Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Julian Gollop on XCOM: I would've gone with Turn-Based

Discussion in 'TCancer News & Content Comments' started by Jason, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. Jason chasing a bee

    Jason
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    <strong>[ Interview ]</strong>

    There's an <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/5987/putting_the_xcom_in_xcom.php" target="_blank">interview on Gamasutra</a> with XCOM creative director Jonathan Pelling that goes over the now familiar talking points about how XCOM is actually staying true to the "core tenets" of X-COM.
    <blockquote>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.
    </blockquote>On a more interesting and less sphincter-tightening note is what <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/5987/putting_the_xcom_in_xcom.php#comment60946" target="_blank">Julian Gollop said</a> in the comments section:
    <blockquote>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. </blockquote>Yes, I know Dreamland Chronicles might've sucked (multi-platform development is dangerous business), but it still <a href="http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/ufoaftermath/news.html?sid=2625035&mode=previews&page=1" target="_blank">sounds glorious</a> compared to what we've been stuck with.<p>Spotted @ <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/">Gamasutra</a></p>
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  2. Ryuken Liturgist

    Ryuken
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    What he comments later on is pretty disheartening stuff as well:

    I'd be curious how much chance he would have if he would start knocking on Stardock's door or the door of Russian publishers. Those are the only ones who'd still want to make a proper turnbased game on PC.
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  3. Admiral jimbob nope Patron

    Admiral jimbob
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    They keep going on and on about how they want to capture the whole suspense/fear of the unknown aspect of X-Com, that that's what they're focusing on. I know it's probably just hype because they realise it's the only thing they could possibly plausibly spin to the fanbase as being true to the original, but if by some miracle they do manage to replicate that in a console shooter about shotgunning blobs in suburbia, I'll be pretty interested.
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  4. Norfleet Magister

    Norfleet
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    No shooter will ever capture the suspense of X-Com, because, frankly, after fighting mecha-Nazis and the ancient undead, going to Hell and back, and defeating the xenomorphs, nothing fazes you anymore. Because shooters are all the same damn game, and when it's a port of popamole console crap, it's going to be dead easy because compared to a consoletard, even a mediocre PC gamer is a headshot god.
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  5. MetalCraze Arcane

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    Everything but the same copy-pasted console shooters is niche today.
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  6. Admiral jimbob nope Patron

    Admiral jimbob
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    Pretty much. In every "scary" shooter I've played, it's only suspenseful up until the point where I remind myself that I'm in total control of my character, loaded with firepower and able to survive any encounter as long as I'm skilled enough. It more or less kills any suspense the game had to offer. Take Doom 3, for example; the atmosphere in that got fucking tired after an hour or two anyway, but after a couple of rooms, I just reminded myself that I was the fucking Doomguy. The guy who launched a volley of rockets at John Romero's severed demon-king head.

    The only successfully suspenseful FPS I've played was System Shock 2 (and Thief, if that even counts), and I have slight doubts that this will match the quality of that one.
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  7. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    Julian Gollop is one of my favourite developers, together with Chris Taylor and Tim Cain.
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  8. The Brazilian Slaughter Arcane

    The Brazilian Slaughter
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    That's what I thought.

    Until I played X-Com. Pretty much everything in X-Com is a dangerous killing machine, specially those goddamn Ethereals.
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  9. BethesdaLove Arbiter

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    Frankly, I found XCOM to be interesting only in the first third of a game. If you had no armor and it was dark. Thats it. Rest of the game is overrated.

    Devils advocate.

    Lets start with the psychological aspect that MCDUMBFACE raised. And take for simplicitys sake a non interactive medium: film. Suspenseful it only is if you let it. Since at any moment you can realize that its not real and an evolution induced (you are a social animal -> empathy and so on) trick. You assume the circumstances in the picture to be real and place yourself onto the frames on the screen even if they have no character in it. You start to sympathize with the figures and let the movie "touch" you. In a horror/suspense movie the feeling you experience is "fear" or a part of it like tension or suspense.

