IMPORTANT! THAT '94 X-Com feel we're hungry for!

#1

This topic is so crucial to understand for any successor of the original ’94 X-Com so it can become successful, that I’ve decided to put it in a new topic instead of commenting on an existing similar thread. I’ve taken the liberty to do this because I believe it’s THAT important, to bring this idea to the forefront of our attention again, and because of the tremendous amount of research I’ve done on it. I intend this to be the definitive guide on the secret sauce that’s made the original X-Com absolutely epic.

I’m presenting you a collection of fantastic insights on this topic here, based on countless enthusiastic players’ and game developers’ feedback and a ton of research I’ve done. To give these points the needed “oomph”, I’ll first show you quotes and detailed descriptions of players’ experiences about them along with gameplay footage if available, before giving you a full compiled list, so the individual list items won’t be filtered through your analytical mind and instead will be enriched with the wholesome experience they represent. Anything in quotes is feedback from someone other than me. In order of importance I think these are:

“What made the game great is how well it built tension. It was the John Carpenter of video games. The music plodded along to a rhythm like a heart beat, with accents of terror. Nothing, nothing, nothing, and suddenly BAM something happens. The game play did the same thing: walkwalkwalk, walkwalkwalk, walkwalkwalk…nothing. Walkwalkwalk, walkwalkwalk, LASER SHOT! Even the limited tech helped build tension. An alien shoots from a distance. You tense up, and you have to wait as the shot travels from screen, to screen, to screen before you find out if you get hit. Always wondering what’s around the next corner. And the mission-based game play was addictive. What? Time to go to bed? Just let me start the next mission. Just one more mission.”

NOTE: you only have to watch a few seconds of each linked video at the time stamp that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. Otherwise you’ll never finish reading this post :wink:

“Even with a low rez, when an alien materializes out of the fog, that is some creepy shit! Like that is stuff that absolutely is, even at the resolution it’s at, it’s still, playing it now, it freaks me out” - https://youtu.be/JpvQGHCFKpQ?t=295

I personally think this lighting and fog of war system was the top 3 reason why the atmosphere was so horrifying and the game was so addicting and this has to be reproduced as close to the original as possible. This made the original game a survival horror game and the complex simulation came in as the second most important part.

“The sense of dread that those original games captured. The permadeath is a big part of that because your guys are at risk at all times so of course that’s gonna be a dreadful moment. But the fog of war, barely seeing the aliens, and trying to get that sense of – you know, I love survival horror games and – but trying to get that sense of horror and a little bit of fear factor in a turn based tactical game to me was awesome that they pulled that off.” Watch corresponding gameplay footage to know exactly what they mean: https://youtu.be/JpvQGHCFKpQ?t=355

“You have these cabbages and orchards, and like you would have this fog of war and you would just see them. You have the beautiful, like tangerine dream type scary ambient music. And then at the edge of the fog you have those glinting eyes. And you just see that little red box down the corner and you just know… you just know you’ve moved past your limit and now you’re going to get shot.”

“Just the sound of that music affects people”

“That Hidden Movement screen was horrific. You just wished for the alien turn to be over with and hopefully nobody in your team died.”

Another, less scary, but good example footage of the lighting system, with a small grey hiding in a poorly lit area in partial cover, and getting lit up more as your soldiers approach it: https://youtu.be/JpvQGHCFKpQ?t=150 It’s still in the shadows and when they are in truly poorly lit areas, it looks horrifying. And then your little lanterns of hope, your soldiers, are getting picked off one by one, and the whole area goes back into complete darkness and the Unknown – That Unknown is the secret sauce on all levels, including the alien’s agenda and their capabilities!

The “unknown” and the game’s unpredictability – where are the aliens hiding this time and what types are they? Will this shot they’ve just fired and that will be traveling through 3 screens painfully slowly, hit me? – were the secret sauce.

“It’s all about a mystery and it merges well with random map generation, wacky ballistics, smart AI and the complex interface” – meaning the complex interface was mysterious on its own and we had to discover what possibilities it was hiding!

In all sequels this has to be reinvented and it has to be shockingly new and go against what we already “know” about what an alien invasion is “supposed” to be like, while it remains extremely spooky and sinister. To me, the Firaxis Xcom didn’t achieve that. Maybe if it’s a genuinely new, realistic horror experience, along the lines of the best horror movies would work wonderfully well. The Strange Things VR horror demonic/alien invasion of the Earth is the exact thing that I’d love to see in an Xcom successor pushed to the degree that it achieves maximum scariness without becoming way too scary, repulsive or stomach-churning.

Watch it here:

“X-Com, the original game, has a soul. Like that original game has a real soul to it. You have those experiences that just really, really affect you. And they do that with so little tools, it transcends the tech.”


”Just that feeling…like people would be screaming, people would be yelling and people would be calling people over BECAUSE OF THOSE MOMENTS that were just, aahhh… it is amazing what the original game was able to achieve with destructible environments. It created combat that was ALWAYS different. You get these CRAZY experiences where you shoot through the windows of two houses across the map to hit the guy and those are the sorts of things that people are just really, really attached to.”

Back to the previous video, also notice how the personal lights around your dying soldier go out and you lose the illumination around the scene of his murder - https://youtu.be/JpvQGHCFKpQ?t=380

This adds to the fear factor tremendously and it was a hallmark of the original game. In the sequels the darkness, lighting and fog of war are not implemented so perfectly and you don’t have that sense of dread and of Being Hunted vs. being kind of the hunter. https://youtu.be/JpvQGHCFKpQ?t=119

You were the underdog with disposable soldiers. It was an uphill battle, turning the tide against the aliens.

