Time For A Change: Firaxis On XCOM, Part 3

By Alec Meer on February 3rd, 2012 at 4:51 pm.

In the third and final (for now) part of my enormo-chat with Firaxis’ Jake Solomon, head brain on XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the official remake of the legendary X-COM, we get into the nitty-gritty. To whit: why throw out time units, how the replacement system works, modding support, difficulty, soldier classes, country funding, Julian Gollop, ‘ZCOM’ and why he feels this new game has to bear the X-COM name.

RPS: OK, well let’s do time units. Go on, explain yourself about why time units have been removed…

Jake Solomon: (laughs) Ok, so I guess what I’d say is that we had time units, our prototype had time units and time units are a great mechanic – sorry, I even hear it in my own voice, I’m switching into defensive mode here – time units are a great mechanic, there are still plenty of games that use time units. The reason was, and this was one that actually quite surprised me, we had time units, and when we studied players, everybody was getting really frustrated because what people wanted to do in the game was they wanted to make a plan, right, that’s a lot of the joy of a tactical game like this – you look at the battlefield, you see the aliens, you see your XCOM squad and you’re going to start saying, in your head ‘Ok, right, I’m going to sneak around for the flank here, I’m going to pin this guy down there, I’m going to flush this guy out of cover, and the same time my other guy’s going to be an overwatch so I get a reaction fire shot on him’ right? So that’s how you think, looking at the battlefield.

But making and executing that plan, that’s one of the joys of a tactical game, of a strategic game, of games that reward thinking. So the problem was that people were getting frustrated, they were never planning past their first unit because time units don’t really map towhat you see, they’re not a direct map to what you see and how you think about your soldiers, and so people would basically break down and they would basically only plan for their one active unit, because they actually were never quite sure what they were going to be able to do. I think any player of the original would acknowledge that it had the sort of great experience of like, ok, snapshot, snapshot, back behind cover, oh look at that, kneel, snapshot.

That’s not a bad thing, but what that prevented was for people planning their squad as a squad and instead they planned individual units basically as it happened. Because you could have a rough idea, but the problem was that people couldn’t map time units to the way that they thought about the battlefield, and so it became a real frustration for people – because on top of that, we’ve added so much stuff, I mean we really have added so, so much stuff, in terms of abilities that your soldiers can do, weapons, classes, the cover system, the abilities that the aliens can do, new item, new armours… All these things, and we’ve designed these abilities to be combo-d together from different soldiers, and then they can interact in interesting ways.

We thought about a lot of these mechanics as like you have to use multiple soldiers to be successful at them, and time units just basically broke that system, because people just weren’t able to think like that with time units. They would say like ‘I have no idea what I can do’, they thought they knew what they could do but they weren’t sure, and so because of that, time units just didn’t work, I guess. I know some people are not going to believe me and I think that’s fine, but I would say that I’m speaking completely honestly. This was not some sort of thing where we said ‘Oh, time units are too tough, this’ll make it easier to play’ because everybody intellectually understands time units once you explain it to them, it’s easy to intellectually understand. The problem was that it just didn’t map to the experience well. With all these new abilities and things, it just created this barrier between ‘I know what I want to do and I know how I’m going to do it’ and instead it became this sort of thing where you were like ‘I’m not quite sure what I can do, and so I’m just going to let it sort of play out’. So in this case when we had time units, they ended up making the game more shallow, because all these different abilities and combos, all these interesting things, were never getting used because people couldn’t think about them that way.

Once we put in a system where the player could think about their abilities as discrete events, then it became much much easier for people to say ‘ok, I’m going to play in my turn, then the aliens are going to do something and they’re going to mess with my plan, but ultimately I’m going to execute my plan’. And that’s what’s most satisfying, is understanding that you have a superior plan, and then forcing the execution of that plan on to your enemy – that is what’s so thrilling.

RPS: Some of the thrill for me, though, is like that thing we were talking about earlier – the difference between almost min/maxing it and making it up as you go along. The horrifying moment where you realize you’ve overspent by one point so you can’t actually kneel behind that wall, so you’re thinking ‘oh god, what am I going to do, I’ve got to try and work out a plan B…’

Jake Solomon: That’s certainly true, there’s that risk/reward mechanic of ‘ok, I thought I could do this and then I find out that I’ve basically overspent or something like that’, and so I agree with that, and we’ve tried to do things where risk/reward is still a part of it. It’s not just ‘move and take an action’, there’s certainly other things you can do in terms of sprinting, and then when the class system unfolds, then you can do all kinds of things, plenty of your soldiers have abilities to do multiple things beyond just ‘move and take an action’ or ‘move’ and anything like that. It becomes deeper and we are very conscious of that whole basically risk/reward mechanic where you walk into a bad situation – that’s a classic XCOM moment, when you sort of like turn the corner and you’re like ‘Uuuuh, I’m fucked’.

RPS: Bing, bing, bing, and there’s three of them just watching you.

Jake Solomon: Right, exactly! (laughs)

RPS: So can you try and describe your system as best you can, because I think most of our readers won’t have read the American magazine with the big preview in, and I only partly understand it at this point to be honest?

Jake Solomon: Right. Well, I think that the starting point is familiar to people who are familiar with either tabletop or something like this. The idea is that each rookie soldier at the very beginning is capable of doing two things; the idea is that your soldier can move and then perform an ability, whether that’s going to overwatch, which allows reaction fire, whether that’s to use a special ability like obviously to fire a weapon, to throw a grenade, to hunker down. Hunker down is, any unit once they’re in cover can basically give up the rest of their turn and double their defence, so they can get behind cover and hunker down, and they’ll get a big defensive boost but they also, their site radius drops drastically. They almost can’t see anything, and so that of course has all kinds of interesting ramifications, because your scout out in front is going to walk in, maybe he blunders in to a bunch of aliens and you’re like ‘oh shit’, he goes to hunker down but now he can’t see what the aliens are doing..

So the system is move, and you can either move again, or you can take an action, and of course you can bypass your action entirely by dashing, what we call taking a dash, and that is moving extremely far in one turn, but there are all these little system ramifications. If you’re dashing, you’ll actually do much better against reaction fire. If you’re sprinting, if you’ve given up your entire turn to move far then you’re actually harder to hit if somebody’s in overwatch, but of course you’ve given up your turn, you’re not going to return any fire that turn, so there’s all these little elements that play off of each other. And of course as abilities are added, and abilities can be added through the inventory, so what items you’re carrying, what armour you’re wearing… Armour is completely unclassed, so anybody can wear any armour, and different suits of armour give you different, interesting battlefield abilities, but you can get abilities from your class obviously, from your weapons, from your inventory and from your armour, and so you’ve got all these different abilities. Some of them work really well together, some of them are solo moves, different things like that.

RPS: So I guess you can’t do something like walk a bit, shoot then crouch? You need to make your decision upfront about how you’re going to do your play, basically.

Jake Solomon: Yeah, it’s hard to classify because there’re so many different ways you can customize your soldiers as they level. There are cases when you can fire and then walk, and so it’s the sort of thing where it’s hard to classify but certainly for rookies, when the rookies start they can do very basic things. Walk, and then shoot, or they could dash, or they could hunker down, or they could go into overwatch to do reaction fire, but then yeah, it becomes a game more about planning your squad’s turn as a whole as opposed to sort of running an individual unit and then letting it play out.

RPS: Ok, I’ve got a better sense of it. The purist in me is still going ‘hmmm’ but until I’ve played it I just can’t sensibly comment.

Jake Solomon: (laughs) I understand.

RPS: I notice, by the way, that you keep calling Mr Gollop Julian, which suggests you’ve had some contact with him, is that true?

Jake Solomon: I have had some contact with him, I’m afraid that’s all I can say at this point.

RPS: Bah! Are you considering any form of mod support, even just indirect stuff like not locking away the textures? I don’t know if you guys have much choice in that.

Jake Solomon: Yeah, and I can’t commit to anything specific obviously because my lead engineer would tear my head off, but that’s something that we benefit from. I mean there’s two sides to that. We’re Firaxis obviously, so we obviously believe in that, we’ve done that for our Civ games extensively, and the benefit of using the Unreal engine is that’s a pretty well-defined modding system. So we’re not committing to exactly what it is we’re doing, but I’m very interested in making sure that’s something that we’re definitely looking very closely at, it’s something that we’d want to do for players.

RPS: You just know the second that’s announced the first thing that will happen is someone will declare they’re making a Terror From the Deep total conversion.

Jake Solomon: Right with time units and ammunition management, I understand, I know (laughs) and I’m ok with that. And I think in some ways that’s good too, I can say like ‘well y’know, I’m perfectly happy to let people see all the code I’ve written and do what they want to do with it, so…’

RPS: There needs to be a site somewhere just documenting time from start of game announcement x to announcement of mod y that will be the ‘complete’ mod, the ‘true’ mod with all these things fixed, all these very specific little features.

Jake Solomon: And you know what, I’ll probably play it. (laughs)

RPS: How randomly generated is the campaign going to be? You’ve said about it a bit, but in terms of mission to mission, is it going to be a complete random blank slate each time?

Jake Solomon: Yeah, the idea is that there are some, very few missions, well actually the levels don’t repeat, so it’s not the sort of thing where you have to play the same map or anything like that. I mean certainly the game structure is just like the original, you’re going to be shooting down UFOs, you’re going to be going on abductions – which I guess is a new thing – and terror missions, but the idea of like what map that is and when they come up, and what day they come up; that stuff’s all procedural. That stuff is driven by procedural so there’s no laid out path for the player in terms of what map they’re going to get and where they’re going to go. I mean, you can choose your starting continent and of course different continents have different bonuses.

That’s actually something new, we have all kinds of new bonuses based on what continents you’re protecting, so based on where you start you’re going to get a different bonus based on if you’re completely protecting a continent with satellites. Internally, and this is not a good name for it, but we’re calling that ‘the collection bonus’ where if you’re protecting an entire continent with satellites then you get another bonus from that continent, which has an impact of course on how the game plays out and in addition to that they all have different funding levels and different levels of specialists, and things like that.

