Squad Chat: Jagged Alliance – Flashback Interview

By Adam Smith on April 17th, 2013 at 1:11 pm.

I’ve spent most of my adult life waiting for a worthy successor to Jagged Alliance 2 so when Full Control announced that they had secured the rights to the license, I was eager to find out how true the new game would be to the original two. Heading to Kickstarter next week, where it will have a target of $350,000, Jagged Alliance: Flashback is a prequel that will explore the forming of mercenary organisation A.I.M. and cold war tensions. I spoke to CEO Thomas Hentschel Lund and team-mate Andreas to find out if old mercenary favourites will be back, why Kickstarter and the community matter, and the difficulties involved in resuscitating a franchise.

Note: the first two images are concept shots for Flashback – the rest are taken from Jagged Alliance 2.

RPS: The story about how you secured the Space Hulk license was brilliant. I’m guessing you can’t top it – sharing a urinal next to a mercenary, perhaps?

Lund: I can almost top it! At the same GDC, which is kind of absurd, I was sitting at Game Connect, a business meet-up thing which runs at the same time as GDC – we were pitching for publishers for our previous title Frontline: Tactics. I was talking to some guys from bitComposer, showing them the game, and they were sitting back, totally shell-shocked and then they asked me: “Hey, what would it take to reskin that into Jagged Alliance because we have the license?”

We knew that reskinning a game wouldn’t make a new Jagged Alliance, but we ended up talking back and forth, and they were looking for someone who was willing to make a proper, turn-based single player game. Then we got the Space Hulk opportunity and that became important to close first, but we’ve been talking to the bitcomposer guys on and off since then. We didn’t want to go in and do the classic work for hire kind of thing, which is why we now have this Kickstarter idea. They will give us the license and support us with infrastructure and all the help they can offer without compromising our independence and vision, if we can secure financing and community support through Kickstarter.

RPS: When the Kickstarter craze – and I hate that word – began, I figured Jagged Alliance, or something very much like it without the name, would crop up sooner rather than later. I’d class this as later.

Lund: Yes! We expected it to.

RPS: How big do you think the market for a Jagged Alliance game actually is? Mostly thirty-plus people like me, who remember the good old days?

Lund: I think it’s a really good question. I’ve been surprised again and again by things like XCOM and Wasteland 2, how big a success they have been, either on sale or on Kickstarter. These old IPs have a much broader audience than people expect.

RPS: I do wonder if XCOM and other games have helped to create a new audience, or at least to create excitement.

Lund: The audience has been there the whole time. That’s been our pitch the whole time, although on a smaller scale, that it’s possible to create old-school games for old-school gamers, some of which have families and don’t have as much time anymore. The publishers have disregarded this niche for ages, only going for cover shooters and first-person shooters and racing games. You know the story. XCOM and so many Kickstarter projects have opened up the realisation that the market is there. And it’s much bigger than people expect.

RPS: This new Jagged Alliance won’t be a reboot but a sort of restart, set during the Cold War and telling the story of the founding of A.I.M. What drove that decision?

Andreas: This is the area of prequels – we’ve seen lots of movies looking to tell origin stories. We thought this was a unique opportunity for us to look at the beginning of A.I.M. and to bring back some of the cool mercenaries and tell their early stories, looking at how they became who they are.

Lund: We want to look at why they became mercenaries, where they came from, why they joined this organisation. Why was all this founded? At least for me, if we were just going in and doing yet another dictator on an island story, we would instantly be trying to copy Jagged Alliance 2. Being put on the same shelf, even though that’s not what we really want to do. Being just a copy of what has been isn’t what we want to do. We want to bring something unique and a little different into the mix. And that’s the story part, where we can twiddle around and change things. Because on the other side, the mechanics and the turn-based part obviously, we’re going to see how much of JA2 we can bring back.

RPS: And will that include the complications of the strategic side as well? If you look at the new XCOM, the strategic side is streamlined, but the original X-COM wasn’t as complex on both levels as JA2.

Lund: Yeah, we are going to bring back the strategic side. I think we’re going to run with something in terms of base-building and an open world is something we want to have as well. We’ll have movement in realtime until people hit a combat situation and then it’ll become turn-based again, in a direct copy of JA2’s mechanic. We’re keeping the combat absolutely turn-based but the real-time setting will be open world, with the strategic setting utilising base-building and transportation, those kind of things.

RPS: When you say open world, do you mean you won’t divide it into sectors anymore?

Lund: No, it’s back to the chessboard. But not like a linear progression, from A to Z in terms of levels.

RPS: I know it’s still early days – but have you thought about presentation? Will it be full 3d or do you see the possible advantages of 2d?

