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When the aliens attacked, the hyphen was the first casualty.
March 6, 2012 11:04 AM   Subscribe

X-Com: UFO Defense, one of the most beloved strategy games of the 90s, was being remade as a first person shooter. That project has been pushed back to 2013. Instead, a 3D turn-based "reimagining" is in the works from Sid Meier's Firaxis Games - XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has been covering the heck out of this game. Go here to see all of their articles, interviews, and commentary on its development.
posted by thecjm (129 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I AM DIFFICULT TO PLEASE IN THIS MATTER.
posted by Artw at 11:08 AM on March 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


I am genuinely interested in seeing what Firaxis does with this since they are all else aside really unlikely to make a bad game out of it, but my old-school, true-to-the-original-model X-Com remake heart belongs to the indie production Xenonauts.
posted by cortex at 11:13 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Given that I've already sunk 100 hours into Dark Souls and am not near done, this may be the only game I buy in 2012.
posted by Joey Bagels at 11:17 AM on March 6, 2012


I'm not sure I've ever loved a game all out of proportion to how good I was at it as much as X-Com.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:19 AM on March 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


“Firaxis is undeniably streamlining aspects of the game and removing no small amount of micromanagement, but from what I’ve seen I wouldn’t call it “dumbing down” the game so much as getting rid of tedium and uninteresting mechanics.”

Maybe it's just gauzy nostalgia, but I first played X-Com on a PS1, which I wouldn't think would be the optimal environment for it, and never found it tedious. I'd think, in fact, that making me control a tactical game with a PS1 controller would be like typing with mittens. But it wasn't. I dug it and played it a lot and didn't find the game particularly fiddly, even with an awkward controller. Which is all just to say there wasn't much there that I ever wished I wasn't doing, and I think I would have noticed that stuff with the additional handicap of a suboptimal controller.

Once I got the PC version of the game and had a mouse to use it was easier to play, and at no point was I wishing they'd throw any part of it out.

I didn't read every RPS link ... any word on which platforms this will appear on? Judging from Tactical Soldier (turn-based zombies), Hunters HD (turn-based space mercenaries), and the upcoming port of Frozen Synapse, the iPad could easily accomodate an X-Com. That'd be swell.
posted by mph at 11:20 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


My relationships with games circa 2012 pretty much goes like this:

WHAT I WANT: Levels that are effectivly physics simulations, direct control over the character, a proper inventory system.
WHAT DEVELOPERS THINK I WANT: Scripted set peices, ridiculous cover systems, some kind of console style onscreen circle thing.
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


For me, the micromanagement was what gave the original games such depth, strategy and excitement. The research, player, craft, weapon management was as interesting as the combat, which was carefully thought out and finely tuned. When the developers are saying stuff like (paraphrased) "This was a concept that worked brilliantly in the original... we said to ourselves, how can we simplify it and free up space in the player's head" - that is exactly what you SHOULDN'T be saying, guys! Stop that impulse telling you that modern players are stupid and can't handle things.
posted by naju at 11:27 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Basically someday someone is going to find a way to combine Minecraft, original Deus Ex and Original X-COM and then I will hand them all my money. Until then: DISSATISFACTION!
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on March 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Maybe it's just gauzy nostalgia, but I first played X-Com on a PS1, which I wouldn't think would be the optimal environment for it, and never found it tedious.

There were fiddly little bits that could really have used some tweaks*, but I agree in general and none of the tweak issues were game-breaking. The game mostly just did what it should do; I can understand some folks not liking that if it's just not their thing, but the core gameplay model in X-Com was really solid and satisfying. I'm interested in how Firaxis' decisions play out, but it does feel like streamlining is a design choice, not a matter of fixing fundamental problems with the original game. This is feeling like it will be a nice riff on X-Com, not a real spiritual sequel.

*Some of the time-unit management was silly. No reserve-for-kneeling. Too easy to burn a precious time unit on an accidental swivel in the wrong direction. Punishing the player for turning-and-then-walking instead of walking-in-new-direction when it accomplishes the same thing mechanically. Lack of very close range situational awareness on landing the craft. Having to manage soldier loadouts manually every time. Soldier landing positions being a crapshoot. Really insufficient level of play-by-play detail on soldier injuries and death during battle (just a running log for at-leisure review here would have been a magnificent addition). Base and craft inventory management was tedious and occasionally mysterious. Etc. Lots of little bits that could have been improved, and which in some cases did get improved in the next couple games, and which are a big focus of what Xenonauts is doing. Hence my love for that project.
posted by cortex at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what they mean by "added cover to the game." The original already had a cover system: hiding behind walls gave you basically complete cover (except from explosives, although even then some things were easier to destroy with explosives than others); hiding behind a fence or window gave you partial cover; and I think crouching gave you at least some defensive benefit.
posted by jedicus at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was a huge X-Com junkie and did find some aspects really tedious. As long as there's a way around having to re-scour the whole map because one alien is hiding in a closet and none of the maps are as big as the ships in Terror from the Deep, I'll be happy.

When I saw the first screenshots of the Firaxis remake, I was underwhelmed. But seeing the actual game in action, I think it looks a lot better.

And platforms - I think it's going to be 360, PS3 and PC. The video I linked to above had some 360 button mapping in the interface.
posted by thecjm at 11:33 AM on March 6, 2012


The "cover system" is an FPS/3rd person horror. It's not enough for your character to be standing or kneeling behind an object, to get cover you have to press a button to glue them to it and then they are considered "in cover". That's more o fa concern for the FPS pseudo-X-COM game than the turn based one.
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on March 6, 2012


I'm not sure what they mean by "added cover to the game."

I think they mean they're adding an explicit cover system with terrain hooks and feedback. Cover in X-Com was "hope the thing you're standing/ducking behind ends up actually obscuring the line of sight calculation on the enemy's firing vector", which was a cover system indeed but much more an emergent, catch-as-catch-can one. It sounds and looks like Firaxis's version of a cover system is very much a system, through-and-through.

and I think crouching gave you at least some defensive benefit.

