Let’s Blather All Over… Xenonauts

Obviously we don’t do video on RPS, because we are Old MenTM.

Only now I’ve done a video, for some reason. It’s in the vein of those Let’s Play things that are all over YouTube, tt’s my first one ever, and I’m well aware it’s pretty shonky on both a content and technical level. I wanted to give this a shot regardless of outcome, to see what it’s like and to see what I can learn. In it, I play one mission from the current build of Goldhawk Interactive’s indie X-COM homage Xenonauts, which is out now on Steam Early Access. I also talk pretty much non-stop for about 17 minutes, which I don’t believe is something I’ve ever done before in my life. My mum’d kill to have a conversation that long with me.

Here you go then. Be kind, if possible, and if you can’t then at least be constructive. If there seems to be an appetite for more of these – both from you lot and from me (i.e. if I do not run off to live in the woods in shame), hopefully I’ll do more. And hopefully I’ll get the audio balance and video quality right next time. No promises, though.



  1. byjimini says:

    And it’s on the Mac too! *squeals*

    • Arkh says:

      You’ve done it, Mr Meer. I can deal with a video but a MAC? TRAITOR!

    • riverman says:

      I will never wrap my head around the mac hatred here. it reminds me of when I was a kid and all of my friends played NES, and all of our enemies played SEGA, and all we would talk about was how much the other system sucked. then we hit puberty and stopped giving a hoot about what platform other people were using

      • Bracknellexile says:

        Agreed, I’ve never owned a mac, always been a windows person, but if the mac, and linux, audience all adds to the general demand for PC gaming (PC != windows) then fine. If the combined player base creates enough demand that games keep getting made for the non-console market it’s all good.

      • JoshuaMadoc says:

        I’d love to try out a Mac, but I can’t ever see myself throwing away years of Windows experience and software usage to swear on Mac. Not so much “I don’t want to”, but “I hesitate to”.

        • Cruzer says:

          I had to use a Mac for my degree (they only had Macs in the animation labs) and I only found two redeeming features. It’s idiot proof, as in it’s really hard to accidentally make it inoperable, and the OS is streamlined with no bloatware or unnecessary background processes which helps with rendering etc. On the other hand I found it to be restrictive in many ways. Simple operations I could do very quickly in Linux or Windows required several more steps on a Mac. It also has the worst file manager I’ve ever seen. The main point is bang for buck, a Linux or Windows box wins everytime.

      • Arkh says:

        Hint: I was joking, and I’m pretty sure byjimini was joking too.

      • drewski says:

        For most people I think it’s pretty tongue in cheek.

      • mouton says:

        I really don’t think anyone sane seriously hates Macs. Why would they?

      • CrispinFister says:

        Macs are fine, they’re okay computers and there’s nothing wrong with them (except for weak GPUs and the insane price tag). The problem is that Apple are literally Hitler and are seemingly trying to become OCP, FOR REAL. All they do is steal ideas then sue the people who came up with the ideas and scare them into giving up with their billions of dollars and super-evil lawyers from hell, rip off their customers and then rip them off some more, use child slaves to build their overpriced gadget-toys, destroy the ozone layer with all of their advertising hot-air and generally just do everything in their power to make the world a worse place for everybody to live and it gets worse EVERY SINGLE DAY.

        I wouldn’t mind a mac but I’d never buy one because macs no longer do anything that you can’t do with Windows or Linux (in fact, they do a lot less than both now), they just use more RAM because of the pointlessly OTT UI for Homer Simpson impersonators, OOOOH SHINY.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        You mean, aside from the fact Apple is one of the worst corporate criminals on the face of the earth, right? I’m not talking tax evasion, but very real, systemic, non-virtual exploitation in electronic sweatshop camps that Apple not only has no intention of changing, but is actually pushing further to the very limits of what journalists can uncover and what customers will tolerate before boycotting. Shockingly, they’ve discovered they can get away with anything and everything so long as they (literally) control the flow of information. Here in the Netherlands for example, I have yet to find a newspaper that has written something significantly critical about Apple, without then seemingly turning around on the whole thing and becoming virtual slaves whose every other thought revolve around the magic of iThing, the quirkiness of existing in a century of iWonder, and how truly blessed we are to be alive in iSplendid times, Apping our way towards iBliss (Which I would describe as the moment, or rather brief period, when technology allows us to filter out the world, rather than actually change it for the better) – and I wish this were an exaggeration. I can only speculate Apple pays top-dollar for ad-space. During the early Arab Spring, most newspapers and international media were mostly just gushing about how brands like Apple and Facebook had changed the world, rather than recognizing a whole generation of youth they previously knew nothing about becoming politically aware and doing something about it, incidentally and naturally using the tools at their disposal (the internet). Orwell would’ve suffered a stroke from the sheer wtfedness of it all, and I imagine Tim Berners-Lee could only sigh at how corporations have gobbled up the interwebs.

        Apple just whitewashes the whole thing and periodically vomits some marketing doublespeak like “updating the supply chain to come into alignment with this new century of corporate social responsibility“.