Andreas: I think we’re going full 3d. But we’ll keep our own style. In terms of the strategic and tactical, neither layer will be dumbed down. We’re going to improve usability but we’re going to keep it – not hardcore – but up there.

RPS: A little bit hardcore.

Lund: It’s similar to Space Hulk in that the core element of the game is challenge. If we remove that, it’s not JA anymore. There are some of these absolutely core mechanics that games like Back in Action removed, or dumbed down, to the point where it wasn’t JA anymore. At least not to me. They may have opened it up to new players, but they also alienated a lot of the core players.

RPS: The cornerstones of the series, as far I see it, are the mercenaries, their personalities, relationships and the RPG aspects. But also, of course, the complexity behind the scenes.

Andreas: You can’t remove the humour.

Lund: And the dialogues, the environmental interaction. It’s a mix of turn-based action, RPG triangle thing, with a layer of strategic management that really defines the complexity of the game. We really hope that with Kickstarter we can get these things back. Working with the community, we can figure out what triggers the core players want in this game. We have the setting, the technology and the means to make a new Jagged alliance, but there’s definitely a lot of places where we can work with the community toward a common goal. It doesn’t have to replace Jagged Alliance 2 – it will be a cool new, turn-based game.

RPS: I think people often think that a spiritual successor, or reboot, is an attempt to replace something that they love. I love the original X-COM, but I also love the new XCOM. They’re so different that I’m happy they co-exist. Are you looking to create something along those lines? Something new that doesn’t try to take the place of the older game?

Lund: Just doing a JA2 remake is, I think, the wrong way to go now that we have a chance to make something new. We want to bring in some new pieces, while still keeping the essential parts of the franchise there. There were also some significant changes between Jagged Alliance 1 and 2, and some of the expansions. They all kept the core alive and that’s what we have to stick to – to discover what is the core. We have an opinion on that and so do a lot of fans. We have to find this common denominator together, and then we can build story, features and characters. Bring in new characters, bring back the really cool ones from JA 1 and 2, and tell their stories. Why were they mercenaries? They must have been something before – farmers, soldiers…

RPS: Presumably the Cold War setting gives you some interesting angles on some of the mercenaries in the other games. So many of them are clearly culturally and ideologically opposed, at least on paper, at that time.

Andreas: It’s also important to note that everything isn’t set in stone yet. We’re going to build on everything in the original games, but we’re also going to be listening to the fans and the modding community from Jagged Alliance2. We’re going to listen to everything that comes to us.

Lund: At the end of the day, it’s going to be about how successful can we make Kickstarter and how many features can we add, so we’ve tried to come up with stretch goals that will demonstrate that. More mercenaries, destructible environments, that sort of thing. We have to look at what we can do for the amount of money we’re asking for as a minimum – we can make a cool game but we can’t make a replacement for JA2, that has been modded for so many years. It’s impossible. But depending on success, we can add more and more, so hopefully that’s possible.

RPS: Logistically, how would that work, if you reach stretch goals? More time, or a bigger team?

Lund: Both.

RPS: So right now, you have an idea of what you can do with the resources and time you have, but you’d like to expand?

Lund: With the minimum goal and a little beyond, we can take the Space Hulk production team – all the ones who aren’t doing DLC content – and move them into the Jagged Alliance team. The timing has been set up so that we can do preproduction all the way through summer, set up community forums, write the story parts, set up a production plan, and then move the Space Hulk production team across, and then supply resources to that team as far as the budget allows.

RPS: A slightly silly question, but one I thought I should ask…

Lund: Shoot away!

RPS: At any point in the last few days have you had that moment where you think, we have Space Hulk and we have Jagged Alliance…those are two rabid fanbases! Is there fear mixed in with the excitement?

Andreas: (laughs) Oh, you don’t say! I think that the response to the announcement, there was one fan, on your site I think, who said he was happy and wanted to stay optimistic, but was worried that we had these two big games on our hands. Space Hulk is not done yet but we’re on our way! We believe in ourselves and we’re confident.

Lund: The thing that we can do, since we are fans of the games – Space Hulk, Jagged Alliance, X-COM if we ever had the chance. Hey, if you have the Fallout license, I’d love to talk to you! (laughs) These are games that a lot of us grew up with and we feel that they are part of our DNA. They are the reason we’ve been doing turn-based games for the past four or five years exclusively. We’re keeping this alive because we believe that they are games for ourselves. With that confidence we can go in and take these iconic games that we played and we liked, and play something that we want to play.

