Here Is Some More Information About XCOM

By Alec Meer on June 21st, 2010 at 10:19 pm.

As presented by a rather nervous Australian man. I’m not surprised he’s nervous. He’s trying to explain why XCOM isn’t a linear shooter, in the face of a negative reaction he must surely be acutely aware of, and to describe a demo to camera because someone’s cleverly decided showing that demo on camera isn’t allowed.

(I’ve met that man. He seemed very nice, and swore with infectious enthusiasm).

Edit – Oh look, here’s another one, this time featuring Jonathon Pelling, the creative lead and main talker/not-talker in that interview. He was also nice, but didn’t swear much.

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80 Comments »

  1. Zyrxil says:

    Demo TO a camera? Seriously, what the fuck. This is going way beyond the bizarre “We’re not allowed to talk about that” weird levels in the interview.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Maybe they should either wind down the hype machine or let us see the stuff.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah I just can’t understand it either.

      “We want you guys to hear more about our awesome game and why you should be excited about it.”

      “Alright what can you tell us?”

      “… Nothing.”

      I haven’t given up hope that it’s going to have all the good bits of X-Com that I want in it, but they can’t pretend as if they’re being treated unfairly when they fail to actually show, or even tell us about all this awesome stuff we should be excited about.

    • DrazharLn says:

      I think their press officers should have released the announcement later, that or its a clever ploy to make everyone talk about the new title, face it, this title has go way more coverage than it would have done without the name.

      It’s not all been positive, but I think most people are probably intending to pick it up to at least try it out.

  2. Bret says:

    Yeah, the whole thing is odd.

    But the basic mechanics mentioned already show a promising willingness to allow the player to totally screw him or her self over, so that’s promising.

  3. Gurrah says:

    I want to play him in the game, seriously. That last bit was just hilarious.

  4. Poltergeist says:

    That guy telling the interviewer his war stories in this thick accent was both hilarious and surreal.

    • yutt says:

      Before this interview it had never occurred to me that it was possible for an Australian to *be* nervous.

    • Gabe says:

      Oh yes, we get nervous, whenever a new mature PC game is about to be released.

      It’s called the…. “Let’s see if the broken Aussie rating system screws us again” game.

    • James T says:

      I’m guessing he’s an expat Englishman, there are no glottal stops in Australian English.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Glottis only stops when there’s no more car to drive.

  5. Andy_Panthro says:

    Still not sure this is gonna be the game for me.

    I’d really like to see some of the “strategy” he’s talking about, because we’ve seen nothing so far. Why wouldn’t they let us see it? Are they going to give little exclusive bits to various media outlets in order to string the hype out as long as possible?

    I’m already in “hype-backlash” mode with this, glad that there’s things like Xenonauts and UFO: The Two Sides to get my X-COM fix (plus the originals of course).

    • Choca says:

      That’s basically the problem with this game. During the E3 presentation, the guy from “2K Whatever” told us that it was gonna be awesome, that you’ll have to manage your base, to pick your team and to make strategic decision… and then proceeded to show us ten minutes of another generic shooter with an extremely narrow field of view, levels that looked ridiculously small and what looked like pretty bland gameplay.

      If you want us to be excited at your game, show us exciting stuff. The only cool thing shown during this E3 showcase of the game was the big shapeshifting energy shooting alien-thingy at the end.

    • Mojo says:

      I actually heard him talk specifically about managing squad members, research, the US states actually having an opinion of you, missions being semi-procedural and the ability to produce items in-base, which is more concrete information I got on the strategy part than I ever heard before. Still, it’s easy to say it’s there. Why can’t they show it if they can show the generic shooter part? Why no mention of it in the trailer? It just makes you think…. think that they either don’t take that part very seriously or it’s so dumbed down its impact on actual gameplay is near nil.

  6. CMaster says:

    I don’t really understand why at E3, developers spend literally millions showing journalists things that they then don’t allow the actual gamers to see. (To be honest, I despair at all the “best booth” etc stuff at E3. I’d rather they spent those obscene amounts of money on y’know actually making the game better)
    But this is even odder.
    Just wait, what?

