Does Firaxis really "get" X-Com?

Title Does Firaxis really "get" X-Com?
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Games
When October 9, 2012

I can maybe learn to live with the missing hyphen in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the latter day update of X-Com. Especially since developer Firaxis seems to have simultaneously nailed and updated what made X-Com great..

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Yeah! Give 'em a taste of their own medicine!

The movie comparison is a good one. I wish I had come up with that. Games aren't made with the same conventions they had in the 1990s, any more than movies are made like The Conversation. Doesn't make one generation better than the other, but it's more widely accepted in film than it is in games. Probably because video gaming is such a young medium compared to film.

Anyway, good point, just thought I'd post to say that.

Just because it's missing a UFOpedia doesn't mean they don't get X-Com. They clearly do because this game is incredible and definitely worthy of the X-Com name. As you have said they nailed it so I don't think they should be criticized so harshly for such minor things.

nah. movies in the 70s were massively better than they are today. it's not even close.

A sense of humor would greatly enhance your reading comprehension.

Yeah. That'll teach'em! Or sumtin'!

Regarding the removal of the hyphen, I'm presuming this is to emulate the naming structure of the Combatant Commands used by the US?

Maybe if English was your third language too you would make mistakes just as well. So instead of being an internet tough guy who insults people because he feels irrelevant in actual life you can be nice instead of a dick.

I miss my config.sys and qemm386 days to get X-COM to work. But I think XCOM is looking to be a game that has the spirit of the original with today's production values. I hope so.

The 70s movies is an apt comparison. In his 3MA interview, Jake Solomon said something very revealing: He said X-Com was a game of high peaks, but also of low valleys. And XCOM has tried to fill in most of those valleys--the tediousness of maneuvering a dozen units, the cheap shots that killed your guys, managing multiple bases...

That all makes sense, and many of those things are improvement. I happen to LIKE some of those things, too, and there are definite trade-offs. The levels (from the little I've played) feel very channeled. Not necessarily small, but directed. For instance, your Skyranger is always on the edge of the map, so that eliminates many of the directions you can go. And speaking of the Skyranger, I miss unloading from the ship--it was like an opening gambit in Chess, posting your guys up around nearby cover and the landing gears.

A big one is that levels are no longer procedural. Procedural levels are always a kind of gamble for a game designer: they will never be as crisp and tight as a designed level, but besides the benefit of "infinite" content, there is a knowingness on the part of the player that he's not being manipulated by a level designer to quite the extent he is with more crafted content (in fact, he's often being manipulated by code, but whatever). In XCOM right now, I'm struck that the distance between cover seems very often one step further than I can go without dashing. (I don't know, maybe that changes as soldiers level up.) The way aliens are obviously scripted to spawn in when your units get to certain locations also adds to the more contrived feel.

A big thing that I think is sacrificed in leveling out those valleys is that sink-or-swim feel of the original. Open, procedural levels make you feel less like you're combating the designer and more like you're combating nature itself, even if its an artificial nature. It's the same in rogue-likes and games like FTL. It was true of X-Com, too.

You shouldn't (slap!) torture (wham) people, its not (thud) nice.

/basically it helps your argument if you don't do the same thing you are condemning someone else of.

A sense of humour would greatly enhance your comprehension of Mike's post.

"great movies today"

What ?

Damn, next thing you know they'll release an Ultima game I can play without fear of missing enough conventional memory to play with sound.


I suppose I can buy your movie metaphor, Tom, but as much as I loved the old X-Com on my 13" monitor (or whatever), I have tried to go back and play it within the last three years or so, and I just can't do it. I'm only a few hours into XCOM, and it seems about as fine as a modern update as I could have expected. I do miss the dark (DARK!) tactical battles a little, but overall I am giddy as I play.

It does change when they level up, and the levels *are* procedural. They're made up of reused chunks, so you'll see maybe the same building, or bit of terrain, but they're put together differently.

Someone was being a dick in that exchange, and it wasn't Mike.

No it doesn't, except for the support class who can get a perk that increases movement range by 3. Also the levels are *not* procedural unless you can't randomized enemy placement. According to the developers there are between 80 and 100 unique maps.