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Putting the XCOM in XCOM

August 13, 2010 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

In April, 2K announced that it intends to reboot its classic PC franchise, XCOM, as a first person shooter -- a departure from the series' strategic roots -- and with an evocative setting steeped in 1950s Americana.

The game being led by 2K Marin's Australia studio in Canberra -- the former Irrational Australia -- which most recently collaborated with 2K Marin in Novato, California on BioShock 2 and with Irrational Games on the original BioShock.

As creative director Jonathan Pelling explains, this reboot isn't a jettisoning of the strategy elements of the classic PC game -- a game that still has a passionate fan base all these years later. nstead, he explains, it's an attempt to evoke the same feelings and express the same level of depth, while changing the game fundamentally. To find out how the team hopes to undertake this ambitious design challenge, read on.

I've heard that 2K in Australia is the driving force behind XCOM, and then you're assisted by 2K's Marin location.

Jonathan Pelling: Yeah, that's right. The creative direction is coming out of Australia, so we have the art director there, we have myself there, we have the technical director there -- basically all the directors are in Australia.

But, we work extremely closely with Novato studio, and they have their own group of leads, and so on. You know, obviously all the talent from BioShock 2 is there, so it's very integral between the two studios.

How long have you guys been working with the XCOM license?

JP: We've had this project on the back burner for about five years now. So it's been a long time in the pre-production phase. And it's been in the background of -- while we've been working on BioShock 1 and 2 -- so now finally that BioShock 2's out the door, it's full steam ahead on XCOM.

How long have you been in actual production then?

JP: We've been in actual production for around a year now.

I would think with so much pre-production time, you must have gone through a lot of iteration and revision on the underlying design and the concept for the game, maybe even the setting. How do you end up with what you have now, the '50s shooter with strategic elements?

JP: I think the one thing that has stayed fairly strong through the entire process has been the drive to make this game a genuine XCOM game. Obviously there's a lot of love for the original games, and we wouldn't be doing this if we didn't feel we could do that justice.

Over the years, there have been a number of iterations, a number of ideas, but they've mostly been around the creative side of things. So it was just a process of elimination, and various other factors, which led to us ending up to where we are now.

But we feel this is the strongest and most compelling concept that we've got -- in terms of the 1950s, a very strong visual aesthetic. But ultimately, it's always been an XCOM game, and I think that's the right way to approach this.

Is it difficult at times to go online and see all the reactions like, "This isn't XCOM!"? How much do you take it into consideration? Does it weigh on you at all?

JP: Well, I mean... you know, it's never enjoyable to go and read negative comments on the internet. I think, given that we announced with fairly sparse information about what the game is all about, the reaction is understandable, I suppose.

It doesn't weigh on me that much, because I know what this game is, and it's just a matter of communicating that to people now. And I think once the fans start to realize that this is a game that adheres to the core XCOM tenets -- it may not be aesthetically the same, and of course it's not a turn based tactical game anymore, it's a first person shooter -- but it still maintains that essential vibe, that fear and tension of going up against an unknowable enemy and being in charge, and running an organization, and making all the big choices.

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Ian Brown
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Huge fan of the original, so I'm hoping this turns out well.

Tadhg Kelly
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Overall, I'm confused as to why the first person direction was taken. It seems strange to ditch the whole of the game mechanics and think that the soul of the game is just the setting. On the one hand, the fans of the game are fans OF THE GAME (which is why X-COM: Interceptor failed) and on the other hand the new audience likely to be drawn into an FPS won't know what X-COM is, so attaching that brand to it has little or no value.

What I mean is that the fans of the original game liked it for what it was, essentially a tactical boardgame. Sure, they also dig the vibe and the aesthetics, but the real heart and joy of XCOM was the tactical strategy. It was Space Hulk (or Squad Leader) in computer form with 50's aliens. Sure, back-office tech trees and the like sometimes offer a bit of extra customisation to a bog-standard action game experience, but the tendency with those sorts of systems is that the player finds an optimal weapon combination quite quickly, so such systems are rarely that impact-ful on the rest of the game.

I suspect this means that Chris's game is a match made in marketing that will fall between two stools.

Jonathan Gilmore
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I haven't played X-Com on PC so I'm probably out of my depth here, but isn't XCOM more than the mechanics? For example, if someone made a Planescape Torment reboot, I really dont think it would be essential to have the same turn based 3rd person mechanics. The mechanics are the soul of a game like Unreal or Halo, but not so much of a much more narratively-driven game, What would be essential is getting tone, story, characterization and setting right. I don't see why X-Com should be any different.

Mark Venturelli
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Hope it turns out good, but I really doubt that the world needs another shooter. If it was a rock-solid turn-based game, at least it would be something relatively new to the AAA space.