RPS: So there’ll be bonuses, they’re not simply more cash, there’s going to be almost a buff to your abilities?

Jake Solomon: Yeah they have that, they do have the cash bonus, they have the more scientists per month or more engineers, but there’s more than that – there’s also then gameplay bonuses where it says like ‘you will get x’. You sort of think of them as like the Civ bonuses.

RPS: Any average planned length for missions, if it’s even possible to have a consistent figure for that.?

Jake Solomon: Oh boy that’s tough, it depends on what map or what UFO you’ve shot.. I think that they can go anywhere I suppose from fifteen minutes up to, we’ve got some long ones. I’ll just say we’ve got some long ones. And it depends on what you do – some maps are going to take a much, much longer period of time.

RPS: How are you dealing with saving for that? Do you have to complete or clear your mission or do you allow a mid-mission save, cheeky save?

Jake Solomon: No, you can save however you want, but I will say that there are, we’ve got a lot of saves to help you, but I will say that I just put in this last weekend an Iron Man mode. It’s important; a lot of players, we like to play Iron Man and so it’s something we want to actually systemically enable where if you say I want to play this game in Iron Man then you’ve only got one save slot and all auto saves and all your saves go to that slot – and the only thing you can do is save and exit. Of course you get to some point where if you lose too much, I’ll give you the option, I’ll say ‘do you want to turn off Iron Man’, you know, ‘Are you done? Do you want to turn off Iron Man and continue to play normally?’ But I think it’s important that there is an Iron Man mode, I mean I saw this morning the 1999 from BioShock: Infinite, that’s awesome, I mean that’s very exciting, I think, so it’s along those lines.

RPS: Outside of Iron Man, can you still get into a real losing situation where it’s going to be difficult, maybe even impossible, to claw your way back to victory?

Jake Solomon: Yep. I think that the player can recover at any point, but it would require significant amounts of skill. It’s definitely a game you can lose, I mean that’s certainly important. X-COM is a game that you can lose on the strategic level – I mean, when you lose on the tactical level you’re not going to lose the game just because you lost a combat mission but that’s going to have repercussions of course, countries around the world are not going to be thrilled and the player has to deal with that. And certainly on the strategic level, the player is always teetering on the edge of that global war and there is absolutely ways the player can lose the global war. We don’t want a long death cycle but it is the sort of thing where a player can make choices and it can be challenging to the point where, yes, you can absolutely lose the game on the strategic level.

RPS: Good to hear, in a scary sort of way. Why, by the way, use the XCOM title? Why not take what was best from XCOM and make it into a whole new IP that you can say is entirely your own game?

Jake Solomon: I guess because… I’d never even thought of that….we’re starting from the original game and we’re certainly using the aliens. We love the aliens from the original game, so we wouldn’t want to, at least for the first one, we wouldn’t want to start without recreating that experience with all those original aliens and if we’re going to expand them, for us it’s fun to say like ok, if a Sectoid could do more, what do we think they can do? So we use the original alien as a template and say like ‘well if he had extra combat abilities they’d be x, y, z,’ so…I think it’s because we certainly feel that we’re in the XCOM family, so it’d be hard to imagine this game being something else. I mean you certainly could call it something else, but because we’re tied so heavily to the original game, it made sense.

RPS: I think if you call it YCOM that would shut everybody up.

Jake Solomon: (laughs) I like ZCOM, if I ever make a zombie survival game, it will definitely be ZCOM.

RPS: Someone’s going to make that as a mod now, you shouldn’t have said it, I’ll have to take that bit out.

Jake Solomon: That’s fine by me. (laughs).

RPS: I’ll do one more question on a completely different tack. How would you sell this game to someone just entering the XCOM world – as opposed to all the nerdy diehards like myself, to someone who had no prior notions of the series. How would you make it appeal to them?

Jake Solomon: Well, I think that the fun thing about XCOM is that you think back to your original experience with it, XCOM is that it’s not like any other game, you can’t make an easy comparison. That’s the sort of thing that I know people like to do to classify games, but I think as a player you can make the case of like ‘you don’t know anything like this’, so if you’re playing Terraria or Minecraft, the experience is sort of like ‘What’s it like?’ and people go ‘er, that’s tough’. I don’t know how to explain it’.

So as a player, I want to play that game – and so we have elements that I think every gamer’s going to like. We have the combat, and the light RPG elements an dstrategic elements, but I don’t know if there are any games that sort of wrap them all up like XCOM does. My favourite thing about XCOM is it’s this huge vertical integration, it’s this huge vertical scope where you’re making the top, top decisions about what battles you’re going to fight, and where, and what you’re going to research, and how you’re going to equip your soldiers, and then, you’re actually going into combat with those items you’ve built, or like you’ve shot down that UFO, you’re actually going to see that actual UFO on the ground.

So as a player you don’t feel like the game’s stringing you along and saying ‘ok, well now you’re in this location and now you’re going to do this, you’ve got to do these objectives because that’s what you need to do.’ As a player you’re sort of like ‘yeah, I chose to do this, I know why I have to raid that UFO to get those resources because I need to go back and build x,y,z.’ And on the global level you’re saying ‘look, I know why those guys in combat have to succeed because I really, really need France’s support.’ I think that there’s no game that is that intimate and epic all at the same time, and I think that that’s what makes it unique – and as a player, you have elements you recognize but never stacked on top of each other like that, it makes for something really deep, and you get invested because you’re the guy making all the decisions.

RPS: I can remember when I first heard about it at school, it wasn’t ‘this is a strategy game and you have to beat the aliens’ – it was more like ‘you can do this, and this, and you can kidnap the aliens and interrogate them and you can build this, and go to Mars, and there are fast spaceships and flying suits and hoveranks. ’ The sheer ‘oh my god it has so much excitement’ of it seems like a better way of selling it than ‘It is like game x plus game y’.

Jake Solomon: Right, and those analogies always fall short anyway because you could say like ‘well, it’s kind of like this mixed with that’, but it’s not really because it’s in the mixing of those elements that you create something entirely new. I mean, it’s greater than the sum of its parts, it’s not just a tactical, turn based tactical game, it’s not just a strategic management game because each of those games individually is not nearly as rewarding as what happens when you make the bridge between them. The decisions on each are magnified by the existence of the other – so you’re always in this constant cycle of like ‘oh, now I’ve got this I want to get back to strategy and research this, and now that I’ve researched this I want to get back into combat and use this item’, so, that is what makes it unique, it’s because you can do so many of the different things.

RPS: Yeah, you’re juggling so much at once thinking ‘this is going to happen next, I just need to get through this’. Right, well I had better wrap it up there, I’ve already got basically the rest of my life to spend transcribing this now.

Jake Solomon: (laughs) That’s great, any other questions you have, please feel free. I knew it would be you talking to me – I read that manifesto on the twenty-four things that we have to do, don’t think that that didn’t make the rounds at the office…

RPS: Uh-oh. But how many did I get right?

Jake Solomon: (laughs) quite a few, that’s all I’ll say, quite a few.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is scheduled for release in the third quarter of this year.

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160 Comments »

  1. Teronfel says:

    I would play ZCOM.

    • Icarus says:

      Me too, actually.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      I would play the fuck out of ZCom

    • Synchrony says:

      Well that’s the name of the first zombie mod sorted already

    • newprince says:

      Only if I could hear the brits say “zed COM” because then I could giggle.

    • bhlaab says:

      Isn’t that more or less what Dead State is?

    • Turkey says:

      Why settle for just zombies, though? It would be way cooler if you were like the BPRD from the Hellboy comics, fighting every supernatural kind of monster ever created. Just imagine a wolfman terror misson.

    • ksdfsdadsd says:

      We have a large number of sources! If you can purchase a large number Price promotions! http://url.ie/e2q0

    • Premium User Badge

      lurkalisk says:

      @newprince

      Honestly, “zee-com” sounds a whole lot weirder than “zed-com” to me. The former sounds like a very poor attempt at a German accent… I guess while saying something strange and naughty.

    • silgidorn says:

      Sie Kommt, ach!

      Is this from a german nihilist that believes in nothing but has played in porno movies?

      Hallo, Ich bin der Kabelguy

  2. silgidorn says:

    Haven’t read this part yet, but:
    Thank you M.Meer for your work so far.
    I’ve gladly read the the two first parts and i’m sure, i’ll enjoy this one.
    Did you have to transcribe all this? So I read the interview and,yes, you had the transcribe all this. So thank you again for the time you burnt on this.

    Edit: stoopid me, stoopid question

  3. Zeewolf says:

    Really looking forward to it. Also the spacey screens makes me want a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. Can I have that, Firaxis? Please?

  4. Vexing Vision says:

    I dislike Civ 5. I am incredibly disappointed by it.

    I am even more wary of any remakes of titles I really enjoyed.

    And yet, you guys made me buy this the moment the pre-order opens. Well done, games journalism!

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Meh, CiV was a great step forward for the series hamstrung by too little resources put into it. Far too little time on balancing and AI, but the overall direction was very sound.

      Lets hope XCOM gets all the resources from 2k it needs.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think some of the moves in Civ V were brilliant, especially independent City-States. They made diplomacy much more interesting. It just lacked polish. Civ IV had that polish because it was pretty much a graphically updated Civ III, so I think Civ VI will get it too.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      I bought Civ 5 and felt let down by certain aspects. The AI is still dumb as a door, worker automation suffers from the same level of uselessness as in previous civs, no mods or non-simultaneous turns pretty much killed PvP multiplayer from the get go (and playing together against the stupid AI is really not-fun), and yet my steam tells me I’ve logged 130 hours of the less than perfect game.

      Why? Because the tactical combat is GREAT, the streamlining of things like culture, gold and happiness WORKS really well, and it’s just overall the sleekest, most fun Civ to play for me right now. I’d go back to Civ 4, but honestly, after about 200 hours of that I can’t stand another game of building my stack of doom and hoping that it’ll be better than my enemy’s stack of doom. Also, hexes are 240% sexier than squares. Hexes make Civ 5.

