The Legacy of Chris Taylor: From Total Annihilation to Kanoogi

Chris Taylor stands as a towering figure in the world of game design, renowned for his innovative contributions to the real-time strategy genre. Over his career, Taylor has continually pushed the boundaries of game design, creating some of the most revolutionary and influential titles in the industry. Let’s explores the history of his career, focusing on his seminal works: Total Annihilation, the Supreme Commander series, and his latest venture with Kanoogi.

Early Career and the Birth of Total Annihilation

Chris Taylor began his journey in the video game industry in the late 1980s, working for companies like Distinctive Software and Electronic Arts. His early career involved contributions to various titles, but it wasn’t until 1997 that he made a significant impact with the release of Total Annihilation.

Total Annihilation (1997)

Total Annihilation was a groundbreaking RTS game released by Cavedog Entertainment, a division of Humongous Entertainment. Taylor served as the lead designer and project director, bringing a fresh perspective to the genre. The game introduced several innovative features that set it apart from its contemporaries:

  • Complex Unit Design: The game featured a wide array of units, each with unique abilities and purposes. This diversity allowed for complex strategic planning and dynamic gameplay.
  • 3D Terrain and Line of Sight: Total Annihilation utilized a true 3D terrain system, affecting gameplay by considering line of sight and elevation, which was revolutionary for its time.
  • Advanced AI: The game’s AI was sophisticated, capable of challenging even experienced players and providing a robust single-player experience.

The critical and commercial success of Total Annihilation cemented Taylor’s reputation as a visionary game designer. It won numerous awards, including Best Strategy Game from several gaming publications, and is often cited as one of the greatest RTS games of all time.

Supreme Commander Series: Elevating the RTS Genre

Following the success of Total Annihilation, Taylor founded his own game development studio, Gas Powered Games, in 1998. His next major project would build upon the foundations laid by Total Annihilation and push the RTS genre to new heights.

Supreme Commander (2007)

Released in 2007, Supreme Commander was Taylor’s ambitious vision for the future of RTS games. It expanded on the core principles of Total Annihilation while introducing new concepts and technological advancements:

  • Strategic Zoom: One of the most innovative features of Supreme Commander was the strategic zoom, allowing players to seamlessly zoom out to view the entire battlefield or zoom in to focus on specific units. This feature provided unprecedented control and situational awareness.
  • Massive Scale: The game featured large-scale battles with hundreds of units on screen simultaneously. This scale required players to think strategically and manage resources efficiently.
  • Complex Economy: Supreme Commander introduced a more intricate economic system, where players had to balance the production of resources with the construction of units and buildings.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance (2007)

Later in 2007, Gas Powered Games released a standalone expansion pack, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. This expansion added new units, maps, and a new faction, further enriching the gameplay experience. It also addressed some of the technical issues of the original game, making it a more polished and enjoyable experience.

Forged Alliance Forever

Forged Alliance Forever (FAF) is a fan-made and managed multiplayer client that has significantly extended the life and community of Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. Launched shortly after the release of the original game, FAF has become the definitive platform for competitive and casual multiplayer matches. It features regular updates, balance changes, and a host of community-created content. The dedication of the FAF community has ensured that Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance remains relevant and enjoyable more than a decade after its initial release.

Supreme Commander 2 (2010)

In 2010, Supreme Commander 2 was released, aiming to refine and simplify some of the complex mechanics of its predecessor to appeal to a broader audience. While it retained the core elements that made the series popular, it introduced a more streamlined economy system and improved graphics. Despite some mixed reactions from hardcore fans, Supreme Commander 2 was generally well-received and contributed to Taylor’s legacy as a leading game designer.

The Transition to Kanoogi and Intergalactic Space Empire

After the success of the Supreme Commander series, Taylor continued to innovate and explore new opportunities within the gaming industry. In 2013, Gas Powered Games was acquired by, and Taylor remained with the company for a brief period before deciding to embark on a new venture.

The Founding of Kanoogi

In 2018, Taylor founded Kanoogi, a new game development studio with a focus on delivering high-quality gaming experiences. With Kanoogi, Taylor aimed to leverage advances in technology and online connectivity to create innovative games that would resonate with both longtime fans and new audiences.

Intergalactic Space Empire

Kanoogi’s first major project, initially referred to as Project Wargame and later officially titled Intergalactic Space Empire, is an ambitious attempt to redefine the RTS genre once again. Several key aspects of the project include:

  • Cloud Gaming: Intergalactic Space Empire is being developed with cloud gaming in mind, aiming to take advantage of the increased accessibility and computational power provided by cloud platforms.
  • User-Generated Content: Taylor has expressed a desire to empower players to create and share their own content, fostering a vibrant and creative community around the game.
  • Cross-Platform Play: Recognizing the importance of inclusivity, Intergalactic Space Empire aims to support cross-platform play, allowing players on different devices to compete and cooperate seamlessly.

In interviews, Taylor has emphasized his commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the RTS genre, much as he did with Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. He believes that Intergalactic Space Empire will not only appeal to hardcore RTS fans but also attract a new generation of players.

Sanctuary: Shattered Sun – The Spiritual Successor

Taylor has heaped praise another promising RTS project called Sanctuary: Shattered Sun. Described by Taylor in interviews as the ‘spiritual successor’ to Supreme Commander, this game aims to capture the essence of what made the original series so ground-breaking while introducing new elements and innovations. Developed by a passionate team of RTS veterans, Sanctuary: Shattered Sun promises large-scale battles, deep strategic gameplay, and a focus on community-driven content.

Read our deep dive into Sanctuary: Shattered Sun here.

The Influence and Legacy

Chris Taylor’s impact on the gaming industry extends far beyond the individual titles he has created. His innovative approach to game design and his willingness to experiment with new ideas have left an indelible mark on the RTS genre. Some key aspects of his influence include:

  • Innovation in Game Mechanics: Taylor’s games are known for introducing groundbreaking mechanics that challenge players to think strategically and adapt to new challenges.
  • Focus on Scale and Complexity: Taylor’s willingness to embrace complexity and scale has resulted in some of the most epic and memorable gaming experiences in the RTS genre.
  • Community Engagement: Throughout his career, Taylor has prioritized engaging with the gaming community, listening to feedback, and iterating on his designs to create better experiences for players.

As he embarks on his latest venture with Kanoogi, it is clear that Taylor remains as passionate and dedicated to game design as ever. His commitment to innovation and excellence continues to inspire both players and fellow developers.


Chris Taylor’s journey through the gaming industry is a testament to his enduring vision and creativity. From the revolutionary Total Annihilation to the epic Supreme Commander series, and now with his ambitious plans for Kanoogi and Intergalactic Space Empire, Taylor has consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible in game design. As we look forward to the release of Intergalactic Space Empire and Sanctuary: Shattered Sun, it is clear that Taylor’s legacy will continue to shape the future of the RTS genre for years to come.

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