Evan Skolnick
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Jonathan, if you haven't played X-Com, then yes, you're out of your depth here. X-Com's main appeal WAS the mechanics, plain and simple. People who love X-Com don't love it for the narrative elements or the feeling of fighting aliens. They love it for the incredibly deep and unique gameplay, and the near-perfect balancing of the strategic/tactical components.

This whole thing seems a bit like saying Chess 2 is going to be a first-person shooter but it will maintain that "Chess vibe" of controlling kings and being at war.

Jonathan Gilmore
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@Evan, I'll take your word for it, but as a newcomer the game sounds promising.

Evan Skolnick
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@ Jonathan: Oh, it could be a really cool game in its own right, and I hope it is. I'm just saying that as soon as the core, turn-based mechanics are taken out, it's no longer X-Com (the same way if you took the turn-based element out of Chess it would no longer be Chess, even if you called it Chess). :-)

Jose Castro
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Evan Skolnick said it all but I still think the game might be good, just not XCom.

Anyone remember Enforcer/Interceptor? Nice as games, bad as sequels.

Daniel Camozzato
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"this is a game that adheres to the core XCOM tenets -- it may not be aesthetically the same, and of course it's not a turn based tactical game anymore, it's a first person shooter -- but it still maintains that essential vibe, that fear and tension of going up against an unknowable enemy and being in charge, and running an organization, and making all the big choices."

Err... what? What exactly is left of X-COM if you take the aesthetic and the turn based tactical game away? "The tension of going up against an unknowable enemy and being in charge"? Really? You know, that describes a lot of games. You can't just pick and choose parts from a game and discard the rest and think you still have what you started with.

I just don't get it. Why do they keep naming new games after old games? Why create the expectation that the old game might be coming back, largely untouched mechanic-wise but with improvements, and then saying it's something completely different? Do they really think that the old geezers (excuse me, "fans") of the original will add anything to the amount of sales? Really, I just don't get it!

And this is funny:

"of course it's not a turn based tactical game anymore"

Why? Why should it be obvious that a game that was always* turn based is no longer turn based? Like Evan said, it's like saying "of course chess 2.0 is no longer turn based".

Bah. I used to say bad things about Blizzard "selling the same games over and over", but lately I've come to really respect what they do.

* - (Except for Apoc's real-time mode - which was actually pretty good, standing proudly as an alternative to turn based play. I repeat, *alternative*.)

Maurício Gomes
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Seriously, their last game (bioshock 2) I saw lots of people complaining, but not praises (despite the high metacritic score)

Now they are making a bioshock game that calls itself X-COM.

I wonder how much 2K Marin will last.

Julian Gollop
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Personally, I would have gone with a turn-based game system - but no one asked me. Actually, I was developing an X-Com style game called Dreamland back in 1999 - turn-based but 3D (actually very similar to Valkyria Chronicles in the way it worked). Sadly, it didn't see the light of day.

Bevan Bennett
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While disappointed (I greatly prefer playing TBS over FPS games), I'm actually less concerned about the switch in view than I am about the reference to a "Protagonist".

I could see X-COM still being X-COM using FPS-style combat missions instead of (pseudo-)turn-based isomorphic maps... the tech for switching between characters and controlling NPC compatriots has come a long way.

What frightens me about the protagonist concept is that it implies that you play one singular X-COM commander who goes on every mission, takes part in an overarching story and, by extension, CANNOT DIE.

For me, one of the key tensions and features of X-COM was that you'd build up and promote and train your team members, but every time they went on a mission they actually risked their lives. Total squad wipes happened if you weren't careful, but didn't necessarily require you to revert to an earlier save... you could always suck up the loss and move on. With a protagonist present at every battle, that's no longer an option... defeat means a GAME OVER screen rather than MISSION FAILED.

Barring further data (of which there is little), I'll remain open but skeptical.

Huck Terrister
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X-Com IS all about the mechanics! UFO Defense was a game with ZERO characters. What a pathetic justification for essentially whoring a respected brand out to the Flavor of the Month crowd. How can you base an entire sequel on only the flimsy idea of the "emotion" it envoked. For one thing, that's relative, for another thing the emotion was generated BY the game mechanics. The Legend of Zelda is associated with adventure, that doesn't mean that Mass Effect is a sequel!

The only evidence that this is an X-Com game is the title and the fact that the people involved desperately repeat that 'fact' to us as though it will magically come true.

J Spartan
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This is looking like one of the best possible real remakes of many peoples favorite game of all time:

Xcom an fps game? really? pfft. Why not make Civ into an action rts for facebook while you are at it?

Maurício Gomes
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@J. Spartan (we are supposed to use real names, your mother REALLY liked that stallone movie? Or J. is not John?)

Please, don't give them the idea :P Someone else was already thinking about this, and there are mentions (or the game exist already?) of even a Ultima for facebook...

That stuff make me cringe...

