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Thread: Xcom developers face "Fable 3" dilemma

  1. #1
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    Xcom developers face "Fable 3" dilemma

    In fable 3, you become king/queen. You are then given choices which lead you down one of two moral paths.

    Be a benevolent, kind, generous, and virtuous ruler and the people adore and idolize you. However, the royal treasury quickly dries up, you can't afford a military, and your kingdom is massacred by a swarm of Cthulhu monsters.

    Be a harsh, money-hoarding, morally-flexible militaristic dictator and the people detest you. However, you manage to hire an army fully capable of defending itself from the ultimate evil.

    This is the dilemma Firaxis faced in making xcom. Honor the sacred elements of the original, or sell-out and to keep the game alive? Unlike fable 3, you can't just "power game" your way to do both.

    Lets face it, hardcore xcom fans are a small sliver of the population. Firaxis could have made a game tailored specifically to this group, but it would have commanded a fraction of the budget. In order for a fully 3D environment with full HD quality skins, textures, destructible enviornments, musical score, and balanced gameplay to become a reality, Firaxis needs money. To get money, they need to sell to a larger market outside just devoted xcom fans. Many people xcom is marketing too have never even played turn-based strategy games before.

    Xcom sold-out on a few things, but in doing so, was able to cash-in on others. What we have ended up with is a game that is neither a sell-out, or a direct successor to the original; it is somewhere in the middle, and thus has redefined itself as an xcom title. Whether you love the changes, or hate them, it's important to understand why Firaxis made tge choices it did.

    Look at the new DLC for example. Not exactly the direction tried and true gamers who have played the game 100+ hours since release would have hoped for. These gamers would like more skins, aliens, weapons, maps, and other randomizable content which adds more replayable variety. However, while these kind if gamers make up a majority population on these forums, they do not in terms of total sales. In contrast a new "adventure" is more palletable and Familliar to the more modern gamer generation.

    I'm not saying every decision Firaxis has made is justified, but I do understand what they were at least trying to accomplish. They aimed to create a high-quality, full-budget, reimagining of xcom. But in order for this to be financially feasible, they needed to make some compromises. Ruling the xcom franchise like a benevolent fable 3 ruler would have condemned it to getting devoured from existance by the Shareholder-business-interests at Firaxis.

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    Being a fan of old games, but having yet to play x-com (never found a good version that worked right on my OS) I found this game quite enjoyable. The game is missing a lot of things and has a lot of flaws, but what game doesn't. Looking things over I would have rather had a lot more from the old games but I like the game as it is even with all the chances I would make personally.

    However I think it's important to let the voices of the masses that prefer things the old way get out there.

    We have to let them know they don't have to dumb games down to get sells.

    We got to let them know they can try things that aren't the formulas that are selling big today. Try things that use to work, try new things, just plain TRY rather than shoot for a 'sure shot' money maker that is just going to disappoint and turn gamers away more and more

    I mean look what we have let happen to the movie industry...... and now it's starting to happen to video games. We are getting the equivalent of 'strait to dvd' games ... some people think this is one, though I disagree. But I am sure we can all agree some games like Fable 3 are the 'strait to dvd' games

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    Dear god don't compare X-Com to Fable. That is absolute blasphemy!!

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    Developing a game is making a choice...Choose between one build or the other: Your friend the original source material, or the blushing new features-to-be! You have nothing to threaten them with! Nothing to do with all your strength! But don't worry, they're gonna tell you which mechanics they picked! From both of them, and that's the point. You have to choose.

  5. #5
    If there is a problem with the OP it is "percieved wisdom".

    Forums everywhere are full of people who cite "common knowledge", "industry knowledge", "well known facts" etc etc and frankly don't know any better than "me or my cat".

    Although I see where the OP is coming from, I think life is full of cases where unexpected geeky make a lot of money "Lord of the Rings" (which didn't sell out as much as just getting a fool who made horror films to direct it) but more importantly Kick Starter showing that there is plenty of money to make games people said no one wanted.