Hopefully that hits what the fanbase expects. But we’re also realising that, similar to the Space Hulk games, there will be things that have to change. We don’t know what yet. But there are things that we’ll have to pick up and look at it and say, ‘does this work in a modern context’? And then, together with the community, but sometimes making a decision that doesn’t please everybody, but hopefully…

Andreas: A majority? (laughs)

Lund: Or something that we believe so much in that it’s a great game. We’re going to do it.

RPS: I’m always interested when people use the phrase ‘modern context’. People still play Jagged Alliance 2 today, and many people, myself included, would argue that a complex strategy game fits perfectly in a ‘modern context’. What is it that you mean specifically by that phrase?

Lund: Some of it is about accessibility and usability. In earlier days, fifteen years ago, you could get away with any kind of UI. You could get away without using tutorials – that’s actually the wrong word – but players weren’t necessarily eased into the game. Anybody who has played Jagged Alliance 2 knows that you’re thrown in at the deep end right away – it can be overwhelming.

RPS: I didn’t play it for about four years and when I went back, I’d forgotten how much there was to keep track of.

Lund: The modern way, particularly for people who haven’t played these games, or haven’t played them for ten or fifteen years, is to help them to relearn how they work. Not to remove from them, but to show how it works. The 3D part as well, for example, is a modern take on the formula. It’s not always necessary but people like to be able to rotate the camera and see things from a different angle. The usability part – not plastering the screen full of buttons, trying to make it intuitive to use.

Andreas: We’ve also been talking about the cover system. Showing much more clearly where you are when you take cover.

RPS: A lot of it seems to be about communication. Allowing the player to make choices more easily and the game to communicate the meaning and consequences of those choices.

Lund: Also, computers are more powerful. You can put status icons on tiles that show there is cover and which sides the bonus works on and how much. You can calculate all of these things on the fly, which wasn’t necessarily possible in the past. That’s what we mean by modernising.

There’s more to come. In the next instalment, we discuss mercenaries, humour and mechanics.

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71 Comments »

  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Using a hammer and sickle for an “A”? That’s a new low.

    It looks like FLGSHBACK.

    • RedViv says:

      FLUSHBACK

      It’s a comment on the rather shitty games that have been released as reboots or spiritual successors, whatever one might call these.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Jagged Alliance: Flhammerandsickleshback.

      That has to be the dumbest letter substitution ever.

    • Nyst says:

      Floshback.

    • Possums says:

      I thought the hammer & sicle was a stupid A as well, but if you block off everything right of the hammer, it’s a pretty good A. It just needs to be set higher in the word.

  2. BobbyDylan says:

    WANT!!!!!!!

  3. Jockie says:

    Prequel eh? Does this mean we’ll get to see Frank ‘Hitman’ Hennessy back in his prime?

  4. Gesadt says:

    hammer and sickle? nice going… i hope they realize that this symbol is illegal in some European countries as it represent totalitarian communist regime?

    • Mordsung says:

      I believe the idea is that the game takes place during the cold war with a heavy soviet theme.

      I’m sure the title will be reworked in those countries who have an aversion to drawings.

      • Gesadt says:

        maybe you should look into why hammer and sickle symbol is banned in some countries before making these comments(hint: it as offensive as swastika for historical reasons going deeper than just aversion to drawings)

        • mlaskus says:

          The legislation varies by country but it’s usually about promoting the ideology.
          Symbols are obviously a part of that but merely displaying them is hardly enough to warrant legal action.

        • Mordsung says:

          And I find the concept of banning the swastika as equally stupid as banning any drawing.

          I don’t care if it’s a picture of Muhammad, Hitler, Jesus, and Stalin having a gay orgy while juggling every symbol ever invented by man while flanked by the most sexist image of women you could think of.

          You don’t have to like it, just don’t ban it.

          Hell, draw a picture of my mother blowing a horse. I honestly couldn’t care less.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Thanks for the offer of a picture of your mother, I’ve got a better idea, could I use an image of the symbols which make up your mobile phone number to publicise my nazi party please? I know you will get tonnes of hate filled calls day and night but quite frankly, you don’t have to like it – as long as you don’t try to make me change it, right?

            Wait, we could put your number around the picture of your mother and her equine companion – bingo!

          • Quickpull says:

            Logic escapes some people *facepalm*

          • Sheng-ji says:

            My point is, some symbols negatively impact peoples lives – these symbols are banned because they can incite violence or cause mental anguish. It’s no good sitting in an ivory tower exclaiming that these people should be able to not be incited or suffer because of a shape on a piece of paper, unless you have lived in a situation where this affects you, how can you understand. You may as well try to tell depressed people to cheer up.