      I hope, pray, beg Firaxis that we’ll see mods and non-sim turns in multiplayer some day. Oh and also the release of the source of the dlls for complete modding (something they’ve also promised for a long time now). The game very clearly falls short of its potential, and even so it’s one of the most addictive things on my hard drive right now. I spent all day today playing it.

  5. Khemm says:

    “when we studied players, everybody was getting really frustrated”

    PROTIP: Next time, don’t let console tards test your game.

    Thanks so much for depriving the game of many possibilities that made the original great.
    What, were your testers “frustrated” when they saw they had inventories? Ammo? Bases to manage?

    Firaxis, since Civ 5 you’re only disappointing me more and more. To think I used to love you for Reynolds’ Alpha Centauri and Sid’s Civ IV.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      PROTIP: Next time, don’t let console tards test your game.

      Thanks so much for depriving the game of many possibilities that made the original great.

      ಠ_ಠ

    • Gaytard Fondue says:

      ಠ_ಠ indeed.

    • KRVeale says:

      That whacky Khemm, everybody! Don’t worry, he’ll be here all week.

      And the week after that. Aren’t we lucky.

      Don’t forget to tip your server, and tell your friends: he does free shows outside on the pavement, raving about fireants, Steam and communism.

      Just don’t make eye contact, and you’ll be fine!

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Aaand I’ve finally blocked Khemm. If he says anything that’s actually amusing, someone else will quote it for me.

      Not sure why it took me that long, truthfully.

      (The interview was great!)

    • Joof says:

      Ehh, at least they’re better than Ubisoft.

    • PodX140 says:

      Welcome to Khemm.

      Seriously, what would it take to get this guy banned? I really am getting disappointed that this sort of behavior is fine here.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      @Khemm:

      Uh, have they even made any games since Civ V?

    • Brun says:

      Khemm just strikes me as the kind of guy that wants to take gaming back to the 90′s in EVERY POSSIBLE RESPECT. You know – every game is installed from disk, internet is dial-up, and games aren’t dumbed down for console dudebros. While I’d welcome some more 90′s flavor in game design, there have definitely been positive developments since then.

    • Soon says:

      I’m surprised they weren’t equally or more frustrated by an alien not dying after shooting it then not being able to run for cover. Curious.

    • Underwhelmed says:

      @Brun

      No, I would say that he is a pretty classic attention whore/troll. He is hardly the only one around here, but he may be one of the most persistent.

    • enobayram says:

      When we studied the players, they were all frustrated, so we decided not to make the game.

      You know, players get frustrated at everything negative in the game, maybe you should remove them all.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Run along now, Khemm! Make a negative reply to every positive comment in this thread! Fulfill your destiny!

    • MCM says:

      Khemm is 100% right, for all his insulting language. When I read:

      “So the problem was that people were getting frustrated, they were never planning past their first unit because time units don’t really map towhat you see, they’re not a direct map to what you see and how you think about your soldiers, and so people would basically break down and they would basically only plan for their one active unit, because they actually were never quite sure what they were going to be able to do.”

      I was like, Oh, so you’re basically saying people didn’t know how to play and so you changed the game to accommodate their (1) ignorance about the game and (2) their inability to learn because they’re dumb.

      This is the definition of dumbing down. When I read the article I thought, wow, he literally just explained how a developer goes about dumbing down a game. People don’t have sufficient abstract thinking skills to figure out how far their character can walk, so you just remove time units. amazing.

    • vic07 says:

      @Khemm

      I couldn’t agree more. But they’re trying to cover as many of today’s gamers as possible to get the most money that they can. … i’m just glad and surprised the whole thing wasn’t scrapped for a high-def 3D-modeled movie where the user just has to push the A button every time it flashes on the screen.

      But seriously, anyone old enough to have played the original UFO: Enemy Unknown (X-Com) has to realize that they’re gaming dinosaurs now. God forbid companies try and publish a game that requires a gamer to do simple math in their head nowadays.

      4 time units to walk (6 if not on a diagonal), 2 to crouch, and 13 to snapshot today’s market.

    • nanowired says:

      You know, I could play the original and not worry about the complex math behind time units. and I was failing math at the time.

      Personally if I was a console player I’d be out right insulted by all of these oversimplications made just to release it to my choice of game play.

      Moral of the Story: If you’re going to update a classic, update the classic. If you’re going to take the gameplay of a classic and port it so that you can cash in on console users who buy only on corporate brand recognition, than make your crappy clone with a different name. End result: You don’t get flamed for changing an epic novel into a children’s book.

    • admanb says:

      TUs are a shitty system. Being able to figure out what actions you can take before you take them so that you can plan out your turn (until you run into a sectoid around the corner — surprises are still there!) is a fundamental part of tactics. Taking out a system that screws up your ability to plan in exchange for little to no benefit is not dumbing down the game, it’s allowing your players to be smarter.

  6. Unaco says:

    Great interviews. I’m going to have to go back and read them all again this weekend, see what little bits I’ve missed, or not picked up on etc.

    The lack of TU’s isn’t that big a deal for me, especially now after reading this. It’s good to hear that they are still going for a system that rewards tactics and planning… and that it isn’t just something to “dumb-down” the mechanics. Ultimately, I’ll reserve judgement on the new system until I’ve played it, but I’m quite encouraged, it souns like a pretty decent system.

    I am a little concerned about lack of ammo management (though that does sort of make sense… If I’m the tactical boss I shouldn’t be making sure all my grunts tie their laces before leaving the base)… but just because we might not see the situation were members of the team are out of, or low on, ammo, trading magazines or resorting to their sidearms etc.

    Similarly, I might miss base invasions. Then again, I might not… remembering how hellish they could be.

    I like reading that losing is still possible, and it’s good to hear they’re toying with an Iron Man mode. I won’t use it myself because I value my sanity and am not a masochist… but it’s good to know that’s the sort of way they’re looking at things. Also, procedural maps! Terror Missions! Possible Mod support! All good things to be hearing.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      I love the Iron man mode. I never understood the people who thought winning on Super Human after reloading 85 different times was an accomplishment. Its great to have it there for the people who want it, and the people who don’t can still reload of Bobby Chopsticks their crack shooter gets a boo-boo and has to go to the hospital for a month.

    • Maktaka says:

      Bleargh, wrong click.

    • Reefpirate says:

      I too like the sound of Iron Man mode, but I probably won’t go that route the first time.

      It’s not going to have the detail of the original, but I’m not too worried about that. It sounds like they’re taking it in interesting directions.

      However, one of the main ‘this is XCOM’ to me features is the procedurally generated MAPS. You allude to them here, but I wasn’t too convinced by his answer. It sounded to me like the maps will be in procedural ORDER based on decisions made, etc. But that is not the same as procedural MAPS, if you catch my drift.

    • torchedEARTH says:

      I can lose the time units – although they didn’t confound me, but I like the sound of the new system.

      I just hope it gets expanded past move – action, to action – move or action – action. Maybe I missed that in the article, but it sounded very much move then do something.

      Still very excited.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      Did they actually say that base invasions were out? I mean, there is still one base that can be invaded.

    • Malk_Content says:

      @Torched Earth: In the paragraph he talked about the turn structure he stated that although to begin you can only move and action he cleary states that as your troops gain levels they’ll be able to do multiple things a turn.

    • TLGAthena says:

      From what is implied :

      Rookies get two “actions” , move / action , move / move, action only.

      Move / move is either dash or sprint or what have you.

      Action only might be hunker down or some kind of aimed snipey shot thing.

      As soldiers get ranked up, they get additional actions, thus allowing them to do more with their turn, but some decisions like sprint will still chew your entire turn no matter what rank you are, just higher ranks get a better return from the “big” choices.

      If this is the case, then I am fully in favour, as it means veterans will become valuable pieces and very expensive to lose, not just their kit, but the fact they’re more flexible and capable of dealing with tougher situations than rookies.

  7. sneetch says:

    Well, I’m not convinced by the reasoning for removing time units… I mean I think Silent Storm did it well, you could select a unit and see how far they could move in their currently selected movement mode and still be able to shoot their currently selected weapon in their currently selected fire mode. It was easy to plan your squads movement that way. I think that going one further you could allow people to reserve TUs to crouch or go prone as well and it would be easily “learnable”.

    It’s simple, when you select your squaddie you see a green radius of hexes, surrounded by a line of light green hexes surrounded by orange radius of hexes. So you can move to any of the green hexes and still have TUs to crouch and shoot, if you go to the light green hexes you can shoot but not crouch, and if you go into the orange hexes you won’t be able to shoot at all.

    Regardless, I’ll give the new system a shot when it comes out.

    • Premium User Badge

      jezcentral says:

      It’s odd, I’d never thought of it before, but now he mentions it, it’s true. When using Turn-based, I did end up using the men who started close to the exit of the plane. I’d regularly clear the map with a couple of rookies still inside it, standing there, unused.

      I’m still not completely sold on the UFO: After method, which just drove me to use a Starcraftian Ball Of Death, but hopefully this game won’t seem like a rehash of them. (I admit, I’m still hazy on what exactly the system will be. I don’t get it, the way he explains it).

      Still, this will be a Day 1 purchase for me. I hope it’s as good as I want it to be.

    • Maktaka says:

      A move radius doesn’t cover the issues they’re talking about though. How do you calculate a process of move, look, move, prime grenade, throw grenade, duck? Combat actions take variable amounts of time depending on the max TUs of the soldier, while movement was fixed. Some actions couldn’t even be calculated if your equipment wasn’t in your hands at the time. How many TUs does it take to prime and throw a grenade for a soldier if he’s got the grenade on his shoulder clip? How far can he move before doing so? What if the grenade is on his belt? Keep in mind you can’t see TU costs for items not in your hands.

      It’s important to keep mental calculations involving totaling sums at or below seven when possible. Why? Because that’s the highest a person can sum without further mental calculations (and there’s a term for that value, but I can’t seem to find it). Set things up so the player can look at their unit, think of what they want to do, look at the map grid, and determine if they can accomplish that goal or not without resorting to scribbling notes. X-COM fails badly in this regard as you can’t check multiple units, evaluate what they can accomplish that turn, and identify a plan to perform with them short of requiring the player to calculate values beyond the mind’s ability to simultaneously retain.