More than when they turned Rainbow Six from real-time tactics to FPS (yep, early R6 were not FPS, some even allow you to NOT play the FPS part, and only see the results of your tactical planning)

Jeff Hanson
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What makes XCOM XCOM is the turn based squad game mechanics... how you can toss all of that and still call the game 'XCOM' is just baffling. Even if it's a great game, it will be burned for not being a real 'XCOM' game just because they tacked that title on to it.

Julian Gollop
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Publishers run a mile from anything with turn-based mechanics - it is regarded as too niche. RTS games pretty much killed off turn-based strategy games in the mid-90s - but now even RTS games are regarded as niche. So all my experience working turn-based games from 1983-1997 is now somewhat obsolete, despite the success of X-Com. However, I am now working on a turn-based tactical RPG which will be a 3DS launch title. Thanks to 'Advance Wars', 'Fire Emblem' and 'Final Fantasy Tactics' it seems turn-based games are not totally dead - at least for Nintendo handhelds. I would also argue that Pokemon has a lot of parallels with X-Com in its game system, despite being classified as an 'RPG'. The core of Pokemon is a turn-based tactical battle enriched by a sophisticated higher level meta-game that allows players to experiment with many game elements and combinations of forces - and Pokemon is the second most successful game franchise in the world. If done right, would an X-Com game with a turn-based combat system be successful? Absolutely!

Jamie Mann
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@Julian: thanks for creating X-com/UFO. Playing that on a 486 DX-33 was a truly amazing experience :)

Regarding the FPS "reboot": I'll reserve judgement on whether or not it'll be a good game until it's actually released, but it's not going to be X-com - as Evan said, it's like taking Chess and turning it into a realtime Capture the Flag experience.

The joy of X-com lay in the way the many elements came together. The real-time monitoring of alien spaceships (and sending out interceptors to shoot them down), watching the politics of the world shifting, building up bases (and then fighting in them when aliens attacked), working through the research tree to get new weapons (and equally importantly, discovering the history and intent of the aliens), hiring new recruits and watching them evolve - and *then* you got to the turn-based combat, with the ability to blow holes in walls, set petrol stations ablaze and mind-control enemies. As well as the adrenaline-tinged fun of knowing there's an alien somewhere nearby - possibly around the corner from your man, who's low on Action Points...

A FPS... just ain't cutting the mustard.

Anyway, I'll be interested to see your RPG for the 3DS:)

And, while I don't think X-Com would be commercially successful in it's original form, I can definitely see it working if rejigged to work as a turn-based RPG, a la Fire Emblem...

Justin Jackson
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@ Jamie Mann, Damn you!!

I gotta go play it again now for the i-can't-remember-how-many'th time :D

Michael Joseph
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@Tadhg Kelly - I think the branding is going to pay dividends precisely because of the controversy. Bad publicity is good publicity?

@Daniel Camozzato said "Bah. I used to say bad things about Blizzard "selling the same games over and over", but lately I've come to really respect what they do."

That is a great quote because a lot of people felt disappointed that Starcraft II was mostly a comsmetic upgrade of Starcraft I. The feeling was "what's the point in making the same game with better graphics technology?" or "They're just milking the franchise and not innovating and moving the genre forward."

I think Starcraft II would be burned for those deciscion except.... the leagues and ladders and Battlenet matchmaking adds tremendously to the overall game experience! They've tapped into the competitive nature (and hysteria) of Starcraft and amplified it 100 fold for regular (non pro) gamers.

Re: X-Com or not X-Com? I'm going to have to side with Jonathan Pelling and 2K Marin. You can make an X-Com game without sticking to the previous mechanics. The flippant response is "Sure you can, you just have to put X-Com in the title. See how easy that was?" But seriously, X-Com is more than mechanics, it's about theme and setting. X-Com is a universe and that's how they're approaching the title. Good for them. How many people would be bashing them if they created a game with the same themes and plots and did NOT call it X-Com? "They basically just made a FPS version of X-Com" they would whine. Well, this is X-Com in a FPS genre. It would not be the first fictional universe that took many gaming forms.

I'm really excited about the potential of this new X-Com for moving the FPS genre forward. Instead of the traditional sequential levels, they're introducing a dynamic mission generation system and tying that in with the overall objective of defending Earth from alien invaders. As an old school fan of dynamic simulations, I can dig that!

I can understand the disappointment in wanting a new X-Com that is like Starcraft II... same game with 2010 graphics tech. Well... that game is still there and you can still play it and have fun. If the original X-Coms had made as much money as Starcraft 1.0 then maybe you could justify remaking the same game and sprucing it up with advanced community features.

Chris Remo
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Great to hear! Looking forward to that. Looks like I'll have to pick up a 3DS.