            Yes my example was stupid, of course it was, but it is trying to get you to think about what would happen if a symbol was created that definitely would impact on your life, because there is always something that will. Would you be so keen to abolish the censorship then?

          • Quickpull says:

            Listing someones personal information is not a symbol. The analogy makes no sense.

          • Mordsung says:

            And if some people are offended by symbols they can remove themselves from the situation and not look.

            They should not attempt to have society changed and images modified to protect their fragile minds from being assaulted by said imagery.

            If everything offends you, don’t try to censor everything, lock your door and stay at home so the rest of us can go about our lives normally.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            A symbol is something that represents an idea, a process, or a physical entity. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning.

            Numerals are symbols. A string of numerals is a symbol. If that string of numerals is my chosen symbol for my nazi party, and it happens to by coincidence match your phone number, it doesn’t suddenly stop being a symbol.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Mordsung, God I hope that you never have to suffer through the horrors of a nazi regime, but if you do, when you visit the unmarked grave you think your wife children were set light in and buried alive and it is covered in swastika posters proclaiming all buried within deserved what they got because they were whores, remember what you wrote here today. Then take your frail mind somewhere where we don’t have to listen to your uncontrollable sobbing.

            Or learn to empathise, don’t be so arrogant as to assume you are better than these people, your brain is made in the exact same way and if you went through what they did, you would have a mind just as “frail” as theirs.

          • Quickpull says:

            I don’t disagreed that some cultures might reasonably censor a symbol. I’m just pointing out that you are incapable of understanding the functional difference between a swastika and a phone number. I think maybe you should go lie down.

          • Mordsung says:

            Going through horrors is not going to change my aversion to all censorship.

            I am against censoring things that offend me just as much as things that offend others.

            It’s called a principle.

            When you censor or ban an image, you give it power.

            If you want to disgrace the memories of the Nazis and Stalinists, use their symbol until it no longer holds any meaning. Turn it into nothing.

            The more you use a word or symbol, the more you disarm it. 30 years ago a white comic couldn’t say “nigger”, in 2013 Louis CK and other white comics have entire skits around the word. That is because the word has become slowly less powerful by being over used in benign situations.

            That is how you take power out of a word or symbol.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Mordsung – well that sounds very commendable, but I’m sorry, I don’t believe it because you wrote “to protect their fragile minds ” – This is why I think that you think that you are somehow strong enough to withstand the psychological effects of the symbolism and think that those who aren’t strong enough should quit messing with your comfortable existence.

            Out of curiosity are you free and loose with the N word around your black friends to take it’s power away or do you restrain yourself from saying it? What happens if you say it and someone gets upset, do you tell them that their frail mind should go someplace where they cannot hear it?

            @ the other guy, re-read what I wrote in the first reply I made to you. If you don’t understand what I was doing and why, then just ignore me. I don’t have any more to say to you on the subject and I can’t explain it any better than that. Your assertion that numerals or a string of numerals are not a symbol is utterly false. You belief that some symbols if they happen to be phone numbers as well cannot be infused with the destructive power that other symbols have baffles me but I do understand that the swastika does not correspond to personal information, unless you dial the numbers in the shape of one… Also, in languages which use logograms, it may convey a specific meaning too, but I bet your world does not extend beyond ABC.

          • Quickpull says:

            It’s cute the way you rail on how people should respect others point of view, then shit on other peoples opinion and outright insult them. Maybe YOU should just ignore ME. Otherwise we can continue to find out how many words you can fit into one RPS comment section.

            An emblem and a series of numbers carrying codified information are still not the same and your seemingly endless supply of words isn’t going to change that. Deliberately ignoring the difference between them because they are “both symbols” doesn’t make your argument right, it just makes you look unhinged.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            “Maybe YOU should just ignore ME”

            Consider it done! Before I do, however, where did I insult you? I ask because I am trying my hardest to be nicer to people in the comments whilst still being able to present my arguments and counter arguments in a debate on here and I don’t see where I did – so let me know and I can adjust my behaviour to make sure I don’t insult you or others in the future.

          • Mordsung says:

            I use the word nigger rarely, unless discussing offensive words or racism, I do however greet both my white and black, and other race, friends with “what’s up my nigga?” and none of them, including the black ones, have a problem with that because the understand the concept of context.

            They know I am using the word as a term of endearment, not insult, and so it does not bother them. Hell, they hate when people say “the n word” because they instantly know that person is afraid of words.

            And yes, I still stand by the statement that people who are offended by symbols or words have a fragile mind. I am never offended by words or images, only by the context in how they’re used, and even then I am very rarely offended by anything.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            well, I’m sorry if I insulted your friends by not saying the n word but saying “The N Word” but I am somewhat in the public eye and I will lose my job whilst being plastered all over the news if I were to be linked to a post on here which write the word out in any context. I hope your black friends can understand that, from what you’ve written it seems that they would.