      You want to keep the player in the game as much as possible and focused on the gameplay, not the abstraction of the events. It’s the difference between “My goal is X, and I can see that I can accomplish Y progress towards X this turn.” and “My goal is X. But can I move to that cover and shoot this turn to accomplish Y progress towards X?”

    • MCM says:

      Maktara: you do it by simply letting people plan an action then press a “commit” button. It’s not rocket science.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      @MCM:

      That isn’t what you want either, though, because you have to remove the fog of war then. Frozen Synapse works because the entire map, enemies included, is visible. The challenge and the tension in that game come from not knowing how your enemies will react to your plan once you execute it. If you could only see what was within your dudes’ field of vision in FS, the game wouldn’t work nearly as well, because it would be unfair in a bad way. Either your dudes would have to be able to notice guys during the planning phase, which would kill a lot of the tension, or your dudes would just walk into blackness and get shot randomly when you hit “Commit”, which would stop being scary and start being frustrating almost immediately.

      The genius of the original X-COM is that it allows for unscripted deaths and fuckups and horror without seeming unfair. There’s always the feeling that if you had just put the information available to you together in a way that was just a little more efficient, poor Johnny Knickerbocker’s head wouldn’t have been blasted to ash. It’s important to preserve the feelings the original game engendered; the systems are simply the means by which those feelings are elicited, and it sounds as though the time unit system simply didn’t work to preserve those feelings when they added all the new mechanics in.

      In fact, you probably don’t realize this, but based on what Solomon says here, you’re the one asking for a simplified system, because for time units to work as well as they did in the original game, Solomon and his team would have had to throw out a lot of the new mechanics they’ve come up with. If there really is so much new content in here that time units became overwhelming for people, then the choice was between keeping time units and dropping a lot of other stuff. Complexity would’ve had to be stripped out either way. And frankly, if I’m Jake Solomon, I’m going to strip out the old mechanic that doesn’t work with my new ideas that I think are fun, rather than vice versa. Fortune favors the bold, and all that.

    • geerad says:

      @ffordesoon: except that Frozen Synapse has modes with fog of war (the ones starting with “dark”), and they work just fine.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Does it?

      Well, balls to me, then.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      The Frozen Synapse fog of war is units only. AFAIK, the map itself is always revealed.

      No reason they couldn’t do that in X-COM, though. I mean, it’s a little silly to arrive by aircraft in a major city, say, and not know the first thing about the layout.

  8. SquidInABox says:

    I like the removal of Time Units for all of the reasons he states. Time units are just a bit too granular to allow the majority of people to plan their turn properly.

    They seem to be doing what I am with my Turn Based game and that’s riff heavily off DnD 4e with being able to do n actions each turn where one of them must be a move action.

    A bit sad that I’m not going to be the first procedurally generated turn based game using Unreal to release though. At least I should be the first one with networked multiplayer…

    • Khemm says:

      The “majority of people” won’t touch this game, they’ll stick to their CoDs and Halo. X-Com is too complicated for them, so why dumb things down for the “majority” which couldn’t care less about this game’s existence?

    • iniudan says:

      And what wrong with no time Unit Khemm ? If their system is a Frozen Synapse/Flotilla variation (which is what I hope from the description), I say time unit can go to hell.

    • SquidInABox says:

      I’m talking about the majority of people that WILL play this game – X-COM veterans are in reality still in the minority compared to the total number of people who will play this so the majority of sales will be to new players.

    • iGark says:

      Actually, I’m new to this genre of game, but this sounds incredibly interesting. I’ve come from a FPS side of things and this game sounds amazing, whereas a comment above discussing time units sounds so incredibly complicated I wouldn’t want to play something with that kind of system. So, it does help broaden its audience.

      These three interviews have almost sold me on the game, too.

    • werix says:

      i’m going to have to kind of agree. I had the originals on a steam sale from like 2 years ago but never played them, but started to because of these interviews, and really yeah, I do basically play unit to unit, because I dont know what can all be done. The grandest it gets is, “everyone reserve for snap shots and all move in direction X” civil war line of infantry style.

      Granted there are alternatives. I did a while ago play the UT fan remake, UFO: Alien Invasion, and they had a system with the time units that showed how many total the character had, how many were reserved, exactly how much this move is going to take up and so you know, “ok after reserving, and moving I’ll have X left, so I can crouch”. which worked well.

      Another alternative that I think would work/ that they should have in this is the Frozen synapse “plan out your moves, and then press X and they all execute” with an option to execute each unit separately. Being able to set up, try, and rework my moves really is what got me playing a lot of FS.

    • Gira says:

      I do wish people would stop mentioning Frozen Synapse in this context, as it wasn’t turn-based. It was phase-based. Making X-COM phase-based would make very little sense, given the strengths of that game.

    • Imbecile says:

      I also thought that this sounded like dnd 4e, which isnt a bad thing. I loved time units, but as an alternative I like the sound of this. Looking forward to this game a little more each interview

    • RegisteredUser says:

      iGark is everything that is wrong with modern gaming.
      “Oh it SOUNDS complicated, best not even try it then”

      If that’s your attitude in gaming and life, then good lord.

      And what it does with the gaming development area is make developers think that if they dare to include even remotely thoughtful and/or challenging elements, the poor “THunkung maeks murr hudd hurrtddd” consumer won’t give them all their monies. And people with an IQ above “sludge” have to deal with having transitioned from a grand, inspired and sophisticated golden age of PC gaming to “Regenerate ALL the things / If you really need to win, just press X for invulnerability supermode!”.

      I don’t need every game to be the asperger bastard child of sudoku and chess or make the hard mode of the men of war series look like a cakewalk, but I also am seriously worried that complexity, depth and proper planning(which includes at least a smidge of min/maxing, or at least optimizing and geeking out) will just be abandoned, because lord forbid playing a game is more than letting reflexes twitch around for an hour or two.

      And of course there is a lot of hyperbole going on. It is because if you consistently take away everything that once was precious to someone and then tell them to deal with it, that’s just how the world has to be, you tend to get a reaction. Because they know that it COULD be different, if people just recognized them and stood up for it more.
      I do think there is still hope(indie realm, niche experiments, every 5-10 years a decent strategy game or developer pops up), but one cannot deny that Skyrim, CoD, Mass Effect and Dragon Age are just not anywhere near what Jagged Alliance 2 or Silent Storm are in terms of structuring and planning yourself around a game. But they are the ones dominating the market in terms of what gets made/copied/sequlitis-’d.
      It’s not the same type of challenge that is addressed in most modern games, and thus not the same feel. And people want and miss that, so they voice their grievances.
      How else are you going to create demand if you don’t communicate it?

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      …Wulf?

    • iniudan says:

      WTF RegisteredUser, what does your asperger analogy has to do there, your usage is basically equivalent to saying “[random racist term] bastard child of sudoku”.

      You wouldn’t notice most real asperger (just been specific with real, due to a higher pro rata of self diagnosed on the internet then in RL) if there was one right in front of you, other then been an oddball in certain situation. Me I am lucky, my ocd tend toward the more socially acceptable and learned to compensate for some of my social skill lack over the years, so I tend to be more open about it (that include in RL) then most, has to try to do my bit to dispel the mentally retarded image we get. But in asperger population there is indeed a higher rate of mental retardation then in general population, but the thing is that there is that the proportion are also up on the opposite side of the spectrum.

      And has to be more on topic, why are you just throwing big name games in there like a mad hipster, especially with Dragon Age been there, since basically it was the first traditional CRPG to get such a widespread appeal since BG2.

      Has for decent strategy game: Heart of Iron, Victoria (these first two are too complex for most to understand wtf is going on), Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Supreme Commander (too complex for most Starcraft fan [viva Total Annihilation, sorry for my hipster side =p]), Company of Heroes, Total War (who tend to butcher gameplay by trying to be too complex), Achtung Panzer, Anno (too bad I got refuse to play due to Ubisoft stupidity), Sword of the Stars, Civilization, Galactic Civilization (if you want a more complex Civilization basically), Sins of a Solar Empire, Romance of the Three Kingdom, Laser Squad Nemesis (basically Frozen Synapse ancestor by no other then Julian Gollop), King of Dragon Pass (admit that one has old has JA2 but it got to be named, only thing that would make me want to buy an apple product, because for some reason they not re-releasing online download on PC), Hegemony…

      Most of there has good iteration after Silent Storm was release.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      I for one had no problem moving my squads around cohesively under the TU system.

      Basically, the bulk of the squad moves very conservatively, cover to cover, always watching all the angles. Reserved units rarely come into play here, as they’re moving so little as to not need them.

      The scout elements — usually tanks — move at high speed, with the only reserved TUs being to get to cover or crouch if needed. Their job is to get an enemy in sight so the rest of the squad can open fire from their advantageous position with full TUs.

      If a wall or fence or tree is in the way, we shoot it. If there’s multiple enemies, we use rockets or blaster bombs. If we suspect an enemy is in a building, we either level it, or we shoot down some walls and wait a couple turns to see if anything moves inside.

      If we really do have to go inside a UFO, we move in slowly and then stack up around a corner. Blow open a wall, throw some grenades in, then blitz them SWAT style. Or, set up snipers, throw smoke grenades in, and just flush them out.

      Sending all your soldiers out running to the limit of their reserved TUs and then having them shoot/crouch just seems so silly by comparison. If that’s what people are doing, then it’s little wonder they’re being frustrated by the TU system.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Except for the laser squad I think every single game you mentioned is not turn based strategy similiar to JA / X-Com(GalCiv is maybe TBS, but that’s a terribly done attempt at MOO, not shootybangbang).
      I’ve played most of them and I’m happy they exist, but there is literally only a handful of certain types of games.

      If asperger(best I know is a scientific label for a condition) is the equivalent to the n-word, then I was not aware of it. Writing “highly sophisticated and complex introvert, walled off from the rest of the world” it would have used more words for the same direction I was aiming at(i.e. high IQ rather than ‘retarded’, which – ironically enough – is an actual slur for some of those overly PC people..).
      I wouldn’t mind calling myself anything of the like at all(just not as in physically built that way, but more of a decade long phase), so I didn’t really see the offensive bit, even if I am aware of the suffering portion.
      Either way, I quite literally made it clear that hyperbole was being used and here it was in description of a thing/software/game/concept rather than a person.