Dru Bagaloo
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@Michael Joseph: while a remake would definitely be fun I think it would be incredibly silly to suggest that a game like UFO Defense couldn't be improved or enhanced with new features. It really isn't the most recent classic in the turnbased squadplay genre either (that would rather be Jagged Alliance 2, maybe even Silent Storm) and it could definitely learn a thing or two from its competitors (just like StarCraft II btw).

We've also heard enough talk about "moving first-person shooters forward". With so many developers trying to do that and so few delivering on that promise (if not to say none) I am starting to believe it's a lost cause, especially when publishers only care about whether a new project can be easily hyped for mass appeal. Even X-Com: Alliance sounded a lot more ambitious than XCOM and that's saying much about what limits current FPS developers are trying to breach...

Brian Thornton
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Really looking forward to seeing that 3DS game!

Michael Joseph
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@Ward Huypens: of course it can be improved or enhanced that's not the issue. Improved and enhanced to what end? Filling a niche? I've played Silent Storm and it represents an improvement to isometric turn based squad-play and I enjoyed it (up until the late stages of the games with the panzerkleins). The completely destructible buildings, the scripted sequences, the ability to hear enemies and approximate their location when you couldn't see them were all improvements.

But why do people want an official X-Com game made with a $10 million+ budget? UFO: Extraterrestrials is a modern remake by Chaos Concept made on a small budget and is fairly faithful to the original games. So if you like the old X-Com go play that. But I think being faithful to the original games in the series is what's wrong with it in terms of reaching a broader gaming audience. But Chaos Concept are filling a niche and are making a 2nd version and that's great that they can make the business end of it work. Not every needs to be a blockbuster to be successful.

Andrew Traviss
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I'm encouraged by the fact that they highlight the emotions the original game created. Regardless of what particular aspects were responsible, X-Com's primary hook is the amazing tension the game creates. A game with real life or death decisions.

That, to me, defines X-Com. Huddled over my keyboard at three in the morning with a creeping dread of a Crysallid making it past my reaction fire, or having to send a rookie up a set of stairs not knowing if it means plasma in the back. If retaining that kind of feeling is the primary goal of the designers, then I expect this to be an interesting take on the FPS genre and worth playing on its own merits.

They have quite a task ahead of them to recreate this unique emotional experience using completely different gameplay, when others have consistently failed to recreate it using the same gameplay. I wish them luck.


My main point of confusion is the value of the X-Com name. Are gamers drawn to X-Com generally the type of gamers who enjoy FPS gameplay? Are the types of gamers who enjoy FPS gameplay likely the be drawn to or even familiar with X-Com? I'm not upset about it like so many others, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Maybe my gut feeling on the answers to those questions is off, but the two types of gameplay are diametrically opposed to each other. It would seem more reasonable to take the same valuable lessons from X-Com and use a more relevant setting to the gamers likely to be interested in the gameplay.

@Michael - I don't agree that there would be bashing if the license was not used. If the X-Com license was not attached to this game, there would be no compelling reason to draw a comparison between them. The theme and setting of X-Com is probably the least remarkable or innovative aspect. It couldn't possibly be more derivative. Aliens are attacking Earth during roughly modern times. That's the entire story. It wasn't exactly revolutionary material.

Huck Terrister
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@Michael - Yeah, there are plenty of fan-made X-Comlikes out there but none of them hit the mark exactly right (destructible terrain is a very rare feature) and have no vision outside of simply copying the source material. But that is beyond the point.

It's not that I necessarily want a so-called "triple-A" X-Com TBS game, but it would be nice for the mainstream industry to aknowledge that there is legitimacy in games that aren't lowest-common-denominator-mandatory-tutorials-scripted-events shooters. This current generation of consoles and computer hardware has brought about an unprecedented feeling of 'tunnel vision' and watching a medium still in its extreme youth struggle with creative bankruptcy is difficult to do.

Paopao Saul
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I just hope they get it right. I can get along with the FPS style as long as it retains that deeply tactical feel to it. Please not another run-and-gun shooter.

@ Julian

Wow, I'm looking forward to that!

Jamie Mann
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@Justin: sorry ;)

@Michael: as I said, I'm reserving final judgement until I get to see the game - and I'm all for exploring a given theme from a new angle. However, looking at the E3 trailer, the chief inspiration for XCOM looks to have been Invasion of the Body Snatchers - it's set in the 1950s and features goo-like aliens capable of assuming human form! Whereas X-com was set in the modern day and featured little grey aliens you could machine-gun down - X-com Apocalypse may have had an art-deco theme, but it was set in a century or so into the future!

To be honest, I can't help but suspect that the X-com brand has been tagged onto the game, rather than the game being built to be part of the X-com universe...

Titus Oneill
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@Julian Gollop. I am honored to get to thank you for a truly wonderful game. I have rated all turn based gaming by the standards set by you and your team for the last 20 years. I still find allot of strategy gamers who felt like they had been told revolvers were useless old fashion weapons. Then slowly retired from gaming with one of their favorite Genre's of strategy mistakenly replaced by RTS.