“Imagine a group of hostile aliens that have crash landed near a farm. You see a big transport ship about to land. What do you do? A) Do you spread around the map in small groups that can be picked off like some kind of random MMO mob, or B) Ambush the primates at their landing spot and if that fails, run around the map hiding and picking them off from the SHADOWS? Which one of those best sounds like out of an alien horror film?” “…the one that comes with a motion sensor that makes you feel like Ripley trying to track down an Alien Xenomorph”

“This is why X-Com has atmosphere. It wasn’t enough that the music was foreboding, the fog of war revealed itself slowly and otherwise hid EVERYTHING. It’s both of these and the fact that you were NEVER SAFE. You never knew what could sneak up right behind you during an enemy turn or just kill your entire squad outright from the second floor window of a farm house. You were BEING HUNTED. C-Com instilled a sense of dread through its mechanics that the other (2012) one failed to reach through its many cinematics.”

“When you exit the Skyranger you first throw out a smoke grenade, and prime some smoke and frag grenades. Exit the Skyranger without a smokescreen, lose the first four guys.” – this is some of what actually being the prey forced you to do and it’s missing from the sequels. Sometimes you had to scurry back to the Skyranger upon spotting mutons and ethereals in the first months, or just watch powerlessly as your entire squad was killed. Or when you spotted a chrysallid for the first time from the Skyranger, fired a rocket at it and it was still standing, you said screw that and aborted the mission right away.

What made the game thrilling was that with no predecessor to the original Xcom, we had no idea what kinds of enemies we’d be facing next and what their capabilities and intentions were. As the name suggested, it was UFO: Enemy UNKNOWN. Terror from the deep could still do well, unlike most of the other Xcom games that followed, because it kept the proven horror survival experience and complexity and the enemies and the environment were radically different and completely out of the box, while keeping the old mechanics, atmosphere (music, pitch black areas due to line of sight simulation and scary enemy sounds) and graphics 100% the same. Phoenix Point manages to capture some of these basics in a similar way (destructible environment, TU system, similar, but not pitch black line of sight darkness, can’t comment on the music, the uncertainty and the terrifying sounds between rounds yet). I’d strongly suggest that a very strong focus is to be put on recreating what really the magic was in the original Xcom.

The 320x200 resolution didn’t allow for realistic graphics, and those who have played the game after 2000 could easily think that they looked childish and unrealistic. But to me, to whom these graphics were revolutionary, the intro created a frame for what the enemies should look like in higher definition and what the X-Com universe looks like. (BTW, our soldiers in the video seemed to be wearing superhero costumes, the implications of which were imprinted on the viewer’s unconscious subliminally too.) Like in a tabletop RPG, my imagination filled in the gaps and everything looked hyper-realistic to me. I guess to today’s players, the graphics and physics have to look like those of Crysis or Battlefield 1, where things are objectively realistic, trees snap at the point you’ve shot them and you can deform the ground with a grenade. But in reality, the original game felt very realistic due to our imagination projecting the illusion of reality on the pixels on the screen, and so in a remake a similar kind of realism (and horror, fog of war and lighting) should be achieved, not cartoonish aesthetics to capture what the original was really about beyond our superficial perceptions.

Major, major factors in why the original game sucked people in effortlessly were the following as well.

There was an alien called the Chrysallid in the original that was straight out of the movie Alien. It was a standing humanoid with a shiny, black carapace and it behaved exactly like the Alien of Giger. The Alien had seeped into our collective consciousness by then and seeing its twin appear in the game, however pixellated it was, evoked all the associated terror and primal fears that the movie unleashed on us. The first Alien movie only having been released just about a decade before, it was still producing a fresh, visceral response unconsciously.

Julian Gollop said, the game had to be something based on Earth so that people could relate to it emotionally. So some of the psychologically impactful elements were part of their plans consciously, but the rest of the psychological heavy hitters I guess were put in there unconsciously.

The game’s idea was based on Jerry Anderson’s UFO TV series which was being aired at the time as well as the X-Files from 1993. Julian also took some red pills by reading Bob Lazar’s testimony on working at Area 51 and reverse-engineering alien tech, abductions and cattle mutilations and included parts of those stories in the game. Star Wars, the Marvel universe, Doom, X-Com, Total Recall and countless other movies all could credit most of their success to drawing from and sometimes referencing truths hidden from humanity that only surface through whistleblowers, members of hidden shadow government and secret military projects, the psychopathic dark occultist elite, as well as the secret space project. Carl Jung’s teachings about the collective unconscious tells us that we’ll find movies that show us a hidden truth more fascinating, because on an unconscious level we can sense their truth and relevance.

Riding current events, like those TV shows, was essential for X-Com’s success because the collective psyche of humanity was already fully charged with fears and curiosity around the UFO topic. Not so much today, because Hollywood and countless whistleblowers with the highest military ranks have been pouring out tons of information about what NASA has been hiding from us, and we’ve become desensitized to the ET topic since then. So Phoenix point should draw from current events, like the PC culture and SJWs, for example, and somehow make them part of a sinister extraterrestrial agenda that wants to dominate humankind culturally and weaken and eliminate those critical thinkers and action takers in it who could resist them, for example, to make it more emotionally relatable and impactful to today’s gamers.