            I think I disagree with you on a very fundamental level which is that you believe that people should not censor themselves or others in case it offends or incites something. I on the other hand am a great believer in the hate crime and harassment laws and am rather pleased that they exist. I have seen first hand the effect hate crime, by which I mean abuse of offensive symbols, words, incitement against race religion and sexuality has on other people. I have cared for, personal friends as well as strangers who have been affected both long and short term by hateful symbols, words etc. I, to this very day check up on a friend regularly because hate crime has caused such a deep depression that I worry about his suicide. I see how it takes normal, every day people and destroys their lives – people just like you, people like your friends, people like me. I am not weak or frail minded by any stretch of the imagination, neither were the people whose lives have been changed by this stuff.

            I think your arrogance is what makes you believe that some peoples minds are, on a fundamental level “frail” and surely if that were the case, these people should be classed as mentally ill and cared for. But this is not the case, hate crime destroys lives and can destroy any life regardless of mental frailty which is why every civilised country in the world has robust laws against it. I said it earlier and I will say it again, I hope you are never ever the victim of this stuff, but I also hope that you drop this belief that you are better than others on a fundamental level, it is damaging to society.

            EDIT And please can we move on from the fallocy that the worst thing a word or a symbol can do is offend someone. If all that happened when a hate crime was comitted was people got offended in a nice, gentle chattering class way, there would be no need to have these laws and the censorship that they bring about. But the truth is, words and symbols can control people. This is not about strong people controlling weak people, plenty of experiments have proven beyond reasonable doubt that anyone can control anyone else if they want too – see the Milgram experiment as a starting point. Words and symbols can make a young man who loves his family, dreams of being a writer and wishes nothing but peace on the world strap a bomb to his chest and detonate it in a crowded tube train. This is why the use of words and symbols need to be controlled in my opinion, this is why I am so passionate in this debate.

          • Smion says:

            I usually hate people yelling “Godwin’s Law” at every possible occasion as if would automatically invalidate everything someone ever said, but maybe since you seem to be insinuating that using Hammer and Sickle as a substitute for an A could somehow lead to someone blowing themselves up in a tube station, you might try excerzing a bit more control over your own usage of words and symbols.

          • Ich Will says:

            That’s not what anyone said at all dude, as you didn’t read it properly, and I don’t balme you quite honestly, heres the highlights:

            10 Gesadt: Hammer and sickle, that’ll be banned in some places

            Mordsung: It’ll be changed for those markets

            Gesadt: How can you say such things, look up why it’ll be banned! Its as offensive as the swastika

            Mordsung: I don’t find the swastika offensive. I don’t find anything offensive

            Shenji: I bet you would find me making a logo of your phone number for nazis offensive

            Quickpull: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLLOOLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL You stupei!

            Shengji: I was trying to point out that if you go to extremes, you will eventually find something even the most diehard of anti-censorship fans will want to censor

            Quickpull: YOU STUPEI STUPID STUPID.

            Mordsung: People should just not look at symbols they are offended by, those people are frail so who cares anyway

            Shengji: I’m not Stupid, Mordsung, that’s not exactly practical nor is it a sign of weakness to have faced suffering and not wish to remind yourself of it. Also your a bit arrogant.

            Quickpull: I don’t disagree with censorship and YOU STUPID

            Mordsung: I’m very principled and I don’t care how extreme an example you come up with, I will never advocate the censorship of anything ever. If something is offensive, it should be used all the time to make it not offensive any more.

            Shengji: Mordsung, I don’t believe you, I think you gave it away when you called people who were affected by things that should be censored as frail. Do you say nigger in front of black people? Quickpull go back and read what I wrote, until you understand that I have nothing more to say to you.

            Quickpull: Dont insult me YOU STUPIEI STUPID FACE

            Shengji: Where did I insult you exactly?

            Quickpull: ……………

            Mordsung: I call black people my niggas all the time, they don’t get offended by it because they know I’m being friendly. In fact the way you wrote the n word is rude to black people, they would prefer it if you said nigger to them.

            Shengji: I’m not going to call them niggers, not even anonymously cos I is a celeberati innit. (She’s not, she’s some hot shot llawyer as I remember.. Ed) We fundamentally disagree because I believe that some things should be censored and you believe that people negatively impacted by things that are censored are frail. You belief makes you arrogant. And can we stop pretending that things are censored because they offend people, it’s more about the incitement of violence. People blew them selves up on the tube because someone used words that shouldn’t have been allowed to have been said.

