The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where, after the great nuclear war of 2015, peace treaties were signed, nuclear weapons were destroyed, and civilization was slowly rebuilt. However, 8 years after treaties were signed, a fleet of alien ships appeared outside Earth's atmosphere. Several super weapons were fired from the largest of the alien spacecraft, the resulting explosions causing major alterations to Earth's geography. Fearing for the lives of every human on earth, the United States Government unleashed its hidden nuclear arsenal on the alien ships. The resulting explosions rained down onto the planet, causing buildings to be destroyed and the air to be poisoned by radiation. As a result, in 10 hours, 5 of the 9 billion humans on Earth were killed.
The remaining smaller alien ships traveled into Earth's atmosphere, but never landed due to resistance by the remaining humans on earth.
After the alien ships left, mutants slowly began to appear, initially doing nothing more than raiding human settlements for building materials and kidnapping humans. As these incidents were few and far between, and by now many people had lost much of their families and other social contacts, most of these went unnoticed.
However, the mutants had their own plans. The mutants were hybrids of the aliens that came to conquer Earth. They injected captured humans with their own DNA, causing them to mutate. Eventually, the mutants' forces were strong enough to take on the humans. The mutants deployed their forces, and the war between the humans and mutants began.
Trash consists of two species: Humans and Mutants. A machine race is to be added in a sequel, but for now this has been left out as Inhuman Games is a very small team, and want to focus their efforts on the humans and mutants.
The gameplay is focused mostly on multiplayer skirmishes. There are now single player campaigns, although they are still in beta mode, and there is an AI for single player skirmishes though it is not highly advanced. One integral feature is that if a human and a mutant are allied then they are able to benefit from each other's technology; something that most games do not allow. This does somewhat contradict the game story, but the story is not a central focus of the gameplay.
The main resource in the game, used by both races, is trash. Trash is used as a building material for almost every unit in the game. It must be collected by Dump Trucks or Thralls, which are the collection and building units for humans and mutants respectively. Both of these units are collectively referred to as peons.
There are two other resources in the game, Gas and People. Gas is used as a resource only by humans, while people are as a resource only used by mutants. Gas is gathered by building a refinery on top of a gas site. The refineries in trash, unlike such buildings in other games such as StarCraft, does not require continuous collection. People are acquired from unarmed huts, and must be collected by thralls.
In addition to that, there are special building sites in the game. Most core buildings can be built without the need of a special site. Such buildings mainly include unit-producing buildings and resource buildings. There are three types of sites in Trash, they are: toxic waste sites, precious metal sites, and gas sites. Every race has upgrades for units or special structures which can only be built on such sites. Destroying a structure built on such a site does not destroy the site however the site can be destroyed by a military unit, unless it is a gas site. Gas sites, however, must be discovered through special detection and are generally rather more scarce than the other sites.
Structures in trash must be connected together by pipe. Pipe is an inexpensive structure that is built together, and forms the basis of logistics in Trash. Unlike other RTS games where resources seem to magically pop from one place to another where needed, in Trash they must travel through pipe. This also applies to technologies which are researched. Technology can be shared with an allied player by constructing a pipe to link your pipe system with your ally's. If the pipe between two bases of the same player is broken, the two bases become effectively isolated, as a result, the resource indicator is divided into two in order to show readings for each base. Then the player can only use the resources available on one pipe network for building on that network, unless the pipe is rebuilt.
Multiplayer games are organised via a central game lobby, where gamers meet to chat and play games. Unlike most RTS games, Trash has a client–server architecture for networking, so people behind a firewall can host games. This also dramatically reduces lag, especially if both players are on dial-up.
There are several maps players can use to play on. Here is a list and description of each map:
Currently a map selection that can only be played on single-player mode. Selecting this map allows the player to play on maps that they have created via the "mission editor". A trash player hosts many of the maps at lilsnoop.com for your convenience.
The server chooses a map for the players.
- Twisted Valleys
Elements of the map are randomized.
- Ice Gorge
In this map, the player's base is situated on the outside of a "ring", which circles around a giant "bulge" in the center of the map. All the expansion sites are on the hills that surround the player's base.
- Wheel of War
A very similar map to "Ice Gorge". In this map, the player's base is situated INSIDE the ring that circles around every player's base. In the center of the map is a giant depression in the ground. It's also where most of the expansion sites are. There are also some expansion sites on the corners of the map.
The player is situated in an elevated area of the map. The player has to build up a base and army quickly, since the key to winning this game is to capture and secure the resource sites that are on other elevated areas of the map.
- Twisted Canyons
This map is very similar to the "Twisted Valleys" map. The map has similar layouts and resource distribution. The only difference is that the terrain is desert-like, and there are expansion sites on the top of the canyon walls.
This map doesn't have any natural barriers between each player, so players must build up a good army quickly in order to survive doubles or triples (basically 2v1s or 3v1s) from enemy players. Here, teamwork is the key to winning.
- Khyber Pass
This map has got mountanous ranges with little openings between each, Teamplayers appear all on a side against the other side Team Coordination is key.
This map's layout forces players to go one on one with an opponent, if the "Teammates Together" option is turned off. This map doesn't give the player a large area to build his/her base, and Humans are usually at a disadvantage at the start of the game.
The game was given the 2005 Multiplayer Game of the Year award by GameTunnel.