I never agreed with that mentality. RTS and TBS are entirely different creatures. You would think marketing departments would not be so foolish as to dismiss million in revenue from a so called "Niche" market. RTS was sold to us like we had been waiting for it our whole lives to kill the doldrums of TBS. Couldn’t has been more wrong IMHO. I am sure that your contributions with X-Com led to the joy that is, has and will always be Fallout. Fallout Tactics saved my gaming time when the sequels to X-com came up short.

As to this rebirth of X-Com. You are out of your minds if you think you can turn a game that defined an entire era of games as a FPS. Being that you obviously insane this may work. After looking deeper into your project I doubt that at will be another blatant attempt to squeeze cash from the wonderful memories so many of us have of the pioneer days of gaming.

Just because you were given rights to use the name doesn’t mean you should just chug along doing whatever you want. I honestly don’t mean to be insulting, it truly seems you believe your being true to the games core sensibilities. Sadly you’re just regurgitating self assurances that in all reality are delusional.

The possible modernization's I see for this game that are not turn based would be along the lines of fallout 3 or even some of the Fantasy style games with rotating group dynamics and skill progressions. A semi RPG style in primary 3rd person view but with all options for camera available, set in the x-com universe but with no main protagonists. Or even better with your self as the main charecter, but a charecter that takes no physical form. The player as the facilitator behind the scenes. Teams may be lost and great men and women may triumph or fall. But at the end of the day all thier deaths are on your hands as the one in charge. I like that alot. It gives it a much more enduring sense of your decisions weight on all fronts. Of course you still manage the teams and in essence control the individual units, but they are just your soldiers doing what they must in the face of unknown mortal peril. The individual team leaders ( each team would for morale purposes be required to have a officer and non com for battle field cohesion.) Could and would still interact directly with key charecters unraveling the plot. Like the players non corporeal existence these other key plot charecters can interact ambiguously with any team they encounter as agents of the elite x-com.

The one thing that just bugs the holy tar out of me is the need for a main focus charecter. To say you are true to what xcom was about and then put the players behind the wheel of a individual personality is way off base.

Like someone else had stated this destroys the sense of caution when toons or time are lost from bad decisions. So much like the original we should have teams to build and loose and control each individually with combat falling into the action points upon contact. The wonderful thing about all that is it allows for the universe to be filled with new and interesting stories. It also maintains the squad combat that was core to x-com. It creates delicious tensions. Maybe things are going bad but you push through with only one surviving team member and need to recruit more.

Sorry if I seem specifically critical, it is my job as an editor to dismantle and reassemble in new ways. I do believe I balanced my criticism with viable alternatives to repair the situation though. Seriously WTF? Why FPS when so many viable squad style engines and styles of gaming are available as alternatives that are proven profitable in today’s market? i.e., Dragon Age..

You should have hired Julian, you may have done great things together.

Titus Oneill
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@Andrew So true about x-coms content, up until apocolypse (which I enjoyed to the very end) There was nothing so fantasticly bland as x-com. Little green men in saucers, The tall wheat field maps of belgueared farms. But when I want to get my 1950's alien content on; I slap in "Destroy All Humans". To say the setting was the game is shallow depth perception.

I do think your wrong about gamers in general though. I dont know anyone who identifies themselves as a gamer who just doesnt play a game because of some personal glitch about the style. Gamers as I know them play whats good. I wouldnt deny myself something truly challenging or entertaining, based on a unfounded personal bias .

Tejas Oza
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I'm wondering if the only reason they decided to go FPS was their success with the Bioshock games. If you think about it, the aesthetics are almost entirely the same only here they won't look apocalyptic. They're practically making the same kind of game again, which has to be easier than shifting to an entirely different genre. They've established a fan base or at least a following of their FPS titles and I'm guessing they're just sticking with what works for them instead of taking a chance at something else. The 'strategy' component they talk about seems to be the only added feature and that could be seen simply as a way to make it seem like its the 'spiritual successor' of the original XCOM. That's the way it looks at least.

I also find the lean towards FPS titles and franchise's these days as indicative of a market that's focusing on extracting money from legions of new age gamer's who don't have the patience or attention spas for anything but running around and shooting things. Its kind of sad, really.

Titus Oneill
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@Tejas, True, todays gamers walk away from games that truly challenge them for time and skill more often than not. Complaining that they are lame or to hard. The idea of being challenged is a novelty to many, especially since they have been spoon fed easy mode since birth. Perfect example being WoW. The game was challenging to a degree in its first year. But by caving in to the loudest 10%'s cry's of to hard and unfair they ruined the game in more ways than they fixed it.

Dru Bagaloo
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@Michael: "But why do people want an official X-Com game made with a $10 million+ budget?"

