X-COM creator Julian Gollop did have plans for his own new version of the legendary strategy game, but abandoned them in the wake of 2K's well-received XCOM. "I seriously considered that before Firaxis announced their XCOM," he told RPS in an interview published today, "but of course once they announced it I thought, well it’d be a hopeless cause because it’s just not going to get the same traction."
"I may have been completely wrong in thinking this by the way," he added. When I suggested that he'd probably have succeeded nonetheless, he added that "I probably could have. I don't know." The Laser Squad and Chaos developer, who yesterday released wizard-battling strategy remake/sequel Chaos Reborn on Steam Early Access, hasn't entirely ruled out an X-comeback of his own, however. "Well, we’ll see. Got to finish Chaos first."
I think it's on all of us reading this to let him know below that that a new Gollop-made XCOMlike is far, far from a hopeless cause, eh? Also below: the game Julian Gollop almost made instead of Chaos Reborn.
In the interview, available here, Julian Gollop also addresses the sense that he slipped out of sight for a time - "languishing in obscurity," as he puts it, with a laugh. After putting in three years on asynchronous multiplayer strategy sequel Laser Squad Nemesis, and a GameBoy Advance remake of Rebelstar, "I guess I did kind of disappear... I went to Bulgaria and took a year off doing games, even though I was still working on designs, and I started working for Ubisoft in Sofia... just over 5.5 years I was working there."
Gollop "was still pretty sure what I wanted to do, which was my own design of strategy games", but was unsure of how to make this a reality, noting that he had a family to provide for. "When I first heard of Kickstarter funding of games I though that this would be an ideal mechanism, but it actually took me a long time to really decide to leave Ubisoft and do my own thing."
Eventually he settled on "a shot in the dark" - crowd-funding a remake of/sequel to fondly-remembered Spectrum strategy game Chaos, but almost made a new sequel to proto-X-COM squad-strategy game Laser Squad instead. "It was a toss up between this and Laser Squad. And I did work on a new design for the Laser Squad game but it was a bit more ambitious than Chaos." Gollop also felt that "I'd explored the Laser Squad style game quite a lot, but not so much the Chaos style game, so I think it really deserved to be made."
While the eventual Kickstarter for Chaos Reborn proved successful earlier this year, "I was very worried that I was asking for too much money, that we wouldn’t meet the target, that people had become too jaded and too cynical. But the response was very good, so that was encouraging." He is conscious that "if I’d launched it just a year previously it might have made a big difference in terms of the amount that could be raised."
Given that Kickstarter for games isn't the money fountain it once was, he's unsure of the future. "It’s difficult to say but the biggest concern is how sustainable both the combination of Kickstarter and Early Access is for small indie developers."
While Julian Gollop's name is a little more bandied around in the wake of Firaxis' XCOM, he doesn't feel that it's altered his own fortunes. "Not really, but it’s helped to establish turn-based strategy games as something that can actually be successful and popular."
While he hasn't been attached to high-profile projects for some time, "I’m still quite proud that XCOM has retained that level of interest, and it’s also very good that Firaxis did a pretty good remake of it, because that’s also in some ways made it easier for me to talk about my earlier stuff as well, because again the XCOM name is well-known and automatically sparks some interest."