I want to quickly post this, which Jim found. Where did he find it? I don’t know. He could have just been reading the XCOM thread at Gamasutra. Google suggests he may have found it at RPGCodex, but that doesn’t sound likely. Anyway, Julian Gollop was the legendary creator of Chaos, Laser Squad and – relevantly – the original X-COM. I’ve been wondering about what he makes of all this ever since it came out. Sadly, he’s not replying to any of our e-mails. However, he did turn up in the comment thread (twice!) to the aforementioned Gamasutra article and said the following…
Personally, I would have gone with a turn-based game system – but no one asked me. Actually, I was developing an X-Com style game called Dreamland back in 1999 – turn-based but 3D (actually very similar to Valkyria Chronicles in the way it worked). Sadly, it didn’t see the light of day.
And Dreamland was one of the sad losses of the late 00s. And then….
Publishers run a mile from anything with turn-based mechanics – it is regarded as too niche. RTS games pretty much killed off turn-based strategy games in the mid-90s – but now even RTS games are regarded as niche. So all my experience working turn-based games from 1983-1997 is now somewhat obsolete, despite the success of X-Com. However, I am now working on a turn-based tactical RPG which will be a 3DS launch title. Thanks to ‘Advance Wars’, ‘Fire Emblem’ and ‘Final Fantasy Tactics’ it seems turn-based games are not totally dead – at least for Nintendo handhelds. I would also argue that Pokemon has a lot of parallels with X-Com in its game system, despite being classified as an ‘RPG’. The core of Pokemon is a turn-based tactical battle enriched by a sophisticated higher level meta-game that allows players to experiment with many game elements and combinations of forces – and Pokemon is the second most successful game franchise in the world. If done right, would an X-Com game with a turn-based combat system be successful? Absolutely!
So now we know. Phew.