Then the enemies weren’t just random animals/human hybrids, like dog/human, rat/human or lion/human, for example. It had to be a snake human hybrid, because we’re genetically hardwired to fear snakes. Similarly, enemies resembling spiders, centipedes and reptiles would be the most fitting in terms of animal-based ones.

The hooded ethereals also added to the sense of the unknown the player felt with their faces hidden.

So a combination of the unknown, genetically hardwired fears and pop culture elements that had a tremendous emotional impact (fear) on us would be the ones to choose from, like the original mostly did, consciously or unconsciously. But these need to be part of a conscious plan this time, based on understanding human psychology, so it won’t fall flat on its face.

Another huge psychological one:

In the original you had many recycled names and faces (maybe 12 faces in total?) and it was very pixellated. In the modern Xcom it’s different and this is what happens:

More defined soldier characters and greater customization ->

-> More attachment to your soldiers ->

-> Trying harder to keep your “babies” alive ->

-> tedious, soul-killing SAVE SCUMMING that ->

-> The war with the aliens feels less savage and your soldiers feel less vulnerable!!!

Save Scumming:

One reason for save scumming is the fear of making mistakes. It’s a fear that’s ingrained in most humans and the original made it obvious that mistakes and the wiping of your entire squad are part and parcel of the experience and they are cheap to correct. Moreover, making these necessary and encouraged “mistakes” were needed so that you could uncover the Mystery of the alien invasion. You were heavily incentivized to keep making sacrifices/not be bothered by them.

Scripted events were my number one reason to save scum. Scripted events must be fully eliminated and an AI and fascinating gameplay mechanics like in the original, as well as a similar map randomization have to be implemented, that provide plenty of excitement and variety instead.

A big part of save scumming I believe comes from the TIME investment spent on customizing soldiers. The faster the customization can be done and the less complex it is, the more this can be eliminated. To some ways to fix this: add fewer soldier faces, little or no customization other than the ability to rename them and plug your ears and sing LALALA when players are asking for new colors, fancy armor, new skins, pink ties and sunglasses, magic weapons, a crafting system, or any other distractions from what made the original legendary psychologically.

Freedom vs. scripted, forced progression:

The original had organic progression. The story evolved by time and research through your own actions. You had the freedom ta make it your own, to build a base on the globe near your home home town IRL. There was no time limit in the original one, and why would have been, when it was a simulation, not an “arcadey” strategy game.

The original had more randomization (on the battlefield, map variety, combat experience etc. too), the modern Xcom has a much more structured story.

“It wasn’t a directed experience; it was an emergent one and it was YOURS. It didn’t push you down a path.”

“The UI of Firaxis’ version is better, but you have more freedom in the original. No class restrictions, no one or two item limit, you can build the bases anywhere on land, you can shoot UFOs down over water. One thing that I didn’t like about Firaxis’ XCOM at all was the Abduction missions forcing you to pick one of three. And the countries you didn’t choose to go to would have the ENTIRE continent rise in panic. That sucked, and really took away from the UFO raids.”

It was a sim game. The implications of this are crucial!

“It’s a complex strategy simulation, not a strategy RPG”

Selling loot, setting up a manufacturing/production line, resource management over multiple fully custom-built bases. This goes beyond the base-building mini game. The element of greed comes in to research and into dealing wit aliens and crash sites. Will I be using reliable explosives vs. profiting from more loot and casualties {that my survival might be hanging on as I’ve been overspending)?

But most importantly, this made you an ENTREPRENEUR. Your Own Boss. No single person, like the mysterious bald man in the 2012 version, was in charge of you. You had your “customers”, the countries, that you had to serve well. You were running your own business and you were in full charge, as what appeared to be the most important and highest ranking military officer on the planet. This was emphasized by your complete freedom and control and an organic, emerging story without scripted events forced down your throat, or you being babysitted. You could even decide where to build your bases and how to name them. You could feel like a true alpha badass, like the Doom Guy. It was so disappointing to me that this bald guy acted like my boss and I was just a lousy “commander”. Has any other freedom-loving player had the same feeling?

A few additional observations from me regarding gameplay:

-Absolutely frightening ET sounds (not the lame groans in Xcom EU) between turns coming from the black areas without a visual hint of where the source of the sound is to keep the player guessing and in a fearful state

-The tension, the anticipation that came with rooting for the slow-moving projectiles of enemy opportunity fire to hit our soldiers, not to hit, or else we’re screwed. We could follow their (and our) projectiles through up to 3 screens sometimes, which extended the tension to long seconds and added greatly to the sense of dread. It also felt like gambling, was addictive, like throwing dice and eagerly anticipating a hopefully preferred outcome as it unfolded in front of our eyes. This drew us into the present moment, glued our eyes to the screen with our breath withheld. You get the idea.

-The powerful enemy plasma weapons that could 1-hit kill our soldiers even while wearing basic armor

-The camera distance, shooting distances and unit sizes were perfect

-Advanced soldiers had a pretty good chance to hit an enemy even at a longer distance with an aimed shot and if it missed, the destruction in the environment even our pistols caused was immensely satisfying

-The sheer fun and OP feeling of leveling the map with detonation packs and other explosives like a badass

-Losing a lot of soldiers not being a big deal because we could immediately recruit new ones at a low cost, making experimentation and making mistakes on the battlefield a fun, instead of a stressful process

-14 maximum initial crew size vs. 4 in Xcom EU, giving the player the freedom to choose whether they wanted to throw everything at the enemy or manage just 1 to 6 people.