        Now, Apple having led the way in intellectual, social, moral and ethical bankruptcy, the computer manufacturing industry barely even still cares about being fairer to their employees, and because they’re all sort of competing on prices and exploitation is obviously cheapest, and on top of that the buyers of these products don’t even care, then there is absolutely zero impetus for change. Of course the computer industry is hardly the only industry to almost entirely rely on slave and sweatshop labour, but as it turns out, they are now one of the worst;

        link to chinalaborwatch.org

        I kept my PC as exploitation free as possible when I assembled it (Gigabyte parts – and good luck finding info about manufacturers if you intend to research it yourself, you’ll need it) although thanks in large part to Apple that’s probably not even possible any longer. But my conscience aside; if we fall into the trap of “customer choice” and moreover the fantasy that we are all constantly engaging in a “democratic” process of voting with our wallets then nothing will change for the better, because it puts all the responsibility on the “consumers” and none with the actual perpetrators (who also purposely make it impossible to determine how something was made). And as we have learned in the past decade, consumers just want the magic screen-shaped touch thing all their friends have (for some reason, presumably because magic screen make things go swoosh) and truly don’t give a shit.

        It’s not like complaining on the internet, boycotting and being disgusted in their general direction helps any, but it’s like if almost everyone has seemingly joined a cult and left most of their integrity and basic human decency at the door, it has to be pointed out, again and again, until people see it for what it is. What’s really starting to worry me though is that even most people who know full well what’s going on here tend to not make that mental leap to “hang on, this is really bad, I don’t want anything to do with this”, a symptom that only starts to make sense once you grasp how Apple has carefully cultivated a brand where this sort of extreme dysfunctional dependency is promoted in every aspect of their way of business, and so the thought of avoiding or at the very least not paying Apple to be bad doesn’t even occur to them in the first place.

        TL;DR Apple is bad. A bad (unintended) pun; still true though.

  2. JoeGuy says:

    Wait so this is one of RPS’s first staff made videos? That’s kind of historic in a way.

  3. MrMetlHed says:

    Wait. Y’ALL HAVE ACCENTS?! *American*

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      Is that an American accent? Didn’t sound like that to me, but I’m Swedish, so what do I know.

      • MrMetlHed says:

        No no, I’m American. I just assumed everyone else was. My world is collapsing in on itself.

        • Rikard Peterson says:

          You’ve not been reading RPS for long, I assume then, what with Ian Football, Sir, You’re Being Hunted, Medal of Honour…

        • Chirez says:

          Everyone on RPS, everyone on the internet, or just everyone, everywhere?
          Joking, of course, but I wouldn’t put it past some Americans to believe that the rest of the world was just a tourist industry conspiracy.

          • mouton says:

            Perceiving the world through a highly localized lens is hardly unique to them, really.

    • meloncrab says:

      ‘Technically’ everybody has one.

  4. Jimbo says:

    Woah! You’re like… a Videonaut!

  5. Skabooga says:

    Fun stuff, I’d definitely be up to watching more of your explorations of the video format. Word on the street is that Richard Cobbett is also making hesitant forays into the medium. You guys should totally team up! I imagine it’s easier to talk about a game for extended periods of time when you have someone else to play off of.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Hesitant is right. But yep. Done four video Crap Shoots now, though I highly recommend skipping the first because it is *awful* and the second has too many problems to link. But the other two I think turned out okay… link to richardcobbett.com

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      Agreed. I really enjoyed the video. Collaboration would also be fun to watch – eg an RPS Verdict would be interesting to watch/listen to, more than reading the conversation. I guess editing could be a challenge, so maybe script some bits – eg the intro and conclusion? But all in all, walkthroughs are really entertaining and it would be good to get an RPS version of them out there. A bit of sophistication would help jazz up the you tubes. And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it of games that others aren’t picking up on.

  6. dangermouse76 says:

    Yes yes a thousand times yes, more of this please. I have always liked the idea of cross conversational stuff between the RPS hegemony as well.

    Enjoyed this video very much also. I like that it is not over produced. Also I learnt a lot about how to play the game, have a banana !

  7. squareking says:

    This reminds me of the Electronic Wireless Shows you chaps did many time units ago.

    I miss those.

  8. Nicodemus Rexx says:

    The best part of this is that I was able to sit and listen to your impressions while working on my commissions rather than having to stop and read.

    Don’t get me wrong, reading and comprehension are massively important, but I can’t paint and read at the same time. :P

    Unless you’d care to lend me a second monitor and head.

    Anywho, bravo. You did fine. And i loved the image of you hiding in the bushes. Eating bullets. Perhaps on a pizza that was delivered to you by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  9. Jaunt says:

    Guys, I’ve read RPS for a long time. And I’d like to continue to do so. With an emphasis on the word read.

    I’ve quietly sat, not registering, through every iteration of the sexism/there’s no sexism flamewar, and through everything else too, but the appearance of video on RPS is apparently important enough to me to register just to comment on this.

    I love Xenonauts. I’ve followed it even before XCOM. Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate a good accent, just not enough to listen to a three minute article for seventeen minutes. Or if you really want to keep doing video, do it for AAA Setpiece Bang Bang I Got You No You Didn’t MOOOOM! instead of my precious indie darlings. Or if you have no interest in doing that, maybe just get Google to transcribe your videos for you. I dunno. Just brainstorming.

    In summary, I love RPS because it’s run by old men, for old men, and I fear change. Please don’t change.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Addition, not substitution

      • Jaunt says:

        I appreciate the response. If you’re telling me that all the video styled information will also be available in a text medium, then yay, consider this old man’s fears assuaged. If you’re just saying the site will have both video and written word, not video only, well, I am somewhat less enthused, but ultimately I am just one of a teeming, slavering legion of readers so I accept it.