      Also I think actual league starcraft players would just roll their eyes about your SCommander comment. :P

    • RegisteredUser says:

      @Wisq
      Sounds pretty similiar to how it went for most of my SStorm games, e.g., too. As I’ve said, I think its mostly lazyness on both sides(the player not wanting to spend “so many turns” doing these things and the developer not wanting to add depth in terms of reactions/interrupts and other such layers) and not a real limitation of turns.

  9. Drake Sigar says:

    I think I understood the comments explaining how the squads worked in regards to movement and action. Certainly sounds table-top as he claims.

    Wasn’t sure about this game at first, but the last few days have really made an impact. It’s definitely on my list now.

    • Khemm says:

      It’s also on my “fvck this shit until modders fix it” list.

    • Premium User Badge

      JiminyJickers says:

      Yeah, I’m definitely excited about this now. Everything the dude said seem to make sense. Will have to wait for the release to make my final judgement, but I will be buying it now.

  10. squareking says:

    I’m really going to miss TUs. Mr. Solomon’s reasoning against it makes some sense and the system they’ve set up reminds me of Dust Tactics’ pick-two-actions-per-unit mechanic. But I think it’s going to sacrifice the tension, the intense planning and the unknown, which are franchise hallmarks. Obviously I have no idea how it’ll feel, but my stodgy old brain, which is 98% nostalgia and fatty tissue, says cutting the TU is a bad idea. I feel as if many problems identified with it could be solved through communicating better with the player.

    Also, they’d better not get rid of the Enemy Movement screen. If my squad can’t see them, I don’t want to see them either.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Yeah I loved the black “hidden movement screen”. So suspenseful!

  11. Premium User Badge

    JohnArr says:

    Great interview, good to see they are positive about supporting a mod community.

  12. Tom OBedlam says:

    Anyone else spot this “at least for the first one”?

    • oatbag says:

      Yes!! Thats pie in the sky though for now, it will all depend on sales. That said, it smells to me like we will have a new trilogy this decade. God that makes me happy.

      But I think the core x-com fans can start to breath a bit easier; this one sounds like it will deliver. And if it doesn’t it sounds like modders will be able to sort things out in due time.

      Honestly, let’s give it a try. Anyone still bitching and moaning about TUs (while i love it myself, and silent storm did it right), let’s just wait to see how it plays out before we draw our lines in the sand.

      and khemm just go play xenonauts. it looks to be all you want.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Hanban says:

    Tentatively excited about the new turn-based system!

  14. Torgen says:

    I don’t like the “No ammo” for the reason that it restricts the player’s tactics. Sometimes you had valid reasons to switch between the incendiary and heavy rockets, or change heavy cannon ammo depending on your target.

    Also, is it confirmed there are no alien attacks on your base? That would remove a hefty portion of your worries about allocation of money/resources. “Oh, base can’t be raided? No reason to spend millions on base defense systems, or have a “home squad” equipped to repel invaders.” It would seem less “real” if you can invade enemy bases but they can’t invade you back.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Honestly I have probably played 2000 or 3000 hours worth of Xcom like games and the number of times I have well and truly ran out of ammo is probably under 10. It is a lot of extra fiddling for very little payoff.

      Good game design is removing choices that are not choices. How many rifle clips do I take? Well enough so that I won’t run out. Now lets spend 45 seconds implementing that decision…

      It is just bad game design. Xcom did a million things right, but the ammo management was a drag on the game.

    • silgidorn says:

      Actually, I think the no “ammo management” does mean that there is no clip handling between mission. But, in my opinion, Special ammo would logically be seen as special abilites for the classes.

      The most sensible way, for me, would be:

      Rocket launcher:
      Turn based cool down (because reloading takes time) and limited use (example 4 per fight)

      Special ammo:
      limited use as in an “activate the ability: Inciendary ammo clip” which allows you to use a full inciendary clip before having to reload standard ammo (reloading has been confirmed right?) And you could have one or two authorized use of this ability during a fight.

    • briktal says:

      It would be neat if they handled ammo more or less how Valkyria Chronicles handled it (unlimited normal weapon ammo, limited heavy weapon/grenade ammo with some ability to resupply mid battle).

    • BobsLawnService says:

      The lack of ammo management is the one thing I can’t get my head around. I used to use incinduary ammo to torch wheat fields and explosive ammo to level farmhouses. I’m actually a bit concerned about the level of destructability of housers, etc. it would often be the same heavy weapons specialist who would have those roles and he would have a pistol for when he ran out of heavy ammo.

      Because of this I’m a bit worried about just how destructable the terrain is.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      Equipment and ammo management is such an easy thing to do right, with minimal effort needed by the player:

      1. Assign gear and ammo per soldier
      2. While in base, protect assigned gear and ammo from being sold
      3. When dispatching soldiers to a site, load all their stuff onto the craft
      4. In the case of supply / cargo space shortages, notify the user and temporarily reduce ammo across the board (remembering and reverting to full loadout when the problem is fixed)
      5. Allow cloning of loadouts, or preferably, shared loadouts so you can change everyone at once

      X-COM may have done it horribly, but that doesn’t mean it’s a hard problem.

  15. Inigo says:

    At night Jake Solomon likes to go into his basement and write (laughs) on the walls over and over and over again in the blood of his victims.

    • MondSemmel says:

      I think in this case Mr. Meer is the culprit and Mr. Solomon the victim. As I understand it, this interview is a transcript of a telephone/video interview or similar, after all.

    • skoll says:

      Telephone/video interview? I always imagine it being a cosy little talk show-like setting where they have comfortable chairs and a cup of coffee doing a face to face.

  16. Ganj says:

    “The horrifying moment where you realize you’ve overspent by one point so you can’t actually kneel behind that wall, so you’re thinking ‘oh god, what am I going to do, I’ve got to try and work out a plan B…”

    For me, that’s X-Com in a nutshell and it’s hard to see how they’ll manage those moments without TU’s, (or my other favourite, equipping and priming a grenade and only having enough TU’s left to drop, not throw it).

    I guess a 1994 mode would be too much to hope for.

    Still, I’m looking forward to this a hell of a lot more than the FPS.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      I would love a 1994 mode, but there will definitely still be those moments. How can you think there will not be? Say you have 1 move and 1 action, you run around a corner, crap 1 guy who is too tough to kill. SO do you hunker or shoot or chuck a smoke grenade, what? It is exactly the same.

      Time units are great, but they are not the core of Xcom. The core is the tactical combat and the strategic research/area defense combine with aliens and a great atmosphere.

      To put it another way if Xcom 1 had had a “move then shoot” format people would have loved it just as much.

    • briktal says:

      At some level though you have to look at that and think if it’s really a good thing for the game. I mean, it’s pretty much a mistake caused by a poor UI. They probably also made it harder to accidentally move your guy out of his perfect spot and into some random spot out in the open because you missed slightly when clicking to select another unit, but I don’t think too many people are gonna get worked up about that.

    • Cinnamon says:

      And Deus Ex was a horribly designed game because you could accidentally blow yourself up with an explosive crate. The new Deus Ex where you can’t pick up or move explosive crates and can only detonate them from a safe distance is such an all round improvement and doesn’t harm the core experience of solving conspiracies and shooting baddies.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Why is it you can’t name the “American magazine” that’s clearly watermarked in various screenshots?

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      Because they’re assholes. It’s not that they can’t — they just don’t want to.

      EDIT — The assholes being GI, of course, not RPS.

  18. Joshua Northey says:

    As someone who bought the original as their very first PC game purchase (talk about luck), and has played it every year more or less since then at least once, and loves it to death, and has played every clone or open source project, or anything relating to it.

    Well I have to say the changes here sound tremendous. Getting rid of ammo management is really smart. The alternate system they have instead of time units sound great. Everything pretty much sounds great.

    Hopefully they can pull it off (CiV was left kid of unfinished IMHO, needed a lot more balancing and AI work).

    But I am very optimistic. Still won’t pre-order after the Sword of the Stars 2 fiasco from Kerberos (no more pre-ordering anything non-blizzard).

  19. PatrickSwayze says:

    Excellent interview with some hard questions! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dev drilled so hard! Thanks RPS!

  20. Jesse L says:

    Good job Mr. Solomon! Way to represent your game in an impossible situation (XCOM remake being presented with any kind of changes to PC gamers). And thank you Mr. Meer for asking the right questions. Drinks all around! I at least am excited to play a less-fiddly XCOM. Sounds great so far.

    • Khemm says:

      Do all the changes have to be for the worse? I wanted improvements to the XCOM formula, not dumbification or regression.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Khemm it is clear to me from your posts that anything that was not an exact copy at higher resolution would be considered “dumbification” by you. Please just move along since you so clearly hate this game.

      CiV which for all its faults had a lot of really legitimate improvements to the series not before seen was also called “simplified” which is fan-speak for “the only thing I was actually interested in was an expansion pack to the previous game”.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      @Joshua:

      You’re wrong, Joshua. You’re so, so wrong, and I’ve lost all respect for you for saying that, because it’s just not true.

      Khemm would hate an uprezzed version just as much. ;)

  21. Jimbo says:

    Looking forward to this. X-Com passed me by somehow.

  22. Lemming says:

    I’m intrigued by the sound of the abduction missions. I’m hoping it means that sometimes your soldiers don’t die, but are abducted instead and you have the opportunity to rescue them. That’d be a great way to keep the personal-touch with your squad:

    “Lt Dan has been my best soldier for 4 missions now, no f**ing way are those alien bastards keeping him! Screw the budget, we are going in after him!”

    • timmyvos says:

      And he loses both his legs.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      You don’t need legs to hold a gun.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Flying saucers are wheelchair accessible right?

    • silgidorn says:

      Only terror ships, battleships and any ship with dual doors, So your wheelchair guy will be for specific missions only.

      By the way, this may explains the small size of the tank in the original one:
      Armored wheelchairs for your disabled rookies!