I'm not sure it did, actually, barring something actually between you and the shooter.
posted by cortex at 11:36 AM on March 6, 2012


Forgetting to restock ammo was my traditional TPK blunder.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


As long as you can turn it off if/when it wears out its welcome, I think the dramatic kill cam does a great job of highlighting the joys of a turn-based strategy game, where you can take all the time you want planning and then press a button to give your orders and then sit back and watch it play out.
posted by straight at 11:40 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, the turn-based on has cover system bullshit as well? Bummer.
posted by Artw at 11:41 AM on March 6, 2012


I first played X-Com on a PS1, which I wouldn't think would be the optimal environment for it, and never found it tedious.

I've actually played a few hours of X-COM in the past month and found the biggest frustration to be the interface. Which is actually a problem I'm increasingly having with lots of games on GOG, i.e. I'm playing on a 24" monitor which normally runs at 1920x1080, but the game only runs at 320x200, I can only see a tiny little slice of the map, the 3D controls are infuriating, and there's no good way of telling your guys apart. Also, the AI is ridiculous. All of these are things which more modern games handle as a matter of course, and as much as I like the game, this is just annoying.
posted by valkyryn at 11:43 AM on March 6, 2012


Oh god, the ship terror missions on Terror From The Deep. 8 levels PACKED with tiny little rooms that one damn aqua-sectoid thing could hide in for HOURS. No endless rows of tiny rooms to search in the remake, please?
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:44 AM on March 6, 2012


I am warily optimistic about this. Sid Meier's brand name is no guarantee of success. The remake of his Pirates for iPad is lousy.
posted by Bwithh at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2012


Crouching definitely helped lower your profile, I had plenty of shots go over my dudes' heads. And I've definitely been saved by a fence more than once.

I definitely am looking forward to this, but I'm also keeping a close eye on Open X-COM. I play the original from time to time and it's still a blast. Are there things I'd change? Sure. But it really does stand up after all this time. There's nothing quite like it.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


As long as there's a way around having to re-scour the whole map because one alien is hiding in a closet

Man, I quit playing a fairly well-advanced game of... I think it was Terror From The Deep... because of that one bastard in a cupboard somewhere. Fantastic game nevertheless.

I'm a little troubled by the video in the last link. They used the word 'reimagine', which isn't usually a good sign. And in addition to saying they added cover to a game that already had cover, the guy says they "simplified" the idea of having time units. "We said, 'How can we simplify this, to free up all the head space that it takes up in the player's head?' " What does that mean, exactly? They made it so you don't have to think about time units anymore? Wasn't thinking about how to spend your time units the whole heart and soul of combat?
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:58 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I start playing a round about once year, thinking that this will be the time to get an "Iron Man" no save recovery victory. Then eventually the grind of choosing my troops weapons loadout...EVERY...DAMN...TIME...eventually wears me out.

That and the fact that there is only path to victory really. If there were multiple strategies that allowed you to win...man I don't think I'd ever stop playing.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:06 PM on March 6, 2012


Xcomutil fixes a number of issues with X-Com. For one, it allows you to fix the ridiculous starting base layout and automatically equip soldiers based on tags in their names. I can't play X-Com without it anymore. You can actually change quite a few things, such as research, weapons and explosives, ships and more.

And you can use it to kill or stun the last little bastard hiding somewhere if you just can't take one more turn looking for them.


I am cautiously optimistic about this game. Watching the gameplay, they included destructible buildings, so I think I'm in. Wiping out all cover was my go-to tactic during terror missions. I just wish they had buildings fall after massive structural damage ala Red Faction: Guerrilla.
posted by dragoon at 12:11 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


My unlikely demand is that I remain able to, Elerium stockpiles allowing, achieve scorched-earth victories by every soldier carrying a blaster launcher and as many bombs as they have free inventory space. And then turning the entire map into smoke and flinders. (Except for Private PsiBait, specifically recruited for a very low psionic resistance score. Private PsiBait carried a stun rod, if he or she was lucky. They got to run around screaming and gibbering, while aliens were continually disappointed that this soldier didn't have a blaster launcher of their own.)
posted by Drastic at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh god, the ship terror missions on Terror From The Deep.

My favourite video from a SA LP of Terror From the Deep.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:14 PM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Much as I relish any Sid Meier reimagining, I dread a 12gb install for a game that fitted on a floppy originally.
posted by davemee at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Poppers, there must be poppers. I hated poppers in Apocalypse.

They were the best.
posted by bonehead at 12:22 PM on March 6, 2012


Wiping out all cover was my go-to tactic during terror missions.

The great thing about XCOM was that while most things were quite destructible, some things were not. So as soon as I landed at Terror site, the first thing I would do was throw out a high explosive charge right at the base of the ramp from the plane. It would frag the couple aliens wait to jump your guys, clear the area surrounding the invulnerable ship, and leave some smoke too...and since your guys are one level 2, and explosives are purely a 2 dimension effect...they were unharmed...
posted by Chekhovian at 12:23 PM on March 6, 2012


Wiping out all cover was my go-to tactic during terror missions.

My favorite tactic on the first level of Laser Squad, the predecessor to X-COM, was to tool up with rocket launchers, take out as much of the building the target (a rogue scientist) was hiding in as possible and then nail the sucker. Depending on placement you either won in one round or were left holding no useful weapons as the security droids crept out of the ruins to get you.

X-COM also included incendiary rounds, now they were fun...
posted by Artw at 12:23 PM on March 6, 2012


Hmm. Some of that camera stuff looked cool. But moving the camera to the alien's viewpoint, or showing a tight shot of the alien when it's sniped ... both those seem to ruin the feel that you don't know what's out there. "I think I hit something. Did we kill it? Oh shit where did that plasma bolt come from?" That is what made x-com x-com!
posted by aubilenon at 12:24 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Firaxis sold me on the new X-Com with a single feature.

It has The Slender Man.
posted by zamboni at 12:26 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I had a X-COM fan site I would totally call it "Spin, Gurgle, Die".
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on March 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


X-COM also included incendiary rounds, now they were fun...

Especially once you realized you could forego the stupid electroflares on night missions and just set the map on fire...
posted by Chekhovian at 12:34 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


My pet peeve was always the last alien you couldn't find in an Alien Harvest mission and then, after like five turns of looking a floater that had presumably been hoovering around 40 foot off the ground on a perfectly flat map opens fire killing two of your squadies.