        But hey! My first comment ever, and we’re having a dialogue. Good times.

        • kael13 says:

          I like you, but you’re far too moderate. Please post more because I enjoy your well thought-out verbiage. Just with more screaming.

          • Jaunt says:


            Oh, right, having actually finished watching the video today, I’d say it’s not a bad video but the amount of commentary I found extraneous was pretty high. Not that I’m the target audience; I’ve ironmanned both X-Com and XCOM, I know probably a bit more about the game than the average reader. But were it text, I could skim and just hit the parts about how Xenonauts differs/is exactly the same as X-Com, as video I could not.

            On a less personal level, I think the direction might be backward. I could be wrong, but it seemed like you (Alec, that is; I have switched audiences) just played, and then came up with as good as commentary as you could. If true, I would recommend first coming up with what you want to say about the game and then picking your footage to accommodate it. Not in that awful 3 cuts a second way, but such that you don’t explain how little men move around as you move one little man around, and then still have another seven little men to move.

            Xenonauts was probably not the best game to start videotizing with. It’s almost as fun to watch as EVE. I love the game, and the genre, but I hold no delusions as to how well paced the gameplay is for someone not actually invested in winning the game with minimal casualties and so forth.

          • DXN says:

            I’m actually all in favour of RPS doing let’s play type stuff/video features in general, and I enjoyed this one, but actually that’s a pretty good point from Jaunt. I bet RPS’d be great at crafting a tight little monotribe about something and then artfully selecting video bits to go with them, and it might find a wider audience in this fast-moving land of contradictions and short attention spans we call the internet.

            I mean, an RPS version of Video Gaiden? I’m drooling. On the other hand I’m probably also vastly underestimating the amount of work that would be involved, as is so often the way.

      • Mr.Snowy says:

        Substitution – I see no text version…

        I am like many others, I enjoy reading the output of a competent wordsmith. I have no interest in watching someone play the game while talking about it.

        Kindly desist with any further video-based shenanigans and concentrate your efforts on pun-laden goodness in a textual format instead.

        Otherwise I will have to launch you out of a cannon into the sun.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      So you’re basically saying you don’t like the accent of the reviewer.

    • Mudlab says:

      I like RPS because I can read the articles at work, rather than sneaking in overly-long videos to get the same end result. So what about “Addition and Transcription, not Substitution?”

      • Alec Meer says:

        Something that really would cut into the time spent writing for the site is additional transcription. It’s the most time consuming and tedious part of what we do. Aditionally, the type of stuff that’s said in a vid like this – primarily describing my actions as they happen – just wouldn’t work well as text. You’ll just have to watch or miss out on the occasional post, I’m afraid!

        • SominiTheCommenter says:

          Just crowd-source the transcription. Readers would fight for the opportunity. I know I would.

          • Lanfranc says:

            I think you underestimate just how tedious transcription is. That said, I can do it for 15 quid an hour.

          • Josh W says:

            No need to fight, we can just do it in bits as we feel like it, starting with the most important parts.

            “Gameplay over graphics, you know?” Alec Meer 2013

        • Mudlab says:

          Understood =(

          I’ll just be missing out henceforth. Keep up the good work! (no snark intended whatsoever)

          • The Random One says:

            I read RPS at work too, and I use this to watch the videos: getpocket.com

            It’s a neat little tool that lets you save pages to read later. You can save pages from your phone to read on your computer. You can also use some sort of email system to have them add to your list from computers you can’t install it on. So whenever I’m at work and spot an RPS page with a video I’d like to watch I save it for later. Mine has a backlog that rivals Steam’s.

            Of course, that’s only useful if the reason you don’t read it at home is because you forget which ones had videos you wanted to watch, and not because you’re actually busy and don’t have time at home. Technology can only take us so far, gentleman.

      • Krouv says:

        Making a transcript for every video would be ludicrously time consuming for no real purpose. If you prefer text articles, wouldn’t you rather that he spent his time writing new content and not tediously writing down everything he says in his videos?

      • Zombra says:

        Count me in as someone who wants to read text and look at pictures, not watch videos.

    • Snow Mandalorian says:

      But there’s something about *watching* a game being played that you can’t get with mere text. This video perfectly shows everyone how damn *boring* these levels are. Had I watched this video before purchasing the game I might have changed my mind. :-/

      • wodin says:

        I love turn based tactics..but that did look boring..I think the art style doesn’t help either..as it’s stale and boring looking too..

    • LintMan says:

      After watching another one of my favorite sites “add” video content to its written stuff, and then not so slowly transition to *mainly* video content, this makes me a bit nervous. Since I have little patience for watching videos, I rarely visit that site anymore.

      And, presuming the RPS guys don’t have infinite hours to put into content here, it seems likely there must be some opportunity cost (in terms of written content) for adding video content to the site.

  10. Krouv says:

    Not bad for a first attempt! I would really love to see more of this. There are just two things you absolutely need if you’re going to continue with this:
    1. A better Microphone
    2. A better introduction (current one is… orange)

    It’s also quite evident that you’re a bit unsure about this first attempt, but with more practice your voice will hopefully gain more confidence and energy.

    • Imbecile says:

      Confidence and energy? What nonsense is this – the man is British for goodness sake.

      But yeah, variety is nice – and as much as I prefer the written stuff, I like this too.