-The HP and damage balance between humans and aliens. Sectoids were the only enemies with a lower HP than humans and floaters and snakemen only had slightly more than an unarmored human. Their damage was superior, but their tactics were not too refined. These numbers meant both sides could lose a team member from 1 salvo even from a plasma pistol or an assault rifle, which punished mistakes mercilessly. But because of the large maximum team size we could afford to keep marking lots of mistakes and start with a clean slate in the next mission.

Summary of the secret ingredients, in order of importance with my star ratings (even a 1 star rating implies great significance)

*****The “Unknown” and unpredictability/uncertainty

*****Using unconscious emotional triggers: unknown and uncertainty (again, for emphasis), darkness, a novel unpredictable mystery, uncertainty, unpredictability, snakes, spiders, stuff of our nightmares, scary surfaced information about related things on our planet

****A survival horror feel

****Lighting and fog of war that replicates the original perfectly, providing a creepy, horror atmosphere on the battlescape

****Rewarding/encouraging the making of mistakes to kill save scumming, to help you live with your fears and losses and put you in the zone, fully immersed in the game

****Being hunted and feeling powerless and uncertain

****Never feeling safe, not even in late game

****A Novel mystery (not a familiar pattern the sequels have recycled over and over)

****ALWAYS a different, new, unexpected battlescape experience

***You were an alpha badass in full charge of your “enterprise” (emphasized by complete freedom and an organic, emerging story)

*** Complex strategy simulation

***Fun environmental destruction. For a similar game: More fun and less realistic (if it means more fun) environmental destruction (similar, slightly tweaked version of the original, maybe with slightly reduced ballistic weapon power on objects, except for HE and IN ammo)

***Very limited soldier customization, no scripted events, also to limit save scumming and increase immersion and freedom

**Sensation of being the underdog with disposable soldiers

**An uphill battle, slowly turning the tide against the aliens

**Selling alien stuff for profit and managing your economy

**Making the experience your own

*Drawing from current collective fears and events

*Organically emerging story, not scripted or forced

*Freedom and organic progression based on your actions

*Freedom to make it your own experience (build as you wish and name your bases, etc.)

*Percentages are mostly lies (the percentages were more reliable in the original than in the 2012 one I feel)

*Capture (maybe as a first time player, by finally killing your first sectoid while losing 5 soldiers, running up to its corpse, putting its pistol in your backpack and quickly retreating to your base to research it), then research and use enemy weapons against them

*Building and naming your own bases as you will

*Bases were not randomly generated, so you could actually walk through your base the way it was how you built it and the battlescape followed your base layout during an alien attack

  • AI was (definitely for the time) or appeared, sophisticated and difficult to beat.

  • Soldiers have morale and stats which heavily influence gameplay

Please leave your comments and let’s discuss how these could be implemented in Phoenix Point!

1 Like

#2

I would love to see that, but with rendering 3D objects I suppose it is not achievable. Dimming sprites or static pixels was quite easy maneuver. :wink:

Isn’t that part of lore where secret project is leaked to the public and laughed about in TV similar to today’s media? Almost everybody now want to find something to drag into public space and criticize it in the name of “higher” standards, some-equality, some-phobia etc. etc.often being hypocrite at the same time?

Believe me there were some players who used saves in original game to “save” :wink: as many soldiers as possible. I suppose that Phoenix Point mechanic of virus and mutation will be better. Because you won’t know immediate consequences of the fight. Which of your soldiers were infected? What will happen to them? Will they loose control before you would be able to react? There will be psychology of each soldier. Will some of them get some panic trait because some other soldier just mutated in your base? That will be interesting. :wink:

I support that conclusion. :slight_smile:

And I don’t support that idea. Random start increases variety of each playthrough. I would feel thrill not knowing where I will start and what will be the surrounding area. Manually selected starting position probably would lead to 2 or maybe maximum 5 different starting points for each player no matter how many times he would press that “New Game” button.

And I have ambivalent feelings about that. Having endless sandbox is nice, but I think that there should be some point in time where the pandoravirus should conquer whole Earth. This would add more tension if the end would be inevitable. Without proper solution from human side such enemy should eradicate everything on our planet eventually, just like alien invasion in all X-COM games should definitely wipe out humanity in no time. I really wonder what will be those different endings proposed by developers.

Here I suppose we will see single havens fall one by one. Not the whole counties collected in the council. :slight_smile:

Unfortunately it won’t be like that in PP. There won’t be such complex economy.

Base building like in original would be nice, but being honest, for me constructing whole building in few days or even a month is immersion breaking, especially if it will be in underground / cave like base. :wink: I hope that we will be just having some predefined spaces in each base (random of course, but generated just right after clicking “New Game”) to accomodate list of few facilities. Like:

  • Base A can have up to 3 laboratories, 2 workshops, 4 living quarters, radar, 2 landing zones and 3 storage spaces.
  • Base B can have 1 lab, 4 workshops, 2 living quarters, radar + some specific transmitter / receiver, 3 landing zones, 2 storage spaces and alien cotainment chamber
  • Base C can have 4 labs, 1 workshop, 3 living quarters, radar, 1 landing zone, 1 storage space, 3 alien contamination chambers with different sizes.