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      If you can still deploy your dudes after they’ve lost their legs, but you have to research wheelchairs, I will buy a thousand copies of this game and kiss Jake Solomon on the mouth. Deeply. With tongue.

  23. hosndosn says:

    So in this case when we had time units, they ended up making the game more shallow, because all these different abilities and combos, all these interesting things, were never getting used because people couldn’t think about them that way.

    The marketing… it hurts.

  24. food says:

    I tried to be good, I did my best with all three pages.

    Was the question ‘How many Guiles and Cammy’s in a Skyranger this time?’ ever asked? I remember in the first one at least, you could have a squad up to twenty-four but I think Firaxis is using a JA2, Silent Storm likened number, seven or eight. In those three long pages, did it ever come up?

    From my own experience, six or seven of my soldiers were useful, the rest sort of milled about tossing glowsticks at the shittiest rave ever. I could see them being replaced by nightvision goggles. The ‘Vision Modes’ from UFO:Afterlight, where one could see the tactical map in infravision and such, was one of the more interesting little touches of the game.

  25. Roshin says:

    I just don’t know. I hope there will be a demo, because I’m going to need to try this one before I pay anything. A pity you didn’t ask about their DLC plans. Firaxis DLC’d the crap out of Civ and I’m wondering if they’ll do the same with this one.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Yes, here’s hoping they do. After all, why on earth wouldn’t you want more stuff for a good game?

  26. gritz says:

    Don’t get me wrong, this sounds like it could be a decent game. But it doesn’t sound like it resembles X-Com any more than the UFO: After series did.

    So many attempts have been made to “modernize” and streamline the gameplay of the original, when over and over again the only people interested in playing a remake show that they aren’t very interested in those kinds of changes. It’s almost hubristic to say you’re trying to improve the gameplay of one of the most beloved strategy games of all time.

    Why is it so impossible to understand what their audience wants: the classic gameplay with modern amenities like high resolution graphics and internet connectivity.

    But at least it’s not a first person cover shooter.

    • Jesse L says:

      I don’t know, I like the old game and I like the sound of this one too. Maybe I’m not ‘the audience’?

  27. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    I’m not convinced about removing the TU. The things he describes as being frustrating to testers are my favorite things about the games. So yea, I need to play a demo before deciding. Hear that Firaxis, a demo. I need one.

    Argh. The more I think about the the less convinced I am. As I said in one the earlier parts: I want more micro management, not less. I want to consider ammo and moving a grenade from a pocket to a hand. I compared it to Men of War and I think that’s still apt. In MoW it’s often a tiny detail that makes all the difference in the outcome of a battle. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    So yea, give me a demo or I’ll hold out buying it until it reaches a price I’m comfortable with experimenting on.

    Edit: Still, it’s not too bad. There is still Xenonauts. I’ll get that no matter what.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      You are free to have your own opinion, but I am pretty sure you are in the minority here even among the XCOM fans, much less the overall market they are shooting for.

      Games are about decisions, forcing the players to make decisions and then forcing them to react to the consequences. To the extent these decisions are interesting you have a good game.

      Whether to bring ammo, or whether to keep your grenade in the most easily accessible spot of some inferior spot are not interesting decisions because there is only one solution. So then you are just doing chores. That is what people refer to when they say “micromanagement”. No one minds “micromanagement” if the decisions are interesting and important. No one even calls it that, then it is just “the gameplay”. Micromanagement is when through poor game design you have the players doing things that could and should be automated.

      Like games where to only sane move is producing units in your factories non-stop, but instead of giving players a setting to do that you make them click and click and click to order more units. That is micromanagement.

      I have played a lot of XCOM and yet I never really varied the places I kept my nades or how much ammo I carried. It was always the same, and I almost never ran out, because the decisions were easy (and boring as hell to implement).

      Just my $0.02.

    • gritz says:

      I get what you’re saying, but the solution to the problem is nearly always to cut features out instead of taking the time to make them interesting.

      It would be trivial to adjust the shape, size and TU usage of inventory slots to create real strategic choices in equipment loadouts. Instead, the solution is to strip out that element entirely.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      Yea, I know I’m in the minority. That doesn’t change my feelings on it. I really do enjoy that level of control.

      Others do not. That’s the way it is. However the changes proposed by Mr. Solomon seems to run counter to my enjoyment of the previous games so I remain unconvinced that the game will be better for it.

      Now I might be wrong. If so, I’ll happily admit it. But I’m not made of money so I don’t want to gamble 50€ on a what right now seems the wrong direction. So, I’d like a demo so I can decide if I like the changes.

      I think that’s a pretty reasonable stance.

      As for micro management, I suspect I might have used the wrong term? I certainly don’t play games of the sort you mention and frankly it sounds dreadful. Perhaps the right word is granularity? I’m not sure. Any advice on that? English is not my first language and at times I slip up when it comes to technical terms. Would granularity suffice to bring across my point? If so I’ll edit the previous post accordingly.

      The thing I was talking about is the feeling of complex chaos I get from Men of War. Did I pick up a repair kit from that tank I lost a while back? Yes! Now I can repair this German tank and commandeer that bolstering my ranks. Or after a long firefight, having to scavenge for ammo. I know I’m probably a nut for enjoying stuff like that, but I really, really do.

      Edit: I should add that I’m not crying “They’re dumbing it down!”. They’re not.
      But they do seem be removing some stuff I adore and adding some stuff I don’t like in other games, like the leveling of soldiers.

    • silgidorn says:

      About your ammo salvaging stuff. I didn’t play men of war, but what sound a logical thing to do in a long war where everything starts to fail (logistics for example), like having to scavenge ammo on the battlefield after long shoot outs. As much as I like this (but more from a fallout point of view, which is somehow scavenge friendly but on the long run). I don’t think such a thing would be logical in a game where you manage an elite strike team that does quick in/outs missions of crashed or landed UFO or sometimes emergency counter actions (such as in terror missions). Usually such kind of teams tend to go back to main base between each mission to rearm and rest, as opposed to a long run campaign where you make as you go.

      Short-wise, I see X-com as an almost SWAT like strike team, so scavenging doesn’t really fit for me.

    • gritz says:

      On the contrary, a huge portion of the X-Com “economy” is based around salvage and maximizing the amount of valuable loot you dust off with.

    • silgidorn says:

      Well scavenging during mission to continue fighting isn’t X-com approved for me

      But scavenging alien stuff after a mission to sell them on the black market in order to be able to pay an electricity bill because said electricity is needed to power that damn radar which is used to detect and hunt down hostile UFOs flying over the soil of the country that sends you those electricity bills isn’t quite the same thing and is far more X-com approved. Definitively the world of X-com is an ultraliberal dystopy.

      Have them told you about that mortgage for the base before you did set it up?

      Oh and yeah, there’s research too I guess…

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      Ammo did several important things, IMO:

      1. It kept things real. Unless you had laser rifles, you couldn’t afford to disassemble a building piece by piece with small arms fire, or shoot blindly down dark corridors where there might just possibly be an alien lurking. If your soldiers had a severe accuracy dysfunction or were just rather trigger happy, you were both risking running out of ammo, and also decreasing your net profit.

      2. It added a new aspect to weapon selection. Ammo per mag becomes a concern, and laser rifles allow for whole new battle strategies (see above) despite their lacklustre stopping power.

      3. The fact that mags had weight made for a weight vs. well-armedness tradeoff. Particularly with rookies before power armour.

      4. It created those tense moments where you had to reload, or scrounge, or those cinematic moments where you have soldiers throwing mags to each other.

      It’s sad to see it go, if only because it doesn’t need to be as complicated as X-COM made it. It’s extremely easy to streamline the ammo allocation process without eliminating it entirely.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      Squad based tactical gameplay without time units but action points instead worked fine in Incubation, imho. It’s still different from a separation into movement/action phase, but it’s closer to that than to the original X-COM TU system.

  28. Unrein says:

    I hope this will sell a gazillion bazillion copies, so we can have MOAR games like these.

  29. MiniMatt says:

    Loved this interview series so big thumbs up and thank you.

    You know that excited little giggle that Peter Griffin does on Family Guy? The nerdy “oh my god this is so cool, oh my god I’m so stoked, oh my god, oh my god giggle”? I keep finding myself making that noise when reading this interview.

    The time unit explanation, and I’m being rather hesitant in this, but… it was actually a pretty damn good answer – and the scenario he describes is one that I can certainly recollect. As Civ got name checked quite a lot throughout the interview I’d equate it to the break between stack-o-doom in Civ 4 and single military unit per tile in Civ 5. Now I know a lot of people are a bit down on Civ 5 but there are undeniablely a lot of things it did right – hexes were one, and I think the end of stack-o-doom was another. Precisely because it forced you to look at the entire battle across multiple units in multiple positions as a grand strategy rather than just moving one big giant stack around.

    One beg – please no over the top silly Ubi style DRM. This is currently looking like a day one purchase. Anno 2070 also once looked like a day one purchase. Anno 2070 never got purchased and still hasn’t – there is a very good reason for that and it isn’t because it didn’t look like a fantastic game (and no I didn’t pirate it, I got a little bit sad for a while and then lived without).

  30. DocSeuss says:

    I know people always confuse accessibility with dumbing something down, so I hesitate to say it, but… This actually sounds like they’ve actually smartened up the gameplay while making it easier to get into. I always thought TU’s were actually pretty dumb/irritating/limiting, and it was arguably the major barrier I ran into when trying to be interested in the game.

    That said, it was interesting to note that a lot of the things he said… they were in that FPS, especially the core essence of the series, with the whole “oh shit, I’m in an impossible situation. How do I get out?” I think it would have been significantly truer to the games that the pissy grognards are willing to admit.

    Unfortunately, their whining about the game got the combat turned into an apparently linear, Mass Effect or Brothers in Arms-styled thing by last year, and now it looks significantly less interesting than it once did.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I do think we overlook interface and systematic problems in older games out of nostalgia, and assume that they are the defining characteristics of the game. I really believe that knowledge of interface is one of the few things in games that improves year after year, even if new mistakes popup with the new methods.