      • Krouv says:

        It’s really nice to hear anyone from RPS in voice! Especially when they use words like “pernicious”. It’s a nice bump in vocabulary from other youtube peeps.
        As for britishness – I am now expecting the next video to have five minutes of silence while he “goes to put the kettle on”.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Actually it’s more likely to be the sound of five minutes of kettle boiling sounds, since we Brits live in tiny shoeboxes in comparison to the typical American domicile.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I thought you lived at Smingleigh Manor up on the hill from where you vigilantly survey the villagers and make sure they don’t nip down to the pub instead of slaving in the fields?

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            I was talking about the commoners.

            Smingleigh Manor has its own post code and when I were a lad, we’d have to narrow it down to a particular wing if we wanted to play hide and seek or the game would take three days and an entire troop of Boy Scouts to play. Sadly we were banned from playing in the South wing when Tibbsworth the sixer found a loaded elephant gun and blew his woggle right off.

      • Chirez says:

        ‘the man is British for goodness sake’ – so is Yahtzee. Sorry for the comparison, but it seemed appropriate.
        There’s one easy way to stir enthusiasm in the British, we simply imagine we are attacking the French.

    • pilouuuu says:

      Being energetic is so overrated. His voice is soothing, clear and fine!

      • CrispinFister says:

        At least he isn’t doing the CynicalBrit method of going OMG GUYS LOOK HOW SARCASTIC AND FAUX-POSH BRITISH I AM, GIVE ME ALL OF THE UPVOTES GUYZ, GUYZ?!?!?!? I can’t [i]stand[/i] that shit, it makes me want to puke in their faces and then all of their fans’ faces and push them into the ground.

        Alec does a good job of sounding clear and concise, he plays the game and he talks about it. It’s almost as if he is doing exactly the right thing without pretending to be a ZANY YOUTUBE SUPERSTAR WILD CARD RADICAL BOY.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          I used to buy games from Mr Biscuit and we had many a discussion on the state of the games industry – I can say without any shadow of a doubt that his accent is not faked in any way what-so-ever. He’s not trying to sound posh and if you think that’s what posh sounds like, come live with me for a week or two in my Oxford pad! Some of the upper crusts there have so many plums in their mouth, that character with the huge lower jaw from family guy is easier to understand!

          Sadly in the light of understanding that TB does not fake his accent at all, you comment seems a bit like you hate people for how their voice naturally sounds, which isn’t very cool – while I’m sure your voice would enchant Tom Bombadil all over again, the rest of us have to sound like we sound and it would be nice to do that without you telling us we make you want to assault us with your stomach contents.

  11. Snow Mandalorian says:

    Funny because I just bought it yesterday and was looking all over the internet for alpha reviews prior to purchasing it (I really wanted it, I loved XCOM, but wasn’t sure if it was worth buying it yet), and you guys hadn’t done a let’s play of it…so I ended up purchasing it anyway. And NOW you do this.


  12. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    Good job, Alec. I’m looking forward to the next one.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Nice video. Good choice of game, too! It’s always interesting (and a bit weird) to actually hear the people whose writing you constantly read.

  14. Snow Mandalorian says:

    I’m so sad that so far I’m a bit disappointed in the game…the combat is just soooooo damn slooowwwww.

    The enemy A.I, while I know is being worked on at the moment, really really sucks, and the environments feel completely stale and dead. I’ve pretty much won every level by killing about 2 bad guys, finding the crashed or landed UFO, got all of my units inside the UFO and waited for 5 turns. The remaining enemies in the level never try to find me or try to take back the UFO, so pretty much every single level so far has consisted of killing two baddies and waiting 5 turns. Not terribly exciting at all.

    • Arkh says:

      I’m so sad that so far I’m a bit disappointed in the game…the combat is just soooooo damn slooowwwww.

      I take you didn’t play the original XCOM then, only the new one, eh?
      It’s meant to be slower than the new one, yes.

      • Snow Mandalorian says:

        Sadly I haven’t. I was a mere youngin’ back then without a PC.

        I enjoyed last year’s X-COM, but found its flashiness unable to make up for its lack of real depth. I was extremely excited about this game because it seemed to reverse the formula, not much flashiness, but what it lacks in that department it makes up for in depth and faithfulness to the original.

        Now I’m kinda wishing they’d have tweaked the original to make it more…exciting. As you see in this video, the environments are kinda…dead, there isn’t so much as any wind blowing through the trees. I’m fine with older looking graphics and an isometric point of view, but there’s no reason why you can’t have those *and* an environment that feels lived in and real. The only movement whatsoever that you see in the levels are your troops, the random farmer you run across, and the aliens.

        I known it’s in alpha, but I’m just not feeling it.

        • Arkh says:

          I’d recommend playing it. I played it somewhat after (I think it was 2000) and I fell in love with it. Be wary though, the UI is horrible.

          I doubt we will see any more graphical blings going with it. You should have seen the earlier versions. The focus really is balancing things right and doing the AI, that still is in development. Graphics is not the main focus, it’s as graphic as the old one, I think. It’s a sad state of affairs where we can’t have fancy graphics and real depth, or a game as complex as the original one with some fancy graphics.

          • Snow Mandalorian says:


            And the new Jagged Alliances aren’t doing much for us either. Can’t I find just *one* good looking and meaty squad based RTS? It’s like you can only have one or the other, never both. Dawn of War II, again, pretty but lacking in substance. Frozen Synapse, insanely tough and deep, really weird unflattering graphics.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @Snow Mandalorian
            The new Jagged Alliance game is going to end up much better looking than the mock up they created during the kickstarter. Just look at the Space Hulk graphics.