If there is a just and merciful God, someone from Firaxis will be reading the comments from this post at a meeting next Monday.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:40 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


both those seem to ruin the feel that you don't know what's out there. "I think I hit something. Did we kill it? Oh shit where did that plasma bolt come from?" That is what made x-com x-com!

Along those same lines, the soldiers are shown firing automatic weapons, which is fine, but the fire is a real-time hail of bullets. Part of the tension in the original came from watching that little bullet or plasma bolt travel towards its destination, unsure of whether it would hit or miss. Firing off 3 shots on auto was especially nerve-wracking: "first shot...miss! well, two more...another miss! damn, this one had better make it...a hit!" The same thing happened in reverse on the aliens' turn, except you were hoping against hope for a miss, or miraculously surviving a hit unarmored.

I hope they have a "classic X-COM" mode without the jaunty camera angles or the real-time firing.

I'm not sure [crouching gave you cover], actually, barring something actually between you and the shooter.

Kasey Chang's (he of xcomufo.com fame) fairly exhaustive strategy guide says otherwise: "Kneel whenever possible. It increases your accuracy and decreases the enemy's (make you a smaller target)."
posted by jedicus at 12:43 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can say, I've never won a game of X-Com. It beat me down, and it is one of few TBS games (or RTSes for X-Com 3) that ever did.

TFTD was a great time sync. I remember the whole game always being decided by me shipping my guys off to do a mission, and then whammo, they would launch an attack on my main base and destroy it. No amount of saving could prepare you for the horrible ensign deaths that were about to ensue. I remember despite only putting out so many good ones at a time, because sooner or later a base would get attacked, and when that happened, I knew I wanted to have at least 2-3 ready and equipped expert divers ready to defend (and hopefully their starting placement didn't put them at a horrible disadvantage / instant death). But pitty the ensign that has the unfortunate placement of the sub bay... He's a dead man. Pitty the mind control aliens seizing control of your best unit, because he's about to go postal on your guys.


Yeah that was it, 40 some hours of time invested, countless alien artifacts researched and manufactured, and it ends with most of your guys out to sea on a mission while their base is raised. To lift a line from another extra terrestrial franchise: Game over, man.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:54 PM on March 6, 2012


They should do those in the style of Tower Defense games.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on March 6, 2012


Also there should be in base romances between generated characters in the style of The Sims, then they can be all SCREW YOU AND YOUR FORKED NARRATIVE, BIOWARE! WE GOT THE UNSCRIPTED SHIT!
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, thanks thecjm - time to fire up the PCGamer edition of X-Com again (I play and beat it every couple of years or so); it's annoying to turn of Direct3D acceleration manually, but that Windows port runs pretty well, especially when paired with XComUtil.

Anyone else play UFO: Aftershock? Lots of promise for a spiritual successor, looked fairly pretty for the time, but all the little flaws added up into a huge pile of disappointment. Hope Enemy Unknown captures some of the brilliance of the origin - soldiers that you can follow through their careers, customizable names (or a easy way to check the soldiers' stats), a friendly micromanagement system, and research/manufacturing trees.

Oh, and mind control, please. But no cheating aliens who can do it without line of sight.
posted by porpoise at 1:14 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


UFO: Aftershock is yet another victim of my enthusiasm for buying things for 3 dollars on Steam and then not getting around to playing it. I may or may not have actually downloaded it.
posted by Artw at 1:16 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope they have a "classic X-COM" mode without the jaunty camera angles or the real-time firing.

They actually have said there will be something called "classic mode" difficulty, but sadly, there's no information as to what this actually means.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:16 PM on March 6, 2012


(Probably means that all your saves will revert to beginner difficulty at reload)
posted by daniel_charms at 1:17 PM on March 6, 2012


So disapointed by "Give Me Deus Ex"...
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on March 6, 2012


No no no no no no, the really important question here is, will you be able direct the evolving romantic interactions of your troops...

And they really need to respect all sorts sexual choices: gay/straight/Chryssilid/etc...
posted by Chekhovian at 1:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Almost every single comment in this thread brings back deeply treasured memories. I remember the exact moment that I settled on the necessity of using scorched earth as the only safe way to get my squad out of the vehicle (~1am, 2 coffees down). And the first time I ran into those bloody annoying mind control bastards (~3am, 4 coffees down). And the first time I realised the sheer impossibility of avoiding TPK in the open Antarctic terrain when you've stupidly set the difficulty level to superhuman (~6am, 6 coffees). Dear god the aliens were good shots at that difficulty. And finally winning, after so much pain, fear and heartache (after a wasted undergraduate education and a newly discovered caffeine addition). So many dead squaddies, so many lost bases. It felt like a real victory, unlike so many other games that followed.

As far as the remake goes, it looks neat, but I do worry that they're going to lose that sense of uncertainty and creeping anxiety that the original had. The "enemy unknown" part really made a difference. It's not really an "action" game, and the more it steals concepts from FPS games the less likely it is to induce that gripping fear that helped make the original what it was.
posted by mixing at 1:21 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


man y'all got stockholm syndrome

"back in my day games had shitty UI's and gameplay limitations, and we liked it that way!"

like I understand having your heart broken by remakes that fail to capture the essence of beloved games, but I don't wax nostalgic for the time when people lived in caves and didn't cook their food
posted by danny the boy at 1:36 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hmm. X-COM had a few readily identifiable flaws and areas where modernisation would improve it a lot, mainly due to having been created in 1994 when point and click stuff was a bit rough and ready, but limitations to the gameplay? The thing was awash in possibilities in a way you never see in todays limited, highly linear games.

beleiev me, if they capture that I am all for the thorough modernization of everything else.
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The gameplay kind of reminded me of Full Spectrum Warrior with all of the dashing to cover stuff. I am all for any turned based tactical squad combat games though. I haven't played a decent one since Silent Storm, and even that one was not that great.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:49 PM on March 6, 2012


(I am probably buying the thing, mind. That Not-really-X-COM FPS? Not a chance in hell)
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will hand them all my money.

But no developer will do all that for $1.98
posted by rough ashlar at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2012


yeah I am super excited about this. a minute into the video and I was telling them to shut up and take my money

but damn the ant farm? niiiice.
posted by danny the boy at 2:07 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Much as I relish any Sid Meier reimagining, I dread a 12gb install for a game that fitted on a floppy originally.

