Julian Gollop on XCOM and Turn-Based Gaming


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#1 baby arm

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 10:49 PM

In the comments section for an interview with 2K Marin about some odd-looking shooter at Gamasutra, Julian "X-COM" Gollop weighed in on turn-based gaming and what he's currently working on at Ubisoft Sofia.

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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.

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Publishers run a mile from anything with turn-based mechanics - it is regarded as too niche. RTS games pretty much killed off turn-based strategy games in the mid-90s - but now even RTS games are regarded as niche. So all my experience working turn-based games from 1983-1997 is now somewhat obsolete, despite the success of X-Com. However, I am now working on a turn-based tactical RPG which will be a 3DS launch title. Thanks to 'Advance Wars', 'Fire Emblem' and 'Final Fantasy Tactics' it seems turn-based games are not totally dead - at least for Nintendo handhelds. I would also argue that Pokemon has a lot of parallels with X-Com in its game system, despite being classified as an 'RPG'. The core of Pokemon is a turn-based tactical battle enriched by a sophisticated higher level meta-game that allows players to experiment with many game elements and combinations of forces - and Pokemon is the second most successful game franchise in the world. If done right, would an X-Com game with a turn-based combat system be successful? Absolutely!

Quick, someone give that man a wad of money and tell him to go make a PC game!

#2 chiasaur11

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 02:45 AM

Hey, I think a 3DS launch title is reason enough to celebrate at the moment.

Excited for it.

#3 Matri

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 03:24 AM

Sums it up for me:

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I never agreed with that mentality. RTS and TBS are entirely different creatures. You would think marketing departments would not be so foolish as to dismiss million in revenue from a so called "Niche" market. RTS was sold to us like we had been waiting for it our whole lives to kill the doldrums of TBS. Couldn't has been more wrong IMHO. I am sure that your contributions with X-Com led to the joy that is, has and will always be Fallout. Fallout Tactics saved my gaming time when the sequels to X-com came up short.


As to this rebirth of X-Com. You are out of your minds if you think you can turn a game that defined an entire mechanics system for future games as a lousy FPS. Maybe it will be a great FPS in its own right, but it won't be X-Com, it will be blatant attempt to squeeze cash from the wonderful memories of so many of us have of the pioneer days of gaming.

Just because you were given rights to use the name doesn't mean you should just chug along doing whatever you want. I honestly don't mean to be insulting, it truly seems you believe your being true to the games core sensibilities. Sadly you're just regurgitating self assurances that in all reality are delusional.

The possible modernization's I see for this game that are not turn based would be along the lines of fallout 3 or even some of the Fantasy style games with rotating group dynamics and skill progressions. A semi RPG style in primary 3rd person view but with all options for camera available, set in the x-com universe but with no main protagonists.

Like someone else had stated this destroys the sense of caution when toons or time are lost from bad decisions. So much like the original you would have teams to build and loose and control each individually with combat falling into the action points upon contact. The wonderful thing about all that is it allows for the universe to be filled with new and interesting stories. It also maintains the squad combat that was core to x-com. It creates delicious tensions. Maybe things are going bad but you push through with only one surviving team member and need to recruit more.

Sorry if I seem specifically critical, it is my job as an editor to dismantle and reassemble in new ways. I do believe I balanced my criticism with viable alternatives to repair the situation though. Seriously WTF? Why FPS when so many viable squad style engines and styles of gaming are available as alternatives that are proven profitable in today's market? i.e., Dragon Age.. Your justifications for your massive reinterpretation of one of the gaming world's most beloved games come up incredibly hollow.


You should have hired Julian, you may have done great things together.

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#4 Space Voyager

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 05:45 AM

I don't understand the whole "TB is niche" whining. The biggest and most acclaimed strategies today are TB. Total War series, SotS, GC... All TB.

#5 NKF

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 08:52 AM

I think it's stereotyped as a niche only because it doesn't cater very well to the fast paced whizzy-dizzy action gamer crowd that game companies seem to be targeting these days. Next to the action games, we have the massive multiplayer aspect. Turn based probably wouldn't work too well in a very large mmmorepig setup, being mainly suitable for a small number of simultaneous players at the same time. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that at all.

