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Total Annihilation Zero by Vohvelieläin
Total Annihilation Zero is a full-fledged modification of the classic strategy game Total Annihilation and aims to recreate the entire game to the maximum extent and quality that is currently possible. In addition to completely redesigned versions of the two factions from the original game, the Arm and the Core, TA Zero introduces a third faction, the Guardians of Kadesh. All three factions are stylistically and strategically unique and crafted to the highest standards that can be achieved within the Total Annihilation engine. The game is a work-in-progress with preview versions regularly released to the public as development milestones are reached. There's no telling what the final version will hold in store, but you can continue on to the Features section to learn more about what is currently available in TA Zero.
Introducing the all-new Arm, Core, and Guardians of Kadesh
Total Annihilation Zero features game-changing enhancements and additions to the standard Total Annihilation experience, an abundance of all-new content, and a commitment to high quality and polished execution. Almost everything from Total Annihilation has been removed and we're just getting started. Learn all about what's currently included in the game on this page and don't forget to check the news regularly to find out what's coming next.
Unique Factions and Quality Design
Three distinct factions: Each all-new faction in TA Zero has its own aesthetic style and strategic philosophy. Unlike Total Annihilation, there are no obvious counterparts between factions and there are no superfluous units. Every unit in TA Zero is designed to fulfill a unique and useful role. Tier 1 units are now complete and development of Tier 2 is underway, so there's a lot more to come.
Smart modeling: The Total Annihilation engine only allows for simple 3D models and is limited by primitive software rendering, making it difficult to find the right balance when it comes to modeling units. Overly complex models lose their detail in-game, but overly simple models look even worse. The original Total Annihilation unit models were blocky and inconsistent, but TA Zero units have just the right amount of detail and the most consistent and uniform modeling yet seen in the Total Annihilation world.
Beautiful textures: TA Zero features a hand-crafted set of over a thousand new textures designed hand-in-hand with the 3D models. The textures are created specifically to look good in-game and make the models appear as detailed as possible in the Total Annihilation engine.
Advanced animation: Total Annihilation units were poorly jointed, simplistically and inconsistently animated, and riddled with scripting bugs. TA Zero units are carefully modeled and jointed to allow for much more well-articulated and natural animation. Weapons can aim on all axes without clipping and units feature convincing movement and all manner of animated parts. Vehicle tires and tracks roll and turn, attack bikes lean through corners and do wheelies, afterburners engage and disengage automatically, ships lean when they turn at high speed, hoverjet aircraft tilt and turn realistically as their multiple thrusters dynamically rotate and adjust, units get rocked by recoil and projectile strikes, recharging shields dazzle as they light up at the point of impact, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Alien sounds: The Guardians of Kadesh feature a whole new set of appropriate sound effects that perfectly fit into the Total Annihilation soundscape and, of course, Arm and Core get some new sounds as well. Certain annoying and unnecessary unit acknowledgement sound effects have also been disabled and will no longer cover up the sounds of battle.
New Visual Effects
Revamped explosions: All-new explosions have been created not once, but twice, for TA Zero. While the very first alpha release featured a full set of custom explosions, they've since been remade again. TA Zero explosions are now more varied and realistic than ever and animate very smoothly thanks to their high frame count.
Detailed destruction: Fire and smoke effects have been overhauled and weapon flares are far more detailed and unobtrusive than in Total Annihilation. The special effects limit has been increased by more than 50x allowing for detailed damage effects on every unit. Units leave sooty corpses and shatter into identifiable pieces when they are destroyed while aircraft wreckage spirals out of the sky and crashes to the ground. Units now also send charred chunks of metal "giblets" flying whenever they explode.
Hovercraft shadows: For some reason, hovercraft do not cast shadows on land in Total Annihilation, resulting in a jarring visual defect, especially noticeable when your hovercraft are surrounded by units that do cast shadows. Because of the much higher prominence of hovercraft in TA Zero this issue is especially problematic, but fortunately a workaround has been implemented that allows hovercraft to cast shadows just like other units.
Improved weather effects: TA Zero includes many map effects, including fiery rain, hail storms, meteor strikes, earthquakes, acid rain, and lightning storms. Some of these aren't even used yet, but the effects have been made from scratch and the old Total Annihilation weather effects have been removed.