    Of course there is the important problem of implementation. If the film breaks your ridiculous-o-meter or the characters are shit in your opinion or the protagonist to be slaughtered by Jason is a God, the empathy crumbles and you dont care. The third case is important here because game characters are Gods among men. They are not what the vulnerable movie-goer meatbag is. But here we have our cue - "vulnerable".
    Now lets take a look at an interactive medium like a game. How do you achieve empathy in an fps? Easy. Take the cue. Create the typical atmosphere. Done. Example? Penumbra.

    So in conclusion there is no logical contradiction in fps <-> suspense. Its a question of implementation like so very often.

    Ps: Sadly, good implemented suspense will still break apart after 2-3 hours. Your brain will adapt and get tired of it like mine did after the first few missions in XCOM or when I started bashing them zombie dogs in Penumbra, which I was afraid of at first.

    Now the implementation. Can it actually be done in good way in an action FPS? Imo, yes. Lets assume FPS and the "art" from XCOM, ie 90s hardware, area 51 in the news, x-files, same weapons, greys, same audio.

    Now let the strategic element stay as it in XCOM but change the tactical battles into FPS. You take with you up to X (how many your system can handle) blokes. You have the view of the highest ranked or the one with the most leadership. You have a HUD similar to the one XCOM lore, you have radio to HQ, minimap, squaddies. You can arm your squad and give orders similar to Road to Hill Something (shitty game) and the AI will find cover there or it will explore on its own in the direction you send it. Cover is sticky but the whole map mesh has values of cover with affect enemy "accuracy", direction of course plays a role too. But so it wont become popamole enemy accuracy is based on a probability to hit dependent on the time you stay in cover, cover, enemy stats, weather, enemy weapon. It approaches one. So if your enemy knows your are behind that concrete wall in a 5 m radius and you pop up after sitting there a 10 min, he will hit you with a 99% accuracy or his mates grenade you or flank you. This forces you to move or take action. Your accuracy on the other hand is player skill based but with stat, weapon influence. Kinda like Bloodlines with Firearms. Soldiers take damage like in XCOM but with limbs added. Heavy plasma to the stomach? Barn painted with guts. Sticking your weapon around a corner and hit with a plasma pistol? Arm gone like in Soldiers of Fortune. You die, you move to the highest ranked dude or the one with the highest leadership.

    Rpg elements. Everything has weight. Make it a military simulation. Add original XCOM stats. Implement properly.

    Enemy AI, the crux of the game. Defensive (hiding, poping behind cover) enemy AI if outnumbered by XCOM or really aggressive if outnumbering them to overrun those puny humans.. Plus a random element for the player not to get bored or find a pattern. Like sometimes a single alien will berserker rage and run at you shooting.
    Once in a whole game the AI will cheat and put some aliens behind your back for you to experience an ambush.

    Ironman. No saving in missions! Some of your bros died? Its war, baby.

    Example:
    Imagine a night mission with in a Gothic 3 (havent played it, seen fancy pr screenshots) style woods with sight range of 20 m, meaning pitch black, and plasma fire moving not fast enough to be invisible but fast enough for you being hopeless after noticing it incoming. Add dynamic lighting reflecting plasma glow of trees. And fire like in Far Cry 2 (i havent played it, only seen pr propaganda)
    and destruction like in Crysis and mesh deformation as in some shooter I have seen a trailer of. Now image someone is shooting from the side at you! HQ screaming about contact. Mates screaming into radio with lost legs. You trying to find cover and the enemy!

    Give me 1 billion dollars and I deliver you a worthy XCOM FPS.

    edit

    Jesus Christ, that the longest text I have written since school...
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  10. Tails Arbiter

    Tails
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    I wonder how many of people who claim that played X-COM games in Ironman mode, without re-loading during tactical part.
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  11. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    I wonder how many of people who claim that played X-COM games in Ironman mode, without re-loading when something went wrong.
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  12. BethesdaLove Arbiter

    BethesdaLove
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    I ironmaned TFTD with my Orgasm alt in the Playground.
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  13. Tails Arbiter

    Tails
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    EU>TFTD, especially if goes about AI, which seems to have problems with TFTD terrains. Also Ship missions, which get tiresome and boring after few runs, not to mention they have same layout every time.
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  14. BethesdaLove Arbiter

