Introduction

[MARS] Total Warfare is a real-time strategy game with an economy system that is meant to be simple, yet challenging. The battles, which tend to be remarkably large and intense, unfold on maps derived from real Martian satellite photos with associated topographical data. The ability to join and play any battle, including battles in progress, makes it easy business to get going. Battles can be created by anyone, and customized in a whole range of aspects. Players will fight versus tower-defense style AI or human teams in order to gain control over the richest parts of the red planet!

Login

Matchmaking is managed through Executive Lounge, which is the first part of Total Warfare you will encounter.

Assuming that you are using Steam, login is fully automatic. You can however login without Steam by using the CTRL key during launch.

After login, you will be greeted with a welcome chat message, that among other things will reveal your current permissions - FREE2PLAY, PLAYER or SUPERVISOR.

User interface

Executive Lounge is divided into three major sections. The Players list on the left shows all connected players. The Battles list in the middle shows all battles created by players. The Chat, combined with a menu, is on the right side. The three sections are always visible, but may be automatically resized to accomodate certain functions, e.g. those available via the menu buttons.

This very minimalistic UI does not make use of the right mouse button. Single-click is used for all UI elements, with one exception: When a list item selection is intended to invoke a command or close a dialog, a double-click is required. Some battles and other UI elements may be grayed, which indicates they are not accessible. It is usually possible to click or double-click the grayed element to find out more about the reason.

Player and battle status, and certain player permissions, can be figured out by looking at the icons displayed on the left-hand side of the lists. For example, crown icons mean the player has more or less elevated permissions, or that the battle was created by such a player.

Battle setup

After joining or creating a battle, the Battle panel is displayed below the Players and Battles lists. The leftmost part of the panel shows players that have joined the battle room, plus a gauge showing the estimated player skill (if known). On top of the gauge, any credit balance greater than zero will be displayed.

Starting from here is easy, and involves choosing Starting area and Map and possibly setting up AI and Options (such as AI difficulty). Note that there is an implied voting system employed throughout the battle configuration process. If multiple players are in the battleroom, a majority vote may be required to change settings. Free2Play players are also (currently) restricted from modifying any battles created by others. After the configuration is satisfactory, the Start/Fight button is the only thing that stands between you and some real carnage!

Battle startup

The game will stream some data from remote servers, and then begins loading. If the game is already in progress, the fast forwarding will begin to playback the battle from start in order to reach a position in time where the actual game play is currently happening. You will soon be greeted with the team/faction selection UI. There is currently only one faction available, known as The LL, and unless you want to spectate, we recommend the InstantPlay or Autoselect options for team selection.

  • InstantPlay is only selectable for team multiplayer battles, and will delay your team selection until the system can ensure that the selected team guarantees you will be allowed to play instantly. The downside is that you will not be able to see the action during the game fast forwarding phase, which takes time depending on how far the game has progressed.
  • Autoselect puts you on a team that is likely to allow you to play instantly, but there are no guarantees since the team balance might change during the fast forwarding phase.
  • Manual team selection is not recommended. If you select the "wrong" team (such as the team that appears to be strongest at the moment) there may be significant waiting time until you can actually play.
  • Choose Spectate to watch the battle. This choice is final - you will not be able to select a team later and can therefore not play until next battle.

Spawn

When you have finished fast forwarding and the team balance is such that you are allowed to start playing, the message Choose start position will appear at the center of the screen. Starting areas shown as rectangles on the map will also be displayed. The rectangle corresponding to your team is typically the one closest to the camera and colored the same as your player. Player colors, including your own color, can be seen in the list at the bottom right. Click inside the rectangle at the location where you would like to start. After a few seconds, your Executive Commander will be spawned and selected, and at the same time the camera will zoom in to show the starting location.

Note: If you are unlucky and don't survive for long, depending on team balance and settings it may be possible to respawn. You must either fight until all your mechs are dead, or press ESC two times in rapid succession and then click self-terminate to forcefully kill them.

Selection/command

The Executive Commander is a mech, and usually the most important one on the entire battlefield. Although the Total Warfare arsenal consists of submarines, ships, vehicles, hovercraft, robots, aircraft and various building structures, they are all referred to as "mechs". Mechs are selected using click/drag with the left mouse button, and a click with the right mouse button will deselect all. With multiple selected mechs, a drag with the right mouse button will draw a formation line of arbitrary shape, commonly used to position mechs at (or attack) points along the line. With one or more selected mechs, the command menu is shown to the left of the screen. Commands are issued by clicking the menu buttons, and depending on the command you may then need to click/drag on a location on the map or on an (allied/enemy) mech. If no command has been manually issued, a context sensitive default command will be used and the appearance of the mouse cursor changes accordingly. Note: If you ever played the classic RTS game Total Annihilation, many controls are similar - give it a try!