            Smion: I hate people who cry Godwin, but this is clearly Godwin!

            Ich Will: Hello chaps and chappesses, this is not really a godwin situation here, the conversation moved away from the replacement of a letter in a video game and moved on to an over all discussion of censorship. Heres how it went in brief:

            Goto 10

          • Bhazor says:

            @ Mordsung

            So how is “context” different from “censorship”?

            You said you wouldn’t call a stranger a nigger so are you suggesting these black people have a “fragile mind”? Would you be OK showing explicit footage of unsimulated rape to children? What about something that is undeniable personal hate speech that targeted a tiny minority? *Where* and to *who* something is shown is hugely important. Which is exactly what Shen-ji was saying.

            Nothing exists in a vacuum. Telling people to ignore it doesn’t change it, and it won’t go away. I don’t know about you but putting my fingers in my ears and singing Lalalalal stopped solving my problems when I was about 6.

            @ Shen-ji

            Calm down a little, would ya?

          • Smion says:

            I guess I should have quite possibly tried to excezise more control over my reading skills…

            @sheng-ji: Still, I think your subway-bomber example reeks either of unintended hyperbole or a dangerously simplified and superficial worldview which has relatively little in common with reality. The idea that “words and symbols” (and I’m assuming we are still talking about them by themselves, not about the context in which they are used), rather than the ideologies behind them are the important part in triggering such vile acts as terror attacks and that banning the words or symbols used by the perpetrators of such attacks could possibly stop others from happening seems to me like someone is underestimating humanity’s capability to communicate nasty ideas with less nasty words.

            (And now, I’m going to stop myself, since most likely this really isn’t what you said at all, but once people start using 7/7 as proof of their opinion on a subject, I too, get rather passionate)

          • Mordsung says:

            My point Bhazor is that even if images existed that filled me with extreme offense, I would never ask another to ban them or take them down.

            I expect the same of others.

            I would not go out of my way to watch violent rape of a child, but if someone decided it was artistic and put it up somewhere I would not ask for it to be removed, I simply wouldn’t look.

            If the dude is offended by the symbol in the title, then he does not have to play the game. Just like I wouldn’t play a game with a religious message because I find religion offensive, but I wouldn’t ask for it to be banned or removed.

            If someone cannot simply look away, then their mind is much more fragile than those who can. It is about time we stop being offended as a species.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Bhazor – Fair enough

            @ Smion – No actually you are correct, I agree with what you wrote – but words and symbols are entirely human constructions that live in the realm of context. A symbol out of context is surely an oxymoron. If that shape has come to represent a certain ideology, that is what it always represents within the mind of the viewer. Show a cross to a Christian and he sees a potent symbol of his religion. Show a cross to someone who has never heard of Christianity and they see a cross. Burn a cross in front of a Christian, the communication is clear – I am burning your religion, I am burning your belief. Burn a cross in front of a man who has never heard of Christianity, there is no message, just a curiously shaped bonfire (Murder his wife, children, family and friends and brand each an every one of them with a cross, suddenly it is a very potent symbol to him).

            Now the men who blew up the tube and bus in London were not born with a desire to blow up English commuters, someone made them that way and I can guarantee that symbolism played a huge role in their manipulation, because symbolism is so powerful! This is what I was trying to say, someone preyed upon those men because they knew how to manipulate them. They knew they were devout Muslims and abused the symbolism of Islam to control them into killing themselves and others. While what these men did was undeniably evil, they were made that way because of how powerful symbolism is. I am saying that no-one is immune to this. If someone charismatic enough knows how to manipulate anyone else out there, they can.

            Mordsung has obviously engineered his brain into such a state that to him child rape pornography should not be banned, and I bet he has used symbolism to achieve this state of being. I can almost guarantee that as a teenager he scrawled the anarchy A symbol into his textbooks, had it on on posters on his wall. Which if it is true, really would prove once again how powerful symbolism is and why it should be treated with kid gloves.

            I could ask him another ridiculous scenario question about what if he were the child who had been taken against his will, raped on video and had all manner of paedophilic abuse put on him and that video being available to rent at every blockbusters up and down the country – every time he logs onto netflix, there is his abused face mocking him from an advert. Would he believe in banning that video then? Would he just not go into blockbusters or use netflix, so that the paedophiles who masturbate to it can do so uncensored? How is that in any way a valid solution? He is effectively banned from places while the criminals get their kicks.