        • WrenBoy says:

          There were quite a few things wrong with XCOM EU but the pacing in the combat sections was perfect and will hopefully inspire future turn based tactical shooters.

          I hope that I am being unfairly dismissive but Xenonauts is a low budget game. Producing a game on a tiny budget can only work if its being guided by talented developers as opposed to accountants. You need a big budget to be able to carry the kind of mistakes they make. As per his AMA:

          The biggest mistake we made was the engine choice. No joke, the engine Xenonauts uses was used to make Diner Dash. It can’t handle 3D models. We’re stuck with it because our first coder (who left two years back) chose it, and it is hugely unsuitable and we fight it every day. Use something like Unity3D instead

          He also revealed that over half the developers he hires turn out to be not up to scratch and he suggests hiring developers from freelance.com.

          link to reddit.com

          Im not expecting much to be honest.

          • Arkh says:

            XCOM EU pace is too “third person shooter” for me. It’s too fast and shallow. For all it’s flaws, I like Xenonauts better.

          • WrenBoy says:

            If you think its shallow on impossible then hats off to you.

            Regarding the pacing in general, I guess its different strokes for different folks. To be clear I wasnt criticizing Xenonauts pacing. When I looked at the above video I was just struck by what might have been with the same budget and a solid team.

          • Grey Poupon says:

            I still hope it’ll do well enough for some competent team to get the courage to create a new “hardcore” tbs in the veins of X-COM. Or at least a new Silent Storm. Or a hybrid of those. God how I’d love a game like that.

          • Grey Poupon says:

            Wrenboy, “shallow” isn’t the same as “easy” and “complex” or “deep” isn’t the same as hard. I’d even go as far as to say on the harder difficulties the Firaxis XCOM becomes even more shallow as you have less feasible solutions to any given problem. You have to min-max everything and that in my eyes reduces the depth of the game.

            The game mechanisms aren’t very complex in XCOM which is what I’m guessing Arkh meant by his comment.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @Grey Poupon
            Game mechanics dont have to be complicated to produce deep games as can be easily seen with chess. Its not just that it is difficult on impossible, it is that you are made to pay for your mistakes and that you therefore need to be aware of the consequences of every action before you make one instead of just reacting to the consequences, which you can do on every other difficulty setting.

            To be clarify what I meant though, I was not talking about the gameplay in general for XCOM EU, just the combat. I find the tactical combat on impossible difficulty to be very satisfying. What I cant stand on impossible difficulty in the game in general is that they make failure so expensive. One squad wipeout in the early-mid game and its pretty much all over. I cant complete it on impossible ironman for this reason and reloading after a heavy defeat is not satisfying.

            If by min maxing you are talking about base building and researching then I agree with you, there is a clear optimal path to take and therefore no real decision making. For the combat sections I dont think that is true though, I find I can complete the larger maps in a variety of ways on the highest difficulty setting and the fact that I cant rely on my soldiers to be bullet sponges means Im forced to stay diciplined and occasionally get creative.

            Regarding Silent Storm, I would Kevin Keegan love it if someone recreated the realistic physics and overall solidness of that games engine. The overpowed panzerkleins, experienced soldiers regularly missing targets at short range and enemies surviving multiple headshots dont have be faithfully recreated though.

            *Edited for clarity*

    • DatonKallandor says:

      There’s several things going on there.
      A) The combat is slow because lethality is high and enemy counts in the beginning are low. That’s a good thing.
      B) The AI seems extra bad because there’s very intentional vision range and alien type shenanigans going on. The Lizardmen seem especially stupid, but that’s because they’re shortsighted. To them they’re being shot at from the fog a lot of the time. Similarily the Greys have a longer sight range than you do, but the ones you encounter in the early game (the Redshirts) are actually non-combatants. They are incredibly easy to supress and don’t know how to fight back.

      Once you start to encounter some of the more military bent aliens (especially Androns) the AI will seem a lot less bad. It’ll still be bad occassionally, but in general it’ll appear better.

      C) Sitting the UFO for 5 turns is a valid tactic to “win” the map, but it does let the aliens you didn’t kill escape. This is TERRIBLE. Every dead alien is money, every escaped alien is the country you’re fighting in giving you less money, and your people being less experienced.

      Again you’re problems are for the most part early game by design. The late game alleviates most of it, except for the combat pace. It’s just a slower than the remake game.

      • Snow Mandalorian says:


        I’ll take your word for it. I have enough interest in this series that I’m willing to continue plowing ahead. These were my impressions from one day of playing it, and I know these were just the first couple of missions.

        I’ll keep going and see if it pays off later down the line.

        • Snow Mandalorian says:

          I do feel bad being so harsh about the game knowing that this is a labor of love on the part of the developers. I *really* want to love this game, and I suppose X-COM: Enemy Unknown primed my expectations in another direction.

          • JoshuaMadoc says:

            At least you admit that you jumped the gun by playing a franchise’s most recent game rather than playing the older titles first. I think it would be best if you kept that in mind next time you’re playing games/iterations/inspirations from other franchises.

          • WrenBoy says:

            Would you recommend that noone buys Xenonauts until they’ve played the original games then?