Camera/overview

Situational awareness is very important throughout the battle. The camera zoom should be set using the mouse wheel so that a fair share of the map can be seen - as much as possible without negatively affecting the ability to see mechs or issue commands accurately. Different tasks will in many cases require different zoom levels, and proper camera tilt angle (CTRL + mouse wheel) can be important for spotting incoming enemies early.

The Tab key depressed will enable the map overview mode that shows the entire battlefield with mechs displayed as icons. Although the command menu is hidden in this mode, commands can still be issued, and new commands can be selected via keyboard controls (see the Controls topic), without releasing the Tab key. If this is still not good enough, Backquote (the key above Tab) can be held to force hide/show the menu. The overview mode will also stick if Backquote is held while pressing Tab, and Tab can then be pressed to return to normal map view.

The overview is particularly useful when dealing with commands that are supposed to cover a large area (e.g. extract) or commands that may need to be issued far away (e.g. patrol) since it eliminates the need to zoom out manually. The overview also shows the current camera position and the direction it is pointed - the camera can be moved around the map by holding the middle mouse button.

Construction

To build mechs, first select a mech that has construction capability and click the desired build icon in the menu. If the constructor is a factory production should start immediately, and the icons can be pressed multiple times with left/right mouse to add/remove build commands. For non-factories, it will be necessary to click on the map to specify where the mech should be built, and by holding SHIFT multiple build locations can be added. Rough terrain can however be a problem - a rectangle under the build location with same color as your player indicates the location is buildable. Note: The use of a factory rally-point and a patrol route can be very important to ensure newly produced mechs are instantly put to good use. Give the factory a move command, followed by several patrol commands holding SHIFT.

Hover the mouse over any button in the command menu to see a command description in the lower left corner of the screen.

Minerals extraction

Around the map, you will see pieces of minerals scattered, usually with higher abundance in lower terrain (including under water). To obtain metals from these minerals, you may use the Extract command (drag the mouse to define an extraction area). The extract command can also be given to a factory to make all newly constructed mechs instantly start extraction. The metals obtained, combined with energy, will be used to build your army. Although extracting minerals is easy, doing it over a very large area, and in the most efficient manner, is very hard and key to winning the battle. The Executive Commander is important mainly because it can be upgraded multiple times and then used to create extracting builders that automatically collect minerals over a large radius. The Metals economy part of the Help (F1) gives a brief overview of the build/upgrade chain involved in the minerals collection. Any "construction" mech capable of building at various locations on the map, can also extract minerals. Most of them are also able to build a short-range extracting builder tower. Like the name implies, extracting builders will also assist any ongoing construction that is within range.

Energy management

The commander supplies enough energy to get started, but additional energy will soon be required. Without enough energy, some facilities cease to function and production rates can be much slower than normal. At the beginning of the game, natural energy coming from buildable solar collectors, tidal and wind power is of key importance. Subsequently, it is advisable to build geothermal and advanced power reactors. The Energy economy part of the Help (F1) is meant to give an overview of the build chain involved in the energy supply.

Warfare

Mechs positioned strategically well or on patrol rarely need to be told what to attack - they will do it automatically. An explicit Attack command should typically only be given if certain high priority targets are approaching, or when firing at ground e.g. with artillery in situations where line-of-sight and radar coverage is absent or the radar has been jammed. Due to the very large amount of mechs commonly engaged in the battle, there is seldom enough time to micro-manage such attacks anyway, and targeting small and fast-moving mechs can be real tricky. Try to focus on the bigger picture instead, and use the many automation features provided to make your army as self-sustaining as possible! The army can be configured for defensive or offensive situations using the motion and weapon behavior settings, and aircraft to repair in airpad when damaged.

For AI play you should try to get the highest possible score, by inflicting the most damage and kills during the main stage, and defeating the boss in the final challenge! Total Warfare keeps track of highscores on a per-map basis.

The end objective for team multiplayer is to kill all the enemy. The player score is recorded, but is of less relevance here.

Total Warfare estimates the player skill based on battles played and maintains a top-ranking list.

Economy

On Steam, Total Warfare provides annual upgrades known as Player and Supervisor, each bundled with winnable credits that will benefit skilled players. The upgrades are valid for a minimum of one year from the date of purchase, after which a sustained Player upgrade is granted as long as the the credit balance is greater than zero. For a skilled player who is playing regularly, the end result is a validity that may be indefinite.