            Don’t misinterpret me, I am not calling for stricter controls, I think the way the western world deals with it is pretty spot on at the minute, perhaps I would change some of the most minor details, but as a whole, I think the law is working as intended without intruding on peoples rights unnecessarily. So the swastika is banned in Germany may mean that someone living there can’t play Wolvenstein on release day, well considering how the neo-nazi’s would abuse that symbol and use it to great evil, it’s hardly a situation that compares. When the neo-nazis are a distant echo of a memory, I expect the control the German government exercises over that symbol will relax.

            I literally cannot explain myself any better than this, if you still wish to Godwin me, I shall accept it and move on! THere is nothing more to say to Mordsung, we will not see eye to eye unless one of us changes, I doubt Quickskill is going to get back to me and I have blocked IchWill so whatever he has to say does not interest me. If you can’t get where I am coming from, there is no more debate to have as I have no desire to indulge in mutual back slapping with people who agree with me!

        • Zeewolf says:

          Drawings aren’t actually offensive. Some people just think they are.

    • iridescence says:

      My concern is that there are people who find most symbols offensive and hurtful. I guarantee that there are many people around the world who have unpleasant associations with the Stars and Stripes or the Union Jack or the Christian Cross or just about any other political or ideological symbol you could name and there are very valid historical reasons for their feelings. Who gets to decide which symbols are beyond the pale and worthy of censorship? Isn’t it better to look at the context in which the symbol is being used than advocate the total banning of certain symbols (while almost necessarily leaving other controversial ideological symbols untouched).

  5. Subject 706 says:

    I hope mod-tools is part of their plan, or their kickstarter might run into trouble.

  6. RedViv says:

    Detailing the early stories of AIM and its mercs? Now that’s an idea I support.
    Accessibility through better contextual info and introduction, not merely strict reduction of stats? That too.

    • Bhazor says:

      I have to say Jagged Alliance 2 did a terrible job of explaining itself and highlighting what exactly I’m supposed to be doing on a given mission. It’s particularly bad at explaining the meta map thing and how characters level up.

      A few pop out tool tips would make all the difference.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        On my first playthrough I didn’t realise how you’re supposed to make contact with the rebels and I liberated about half of the country without knowing about their existence.

        • PedroBraz says:

          Even though this is explained in the intro, AND in the emails on your laptop?

          • Michael Fogg says:

            It’s easy to miss that you have that letter on you and that you are supposed to give it to the first person you meet.

          • Squirly says:

            I recently got my friend into JA2 with the 1.13 mod. He doesn’t really play a lot of newer games and most of our gaming time together was when we were teens playing Fallout, XCOM, etc. so he’s definitely more of an old school gamer.

            I had a look at his playthrough the other day after hearing about his exploits and how he’s absolutely loving this game and I realize he has yet to create his own IMP character profile. He just never read the email at the start and just hired a bunch of mercs and took it from there. He’d already liberated Drassen and Cambria and was busy with Alma when I told him about it.

  7. Nick says:

    Tarballs to the wall!

  8. Zeewolf says:

    This does sound awfully close to a publisher-backed Kickstarter. Which is a bit … hmm!

  9. Snids says:

    GIVE THEM CHAOS GATE

    • cfcannon says:

      I’d like to second the idea of getting somebody to make a new Chaos Gate. A turn-based space marines v demons on fairly open maps updated to current standards would be perfect. For a long time I moved Chaos Gate from old to new computer until it began to be too hard to get a stable version up and running on the latest computers. I look forward to the JA prequel but a new Chaos Gate would be my first ever preorder.

  10. squareking says:

    RPS: I’m always interested when people use the phrase ‘modern context’… What is it that you mean specifically by that phrase?

    Thank you for asking this. So many devs say this and I’m always wary of their answer, but rarely does anyone ask.

  11. Michael Fogg says:

    I am curious about object!

  12. JFS says:

    I’d really appreciate a good successor to JA2. And I’m not even 30-something. I can understand the feeling of being the only guy in the world who still remembers the good stuff, but as the devs say, the audience is likely to be much broader than what a certain fraction of the retro-oldschool-indie scene would like to believe. And I’m glad that’s the case!

  13. Sheng-ji says:

    @Mordsung – well that sounds very commendable, but I’m sorry, I don’t believe it because you wrote “to protect their fragile minds ” – This is why I think that you think that you are somehow strong enough to withstand the psychological effects of the symbolism and think that those who aren’t strong enough should quit messing with your comfortable existence.

    Out of curiosity are you free and loose with the N word around your black friends, or do you restrain yourself from saying it?

    @ the other guy, re-read what I wrote in the first reply I made to you. If you don’t understand what I was doing and why, then just ignore me. I don’t have any more to say to you on the subject.