And nothing above that. So you won’t be able to build 5th living quarter in Base A because underground space and infrastructure doesn’t allow that. And some of those building will be mutually exclusive taking similar spots in base grid.

That was cool in original game. :wink:

I hope it won’t be like that. I’m getting too old to wait for 100 shots made by aliens and watch how single bullets fly through the air.

They won’t have plasma, but bosses still can 1-hit and kill soldiers even in heavy armour. :wink: Maybe things like Siren or Juggernaut will be able to do something similar when you won’t pay enough attention.

I suppose it will be something between old X-COM and new XCOM. We will see what will pop out from this. I’m the kind of person which doesn’t like losses, but if they can be easily replaced like in Backers Build 3 then I’m fine with those losses.

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#3

Of course it’s easy to add dynamic shadows and line of sight in 3D:
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/tools/particles-effects/gpu-line-of-sight-field-of-view-visualization-19764 and:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64NndoSyRmk

Believe me there were some players who used saves in original game to “save” :wink: as many soldiers as possible.

There always are, just in the 2012 version it was much more prominent due to the factors I’ve mentioned.

Isn’t that part of lore where secret project is leaked to the public and laughed about in TV similar to today’s media? Almost everybody now want to find something to drag into public space and criticize it in the name of “higher” standards, some-equality, some-phobia etc. etc.often being hypocrite at the same time?

It’s a “Marxist” subversive technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gnpCqsXE8g
It’s not a coincidence or an accident unfortunately. It’s not perpetrated by the KGB by the way, but you can learn more about it in the video if you like.

Manually selected starting position probably would lead to 2 or maybe maximum 5 different starting points for each player no matter how many times he would press that “New Game” button.

That’s supposing there is the option to build multiple bases. And the point is to offer choices that can lead to different beginnings/playthroughs, which gives variety and with it, thrill to many players, including me. But we’re different :wink:

Having endless sandbox is nice, but I think that there should be some point in time where the pandoravirus should conquer whole Earth.

I must admit I haven’t played the game yet and don’t know much about the story. the game won’t even run on my system, so posting this won’t benefit me immediately, only some time in the future perhaps :slight_smile: So I can’t really comment on this, except that the original game could add overwhelming amounts of tension with its mechanics that I’ve described without a time limit. And I’d definitely prefer that a game can add suspense without the cheap, lazy trick of a time limit.

Here I suppose we will see single havens fall one by one. Not the whole counties collected in the council.

Again, unfortunately I’m not very familiar with the game and what “havens” are in it. But I did play Xcom 2012 and what killed the fun was knowing that I’d unavoidably take 2 steps back with that “1 step forward” of hopefully succeeding on the selected terror mission. The game would punish me for successfully completing a mission basically and it felt unfair and discouraging. In the original it felt like a massive victory to complete a terror mission and it gave a very much needed morale boost and sense of hope.

for me constructing whole building in few days or even a month is immersion breaking, especially if it will be in underground / cave like base

I’m not sure if building bases would even make sense in this game as I don’t know much about the lore. If there’s any chance that they’d be a good match, I’d vouch for multiple base building :slight_smile:

That was cool in original game.

Hell, yeah!

I hope it won’t be like that. I’m getting too old to wait for 100 shots made by aliens and watch how single bullets fly through the air.

To be honest, it was unrealistic and if I set the projectile speed too slow in the settings, it felt tedious instead of tension-building, so I had to find the speed setting that did the job perfectly :slight_smile:

Would you like to share what you think of the 5 and 4-star bullet points in the post and how they could be implemented in PP?

EDIT: I’ve messed up the quotes and included my answers in them too :confused: I’m not sure how to use them properly, could you give me some hints? EDIT 2: I think I’ve got it now :sunglasses:

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#4

The major problem with save scumming in FiraXcoms isn’t really customization, but a combination of strategic factors :

  • The game does not encourage you to build a broad roster. Your average player will barely have a B-Team. If he loses a guy on the A-Team, it’s recoverable. If he wipes, it’s game over. The introduction of fatigue in Long War may look like a burden to the average player, but it’s a blessing in disguise. Combined with long healing/training/modding times, it forces you to rotate a lot more soldiers (80-100 is pretty normal). In Vanilla, you don’t even have tutorial or advice to recommend you to have a backup plan
  • Losing missions is too punishing, especially in LW2. You lose the mission, you lose contact with the region and have to re-establish it. It makes sense on some crucial ops like Haven assauts/terrors, but if you fail to recover a piece of intel … not really!
  • Small starter teams. Losing a guy in an early team of 4 is 25% of your team, which often means you won’t be able to alphastrike every pod (another weakness in the gameplay, especially on XCOM2), will take more return fire and more losses. If we’re taling about XCOM2, it may even be 50% of your squad if the guy is in bleedout and you call for an evac, forcing you to carry him.
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#5

Thanks for your comment. I don’t consider save scumming (or having mechanics that help alleviate it) a top factor in the success of the original. So this discussion is kind of off topic as far as I’m concerned and I’d have appreciated your comment even more if you also commented on how the highest rated factors could be implemented in PP. Anyway;

The major problem with save scumming in FiraXcoms isn’t really customization

Agreed, I’ve mentioned a number of factors, the most important to me personally being random events on the battlescape during missions (scripted AI spawns multiple times during a mission) that felt forced, unfair, like cheating, and pretty unrealistic too. I’d resort to heavy save scumming during those scripted missions, but not much so during regular, unscripted ones.

