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mechtroid
10-06-2011, 03:46 AM
Seeing the new XCOM fills me with sadness, because if the devs were fans of the original, they were forced to make it like it is. There's no way someone who loved X-COM would think this does the first justice. What made the first game great was how it made you care about the men you were assigned, then pit that against your fear of the unknown. It was akin to the appeal of D&D combat. How by carefully weighing your options and pressing every advantage you had, you could turn failure into success. It was mastering the use of seemingly infinite possible actions. It was most definitely NOT the "tactial choice" presented in XCOM. It's the difference between being given a log and tools, and told "make a chair", versus being given a hammer, a screwdriver, and a prepainted Model #27015 IKEA chair.


...Okay, now that I'm done venting, I want to know, what all made X-COM so good? I've mentioned a few, but I'm sure there's more reasons. Why has there been few things like it to come afterwards? Why is it a game so many people hold dear? Lastly... Is the new XCOM even trying to include those core properties that made it so enjoyable?

sabrage
10-06-2011, 04:22 AM
Have you actually read any of the E3 impressions of XCOM? It's not the randomly-generated freedom of the original, but it's definitely not a first-person shoot-em-up either. There will be a tactical "pause" as well as strategic recruiting, leveling up, and equipping of your squad members. And in true XCOM fashion, one reporter mentioned capturing alien weaponry and being presented with the choice between sending it back to the lab to acquire new weapons or use it to mow down your enemies.

And let's face it, nobody was going to pour a AAA budget into a game as dense and unfriendly as XCOM these days. There are plenty of games that have picked up the torch dropped by XCOM (Frozen Synapse is excellent) so play those if you don't like it.

mechtroid
10-06-2011, 05:29 AM
Yeah, this was a rant from a lot of pent up frustrations, so it was pretty coarse and accusatory. But this was actually in response to that same reporter's article. He talked about the base building, upgrading, and decision on how to use alien machinery like it was the heart and soul of the originals. That was what I was trying to say, and trying to ask. Isn't that missing the point of X-COM, like saying a waffle cone and sprinkles is what makes an ice cream cone. Most of a player's time in the original is spent in the tactical grid, giving orders and taking turns. And most of that time is spent probing the unknown and trying to account for whatever it holds. I've yet to see any of that in this new iteration. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, but the mindset seems to have shifted away from carefully exploring and minimizing losses to something much different.

And whoa there, partner. Let's not make sweeping generalizations. I would argue it's entirely possible a company would pour a AAA budget into making a game like X-COM. Look at DotA. It's one of the most "dense and unfriendly" games I've ever played, and that's before you account for the community. Yet Heroes of Newerth was made, League of Legends is a VERY successful product, and Valve itself is "pouring a AAA budget into" making a successor to DotA, with very little of the gameplay itself changed. Why exactly is it impossible to make the X-COM family of games accessible while keeping it a turn based game?

sabrage
10-06-2011, 05:44 AM
But DOTA had a hardcore and active community that was willing to help new players out. Particularly with DotA 2, Valve is going to great lengths to ensure newcomers feel welcome. Such an implementation in X-COM would require a lengthy tutorial, or relegate it to the kind of treatment that Dwarf Fortress receives, or some other change that would cause the initiated lovers of the original to cry foul. Sure, the game was popular in its day, but the definition of a "best seller" 15 years ago is different than it is now and dota is an order of magnitude larger than X-COM (for better or for worse). What was once complex and open-ended will probably just confuse and overwhelm a lot of modern players, myself included.

The Innocent
10-06-2011, 06:13 AM
Some people put too much stock in brand names. I loved X-COM, and I'm also looking forward to seeing what other people bring to this alternate XCOM. They can coexist peacefully in this brave new world.

For me, the "heart" of the original was paranoia, the fear of the possibility of a thousand fatal missteps. It looks like 2K Marin are trying to capture that. Alongside, yes, the base-building and the oh-too-cool vibes and the alien technology. What 2K Marin are not doing, is going back in time and altering the original masterpiece and ruining your childhood. This isn't George Lucas we're talking about.

Besides, Xenonauts looks ace.

mechtroid
10-06-2011, 07:27 AM
But DOTA had a hardcore and active community that was willing to help new players out. Particularly with DotA 2, Valve is going to great lengths to ensure newcomers feel welcome. Such an implementation in X-COM would require a lengthy tutorial, or relegate it to the kind of treatment that Dwarf Fortress receives, or some other change that would cause the initiated lovers of the original to cry foul. Sure, the game was popular in its day, but the definition of a "best seller" 15 years ago is different than it is now and dota is an order of magnitude larger than X-COM (for better or for worse). What was once complex and open-ended will probably just confuse and overwhelm a lot of modern players, myself included.
I wouldn't call foul if they made the game more accessible and newcomer friendly, that's what I want. But there's a lot you could do to make it a great game without such immense and sweeping changes. Look at how much more newcomer friendly TF2 is compared to TFC. The civilization games are just as complex and open ended, if not more so, and yet they're runaway hit. Notice not once did I talk about the difficulty or "IT HAS TO BE TURN BASED TO BE X-COM". I'm saying the atmosphere and mindset are drastically different.