Despite the budget (which I think wouldn't even need to be that high) it would be nice to see something else than a (multiplatform) action shooter in the spotlights. I also wouldn't assume you can't broaden the appeal of a turnbased game like X-Com. Like you said before, SCII showed you can make a tutorial for nearly everything in the game and get newbies playing.

J Spartan
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@Maurício Gomes, no my first name is not John, if it was i could maybe sue the film for taking my name? ;) And i was born a long time before the movie ;)

Fallout showed you can take a pretty deep complex crpg system and make it 'lite' and 3D for modern day console gaming. Oblivion did the same kind of thing with the TES series of crpg's.

Both games are among the rare few titles that can be seen to make a good profit in modern AAA game publishing. So from that point of view i can completely understand the desire to do the same with the Xcom brand. I'm sure we will get many more Fallouts, Oblivions and Xcom's, as we do suffer as an industry when trying something new or different(it is a risky business). It's not my cup of tea, but 'the kids' love hype and seem to lap it all up so it will continue.

I've learned to keep playing my old classics to enjoy the things they did so well, and look around for the odd gem that comes along from the sausage factory of current AAA ;) (ok i'm being harsh here!)

I'm sure Fps Xcom will do well, i'll just give it a miss and keep hoping one of these 'indie' remakes of the classic game eventually gets it right(as no single one has so far).

John Ragland
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Ahhh... Julian Gollop IS the Genius behind the "real" X-COM you know, the ones we all stayed up late into the night playing for hours.

I just don't see this "3D version" as anywhere close to anything the 2D versions of X-COM were...

If it's not tactical turn based strategy then i don't see the need to even try to cash in on the X-COM title. Brand recognition is a cheap way to make money. To bad we've seen the day where game developers are more concerned with the bottom line instead of the way it used to be, "for the passion of the game"...

Unfortunately just like the movies it's now beauty before brains...

Meng Mao
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@Evan Skolnick

"X-Com's main appeal WAS the mechanics, plain and simple. People who love X-Com don't love it for the narrative elements or the feeling of fighting aliens. They love it for the incredibly deep and unique gameplay, and the near-perfect balancing of the strategic/tactical components."

I don't disagree that the stellar tactics gameplay was the key to the long-term fandom X-COM has enjoyed. However, the setting and atmosphere of the game really did a lot for me. The gist of that feel is summed up well by the sequel's subtitle -- Terror from the Deep. In my case, the fog of war, the overwhelming odds, the inscrutable alien agenda -- all those things summon up a terror from the deep ... of my subconscious.

I would welcome an FPS set in the X-COM world that could recall that kind of feeling. I think it could be done. But from a casual look at the art style and settings, I don't think this game will accomplish that.

Daniel Boy
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disclaimer: x-com was the very first pc-game I bought at full price, I loved jagged alliance 1 and 2, I liked silent storm.

But: I also think that bioshock 2 is one of the best games of all times.

That means I'm on the fence in this fight. I can't understand, why it is soooo wrong to mix up some old system shock mechanics with some x-com tropes and put it into a fps-ier frame. I can understand why one might miss the old mechanics and the anger against "the industry".

How about this: Petition 2K for a HD version of UFO. Updated UI, rebalance some stuff, put in some audio commentary with Julian and some other guys, hide the original version somewhere in there as an easteregg, release it alongside the FPS for 15-20$ on XBLA/PSN/Steam. Et voila, 2K, you'll have more buzz (what is the marketing budget of an AAA game today?) and the old guard will be happy, too.

Daniel Camozzato
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@ Daniel Boy:

I for one don't think it's *wrong* to mix mechanics and release something new. I just think "the industry" is messing up the naming. Why? Because when you give a game a name, you're not just naming the background story or the general "feeling" it evokes, but also the mechanics. I.e., chess.

Thing is, I wouldn't tell a friend who never played the old game to play this new one. I'd be lying if I said: "there is a new X-COM game and you should play it since the other ones were such great *tactical turn based* games".

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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This is Shadowrun all over again, except worse. If it doesnt play like Xcom, and doesnt look like Xcom, it aint Xcom. You're not "participating in that legacy", you're ruining it all over again. No respect.

Jonathan Gilmore
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-I disagree withthe Shadowrun comparison, mainly for the reason that Shadowrun was a pen and paper rpg before it was a turn based shooter. The XBOX game had nothing in common with any previous iteration at all, other than the races that you played as-there was no tone, setting, atmosphere, story, etc.

Robert C.
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You know, I was just thinking there are way too many turn based strategy games on the market and not enough first person shooters, so this makes a lot of sense.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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When was Shadowrun ever a turn based shooter? It was a p&p rpg, had a SNES and a Genesis game made that mostly respected the IP (especially the Snes one), and then the shooter which didnt respect the IP at all, they just took the name and did whatever they fancied. Same as 2K's game, they're taking the name but thats it.

