A Game And A Chat: X-Com Creator Julian Gollop

By Nathan Grayson on April 14th, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

Once upon a time Julian Gollop was one of the principle minds behind the original X-Com. Yes, with a dash. A dollop of Gollop’s design wizardry spawned a legendary strategy series, and now – somewhat fittingly, I suppose – he’s making a game about actual wizards. Chaos Reborn is mere days away from casting off its mortal Kickstarter, so Gollop and I are going to play a few rounds of a recent prototype while discussing the ups and downs of running a Kickstarter, the power (and lack thereof) of legacy, what made people fall so madly in love with X-Com, and which of said secret ingredients Chaos Reborn does and doesn’t apply. Expect a heady brew of history and reflection with a powerful note of fuuuuuuture. We’re kicking off at 10 AM PT/6 PM BST.

Update: We’re done! And we ended up roping in a special guest: XCOM: Enemy Unknown lead designer Jake Solomon. What followed were some great Chaos Reborn matches followed by an excellent discussion between two of the brightest minds in the turn-based strategy business. Catch it all below.


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27 Comments »

Top comments

  1. SillyWizard says:

    3- and 4-Player Chaos Reborn is great fun.

  2. TheParthenon says:

    Is there a Kickstarter reward tier that gets me to opportunity to be faux trash talked by Jake Solomon?

    Regardless of your opinion of nu-XCOM, that dude is exceedingly entertaining.

  1. JFS says:

    BST? Oh boy! Please just use GMT +/-X, so the world may understand what you mean :)

    • SillyWizard says:

      Didn’t they recently do away with GMT?

      • Volcanu says:

        Who’s “they”?

      • UnstableVoltage says:

        Nah, we still use it. BST (British Summer Time (Daylight Saving Time)) is just GMT+1

      • Fry says:

        The updated spiffy atomic clock-based version is UTC. For practical purposes, same as GMT.

    • Bull0 says:

      I’m not sure why I hadn’t backed this yet (kickstarter/early access fatigue, if I had to guess) but seeing as we’re so close to the deadline and I love Mr. Gollop’s work, I felt like I had to, really. Plus the reward tiers are seriously cool. The Wizard tier is the sweet spot, I think

      *edit* This isn’t meant to be a reply to JFS, sorry. Reply fail. Fail@me

  2. MiniMatt says:

    Ask for Laser Squad next please :)

  3. SillyWizard says:

    Nathan — I feel your pain. I played against a guy who had a successful real Chaos Dragon cast round 1. He proceeded to cast 2 more successful real dragons throughout the match, only failing his fourth dragon cast after he’d pretty much already cleaned up all the competition.

    :/

  4. SillyWizard says:

    NO NATHAN DON’T TELL HIM WHAT’S IN YOUR SPELLBOOK!

  5. SillyWizard says:

    Currently fighting the urge to steal a spot in one of these games…

  6. SillyWizard says:

    3- and 4-Player Chaos Reborn is great fun.

    • Excelle says:

      It is, except when you can’t successfully cast any creatures at all. *cough cough*

  7. barney says:

    Any transcription for those without the plugin (mobile, innit)?

    • aeonofdiscord says:

      I’m on a desktop machine with Flash installed, and it’s still telling me I need to install Flash. wut.

  8. Radiant says:

    Interviews Juilian Gollop.
    Doesn’t take any notes.

    WE’RE WATCHING YOU GRAYSON

    • Radiant says:

      Games
      Games journalism.
      New games journalism
      New new games journalism?

      • Mirqy says:

        …neo games journalism.
        cyber games journalism.
        post games post journalism.
        The ascent to transcendence.

  9. DatonKallandor says:

    So did the XCOM mod The Long War ever come up? It’s kind of everything they fucked up in the XCOM remake, except fixed and done better – and all of it without mod tools and having to work around the base game.

  10. TheParthenon says:

    Is there a Kickstarter reward tier that gets me to opportunity to be faux trash talked by Jake Solomon?

    Regardless of your opinion of nu-XCOM, that dude is exceedingly entertaining.

  11. Steven Hutton says:

    This game seems entirely too random for my taste. It’s like 50/50 chance to summon, 50/50 chance to damage, 50/50 chance to not die to a spell. STRATEGY!

    • Caiman says:

      Far from it. Each spell has a probability of success that’s shown to the caster, the more powerful spells being more difficult to cast. What makes Chaos special is that the alignment of the universe affects these probabilities, and influencing that is part of your strategy. As the universe becomes more chaotic, for example, then chaotic spells get easier to cast. Suddenly that 20% red dragon becomes a 90% red dragon. Your opponents realise this too, and have their own agendas on how to influence the universe. Combat rolls depend on the attack and defense of the creatures involved, as with pretty much any game ever, except in Chaos you have 1 hit point – if the attack succeeds, the creature is dead. That creates a much faster-paced game. There are modifiers for these stats as well, usually for creatures with special abilities in certain circumstances, but knowing what to use and when it part of the fun. It’s really just a very enjoyable game design that’s quite unique compared to everyone else doing minor variations to the standard template.

      • Steven Hutton says:

        I reject this answer. Even if it’s a 90% chance to summon (powerful creature) that still a 10% chance that I just wasted my spell this turn which is just an insane amount of randomness for a game which is supposed to be a strategy game. The fact that everything has 1 hit point just means that the consequences of random decisions are even more severe. This is kind of laughable for a supposed strategy game to have the outcome of games so hugely decided by dice rolls.

        • Caiman says:

          Your criticism makes no sense unless you’re a staunch fan of purely deterministic strategy games. I like Chess too, but sometimes I want to play a game of Poker.

        • Excelle says:

          I’m not sure I see how this is different to almost every RPG ever – I can’t be guaranteed a cast of magic missile in standard D&D for example. Magic is not reliable!

          I see your complaint, but the strategy in Chaos has always been to cast your spells in an order that gives you a better chance to get more powerful spells down the line. The fact that I won’t always manage to get what I want really adds to having to deal with what I do get, and change my strategy on the fly. If I wanted guaranteed troops I would be playing Planetary Annihilation (and I do!)

          I guess it’s not for everyone!

        • Matfink says:

          It’s called ‘Chaos’ for a reason…
          One of its main features is that a whole game can turn on the success/failure/disbelievementage of a single spell :D
          The strategy is in playing the odds.

        • Premium User Badge Vesuvius says:

          Your choices are still strategic- and if anything have to be more carefully thought out-

          Are these odds good enough? Do I have a fall back?

          Just because it can’t be 100% predicted doesn’t mean it can’t be strategic or meaningful.

          It may not be the type of game you enjoy though, which is fine, but I reject that a game with odds rather than certainties is inherently not strategic.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          You’re the kind of person who doesn’t get why Company of Heroes is awesome, aren’t you? Randomness does not exclude strategy. You know there’s randomness – and if your plan doesn’t account for something going wrong, it was a bad plan.