What would have to happen for someone to make a real X-COM successor?

As a PCG editor, I know something about games in development and plenty about finished games, but I know very little about the process of getting one off the ground. I’m particularly curious about why no one has had the [brains? balls? initiative? gumption? pixie dust? hookers and blow?] to make either an X-COM 2 (TFTD was a glorified expansion, and I choose to pretend none of the other games bearing the name ever happened) or a decent clone by a name of their choosing. You know, one that the fans don’t have to finish for them.

I know it all comes down to dollars and cents, but are publishers really so frightened of losing money on a remake of a game that shows up prominently on the top 10 games of all time list (if not THE top game) of pretty much any PC game critic who actually played it? I can’t believe that confidence in turn-based games is so low when the Civilization franchise is still going strong, Heroes of Might & Magic V did well enough for an expansion, and you still see upstarts like GalCiv doing well for themselves.

I may be wrong about this part, and if so please fill me in, but wouldn’t a game like X-COM be relatively cheap to produce, even after a respectable level of polish, if you just licensed a half decent engine? There would be a lot of art to do, I suppose, but if you stick to the original design concept of randomly generated maps, you get a ton of replayability out of relatively little. And if you went with an anime-inspired art style, maybe even cel shaded (kind of an homage to the original game’s opening cinematic) you could get around a lot of the expensive and time-consuming process of making things look realistic.

Seems to me like the worst thing that happens is, if it bombs in the US, they localize it to some Eastern European languages and make their money back in the Czech Republic. They can’t seem to get enough X-COM clones over there, yet can’t MAKE a good one to save their lives. In the meantime, they get a sure-thing critical darling that would certainly have an instant modding community spring up around it, as demonstrated by UFO:ET.

So what am I missing here? What’s stopping this from happening?

Back in my Cyberlore days I kept pushing to try to do this. Unfortunately, the common wisdom at the time was “turn-based strategy doesn’t sell.”

The only possible reason is that game companies hate gamers.

Probably a bit of truth there in comparison to some other genres, but some TB games do sell, and some, like Civ, sell very well.

Infogrames/Atari kept trying to leverage the X-COM IP, so they clearly saw value in it. Everything they did was a bit clumsy, though.

Don’t we already “know” (it seems all we’re lacking is an official confirmation and the first screenshots) that Irrational is working on the new X-Com?

Does it seem fucked up that as successful as Xcom was it really did not spawn ANY successful clones in the severely underrepresented on the PC, ‘Strategy’-RPG genre?

I love those games and would kill to have more to play, especially ones where the cast was not bubbly 12 year olds with big heads, bigger eyes and tits.

in best Homer Simpson voice “Hmmmmm. Tit-Com.”

I pray that Irrational is working on it…the only thing I’m worried that they’ll pass up doing is modeling the inside of buildings on their outdoor maps (Based off of FF), but otherwise I think they’ll do a great job of representing the source material, and I have little doubt thy would make it quite fun :)

There are two problems, Dan. First was who owned the rights to Xcom. Shortly after Microprose released Xcom, it was swallowed by Spectrum Holobyte who sold out to Hasbro, who in turn sold out to Atari/Infogrames. Every time a decent Xcom game got started (Alliance and Genesis), the company was sold and the project was killed. It was at Atari for the longest time and they had no interest in doing anything with it or selling it. It wasn’t till 2005 when Atari started falling apart and was willing to sell parts of itself. Take Two got a bunch of IP from them, one of which is Xcom and in theory, they put Irrational to work on the game.

The second problem is no one seems to have got what made Xcom so good in the first place. Even the original creators seem to have missed the boat. They have put out two games in the Xcom model only to miss the target.

Does it need the name? What bothers me is that they haven’t just made a game reasonably similar, excepting the European attempts at the UFO series. Why can’t we get a decent budget for such a game?

Part of the problem is that for every Civ IV, you have Age of Wonders, Disciples, and a whole host of other games that are quite good but don’t sell well. I think the companies are actually right about this. TBS doesn’t sell as well as RTS as a rule. As hardcore gamers, we all want a new X-Com. But we aren’t the principle audience for publishers. First, we are quite picky. If it isn’t exactly what we want, we slam it completely and tell everyone not to play it. Second, as a percentage of gamers who buy games today, we don’t register very high, it seems.