  14. Discopanda says:

    Just bring back M.E.R.C. :(

  15. mxu says:

    How about a Silent Storm: Flashbackwotever. I’d be all over that. Still none of these x-com’s and jagged alliance’s have surpassed the tactical combat engine of Silent Storm. Not even close.

    • Faldrath says:

      Yeah, it’s weird that Silent Storm has been pretty much forgotten. I wonder if it’s WW2 fatigue or something.

      • belgand says:

        I still totally got a semi when it was announced on GOG. There’s even a Greenlight campaign for it. It’s not entirely forgotten.

      • mxu says:

        SS didn’t get much attention even when it was released. It got some nice reviews but remained pretty undergound. Strategic (if you can call it that) side was always pretty ‘meh’, but tactical side was pure gold. Someone should buy the engine, make it little prettier perhaps, make a proper strategic element in it and we would have a masterpiece!

        Jagged Alliance with SS-engine… *drool*

  16. frypiggy says:

    This pretty sums up my opinion:

    http://i.imgur.com/mjI9Dcd.jpg

    That is all.

    • caff says:

      I want this game SO HARD.

      Let us not be fickle about the sickle.

  17. Highstorm says:

    So I never played the JA games back when they first come out. Somehow they slipped completely by me. But I attempted to remedy that by buying JA2 on GOG and getting the 1.13 mod and all of that jazz. However, I have no idea how to play the game effectively. I’ve poked through the manual a bit and tried a couple of times to fumble my way through figuring things out, but it seems I just don’t have the patience I once did.

    So does anyone know of a good write-up or Let’s Play series that would be a good introduction on how to play?

    • dE says:

      In all honesty, my advice would be to skip the 1.13 Mod til you’re familiar with the game. It changes balance dramatically and adds so much stuff and information to handle that, if you’re not familiar with the base game, you might as well not bother.
      It’s balanced for people that have played JA2 to hell and back. So kick out 1.13, play the base game. It does a really good job at easing you into the game and doesn’t immediately throw troops of 200 people at you.

  18. Anarkopsykotik says:

    Destructible environment as a stretch goal? Ain’t that part of the core mechanics? For me it is, especially now that, as he said, computers have much more power to handle such things…
    And although I don’t believe they would ever be able to reach 1.13 level of depth anyway, I’m afraid they’re going to dumb it down too much. I would like to believe in them though, improving usability and fanciness without killing the incredible complexity, and strategic depth…

  19. Discopanda says:

    Bitcomposer wanted to slap the Jagged Alliance name on some reskinned game, eh? Can’t say I am too surprised…

  20. promenad says:

    Are we now doing PR to build hype ahead of the kickstarter release? Ok, sounds reasonable.

  21. Zorn says:

    I remember Jagged Alliance 2 as a game that had a good learning curve, as soon as you
    recognized what you can do and what you can’t. Like just run guns blazing into a confrontation.

    People like to rotate the camera? People also like to be annoyed about bad camera rotation,
    the suffering of details because of the implementation of a bad implemented camera rotation.
    I’m getting wary when reading bits like this. It’s sounds too similiar to ’2d is dead’ and ’2d was
    only used, because it was a limitation of the time’. The part about the usability could also be
    misunderstood as dumbing down. But then again, I also got no love for the new X-Com.
    Am I allowed to speak that out aloud around these corners? Now, Xenonauts, that’s
    looking like something I’d expect, when I hear spiritual successor.

    I’d like this to be good. It may be good. But I’d also like it to be for me. I’m not sure about that.

  22. wodin says:

    They seemed to skirt around the question about complexity..JA2 had a superb indepth combat mechanics esp 1.13..if they dumb that down count me out..and as they never actually answered that question I’m inclined to think it wont be as indepth..JA 1.13 is gunporntastic and the amount of tactical choices from stance onwards are what I want to see and expanded even..however I very much doubt thats going to happen.

  23. El_MUERkO says:

    So has this got anything to do with the developers of Back in Action or Crossfire?

    • Brooze says:

      Since it’s a totally other studio, I highly doubt there’s any connection whatsoever

  24. oldkc says:

    Tell ‘em Magic sent you……

  25. Klingsor says:

    Oh boy the fanboy in me is getting more and more excited and want this game.

    However the realist in me acknowledges the truly sad history of the JA franchise. Over the past couple of years there have been so many attempts to build a real or a spirituell successer to JA2 – remember all those Eastern European games like Brigade e5? For me none of them could only closely reach the fascination of the old JA2. And I won’t lose a word on BiA – that was just terrible.

    So I’m still not fully convinced if that’s not another attempt to fool the old JA community. But I hope the best and will probably back it.