    Of course a modern Xcom game with a decent well known developer/programmer behind it may only have brought in a few million whereas I assume this version we got will make more. So then it's an argument of "Art for Arts Sake" or whether it's not worth doing anything which doesn't go straight to #1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howellren View Post
    In fable 3, you become king/queen. You are then given choices which lead you down one of two moral paths.

    Be a benevolent, kind, generous, and virtuous ruler and the people adore and idolize you. However, the royal treasury quickly dries up, you can't afford a military, and your kingdom is massacred by a swarm of Cthulhu monsters.

    Be a harsh, money-hoarding, morally-flexible militaristic dictator and the people detest you. However, you manage to hire an army fully capable of defending itself from the ultimate evil.
    You forgot choice 3: Be rich, then you can be shiny good and still win against the monsters.

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    The original game was compromised from its Laser Squad II origins in order to fit in with a smash hit American TV series (the X-Files) and generate more cash. It wasn't really a hardcore, elitist nerdfest, it was a popular smash hit that generated several sequels and spin-offs.

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    I stopped reading when the OP suggested that you couldn't make money making a game that the original XCOM Fans would love.

    Case and point: Was the original XCOM successful?

    Enough said. Please apply logic to further posts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Etherimp View Post
    Case and point: Was the original XCOM successful?
    By modern standards, no it wasn't successful at all. Not even close.

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    Quote Originally Posted by obliviondoll View Post
    By modern standards, no it wasn't successful at all. Not even close.

    By modern standards most classic games are no where near successful. That said XCOM was successful for the time.

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    Compared to Doom, not really, no.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CthuluIsSpy View Post
    Compared to Doom, not really, no.

    Doom was released as shareware, with people encouraged to distribute it further. They did so: in 1995, Doom was estimated to have been installed on more than 10 million computers. Although most users did not purchase the registered version, over one million copies have been sold, and the popularity helped the sales of later games in the Doom series that were not released as shareware. In 1995, The Ultimate Doom (version 1.9, including episode IV) was released, making this the first time that Doom was sold commercially in stores.
    Over 6.5 million copies of Half-Life 2 were sold at retail by December 3, 2008, making it a bestselling PC game[16] (not including the number of sales via Steam).[17] As of February 9, 2011, Half-Life 2 has sold over 12 million copies.[18]
    Considering Doom was shareware...

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    According to wikipedia, it sold 600,000 copies on the PC. And pretty much everything is unsuccessful if you compare it to DOOM!

    I also discovered that I'm wrong about X-Files. It's a complete co-incidence that they came out at the same time.

    Interestingly, Gollop had been persuaded to put the Geoscope and UFOpedia bits in to make the game deeper and more like Civilisation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Etherimp View Post
    By modern standards most classic games are no where near successful. That said XCOM was successful for the time.
    Which supports the theory that a faithful-to-original remake would NOT be successful. Your initial logic is flawed.

    It was successful by the standards of the time, but it's an incredibly unintuitive game which doesn't have a large enough existing fanbase to draw a crowd. The new game had to be exactly that - NEW. For me, the game still feels true to the spirit of the original games, closer to the original and TFTD than to Apoc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by obliviondoll View Post
    Which supports the theory that a faithful-to-original remake would NOT be successful. Your initial logic is flawed.

    It was successful by the standards of the time, but it's an incredibly unintuitive game which doesn't have a large enough existing fanbase to draw a crowd. The new game had to be exactly that - NEW. For me, the game still feels true to the spirit of the original games, closer to the original and TFTD than to Apoc.
    Then, you played the original? Funny, because most of the people on these forums who bought the game say they did as well.

    The original is often described as "One of the best strategy games of all time.", XCOM:EU has been #1 in Steam Sales, and many of the people who bought it over steam were fans of the original...