You’ve just said the same thing I did from another perspective: the original incentivized the making of mistakes partly through its large rosters, cheap soldier replacements and larger squad size. I understand that the Long War mod aimed to recreate this mechanic from the original and in this way fights save scumming somewhat. But as I’ve mentioned there are many reasons for save scumming in the 2012 version and even more that I haven’t talked about yet.

I haven’t finished the 2012 version yet and my laptop can’t run Xcom 2. I’ve never even tried LW. So I don’t understand a word of what you just wrote :smiley:
What I can say though is that what I’ve played so far in the 2012 version, my number one reason for save scumming has been the aforementioned one by far. The game couldn’t even hook me, partly due to its scripted, “cheating” nature that makes me abuse it back, but it’s been unappealing for many other reasons too. I’m thinking of restarting the game with the LW mod, as it might provide an experience that’s closer to the original.

Ditto. Alphastrike every pod? Is this in Chinese, or Greek? :wink:

Though I don’t know what alpha striking or pods are, I’ve read something related in a comment where someone wrote that you could game the system so that “you could have a 100% per cent chance of destroying a pod in one turn”, whatever that meant. But I immediately saw a pattern of perfectionism and a fear of making mistakes as motivators, and this brings me back to my original point about save scumming.

Which, if a developer wants to eliminate, they’d do well to understand the underlying psychological motivators. The most common ones are:

-A fear of making mistakes or failing. People will beat themselves up internally if they make mistakes or fail. “I can’t believe I can’t even do this.” “I’m useless.” “I’ve messed up AGAIN, can’t I do anything right?” Then we feel insignificant and unworthy. It’s pretty painful how we can treat ourselves and save scumming is a way to avoid this pain.
-A need to feel significant, competent, needed and loved. If a player bases his/her self-esteem on their success in the game, if they can “prove” they are good, important or competent enough, they’ll be emotionally invested in their success, and will be save scumming for this reason too.
-The stronger their current need for certainty and safety are in real life, the more likely they will be save scumming, because it acts as a supplementary sense of security. So if they have just been scrutinized, rejected, judged, or have lost something or someone, they will be more likely to save scum.
-Needs that work against these self-defeating ones are the need for uncertainty, exploration, growth and contribution. When there is a mystery to be solved and you can (grow to) be a hero who makes a major contribution in the process, and you manage to keep your focus on these instead on how you might make a mistake and what you may lose, you’ll likely forget using the save function altogether and become fully immersed in the game. So the devs must put the players at ease by eliminating all factors that could lead to the player feeling that making a mistake is costly and fatal and they must immerse them in their role as a hero in full charge of his/her destiny, encouraging decision-making, freedom, autonomy and responsibility. Treat the player as powerful, autonomous adults and they will embrace their role as such.

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#6

Well it was trying to bring 2012 version more closely to original modifying it heavily - but still it was closer to 2012 version of course. I personally can’t imagine playing those new FiraXCOMs without that mod. :wink: It has eliminated that decision about which Abduction missions you want to run. :slight_smile: But well that was minor change. There were other more important and it increased difficulty of the game. It took me over a year to beat the game, with my little spare time for gaming. So it was literally Long War. :slight_smile:

Pods are groups of enemies. When you encounter one of aliens you activate whole “pod” to which this alien is assigned. Alphastrike them is to kill every alien in that pod in one turn, preferably.

Too many of them. But mostly you are right. That is why I didn’t comment on that. :smiley: Some points are duplicated but it doesn’t change conclusions. :wink:

It is easy to use dynamic shadows, but they don’t give the same effect of light dispersion and fading into darkness. Mostly they work with a clear border of light and shadow. Btw that youtube video is a fake. :wink:

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#7

@OP

That was long :slight_smile:

I (we) feel you. The originals, did hit the mark, either intentionally or by accident. It’s really amazing that after 25 years a game can still tingle your fear sense.
But sadly, time passes by for everyone.

But we both, and i suspect most here, agree that the graphics need to be improved. Especially the lighting, which is almost nonexistent in the current iteration.
The visual&aesthetic impact of the originals was a major part of their success.

I’ll be blunt. To me, this is not attractive at all.

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#8

Yesterday I was tired, so I will add some more comments.

Unfortunately or fortunately world (and starting point) was planned to be randomized and I suppose it won’t change now.

Maybe it is lazy trick, but required. Here you have The Briefings with lore and introduction to story - I must say that they were worth reading.

It would be illogical if there would not be cumulative and deciding moment somewhere in time. :wink:

Bases should be in place already, but you need to find them. :wink:

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#9

So called Save Scumming? Why do some people have such a hang up about this? Everybody plays games in their own way to get their own type of pleasure from them. I’ve played all the Xcom games in both the traditional way and also saving after each turn to save my troops. Why? because I’ve customised them and named them after family, pets, teddy bears​:bear: and other things that mean something to me. I’m a grandfather now (god help me!) and remember sitting with my daughter playing Xcom and her laughing out loud when Commander Stewpidbear​:bear: missed an Alien with his missile launcher, but did hit the building with 3 others hiding in it the squad hadn’t seen. There was much back slapping around the donut bar back at base that night!:sunglasses: This is a game, designed for entertainment, let people be entertained in the way they enjoy without all the derogatory descriptions aimed at them. :wink:

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#10

Wow, quite a long post :smile: Let me try to add something to it.