Jonathan Lawn
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I think they wanted to make an FPS with a strategy layer on top, and they all loved X-COM and thought it was a good setting, which sounds like good thinking, and should produce an original game.

I also think if the decisions at the strategy layer (and the setting) are like the old X-COM then using that name is neither a bad decision nor immoral.

I just hope it's going to be good! My fear is that the link between the layers won't be strong enough to add interest to the FPS game.

Now who is going to do Doom as an TBS?

Julian Gollop
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TBS Doom? it's done! -->

Jonathan Gilmore
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@Matthieu-Maybe I'm forgetting but I thought that the Genesis Shadowrun was a top down, turn based shooter, but maybe it wasn't turn based (It was a top down real time-wiki). Anyway, considering that it was a pen and paper role playing game, then was already faithfully adapted into a console game, it was bizzare and insulting that it was made into a frenetic twitch based multiplayer only fps. A bit different than what is happening with X-Com, no?

Btw, I had the pen and paper rpg and played the Genesis game, but it has been a long time for both. I also tried the demo for the XBOX 360 game it had absolutely nothing in common with the Genesis game, which involved going to different areas, making progress in the main story and continuosly doing jobs and upgrading your character. Yes, in X-Com they have changed the game substantially by dropping you in the shoes of an agent rather than making strategic and tactical decisions from afar, but it sounds like you will at least have some license to pursue research and investigate somewhat the things of your choosing. X-Com is not the platonic ideal of capturing the essence of the oricinal PC games, but it is certainly closer than what Shadowrun was-plus, no one here has even played it yet.

John Ragland
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haha i agree with all the latest posts! So funny...

It's like slapping a Corvette badge on a Camaro... Yeah they are two great cars but one is the real thing.

John Ragland
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And hey, X-COM was one of the earliest "Arm Chair General" games. You could sit for hours on a mission with no time limit to completing it. The magic of the game concept. X-COM was such a perfect recipe...

This "X-SHOCK" game seems completely designed from the ground up to keep the fundamental FPS go go go pacing intact, so it's not even "X-COM lite" I don't know what it will be some hybrid game.

It'll sell because it's going to be gleeming on the shelf with a neat Box Art and the Big XCOM title pressed on the cover...

sigh... At least i've still got a time machine PC. A Pentium II 300 mhz with DOS 6.1 and 16 mb of ram... XD

Tiago Costa
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I can just imagine the talk at marin:

Game dev 1 : I've got an ideia... let's make a XCom game?

Game dev 2 : Yeah... a strategy game like the good old days.

Publisher Bussiness man: Like starcraft 2?

Game dev 1 : humn.. no... its turn based...

Publisher Bussiness man: (shrieks and covers head with hands) iiiiiccchhhhhhhhh

Game dev 2: Lots of strategy elements, base building...

Publisher Bussiness man: Ok... so how can we take all that and just make a better starcraft 2?

Game dev 1 : We cant... two different beasts, it can be done.

Publisher Bussiness man: Ok... make it an FPS like bioshock then... Great Idea that of making a XCOM game!!! get to work...

Of course I could just stop bashing the publisher and aiming my weapons at the developers for making yet another FPS, but that would loose all the fun wouldnt?

XCOM was a STRATEGY GAME, one of the best ones, story and ambient were as thin as the hair in a 100 year old woman... So 2k Marin took the weakest part of the XCOM franchise to make a game and ignored the rest... Got to applaud the boldness... or idiocy.

I'm sure it will be a great FPS that will be forgotten along with the bioshock 2, I just hopped that someone would have the guts to make a game that was more than a clone of DOOM.

Oh well I just bought JaggedAlliance from GoG and UFO Defense (XCOM) is free in Europa so I guess my TBS needs are fulfilled.

Daniel Camozzato
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If you want to make a new XCOM game, don't hire people who played and enjoyed it a long time ago... Hire people who are *still* playing and enjoying it. ;-)

John Mawhorter
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I find it funny that most people are overlooking the economic aspect of this decision. The most obvious reason they are making XCOMshock is because they have the Bioshock engine code sitting right there. Building a TBS engine from the ground up for a genre that isn't seen as commercially viable, or continuing to leverage existing assets. I may not find the decision appealing, but it's very unsurprising and makes good business sense.

Daniel Sopel
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It's easy to be angry over this project for the many of us who loved the original franchise. But, would you get this fired up over a company making an FPS in the Warhammer 40k universe? Both have long-standing fanbases and are originally TBS's, however both have guns and a unique atmosphere making them prime locales for a FPS. I don't know much about the 40k MMO on its way, or am I a big FPS'er, but I salivate at the thought of Planetside-in-a-40k-skin, and I've played the tabletop for 15 years.