I guess, if you wanted to capture the essence of X-COM, it would be the quote "No plan survives contact with the enemy." It's all about thinking on your feet, developing new plans in response to new data. That's what was always the draw to me.

coldvvvave
10-06-2011, 07:30 AM
...Okay, now that I'm done venting, I want to know, what all made X-COM so good?
Lack of game balance in it's current form. There was no fixed weapon, enemy or difficulty progression. That made all games kind of random and thus exciting. I remember replaying X-Com UFO Defence last time and first mission was a crashside raid against sectoids with heavy plasmas. Things like that are impossible nowadays, player is supposed to easily overcome any obstacle on his way. X-Com offered a challange and tools. Same goes for Jagged Alliance 2, especially with 1.13 mod. Being locked in a fixed balance/weapon/difficulty progression is really a pain for me after playing both for years.

Also, X-com forced you to CARE FOR YOUR SOLDIERS, which very few games managed to pull off.

soldant
10-06-2011, 08:21 AM
XCOM was fun for some of us because it represented a largely one-sided conflict that forced you to fight tooth and nail for every inch gained. From the outset XCOM is on the backfoot and with each small advancement it seems like you go one step backwards in some cases. It was an interesting game because even with all the tech you could still easily get wiped out. But it was also incredibly unforgiving. Didn't know that Chryssalid was hiding in the fog of war? Oh well, too bad. OM NOM NOM though your entire squad, most of Europe withdraws funding, aliens laugh all the way to the bank.

Like colvvvave said that distinct lack of balance which never really resolves is the most compelling factor, as well as the dual strategy element of real-time global response and the turn-based tactical element. XCOM was a fantastic blend of strategic and tactical gameplay in that the actions in one affected the other. Blowing up the ship killed lots of aliens but made it almost worthless for recovery, capturing live aliens leads to base improvements and story progression, that kind of thing. The balance issue though won't hold water here today; it's not a great deal of fun to walk into your first mission and get completely destroyed for most people. A difficulty curve shouldn't be a vertical climb, but that option should still exist for veterans who want it.

That said I also think there'd be technical issues with doing the tactical side of the XCOM game today. I can't imagine a fully destructable environment would be easy to do with 3D tech and decent performance. The most fun I had in XCOM was deciding that this mission was going to hell, so in response I'll just level every building and hope for the best.

Kadayi
10-06-2011, 08:37 AM
A difficulty curve shouldn't be a vertical climb, but that option should still exist for veterans who want it.


I'm sure they will build in a difficulty scale. Most games do these days.

Jams O'Donnell
10-06-2011, 09:18 AM
Why are you all being so reasonable? I came here hoping for an argument. This isn't the Internet I know and love!

Jaxtrasi
10-06-2011, 09:57 AM
The reason there has never been a universally lauded followup to XCOM is that more so than any other game I can think of, it appeals to people in so many different ways.

Is it the brutal difficulty? Is it the unusual shape of the difficulty curve? Is it the turn-based nature of the combat? Is it the powerfully communicated theme? Is it the atmosphere? Is it the sense that these things are happening to the real world (rather than, say, Mars)? Is it the very, very high degree of customisation? Is it the wide variety in enemy types?

I've seen people cite all of these (and I'm sure plenty more I don't remember) as "the" thing about XCOM which was significant, and every XCOM-like I've seen has abandoned or streamlined one of these features because it's not "the" thing for those developers.

Vexing Vision
10-06-2011, 10:11 AM
Is it the turn-based nature of the combat? Is it the very, very high degree of customisation?


For me, it is this. I am a sucker for stats.

Therefore, the new X-Com game does not appeal to me at all, although Xenonauts looks reasonably interesting.

Jaxtrasi
10-06-2011, 10:23 AM
Yeah that's a good point actually, it wasn't quite what I meant.

That your troops level up.
How your troops level up (skill based rather than level based).
The very cynical way psi-training works.
The high degree of fidelity in inventory management, etc (some bugs with this in the original).
That the layout of your bases matters because they will be attacked.

Tei
10-06-2011, 12:45 PM
I have a magical solution, that is seems is also the truth!.


"XCOM" is a Mass Effect like game, inspired on the basic missions structure of X-Com, but not much else from X-Com.


XCOM is a Mass Effect game. A arcade with RPG, story, nice areas to explore, decisions. Is even possible (I don't know yet), that will be a pseudo-linear game with different "ends", exactly like the original Mass Effect have different ends based on your decissions.


Mass Effect was a fucking cool game. Mass Effect 2 was still a very good game. A game inspired in Mass Effect can be a good thing.

It happends that this Mass Effect game have a title with "X" and "COM" in it. But is not XCom-4 or something similar, and Is just wrong to continue comparing it to a imaginary "XCom-4".

BobsLawnService
11-06-2011, 09:09 AM
I think that if X-Com can capture the right atmosphere it will be great. I hope you start off underpowered with terrible technology and you spend more time in hit and run/stealth missions then retreating in pure panic until you scavenge enough weapons and research enough tech to go toe-to-toe. If they stick to the formula it will be awesome.