There won’t be a traditional fog of war in Phoenix Point, but there will be Mist, and that will be like a really f*cked up fog of war: it can block our armies line of sight, instill panic, mutate soldiers, buff enemies, so on.

Eh, the interface was not mysterious, it was awful. I still remember the first time playing OGXCom, and thinking “what the hell is this? How do I… Wait, not like… Hmm, and to shoot, I want to kill that guy!”. No wonder Snapshot made no secrets about taking direct inspiration from FiraXCom’s interface.

The intro feels so out of place from the rest of the game, that we could remove it entirely and not miss a thing. Cool soldiers with shiny armours and huge weapons jumping from their ultra high tech airplanes and spreading chaos and panic amongst the enemy! And then you started the game and there was no ubermensch, just frail panicked soldiers. That was a problem with FiraXCom, where you started with regular guys and ended up with super-soldiers, just a adamantium laced shield away from turning into the Avengers. And I never played WOTC, but from what I read it seems they pushed this idea even further. You didn’t had an army, you had the Avengers plus Justice League fighting aliens.

Back when Blizzard was one of the best developers, and not the money milking cow that it seems to be turning into, their art director, Samwise Didier, said in an interview that they always strived to get a bit cartoonish in their art direction (hence the big hands and exagerated body types in Warcrafts and such), since they learned from the golden age of animation and Looney Tunes that the best bit cartoonish imprints itself in the viewers minds and sticks there. That’s why, he reasoned, characters such as Bugs Bunny would stay successful for so long. But as you said in the beginning, wether you have realistic or cartoonish, the introduction of lightning and what you can and can’t see makes all the difference.

This is the area where where I don’t have any issues: just from reading the Briefings we can sense the huge effort the lore team has been making in building a structured, reasonable, well thought, world building. Things like the centuries in which Phoenix Project has been existing, and all the factors behind the growth of factions and why they came to be, are outstanding.

I have so much inner doubts about this. I can’t stand making mistakes, and I’ll beat myself to death every time I make one. But on the other hand… These games just don’t have anything to it if they don’t allow for mistakes. That’s why I’ll probably start Phoenix Point in Ironman mode :blush:

A funny thing I remember back from my first playthrough of OGXCom was the introduction of Earth as your main character. It really sold the idea this was a huge fight for the fate of everybody and everyone you have ever met, not just a prince looking for his love, or a guy gunning down nazis. This was the battle for the future of us all. And of course, in the end you got such different games that perfectly blended so well. I’ll let Yahtzee sum it up: " I spend my time in the base thinking “Gosh, I’m looking forward to using these plasma rifles I built to shoot all the baddies” and my time in the field thinking “Gosh, I’m looking forward to bringing all these alloys back to base to build more plasma rifles.”"

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#11

It took me over a year to beat the game, with my little spare time for gaming. So it was literally Long War

Maybe I’ll beat all my other games first, to give myself small chunks of achievent :wink:

It is easy to use dynamic shadows, but they don’t give the same effect of light dispersion and fading into darkness.

It’s actually super easy. In the original, and very realistically, you only had this fading into the shadows effect during night missions. As you’ve seen in my Unity store link, you can implement a line of sight system in 3D. Then you need to combine this with very low ambient lighting that keeps everything in almost complete darkness (or just very dark) and add proper lighting that creates the same effect as in the original game. Something like this:


and this:

and this:

You obviously don’t want to reproduce the same thing during day missions. But if you wanted to, you occasionally could by creating a foggy environment, like in this clip: https://youtu.be/k6nzHjXHC_I?t=469

So your job is in fact easier in 3D than in a 2D isometric view and you can also add so much more realism and nuances.

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#12

Maybe it is lazy trick, but required

That’s your opinion and maybe preference. The fact is that in the original it wasn’t required and another fact is that a lot of players have been frustrated by the time constraint. Personally, it murders my enjoyment completely.
On the other hand, towards the very end of the game, when I’ve had all the fun experimenting with what the possibilities in the game are without being forced to do anything in a particular way/in a time limit, I wouldn’t mind a “final countdown” kind of thing. Like we’ve dealt such decisive blows to the aliens that they have brought their “Death Star” next to Earth and we have like 10 minutes to blow it up kind of thing :wink:

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#13

I would love to play sandbox, but time constraint is needed from lore perspective. We can’t prolong fight with the virus without end. Enemy here is not army of aliens counting 1000 units with some additional reinforcements send from other planet. It is mutating living environment consuming all in it’s way, and it can’t be stopped with regular weapons and methods.

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#14

It’s far from a judgement against those people who like to, let’s call it like this, “like to save and reload often”, code named “SC” :wink:

It’s that many people find that it has become a compulsive behavior that they’d rather let go of as they’ve realized it takes away from their immersion and butchers their sense of joy when they have reloaded the same save 10 times in a row because they didn’t get their specific desired outcome. When the game’s mechanics almost force you to SC, it’s worth becoming conscious of and remove the addictive elements that have been pulling our strings, so to speak. At least that’s my point of view :slight_smile:

I wish you a lot of fun playing the game however you want :slight_smile:

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#15

@Attila
I did not have to save and reload often in Ufo Unknown or Terror from the Deep. The game gave you the chance to recover.

This is the main Problem with XCOM from Firaxis. If you mess up a single mission you are most likely doomed and restart the game or reload.