I saw the Gallop brothers demo of their updated X-Com at E3 before it got killed (was that 2000), while it was mostly a techncial demo we did get to see bits and pieces of play mock ups, intended style design, and the engine they were using (stunning for the time, completely destructable enviroments and multi level designs) and they had the vision and elements nailed down flat IMO. A tragedy it got the axe…

In fair disclosure, Apocalpse promised a lof of innovative things but dropped many of them with its release…and that theme??? Japanese anime meets George Jetson??? bleh, still they got all the core feature sets right at least

Part of the problem I think is that game developers can’t risk tinkering. Everyone knows all you need is a straight up port of X-Com gameplay to a modern 3D engine and you’ll sell like hotcakes. But developers are engineers, and engineers can’t help but tinker. So we’ve had all these spiritual remakes (like that latest one that went around qt3 a few weeks back) that change minor stuff that end up totally diverging from XCom.

I’m enjoying Rebel Star on my GBA, but I would probably buy a DS if they made an X-Com-esque portable game for it.

It wouldn’t sell. People SAY they love X-COM. They SAY they’d love a remake. But it’s all nostalgia. If the formula is changed even a sliver of an iota, people will bitch. Even if it’s a strict remake with better (more high res) graphics, it won’t sell because people will bitch they didn’t improve it.

A remake of X-COM doing well is the greatest hoax perpetuated by gamers there is. It won’t sell.

UFO: Extraterrestrials proved it.

Are you sure that Disciples hasn’t sold well? I was under the impression that it did.

… and here I thought it was because the graphics were ass, the translation was terrible, and they deballed the series greatness (no permadeath? WTF?). Fans can overlook the first two, but the third is unforgivable. The masses can overlook the last one, but the first two (especially the first one) is unforgivable. If you need low polygon and low texture quality, then go with an art style that works with it, don’t try to do some bullshit that makes people’s faces look like I drew with pen on an eraser head.

Bout the size of it. Want more, buy more.

1993 all over again.

Huh? It hasn’t stores yet…though I agree with Kunikos to a degree, the the fact that the game is essentially unfinished is going to keep people that would have loved a X-Com game from risking a look. The sad thing is the mod community is really polishing this one up from its unfinished state…it might turn into a real winner in a month or two :)

I wanted to like this game as well, but once I got far enough and I realized just how many of the advertised features were not active (i.e. the third faction) I was really annoyed. and yes the graphic will turn off many gamers, isnt the point of a hotly coveted remake is to redo it using the industies current bells and whistles…not a title that would look “so so” 7 years ago. For the hardcore fans sure we might pick it up, but for the majority they are going to wait for somene to do it “right”

That rumor is a glimmer of home for the X-COM IP, but given that Irrational’s never made a turn-based game, I doubt that any game they might make (while it would almost certainly be awesome) would scratch the X-COM itch.

I know, and that’s what blows my mind: The game design is ALL THERE, ready to be copied and then expanded upon. A monkey should be able to do this!

As for the IP, Like Robert Sharp said, I don’t think that’s even required anymore. Call it Earth Defense Force or Terror from the Stars for all I care, just get the gameplay right.

Isn’t that true of every genre, though?

Apocalypse was a disaster (which sounds a little redundant). Just like Fallout: Tactics, they tried to do both turn based and real time at once and ended up doing neither very well, and when it didn’t sell they say it’s because turn-based games don’t sell. No, it’s because crap games don’t sell - great turn based games are a different story.

I think there IS room for tinkering, though. It just has to be tinkering with things that need improving, not radically changing gameplay just to change it. They should stand on the shoulders of giants, not replace their hips.

There are a (very) few things that UFO:ET did well - for example, I liked how they made the scientists and engineers attached to the labs and workshops. It streamlined things a bit. Also, I liked how they messed around with the fighter vs UFO combat - not perfect by any means, but it was different from X-COM without being objectionable.

I’d buy it, and I’d give it a great review. So would everyone who put X-COM on their top 10 games of all time list. There’s a ton of free advertising for you right there - you’d think that’d move a few copies.

Oh, and I’d be willing to bet that UFO:ET has sold better than most games Matrix has sold online. And, as [edit]davef[/edit] said, it’s not in stores yet AND the presentation blows. You may not need super-awesome graphics, but shit graphics are going to sink you.