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        These sound like excuses. Why does the boring early game have to exist at all? Why do you have to wade through the aliens that can’t fight effectively before you get to the ones that pose a challenge? Why does the game not effectively punish mistakes, letting rookies eat plasma and live? How long does this early game last?

        • Sardukar says:

          First mission, Ironman mode, rookie eats single round and dies. Bye bye rookie. Two other rookies hit, nearly killed, saved by medpack wielding sniper. We outnumber aliens 2 to 1 and they still mess us up.

          It only gets harder from there.

          As for those who want more verisimilitude, I sympathize, but that’s not very likely. They can only do so much and frankly, what they’ve done so far is remarkable. Even had I never played the original, I’d be pretty impressed.

          Plus, the maps are much more fun than XCOM EU, in my opinion.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          The early game aliens are incompetent because the early player is sending in people without armor or experience to get two-shot by plasma pistols. And on top of that the same player will also be incompetent, it being the start of the game. The early game is slow – which is different from boring.

          The early game lasts about an hour or so, during which an experienced player will build a budget and a crew, and a novice player will slowly learn which tactics work and which don’t. It’s the perfect opening and it replaces the usual “modern” hand-holdy tutorial.

  15. Didden says:

    Alec: Gameplay. My work here is done :)

  16. heretic says:

    would love to hear the gang chatting about games together – kinda like those wireless episodes with everyone but while actually playing a game! :D

    Btw those wireless podcasts are awesome… please please do some more

  17. nimzy says:

    Electronic old men. Ruling the world.

  18. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    I think it worked rather well! By all means do more of these. 10-15 mins feels like a good length too.

  19. MOKKA says:

    Your providing some actual information about the game, you don’t have a facecam, your mic seems decent and (and that’s the most important thing) you are not screaming.

    All of these things immediatly put you in the upper tier of youtube gaming content in my eyes.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Yeah, I thought it was really good. Your voice is well suited to it and you did a good job of demonstrating the game. The length was about right too. More of this I say.

  21. Michael Fogg says:

    The game – uuh- is a homage to – tsk- X-com… which is… uuuh- a turned based strategy game… aaand… you fight aliens…. uhm. Tsk.

    etc etc

  22. DickSocrates says:

    Is Goldhawk Interactive named after Goldhawk Road? Says they are based in Hackney, which is nowhere near Goldhawk Road.

  23. Yosharian says:

    dat lip smack

  24. Alec Meer says:

    Everyone on youtube’s complaining about a lip-smacking noise I didn’t know I did until now. Hmm, not sure how to control that. Pin my lips back while recording? But at least they’re not yet calling me a ‘fag’ en masse, which is what YouTube types usually like to do.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      No need to do anything special there. Just open the audio when you’re done and you’ll see the spikes. Select them, silence them. My equivalent thing is a kind of breathe-in which I can recognise immediately by sight just scanning through the narration now.

      • MentatYP says:

        Or you can do what Richard suggests which is much more practical.

      • Alec Meer says:

        Cheers Richard. What software are you using, by the way?

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          For audio, I use Adobe Audition simply because I have access to it via Creative Cloud, but Audacity works just as well for this kind of stuff. (I’ve had too many bad experiences with it crashing to trust it fully, though it’s probably better now than it was the last time I used it.)

          For video, Premiere Pro and After Effects. Again, because I have them, really. Though they’re overkill for most of what I’m doing.

          • MadJax says:

            Off topic for this dicussion, but Richard, are you attending Rezzed? I’d love to slap you one for your Saturday Crapshoots on PCG for digging up my past! (I jest of course! :P)

          • Richard Cobbett says:

            Nope, sorry. Or not, depending on hardness of slap :-)

    • MentatYP says:

      Recording yourself in audio and/or visual format has a way of revealing and amplifying unknown habits. I’m sorry to say that you’re doomed. That or get a speech coach (probably “trainer” in UK parlance).

      And don’t worry–I’m sure the nasty Youtube comments are en route. Have faith.

    • kael13 says:

      A good microphone with a pop-shield will help that a bit, too.

    • Synesthesia says:

      That is vocal sibillance! A few filters should wash that right away, namely, a declicker and maybe a de esser.

    • Caiman says:

      My first podcast was full of lip smacking noises and a regularly procession of “ummm”s. It sounded terrible. Once you realise how much you do that, though, you’ll gradually learn to stop it! Ums are partly down to lack of confidence, that’ll pass as you get better at it. Every time you do it, tell yourself to stop doing it, eventually I found myself stopping just before the act of the lipsmack or the umm, and now I sound half reasonable and passably professionalish.

      Or if that doesn’t work, just edit them out using Audition. ;)

    • Chirez says:

      Sounds like a tongue click to me, and always follows an um. Stop umming, and you’ll probably stop clicking too.

      Part of it is being aware of what you’re saying before you say it, making sure your sentences are deliberate rather than rambling. Standard public speaking techniques are all you need. I imagine you could find that sort of stuff online.

      Your delivery isn’t bad, but slightly flat, more intonation would liven it up. Again, this is something that deliberate speech would address. Assume you’re talking to an attentive audience, and try to persuade them. So long as you talk like nobody’s listening or nobody cares, there will be a thread of apologetic hesitancy in your voice.

      Those are just my suggestions, I’m hardly an expert. I’ve just had my own speech problems that I had to learn to correct over the years.