I'm sure MEMMAKER can handle it.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:08 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


And the first time I ran into those bloody annoying mind control bastards

As I said here before, that happened to me in an earlish mission, when the one guy with a rocket launcher had gotten out of the ship, got possessed and promptly emptied it in the shuttle.

That wasn't fun.

X-COM remains the scariest game I've ever played; if these guys can get that right, it doesn't really matter what else they do.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:15 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Probably means that all your saves will revert to beginner difficulty at reload)

Hah! Most people who talk about how tough X-COM was don't even realize they spent the vast majority of their time playing on Beginner difficulty without even realizing it.
posted by Justinian at 2:19 PM on March 6, 2012


Priming grenades on short fuses and then finding you don't have enough AP for a throw was another good one...
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


15 years old, playing Enemy Unknown at 3am, I'd start to create imaginary drama in my head. Galina Ragulin and Tatsuo Noguchi's rivalry, the French guy who refused to upgrade to heavy plasma and took absurd risks, the commander Leon Someone who got hospitalised on his fourth mission for 48 days and just kept getting promoted without doing anything.

Sorry, slipped into a kind of terrible geeked-out confessional there.
posted by Wataki at 2:22 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


And the first time I ran into those bloody annoying mind control bastards

Panicing or going berserk are both bad enough...
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on March 6, 2012


man y'all got stockholm syndrome

"back in my day games had shitty UI's and gameplay limitations, and we liked it that way!"


No, actually. A lot of these beloved old games (and they're the cream of the crop, not just some random ALL OLD GAMES thing) had cramped or problematic UI and really fuckin' excellent gameplay. X-Com really was a brilliant melding of strategy management and turn-based squad tactics combat; the gameplay is what they got very, very right, and is what a lot of otherwise shinier and more modern riffs on the genre have failed to nail down.

X-Com's UI sucked. There is no point of argument there; people who love the game will tell you the UI sucked, will tell you that they'd love to be able to play it with a less shitty UI, to play it not in 320*200 with a whole third of the screen taken up by oversize buttons. It's not stockholm syndrome to be able to see through that to the great fucking game underneath.
posted by cortex at 2:34 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


the first time I ran into those bloody annoying mind control bastards

Yeah, listening for the grenade pop on the enemies turn to find-out who had the low psi scores.

On Sectoid terror missions, I used to have each team member carry a primed proximity grenade. Before they were mind-controlled, units would often panic, dropping their stuff.

Also, if attacked by a cryssalid, killed and implanted with a cryssalid egg, they would also drop their stuff. So, everyone carried a dead-man switch.
posted by bonehead at 2:37 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


How much were you aware of the passion and ferocity in the X-COM fanbase before the shooter was revealed; did it at all colour what you thought you could or should do on Enemy Unknown?

I;m actually more and more convinced by these guys. Pretty sure I will reach the SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY point by the time this thing is released, even if i will then gripe like hell about everything that isn't Just Like The Old Days Only Better.
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on March 6, 2012


This is great. Other Microprose products I'd like to see brought back: Darklands, a well-researched fantasy version of the Holy Roman Empire, where your characters, rolled up from a German name generator, could appeal to Christian saints for help against witches and Knights Templar. Ever since I played it, I have wished sword-and-sorcery games took place in real settings.
posted by steinsaltz at 2:44 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


You haven't fully enjoyed XCOM until you've mind controlled the last three aliens, frogmarched them to the edge of the map, set a fully armored firing squad kneeling two paces in front of them, and then handed everyone (including the aliens) a plasma pistol with a full clip. Then took aim and waited.

Once the mind control wore off, the first alien panic shot triggered reflex fire from the entire squad, which in turn triggered return fire from the surviving aliens standing next to the instigator who was on the receiving end of the initial barrage, which would meet a reply in turn from your side, etc, etc. It was a glorious firefight that would level up your squad in no time, especially if there were Mutons involved.
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:47 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sort of tempted by the historical settings of the Assassins Creed series.
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on March 6, 2012


Ooooh Darklands. The game manual was almost as much fun to read as the game itself (I'm not being snarky---it had a great, thick manual that was full of RPG crunchiness). I never managed to finish it though as it kept crashing every time I tried to do one of the later dungeon missions. Such a great, flawed game.
posted by bonehead at 2:57 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


My best tactic was to blow the bottom-right airlock and get the Battledroid to run into one of the droid bays, whereupon it becomes invulnerable and can whack the defenders as they approach. After you get bored, blow the top-left airlock and storm the main computer.

Oh, wait, that was REBELSTAR on the ZX Spectrum in the 1980s. But the same game mechanics, essentially. And they were pretty much all brilliant - REBELSTAR, LASER SQUAD, X-COM. Hurrah!
posted by alasdair at 3:23 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"back in my day games had shitty UI's and gameplay limitations, and we liked it that way!"

Seriously! I heard that back even farther people used to play some game where everything occurred on a grid that was only 8 pixels by 8 pixels. There were only 6 different kinds of units, and each unit could only do one thing...and get this: each side had exactly the same units. The only difference was that one side was black and one was white. There weren't even animations showing what the units did to fight each other.

How could could they stand it?!?
posted by Chekhovian at 3:24 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Wizards of the Coast own that now.
posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have an Android phone, you can play Xenowar, btw... or use a DOS emulator or PS1 emulator to run the original X-COM.
posted by markkraft at 3:51 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Such a great, flawed game.

Yeah, it had so much potential. Somewhere in the manual they talked about how the follow-up could be set in the War of the Roses, or Ireland, or Japan, or anywhere...
posted by steinsaltz at 4:12 PM on March 6, 2012


I had a very suicidal method of dealing with Chryssalids - especially in the early going when I didn't have the best weapons and figured I'd be losing a lot of troops every mission anyways. Each solider would have 2 primed alien grenades in their backpack with the fuse set to zero. When the soldier would get grabbed by a Chryssalid and turned into a zombie, he'd drop everything in his backpack. The first grenade would go off and kill the zombie, turning it into a Chryssalid. Alien grenades were explosion proof, so the 2nd primed grenade would still be there and kill the newborn Chryssalid.