Credits are taxed on a daily basis and won/lost by participating in games where other players who possess credits are playing. To prevent abuse, the methods used to iron out winners are not disclosed, but we advise you to try to play efficiently. Always play (and watch) the entire battle until end since quitters may not be eligible for awards or highscores.

Players following these recommendations will also be safe from any possible cheating attempts. Battles with discrepancies will be dispatched to and handled by our validation servers.

Highscores, awards and many other essential features require that Executive Lounge is running during the entire battle.

Playing for credits can be fun, but is merely a bonus feature in Total Warfare - there are absolutely no warranties with regard to the correctness/fairness in credits being awarded or lost.

Replays

The Replay list allows you to watch old battles. If you are curious why a specific team won the match or why some players received awards, replays can be extremely useful. They are also a powerful tool for acquiring new skills. Replays are either watched inside your current battle room, or in a dedicated replay room that will automatically be created for you if you have not joined any battle.

Tick the Selected player checkbox to only list battles where the player currently selected in the Players list participated. Similarly, tick the battle checkbox to only list battles that were played in the battle room currently selected in the Battles list.

Use the Watch now button or a double-click in the list to launch the selected replay.

Due to the relatively high burden that replays place on the Total Warfare infrastructure, they are a premium feature and currently require a Player or Supervisor upgrade.

Chat

The chat window is used for battle chat and private messaging. It will also print notifications and error messages from the server.

The chat window normally directs chat to the current battle via the Battle button. The PM (private message) button can be enabled by clicking a player in the battle participants or Players lists, or by double-clicking an entry in the chat history.

As long as the last item in the chat history is selected, it will automatically scroll down to show new incoming messages. The entire history can also be erased using the Clear button.

Misc

A double-click in the battle participants list will (vote to) temporarily ban the selected player

A double-click in the Players list will select the battle that the selected player has joined (if any).

In the Battle panel, select a battle and then hold CTRL and press the Copy button to copy the currently selected battle instead of creating a new one.
Note: Depending on your permissions it may not be possible to copy every aspect of the selected battle.

Hold CTRL and press Logout to disable Steam until next time you log out.

Anonymous login (without Steam) involves leaving the username and password fields blank, but is not guaranteed to work and the account is to be considered temporary.

Registered login (without Steam) requires a username and password of your choice to be manually entered. Don't forget the password - password recovery is not available.

Controls

The Keyboard controls part of the Help (F1) contains the most important stuff, with some more info below.
  • Mouse wheel - Zoom camera
  • Left mouse button - Mech selection by single click or window (drag).
    Hold SHIFT/CTRL to toggle mechs in current selection using single-click.
    Hold SHIFT to add mechs to current selection when dragging a selection window.
    Hold CTRL to remove mechs from current selection when dragging a selection window.
  • Left mouse button - Issue a default or manually selected command at pointed object or map location
  • Right mouse button - Deselect all mechs by single click, or draw line formation (drag)
  • Middle mouse button - Enable/disable panning the camera with mouse
  • Tab - Map overview
    Backquote+Tab for sticky map overview. Tab to unstick.
    Hold middle mouse button to move the camera around the map.
  • Backquote - Force hide/show command menu.
  • Arrow keys - Move camera around the map
  • F1 - Help
  • F2 - Camera mode (tiltable/rotatable).
    Tiltable: Hold middle mouse button or CTRL and use mousewheel to adjust tilt angle.
    Rotatable: Press middle mouse button to enable/disable rotation, and use wheel to set height.
  • F4 - Map information. Shows map dimensions and the minimum and maximum strength of natural phenomena that can be tamed and used for energy supply.

  • The following command can only be given after issuing a structure build command, before the structure has been placed on the map.

  • F6 or Q - Build facing. Rotate the structure to be built. Dragging with left mouse button while placing the structure has a similar effect.