Kadayi
11-06-2011, 01:05 PM
Missed the boat entirely on the original games (although they are sitting in my monstrous Steam account somewhere), so don't have any youthful/Rosy eyed nostalgia for them. Personally I like the premise of the game, and I really dig the Norman Rockwell aesthetic of the setting as well as the truly out there nature of the alien menace (Little green/grey men would of been a terrible route to go down). The fact that they are tapping into that whole 50s body snatchers vibe is kind of neat also.

Must admit the stand off fights in the latest trailer were possibly the weakest element to my mind, but I'm open to seeing more about how they are going to translate the isometric turn based mechanisms of the old games to a 3d engine (it's still not clear whether turns won't feature in some form).

archonsod
11-06-2011, 01:51 PM
I remember wishing XCom was in first person back when I first played it. On the Amiga. So the only real disappointment with the new one is how long it's took someone to get off their backsides and make it (the aborted post Apocalypse game not withstanding).

And the appeal definitely wasn't in the troops. Not only did you have that horrible bug whereby soldier stats would reset to 0 and kill them instantly if they exceeded the maximum limit (500 IIRC), but generally the random draw from the recruit pool was hideous. I usually ended up with the majority of the team being deployed as ablative armour for the two or three decent guys. Particularly the downed UFO missions whereby the only means of entering a UFO without being killed by the heavy plasma wielding alien in the corner was to prime a grenade and send a guy in as a suicide bomber. Of course you could rip it open with a blaster launcher, but that meant waving goodbye to those lovely elerium rich engines (favourite addition in TftD - UFO doors could be blown off by grenades).

There's a lot of things it did right of course. It nailed the escalating conflict scenario excellently, particularly given the random nature of the game; there was a real sense of tension as you saw more and more governments surrender to the aliens as you rushed to reverse engineer that new bit of kit to restore battlefield parity.

To be honest I wouldn't want a UFO remake; Apocalypse was always my favourite. Even then, I've been spoiled by the excellent UFO Afterlight and Aftershock which actually moved the genre forwards rather than simply trying to remake the games. I'd pay good money for a game that managed to combine the feel and tactical scope of Aftershock with the character management of Afterlight.

Rastergamer
22-12-2011, 11:47 PM
It's tough to find a forum that hits on the biggest crisis of the game industry now. Yes, Civilization and the Sims and Age of Empires still sell, but try to name a company making games that get under players skin the way X-COM did, and still does. I think the key to the game is one of its smallest points: You can NAME your soldiers! Putting names that you choose on the little sprites instantly makes them personal and real. X-COM isn't my favorite game, but I recognize its genius, and anyone who doesn't needs to stop reading this and go play Call of Duty or World of Warcraft with the rest of the children. The ending of X-COM was too brief, you couldn't play as the aliens, or turn traitor and join them to kill humans (Halo also left that option out), but this type of knowingly smart, cartoonishly charming, fiendishly difficult concept simply isn't being produced anymore. Why are so many fans making rip-offs of it? Because it still has no competition. Today graphics override all and little attention goes to concepts. When it occurs, the "lightning in a bottle" moment is rarely celebrated or rewarded. Look at Homeworld, or Full Spectrum Warrior. There are true geniuses out there making games, who unjustly haven't been recognized and congratulated by the general media, scientific, literary, military, or film communities. This needs to change. A nasty revenge will come someday when game programs like X-COM will inhabit the brains of the black project terminator robots who will rise up to hunt down and exterminate us. That is if a new disease hybrid doesn't wipe us out, or the world economy doesn't collapse and we run out of food and have to resort to cannibalism. Also to the guy whining about X-COM alien tactics, never land without one or two remote tanks to draw out the aliens. Remote tanks are always more expendable than soldiers. Game on.

Username
23-12-2011, 02:38 AM
I feel sorry for XCOM. First they were mimicking Bioshock, and earlier this year they decided to mimic Mass Effect 2... The development of the game must be a disaster.

X-COM was one of the key games in my childhood that got me into pc gaming. I lament what the IP has become.

Fiyenyaa
23-12-2011, 03:10 AM
Besides, Xenonauts looks ace.

This is what you should be concerning yourself with, if you loved the format of the original XCOM games.
People still make the games you like, and if they aren't mainstream then for god's sake support them and make them more well-known.

Dr.Honeyslut
23-12-2011, 03:30 AM
[QUOTE=Rastergamer;72000] I think the key to the game is one of its smallest points: You can NAME your soldiers! Putting names that you choose on the little sprites instantly makes them personal and real.

This is very true, and something I look for in games ever since I played Warriors of the Eternal Sun on the Megadrive and named the characters after my friends from school.

I don't know why more designers don't introduce this option. Playing with characters you have named greatly increases the investment you have in those characters. I view games (certainly single-player games anyway) essentially as story generators, it is through the vicarious experiences we have in them that the real enjoyment comes. It's such a small thing but it can completely change your relationship with the events in the game.