Actually, this might have been TFTD specific. I had that game before swinging back to the original X-Com. TFTD is the first game I ever bought the strategy guide for. Looking back, it's kind of a ridiculous premise. They should have either not set it underwater or made the underwater mechanics distinct - how the heck do they lob grenades at the bottom of the sea?
posted by thecjm at 4:12 PM on March 6, 2012


I want so very badly to enjoy X-COM, but there's something about the turn-based strategy that I just never got into. I love love love the base building and maintenance, and I love the core concept, just the combat gameplay never really appealed.

I think if you cut out the TBS aspect and replaced with something more RTSish, like Trapped Dead, I'd dig the shit out of it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:13 PM on March 6, 2012


/destroys Pope Guilty with Blaster Bomb.
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


/Stuns Pope Guilty with the Stun Launcher, takes his unconscious form back to alien containment for study, debriefing, and disect.....more study.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:25 PM on March 6, 2012


/gained Pope Guilty technology!
posted by stratastar at 4:29 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


His sacrifice will enable us to build a new kind of gun or spaceship or hovertank or somesuch.

Then we can sell the body.
posted by Artw at 4:29 PM on March 6, 2012


How a Rabid XCOM Fan Became The Designer of Enemy Unknown
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on March 6, 2012


I'm sort of tempted by the historical settings of the Assassins Creed series.

What, you mean like America? America during the The War Of The Mohicans, which was a war fought to get the Stars & Stripes planted on literally every square inch of the continent, and which literally nobody in America has ever shut up about since? Yeah that is going to be balls-out awesome I'm sure I'll learn a lot about Freedom.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:34 PM on March 6, 2012


Oh hi I'm Desmond Miles and I'm fucking boring as hell *Desmond starts crying and falls down some stairs*
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:35 PM on March 6, 2012


What, you mean like America?

Well, I haven't played any of them, I'm pretty sure it's 2 that has most of the stuff that sounds interesting. Probably I'll skip 1 as I've heard it's deeply flawed.
posted by Artw at 4:37 PM on March 6, 2012


Two was pretty good. As were its eleven sequels, I'm told.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:48 PM on March 6, 2012


Some of the time-unit management was silly. No reserve-for-kneeling. Too easy to burn a precious time unit on an accidental swivel in the wrong direction. Punishing the player for turning-and-then-walking instead of walking-in-new-direction when it accomplishes the same thing mechanically. Lack of very close range situational awareness on landing the craft. Having to manage soldier loadouts manually every time. Soldier landing positions being a crapshoot. Really insufficient level of play-by-play detail on soldier injuries and death during battle (just a running log for at-leisure review here would have been a magnificent addition). Base and craft inventory management was tedious and occasionally mysterious. Etc. Lots of little bits that could have been improved, and which in some cases did get improved in the next couple games, and which are a big focus of what Xenonauts is doing. Hence my love for that project.

And I wonder, if they had fixed all of this, would I have found the game as enjoyable?
posted by 3FLryan at 4:49 PM on March 6, 2012


I hope this turns out better than the remake of Jagged Alliance 2 that seems to have messed up a bit too much with the combat system.

If you have an Android phone, you can play Xenowar, btw...


Between this and the program for playing Infinity Engine games of Android, can someone make a fantastic post about other ports of old games on Android/iOS or provide links? I will name my next character after you.
posted by ersatz at 4:51 PM on March 6, 2012


Not in Xcom though unless you'd enjoy your namesake falling victim to a TPK.
posted by ersatz at 4:54 PM on March 6, 2012


It's turn based!! It's turn based!! Every fucking body wants to make their games real-time, and I hate real time! One of the things that was wonderful about XCOM was that it was turn-based, and it's clear that Meier and his development team know it!

It was frankly amazing to me, back then and still today, that a turn-based game could inspire so much adrenaline. I remember the first time I tried to invade an alien base, how utterly terrified I was. (And how badly my force got butchered!)

One thing I have to say: there had better be a cow mutilation in one of the ships. That's all. (One of the best sight gags of all time, in the original game.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:01 PM on March 6, 2012


Chekhovian: "Seriously! I heard that back even farther people used to play some game where everything occurred on a grid that was only 8 pixels by 8 pixels. There were only 6 different kinds of units, and each unit could only do one thing...and get this: each side had exactly the same units. The only difference was that one side was black and one was white. There weren't even animations showing what the units did to fight each other.

How could could they stand it?!?
"

So you've never played chess and thought, this would be really interesting with asymmetric forces, or multiple moves per turn? Have you played Hero Academy for iOS? It's basically a modern version of chess, and it brings more than just neat animations. The core mechanics are interesting and fun. It's a good game.

You can continue to play chess, just like you can continue to play the original X-COM, without complaining that people trying to make new games are somehow ruining... your memories of the past, I guess?
posted by danny the boy at 5:16 PM on March 6, 2012


This is the alien crash site... I can't go there because my guys... can't really see well at night.
posted by danny the boy at 5:18 PM on March 6, 2012


Maybe Firaxis could slap a real-time mode on their fancy new X-Com for all those folks who'd rather be playing a fancy new Syndicate...
posted by flechsig at 5:23 PM on March 6, 2012


Artw: " I'm pretty sure it's 2 that has most of the stuff that sounds interesting. Probably I'll skip 1 as I've heard it's deeply flawed."

AC:Brotherhood is the best game of the lot. It's got some decent side missions and mini-game-ish bits that pay off if you do them but don't penalize you too harshly if you don't. If you only play one, that's probably the one to go with, not least because Rome is a great setting with a whole lot of cool monuments to jump around on.

Overall, the fundamental question to ask yourself is, "Would I enjoy doing simulated parkour on famous historical buildings?" That's the bread and butter of the series, and pretty much all that exists in the first one. It was actually kind of a rush for me to do parkour on the Dome of the Rock, and I've absolutely loved the very small amount of AC:Revelations I've played just for the chance to do parkour on the fucking Haghia Sophia. The story is kind of dumb, the meta-story is beyond dumb, the characters are mostly bad, and the non-parkour gameplay isn't always fun, but, seriously, I've gotten to climb on obelisks, the Colosseum, the Duomo, and parts of the Hippodrome that haven't existed in hundreds of years, all of which I found very exciting.
posted by Copronymus at 5:31 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can continue to play chess, just like you can continue to play the original X-COM, without complaining that people trying to make new games are somehow ruining... your memories of the past, I guess?