  • The following commands/modifiers can only be used after issuing a structure build command, during the placement of multiple structures on the map by dragging the left mouse button while holding the CTRL key:

  • (CTRL only) - Build a rectangular array of objects
  • ALT - Build a line of objects
  • F7,F8 or Z,X - Adjust build spacing (distance between each object)
  • F9,F10 or V,B - Adjust build group spacing (distance between each cluster of objects)
  • F11,F12 or T,Y - Adjust build group size (number of objects per dimension in each cluster)

  • A - Attack. Click on an enemy mech or a map location, or drag an area on the map
  • C - Capture. Click on an enemy mech or drag an area on the map. After being captured, the enemy mech will be under your control!
  • CTRL+C - Use commander. The commander will be selected and brought into camera view. Combine with Tab to move the camera instantly.
  • D - Destroy. Click on a mech or a location on the map to fire the special weapon.
  • CTRL+D - Self-destruct. Performs a timed self-destruction of selected mechs
  • E - Extract. Click an object or drag an area on map to acquire metals from minerals, wreckages or mechs.
    Hold SPACE to recycle mechs inside the area.
    Hold CTRL+SPACE to recycle enemy mechs inside the area.
  • G - Guard. Click on a mech to assist/protect
  • L - Load mechs. Click on a mech or drag an area on map where mechs should be loaded onto the transport
  • M - Move. Click a point on the map
  • P - Patrol. Click a point on the map (typically used with SHIFT to define a route)
  • R - Repair. Click a mech or drag an area on the map to repair or assist the contruction process
  • S - Stop. Ceases all activity and clears the command queue for selected mechs.
  • U - Unload mechs. Click on a point or drag an area on map where mechs should be unloaded from the transport
  • Generic command modifiers

  • SHIFT - Enqueue the command given instead of replacing the current command
  • ALT - Repeat the command given indefinitely
  • Production queue modifiers

  • CTRL - Add/remove 10 items to production queue in a factory or weapon stockpile
  • ALT - Add/remove 100 items to production queue in a factory or weapon stockpile
  • Attack command modifiers

  • ALT - Fire a single shot instead of repeated fire (or vice versa)

Special commands

These commands/states can be issued to certain mechs but lack keyboard controls and are only accessible via menu buttons
  • Upgrade - Upgrade the mech to a more advanced type. May require metals and energy to complete.
  • Resurrect - Click a wreckage or drag an area on map to revive dead mechs
  • Level - Drag an area on map to restore deformed terrain to its original state
  • Stockpile - Click to produce ammo. The A / Q (P%) numbers show Available and Queued ammo,
    and the Percentage shows the production progress per shot if applicable
  • ON/OFF - Turn the primary function of the mech ON/OFF
  • Repeat ON/OFF - Enable/disable repeating the command queue indefinitely
  • Cloak ON/OFF - Toggle invisibility ON/OFF
  • Shield ON/OFF - Enable/disable shield
  • Land/Fly - Toggle aircraft idle behavior between land and fly
  • Dive/Surface - Toggle naval mech behavior between dive and surface
  • Motion behavior settings

  • Stationary - Hold position unless an explicit move order was given, strictly follow patrol routes
  • Defensive - Relocate to attack suitable targets nearby, deviate from patrol routes (default)
  • Offensive - Relocate to attack any suitable targets, deviate significantly from patrol routes
  • Weapon behavior settings

  • Passive - Do not fire unless an explicit attack command was given
  • Responsive - Fire back at any attacker
  • Armed - Fire at any suitable target in range (default)
  • Return To Base airpad settings

  • RTB OFF - Do not return when damaged
  • RTB 25% - Return if below 25% health
  • RTB 50% - ... 50% health
  • RTB 75% - ... 75% health

Config

This section describes the list items in the Config menu section of Executive Lounge.
  • Alias - Set your player name as it appears to others. Clan names go in brackets, i.e. [Myclan]Myalias.
    If you are logging in manually (without Steam), please note that a changed alias does NOT affect the login username.
  • AmbientMusicVolume - Set the volume for the slow background music that can be heard during much of the game, in the range 0 - 100
  • CameraInvertZoom - Reverse the zoom direction as controlled by your mouse wheel.
  • CameraSmoothness - Control how fast the camera reacts to your mouse wheel, in the range 1-100.
  • EffectTextures - Allows you to disable the special FX textures (e.g. explosion and weapon related). Disabled textures may save bandwidth but also reduces the visual quality
  • FullScreen - Enable full screen mode, which can speed up the rendering particularly with older graphics cards.
    The ResolutionX and ResolutionY config parameters can either be set to zero to match your screen resolution, or to any other resolution your screen supports
  • GraphicsSystem - Set OpenGL version to be used for rendering. (AutoSelect = use recommended, Compatibility = 1.3+, Performance = 4.3, Experimental = 4.4). Compatibility is slow and should be avoided, read the Troubleshooting section.
  • IconSize - Set the icon size for objects in overview mode (tab) in the range 1 - 100
  • LoaderMusicVolume - Set the volume for the music played during game startup and the fast forwarding phase, in the range 0 - 100
  • MapDetail - Set the map terrain detail, in the range 1 - 100. Lower detail can speed up the rendering. Warning: Too low detail can in some cases make objects appear hidden or buried underground
  • MapTextures - Set the map texture detail to High, Medium, Low or None. Lower detail can save significant bandwidth but also reduces the visual quality
  • ObjectDetail - Set the detail of all objects, in the range 1 - 100. Lower detail can speed up the rendering. Warning: Severe object skeletonization can occur if the detail level is too low.
  • ObjectTextures - Enable/disable the textures for all objects. Disabled textures may save bandwidth but reduces the visual quality
  • Optimizations - Enables specific tweaks for CPU and/or graphics driver, which can result in considerable performance gains
  • RadarTextures - Enable/disable the textures of radar blips. Disabled textures may save some bandwidth, but makes it hard to distinguish between radar blips of objects that have previously been visually identified
  • RhythmicMusicVolume - Set the volume for the faster background music that can be heard during the final stages of the game, in the range 0 - 100
  • ShotTextures - Enable/disable the textures of in-game projectiles and lasers. Disabled textures may save some bandwidth but also reduces the visual quality
  • SoundEffectsVolume - Set the volume for the sound effects, in the range 0 - 100
  • WaterTextures - Enable/disable the wave textures of the water surface and shields. Disabled textures may speed up the rendering but gives a flat appearance