    If Firaxis had remade the original game with updated graphics, bug fixes, and some minor modifications I have no doubt it would have done just as well in sales.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Etherimp View Post
    If Firaxis had remade the original game with updated graphics, bug fixes, and some minor modifications I have no doubt it would have done just as well in sales.
    I have serious doubts about that. I suppose we could watch how well Xenonauts sells to get an idea - of course it doesn't carry the XCOM name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Etherimp View Post
    Then, you played the original? Funny, because most of the people on these forums who bought the game say they did as well.

    The original is often described as "One of the best strategy games of all time.", XCOM:EU has been #1 in Steam Sales, and many of the people who bought it over steam were fans of the original...

    If Firaxis had remade the original game with updated graphics, bug fixes, and some minor modifications I have no doubt it would have done just as well in sales.
    Then you are delusional.... In addition to being described as, "One of the best strategy games of all time," there is a another description that this game has earned - "cult classic." Since the term is more commonly used in film, let's see what wikipedia has to say about "cult classics" :

    "A cult film, also commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a cult following with a specific group of fans. Often, cult movies have failed to achieve fame outside small fanbases; however, there are exceptions that have managed to gain fame among mainstream audiences. Many cult movies have gone on to transcend their original cult status and have become recognized as classics. Cult films often become the source of a thriving, obsessive, and elaborate subculture of fandom, hence the analogy to cults. However, not every film with a devoted fanbase is necessarily a cult film. Usually, cult films have limited but very special, noted appeal."
    "A cult film is a movie that attracts a devoted group of followers or obsessive fans, often despite having failed commercially on its initial release. The term also describes films that have remained popular over a long period of time amongst a small group of followers."
    This is not the makings of something that any financially responsible publisher would take a risk on developing as a big budget game. Other than a niche audience of hardcore fans, there is really no "guaranteed" profit to be had.

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    Howellren OP: nice post, man--full of decent points despite the laughable Fable 3 comparison.

    I'm a "grognard" from days gone by (DOS gaming and all that) and I'm perfectly comfortable saying the new XCOM is addicting as hell. It's the only game in the rotation and takes all of my precious gaming time. It's not the OG and I don't think it ever pretended to be; watching any of the previews or early interviews made that abundantly clear. Everyone can make up their mind about how the new game fits into the legacy of XCOM, but we can't be so deluded to think that what was essentially an indie game in 1994 would find its way into the mass market mainstream of 2012. A carbon copy of the OG may appear as an indie title (Xenonauts is promising, btw--I bought and played the alpha demo), but the NG is a different animal altogether.

    There's a lot going on with XCOM. Imagine, for a second, that the OG didn't exist; imagine that XCOM EU is a fresh, new IP. Would that change your experience? For myself, I think EU is much more fun to play than the OG, in terms of just sitting down and enjoying a game. It makes you want to play "just one more turn" and it's challenging enough to make you agonize over what to do each turn. Your experience may vary, but I'm happy as a pig in poop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Ape View Post
    ... but I'm happy as a pig in poop.
    Ok this is the best thing i've heard all day long, i WILL be using that for the rest of my life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wardly View Post
    Ok this is the best thing i've heard all day long, i WILL be using that for the rest of my life.

    Sweet! It's yours, royalty-free! I had to come up with some PG versions of sayings I really like cuz my kids and their friends are still fairly young. You can get creative with self-censoring, if you put your mind to it.

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    So the option in the top right is the Paragon Option - stay faithful to the franchise fully, but don't generate as many sales. In the bottom right is the Renegade Option - abandon the core mechanics of the game, creating a new game that resembles XCOM, but catered towards the new generation of gamers to maximize profit.

    I choose the top left Persuade Option - take the core mechanics of the old game, tweak elements that don't work, add elements that synergize with that core to advance the game with certain modern design philosophies, and add a nice coat of shiny HD graphics to create a modern classic - something that will garner a solid number of sales but won't flame out and be forgotten.