    • Josh W says:

      Just to add helpful opposite feedback, don’t do anything that adds weird and unnatural public speaking filters to what you say. One of the things that rock paper shotgun has done well for years is putting being good above being professional; you know how people (particularly music journalists) put loads of time into various stylistic details that end up making them sound like every idea has to pass a maze of cliches and references to actually leave their head?

      Whereas you lot seem to just write good stuff, and focus on putting in things that amuse you, instead of following the classic form.

      Judging by conversations I’ve had with a freind doing radio stuff, the same is true in spoken word stuff as well, which is why a pop filter or dessser is a better solution than working on a particular form of intonation, and just knowing how to naturally flow back from a diversion is more important than making sure that everything you say has a point.

      Also, I was trying to make a point with examples of old radio that restricted it’s expression to it’s technical considerations, but I got totally side tracked by finding this.

    • Muzman says:

      It’s fine. Everyone’s a critic. I guess it is worth thinking about as people with crappy speakers are going have it stand out in an unpleasant fashion though.
      One need only think of the unrepentant babble with millions of views barked through tinny gaming mics that are distorted to incomprehensibility to know that people don’t care all that much really.
      The difficulty/skill and cost curve between rank amateur and professional sound is fuckin steep. You’re well above average.

  25. Warewolf says:

    Good to put a voice to the articles! Cheers.

  26. chiablo says:

    I like this. One of the things I love about GiantBomb is that they focus on “Quick Looks” rather than text reviews. I can tell in a 10 minute gameplay video if the game is worth playing much easier than I can by reading a review.


    • Vesuvius says:

      *shudders* I have nothing against this video, but that logic- that appeal- is the antithesis of why I come to RPS. I can look up gameplay videos anywhere, I come to RPS for articles, for thoughts, for critique-

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        Yeah, I totally agree. I don’t resent that giant bomb etc exist, but there’s a reason why I come to RPS and generally don’t look at GB at all. It would be a terrible shame for RPS to go the Escapist route and be swallowed up by its video wing. Besides, some games absolutely do not work in the video LP format.

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        Seems unlikely, eh?

        • NSGrendel says:

          What do the metrics say?

          Personally I prefer a website I can discreetly read at work. ;)

  27. kael13 says:

    As much as words are amazing and your writing style is generally spiffy, I feel the world of Internet media is leaning towards this new-fangled YouTube malarky. And your first attempt is certainly much better than mine.



  28. felisc says:

    Hey Alec, nice video. I’d be happy with more of this.
    lip smacks are not really annoying, voice quality is okayish, enough to be understood. A better mic would sure be better, add a bit of processing and bam.

  29. Chris D says:

    The pre-emptive apology, while an extremely tempting form of self defence, is usually not a good idea in practice as it primes people to react negatively to the performance even if it wouldn’t deserve it. Other than that it seemed like a respectable first attempt to me. Confidence and practice would improve it but that’s to be expected.

    I think you may also have made life difficult for yourself with this choice of game. Whatever charms may lie beneath the surface are lying quite deep beneath it. On the surface it comes across a bit as the world’s slowest lost in the snow simulator.

    I have to say this video has given me a new appreciation for the direction..err.. Firaxis took with their version. Unfortunately this does nothing to alleviate my suspicion that misplaced nostalgia is the biggest killer of videogames. A game may have been a great experience in it’s day but times change and delivering the same thing again does not deliver the same effect. The wider context matters and sometimes you have to run to stand still.

    • Cuddlefish says:

      Agreed – getting my hands on Xenonauts has mostly made me really, really wish that I could just grab its air combat subsystem and emphasis on ‘local forces’ actually existing and put them into XCOM 2012. Hell, maybe even the whole setting. But the straight-from-the-90s soldier management and ground combat is just really not doing it for me.

    • Caiman says:

      Except that the original game is still hugely fun to play today, so it’s not misplaced nostalgia. I suppose you could argue that my enjoyment of the game today is influenced by my history with it, but I think that’s mostly in terms of tolerating the low-resolution graphics and UI. The latter is largely fixed with OpenXCom. I haven’t played Xenonauts yet, but if it loses that certain something that makes the original compelling it’s not because the original doesn’t hold up.

  30. Vandelay says:

    Good stuff. Your written words on games are always welcome and I would be lost on the train with nothing to read if you all made the move entirely to video, but the “Let’s Play” style is a better way of getting a look at how a game will actually play. I haven’t found many people that make decent ones though, usually accompanying them with bad jokes or annoying shouting. I have pretty much settled with Total Biscuit being the only video reviewer I bother with.

    On the delivery, I wasn’t sure at first, but you found your groove a few minutes in. With more practice I am sure you would get there. Xenonauts looks to be a very dry game too, so it probably isn’t the easiest game to do this format in.

  31. Shakermaker says:

    That was enjoyable. Good choice of game, good commentary and good length (I find almost any video that is longer than 20 minutes hard to commit to). More please.

    Oh and the other RPS writers should have a crack at it as well. Like someone else said earlier, Jim’s shown he can do it with his ‘Sir, You Are Being Hunted’ videos.

  32. Maykael says:

    Well, I liked the video. Thanks, Alec!

  33. ColOfNature says:

    Do more this. Enlist additional hivemind sub-units. Assimilate occasional contributors. Multiblather for great justice.

    • The Random One says:

      John + Jim + Alec + Cara + Upcoming Spelunky multiplayer

  34. MadJax says:

    As smooth and silky as Alecs voice is, I never got the point of “Let’s Play” videos if someone just yammered over them. I’m here to see the game dammit!