  31. sinister agent says:

    His explanation of the Time Unit thing is excellent. I wasn’t massively bothered by their absence (though some games do that system well), but it’s clear they’ve thought about it carefully and made the decision based on what works best for maximum strategic fun, rather than just dropping it because anything more than a month old is obsolete.

  32. Saiko Kila says:

    Thanks to RPS for the interview. I have more mixed feelings about the remake than I thought I’d have.

    First of all, it seems that Mr. Solomon is pursuing a certain view of the original, a way of playing and experiencing, which isn’t at all universal, even if common. I know the good thing about the UFO: Enemy Unknown is, that I can read some forums about it, some players with definitive answers and views, and disagree with them. Because I play differently (and still successfully). And this is after years of playing. The new version… doesn’t seem like there is as much freedom in it.

    Second. Some are rather small bits, I just have to nitpick :)

    0. So, your people can’t understand time units to play properly. Maybe it’s time to hire new people for screening purposes? Or make them play Apocalypse in two modes, and notice the differences? (most notable with machine guns)?

    1. Silacoids are actually essential for reactions training (mostly for newly discovered psi talent later on), though you can play without it, if you don’t want to min max. But there is a point in saying that silacoids are essential. They are not rock spitting blobs – (acid) spitting ones are celatids. Silacoids attack melee only.

    2. Sectoid/Ethereal psionics attack even your stronger units, not only the weakest. This is important – semi randomness, which was specifically inserted into the game by Mr. Gollop. Yes, they prefer to attack weaker units, but they use armament and distance to determine who to try to psi (psi chance is smaller with longer distance), and sometimes they try (mostly unsuccessfully) to control even 60-80 psi strength soldiers. It looks as if they are panicking, or risking to get more reward. Because these relatively strong soldiers often carry blaster launchers, or are the biggest immediate risk to their alien fellas. It makes game more fun and unpredictable.

    I’m playing right now, and Ethereal guys were just trying to psi my blaster launcher carrier in the corner, with over 60 psi strength, when I have a psi weakling much closer to them (mind probe operator). But the weakling has a pistol and no grenades, so is of no use to aliens… Some player use psi weaklings as decoys – it sometimes work, but aliens can overcome the urge and surprise the player, as in my example.

    3. How you arm you soldiers is very personal, like surprisingly many things in the game. This, along with number of your squad members is very personal. Not every detachment has to be 13 soldiers like in US marines squad. I use different squads for different missions, the same goes with equipment. I prefer to have 10 guys and 4 tanks, but sometimes I take only 6 guys, and sometimes 14 or more. The same missions can be performed to gain experience, to train them, to get equipment or elerium, or just to shoot for fun. And if you take less soldiers, then some of them have to perform multiple tasks. These are special forces, dammit. They are trained to perform any task an operate any equipment, even if they do not excel in the specific task. Accidents happen.

    Customization versus improvisation (based on expected mission profile) may be player’s choice in a properly designed game. I play the improvisation-type game. Sure, many soldiers are better at something, but generally I want them to perform anything if need be, even if I have protocols for entering any UFOs, different for these brought down and these who landed on their own. The interview shows some signs of skew in the customization-type, which I wouldn’t like in UFO. It was good enough in Silent Storm, but there you had a main character (PC – player character) in addition to others, and your possible team was very small in comparison to UFO. So it was more like a fireteam than a squad.

    5. Again – randomness was built into the game, to a degree. Fatal wounds have no lasting significance in the original, and in real life they may or may not, which depends on the man/woman in question. Some people are more resistant than others, they are still optimists after losing a spouse, house and a limb. Other can be scared by looking into the mirror. Experience in the first game also works slightly randomly, one must shoot aliens many times (up to eleven per mission counts, to be precise) to get max stat gain, other is content with shooting once per mission and levels faster than the first one. I really hope they reconsider that “shaky” thing after wounding.

    Randomness is also present in mission seeking for your base, in aerial combat and even in research times. Yes, your actions have impact, but randomness is still here. This makes for more interesting game.

    6. I hope there will be an option to disable these terrible HUDs – or to enable them only temporary (key hold) – they may be useful, but look bad, too technical to not break immersion. Sorry. If it’s not real time, I don’t need no frakking life bar over every git of mine.

    7. Starting continent? Not too generous? Choosing a starting hemisphere wouldn’t be sufficient? :P In UFO I can choose starting localisation very precisely (usually in Croatia or next to Black Sea, to cover Europe, Western Asia and North Africa). I select every base precisely, because both craft and radar radii are limited. Of course every area (which may be a part of continent) has different establishment cost, and times of transfers between bases are based on distance, but that’s it. Am I told now that I will have to choose a “continent”? Maybe that’s the gamepad thing…

    8. Despite these reservations I think that some thing actually look promising. Thin men is a good idea for example after all it’s hard to assume any of the aliens you meet are very good at infiltrating. Even ethereals would suck against our governments’ officials (even though many of them are puppets in real life), simply because of sheer numbers of people to be controlled. And some of them are psychopaths, probably impervious to psionics (like androids are in Apocalypse). Besides, Ethereals prefer to send other aliens to do their bidding. So you need someone more subtle, and likely, and thin men look promising.

    9. I hope it will be possible to mod different countries into (the original countries and their possible contributions don’t look very convincing in 2012, with China giving less on average than South Africa for example, or Nigeria more than India).

    BTW, laser rifles are much cooler than heavy plasmas in not only my opinion, and they are useful even later (all guns can deal up to 200% of their rated damage to living targets) so I hope they will return. Even in Silent Storm the gun you get from alien encounter is the iconic laser rifle rifle from UFO, not the heavy plasma.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      “9. I hope it will be possible to mod different countries into (the original countries and their possible contributions don’t look very convincing in 2012, with China giving less on average than South Africa for example, or Nigeria more than India).”

      To be fair, according to various lawyers and bankers who provide me with investment prospects via mail, Nigerians are filthy rich.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      I think the attitude of ‘if our beta testers can’t grok a certain concept, hire new beta testers’ is an absolutely hideous design methodology. Has everyone forgotten Master of Orion 3?

  33. kud13 says:

    Wait , there’s no base invasions???

    WHAT?

    well, let’s hope they get modded in.

  34. Tomhai says:

    And so the XCOM fanbase got divided.
    There was bloody war between the ones who liked TU-s and the ones who liked moveandshoot.
    Unfortunately for me, Firaxes tested their game on the latter ones:( Dont get me wrong, I do like myself some of the boardgames where you just move and shoot, but PC games have this uncanny possibility of enabeling more complex gameplay that tabletops. Complex meaning more interesting while not more frustarting. XCOM-s mechanics or rather mechanics with the UI where not the perfect… but there is a perfect TU based game that you could have used as an example… JA2. It’s perfect, brilliant… just adream come true TU management with a great UI.
    Oh man… so now I’m not really waiting for this game… waiting for that total conversion with TU-s that they mentioned:)

    • Uthred says:

      When they say tabletop they are likely talking about tabletop rpg’s not boardgames, which generally have mechanics of equal or greater complexity than computer games.

  35. TormDK says:

    Amazing interview – A shame we didn’t get to hear more about the classes/skills they plan on having.

    Because I am wondering if a melee soldier will finally be viable :P

    • WotevahMang says:

      I always kept 4 squaddies with stun rods in their backpacks so they can swap out weapons and stun aliens to capture them live if they got close enough. Apparently now this is just too complex for nu-XCOM players to handle.

    • TormDK says:

      I’m thinking more in the lines of the Skermisher/Commando perks if I recall them correctly – They gave +melee damage, but there was little to no melee weapons in the game (Not enemy unknown, might have been apoc).

      It’s a shame the interview doesn’t detail more on the class system, because it sounds like it would be possible to make a fast up-close-and-personal character, and have the perks to support such playstyle.

    • Premium User Badge

      jezcentral says:

      A melee soldier against a Chrysalid will never be viable.

  36. WotevahMang says:

    We thought about a lot of these mechanics as like you have to use multiple soldiers to be successful at them, and time units just basically broke that system, because people just weren’t able to think like that with time units. They would say like ‘I have no idea what I can do’, they thought they knew what they could do but they weren’t sure, and so because of that, time units just didn’t work, I guess. I know some people are not going to believe me and I think that’s fine, but I would say that I’m speaking completely honestly.

    In other words, simple math is hard for your target audience. “I guess…I would say…” is not the language a person sure of himself would use.

    Game still looks ok to check out for me and probably be a Steam holiday sale buy but I don’t have any hopes up and certainly not a day one purchase.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Or maybe they were mostly right-brain types instead of left-brain types.

      Not wanting to do math while you’re playing a video game (which are things a lot of us, including me at certain points in my life, play TO GET AWAY FROM DOING MATH) doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It means you’re not the type of person who likes to do math.

      I can do math, but I don’t want to, and certainly not when I’m trying to buy into a fantasy of being a leader of men. That’s a barrier for me as a player. Somehow I doubt it makes good business sense to exclude people who don’t whistle while they do long division.

      The mental image you just pictured of a pasty nerd whistling while he does long division? Brought to you by a right-brain-oriented fellow. Don’t knock us; we’ll write you a strongly-worded letter. :)

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I would simply say if you’re not in the mood for math or management relaxation, you play games that cater to the other stuff. And if you have enough of that, you look at the other genres.
      Trying to make all genres flat and superficial casual shit is exactly the cancer that is killing “deep” gaming.
      And no, I am not saying casual games can’t be fun sometimes or are completely without merit; I am saying I don’t want a fricking world where _all_ there is is are those very dumbo-funbo hurr hurr hurr games.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Oh, so you’re just saying that literally anything that doesn’t force you to write out the first hundred numbers of pi every time you want to move a space is for stupid people, and attempting to appeal to those people with something other than hidden object games or Peggle is like pouring the ebola virus into the water supply of gaming. I see. Very enlightened attitude. Certainly not at all elitist or snobby or dripping with nostalgia.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      I find the thought hilarious that of all the things in the world, someone would turn to videogames to get away from maths.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Heh. I suppose it is a bit ironic.