I did not like this one bit. I really hoped that this game will be different but I am not going to find out soon :frowning:

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#16

I think playing any game can be addictive if you have that sort of personality. But one element can’t be blamed for that. One of the easiest solutions. I find, is the game difficulty setting. As I’ve got older and medical problems have effected me I’ve had to start playing games on the ‘easy’ setting. I still thoughly enjoy them, and if I can cope with it will push the setting up. But I do find there is a game snobbery (especially with certain pc gamers) that is toxic to less capable/able gamers. The ‘Save Scumming’ description and debate is a prime example. Let people play their games their way and with their own set achievements. And like you I hope you can play (this game eventually):wink: and enjoy it your way.:+1:

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#17

It would butcher YOUR sense of joy, and mine for that matter, as I find SaveScumming boring to the extreme beyond the first playthrough when you’re testing mechanics, but it’s the most natural thing to do for many other players, and the game certainly doesn’t force you to SC.

I’ve played Firaxcoms extensively, Vanilla and modded to hell and back, Ironman whenever possible and “honestman” (self imposed ironman, with the option of reloading previous saves if the current ones gets corrupted or encounter a game ending bug) the rest of the time, and don’t have to savescum because I normally setup backup plans and a broader roster than what appears necessary.

This forces you to allocate your resources differently and keep some reserves for when shit hits the fan, something the games does NOT teach you, but means you can recover from a loss.

As for most other points, I don’t want PP to be a remake of OGXCom. I have Xenonauts for that :slight_smile:

When you take off the rose tinted glasses, OGXCom had its flaws and tedious elements in the gameplay loop. Even if you discount these, games have evolved since these times and old school devs must account for this evolution beyond doing a remake of their past success with a shinier engine.

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#18

Eh, the interface was not mysterious, it was awful. I still remember the first time playing OGXCom, and thinking “what the hell is this? How do I… Wait, not like… Hmm, and to shoot, I want to kill that guy!”.

I kind of enjoyed the process of discovering which button did what. It was a good thing to me that the interface was so complex because I had no previous experience with complex strategy games and using only the buttons I could understand was more than enough to get me started and hooked on the gameplay and explore all the little nooks and crannies of the UI later.

Scott T Jones, the developer of XcomUtil says something similar: “I never use strategy guides, because discovery is one of the best parts of the game.”
To those of us who loved the sense of discovery it gave us, we loved it. Others could feel their confusion and lack of control about the UI first and foremost, because we’re different :slight_smile:
But today this UI would not be feasible, not without a built-in great tutorial. Those self-sufficient ways of olde seem to be gone.

The intro feels so out of place from the rest of the game, that we could remove it entirely and not miss a thing. Cool soldiers with shiny armours and huge weapons jumping from their ultra high tech airplanes and spreading chaos and panic amongst the enemy! And then you started the game and there was no ubermensch, just frail panicked soldiers.

I’m wondering if you’ve played the original years after it was released? I played it on release and my experience with the intro and the game’s corresponding graphics were as I’ve described in the original post. Moreover, my best soldiers’ stats would eventually overflow and restart from 1 and they could wipe the floor on their own with an entire map of aliens (just before stats overflowing). Notice that their armor in the video is yet to be researched, which implies that they could be veterans. They certainly act more confident than a rookie would :wink: Everything was perfectly in place in that video to me at the time.

Tunes that the best bit cartoonish imprints itself in the viewers minds and sticks there.

This makes great sense with games like Warcraft, WoW and Starcraft that don’t have horror music and sinister lighting. The original I don’t think was meant to look cartoonish (except in the intro maybe, but it looked more manga than traditional cute cartoonish to me). The game seemed hyper realistic to me as I’ve mentioned and a remake might want to look very realistic too to be true to the horror feel of the original.

This is the area where where I don’t have any issues: just from reading the Briefings we can sense the huge effort the lore team has been making in building a structured, reasonable, well thought, world building. Things like the centuries in which Phoenix Project has been existing, and all the factors behind the growth of factions and why they came to be, are outstanding.

I’m very glad to hear that.

was the introduction of Earth as your main character. It really sold the idea this was a huge fight for the fate of everybody and everyone you have ever met,

Yes, and it’s the ultimate example of a cornered beast. If you lose, there’s nowhere to retreat. It’s like the Roman commanders burning their boats on the enemy shores so there was no turning back. An invasion of the Earth is always going to evoke peak emotions! (Until we’re an interplanetary species)

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#19

I would say it is like that because now we have greater pace of life. Everyone expect quick solutions and guidance in more complex world. :wink:

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#20

Yes, and I’d say probably the majority of players save scum, because there is so much uncertainty in the world today and people often grow up in broken families, which contribute to wanting to feel safer even in games. It’s completely natural and I never meant to say it should be “banned” or something :slight_smile: (I know you didn’t mean I meant that, just sayin’) But it irritates many players that they feel compelled to save scum.

and the game certainly doesn’t force you to SC

Maybe you didn’t feel it forced YOU, but I definitely felt it forced me to. The frequent scripted events on the battlescape were not even funny. I expected the combat to go unscripted and even after adapting to the random enemy spawns through positioning and opportunity fire, it still felt unfair, like losses were forced on me (whether due to my lack of skills or not, didn’t matter) and that the game cheated. So did I.

I hope we can try to understand and appreciate each other’s experience of the game without ever falling into dogmatizing.

There’s enough horror survival in OGXcom :smiley:

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