Use the Defaults button to reset all configuration items to their defaults.
The Reset in-game user interface layout button should only be used if the user interface appears to have missing, malplaced or malfunctioning elements when playing the game.

Troubleshooting

  • Memory - Due to advanced hardware acceleration, the memory footprint of Total Warfare is fairly large. During startup or when playing the system may run out of either user or kernel memory, particularly on 32-bit versions of Windows.

    The message Insufficient user memory... indicates the application will exit because the system has run out of user memory. Try the following (in order, and test by restarting the application, until the problem hopefully is resolved):

    • Check the Windows Task Manager for other applications that use much memory, and shut them down if possible.
    • If your system is equipped with a small amount of memory (less than 3GB) try increasing the virtual memory (paging file) size in the Windows system settings.
    • On 32-bit Windows, try adding the /3GB switch to your boot config (see this link). Unfortunately, this also increases the risk that you will run out of kernel memory (see below).

    The message Insufficient kernel memory... indicates the application has paused because the system has run out of kernel memory. Try the following (in order, until the problem hopefully is resolved and the application resumes running normally):

    • If you are running Total Warfare in windowed mode, hover the mouse over the X (close window) button in the upper corner until the tooltip "Close" appears.
    • Press ctrl+esc and then alt+tab to bring the application out of focus and then back into focus.
    • Press win+down and then alt+(multiple tab) to minimize the application and then restore it back to normal.

    If none of the above helps, try playing a smaller map until you have upgraded your system and/or operating system.

  • Graphics - If you experience graphics corruption and crashes or hangs, try another graphics driver, including older drivers. The graphics in Total Warfare may appear simple, but looks are deceiving - it in fact uses OpenGL in more advanced ways than many games from big software houses.
    • Switching to a newer graphics card that meets the recommended system requirements, can give a tremendous performance boost, even if it is a budget card.
    • The setting GraphicsSystem in the Config controls which version of OpenGL will be used, and may help resolve certain graphics driver related problems. The Compatibility option should only be used as a last resort, since it does not perform well with large armies.
  • Network - The bandwidth requirements are not very high, but a connection slower than 2Mbit/s downstream may result in long startup times, and possibly other problems as well.
    • A smaller map and reduced map texture detail (MapTextures in the Config) can help to reduce the bandwidth usage.
    • Jerky gameplay, with uneven speed, is a typical symptom of network problems. Try shutting down other applications that use the internet.
  • CPU - Your CPU usage is displayed in the player list at the bottom right. If it approaches 100%, the game may react slowly as you give commands, or may not respond at all.
    • The first thing to try is to reduce the max army size in the Options. The Battles list will typically show the max army size within brackets before the map name of each battle (e.g. 8K = 8000).
    • A smaller map will also reduce the stress on CPU, CPU cache and memory. Maps are suffixed as E=Epic/extra large, L=Large, M=Medium, S=Small
    • Finally, check the Windows Task Manager for other applications that use CPU, and shut them down if possible.
    • If your computer appears slower than comparable machines, also check your CPU temperature to eliminate any possible problems related to inadequate cooling.
    • Visit the PassMark CPU list to see how your processor compares to our recommended system configuration score of 8000.