      That said, I was sort of referring more to being forced to calculate things even though the whole point of playing a video game instead of a board game or a pen-and-paper game is that the computer does all the calculation for you. If I could do math quickly and efficiently, and have fun while doing it, I’d probably be more into pen-and-paper RPGs than computer ones, because they necessarily afford you a greater range of choice.

  37. Premium User Badge

    ts061282 says:

    All I know is that it’s 20 years on and X-COM is still stepping all over Jagged Alliance.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Apples and oranges.
      Alien menace fascination with a squad of near identical grunts that evolve through research vs a team of deeply individual characters that live and grow together with you through hardship and adventure.

      Both are pretty elite in their own right for the things they do on their own that the other doesn’t.

  38. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    I have run into that exact situation with Time Units he describes in the interview so many times.

    I have also wanted so many of the things he mentioned in the interview for so long. The part where he talked about hunkering down made me ridiculously happy. The idea of a tradeoff between greater safety and greater awareness of the battlefield is just a fantastic bit of risk/reward gameplay, and totally in the spirit of the first X-COM.

  39. buzzmong says:

    Yeah, and that’s me still totally unsold on the removal of the TU system, will have to play a demo and see as I’m open, but not excited about the replacement system. Seems too easy and less chance of messing up.

    As for the removal of the inventory and all the ammo management…eugh, god no. Ignoring the (later fixed) issue in the originals of not remembering loadouts, that was a very important part of the game for me.
    Especially having to do things like take medkits off dead squaddies when I made a ballsup or got caught off guard, or trading more heavy ammo like rockets over to the heavy weapons chaps.

    I’m also not enthused about the “classes” system. I really hope squads are bigger than the four I’ve seen in the screen shots and that the “class” system for each soldier is something directly controlled by the player and not just: “Here’s soldier A, they’re Assault” on the recruitment lists.

    On the flipside, I do like the sound of the new additions, both in the mission types and tactical options like hunkering down.

    I’ll really need to try a demo when this comes out.

    • TLGAthena says:

      “Armour is completely unclassed, so anybody can wear any armour, and different suits of armour give you different, interesting battlefield abilities, but you can get abilities from your class obviously, from your weapons, from your inventory and from your armour, and so you’ve got all these different abilities. Some of them work really well together, some of them are solo moves, different things like that.”

      Implies a Dawn of War style approach where you have tons of options, and the options mix and match to give each soldier a unique set of abilities, ammo constraints are set to the side, as with Dawn of War, and it may be the case that medikits are hardlocked items that grant the ability to heal to specific soldiers.

      This could lead to plenty of situations where you have a heavy loadout and you spend the better part of 5 minutes umming and aahing over cool weapon A which grants ability B or cool weapon C that gives ability D, and trying to figure out which best suits that soldier for that setup or what have you.

      If so. I approve. Bring on heavy armour and some nasty melee options, make me a chrysalid proof trooper that whacks things FOR THE EMPER *cough*

  40. apt says:

    About the title, this is obviously XCOM/UFO and should be named accordingly, but for some reason I get these weird vibes when they are also using the original’s subtitle…

  41. oldkc says:

    Wasn’t really bothered…… now I kinda am. And i’d take him out for a pint. It’d be bro-mantic.

    It’s one of those time when you really hope he means it about playing Enemy unknown…. not like that Hollywood actor shite, like Ben Affleck saying he read every Daredevil comic when he was younger…

    Tread softly because you tread on some good childhood memories

  42. BobsLawnService says:

    Design by focus group. This is the first time I’ve felt a little unnerved in this series of interviews.

    “The original design which has been tried and tested and proven throughout the course of 18 years was deemed unfun by eight random burkes who were loitering on the sidewalk outside our offices one Tuesday.”

    I am trying really hard not to be negative though and if there is a demo I’ll definitely give it a try.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      And you’re failing pretty hard at trying not to be negative with the whole reactionary ‘random burke’ focus group comment.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Yeah, ’cause design by focus group never worked for Valve.

      Also, how do we know it’s a focus group? He just said “people”. That could mean anyone, including the dev team. Which would sorta take the wind out of the sails of the people saying “Bah, they can’t be arsed to do a little math?”

  43. sektor666 says:

    The TU system is being removed in lieu of a mechanic used in the Descent: Journeys in the Dark boardgame, where you are entitled to 2 actions in a turn, be it two moves, two attacks, a move and an attack or one of several special actions (overwatch, resting, dodging, etc.). I gotta say it works really well in the boardgame and I can’t see why it wouldn’t work here. Looks like the people at Firaxis are boardgame geeks :)

  44. Robin says:

    I don’t know a single move+action system that come even close to the beauty of UFO TUs system.
    Yes, beauty, as in “beauty of game design”: complexity which emerged from the flexible interaction of a handful of basic actions and simple systems.

    • TheBeefiest says:

      I did like the UFO games, but for some reason they got boring very quickly, and I just couldnt bother to keep playing.

      I got much farther playing into 7.62mm, and that one was frustratingly difficult, yet I thought it was interesting and varied enough missions to power on. The real time pausable is very realitic and fun, certainly does agree with the original post on being able to “coordinate” units easier in real time.

  45. aircool says:

    Lots of warm and fuzzies. The changes sound good and should speed up the game a bit. Definately looking forward to this.

  46. fuggles says:

    What I don’t get with TU’s is that I played this game when I was 12 and had no problem with the concept, you just do some maths before wading around. Occasionally you get it wrong and find yourself in a world of pain and that’s X-com folks!

  47. Deformed_Transformed says:

    Hoping for multiple difficulty settings. As for the relentless trolls of this title… If you don’t like anything about the game then simply leave this thread and forget about this game, go subscribe to another thread with a game that suits your fancy. Pretty simple logic really. I don’t hang around commenting on games I won’t be buying because I think they suck, I have a life and shit to do, so I spend what time I have commenting on games I do like and maybe point out a concern here and there but I don’t stick around for a week and bitch. That’s just weird…

  48. RegisteredUser says:

    Quite frankly I am trying to keep a levelheaded expectation on this one.
    For one, I am happy that they are making an attempt at a “proper” X-Com at all. That alone sends a signal to the industry, even with all the improvements-to-be.
    Whether or not the new tactical mode works out okay I will see.
    I am 100% convinced a JA2/Silent Storm would have worked just as nicely and that its pure lazyness on both sides, and not an inherent impossibility of the TBS approach that locked out their so-called “combos”, whatever those are.
    However: Classes, more “funneled” leveling and specialization are a good thing to me. I mean we’ve already had the original give you more PSI-powered and strong/weak willed soldiers, and some with more strength(heavy gear), some more dexterity and aim(snipey), but a few perks and skills never hurt..

    I am also curious whether beyond buffs there are other aspects of deepening the “globe game”, because from a purely management game viewpoint both base management and globe game could alone produce their very own fascination(maybe even with..*gulp, blasphemy*..the option of..AUTORESOLVINGBATTLESTHEREISAIDIT and playing it as a purely management / overview structured game. Totally polar opposite approach, but in my mind also an intriguing idea, although I suspect we’ll just lack depth for it.).
    So give me over the top amounts of weapon types, gadgets, gizmos, grenades, ammo types(even without ammo count you can have different ammo TYPES, right?), base modules, fighter craft and maybe even more fighter craft subcomponents. Interrogation cells, maybe a whole minigame of training translators/specialists, mindgame people, translation devices..okay I’ve gone off the deep end.

    What I am basically saying: I don’t care if you make the game more “accessible”, just make it DEEP and COMPLEX – in the sense of density – as fucking possible, because that’s where immersion and fantasy meet to create atmosphere.

    Cautiously watching this.

    Also if you DLC this or don’t post-release support it, DRM it to hell or disallow modding, you can count me out 100%.

    • Deformed_Transformed says:

      Just shut it, and keep an eye out for trouble.

  49. Sumanai says:

    Because I’ve played games with Time Units and games with “move then act” systems I think I can vocalise something about it:

    Berrlalahngh

    Well, um. Let’s try again:
    I think that one of the biggest problems when planning in Enemy Unknown is that some soldiers had different amounts of TUs according to their speed and shooting had a percentile cost. So at the same time you couldn’t count on everyone moving the same amount nor that taking a shot would cost the same amount. I think that removing speed as an attribute and making shooting costs fixed would’ve helped. Or doing what someone mentioned that Silent Storm did.

    I don’t think that move-act -systems are bad, and I can see why they chose it, but I really hope that “shoot then move” is limited by opportunities (no-one to shoot) rather than by a character’s abilities. If Rookies can’t shoot-move, or I’d have to use skill points for it, then I would most likely forget it exists and therefore never use it. I’d also like to be able to half-move, shoot, half-move.

    And since I’m making a wishlist, I’d also prefer for it to be action-action, rather than move-action (which is the impression I got from the interview). This way someone who’s in a good place and doesn’t need to move could just use their turn shooting, shooting and hunkering down or shooting and overwatch. This would bring tactical options closer to what TUs provide, without actually using them, so I think it would bring the best of both worlds.

  50. TheBeefiest says:

    Aha! The answer is revealed: Why all these remakes are fucked up? (not necessarily this one in particular since I actually like real time pausable) But clearly games have become a completely soul less money maker: None of the employees give a fuck about what they are doing, and all decisions are based on PLAY TESTING by random assholes that just so happen to be the worst console whores on earth apparently.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I actually just remembered an example where the space/pausable realtime version can be both fun and crap at the same time, even in almost the same game.
      Chaos League vs the later developed Bloodbowl by Cyanide.

      CL was fun, immersive, atmospheric and just overall well done.
      The Blood Bowl translation had theoretically both: the same pause system and the turn based one.
      From what I checked the pausable mode just all of a sudden didn’t work anymore.
      It was terrible, awkward and felt clunky to hell and back. I suspect this is partially the fault of the underlying BB mechanics and being more constricted to what was likely more developed as a turn based game; so ironically the pausable realtime “original” copy(CL was really a BB copy) was far more fun to play because it was made that way than the final, actual BB product with the same gamemode..

      And it was 1:1 the same people making it, too.

      How weird is that?