    • Jimbo says:

      Because they don’t trust the end-user to ignore the rough edges I guess. They trust journos to see past things like that.

    • Gritz says:

      Or maybe it’s because the mainstream game journalists who are trusted enough to be shown stuff behind closed doors have proven themselves time and time again to be nothing but a bunch of anti-critical sycophants when it comes to “AAA” game developers.

      E3 is and has always been a disgusting celebration of press fanboyism, where the entire industry joins together in an orgy of self-congratulatory hype. The “journalists” who get the privilege of attending are reinforced in their false sense of legitimacy, as if it is their tenure and public respectability that gets them in the door and not the verbal fellatio they give to every game their magazine or website gets paid to advertise.

      Why should we expect real criticism from journalists who are thrown lavish parties and are given sacks of free kitsch and are granted lucrative exclusive previews? Why should we anticipate anything more than copy/paste press-releases when most of what passes for “gaming news” consists of someone baking a cake with Sonic the Hedgehog on it?

    • Bowlby says:

      I think it’s what Jimbo said, personally. It’s too much of a PR risk to show early gameplay footage to the ignorant, critical, vocal gaming mass.

    • Thiefsie says:

      “Why should we anticipate anything more than copy/paste press-releases when most of what passes for “gaming news” consists of someone baking a cake with Sonic the Hedgehog on it?”

      So basically you’re talking about Kotaku…

    • Gritz says:

      Yes let’s blame the “ignorant” public, after all they wouldn’t be so ignorant if they would just listen to all of the pertinent information out there about this game such as:

      “We can’t show you that yet”
      “I can’t talk about that now”
      “It’s going to be really cool!”

      If the public is ignorant and overly cynical it may be because our journalists have consistently failed to inform and critique, adopting instead whichever carefully massaged narrative the industry’s PR gods hand down from Mount Olympus.

    • Choca says:

      I you wanna talk about obscene amounts of wasted money, you should really see the completely useless parties complete with D-list “celebrities” (I’ve heard that Usher and Paris Hilton were there this year, good for them) the publishers throw every year, with open invitations to everyone relevant from the press of course.

    • Tei says:

      “Yes let’s blame the “ignorant” public, after all they wouldn’t be so ignorant if they would just listen to all of the pertinent information out there about this game such as:”

      The public is ignorant. Show then what is just a mockup of the models of the game, on a early version of the engine, and will confuse that will the final games. Wen a game is “in the making” the graphics could be ugly placeholder, and the mechanics could be not-working. Maybe the parts that are fun, are the ones that are added and debugged on the last weeks, so are not ready for E3. I don’t know If you can trust journos to see a unfinished work, but I am sure you can’t trusth the general public. And why would do? the general publick is not game experts, and don’t have experience in software projects. Why whould know better?

    • innokenti says:

      The vast majority of a game’s development life-span it is going to be buggy, unfinished and generally far-off anything decent. Between the point where everything is polished up and the game is released there is practically no time to show it off to the public (demo is usually one of the best ways).

      It is really very hard to show Joe Bloggs anything that’s actually good without a great number of people on the internet over-criticising it and picking it apart. Because, really, there are lots of things to criticise and pick apart and will be until the last bit of polish and development which pulls everything together (one hopes).

      There’s a balance to be had between showing some stuff and whetting people’s appetites and not expending too much effort, energy and valuable time demonstrating unfinished and unpolished bits of development. Publishers and developers have different views, individual people have different views… it really isn’t worth complaining about what is and what isn’t being shown. Extremely rarely is anybody trying to be mean or cruel or stingy.

  7. Daniel says:

    So, if I might hazard a guess…
    We all recall Bioshock, I’m certain. (Boo! Hiss! I’m sure.)
    Does anyone recall the early interviews for THAT game?
    “It’s what we call an ‘Evolved shooter’.”
    “It’s a different kind of shooter”
    “Sweet ever loving god, someone give me a adjective that will describe what we’re doing where I won’t end up saying ‘First Person RPG’ and making half our target audience disregard our game with a unified cry of “RPG? Gaaaaaay.” Because at the time, Halo was still kind of a big deal. Cliche but true.

