Ok, here's an update on my alien races idea. Finally my version of X-COM is working (thank God for patches!!!!) so I am going to be gathering data on every aspect of the aliens, beginning humans (the ones you start out with), and such and should be able to put some cold hard facts into my idea. Of course this will be in my spare time so it may take awhile. Something like after I beat the game and stomp every ethereal between here and Mars
Well, personally I think everyone is thinking far too much ahead. You can get a working multiplayer online working game with the stuff you have right now, as long as the server is always up and profiles are properly stored. The hard part is figuring out how to avoid the usual pitfalls of all the other games around.
1) Teching up. Once you reach that "I have flying suits and blaster launchers" plateau, what else is there? Just blasting away at those less fortunate than you, either because you play 16 hours a day and managed to quickly amass funds/research/weapons/troops or because some flaw in the game. That has to be balanced somehow, otherwise it'll be non stop slaughter. Which will be boring for both players. Maybe set a maximum point per combat limit?
2) Men, How to earn them. UFO : Aftermath, as well as UFO 3 (Apocalypse) took a "soldiers appear over time" approach to troops. UFO is a "We're out of troops, it's Wallmart time!". I like the UFO 3 approach, as long as a minimum number of troops and gear is always available.
3) Technological development. Once again, I liked the "resources won over time" approach over the "shop smart, shop S-mart" present in UFO. Tech development in UFO : AM was if-you-see-Kayy if-you-see-Kayy, but the general logic wasn't bad.
4) Weapon & availability. AKA production & cash. Money pretty stops being a factor at one point of UFO, and then it's all about production and manufacturing.
5) Player vs Player. I see no reason why any player cannot play the aliens or X-Com. I also see no reason why several X-Com units cannot battle each other (for downed UFO, for instance). Someone suggests each player taking control of a country, but I think that there are too many players and too few countries for that. However. there's no reason for one country not to have several organizations, be they public or private, who are interested in alien technology. Much like the X-Files, even the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing at the time. Picking your country, organization, (and also choosing wether they are public or private), would enable plenty of options without causing obvious mistakes. The same goes (somewhat) for the aliens who, despite being under control from cydonian high command, are fairly independent (I assume) to take whatever actions they find necessary, including clashing with other alien units/commanders.
6) Aliens. Why play them? They don't have armour, they don't have tech to develop. They don't have much, except superior tech, infinite numbers and a goal. That would have to change. Aliens will have to be made interesting, which will imply a fair amount of thinking and programming to create an alien control structure with needs and resources similar to an X-com organization.
7) "Shop smart, shop alien mart?. Which brings us back to the aliens and their goals. What do they need? What missions make them earn fresh troops, weapons and new races from cydonia? Alien abductions, terror sites, X-Com base assaults are the ones we've seen, but there must be others. Abductions in residencial areas, for example, where you must capture a specific civilian in a regular military or X-com controlled area. Military type missions, where the aliens blow up resource making buildings to deny such stuff to X-com. Flat out regular citizen abductions, to be used in the creation of new alien forms (most of the weirder aliens could be explained as such). And others, which I'm sure someone will come up with
8) "I'm here you're not". Or "How do I defend my base when I'm away?". For this I would suggest training. Each soldier would have a level of training, which takes up his time (not allowing him to go on missions) and resources. All soldiers would have a minimum level of artificial intelligence, but the best trained ones would have the best available. Which isn't saying much, since I guess pretty much everyone here has rampaged thru the Super Human level in UFO. Perhaps more training would also imply that more troops are available to defend the base?
Or, putting a spin on it, how about whoever gets attacked gets to defend, whilst the attacker always has to rely on AI controlled troops? It would simplify things for the defender, and lessen the odds that opponents are easily destroyed.
9) TFTD. I've always felt that there's no reason why the menace from outer space would not ally with the threat from below. Simply say that plasma weaponry doesn't work underwater, for some reason, and that (I forget the name) doesn't work above water. You now have alot more logistical problems, as well more technologies to develop. And players can now specialize in above or below water gaming. The ultimate "underwater flying suit" would be quite cool, IMO.
I can think of more stuff but I'm outta time... write some more when I have the chance.