Xcom Secret Sauce
There are a number of xcom clones, sequels, and spin offs. However, most would agree that they lack the "secret sauce" recipie that made the original xcom so special.
What do you think is the heart of xcom? What do you think adds the magic to the experience. What flavors do you taste in the original Xcom's secret sauce?
*smokes a thrown grenade*
I disagree. It's the humans.
Originally Posted by heniv
Originally Posted by heniv
On topic, I'm not totally sure what it was. I think it was really a mix of everything from the game. What's that saying? The sum is greater than the whole?
It the uncertianty in every mission/sortie/etc. That unknown after I step out on to the battlefield, the variances between tactics and that I will never have the same experience twice.
It was special because it was gritty, dark, scary and damn hard. In the sense that you lose a lot of good men, in other tbs squad based games, you could go through the entire thing without losing a man, xcom changed that, made you love to lose them.
A very good question really - coming up with a definitive answer is something different all together because lots of the aspects of the game has different emotions for different people so loads of variables.
For me its the many levels that the game has - the management of the base(s) - how you use your resourses to combat the alien threat in a effeicent manner. the naming of soldiers so the is almost a personalness type feeling towards your troops especially as they gain ranks and move with you through the game.
The learning of new types of aliens and technology they use against you and then how you learn that technology and use it against them.
The whole uncertiness of the game - you are so lo tech against a hi tech race your never sure in the early days if you can even combat the threat.
The thing i think that nails it is the combat missions - some missions can go great and you can really kick ass - you can have the best weapons and armour then one mission you could lose all your troops and totally turn the game on its head.
The music in the original game was astounding and really put you on edge and just created a totally absorbing and game playing experince.
All in all its just a beautifully crafted game that you can win or lose no matter how good you get at tactics - it always threw surprises at you but it did it in a fair way - very much a case of you could lose the battle but it didnt mean you lost the war.
Its very rare to come across games like this - almost like finding a massive diamond in a mine - a one feat never to be repeated?
Also the will always be a nostalgia value attached to it from wether you played it for hours when you were youger and just brings back so many happy memorys.
What is xcoms secret sauce? - I dont know but if you could bottle it you would be a millionaire?
1. Secrecy/secret organization/secret base/secret mission.
Originally Posted by Howellren
2. Noobyness. (Poor weapons, poor soldiers).
3. Slowly learning what's going on.
4. Investigating the aliens, reading the ufopedia.
5. Uncovering their plot.
6. Uncovering their whereabouts.
7. Uncovering their origin.
8. Learning their secret weapons/technology.
9. Learning their ai tactics.
10. Learning the layouts of their spaceships.
11. Learning what kind of aliens there are/were.
12. Learning the master minds/ethereals/overlords.
13. Fighting mind control.
14. Fighting fear.
15. Fighting bezerk, not losing your cool.
16. Research and development (Hiring and firing scientists and engineers).
17. Building out the base, more storage space, more weapons, more soldiers, more armored soldiers.
18. Defending the base.
19. Defeating the aliens on the moon/mars/whatever
(20. Also the excitement of line of fire precision and hurting body parts/etc).
(21. Hearing the screams of terror and trying to protect/safe them without losing yourself, though it does get scarey too scarey sometimes.)
So the sauce is big, a real big spaghetti sauce ! Like lasagne sauce, even much much much bigger than that.
But overall: definetly secrecy.
And that's why clones will fail, no more secrecy.
A new game will need new secrets
I'm pretty surprised nobodies mentioned it yet.
The secret to the "secret sauce" recipe in x-com is: Elerium-115
I think you could ask 100 X-com fans and get nearly 100 different answers. Some might have similarities but I think that is one of the things that makes it what it is. That it meant so much to so many in so many ways.
Look at the topics all over the place about the changes from X-com to XCEU (Squad Size seems to be a popular one). Whatever the change you have people who are all over Jake Solomon and team for the change. They've destroyed X-com. It just isn't X-com without <insert your feature of choice>!
I don't think it is any one single feature.... though if you took away some of them it would most certainly no longer be X-com. Does that make sense?
