When I get to talking about RTS games with either fans or other people in the industry they often ask me what my favorite RTS is. Now the first one that I put any real time into was the original C&C which was just a genius of a game. But C&C suffered from the same issue as Warcraft and it's successors. That issue is simply that the interface is designed to be part of the game experience. Micro play and control of individual units is commonplace in these games and the emphasis is more on tactics that huge armies. Limitations on numbers of units selected create a command and control scaling problem. I've heard designers of these games talk about these issues and most of them consider the UI to be part of the game itself. They want to limit what the players strategic options are by making the UI more difficult to use in some cases.
To me this is the fundamental difference between games like TA and SupCom and most other RTS games. The philosophy is to make the interface as powerful as possible so that the player can concentrate on strategy, not on having to quickly hit buttons. Micro is discouraged by giving the player the ability to automate control as much as possible. Huge battles are only possible if you can actually control huge numbers of units. Things like factor queue automation, automatic orders when units are built, automatically ferrying carriers, sharing queues between factories and all kind of other things made it into SupCom. Shift-click in TA was the original simple version of all this stuff and by itself was pretty powerful.
Now that's not the only difference but I think this is one of the major things that differentiates these games from one another. I want huge fucking battles! Let me build 10,000 units and throw them against the enemies buzzsaw!
Anyway I've been thinking a lot about RTS stuff lately now that Super Monday Night Combat is out. I have some very specific ideas about what the next generation of RTS looks like that I would like to put into motion. More on that later...