Firaxis has been teasing us with news about their new re-envisioning of X-Com for quite some time now. Last week I wrote about an interview that lead designer, Jake Solomon, had with PC Gamer, but it was short and it didn’t give away much. Well now there is another interview, which is way more in-depth, with Venture Beat, as well as a developer diary which shows off some gameplay. So far the more I hear about X-Com: Enemy Unknown, the better it sounds, which is more than I can say for the *ahem* “other” X-Com.
Before you sit down and read the full interview about the new X-Com, you should really take a look at an interview Edge did with original X-Com: UFO Defense creator Julian Gollop. In it, he is asked what he hopes to see in the new version, which he is not a part of, and how he feels about some of the changes they have made so far. To be honest, he doesn’t seem too psyched about it. When asked about the change to a 3D camera in lieu of a fixed, isometric one, Gollop says, “It makes people feel disorientated – they feel confused about where things are and where they need to go – then yes, it’s a big problem.” When pressed about the addition of a minimap to help orient players he says, “Yeah, but that’s not going to be enough to help players, I don’t think.”
When pressed on some of the criticism Gollop made of their 3D camera system Solomon replied, “He’s absolutely right: Camera control and disorientation is a major concern in games like ours.” To mitigate camera disorientation Solomon and Firaxis have added some flexibility to the game’s combat and tactical cameras, and they are also giving players the option to rotate the camera.
Venture Beat also asked him about the usability issues brought up by his X-Com predecessor. They are apparently well aware of this issue, saying that any designer “worth anything” knows the importance of accessibility. Solomon feels that X-Com can be made “more accessible without losing depth,” and his overall goal for the game is to simply “make it for the modern day.”
The rest of the interview gives some insight into the other types of decisions they made when updating X-Com for the 21st century. It is clear that Firaxis has really been trying to refine the gameplay into something more, without losing core fans. It’s a relief to know that they are discussing these issues, in-house, in exhaustive detail. It doesn’t seem like they want to simply please the fans, it seems as if they are simply fans themselves.
Below is a developer diary, the first in a series, which shows in-game footage of not only the combat system, but also the base building and geoscape system as well. Enjoy.