|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux|
|Release||September 5, 2014|
Planetary Annihilation is a real-time strategy PC game developed by Uber Entertainment, whose staff include several industry veterans who worked on Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. An expansion pack for Planetary Annihilation has been released which adds powerful Titan-class units, called Planetary Annihilation: Titans.
In interviews with PC Gamer and Joystiq, lead game developer Jon Mavor commented that the game's complexity and playtime can vary, from half-hour, 2-player battles to lengthy matches with potentially 40-players. However, at release 40-player matches were not yet available. Planetary Annihilation features a planet-based map system with different types of planets and asteroid like moons. Players will be able to conquer other planets and even entire systems on maps said to include "hundreds of worlds", through the Galactic War. These planets are dynamic in that they can be 'annihilated' using other planets or catalysts, a major focus for Uber Entertainment. The game's creators stated that Planetary Annihilation will resemble something of the 1997 real-time strategy Total Annihilation as its focus is more towards 'macro' gameplay as opposed to 'micro' gameplay. In development updates, Mavor has commented that "a million" in-game units is a design goal of the development team. The player(s) lose when their last commander is destroyed.
Jon Mavor wrote the graphics engine for Total Annihilation. He was also the lead programmer on Supreme Commander. The game's art style was designed by Steve Thompson, who previously worked on the art for Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. Voice actor John Patrick Lowrie, who did all the narrations for Total Annihilation, did the narrations for Planetary Annihilation as well.
According to Mavor, while game visualization began in May 2012, three months prior to the game's public announcement, the game concept itself had been in development for approximately three years by that time. Additionally, the server and game engine technologies that would underpin the game had been in development for several years prior to the game's public reveal, with some of the server technology having already made its way into PlayFab, Uber Entertainment's back-end server network.
Rather than pursue investor funding, Planetary Annihilation's developer Uber Entertainment chose to use the crowdfunding site Kickstarter for their financial backing. They revealed the game to the public on August 15, 2012, with their Kickstarter funding goal set at $900,000. The concept video used for the pledge campaign took approximately three months to go from initial pencil-and-paper designs to final animation.
As the campaign began, pledges came in quickly, reaching $450,000 by the fifth day of the campaign. On August 22, Uber Entertainment announced the first set of "stretch goals" for the Kickstarter campaign, that is, additional features for the game that would be included or "unlocked" by exceeding the funding goal. As the campaign progressed, additional goals were revealed, with the goals eventually including naval units and water planets at $1.1 million, gas giants and orbiting platforms at $1.3 million, lava and metal planets at $1.5 million, a "Galactic War" feature at $1.8 million, a full orchestral score at $2 million, and a behind-the-scenes documentary if the pledges should surpass $2.1 million.
By the fifteenth day of the Kickstarter campaign, Planetary Annihilation reached its funding goal of $900,000, and by the campaign's conclusion on September 14, 2012, Planetary Annihilation had raised approximately $2,228,000 via Kickstarter and an additional $101,000 via PayPal. As a result, all stretch goals were achieved.
Kickstarter featured Planetary Annihilation as the 11th Kickstarter project to have raised over a million dollars, using it to highlight the successes that games had been enjoying on the site.
The Beta version of the game was released on September 26, 2013, and it was later opened up to all initial Kickstarter backers on November 19, 2013. On December 6, 2013, the final release date was postponed, with the game expected "to be feature-complete in early 2014".
Planetary Annihilation: Titans, an updated version of the game was released on August 18, 2015. It adds 21 units to the game, including five titan class units. It also adds multi-level terrain, a bounty mode, and an improved tutorial for the single-player.
Planetary Annihilation received a mixed reception upon release. The game was praised for its ambitious concept, but criticized for playability and overall incompleteness. Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Brendan Caldwell writes, "Planetary Annihilation is a slick, modernised RTS, engineered from the ground up to appeal to the fast-paced, competitive, hotkey-loving esports crowd." PC Gamer's Emanuel Maiberg, experiencing hard to learn gameplay unaided by proper tutorials and disrupted by technical issues, states "I know there's a great, massive RTS beneath all these issues. I've seen glimpses of it when everything works correctly, but at the moment I can't recommend Planetary Annihilation without a warning that it's bound to disappoint and frustrate, even if you do teach yourself to play it." IGN's Rob Zacny summarizes, "A cool idea about robot armies battling across an entire solar system breaks apart when the realities of controlling multiple worlds at the same time set in."
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