    What made a lot of classic games classic is that they weren't concerned with making a blockbuster hit - they were concerned with making the game as great as possible. People will buy a great game in time. One week sales aren't everything. Look at Wii games - they dominate long term sales because many of them are just awesome experiences and not simply the newest blockbuster hit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMediator View Post
    I choose the top left Persuade Option - take the core mechanics of the old game, tweak elements that don't work, add elements that synergize with that core to advance the game with certain modern design philosophies, and add a nice coat of shiny HD graphics to create a modern classic - something that will garner a solid number of sales but won't flame out and be forgotten.
    Of course you do because your not paying for the development hoping to turn a profit.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by dannysquid View Post
    I also discovered that I'm wrong about X-Files. It's a complete co-incidence that they came out at the same time.
    Yeah but it's no coincidence they renamed the NA release to XCOM, while we in europe came to knew it under its original name..

    UFO:Enemy Unknown

    I would've appreciated it if they kept the original name tbh.

    EDIT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:X-...e_Coverart.png
    Good times. *sighs*

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    If you read my initial post and find your xcom attitude to allign to the "paragon" path of fable 3, I highly suggest Xenonauts.

    To me, Xenonauts is what a no-compromise xcom game looks like. It appears to be sticking true to all of the core elements of the original. As a result, it has less of a budget to work with since its marketing to a much more niche audience. Obviously the graphics are nowhere near on-par to the Firaxis xcom.

    Not to say that Xenonauts is any more or less of a good game, it's just different. It is a game founded by a fundamentally different set of values, expectations, and principles.

    If I have an oppinion, it's only that people stop criticizing the new xcom by contrasting it to the original. It is not the original, and doesn't claim to be. Jake Solomon was pretty clear about this in every game interview he gave prior to the release. If you purchased the new game, and are disappointed by the modernized elements of the game, you have only yourself to blame.

    I personally love the new xcom, but I can also sympathize with players who were hoping for a more authentic re-skin of the original. To these gamers, I highly suggest waiting for Xenonauts, which also looks to be an amazing, and fundamentally different, game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wardly View Post
    Of course you do because your not paying for the development hoping to turn a profit.
    Creating a long-lasting franchise is more profitable than a cash-grab.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Ape View Post
    There's a lot going on with XCOM. Imagine, for a second, that the OG didn't exist; imagine that XCOM EU is a fresh, new IP. Would that change your experience? For myself, I think EU is much more fun to play than the OG, in terms of just sitting down and enjoying a game. It makes you want to play "just one more turn" and it's challenging enough to make you agonize over what to do each turn. Your experience may vary, but I'm happy as a pig in poop.
    Honestly, if the OG didn't exist and EU is a fresh IP, I'd say it was a cool game, but doesn't give you the mileage of Valkyria Chronicles.

    EU is a good game, but its strategy layer is almost trivial, therefore could probably be streamlined out, and the games total reliance on RNG really hurts the application of tactics.

    That's what I'd say if OG didn't exist, I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howellren View Post
    If you read my initial post and find your xcom attitude to allign to the "paragon" path of fable 3, I highly suggest Xenonauts.

    To me, Xenonauts is what a no-compromise xcom game looks like. It appears to be sticking true to all of the core elements of the original. As a result, it has less of a budget to work with since its marketing to a much more niche audience. Obviously the graphics are nowhere near on-par to the Firaxis xcom.

    Not to say that Xenonauts is any more or less of a good game, it's just different. It is a game founded by a fundamentally different set of values, expectations, and principles.
    Yes, sir. Xenonauts is definitely for the OG purist mindset. Nothing at all wrong with that choice, but EU doesn't walk that path. I like Xenonauts, but it's a lot crunchier (like the OG) and isn't a game I can just fire up and play like EU.

    If I have an oppinion, it's only that people stop criticizing the new xcom by contrasting it to the original. It is not the original, and doesn't claim to be. Jake Solomon was pretty clear about this in every game interview he gave prior to the release. If you purchased the new game, and are disappointed by the modernized elements of the game, you have only yourself to blame.

