Today, X-COM creator Julian Gollop's new game Chaos Reborn launches on Steam Early Access. The Laser Squad dev ran a successful Kickstarter for the remake of his ZX Spectrum wizard-battler earlier this year, but he was by no means convinced that he'd pull it off. "It was a bit scary," he told me in an interview last week (and available in full here). "The biggest problem with Kickstarter is the fact that you are making promises based on not very much."
Gollop was determined to be "pretty clear on the vision", but still fearful about it getting it wrong. "Before I started my Kickstarter I had been working on the game nearly a year actually, both design and prototyping, which sounds quite long but I was still worried that the state of the design and the game at the time of the Kickstarter was too immature. Did we have enough there to really guarantee what we can do? Were all the design ideas that we had in the Kickstarter valid, would they work? Because you never know for sure until you try and implement it."
He claims that today's Early Access release, despite a number of additions and changes, hasn't "deviated from that vision of the original Kickstarter, and I’m quite happy the direction we’re going in is still the right one."
While Chaos Reborn retains "the core, simple mechanics of the original" turn-based strategy game", Gollop claims to not be averse to change. "If it needs it, I’m happy to rip it up." While his studio has sought input from Kickstarter backers in terms of where to take the game - including for its still-to-be-implemented singleplayer mode, they haven't been slaves to them. "Well, of course they’re coming up with lots of ideas, some which are probably not that useful. If we implement something which doesn’t work well, it becomes pretty obvious very quickly.
"In some cases you might be able to tinker with something to get it to work better, but quite often it’s probably just something you need to rip out. So the process, my design practice, is that you add things, you add some mechanics, changes, they do add complexity to the game, and quite often you end up then simplifying again. It can be a bit brutal: only the best working systems will remain in the game."
The full interview, in which Julian Gollop goes into detail about the changes and additions to this new version of Chaos, including plans for singleplayer, is available here. A second part, discussing just where he's been all these years and whether there's still hope of an X-COM comeback made by him, will follow tomorrow.
Disclaimer: I backed Chaos Reborn on Kickstarter, because I wanted to play it.