Changing Time Units to the Move+Action system to me didn't stop it from being X-com. If they took away the turn based tactical combat (ala Apocalypse pretty much did) then to me, it certainly wouldn't be. Large squad vs small squad-- not a breaking point for me -- if I could only control one person on my squad and the rest were all AI -- that would not be X-com. Managing individual clips of ammo vs 'unlimited' ammo -- doesn't keep it from being X-com. If you took away ammo usage totally and never had to reload and make that choice of when can you do it without compromising your team -- that would no longer be X-com.
And so on and so on.
I realize not everyone sees things this way and that some of these changes have broken the game (or the tradition of the game). And if that's how you feel, that is how you feel. I think we need to give the game a fair shake before we condemn it for not being X-com. The more I see, hear and read about it the more I think they have done a fine job of putting together the "secret sauce" that made X-com what it is and will make XCEU a fine addition to the franchise.
If you take the question as asked - "How did XCOM succeed where clones failed?" - it's actually pretty easy to answer, IMO. It succeeded because of layered consequences. Each success and failure had a value beyond simply "you win this level" or "you lose! start over."
Everything had consequences. Not always predictable, but repeatable. And what's more, you could learn a few hard lessons and keep playing. You didn't fail back to a checkpoint if you really screwed up...unless you wanted to. Failure wasn't a single point, but a trend.
Success was layered, too. You could start with pyrrhic victories, then turn them into decisive victories. You could research your way into dead-ends, then back out again.
This is what I think some of the others are getting at with "secrecy" - the sense that exploration and discovery were rewarded.
The clones all try to upgrade graphics, or fix mechanical weaknesses of the original. But they don't address that sense of discovery, that exploration of action and consequence. And in my opinion, that's why they fail.
xcom:ud / ufo:eu was a delicate balance of several gameplay elements(although it wasnt perfect, it was just about right). underdoing/overdoing some will likely lead to failure.
Do think there is a large portion of Nostalgic involved here with most of the people here.
Most of the people were young that played the original, it felt epic and ground battles were real thrillers (specially terror mission with chrysalids). As a kid its even more intense, i was 14 when the game first came out, i still cherish alot of "old retro" games because of the nostalgic feeling they give.
Give me moonstone !!
Sorry last part was offtopic
I don't disagree with any of the points made, but carldivine stole what I would have written. For me, it was largely about balance. I felt like I had to handle every phase of the operation (research, base logistics, ground combat, air combat, funding, etc), yet none of it was overwhelming or a pushover. Lots of games fail to get just one of those right, much less the whole shebang.
And while nostalgia certainly plays a role, I'm going to slightly alter that and say it was actually about the timing. I'm one of the older forum members, and I played X-COM:UD in my 20's. I was already an avid gamer, so I think I was able to appreciate it from a seasoned perspective. And it was still totally fresh and epic. Without the internet, you didn't have huge groups of people discussing their video game experiences, but I knew a handful of hardcore nerds ranging from 18 to 45 who all loved X-COM as well. The reason I say "timing" is because we didn't nitpick back then. Back then, fans were all about appreciating what a game did right and not looking for faults. That's not to say that X-COM had poor graphics or gameplay for the time, but if it came out later on then I can see people savaging every little thing about it. Which might have prevented it from earning the legendary status it now occupies.
It's telling that even the original creators realized they caught lightning in a bottle. TFTD is generally regarded as a reskin with higher difficulty, and after that the formula was heavily altered in the various sequels, always with limited success. That's why I've had a great deal of patience with anybody attempting to shake things up, such as XCOM and XCOM:EU.
IMO the original game was so successful precisely because many changes were unplanned and the end result was not what planned. The tactical combat system had been already tried on the predecessors (Rebelstar, Laser Squad) made by Julian Gollop, who improved upon it, and IIRC the Base/Geoscape element was only added at the request of Microprose who wanted something more akin to Civilization (thus bases, tech tree, etc.). Add to it great graphics (for the 90s), sound effects and music and how it reproduced the X-Files atmosphere and UFO folklore that were so present in popular culture and you have a winner.
Originally Posted by Howellren
Contains some interesting history I didn't know before.
Originally Posted by Hobbes__