I think the knee-jerk anger is because this is a sort of boiling point for those of us longing for a great new tactical TBS, while watching a flood of generic FPS's being spit out. Nearly a decade of technology improvements have gone by without a single worthwhile game of this genre, that I know of. I'm as excited about Civ 5 as the next strategy junkie, but damn, where's a new tactical game?! I've even tried all of Strategy First's recent half-baked historic/fantasy releases, hoping to get the fix. But no, I'm back to playing a modded Jagged Alliance 2.

Maybe it won't have Halo or MW sales, but with the complete lack of AAA Tacticals, there HAS to be money to be made. Maybe it's a niche title, but the entire niche would jump on it if done correctly. I'd pay my $50 right now if it would help get the game out.

There's no need to reinvent the genre either. Bring us some deep squad customization, destructible environments, and a well thought-out campaign progression all using modern graphics technology. Add on a decent online portion (coop and versus) and a quality map generator and you would have a loyal community from the day you launch the beta forums. Speaking of community, it can also be said that this game would attract a bit more mature crowd, making your forums a tight gathering packed with information and constructive conversation.

Maurício Gomes
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@John it would make MORE sense to announce new IP instead, I mean, that game looks really cool, why not make a... "Roswell" game series? Or a "Aliens Invade!" or something like that? It would be waaay cooler, and it would draw their own fans, that would be vocal like the X-COM fans on the future. (of course, if the game turns out to be good... now if the game is crap, then selling it as X-COM makes sense, because this way you lure some people to buy it, even knowing that it is crap)

Chris Sykora
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Im all up in this thread and Im not reading anything.

The industry still proves year after year that the FPS genre reigns supreme in America. Yes, a new turn based X-COM would have been great but in the end potential sales figures and limited risks will guide most games. It just depends on their creativity inside those constraints.

Im probably with most people here. Pretty sick of the militant mind set and the FPS genre. :/

Robert C.
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Let me say that I completely understand why they're making an FPS instead of a turn based strategy game. What I don't understand is why attach the X-Com name to it?

Mark Buzby
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Well spoken Daniel.

X-Com 3 was real time with the option to pause the game. Fallout 1&2 were turn based, Fallout Tactics was either turn based or real time. Fallout 3 incorporated real time and turn based elements into the design. Though not Fallout 1,2 or Tactics in mechanics, I felt that it kept the Fallout look and feel to it.

Honestly, I wish game developers would do more to expand a franchise into different genres so that people that might not have been interested in the original might see something in another genre later down the road. Hopefully this X-Com FPS will perk people's interest in the franchise and allow for the turn based (or real time) strategy game that old fans are interested in.

When I was playing X-Com, the elements that got me the most excited were picking out your crew and advancing them along with the alien artifact research and production. The economic part of X-Com was a rather neat element in the original. I'm curious if anything will be implemented around these topics.

It's kinda weird that game developers have started resurrecting old game labels so that they can market to old fans who are the ones most resistant to change.

Kade Dunn
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To be honest, I think a lot of the upset about the TBS strategy genre not being represented in gaming as much these days is because it is a genre that doesn't really need to exist given the right technology.

The reason first-person games are so popular is because it provides the closet perspective to what we experience life through. The more efficiently and effectively we can control aspects of a game from that perspective, the more immersive the game will be. A good example of this is Mirror's Edge. If this game were not played through a first-person perspective, there really wouldn't be anything that unique about the game. By placing it in the first-person, the player is able to experience the nuances of platforming (such as the whistle of air during a jump, or disorienting feeling of rolling after hitting the ground) that wouldn't be possible from another perspective.

In modern FPS's, squad-based combat is on the forefront of the genre's development. Even in online shooters such as Natural Selection or the Battlefield series, playing the game in self-functioning groups is a very valuable asset. In reality, the perspective that the player plays through in X-Com doesn't really exist. There really can't be someone who both controls the movements of each individual trooper on the ground at specific intervals of time while managing every detail of several secret international paramilitary bases.

From my understanding of the direction 2K is taking X-Com is that they are trying to modernize that perspective by placing into what it would be like if YOU personally (with human limitations of time and space) were to be placed in that situation. If they can create a well enough structured environment that the player can direct their allies as to enact what you would be able to do from your perspective in the original X-Com, then they will have rendered the older system useless.

I am glad that Mr. Pelling specifically used the word 'feeling', because that is definitely what they should be focussing on. If the player ends up asking the same questions in their head, learning the same lessons and using similar methods in order to defeat the enemy on a whole (meaning not specifically in close combat), then 2k will have captured of what made X-Com X-Com, and not what made X-Com and turn-based strategy game.

Derek Quenneville
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I'll certainly try the game before judging, but I can't help but feel like it's a waste of the X-Com IP.

In a way, both outcomes are losing scenarios. In case of Shadowrun, it was a miserable failure that tainted the IP for god knows how long. Who would ever greenlight an RPG of it now? And if this X-Com is successful, the publisher won't want to take a chance on a non-FPS!