You can also be critical of changes made to a classic work while retaining the name if you feel like it's doing a disservice to or otherwise playing fast and loose with the reputation it's trading off, though.

I mean, I'm one of the people who has cautious optimism for the Firaxis game, because I both like the idea of seeing them try something new and worry that what they value and prioritize in their take on X-Com may not completely align itself with what I think of as being definitive and important. Which is not a great big deal, but it's also not nothing, and considering that people who really value any given cultural artifact tend to have a sense of investment in it it shouldn't be surprising that they have misgivings when someone else picks up the name and runs in a different direction with it.

Essentially, I think that "hey, X-Com was a great game, I should make a game like that" is a somewhat simpler and less loaded thesis than is "hey, X-Com was a great game, I'll appropriate the name and release a game that claims to also be X-Com". Either way, the original will obviously not blink out of existence, but the relationship that fans of the original will have with the new venture is going to be different because the cultural dynamic involved is, in fact, different.

This is all of course a lot starker with the previously announced shooter iteration that by all accounts has not a goddamned thing to do with XCOM other than IP ownership and the notion of aliens invading earth. You want to object to nerdly upset about X-Com iterations, that's the discussion to go criticize.
posted by cortex at 5:37 PM on March 6, 2012


The story is kind of dumb, the meta-story is beyond dumb, the characters are mostly bad, and the non-parkour gameplay isn't always fun, but, seriously, I've gotten to climb on obelisks, the Colosseum, the Duomo, and parts of the Hippodrome that haven't existed in hundreds of years, all of which I found very exciting.

In AC3 you get to climb in trees. Also you can climb over rocks.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:41 PM on March 6, 2012


Xenowars

It's a bit obtuse interface-wise. Does it reward putting the time in?
posted by Artw at 7:00 PM on March 6, 2012


Stop this, Firaxis, and get to work chop chop on a new Alpha Centauri.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:18 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just grabbed Xenowars... It seems like a pretty simple 3d adaptation of ufo defense... (I killed about 15 civilians before noticing that they weren't aliens)....
posted by stratastar at 9:47 PM on March 6, 2012


/finishes mission, saves game, quits. 3 hours have elapsed since opening Steam.

Wow. The old magic is still there.

On the other hand, can you not save during missions? Because that's REALLY inconvenient.
posted by Artw at 10:32 PM on March 6, 2012


So you've never played chess and thought, this would be really interesting with asymmetric forces, or multiple moves per turn?

And what if Knight's horses could get scared and buck, then they would fall off and become like super sword pawns? What if Bishops could cast magical spells? What if Queens could seduce enemy knights and get them to assassinate the enemy king?

You can always add more features, like dwarf fortress. More features doesn't make the game better and sometimes makes the game worse, like dwarf fortress. Consider the vast amount of thought that has gone into chess over literally thousands of years...or Go which has even fewer parameters and is even more complicated.

Have you played Hero Academy for iOS? It's basically a modern version of chess, and it brings more than just neat animations. The core mechanics are interesting and fun. It's a good game.

I watched a video...meh...looks like an advance wars rip off. Its certainly not Chess. If we're going to get the rulers out and start measuring relative game qualities...the measure that matters is the ratio of fun to complexity. Too much complexity and everything becomes a setpiece rehash like Axis and Allies. That game is perfectly optimized to reproduce how WWII happened. BORING. XCOM has very few moving parts, and yet it manages to generate new experiences even after 15+ years of playtime.

You can continue to play chess, just like you can continue to play the original X-COM, without complaining that people trying to make new games are somehow ruining... your memories of the past, I guess?

WTF? My hope is just that the game lives up to its illustrious predecessor isn't a wasted opportunity.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:53 PM on March 6, 2012


In high school, I played XCom so much I was worried about failing my classes. So I put my xcom install in a password-protected zip and made the password a random string. I wrote the password on a little slip of paper and hid it in a box of baoding balls.

After doing that, I was able to get my xcom time down to once a week or so.
posted by heathkit at 12:14 AM on March 7, 2012


UFO:Extraterrestrials is the closest game to a fixed XCOM that I've seen. With mods it can be almost the exact same game.
posted by Four Flavors at 9:06 AM on March 7, 2012


"XCOM has very few moving parts"

What? X-COM has a bazillion moving parts. If anything it looks like the new version has tried to remove and clean up some of those parts. (Something I think is honestly probably a good idea.)
posted by aspo at 10:52 AM on March 7, 2012


X-COM has a bazillion moving parts relative to a multidvd install 13GB modern game.

Remember the whole game was about 1.3 Mb.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:55 AM on March 7, 2012


On the other hand, can you not save during missions? Because that's REALLY inconvenient.

Exactly. Its called Iron-Man mode. Its the way REAL MEN play the game. No Reload cheating. No I have never beaten the game that way myself :-(
posted by Chekhovian at 11:57 AM on March 7, 2012


Sadly sitting down for hour long make-or-break sessions with a game is no longer compatible with my lifestyle - I'm more likely to be defeated by the baby starting crying than the aliens.
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on March 7, 2012


Really, having refreshed my memories by playing it last night, I'd say that the complexity of the gameworld is just right, but that there's some unnecessary fidddlyness in the UI where that complexity comes a cause for annoyance - like having to load up your team with electroflares manually every time there's a night mission - that could easily be automated over without losing the ability to micromanage.
posted by Artw at 12:02 PM on March 7, 2012


It's turn-based. Just never shut it off.
posted by cortex at 12:02 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not really practical when other people use the computer.

Now if only i had a corner O could set up my dusty old 90s vintage tower in and make it my dedicated XCOM place... Hmm...
posted by Artw at 12:08 PM on March 7, 2012


On the other hand, can you not save during missions? Because that's REALLY inconvenient.

Exactly. Its called Iron-Man mode. Its the way REAL MEN play the game. No Reload cheating. No I have never beaten the game that way myself :-(
posted by Chekhovian at 8:57 AM on March 7 [+] [!]


