Ken Levine talks Bioshock and X-COM


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#21 Thorondor

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 08:34 PM

After reading the interview here are my most salient impressions:

- If _I_ wasn't working on an X-Com game I would have been significantly more forthright about that fact. Still, that's a personal stance.

- 2K Boston released their last title, Bioshock, on August 2007 - nearly two years ago. He clearly states that they are a large, talented team at Boston, and that more professionals are currently being actively recruited for their ongoing project. So, whatever the title, they've markedly left the pre-production stage and are now pursuing full production.

- The mention of Sid seems a bit contrived, honestly, in the context of his answer. The man would be on the choice developers' shortlist for quality turn-based games the likes of X-Com, sure, and Levine seems to think the world of him, but for me it's not liquid he's inferring any such a leap. Anyway, presently, could Firaxis lend Sid while going on working on whatever it is working?

- For much the same reason stated by Gimli I don't believe it's a FPS. Real-Time Strategy strikes me as a possibility, but not of the 'vanilla' variety.

It occurs to me that Starcraft II is coming out triplet-style in coming year/s and thus in the same expected release timeframe of 2K's game. Were 2K to go toe to toe against Blizzard in their own segment it wouldn't be a very sound business proposition; unless they have something that's different enough and worthwhile on offer as an alternative. Also, despite its discretion, Electronic Arts currently holds the rights to the Dune franchise if I'm not mistaken... so that's another contender in that particular camp.

- In Levine's shoes I'd have to be under heavy sedation not to be ecstatic about sitting on a new X-Com game I could put my name on. "Chomping at the bit" is quite the understatement.

I suppose most people will acknowledge, also, that the X-Com name is not to be lightly trifled with. Kind remarks are not to be expected if this time-honored franchise is treated any less than appropriately - so that is a bit sobering. And considering you'd have to cope with whatever the outcome for well... the next couple of decades' worth of worship offerings or voodoo pinning on your doorstep. :laugh:

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If I'm not the craziest, I'm surely in the top 100, right?
Most definitely, Zombie; and I do mean that as a compliment... :D

#22 Gimli

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 08:58 PM

I would say they're still in early stages of development. If you got to 2K Boston's web page (too lazy to link) and look at the jobs section... there's still quite a few of them. And the way he said that they won't be going public for awhile makes me think at least a year, maybe even two.

The thought of angry people on the forum does not fill me with happiness. Honestly, I hope people would be civil, even if they didn't like what 2K Boston made. Wouldn't want SC to get labeled like some other sites. Though I've been seeing comments of a rabid X-Com fan base for the past few years. But that really doesn't hold. I've really seen all kinds of people when reading threads on X-Com on other forums. Didn't look any different than other forums. :laugh:

@Pete: Here it is, the first text in the quotes.

#23 Pete

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 09:09 PM

Oh, that intro. For a minute I thought you meamt a full video intro like the Alliance trailer :laugh:
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#24 FullAuto

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 09:20 PM

Those Space Hulk games did tactical FPS decently, wonder if it'll be anything like those?

All things considered, though, it's probably going to be a RTS.

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#25 Slaughter

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 10:17 PM

View PostZombie, on 24th March 2009, 4:22am, said:

Thanks, I'll take that as a compliment. If I'm not the craziest, I'm surely in the top 100, right? :) :laugh:
In a site like this, how could it be anything but a compliment! :D

View PostZombie, on 24th March 2009, 4:22am, said:

If it is an X-COM title, it'll probably be a First Person Shooter,  Real Time Strategy like Alliance (maybe using the unreal engine)? Just a guess as BioShock used this, but it's valid. Don't really understand the fascination with Alliance as that title was headed in the same direction as Enforcer (being not too popular since it didn't recapture the spirit of the first two games in the series). Genesis would be a better avenue to explore, but here again, the preferred RT element wouldn't have the same flair either (might be a good upgrade to Apocalypse though). You would think that pursuing the Enemy Unknown genre would be more advantageous since (if done right) it would be an almost certain hit. Alliance and Genesis are basically unproven games and wouldn't guarantee success short of a miracle. Just my opinion though. :D

- Zombie
Well, UFO being popular or no, I doubt they'll see enough sales in pursuing a turn-based game like the original. A Bioshockish game with X-COM in it's name would likely sell hundredfold, and fit the console crowd as well, sad as it is... Pains me to see games like Silent Storm barely scrape by :)


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Posted 24 March 2009 - 11:36 PM

View PostPete, on 24th March 2009, 7:50am, said:

Well Alliance was going to be a squad-based FPS with a rich storyline, puzzles to solve and different jobs to be undertaken by the various members of the team you assemble for each mission. All this with you controlling one of your squad in combat directly and the movements of your other AI squad members by using the tactical map.

In most aspects that was way ahead if it's time. But think now about the Steam platform. Think about the hugely popular Left4Dead where up to four human players can play in co-op mode. Think a rich storyline andpleny of missions whilst enteringg combat alongside your buddies, and having to be strategic for fear of being mown down.