    I personally love the new xcom, but I can also sympathize with players who were hoping for a more authentic re-skin of the original. To these gamers, I highly suggest waiting for Xenonauts, which also looks to be an amazing, and fundamentally different, game.
    I'd like to echo that, guys. If you're not happy with EU--and have every right to your view--give the demo of Xenonauts a spin. It's really cheap to pre-order and you can play all the alpha-whatever iterations as they're released. It reminds me a LOT of the OG with a mind-boggling 'need a degree in rocket science' type of detail, by the looks of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b15h09 View Post
    Honestly, if the OG didn't exist and EU is a fresh IP, I'd say it was a cool game, but doesn't give you the mileage of Valkyria Chronicles.

    EU is a good game, but its strategy layer is almost trivial, therefore could probably be streamlined out, and the games total reliance on RNG really hurts the application of tactics.

    That's what I'd say if OG didn't exist, I think.
    That's a pretty straightforward answer, dude. I think it's a good exercise to do for people not happy with the game in comparison to something else.

    Because I play a lot of D&D and table-top games, the RNG aspect works great and adds the unpredictable element that can make the best laid plans go to hades in a single roll. But I also understand how frustrating that is for someone who doesn't want to go through all the trouble of setting things up only to have them fall apart at the hand of chance.

    Well said, dude.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMediator View Post
    Creating a long-lasting franchise is more profitable than a cash-grab.
    LOL ok so let me see, i can create a long lasting franchise for a small group of the gamers out there or i can create a long lasting franchise for a substantially larger number of the gamers out there. Either way you look at it dude it's going to be a long lasting franchise.

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    Thumbs up

    Cool analogy bro

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Ape View Post
    That's a pretty straightforward answer, dude. I think it's a good exercise to do for people not happy with the game in comparison to something else.

    Because I play a lot of D&D and table-top games, the RNG aspect works great and adds the unpredictable element that can make the best laid plans go to hades in a single roll. But I also understand how frustrating that is for someone who doesn't want to go through all the trouble of setting things up only to have them fall apart at the hand of chance.

    Well said, dude.
    Lol, yeah, it's amazing how quickly some D&D can go to hell, especially with a sadistic DM. I don't mind an element of chance, but I think the element is a bit heavy handed all too often in EU. Kinda like a sadistic DM. :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by wardly View Post
    LOL ok so let me see, i can create a long lasting franchise for a small group of the gamers out there or i can create a long lasting franchise for a substantially larger number of the gamers out there. Either way you look at it dude it's going to be a long lasting franchise.
    If you honestly believe that in 20 years down the line, this game of all games would be one that some future developer would want to reboot... well, you're free to believe that. The OG was good enough to get a reboot and tons of rip-offs/spiritual successors, only time will tell whether this new franchise has that level of success.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b15h09 View Post
    Lol, yeah, it's amazing how quickly some D&D can go to hell, especially with a sadistic DM. I don't mind an element of chance, but I think the element is a bit heavy handed all too often in EU. Kinda like a sadistic DM. :P
    Right! LMAO... Dude, that's exactly what we're dealing with here!

    Easy: "So you slay the dragon with only minor wounds and you find tons of gold and a bunch of magical items. You return home as heroes, congradulations!"

    Normal: "After a long and harrowing battle, the dragon lays dead at your feet. Even though you're exhausted and injured, you've saved the people, captured a treasure trove, and become heroes!"

    Classic: "You drag the bodies of half your party home and the rest of you are bleeding and tired, but the dragon and its minions have fallen to your brave advance. It was a costly but well-won battle."

    Impossible: "You walk into the dragon cave and half your party gets roasted alive. The remaining few are burned and terrified and the dragon is pissed. It's minions pour out of the cave and surround you. Good luck."