I spent a long cold winter in my North London bedsit beating X-Com iron man style - only saving when I turned it off each night. Deeply satisfying.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:42 PM on March 7, 2012


Are you playing the DOS version, Artw? I don't know how Steam does it.
Running in DOSBox, I can page in and out w/o quitting the game.
posted by bonehead at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2012


Oh man, I'm starting to get my hopes up on this new X-Com, but after reading this interview with Julian Gollop (the guy that made the original UFO: Enemy Unknown), I'm sort of cautiously lukewarm. The interview is interesting, Gollop knows his strategy games and already gives some feedback on what he's seen on the new X-Com. He doesn't like the free form camera, and doesn't think the new X-Com will have procedural generated environments or sophisticated destructible terrain either. In general, it makes me want to wish Firaxis would just get him to head the X-Com.

And, X-Com: UFO Defense is great. I have a nearly annual tradition is booting it up and playing it. My last game, I attempted to create the "Department of Homeplanet Security" by never triggering the end game and constantly fighting aliens. I would usually get bored after a period, but may try again this year. :)

Oh, and I dug up an old forum post on what I wanted in a new X-Com game:
I would do a sequel "reboot". Have the same X-Com 1 situation, but move the timeline up to around 2009-2012.

In addition to just graphical tweaks, I want to expand the role of HWPs to reflect reality. For example, maybe allow players to buy a UAV. It would have to be expensive and be fairly slow, but still give the player a good recon option in the beginning of the game. Make military robots more modular, so you could mount a few different weapons on them, or maybe even use them just to carry extra gear.


I was also thinking adding a more robust political model, partially implementing things I've seen in X-Com: Apocalypse. Also to better reflect the current world situation: Along with a more robust political and economic model, alien pacts should also have more influence. Aliens should try to aim for key countries to turn like the US, China, EU, and Russia. It makes more sense, and it would be interesting to see the roles begin to be reversed as X-Com becomes more of an insurgency with support from only minor countries versus the Aliens who control the major players.

If you have a base in a country that signs a pact, there's a lot of interesting implications left unexplored. Maybe the country would reveal your location and aliens would aggressively attack you. Or maybe the host country would make life in that base harder by making it difficult to make transfers in or out, prevent additional bases from being built, or just tell X-Com to pack up and leave.

On the flip side, a country should be able to break an alien pact as well, but there should be a transitionary state where a country is neutral. It wouldn't make sense for a pact breaker to be immediately trusted.

Oh yeah, and some small things:
I want a shotgun and a knife. I liked those in UFO2K.
Be able to sell live aliens for big bucks. There should be a reason to capture live aliens after research.
Mixed unit missions

posted by FJT at 1:08 PM on March 7, 2012


relative to a multidvd install 13GB modern game.

12.95GB of which are art assets.

And I'm confused. Was xcom complicated (in a good way) and you are worried about it being "dumbed down "or did it have the elegant simplicity of chess and you are worried about them destroying that elegance? You seem to be arguing both things.
posted by aspo at 1:33 PM on March 7, 2012


Steam does it in Dosbox. And TBH the system resources it takes up are probably next to none... But I still want to be able to save and quit.
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2012


You seem to be arguing both things

All the pieces in the original X-Com were simple, but when they were put together in a level that did a reasonable job simulating the physics involved, they could generate quite complex results e.g. You fire an incendiary round at an alien. It sets him and the surrounding gas station on fire. That fire triggers a gas pump to explode. That sets of the next pump in a chain reaction...etc.

And the levels were procedurally generated from discrete sections, so you could fight through that same set of city buildings a dozen times and have each iteration be a different experience. Its simple, but it results in something complex. Go is simple, but it results in something complex.

Whereas something like Starcraft is complex because of intentional tinkering and balance. I've played a lot of "complex" strategy games that had many units and many rules, but were still simple because their idea of balance was the usual rock-paper-scissors system.

So here's what I want, emergence of complexity from what should naively be simple...Here's another example of emergence of cool tactics.
You could start out with the autocannon which could fire 3 round bursts of exploding shells, firing at someone at the same height as you, a lot of the shells would miss by small amounts and harmlessly fly past, provided the target was in the clear.

Now:
Put your guy in flying powerarmor, have him fly up to max height and shoot down...a lot of those misses instead hit the ground next the target and explode doing slash damage. See, something you didn't expect becomes possible. That's emergence. And its not something you get from Hit Tables and other game balance systems.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:28 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Artw: "On the other hand, can you not save during missions? Because that's REALLY inconvenient."

The [?] button on the battlescape screen should give you the option to save.
posted by the_artificer at 4:46 PM on March 7, 2012


Aha! Good to know. I think i assumed it was Help or something.

(You can tell I've never been near a manual for this thing)
posted by Artw at 4:52 PM on March 7, 2012


Oh, man, I totally misunderstood your predicament. Yeah, you can save during a battle. If I recall right, reloading from that save will start from the beginning of the turn during which the save was made, or something slightly odd like that, so best to save at the start of a round if you need to quit.
posted by cortex at 4:54 PM on March 7, 2012


This is kind of helpful as, TBH, I was pretty hazy on what a lot of those icons did - Knowing what "Select the next piece, and forget the current one" does for instance is super handy.

A concrete description of how the motion scanner works may also mean I actually use the thing.
posted by Artw at 5:02 PM on March 7, 2012


But... x-com has dozens of weapons, all with slightly different damage and to-hit chances (and yes, x-com had to hit rolls, it just also had "what happens if you miss") and ammo types and time to fire so on. Soldiers have, what, 10 different stats? Does it really matter that soldier x has 45 movement points, but this other soldier has 43? Those stats and how they level up reward very gamey behavior which gets silly at times. There's tons of different terrain with slightly different movement costs and behavior. And that's just the tactical game.

X-com is a very complicated game with a lot of moving parts. What's pretty awesome about it was it worked, and worked fairly well, even with all that complexity. (I like complex games, I also know that complexity often kills a game...) I think there's a lot of room for an experienced designer and team to take that game and play around with it and try to change things to see if there's some complexity that can be simplified, and maybe other parts that can be expanded.
posted by aspo at 7:11 PM on March 7, 2012


There have been lots of failed attempts to remake X-Com over the years, but it looks like 2012 will bring not one, but two. I'd encourage anyone excited by the Firaxis remake to check out Xenonauts. It's an indie project- the guy sponsoring it evidently quit his job and has poured his life savings into the project- and it's 2D, so it definitely won't look as slick, but it's going to be a much straighter update of the original. They're basically just updating the graphics, updating the UI, updating the setting, and fixing some of the major gameplay warts (for example, player psionic powers and blaster bombs were both removed because they were considered unbalanced). The graphics are much improved (screenshot), but still 2D.