    • Haplo says:

      I agree with this sometimes, disagree other times. I’ve seen LPs about RPGs and the like that are simply infuriating because you can’t hear the actual spoken dialogue over the blather of the player(s). But in this instance you’re not exactly missing out on much by having the player speak, and it’s pretty handy to have him explaining or elaborating on some points.

    • Continuity says:

      Most LPers trade off personality, people watch their LP’s more for the person than the game they’re playing. Personally, I only watch (full play-through) LP’s of games that i’ve already beaten myself. 15-20 minute criticism videos like this however are not in the same vein as full play-through LP’s, they have more in common with reviews or demos, and as you’re not playing the game yourself the idea is that the commentator explain anything important that isn’t obvious, as well as giving their slant.

  35. Bfox says:

    Not enough like/subscribe buttons:

  36. guygodbois00 says:

    Excellent stuff, Mr Meer. Keep up the good work.

  37. AaronLee says:

    I quite liked this, actually. A well-deserved timesink :)

  38. Shadowcat says:

    Alec, I think you’re a bit confused about time units. They’re not “energy”, and you don’t need to translate them to something else. They’re time; literally units of time.

    Each and every turn in the game represents the same fixed amount of time. Each action that a character attempts will take them a certain amount of time to perform, which will vary based on the character’s abilities and the action in question. This “certain amount of time” is measured in “time units”.

    If you utilise all of their time units each turn, then a soldier is in continuous action for the entire mission (rather than “having a snooze and a mars bar to recover”, amusing as that was).

    Now it’s true that the value of a time unit will vary from soldier to soldier; but if you were to relate them to anything else at all, then speed/reactions/dexterity would be more appropriate. Better soldiers will have more time units available to them in a turn, representing the idea that they can generally perform a given action more quickly than a less-able soldier, and therefore can perform more actions per turn.

    I did enjoy the video, though (and it was good to see Xenonauts in action).

  39. Continuity says:

    Perhaps a little less “um, er” and perhaps a bit more effective criticism.. you were basically describing what you were doing on the screen for the most part (hint: we can see what you’re doing) and yet I still don’t know important things about the game. You used a medkit, have they done away with the option to treat a specific body part? the options for painkillers or stimulants etc, what about the base building and research, what about equipping your guys before sending them to a crash site.. I assume its better than the original where all the equipment is on the floor and you have to equip everyone manually each mission?

  40. Leafcutter says:

    Stick to your day job mate. Or pick a more exciting game to talk about for 17 mins.


  41. Fiyenyaa says:

    Yay, videos! More of this please Alec, I very much enjoyed it.

  42. CommanderJ says:

    Old Men on the youtubers? I never. Not bad for a first go-around though.

  43. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Some people are natural speakers-while-doing-things and some aren’t. It’s surprisingly difficult to play the game AND talk in an interesting and engaging manner at the same time.

    It takes hundreds & hundreds of hours of practise to learn how to do it if it’s not something you’re totally comfortable with in the first place. I get the feeling Alec would need that – there was no flow to his speech.

    But a brave attempt.

  44. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    I love this, Alec. Please do more of this. Or a podcast!

  45. DaftPunk says:

    No videos please,i would rather read articles.

  46. reverseclipse says:

    Thank you very much for the video. I enjoyed it.

  47. cptgone says:

    tm; dw.
    (translation: i’m too sexist to watch a man play games. had it been Cara, i’d have watched for sure. even if she wore a burqa. can’t wait to play the final version of Xenonauts, btw)

  48. GreatUncleBaal says:

    Liked this, Alec. What some people may have missed is that while gameplay vids are very common, ones that are narrated by people with an ounce or two of wit and wisdom are much less common. I’m all for this as long as you don’t start making LPs of scary games that mainly involve shrieking like a twat every five seconds :-)

    I think the idea is good, the advantage is that you (viewer) can visualise game concepts much easier as you’re (RPS person) talking about them. I’m not sure how you set this up, but I think it might work well by talking over after a playthrough, if you see what I mean (ie have a playthrough with vid / game sounds only and then blather about concepts, mechanics etc without having to worry about dividing attention – not a criticism on your commentary at all, just an idea).
    Also, I realise that this may be significantly more difficult to organise, but a multi-RPS chap/chapess blather would be brill.

  49. bill says:

    I’m sure it’s wonderful. But I’m at work with no sound.
    I guess I could watch it on the train, but then my train journey is only 15 minutes and I could read 10 other articles in that time. And my phone’s connection would mean it would take 10 minutes to download the video.

    Now i feel really negative. :-(

    • bill says:

      PS/ Will there be a written WIT of Xenonauts? Because I would be genuinely interested to learn if it’s much good.

  50. CyclopC says:

    IMHO, this was not a bad LP for a first try at using the format.

    With all due respect, here’s what grinds my gear: the non-stop talking. Your voice is fine. What you say, you say it too fast with too little tactical, helpful advice. The intro is too long. Do comment on the differences in UI, speed, unit specialties as the game progresses. Tell us what your plans are for the map. Explain why and how you decide to split your troops. Comment on your own game play. Focus. Etc.

    Easier said than done, I’m sure.

    I find this youtuber’s (TekkorGJC) LPs and QLs of excellent quality: link to youtube.com

    Would love QLs and LPs (with a real purpose, like telling us where to start in EU4) on RPS (1 or 2 a week).