Unwavering pathfinding: Possibly the single biggest gameplay problem in Total Annihilation was that the pathfinding broke down as more and more units were created, quickly making the game almost unplayable once there were more than a few hundred moving units in a match. TA Zero completely fixes this issue by dramatically increasing the number of pathfinding cycles by 50x, making it so that pathfinding does not degrade at all even when moving a group of thousands of units. A large-scale group move that would take over ten minutes with Total Annihilation's pathfinding takes less than two minutes in TA Zero.
Army of units: Total Annihilation supported an impressive maximum of 500 units per player, but TA Zero triples that number to 1,500 units per player, allowing for truly large-scale warfare with up to 15,000 units in a 10 player game.
Smooth soundscape: Total Annihilation only supported a maximum of 8 simultaneous sound effects, resulting in sounds constantly being cut off during the heat of battle. TA Zero supports unlimited simultaneous sound effects so no sound ever gets jarringly cut short.
Polished Game Design
Manageable economy: TA Zero makes full and proper use of Total Annihilation's production rate based resource structure with a logical, consistent, and balanced economic system that is easy to learn and manage. Production rates, usage rates, and total costs make sense across the board and allow you to easily plan ahead and make the right decisions without guesswork or frustration.
Balanced gameplay: All units are carefully balanced according to sound design principles and extensive, ongoing testing. Everyone is encouraged to participate in multiplayer matches and provide balancing feedback on the forum.
Comprehensive category tags: TA Zero takes unit AI to a level far beyond Total Annihilation or any other mod with an exhaustive set of category tags that lay the foundation for automated unit behavior. Babysitting and micromanagement are kept to a minimum because your units are set up to make the most of their abilities. Assault frigates will never fire their siege rockets at mobile targets when there are buildings in range. Anti-aircraft units will stop firing at ground units and target aircraft the instant they appear. Ground combat units will stop firing at aircraft they can hardly hope to hit the instant enemy ground units appear. Fighters will go after bombers before anything else. Weapons designed to shred light units will aim at light units and heavy weapons will target the big guys. Every unit is classified in every relevant way and every combat unit has multiple levels of carefully chosen target priority. This level of customization is unprecedented in the TA world, but the end result is definitely worth the effort.
Satisfying opponents: The opponent AI is one of the most limited aspects of the TA engine and often neglected by mods, but TA Zero goes out of its way and exploits every possible trick, almost all of them new, to push the game as far as it can go and provide a challenging AI. All relevant aspects of the game have been custom tailored to properly suit both human and AI players, resulting in the best AI experience possible in Total Annihilation.
Custom maps: Due to its radically different balance structure, TA Zero plays best on maps that were designed with the game mechanics in mind, so custom maps will be periodically released to enhance the gameplay experience. In addition, the original Total Annihilation maps will eventually be reconfigured to match TA Zero gameplay.
Directable factory build plates: TA Zero factories feature multiple exit directions and a directable build plate to ensure that your units are never trapped and can get where they need to go even in a packed base. Simply select a factory that's not currently building a unit, press the "Direct" button, and click on the map in the direction you want the factory to point. The build plate will automatically snap to the nearest valid exit direction.
Melee combat: The Guardians of Kadesh faction features authentic and effortlessly manageable melee units that will even automatically rush into flawless close combat, a first for Total Annihilation.
Functional shields: Most GoK units (and some upcoming Core units) have fully-functional shields that flash as they absorb damage and are governed by a real-time recharge system with visible shield status indicators. Shielded units offer a whole new level of tactics for players beyond what was available in Total Annihilation.
Varied approaches: Each faction has access to a diverse assortment of signature weapons and abilities. The three sides fulfill various roles with different units and weapons and even at different stages of the match, and of course there are some things that are exclusive to each faction.
Engine-bending weapons and abilities: TA Zero pushes the TA engine to new heights with characteristics previously thought impossible and with even familiar weapons working in new and improved ways. Anti-aircraft missiles are able to distinguish between ground and air targets and fire at air units with unyielding priority and longer range, gunships are unable to target other aircraft, bombers use new glitch-free bombs that can't be exploited, torpedo launchers cannot be force-fired at hovercraft, there are new underwater-only weapons that cannot be fired at surface ships, snipers are deadlier when they are standing still, recon units can follow enemies, and multi-weapon units are carefully designed to allow for all of their weapons to fire effectively, to give a few examples. Some of these are firsts in Total Annihilation and all of them help take gameplay to a new level.
Expanded sidebar: Total Annihilation had a tiny sidebar that separated unit and build orders onto different pages and only provided six unit slots per build page, requiring a lot of clicking and toggling to get things done. Thanks to today's high resolution monitors and televisions, TA Zero is able to provide an expanded sidebar that consolidates unit and build orders into a single panel and provides twelve unit slots per build page, allowing you to focus on the battle rather than fumble through the menus.