That would work IMO and, sadly, would do better in today's M
market. But I'd love to see it.

RIP X-COM Alliance and Stargate Sg-1 Alliance - two potentially great games that both tried this before bit never saw the light of day due to dev/publisher cock-ups.

I'd love to see an X-COM EU straight remake too, but can't see it happening. I'd also be slightly disappointed if it didn't bring anything new to the table to be honest.
Didn't you buy UFO: Extraterrestrials?

I really don't get all this moaning about nobody being interested in X-Com, especially when it is combined with fascination with Ken Levine, who we know is only interested in real-time and next-gen games. His priority is hyping up his project to maximize sales and satisfy his shareholders. We received a very good X-COM game a year ago and the people who made it went out of business releasing it.

With B-Man's 4.07 patch it's as close to X-COM as it's possible to get.

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 11:51 PM

View PostThunder_Gr, on 24th March 2009, 7:59am, said:

I would prefer these "new" things to be just interface and information gathering improvements.
It seems every game that tried to make a remake bringing something "new", ended up destroying the complexity and atmosphere of the game(Extraterrestreals, anyone? I admit I haven't bought it, but I've tried it in a friend's computer. Fortunatelly, bman did a great job modding it, but it is still quite behind in terms of complexity and atmosphere, IMHO).
How exactly is ET 'behind' in terms of complexity? With the patch you mention it does everything X-COM does. The only major difference you could complain about is the premade maps. Other than that, the research, production, individual soldiers, stat increases, ranks, equipment customization, varied mission types, destructible environment, mind control, alien captures, attack options (aimed, auto etc), inventory use costs, grid-based tactical map, multiple levels/floors, multiple bases, base facilities... the list goes on, you name it, it's in there.

I agree it has a different 'atmosphere', I don't think it's the best game ever and I personally found the pre-made missions a major disappointment. But it's as close as you're ever going to get in this world. If you think anybody is ever going to make a more faithful sequel you're dreaming. If you think Ken Levine or any other big name studio is going to consider for a second the preferences fan-base you're completely delusional.

#28 Thunder_Gr

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 07:08 AM

View PostGuest, on 25th March 2009, 1:51am, said:

How exactly is ET 'behind' in terms of complexity? With the patch you mention it does everything X-COM does. The only major difference you could complain about is the premade maps. Other than that, the research, production, individual soldiers, stat increases, ranks, equipment customization, varied mission types, destructible environment, mind control, alien captures, attack options (aimed, auto etc), inventory use costs, grid-based tactical map, multiple levels/floors, multiple bases, base facilities... the list goes on, you name it, it's in there.

I can't remember being able to hire scientists/engineers. 10 scientist/lab is not satisfying, living quarters haven't been modded(IIRC), so 1 is still enough for everyone. Fixed base locations and the aliens or you can have it(original X-COM have done much better than that!) and a number of other things I can remember now, but it did give the feeling of lacking.

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I agree it has a different 'atmosphere', I don't think it's the best game ever and I personally found the pre-made missions a major disappointment. But it's as close as you're ever going to get in this world. If you think anybody is ever going to make a more faithful sequel you're dreaming. If you think Ken Levine or any other big name studio is going to consider for a second the preferences fan-base you're completely delusional.

Well, I have been waiting all these years, I can wait a bit longer. I have faith in BB and his game engine.
However, I do not say Extraterrestrials is a bad game(especially when modded), I just say it is a try with good intentions, but failing to achieve the purpose. When you try to make "exact remake", you should study the original better, IMHO.
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Posted 25 March 2009 - 06:10 PM

You haven't played B-Man's mod 4.07. It fixes the scientist engineer buying and living quarters and has done since the earliest versions (before the game was released in shops even).

The main complaint of the gaming rags, Gamespot, IGN etc (who would only have been interested in it if it was real-time anyway), apart from the "outdated graphics" was that it was too much like X-COM. Several articles called it plagiarism.

So no, you can wait another 20 years you won't get another commercial game like this.

And it does seem all you can come up with is that it lacks "feeling" / "atmosphere". If that's what's important, you can play X-Com Interceptor and the UFO series, or many other games, or write more fanfic.

View PostThunder_Gr, on 25th March 2009, 7:08am, said:

I can't remember being able to hire scientists/engineers. 10 scientist/lab is not satisfying, living quarters haven't been modded(IIRC), so 1 is still enough for everyone. Fixed base locations and the aliens or you can have it(original X-COM have done much better than that!) and a number of other things I can remember now, but it did give the feeling of lacking.



Well, I have been waiting all these years, I can wait a bit longer. I have faith in BB and his game engine.
However, I do not say Extraterrestrials is a bad game(especially when modded), I just say it is a try with good intentions, but failing to achieve the purpose. When you try to make "exact remake", you should study the original better, IMHO.