    2k Games seems to prep all the devs, (who ostensibly love gaming and aren’t seething black pits of anti-fun) with the following instructions: You can talk about the game, but not about why you love it, or what excites you about it. We fucking hate that. Our markets hate that. Talk about the shooting, or something.

    • YogSo says:

      You have forgotten one:

      “FPS 2.0″.

    • Radiant says:

      In all honesty “RPG? GAAAAY” is what I say when I find out a game I like the look of is all about rising numbers and items.

    • Radiant says:

      I do really want to play this game.
      Blobatov cocktail may have something to do with it.

  8. GT3000 says:

    In before shitstorm.

  9. Huggster says:

    He seemed so earnest it would be a shame not to like it!

  10. Monkeybreadman says:

    I want to see video, not dude talking with bits of the already released trailer. VID to the F-ing EO

  11. YogSo says:

    XCOM and DXHR news/videos/all-hell-breaks-loose in the same day?

    Neo-RPS is about to E·X·P·L·O·D·E…

  12. Vivian says:

    enthusiastically x-ray platefuls of Londis organic duck eggs?

  13. kulak says:

    Wait, so no other games devs have just a guy talking about their game inter-spaced with a trailer?

    And no other game devs have demos that they show to the press but not the public?

    oh wait………

    • TheHumanBlur says:

      The irrational hatred was so thick it was almost palpable….

  14. Robin says:

    @ Alec Meer

    Could you ask, when you have the chance to, if they’re going to release the sources of the original games? There are a couple of projects, like OpenXcom, that could benefit from that I think.

    • Bret says:

      I’m pretty sure the source code for X-Com no longer, as a point of strict fact “exists”, if you want to be technical about it.

      Happened in the stream of IP shuffles back around the turn of the century. Dirty shame, but it can’t be helped now.

  15. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Hes like the coach roach alien from Men In Black.

    Come to think of it, that would been a way better IP to mess with. It would probably attract more non gamers, and not piss off the gamers.

  16. Vivian says:

    Yeah, but you can imagine how it goes. People have ideas, they want them funded, shady corporate robots say ‘you can only have the money if you do something with this IP we acquired from our last shady corporate robot merger’, and you end up with something like I, Robot. That lightening gun pictured above is horribly ugly by the way.

  17. Meat Circus says:

    I think we need a biweekly update on which way the Meer-XCOM shitometer is swinging.

  18. Meat Circus says:

    Also, the chap in the video is such a cheeky chappie, it’s hard to feel antipathy towards him.

  19. Nick says:

    That guy aint Australian, he’s English.

    • Pmeie says:

      Exactly what I thought – and I’m Australian.

      Nobody I’ve ever met in my 23 years in Aus talks like that lol.

      He does give off a sort of Australian vibe… but he sounds English.

    • John says:

      I think the videos are around the wrong way. The bottom video features a nervous Australian. The man in the top video sounds like an aggressive Englishman who’s lived in Australia for a number of years.

  20. jeremypeel says:

    I believe him. This is horrible – the 2K Aussies are clearly dying to tell us why everything’s going to be ok but also are acutely aware of how much they can’t say. So we get videos basically consisting of, “There will be a map. There will be a research team leader with a fantastic name. And somewhere between these two points, will be Strategy.”

  21. Kester says:

    Are we sure that XCOM is in fact a game, and not some elaborate parody of videogame PR?

  22. Keep says:

    I don’t understand why they can’t talk about the game.

    If something like controlling your squad or destructible environments are in the game, why the hell not admit it, and boast about it? Why not go full Molyneux with the hype even? I don’t see how enforced silence is going to attract either a) those with expectations, or b) those who’re new to the franchise and just wanting to find out if it’d be worth getting in on.

    What’s the advantage of this tactic? Somebody? Cos damned if I know.

  23. MadMatty says:

    actually it sounds nice enuff cool- lets see when the demo comes out-
    if we´re lucky it contains enuff elements of “iT came from the desert” to keep us interested

  24. MadMatty says:

    xcept the harshness- that old game really gave you no clue and was hard as fuck to complete xcept for obsessives

  25. thebigJ_A says:

    Look, I’m with you no your thoughts for this game, I too wish it weren’t called XCOM. But to call anyone with an interest in this game (including the vast number of people who, due to the unforgivable crime of being born too late, never play x-com) NONGAMERS, is insulting, and smacks of an elitism that makes people disregard what you say.

