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Putting the XCOM in XCOM

August 13, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

When you speak of "core tenets", is that what you're referring to, those principles?

JP: Yeah. You know -- it's what makes XCOM XCOM. It's more of an emotional state. When you're playing the game, this is how I'm feeling, and that's the most important thing that we're trying to capture with this game. It's not so much the nitty-gritty mechanics, but translating that into something that still feels the same to play, that still achieves the same feelings in players that [the games] used to, but now in a much more modern way.

Were you a fan of XCOM games prior to the development of this game?

JP: Yeah, I played the original when I was a teenager, when it first came out. I spent a long time in that game, and I loved it to death. And I played every sequel in the series as well. So it's really exciting for me to be able to actually participate in that legacy now.

With the split between the shooter elements and the strategic elements, what's the interplay like between those? How much is up to the player in terms of guiding the flow of the game?

JP: Allowing the player to choose is one of our main pillars of this game. Obviously XCOM has always had that strategic element, and this iteration of the game is no different. You have your base, and it's where you're going to make strategic decisions. You have resources which you need to manage, and opportunities will come and go on the map over time.

And you'll be able to make a decision about "What is the best thing that I could be doing right now to conduct my investigation, to keep my organization running, to keep the funding going, to maintain the flow of research and alien materials that I need, to ultimately defeat this threat?" So we're never going to force you to take a certain course of action or force you to play this mission now. It's very much in your hands as to how you're going to approach the situation.

Total War is another series that's framed in a large-scale strategic element. The implications and actual results of your strategic decisions are played out as real-time strategy. In that game it's RTS and in your game it's FPS. Does that analogy apply here?

JP: Yeah, I think that's more or less right. Obviously, as an FPS, we're doing a lot to just keep you in the shoes of the person on the ground. So we have that strategic framework, but you're going to experience it through the eyes of the protagonist as well. So you go into your base and you walk around and you make the decisions as that character -- we don't pull you back to a top down view or an abstract view.

But yes, the game has this flow, it takes place in these two phases -- you go to the base, you make your strategic choices, then you go out into the field and you enact those choices. So you might decide that you want to harvest some elerium, which powers your research and powers your alien technology.

You make that decision at the map in the base, but then you actually have to go and follow through -- you have to go out into the field, and there might be other opportunities and distractions and other things that come up while you're out there, but ultimately, it's up to you.

Like when you're out there -- "Do I push forward and try and get that elerium, that strategic decision that I made?" -- or is something else becoming more important? And then if you don't get that elerium, or you do something else, there might be consequences. Maybe elerium was critical to keep your research going; now you won't be able to afford that upgrade that you wanted, but you've made ground in some other area.

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