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Posted 25 March 2009 - 06:12 PM

Especially considering that the one studio that tried to make a game that appealed to the fan-base went bankrupt, and is called a failure but most of the mainstream. The fan-base obviously didn't buy it in sufficient numbers. Why on earth do you think Ken Levine or anybody else, after reading that would even consider trying?

#31 Thunder_Gr

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 07:08 PM

View PostGuest, on 25th March 2009, 8:12pm, said:

Especially considering that the one studio that tried to make a game that appealed to the fan-base went bankrupt, and is called a failure but most of the mainstream. The fan-base obviously didn't buy it in sufficient numbers. Why on earth do you think Ken Levine or anybody else, after reading that would even consider trying?

It is interesting that you are counting on the work of the community to justify the sloppiness of a game design.

Anyway, as BB has already said, there is no point in making a "straight" remake.

What I said was, if you going to make it, you should make it right. The game that the people actually bought was poor.
The game results after bman's and the rest of the community's work is good(for as much as I have played).
It is amazing to me, however, how a game made more than 15 years ago, is still better than any candidate on its field. I would expect today's games to be able to keep the level of complexity XCOM managed to have, with half an effort....Yet, it seems noone is able to "properly" do this.
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Posted 25 March 2009 - 10:56 PM

Mythos Games was an established developer with a series of games, they had experienced programmers and artists, they had funds and good, solid publisher (Microprose). This was also the day when most gamers had an IQ above 115 and turn-based strategy games were mainstream. You are not going to sell an X-COM game in today's market and compete, when most people are more interested in the next Halo or the Sims or Fable 2, and the media only hypes what's popular.

Chaos Concepts were a brand new company who had never worked on another game, with programmers and designers straight out of college. The producer was an X-COM fan straight out of college who put his personal funds into it. They had no PR team, the only guy they had to update us on the forum was the art/music designer who was the only one who spoke good English.

Their 'publisher' was that bunch of incompetent bloodsuckers who call themselves Paradox Interactive.

It's a miracle the game came out at all.

View PostThunder_Gr, on 25th March 2009, 7:08pm, said:

It is interesting that you are counting on the work of the community to justify the sloppiness of a game design.

Anyway, as BB has already said, there is no point in making a "straight" remake.

What I said was, if you going to make it, you should make it right. The game that the people actually bought was poor.
The game results after bman's and the rest of the community's work is good(for as much as I have played).
It is amazing to me, however, how a game made more than 15 years ago, is still better than any candidate on its field. I would expect today's games to be able to keep the level of complexity XCOM managed to have, with half an effort....Yet, it seems noone is able to "properly" do this.


#33 Pete

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 07:44 AM

No offense, but Microprose wasn't all that great to the series. Mythos wanted to do something new after the first game but Microprose wanted a quick sequel within a very short space of time - hence TFTD. Microprose also apparently rushed Mythos into releasing Apocalypse early so some of re more interesting elements never made it into the game at all.

So over a decade later things are pretty much the same with publishers in general I'm afraid!

That X-COM is now in the hands of a studio that isn't about to go bankrupt and has ample time and money to devote to a project is only a good thing. After all, if it were still with Infogrames we'd have no hope whatsoever.
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Posted 26 March 2009 - 10:41 AM

View PostPete, on 26th March 2009, 7:44am, said:

No offense, but Microprose wasn't all that great to the series. Mythos wanted to do something new after the first game but Microprose wanted a quick sequel within a very short space of time - hence TFTD. Microprose also apparently rushed Mythos into releasing Apocalypse early so some of re more interesting elements never made it into the game at all.

So over a decade later things are pretty much the same with publishers in general I'm afraid!

That X-COM is now in the hands of a studio that isn't about to go bankrupt and has ample time and money to devote to a project is only a good thing. After all, if it were still with Infogrames we'd have no hope whatsoever.
True but I never said Microprose were brilliant, just that they were an established company. Thus the game could be promoted, distributed etc which is essential. Paradox didn't do anything for ET. I am not expecting any good surprises from Take2 though I suppose it could be worse.

#35 Pete

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 11:27 AM

I guess we'll all just have to wait and see - we've been waiting long enough after all :laugh:
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#36 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 01:29 PM

It occurs to me that we once had a thread concerning what would happen if GTA was combined with X-Com.

In my opinion,

that'd still rock.
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#37 Pete

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 02:30 PM

"Grand Theft UFO"? I'd buy that in a heartbeat :laugh:
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#38 Gimli

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 03:46 PM

By the way, did anyone notice how he didn't say anything about 2K Australia? Could be unintentional, of course.

Also, the 2K forums (too lazy to link) have an ad for beta testers for an upcoming MMO, as yet unannounced. Megaprimus online? I remember doing an April Fools joke about that. :laugh: One which I managed to fool myself with a few times. I guess I'm more convincing than I thought.

#39 Pete

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 07:50 PM

Might be worth signing up to that just in case then.
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#40 Guest_Mr Mus_*

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 10:32 AM

More information on possible sequel from Gamespot

http://www.gamespot....=topstory;title

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