    Again, I emphasise, I AGREE with your overall point. Your wording, owever, makes me want to disagree.

  26. TheHumanBlur says:

    Why the music in the background? Do journalists these days seriously think that we The Audience have such short attention spans that we need a techno-serenade just to keep us watching the feckin interviews? growl growl

    • Mojo says:

      Yes. Yes, they do.

      In fact I’m less worried about the impact of this fact on the music choice during PR interviews than how it will affect the actual gameplay.

  27. Flakfizer says:

    So they’re in damage control mode now?

    I guess when there’s a fan backlash and people like Tom Chick think your demo sucks you stop showing it and tell the devs to talk up the strategy side.

    I hope this means they’ll take more time and add more meaningful strategy, research and squad control. I fear they’ll stay quiet until release, only giving review code to game sites that are in the publishers pockets.

    According to the preview at Game Stooge it doesn’t sound like it currently deserves the X-Com name.

  28. 12kill4 says:

    I’m getting the same feeling I got when they were showing Tribes Vengence (same studio, right?)… I’m kind of expecting a similar reaction to this when it is released.

  29. Ricc says:

    Check out the second half of this video (starting at 21:40) for a discussion between Spoony and Joe about the the XCOM demo. They radically disagree with each other, which makes it interesting to watch, also funny.

    http://spoonyexperiment.com/2010/06/20/e3-2010-coverage-day-2-deus-ex-3/

    • Mojo says:

      Heh. I think I finally found a guy who’s more upset about this being an arcade FPS than me.

      This shows something very common with the coverage, though. Games journalist walks out of booth decorated as 50ies style kitchen and proudly claims “They made me a believer!”. They you wait for reasons why he became a believer… and all you hear is “Oh, the new setting is so stylish and I kinda saw something that vaguely seems to be similar to elements of the original game it is a sequel to!” Like, “Hey, X-Com had lazer guns. XCOM has lazer guns, too! Hurray for core elements being still there!”.

      I just don’t get how people can be that optimistic, essentially filling out all the parts they haven’t seen with best-case scenarios. Has that ever happened? A developer downright refusing to comment on a feature and then you find out it’s the best thing ever? Hell no. If there was any meaningful strategy left (and I’m not talking about “core elements”, I’m talking about gameplay depth) they’d show us. They’d explain in detail.

      There’s nothing there. No hidden features that replace all the gameplay of X-Com 1 with fresh and innovative features. Strategy has just been axed in favor of XBox-compatible action and 3-button interactivity. That’s all I can see from the shitloads of previews and interviews I read and watched. And unless they demo a radically different game than they showed and presented so far, I see no reason why XCOM should be any different than that.

  30. cdm says:

    That guy doesn’t sound very aussie?

  31. Chucrute says:

    I’m worried about execution (how every aspect of the game ties together). There’s so many things that could go wrong.

    He said something about “non-linear FPS”, but how engaging is the campaign (is there any GOOD story/mystery or just plain blob-shooting with a B-movie script)? How long before it becomes boring and repetitive (are there any different guns, endings, environments, characters)? How are the FPS and Strategy aspects bonded together (do both modes provide interesting and compelling gameplay or any of them fell half-assed and incomplete)? Are the controls responsive? Do the general gameplay provides satisfaction? How robust is the engine of the game (is a buggy mess or a game capable of running on different machines with good overall performance)?

    A negative response on any of these questions can lead to a disaster, but you can’t judge it from trailers/screenshots/interviews, you need to PLAY AND FEEL IT. I’ve seen horrible games advertised as “revolutionary” and “refreshing”, only the see them stick to the same old formula. I find incredible that some cheap indie games are 1000 of times better than expensive ones, because they innovate in the CORE, and not just add something the disguise the same old shit.