It's funny, sport fans are free to disagree with me, but since I don't care much for sport titles, I see them as a niche market even though they are quite prolific. But that's just my ill advised and somewhat biased perception. >:]

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#6 Matri

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 12:30 PM

View PostSpace Voyager, on 16th August 2010, 1:45pm, said:

I don't understand the whole "TB is niche" whining. The biggest and most acclaimed strategies today are TB. Total War series, SotS, GC... All TB.
Add them all up and they will still fall short of what is earned by any single one FPS title.

And there's the rub.
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#7 FullAuto

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 12:36 PM

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actually very similar to Valkyria Chronicles in the way it worked

I love Valkyria Chronicles.  I wish it was X-Com now.

View PostSpace Voyager, on 16th August 2010, 6:45am, said:

I don't understand the whole "TB is niche" whining. The biggest and most acclaimed strategies today are TB. Total War series, SotS, GC... All TB.

TB is very niche.  Thanks to the RTS revolution, we don't need TB games any more, apparently.  Last TB game that sold more than a million units, anyone?

Compared to Starcraft 2, Company of Heroes, Age of Empires, etc etc.  Even shitty RTS games outsell some good TB ones.

Erfworld - the finest comic about turn-based gaming ever.


#8 Thorondor

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 02:12 PM

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Last TB game that sold more than a million units, anyone?
Civilization IV - reportedly sold 3 million copies, not counting expansions.

Despite abundant ramblings about obsolescence and obscurity, turn-based gaming still very much has its place. As a system it has its faults, but also definite strengths.

::

Well employed it yet has a hell of a lot to offer in years to come, on the PC and elsewhere, IMHO.

#9 Matri

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 09:38 PM

View PostThorondor, on 16th August 2010, 10:12pm, said:

Well employed it yet has a hell of a lot to offer in years to come, on the PC and elsewhere, IMHO.
Yeah, but when you consider the brainless moneygrubbers in charge, if it doesn't make a billion-gajillion dollars in pre-orders alone then they're not interested.
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#10 Space Voyager

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 05:46 AM

View PostMatri, on 16th August 2010, 12:30pm, said:

Add them all up and they will still fall short of what is earned by any single one FPS title.
>:] Are you sure? Cause I've heard that earnings from titles like Crysis weren't all they thought they would be etc. And TW series has MASSIVE number of fanatical followers... I hope you are not right...

#11 Matri

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 10:51 AM

If Total War's battles were turn-based instead of real-time, how big a following do you think they would have?

Also, Crysis had a large enough following for them to produce Crysis 2, which is an In Name Only sequel, and the "standalone expansion" Crysis Warhead.

Now take a name like Halo. Or Call Of Duty. Or Unreal. Or Quake. Or...

You get my drift.

EDIT: Bah, my brain confused stuff. Crysis didn't have a sequel, but it does indeed have the standalone expansion. I was thinking of Far Cry 2, which came about because the first game was very well received.
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#12 Space Voyager

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 06:33 AM

View PostMatri, on 17th August 2010, 11:51am, said:

If Total War's battles were turn-based instead of real-time, how big a following do you think they would have?
X-COM too has RT part. It is just reversed situation as TW has TB strategic part and X-COM has TB tactical part and vice versa for RT. I wonder how X-COM would fare if the geoscape was TB, adding to tedium.

View PostMatri, on 17th August 2010, 11:51am, said:

You get my drift.
Yes, you are definitely right.

#13 Matri

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 10:53 AM

View PostSpace Voyager, on 18th August 2010, 2:33pm, said:

I wonder how X-COM would fare if the geoscape was TB, adding to tedium.
That didn't harm Master Of Orion's popularity one bit.

View PostSpace Voyager, on 18th August 2010, 2:33pm, said:

Yes, you are definitely right.
Is that sarcasm I detect?
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#14 Space Voyager

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 12:48 PM

View PostMatri, on 18th August 2010, 11:53am, said:

Is that sarcasm I detect?
No, I meant it, no sarcasm. Those games had a huge budget and earnings.

By RT part of X-COM I just wanted to say that TW series is, just like X-COM a mix of TB and RT parts.




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