    BethesdaLove
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    You are not trying to make a point, are you? The original statement still stands, e.g. psychological adaption.
    I ironmaned EU on Superhuman once too (and thats metagaming!). It doesn't change anything I said.
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  15. Zomg Arbiter

    Zomg
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    Comrade Gollop need only give the word and we will rise and kill the kulaks
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  16. Jason chasing a bee

    Jason
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    So that's what he's been doing at Ubisoft Sofia. Not very reassuring, but on the other hand, I actually enjoyed the GBA title.
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  17. Norfleet Magister

    Norfleet
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    Yeaaaah. You want me to trust the AI teammates in a shooter? Surely you jest. I bring my own ass, armed to the teeth. Everyone else is just there to pass me more ammo. I took out an entire Nazi dungeon armed with only a knife. I am Death Incarnate. This is gonna be a cakewalk. Even the toughest aliens in X-Com are nothing compared to taking down Huge Guards and Heinrich with only a knife. Do you have bigass chainguns instead of arms? Can you fire homing ghost projectiles? Have a whirly shield thing? No problem. I HAVE A KNIFE! I am Death Incarnate!
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  18. BethesdaLove Arbiter

    BethesdaLove
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    Shit, you could even have reaction fire in FPS and melee weapons.
    High stat in reaction increases probability of bullet time triger if an enemy suddenly appears in close combat range. BAM.
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  19. GarfunkeL Racism Expert

    GarfunkeL
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    This is why we cannot have nice things anymore:

    :x :x :x :x :x :x
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  20. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    Good fucking God. How I hate reading shit like this. It's like taking a look at a completely alien, incomprehensible mind, like some kind of an inhuman alien insect. It's sickening.
    *1 sanity point lost*
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  21. Tails Arbiter

    Tails
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    Nice finding, GarfunkeL...

    I did in fact :smug:

    Well your opinion was full of words that I don't where to start! anyway I guess that you claim that X-Com is overrated when you get Psi-Amp etc. which is granted, since it makes game easy as hell. Otherwise I can just say: no. But everything depends from taste ATM :)
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  22. Ed123 Arcane Patron

    Ed123
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    Serpent in the Staglands Wasteland 2
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  23. Azrael the cat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Azrael the cat
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    I think you're pulling a long straw if you're falling upon SUSPENSE to explain why you like turn based strategy. The strengths of TB are the ability to calmly plan out and execute a strategy without being hamstrung by reflexes or, for that matter, adrenaline. I remember even as a kid, first getting into TBS (and crpgs, for that matter) because they WEREN'T so fucking adrenaline-filled as the platformers and arcade games of the 80s. Any 'suspense' factor was merely due to my being new to computer games and hence being more easily immersed.

    I'm not sure if computer games have ever done 'suspense' well. I agree with the guy earlier who said that suspense usually dies out after a few hours - I'd go further and point out in film that even the best suspense films dole out suspense in short bursts that make up maybe 2-5% of the screen time. Any more and it would fall apart. Similarly, I think that games can have successfully suspenseful chapters, or moments when a new type of enemy has just appeared and you haven't got a psychological handle on it yet, or plot-driven suspense. But games are meant to last 10+ hours, and strategy games are meant to be repeatable time and time again. If you're relying on suspense to be in any way an important part of what makes the game work, it's going to suck as a strategy game - because even executed well, it isn't going to be there for most of the playing experience.

    In any event, there's no reason why 'suspense' can't be delivered as well in real-time or first-person or non-tactical gameplay. X-com, and TB strategy in general, is distinct because of....the strategy. That's why we didn't call them turn based suspense gaming.
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  24. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    Enemy turn, reaction shots, uncertain results of actions. IIRC also, the screen centered on dying soldiers, while in RT such things often don't attract attention.

    Most of such games would be too "difficult"/"boring" for the next-gen crowd.
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  25. zeitgeist Arbiter

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    Tactical turn-based console RPGs are a very viable niche genre in Japan and they do pretty well in the rest of the world when they get ported. I'm sure there would be a more than large enough market for a real XCOM not only on the PC but on the consoles and handhelds as well.

    Most of the XCOM clones (sadly including Gollop's own games) failed to achieve similar popularity not because there was no market for them, but because they were really bad and uninspired games, not to mention the complete lack of advertising.
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