  32. Tei says:

    This is negative information. After watching this videos, I know less about the game. What could be good, maybe. Why are we subject to watch again and again the same video? :-)

  33. Thattapeeniongain says:

    Being forced to rewatch the FPS demo video in the interview made me realize just how terrible the guns and their handlind will be and how bland-because-of-console-target-platform the texturing and geometry really looks. So much for “vibrant world”.

    I can’t believe that even as they are raping a great franchise, they can’t even make it a GOOD FPS rape, because their target shooter gamer has to thumbfiddlefaddle around on an analogue stick and use hardware with fixed texturing units, clock speed and memory..

    This game is getting more depressing the more I think about it. EVERYTHING about the viewable game content screams (badly made) CONSOLE GAME, which is why I suspect they aren’t showing more.

    If you want to know how a shotgun looks and handles, consult counterstrike: source and call of duty modern warfare first next time.
    Not a black elongated blob that jerks oddly when fired and wobbles..

    Quite frankly, the guns seem to be modeled by less talent than a 1997 shareware shooter, and their main content IS the running around and fighting stuff part.

    Just how exactly are you going to make a sell if that’s just plain crap?

    And don’t come at me with the “Nooooes, it’s totally about XCOM, saving your partners, making tough choices, research and atmosphere!”. It’s about shooting stuff and clicking 2-3 choices at HQ, and woe to those that live in the illusion that it is not.

    • Matt Nothing says:

      “And don’t come at me with the “Nooooes, it’s totally about XCOM, saving your partners, making tough choices, research and atmosphere!”. It’s about shooting stuff and clicking 2-3 choices at HQ, and woe to those that live in the illusion that it is not.”

      None of us know that for a fact because we haven’t seen anything yet.

      As for the thumbstick nonsense – COD4, Mirrors Edge, BF:BC2 and countless other games show you can make a game that doesn’t suffer for being designed for both m+k and pad even if they do play slightly differently across formats.

    • Mojo says:

      I don’t get the “We can’t know that until we played the game!” argument.

      I mean, you definitely can’t write a review before you played the game. But what we’re seeing here is how the developers chose to best describe their game to the public. The features they’re most proud of, the gameplay they consider most important. I haven’t seen a game preview in the past… 10 years or so, that hasn’t given me at least a semi-accurate picture of the game. I saw the first trailer of Portal an knew I’d love the game. The first trailer of Bioshock and I knew that it would be more shootery than I hoped for a spiritual successor to SS2, but still decent.

      Those mysterious, opinion-changing events that totally revert your opinion on a previewed game? I’ve never seen them happening. Maybe they can do some damage control by at least allowing basic strategy gameplay in HQ. But it will probably stay at “clicking 2-3 choices”, something I expected all along and which kinda sums up what I’m missing (X-Com 1 had about “100 choices”).

      They show us a preview to explain the game to us. We comment on how we feel about that. And cue reminder that “We should wait to form an opinion until we played the game”. Like, wait until it’s already out and the hype machine has done all the damage. Right…

    • Matt Nothing says:

      There’s 100s of trailers and previews for games every year that show next to nothing of the actual gameplay. Some don’t even show in-engine footage. And your argument only works if you assume the trailer is representative of the entire game. Which we know it isn’t.

      So the bit up for the debate – how deep the strategy is, is still anyone’s guess until they show more.

  34. Fraser says:

    Those videos are definitely around the wrong way. The nervous Australian, John Pelling – I wonder if he’s any relation to Chris Pelling, noted Australian, creator of Mayhem Intergalactic and participant in RPS’ Neptune’s Pride saga? I met Chris once at a games festival, and he looks and sounds a bit like this guy.

    As for this whole series of lukewarm XCOM features, I get the feeling the game is not really far enough along to be presented to the public. I wouldn’t be surprised if the developers didn’t want to show anything at E3, but were pushed into it by the publisher.

  35. Zogtee says:

    “…and you have met the main character, who is actually the man who heads up all this, uhmmm, XCOM.”

    Yeah, XCOM, innit mate? I’m not going to rag on the game anymore, because I’ve already done that. I am seriously worried about this title, though, and the fact that they talk about nothing and show us nothing doesn’t help.

    Sure, maybe they want to avoid a negative reaction from the internets, but look around ffs, it’s already happening! Give me something that will show me that you’re not fucking this up.