I'm looking forward to the Firaxis game too. It seems to be more console-centric, which isn't a bad thing. It will play faster, for example. But given that the maps seem to be smaller, that they don't start out blacked-out, and that you won't have the stress of micromanaging your time units, I expect the feel to be less scary. It seems like it will play faster, which is a good thing- only being allowed to have one real base will reduce micromanagement, as will removing things like explicit time units and soldier inventories. And the graphically, the new ant farm bases holographic geoscape look great. I think they're getting a lot of stuff right- the tradeoffs they've made seem to me to be the right way to remove tedium and micromanagement while preserving the turn-based, squad-based, line-of-sight-based combat that made the original famous. But happily, the smaller population of folk that would prefer micromanagement and a slower pace will have an excellent option this year too.
posted by gsteff at 7:31 PM on March 7, 2012


Er, it looks like 2012 will bring not one, but two SUCCESSFUL remakes.
posted by gsteff at 7:34 PM on March 7, 2012


OK, I'm way more excited to try Xenonauts than the Firaxis game now. (And 2D is all I ever wanted.)
posted by naju at 7:56 PM on March 7, 2012


X-com is a very complicated game with a lot of moving parts. What's pretty awesome about it was it worked, and worked fairly well, even with all that complexity.

Look whatever. The point is that X-Com allowed you to play fluidly and intuitively. The point is that things happened mostly like your intuition expected them to happen..."Oh there's an alien in the second story of that building, but I don't have line of sight...what if I shoot a hole in the wall with a laser rifle, then fire a rocket through that hole so it hits the ceiling in the middle of the room and explodes, thus killing the alien..."

Well you could fucking do that. You could try crazy things not planned for in the rule book. What would dumbing things down mean? Well it could mean only being able to target the aliens explicitly rather than through indirect means. At least the way I play the game, you spend a lot time shooting at where the aliens probably are, without necessarily having definite LOS.

A lot of games these days decide that complexity means "incredibly elaborate setpieces that we will hold your hand through every step of the way". I enjoyed the Heck out of the Modern Warfare games. But I will likely never play the single player again, because those setpieces don't change. Every X-Com game is different. And its also the same, but different. You feel me?
posted by Chekhovian at 11:40 PM on March 7, 2012


Hmmm, think I might know what I'll be doing this weekend, since my friends all happen to be out of town...

Question though, will the utility program mentioned above work with steam/GOG copies?
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:34 AM on March 8, 2012


Does it really matter that soldier x has 45 movement points, but this other soldier has 43?

I'm sorry.... is this a trick question?

yes it does, when you need one more salvo to take down an alien, and all your characters are one or two points shy of a snap shot......
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:37 AM on March 8, 2012


Question though, will the utility program mentioned above work with steam/GOG copies?

The steam version is just a DOS executable (or, maybe a pair of executables if I remember right), so no worries there. I'd guess the same is true of the GOG version. XComUtil fiddles with those directly at runtime as I recall, so it'll work just fine.

There was also a like Collector's Edition of the game released as full-on Windows executable at some point that I think may not work with XComUtil, but it's been a few years since I fiddled directly with any of that.

The biggest headache I had with the game was just figuring out how to run it full-screen at the correct aspect ratio on a widescreen monitor, since I had to spend a little time doing trial-and-error mucking about with the config file for DOSBox.
posted by cortex at 5:18 AM on March 8, 2012


Cool, thanks Cortex. I have a copy(ies) floating around somewhere in my research archive, in fact I think I've run up against that windows version before, last time I got the Xcom Itch. I think chirstmas was involved. But thinking I should actually pay something for this game at some point, and also determine set up for the first base.

Hell, Steam needs an anonymous random gift feature - I'll happily buy 10 copies at $5 each so people can see and understand the potential of game design. Actually I have about 60 students studying game design right now... I need to start some scheming.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:51 AM on March 8, 2012


Along the lines of - "Games Design 101: Welcome to 'Action Points'
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:54 AM on March 8, 2012


Three things you didn't know about Firaxis' XCOM: Enemy Unknown
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did not know those things.

The base thing is kind of a fig leaf, though; it's fine that they went with a solo base and in the spirit of their streamlining approach I get Solomon's reasoning for that even if I personally considered my various bases to in fact be important characters in their own right. But it's a single base and some launch hangers that from the sounds of things absolutely aren't bases. Just call it that, it's okay. You've got one actual base.

Soundtrack news is great. DE:HR definitely had a good one in its own right and a lot of the feel of it could translate really well to X-Com, so long as they dial the creepy and sedate up in the right spots to really get that slow burn thing going on.

Hopefully the static levels are as satisfyingly varied as Solomon is saying. I believe it when designers say they want to do that and try to do that, but a lot of the times games that wanted to and tried to still manage to really kind of blow it. Look at something like Dragon Age 2, which had a ton of work put into it and is a big game from a smart company, and still, still the asset reuse got conspicuous. And that's a game where the maps themselves weren't really as much of the core game experience as X-Com, where on the tactical front the relationship between your soldiers and the terrain (and the question of where the baddies are hiding thereon) is totally central.
posted by cortex at 10:34 AM on March 8, 2012


I'm thinking it will be kind of like Dawn of War II, where you're pretty much always on the same couple of maps but you start in different places on them.

(I hope they have more maps than DW:II though, becuase it began to show after a while)
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on March 8, 2012


The base thing is kind of a fig leaf

Their "Ant Hill style"/"hive of activity"/"GI Joe type The Pit Base" does look incredibly awesome though. I can see the consolidation of your research and manufacturing into one larger facility, it would make a lot of sense both from a security and collaborative problem solving perspective. But the rule of cool is enough to justify that for me anyway.

Regarding the base defense question, it would be a shame to loose that option, I agree, but it always did feel a little silly to me...e.g. once the aliens know where your base is, say you manage to repulse the first attack, wouldn't they just nuke it from orbit? Or throw an asteroid at it? Or cut off all the supplies coming in to the base? Basically the base would loose all long term effectiveness even if you could successfully defend it.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:51 PM on March 8, 2012


Just thought I should point out that Steam are having a 50% sale on Xcom games this weekend. So $2.50 for Xcom....
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:30 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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