dots on the mini-map *there*!). In the later, more strategic periods of a game, where massive armies of hundreds of units are used, and bases may cover large sections of the map, the strategic nuke allows you attack areas on a strategic level, albeit for a strategic cost. Also, there is the matter of strategic *targets*, such as large mechs...

New Experimental Gantry Units On Both Sides

In Total Annihilation: Twilight, both Arm and Core have an Experimental Gantry they can build to enable them to construct larger scale units, such as huge mechs, including the well-known Core Krogoth and the Arm Orcone as well as other relatively cheaper units (which are still huge in comparison to normal units). The smaller mechs can do a sizable amount of damage to even multiple advanced tech units, and the Arm Orcone and Core Krogoth can cut terrifying swaths of devastation which must be seen to fully appreciate. Of course, the cost of these units is staggering, and attempting to begin construction on one without an economy able to support it can quickly grind everything to a halt, leaving you vulnerable to an enemy with less titanic, but perhaps more practical, methods of destroying you.