  36. d. says:

    Is it going to be turn-based?

  37. pistolhamster says:

    Ive designated this game into something I am not going to bother with at all until someone informs me that it is a very good game. Not a very good XCom game, because it is quite clear that this has little to do with XCom. It is a game where you investigate aliens and shoot them in FPS mode.

    Btw XCom isnt a “good franchies” – the bad games are starting to outweigh the good ones.

  38. Dominic White says:

    I wish I was clairvoyant, like almost everyone else who has seen the XCom trailer. Everywhere I look online, there are people stating the absolute, inescapable facts that there is only one enemy type in the game, one map, no base management, no strategy, no research beyond snapping photos for +10% damage bonuses, etc etc.

    It’s like how Dragon Age was a game about dudes making speeches to Marylin Manson soundtracks, while topless chicks battle orcs.

    I’ve been raged at, and called a sychophantic fanboy just for uttering these for these unholy five words: Let’s wait for more info.

    • Mojo says:

      From the other POV, it’s quite a trollish statement to say “Wait for more info” after we’ve gone through at least 2 waves of previews, interviews, trailers, etc. Should we really discard all the information we already got and fill the gaps with best case scenarios?

      There is info. Enough to give you a very good idea of the developer’s priorities. If you preview a new XCom game and proudly present a twitch-shooter and “not comment” on the strategy parts or do some half-assed promises that there “will be research in some form or another”, it clearly shows that the developer’s (or whoever rules this project) priorities do not lie in strategy. For a franchise most famous for its… well, strategy.

      That’s what we’re commenting on. There’s more than enough info that shows that they don’t really care about people who like strategy. It’s like they announced a new Sim City game and said it’s a driving game because the “core element” of SC has always been the traffic management. Essentially a big “FU, you’re obsolete” towards the niche audience of the original game. If you want to cater to some mainstream XBox crowd, don’t abuse a hardcore PC strategy franchise for it.

    • Dominic White says:

      “From the other POV, it’s quite a trollish statement to say “Wait for more info” after we’ve gone through at least 2 waves of previews, interviews, trailers, etc.”

      And all of them are almost entirely devoid of information, and full of the developers just being awkward and saying ‘we can’t talk about that yet’. Clearly there is stuff we haven’t seen, and for some reason the publisher (in a fit of blinding idiocy – but that’s what publishers do, generally) want to drip-feed info.

      And so, I’m trolling? By saying that we should wait and judge once we have a clearer picture. Y’know what? Fuck that noise. It’s not trolling in the slightest. It’s the most measured and reasonable stance you could possibly take on the situation, and apparently it’s WRONG, accodring to furious internet nerds.

    • Dominic White says:

      I mean, clearly Alec is trolling us all with that ‘all further opinion withheld until I’ve played something FYI’. How unreasonable and deliberately angering that is. It’s almost as if the man is behaving like a mature adult, and not a tantruming child.

      What a troll.

  39. Kevbo says:

    The first interview was rather amusing :)
    I’m really on the fence with this so far and really need more info. I like some concepts that have been mentioned and the time period/setting. However the trailer gameplay looks very bland with weak weapons and watered down action. I’ll keep my eye on this since I like some of what I hear, if I hear about modding support then I am all over this.

  40. Doth Messar says:

    Warning! Incoming game. Warning! Incoming game.

  41. Robin says:

    Gimme the phone number of Stardock CEO, I can do a bit of graphics: I’ll work for food, water and a bed if he agrees in doing a proper sequel.

  42. Thriceberg says:

    I get the feeling they have a very large feature wish list that is too ambitious for the time allotted. They probably want to have good squad control and destructible environments, but they may not be able to get those aspects release-quality before the money men push a release date. Since they don’t know, they can’t say.

    • Humppakummitus says:

      I get pretty much the opposite feeling. It’s like their game doesn’t have that much to show, so they’d rather keep the hype. It seems like all the interesting game mechanics are only talked about, never shown. Squad command, base management…
      Besides, wasn’t it already confirmed that the unscripted destructible objects would be limited to the standard small stuff?

  43. Soban says:

    I think it will be a great game, it just wont be X-COM.