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    Side note… Xenonauts won’t sell as well without 360/PS3 ports.
    People like to bemoan the alleged ‘dumbing down’ of games for consoles, but they seem to forget that the original Xcom was a Playstation game too.
    I live in Wellington, New Zealand – and the local game is sold out of both 360 and PS3 copies of Xcom. I take that as a good omen – with any luck this will prove that not all console players are drooling frat boys who live to play CoD. There is a market for smarter, more strategic games on consoles too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by obliviondoll View Post
    By modern standards, no it wasn't successful at all. Not even close.
    Even by the standards of the day - it did well, and better than expected for this kind of game, but the contemporaries were Myst, Doom, Theme Park, Dune II / Warcraft ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tel-Prydain View Post
    Side note… Xenonauts won’t sell as well without 360/PS3 ports.
    People like to bemoan the alleged ‘dumbing down’ of games for consoles, but they seem to forget that the original Xcom was a Playstation game too.
    I live in Wellington, New Zealand – and the local game is sold out of both 360 and PS3 copies of Xcom. I take that as a good omen – with any luck this will prove that not all console players are drooling frat boys who live to play CoD. There is a market for smarter, more strategic games on consoles too.
    Well said!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tel-Prydain View Post
    Side note… Xenonauts won’t sell as well without 360/PS3 ports.
    People like to bemoan the alleged ‘dumbing down’ of games for consoles, but they seem to forget that the original Xcom was a Playstation game too.
    I live in Wellington, New Zealand – and the local game is sold out of both 360 and PS3 copies of Xcom. I take that as a good omen – with any luck this will prove that not all console players are drooling frat boys who live to play CoD. There is a market for smarter, more strategic games on consoles too.
    But were features trimmed down to make the game appeal to playstation owners? No. The game was released on PC, and THEN released on PS with the full feature set from my understanding.

    In this case, it was clear they intended to attract, paraphrasing since I don't remember the exact quote, "18 year old gamers used to modern conventions". PS XCOM wasn't trimmed down to attract players playing... I don't actually remember any PS specific shooting games to be honest.

  38. #38
    Funny op.
    Whenever someone makes a remake, reimagining or re-release of a classic from when gaming was young, the "new" fanbois always drag out the "if they made it like old, it wouldnt sell" card.
    Always...

    And yet, most reimagining/"remake/rebuild games, end up forgotten or as the straw that broke the franchises back.

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    I don't mind catering to a new gamer so long as they're not doing it at the expense of good design.

    For example, the things the original game did that were, in some ways, limitations of the era could have been updated. Time Units, for example, are entirely unimportant as a mechanic. They provided a great deal of control, but wouldn't people have preferred a better system that was easier to use?

    What about a simultaneous turn-based system? What about a system that allowed soldiers to be grouped or given squad-orders that made them easier to move around? What about skipping the first 6 turns of each map by letting my soldiers be deployed upon mission start? Hey, that last one made it into this game, nice.

    There's a lot of things that they COULD do to cater to modern sensibilities. And if they want to make the game appeal to a more flash-bang kind of person then you can easily tailor some of those aspects to them. I mean, geez, even with this "sell out streamlined" version we have a new and horribly complex, badly done and counter-intuitive engineering system that has got to confuse people. The old game had things cost money to upkeep, but geez, I never needed to worry about POWER or digging down to the right levels or build uplink facilities AND satellites and then defend them. I just plopped down a large radar and that was it.

    In some ways the new game is MORE clunky than the old one. If they had just smoothed all the corners, I dunno, there would be rage but it would be different. I don't think some of these new decisions cater to anyone.

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    The game isnt selling THAT well since release its only sold half a million copies and most of those are on PC.

    Normal sales are ~75% consoles ~25% PC.

    The entire premise that the GAME had to be made dumber to sell well is total crap.

    The OG was clunky, but its CORE mechanics were fantastic and made it what it was... taking them away did not make the NEW XCOM any better for the casual gamer.

    Unless you consider the Casual gamer likes to know EXACTLY what gonna happen EVERY time they play a game..
    3 Abduction missions a month.. every month... maybe 1 ufo sighting a month...

    The game wasnt dumbed down for PLAYERS it was dumbed down due to limited System resources on the PS3.

    Everyone that likes the New Xcom argues black and blue how the NEW tactical system is better..
    While arguing the OG isnt perfect..

    Hell arguing the NG system isnt perfect gets you anal raped on these forums.

    Yet all these people spewing how good the new xcom is.. IGNORE the strategy layer.

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