Distinctive interface graphics: Each faction has unique interface panels, buttons, and unitpic backgrounds that match their aesthetic style. Beyond that, some individual units have custom interface commands tailored to their special abilities.
Helpful range rings: All armed structures feature minimap range rings so you know exactly what kind of coverage you are getting. This also makes it much easier to make use of your radar coverage: simply select a turret and if the enemy radar blips are within the range ring then you're ready to fire. There's no need to waste time guessing.
Shared line of sight: You can see what your allies are doing and they can see you. This function is automatically enabled for both human and computer allies. Human allies in multiplayer matches can also share their camera positions to each other's minimaps by typing ".sharemappos" in the in-game chat box.
Quick building: The "X" button can be used to build in lines or around existing units, making it a breeze to perform tasks such as setting up walls, laying mines, or constructing blocks of resource buildings. Simply hold X and drag with the mouse button to build a line or hold X and click over an existing unit to surround it. You can even adjust the spacing by rolling the mouse wheel as you hold X and, as always, you can queue up orders by holding the "Shift" button.
Enhanced mouse controls: You can now double-click a unit to select all units of the same type that are currently on screen, just like in other RTS games. You can also filter the units that are selected when you drag a selection box. Holding "W" while dragging a selection box will only select mobile units with weapons, holding "B" will only select builders, and holding "Y" will only select factories.
Extensive hotkeys: TA Zero includes a comprehensive set of hotkeys so you can select exactly what you need as quickly as possible. You can view the hotkey list at any time in-game by pressing "Help" on the pause menu. In addition to standard selection hotkeys, TA Zero features hotkeys to cycle through idle builders and even idle factories, another first for Total Annihilation.
Improved communication: You can now communicate with allies with various map markers such as text boxes, dots, and drawings. Hold "\" and use the left and right mouse buttons to draw and erase on the map. Hold "\" and doubleclick with the left mouse button to place a text box or click the middle mouse button to leave a dot marker. You can also press "Ctrl+\" to jump to the newest ally marker.
The following images show some of the new T2 units and buildings.
This is the big one! Sixteen years to the week that Total Annihilation was originally released, version Alpha 4 of Total Annihilation Zero arrives not only with T2 ground units but also with a brand new feature called the megamap, an interactive fullscreen map that lets you build and fight better than ever before. Furthermore, TA Zero has now fully adopted the TA Unofficial Patch framework and has moved to a new installer system. We have also decide to integrate the TA Zero Map Pack into the mod itself, so now all TA Zero maps are included with the main download.
So what else is new in Alpha 4?
First of all, there's a host of game adjustments and fixes as usual, which you can read about in detail at the Version History page. Secondly, because TA Zero is now fully based on the TA Unofficial Patch (it was partially based on it before), it now benefits from all of the same great features introduced by the Patch, which you can also read about in the version history as well as at the updated Features page.
Playing online is now easier than ever thanks to hassle-free multiplayer support via GameRanger. Simply set the "…\TA Zero\TotalA.exe" file as your Total Annihilation location in GameRanger's options menu and you're ready to play. Not only that, but TA Zero now automatically records all multiplayer games, which you can rewatch anytime using the included Replayer. Check out the Features page for more information.
A new duelling map called Brimstone Steppes has been added to the growing repoirtaire of TA Zero maps. Layed out in an east-to-west format and featuring multiple routes and spectacular rains of fire, this is a perfect battleground for short, but intense matches. Click the thumbnail below to view a larger sized preview.
Are you ready for battle?
Download TA Zero Alpha 4 Here!
Don't forget to visit the official discussion thread.
Last but certainly not least, behold the megamap! Left is zoomed in, right is zoomed out. Cool, huh?
It has been discovered that the game might not launch when using certain graphics cards, usually AMD/ATI, (with any OS) or when using Windows 8 (with any graphics card). We will release an update when the issue is fully resolved. Until then, you can install this preliminary hotfix (unzip to your TA Zero folder) and post your results. This fix should allow your game to launch, but you may encounter unsatisfactory frame rates or hangs on the megamap (if it hangs, just roll the mouse wheel up and wait for the game to zoom back in). However, the regular game view should be fine. Please DO NOT install this fix if you are not affected by the game launch crashing issue (most Nvidia users on Windows 7 or earlier) as it may break your game.